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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Why Protective Gear is Sometimes Not Enough in the Fight Against Ebola

Why Protective Gear is Sometimes Not Enough in the Fight Against Ebola


Why Protective Gear is Sometimes Not Enough in the Fight Against Ebola

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:22 AM PDT

When it comes to Ebola, the full-body Personal Protective Equipment [PPE] suit is probably the best way to prevent infection. But a PPE can also be one of the easiest ways to get Ebola. A PPE is usually made up of a full-body, impermeable suit with a hood, rubber boots covered by Tyvek booties, multiple pairs of surgical gloves, a surgical mask over the nose and mouth, a plastic bib, goggles, a plastic apron and a lot of duct tape. There is a reason why they are nicknamed moon suits: worn properly, they shouldn’t show an inch of skin. Putting them on right requires two people and about 10 minutes. Taking them off, in even the best of circumstances, is a clumsy, arduous process with multiple opportunities to make a lethal mistake.

It is not yet clear how, exactly, two health care workers at a Dallas hospital tending Thomas Eric Duncan, the first man to be diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, caught the disease, but health authorities are looking closely at the protective measures used at the hospital, and whether or not they were sufficient. Meanwhile, in Spain, where a nurse, Teresa Romero Ramos, is being treated for Ebola that she caught from a patient recently returned from Sierra Leone, officials are questioning whether or not she wore her PPE properly. On a Spanish television program quoted by the New York Times, Madrid’s regional health minister, Javier Rodríguez, questioned the need for extensive training on using the PPEs. “You don’t need a master’s degree to explain to someone how you should put on or take off” a protective suit, he said.

Maybe not, but no matter how experienced and qualified you are in putting on and taking off a PPE there is always room for error. I recently spent two weeks in Monrovia, Liberia, reporting on Ebola, and climbing into, and out of, PPEs on a regular basis, and I am still not sure I ever got it right. I was trained by the best, too: the Red Cross Dead Body Management teams, the guys responsible for picking up deceased Ebola victims and transporting them to the crematorium for safe disposal. An Ebola patient is at his most infective in the hours and days after death, when the virus swarms the skin and bodily fluids.

When the Dead Body Management team workers finish zipping a corpse into a double-sealed body bag they undergo an extensive decontamination process that best resembles a military drill in its precision and attention to detail. Each worker is paired with a sanitizer, a man wearing a backpack sprayer filled with a chlorine and water solution. The process is initiated with a good dousing of chlorine solution and a vigorous washing of the gloved hands. The worker removes his goggles, which are sprayed thoroughly and then discarded. His hands are sprayed again. Then the hood goes down, and the zipper is sprayed, as are the hands for another time. He unzips, and his hands are sprayed yet again. Then he has to shrug out of the suit without allowing any of the external surfaces to come into contact with his hands or the clothing underneath. And so it goes, layer after layer until the worker is left standing in boots, medical scrubs, and the last pair of gloves. Again he is liberally sprayed down with the chlorine solution, at which point he has to jigger off his gloves in a way that ensures that the surface does not come into contact with the skin.

Each organization, be it the Red Cross or Médecins Sans Frontières [MSF], has a similar ritual, even if small details vary. Still, mistakes are made. Even MSF, which has spearheaded the Ebola response in west Africa since day one, and probably knows more than any other organization about how to prevent infection, has seen two international health workers sickened with the disease. A United Nations medical worker infected in Liberia and transported to Germany for care died on Oct. 13. A doctor working for an Italian medical charity contracted Ebola last month, and is still receiving treatment in Germany.

The gear works, but the possibility of human error is still high, especially when working in a high-stress environment, when fatigue and fear stalk every move. PPEs can also provide a dangerously false sense of security. When they are not put on right, or if they are taken off incorrectly, they may as well not be there at all.

If you are lucky the droplet of sweat dropping into your eye as you remove your goggles without bending over first didn’t pass over some Ebola-contaminated material on your hood. I met one health care worker who thinks he caught Ebola when a young patient vomited on him, and the vomit passed through a chink in his Tyvek armor, where his suit didn’t entirely zip up over his mask. Both he and the patient survived. Which is why having the right kind of protection is only the beginning. There needs to be training, and it has to be drilled in daily. There needs to be a buddy system, in which one health care worker is always watching the other, to ensure that the protective gear is on correctly, and that it is taken off correctly. But there will always be mistakes. Ebola will get through. The important thing is to be ready when it does.

