Get your dang shots
August 5, 2014

Vaccines are a fundamental building block of modern public health, and everyone who can should get them. But some people can't be vaccinated — very young babies, the elderly, or people who have allergies, depending on the particular vaccine. However, a rigorous vaccination program can still protect those people.

How? As Aaron Carroll explains below, it's all about the statistics of disease. In order for an outbreak to spread, there must be a transmission mechanism — typically, another person who catches the disease and then gives it to someone else. But if there are enough people who are immune to the disease surrounding the sick person, then the outbreak can't get going.

For example, chicken pox used to kill a few children each year. But after the chicken pox vaccine became ubiquitous, the death rate for babies under one year of age plummeted, all the way to zero between 2004-2007 — and kids that young aren't even old enough to receive the vaccine! Ubiquitous vaccination made it so those babies weren't exposed to the disease, and thus saved many lives. Check out the full explanation in the video below. --Ryan Cooper

The law of karma
1:54 p.m. ET
Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

Walter Palmer is a dentist at River Bluff Dental in Bloomington, Minnesota. But he's also allegedly the tourist who shot and killed Zimbabwe's most famous lion. After the news broke Tuesday morning that Palmer is allegedly responsible for the beloved lion's death, angry critics flooded Palmer's Yelp page with one-star reviews that had nothing to do with his dental work. Below, a sampling of the most witty and most brutal "reviews":

"He lured my teeth out of my mouth, shot them, and then told me I needed fillings!"

"You know what happens to your money at this place? The a--hole dentist spends it on a big, fancy vacation to Africa where he kills wild animals for fun."

"Scar's really appreciative of the fine work that Dr. Palmer did."

"He'll have to lure patients in using a dead smiling model tied to the bumper, shoot them with an arrow, wait 40 hours, kill them with a rifle, skin them and THEN start his procedure."

"I am not lion about this: I will not go to a dentist who shoots and kills amazing animals for pleasure on my funds. That is nothing to smile about."

"'You know the difference between a dentist and a sadist, don't you? Newer magazines.' -Seinfeld"

"I really love the way that he tore off his shirt, puffed out his chest, let out a brave cry and stopped a vicious man-eating lion from killing his entire family as they were quietly playing Yahtzee in the comforts of their own home."

"Customer service was ok, but shortly after my first appointment I caught Dr. Palmer hiding in the bushes in my front yard with a crossbow, stalking my Lhasa Apso. Would not recommend." [Yelp]

Becca Stanek
PC Police
1:37 p.m. ET

It has been frowned upon to use the term "illegal immigrant" for awhile now, with The Associated Press dropping the phrase from their stylebook back in 2013. However, the usage still persists — and that's where Twitterbots come in:

"That term, 'illegal immigrant,' hangs in the air, permeates the conversation in social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and ends up in daily conversations at work, at school, and at home," immigration activist and filmmaker Jose Antonio Vargas told Fusion. Fusion has since created a Twitterbot, @DroptheIBot, which automatically tweets back at users who write "illegal immigrant" in their posts. Fusion explains:

[In] a modest effort to help America shed some of its historical baggage, we built a Twitter bot that replies to some of the people who tweet the words "illegal immigrant," letting them know that in 2015, the preferred terms are "undocumented immigrant" or "unauthorized immigrant." To avoid spamming people, the bot only runs once every ten minutes, and it never replies to the same user twice. [Fusion]

Unfortunately, many of recipients of @DroptheIBot's messages aren't pleased:

Good thing bots don't have feelings. Jeva Lange

silence please
1:32 p.m. ET

Looking for peace and quiet? Simply head to 47°51'57.5"N, 123°52'13.3"W, otherwise known as a the quietest square inch in the United States.

Marked by a "tiny red pebble resting on a mossy nurse log," this square inch of land in Washington state's Olympic National Park is the spot in America most untouched by human-made noise, writes Erin Berger at Outside Online. From Outside:

"The quietest inch isn't a sound vacuum. It represents a place with a minimum of human-made noise. The discipline of acoustic ecology… outlines an important distinction between sound and noise. The blip of water droplets from a forest canopy? Sound. The tinny din of Taylor Swift through smartphone speakers? Noise." [Outside Online]

Berger explains that if you stand at the red pebble — placed on the log by acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton in 2005 to mark the spot — you'll still hear the "flute-like bugling from Roosevelt elk, the Morse-code chirp of the American Dipper, and assertive hooting from the endangered Northern Spotted Owl." But what makes the spot "quiet" is the total lack of human-made noise — at least, for now.

