Really Bad Candy Cane

original post

I have no idea how I stumbled onto this story. I do not follow home-birthing pages. I never heard of this blogger before.

But this fascinating.

Here’s the original post. Lisa had a baby at home. This isn’t her first rodeo and she knows all about stuff, except she was remarking about the umbilical cord and the candy cane coloring.  Baby seems fine, she says.

Dr. Amy Tuteur, who I have discovered blogs as The Skeptical OB (love the name) and who the back-to-nature, Jesus-totes-wants-me-to-have-my-baby-in-a-swimming-pool crowd seem to hate, which sort of recommends her in my opinion, wrote the above post on her Facebook page.

Now, I ask you this.  Is what she said mean and hateful and horrible?

I think not.

A few hours later, there was this.

first followup

At this point, Dr. Tuteur is getting peeved, and it’s quite understandable. It would have been very simple at that point, since the mother went to the hospital anyway, to get the baby checked. But the mother thinks she’s a damn doctor so she doesn’t bother.

But still, notice that Dr. Tuteur has obscured the woman’s last name.  I wouldn’t have chosen to do that at this point. This young woman was endangering her child’s life and at this point, she knew it was possible that her baby could be in danger.  With the first post, you could tell she didn’t know and asked.

cautionary post

By the next day, Dr. Tuteur tells her readers to dial it back. And she’s right. Lisa knew what the danger was and that’s enough.  Plenty could and should be said publicly, but bombarding her with PMs and stuff doesn’t help.

father message

And another 24 hours later, the father chimes in. The kid was seen by a doc and everything is fine.  That’s great, says Dr. Tuteur.  Crisis averted, or really, it appears was nonexistent. Right?

And Dr. Tuteur has done everything possible to caution her readers to lay off this couple. They took the kid to a doctor. All is well.

Right?

Wrong.

infection

The large type is a screen shot that the mother posted in some birthing group.

Here’s the rest.

infection 2

Oh, so now she admits there was, in fact, a problem.

In other words, Dr. Tuteur was right. She was right. That’s because she is a retired OB doc. She knew what she was looking at.

But, does Lisa Dumbass HomeBirthing Expert Extraordinaire say, “You know, I was peeved with Dr. Tuteur and I don’t especially like her, but she was right.”  Does she do that?

Of course not.

Instead, she is going to teach everyone.  She’s the fucking teacher, sharing the information like she fucking invented it.

Instead, she is “grateful” for the “support” she got from other brain-dead ignoramuses who thought that everything was lovely and Dr. Tuteur is a moron.  She’s not “grateful” to the one person with some actual knowledge and experience who said, “You know what? This is a dangerous situation. I can’t diagnose via Facebook but you need to see a doc.”

Instead, she calls Dr. Tuteur a “malicious shock jock blogger.”   I suppose that is something like a “tabloid blogger.”  She also says that she, poor thing, has been having postpartum depression because Dr. Tuteur said mean things.  Really.

Read it for yourself.

No, seriously, go over there and read it.

Dr. Tuteur is my new hero.

 

 

Banned

 

banned books week
click image to link to source

This week is Banned Books Week.  This is a subject near and dear to my liberal, free-spirited heart and Nicole has chosen to talk about it so I am delighted to join in the conversation.

Banned Books Week is an annual event sponsored by the American Library Association to do a couple of things: make us aware of books that have been banned in the past, for various reasons, and in doing so, spark an interest in and conversation about the idea of censorship.

I despise censorship. I want to be upfront about that from the start. You know how Nicole and Joe love, love, love the Second Amendment?  Well, that’s how I am about the First one.

I was raised by a very religious mother who, fortunately for me, was pretty liberal when it came to reading material. I couldn’t wear slacks, and I couldn’t go to movies, but she didn’t really pay much attention to what I read. And I was a book worm.

When I was about 11, my grandfather gave me a book.  It was a large one-volume collection of the works of Mark Twain. It has really thin pages, sort of like a Bible. I loved it. I still love it, because I still have it. I was going to take a photo of it, but we’re remodeling and my books are stored away in boxes for the moment.

Anyway, I am quite sure that my grandfather never read the book. I know for certain my mother never did. They just saw “Mark Twain” and thought Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer and that was as far as they thought.

Those novels, of course, were included in the book, but so was a story called The Mysterious Stranger. If you are unfamiliar with the work, please click on the link and scroll down to the several quoted paragraphs toward the end of the piece.

mysterious stranger

My grandfather and my mother totally forgot (or didn’t know) that Mark Twain was a cynic and an atheist.

And I read every word of that book, more than once. Please imagine a child of about 11, taught that the Bible is totally true and Jesus is totally real, reading that quote from The Mysterious Stranger after being totally invested in the story. It had a profound impact on me. I’ve never forgotten my horror and it’s been about 55 years.

My point here is this: Just because a child has the intellectual capability of reading adult literature, just because she can read the words and understand what is being said, does not mean that the child has the emotional capability of processing the information without some sort of guidance. It wasn’t that Twain was wrong.  I am an atheist (now) and share his views.  The problem was that I was young and I really needed to be able to talk with some adult about the issues raised and I couldn’t.

I didn’t tell my mother about the story.  I knew what would happen if I did. She would have taken the book away from me.  I didn’t want censorship, but I certainly needed conversation and a bit of guidance.