You Can Now Watch Vines on Your Xbox

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:19 AM PDT

The Xbox marketplace launched a new app Wednesday that brings Vine’s hypnotically looping 6-second videos to a bigger screen: the living room TV. The Vine app, now available for download, displays the most popular clips in channels such as Art, Music & Dance and Comedy. Users can swipe through clips by making air gestures at Kinect’s motion sensor or giving voice commands from the couch.

They can also reduce the viewing screen to a panel that “snaps” alongside gaming or TV apps for a full-blown sensory overload, or they could just quietly watch the leaves turn.

Can Low-T Therapy Promote Prostate Cancer?

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:18 AM PDT

“Low T” therapy is a fast-growing trend for men who want to jack up testosterone—which declines naturally with age but which can also be clinically low in some people—and the testosterone therapy industry is predicted to reach $5 billion by 2017. The long-term safety effects of supplementing with the hormone is still in question, however—especially in light of a study earlier this year that found double the heart attack risk in certain men after starting testosterone treatments. Other research suggested there was no meaningful increase in heart risk, adding to the confusion. But a new rat study published in the journal Endocrinology raises some alarming questions about the increasingly popular drugs.

Maarten Bosland, PhD, study author and professor of pathology at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s College of Medicine, devised an animal model to test the tumor-promoting effects of testosterone in rats. He exposed a group of rats to a carcinogen, which would put them at risk of developing cancer. He also gave some of the rats testosterone, but no carcinogen. In a third group, he administered both the carcinogen and the testosterone. Then, he measured tumor growth among the two groups.

None of the rats developed prostate cancer when they were just exposed to the carcinogen, but 10-18% of them did when they were just given testosterone. When the rats were exposed to the carcinogen and then given testosterone—even at very low doses—50-71% developed prostate cancer. “I was totally amazed about how strong testosterone can work to promote the formation of prostate cancer in these animals,” he says.

Of course, an animal model can’t determine what will happen in men, but Bosland thinks a similar effect is possible. “Absent of having solid human studies, we won’t be able to say that—it’s just an extra warning signal,” he says. “But I think it’s a clear indication that there is risk.”

Meet the Lumbering, Quarter-Ton, Extinct Kangaroo

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 11:01 AM PDT

Birds gotta fly, fish gotta swim, kangaroos gotta hop—unless you’re talking about the eight-foot-tall, quarter-ton, kangaroos known as sthenurines (and no, that is not a typo). These distant cousins of modern red and gray kangaroos went extinct about 30,000 years ago, and their fossils weren’t discovered until the 1800s. When the species at last came to light, it was not easy to take seriously, resembling nothing so much as cartoon versions of its modern cousins. “They were short faced,” says Brown University biologist Christine Janis, “not long-faced like modern kangaroos, and the smallest of them were as big as the largest modern kangaroos. It wasn’t clear,” she adds, “how they could hop at that size.”

And according to a new paper Janis just published in the journal PLoS ONE, they probably couldn’t. Instead, she and two co-authors conclude after several years of investigation involving more than 140 skeletons from kangaroos and related species such as wallabees, the sthenurines walked upright on two legs.

The evidence comes from virtually everywhere across the creatures’ anatomy. Their teeth, the scientists observe, look more suited to browsing on trees and bushes than nibbling on grass as modern ‘roos do. That implies the ability to stand upright on two legs to reach the branches.

“They also had flared hipbones,” says Janis, with ample room for large gluteal muscles that would have permitted them to put weight on one leg at a time, something today’s kangaroos never do. Modern kangaroos amble around on all fours—or fives, if you count the tail, which they use for balance—when they’re browsing. When they want to go fast, they hop.

That’s possible only because they have flexible backs and stiff, substantial tails, which sthenurines lacked. The sthenurine hands, moreover, were unsuitable for bearing their weight. “They would have had trouble walking on all fours,” says Janis. The animals’ very bulk would have put terrible strains on their tendons if they even tried to hop.

“Some have argued that the sthenurines might have had thicker tendons to compensate,” Janis says, “but that would have made the tendons less elastic. It just seems biomechanically unlikely.” Any arguments about tendons and other soft tissues are somewhat speculative in ancient specimens, of course. “Imagine that we only knew elephants as fossils,” says Janis. “How would we know for sure they had trunks?”

The other evidence all points in one direction, however. As Janis straightforwardly puts, “just about everything we looked at made us go, ‘oh, that fits in.'” In the often elegant study of anatomy, the answer that fits is usually the answer that’s right.

Apple Accidentally Releases Images of New iPads

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:54 AM PDT

Apple appears to have accidentally revealed images of both its new iPads, the iPad Air 2 and iPad mini 3 ahead of its Thursday event, an unusual mistake for a company known for being obsessively secretive before official announcements.

