Be Prepared
I was in fact a Boy Scout, and that was our motto. We had a creed and an oath as well, which were more controversial, but the motto carries over into the realm of public health very well. Preparedness is a major obsession of public health planners and advocates, but it's hard to maintain because people get complacent and politicians don't want to raise the taxes and spend the money for preparedness in between crises.Covid-19 has demonstrated what fools we are in that regard. Now JAMA has a theme issue on pandemic preparedness and response, including some prognostications about how we can live with this going forward, and t...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 18, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Crank Magnetism
is a phrase coined by the blogger Orac (who is actually oncologist David Gorski), who observed that believers in a given wacko theory tend to believe in others.Alex Kaplan at Media Matters for America find that the Anti-vax and QAnon forms of collective insanity are merging. Prominent anti-vaxxers go on QAnon podcasts, and speak at their rallies, and vice versa, and they are increasingly endorsing each other's theories.In case you haven't been paying attention -- and why would you? -- QAnon theories have been evolving, but the core ideas are still there. The Public Religion Research Institute asked poll respondents t...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 17, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Whole lot of smiting going on
Yep, you read that right: David murdered two thirds of the captured Moabites and enslaved the rest.I should have mentionedthat David is himself descended from a Moabite, although that story wasn't yet written when this one was. But if you believe the Bible is literally true . . . Why did he hamstring all those perfectly good horses? Who knows. Anyway, he manages to slaughter some tens of thousands of various nationalities -- we don't get a full count of all of them -- all for the glory of God. Let me remind you, once again, that fortunately this is all fiction.8 After this David defeated the Philistines and subdu...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 16, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Justices in Trumpland
Professor Campos makes an important distinction. To say that courts, including the Supreme Court, should be apolitical is nonsensical. Any legal ideology or reasoning is inherently political in a sense. As Campos puts it, " any non-trivial appellate court case requires a court to enforce a contestable vision of what the law is — that is, a legal ideology. " If you don't like the ruling you'll likely say it's political, if you do like it you'll probably say that it's just sound jurisprudence. However, a partisan court is a different matter. It bases its ruling not on a consistent application of a legal ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 15, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

It's about time
    Read it here.But they can't stop there. (Source: Stayin' Alive)
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 13, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The global syndemic: a digression
Along with the near doubling of life expectancy in the wealthy countries, and many other radical changes in human life and society, the past century has seen a dramatic shift from the countryside to the city. In fact, even as population growth continues at an unsustainable rate, since 2000 the rural population globally has actually fallen. Of course this started much earlier in the wealthy countries.   Urbanization presents many challenges, including:•Substandard housing•Crowding• Air pollution•Insufficient or contaminated drinking water•Inadequate sanitation and solid waste disposal...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 13, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: False prophecy
Chapter 7 is usually titled God's Covenant with David. For some reason God can't talk to David directly, even though he often does. Instead he comes up with this character Nathan and has him relay the message. God seems to ask David to build the temple, but then implies that David's son will build it, which is indeed what happens. (The temple will be built during the reign of Solomon.) However, God ends up saying "16 And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever. ’” Sadly, no. The kingdom will be destroyed 400 years after Solomon'...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 12, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Putting two and two together
 Paul Campos comes right out and says it. The Republican party is in the midst of getting hundreds of thousands (at least) of Americans needlessly killed by COVID, because the GOP ’s leaders have calculated that failing to ameliorate the pandemic is bad for Joe Biden and Congressional Democrats.This is incontrovertibly true. As Campos says, it is mass murder, but nobody wants to say that because the idea is just too grotesque. (Let me reiterate: get vaccinated, get boosted. That will make your risk of ending up in the hospital or dying close to zero. Anybody who tells you not to get vaccinated is trying to ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 11, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

History
I've been reading a lot of history lately. The Story of China, by Michael Wood, A History of the Arab Peoples by Albert Hourani, a couple of Jared Diamond books, The Silk Roads: A New History of the World by Peter Frankopan, World War II by Robert Tombs, and other books.Our view of historical time tends to be fairly compressed. We think the future will be an extrapolation of the past we know personally, our own lifetime and maybe that of our grandparents who told us their stories. This makes larger scale historical events seem an abstraction and not anything that can happen to us. Yes, World War II was in the time frame. M...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 10, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: A very strange story
2 Samuel 6 accomplishes the historically important task of getting the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem, but it does it in a very strange way. Some of the events in this story are absurd, others inexplicable. I'm sure the theologians have come up with interpretations, but your is probably just as good.6 David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand.2 And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Ba ′ale-judah, to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of theLord of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim.3 And they carried the ark of ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 9, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

