The Corral: Vaccination

“So why should you care if I don’t vaccinate my children?”

I coud answer this question with the fact I’m a human being and don’t want to see dead kids. But the answer is much more personal than that and is why I give very little quarter on this subject. To put it simply, the answer is herd immunity and my nearest and dearest.

Herd Immunity is a simple concept – if you never meet someone who carries an infectious disease you will not catch that infectious disease and it therefore won’t harm you. Also if no one carrying an infectious disease meets someone to pass it on to you can wipe it out, while if they all pass it on you will get an epidemic. This should be obvious – and the rest of it’s just maths to model where the thresholds are. But Herd Immunity only really protects those who aren’t protected by vaccienes directly – why is it personal to me?

I have a friend with no natural immunity to measles. She’s been vaccinated repeatedly and caught it three times so far and will catch it every time she comes into contact with it until either measles (with its 0.2% death rate and 0.5% serious brain damage rate) or something else kills her. Her only defence against measles is herd immunity so an attempt to undermine herd immunity is an attempt to kill or cripple the life of one of my friends.

My baby sister has a heart transplant which means that she will be on immunosuppressants for the rest of her life. Her only serious protection from a lot of diseases is herd immunity so an attempt to undermine herd immunity is an attempt to kill or cripple my family.

But it’s even more personal than that for me although fortunately I don’t remember it. Whooping Cough has a 0.5% death rate for those under 1 year old and for those too young to remember there was a whooping cough vaccine scare in the 1970s and 1980s so I caught it when I was too young to be vaccinated. In short an anti-vaccination scare threatened my life by undermining herd immunity.

My friends, my family, and me. All things I care deeply about. And all things any attempt to undermine vaccinations either has or does threaten the life of (and I’m just scratching the surface here). This is why I take even internet debates about vaccination so seriously and intend to win, at least with the bystanders.

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The Great Doctor of History

(Being my out-of-season contribution to the Moffatt/Dr. Who and Feminism genre). Many people have pointed out Moffatt’s issues with women. There are some good rebuttals – the best being Philip Sandifer’s at the TARDIS eruditorium.

It is, however, obvious that something is going on. And although whoever said you can’t argue with numbers didn’t have a clue – but numbers on their own are a question. Becca Moore has excellent research summarised as an infographic. This is what’s going on. So why?IS DOCTOR WHO SEXIST-01 2

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So what use would tactical voting have been?

Labour supporters are trying to blame the Green Party for Labour’s failure at the election. So let’s have a reality check. I worked out how many extra seats Labour would have won if the Greens had all voted Labour, and found 12. Putting the Tories on 319 seats. Four short of a majority. Meaning that a Conservative government was still inevitable. But either another ConDem government or (more likely and much worse) Conservative/Democratic Unionist Party. A party that is anti-abortion and homophobic.

Congratulations everyone who voted Green. That’s what you saved us from. A coalition that would actively make the Tories worse!

And Labour, the blame is entirely at your feet. Possibly if you’d had a better election campaign than “We’re another bunch of pro-austerity economic illiterates – just not quite as bad as the Tories” then you would have had people who actually wanted to vote for you. Rather than losing your votes to Farage and then blaming us.

And you do not own the Green vote. Some of us have hard lines you cross. Many of us will tell you that if you support Frakking and want our votes you can frack off! One of my personal lines is still the Iraq War – I’ll never knowingly vote for anyone who voted for that (which didn’t stop me voting for Jeremy Corbyn in 2005).

As for what harm would 8 MPs have done? Would they have been able to make abortion illegal? No. But it’s possible to restrict access to abortion without banning it. The sort of tricks Nadine Dorries loves to try. The DUP supports homophobic conscience clauses. And all they need is to sneak one or two of those into the back of Tory bills to make a Tory government even worse. All the economics of the Tory party with homophobia and mysogeny on top. By voting Green you stopped the DUP gaining a massively disproportionate amount of influence.

Remember: It could have been worse. And Tory/DUP is even worse than pure Tory. This is what the Labour Party are blaming us for not ending up with.

And that we almost had the DUP (of all people) holding the balance of power is yet another reason the voting system needs to change.

Copyright and The Common Good

Our IP system is broken. Not as spectacularly broken as John Oliver demonstrates the US system is. Copyright’s equally absurd – just look at Happy Birthday. And in the US, copyright has already been extended twice (1976) (1998) just before Micky Mouse was due to come out of copyright (it’s now due out in 2023…). And in the US the following books have become public domain in the past five years because their copyright expired. Indeed the current system of copyright in the US is so toxic to older books that in 2013 Amazon had more books from the 1880s than the 1980s.

But Britain isn’t the US. So what’s that to do with us? We actually have had books coming out of copyright for the past 20 years. The only thing is that the books that came out of copyright last year also came out of copyright in 1994 and were then taken out of the public domain by 1995 legislation (imposed on us by the EU)*. And our term lengths are the same.

The current copyright system is broken and corporate controlled. It needs a radical overhaul

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Lucky number seven? Or Master Debaters at work?

So yesterday was the seven way leaders’ debate. Or a seven way pile up, however you want to look at it. And most of the analysis I’ve seen so far in the national press is banal, trite, and misleading. And that includes the polling companies who are simply asking the wrong questions. “Who won the debate” is not a terribly useful question (the answer was, of course, Nicola Sturgeon). The interesting question is “What did each party want to get out of the debate and what did they get – and how useful is that?”

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Wikipedia’s ArbCom: Busy doing nothing

So. ArbChttps://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/6/61/Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpg/240px-Wikimania_2007_puzzle_ball.jpgom have finally voted on GamerGate; my preliminary analysis was in my last post – but things subtly and significantly changed after that. What did ArbCom actually decide in the end? To put it simply, they punted. They made sure their result was fair so no one could accuse them of bias (we all know how well that went), and they made their scope of direct interventions as narrow as possible, trusting to the Admins to do the actual work. Which ultimately means they did very little about GamerGate as it applies to Wikipedia that the hard working admins already covering the article wouldn’t have done themselves. And the whole thing has ended by taking a long time to do not very much. Continue reading

Actually it’s about ethics in Wikipedia Journalism

Update 29 Jan 15: Arbcom has made its decision, and I’ve shown what they’ve actually done in my latest post.

Give it its due, GamerGate seems to be a tire fire where the Cracked I posted a month ago about Gamergate – the internet gaming cultural movement with ethical issues. A small, technically adept group trying to pretend it’s bigger than it is and to become a social movement. Of course they are going to make a push at Wikipedia. And of course other people are going to push back. And of course this is going to create chaos that gets escalated to the highest level; The Arbitration Committee (or Arbcom for short). Arbcom are in the process of making their decision, and using a misleading blogpost as source, The Grauniad (copied on RawStory), The Mary Sue, and Gawker are both claiming that something that hasn’t happened yet (24 January 2015) is something that’s already been done and been done badly.

My audience is mixed so I’m going to start with a basic overview of Wikipedia and Arbcom. Feel free to skip to the horizontal line. But it’s important to remember that by Wikipedia standards Gamergate is nothing compared to e.g. Israel/Palestine.

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