The silence of the "inch," as it's called, is in jeopardy thanks to increasing air traffic from both Seattle-Tacoma International Airport and the nearby Naval Air Station. Hempton originally found the spot devoid of overhead noise for an hour on average back in 2005, but now jets roar overhead nearly every 20 minutes. To read more about America's quietest spot — and Hempton's quest to keep it that way — head over to Outside Online. Kimberly Alters

for the lols
12:42 p.m. ET on HBO

Following the success of its BuzzFeed parody site, Clickhole, satirical media organization The Onion has now set its sights on another trendy publisher worthy of mocking — Vice. On Aug. 3, The Onion will debut EDGE, its comedic take on Vice's popular HBO news series.

"Vice is wrought with a distinct self-confidence, which of course gets our writers salivating," The Onion's vice president of production, George Zwierzynski Jr, told The Hollywood Reporter. "The Onion team is highly competitive when it comes to other companies and publishers, so it's only natural we would take a stab at Vice as a whole."

The Onion has previously parodied ESPN's SportsCenter with its own SportsDome, though the show was canceled after only a few months back in 2011. Nevertheless, Zwierzynski told The Hollywood Reporter that The Onion is simultaneously in production with a satire of the urban legend-debunking show Mythbusters, called Learn Attack!

VICE, meanwhile, won't be catching a break anytime soon: A new IFC series from SNL alums Bill Hader, Seth Meyers, and Fred Armisen called Documentary Now! will also poke fun at the media giant.

Watch the EDGE series promo, below. Jeva Lange

This just in
12:12 p.m. ET
Odd Andersen/AFP/Getty Images

The tourist suspected of paying a safari operator $55,000 to hunt and kill Zimbabwe's famous lion, Cecil, has been identified as Walter Palmer, a dentist from Minnesota. Though the tourist responsible was initially identified as a Spaniard, two independent sources confirmed Palmer's identity to The Telegraph.

Conservation groups in Zimbabwe are furious about the death of the 13-year-old lion, a beloved and well-known animal at Zimbabwe's Hwange National Park. Cecil was reportedly lured out of the park with food, shot with a crossbow, and then shot and killed with a gun after the hunters tracked him for than 40 hours. Palmer then allegedly skinned and beheaded the lion, leaving its remains on the park's outskirts. Palmer's spokesman claims that Palmer says he "had the proper legal permits and he had hired several professional guides."

Described by his spokesman as a big-game hunter who "hunts the world over," Palmer has made headlines before. In 2009, Palmer was interviewed by The New York Times for slaying "a trophy elk worthy of consideration for the archery record books." Becca Stanek

trump mania
11:48 a.m. ET
Scott Olson/Getty Images

Are you a cuckservative?

Well, that depends. Are you, nominally, a conservative? Do you support policies that run afoul of ultra-right-wing orthodoxy? Then, yes, you might be a cuckservative, which is like a RINO (Republican In Name Only) but so much worse.

The epithet, a combination of "cuckold" and "conservative," has been gaining in popularity in fringe conservative circles thanks to the rise of Donald Trump, according to Matt Lewis. Lewis, a frequent contributor to The Week, helpfully explained the term's lurid origins in a post at The Daily Caller:

A cuckold, of course, is a legitimate word for the husband of an adulterous wife — but that doesn't really do justice to what they're suggesting here, either. The people who throw this term around are most likely referencing a type of pornography whereby a (usually, white) man is "humiliated" (or ironically thrilled) by being forced to watch his wife having sex with another (usually, black) man. I'm not going to link to this, but feel free to Google it.

So what does this have to do with conservatism or politics? By supporting immigration reform, criminal justice reform, etc., a white conservative is therefore surrendering his honor and masculinity (and it won't be long before his women folk are compromised, as well!). A cuckservative is, therefore, a race traitor. [The Daily Caller]

As Lewis notes, the term is a slur against conservatives used by white supremacists — yet another gift for which we have The Donald to thank. Ryu Spaeth

that's what the money is for
10:59 a.m. ET

Mad Men is gone — but if you act now, you can own a small piece of it forever. Lionsgate has announced a special auction consisting of hundreds of Mad Men props, and you can check out the full catalog right now.

The Mad Men auction's Cadillac item is, quite literally, a Cadillac — the 1965 Coupe DeVille driven by Don Draper throughout the series. (Bidding starts at $1500.)

Other key props include Megan Draper's wedding ring ($150), Ken Cosgrove's eyepatch ($100), Roger Sterling's monogrammed money clip ($100), and — most bizarrely — the rope Lane Pryce used to hang himself ($50).

There are more than 1,300 Mad Men items going up for open auction, so there should be something for everyone. Bidding begins on Friday, and continues for a week. Click over to ScreenBids to check out the full roster for yourself. Scott Meslow

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