Polite Kid

Polite Kid

0 comment Thursday, November 27, 2014 |

I thought twice about posting anything related to Memorial Day, given that last year, my simple little Memorial Day picture and quote drew a rather angry comment from someone who objected to it on the basis of perceived jingoism or pro-militarism, from what I gathered.
So now it seems Memorial Day is controversial for both liberals and paleocons, based on objections to the Iraq War. Thus it seems as if the day is becoming more and more ignored, which I think is rather sad. After all, we all have kin who have died in various wars, and family members who have served in the military or are serving currently.
Can we not honor their memories without controversy over the war, or over the current government, with which many of us are disillusioned? Surely it should be possible to maintain this day of remembrance without politicizing it.
America, as I've said often, is really the people, not a government, or an idea, or a proposition. Let's remember the people in whose memory this day is set aside.

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...just smash your piano, and invoke the glory-beaming banjo! - Mark Twain
On the other hand, Twain also said "A gentleman is a man who can play the banjo, but doesn't."
Still, I am a partisan of banjo music; readers of this blog will know that I love old-time string-band music and its offspring, bluegrass.
So, over at Winston Smith's Blog, I was delighted to see that he has a post on building a fretless mountain banjo.
Now, I am not looking to build a banjo but I love to read about how craftsmen build these things. Back in simpler times when music was something that was often homemade, not something you bought in a store and consumed passively, people knew how to make instruments with which they made their music. It is good to know that it is not a forgotten art everywhere.
I think of the humble "banjer" as a quintessentially American instrument, and Winston Smith has some thoughts about its origin:
There's a myth that the banjo (the "gourd banjar") is a Negro invention, and it came to America with Negro slaves. The implication us that our beautiful Appalachian and Bluegrass music is the child of Africa. B******T! In the first place, instruments like the banjo - strings over a stretched hide - have been in China, non-Negroid Egypt, the Caucasus, Near Asia, and many other places for thousands of years. Negro Africans may have developed such an instrument (highly improbable), but they didn't "invent" it. In the second place, the banjo existed in regions of Appalachia long before our excellent mountain kin folk had ever laid eyes on a Negro. Thirdly, if Negros invented it, then why did they abandon it?''
Those are questions I've wondered about, and posed to other people as well, so it's good to see that I am not the only one asking.
Some people have asked me why it even matters to me who 'invented' the banjo. It matters to me not only because I love the banjo, but because I think the truth matters. In recent years, as I've written so often about on this blog, we've been subjected to an all-out campaign to rewrite history and to take credit away from our people, assigning it, rightly or wrongly, to others. Why? To build others' fragile self-esteem? To diminish our own confidence and pride in our people? To make the gullible think that America was always a multicultural society and a melting pot in which we are only one minor ingredient? I think it's all of the above, and if there are any other possible reasons I am open to considering them.
This source is typical in crediting Africans with influencing Appalachian music and with introducing the banjo -- and the writers get extra PC points for tying the instrument to Islamic origins as well:
ONE of the greatest influences on Appalachian music, as well as many popular American music styles, was that of the African-American. The slaves brought a distinct tradition of group singing of community songs of work and worship, usually lined out by one person with a call and response action from a group. A joyous celebration of life and free sexuality was coupled with improvisation as lyrics were constantly updated and changed to keep up the groups' interest. The percussion of the African music began to change the rhythms of Appalachian singing and dancing. The introduction of the banjo to the Southern Mountains after the Civil War in the 1860s further hastened this process. Originally from Arabia, and brought to western Africa by the spread of Islam, the banjo then ended up in America. Mostly denigrated as a 'slave instrument' until the popularity of the Minstrel Show, starting in the 1840s, the banjo syncopation or 'bom-diddle-diddy' produced a different clog-dance and song rhythm by the turn of the century.
[...]
The instrumental tradition of the Appalachians started as anglo-celtic dance tunes and eventually was reshaped by local needs, African rhythms, and changes in instrumentation.''
Winston Smith mentions that the banjo is associated with the old minstrel show tradition, and yet blacks, since the 1960s era, have disclaimed this tradition as being an offensive racial stereotype. I've also heard that such entertainment was something that many blacks feel their ancestors were ''forced'' to do by Massa, and that it was demeaning to them. I have noticed that there are very, very few blacks who play the banjo today. If it was 'their' instrument originally, it seems they've abandoned it.
It does seem, too, that there are no home-grown analogues to the banjo in Africa, no apparent antecedent that I'm familiar with, and I do know a little about world music. There are, however, many related instruments in the Western tradition, making it much more plausible that the banjo was a European-derived instrument, probably being developed to its present form in our country, among our people.
I think it's important for us to take credit for our own traditions. The politically corrected cultural history has just about taken away every American folk tradition from us and credited it to blacks -- traditions such as buck-dancing, flatfoot dancing, and later traditions such as rock 'n roll music.
Anyone who is familiar with the dance traditions of the British Isles recognizes that buck dancing and flatfoot dancing, as well as clogging and 'square dancing' are derived from traditions that came with our early English and Scots settlers.
If we're to believe the popular historians of today, we have no culture of our own; blacks had to teach us everything when they came here from Africa. And this idea fits with the current demeaning stereotype of Whites as being mere blank slates with no innate character or culture to speak of. This is particularly said, maliciously, about White Americans. So it's important for us to confidently claim our own traditions back again, and to refuse to let ourselves be stripped of our traditions, however humble they may be. They are part of us.
