5 Things To Read Today

Government shutdown news, anti-vaxxers, Medicaid, & blackface

Settle in for another shutdown, kids. It looks like they’re gearing up for it in Congress.

5 Things to Read Today

🤬 New York Times: Talks Over Border Security Break Down, Imperiling Effort to Prevent Shutdown

Negotiations over the spending bill crapped out on Sunday. If Congress doesn’t get it together by this Friday at midnight, we’re shutting down again. And hell, even if they do get it together, there’s a fair chance Trump just won’t sign the damn thing, because it doesn’t have his wall money.

🛫 The Hill: Flight attendant union calls for general strike if government shuts down again

Meanwhile, Sara Nelson, the president of the Association of Flight Attendants, a huge flight attendant union, is calling for a general strike if they shut the government down again. Reminder: it’s usually flight problems that gets the government open again once they shut down, because it turns out senators and representatives don’t like being trapped in DC.

😲 Pew Research Center: About a third of Americans say blackface in a Halloween costume is acceptable at least sometimes

I cannot believe that this still needs saying in 2019. Blackface is never, under any circumstances, for any reason, acceptable. Never ever, not even one time, no matter how “funny” or “clever” or “topical” or whatever you think you are. Do not. Just don’t.

⚕️ Vox: Utah Republicans have officially blocked their state’s voter-approved Medicaid expansion

Back in November Utah voters voted to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare). The Republican legislature in Utah decided, Naaaah, and instead passed a bill that only allowed a partial expansion. The bill’s on the way to the Utah governor to be signed.

💉 The Oregonian: Proposal would eliminate personal vaccine exemption for Oregon school kids

In Oregon you can get a personal exemption from vaccinations and still send your kids to school. This is how anti-vaxxers get their kids into classes, and anti-vaxxers are the reason why we have a measles outbreak in Oregon. State rep Mitch Greenlick (D) has a bill proposed that would eliminate non-medical exemptions for kids, meaning you’d have to have an actual reason for not vaccinating your kids to get them into school.

Spider-Man: Far From Home

Spider-Man, Crickets, Apples & TSS

We got a Far From Home trailer! Mysterio looks great. I’m looking forward to Nick Fury and Spider-Man. Kind of weird to see Nick Fury all… Nick Fury-ed up, though. He’d ditched SHIELD after Civil War, then we saw him driving around with Maria Hill briefly at the end of Infinity War, having dropped his “incognito” look for full Fury regalia. No explanations given for that, so I’m hoping we find out what he’s been up to since Civil War, either in Spider-Man 2 or Endgame.

I do feel bad for Far From Home, having to follow Into the Spider-verse. That bar has been set pretty damn high, folks.

Okay, let’s read some stuff!

  • The Atlantic: Animals Keep Creating Mysteries by Sounding Weird – Okay, remember how there were those “sonic attacks” that American diplomats were dealing with in Cuba, and everyone was baffled, and people were getting brain damage and whatnot? Turns out: Crickets. Crickets and bullshit, apparently, as that whole “permanent brain damage” thing was based on wildly flimsy evidence.
  • Chuck Wendig: In Which I Rank Grocery Store Apples – Chuck Wendig is an author with a highly entertaining Twitter account, and one of the things he occasionally does on Twitter is review heirloom apples (hilariously). Well, apple season is pretty much over, so he’s reviewing grocery store apples (hilariously).
  • Lifehacker: Everything You Think You Know About Toxic Shock Syndrome Is Probably Wrong – This was a pretty informative and interesting read about TSS, a rare disease vagina-having people can get from putting things in their vaginas. (Mostly tampons, but not always.) It’s long, but worth a read, especially if you have a vagina you need to take care of.

And that’s all I’ve got today. The rest is all politics, and really, there’s not much new there to report. We’re still shut down, Trump and the GOP are still trash, everything is awful, all that jazz. But hey, The Flash is back on tonight, so that’s something to look forward to.

5 Things To Read Today

5TtRT: Camp Fire, climate change, romaine lettuce, tear gassing immigrants & the weekend’s political news

Is there anything worse than the Monday after a long weekend? We spent our weekend being lazy and stuffing our faces with leftovers while watching the second season of MST3K on Netflix, and this did not prepare me for a Monday, y’all.

5 Things to Read Today

🌀 The Atlantic: The Three Most Chilling Conclusions From the Climate Report
The Trump administration issued their climate change report, dumping it out on Black Friday when no one would be paying attention. They didn’t want you to pay attention to it because the report basically says, “Hey, if we don’t start doing something about all this right now, we can all kiss our asses goodbye.”

