Ebola, and the stupidity of categorical statements from public officials

October 12, 2014 at 10:25 pm (Icepick)

Today the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention made a categorical statement about the new case of Ebola in Texas. The CDC Director, Dr. Tom Frieden, made the following statement:

At some point, there was a breach in protocol, and that breach in protocol resulted in this infection. The (Ebola treatment) protocols work. … But we know that even a single lapse or breach can result in infection.

However, the CDC went on to state that they had spoken with the nurse and could NOT determine what the failure in procedures was. They do not know what, if anything, the nurse or anyone else did wrong.

While it is most likely true that this new case was a result of a failure to observe safety protocols, the CDC should not be making categorical statements. And here’s why.

Taken from the President’s remarks on September 16, 2014 [the President's remarks are in block quotes, my responses are not]:

First and foremost, I want the American people to know that our experts, here at the CDC and across our government, agree that the chances of an Ebola outbreak here in the United States are extremely low.

Within three days, an asymptomatic infected person was on his way to the USA via plane.  So much for the consensus view of the experts.

We’ve been taking the necessary precautions, including working with countries in West Africa to increase screening at airports so that someone with the virus doesn’t get on a plane for the United States.

Wrong. See previous comment. The methodologies for screening were so rigorous that lying and Ibuprofen could beat them. Given how easily Duncan entered the country, the chances of this happening were not “extremely low.”

In the unlikely event that someone with Ebola does reach our shores, we’ve taken new measures so that we’re prepared here at home.  We’re working to help flight crews identify people who are sick, and more labs across our country now have the capacity to quickly test for the virus.

This one appears to be true. Thank God some of it was.

We’re working with hospitals to make sure that they are prepared, and to ensure that our doctors, our nurses and our medical staff are trained, are ready, and are able to deal with a possible case safely.

So prepared that they got an Ebola victim and sent him home with anti-biotics. And so prepared that according to the CDC itself the medical staff at the hospital in Texas were too poorly trained to implement the procedures correctly.

Three out of four sentences wrong, although at least the President’s speech writers stuck in a slight qualifier in the first sentence.

This is why the CDC should not have made such categorical statements today regarding the new case in Texas. By doing so they look arrogant, and look especially stupid in light of the President’s comments from September 16th, which were no doubt made after the relevant people from the CDC had made their views known to the President and his staff. As it is, they look like the jerk-off NASA administrators who said that the chance of a shuttle failure resulting in catastrophic loss of life & equipment were one in millions or less. It erodes their credibility, and does not reassure the public.

NOTE: I am not implying the President or his advisers were lying on September 16th or today. Perhaps they are, but that isn’t proven and I will give them the benefit of the doubt. But the remarks from September 16th have serious credibility issues, and today’s comments left them no wiggle room should the new statement be incorrect. And even if their belief is correct, today’s statement projects arrogance, which is off-putting to say the least.

Instead, the CDC should have released a statement worded something like this:

We’re confident that our safety protocols are effective and believe that one or more of these protocols were likely breached resulting in this additional case. We are working with the infected nurse and her coworkers to determine exactly what happened. We will work diligently to insure no further breaches of established best practices, or if we need to revise our protocols.

That would have been reassuring without projecting know-it-all arrogance.

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So what’s going on?

September 29, 2014 at 10:48 pm (Icepick)

After the crumby neighbors finally got kicked out, the new owners have been tearing out that interior of that house and remodeling it. There’s also been outside work on the septic system and removing an old dead oak tree, but that’s there.

Here? I’ve been doing some major pruning, battling fleas, chasing my daughter around and trying to figure out how to schedule our lives to accommodate her growing educational needs.(We are homeschooling.)

And trying to stay dry. Today the lake at the end of the street reached a level I’ve never seen before, not even after the three hurricanes in 2004 or the weird July of 2008. Close to overflowing the bank on the far side. Hopefully the pumping station will lower the level overnight.

But that can only happen if the rain stops! Today we tied a record: 22 days in September with rain. The old record has stood since 1892(!) and it will be broken tomorrow, quite possibly before the sun comes up.

We’ve also been sweating like fiends as the AC in the main part of the house stopped working a couple of months ago. We’ve got a couple of wall units, one for the bedroom wing and one for the main living areas, and it has not been pleasant since the one stopped working. I tried a few things to fix it, but so far nothing has worked. I’ve got a couple of other things to try, but it is murder getting it in and out of the wall, and frankly I haven’t had the energy to try again. (Needless to say we don’t have the money to buy a new one.)

I’ve also found a chess club I can play at. I can play online any time, but I grew up actually moving pieces with my hands, and that’s still what I find most satisfying. (I also visualize future moves better with a 3-D representation in front of me, rather than one that’s 2-D.) That’s made me rather happy in recent weeks, even if it is a 45 minute drive one way. (The old club from the Orlando area is all but completely defunct now.)

Kim continues to work. She’s a bit bummed now as a combination of events have resulted in all of her friends in the office being elsewhere now – the last of them transferred to the Philly office for a year just last Friday. Hopefully that won’t be too hard. She’s also has another organization she participates in, but that’s rapping up at the end of the year. Kim is clearly ready for something <i>new</i> for her energies. (I mean away from the home. Besides, health and financial issues mean no more children.)

The little one continues to grow in all ways. Although we miss having a baby or a toddler, she’s more interesting and more entertaining now. Also more trouble, but even that’s funny sometimes. The enthusiasm of youth! Nothing like having an entire universe in front of you and having pretty much all of it be new. I could go into particulars, but I won’t.

