Poor Parental Risk Assessment

One of my friends posted this story that discusses the difficulties of a parent trying to find a day care for their immunocompromised child. Their child has leukemia and is currently undergoing chemotherapy meaning his immune system is roughly as effective as a screen door on a submarine. What’s interesting s that the story is attempting to explain the dangers of not immunizing children but fails to acknowledge a much bigger problem:

But here’s something that rarely gets discussed: the threat posed by the nonvaccinated to children who are immunosuppressed. Last year, while searching for child care for our 2-and-a-half-year-old son, my husband and I thought we had we found the perfect arrangement: an experienced home day care provider whose house was an inviting den of toddler industriousness. Under her magical hand, children drifted calmly and happily from the bubble station to the fairy garden to the bunnies and the trucks, an orchestrated preschool utopia. But when I asked: “Are any of the children here unvaccinated?” the hope of my son’s perfect day care experience burnt to a little crisp. As it turned out, one child had a philosophical or religious exemption—a convenient, cover-all exemption that many doctors grant, no questions asked, when a parent requests one. (I still do not understand how the state can allow one to attribute his or her fear of vaccines and their unproven dangers to religion or philosophy. But that’s a question for another day.)

Ordinarily I wouldn’t question others’ parenting choices. But the problem is literally one of live or don’t live. While that parent chose not to vaccinate her child for what she likely considers well-founded reasons, she is putting other children at risk. In this instance, the child at risk was my son. He has leukemia.

Ignoring the author’s rather condescending holier-than-thou attitude we must look at the much larger picture that is apparently being entirely ignored. The parent has acknowledged the fact that even minor diseases can be potentially lethal to her child and therefore will not allow her child to be around children that haven’t been immunized. That’s a smart decision but it fails to address the much more common issue of diseases for which no immunizations exist such as the common cold, the flu (granted there are limited immunizations against specific strains of the flu but they are far from effective against all strains of the flu), or pneumonia.

Even if a child has received all of their recommended immunizations they are still potential, and likely, carriers for the previously mentioned diseases. Whether an immunocompromised individual contracts whooping cough of a cold isn’t overly relevant as either one can be potentially lethal.

The parent in this article makes an all too common human mistake, she has done a poor job at risk assessment. Children, due to the fact their immune systems aren’t fully developed, are more susceptible to diseases. Therefore it’s risk to put an immunocompromised child in a day care or school as both will likely expose the child to numerous diseases. While the parent has assessed children who haven’t been immunized as a risk to her immunocompromised child she has entirely ignored the threat of diseases that can’t be immunized against.

Humans, in general, are poor assessors of risk. We will inflate the threat of unlikely risks while playing down the threat of more likely risks. Consider the gun rights movement. Many of us spend a great deal of time preparing to defend agains a violent attacker but often fail to exercise or eat properly to defend ourselves against the far more likely threat of heart disease.

The linked story is interesting because it is trying to demonstrate the risk of children who are not immunized but unintentionally demonstrates that the parent is doing a poor job of assessing overall risk. While a great deal of time is spent advertising the risks of not getting children immunized very little time is spent advertising the risks of common diseases like the cold. This is likely part of the reason the parent has put so much weight on the issue of immunization while ignoring the fact that putting her immunocompromised child in a day care is insanely risky regardless of whether the other children have received their recommended immunizations.

Our species’s inability to properly assess risk should always be taken into consideration when policies are introduced to mitigate a supposed risk. People should question government programs that promise to mitigate the risk of terrorism while risks involving far more common crimes are left ignored. When somebody offers sell you an expensive product to mitigate a risk you should stop and consider whether or not the risk in question is actually in need of being mitigated.

TSA Gets Caught Stealing Again

Many employees of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) have sticky fingers. This shouldn’t come as a surprise since they work for the largest gang of thieves in the country, the state. What some of these TSA agents don’t realize is that many electronic devices can be easily tracked, which is who an agent who stole an iPad was caught:

In the latest apparent case of what have been hundreds of thefts by TSA officers of passenger belongings, an iPad left behind at a security checkpoint in the Orlando airport was tracked as it moved 30 miles to the home of the TSA officer last seen handling it.