A brief note on epidemiology
Mark Sumner at DK has aroundup of news from overwhelmed health care systems around the country. This seems to be getting very little attention from national media, for some reason -- this is a list of local stories, which don't seem to have gotten the attention of editors at CNN or the New York Times.This is definitely bad news in the present, but it's better news in the long run. The Covid-19 variant that's causing this is extremely contagious -- as contagious a measles, apparently. That means you can become infected just by briefly being in the vicinity of an infectious person. One thing that's really unpleasant about th...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 8, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Anniversary
Anniversaries are basically meaningless. Just because something happened at approximately the same point in the earth's orbit in a previous year doesn't mean it's more important today than on any other day. But they do provoke rituals of remembrance so that's happening today. But the atrocity didn't actually happen on a single day or occasion -- it began long before the 2020 election, when plans were already being laid to overturn the result. It ramped up after Biden's decisive win, and it has continued and if anything grown more dangerous since January 6 of last year.Remember, on that day, Republican congressional leaders...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 6, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Need for a disability rights movement
In Chapter 5 David becomes king of Israel and establishes his capital in Jerusalem, so it's definitely a pivotal moment in the imaginary history. (As I've said before the truth is that at the time these events purportedly happened, Jerusalem was at most a small village.) However, I have to say he doesn't do any of it in a nice way. He already has at least 7 wives but he takes several more, we aren't told exactly how many. Funny thing about that -- Deuteronomy 17:17:The king must not take many wives for himself, because they will turn his heart away from the LORD. And he must not accumulate large amounts of wealth in silver...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 5, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The moral of the tale is . . .
Referring to the Elizabeth Holmes verdict of guilty on four of eleven charges. To Atrios, the moral isdon't rip off rich people, which does indeed apply to the verdictper se. That was also the mistake made by Bernie Madoff and Bernie Ebbers as well. White collar criminals who rip off people of modest means (viz. Donald J. Trump) don't merit convictions. Andrew Gelman (whose blog I recommend in general although he tends to be quite long-winded) tried to relate the Theranos fraud to academic fraud, back in 2018, the occasion being a reading of John Carreyrou's expose " Bad Blood. " I agree there are some paral...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 4, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Epistemology
The pervasive term for politics in the U.S right now is " polarization. " It is true that people are divided into sharply divergent and seemingly irreconcilable camps. But the division is not about political philosophy or values or aspirations for society. It's about reality, plain facts.  I've mentioned before Habermas's concept of the " three worlds " of criticizable validity claims. These are intersubjective reality, the world " out there, " what is true; the world of what ought to be, what we consider to be right and just and good; and what happens to please us as individuals, wh...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 3, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

: Sunday Sermonette: Not all is fair it seems in war
Chapter four starts off with some factoids about the ancestry of a couple of minor characters that seem irrelevant to us. The Tanakh is very interested in genealogy as clan and tribe are the organizing principle of the society. Then there is an interpolated bit about Jonathan's son Mephibosheth which is a complete non-sequitur. The translators have put it in parentheses. Then we get the murder of Ish-Bosheth, which the perpetrators think will please David as David has been at war with him. On the contrary, David has them killed.David kills people all the time, by the thousands. It is perfectly fine for him to do that if th...
Source: Stayin' Alive - January 2, 2022 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Gobal Syndemic, Part Four: Inequality
Climate change and resource depletion affect everyone, but the magnitude of the impacts depends very much on people's wealth and social status, both within and among societies. Furthermore, inequality makes solutions to the global challenges far more difficult. The graph below is a few years old but the basic numbers haven't changed. Ten percent of the people consume almost 60% of the resources.  Now let's look just within the U.S.   Looking at this over time, after a period of relative equality following WWII we're back to the situation in the Gilded Age.   Is it any wonder there is...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 31, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