Keep that little anecdote in mind as we continue.

I think I’ve written about this before, but hell, I’m old, and I can repeat myself if I want. When we lived in Alaska, I volunteered at our local library.  Here it is.

library

I was not only a volunteer librarian, but I also was the treasurer. I served in that capacity for much of the time we lived there (about 9 years). So I know a little about how libraries work and how they are funded and how to manage one, albeit a teensy one.

library funding

In Alaska, our little library was funded several ways. Our primary funding was via a state grant, given to us by the legislature every year. We were never exactly sure how much we would get.  It all depended on how much the legislature approved and how many libraries applied for funding.

We were required, as a condition of receiving the funding, to raise a comparable amount from the community. During the time I was there, we experimented with several ideas for fund-raising (our least-favorite thing to do), and came up with a sweepstakes, which has remained in place ever since. They, in fact, are getting ready for it right now.  We sold tickets for $100 a pop, and the ticket served as entry to the party (held at the local community club, complete with food) and the subsequent drawing. Multiple prizes were given away, mostly cash.

The third thing we got in terms of funding was E-Rate. That is a federal program which allowed us to have telephone and internet service at very reduced prices. This facilitated offering computer access to the public.

So, the library was (and still is) funded by community donations, by state grants and by federal dollars.

But nobody told us what books to buy or what to offer and what to do about any of that.

The contents of our library were determined entirely by the library’s board, and I was on that board, so I know how the decisions were made.

Libraries are finite. They are not Amazon. They can’t have every book that has ever been printed in them. Shelf space in a library is valuable space and none of us were ever cavalier about the decision to place a book on the shelf or to remove it.

We used to weed books (and that’s what we called it – “weeding”) about twice a year.  We got boxes, divided the library up in sections and began working. We had come up with criteria to help us make decisions, involving how often the book had been checked out (circulation), whether or not it was considered a classic (subjective, but we had to start someplace), and whether or not we had lots of books on the same subject (repetitiveness). A book that just sat on the shelf doing nothing got removed.

And once all the books that were weeded were in the boxes, we all went through the boxes and pulled out those we didn’t agree with tossing. And then we argued about it, politely.

In the end, a whole pile of books left the library to be donated, were sold for really cheap, or went to the dump.

Every now and then, we got a complaint.  It didn’t happen often, but it did happen.  We actually had a form, if I remember correctly, that people could fill out if they wanted to complain about something, and that included the inclusion (or exclusion) of any book on our shelves. Typically, a complaint would come from a parent who thought that a particular book in the children’s section wasn’t appropriate for one reason or another.

When that happened, we would discuss the issue in the board meeting.  Most of us were very pro-free speech and loathe to do any censoring of any sort (a very common feeling among librarians in general), but we did agree that there should be fairly obvious areas for picture books, for children’s books and for young adult books, so that parents could easily determine which shelves their children were browsing. And what generally happened was that we’d agree to move a particular book from the children’s area to the young adult area.

Our reasoning centered around the issue I raised earlier with my little story about Mark Twain and The Mysterious Stranger.

When I was in the twelfth grade, the principal of the school, Mrs. Polly McKay, called me into her office to have a chat. It seems that the school librarian had reported to Mrs. McKay that I had checked out East of Eden by John Steinbeck.

Mrs. McKay felt that the book was too mature for my tender years.

I remember being astonished.

I asked her to please explain to me why, if the book was too mature for me, and I was in the twelfth grade, what the book was doing in the library at all.

She had no answer.

Libraries have to make choices about what to put on their shelves and what to either never buy or remove.  It’s a problem that is perennial and thorny.

libraries
click image to link to source

Here’s another kind of twitchy problem. Somebody in our little community donated the entirety of the Left Behind series to our library.  You wanna see a really shitty series of books?  Get volume one of that series and start reading. I give you about ten minutes. Awful.

And it wasn’t one book. It was a bunch of books. Sixteen of them.  That’s a lot of shelf space for shitty books.

But if we refused them, we’d be accused of religious discrimination. We knew that. We’d also have hurt the feelings of somebody in a very small community.  We had no desire to do that.

So we tolerated them for a while.  They, naturally, due to sheer shittiness, did not circulate worth a damn, and after a year or so, they began to disappear. I hope they are all gone now.

My point here is that nobody made these decisions for us. We met as a board of directors, we got input from the community, and we took a vote.  It was always difficult and we tried very hard to err on the side of free speech.

And the state government, those folks that gave us our grant, and the federal government that furnished us with the E-Rate credit on our telephone and internet access had zero input into any of this. Absolutely none.

album banned books
click image to link to source

From Nicole’s Blessed Little Homestead Facebook page.

Notice that she insists that “the government” bans books. And then she puts up pictures of books that at one time, some place, were banned. The implication is that all book banning is done by the US government. She doesn’t explicitly say that, but she is certainly implying it.

The US government has not banned a book in decades.

And then she tells us to read banned books, because anarchy.

How about reading, period?  How about reading banned books because they contain often-controversial subject matter?  How about making sure that if you allow children to read that sort of stuff, you also provide them with guidance and a bit of conversation?  How about providing children with age-appropriate books, and teaching them to read in the first place (doubtful at the Blessed Little Property)?

