Truthy


So if you haven’t heard of it yet, Truthy is a project being run out of Indiana State University, with help from a $1 million grand from the National Science Foundation.

It is an attempt to map and help understand the dissemination of information, and disinformation on Twitter. It is currently focused on politics, news, and social movements. And part of the project appears to be to try and understand how misinformation, disinformation, and hate speech spread. Whether “organically” or via organized intent.

And so, if you google Truthy, and especially if you choose news results- you will see the right- and especially the far right- up in arms about this (and yes, Godwin’s Law has already struck- with lots of foaming at the mouth comparing this to Nazi Germany).

And I guess, in an odd way- I understand their outrage. A tool then can track and explain the dissemination of lies. Of hate speech. Of disinformation campaigns…should be truly worrying to those that predominantly rely on such things for their existence. Oh the irony!

I, for one, will be watching this project evolve (and, being a non-twitterer (non-tweeter?) will be trying to understand it a little better.

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“Restorative Justice” – a “Must Read” article in the LA Times


The LA Times has an article I highly recomend everone read. Then ponder for awhile. Then re-read. Then…

Essentially, an article on a program happening in some prisons in California (and elsewhere) working with prisoners to redesign all aspects of the justice system- from courts to prisons, to mae the criminal justice system work. To provide healing and growth- for victims and perpetrators.

Well, best if you read it yourself. And form your own thoughts. So here it is: GREAT READ: WHAT KIND OF PRISON MIGHT THE INMATES DESIGN?

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R.I.P. Robin Williams


Comedian and actor Robim Williams was found dead today of an apparent suicide at his home in Marin county California. I understand he struggled for years with alcoholism and cocaine issues. And apparently had finiancial issues in recent years. But he touched the lives of millions with his wit, comedy, and unique way of seeing the world.

One of my favorite memories of him was at the memorial in Golden Gate Park in the early 90’s for legendary promoter Bill Graham. It was right after Mount Pinnatubo in the Phillipines had erupted, and playing on the reality of this Williams made some jokes about knowing Bill was up in Heaven directing “god” on the sunsets…(to paraphrase) “a little more fuschia over here, a little more orange here” …. “you know we are going to have spectacular sunsets for the next good while”.

Initial article at the SF paper here

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Great piece at WaPo from Emory’s head nurse re: treating the Ebola victims


I’m sure we are all familiar with the ignorance and fear mongering (the two go hand in hand) from everyone on the far right from Donald Trump to Ann Coulter to Fox “News”. The dear, ignorance, and hate coming from those that self describe as christians and patriots is, shall we say, disgusting.

Well today the Washington Post ran a short piece from the head nurse at Emory University where the two american christian aid workers infected with Ebola are being treated. I have no idea if this woman would self identify as either a christian or a patriot- but surely is far more of both then the  majority of what I have seen coming from the far right.

Original story is here (includes photos and video).

 

I’m the head nurse at Emory. This is why we wanted to bring the Ebola patients to the U.S.
These patients will benefit — not threaten — the country.

By Susan M. Grant August 6
Susan Mitchell Grant, RN, is chief nurse for Emory Healthcare.

 

A second American infected with the potentially deadly Ebola virus arrived at Emory University Hospital on Tuesday from Africa, following the first patient last weekend. Both were greeted by a team of highly trained physicians and nurses, a specialized isolation unit, extensive media coverage, and a storm of public reaction. People responded viscerally on social media, fearing that we risked spreading Ebola to the United States.

Those fears are unfounded and reflect a lack of knowledge about Ebola and our ability to safely manage and contain it. Emory University Hospital has a unit created specifically for these types of highly infectious patients, and our staff is thoroughly trained in infection control procedures and protocols. But beyond that, the public alarm overlooks the foundational mission of the U.S. medical system. The purpose of any hospital is to care for the ill and advance knowledge about human health. At Emory, our education, research, dedication and focus on quality — essentially everything we do — is in preparation to handle these types of cases.

Further, Americans stand to benefit from what we learn by treating these patients. (Bound by federal law, Emory cannot name the patients. The HIPAA Privacy Rule forbids health-care institutions from releasing identifiable health information.) Ebola won’t become a threat to the general public from their presence in our facility, but the insight we gain by caring for them will prepare us to better treat emergent diseases that may confront the United States in the future. We also can export our new knowledge to treat Ebola globally. This pathogen is part of our world, and if we want eradicate these types of potentially fatal diseases before they reach our shores uncontrolled, we have to contribute to the global research effort. Today, diseases do not stay contained to one city, country or even continent.

Most importantly, we are caring for these patients because it is the right thing to do. These Americans generously went to Africa on a humanitarian mission to help eradicate a disease that is especially deadly in countries without our health-care infrastructure. They deserve the same selflessness from us. To refuse to care for these professionals would raise enormous questions about the ethical foundation of our profession. They have a right to come home for their care when it can be done effectively and safely.

