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Pfirst Pfizer

I got my pfirst Pfizer vaccine today. Went with my aunt, who for a variety of reasons, only wanted to get the Pfizer vaccine. As far as effectiveness, well, any one of them will do but she did her research (good for her! Everyone should do that) and felt most comfortable with Pfizer. Fortunately for us, there has been a sudden increase in vaccines available in our region so with a little online hunting, we saw that we weren’t limited to just one vaccine. We had a choice, depending on the mass vax venue and date.

Unfortunately for me, I wasn’t old enough to get one through Allegheny county this week but Butler county was accepting pre-existing condition recipients 16-64 so I got us both vaccines there.

It’s about 45 minutes to Butler and back from where I live in Pittsburgh. The company I work for is giving employees two hours off to go to their vaccine appointments. But since there were two of us and we needed to sit for 15 minutes afterwards, I took a vacation day and we had a nice lunch afterwards

The only thing I could ding Butler Memorial Hospital for was the signage. As in, there was none for the vaccine clinic. But once we got into the visitor parking lot, we just followed the other confused people to the door and some helpful hospital staff directed traffic.

If you go, make sure to take a hard copy of your insurance card. The vaccine is free to people who don’t have insurance but for everyone else, your insurance company will get billed. I only had ecopies of my insurance card. Allegheny county’s site let me upload a digital copy but Butler was still using a copier to print off a hard copy for their records and it wouldn’t copy from my iPhone. So, now I have to call the billing department and figure out how to send them a copy of my card. It would be nice to figure out a more uniform registration system. Still not too late, Andy Slavitt. I can write you the user stories, acceptance criteria and UI prototype. 🤙

Anyway, Butler is fond of hard copies. So we registered in paper and the vaccine helpers checked our paper work, waved us to the next room and told us where to stand. We were taken almost immediately.

Swab, steady, pinch, swab, bandaid, back to the waiting area. Set timer for 15 minutes, then we were done!

We were so excited. On the way out, we realized that we had scheduled our appointments at just the right time. There was a line waaaay out the door. No waiting for us. But anyone who scheduled after 12:30 was going to have to wait.

So, that’s the story, people. We both go back on April 9 for our pfollowup Pfizer vaccine.

Go ahead, do it. All your friends are doing it. And it feels like a huge weight off your shoulders when you’re done.

Thanks Pfizer, scientists, manufacturing techs, FDA, CDC, Butler Memorial Hospital, healthcare workers, volunteer staff and Joe Biden!

The Dark Side

Yesterday, Riverdaughter wrote about how the ignorance of and disdain for science among what we can call the Right Wing, derives from the dichotomy which they are either taught, or prefer; that there are two sides: them and their “friends,” and their enemies. Thus they believe that the scientists are their enemies, along with liberals in general, intellectuals, social scientists, rationalists, and everyone else who says things that they don’t like or don’t want to believe. And then she wrote, “The question is, what do you do about it?”

It is an unsettling and perilous situation. There are millions of people out there who simply refuse to follow good science, or use logic, or try to gain knowledge about things. This certainly doesn’t mean that everyone has to agree on this or that; but that we would want to think that most people will listen to facts, and seek to learn about the things they don’t know. How can anyone be persuaded, if they won’t admit the existence of virtually irrefutable facts? Or if they have chosen a belief system which conveniently rejects anything they don’t want to hear? You can’t get through to them, obviously; it is as if they are putting their fingers over their ears, and yelling loudly to drown you out.

Obviously, books should be written about this, and RD has recommended one by Jason Stanley. The bitter irony, of course, is that the people we are looking at, have no interest whatsoever in reading such a book, and have little self-knowledge. They are what they are, and that’s all that they are, to paraphrase Popeye the Sailor. They have made a virtue out of ignorance.

What some analysts call “tribalism” has grown in America, and undoubtedly around the world. The phrase “My country, right or wrong,” was always bemusing to consider. Now we have people who just make up their own reality, and are proud of it. There is no doubt that they were helped along by Donald Trump, who is not only completely intellectually incurious, but is also a consummate con man. And con men need to convince their marks that they should ignore all outside evidence, and listen only to them. Totalitarians also do this, and there is surely an overlap between the characteristics of those two types of people.

