Monday Miscellaneous: The Ebola Edition

XKCD Alt text: “People often say that same-sex marriage now is like interracial marriage in the 60s. But in terms of public opinion, same-sex marriage now is like interracial marriage in the 90s, when it had already been legal nationwide for 30 years.”

XKCD hits the nail on the head as always, but honestly, I think that this lack-of-decision is just that – a lack of a decision that can be easily changed. And honestly, I don’t expect this to stick, so, uh, get married while you can?

Like, yes, this is great for anyone who can get married while this lasts, but I’m pretty sure this is not over yet. This link is optimistic; I’m not.

It’s possible that neither the liberal nor the conservative bloc felt confident enough of Kennedy’s vote to risk letting him decide the case. So better to kick the can down the road.

The conservatives have a special reason for delay. Ginsburg, at 81 the oldest justice, will probably leave during the next president’s term. A Republican president would replace Ginsburg with a solid conservative vote and make Kennedy’s vote irrelevant. So waiting might be an appealing option for them.

The liberals had their own reasons for delay. Same-sex marriage has marched with great speed across the country. Today’s non-decision means that more than half the states, with well more than half the population, have marriage equality. Those facts create their own momentum. More time equals more states, which might (the theory goes) make Kennedy’s vote easier to get a year from now.


Came across this medication wallet card generator from CVS while trying to generate my own. Seems like a great idea to me, just in case, and definitely a thing to do if you’re likely to forget what you’re supposed to be taking.


FBI seeks back door into Apple/Google phones:

WASHINGTON — FBI Director James Comey called Thursday for “a regulatory or legislative fix” for technology companies’ expanding use of encryption to protect user privacy, arguing that without such a fix, “homicide cases could be stalled, suspects could walk free, and child exploitation victims might not be identified or recovered.”

Comey said he understood the “justifiable surprise” many Americans felt after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden’s disclosures about mass government surveillance, but he contended that recent shifts by companies like Apple and Google to make data stored on cell phones inaccessible to law enforcement went too far.

Frankly, I think Google and Apple aren’t going far enough. I want root on all devices I own, dammit, and I better be the only person with root.



Mentally ill people are not a major cause of violence.

“We do need better mental health care in America. An estimated 3.5 million people with serious mental illnesses are going without treatment every year,” said Jeffrey W. Swanson, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Duke University School of Medicine and lead author of the study. “But even if schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and depression were cured, our society’s problem of violence would diminish by only about 4 percent. A person with serious mental illness is far more likely to be a victim of violent crime than a perpetrator.”


On Ebola: from the White House:

So they’re apparently taking the EVERYONE DON’T PANIC route to infection control. Given that so far only healthcare workers seem to have gotten the disease in America (and it appears that there’ve been some massive fails to provide proper personal protective equipment (PPE)) that does make sense.

On the lack of proper PPE:

Nurses claim lack of proper equipment and protocols:

  • Supervisors walked walk in and out of Duncan’s isolation room without proper protective gear.
  • Duncan’s lab specimens were transported through the hospital’s pneumatic tube system instead of being separately sealed and delivered, and thus “the entire tube system was potentially contaminated.”
  • Caregivers donned “flimsy” hospital gowns that left their necks, heads and lower legs exposed, with head-to-toe protective gear not being supplied until Duncan’s second day in the intensive care unit.
  • Some nurses who treated Duncan were “allowed to do other normal patient care duties” even though he had produced “copious amounts of diarrhea and vomiting” while they treated him.
  • The hospital had never issued protocols to handle Ebola cases.

From Reuters:

A survey by National Nurses United of some 400 nurses in more than 200 hospitals in 25 states found that more than half (60 percent) said their hospital is not prepared to handle patients with Ebola, and more than 80 percent said their hospital has not communicated to them any policy regarding potential admission of patients infected by Ebola.

Another 30 percent said their hospital has insufficient supplies of eye protection and fluid-resistant gowns.

Honestly, I’m kind of glad that Vinson got transferred to a hospital that has more experience dealing with ebola – biosafety four isn’t something you can train someone to do quickly, and I can’t even begin to imagine how much harder it is to work with a still-living patient.

Edited to add: Ebola PPE seminar for healthcare workers in New England: http://gnyha.org/Featured/gnyha2f1199seiu-hep-and-pqc-to-host-ebola-educational-session-october-21/

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