People With Ebola Are Better Than You

Every single person I can name who has had Ebola is a better person than me. And you. Every. Single. One.

Eric Duncan who died in Dallas, for instance.

At the heart of the Epidemic in Liberia he volunteered to carry his landlord’s pregnant daughter to a taxi so she might seek treatment. She was in the full-blown part of the disease, the stage where victims are most contagious and everyone knew it. When they arrived at the clinic there was not enough space and she was turned away. Eric Duncan then helped her get home where she would soon die.

He too later succumbed to the disease he contracted for his kindness, but not in a war-ravaged West African bare-bones infirmary where there were two dozen doctors for over four million people. No, after showing up with a fever at in a hospital in the “most advanced country in the world,” and telling medical staff he’d been in Liberia, they (we) gave him Tylenol and turned him away.

When he was finally admitted to a hospital days later with symptoms of the disease, as he began to succumb he implored the medical staff not to attempt to resuscitate him as not to risk any more lives. Our society then went on to fail at even the basic task of decontaminating his apartment, hiring a group called “The Clean Guys” to manage the task for which they were neither trained nor equipped.

According to his Fiance, Eric Duncan did not shun his Landlord’s sick daughter because Eric Duncan was a Christian. According to me he was a better person certainly than many of the most vocal citizens of the country where he died if we compare his behavior to the subsequent panic and demonizing directed toward a man who did nothing but display the highest of human values.

Would I have picked up the frail, coughing girl who was not my own child, when I knew all too well what her symptoms meant? Would I have carried her outside? Held her hair back while she vomited in the street? Would you have? I don’t know in my own case but we can for sure say that the Eric Duncan who doubted was overcome by the Eric Duncan who cared, and for such empathy he paid with his life.

And let us also not forget another case we can name: Nina Pham, 23 years old performing her sacred duty as a nurse. When I’m at work I’ll do everything I can to get out of an unpleasant task as banal as faxing because I’m that lame. Nina Pham, however, knowingly treated a man with an unspeakably terrible disease and she too was failed by our system that likes to boast of its prowess but routinely fails to support those we put in harm’s way.

Nina Pham could have called in sick. Nina Pham could have asked to have been reassigned. Nina Pham did neither of these things and while people in TV studios referred to those stricken with ebola in similar terms to plague rats, she treated a real human being and brought aid to the kind man who helped his landlord’s daughter in the taxi.

Nina Pham is better than me. And thankfully today she is better generally, declared free of the disease just last week.

The most recent case is Dr. Craig Spencer who went to Guinea with Médecins Sans Frontières (Doctors Without Borders). He’s been to hot spots all over the world helping people in need. I, in contrast, write a snarky blog and just yesterday exhausted a full half hour of my and other people’s lives complaining bitterly about those who don’t use Google Calendar when scheduling events.

Dr. Spencer is a better person than I am. He was, by the way, following protocols and when his body temperature, which he was monitoring twice as day as recommended, moved up just a single degree above normal he called MSF. They altered public health officials in New York who sent a specially equipped ambulance to get him to treatment. Our response to the disease, in regard to medical preparedness at least, has improved.

Dr. Spencer need not have not gone to Africa. He easily could have remained surrounded on every corner by pumpkin-spice lattes and gourmet cupcake shops, spending Sundays not in the dust of the developing world pushing back against hopelessness, but instead sipping twee little drinks out of mason jars at brunch on Amsterdam.  But, according to friends, that’s not who he is. His Fiance, a charity worker and now also in isolation said that she was grateful he is being treated here when so many around the world are left to die.

These are noble people. Every one. Their actions prove this.

Ebola preys on caregivers. It kills those who seek its victims with aid. Its trick is to make someone terribly ill in a place unprepared to manage its communicability and then infect those who get close enough to help. It’s like a sniper who with his first shot deliberately wounds rather than kills in order to create targets of the arriving medics . Ebola victims are those who, knowing this, choose to help anyway.

They are the best people among us.

… there was a sort of self-selecting process going on the whole time among all of the prisoners.  On the average, only those prisoners could keep alive who, after years of trekking from camp to camp, had lost all scruples in their fight for existence; they were prepared to use every means, honest and otherwise, even brutal force, theft, and betrayal of friends, in order to save themselves.  We who have come back, by the aid of many lucky chances or miracles – whatever one may choose to call them – we know:  the best of us did not return.

–Viktor Frankl, Holocaust Survivor, Man’s Search for Meaning

Make-a-thon 2014 is a Soviet Plot!

We told staff photographer Stevens Brosnihan to take some great pictures of 3d printers. This is what he came up with.

