So the Politicians still actively at it

An ongoing debate in the military community is that despite all the wishful thinking by the PC desk jockeys in DC, reality has been a harsh mistress. General physical requirements for women already differ from those that men must qualify for, and without exclusion the requirement for females is far lower than that for males. I will not bore you with the logic that was used to get this to pass. Basically the argument has always been that while physical strength will matter on the battlefield, non-combat jobs shouldn’t have the same restrictions. The problem some have pointed out is that on the modern battlefield all jobs tend to, at one point or another, end up as combat jobs. Someone less qualified, because of lower physical standards, not only runs the risk of performing poorly when that happens, getting themselves killed in the process, but actually costing others their lives. I remain ambivalent about women in non-combat military jobs, but I detest the fact that we can’t have either an honest discussion or get the military to accurately report the facts. That ship has already sailed, and we now must live with what is.

The problem is that the SJW types still demand more, because as things stand right now their argument that there is no difference between men and women is easily disputed based on facts. For decades now the political class has been demanding women be given access to combat billing in the military that have remained exclusively male. It should be no surprise that these billets usually are highly specialized combat infantry billets with extremely demanding physical requirements. Amongst the billets that the PC Police has targeted to push their agenda to prove that there is absolutely no difference between men and women are the Marine Infantry Officer program, NAVY SEAL program, the Army Ranger/Delta Force programs, and the Air Force Special Operations program. These programs have actively resisted lowering standards for anyone because lives would be lost. So far not a single female to try out has succeeded in passing the rigorous and demanding physical part of any of these programs, and the reason is simple biology.

But the SJW types remain undeterred in their quest to be able to say they were right, so this announcement by Navy Secretary Mabus should come as no surprise. Here is a snippet, emphasis mine:

Fair fitness standards,/b>, less online training, more educational opportunities and a better balance of work and family life. Those hot button issues for sailors and Marines are now at the forefront of a new campaign by the Navy’s top civilian to boost quality of life and recruit more women into the ranks.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus is set to unveil a host of far-reaching initiatives and policy changes Wednesday, aimed at improving quality of life and careers for sailors and Marines, many which came directly from the deckplates, a senior Navy official has confirmed to Navy Times.

Mabus plans to to ease body fat restrictions, boost career flexibility, andpush to recruit more women in the Navy and Marine Corps, while opening up the last billets that remain closed to them.

The initiatives have been in the works for some time. Mabus has publicly voiced support for increasing the number of women and the jobs open to them, while Chief of Naval Personnel Vice Adm. Bill Moran’s office has been collecting fleet feedback on everything from revamping Navy Knowledge Online and the PFA to beefing up education and civilian training opportunities. Mabus is also expected to highlight recent moves to accelerate promotions for top performing corporals.

So there you have it: physical standards will again be reduced because “fairness”. My bet is, barring a reduction for show purposes, that they will only be reduced for one gender. I doubt the SEALs or the Marines will be happy to go along with any of this crap. SJW will not care who loses their lives as long as they get to pretend the dumb shit they believe is true however.

For those not in the know, this is being coupled with early promotions if you have the right plumbing. To me, that line about early promotions of corporals, which means Marine Corps enlisted females, since there are no corporals in the NAVY, basically means they are running the risk that they will promote people that might not have had enough time to be prepared. That’s neither fair for those people promoted or those that could suffer from this bad choice.

Women belong in the military. Many have served and will serve with distinction. However, just like no one bats an eye when some programs wash out overweight, physically unqualified, or mentally lacking men, nobody should be surprised that without compromising standards women will not make it into these elite combat forces. It’s simple biology, and no amount of mental fortitude will overcome the physical reality that there is a difference between the sexes. Meddling by inept people that have not served a day in the military or worse, don’t give a shit who gets hurt by their political agenda, however, might just make that happen. And we will all lose when that does happen.

The Roads Must Roll

The thing that amazes me about the environmentalist movement is how easily they embrace what turn out to be terrible ideas. Not just ideas that are bad for the economy, but often ideas that bad for the environment. Corn ethanol. Food miles. CFC bulbs. Carbon offsets. Geo-engineering. Zero Population Growth policies. Plastic bag bans.

Well, we have a new one: solar roads. The idea is that we replace a road with solar panels secured underneath safety glass. And this will … something.

Coyote Blog has the rundown on a prototype solar road that is a fiscal nightmare:

In the US, we pay about 12 cents a KwH for electricity (the Dutch probably pay more). But at this rate, in 6 months, the solar sidewalk has generated… $360 of electricity. Double that for a year, and we get $720 of electricity a year.