Confronted two weeks later by ABC News, the TSA officer, Andy Ramirez, at first denied having the missing iPad, but ultimately turned it over after blaming his wife for taking it from the airport.

Not only was the agent willing to steal the iPad but he was then willing to throw his wife under the bus to cover up his misdeed. What a classy guy.

Who watches the watchmen? The TSA claims they are watching for terrorists but they themselves have proven to be a gang of criminals as well. Agents of the TSA have been caught stealing from travelers and sexually assaulting those travelers is part of their job description. How can we trust a gang of thieves to protect us from terrorists? We can’t. You cannot rely on one gang of criminals to protect you from another gang of criminals.

The Risk of Being a Burglar

The United Kingdom (UK) is usually a safe haven for criminals. Armed self-defense is generally looked down upon even in instances where criminals have broken into a person’s home. Thankfully pockets of common sense still exist there:

A judge has told two burglars that if they choose to raid a home where the householders legally own a gun they should accept the risk of being shot.

Judge Michael Pert QC made his remarks as he jailed Joshua O’Gorman and Daniel Mansell for four years at Leicester crown court after they were blasted by Andy Ferrie’s shotgun while attempting to burgle his farm cottage in Welby, near Melton Mowbray, in the early hours of 2 September.

Rejecting a plea that he take into account the shooting, which injured and allegedly “traumatised” the defendants, the judge said: “That is the chance you take.”

I like Judge Pert. He properly took the shooting into consideration when making his verdict and that consideration is that getting shot is a risk you take when you break into a person’s home.

If you’re sitting at home and some goon breaks in you can safely assume he doesn’t mean you well. Is he there to rob the place or murder you? You can’t be sure until the crime is done so you must assume the worst and take appropriate action. Often taking appropriate action can land you in legal trouble because the status of armed self-defense is dicey in many places. Usually the UK is one of these places but it’s nice to see at least one judge acknowledging the right to self-preservation. Hopefully this sets a precedence for future self-defense cases in the UK.

Bad Things can Happen Anywhere

Opponents of carry laws are always quick to list off a bunch of places they don’t think people should be allowed to carry. They will say people have no need to carry a gun into a school, church, or their place of business but as yesterday’s events in Minneapolis show us bad things can happen anywhere:

A man who apparently had just lost his job at a small business in Minneapolis’ Bryn Mawr neighborhood returned to the building Thursday afternoon and opened fire, killing the company’s founder and three others and wounding four others before taking his own life.

Reality isn’t kind, it doesn’t prevent bad things from happening to us in places where we feel most familiar and comfortable. Just because we go to the same place of work everyday doesn’t mean a raving lunatic won’t walk in one day and start shooting.

There are no gun-free zones. Just because a piece of legislation, a company police, or a sign says guns can’t be brought into an area doesn’t mean the unlawful won’t bring guns into that area. What is known is that the people who commit these crimes usually commit suicide upon the first sign of armed resistance. Generally this happens after the police arrive but can also happen if people in the area are armed. In fact the death toll can be greatly decreased by armed individuals in the immediate area as they don’t have the police’s tens of minutes response time.

It’s unfortunate but bad things can happen to good people anytime and anywhere, even in places we feel most comfortable.

TSA Given Extension on Holding a Public Hearing Regarding Body Scanners

Approximately 14 months ago the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) were order to hold a public hearing regarding their use of body scanners. Needless to say they haven’t complied and were taken to court over their refusal to comply. Luckily for the TSA they are a part of the same state that controls the court system and therefore have been granted extra special privileges:

A federal appeals court on Tuesday said it was giving the Transportation Security Administration until the end of March to comport with an already 14-month-old order to “promptly” hold public hearings and take public comment concerning the so-called nude body scanners installed in U.S. airport security checkpoints.