Canterbury TalesIf you’re going to complain about literature being banned, and in doing so, you’re going to use hashtags, spell the name correctly.

There are zillions of books in print. It’s not possible for anyone to read all of them. I know, because I have made a valiant effort to do just that and have failed miserably.

And not every book that has been banned should be given a glance or any valuable time to be read at all.

Here’s an example.

Elders of Zion

The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a book I’ve never read, except for excerpts. I have no intention of ever reading it.  If you really can’t bear it and want to read it, Google it and you can find a copy online. I am 67 years old. Why would I want to waste my time, as little as I have remaining, to read a piece of shit like that when beautiful books like The Jewel in the Crown (my current Audible book) are out there beckoning to me?  Why would I waste time with a complete fraud of a book that has led to so much anti-Semitic hatred and violence?

Should the book be banned?  I do not think so.  However, I doubt I’d vote to give it library space if I were still sitting on the library board.

challenged books
click image to link to source

Here’s a list of books that were “challenged” (meaning that some library got a complaint about the book) in 2015. Notice how often the reason given is “unsuited for age group”?  That’s exactly what I was talking about in my Twain story. It’s a very subjective issue and a thorny one. And it’s difficult to know what to do about it, if anything at all. One solution involves making sure that parents realize what subject matter is involved in books their children check out.  Does that mean putting a warning sticker on the front?  (That would increase circulation, I bet!)  I don’t know, but I do know that the issues are real and all sides have reasonable concerns.

Just like we had to do at the library, you have to make these kinds of decisions at your house.  What books are you going to spend time reading? Which ones are worth bothering with?  Which ones will you buy in hard copy form and store?  Which ones will you read and discard?  You can’t eat at every restaurant in the world, and you can’t read all the books.

Choose carefully. Choose wisely.

The government does not care what or how you choose.

Identity Crisis

obtaining ss number
click image to link to source

It’s almost circular, isn’t it?  You need  a birth certificate to prove your age and citizenship, but you need a US passport to prove your identity. However, you need a birth certificate to get the US passport.

Somebody brought up the case of Alecia Faith Pennington in a comment the other day, and that set me wondering. I hadn’t heard an update on Faith’s situation (that’s the name she goes by) in a long time and I was curious to see how her case is progressing.

And that sent me down the rabbit trail.

Here’s some background for those who might not know what I’m talking about.

Faith Pennington is the daughter of Lisa Pennington.  At least, that’s how I think of her primarily.  I was aware of Lisa long before Faith flew the coop, because Lisa is a blogger.  (Warning: the blog is filled with clickbait. Lisa is quite clearly trying to make money off it.)

She had written a piece several years ago slamming gays which I found pretty offensive, so I wrote her a note to explain my dismay to her. She does not allow negative comments of any sort on her blog, so I knew it wouldn’t be approved, but it really wasn’t for public consumption. It was for her. I made it very short and to the point because I knew she would hit delete as soon as she recognized it as negative.

I noticed at some point that her husband, James, is a graduate of Liberty University’s law school, which is pretty much the worst law school in America. But he can’t use the excuse that he doesn’t know that no ID severely restricts what people can and cannot do in this country.

In short, they are right-wing conservative Christian homeschoolers who live out in the boonies and completely isolate their numerous children.

So I knew who they were, sort of, in a kind of detached “oh, yeah, another one of those” way.

And then Faith left home and made a video.

And the video went viral. Way, way beyond Naugler viral. Really viral.

Faith had decided to leave home and go live with her grandmother.  Well, here. You’ve seen Faith’s side of it. Let’s read Lisa’s.  Note: this is a PDF of the post Lisa made on her horrid little blog, playing her victimy whiny violin and begging for sympathy because her grown daughter decided to leave home.  She took the original one down, but the internet is forever.

She calls it “The Hardest Post I Ever Wrote.”  Bless her little heart. One of her children essentially gave her the finger and moved out.  And that’s the hardest thing she’s ever dealt with.

She also manages to insult the hell out of her own mother by calling her “a godless woman who has been giving her [Faith] foolish counsel and encouraging her to deceive us and get out.” Her argument seems to center around Faith refusing to come home.

Why should Faith go home? Really? Why should she?  “Home” means living out in the middle of nowhere, used as a babysitter for all the younger siblings, with no social life and no autonomy and no driver’s license (and no access to a car even if you had a license) and no job and no access to the internet.  “Home” means giving up her adulthood to the control of her parents. But the Penningtons were willing to give her “everything she wanted” (meaning: her rightful identity and the paperwork to prove it, something she should have had as her birthright) provided she would “come home” and be their willing, controlled slave once again.

I say that Faith was lucky to have grandparents who were willing to help her out.

And that’s where I left Faith. She had no ID of any sort, and no way to get any that anyone could see. She was basically invisible.  She was also resolved.  Other news outlets were reporting on the story, including this one that gives more details. 

Her father made his own video (removed now) where he made the whole controversy about how she is basically a bratty teenager who wanted her driver’s license. Just the sort of thing one would expect from these sort of folks. And then it all sort of went silent.

I kind of forgot about her, until she was mentioned in the comments here.

So, imagine my delight to discover this.

I know. It’s half-an-hour in length, but it’s worth listening to it. Faith has come a long, long way.