How much did the sidewalk cost? The article doesn’t say. You will find this typical of wind and solar articles. If they quantify the installation cost, they will not quantify the value of power produced. If they quantify the power produced, they will never quantify the installation cost. This article says the installation cost was $3.5 million, though I suppose one should subtract from that the cost to build a similar length concrete bike path, but that can’t be more than $100,000 for 230 feet. They say they are getting 70kwh per year per square meter, which is $8.40 worth of electricity per square meter per year. Since regular solar panels – without all the special glass overlays and installation in the ground and inverters and wiring – cost about $150-$200 per square meter, you can see this is a horrible investment.

He points out, quite correctly, that a road is one of the stupidest ways you can deploy a solar panel. First of all, the panel is pointed straight up, instead of south toward the sun, cutting its efficiency. Second of all, you literally have things passing over it all day, blocking out the sunlight (and, I note, causing large sudden voltage changes that can’t be good for the electronics). And I would add that having two layers of safety glass means you are blocking out some of the light the solar panel needs to absorb. And it’s not clear that a solar road will either be as durable as a regular road or as safe as one (do you want to ride your bike on glass during winter?). And you’ll have to find a way to keep the glass clean or your efficiency will drop even further.

The argument in favor is that it replaces asphalt, which is an energy-intensive product. Fair enough. But solar panels don’t just fall from the sky. They are also energy-intensive to produce. And they are energy-intense to maintain and replace, especially if you have fucking cars driving over them. They also point out that replacing our roads with solar panels (at a cost of about $50 trillion) would provide a enough energy to power the entire country since we have a huge number of roads. Again, fair enough. But lack of space isn’t the biggest problem with solar power right now. Energy storage is. They also make pie-in-the-sky claims that solar roads can power illumination at night or melt snow during winter. But that again gets into energy storage issue. I’m not sure how these road are supposed to collect enough energy to melt snow when they’re covered in … you know … snow.

Solar panels on roofs are a shaky enough prospect. I think they are gradually getting more feasible but are still hung up on the energy storage problem (and no, giant lithium ion batteries are not a solution). But putting solar panels in roads has to be one of the dumber ideas yet to emerge from the green mind. And yet a startup in the US has raised over $2 million for this nonsense.

Bin Laden Coverup

Seymour Hersh, source of some big — although not necessarily accurate — stories, is alleging that the bin Laden raid did not go down as we were told:

The principal claims that Hersh’s article makes, which largely rely on the assertions of a single, unnamed, retired senior U.S. intelligence official, are:

• That the 2011 U.S. Navy SEAL raid on the Abbottabad compound where bin Laden was hiding in northern Pakistan was not a firefight in which SEALs went into a dangerous and unknown situation, but a setup in which Pakistan’s military had been holding bin Laden prisoner in Abbottabad for five years and simply made him available to the SEALs who flew in helicopters to the compound on the night of the raid.

• An officer from Pakistan’s powerful military intelligence agency ISI accompanied the SEALs on the raid and showed them around the Abbottabad compound, and the only shots fired that night were the ones that the SEALs fired to kill bin Laden.

• A “walk in” to the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad tipped off the CIA that bin Laden was living in the Abbottabad compound, and it was not true — despite the statements of multiple U.S. officials after the raid — that the CIA had traced back one of bin Laden’s couriers to the Abbottabad compound and built a circumstantial case that bin Laden was living there.

• Saudi Arabia was financing bin Laden’s upkeep in his Abbottabad compound.

• A Pakistani army doctor obtained DNA from bin Laden that proved he was in Abbottabad, proof that was provided to the States so that all the supposed uncertainty — cited by Obama administration officials after the raid — about whether bin Laden was actually living in the compound was a lie.

• The “most blatant lie,” according to Hersh, was that “Pakistan’s two most senior military leaders — General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, chief of the army staff, and General Ahmed Shuja Pasha, director general of the ISI — were never informed” in advance of the U.S. raid on the bin Laden compound.

In short, according to Hersh’s account, President Barack Obama and many of his top advisers lied about pretty much everything concerning what is considered one of the President’s signal accomplishments: authorizing the raid in which bin Laden was killed.

In some way, I’m disposed to believe this story. It always did seem suspicious that bin Laden was right near a Pakistani military headquarters. And I wouldn’t put it past Obama to lie to us about it. The Administration has been milking the raid for propaganda since before it happened, including giving classified information to filmmakers for Zero Dark Thirty.

