October 20th, 2012

#3634: Looks like I didn't cause the employment bounce after all.

California underreported its unemployment figures. Furthermore, the agency responsible for reporting those figures is headed by someone who donated a significant amount of money to the Obama campaign.

Total number of headlines announcing that the 7.8% figure was in fact fraudulent: 0.00...0

Yeah.

So what's the official unemployment rate now? Is it 8.2% again? Or is it somewhere below 8% still? Notice how there are no headlines saying what it is?

* * *

Let me say up front that I believe vaccines to be, on balance, a good and useful tool in our fight against disease. Here's the problem: we've begun to over-vaccinate.

It's one thing to vaccinate against diseases that kill. We vaccinate children against things like polio and measels because these diseases have non-trivial rates of fatality or life-long disability.

The problems come in when we vaccinate them too early and for too many things at once. Furthermore, we're vaccinating people against influenza and pneumonia, people with otherwise healthy immune systems who don't really need to be protected from those diseases, unlike (say) the elderly or people with compromised immune response.

So here we have a documented case of a vaccine (Gardisil) sterilizing a teenage girl. She doesn't have to worry about some strains of HPV giving her cervical cancer; she also never has to worry about getting pregnant or having to menstruate.

For the "as much sex as possible all the time" crowd I suppose this must sound like a win-win proposition. Not only is she protected (theoretically) against cervical cancer; she's also got the body of a teenager and can have as much "consequence-free" sex as she wants without having to spend Sandra Fluke's chimerical "$3,000 per month" on birth control products. And if she wants children she can always adopt, right?

Granted, cervical cancer is dangerous; but while HPV infection is a risk factor for it, it's not a cause--because if it were a cause, every woman (or almost) who tested positive for HPV would get cervical cancer at some point in her life. That doesn't happen.

This is why I refuse to be vaccinated for a disease which might be a problem if I catch it, like the flu, or pneumonia. I'll be vaccinated--without hesistation--against the diseases which will kill me or cause other problems if I catch them. But to be vaccinated against something I'm not likely to get, and which will cause only inconvenience if I do? No.

The human immune system is an extraordinarily complex mechanism and we don't understand it. We needlessly mess with it at our peril.

* * *

Last night I watched anime again. Here's the current playlist:
Mizuiro Jidai
Yawara!
Bakemonogatari
Tenshi na Konamaiki
Fairy Tail
Fairy Tail has the distinction of being on the playlist for the longest time of any anime series I've seen. I watched ep 1 of Fairy Tail on November 21, 2010; that means it's been on the playlist for nearly two years.

It's true that I collected Ranma 1/2 for much longer, but that was long before I had a playlist; in those days, when I had to wait months for anime releases, I watched it as soon as I got it (or as soon as possible thereafter). Besides, there was no need to keep track of what I'd watched because it was all in videotape or laserdisk format (later in DVD) and I could remind myself what I'd seen simply by looking at the boxes.

And there wasn't nearly as much of it.

I started the playlist in 2007 because I was no longer able to keep track, in my head, of what I'd last watched. When all you've got is a list of filenames, you need some way of tracking what you've seen and what you haven't. Hence, the playlst.

And Fairy Tail is good enough that it's been there for two years...almost. 23 months, anyway...and I don't expect to run out of it before the second anniversary.

I've been binging on Yawara! just a little bit, by running two eps per session of that title.

The rest of the playlist ranges between "meh" and "WTF", though the latter category isn't bad enough to make me stop watching.

Mizurio Jidai is beginning to annoy me with its entirely predictable angst fests.

Bakemonogatari would be a lot more entertaining if it wasn't presented in FULL-ON-ART!!!-O-VISION and just concentrated on telling a story. I know all the weird shit they do is supposed to be impressive and full of import and meaning, but it just comes across as useless noise. I don't waste time trying to figure out what it means when they show Suguru's room full of red books; I don't want to. I don't care why she has an inordinate number of red books in her room because it has absolutely nothing to do with the story whatsoever. The scene showing Suguru and Araragi playing in the books as if they were leaves--the action doesn't fit what's happening in the story at that point and provides no useful context for the story being told.

They end up taking what could be a genuinely creepy monster story ("bakemonogatari" is a portmanteau of bakemono, monster, and monogatari, story) and turning it into a French art film, only in Japanese--full of nonsensical images that make sense only to the director.

Tenshi na Konamaiki is down to the last ten eps, and thank God for that. The story is fair-to-middlin' most of the time; the animation is wretched and the only reason I keep watching it is because Megumi Hayashibara did the voice of the main character. But I have to admit that the story is now beginning to get interesting, because there's been a big reveal about the wish granted to Megumi by the demon from the book.