What astonished me the most, I think, is that a Republican state legislator in Texas came to her aid. That’s just wonderful and welcome and I am thrilled.  And the Texas legislature did, in fact, pass legislation that makes it a crime to deny your adult children their identification.  Texas did this.  Regressive, backward, goofy Texas. The state I would be happy to see leave the union. They did this.  Good for them.

Faith, according to her Facebook page, has her delayed birth certificate, is awaiting her passport to arrive in the mail, and will be able to use those two documents to finally get a Social Security number so she can get a job, go to school, and be a real person.

But notice this. The video that Faith made and put on YouTube was released on February 9, 2015.   That’s nineteen months ago.

It has been more than a year and a half and Faith still doesn’t have all her documents.  Let that sink in.

For more than a year and a half, Faith Pennington, who is an adult US citizen, has been unable to get a job, or go to school, or travel outside the United States. She literally can’t do much of anything. And it’s entirely a situation that her parents caused because they have engaged in something that now has a name.

It’s called identification abuse.

Homeschoolers Anonymous article about Faith

Lots more Homeschoolers Anonymous pieces on identification abuse

Coalition For Responsible Home Education article about identification abuse

The Washington Post article about Faith

PDF report of a survey of homeschool alumni about identification abuse

In Texas, denying these documents to an adult child is a crime. It ought to be a crime everywhere, and that includes Kentucky.  Forcing an adult child to waste two years of her life, put it all on hold, because you happen to be a control-freak asshole ought to be a criminal offense.

Faith was lucky because her video went so viral that she got the attention of people with the power to do something about her situation.

What about those who didn’t make a video?

Blessed Little Plans, September 22

no new blog postings
This is just beautiful. I’ve rarely seen so much packed into so little space.

“Our cameras don’t cover as much as we’d like.”

Really. Poor things. Their perimeter cameras. You know, the “off-grid” ones.  Right.

More likely, the cameras on their phones.

. . . attempts to undermine the business. . .

There is no, zero, nada, zilch credible evidence to suggest that anyone, anywhere, ever tried to do any such thing. Nicole called employers of other people (and admitted doing so) but nobody is bothering her business.  Naugler victimhood fiction.

. . . building materials ain’t cheap.

This is the paragraph directly following the ad for the business where you can buy pity bows and donate money. We get it, Nicole.

If we accomplish anything outside of that [playing around building forts and doing “chores”], cool. If not. Cool.

And this is sort of depressing. This statement, coming from a woman who advertises herself as a sort of guru and inspiration for other families who want to raise a family larger than they can reasonably support and live on nothing, but who says, “Fuck it. If it gets done, great. If it doesn’t get done, that’s okay too.”

You do understand that there are no “chores” at the Naugler property, don’t you?  Exactly what would they be?  Clean up the trash?  Nope. Mow the weeds?  Nope. Inspect and repair the garden shed?  Nope. Bathe? Nope.

“Chores” to these people means things like “get up,” “find something to eat,” “go to the grooming salon,” “run by Hardees,” “watch a movie.” Occasionally, maybe somebody does a bit of straightening up so that 13 human beings can move in that garden shed, but beyond that, I see evidence of nothing in the way of “chores.”  There is no school work. There is no real work (apart from what Nicole legitimately does at her business and what the oldest son theoretically does if he is still gainfully employed) of any sort.

But of course, there are the ever-present “unfinished homestead projects.”

I’d like to see an actual finished homestead project.  So far, after three years, there are none. Zero. None.  Show me one.  The shitshack was horrible.  Buying a garden shed with donated money and having some company plop it down on your property is not a finished homestead project. It’s a joke.

september 22

If  you want to see the other pages (this is getting too long to keep posting those pages over and over again), they are here.

 

A Night at the Movies

Nicole and video

Of all the stupid things Nicole has posted, this might be the dumbest.  I refer primarily to the lines highlighted in yellow.

Nicole, of course, has been snooping around looking either at various YouTube accounts or poking around on the Romancing website. Regardless, she doesn’t understand the first thing about what she’s talking about.

Here’s what she is referring to.

In May, 2015, just about the time that the Naugler children were being rescued from the shitshack, Cathy Harris decided to stage a protest at Bob Jones University.

I don’t want to get into gobs of detail here (the Romancing blog is a real Alice-in-Wonderland journey, and one that pretty much only interests people who were brought up in that fairly unique culture), but I am a fan of neither BJU nor Cathy Harris.  However, I do like the truth, and Cathy simply doesn’t tell the truth a good bit of the time.

Anyway, she was staging this protest. She advertised it all over the place. She invited the media. She invited a woman from SNAP (an organization that does something with sexual abuse cases).  It was going to be a big, big deal.

So I dubbed it “The Great Protest of 2015” and decided to live-blog it.

Now, mind you, Bob Jones University is in Greenville, SC, and I am here in Kentucky, so I was not there. I was not riding around in a car taking photos. I was sitting right here, right where I am at this moment, and people were sending me photos as fast as they could snap them.

If you scroll down that page I linked to, you’ll see those photos as they came in.  I posted them as fast as I could, scooping the local media (who were present) by about three hours.  Cathy wanted publicity. She begged for it.  I gave it to her.

But then, somebody sent me a short video they had taken on their phone, and I decided to upload it to YouTube.  Only it was just a six-second thing, and it told me that it really wanted to be a movie.