We interrupt this symposium
I'll get back to the global syndemic shortly, but first I really need to talk about something that really frosts my pumpkin. This happens a lot but yesterday I saw a really egregious example. They go to to interview the winning quarterback after a football game, and he interrupts the interviewer while the guy is trying to ask a question and says " I give all the credit to my lord and savior Jesus Christ, to him be all the glory. " The idea that Jesus caused this ridiculous clown to win a football game is obviously a gross insult to Christians everywhere, or they certainly ought to take it that way. On the co...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 30, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Sex and violence
First a reminder of the situation. David is King of Judah, while the warlord Abner has set upIsh-Bosheth, a son of Saul, as king of the rest of Israel. (Yes, there's a continuity problem since supposedly all of Saul's house was killed and then this Ish-Bosheth character suddenly comes out of nowhere. Just accept it.) There is a civil war going on between them, although the only reason for it seems to be personal ambition. There follows a convoluted story. For people who claim on Biblical authority that marriage is between one man and one woman, this poses difficulties. We already know that David has two wives currentl...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 29, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Gobal Syndemic, Part Three: Limits
I expect that well-informed people generally are aware of the information in the first two posts of this series, at least in broad terms. However, I don't think that nearly as many people know about what I'm going to discuss today, or are even aware of it at all. Here's the basic problem:  We cannot triple our use of natural resources, or increase it by any amount. Here is the history of the world, in one snapshot.   How are we feeding all those people? Half of the habitable land on earth is now devoted to agriculture, of which more than 3/4 is devoted to livestock.. In order to expand agricul...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 27, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Global Syndemic, Part Two
 The image below is hard to read, I know. But I'm going to unpack most of it in the coming posts.   Let's start with the simplest, most direct problem: heat itself. Excessive heat that lasts for several days kills people. It's not a major cause of death in the U.S., although it's hard to quantify because studies have found that heat is often not recorded as a cause of death on death certificates when in fact it should be. Based on death certificates the rate is generally between 2 and 4 deaths per million people per year in the U.S. But globally, the number of heatwave events is rising.   ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 26, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: War About Nothing
In 2 Samuel 2 we have, for the first time, and very briefly, the division of the Israelites into two kingdoms, Judah and Israel proper or the northern kingdom. This has previously been referred to anachronistically. I'm going to give you a spoiler and tell you that in the next chapter, Abner decides it wasn't a good idea after all, but we get no explanation as to why he did it in the first place. That he had an heir to Saul handy who he could install on the throne is a problem since we are later told in Chronicles that all of Saul's house died with him. The point here is not be be a nit picker but again, just a reminder th...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 26, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

War on Christmas
As someone who was raised in a Christian family, went to church on Sunday and sang in the choir, who has since abandoned religion, I bring a what I hope is a usefully objective stance to the Christmas holiday. Obviously it is, in the United States, predominantly a secular institution. The principal icon, the Christmas tree, is a pagan symbol. The other important icon, Santa Claus, is the embodiment of materialism. He delivers booty. The most important associated activity is buying stuff, the promotion of which is the major function of mass media and other advertising invoking the holiday and its symbols.Yes, all the buying...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 25, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The global syndemic and the future of humanity: introduction to a series
" Syndemic " is a term coined my Merrill Singer in the 1990s as a portmanteau of " synergistic " and " epidemic. " In its simplest construction it refers to two or more diseases, co-occurring in a population, whose interaction produces increased morbidity and mortality. For example, opioid addiction, HIV, and other infectious diseases. Needle sharing transmits HIV, which in turn causes immunodeficiency, which increases susceptibility to other infections.However, syndemics usually involve social conditions as well. The original epidemic of injection drug use originated in social conditions, as ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 24, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Truth
We hear complaints all the time from conservatives that universities " indoctrinate " students with liberal ideas, and are hostile to conservatism. Not so. We don't " indoctrinate " students, we educate them. The problem is that modern conservative beliefs are incompatible with truth and logic. Here are many true facts.The universe is approximately 13.81 billion years old. The earth is a bit more than 4.5 billion years old. The earliest compelling evidence for life on earth is about 3.7 billion years old.The oldest known fossils that are anatomically the same as ours are about 300,000 years ol...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 23, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: The literally true and inerrant word of God
We're now starting 2 Samuel, which may seem an odd title for the book since Samuel is dead and we aren't going to see him resurrected a second time. The protagonist of 2 Samuel is actually David. It was originally one book and the monks cut it in half, so that's the explanation. That makes it all the more ridiculous that the story of Saul's death told in 2 Samuel 1 is completely different from the story in the previous chapter, which was originally in the same book. Chapter 1 also features one of the thrice-exterminated Amalekites -- who of course gets whacked -- and a very surprising attitude of David toward Saul, who los...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 22, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Liberty Schmiberty
Boston mayor Michelle Wu has announced a vaccine mandate for city workers and for indoor public venues. So, of course,protesters show up at the press conference, drowning out the speakers with shoults and whistles. Leading the protest was Republican candidate for governor Geoff Diehl, who the Globe quotes thusly:Diehl characterized the requirements as “clear violations of the civil rights of anyone who lives in, works in, or travels to the city” that would “make it even more difficult for Boston’s economy to recover from the pandemic.”“While I openly acknowledge and share concern over ri...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 21, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Shaggy Dog Story Finally Ends
Years ago, when Saul spared the life of a single Amelekite, contrary to God's command to exterminate them, God told Saul that he no longer had God's favor and would no longer be king. But Saul went right on being king as though nothing had happened. He repeatedly tried to kill David but David repeatedly forgave him and declared fealty to Saul. Saul kept winning battles. The Amelekites returned from the dead only to be exterminated again, twice. Then Saul decided to hire a necromancer to resurrect Samuel, who told Saul that he would be killed because he failed to exterminate the Amelekites years before, even though in fact ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 19, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