Read the rest of Winston Smith's post at the link.

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For years we've been plagued by the 'food nannies' scolding us about what we eat, and warning us away from junk food. Now it seems there are 'news nannies' telling us the blogosphere is bad for us.
I came across this link, from 2005, describing a study on news media.
Study Warns of Junk-News Diet
Internet blogs lead a trend toward a "journalism of assertion" that relies less on reporting than personal opinion, the Washington-based Project for Excellence in Journalism has reported.
Estimated readership of weblogs has increased 58% in six months. About 32 million Americans say they have obtained information from the online journals, best known as blogs. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the research project, which is affiliated to Columbia University, said that with the growth in Internet commentary, the culture of opinion journalism has expanded exponentially. Rather than taking the time to gather and scrutinise each piece of information -- the model for the mainstream media -- the report said some bloggers had a different philosophy: "Publish anything, especially points of view, and the reporting and verification will occur afterward in the response of fellow bloggers."
The piece concludes with a warning about news consumers 'consuming too little that can nourish citizens and too much that can bloat them.'
Junk news.
The Project for Excellence in Journalism claims to be nonpartisan, non-ideological, and non-political.
However the report quoted above seems very definitely to have an agenda, and an elitist one at that. The 'journalism community' is rather defensive these days, what with those pesky bloggers practicing unlicensed journalism all over the internet. There is so much criticism and obloquy directed at bloggers, questioning our 'right' to report or comment on the news. The complaint above is that bloggers don't 'scrutinize everything' but take a 'publish anything' approach. This complaint is laughable, considering the number of scandals involving dishonest journalists: invented sources, fictional stories passed off as true, fraud, 'fauxtography' as practiced by the big-time wire services, plagiarism
and equally egregious, the flagrant bias of the mainstream media.
So for this journalism group to slam bloggers is a severe case of the pot calling the kettle black.
And it might be helpful for the 'journalism community' to consider that bloggers are simply 'citizen journalists' who as citizens, exercising their First Amendment rights.
Many of us, too, are not in competition with the MSM so much as we are trying to keep them honest, or provide an alternative to the monolithic, narrow spectrum of views and information that is permitted in the 'controlled media.'
Ideally, the blogosphere could act as a corrective to the MSM, and provide real balance, unlike the purported attempt at being 'fair and balanced' on certain TV news channels.
Most bloggers, myself included, are commenting more than reporting. The idea is to pass along news stories and provide opinion and discussion of the news. Most of us, with some exceptions, are not out there gathering news. Some bloggers have provided first-hand accounts of big news events as they happened to be at ground zero of some major news story; an example would be bloggers who provided real-time accounts of Hurricane Katrina and the aftermath.
But the fact is, few of us find ourselves in the middle of earth-shattering news stories. So most bloggers are no threat to the professional news people. But I think we do present a threat to them in that they no longer have the field to themselves; the internet and the advent of the weblog present a forum for anyone with access to the internet to add another voice to the discussion. It is a truly democratic revolution in the dissemination of ideas as well as news.
And that's what the self-important 'journalism community' has got its panties in a bunch about. They want to sit on high and pontificate and tell the rest of us common folk what to think, and to delimit the discussion within the bounds they designate. They want to be the only gatekeepers of ideas and news. Richard Salant, who was a president of CBS News, said 'Our job is not to give people what they want, but what we decide they ought to have.'
Such is the mindset of Big Media. And we see that condescending 'we-know-best' attitude in the quote from the article above, referring to 'news consumers' consuming too much that doesn't nourish us but 'bloats' us.
So just as the Center for Science in the Public Interest , (the nanny-group that watches over our nutritional choices), the Project for Excellence in Journalism' is there to lecture us about 'junk news'.
I agree that there is such a thing as 'junk news', but unlike these journalism police, I don't think the blogosphere is the culprit; I see the MSM as the prime purveyors of 'junk news.' And the TV News channels and other sources like tabloid newspapers are to journalism what twinkies are to nutrition: empty calories.
Notice what has been taking up much of the time and discussion: the ridiculous and unseemly 'feud' between Rosie O'Donnell and Donald Trump. If the whole thing is not staged for publicity, which it may well be, it is a display of some very childish and trashy behavior on the part of both. Both parties obviously have more money than manners; they are proof that money doesn't buy class. And the news media should be embarrassed to devote so much time and space to their crass behavior. Still, the whole thing illustrates the disappearance of civilized behavior and standards in our society, so in that sense it may have some didactic value.
Another sleazy story which is dominating the news is the Duke 'rape-which-wasn't-a-rape' case. I've tried to keep my distance from that story because it is so unseemly, and the decisions made by Mike Nifong are so bizarre as to defy any analysis. I only know that it is because of the racial angle that this absurd and sordid case has been pursued this far, and has received so much media attention. Then you add the 'feminist' angle to the racial angle, and it's more political correctness running amok.
Personally I'm weary of all the 'junk news' served up my the 'junk news media', otherwise known as the 'journalism community' or the MSM. There is no nutritional value there, and it's just as unhealthy for our minds as a steady diet of junk food is for our bodies.
The blogosphere contains its share of empty calories, too, but at least it provides an alternative and real diversity of opinion. Just as we need a variety in our food choices, we need varied opinions and ideas and points-of-view to choose from, not the same-old-same-old from the junk news purveyors.

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The National Geographic website has an interesting map showing the most common surnames in the United States. It's an interactive map, and you can zoom in on your area or whatever area you like to see the most common names there.
