Update: I wrote this about a week ago, but was too lazy to add graphics and post it. Now there’s outbreaks of Measles in Arizona, threats to sue the parents of unvaccinated children, and additional measures of insanity. I’m not really sure how to reflect on it, so I’m just posting my original thoughts because I don’t have the emotional drive to keep up with this shit.
Recently, this labor-of-love has seen some bad press as people have been stricken ill with a respiratory virus you may remember from your childhood as the Measles.
No, The measles aren’t some knock-off Winnie the Pooh characters that spook your children and leave them with the sniffles. It’s a serious viral infection, named Rubeola. And sure, Rubeola sounds like something you order at Olive Garden, and also not that serious, but the virus that broke out at Disney land is neither adorable or delicious. Measles, though rarely, can be fatal, but may lead to blindness, deafness and brain swelling.
Whenever I read the news, I like to scroll down to the comments section so I can immediately lose my faith in humanity. I don’t know why, maybe it just gives me a reason to feel superior because I don’t spew venom all over people I’ve never seen before. Quite honestly though, I don’t know why lurking and reading all of the ignorance and hatred that flows over a comments section somehow deems me morally superior.
The particulars of the story, in short, are these:
An outbreak of measles was traced back to Disney land in California, and at the time of writing, 59 cases have been linked to it in six states. I’ve seen a couple different numbers, however, 59 is the one that I’ve seen repeated across articles which is the closest I’m going to come to verification.
82% of those infected (approximately 48 of the 59) were not vaccinated, either due to their age or beliefs.
There are two major controversial opinions about why this is happening:
1.) Parents who choose not to vaccinate their children (due to the now debunked link to autism) are reducing what is called ‘herd immunity’ causing more cases to surface and spreading viruses like Measles. Many cite religious or health reasons for not vaccinating, and the common mantra, according to the soul-deadening comments section, is often something about how our bodies are better at fighting off diseases if they are free of antibiotics, which is often associated with some vague attachment to our knowledge of superbugs, because all viruses. ‘Anti-vaxxers’ as they are less than affectionately called claim:
2.) Other people claim that our less-than-lethal approach of not murdering what one commenter referred to as ‘Dirty illegal mexicans’ is leading to a slew of new diseases that our delicate, unvaccinated children can’t handle. Here is this logic illustrated in a flowchart:
Here’s the funny thing, most of the parents who aren’t vaccinating their children are likely to be born in the ‘70s or later, which means the measles vaccine was readily available, and therefore they’d never seen any of their friends or family contract the virus and die. Measles, unlike other viruses like the flu, which goes through a mutagenic makeover every year, is relatively stable. The vaccine they came up with in the 70s, unlike polyester summer wear and the bowl cut, remains just as effective.
Another moment of disclosure: I am wary of vaccines, mostly because of their close association with doctors, of whom I have stories about I will tell later. Viruses are prone to mutation and a vaccine for one virus won’t necessarily be effective for a different strain, and no one wants a bunch of injections in exchange for a percentage point or so of guarantee. Is that a reason not to get them? Hell no. It’s a reason to be informed, to ask your doctor questions and understand what you’re putting in to your body, and why.
Any virus can come back. Do you remember what I said about herd immunity? Essentially, if enough people do get vaccinations, there is a much smaller likelihood that the virus can spread quickly, as most people will have developed enough immunity to stop them from passing it on to people who don't have that immunity. But if that number starts declining, there are fewer people who are immune, which will cause the number of people capable of spreading the number to rise.
Suck up and take your medicine.
The part of this that I find heartbreaking is the fact some people still cling to the assumption that this virus emigrated here from South American countries. If you didn’t see my previous flowchart of circular logic, here it is again:
Unfortunately, the idea that disease is racially related isn’t new. Tuberculosis was once linked to Jews, and Cholera to the Irish. Ebola is only one of many diseases we assume Africa came up to kill people far away, firstly by infecting themselves. All of these are easily disproven, and for the current example, here’s why:
For measles, the disease in question people are worried is being tracked across the border on unsanitary foreigners, the vaccination rates are high. Mexico has a 99% vaccination rate, as do Nicaragua and Cuba. Guatemala has a 93% vaccination rate. The United States is at 92%. It is much less likely that people coming to our country is welcoming a slew of diseases.
When I was first reading these comments on the internet about why illegal immigrants were the source of the outbreak, I was confused. People appeared to be falling back on the historical cautionary tale of smallpox that was brought by Spaniards to central America, which happened before vaccines were a thing, by the way. This is not an issue of illegal immigration, or any immigration for that matter. This is an issue of a group of people being wrong and who should take some accountability. I respect your beliefs, but exercising any belief in a way that will kill children is unacceptable. I’m not saying that as a liberal bias; Quinoa is ruining the environment for example, so stop eating that shit you hemp wrapped hypocrites. (Digression)
Not ever decision you make in your life should be a competition with everyone else. You don’t need to be more right. Actually, no one needs to be right. More than once in my life I’ve realized how stupid I am or how bad what I did was, and after awhile I learned it was better to be wrong so I had a gauge of what the right thing was. Changing your mind doesn’t make you a hypocrite; refusing to despite all evidence against you (and even possibly your beliefs) very well might.
