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Science

Herr Senator Doctor Rand Paul Wants Your Kids To Die Of Freedom Measles

Even the Republicans on the committee think he's a dick.

Rand Paul, the great libertarian and self-certified "eye doctor," had some very deep thoughts yesterday on Liberty and Freedom and the right of parents to let their kids and other people risk dying of communicable disease for the sake of Liberty. The Senate Health Education, Labor and Pensions Committee was holding an actual hearing -- yes, a US Senate hearing in the Trump era! -- on the threats posed to public health by recent measles outbreaks, and the Senator from Kentucky made a very important speech about health and freedom, and the dangers of evil government control. Why, if we mandate that children be vaccinated, aren't we really using VIOLENCE to make people conform, just for some alleged health benefits like "avoiding measles outbreaks" like the two currently hitting the USA?

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Science

Stupid Dumb Measles Bullsh*t, Texas And Montana Republican Editions

Measles cannot be cured with antibiotics, or anything.

If we lived in a perfect world, there would be some kind of statute preventing stupid politicians from basing legislation on "science" they've made up themselves. Think of how much time we would all save on abortion issues! So much time! I, for one, would never again have to write another "Oh my god, no one is killing newborn babies" explainer, which would be pretty sweet.

Aside from abortion, the number one issue for people who don't know what the hell they are talking about is vaccines. People who don't know anything about vaccines feel very confident that they are the ones who should be going around enacting legislation based on shit they have made up themselves, which is rather inconvenient for the rest of us! Especially those who have immuno-compromised children who need to rely on herd immunity to stay alive. The entire gist of the anti-vaccine movement is "Other people need to die to protect my right to be stupid."

Texas is in the middle of a measles outbreak at the moment, so naturally a couple of Republican legislators have decided it is a great time to put out a bill making it easier for parents to get vaccine exemptions for their children, and prevent the state health department from tracking exemptions. This means that it will be more difficult for health officials to pinpoint where outbreaks are coming from and thus work to curb them, and that sane parents won't be able to use that information to decide where to send their kids to school. The bill is authored by Representative Matt Krause of the Freedom Caucus, because of course it is.

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2020 presidential election

President Jay Inslee Will Put Solar Panels On White House, Capitol, Your Mom

He's got nerdmentum!

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today became the four billionth candidate to announce he's running for the Democratic nomination in 2020, although he joins the field with one distinction: He's actually the first governor to jump into the race. Heck, there's more mayors running than governors so far. Inslee positions himself as the candidate who'll fight climate change, and released a video that almost comically emphasizes the point. In the first 15 seconds, it hits us with a montage of Inslee saying variations on "We have got to stop global warming" and pounding on "climate change" over and over -- taken in isolation, it could almost look like a clip from an opposition ad complaining Inslee's too single-minded. But that's pretty much his point, as he said in a New Yorker profile published yesterday. It just doesn't make sense for Dems to say climate change is an existential threat but not center their campaigns on fighting it.

Yr Wonkette has watched a whole lot of campaign announcement videos this year. Inslee's is definitely one of them, but it's the first we've come across where the campaign has set it to not allow embedding. So we will try to recreate that opening montage through the magic of screenshots, which are like a video with a really slow frame rate. The ad kicks off a bit hokily, with Earnest Young Voter asking what Inslee has to say about climate. And then we get a quick recap (and trade) of Inslee's career as a congressman and governor, aging incrementally as the climate has gotten worser.

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Science

Kiss A Rare Disease If You're Irish!

You Fucking Love Science!

Chances are you know someone who has a rare disease or know someone who cares for someone with a rare disease. Rare diseases are not actually rare, which I know sounds loco, but stay with me here. First, what IS a rare disease? In the United States we define it as any disease where 200,000 or fewer patients have it. In the EU they define it as a condition that affects less than 1 in 2000 people. Potatoh, potatoe. So yes, for any specific rare disease, there aren't a lot of peeps out there dealing with it. However, there are at least 6000 different rare diseases that we've identified, so while there may be just a few patients with a specific rare disease, there are MANY patients out there with SOME rare disease. US estimates are that we have 25-30 million people here with a rare disease. That's about 1 in ten!