Above the map, there is a link to the blog entry which accompanies the map.
It's glaringly obvious that certain parts of the country are increasingly Hispanic, as the name distribution illustrated by the map indicates.
This census bureau list of the most common surnames shows that a great many Spanish surnames have entered the list, names that were not that common a decade or so ago. This is a testament to the rapid increase in the Latino population.
It does seem obvious from the lists that names originating in the British Isles predominate. However it's evident that not all are English; many of the common names are Welsh or Scots in origin.
Welsh names in the list: Williams, Jones, Davis, Evans, Morgan, Rice, Vaughn.
Scots names include Jackson, Wilson, Campbell, McDonald, Murray, Armstrong, and I am sure many others.
Irish names are fairly well-represented, as expected, but more so in certain areas of the country, not evenly distributed in most cases.
There are a number of German names like Schmidt and Hoffman, and Scandinavian names like Hansen and Larson. There are, of course, Scandinavians surnamed Johnson and Anderson, the latter of which may also be Scots.
My mother's maiden name is on the list, but about halfway down, not exactly one of the most common. Her family name, one of the old New England names, is no longer one of the common names in New England; it seems most of the old-stock colonial English names have been crowded out by immigrant-stock names, earlier, Irish or French names, but now probably Hispanic or other.
I think most of the bearers of the Jefferson name, like those surnamed Washington, are slave descendants, as with many of the common names like Anderson and Williams and Jones.
The name Jefferson is, however, only number 106 among common black surnames.
Despite the fact that hardly anybody today claims Anglo-Saxon heritage anymore, the names are still there. So I suspect there are more Anglo-Saxons genes in this country than many think -- but dwindling in proportion as we become outnumbered.
What about you, readers? How does it look from where you are, and are your ancestral names on the list?

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0 comment Wednesday, November 26, 2014 |
''A multicultural society is one that is inherently prone to conflict, not harmony. This is why we see a huge growth in government bureaucracies dedicated to resolving disputes along racial and cultural lines. These disputes can never be resolved permanently because the bureaucrats deny one of the major causes: race. This is why there is so much talk of the "multicultural" rather than the more precise "multiracial." Ever more changes and legislation are introduced to make the host society ever more congenial to racial minorities. This only creates more demands, and encourages the non-shooting war against whites, their civilization, and even the idea of the West. '' - Frank Ellis, Multiculturalism and Marxism
But is it still a 'non-shooting war'?
The news story of the four police officers killed in Oakland has been much discussed in the right-blogosphere, though crimes like this are under-reported in the old media. The CofCC has a piece on the black radical group which organized what amounted to a celebratory march in honor of the killer, Lovelle Mixon.
Uhuru/APSP is one of several extremely militant anti-white groups thriving in black communities across the United States. Uhuru openly celebrates violence against white police and authority figures. They also denounce Obama as a tool of the "white power establishment."
The group is based in St. Petersburg, Florida and actively holds rallies and demonstrations in about a dozen cities. The leader goes by the name "Chairman Omali Yeshitela." The group claims a kinship with ZANU, the political party of violent Zimbabwe dictator Mugabe. It also claims to be allied with "revolutionary forces" in South Africa and other nations. Uhuru calls itself the "American front of the international African liberation movement."
It's an old story that the mainstream media treat groups like this as harmless and as 'civil rights' or 'activist' groups when they cover them at all, whereas we know that a White counterpart, if such existed, would be shrilly denounced as a 'hate group' or worse, and would probably by now have been raided and mass arrests carried out. But we all know that the double standards exist, and that nonwhite radical extremist groups will be handled with kid gloves and/or treated with exaggerated respect by the powers that be.
Another distressing aspect of the event and the old media coverage of it is the tendency to make the killer just one of the victims. This kind of thing is standard these days, especially when the perpetrator is of a 'victim group'. But this trend is an affront to the actual victims and to their families and friends. It is the ultimate in moral obtuseness.
I caught a few minutes of O'Reilly earlier this evening, and in his usual fashion he declared that the vast majority of 'African-Americans' deplore crimes like those committed by Mixon and that the majority do not support the march in support of the killer/rapist. Of course O'Reilly had nothing to back up that assertion, and I see no evidence of it in real life. I have to wonder if O'Reilly mixes and mingles with the ''African-American community'' enough to know what the majority there thinks or feels. I suspect his experience consists mostly of mingling with the blacks who work in the media or in other related positions, people like Juan Williams, who usually adopt a more moderate tone.
Surely, though, we can look back some years to the O.J. verdict and see how most blacks reacted to Simpson's acquittal (no doubt with the aid of sympathetic black jurors). Or we can go back a little further and remember the L.A. riots after the Rodney King incident. How many 'African-American leaders' expressed shock or dismay or chagrin over what they saw during those days? None, that I can recall.
Similarly, with Katrina, how many 'African-Americans' stood up to deplore what occurred there in the aftermath of that natural disaster? From what I recall there was much race-baiting, and accusations of purposely delayed evacuations, actual claims of conspiracies (levees being blown up, and so on) and charges of 'racism' in general from the national leaders.
Few or no blacks denounced the hysteria and the race-baiting, except for an occasional lone voice.
O'Reilly is like most media figures in that he leans over backwards to insist that it's only a 'tiny percentage' of blacks who commit heinous crimes and an only slightly less tiny percentage who excuses or even celebrates the criminals. However he is going to have to come up with something to back up these assertions if he insists on making them. But we know he will never do that; he will never have to. Most people are eager to simply let those statements pass or even to blindly assent, without any evidence of their accuracy. And we know why this is: political correctness.