That f.....g newspaper
Dan Froomkin, interviewing former NYT reporter Nina Bernstein, has a good summary of why we so often find the New York Times infuriating. [I]t is nothing new for editors at the New York Times and elsewhere to be uneasy about calling too much attention to reality — when that reality has a liberal bias. (Stephen Colbert coined the phrase “reality has a well-known liberal bias” during the Bush administration.)But that friction is particularly at issue today, at the Times and elsewhere, as political reporters and their editors struggle to accurately and sufficiently convey facts about the Republicanassau...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 18, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The devolution of conservatism
Rejection of some elements of science by some conservative factions is readily explainable. Creationists cling to a pre-scientific belief system. Climate change deniers (apart from those who have a personal financial stake in fossil fuels and put greed ahead of their granchildren's lives) are committed to the Free Market ™ religion, which is inconsistent with anthropogenic climate change, therefore climate change must be a hoax.However, rejection of medical science does not have such a ready explanation. The Director of the National Institutes of Health, Francis Collins, is retiring.He has given an exit interview to ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 17, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Makers and Takers
A few people have pointed out that Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is begging the federal government for help after the tornadoes, but he voted against funding for disaster relief for other states. Sure, that's hypocritical, but the conservative gospel of self-reliance was hypocritical before that happened. Rand Paul and politicians from other so-called red states make a political career out of decrying moochers and dependency on federal handouts. So okay,here's a chart from the Rockefeller Institute that tells you exactly which states pay more to the federal government than they receive in federal funding; and which states g...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 15, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Keep exterminating those Amelekites!
The Amelekites were exterminated by Saul (1 Samuel 15); then they were exterminated again by David (1 Samuel 27). But here they are again, just a couple of years later! They attack the Philistine city where David's band has been staying, but unlike the Israelites, they don't kill anybody, they just take captives. Hmm. Anyway, David exterminates them again, except for 400 men who escape on camels. Note again divination with the ephod, a frequent motif in Samuel.30 David and his men reached Ziklag on the third day. Now the Amalekites had raided the Negev and Ziklag. They had attacked Ziklag and burned it,2 and had ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 15, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Journalism class
This is something of a digression, but not really. It's really important to remember, all the time, that the content of news media can't be judged only by its veracity. What the editors decide is important matters just as much.Paul Campos puts this well and succinctly. Throughout 2016, according to the corporate media following the lead of the New York Times, the most critical issue facing the nation was use of private e-mail accounts to conduct government business. There are a lot of reasons why Hillary Clinton lost the electoral college vote -- it's a " for want of a nail " story -- but just taking that away wo...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 14, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: David wants to commit treason, but the Philistines won't let him
That's about it. The headline tells the tale. Maybe David would have turned against the Philistines if they'd let him go to battle with him, but he sure seems to want to kill some Israelites. Anyway that's all that happens here. It gets a lot more interesting in the next chapter.29 The Philistines gathered all their forces at Aphek, and Israel camped by the spring in Jezreel.2 As the Philistine rulers marched with their units of hundreds and thousands, David and his men were marching at the rear with Achish.3 The commanders of the Philistines asked, “What about these Hebrews?”Achish replied, &ldq...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 12, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