Let's take a look at a couple of diseases at the far ends of rarity. First up is Ribose-5-phosphate isomerase deficiency or RPI deficiency for short. Patients with this condition have a problem with the enzyme or enzymes in that pathway and to be super scientific, bad shit builds up that shouldn't, accumulates in the brain and does bad stuff all over the body as well. So far, a grand total of THREE people with this condition have been found since it was discovered in 1999. Want to read about it? Here's a free paper that's pretty interesting. With only three patients, there is little research going on and zero efforts on treatments at this time.

Kidney cancer, and more specifically renal cell cancer, is also a rare disease. However, this disease is towards the other end of the spectrum, with about 75,000 new cases in the US this year. Still rare, but one that has lots of active research going on, drug development happening, foundations that support it, etc. When I first started working in the biotech industry, waaaaay back in the bronze age (we're talking pre-internet kids!), there was only one approved drug for kidney cancer and it's a bit of a crazy one. It would cure, flat out cure, about 7% of patients who took it, but it would actually kill about 2% because of the way it used your immune system to attack the cancer. These days we've learned more about how to harness the immune system to fight disease and there are now over 20 approved drugs for kidney cancer.

With so few patients, why would a drug company want to jump in and work on a treatment? I'm glad you asked young pendejos! Besides just wanting to help patients who don't have any treatments (honestly, not everyone in this industry just wants to make money) here are four major reasons.

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News

Chinaman Not The Preferred Nomenclature, Trump. Wonkagenda For Tues., Feb. 26, 2019

Michael Cohen has 'EARTH SHATTERING' news, Trump trying to steal Uncle Sam's purse, and 9/11 first responders need our help. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Science

Meet Daryl. Daryl Loves Carbon Dioxide. Daryl Hates When Gays Make Him Gay With Their Gay Elbows. Hi, Daryl!

Pennsylvania's official heterosexual science-understander, everybody!

In a hearing last week, Pennsylvania state Rep. Daryl Metcalfe explained why he opposed any efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses: he just really really loves plants and vegetables, which need carbon dioxide to grow, so take THAT, you crazy radicals who want to completely eliminate CO2 from our Earth's atmosphere! We suppose there is some irony in the fact that without a certain amount of CO2, you couldn't even grow yourself a straw man, either.

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Nice Time

Let's All Relax With Some NICE THINGS

Why cats AREN'T psychopaths, some podcasts, and other coolness

Time for an abbreviated Nice Things, your weekly escape from the daily stream of terrible terribleness! We'll be a bit shorter than usual this week because Yr Dok Zoom is a terrible planner and took far too long on the Book Club this week. Maybe next week we'll figure this all out. Or not!

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Science

Republican Lunatic Will Give Montana Its Very Own Science, Hooray!

That is the face of knowing stuff, for sure!

A Republican state legislator in Montana has some great ideas about to protect his state from the depredations of Big Science: Just declare climate change fake and move on. State Rep. Joe Read of Ronan (population 1,871, the wee little sister of your editrix's big town of Polson, pop. 4000ish) is not a big fan of so-called "climate science," and in 2011 introduced a bill declaring climate change, if it's happening at all, beneficial to Montanta's economy. Surprisingly, it didn't go anywhere, but at least Read got mocked in the national press, and by one of his Democrat colleagues in the lege at the time, who said the very idea was "ludicrous" and called the bill "a waste of the Legislature's time." Now, Read is back with more important freedom legislation, and has has introduced a pair of blockbuster bills that would allow Montana to secede from both federal regulation and from scientific reality, because that is how you deal with the heavy hand of Big Government.

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News

Another Bill In The Wall. Wonkagenda For Fri., Feb. 22, 2019

Trump STILL can't get his wall money, Alex Acosta broke the law, and Dame Peggington hates commie kids. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today!

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Science

Meet Trump's New Climate Policy Guy: This F*cking Lunatic

'The demonization of carbon dioxide is just like the demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler'? Oh.

The Washington Post reports the Trump administration is on the verge of forming a panel to reconsider the Pentagon and Intelligence community assessment that climate change poses a serious concern for national security. The idea that climate is a national security concern is hardly crazy -- the Pentagon has been warning about the implications of climate change for national defense since the 1990s, and by 2010, the Defense Department was urging that climate change should be considered a major force of destabilization around the world. Hungry people whose crops have dried up may get violent, you know? Or at least pick up and move elsewhere, where they may not be welcome. Similarly, the CIA in 2008 tried to assess the likely effects of climate change on security through 2030.