An official iPad user guide for iOS 8 could be viewed Wednesday in the iTunes store with screenshots of the new devices showing “everything you need to know about iPad, in a handy format.” The page was still live as of 1:45 p.m. ET. Apple blog 9to5Mac first spotted the user guide.

The guide shows that besides the addition of Touch ID, the latest iPads look essentially the same as their predecessors. The computing power of each is expected to improve, but design-wise, these screenshots reveal devices similar to their earlier incantations.

Darby Stanchfield on “Scandal” and Women’s Limitations in Hollywood

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:52 AM PDT

Answer by Darby Stanchfield, actress in the ABC drama “Scandal,” on Quora.

I find this question to be deceptively tricky. It is all too easy to cry ‘victim’ in the entertainment industry and fall prey to believing all sorts of limitations (about oneself) that the industry is known for. Examples of these multifarious limited ways of thinking are as follows:

  • An actor has to be physically beautiful in order to be a leading actor…
  • A woman will not work over the age of 40…
  • If you are not born into the business or aren’t related to someone established in the business, you can’t break into it and have the same opportunities as those who are…
  • A person of color has a much smaller chance of getting a lead role than a caucasian person…
  • A blonde woman can only play a ditzy role and not one of intelligence…

…and the list goes on and on. This question—”What are the main struggles women face when building a career?”—alerts me that this is one of those limited ways of thinking. I don’t think of myself as limited in this business as a woman or in any other way. In fact, I often look to men’s career paths in the television and film business as inspiration. I don’t see myself as different than they are.

This is not to say that challenges don’t exist within the television and film industry for women. Or that there isn’t a history of limitations (for most individuals) within the industry. I don’t say this lightly, but I find the most effective way to empower oneself beyond limitations is to spend as little time dwelling on them as possible. This in turn is the best way out of them. Here’s an example: if I walk into an audition room, thinking that as a woman, or a woman over 40, or a woman who grew up in the middle of no-where (Alaska) and not in Hollywood, that I am destined to be at a disadvantage, then that’s exactly what I’ll project. I’ll project a defeated attitude and that’s what the director and producers will read. But, if I go in believing I have just as much of a chance as anyone else — or even a better chance, if I go in embracing my womanhood, my age, my background, and my originality — I will only project a wonderful message of originality and confidence and peace within myself. I believe THAT state of mind, and how it informs the way in which one carries themselves, is irresistible.

The leading women of “Scandal” (Kerry Washington, Bellamy Young, Katie Lowes) and I have had many conversations about this notion. We’ve all had defining moments in our careers where we drew a line in the sand and have took a stand to say ‘no’ to a stereotyped role. This directly rejects the notion of limiting ourselves because of our unique circumstances of age, race, gender, etc.

There will be a lot of people who disagree with me. But I don’t know how to be in this business any other way than embracing each person’s unique characteristics, and seeing them as full of unlimited possibilities in how they might utilize those talents. In fact, if I were to think any other way, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t work nearly as much as I do and have worked in the entertainment industry. I also think that by committing to and embracing a larger, more unlimited way of thinking about oneself and others in the industry we will, in turn, create more progress in breaking limited stereotypes, rather than if one were to dwell on and operate from those limited beliefs.

This question originally appeared on Quora: What are the main struggles women face when building a career in film and television?

Five Best Ideas of the Day: October 15

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:23 AM PDT

The Best Small Android Tablet

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:19 AM PDT

Nvidia ShieldShopping for a smaller tablet can be daunting, thanks to the sea of 7- to 8-inch Android devices available. It would be simple if most of the low-cost models were easily dismissed, but Android tablets are getting lighter, slimmer, faster and more powerful while simultaneously getting less expensive.

To find the very best tablets, I looked for four key elements: a bright, vivid, pixel-dense display that looks great at any angle; a lightweight design that’s comfortable to hold in one hand for long stretches; a powerful CPU coupled with a good amount of RAM for smooth, speedy multitasking; and an interface that’s easy to understand and navigate even if you’re not tech-savvy. Price was also a consideration — a great small tablet shouldn’t break the bank.

That narrowed the field down to three standout tablets: the Asus Memo Pad 8 ($129 on Amazon), the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 ($389 on Amazon) and the Nvidia SHIELD Tablet ($299 on Amazon). In the end, the Shield Tablet is my ultimate pick for best small tablet based on its balance of price point and feature set.

