Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Archive for July 13th, 2021

Tennessee Fires Vaccine Chief for Promoting Vaccines

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I do not understand whatever it is that Republicans substitute for thinking. Ed Kilgore writes in New York:

If you want a clear and dangerous sign of how far down the anti-vaxx rabbit hole Republicans are going these days, look no further than the shenanigans going on in very red Tennessee the last month. The backstory, as reported by the Nashville Tennessean, is pretty simple:

In May, the state health department’s vaccine chief, Dr. Michelle Fiscus, was asked for guidance on how to deal with vaccination requests for older adolescents. In response, she circulated to providers a memo concerning a well-established state judicial ruling that minors aged 14-17 can obtain medical services without explicit parental consent. (The memo was secured from her agency’s attorney and blessed by the governor’s legal counsel.) One of the providers receiving this memo let Republican legislators know that evil state bureaucrats were undermining “parental authority” and pushing their infernal vaccines on kids. This blew up into a major brouhaha at a June 16 legislative hearing in which lawmakers threatened to shut down the entire state health department over this obvious violation of personal liberty and God’s Law. It got heated:

Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, who repeatedly has spread vaccine misinformation during legislative hearings, insisted the state was misinterpreting its legal authority.

Bowling urged [State Health Commissioner Dr. Lisa] Piercey to “take action” to “remove the fear, the concerns and the anger that has gone across the state as a result of (Fiscus’) letter.”

Piercey did take action, not just on COVID-19 vaccinations, but all of them intended for minors. “The agency halted all online vaccination outreach to teens and deleted Facebook and Twitter posts that gently recommended vaccines to anyone over the age of 12,” the Tennessean reported. “Internal emails obtained by The Tennessean revealed agency leaders ordered county-level staff not to hold any vaccination events intended specifically for adolescents.”

And then having inadvertently stirred up this right-wing hornet’s nest by doing her job, Fiscus got the ax this week. She did no go quietly, releasing a statement that made it pretty plain she thought the legislators who indirectly forced her firing were destructive yahoos, and that her agency superiors were cowards for shutting down vaccination education efforts that had nothing to do with COVID-19.

I was told that I should have been more “politically aware” and that I “poked the bear” when I sent a memo to medical providers clarifying a 34 year old Tennessee Supreme Court ruling. I am not a political operative, I am a physician who was, until today, charged with protecting the people of Tennessee, including its children, against preventable diseases like COVID-19.

I have been terminated for doing my job because some of our politicians have bought into the anti-vaccine misinformation campaign rather than taking the time to speak with the medical experts.

Now it’s true we have no absolute proof Fiscus was fired for the reasons she claims. But her former employers refused to give the Tennesseean any comment on her termination, and the bang-bang-bang timing of it all leaves little doubt about the chain of events.

The sad truth is that Tennessee Republican legislators are just reflecting a national trend in their party of making the unvaccinated a constituency group that needs to be “protected” from efforts to save their lives (not to mention the lives of those they may infect, and of an entire nation needing herd immunity). But Fiscus says it best:

I am deeply saddened for the people of Tennessee, who will continue to become sick and die from this vaccine-preventable disease because they choose to listen to the nonsense spread by ignorant people.

At this point, you are going to get vaccinated or you are going to get sick. Yes, not getting the vaccine is a personal choice. It’s true that you are likely to survive COVID-19. It’s the 1 out of every 542 people surrounding you that will suffer the consequences of an unfortunate decision to remain vulnerable to this horrible disease.

In the unlikely event . . .

Continue reading.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2021 at 4:02 pm

Superb break in 2020 Snooker Shoot Out

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Snooker Shoot Out is to snooker as blitz chess is to chess: a stripped-down, fast-paced game. From the Wikipedia article at the link, here are the rules:

