Vaccinate Against Stupidity

I don’t feel that there is any reason to debate an Anti-Vaxxer when it comes to the Science of vaccines. At this point, if someone still believes that vaccines cause autism, no study, no research, no rationality will ever cause them to bend. But, let’s be honest here, vaccines do not cause autism. At all.

No, the point I wish to debate is a new crop of folks that seem to think that vaccination falls under a rights issue; that parents should have the RIGHT to determine if they should vaccinate their children or not. Because this is the new argument I see cropping up online. I see people arguing that, individuals should be allowed the choice of whether to vaccinate their children or not, that no-one has the right to tell them to vaccinate little Billy or little Susan from the measles or the mumps.

Now, I am all for people being free from government intervention in their day-to-day lives. I believe that the State has no place in determining what is marriage. I believe that the State has no place in determining what God we choose to worship (or not worship). I believe that the State has no place in our day to day interactions with each other, so long as those interactions do not harm one another.

The point of a society, on a very basic level, is to ensure a basic level of security and happiness for the individual. Otherwise, we’d be living in the wilderness, huntin’ deer and choppin’ wood and growin’ crops and surviving as individuals alone and free. Society protects us, helps us, keeps us safe on a fundamental level. It provides infrastructure. It provides security. It provides a basic level of support.

We have a lot of laws that protect us from individuals that act in ways that harm the majority. You cannot rob banks. You cannot steal. You cannot blow up buildings. You cannot act in a way that hurts other people. That is the strength of a society. It protects us from the selfish, single-minded, obtuse, moronic and absolutely stupid individuals who believe that they, for some reason, know better than scientists and professionals who make their bread and butter from studying human illness.

So when an anti-vaxxer says that they have the RIGHT to not vaccinate their children, I get a little angry. If you do not have the RIGHT to rob a bank when you need money, if you do not have the RIGHT to speed down the highway when you’re late for work, if you do not have the RIGHT to endanger CHILDREN and PEOPLE in every other instance, what the fuck makes you think you have the right to risk epidemic death and disease just because you are stupid enough to believe fraudulent studies that were disproved years ago?

We have reached the point where we are so afraid of confrontation, of debate, that we are allowing people who have no position, who are arguing a point with no scientific evidence, who believe something with no basis in reality; to determine how the rest of have to live our lives. We are now living in fear of diseases that were wiped out generations ago, because our society has grown so afraid of causing offense, so afraid of dismissing stupidity out of hand, that we have become ineffective.

There is no debate here. There is no argument. There is no discussion. Anti-vaxxers are hurting us, hurting ALL of us, by refusing to vaccinate their children. And every moment that we refuse to shut these people down, every moment that we  allow them a podium where they spew their idiotic and mindless rhetoric, we are allowing them to continue hurting us all.

Society only works when we work together to protect the weakest among us. When we allow morons with loud voices and baseless opinions to hurt our children, which is what happens when an un-vaccinated child spreads disease in a public place, then maybe it is time to re-evaluate the society that allowed this to happen.

-D-

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Play Review: Chalk by Walt McGough

Fresh Ink Theater Company presents CHALK. Written by Walt McGough and directed by Sarah Gazdowicz, it is currently running at the Boston Playwright Theater through January 24.

I haven’t been to very many plays.

Five.

I’ve been to five plays.

So I’m not the most informed when it comes to this particular medium. However, I do know when I’ve had a damn good time and I had one last night.

Chalk is a tightly wound story, involving only two characters and a single space that, at times, feels perilously small for the heroine. Maggie (Christine Power) is, by all appearances, the last survivor of the end times. Until, that is, her daughter Cora (Caroline Rose Markham) suddenly reappears. It quickly becomes clear that this is not a friendly reunion and that something is horribly wrong.

Chalk makes great use of its space. The set sketched out the environment without being visually overwhelming. Old books, stacked cardboard boxes, and flickering lights and the thrum of a generator in the background let me know all I need to about Maggie’s refuge. And there are so many little touches that helped to enhance the feeling that we were peering into a little slice of post apocalyptic life. As the audience was sitting, Maggie went about her morning routine within her shelter; brushing her teeth, some calisthenics and tending to the circle. It let us into her life gradually, before we were thrown in with a bang.

Both Christine Power and Caroline Markham brought their all to their performances. Power’s Maggie reminded me a lot of Frances McDormand’s character in Fargo: sweet no-nonsense sensibilities with a biting sarcasm when necessary. And Markham was a spitting, mean-spirited creature, full of vitriol and animalistic fury. They counterbalanced one another and drew toward one another and held my attention the entire show.

