One way to cook a turkey
And my favorite of the Thanksgivukkah images
Grateful for friends and family, near and far.
One way to cook a turkey
And my favorite of the Thanksgivukkah images
Grateful for friends and family, near and far.
( This has been around since at least 2009, when a formatted version was published at Awkward Family Photos under the title, Thanksgiving Letter)
As you all know a fabulous Thanksgiving Dinner does not make itself. I need to ask each of you to help by bringing something to complete the meal. I truly appreciate your offers to assist with the meal preparation.
Now, while I do have quite a sense of humor and joke around all the time, I COULD NOT BE MORE SERIOUS when I am providing you with your Thanksgiving instructions and orders. I am very particular, so please perform your task EXACTLY as I have requested and read your portion very carefully. If I ask you to bring your offering in a container that has a lid, bring your offering in a container WITH A LID, NOT ALUMINUM FOIL! If I ask you to bring a serving spoon for your dish, BRING A SERVING SPOON, NOT A SOUP SPOON! And please do not forget anything.
All food that is to be cooked should already be prepared, bring it hot and ready to serve, warm or room temp. These are your ONLY THREE options. Anything meant to be served cold should, of course, already be cold.
Looking forward to the 28th!!
Finslippy started it in 2010 but but it went on. And on. We should start it again...The twitter hashtag is #passiveaggressivethanksgiving.
Feel free to recycle.
Update November 26, 2013. Orac, a physician, goes into depth on how the anti-vaccine movement is exploiting Mrs. Webb's beliefs about Mr. Webb's illness and death.
Chandler Blake Webb died at the age of 19. I have the deepest sympathy for his suffering prior to death, and the loss suffered by his parents and his family and his friends.
Mr. Webb had an influenza immunization the day before he became ill. He was hospitalized some days later, and 28 days later, he died.
His mother, or his parents, refused to permit a complete post-mortem pathological examination (an autopsy).
His mother believes his illness and death was caused by the influenza vaccine, a belief she formed before his death. Her belief was stated in his obituary, and this belief has been widely reported. I am sure his mother is sincere in her belief about the cause of her son's death.
It is to be deeply regretted that his family refused an autopsy, as the true cause of his death will never be known.
"Chandler had a brain biopsy, that is why I didn't allow an autopsy. He was tested and tested by the infectious control, the CDC every test came back negative...negative for meningitis...negative for lymphoma, negative for tics. They even checked him for rabies. He was negative for every fungus, bacteria and virus. He was tested for tics, herpes, anything and everything... Everything NEGATIVE. Encephalitis is a secondary symptom, yes he did have that. People should be informed of the negative side effects that the inserts in each box of vaccine contain. Also, wouldn't it be nice if when someone enters an ER with these symptoms, that the Dr.'s would ask if they had recently had a vaccine. This should have been the first thing they checked instead of the last. So So Sad."
On another thread, a knowlegable individual posted,
"Autopsies allow much more detailed exams of ALL parts of the brain than a biopsy. Refusing to allow an autopsy is not going to help prevent the next one - if there was a problem.
Reasons to think it's NOT the vaccine: If it were a bad lot, there would have been dozens or hundreds of cases. If it were "teh toxins" there would be thousands of cases.
My own gut feeling ... it was viral meningitis, caused by a virus that hasn't been identified yet, whose main host is in animals. Hanta virus went unnoticed in the USA until 1993 ... then serological studies showed that the elderly members of the tribe had antibodies."
The newspaper reports,
Utah Department of Health officials did not go into specifics about the case, though a spokesman said the department was aware of the case.
Another state health official late Friday offered a statement.
“Our epidemiology staff have commented that although they have no evidence of a flu vaccine, or any other kind of vaccine, causing this type of reaction/outcome, they take these reports very seriously and they are thoroughly investigated by the (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention),” the statement read.
On Fox and Friends (a show with a previous record of advancing the anti-vaccine agenda),
Webb said there's "no doubt" in her mind that if they had focused on the flu vaccine from the start that her son would still be alive....
"He was so healthy. He was pure. He should have been able to fight the flu. I wish he would have gotten the flu rather than this vaccination," said Webb.
There is, of course, no evidence for her belief.
Dameian “Luke” Gulley was autistic and 14 years old. Like many autistic folk, he found comfort in a set routine. He walked himself to Valley Oak Middle School every morning. On Monday, November 18, 2013, he left his home in Visalia but never arrived at school.
His parents reported his disappearance, but the Visalia Police Department treated his disappearance as "a runaway" rather than a missing-persons case.
His body was found on Thursday, November 21, outside of the Visalia City limits, some miles away from his route, in "Sequoia and Kings National Parks".
The FBI has been called in, and will work with local law enforcement.
My deepest condolences to his family and friends.
This does not appear to be a case of wandering or "elopement", as Luke regularly walked from his home to his school, but more in the nature of abduction.
