Author’s Archive: Craig Howell

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A CNN/SSRS poll of Florida’s Senate and gubernatorial races released Sunday had some good news for Democrats that CNN says “could be an outlier” or “an indicator of renewed Democratic enthusiasm.” In the gubernatorial race, Democrat Andrew Gillum, the mayor of Tallahassee, opened up a 12-point lead among likely voters over former Rep. Ron DeSantis (R-Fla.), 54 percent to 42 percent. Incumbent Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) has a smaller 5-point lead over Gov. Rick Scott (R), 50 percent to 45 percent, within the poll’s margin of error.

The Democrats, especially Gillum, are being buoyed by lopsided advantages among women, younger voters, and non-white voters. The Republicans have a wide lead on the issue of the economy and the Democrats dominate on the issue of health care. Gillum and Scott are seen getting a boost from their responses to Hurricane Michael in the Florida Panhandle.

As CNN political analyst Mark Preston notes in the video below, the races are likely tighter than this poll suggests — according to the RealClearPolitics average, Gillum leads DeSantis by 3.7 percentage points, thanks largely to the boost from this CNN poll, and Nelson leads Scott by 1.3 points. FiveThirtyEight rates the Gillum-DeSantis race a “likely Democratic” pickup. Several reputable polls have registered greater Democratic enthusiasm.

SRSS conducted the CNN poll Oct. 16-20 on landlines and cellphones, contacting 1,012 adults, including 872 registered voters and 759 likely voters. The margin of error for registered voters is ±3.9 percentage points and for likely voters, ±4.2 points. “The Democratic advantages in the poll were similar across multiple versions of a likely voter model, including those driven more by interest in the campaign and those which placed stronger emphasis on past voting behavior,” CNN notes.

An MMR vaccination, immunizing against measles, mumps and rubella, is seen in the Health and Prevention Centre in Lyon, France.

BSIP/UIG via Getty Images


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An MMR vaccination, immunizing against measles, mumps and rubella, is seen in the Health and Prevention Centre in Lyon, France.

There’s strong new evidence that a common childhood vaccine is safe.

A large study released Monday finds no evidence that the vaccine that protects against measles, mumps and rubella increases the risk of autism. The study of children born in Denmark is one of the largest ever of the MMR vaccine.

“The study strongly supports that MMR vaccination does not increase the risk for autism,” the authors write in the Annals of Internal Medicine. “We believe our results offer reassurance and provide reliable data.”

The study’s first author, epidemiologist Anders Hviid of the Staten Serum Institute in Copenhagen, added in an email: “MMR does not cause autism.”

In the study, researchers analyzed data collected from all children born in Denmark to Danish-born mothers between 1999 and 2010.

Among the 657,461 children included in the analysis, 6,517 were diagnosed with autism over the next decade. But there was no overall increased risk for the developmental disorder among those who received the MMR vaccine when compared with those who had not gotten the vaccine, the researchers found.

The researchers also found no increased risk among subgroups of children who might be unusually susceptible to autism, such as those with a brother or sister with the disorder.

The researchers noted that the study is a follow-up to a similar, large study they conducted in 2002 that was published in the New England Journal of Medicine. That study involved 537,000 Danish children.

“The idea that vaccines cause autism is still around despite our original and other well-conducted studies,” Hviid wrote in an email. “Parents still encounter these claims on social media, by politicians, by celebrities, etc.”

“We felt that it was time to revisit the link in a larger cohort with more follow-up which also allowed for more comprehensive analyses of different claims such as the idea that MMR causes autism in susceptible children,” he added.

Other researchers agree the study provides powerful new evidence supporting the safety of the vaccine.

In an editorial accompanying the study, Dr. Saad Omer and Dr. Inci Yildirim of Emory University write that studies like this can help doctors refute unfounded claims and fears.

“Physicians should do what they do best. They should follow the emerging evidence – including that in vaccine communication science – and use it in their interactions with their patients and as public health advocates,” Omer wrote in an email.

Hviid hopes the findings will reassure parents.

“Parents should not avoid vaccinating their children for fear of autism,” Hviid wrote.

Take a look at this amazing video of 9 months in the womb within minutes!

In December 2017, rumors that a new Facebook algorithm was restricting the number of friends whose content appears in users’ newsfeeds hit the social media network:

😬I was wondering why my news feed felt so different lately… Just found out, Facebook has another new algorithm. 🙄 It seems like I only see the same small handful of my friends on my newsfeed anymore (whom I love)… so I’m doing a simple check, with your help! 🙌🏽💖

Can everybody do me a quick favor, pretty please?? 🙏🏼

If you’re seeing this, leave me a comment – just a quick “Hey” or your favorite emoji would be great. The more interaction you have with people, the more friends will show up on your feed.

