Friday, November 07, 2014


Yastreblyansky flags this story about Election Day on social media:
Even though votes may be private, Twitter users turned to social media to talk about the issues closest to their hearts.

Twitter broke down that online chatter and sorted through how frequently certain issues were being discussed by users ... around lunchtime on the East Coast.

... First-time voters between the ages of 18 and 24 tweeted largely about education issues, perhaps including student debt.

Young adults between the ages of 25 and 34 focused their social media pining on gay rights while older adults between 35 and 54 wrote mostly about privacy concerns.

Twitter also noted that the eldest age bracket, those Twitter users above 55 years of age, were the ones most concerned about Ebola.

This is an extremely unscientific survey, of course. But still: Privacy was #1 in the Generation X group? Really? As Yastreblyansky says:
Something I don't hear anybody discussing, perhaps because there's no reason to discuss it, is the effect of our privacy fears, the concept of the national security state, and the Snowden revelations on the midterm elections. It doesn't seem, in fact, to have been an issue; the National Election Pool consortium didn't ask about it in the exit polls, and the one candidate known for being strongly concerned about it, Colorado senator Mark Udall, certainly didn't get any juice out of it.
Yup, and as many observers have noted, the new GOP members of Congress are old-schoolers, not Paulites, on national defense and related issues, including surveillance.

Admittedly, apart from Udall and a few others, if you cared about surveillance, there really wasn't anyone to vote for. But that's to be expected: This never became an issue candidates thought to discuss, in part because the Greenwaldians, for all the noise they made, never did anything to make it an election-year issue.

I'm much more struck by the focus of the age group I entered this year: 55-plussers mostly tweeted about Ebola. Now, maybe I'm naive, but I would have expected it to matter that as of Election Day there hadn't been a new Ebola case in the U.S. in twelve days (we're on Day 15 now); that means none of Dr. Craig Spencer's fellow bowlers and Uber riders became infected, not to mention his girlfriend, not to mention Thomas Eric Duncan's girlfriend, not to mention Amber Vinson's fellow bridal shoppers, not to mention all the random people who were supposed to infest America just by sharing an airport or a city or (in the case of Africa) a continent with real or suspected Ebola patients. (Newsflash: Kaci Hickox is still well.) The biggest Ebola news in this week was that Dr. Spencer is in stable condition and playing the banjo.

But fear makes us oldsters crazy -- fear compounded, perhaps, by the fact that the white people among us link Ebola to the scary, swarthy Other, and thus invest the virus with superpowers of destruction. In this way, the Ebola virus is like the brown-skinned prisoners at Gitmo who can't be allowed into the U.S., even at a supermax prison, because they presumably have the powers of a thousand men and will lay waste to the heartland if they find a way to escape, or are broken out of the slammer by their fellow swarthy supervillians. (Why that hasn't already happened at Gitmo, I'm not sure.) The virus is also like the rampaging urban hordes invoked in every speech by the NRA's Wayne LaPierre, for whom America will always be a Charles Bronson/Clint Eastwood movie made in 1971.

Possibly relevant here is a USA Today story from which we learn that manufacturers of devices used to test blood for Ebola are so terrified of the consequences of their use that they're actually telling hosptals to destroy the machines:
At Emory University Hospital in Atlanta, doctors had three days' notice before getting the first U.S. Ebola cases -- a doctor and a woman, both Americans, infected doing relief work in Liberia. They decided to do blood testing in a small lab in the isolation unit where the patients were treated, reasoning that it would limit the need to move infectious material through the hospital for analysis in its main lab -- and cut the risk of having to close the main lab for cleanup from a spill.

Several weeks later -- after both patients were cured and released -- an e-mail was circulated by Abaxis, the manufacturer of a portable blood-testing device, the "Piccolo," that Emory's doctors used to monitor the patients' blood in the isolation lab.

The e-mail advised that Abaxis had finalized a new service and warranty policy for the $14,000 device: "The policy calls for the Piccolo to be incinerated after its use of testing Ebola patients."
Emory has devised what it believes is an effective cleaning process and is willing to take the machine offline for a 21-day quarantine period. Although the manufacturer has acknowledged that the incineration policy is a tad extreme, it remains in place. Hey, you never know with these ooga-booga viruses, I guess.

And if the following is legit, I guess it means you don't have to be an aging tweeter or head of a medical device firm to be scared stupid:

I weep for my country.


Victor said...

I weep and grieve for my country.

Never mind the Ebola virus, which might at least kill us quickly - the "TEH STOOOOOPUD VIRUS" is surely killing us - slowly.

John Taylor said...

Scaremongering seems like an effective campaign tactic. GOP didn't have to campaign on their policies.

jabberwocky said...

Nothing makes me feel old like being lumped in with the cohort of Ebola worriers. I understand that social media folk don't trust anyone over 30. But at least have the courtesy to separate the 55 to 65 year olds into our own age bracket.

M. Bouffant said...

I'm happy the 1%'s country is pretty much getting what it's brought on itself, good & hard.

Ken_L said...

No way of proving it of course but I suspect the Ebola thing was a major factor in turning a predictable defeat into a rout. The way the conservative noise machine created a sense of national crisis being poorly managed was masterly, and the Obama Administration's response could scarcely have been less effective.

Yastreblyansky said...

"the Greenwaldians, for all the noise they made, never did anything to make it an election-year issue"--I was kind of trawling for evidence that they were encouraging the young to stay home, but didn't find any of that either.

Thanks for letting us know Dr. Spencer has his banjo! I can definitely squeeze myself a little happiness out of that one.