Paul Rudd Will Fix It

It’s 20 degrees below zero. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:45 to get my fat ass to the gym. I’m sick of winter and being cold and feeling miserable. This is not an ideal attitude with which to start a Friday.

Paul Rudd will fix it:


Building a cat shelter for the strays

The Dorky Daddy looking out for his neighborhood kitties!


As the days get longer, they can also get quite a bit colder, and after bundling our little ones and ourselves up, making sure the car gets started and defrosts, you may be all set to battle the elements of your day.

But, while I know I risk the moniker of ‘Crazy Cat Guy,’ the cold weather always makes me think of the many cats and dogs that don’t have the fortune of having homes where they can escape subzero temperatures, or as is sometimes the case – the pets whose owners don’t let them inside, even in subzero temperatures.

We choose to keep our feline children inside, for their own safety. Not everyone feels the same way. It’s just the way we do it.

With that said, our area and neighborhood has had quite a lot of stays coming and going through its streets, sidewalks and yards in the…

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There Is No Vaccine Debate

I’ve had it with the debate over vaccines. HAD IT. By and large, vaccines are safe. Decades of scientific studies have shown us that. Polio, smallpox, diphtheria, yellow fever, tetanus, whooping cough, and measles were all but eradicated by vaccines. Since the late 1990s, whooping cough has begun to rear its head again. In fact, there are affluent areas of Los Angeles with lower vaccination rates than Sudan; there’s also a resurgence of whooping cough in those pockets of privilege. And you’d have to be living under a rock to be unaware that measles is setting out on its comeback tour.

Color Photo of the Measles Virus

Measles: The Comeback Tour, with Pertussis on Bass!

Generally, I find the anti-vaccine contingent to be willfully ignorant, although lately I find them patently dangerous. Today, in my Facebook feed, I saw a rant from a former classmate. She was going on about labeling people as anti-vaxxers because they have a family history of vaccine sensitivity or they are immune-compromised and a vaccine could prove very harmful. She couldn’t be more wrong.

Those with these concerns should be more pro-vaccine than the average person. Vaccine-sensitive and immunocompromised people rely on everyone else to be vaccinated in order to avoid these diseases. When members of a community are vaccinated, they do not spread disease, therefore the compromised are not in considerable danger of infection; this is known as Community (or Herd) Immunity. When large swaths of a community willfully refuse vaccines for junk-science, philosophical, or religious reasons, they are putting the most vulnerable in danger. In response, there are anti-vaccine advocates who are now basing arguments on the term “Herd Immunity,” because they believe it implies that their special little snowflakes are like cattle. I’m not even going to link to this ridiculousness. Rabies is nonexistent in Hawaii, and the state does not allow new animals into its borders until after a strictly-enforced quarantine period, because without it, one infected animal could be admitted and REINTRODUCE RABIES TO AN ENTIRE STATE. Hawaii is protecting its herd.

In my experience, anti-vaccine proponents are the most vocal and aggressive about pushing their views on others. I’ve also noticed that they tend to be parents. These bullies believe that if you don’t have children, then you don’t have a horse in this race. Absolutely untrue. We may not have offspring, but we do have family, friends, and loved ones who have true issues with vaccines and rely on community immunity to stay healthy (or alive), rather than basing our beliefs on a widely discredited paper, that was actually described as fraudulent. Procreation does not equal expertise, which seems to be lost on this lot. When you reproduced – as every creature from amoebas to mice do – you were not granted infinite wisdom. Sorry, but you weren’t. And siding with other parents solely because they’re parents doesn’t make you an expert – it makes you a thug. Of all people, you should think of the individuals who will be harmed by your decision; if you need a touchpoint, read Roald Dahl’s plea for vaccination, which he wrote after a childhood bout of measles killed his young daughter. For global perspective, Melinda Gates would be happy to school you (she knows a little about vaccines, as her family foundation is dedicated to making them accessible in third world countries).

Vaccination is a public health issue. They aren’t perfect, and not everyone can physically tolerate them (and so should not receive them), but the benefits greatly outweigh the risks. Those who choose to eschew it should be prepared for a backlash, and bear in mind that it was their choice. The rest of us have the right to keep ourselves and the ones we care about healthy; it doesn’t make us bullies, it makes us pragmatic.

Today’s Side Eye is Brought to You by Vanity Fair and Hollywood, USA

South Park character "Token Black."

“Close enough!” said Vanity Fair’s editors.

Any viewer of South Park or consumer of popular culture will recognize the above character as “Token Black,” the lone regular African-American character on the show. The character was created to skewer the practice of popular entertainment including few people of color in predominantly white casts, and the shows creators go about this with glorious abandon.

With the recent conversation about people of color in film (Selma gets beat up for neglecting the Great White Hope) and television (white people watch Scandal!), it would seem that the entertainment industry would pay attention, if for no other reason than to broaden audiences and make more money.

Then, this cover was released:

Vanity Fair's "Hollywood Issue" cover, featuring only one actor of color - Selma's David Oyelowo

Oh, look, Vanity Fair gave Token a place on its cover.

The wildly talented David Oyelowo is the lone person of color featured, and he’s in the fold, so you won’t find him looking back at you on the magazine rack; that honor goes to Channing Tatum, Amy Adams, and Reese Witherspoon. I don’t want to hear that it’s because of who was Oscar-nominated this year: Tatum wasn’t, nor was Oscar Isaac.

Now, please don’t get me wrong – I am not disparaging the talent of any of these actors (I’m ride-or-die for Benedict Cumberbatch, even through Gaffegate). Actually, I revise that, as I don’t think that Sienna Miller is very good, but back to my regularly scheduled rant.

I do believe that there are other actors worthy of a position on this cover: Gina Rodriguez is a delight, Dev Patel works consistently, Kumail Nanjiali is funny as hell, and Steven Yuen is a household name (at least his character Glenn is). I hate that there aren’t more artists of color on the tip of my tongue to include, but I just don’t see them as much, even though I make it a point to watch television and movies with diverse casts, and those with cultural worldviews different than mine. I really hate that I can’t rattle off a roll call of non-white actors.

Actor Lupita Nyong'o during a red carpet appearance.

Remember last year, when we had Lupita Nyong’o, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Barkhad Abdi, and Steve McQueen? A good year for people of African descent.

Do you know what is at the forefront of my mind when I think of movies I’ve seen advertised ad nauseam recently? Kevin Costner. His two recent films make me want to vomit, and I haven’t even seen them; he’s really trying to become Mr. Great White Hope 2015 between Black or White, in which he apparently has to deal with his mixed-race granddaughter’s “other” family and McFarland, USA in which he “saves” young Mexican men through the power of Cross Country. Wow, Kevin, what would brown people do without you? Maybe next you can make a film about adopting a plucky Asian child, who is readily available due to overpopulation and female infanticide – save them all, Uncle Kevin! I think that Black or White has already bombed (sorry, Octavia Spencer, but nobody forced you to sign the contract), and I can only hope that McFarland, USA will meet the same fate.

In the meantime, let’s demand an end to lip service about diversity, and demand it. I want to see stories from others’ points of view. I want to learn about their experiences through art. I want to see the world reflected in my entertainment, not a whitewashed version of it. Don’t you?