In spite of the subject matter, which could potentially be overwhelmingly depressing given that is the end of the world, there was hope and humor rather than grim and gritty. Walt McGough‘s story eschewed the usual tropes and cliches that are rife within this genre. This is no The Walking Dead or A Boy and His Dog where humanity is shown to be THE REAL MONSTER: this is a small scale story focusing in on a mother and her daughter. It’s two people circling each other and figuring each other out and it’s funny and touching and wonderful all balled together. There’s one moment at the end, when Maggie throws back a line at Cora that’s hilarious, the kind of line you’d hear in any action movie as a throw-away gag, but it turns into an important, defining moment in the final act. It’s a play with good feelings in bad times and that’s really what I needed right now.

It’s a well-written, well-acted, well-produced feature that provides a great reason to get out of the house and into the theater. Even if you’re like me and you don’t really go to plays, this one you should make the effort to see. It’s seventy-five minutes long, hilarious, deals with the end of the world and will make you have an emotion or two. Go!

I give it five bags of chalk dust and a cherry pop tart.

To buy tickets to see Chalk (playing at the Boston Playwright’s Theater), please go HERE.

For more information about Fresh Ink Theater and their future works, go HERE.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

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Harpoon makes some of my favorite beers, from their UFO White to Leviathon, you’re generally going to get a solid, complex beer with a lot to offer. So I had high hopes when I picked up UFO Pumpkin.

And those hopes were resoundingly rewarded. This if the kind of pumpkin ale that I want to be drinking; when there’s more pumpkin than spices and I feel like I’m in the middle of Halloween instead of the middle of some over-saturated, over-spiced pumpkin pie being served up for someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s unfiltered, so it has a deep, cloudy orange, making it look heavier than it actually tastes. It’s a deep, rich orange. It’s a satisfying color, letting you know exactly what you’re in for.

There is cinnamon and spice up front, which gives way to a solid and hearty pumpkin flavor. Much like Pumpkinhead, it’s very crisp and ultimately very refreshing.

For day to day drinking, both Pumpkinhead and UFO Pumpkin are good beers. They both have a relatively low alcohol content and don’t overwhelm you with unnecessary flavor. It honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a pumpkin ale. If you’re looking for a more spice heavy beer, I’d go with Pumpkinhead. If you want something a little more pumpkiny (that’s a technical term), UFO Pumpkin should be your go-to this season.  The spices and the pumpkin flavoring go hand-in-hand.

For me, UFO Pumpkin is the way to go and I give it seven cheerful Jack O’ Lanterns and a scowling black cat.

-D-

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James Bond: Chapter One; The First Chapter

“Today we are fighting Communism. Okay. If I’d been alive fifty years ago, the brand of Conservatism we have today would have been damn near called Communism and we should have been told to go and fight that. History is moving pretty quickly these days and the heroes and villains keep on changing parts.”
― James Bond, Casino Royale

I like James Bond. And, like everything else I’m interested in, I have to like it in a obsessive compulsive way that deeply worries the people closest to me. I hate half-measures and lackluster efforts. I have to take my interests and plow them into the ground, wringing out every last bit of enjoyment until I can’t stand the subject and put it on the shelf for a year.

James Bond is one I keep coming back to. He’s a hero that has survived over sixty years, from Ian Fleming’s first novel all the way to his next movie that’s due to be released next year.

He has fought communists, insane madmen seeking to blow up Silicon Valley, North Korean terrorists with a penchant for plastic surgery and duplicitous water stealing businessmen.

James Bond is a hero who has maintained the same posture and panache for his entire run, but, throughout, has maintained a relevancy that few other characters can claim. It is remarkable that someone who was so defined by the culture of the Cold War has not only survived twenty years after the end of that war, but has thrived.

He is defined by a cultured ruthlessness, a suave viciousness. He will lecture you on the correct way to drink a martini and then callously dispatch a henchmen without reflection or doubt. He remains, in many ways, thoroughly British, though beloved around the world.

His longevity is compelling in and of itself. He has been portrayed by many different actors in many different ways through vastly different era. His novels are still being written to this day, in spite of the fact that the original author has been dead and buried for fifty years.