As health-care professionals, this is what we have trained for. People often ask why we would choose to care for such high-risk patients. For many of us, that is why we chose this occupation — to care for people in need. Every person involved in the treatment of these two patients volunteered for the assignment. At least two nurses canceled vacations to be a part of this team. They derive satisfaction from knowing that, after years of preparing for this type of case, they are able to help, to comfort and to do it safely. The gratitude they receive from the patients’ families drives their efforts.

As human beings, we all hope that if we were in need of superior health care, our country and its top doctors would help us get better. We can either let our actions be guided by misunderstandings, fear and self-interest, or we can lead by knowledge, science and compassion. We can fear, or we can care.

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The sad truth of the health status of the flood of immigrant children


I’m sure we have all heard the shrill cries from the right wing nuts about the coming pandemic of disease being brought to american shores by the flood of “unaccomapanied minors” arriving from central america.

Everone from Fox to WND is running multiple apocolyptic stories a day. Featuring such “experts” as Fox contributor Dr Elizabeth Lee Viliet (whose pratice centers solely on the very profitable field of hormone replacement and who, as far as I can tell, has zero experience in communicable diseases or public health. And who they proudly proclaim is a member of the lofty sounding Association of American Physicians and Surgeons- which is nothing more then a far right conservative group founded after WWII to “stop the spread of socialized medicine”).

So let us look at some actual facts. There have been over a half million unaccompanied minors at the border in recent months. And so far it appears we have had, suspected or confirmed, one case of h1n1 (swine flu). A couple cases of TB. A few cases of measels. And asorted cases of, gasp, lice and scabies.

Now, let’s be real. All of these diseases already exist in the US. TB and h1n1 cases in particular have been surging in recent years, thanks to everything from the reality of globabl travel and the rise in the anti-vacination folks in america.

And let us look at some facts about these central americcan countries shall we? Thanks in no small part to Dr Vilets bugaboo- socialized medicine, these central american countries actually have vacination levels on par or exceeding those in the US. For example- this oft quoted article by the right on the situation actually goes on to debunk the risks with actual facts for anyone that actually bothers to read it. As does this article from the Texas Observer, or the raw data from Unicef here.

So, the evidence paints a much different story. There is no particularly great risk from these unacompanied minors. Nor “illegal immigrants” in general. The biggest risk is the far right (and far left) anti-vacination folks. And the general risk is simply the reality of the world we live in today. Millions of travellers in and out of this country to and from points all over the globe. – whether for family, pleasure, or work.

There simply is no great risk presented by these children, or immigrants in general. But the far right knows that fear is a very powerful tool- especially when combined with a combination of ignorance and a general unwillingness to deal with facts that contradict a belief.

Posted in christian values, obama, politics, rand paul, religion, science, social, tea party | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

The Sad Intolerance of the Right Wing Nuts


So yesterday I had posted this blog on the ignorant and disturbing discussion going on at an article at WND, essentially a discussion insisting that Obama had brought the Ebola infected aid workers to the US as part of his plan for destroying america.

And so, I spent some time in the thread at WND refuting much of the nonsense with actual facts, information, and logic. And of course I was subjected to name calling, F*** Y**’s, people teling me they hoped I died, etc etc (all of which, btw, are actually violations of the TOS of posting comments there). Out of a couple dozen main commentors that I took any issue with their claims, only 1 actually tried to respons with some facts.

So of course, my account was banned there, and all my posts deleted. Never mind that I kept things civil. Did not violate the TOS. Did nothing but challenge hate and fear with logic and facts.

I find it very sadly ironic that these people are so intolerant of dissent, and so very afraid of facts and logic that they choose to make it disappear rather then deal with it.

And it is doubly disturbing that these are the very people, a tiny minority in this country, who because they scream so loud and have such potential for violence, are destroying this nation. (and I’ll share one of the comments made there, seconded by others, that truly disturbed me. That god, guns, and family were all more important then this country. Yes, this said by the great self-proclaimed “true patriots”). It was actually one of many comments, that if something similar had come out of the mounth of a liberal, would be a hanging offence to these people. Proof of treason,

Posted in christian values, obama, politics, rand paul, religion, science, social, tea party | Tagged , , , | 7 Comments

A sad example of the far rights ignorance, fear, and hatred


Rush Limbaugh recently questioned Obamas reasoning for bringing the two christian american doctors infected with ebola to the US for care, suggesting it was,essentially, a publicity stunt.

Far “christian” right “news” site WND (aka wingnut news daily) has been running this as one of their main stories, and reading through the long comment section is both enlightening…and alarming. The fear, ignorance, and hatred on display make you wonder how these same people can bossibly call themselves christians, patriots, americans…or even humans.

This vile nonsense is from the people who insist they represent true american values?

Posted in christian values, obama, politics, religion, science, social, tea party | Tagged , , | 3 Comments