You have to understand Cathy to understand the movie. Cathy is one of those people who wants everything to be about her. We joke, often, about “Cathy Harris: The Movie.”  So I thought I would make just such a movie.

You can see it here.

Or hell, let’s just embed it.

It was fun to make and there is no “weird and creepy” text added. A few of the protest signs were Photoshopped by some of the folks who read the blog and what they say is not “weird” or “creepy.”  It is funny as hell, but if you have no idea what is going on, well, you won’t understand it.

For example, one Photoshopped sign says “Will work for candles.” I almost fell out of my chair laughing at that.  When Cathy first announced “The Great Protest” it was supposed to be a candlelight vigil.  That’s what was advertised for a long time.

And then suddenly, it was scheduled for noon.

Honestly, we expected her to be able to draw maybe as many as 50 people to this protest.  I was actually shocked to see only six, along with a kid and a cooler. There were almost as many media folks there as protesters.

So, there was no “cyberstalking.” There was a totally advertised public event that Cathy staged.  She begged for publicity. I gave her just that, a pretty good-sized audience, frankly.  I had a whole lot of help doing it. All I did was upload photos as they were sent to me.

But I have decided that maybe Nicole’s problem with all this is that she’s jealous.

Good golly, I do not want Nicole to be jealous of Cathy Harris and her movie.

So, because I am a really nice person in spite of Nicole’s inability to understand that, and in the interests of public service, I have made a movie for the Nauglers.

You’re welcome.

In Flew Inza

flu vaccine post

Nicole is sharing again without bothering to figure out whether or not there is any veracity whatever to the bullshit she’s sharing.

She wants all vaccines to be bad, so they are bad. She has zero understanding of how they work or what the flu vaccine is or what it does (if she did, she wouldn’t have shared that incredibly stupid post), but that doesn’t stop her.

Here’s the rest.

six

flu vaccine

Nine points. Let’s go through them one by one.

One.  Mercury.  OMG. Mercury. We’re all gonna die.

mercury

Some inactivated flu vaccines contain a very small amount of a mercury-based preservative called thimerosal. Studies have not shown thimerosal in vaccines to be harmful, but flu vaccines that do not contain thimerosal are available.

From the CDC website. This, btw, is the exact same information sheet that is handed to you when you go get a flu shot. They do not try to sneak this shit past you.  It’s right there in black-and-white.  Read it. Ask questions. Have a shit-fit if it suits you. But don’t pretend it’s a nefarious plot.

It doesn’t matter what the multi-vial contains. You are only one person, dipshit. You are only going to take one dose with 1 mcg of mercury (“bound” mercury, btw, not free-floating about looking for a place to do harm). That is a teensy, itsy, bitsy amount.

For comparison, how much mercury is in a can of tuna fish? Just plain regular old ordinary tuna fish, not the high-mercury albacore stuff?

About 20 mcg.

Live it up. Skip the tuna sandwich and get your flu shot.

Two. Egg allergies.

The vaccine is grown on eggs. So people who are allergic to eggs can’t take it. So what?

Three. Nursing mothers, pregnant women, etc.

I am none of those. Not an issue for me. If I were, you know what I’d do? I’d talk with my doctor about it.

But here’s what the CDC says about it.

Since a pregnant woman (like an old fart) can die from the flu relatively easily, it’s dumb to not do something about it.

Four. Not evaluated to see if it causes cancer (WTF?) or makes you sterile (highly recommended for Nicole Naugler, BTW).  I’m not sure any vaccine of any sort anywhere ever has any “cancer-causing” propensity. I don’t even see how that could even be, frankly.

Five. Reponse low in old farts.  Yeah, we know that already. More about that later.

Six. Reactions. Well, for pity’s sake, don’t let your damn kids run all over the woods all day long. Serious reactions have occurred to insect stings and caused anaphylactic shock resulting in death, you know.

Seven.  No data about what happens if you get fifteen different vaccines in one day. So don’t do that shit. Just get the one. It’s really pretty easy to count to one.

Eight.  Guillain-Barre syndrome. Yawn. Yeah. The risk is 1 in a million. At that rate, if every human being in the United States were vaccinated, there would be approximately 320 cases of Guillain-Barre syndrome that wouldn’t otherwise occur (maybe).

So let’s don’t vaccinate anyone.

The CDC is not sure exactly how many people die from the flu every year in the US, but the number is in the thousands, not to mention the thousands of people who are hospitalized but survive, or who spend a week at home unproductive and miserable. As the link will show you, doing an estimate is hard. It involves a whole lot more than just counting.

At any rate, the number is a whole lot higher than 320 (and not all those 320 people with Guillain-Barre will die).

I’ll take my chances, thanks.

Nine. 50% protection. She writes this as though that is bad. It’s actually pretty good, if you understand anything at all about how the flu vaccine works.

Here’s the deal.

You know how scientists call swine flu “H1N1”? The “H” and the “N” stand for substances that are found on the surface of the flu cell. Human beings, as of right now, are only affected by three different “H” viruses. H1, H2, H3.  That’s all. Avian flu, which is H5, hasn’t been able to make the cross-over permanently.

Here’s a reasonably good article about it that doesn’t get so technical it makes your eyes cross.

And here’s another one with more detail.