Inevitably even those who recognize the dishonesty in statements like O'Reilly's will acknowledge that, and then proceed to justify the PC 'white lies' by saying ''oh, well, he has to say that, if he wants to keep his job. He can't tell the truth."
Yet O'Reilly is the guy who calls his TV program the 'No-Spin Zone', the man who claims to be so blunt and honest in contrast to the mealy-mouthed spinmeisters elsewhere in the media. He trades on his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is persona, and he is blunt enough when it comes to the safe topics, but when it comes to race, he is little better than any of the other PC-fied media minions.
So why does he make these silly PC statements about how 99 percent of blacks don't agree with the extremists, when the evidence to the contrary is everywhere? Why do many others do the same? We also see the same thing with those who insist that there are 'moderate Muslims' who are the peaceful majority, and only a minuscule number who actually support extremism and terrorism. Whenever the subject is the behavior of some minority group, there are the eager apologists who rush into the conversation to insist that ''but the majority are not like that! We can't blame all of them; it's just a few that cause problems. The majority are good people."
Perhaps it's some kind of psychological defense mechanism that makes people feel compelled to deny that there is a problem and that it does involve a great many people, not just a few troublemakers. Acknowledging that there is a problem and that it is more widespread than political correctness would admit would imply having to deal with the problem in some way, and many people prefer to avoid that.
And then there are those for whom PC is their quasi-religion; these people have to 'feel good about themselves' and these days, what better way to do that than to take a benevolent and all-tolerant attitude towards minorities who behave badly?
But these are people with their heads in the sand, believing that if they deny the problem, it will somehow evaporate on its own.
Maybe O'Reilly himself, who is so often accused of being 'racist' or 'fascist' is more sensitive to that criticism than he lets on. Despite his blustering tough-guy image, I think he cares very much about being seen as 'fair-minded' or unbigoted, even if it means denying obvious truths.
The media of late have gone all-out, as we've discussed here and elsewhere, to show us falsified images of blacks in positions of authority, wise, noble, kind, friendly, accomplished blacks, probably in an all-out effort to counter the crime stories or the evidence of our own senses from everyday life. The news channels and the media generally like to present us with blacks who belie the stereotypes and it has worked like a charm, apparently, for most people. However as I've always said, one exception, or the occasional aberration, does not disprove the rule.
Again, Frank Ellis said
A mode of opinion control softer than outright censorship is the current obsession with fictional role models. Today, the feminist and anti-racist theme is constantly worked into movies and television as examples of Bertoldt Brecht's principle that the Marxist artist must show the world not as it is but as it ought to be. This is why we have so many screen portrayals of wise black judges; street-wise, straight-shooting lady policemen; minority computer geniuses; and, of course, degenerate white men.''
But we still, if we are honest and realistic, have to look at the overall statistics and the realities, without the rose-colored glasses provided by the media propaganda.
Political correctness kills; when I first said that on a forum some years ago, I was angrily challenged for it, but every day in the news we get more examples of how it can be fatal. I have to wonder to what extent PC affects law enforcement policies when 'interacting' with people in the ghetto or the barrio. I have to wonder how many people's lives are put at risk by this foolish insistence on believing in PC fairytales.

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Travelers going ahead with plans despite vice president's gaffe, swine flu concerns
Pigs can�t fly yet, but the swine flu is still a reason to stay out of the sky.
At least, that is, if you ask Vice President Joe Biden. And most Southwest Floridians aren�t. Nor are their travel agents. Or their airlines. Or the rest of the federal government.
"I would tell members of my family � and I have � that I wouldn�t go anywhere in confined places now," Biden said on NBC�s "Today" show Thursday morning.
Only problem is, Biden�s advice is not in line with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention official message, which is for citizens to only avoid non-essential travel to Mexico. Pundits quickly tacked the comment up as another off-the-cuff remark, which Biden has a reputation for, but travel industry officials were decidedly more upset, with one saying the comment bordered on "fear mongering."
"To suggest that people not fly at this stage of things is a broad brush stroke," said Tim Smith, a spokesman for American Airlines.''
I suppose a spokesman for American Airlines just couldn't have a bias, could he? Or a conflict of interest?
Either way, though, a possible Biden gaffe wasn�t going to keep Shari Munger of Sarasota from visiting Chicago on Thursday out of Southwest Florida International Airport. Munger, who said she was in her early 40s, said she felt the whole swine flu thing was being blown out of proportion.
"Not at all worried," Munger said. "I think the media has a tendency to exaggerate things."
But there are people taking precautions, feeling, like Biden, that confined spaces result in pandemics.
"It�s not just going to Mexico, if you�re in a confined aircraft and one person sneezes, it goes all the way through the aircraft," Biden said, adding that other transportation options may be worth a look.''
Just for perspective, let's see what information is out there on air travel and contagious illness. There's this:
Airborne illness and air travel simply go hand in hand, and anyone that travels often will tell you so. The problem with air travel is that you are talking about thousands and over the course of a year, millions of people who travel in the same aircrafts. Simply put, there are germs everywhere in an aircraft and it doesn�t matter how well the crews clean them, these germs cannot be removed because they are not just on things, they are in the air.