Because of my obsessive compulsive madness, I need, NEED, to figure out a way to go the extra mile in James Bond researches. So, with a complete lack of careful thought and a dutiful inattentiveness to how much free time I actually have, I have decided to watch every James Bond movie, in chronological order, until I lose interest or I reach the final movie.

I will start with the first on-screen appearance. Which is, obviously, the hour long TV episode of Casino Royale.

Look for it at this location next week.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

In spite of the fact that I have now reviewed it twice on my blog, I am really not a huge fan of Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. There is a LOT of flavor in there, but’s mostly spice, with the minute amounts of pumpkin being overwhelmed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, you may be asking, why am I talking about Smashed Pumpkin for the third time? Well, because I have, somehow, never tried Shipyard’s main Halloween offering: Pumpkinhead Ale.  Smashed Pumpkin is a fancy beer that you can only purchase in those oversized pint-and-a-half bottles with a gold foil cover; Pumpkinhead is more like Smashed Pumpkin‘s little brother. It has a lower alcohol content and is sold in six packs and even in…cans.

It is a big seller round these parts and a symbol that Halloween is barreling down the highway like some lunatic truck.

And I have never reviewed it.

So I’m going to rectify that…right now.

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As far as pumpkin ales go, Pumpkinhead is a nice golden color. Not really that deep, orange I expect form pumpkin ales, but it’s rich and reminds me of Fall. And really, that’s all you can ask for in a Fall themed beer.

The first thing I notice when I poke my nose in the glass is cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. And maybe nutmeg. And I know that I’m not going to be thrilled. It’s a sweet and heavily spiced aroma that promises little in the way of pumpkins and a lot in the way of spice.

And drinking confirms it.

It’s more spice than pumpkin, much like with Smashed Pumpkin. However, unlike Smashed Pumpkin, it’s much lighter: lighter flavor and lighter alcohol content. It’s more refreshing and less overwhelming. Smashed Pumpkin can put you on your ass and leave you there gagging on spices. Pumpkinhead is gentler and a better beer for it, though still not quite what I’m looking for in a pumpkin beer.

It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week beer. You need something to remind you that Halloween is coming and forget the eight hours of work you just endured. You grab a Pumpkinhead. You don’t swirl it in your pilsner glass and comment on the aromas, like some asshole with a blog. You sit on the couch, turn on a baseball game and wonder what in God’s name happened to the Red Sox this season and let Pumpkinhead take you away.

I give it a handful of cinnamon sticks. And a ginger root. Because I bought a ginger root a few weeks ago thinking that Emily and I were going to make dumplings, but that didn’t really happen and now it’s getting a little shriveled.

-D-

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It’s Coming

Sometimes, you need to take a break. You just need to push your chair away from the desk, stand up and walk away for seven months and pretend that you never did what you were doing. 

And then, sometimes, there’s a hint of something in the air. It is, at first, impossible to determine what it is. The air is a little cooler. There are leaves on the ground where once there was just green grass, flowers and swarms of those little gnats. You can’t place it…

And then the grocery stores is setting masks out and companies start adding pumpkin to things that don’t really need to have pumpkin added to them, but once you hear about it, you can’t imagine NOT adding pumpkin to beer. 

And then, that’s when you sit back down and get back to work.

-D-

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We Can Rebuild Him

Let’s see if I remember how to do this…

Over the last year or so I’ve been slowly drifting further and further away from where I want to be and it’s only recently that I’ve made some very deliberate strides back to where I want to be.

I started small.

I’ve been going through this blog and restructuring it. I’m not done with the great revamping, but it’s getting there. It’s just about setting the house in order. Putting entries in their proper places, sweeping other entries under the rug where people can’t see them and, in general, reminding myself why I kept a blog in the first place.

But it’s all tedious and uninteresting and I doubt you’re here to read about my newest categorization structure.

Once I started to set the blog to rights, I also started writing some fiction again. Small things; words strung together into sentences and then sentences strung together into paragraphs until a plot started to form up. I’ve returned to building worlds again and it feels good, although strange. I feel like I’m coming back to a place I’ve abandoned and I see all these toys and tools lying in the dust and I’m realizing that I left them there to rust and to fall apart.

I’m taking it slow though. Moving with care. I feel like if I charge forward with that insane gusto (promising a blog entry a day for a whole month, a month of horror fiction, NANOWRIMO) I’ll just burn myself out and this will be the last you see of me.

So, here’s another small step forward.

The first blog entry of the new year.

I hope to see you around.

-D-

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