Viruses mutate very, very easily. And when they do, the cell that used to be H1N1 becomes H2N1, and bam, you have a new flu virus. That’s why immunity to the flu is a crap shoot.

The pharmaceutical guys work like motherfuckers all year long trying to figure out which strain of the virus is causing all the havoc this year, and then taking huge guesses (using computer modeling) to try to predict what they are going to mutate into for next year. And since it takes several months to grow the vaccine, they have to start this process for the fall of 2017 like yesterday, or at least by Christmas.

It’s a bit like trying to be the weather forecaster, but being held responsible for figuring how where hurricanes are going to hit next summer, and then being criticized horribly if you get it wrong.

So they hedge their bets. They generally include a cocktail of stuff in a vaccine.  Like this.

contents

See that bit with the H’s and N’s?  The H1N1 is what was floating around last year. They assume it’s still around, so it’s in the vaccine. And the other one is one that they are betting shows up. The last is a B virus and you can read more about that if you like at the link above.

But the point is that instead of just guessing the hurricane will hit Miami, they also get Charleston prepared just in case.

They can’t create a vaccine for every single possibility. The shot would be really big and I ain’t gonna do that.

But this explains why, first, sometimes the flu shot doesn’t “work,” and second, sometimes it sort of “works.”  First, if they totally miss, and the virus goes and mutates into H2N3, we’re all screwed and the CDC eats some crow.  However, if you got a flu shot last year, and if last year’s shot contained some vaccine against H2, you’re in luck.  You have a sort of partial immunity. You might actually catch the flu, but it might be way less bad because your antibodies, while not totally sure about these H2N3 virus cells, say to each other, “Wait. I remember that guy. He was hanging around here last year and we gave him the boot. I swear he looked just like that. Big nose and all.” And others say, “Nah. I don’t remember him at all. You’re nuts. I’m leaving that alone.”  So some virus cells get smashed and others are undisturbed, leaving you with a half-shitty case of the flu instead of a totally shitty case.

And it’s more complicated than that, of course. There aren’t just those two markers. There a few bazillion more, but I’m not paid the big bucks to know about all that.  I just know enough about it to want to get my flu shot.

So I did. Today, as a matter of fact.

sign flu

Dave and I followed the signs to the pharmacy, and there we were given an information sheet, identical to this page. You know all that shit that Nicole’s “source” got from demanding the insert?  Right on that sheet.

Furthermore, we had to fill out a questionnaire.  Here’s mine.

kroger consent

I know it’s hard to read. The blacked-out stuff is my personal information and my signature. The questions are interesting. Look them over in light of the points listed above that are supposed to fill you with fear.

1. Do you have a fever or illness today?
2. Do you have any allergies to medications, foods (e.g. eggs), latex, or a vaccine component (e.g. gelatin, neomycin, polymixin, yeast, thimerosal, etc.)? If yes, list what you’re allergic to___________________
3. Have you ever had a serious reaction after receiving a vaccine? (lip swelling, arm swelling, trouble breathing, seizure, etc.?)
4. Have you ever had a dose of the SAME vaccine for which you are requesting today? [NOTE: I put yes even though this year’s vaccine is different from last year’s vaccine. I wasn’t exactly sure what the question meant. I suspect it was there to be sure somebody didn’t come in and get a second vaccination THIS year.]
5. Have you ever experienced seizures, Guillain-Barre syndrome, or any other neurological disorder?
6. Have you received any vaccines in the last 28 days?
7. Have you had a mastectomy?
8. For women: are you currently pregnant, breastfeeding, or are you planning to become pregnant in the next month?
9. Do you have cancer, leukemia, lymphoma, HIV/AIDS, organ transplantation, or any other immune system problem?
10. In the past three months, have you taken medications that weaken your immune system, such as anti-cancer drugs, high-dose steroids, chemotherapy, injectable therapy for rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease or psoriasis (e.g. Humira, Enbrel) or radiation treatments?
11. During the past year, have you received a transfusion of blood or blood products, or been given immune (gamma) globulin or an antiviral drug?
12. Do you have a long-term health problem with heart disease, lung disease (e.g. COPD, asthma), kidney disease, metabolic disease (e.g. diabetes), anemia or other blood disorder?
13. For children or teens: Is the patient receiving long-term aspirin therapy or have a history of wheezing (2-4 yr olds)?

Now. Do you see how the information sheet and the questionnaire covered every single thing that courageous girl above found out by demanding to read the insert? If you answer “yes” to any of those questions, believe me they notice. And you aren’t getting a flu shot unless your doctor personally says it’s okay. Mostly, if you have these sorts of things, your doctor will pretty much make sure you get your flu shot at his office if you need one, and not at all if you can’t take it.

But Dave and I just plowed ahead, answered “no” to everything that mattered and got our shots. And because we are old farts, and our immune systems are about shot, and hence we are more vulnerable to the flu than your average young whipper-snapper, we got the super-duper double-dose Big Shot. In fact, we go early every year to make sure we can get the Big Shot. One year, we forgot and waited too late and they were out and we had to get the Weeny Shot. Bad. We learned our lesson and we make sure we remember now.

me getting shot

Thank you, Kroger.

Thank you, Medicare.

UPDATE: By bedtime last night, Dave was running a fever. Nothing huge. 100-101 degrees F.  Just enough to make him feel shitty.  He was also peeved. This hasn’t happened to him before (and has never happened to me).