Every year millions of people come down with the flu or common colds after traveling on an aircraft. Though a good number of these people may not correlate the two, the likelihood that they picked up their cold or flu bug on the aircraft is very high. The problem with airplanes is that many people get on and off them all the time. Some of these people may be sick, some may just be recovering, and some may be sick and not even realize it.
[...] Obviously, when you are talking about an aircraft you are talking about a small place where the air is just recycled over and over again, allowing the germs the perfect environment to meet up with bodies that are just waiting to get sick! Air travel is one of the easiest ways to get sick, and for many, there is no way around it!
An obvious way to avoid the airborne illnesses on board an aircraft is just to stay away from them! Though, for many this isn�t really an option, as they have to travel for business or personal reasons. So, the best thing you can do is avoid air travel when you are recovering from an illness or any time you feel as though your immune system may not be at its best. Any time your immune system has already been compromised, you are even more likely to contract an airborne illness.
[...]
In addition to fighting off the airborne illnesses, you might want to think about everything you touch on board the aircraft. If there are germs and bacteria in the air, you can bet all the surfaces are contaminated as well.
And this:
Airplane Air makes People Sick
Former flight attendant now health activist, Diana Fairechild, has formed a nonprofit foundation to educate people about airplane air. She mentions a number of added hazards that may be present, resulting from things like hydraulic fluid gases.
Here�s what she says:
"The problem is apparently complex. A number of environmental factors in the aircraft cabin are being blamed, including low oxygen in recycled air, low humidity that puts a strain on the respiratory tract, and pesticide residues from systematic sprayings. Now a new problem is at the forefront of potential causes. Toxic chemical vapors originate from hydraulic spills�and the resulting cabin fumes are now being directly linked to incidents of flight attendant illnesses."
And further:
Could a pleasant and enjoyable flight be the cause of a serious infection? Can airplanes be transporters of diseases? As you settle down in your seat, is a deadly infection already lurking amidst the carpeted and cushioned interior of the plane? Airplanes �Ticket to Infection?
[...]
Little did such thoughts enter our mind until the bird flu, SARS, hit our planet this millennium. In fact, air travel and communicable diseases have a hand in glove association; especially air borne infections.
A major cause attributed to the spread of infections within flights is the recycled cabin air. Till the 70�s, 100% fresh air was pumped into the cabin of airplanes every 3 minutes. But, anticipated increase in fuel costs during the late 70�s prompted research into methods of cutting down on fuel consumption and thereby, the cost. It was found that circulating fresh air within the cabin of an aircraft used up more fuel; so, since the 80�s, its percentage was cut in half. The reduced fresh air coupled with re-circulated stale air creates an environment conducive for many a health problem ranging from headaches, dizziness and nausea to various infections.
A study by Boeing and Pall Cabin Filters Brochure in 1999 showed that a cough produces 100,000 particles that can be dispersed over 20 rows in the cabin!
When infected passengers cough, sneeze or talk, droplets are released. It is in these droplets that the bacteria or viruses nestle until they gain entry into another victim. The unsuspecting, otherwise healthy passenger inhales the circulating recycled air that contains some of these droplets. Thus, the infection spreads among vulnerable passengers.
According to the Boeing Flight Manual, recycled air within an aircraft usually consists of 50% fresh and 50% stale air. Under such conditions, airborne germs are free to float around and the notorious ones include-
  • Common Cold
  • Tuberculosis
  • Influenza (flu)
  • Measles
  • Mumps
  • Chicken pox

  • Risk of tuberculosis - Kenyon T.A. et al (1996) proved that tuberculosis could be transmitted to passengers through the air conditioning. A study on 'the transmission of infections diseases during commercial air travel� reported in March 2005 in 'The Lancet�, adds further proof to this finding. Researchers found that healthy passengers sitting within two rows of a contagious passenger for a flight, longer than eight hours, were at risk of contacting the disease.
    SARS Infection - An outbreak of SARS on board a flight from Hong Kong to Beijing showed that passengers seated as far back as seven rows from the infected individual were affected.''
    The article also mentions other conditions like skin infections, malaria, and even gastrointestinal illnesses being spread via air travel.
    Interestingly, here is what the CDC has to say on air travel health hazards, from its own website:
    In-Flight Transmission of Communicable Diseases
    Concern has been increasing about the possible spread of communicable diseases during air travel. In certain circumstances when an infectious person or someone who is suspected of being infectious has traveled by air, public health authorities require passenger information for contact tracing and follow up. This information is collected from the passengers or the airlines and handled in a confidential manner. Information is available regarding in-flight transmission of a few diseases, including tuberculosis, Neisseria meningitidis, measles, influenza, SARS, and the common cold.
    Tuberculosis
    Only one investigation has documented transmission of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (TB) from a symptomatic passenger to six other passengers who were seated in the same section of a commercial aircraft during a long flight (>8 hours) (4). These six passengers were identified by conversion to a positive tuberculin skin test (TST); none had evidence of active tuberculosis. Driver et al. (5) investigated the potential for TB transmission by a symptomatic airline crew member over a 6-month period (5). They found that evidence of infection (i.e., TST positivity) among other crew members increased markedly during the period when the index case was most infectious and was associated with having worked >12 hours with the index case. Evidence suggested the potential that TB had been transmitted to passengers who had flown when the index case was most infectious.
    [...]
    People known to have infectious TB should travel by private transportation, rather than a commercial carrier, if travel is required.
    [...]