There is no way that Trump caused all of this, this was already in existence. I remember that in 2012, I think, the early leading Republican presidential primary candidate in polls was Herman Cain, which astounded me. Clearly there was a large group of Republicans who gravitated to nonsense, simplistic arguments devoid of knowledge or facts. Barry Goldwater back in his 1964 campaign, complained about a certain group of what we might call Evangelical Republicans, who were so rigid and fervent in their beliefs, that he couldn’t even talk to them. And Goldwater was on the Far Right then, but even he could not deal with those people.

So how indeed can we change this? I suppose we could try for a situation where we have 55% of the voters, and just give up on the other 45%. But that is risky, as we saw in 2016, when just enough of “our people” were brainwashed by social media, or simply reveled in their own doctrinaire philosophies or personal biases, so that they would not vote for Hillary Clinton, who is the exemplification of intelligence, rationality and humanity.

55% does not give much room for error, not when a Biden popular vote win of seven million only yields a 42,000 vote margin to swing the electoral college. And the thing about the 45% or so, is that they are rigid. 65% of Republicans say that they believe that the last election was stolen by Biden. This is absurd on so many levels, including that every credible person who studies elections has said that the last election was the most free and fair in history here. But no, they wanted Trump to win, and he did not; and he said that he was cheated, so they believe it. They came very near to dismantling the entire government because of their belief that it was stolen from him and them. So they are very dangerous, not just people to study and analyze.

Education might be an answer, but it is extremely optimistic to think that “we” can fix the declining state of textbooks in the red states, and the teachers who don’t know much, and all those people who violently reject hearing anything which doesn’t suit them. And of course the pandemic has damaged the state of schools even further.

One used to think that decent newspeople like Murrow and Cronkite would convey the truth to the populace, but the classic half-hour of national news has been supplanted by 24 hours of propaganda from Fox, OANN and Newsmax, and then this inane “both sidesing” of every single story, as if we have Alabama fans on one side, and LSU fans on the other side, and never the twain shall meet; and what fun it is to have them battle. Someone recently wrote that the media doesn’t know how to handle the massive efforts to suppress voting rights being conducted by the totalitarian Right, and that they simply fall back to their default, which is to “both sides” it, which is completely inappropriate in this crisis situation. But the right-wing networks want to propagandize you, and the other ones just want you to watch for the drama of it.

We can reflect on the period in modern civilization known as the Dark Ages. The ancient Greeks had done wondrous things in the sciences, mathematics, philosophy. The world of the Dark Ages in Europe bore no resemblance to that; it was a time where the Church controlled most thought, where superstition and illiteracy reigned. How humanity crawled out of that, towards the Renaissance, and then the Age of Reason, and the Age of Enlightenment, is a a thrilling story, a testament to the power of human curiosity and quest for learning and knowledge. Not that those eras were close to perfect, of course, but a belief in evidence grew, leading to scientific knowledge, medicine, a rational legal system; and the capacity of people to discuss things based on known facts, or logical argument. Human progress has depended on that. But now it very much looks as if the pendulum has swung backward. The poet Yeats believed in a cyclic theory of history; and that underlies his unforgettable poem. “The Second Coming.”

We’ve got to hope that there are still enough people who will put aside instantaneous reflexive reactions to every story which the broadcast and social media purveys, and try to wait for verifiable facts, and also try to reason things out. Social media has this dangerous collective power, where people of like mind gravitate to each other and reinforce each other’s instantaneous reaction to events. I wish that more people would read books; that is a more solitary pursuit, and requires more patience and self-reflection than the communal fervor of the social media. Theatre is good, too, but of course we have had none of that recently. In Cromwell’s Puritan England of the 1650’s, the theatres were all closed down.

If only the mainstream media did not feel so compelled to seek out and interview the know-nothings. But they do it every day, it is virtually laughable, but of course is deadly serious. Say things which are devoid of actual facts or logic, and you will surely get air time. And as the movie “Network” prophesied, everyone wants air time of one sort or another.

So obviously there is no comforting answer to any of this, except that humans should try to do the right thing, and that each person trying to add intelligence and facts to the discussion, at least has some influence, and perhaps can build a larger effect. I don’t think that we will get to many of the members of this willing cult of ignorance, anti-science, and anti-logic, but maybe a few. And maybe general decency will get through to some of them. Of course, it is not that “the Left” isn’t susceptible to some of the same dangers of rigid thought, personal spite, and lack of historical and political perspective. It is a never-ending battle, but what is the other choice? Not “tune in, turn on, drop out.” We have to keep trying.