The US has a national alert system for abducted children, the Amber Alert System, but no such alert system for missing autistic individuals is in place.
Today is the 64th anniversary of Jacques' birth. He had a real taste for...well not haut cuisine.
Original recipe narrative, which is much funnier
(optional if your diners like spicy)
Serving time minus several hours (or even day before)
Serving time minus 1 hour or more
Assemble the layers as follows:
The Doritos should be all used up. If not, no worries. Return reserved Doritos to bag and crush very finely, to crumbs. Put reserved cheese in Doritos bag & shake until crumbs & cheese thoroughly mixed.
Spread Doritos - cheese mixture over top of chili.
Bake in oven for 30-45 minutes, until center is hot.
Serve. And honey? This is how I feel.----
Today, Jacques's longtime pal Sue D. and I went out to lunch at a local Chinese cuisine restaurant. We did not order lemon chicken, but we did talk about how much it was his favorite dish.
This is a guest post by Dorit Reiss.
In an article about religious exemptions1 , Attorney Alan Phillips criticized Dr. Paul Offit’s call for an end to religious exemptions. While Mr. Phillips correctly pointed out some minor errors in Dr. Offit’s legal arguments, the bulk of his critique is extremely unconvincing (even setting aside his personal attack on Dr. Offit; on that, see Michael Simpson's thorough debunking2). There are three reasons to give substantial weight to the critique of religious exemptions. First, courts in the United States have clearly and consistently rejected claims of a constitutional right to a vaccine exemption. Second, the religious exemption is extremely problematic because of its vulnerability to abuse, even apart from the dubious morality of sacrificing a child’s health for religion. And finally, although interpreting exemption laws is the role of the courts, creating exemption laws – or abolishing them – is a question of public policy, and there is a powerful case for abolishing non-medical exemptions that deserves legislative consideration.
There is no Constitutional Right to an Exemption
School immunization requirements in the United States have been around at least since the latter part of the 19th century3 and have been upheld by the United States Supreme Court4. While Mr. Phillips suggests that parents “do have a Constitutional right to exercise a vaccine religious exemption,” no court in the United States – federal or state - has ever found that a state has a constitutional duty to provide parents with a religious or philosophical exemption. In fact, every court that directly examined the question arrived at the opposite conclusion, basing it on a state’s power to protect the health of children and the public health. The last time the Supreme Court addressed the issue – albeit as an example in another context – the Court said that a parent “cannot claim freedom from compulsory vaccination for the child more than for himself on religious grounds. The right to practice religion freely does not include liberty to expose the community or the child to communicable disease or the latter to ill health or death5.” Most recently, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals found that school immunization requirements can withstand even strict scrutiny6 .
Even courts that struck down religious exemptions for preferring some religions over others – something most courts reject, as Mr. Phillips pointed out – struck down the religious exemption but kept the school immunization requirement intact7,8 (no doubt to the chagrin of the winning – but losing – plaintiff). These courts sent legislatures a clear message in two parts: 1) if you want to provide a religious exemption, it needs to be non-discriminatory; but 2) you are perfectly free to not provide a religious exemption.
Dr. Offit would go further. He supports the ruling of the Supreme Court of Mississippi, in Brown v. Stone9, that a religious exemption violates the equal protection guarantee of the 14th amendment. Mr. Phillips is right to point out that Brown does not reflect the prevailing legal interpretation; no other court has adopted that part of the ruling. But it is a legitimate legal argument to advance Brown’s interpretation and to buttress it with policy arguments. Before it is a persuasive one, though, that discussion needs to be pushed further. The public policy reasons need to be more developed than in Brown, and the relationship of that interpretation to other 14th Amendment jurisprudence addressed. I would also like to see a principled way to draw the line: if we follow a constitutional doctrine that says you cannot treat children differently on religious grounds, how far do you take it, and what remains of freedom of religion in the family?
The Religious Exemption is Problematic
As Mr. Phillips highlights, “[f]ederal courts have interpreted the First Amendment's ‘free exercise’ [of religion] clause as protecting any belief that is ‘religious in nature’ and ‘sincerely held’ (as the law defines those phrases).” This broad interpretation is part of the problem. There is, no doubt, a minority whose opposition to vaccination is sincerely based on religious grounds. You can question whether states should privilege such sincere beliefs over protecting children and the public against vaccine-preventable diseases, and Dr. Offit does. Courts, as explained, uniformly left that decision to the states.
But even for a state that values religious beliefs, offering a religious exemption is problematic today, since the evidence suggests that the vast majority of exemptors oppose vaccines not based on religious grounds, but based on ill-supported safety concerns, and their use of the religious exemption is insincere.
The most extreme example of such abuse is the creation of special churches to oppose vaccination. For example, the Congregation of Universal Wisdom10 was created by a chiropractor at least in part to provide vaccine opponents with religious cover11.