    Influenza
    Influenza is highly contagious, particularly among people in enclosed, poorly ventilated spaces. Transmission of influenza is thought to be primarily due to large droplets and has been documented aboard an aircraft, with most risk being associated with proximity to the source. (See Chapter 4 and http://www.cdc.gov/flu for more information.) The 1979 airplane-associated outbreak of influenza in Alaska, during which 72% of passengers became ill with influenza-like illness, does not reflect what generally happens on commercial flights. In this situation, the airplane experienced engine failure prior to takeoff and remained on the ground with the ventilation system turned off. The cabin doors remained closed, and many passengers remained on board for hours (10). In terms of understanding seasonal influenza transmission dynamics on a commercial airline, a potentially more useful influenza outbreak investigation associated with an aircraft is the 1999 outbreak reported in Australia, during which most of the infected passengers were seated within three rows of the index case, and all the people seated in the same row were infected (11).
    Since 1997, a new strain of avian influenza virus (H5N1) has been shown to cause infection in humans, primarily associated with direct contact with birds and with no sustained human-to-human spread to date. Because influenza viruses are very adept at changing, there is concern that this strain could eventually to spread among humans and thus would impact air travel. See http://wwwn.cdc.gov/travel for more general information and up-to-date, specific guidelines for travelers and the airline industry.''
    There is more at the website. Please note that the article I excerpted above was posted in June 2007, and not updated since then. Care to bet whether the CDC will have to update this page to make it conform to the current 'nothing to worry about' blather from the administration?
    This travel forum contains some posts going back to April 22, warning of respiratory illness in South and Central Mexico.
    I notice a number of posts appear to have been deleted since then. Why? For fear of hurting the travel industry? If the posts I linked to about the illness are no longer there when you click the link, they will have been removed by the website.
    Has everybody forgotten this story from 2007 in which an American lawyer who had drug-resistant TB was quarantined after he defied doctor's orders and took a plane flight?
    It is the first time since 1963, that the CDC has issued an order for a patient to be quarantined. Usually, such decisions are left to the states, but this case involved international and interstate travel, so the federal government stepped in.
    The CDC is concerned about passengers seated in rows near the infected man on a May 13, Atlanta to Paris, Air France 385 flight and another Czech Air 0104 from Prague to Canada on May 23.
    [...]
    There have only been a few cases of people acquiring highly infectious diseases on long flights. Dr. Henry Masur, president of the Infectious Disease Society says exposure � even at close proximity � doesn't usually result in infection.
    [...]
    This man was advised not to travel and did. Why?
    You're dealing with human behavior. We know that, dating back to the earliest of times, there are people who, for selfish reasons, for unclear purposes, will in fact do whatever they please. In this case, this is where public health has to battle the issue of individual rights and privacy with that of the greater health good. This was a collision that was bound to happen sometime and will happen more often in the future.
    Shouldn't there be more stringent rules preventing them from doing whatever they please?
    This individual had been compliant with public health action. It was only with the advent of his wedding in Europe that he decided that he wasn't going to be. There was actually an order issued before he left the United States, but [public health officials] were unable to serve it on him. This just points out that you have to have extreme measures for the very, very small number of people who just won't be compliant.''
    Which brings me to another point: our derelict and irresponsible officials, so worried about the political and economic consequences of this flu outbreak, have repeated, despite what Biden said, they do not advise anyone to avoid air travel or public places --- except "those who are sick.''
    But as the last paragraph in the quote above tells us, human behavior can be perverse; people can and do defy common sense and common courtesy and will go out in public, callously exposing others to whatever illness they have. The idea that all people who are infected, or who might be infected, will segregate themselves out of concern for the rest of us is foolish. The case of the TB-infected lawyer willfully exposing others to his drug-resistant malady on two long flights illustrate that fact. If we cannot trust a highly-educated and supposedly conscientious professional man to obey the rules and avoid exposing others, how can we expect that of people at large, perhaps people who are not capable of understanding the seriousness of the disease or the means of contagion?
    And here's another story from a year ago, of a woman who caught TB from a fellow passenger on a New Delhi-Chicago flight.
    So for anyone to chastise Biden, of whom I am no admirer, by the way, for a 'gaffe' about the risks of air travel or mass transit, is absurd, and it shows how people are so easily dissuaded from common-sense knowledge that was taken for granted not long ago.
    Biden's statement, far from being a 'gaffe', was just politically incorrect, and now, in the effort to defend the administration's official story, officials are making him out to be a fool, and the FReepers are ridiculing Biden. But nevertheless, there are risks involved in taking mass transit, especially airplane flights, even though those in the travel industry or anyone with vested interests are now trying to downplay or deny that.
    I find it creepy how easily people can be persuaded one way or the other, based on what their political authorities are saying.
    And I find it sinister how people in high positions apparently have wanton disregard for the safety of the citizens of this country, choosing politics and economic interests above the life and well-being of their own countrymen.
    I realize that some of the perpetual cynics on the right have an interest in denying that there is anything to this flu outbreak, but surely it's better to be safe than sorry. It is not a choice between denying that there is any danger at all and panicking. There is a sensible middle ground here; being vigilant and prepared is better than a knee-jerk denial of whatever the other side is saying.
    Even if this outbreak proves to be nothing serious, and just another type of flu, the flu is no joke. I've been noticing for at least the last decade or so that there are much nastier and harder-to-shake kinds of respiratory viruses going around every year. To me, even if this thing is just 'ordinary' flu, it's well worth it to avoid it if at all possible, and it's irresponsible to laugh this thing off, especially this early in the game.