A couple of weeks ago, I was told to cover what was billed as a community effort to assemble “3D printers” for a one-to-one maker-inspired curriculum at O’Maley Innovation Middle School. Naïvely, I enlisted my trusty 1951 David White Stereo Realist camera (in the spirit of 3D) with it’s handy bulb flash and some contemporary Arista EDU film (in the spirit of education) to shoot what I assumed would be a typical after-school parent-teacher collaboration. What I discovered instead was a sinister and obviously Soviet-backed plot to enslave unsuspecting sleeper agents, forcing them to manufacture, test and deploy an army of self replicating, semi-autonomous, nuclear powered robots! After much paranoid deliberation along with liberal applications of poultices of crushed Xanax™ tablets and raw honey to my face, neck and genitals, I’ve decided to come forth with the terrifying truth, even if it means risking my own safety.


Mikhail Golubkin posing as ‘’Jim Dowd” – soldering the contacts on the guidance system of the latest Russian nuclear powered combat exoskeleton

Sweden thinks it has it bad with its russian U-boat infested waters! Friends and comrades are working in our midst, assembling the tools of the neo-Soviet uprising. Their overseer, a KGB agent code named “Colin” was blaring on multiple screens, straight out of a scene from 1984. He gave step-by-step instructions to the room full of sleeper agents and kept referring to his ‘dog’ while still remaining mysteriously anonymous. His hands often worked off-camera on complex tasks he would describe in his perfectly practiced American accent only to return on camera with a completed assembly, brandished as if to taunt the enslaved workers. Gasps of frustration would ripple through the room every time this happened and yet the workers would plod on.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Don’t let that smile fool you, Pyotr, aka “Tad” is under his monthly quota for gyroscope assemblies and will likely be sent to mine yttrium in outer Mongolia.

Food and drink were supplied in uncharacteristic abundance, including cappuccinos, undoubtedly laced with truth serum and the antidote to a slow acting poison used to ensnare and retain the laborers.

I snuck away from the primary laboratory–craftily disguised as a Middle School library–into an underground bunker that housed a massive inventory of completed and partially assembled high tech mechanisms, each with it’s own computer brain, sensors, and actuators. I could smell the radiation.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

What appears to be a storehouse of mostly-assembled self-replicating, nuclear powered, semi-autonomous robots.

This series of anaglyphs is rock-solid evidence of a complex and terrifying plot being orchestrated in our midst by Vladimir himself who intends to undermine and eventually enslave our entire population. Use standard issue red/cyan goggles to get the full 3D effect. остерегайтесь козёл!

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

Image courtesy of Snowden/NSA/KGB/Pixar®

 A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.

A close-up of what I speculate to be the fuel rod insertion mechanism.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

These devices are a testimony to the success of the underground neo-Soviet menace that is plotting to re-emerge as the earth’s dominant superpower.

Five Awesome Things about Ottawa

I am an unabashed fan of the city of Ottawa. It was the first city I ever fell in love with. I first heard about it in 5th grade, when one of my best friends went there on a family vacation and sent me a postcard, since we didn’t have email back then. On the back, she wrote “I am having a fun time. (My 8 year old brother) Jeff got his fingers caught in the elevator door at the Parliament buildings and he cried.” It was then that I knew I needed to go – and go I did, every time vowing to return as soon as humanly possible.

In fact, Gloucesketeers, you once almost lost me to Ottawa forever. Were it not for a too-short work history to meet immigration standards (and then changing, more selective standards), we may have uprooted and been Ottawa Citizens (ha, get it) forever.

I hate that people of such a wonderful city have to deal with what happened yesterday. It’s unfair. And I’m sorry, Ottawa. Believe me, we’re Bostoners, we’ve been there, and it’s horrible and earth-shaking. Even though you are a tough, strong city, this cuts you to the core.

But I want to share with as many people I can the beauty of Ottawa, this small city with so much to offer. So here’s a list of the best things about Ottawa.


1. Skating the Rideau Canal.

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway?

Who needs the top of their head in a picture anyway? Not a skinnier, younger version of me from 2008.

In the winter, at least before Climate Change fucks everything up forever, the Rideau Canal freezes over and you can skate on it. It’s technically the world’s largest skating rink. You can get on at one spot and get off another – there are folks who commute via skate. Our hotel has had daily weather reports and guides that tell you which mile markers you can skate on and which are closed if the surface isn’t safe ahead of time so you can plan your route.

The Rideau Canal itself is pretty cool, as well. In fact, it was once home to the Stanley Cup overnight in 1905 when a drunken Ottawa team, having just won the cup, took bets to see if someone among them could drop-kick Lord Stanley’s cup into the canal. Unsurprisingly, they were successful, and had to go fish it out once they sobered up in the morning.