Otherwise Facebook CHOOSES who you see.

The following post is circulating among my friends on Facebook. Is it true?

** 🌈Important ** Once you comment, you are welcome to turn OFF notifications for this post so you don’t see all the comments after you.

❤️Thank You!! I really appreciate it because I want to see as many of you as possible, and know what’s going on in all my friend’s lives! ✨🤸🏻‍♂️🎉

Feel free to copy and paste to your own wall so you can have more interaction as well!

Excited to see more about YOUR life again 😍

Although the content and claim were largely the same, another version of this rumor that spread a month later held that the algorithm specifically pared down the content in a user’s newsfeed to posts from either 25 or 26 friends:

My friends are littering my Facebook feed with this… true or false?:

“How to avoid hearing from the same 26 FB friends and nobody else:
Newsfeed recently shows only posts from the same few people, about 25, repeatedly the same, because Facebook has a new algorithm.

Their system chooses the people to read Your post. However, I would like to choose for myself: if you read this message leave me a quick comment, a “hi”, a sticker, whatever you want, so you will appear in my News Feed. I MISS YOU!

Do not hesitate to copy and paste on your wall so you can have more interaction with all your contacts and bypass the system. That’s why we don’t see all posts from our friends.

Some versions even claimed, inaccurately, that we had verified the purported new Facebook algorithm exists:

The truth is that no one seems to know exactly how Facebook’s algorithms work. Slate described the manner in which the social media network determines the order of content in any feed as “surprisingly inelegant, maddeningly mercurial, and stubbornly opaque.”

The rumors followed on the heels of an 11 January 2018 Facebook blog post that addressed changes to the service related to changes in the content mixture that users could expect to see in their newsfeeds:

Today we use signals like how many people react to, comment on or share posts to determine how high they appear in News Feed.

With this update, we will also prioritize posts that spark conversations and meaningful interactions between people. To do this, we will predict which posts you might want to interact with your friends about, and show these posts higher in feed. These are posts that inspire back-and-forth discussion in the comments and posts that you might want to share and react to — whether that’s a post from a friend seeking advice, a friend asking for recommendations for a trip, or a news article or video prompting lots of discussion.

We will also prioritize posts from friends and family over public content, consistent with our News Feed values.

However, these changes were described as affecting content generated by businesses and publishers, not individual friends and family members, and the only disclosures made about those changes were that they were intended to increase (not limit) interactions with friends and family:

But recently we’ve gotten feedback from our community that public content — posts from businesses, brands and media — is crowding out the personal moments that lead us to connect more with each other … Since there’s more public content than posts from your friends and family, the balance of what’s in News Feed has shifted away from the most important thing Facebook can do — help us connect with each other.

We contacted Facebook to ask whether the claim of limiting personal interactions had merit, and a representative told us that the rumor held no water (which is in keeping with our own observations). As with other viral posts aiming to “trick” Facebook’s algorithm, this rumor is both misguided and ineffective.

His photo shows just how hard it is for men to change diapers in public restrooms

A discussion has been going on for some time about the need for changing tables in men’s public restrooms. And while my husband tells me it’s gotten better in recent years, there are still so many public places that only have tables in women’s rooms, making the process either very difficult (and disgusting) for fathers or left falling on the mom’s shoulders every time a diaper needs changing (assuming there’s a mom in the picture). So, when a dad posted a pic of how he has to change diapers, it had all parents nodding their heads in unified frustration.

“This is a serious post!!!” dad-of-three Donte Palmer wrote on Instagram. “What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!! #FLM #fatherslivesmatter clearly we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!!” The photo he shared shows Palmer balancing, ninja style, against the wall while his son is stretched out on his knees, looking pretty chill about the whole process (because he’s used to it).

This is a serious post!!! What’s the deal with not having changing tables in men’s bathroom as if we don’t exist!! #FLM #fatherslivesmatter clearly we do this often because look how comfortable my son is. It’s routine to him!!!! Let’s fix this problem! I Kaepernick drop a knee to this issue! @theshaderoom let’s show the innovation of fathers!

A post shared by Donte Palmer (@3boys_1goal) on

He copied The Shade Room, a trending news website, which in turn shared Palmer’s photo, sparking discussion and shared stories of other dads’ frustration at the issue. “Let’s fix this problem! I Kaepernick drop a knee to this issue! @theshaderoom let’s show the innovation of fathers!” he wrote.

Palmer tells Scary Mommy that the photo is a typical situation he runs into when he’s out in public with his three boys, ages 12, seven, and one. “Honestly, I’ve been in enough places that didn’t have them so now I don’t even bother to look,” he said. On this occasion, they were at a Texas Roadhouse for lunch when his youngest son, Liam, need a change. So, he and his oldest son, Isaiah (who took the photo) went to the bathroom to tag-team the diaper changing process.