    That being said, those in positions of authority seem to be contradicting themselves; I hear some people saying that the authorities are trying to cause panic, such as by raising the outbreak to pandemic level, while at the same time, these pathetic officials are telling us there is no need to close any borders or to quarantine anyone or even to avoid public gatherings and mass transit. The fact that they are now contradicting themselves, as the CDC is doing, based on their information from 2007, makes little sense. I don't see them creating panic; they seem just as equally committed to fostering a cavalier or passive attitude about this. What is going on? Are they trying to merely confuse people by repeating contradictory and conflicting messages?
    All they are doing, as far as I am concerned, is discrediting themselves and showing themselves to have no real concern for us, the people they are supposedly sworn to serve.
    By the way, see Tanstaafl's take on this here.

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    The Elephant in the Room
    by Anne E. Kornblut
    This New York Times article deals with the widening rift between Republicans and Democrats, roughly corresponding to 'left' and 'right' in America, and the stunting of real exchange of views between political enemies. It's become so bad that family members are often estranged from each other, and friendships are destroyed.
    Invariably someone will protest that the situation isn't that bad, but in my experience it is very much 'that bad.' One of my friendships, with a college classmate from years back, has been very strained due to our polarizing political views. Although we have often had extended conversations about everything under the sun, and have had many truly stimulating and inspiring exchanges on various subjects, as our political views diverged, we are now no longer able to discuss things beyond the superficial level. That seems a great loss to me. And I have family members, devout left-liberals, who become near-apoplectic when the subject of politics comes up. Now keep in mind that I don't attempt to provoke anyone by bringing up sensitive issues on which I know I differ with them; usually they introduce the controversial subjects in a kind of 'I dare you to respond' fashion. And when I do respond, in my outspoken way, I am 'mean-spirited'. It all ends with raised blood pressures and resentments and a resulting loss of closeness. As a result, there is a lot of walking on eggshells and self-censorship going on; this is not the way it should be among family members or longtime friends.
    How and when did it get this way? That could be the subject of a full-length book; a mere blogpost can't cover it. But by my reckoning, it started really with the late 60s/early 70s leftist counterculture, wherein the youthful generations began to repudiate everything their parents and grandparents, and all their forebears, stood for. America became 'AmeriKKKa', and was 'prejudiced', imperialist, oppressive, 'chauvinistic', and later on, as new terms of abuse were coined, America was declared guilty of being 'racist', 'sexist' and 'homophobic.' And now the new crime of Islamophobia has been invented, so as to proclaim America guilty of that. And 'nativist' and 'xenophobic' are new additions to the litany of American crimes.
    Now, along comes 'conservative' Brit-turned-American Andrew Sullivan, who rails against 'Christianists'
    who are the latest threat to America.
    The 'generation gap' seemed to widen in the 70s, with many of the baby-boom generation bitterly denouncing their parents and traditional America in all its forms. When Richard Nixon was accused of approving of the Watergate break-in, lefty baby-boomers became a kind of howling mob denouncing him as the equivalent of Hitler, and baying for his impeachment or worse. I remember a common graffito of that time: 'Off Nixon', the word 'off' meaning to kill. This kind of hysterical, extreme rhetoric became commonplace among the younger generations, and thus we had a ratcheting-up of the divisive rhetoric.
    This continued into the 80s, when Ronald Reagan became President; I remember many of the lefties had an obsessive hatred and a deranged loathing of Reagan. Why? His amiable persona hardly seems likely to inspire the kind of hate directed at him by the Left. Still, at this time, it was mostly the fringe left, the anti-war left, that promulgated most of the rabid rhetoric. The Democrat Party itself, although it had been considerably pulled to the left by the McGovernites in 1972, still maintained some decorum in the public debate. But the real hatefulness of the left came to a crescendo during the Clinton years. As Clinton's various misdeeds began to provoke opposition and criticism from more conservative and traditional Americans, the Clintonistas responded with the kind of vitriol, the kind of 'take-no-prisoners' attitude which had animated the 'hate-Nixon', anti-war college lefties of the 70s. And no coincidence, because in most cases it was the very same people who had been part of the far-left during the 60s and 70s who now were part of the political establishment, and were in high places. The Clintons themselves had been part of the far-left, and had simply adopted the guise of 'establishment' types, shedding the long hair and the ragtag style of dress for a more respectable look.
    Such was one of the strategies of the left; not all of them believed that 'taking it to the street' or to the barricades was the effective way to make revolution; the belief was that it was preferable to 'change things from the inside', adopt the outward trappings of mainstream, establishment America while inwardly rejecting and subverting it. The Gramscian communists believed that the 'long march through the institutions', the media, academia, churches, and political parties, was the way to go. And it seems they believed correctly, because it's evident that they have been successful in taking control over all those institutions to a great degree. Even the Republican Party, I am convinced, has its Gramscians.
    So the Democrat Party of today, which is a mutated form of the old Democrat party before it was McGovernized and Clintonized, is now considerably farther left than it was even a generation ago. As the older generations died off, and the society is dominated by mostly baby-boomers, the party scarcely resembles that of the pre-1970 era. And the puzzling thing is that many of the Democrats I know seem not to notice that their party has moved so far left, embracing many positions that would have mortified the older generations of Democrats. There are no longer any 'Scoop Jackson Democrats', (not even Joe Lieberman) or Harry Truman Democrats, or even JFK Democrats. But this metamorphosis seems to escape the notice of many Democrats.