A note on how we know what we know and what we don't know
A major problem in public discourse is what I call the reification of data. The information we have about social facts, economics, public health -- the statistics that come out of CDC, the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the Census Bureau, academic research -- are not identical with reality. But the people who bandy them about seldom reflect on where they come from, or even think to ask. Regarding HIV specifically, in the United States we depend on the HIV surveillance system. Like many other infectious diseases, HIV is reportable. When someone tests positive, and gets a positive  confirmation test, the entity that d...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 11, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

A bit of explanation
I probably should have said more about cash transfers. A colleague of mine has done a lot of work on this in Mexico. One of his studies used what are called conditional economic incentives to get male sex workers to come in regularly for counseling and testing, insist on condom use, and get access to drug treatment and employment services. It was quite successful. The Mexican government also has a cash incentive program that pays families for keeping their kids in school and other prosocial behaviors. There are many similar programs in Africa. When poor people get money, they generally use it for beneficial purposes, and i...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 10, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

More on social and historical perspectives
When the HIV epidemic was first discovered in the U.S., as we have seen, it mostly afflicted stigmatized groups. President Ronald Reagan largely ignored it, as did his successor George Bush the First. The plague devastated gay communities across the country. But pervasive grief and loss turned into anger, and then action. AIDS Coalition to Unleash Power -- ACT UP -- was founded in New York in 1987 and went on to become a national and then an international organization, using  direct action tactics to demand action to combat the epidemic, and counteracting false information and bigotry.  ACT UP founder Larry ...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 10, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The HIV epidemic: social and historical perspectives
Because I have lectured about this subject I have a lot of graphics, but I'll try to keep it reasonable. The first report of what turned out to be AIDS was published in CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on June 5, 1981. It reported on five cases ofPneumocystiscariniipneumonia in young men in California. This is a microbe that only causes disease in people with weakened immune systems.  After at first calling the mystery disease Gay Related Immunodeficiency Disease, or GRID, epidemiologists quickly renamed it Acquired immune Deficiency Syndrome,  or AIDS. It was particularly prevalent among gay men in th...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 9, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Wednesday Bible Study: Treason and necromancy
For Biblical literalists, there is obviously more than enough embarrassment. The Bible is a torrent of contradictions, absurdities, and moral depravity. But 1 Samuel 28 has got to be right up there with the biggest of them. That David, who will soon become king of Judah and then of all Israel agrees to commit treason seems problematic. I suppose the apologists have an interpretation that explains why this is theologically salutary.  Then we come to the raising of the dead. Judaism as a whole is not very interested in the afterlife, although Christianity is obviously obsessed with it. But this passage does mean th...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 8, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Reflections on HIV
My post yesterday on the lunkhead senator from Wisconsin inspired some thoughts about Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and the disease it causes, called Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome or AIDS. The syndrome got its name before the viral cause was discovered, which is why it's called a syndrome, the word for a collection of symptoms when the cause is unknown or unspecified. It might be better to call the disease simply HIV disease, as it can have symptoms other than immunodeficiency, and many people nowadays do just that. I spent much of my career in public health, and then in academic research, focusing on HIV.&n...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 7, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Yep, it's the party of stupid
Really, there's just no other word for it. You may have seen this tweet from Republican representative Marjorie Taylor Green -- and keep in mind that she got a huge majority of votes in her district. And oh yeah, this already had nearly 4,000 likes when snipped. If I have to explain to you why this is stupider than an 80 pound bag of portland cement, there is no hope for you. Then there is Senator Ron Johnson, who won the majority of votes in the entire state of Wisconsin,who accuses Anthony Fauci of  " overhyping " the AIDS epidemic.Discussing the omicron variant, Johnson accused individuals in the U.S...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 6, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: Soldier of Fortune
The story now takes a very weird turn. Although Saul has pledged twice not to kill David, David doesn't believe him. So he takes his 600 men and -- ready for it -- goes over to the Philistines. And he starts committing random acts of genocide for the Philistine king. Among the people he massacres are the Amelekites, which is hard to explain since, as you may recall, Saul exterminated them just a few years ago in Chapter 15. In fact, it was Saul's failure to also kill the Amalekite king, along with a few animals, that cost him God's favor. Samuel cleaned up and took care of killing the king and the animals. But here they ar...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 5, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Adventures of High School English
The recent astroturfed flapdoodle over high school literature courses got me to thinking about Huckleberry Finn. I actually think that very few high school English teachers are equipped to teach the book.  I hope I don't need to tell you that the protagonist and narrator is a teenage white boy helping a slave to escape. The problem teaching it today is that it depicts its setting realistically. The escaped slave, Jim, is illiterate, superstitious, and has little knowledge of the world. He is given a couple of opportunities to speak for himself but the main viewpoint is Huck's. There is no question but that we are...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 4, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Belated Wednesday Bible Study: Time is circular
I had a busy day yesterday, made a couple of posts but didn't get around to the Bible lesson. 1 Samuel 26 is essentially a different version of the story told in Ch. 24. We have seen multiple versions of the same story more than a few times so far. Presumably this is because the scribes are transcribing oral tradition and it is normal for there to be variations on the stories floating around. Classical Greek and Roman mythology show a similar phenomenon. It's a bit jarring in this case, however, because this is presented as a chronological narrative and it doesn't make any sense that way.In Ch. 24 David has the opportunity...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 2, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Addendum to The Marketplace of Ideas
Since many people seem to be confused on this point (including some unpublished comments)let me reiterate what I have posted before.Via Brookings:Of Americans surveyed from Sept. 13-22, 72% of adults 18 and older had been vaccinated, including 71% of white Americans, 70% of Black Americans, and 73% of Hispanics. Contrast these converging figures with disparities based on politics: 90% of Democrats had been vaccinated, compared with 68% of Independents and just 58% of Republicans. There is no reason to believe that these gaps in vaccination rates will disappear anytime soon. According to Gallup, 40% of Republicans &ldq...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 1, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Musical Interlude
I hope you were fortunate enough to see the Tony Bennett farewell concert, which was broadcast on Sunday, although it actually happened in August. In case you missed it, Lady Gaga was the host, and she led off with her own set before introducing Tony. Before I get to him, let me acknowledge that the band was fantastic. I don't know if it was a Radio City house band, a group of session players that regularly work with Gaga, or it was put together by the producers just for the occasion. I haven't been able to find out anything about it, they labor in anonymity. LG seemed to know the soloists, but that may just have been from...
Source: Stayin' Alive - December 1, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