🇲🇽 NPR: U.S. Agents Spray Tear Gas At Migrants, Briefly Close Tijuana Border Entry
There about 5,000 migrants now camped on the southern border near Tijuana. Sunday morning, Border Patrol closed the busiest port of entry, the San Ysidro port, to car and foot traffic for awhile. For reference, that port has around 90,000 people a day passing through.

The migrants, many of whom are trying to seek refugee status – legally, mind you – were irate and headed towards the border. Things escalated. There were Mexican police in riot gear, Border Patrol, and rock-throwing, and a group of migrants tried to sneak under the fence at the border. So Border Patrol started firing tear gas into the crowd.

The crowd which was at least partly made up of mothers and young children. They fired across the border into a sovereign nation.

So that happened. And it kind of sounds like this isn’t the first time it’s happened? Like, is tear gassing attempted refugees a regular thing? I don’t know, and I’m not finding any information about it.

At any rate, we tear gas women and children at the border, now. That’s a thing America does.

But don’t worry – Fox News says it’s fine. One of their Sunday commentators said, of tear gas, “It’s natural. You could actually put it on your nachos and eat it.”

I mean, you can eat sriracha sauce, too, but I wouldn’t recommend putting it in a child’s eyes.

🔥 Earther: Camp Fire Now Completely Contained, With 85 Confirmed Dead and Hundreds Still Missing
The fire isn’t out yet, but they’ve established a firm fire line around it, so it’s not expanding anymore. So far, the fire has burned “13,696 single residences, 276 multiple residences, 528 commercial properties, and 4,293 other structures had been destroyed, with 153,336 acres burned.”

🥗 Vox: It’s still not safe to eat romaine lettuce
You still can’t eat any romaine lettuce, although the CDC is getting closer to nailing down the issue. Maybe it’s safe if you spray tear gas on the romaine?

📰 NPR: The Political News Didn’t Stop Over Thanksgiving. Here’s What You Missed
To wrap things up, here’s a quick round-up of what happened over the holiday weekend. Highlights include Chief Justice John Roberts chewing out Trump, Trump going to bat for Saudi Arabia, who definitely murdered the hell out of a US resident journalist, House subpoenas for former FBI Director James Comey and former Attorney General Loretta Lynch, and more.

Donald Trump, by Gage Skidmore

Trump’s trashtweeting again this morning…

Donald Trump trashtweets, 10/16/18.

Trump’s trashtweeting again this morning, which usually means some bad news (for him) is about to drop. Not always, but usually. Keep an eye out.

5 Things to Read Today

Keep an eye on Trump’s fundraising and spending, because I highly, highly doubt that he’s getting that much money from his fanboys.

Meanwhile, go get your damn flu shot, people. Like 80,000 people died of the flu last year.

Vaping

On Vaping & Moral Panics

The recent spurt of anti-vaping articles are part of a moral panic. Vaping is an excellent harm reduction option for current smokers. If you smoke, switch to vaping. If you vape, don’t go back to smoking. If you don’t do either, don’t start. This isn’t rocket science, people.

🚬 NPR: He Started Vaping As A Teen And Now Says Habit Is ‘Impossible To Let Go’

In one of the most restrictive measures nationwide, San Francisco voters this week upheld by what looks to be a large majority — nearly 70 percent in a preliminary tally — a ban on the sale of flavored vaping products, as well as conventional menthol cigarettes.

This is a moral panic, like D&D and Satanism back in the 70s and 80s, particularly in relation to flavored ejuice. Cake-flavored vodka is a thing, y’all. I don’t want to hear your BS about vaping flavors until after you get rid of all the candy-flavored alcohols out there.

The head of Colorado’s health department, Dr. Larry Wolk, finds it hard to believe industry claims that it isn’t marketing to kids.

“I have to call BS on that,” he says, “because the flavors are cotton candy, Frutti Tutti and they have cartoon characters on their labels and you can mix flavors and strengths. It’s really appealing to kids, whether or not they are intentionally marketing to kids.”

Cake. Flavored. Vodka. Smirnoff also has several fruit flavors, a bunch of “confection” flavors like whipped cream, caramel, and root beer float, along with ice cream flavors and tropical flavors. And that’s not even mentioning things like Apple Pucker and other fruit and baking flavored alcohols. You wanna talk about marketing to kids?

“Believe it,” says 21-year-old Julien Lavandier. “It’s a habit for me, you know — all the time when I set down my schoolwork to do homework, take a rip of the Juul. When I get in my car, take a rip of the Juul.”

[…]

“It’s impossible to let go once you started using,” Lavandier says. “I’ll tell you — after even an hour and a half or two, I am chomping at the bit to find my Juul.”