The public comments and the agency’s answers to them are reviewable by a court, which opens up a new avenue for a legal challenge to the agency’s decision to deploy the scanners. Critics maintain the scanners, which use radiation to peer through clothes, are threats to Americans’ privacy and health, which the TSA denies.

By the time March comes around you can be assured that another extension will be given. The state has a great deal of interest in forcing its subjects to submit to pointless authoritarianism. A public hearing would likely reveal that the body scanners aren’t as safe as the TSA advertises and that would cause the proles to be less than happy about the dangers they’ve been put in in the name of security theatre. I doubt we’ll ever see an actual public hearing regarding these body scanners. At most the old models will be phased out for a new and improved model. After the new models are in place the TSA will claim all previous health concerns are even more misplaced than before and another long series of lawsuits will be required before the TSA is required to hold a public hearing on the new body scanners.

It’s Not Detainment, It’s Just Illegal to Leave

This recent Florida court decision has left me confused about the definition of detainment:

Motorists can be held indefinitely at toll booths if they pay with large denomination bills, according to a federal appeals court ruling handed down Wednesday. A family of drivers — Joel, Deborah and Robert Chandler — filed suit last year arguing they were effectively being held hostage by the Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT) and the private contractor in charge of the state’s toll road, Faneuil, Inc.

Under FDOT policies in place at the time, motorists who paid with $50 bills, and occasionally even $5 bills, were not given permission to proceed until the toll collector filled out a “Bill Detection Report” with data about the motorist’s vehicle and details from his driver’s license. Many of those who chose to pay cash did so to avoid the privacy implications of installing a SunPass transponder that recorded their driving habits. They were likewise unwilling to provide personal information to the toll collector, but they had no alternative because the toll barrier would not be raised without compliance. FDOT policy does not allow passengers to exit their vehicle, and backing up is illegal and usually impossible while other cars wait behind. FDOT dropped the Bill Detection Reports in 2010.


“The fact that a person is not free to leave on his own terms at a given moment, however, does not, by itself, mean that the person has been ‘seized’ within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment,” the court wrote in its unsigned decision. “In Florida, a person’s right and liberty to use a highway is not absolute; it may be regulated in the public interest through reasonable and reasonably executed regulations.”

So you can’t move forward until you comply with the “Bill Detection Report”, you can’t leave your vehicle, and you can’t reverse and escape the situation but you’re not being detained? Interesting. So if I setup a roadblock on my lock street, demand drivers get out and perform a little jig before being allowed to proceed, and hold them at gunpoint until they comply I’m not detaining them?

One can argue that the Florida highway department can enforce whatever regulations they want but without an option of leaving you are effectively detained.

Like Children Fighting

It appears as though the United States will be resorting to third grader tactics against Iran:

The United States on Wednesday slammed “repulsive slurs” against Israel by Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and said it would boycott his speech at the UN General Assembly.

Seriously states act like petulant children. They get angry whenever another state says something “mean” and stomp off. It would be funny if these temper tantrums didn’t lead to innocent people dying.

Some Germans Looking to Address Their Country’s Gun Laws

It appears as though some people living in Germany are thinking it’s time to reconsider the country’s strict gun laws:

ANGERMUENDE, Germany – Not long after the Polish border crossing into Germany fully opened in 2007, the Russian mob arrived. But it took until this summer for people in this newly capitalist German region of farmland, forests and lakes to start fighting back.

Small businesses have lost millions of dollars’ worth of agricultural and construction equipment to thieves from beyond the German border. The thefts have made some Germans wary of their neighbors and triggered an unprecedented debate on gun use, as well as the installation of private fences, electric gates and surveillance systems.

The Germans living on the Polish border are learning what happens when the state disarms you and fails to protect you. Effectively they make you vulnerable to anybody who is unwilling to respect your property rights and/or life. In such cases one is left with only two options: submit to criminals or fight back.