So, what about the rest of ya?

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A new family motto

September 11, 2014 at 12:52 pm (Icepick) ()

The old family motto came from a comment by my mother:

We’re not crazy; we’re just mean.

Too true. But since I’ve either disowned my family or been disowned by them (and good riddance either way), I want a new motto. Today, in a text to my wife, I may have hit upon it.

If I’m going to be a fluffy pink poodle with purple sequins, I’m going to do it the right way.

Context might help you understand it, but why worry about that? Should probably make it first person plural, though….

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A PSA about PSA Tests….

September 8, 2014 at 10:47 pm (Icepick) (, , , )

September is National Prostate Cancer Awareness Month. My wife, Kim, has asked me to broadcast this information. More than a decade ago she lost her father to prostate cancer, so this matter is near and dear to her heart.

So to all the gentleman, and other males, out there, go get a finger shoved up your ass by a professional. It might just save your life. And it might spare your daughters, wives, sons and other loved ones from a feeling of loss due to your absence.

NOTES:

PSA = Public Service Announcement

PSA Test = Prostate-Specific Antigen Test, a blood test to help detect prostate cancer; used in conjunction with Digital Rectal Exams for screening purposes.

More information can be found here and here.

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How hot is Florida in July?

July 27, 2014 at 8:30 pm (Icepick) (, , , )

Cross-posted to The Kitchen Drawer on 7/27/2014 08:35:00 PM

Hot enough to melt people’s brains.

A friend of mine, Heather Fallon, posted this example to FaceBook:

Posted Friday, 7/25

A few days ago, 9 year old Jake and our 14 year old neighbor, ventured out (with full parental permissions) on their bikes, wearing helmets, with cell phones, cash, and water bottles, for a 3 mile bike ride (sidewalk the WHOLE route) to the comic book store. Just as they got to their destination, two deputy sheriffs AND a state trooper pulled up in front of them. Someone called 911 and said “it’s way too hot for two young boys to be riding bikes.” The caller described the youngest boy as being “FIVE”. His neighborhood friend who has been our neighbor for 14 years (ALL OF JAKE’S LIFE), when asked by the Po-Po, said Jake was “I dunno. Like 5 or 6 maybe.” Parents were called and went and retrieved the boys. I wasn’t there but I think Billy asked the cops something like, “WTF? Y’all got nuthin’ better to do? THREE cop cars had to respond? They had helmets. They biked together. They had a phone and made a call home at their halfway mark. We finally get them out of the video game CAVE and What did they do WRONG?” They answered a complaint from someone alleging two boys were in danger. From heat. Outside. In Florida. In July. And then just as the words “heat exhaustion” were mentioned, Jake hurled red Gatorade.

Yep. Reminds me of the police showing up in force at my house late last year because someone called the cops on me for having abducted a child. The child was my daughter, and apparently someone heard me tell her, “Catherine, I won’t leave you behind. I will never leave you behind,” and took that to mean I was kidnapping her. (What I was actually doing was reassuring my very cranky child that I wasn’t, you know, going to leave her behind someplace.)

All of which gets me to a conversation at our household this morning:

Wife: It’s National Parents Day!
Me: Huh.
Wife: I think this means we can run away!
Daughter: _I_ don’t want to run away!
Wife: You weren’t invited!

I’m pretty sure that could get us arrested.

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Read it and weep.

July 14, 2014 at 8:00 am (Icepick) ()

Think there will come a day when people will curse the name of Steve Jobs for what he has wrought?

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Another post at my place to which I would like to draw your attention.

June 10, 2014 at 11:00 am (Icepick)

Here, concerning Bowe Bergdahl. I don’t like to discuss politics here, so I do it there. Here is for discussing more important issues, such as getting Rick-rolled, or the joy of having a potty trained child.

But this post is one I’d like to spread around a little more.

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Some personal updates

May 3, 2014 at 4:02 pm (Icepick)

Thankfully, these are all positive.

First, my idiot fugitive neighbor got arrested again Thursday. So he now sits in cell BRC3CN7 of the Orange County Jail. (He had skipped his trial date of April 14th on the hit and run and became a fugitive. He showed up several times next door after that.) Now just awaiting the foreclosure and then his girlfriend and their dogs will be gone permanently.

Second, Disney claimed the other day that they actually HAD cancelled my ‘benefit’ on February 28th. But it took them until April 30th to process the incorrectly billed statements and mail something to the diagnostic lab. Hopefully that is FINALLY sorted.

Finally, some friends are in town this week, and I’m hoping to finally meet them. If lucky, we might even get an appearance from our hostess.

Anyway, hope things are going well elsewhere, too.

UPDATE: Looking forward to tomorrow!

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“He looks sort of cranky. Maybe he should take a nap.”

May 1, 2014 at 4:34 pm (Icepick)

That’s what my daughter had to say after seeing … maybe you’d like to guess first. I’ll show you who below the fold.

Read the rest of this entry »

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More cheery stories of the economic “‘recovery'”

April 21, 2014 at 4:41 pm (Icepick)

For many Americans, ‘temp’ work becomes permanent way of life

Moving in with parents becomes more common for the middle-aged

Cheery stories, both, five years into the “‘recovery'”.

Every other story right now is a side-show to the big news, which is that the American economy is being hollowed out like a melon rind, and our elites just don’t care enough to even address the issue. I’d tell you to remember that come the fall election season, but that just doesn’t matter anymore either.

NOTE: I’m now using three marks for the opening and closing of the scare quotation marks around the word RECOVERY because two just don’t seem like enough.

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