Why is he running a fever? (He still has it this morning.)

A fever is one of the most common side-effects of the flu shot.

When your body is invaded by a foreign enemy, one of the immune system’s defenses is to raise your body temperature to make the environment as uncomfortable for the virus or bacteria as possible.

Here’s a fascinating video that illustrates this. I know it’s about honeybees and hornets, but just get the idea here.  In the first section, the poor honeybees (the immune system of the hive) have no idea what the hornets are and are destroyed. That’s you with a very bad case of the flu that lands you in the hospital on life support.

In the second part, the bees know exactly what is going on, and they burn out the hornet. That’s Dave’s fever.

It’s a normal response to an invading organism.  Dave’s body does not know that the vaccine he got yesterday contains attenuated viruses. (“Attenuated” means they aren’t dead, just sort of paralyzed.) So the antibodies react exactly like they are supposed to and raise the body temperature.

Dave’s question was a reasonable one. “Why did I get a fever and you didn’t?”

The answer is “I’m not sure.” Maybe his immune system is more robust than mine.  He’s 77 so I’m delighted to see his immune system kicking in like that.  But then again, and more likely, maybe he has some immunity already to something in the vaccine (one of the H’s or N’s) and so his immune system hit the ground running.

At any rate, the fever will last probably today and maybe even tomorrow, and then he’ll be fine. Except for a mild headache (which is caused by the fever), he has no other symptoms of anything and probably won’t have any. He does not have “the flu.”

Oh, and my arm is a little sore. Not much. Nothing like a tetanus shot. But a little sore.

Citizens

One cold winter day in 2009, I happened upon a podcast and started listening to it out of sheer boredom. Tim Turner was describing how you could get out of paying your mortgage or having your house repossessed and end up owning it free and clear.

Since we already own our little farm outright and were in no danger of losing it, I don’t know why the whole thing intrigued me, but it did. I supposed it was because the guy was so obviously bananas.

This was back when lots of folks were in serious trouble with home foreclosures and job losses and people were pretty nervous about the economy. And this guy was doing a seminar on how to beat the system.

He threw around a lot of legal-sounding phrases and big words, like his listeners would understand what the hell he was talking about, and sounded astonishingly similar to Joe Naugler, as a matter of fact.  Lots of talking but not much communicating.

In one of his weekly calls, in another example, a follower asked Turner to explain what really happened when an alien spacecraft supposedly crashed in 1947 near Roswell, N.M. His reply was reminiscent of a tabloid headline in a supermarket checkout line: “I’m not going to tell you they [aliens] exist or don’t exist. What I’m going to say is every nation on Earth, or every industrialized nation on Earth at least, has a treaty with them.”

[From an article on Turner at the Southern Poverty Law Center.]

That was my introduction to the weird, wacky world of the sovereign citizen.

SPLC article
click image to link to source

This article is probably the best overall explanation of the movement and their basic beliefs. The most interesting part to me of all this is that the sovereign citizens movement is basically racist and originated mostly in the white supremacy community. And this PDF is a longer, more comprehensive history and explanation of the movement.

amazon

You can even buy books by sovereigns telling you all about how to flood the courts with worthless documents and how you too can end up in prison (like Tim Turner did).

The name thing is also bizarre and sort of fascinating. They believe that their name spelled in all capitals is not really their name at all and that they can get out of legal obligations just because they sign their name as Sally Davis, instead of SALLY DAVIS.

I laughed some more when these madmen sent letters to all fifty governors of the various states demanding that they step down from office “or else.” It was all just so funny.

But then along came Jerry Kane and his 16-year-old son, Joe.

Kanes

Here they are. An overweight pompous asshole of a father, and his innocent-looking, just-on-the-cusp-of-manhood son.  Jerry, in this video, was doing a seminar. You can listen to some of it if you like.  There is a whole series of these videos. The seminar was all day.

Jerry and his son were in Arkansas about a year after the video above was filmed and got pulled over by a couple of policeman on a routine traffic stop. While the policemen were occupied talking with the father, the son, this 16-year-old boy, produced a rifle and fatally shot both of the policemen. Jerry and Joe then fled, only to be surrounded a while later in a parking lot and killed by the police.

It was a terrible tragedy that didn’t have to happen.

It happened because Jerry Kane indoctrinated his son in a bunch of bullshit that included an over-inflated sense of their own importance, a complete disdain for the duly-authorized legal system from the courts on down to the local police, and extreme paranoia.

Jerry Kane, that jackass in the white suit, got both himself and his boy killed.

For me, the incident made the whole sovereign citizen thing not nearly so funny. I hadn’t realized how close they were to violence. Obviously, those cops hadn’t realized it either. After the Kane tragedy, police officers started receiving training in how to recognize sovereigns and how to handle them so that further incidents like that would not occur.

I bring all this up because Joe and Nicole Naugler, while describing themselves as voluntaryists, use language and seem to embrace concepts that originate in the movement. Pinning an ideology on the Nauglers is difficult if not impossible, as they are basically opportunists.

Nicole has said that she is a “voluntaryist.”  Before venturing down the Blessed Little Rabbit Hole, I had no idea what that was.

Think of it this way. The big category is “Christian.”  Under that, we have “Protestants” and “Catholics.”