2. The Diefenbunker

Don't panic, eh?

Don’t panic, eh?

The city of Ottawa, being the capital, obviously has an awesome formerly top-secret Cold War nuclear bunker capable of keeping the Prime Minister and other top officials safe underground for 30 days, right? You goddamn bet. Commissioned in 1959 by Prime Minister Diefenbaker, it operated not-very-secretly underneath farmland in rural Ottawa from 1961 until 1994. In 1997, it was turned into a museum, and the public can visit. It has a tiny CBC recording studio inside, some cheery posters of not-apocalyptic scenes, and some awesome mid-century modern radioactive decontamination showers for the hipster in us all. It’s awesome.

3. Sleeping in Jail

Hope you like brick and steel and ghosts!

Hope you like brick and steel and jail-ghosts!

We’ve all been there. You wake up behind bars after a questionable evening. Fortunately for me, we had booked a room at the HI Hostel at the old Ottawa Jail. The top floor held death row, executions took place there until 1946, and inhumane conditions and unmarked graves marred its storied history. Now, the whole thing is a hostel – from semiprivate jail cell rooms to the upper (death row) floors that hold the family suites. It’s a blast, a bit creepy, and beautifully macabre.

4. The Parliament Buildings at Night

It's funkadelic.

It’s funkadelic.

The Parliament buildings on Capital Hill are stunningly beautiful by daylight. They are the backdrop for peaceful protesters for all causes, thousands of tourist photos, and at night, they become even more photogenic. Every evening from June to September, weather permitting, a free sound and light show called Mosaika unfolds against the buildings, telling Canada’s story in both English and French.

The character of the Hill is wonderful, as well. Until last year, Parliament Hill had its own marauding gang of cats cared for by volunteers who were allowed to mill the grounds. They had been brought to the buildings to deal with a rat and mouse problem in 1924. The cats began to be spayed and neutered 15 years ago, and finally the four remaining cats were considered too frail to survive the Ottawa winters in the outdoor cat sanctuaries, and were adopted to homes.

5. Byward Market


The Byward Market area is full of bars, restaurants, tiny shops, and Beaver Tails.  Beaver Tails, my friends, are oblong pieces of fried dough coated with gooey maple sugar and chocolate. They are amazing and they are proof that life is good.



Aside from Beaver Tails, Byward Market has small farmer’s market stands, tons of crafts by local artisans, cheese shops that sell squeaky, unpasteurized cheese curds (the building block of poutine), a bar called Zaphod Beeblebrox’s, a strip club called Barefax with a low cover and relatively classy atmosphere, and something called the GreenRoom Carbon Neutral Nightclub which really is the most Canada thing to ever occur. Byward Market spans four blocks and is nothing but awesome.

While Ottawa reels from yesterday, its beauty, its spirit, and its vibrant core will continue to shine. And I’ll be going back.

Clam the Vote: The Gas Tax

Greetings Clamlectorate! The user data streaming into our offices here at Clamedia Tower in the heart of the financial/salon district of Gloucester tells us you guys are asking how to vote. Furthermore, we know you’re thinking a satirical website featuring content like the video of Staff Photographer Stevens Brosnihan dressed as the Man at the Wheel twerking is the “go-to” source for this information. We’re all watching it on the big screen in the main conference room.

It’s life-changing, really.

So before the election we’re going to bring you a bunch of our opinions on the different ballot questions and candidates. Oh, and we’re turning off the comments because comments. If you disagree, swell. Go start your own fuckin blog.

Anyhoodle, the first ballot question is the Gas Tax or “Question 1.”

Gas stations in Japan have these pit crew dudes who check your tires, oil, wipers and clean your windshield. It's awesome.
Gas stations in Japan have these pit crew dudes who check your tires and oil and stuff. It’s pretty great.

Vote “No” on that. Ok? Good. Back to the mesmerizing rhythmic revolutions of Stevens’ buttcheeks…

What? What do I hear? You want to actually know why rather than just do our Clammsih bidding in the ballot box. Fiiiiiine, here is why you should vote “No” if you must:

Fun Facts:

The monthly average price of Gas in the United States, according to AAA is $3.34. The average monthly price in MA is $3.43. We’re very close to the average national price here.

But our state is heavily infrastructure-dependent, and that infrastructure is old. We have old roads, lots of aging bridges and tunnels, winters that are tough on roads. Those of us on “this” side of the bridge are even more dependent on that critical road link. Even if you never go to the other side of the Ansiquam, everything that affords us a modern life comes over those bridges. And plenty of our readers use the rail bridge to get to work in Boston or to court-mandated probation officer visits in Salem. We need that infrastructure to be in good working order to facilitate our economy and lives. The gas tax is used to pay for that infrastructure. It’s that simple.

