Please Get Vaccinated

Back during the aughts, my friend Steve and I worked for Technicolor, “the greatest name in color” — we brought color to films in Hollywood, well, Steve and I didn’t, our founder, Herb Kalmus, did.  Fun facts for your next cocktail party:

  • People often mistakenly say Technicolor was the first (or “invented”) to bring color to motion pictures; while Technicolor’s 3-strip process (sometimes called Process 4) certainly became the industry standard after 1940, credit for being first goes to Britain's Kinemacolor which was used between 1908 and 1914
  • The “Tech” in Technicolor was an homage to our founder Herb’s alma mater, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
  • Contrary to what every queen on the planet will tell you, The Wizard of Oz was not the first Technicolor picture, nor was Gone With the Wind, both released in 1939; Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs in 1937 was first, but some smarty pants will argue that was animated and doesn’t count, so you smack them down and tell them Matt told you The Adventures of Robin Hood in 1938 was first

But I digress.  Steve’s office was in our Glendale facility, mine was in Burbank.  We had a worldwide electronic instant messaging system on our computers called “Sametime,” and every day at 3pm Pacific time Lou Dobbs had a show on CNN.  Everyday, Steve would Sametime me (or I would Sametime him) at 3 with a guess as to how long it would take Dobbs to say something racist or xenophobic (usually about Mexicans, or undocumented immigrants); whoever got closest to the elapsed time (after the opening credits rolled) was spared buying the first round at Mucho Mas that night after work — nota bene:  it was never more than ten minutes!

Also in those days, there was a man named Tucker Carlson who appeared on CNN’s primetime news debate program called Crossfire on which he argued the conservative position.  He co-founded and served as the initial editor-in-chief of the conservative news and opinion website The Daily Caller, and he has been described by Politico as "the highest-profile proponent of ‘Trumpism’ — a blend of anti-immigrant nationalism, economic populism and America First isolationism that he articulates unapologetically and with some snark.”  Like Dobbs, he made the move to Fox, where his primetime show Tucker Carlson Tonight has become the most-watched program on cable news in the United States.  The Atlantic calls him a “nationalist,” but they are too professional and bound by journalistic standards to call him what he really is — a white supremacist.

Decent people like yourself, thoughtful reader, could dismiss him as just a racist, bigoted, buffoon, until now.  The bile which oozes from his lips — well let’s just chalk that up to the Sean Hannitys and Judge Janines off this world doing Donald Trump’s bidding; it’s baffling that seemingly intelligent life forms could fall for Trump’s trademark brand of incompetence and ignorance and use their media platforms to broadcast it.  George Orwell predicted it; in Nineteen Eighty-Four, O’Brien tells us that two plus two equals five if the Party decrees it so.  The "Ministry of Truth,” as Orwell called it, existed for the purpose of disseminating lies; Fox News is the real-life enfleshment of an Orwellian invention.  Trump is too incompetent to fulfill Orwell’s dystopian nightmare, and besides, he is on the way out, albeit kicking and screaming and trying to pull the country down with him as he goes.  But his acolytes are still in place, ensconced in viewership ratings that would give Walter Cronkite a semi.  Therein danger lies.

Tucker Carlson on vaccines

Tucker Carlson, Trump apologist, using his television show to discourage vaccinations against COVID-19

Tucker Carlson openly encouraged people to be suspicious of what he framed as a "glitzy" vaccine rollout on Thursday, saying (emphasis added by me):

So, how are the rest of us supposed to respond to a marketing campaign like this?  Well, nervously.  Even if you're strongly supportive of vaccines, and we are, even if you recognize how many millions of lives have been saved over the past 50 years by vaccines, and we do, it all seems a bit much.  It feels false, because it is.  It's too slick.

He went on to mock Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's top expert on infectious diseases, a scientist who has been fighting deadly epidemics since the 1980’s and the emergence of AIDS, taking a page right out of the Trump playbook and calling him a childish name:  Lord Fauci.  Then, in a move chillingly reminiscent of his ratings predecessor Bill O’Reilly (who questioned how ocean tides know how to roll in and roll out) and O’Reilly’s made-up “War on Christmas” canard, which is really just code for “war on white people," Carlson then made fun of Fauci's suggestion that families avoid seeing each other this Christmas, on precisely the deadliest day of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States; more than 3,000 Americans died that day, a surge likely related to people gathering for Thanksgiving, against the advice of public health officials, two weeks ago.

The unprecedented development of vaccines on such a short timetable (less than a year) will not benefit Americans, and people like myself who are at extreme risk of dying from COVID due to my severely compromised immune system, unless everyone around the world gets vaccinated.  That bears repeating — the unprecedented development of vaccines on such a short timetable (less than a year) will not benefit Americans, and people like myself who are at extreme risk of dying from COVID due to my severely compromised immune system, unless everyone around the world gets vaccinated.

The science denial, vaccine skepticism, and outright lies that are spewed on Fox News pose a clear and present danger to the health of me and America.  If you are thinking that perhaps you won’t get the vaccine, will you also stay away from doctors with their experimentally tested medicines and go to a shaman or witch doctor next time you catch a cold?  If you need to travel a long distance to visit your family or loved-ones this holiday season, you’d better not go by air — planes fly because a lot of scientifically trained mathematicians and engineers did the same kind of work in their fields that pharmaceutical researchers and medical doctors did in theirs to produce these vaccines, two of them now, in record time.

The United States now regularly sees more than 200,000 new coronavirus infections each day.  My state of California is particularly hard hit at the moment.  Southern California where I live, as of this week, has no — that’s zero — ICU beds, anywhere.  In LA County where my parents live, the situation is worse:  they have no hospital beds at all!  Vaccines do not stop viruses, vaccinations do.  Anyone thinking, “yah, I’m just not going to get this vaccination,” is not only contributing to the sickness and death going on around us, but with our hospitals overrun with sick and dying patients there may not be a bed for them if they have a heart attack or get in a car accident.  Imagine that… your ambulance pulls up at the door of the ER, but you are turned away because there is no room for you!  This is what we are facing.  The choice not to get vaccinated is not only selfish and potentially deadly for others, it may come back to bite you in the ass if you need to go to the hospital.

Three people, that’s one more than two, and two less than five, who have received the Pfizer vaccine have had serious adverse reactions.  Three people.  But 128,000 people have received the first dose of the vaccine.  3 out of 128,000 people is significantly less than 1% (0.0000234375%) of people suffering bad side effects.  I wish all three of them well, and every human being’s health and well-being matters, but 3 out of 128,000 people is statistically irrelevant.  This vaccine is safe.

Medical scientists have stringent methods aimed at ensuring the safety and efficacy of the treatments they develop.  The double blind control test has become the gold standard for demonstrating the efficacy of a medical treatment — a new drug must be compared with a placebo control and the comparison tested statistically; neither the patients, the doctors running the tests, the nurses administering the doses, nor the analysts evaluating the results are allowed to know which patients were given the placebo and which the drug, until all the results are in.  This vaccine has undergone that process, albeit in a compressed amount of time necessitated by the sheer size and scope of the medical emergency we’re trying to live through.  This vaccine is safe.

Do not let the nattering nabobs of negativism like Tucker Carlson convince you to question the COVID-19 vaccine.  Get vaccinated.  Trump's well-named “base" loves him all the more for every lie he tells, however far-fetched and shamelessly self-serving it is:  don’t let them turn common sense precautions like mask-wearing, hand-washing, and social distancing into political statements.  No man or woman is an island — we are a human community:  your choices affect me, mine affect you.

Get vaccinated.

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