“Vaping” is (mostly) using nicotine, just like smoking is using nicotine. Nicotine is very addictive, and it’s brutally difficult to quit. So if you’re vaping, you’re becoming addicted to nicotine, just like if you were smoking. So yeah, it’s frickin’ hard to quit doing and you’re going to want to do it all the time. It works that way with cigarettes, too.

One of the benefits of e-cigarettes, according to the industry, is that the devices can help people quit their use of tobacco products. When it comes to that habit, the advice from Ray Story, the founder and CEO of the Tobacco Vapor Electronic Cigarette Association is “don’t start at all.”

“But if you’re going to smoke or do e-cigarettes, then certainly take an e-cigarette because it’s vastly less harmful,” Story says,”if you consider both of them contain nicotine, and both of them are addictive. It’s vastly less harmful than conventional tobacco.”

The thing is, vaping is safer than smoking. Vaping nicotine juice from an ecigarette is much less harmful than smoking cigarettes. So if you’re gonna do one, definitely vape. (I have no idea about those Juul things – they use nicotine salts, not ejuice. That might be different.)

Look, this is simple. If you aren’t already addicted to nicotine, IE, a smoker or vaper, don’t become one. Smoking is definitely terrible for you. Vaping probably ain’t great (although it’s most likely better than smoking a cigarette).

If you are already addicted to nicotine, and you can’t quit, definitely switch to vaping if you’re using tobacco. Smoking, chewing, all that stuff, is 100% scientifically terrible and going to kill you. Science is pretty sure vaping is safer.

“So my biggest concern,” he says, “is, you know, right now I’m puffing, puffing, happy, worry-free, and then in 20 years I’ll have to explain to my kids why I’ve developed popcorn lung — or some new form of lung cancer,” Lavandier says. “Because I didn’t know what the risks were of e-cigarettes. It terrifies me.”

Emphasis mine.

One last thing: Vaping does not cause popcorn lung. There’s a BS scare about that going around and it’s been repeatedly debunked. Also, US companies don’t use diacetyl in their juices anymore. Buy good juice from good companies.

5 Things To Read Today

Vaping, incels, climate change, health care pricing, & free speech & white supremacists

Did you catch last night’s episode of Riverdale? Because it was amaaaazing. And why was it amaaaazing? Because Cheryl, y’all. That girl is my hero. I want to be Cheryl when I grow up.

Anyway, today’s articles cover vaping, incels, climate change, health care pricing, and free speech and white supremacists, so it’s a pretty heavy reading list. Also, you might want to check out the post I did about the Michael Avenatti/Michael Cohen/slush fund story, because I’m still updating it with new articles.

Southern Poverty Law Center: Weekend Read: For incels, it’s not about sex. It’s about women.
“Incel” is shorthand for “involuntarily celibate,” and the term is used by a community of mostly male, mostly straight, mostly white men who congregate in the seedier crapholes of the internet to hate women together. They can’t get laid and they’re mad about it. “Mad” as in “angry,” and “mad” as in “insane.” Those who aren’t actively killing women already are cheering on the ones who do.

Vox: What genuine, no-bullshit ambition on climate change would look like
All current “save us from climate change” scenarios rely on heavy use of an industry that doesn’t actually exist yet: BECCS, or bioenergy with carbon capture and sequestration. That is, burning plants to create energy while capturing the carbon that would create and hiding it somewhere it can’t hurt anything, like burying it underground. We’re well past the point of no return, and achieving any future where we’re not roasting-then-freezing to death while being relentlessly battered by catastrophic storm after catastrophic storm involves radical changes in lifestyle and policy that aren’t actually likely to happen. So, um. Yeah. Get ready to get your Mad Max on, folks.

The New Yorker: The Promise of Vaping and the Rise of Juul
This is a great read about vaping (and more specifically, vaping with the Juul, a new personal vaporizer product). It underlines the “moral panic” components of the anti-vaping sector, talks reasonably about the (sadly minimal) science, possibly undersells the dangers of nicotine a smidge, and paints a portrait of young people vaping like it’s made of orgasms. Kids, if you’re vaping this much I think you might be doing it wrong. Maybe take it down a notch. Or, considering that climate change article, maybe don’t.

Vox: The absurdity of American health care pricing, in one chart
This one’s a short read, but let me sum it up: health care pricing is bullshit, folks. We’re getting screwed and someone should regulate this crap.

GQ: How Free Speech Warriors Mainstreamed White Supremacists
“The trouble with fighting for human freedom is that one spends most of one’s time defending scoundrels. For it is against scoundrels that oppressive laws are first aimed, and oppression must be stopped at the beginning if it is to be stopped at all.” – H. L. Mencken.

I’m not going to pretend to know an answer here, but I will say that I’m pretty sure hate speech laws like the EU uses isn’t it. I think fixing America’s nazi/white supremacist problem probably begins with education.