Happy New Years! Got resolution?
So let’s say you do, a shiny new goal. Something you’re going to do this year. Something that’s going to put all the other years before it in a box that you can donate to Goodwill, where someone can relive your gently used, hand me down piece of shit year, while pretending they’re not bothered by the weird stains.
That metaphor was clunky and unworkable, but, just like any undertaking, I committed to it through to the bloody end.
You have something new, something you can only get once a year, a whole new calendar year to make a change. Because no other arbitrary date followed by 365 consecutive days is recognized as a legitimate way to achieve a goal in our culture. That’s okay, you’re on the boat now! You’re going to be a better person! What are you going to do, learn a new language, eat more muffins, become president of Nanking?
Well, I have some bad news, you’ll probably fail.
The problem with new years resolutions, no matter what they are, is that there is no difference between who we were before the binge drinking and after. Once the hangover wears off, we still tend to be insecure, assholes we were last year, distracting ourselves in every way possible in hopes that we won’t actually have to do anything, and therefore, we’ll never fail. Why do we do this? I don’t know, but I bet someone in science has a study about it somewhere. Arguably it’s not the fear of failure, it’s the fear of change, because any major change, be it learning something new or changing you physical appearance for better or worse, is a change, and once you change, your circumstances must as well.
But maybe my cynicism hasn’t scared you off. So here’s what I know about resolutions.
There are only two pieces of advice to achieving any goal, making resolutions a reality: One is that you have to do it, the second is that you have to sacrifice something else.
The truth behind becoming, learning or doing anything is that you have to start doing it and continue. This piece of advice has been frustrating to many a travel-hungry college student who is jaded to the idea of massive student loans and losing prospective jobs because backpacking through Europe isn’t the greatest way to market yourself on LinkedIn. Often times when famous people are asked how they got where they are, it’s an ambiguous and unhelpful answer something to the effect of “I just did it.”
They are then sued by Nike for royalties.
Anyway, we usually chalk up other people’s success to knowing people. Because that’s the only way to get ahead in the world, is by knowing the right people. Because it’s bad, in our mind, to have to be socially adept in a field full of people passionate about the same thing you’re passionate about. That bizarre social anomaly aside, think of it this way; those ‘right people’ saw these successful people doing what they loved. They kept playing music, juggling swords, whatever, and they did it wherever they went. In doing so, they eventually came across people that enjoyed doing this too. By alienating people that have common interests because ‘knowing people is selling out’, you’ve doomed yourself to obscurity. But by learning from people who have the same interests and putting for the effort to meet other people, you might wind up as one of those fancy pants famous people.
The second part, which is probably why the first part is so difficult, is that you have to sacrifice something, usually a few things, in order to get your goal done. We love seeing polymaths on TV, people who speaking multiple languages with two degrees and a martial arts expertise, but the reality is, in order to master anything, you need to dedicate a lot of time. Time that you normally spend doing other things, walking your dog, having friends, eating muffins; that will all be filtered into the goal you created for yourself.
It’s not enough to just paint for a few minutes every day. You need to finish paintings every day. People will accuse you of being reclusive as you perfect your craft. Your circle of friends will change drastically as you slowly lose your ability to keep track of what’s happening on Game of Thrones because you’re still doing that same shit. Success is repetitive and requires more than a montage to pull off, so you’re required to put in more than the length of an 80s power ballad.
I’m not really sure why I’m shilling any advice by the way. I’m a pretty average person. I go to college and I work, pursue the things I think I enjoy and live relatively quietly. It makes sense for people like Rockerfeller to write books about fortune; but in this era I have an opinion and a domain name. Maybe my advice isn’t as well founded as someone with a PhD, but I am, for all intents and purposes, happy, and one thing that’s helped me accomplish that is a drive to finish things, like this article, even though I’m very sleepy, and I kind of half assed this because I really do want that muffin. We all have a piece of the puzzle, to grab a cliche from the basket that's supposed to have muffins in it, and maybe this wisdom of mine may help you. Who knows, maybe you have the muffins.
If you’re for some reason curious, writing this and hopefully other, better and insightful articles is one of my resolutions this year. That and to become more indifferent to muffins.
God Help me.
About A Blog
I'm a Denver Comedian, occasional cartoonist and person of interest to someone, probably. These articles are really too long.