But after thinking about it, I have to say, like Peter Bergen, I am deeply skeptical of this. Part of this is Hersh. Yes, he broke My Lai story. But he also claimed that Bush intended to use nuclear weapons on Iran. So he’s not always in Earth orbit. Part of this is my general suspicions of conspiracy theories. Part of this is that it smells badly of a Killian Memo.

But mostly it because it contradicts well-established facts. You can read the details in Bergen’s piece. Notably, multiple witnesses, including Bergen, can attest to a bullet-riddled compound and multiple bodies. And there’s this:

Common sense would also tell you that if the Pakistanis were holding bin Laden and the U.S. government had found out this fact, the easiest path for both countries would not be to launch a U.S. military raid into Pakistan but would have been to hand bin Laden over quietly to the Americans.

Indeed, the Pakistanis have done this on several occasions with a number of other al Qaeda leaders such as Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, the operational commander of 9/11, who was handed over to U.S. custody after a raid in the Pakistani city of Rawalpindi in 2003. So too was Abu Faraj al-Libi, another key al Qaeda leader who was similarly handed over by the Pakistanis to U.S. custody two years later.

Ed Morrissey is suspicious of the story for similar reasons.

We’ll see what comes out. But I highly suspect Hersh is full of it. ISI may have known more than they were saying about bin Laden’s whereabouts. But a cover-up of this magnitude would also involve Seal Team 6 and multiple intelligence agencies. I find it highly unlikely a lid could be kept on such a conspiracy only to be blown by the likes of Hersh.

Science Sunday: Warp Drives

(Again, a bit late. But it’s still Sunday somewhere, right?)

One of the biggest problems facing space travel is that it is ridiculously expensive. Not just in terms of money, but in terms of fuel. Conventional rockets are wonderful but they require enormous mass to generate thrust. One of the reasons the Saturn rockets were so massive was not just because of the enormous amount of fuel needed to leave Earth orbit but the enormous amount needed to lift that enormous amount of fuel. And if you wanted to make a round trip to, say, Mars, you’d have to take gigantic quantities of fuel with you. Your cargo would be a few people, some food and water and vast amounts of rocket fuel.

There are many ways to overcome this. Some of our spacecraft now use ion thrusters, which are efficient but can’t produce the kind of impetus you need to reach orbit. Our spacecraft frequently used gravitational slingshots, essentially borrowing a tiny fraction of a planet’s orbital energy, to reach the outer parts of the solar system. There have been proposals for space elevators and magnetic catapults.

Well, how about warp drives?

Over the last few weeks, people have been getting excited about the idea that NASA has discovered a warp drive, which could open vast areas of the universe for exploration at a tiny fraction of the cost we’re paying. Well, I hate to throw cold water on it but science is nothing if not a cold water thrower:

Last year, the Eagleworks lab—headed up by Harold “Sonny” White—said at a conference on propulsion technologies that they had measured thrust from an electromagnetic propulsion drive. The basic idea behind an EM drive, which is based on a design from a British engineer named Roger Shawyer, is that it can produce thrust by bouncing microwaves around in a cone-shaped metal cavity.

That would be awesome, of course, except it violates one of the fundamental tenets of physics: conservation of momentum. Saying that a drive can produce thrust without propellant going out the backside is kind of like saying that you can drive your car just by sitting in the driver’s seat and pushing on the dashboard.

Now, the last time this idea popped up it made a bunch of noise, which eventually settled down because of some pretty (ahem) obvious flaws in Eagleworks’ experiments. The physicists hadn’t run the tests in a vacuum—essential for measuring a subtle thrust signal. And while they had tested the drive under multiple conditions, one of them was intentionally set up wrong. That setup produced the same thrust signatures as the other conditions, suggesting that the signals the physicists were seeing were all artifacts.

This time around, Eagleworks researchers said they had addressed one of those problems. “We have now confirmed that there is a thrust signature in a hard vacuum,” wrote Eagleworks member Paul March in a forum. It was that post—all the way back in February—that led to most of last week’s hullabaloo.

So, the Eagleworks people have eliminated one of a myriad of problems with their experiment. But many remain, the work is unrefereed and, even if its real, we’re talking about very very tiny amounts of thrust that is barely above the detection threshold.

In other words, it sounds an awful lot like cold fusion. I’m glad someone is researching far-out ideas for changing space travel. But we shouldn’t mistake it for a breakthrough until there’s an actual, you know, breakthrough.