The various sub-sects of “Protestant” include those on in the mainstream, like Episcopalians or Lutherans, and those on the right, like Southern Baptists, and then the really extreme bunch, like independent fundamentalist snake-handling Baptists.

And that’s very much the way libertarians are.  Like Baptists, there are all sorts of sub-groups. There are the basic mainstream libertarians, who are bonkers but pose no threat to anyone about anything. And there are all the spawns, the off-shoots, many of whom are lumped together as “patriots.”

Sovereign citizens and voluntaryists and anarcho-capitalists all fall into that latter category. Sorting out the differences between them is a bit like trying to figure out what the difference is between Southern Baptists and Free Will Baptists and Primitive Baptists. They fuss and fight over definitions between themselves, but nobody else cares. They are all Baptists.

And like Baptists, these sub-groups have core ideas they share, things like “government is bad,” “laws restrict freedom,” “taxation is theft,” “the police suck dirt,” “courts are all corrupt,” “government is all corrupt,” “to be free, nobody can tell me what to do.” That sort of thing.

anti

I have dozens of screen shots like this, where Nicole shares some post of Larken Rose’s.

I’ve talked a bit about Larken Rose here and in another post about voting. But what I didn’t mention is that Larken Rose is one of those voluntaryist-anarchocapitalist sorts. (If they combine any more words, we’ll have a hyphenated jungle.) And that’s a close, close sibling to a sovereign citizen.

Nicole loves Larken Rose.  She hangs on his every word and shares many of them. She even steals them outright without attribution.

business law

She doesn’t like laws pertaining to her business. She doesn’t like it that the state wants to insure that if I walk in there, the building will be safe and not collapse, the workers will be paid appropriately (unless they are her own children, in which case slave labor is acceptable), there is a recognizable entity for me to sue if I am cheated, and that she is not permitted to skip out on paying her fair share of taxes.

theft

Oh, yeah. I forgot. Taxes are theft in Nauglerville.

law you won't obey

Notice the threat here? You’re a slave. You need to figure out when you are going to rise up and revolt. At what point will you do that?  You need to think about it.

No, I’m not, Larken, and no, I don’t.

laws immoral

Thankfully, Nicole does not hold any elected office. There are good things in the world and having her washing dog butts is one of those good things.

government control

Apart from the fact that the little graphic above is inaccurate (being a socialist does not mean that you think government should control all  your food sources or clothing sources or even housing except for the needy, and the differences between a classic conservative and a classic liberal are way more numerous and varied than universal healthcare), the point Nicole is offering up here is that she doesn’t believe in government of any kind at all. Zip. Nada. Zilch.

dangerous lumped

So, see, even Nicole lumps the various sects of this so-called “Patriot” movement together.  And she knows that there is a violent, dangerous streak in there.  She knows perfectly well who Jerry Kane was, and I bet she could name many of the other sovereign citizens or similar types who have clashed with law enforcement and ended up either in prison or dead.

don't condone violence

Two options.  Just two. Black and white.  Either, or.

What about option C? Authority is given with the consent of the governed (it is – Nicole just won’t vote because her guy generally doesn’t win, so she took her rubber duck and left), so we honor that even if we don’t agree with it.

For her, there is no option C.

And she’s not condoning violence (yet), but she understands it. Yeah, we all heard her screeching at Sheriff Pate to shoot her, and screaming at her boys that the police would shoot them.  I remember that.

don't condone violence 2

And this is what her unschooled kids are being fed. Violent uprising might be the only answer.  The state has no authority.  The police are the enemy, and violence against them is “understandable.” Law about things like sanitation and business licenses are evil and have no validity.  It’s courageous and commendable to scream bloody murder at a sheriff.

daylight savings timeEven the family jokes involve how dumb and useless and stupid and incompetent the government is.

I think that is exactly what Jerry Kane fed his son, Joseph.  And I really believe that when Jerry Kane heard those shots and saw those police officers fall and realized that his son, who I’m sure he loved, had just killed two officers, he was the most shocked person on earth.

When I listen to Jerry Kane on those videos, I am reminded of men like Ted Haggard (the fundamentalist preacher who ranted about the evils of homosexuality while having a gay affair). They say stuff from the pulpit all the time that they really don’t believe or do. Jerry Kane wasn’t going to actually do enough law-breaking to get put in actual jail.  He was just going skate close so he could trot around the country and give seminars in his white suit and get paid for it.

We all do this to some extent.  “I will not do that,” we say vehemently, until we calm down a little and realize why we are going to have to do exactly that, or a somewhat altered version of that. It’s called adulting.

Joseph Kane was not an adult, though. He, like all adolescents, was just starting to learn about how idealism and reality sometimes (often?) clash, and how you have to figure out how some sort of compromise.

And he was listening to his father ‘preach’ from the pulpit of governmental hatred, childish narcissism, and paranoia.  He absorbed the lessons.  He believed them.

The result was catastrophe.

I’ve wondered what was running through Jerry Kane’s mind as he madly drove away from that scene.  He had to know that if the police found them (and he had to know that they would), he and Joseph would very likely be killed in the ensuing situation. He was a dead man driving, and in the vehicle with him was his son, also as good as dead.

Did he frantically try to figure out a way for his son to survive even if he didn’t?  Did he want to give up?  Did they argue about it?

We’ll never know.