Criminals prefer easy prey and no easier prey exists than unarmed individuals. When you arm those individuals the cost of performing crimes against them increases and if that cost increases enough the criminals are forced to either find a new line of work or face retaliatory violence.

The Absurdity of War

War has to be one of the most absurd concepts humanity has invented. Somehow we, as a race, are so incredibly stupid that we can’t even see the absurdity of people dying in the name of colorful pieces of cloth that denote imaginary lines on a map. Beyond the absurdity of the concept itself there is also the additional absurdity of the wasted resources that go into blowing one another up. In fact I think this picture concisely shows the mind boggling waste involved with warfare:

Consider for a moment the cost of war. Not only does it cost human lives but every ton of metal, hour of labor, and gallon of fuel is wasted on destroying other things made of metal by human labor that are powered by fuel. You don’t only have resources sunk into building weapons of war but you also have to sink more resources into replacing everything that was destroyed during the war. If you’re a military contractor or a construction company this may seem like a good idea but even for them it’s not. Warfare is nothing more than the biggest example of the broken window fallacy ever conceived. While it seems the military contractors and construction companies are getting rich off of warfare they fail to consider all the resources they’ve sunk into blowing stuff up and replacing stuff that was blown up could have been put into creating new and better things.

People often complain about the consumer culture we live in today where products are thrown away into of being repaired. Warfare is a great example of this on a very large scare. Think about the Javalin missile, an $80,000 tube that can only be used once. $80,000 thrown down the tubes every time you launch one of those missiles. On top of that you also have the massive cost of resources required for research and development to create the missile. Who thought that was a good idea?

Some groups have figured out that Achilles’ heel of warfare and have begun relying on cheap technologies and easy tactics to win wars. When you consider what warfare is you realize it’s nothing more than a competition to see who can maintain the most resources. If you’re tossing away $80,000 missiles willy nilly and your enemy is using cheap easily constructed explosives you’re not going to last in the long run.

Voting Doesn’t Make You Free

I can’t wait until the election is over with and we know which of the two running douche bags will be fucking us for the next four years. I’m getting sick of hearing people trying to tell me who I have to vote for. Romney’s supporters are, perhaps, slightly more annoying than Obama’s supporters. Those demanding I cast a vote for Romney are claiming that he’s our only hope of being at least a little free for the next four years. How does choosing a master, any master, help me be free? You want to know what I think about voting? I will assume you do since you’re reading this post. Voting, in my opinion, can best be summed up as the following:

Just because you get to choose who rules over you doesn’t mean you’re free. Freedom means the ability to make your own decisions in life. When you get to choose what you eat, what you drink, what you buy, who you sleep with, who you marry, whether or not you want to get married, etc. you are making free decisions. When you beg an uninvolved third party for permission to eat, drink, have sex, or get married you’re making yourself a slave. You’re saying that you recognize that uninvolved third party’s authority over your life and accept his or her decision in matters affecting your life. This is why I’m confused by those voting for Obama based gay marriage stance. Why are you begging the president for permission to marry somebody of the same sex?

The president is nothing more than a master who rules over your life using coercive force. If you smoke a verboten substance the president’s minions will come to your home, kick in your door, and either kidnap or murder you. If you grow wheat in spite of the state’s rationing of wheat production the president’s minions will come to your home, kick in your door, and either kidnap or murder you. Do you really want to recognize such a man as an authority figure?

Why do you care who the president is? Why do you recognize the president as an authority figure? Why do you allow yourself to voluntarily be a slave? I don’t care if Romney is designated as my master or Obama because I don’t recognize masters.

There’s no need to get worked up over any political race so long as you refuse to submit to the state. You don’t need to ruin a friendship because your friend disagree with you about who a better master is. Don’t buy into the fallacy that voting make you free. Acting free makes you free, voting for masters merely means you get to decide who you will be a slave to.