Mainstream religions do not oppose vaccines, and often expressly support them. While that fact is not determinative under our jurisprudence, it is suggestive. When a Catholic, Jew or Muslim – in direct contradiction to the majority of religious authorities – claims opposition to vaccination on religious grounds, their religious argument is suspect. The broad jurisprudence Mr. Phillips highlights provides states with very few options to actually examine whether the reason for exempting is, indeed, religious (though some states do engage in such an inquiry).
Studies suggest that most parents who refuse vaccines do so on the basis of safety concerns12. Cases exist in which claims for religious exemptions were rejected because the court determined that the parent’s real concern was a safety concern13, 14.
Even states that were initially motivated by a sincere desire to protect religious minorities should reconsider whether a religious exemption which is not constitutionally required is appropriate given this widespread abuse.
Vaccine Exemptions are a Question of Public Policy
Interpreting and applying exemption laws raises legal issues. Enacting them or abolishing them, however, is a question of public policy, within the appropriate constitutional limits. Mr. Phillips has his own view on this, and his view is decidedly anti-vaccine: vaccines are dangerous; the health care systems that promote vaccines are corrupt; and vaccine exemptions pose no health risks. His medical claims have already been addressed by an academic physician-researcher, who certainly has the medical credentials to do so15. But Mr. Phillips also argues that “there is a legal presumption that the exercise of a vaccine religious exemption does not pose a significant risk to anyone. If it would, state legislatures, who are presumed to have considered the possible consequences of enacting exemption laws, would not have enacted the exemption laws in the first place.” Mr. Phillips does not cite any authority for this proposition, and the only case I know of that even remotely supports it is the 2007 Diana H. case from Arizona16. That case is very weak support: even the majority (two judges and a very powerful, compelling dissent) cited several risks of not vaccinating. All the majority did was defer to the legislature’s balancing of the health risks it acknowledged with parental rights. Even if we were to accept this decision, which is not well-supported in my view, there is nothing preventing a legislature from revisiting this balance and finding that exemptions do pose a significant risk.
The legislature may do so in response to a rising number of exemptions, to outbreaks of diseases, or after being persuaded by an opinion voiced, for example, by Dr. Offit. After all, an infectious diseases doctor who sees the result of not vaccinating directly in the form of suffering or dying children is uniquely qualified to speak on the harms of having such exemptions, and to advocate for a change in policy. Dr. Offit, in particular, is a well-known, well-credentialed vaccine researcher, and has been engaged in vaccine policy and education for many years. His perspective deserves substantial weight.
Personally, I am still working through my views on exemptions. While freedom of religion is an important value in the United States, because of the very high risk of abuse, and because of the consequences for public health, I agree with Dr. Offit’s criticism of religous exemptions. But I find myself going back and forth between the two positions first, the position that there should be no exemptions except medical ones; and alternately, and the position that states should offer a “personal choice” exemption -- but make such an exemption difficult to get. My reasons for supporting the latter position derive from the existence of a minority that would not vaccinate no matter what, because they sincerely – if wrongly – believe vaccines are toxic and will severely harm their children. I do not want to force those parents into a position where they see themselves as forced to lie about their religious beliefs, or alternatively, feeling they are forced to homeschool their children. The latter option is not only a substantial burden, it would deprive those children of a public education (that would hopefully provide them, among other things, with a good grounding in science). On the other hand, would tightening vaccine exemptions really motivate a substantial number of parents to homeschool that would not otherwise do so? And is it politically feasible to enact a personal choice exemption that is stringent enough to only apply to the tiny, die-hard minority that would not vaccinate at any rate? After all, anti-vaccine activists have mobilized in force to fight situations like California’s AB2109, which only required a health practitioner to confirm that the exemptor had received relevant information. How hard would they fight an attempt to make exemptions actually hard to obtain? I am conflicted.
Of course, unlike Dr. Offit, I have never had to deal with the results of not vaccinating directly. I’ve never seen a child die, let alone a seeing a child dying vaccine-preventable disease. I hope I never will. The force of these other considerations likely pales dramatically when you have to look into the face of a dying child or her parents. On the other hand, the problem Dr. Offit faces is that – thanks in large part to widespread vaccination – most people are in my position rather than his: not having seen up close the harms of vaccine-preventable diseases. That might be a good reason to listen seriously to those who have. We could, of course, choose to wait until we have more dead or disabled children to decide to clamp down on exemptions. But do we really want to pay that price?
Dorit Rubinstein Reiss is a professor of law at UC Hastings College of Law. She graduated Magna cum Laude from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where she served as Editor in Chief of the Law Review, and holds a Ph.D. from the Jurisprudence and Social Policy program in UC Berkeley. Her doctoral dissertation was on the accountability of agencies, whic continues to be a focus of her research.