The Marketplace of Ideas
That's a common metaphor for the political process. I haven't been able to find out who coined the  specific phrase,  but the underlying idea goes back at least as far as John Milton'sAreopagiticaof 1644 and for  modern political theorists is probably most associated with John Stuart Mill'sOn Liberty of 1859. The basic idea is that if unrestrained speech and debate are allowed in the public sphere, truth and logic will ultimately win out because they have more inherent value than falsehood and irrationality. This idea was famously influential with the authors of the U.S. constitution and is the basis of...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 30, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Sunday Sermonette: A subplot
We now get a little story that is essentially unrelated to the main plot. It features a woman with agency, in fact she acts contrary to her husband's intention and gives away a good deal of his property. One point of this seems to be to emphasize David's virtue, but it hardly seems virtuous to me that he intends to massacre an entire household -- which in this case evidently means at least dozens of people who are the employees of a wealthy sheepherder. And the reason he will do this is simply because the householder declined to reward David for not robbing him. Does that make sense? Oh yeah, Samuel dies. Or does he?2...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 28, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

But we can't afford it
 A picture is worth a thousand words. (From Pramila Jayapal) (Source: Stayin' Alive)
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 27, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs

Please remain calm
The world seems to be freaking out over the report of a new Covid-19 variant from South Africa. European countries are banning travel from southern Africa, financial markets are cratering, and of course it's all Joe Biden's fault.  Here's a reasonably measured explanation from the AP. The facts are:We don't actually know if this variant is any more transmissible than Delta, nor whether it is any less susceptible to immunity from vaccination or previous infection.There is no evidence that it causes more severe disease.The virus constantly mutates and new variants will continue to be found. If anything, this discov...
Source: Stayin' Alive - November 26, 2021 Category: American Health Source Type: blogs