Elliot: Shot in the dark


So it all comes down to the walruses.

OK, maybe that’s an exaggeration. Probably “it all” is far larger than our minds can expand, given that our waistlines seem to expand far more quickly than our minds.

But there are all these walruses, tens and tens of thousands of them, huddled on a beach in Alaska, doing what, exactly? Well, hauling out, according to NPR, citing NOAA. (Getting lost in the abbreviations? Yeah, me, too. It’s a sign of our times, along with huddling walruses.)

Hauling out, apparently, occurs when walruses collect together on a beach in the thousands, tell each other amusing stories (I was once an eggman, one says, and they all break out in contagious giggling), and pass around the suntan lotion.

OK, I exaggerate. A tad.

Hauling out does involve walruses congregating on a beach — in this case, 35,000 of them on an island near Point Lay, Alaska. Normally, NPR tells us, they would be scattered across the ice in the Arctic Ocean, but these days, they’re not. And why not? Because there is no ice. As Eugene O’Neill might say, the iceman doesn’t cometh.

Though, actually, there’s no ice because of global climate change. So we wind up with huddled masses of walruses on Alaskan shores. Somebody should check their passports, just to see if they’re allowed to be there.

NPR has an amazing photo of the 35,000 walruses near Port Lay, Alaska, and yep, that’s a lot of walruses. And yep, there’s no ice to be seen.

Of course, some — including one of the candidates for the Iowa Senate seat who is quite earnest about this — would say there is not enough evidence just yet on global climate change. Maybe those people could go ask Henry Hudson about Arctic ice.

And who cares about a bunch of walruses, anyway?

Well, John Lennon did. Though some of our fellow human beings on the right side of the aisle (or isle) seem to think that his name is spelled John Lenin.

Of course, they tend to be some of the same people who are anti-vaccines for children.

Yes, Virginia, there are people who believe that vaccines are some sort of government plot to create autism in children. What, exactly, the point of that would be is, well, beside the point. But it leads us to a measles epidemic in Great Britain.

Turns out that, after a 1998 report by Dr. Andrew Wakefield claiming that the vaccine for measles, mumps, and rubella had caused autism in a dozen children, parents stopped getting vaccines for their children. The result of which was a measles epidemic today; 1,200 this year, more than 2,000 in 2012.

To put it in context, there are around 60 cases of measles in the United States per year, nearly all caused by infected people from overseas coming here.

The truly great thing is, Wakefield’s so-called research turned out to be utterly fraudulent. Vaccines do not cause autism. Huddled walruses do.

OK, I exaggerate. It comes with Irish genes. Or maybe that’s jeans. Whatever.

Measles. Huddled walruses. No ice. No science, either.

Must be the Age of Enlightenment.

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