(These are the same guys who circulated an artist’s conception of a warp drive ship that many outlets mistook for an actual design from NASA.)

Right now, there is simply no way to make space travel easy. It would be nice if we could work an alternative. But so far, no luck.

(PS – If you want to see a movie that addresses issues of space travel in an interesting way, check out Interstellar.)

Yeah, because this worked so well before

As I predicted when the global housing market collapse in 2008 dragged us all into a depression that despite the left and their lackeys in the LSM’s 6+ year campaign to convince us was ended still is going on, we are right back where we started. That collapse, which the left desperately wants to blame on “evil profiteering by Korporashuns”, all while giving the political class that set up this disastrous framework that allowed this crisis to come about a pass, was yet another in a long string of evidence that you ignore the laws of nature, economics, and reality at your own peril. Irresponsible people, be they the homeowners, the money lenders, or the politicians scheming, will keep making irresponsible and bad decisions, and no amount of “law making” will curb that.

When Dodd and Frank, the architects of the framework that precipitated this economic collapse, demanded they be allowed to “fix it”, I pointed out that the left not only learned the wrong lesson from this terrible debacle that burned up trillions of dollars of wealth, cost the US tax payer a few trillion so the government could fulfil it’s side of the Faustian bargain it made with the “Too big to fail” to get them to go along with their idiotic plans, and ravaged the middleclass and the world’s economy, but that it would double down on the stupid that caused it. I pointed out that there would not only not be any real attempts to address and prevent a repeat of the problem, but that sooner than later these idiot leftists would be back to pushing the same idiotic ideas and follow on politics that caused the problem in the first place. And we are there yet again!

For the majority of American homeowners, their house is their single largest asset. Despite the crash in home values in the last decade, that still holds true.

That crash, however, created a much larger share of renters, and these Americans are not enjoying the new wealth that now-rising home prices afford. Ninety percent of metropolitan housing markets have seen a decline in their homeownership rates, while home values are rising and incomes are flat, and that is widening the wealth gap, according to a new study by the National Association of Realtors, which looked at homeownership, home values and income growth from 2000 to 2013

“Homeownership plays a pivotal role in the U.S. economy and has historically been one of the primary sources of wealth accumulation for middle-class families,” said Lawrence Yun, chief economist for the Realtors.

“Unfortunately, due to an underperforming labor market, insufficient housing supply and overly stringent underwriting standards since the recession, homeownership has plunged to a rate not seen in over two decades,” Yun added. “As a result, the country has become more unequal as the number of homeowners has fallen while the number of renters has significantly risen.”

The argument being made, again in a vacuum, is that homeownership helps people build wealth, while renting doesn’t. So the logical conclusion by the people that continue to misinterpret the Constitution’s premise that we should all have “Equality of opportunity” to mean “Equality of outcome”, is to rig the game to make more of that happen. See, this time they will get it right and make rules that not only will encourage lenders to make loans to people that because that have proven to be bad risks, but magically will make those bad risk people and lenders suddenly become good stewards of this undeserved rewards. Somehow they will find a way that doesn’t defy the laws of economics and human nature, and get lenders not to charge higher interests on riskier loans. At the same time they will make people that are prone to bad decisions when they chase instant gratification suddenly stop doing just that and become responsible citizens well aware of the privilege they have had bestowed on them,

Here is the problem that these SJW seem to either be unable to grasp or simply want to ignore: the majority of people, with that number going up every day, looking at a world where some 50 years of progressive social engineering has created a system where perverse incentives actually encourage bad decisions and behavior, simply will never be disciplined enough to own a home. In fact, the argument has successfully been made – by the very crisis we saw in 2008 – that making homeownership easier will actually result in people having less of a reason to buy what they can actually afford and to then when they buy a home, pay it off as well. Wishful thinking will not change that reality.

Homeownership is actually a privilege and reward, earned by those that show the needed discipline to save the money needed for the down payment and setting up the track record of steadfastly adhering to sound economic principles. Sound decision making and savings, especially when done in an economic environment where government has so muddled and undermined these practices with insane and perverse incentives that reward bad behavior and actually levies penalties in the form of taxation on doing the right things, is not something you can ignore in this equation. When you ignore that reality and simply jump to the conclusion that what you need to push is more home ownership to give people an opportunity to build wealth, you basically set us all up for another costly and devastating round of failures.