Made for Gamers, Great for Everyone

Nvidia designed the Shield Tablet primarily for gamers, so its long list of impressive features includes things like superfast gaming performance and the ability to wirelessly stream PC games from the computer to the tablet. The same elements that make this a great gaming tablet make it a great all-around tablet as well.

The Tegra K1 processor inside isn’t just quad-core; like most tablets, it has 192 graphics cores. That translates into a smooth experience no matter which app or game you’re running, and it ensures the tablet will be able to keep up with Android apps well into the future as they grow more complex and resource-hungry.

The Shield Tablet’s 8-inch, 1920 x 1200 resolution display creates deep colors and crisp details that don’t wash out or distort when you hold the tablet at an angle. Whether you use the Shield to read an e-book or a web page, its high pixel density means that small fonts stay sharp.

The Shield’s display doesn’t pop as much as the display on the Galaxy Tab S 8.4 (2560 x 1600 Super AMOLED), and if you look closely, the difference in resolution is noticeable. If you want the very best display, the Tab S has it. But side by side, the Shield Tablet stands up quite well to this competition — especially impressive since it costs about $100 less.

Another notable difference between the two tablets is weight. The Tab S 8.4 is incredibly thin and light for its size, weighing 10.4 ounces versus the Shield’s 13.7 ounces. The Shield is still light enough to hold with one hand during long reading sessions or with two for longer gaming sessions without making your wrists ache.

Bonus: Stylus

On top of its sweet gaming features, the Shield Tablet offers one more extra that makes it enticing: a stylus. Just like the stylus for Nvidia’s last tablet, the Tegra Note 2, the Shield’s stylus is a step above the kind of capacitive styluses that work on any tablet, but it’s not the same technology used in active digitizer pens like those with the Galaxy Note series. Active pens are more desirable because they’re accurate and precise, making it easy to reject input from a palm or finger. They achieve this through wireless communication between the pen and the display, which makes the tablets more expensive.

Coupled with the processing power of the Tegra K1, the Nvidia DirectStylus 2 software emulates this functionality in the Shield’s pen, even though it’s not an active digitizer. You still get a very thin, precise tip, and there’s even some pressure sensitivity and (even more impressive) palm rejection — all without expensive hardware.

Nvidia has included a handful of note-taking and writing apps that take advantage of the pen, including Evernote, Write and a handwriting recognition keyboard. The company also developed a neat drawing app called Dabbler that emulates several different types of drawing and painting environments, including wet watercolors.

Outside of last year’s Galaxy Note 8, this is the best stylus experience available in the 8-inch tablet range.

Android and Interface

Most popular Android tablets come with an interface skin over the base operating system that changes the look and some of the functionality of the operating system. Google Nexus tablets and, now, the Shield tablet are major exceptions to this rule. Although Nvidia did a ton of work on the back end to give the tablet some gaming chops, the company didn’t mess much with how Android 4.4 KitKat operates, preserving the stock look and feel.

I’ve praised well-designed skins on tablets from Samsung, ASUS and other companies in previous reviews, and in truth, I prefer them since they smooth over some of Android’s rough edges and make executing some actions more efficient. However, KitKat is Google’s most polished version of Android to date, and if you prefer to take customization into your own hands, the Shield Tablet offers the same blank canvas that Nexus devices do.

You’ll find a few Shield-specific tweaks, such as the Shield Hub interface/menu for easy navigation while connected to a TV and using the game controller. (More on this later.) There’s also Console Mode for streaming full HD video or games to an HDTV. Otherwise, it’s Android business as usual.

Media

The same hardware that makes the Shield Tablet a gaming beast also makes it a great little machine for watching video, showing off pictures and listening to music. Between the beautiful display and the high-end graphics, you’ll enjoy smooth playback of full HD and 4K movies from the device or via streaming. The latter is possible thanks to a dual-band, 2×2 MIMO wireless antenna that connects to the strongest signal available to receive and send data at super-fast speeds.

The Shield sports a pair of speakers on the front, flanking the display. It’s no surprise, then, that the Shield’s audio quality is well above average — and not just because the sound blasts directly toward you. The sound quality is the best I’ve heard on a tablet, well rounded in the mid-range with actual bass. It bests the Galaxy Tab S 8.4’s sound without trying (although it doesn’t take much to earn that distinction, since most tablet speakers aren’t great). Still, it’s still a nice touch that means that you won’t need headphones to get a good audio experience.

Aside from Shield-optimized games in the Shield Hub, you won’t get any special or exclusive content sources beyond what you can find in the Google Play store.