Oldest son training for middle school football and me… well you guessed it! I am training to change my next diaper! 🤦🏽‍♂️🤷🏾‍♂️ #5amWorkout #DedicatedSon

A post shared by Donte Palmer (@3boys_1goal) on

Palmer said that for a long time, fathers have been looked at as “being absent in our children’s lives. Taking care of children has been a job deemed necessary for women. At times society complains about the presence of fathers not being involved but in all actuality there are a ton of fathers willing to step up to the plate.”

And Palmer has a good point. Why should it be on the mom to always be responsible for changing a baby? Not only are there single fathers and gay couples who don’t have the option, as capable of taking care of their kid’s needs as a woman. Period. The fact that in most places they must do so on the ground or while squatting, balanced against a wall is ridiculous.

Kudos to Palmer for continuing to bring the topic into public conversation and reminding business owners that #fatherslivesmatter, too.

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Colbert writer under fire for anti-Kavanaugh tweet

A writer for Stephen Colbert’s ‘Late Show’ is under fire for her tweet that states: ‘I’m just glad we ruined Brett Kavanaugh’s life.’

In a social media post on Saturday, a writer for CBS’s “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” seemingly celebrated the damage done to Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh’s reputation during his bruising and bitterly partisan confirmation battle.

“Whatever happens, I’m just glad we ruined Brett Kavanaugh’s life,” the writer, Ariel Dumas, posted on Twitter. Dumas later briefly made her account private, preventing others from viewing her posts without her approval.

Her tweet came as the Senate confirmed Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court by a 50-48 vote, with Republicans saying that the several allegations of decades-old sexual misconduct brought against him simply lacked sufficient corroboration and credibility.

Ariel Dumas is a writer for The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. (Twitter/Ariel Dumas)

Dumas apologized on Sunday, claiming she was being “sarcastic” because Kavanaugh’s elevation to the Supreme Court demonstrated that his life had not, in fact, been entirely derailed by the accusations as some Republicans had claimed.

“Whatever happens, I’m just glad we ruined Brett Kavanaugh’s life.”

— “The Late Show” writer Ariel Dumas (deleted tweet)

“The last couple of weeks have been hard for the country and for me personally,” Dumas wrote. “The complexity of frustration, anger and sadness can’t be accurately conveyed on twitter, and I regret my tone-deaf attempt at sarcasm in the wake of it.”

Dumas previously had quoted news analysis pieces criticizing Kavanaugh for saying the accusations had “destroyed” him, including a piece that observed, “the bar for a man’s ruin is, apparently, quite low.”

Reached for further comment by Fox News, CBS said Dumas’ apology spoke for itself. The network confirmed that Dumas currently works for Colbert’s show.

Dumas’ IMDB page lists that in addition to “The Late Show,” she has worked on “Stephen Colbert’s Live Election Night Democracy’s Series Finale: Who’s Going to Clean Up This Sh*t?” as well as the 2017 Emmy Awards, which were hosted by Colbert. Both events were markedly and caustically anti-Trump throughout. For his part, President Trump tweeted at the time that he was “sad” to see that the Emmy Awards had their “worst ever” ratings.

Dumas’ account included several other anti-Kavanaugh tweets. “Brett Kavanaugh is 100% gonna ask Justice Sotomayor to fetch him coffee,” she wrote on Saturday. Dumas also criticized Kavanaugh for invoking his family in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, saying, “it is not automatically a moral achievement to be a son, a husband, a dad. It is biology, a legal decision, and biology again. Plenty of a–holes are all three.”

She previously had written that she was “emotionally shattered by the current state of affairs.”

Colbert’s show has mocked Kavanaugh repeatedly. In July, shortly after Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court was announced, Colbert even criticized the then-nominee’s first name, saying it “sounds less like a Supreme Court justice and more like a waiter at a Ruby Tuesday’s.”

And, after Kavanaugh and Ford testified at a contentious Senate Judiciary Committee hearing last month, Colbert skewered Kavanaugh and minimized his complaints that his reputation was being dragged unfairly through the mud by politicians and uncritical media reports.

“Save your indignation that finally someone is taking one woman’s sexual assault seriously,” Colbert said, responding to Kavanaugh’s fiery opening statement at the hearing.

Kavanaugh, at times emotional and teary-eyed, said the accusations against him were false and had “destroyed” his family, leading to several violent death threats against his wife and daughters.

Colbert, though, derided Kavanaugh’s at times belligerent testimony as coming with a “well-coiffed head of steam.”

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All sitcoms start to rely on old tropes and recycled plots.