Of course, now that President ScienceBrain is in office, that's all in the trash, at least in the Oval Office. And this new effort to set up a "Presidential Committee on Climate Security" through an executive order has the potential to erase considerations of climate from national security planning, because the "president" doesn't believe it, and has surrounded himself with other great intellects who reject science too. And hoo boy, get a load of the guy in charge of the whole shebang: William Happer, a laser expert who worked on Reagan's Star Wars antimissile program and, not surprisingly, is not a climate scientist. Instead, he argues that we need a lot more CO2 in the atmosphere, because it's what plants crave.

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News

Mike Pence Embarasses Himself (Again). Wonkagenda For Mon., Feb. 18, 2019

Andy McCabe goes on 60 Minutes, Heather Nauert quit-fired, and LA's 'army of cats.' Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Nice Time

Look At All The Nice Things. Just LOOK At Them!

Go read some excellent longform journamalism and essays! Also, horror movies and race! And MORE!

If it's Sunday, this must be Nice Things, our weekly escape from the quotidian awfulness. Our featured doggo this week comes via a photo by Wonkette reader "Teecha," and we don't think Teecha mentioned a name for this lovely old rescue dog. If it is a dog at all: I think it may actually be one of Sia's more inventive disguises, like that time she was a little pony.

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Science

Chuck Schumer Going On Offense On Climate Change? Be Still Our Hearts!

Time for Republicans to decide whether science is real.

Yesterday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer welcomed Mitch McConnell's decision to bring the Green New Deal resolution to the floor for a vote, although Schumer noted that McConnell's intent was far from a good-faith effort to address climate change. On Tuesday, McConnell announced he wanted a vote on the resolution, hoping maybe such a vote would somehow reveal DEEP RIFTS among Senate Democrats, especially the thousand or so running for president. Schumer essentially said great, we know this can't pass in a Republican-controlled Senate, but we're happy to call your bluff, Mitch. Now, how about you guys get on the record that you reject the international scientific consensus that Earth is getting warmer, that humans are causing it, and that we need to take action?

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News

Love Your Children Well. Wonkagenda For Thurs., Feb. 14, 2019

Manafort FUXXORED, snakey Republicans throw tantrums over guns, and Fox tries to hide an anti-Nazi documentary. Your morning news brief!

Morning Wonketariat, and happy Valentine's Day! Here's some of the things we may be talking about today.

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Science

Let's All Die Of Measles, Again!

More outbreaks, more anti-vaxxers pissing us off.

America has another batch of measles outbreaks on its hands, as well as its arms, face, back, and everywhere else. And as usual, the disease is spreading in areas where large numbers of people have opted not to get their kids vaccinated against childhood diseases that should have been eliminated decades ago. Hooray for the internet and gullible people! To add to the stupidity, rightwing idiots are spreading misinformation about measles and vaccines, because they love nothing more than going viral.

The two worst current outbreaks are in Washington (the state) and in New York (also the state). In Clark County in southern Washington, just across the Columbia river from Portland, Oregon, 53 people have been diagnosed, most of them children. Four other cases have been confirmed in Oregon's Multnomah County, as well as at least one case in King County, which includes Seattle. The Clark County outbreak was caused by an international traveler to the area, whose infection rapidly spread because the county has lots and lots of unvaccinated kids.

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Environment

Green New Deal Will Steal Your Farting Cow's Bicycle

GOP has its new DEATH PANELS!

Looks like the Green New Deal must be gaining support, since rightwingers are going Full Death Panels to suggest it's not merely going to be difficult, but outright psycho-crazy IMPOSSIBLE. Obviously, no one in their right mind could support the paired goals of keeping the planet habitable for large mammals like ourselves while also creating jobs, because nobody wants jobs or a sustainable environment, not really. So you get spectacles like Fox News smartperson Jeanine Pirro somehow equating reduced greenhouse gases with infanticide, because don't those always go together? Let's take a moment to separate the facts from the farting cows, shall we? We shall.

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