Side benefit of crumbling infrastructure: Zombie movies become much easier to film

Side benefit of crumbling infrastructure: Zombie movies become much easier to stage

And pay it does. All three of our bridges need work. Isn’t it fun that people from Springfield are helping to pay repair them? For once Gloucester makes out on a state program rather than getting screwed. How did that happen? Shhh, don’t tell anyone.

Would you believe that MA actually has a gas tax lower than the national average? The average national tax on a gallon of gas is 50 cents. Here it’s only .45 cents on a gallon. MA HAS A LOWER TAX? BELIEVE THAT? Well it’s true. And considering how many more roads, bridges and tunnels we have per capita, and how important they are to our service-based economy, we should be investing more to keep them working.

Taxing gasoline makes people actually pay for use. You know that asshole with the truck that says, “Happily burning all the fuel your Prius is saving”? That guy is paying more taxes. Also has tiny peen. You know that person who does not drive and takes public transportation everywhere? That person is not paying gas tax. See how that works? Clever, eh?


Because America

Why should it be pegged to inflation? It’s so the legislature doesn’t have to waste time passing a bill every few years and giving some idiots the “We’re fighting to reduce taxes” flag they can wave, when all they are doing is making it harder to fix roads (thanks, guys!). It’s not “taxation without representation.” We’re voting on it. That’s representation. Holy stupidity.

We pay absurdly low taxes in this country and much of what we do pay goes to a military still rigged to fight WW III with a nonexistent superpower. Here in the Commonwealth we are 11th out of the states for our state and local tax burden at 10.3% As a resident I see some waste, but overall we have some pretty great shit other states don’t. Our health care systems is second to none and we’ve got close to universal access and have had so since Romneycare. We’ve got the best schools in the country. We’ve got low crime rates. We have healthier people, healthier kids, a cleaner environment an occasionally vexing but still at least working public transportation system. All in all, the average 3 grand a taxpayer dishes out in MA per year is a good deal.

Voting “NO” means don’t change, let it increase with inflation and the average person will shell out something like ten more bucks a year, max, when it goes up. Adults realize that things cost money, roads cost money and we have to pay for them. If you want to see how the “low tax” states fare on things like healthcare, education and so on, I invite you to look at Kansas, which was supposed to be an experiment for getting rid of the tax burden. It has been an unmitigated disaster. Check it out from the commie pinkos at The Socialist Worker Forbes Magazine. Adults did this. Very stupid adults.

So be a grownup and let’s keep letting people in Fitchburg pay for our bridges. Tee hee.


Gloucester Clam’s Tournament of Shitty Intersections: Finishin’ Up Round 2!

Welcome back to our Tournament of Shitty Intersections, where we face off Gloucester’s worst intersections bracket-style until only one remains. We’ve already eliminated 8 of the weaker (and therefore safer!) intersections. Let’s knock it down to 4, shall we?


Poplar/Washington vs Sayward/Bass/Brightside.

Poplar and Washington’s clusterfuck beat out my personal favorite worst intersection: Centennial & Emerson. Perhaps it’s only me that almost dies there literally 3 times a day. WHATEVER, PEOPLE. Poplar and Washington deserves its spot, however. Have you ever actually successfully turned left from Washington onto Poplar? It takes about nine months to do and you’ll still narrowly avoid being T-boned by a work van flying off the rotary like they’re matter being flung into the atmosphere by a dying star. My personal advice is to put the passengers you like the least (mothers in law, most annoying of your child’s soccer teammates) on the right side of the vehicle. I actually bike this when I need to go to my doctor’s office and pretend I’m a healthy individual, and it’s terrifying. TERRIFYING.

Sayward/Bass/Brightside narrowly edged out Norman & Magnolia Avenues to advance to the second round. JUST KIDDING IT WAS A FUCKING LANDSLIDE. You know what the most obnoxious thing about that intersection is (besides “all of it”)? The folks who use the right lane and then turn left like they didn’t realize where they were going until it was too late (bullshit). Those people need to be launched directly into the ocean at a speed unsustainable for human life. Also, people coming from Brightside are irritating, because they skip the whole “waiting in line” thing AND take your break in traffic since they have the right of way. Mostly I’m mad because I’ve lived here and my kid goes to EGS but I still don’t really have a clue how to navigate to actually come down Brightside. I also feel like people on Bass Ave actually fucking speed up sometimes to not let you go, because they are unrelentant sociopaths.

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