  • Every frame lasts a maximum of 10 minutes.
  • There is a shot clock. For the first 5 minutes of the match, players have 15 seconds per shot, but for the last 5 minutes this is reduced to 10 seconds.[27] Prior to 2013, the shot clock was set at 20 seconds per shot for the first 5 minutes and 15 seconds for the last 5 minutes.[25] Failure to strike the cue ball within the time allowed results in a minimum 5 points penalty or the value of the ball ‘on’, whichever is greater. Prior to 2018, it was always a 5 points penalty.[28] In 2021, normal rules regarding foul points are used.
  • Players must hit a cushion (with any ball) or pot a ball with every shot.[27] Prior to 2013 either the cue ball or the object ball needed to hit a cushion.[25] Failure to do so results in a minimum 5 points penalty or the value of the ball ‘on’, whichever is greater. Prior to 2018, it was always a 5 points penalty.[28]
  • All fouls result in ball in hand.
  • Players ‘lag‘ for who breaks off.
  • In an event of a tie the blue ball shoot-out determines the winner. The blue ball is placed on its spot and the player can place the cue ball anywhere within the D before attempting to pot the blue (winner of lag decides who goes first). The blue ball must be potted directly, i.e. without a fluke.

And here’s an exceptional frame played by Chang Bingyu. You can see the countdown time on-screen as he makes each shot.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2021 at 10:42 am

Posted in Games, Snooker, Video

Weird lifeform: Glacier ice worms

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Scientists aren’t sure why the segmented worms, each less than an inch long, wriggle to the surface of the glacier late in the day, though they think it may be to feed or to soak up the sun’s rays.
Scott Hotaling

Life finds unexpected niches. Nell Greenfieldboyce reports at NPR:

High up on Mount Rainier in Washington, there’s a stunning view of the other white-capped peaks in the Cascade Range. But Scott Hotaling is looking down toward his feet, studying the snow-covered ground.

“It’s happening,” he says, gesturing across Paradise Glacier.

Small black flecks suddenly appear on the previously blank expanse of white. The glacier’s surface quickly transforms as more and more tiny black creatures emerge. The ice worms have returned, snaking in between ice crystals and shimmering in the sun.

These thread-like worms, each only about an inch long, wiggle up en masse in the summertime, late in the afternoon, to do — what? Scientists don’t know. It’s just one of many mysteries about these worms, which have barely been studied, even though they’re the most abundant critter living up there in the snow and ice.

Billions and billions of inch-long black creatures

“There are so many,” says Hotaling, a researcher at Washington State University. An estimated 5 billion ice worms can live in a single glacier.

“From where we’re standing right now, I can see, five, six, 10 glaciers,” he says. “And if every one hosts that density of ice worms? That is just a massive amount of biomass in a place that is generally biomass-poor.”

For a long time, he says, biologists have written off high-altitude glaciers such as these as basically sterile, lifeless places. Ice worms, however, show that this fragile environment — where the glaciers are vulnerable to climate change and are retreating — is potentially far more complicated.

“If you were going to put a biological mascot on glaciers of the Northwest,” Hotaling says, “it’s an ice worm.”

And yet, with the possible exception of the annual Cordova Iceworm Festival in Alaska, these bizarre worms have generally been either ignored or treated as a mere curiosity.

The National Park Service’s visitors center near Paradise Glacier, for example, has a nice display on alpine wildlife, Hotaling says, “and there is somehow nothing about ice worms. And it is a source of frustration for me.”

He admits that it bothers “probably no one else that comes here.” Many people who hike, ski or work on these mountains have never seen an ice worm despite their abundance, partly because the beasts only come to the surface at certain times of the year, at certain times of day.

Continue reading. There’s quite a bit more and the worms are weird: they can withstand very high levels of ultraviolet light, but they die if they freeze. (They should have thought of that before making their home in a glacier.)

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2021 at 10:27 am

The Emperor meets Organism 46-B

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I have the kokum-butter formulation of Organism 46-B, which is excellent (though the CK-6 version is noticeably better). I enjoy the fragrance of this soap (“Scent Notes: burnt sugar – bitter orange – brandy – Hedione – tobacco absolute – benzoin resin – ambergris”), and my Simpson Emperor 3 Super quickly had a fine lather from it. Three passes with the wonderful RazoRock Baby Smooth left my face as stated in the name. A splash of Organism 46-B aftershave, and the day begins on a bright note.

Written by Leisureguy

13 July 2021 at 8:38 am

Posted in Shaving

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