Lenders, especially those that paid attention to the last cycle, should resist coercion pushing them to make loans that will eventually kill them without building in some mechanism to guarantee their survival. This means that government will again need to allow them to create higher interest vehicles to mitigate the risk and then back that up with promises of tax payer funded bailouts when the inevitable collapse happens. The bulk of the people likely to step up when we start pushing this stuff again will be those that already proved they shouldn’t be put in a position where their irresponsibility and lack of discipline will leave them holding the bag for a financial debt that shouldn’t have ever been placed on them. Games will be played to hide the inevitable cycle of bad loans made (like the bundled Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae subprime CDS) by these lenders to high risk people. And sooner than later we will see a repeat of the collapse as the whole house of cards comes tumbling down.

But they mean well, so the fault is everybody else’s but theirs…

The UK Votes

The UK election is going tonight. It’s looking close. The Tories may win more seats by the Scottish National Party is set to win all of Scotland and may join with Labour to form a government (which may end up resulting in Scottish Independence).

I mildly support the Tories but the key word is mildly. Cameron has reigned in the out-of-control spending binge of the previous Labour government. But he has also supported some of the starkest internet censorship in the Western world.

We’ll see what happens.

The Senate finally passes a budget!

If I get this correctly, we finally have a republican controlled Senate for the first time in over 5 years passing a budget.

As was to be expected, the left, furious because this budget doesn’t continue the trend established under their control of massive deficit spending on the programs the left depends on to buy votes, resulted in democrats voting against the budget in both the House and Senate. Obama has also balked at any budget that doesn’t put the US in deeper debt to buy democrats more votes.

I still think this budget has not made deep enough cuts in the nanny state programs democrats buy votes from. And I think it is high time we see action from Congress to halt the current plan democrats have of allowing illegal aliens to bolster the army of dead voters and repeat voters democrats count on to win steal elections. This country now has over $18 trillion in debt, because of the left’s deficit spending agenda, a fake 5.5% unemployment that really is more like 15-20% if you count people that dropped off the roll count, a devastating blow to land on the productive sector as more Obamacare rules go into effect, abuses of power by government at all levels, and an army of illegals at a time where jobs are scarce and the ever shrinking pie needs to be split to buy more of their votes, all to pretend their policies have not devastated our economy.

Only a complete moron can’t see that the “Fundamentally changing America” promise by Obama has served to allow the rich to get richer, the poor to get even more money from the productive, the middle class to be decimated, and the things that made America successful to be done away with. The left’s dream of making America an impotent two-bit socialist nanny state, as punishment for the crime of exposing the crimes of communism and halting its cancerous growth, is closer than ever thanks to this Manchurian candidate and the party of the insane.

Oh, and the republicans are not without fault in this decline, but they can’t hold a candle to the destructive nature of the left. And anything to halt the left’s mad dash off the cliff should be viewed a s a victory for the American people that still care.

Texas Shooting

Now that the facts are out, I have a a few random thoughts about Sunday’s shooting in Texas, which apparently involved two wannabe jihadis trying to shoot up a meeting where people would draw images of Muhammed.

First, I have no use for Pamela Geller and her compadres. They spew anti-Islamic invective whenever they can, are frequently factually challenged and hold events like this to be deliberately provocative.

That having been said, the blame for this is totally on the shooters and their vile religious beliefs. Every religion has its critics and its mockers. But you don’t see Christians, even fundamentalist ones, shooting up meetings of atheists or trying to murder Richard Dawkins. As Amy Alkon reminds us, there is no free speech in fundamentalist Islam. The radicals regard murdering “blasphemers” as their duty. We can never forget that.

Second, this event is protected speech no matter how much the pantywaists and thought-controllers try to pretend it isn’t. Our commitment to free speech is most tested with provocative or even insulting speech. And our commitment should stay strong even in the face of gunfire.

Third, according to Mother Jones, this was not a mass shooting stopped by someone with a gun. As I’ve noted many times, they require four people to be killed before it counts as a mass shooting or an attempted one.

And finally … Texas? Seriously? You guys thought you were going to win a shootout in Texas? When I lived down there, I was the least-armed person in my carpool lane.

The Party of “It Wasn’t Us!”

In the wake of the Baltimore riots and unrest, the Democrats are trying desperately to shift the conversation away from what happened and more toward … anything. One issue that they seem to have locked into is that the events in Baltimore aren’t a response to militarized policing or the War on Drugs or a poisonous relationship between the police and the community. No, it’s about … inequality. And they are proposing to address this with a raft of proposals that are basically Democratic Liberalism 101: more taxes on “the rich”, higher minimum wage, more spending on “infrastructure” and schools, etc. Barack Obama, in particular, has called on Republicans to embrace more spending and job training.