* * *

Otherwise? Nada. Let the homebrewed Garfield Without Garfield tell the tale:

#3635: "People literally don't recognize objectivity when they see it."

Scott Adams stirred the puddin' with his endorsement of Mitt Romney, which was completely misinterpreted by the left. It's not a long post, so read it all, especially the updates. Here's a sample:
Update 4: Meanwhile, at Huffington Post, where context goes to die, a key point in my blog post has been summarized as: ". . . cartoonist Scott Adams said he's under the impression Romney would be softer on marijuana than President Barack Obama." Is that how you would interpret my sentence "Romney is likely to continue the same drug policies as the Obama administration"? If not, you can't write for Huffington Post.
I LOL at that.

Then he wrote a post about the reaction to the first one I linked, from which I took the title of my post about this. In context:
The fascinating thing here is that I believe the source of confusion is that people literally don't recognize objectivity when they see it. I got a lot of comments along the lines of "You say X is true and then in the same paragraph you say Y." What I actually said is "X is likely to be true, but here's an argument for Y." That's how objective people talk. They make a prediction and then explain why it might be wrong. That's the only way you know all sides have been considered. Partisans and non-thinkers say, "My prediction is 100% certain."
I have encountered this phenomenon enough in my life to know exactly what he's talking about.

Example: I don't like Pink Floyd. I have never liked Pink Floyd. I can stand a couple of their songs ("Comfortably Numb", "Money") but in general I don't like their music.

I don't like their music because, as art, it's too effective for my taste. Pink Floyd's music is dark stuff and it's hard for me to listen to; I don't enjoy it--hence I don't like it.

But when I tell this to people--"Pink Floyd is good art but I don't like it"--frequently they don't understand me. "How can you say it sucks when you just said it's good?"

How? Because that's not at all what I'm saying. If it sucked I wouldn't be saying it's good.

Like, well, horror movies.

Generally speaking, I dislike horror movies. Not the ones that rely on gore or startling the viewer, but ones which genuinely horrify. You'd probably be surprised by what I mean by that.

I tend to avoid movies like Hellraiser and Nightmare on Elm Street. Having seen them years after their theatrical releases, though, I watch them and think, "What do people like about these shlock-fests?" I had the same reaction to Saw; it was almost totally non-horrifying. OMG, the guy has to cut his foot off to escape--didn't we see this in Mad Max a few decades ago?

I ended up liking John Carpenter's Prince of Darkness because the story was cerebrally frightening. (Even though it's been described with the phrase "whirling green anticlimax in the basement".) I hated The Hitcher because of the scene where Rutger Hauer draws-and-quarters C. Thomas Howell's girlfriend with a semi; that was horrifying. The Sixth Sense wasn't horror, strictly speaking, but that creeped me right the fuck out.

Halloween, Friday the 13th, etc--mind you I don't watch horror movies at all so I haven't become jaded by more recent efforts. Yet when I see these movies, I'm unimpressed.

Part of it comes from the fact that I'm largely (only "largely") unmoved by gore. Somewhere recently I saw, on-line, a picture of a foot with three gangrenous toes. It looked as if the gangrene had stopped at the ball of the foot and spread laterally. I looked at the image for several seconds, and thought, "The first three toes are goners. That fourth one...judging solely by the color I'd wager it's probably not savable. He ought to keep his pinky toe, though." Since the body of the foot seemed uninvolved, he'd probably lose just the toes and not too much of his foot.

But I wasn't grossed out by it. I was supposed to be, but wasn't. It's just a picture. (Now, if I had smelled it, that likely would have nauseated me. But that's a reflex, anyway.)

So these days, now, there are two reasons I don't like horror movies. When they work, I can't sleep without the lights on; when they don't work, they annoy me.

And they very seldom work.

I can't even derive entertainment from the shlock. I've seen some truly terrible movies, things that are gold mines of snark (Attack of the Teenage Vixens from Outer Space) and derision--I can't make fun of Hellraiser because it doesn't rise to that level of bad.

It's like comparing Plan Nine From Outer Space to Battle Beyond the Stars--one is so bad it's transcended "bad" and turned into a classic movie; the other is just...well, bad.

I recognize that taste is not universal, but I know the difference between good and poor art. Pink Floyd is good art; some schmuck speaking syncopated rhyme and ending every line with "motherfucker" is not.

And I don't like either one.