    And as the Democrats become increasingly leftist, often anti-American, anti-Christian, anti-tradition, they further alienate the many heartland Americans who have not been converted to leftism. The liberals' extremism predictably provokes a harsh reaction from many more traditional Americans, and the hostility escalates. The media and many people in both parties often sound the alarm about 'extremism', by which they usually mean right-wing politics: nationalism and other such 'reactionary' sentiments, but they refuse to see that the extreme position of the left-liberals and their media wing simply pushes many people further to the right. As more traditional conservative views are denounced and banished beyond the pale, more extreme reactions will probably occur. At present there is hardly any place where old-fashioned conservative views are even allowed to be heard, outside the Internet and the blogosphere. Here in America, we have blessedly not yet seen the harsh laws which Europe and other Western countries have put in place, banning 'hate speech' which usually means any non-PC viewpoints. But as we creep toward that kind of PC totalitarianism, the true conservative viewpoint will increasingly be proscribed and shut down, as in Europe, where true conservatism is becoming a rare bird.
    But why have the liberals in America become so increasingly bitter and venomous? It seems to me that they are winning; they have traditional America on the ropes. They have a stranglehold on the media, including both the news media and the entertainment media.
    It would seem that they should be resting on their laurels and gloating over their liberal paradise which they have created in America: our borders wide open, a polyglot tower of Babel in the making, gay 'marriage' being forced on us; a feminized military, moral standards all but destroyed, and white Americans, that 'source of all evil', soon to be a minority. So why are they so angry and bitter?
    Maybe that's something for the headshrinkers to explain. I can only conjecture that they are chronically bitter and alienated people, who are furious that the world does not conform to their visions of utopia, and convinced that if they could only force their ways of thinking and living on every last soul in the world, we would have heaven on earth, and 'the world will be as one'. The world will never be perfect, and human beings are not perfectible. That means liberals will perpetually be carrying a bitter grudge against the world and God and nature.
    Meantime, they cannot brook any opposition or any exception to their dogmatic, rigid ideas, and they want to silence or destroy those who don't see things their way. They have decided that all differing opinions are evil, and must not be allowed to exist.
    But another factor in this polarization and bitterness is that the right is now caught up in this good-vs.-evil Manichaean worldview, and unfortunately the actions of the left-liberals seem to confirm the suspicion that they are enemies of all that is good. How else can one view a philosophy that sympathizes with the most depraved of murderers and other criminals, or makes excuses for not only crime but terrorism, or which hates the mention of God and seeks to quash free speech in the name of 'tolerance'? Left-liberalism often seems to be consciously allying itself with the dark side. On the other hand, liberals, in their alternate universe, think that the only sins or crimes are 'intolerance' (especially 'racism') and 'hypocrisy', which usually means upholding any traditional morality. So in their strange universe, 'right-wingers' are the only bad guys, while they are the defenders of all that is good: their imaginary rainbow utopia of tolerance and diversity and peace and love.
    Another factor: maybe there is an element of 'displacement' in this left-right dichotomy. All of us, whether we are aware of it or not, are experiencing a certain amount of disruption in our lives with all the dizzying change in America over the last decade, especially. Our country's population is growing by leaps and bounds, and that is not all good. Many people are feeling like strangers, as others with vastly different cultures and languages crowd in on our neighborhoods and towns. Many people are uprooting themselves in order to find the quality of life they have always known, as immigration changes everything around them. There is an accelerated level of change. This is disorienting and stressful; it's human nature to feel stressed by all this change, especially when it is out of our control, and is being imposed on us for reasons we don't comprehend. Yet we are not allowed to complain about this, or question it: we are 'racist' and 'hateful' if we are distressed or angry about it. We are supposed to welcome and 'celebrate' the changes, unsought though they are.
    We are supposed to shut up and get used to it. We are PC-whipped into silence and acquiescence. Yet I say that this goes against our grain, as Americans. We are the children of a competent, strong, independent nation of people; pioneers, settlers, conquerors, and yet we are being shoved aside and expected to submit. This is not a natural state of things for us. It is creating a huge dissonance in us. It is creating a pressure that will have to find an outlet sooner or later.
    For now, however, as we are censored and intimidated from speaking our minds, and as we try to find distractions in amusements and possessions, we probably express our frustrations and anger in acceptable ways. So we do the easy thing: we turn on those close to us. Just as people who have stressful careers, in which they have little control, often take out their frustrations on family members, so too are we Americans turning on our fellow Americans. And yes, we have reason to get upset with each other because we have been turned into warring camps, with diametrically opposed ideals and beliefs. And it isn't just left-vs.-right: it's men vs. women, one race against the other (and all against whites), the poor vs. the rich, and everybody against the middle class; gays vs. straights, and everybody against Christians. And on an international scale: everybody against Americans (even many of the Brits hate us, and they are our nearest cousins), and Americans who hate the French and the Brits, and so on.
    I am sure this delights our common enemies in the Islamic world. They are no doubt laughing at our gullibility and weakness in not standing up to them in our countries, and they exploit our divisions within the West. Their very presence divides the West, as some gullible liberals side with them. The same with our Mexican invaders: their presence divides us, as some side with them, and denounce those who would defend our country.
    I think our present PC world has exacerbated the tendency to divisions that already exist, and magnified them out of all proportion. We are so busy attacking and fearing each other that we cannot give due attention to the external threats we face. Our enemies love it this way.

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