Science Sunday: Why You Should Vaccinate, Part 457

One issue that I am fairly militant about is vaccination. Vaccines are arguably the greatest invention in human history. Vaccines made smallpox, a disease that slaughtered billions, extinct. Polio, which used to maim and kill millions, is on the brink of extinction. And earlier this week, Rubella became extinct in the Americas:

After 15 years of a widespread vaccination campaign with the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine, the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization announced yesterday that rubella no longer circulates in the Americas. The only way a person could catch it is if they are visiting another country or if it is imported into a North, Central or South American country.

Rubella, also known as German measles, was previously among a pregnant woman’s greatest fears. Although it’s generally a mild disease in children and young adults, the virus wreaks the most damage when a pregnant woman catches it because the virus can cross the placenta to the fetus, increasing the risk for congenital rubella syndrome.

Congenital rubella syndrome can cause miscarriage or stillbirth, but even the infants who survive are likely to have birth defects, heart problems, blindness, deafness, brain damage, bone and growth problems, intellectual disability or damage to the liver and spleen.

Rubella used to cause tens of thousands of miscarriages and birth defects every year. Now it too could be pushed to extinction.

Of course, many deadly diseases are now coming back thanks to people refusing to vaccinate their kids. There is an effort to blame this on “anti-government” sentiment. But while that plays role, the bigger role is by liberal parents who think vaccines cause autism (you’ll notice we’re getting outbreaks in California, not Alabama). As I’ve noted before, the original research that showed a link between vaccines and autism is now known to have been a fraud. This week, we got another even more proof:

On the heels of a measles outbreak in California fueled by vaccination fears that scientists call unfounded, another large study has shown no link between the measles-mumps-rubella vaccine and autism.

The study examined insurance claims for 96,000 U.S. children born between 2001 and 2007, and found that those who received MMR vaccine didn’t develop autism at a higher rate than unvaccinated children, according to results published Tuesday by the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA. Even children who had older siblings with autism—a group considered at high risk for the disorder—didn’t have increased odds of developing autism after receiving the vaccine, compared with unvaccinated children with autistic older siblings.

96,000 kids — literally 8000 times the size of the sample Wakefield had. No study has ever reproduced Wakefield’s results. That’s because no study has been a complete fraud.

There’s something else, though. This issue became somewhat personal for me recently. My son, Hal 11000 Beta, came down with a bad cough, a high fever and vomiting. He was eventually admitted to the hospital for a couple of days with pneumonia, mainly to get rehydrated. He’s fine now and playing in the next room as I write this. But it was scary.

I mention this because one of the first questions the nurses and doctors asked us was, “Has he been vaccinated?”

My father, the surgeon, likes to say that medicine is as much art as science. You can know the textbooks by heart. But the early symptoms of serious diseases and not-so-serious one are often similar. An inflamed appendix can look like benign belly pain. Pneumonia can look like a cold. “Flu-like symptoms” can be the early phase of anything from a bad cold to ebola. But they mostly get it right because experience with sick people has honed their instincts. They might not be able to tell you why they know it’s not just a cold, but they can tell you (with Hal, the doctor’s instinct told him it wasn’t croup and he ordered a chest X-ray that spotted the pneumonia).

Most doctors today have never seen measles. Or mumps. Or rubella. Or polio. Or anything else we routinely vaccinate for. Thus, they haven’t built up the experience to recognize these conditions. Orac, the writer of the Respectful Insolence blog, told me of a sick child who had Hib. It was only recognized because an older doctor had seen it before.

When I told the doctors Hal had been vaccinated, their faces filled with relief. Because it meant that they didn’t have to think about a vast and unfamiliar terrain of diseases that are mostly eradicated. It wasn’t impossible that he would have a disease he was vaccinated against — vaccines aren’t 100%. But it was far less likely. They could narrow their focus on a much smaller array of possibilities.

Medicine is difficult. The human body doesn’t work like it does in a textbook. You don’t punch symptoms into a computer and come up with a diagnosis. Doctors and nurses are often struggling to figure out what’s wrong with a patient let alone how to treat it. Don’t cloud the waters even further by making them have to worry about diseases they’ve never seen before.

Vaccinate. Take part in the greatest triumph in human history. Not just to finally rid ourselves of these hideous diseases but to make life much easier when someone does get sick.