Cameras

The Shield is singular in that it has 5-megapixel cameras on the back and the front. Both take above-average pictures for tablet cameras and are supported by a robust camera app that makes it possible to tweak settings for better images. The high-quality front camera is a bonus not only for people who love selfies but anyone who likes to video chat.

Gaming

nvidia-shield-controller
Nvidia

As I said at the start, you don’t need to be a gamer to appreciate all the great things about the Shield Tablet. But since it is designed for gamers, you’ll appreciate several features and accessories that only add to this device’s value.

First and foremost is the optional game controller ($60 at Amazon), designed to be just as comfortable and robust as an Xbox or PS4 controller. It communicates with the tablet wirelessly over Wi-Fi, not Bluetooth, managing lag so minuscule you’ll never notice it when playing. All of the games available via Nvidia’s Hub work with the controller out of the virtual box; for others, a mapping app lets you use it with almost any game.

The most impressive software feature is GameStream, a technology that makes it possible to play the high-end games stored on your PC using the tablet. Currently, GameStream only works when the computer and tablet are on the same wireless network — so just in the home — and with specific hardware on the PC side (not to mention some suggested routers). That said, being able to play a game meant for a computer on a tablet is really cool. And when you’re in console mode and connected via HDMI, you can play those same games on a big-screen HDTV without having to move the computer away from your desk.

Gamers love sharing gameplay with friends (bragging rights are important), so Nvidia has built in a sharing option that allows you to record game play for sharing or streaming to gaming video site Twitch.

The only drawback for gamers is that the $299 model only includes 16GB of internal storage. There’s a microSD card slot to hold media and some app data; however, this version of Android severely restricts moving and running apps from SD cards.

Games tend to take up more space than other apps, so you’ll need to keep a close eye on available space.

A 32GB model is available, although it comes with an additional element: LTE. The extra storage and antenna make for a $100 price bump.

Good Reviews Across the Board

At release, the Shield impressed pretty much every reviewer who got their hands on one.

PCMag praised it as “one of the most powerful mobile devices available right now,” calling Nvidia’s success at fitting so much power and flexibility into an 8-inch tablet “genuinely impressive.”

CNET sums it up nicely: “Even if you don’t take advantage of its gaming prowess, the Nvidia Shield Tablet is one of the most versatile — and affordable — high-performance 8-inch Android slates you can buy.”

The Best Small Tablet: Nvidia Shield Tablet

The Shield Tablet has all the elements of a great tablet: a beautiful display, blistering performance, a light, comfortable and good-looking design and a clean interface. It adds some sweet gaming features and a surprisingly excellent stylus on top of that, all for the relatively low price of $299.

Even if you don’t care about gaming, this tablet’s closest competition is the Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4, which costs almost $100 more. While the Galaxy Tab does have a lighter design and a brilliant display, the Shield is more than competitive on both fronts. That’s why it’s my top pick.

Runner-up: ASUS Memo Pad 8

Asus Memo Pad 8The $129 ASUS Memo Pad 8 is the tablet you want if you’re looking for something under $200. It used to be that tablets in this price range were either very limited in functionality or poorly built. That’s no longer true, and the Memo Pad line in particular has exemplified how low cost can be done right.

The 8-inch IPS display has a relatively low resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, but the quality of the screen itself is quite good. No matter what angle you hold it at, the vivid colors stay true and don’t wash out or distort. The screen gets pretty bright too, although it’s a bit reflective even at 100 percent brightness.

The Memo Pad is lightweight yet feels well-built and sturdy, not cheap. It runs on a quad-core Intel Atom processor, a decently powerful and speedy CPU for an Android 4.4 device, able to handle any basic app with ease. However, the Memo Pad’s relatively small amount of RAM (1GB) means that resource-hungry apps may choke. If your needs are simple — email, browsing, a few casual games — then you won’t have problems.

Asus has created a custom UI skin to go over Android called ZenUI. While it does add some functionality and change up the operating system’s menus a bit, this skin is mostly a light touch.

The closest competition in this price range is the Amazon Fire 6 ($99 on Amazon) and Fire 7 ($139 on Amazon) as well as the ASUS Memo Pad 7 ($125 on Amazon), the 7-inch version.

The Fire 6 is the most tempting of the bunch due to its $99 price. However, Amazon’s newest tablets continue to suffer the same challenge as always: a limited Android experience. With the Fire, you can only run apps from Amazon’s store. The company has a vast library, but it’s not as deep as Google Play.

The 7-inch Memo Pad is almost identical to the larger version both inside and out, and it’s the next generation of the very impressive Memo Pad HD 7 from last year.

Unfortunately, this year’s model doesn’t have as nice a display or as good a set of cameras. Unless you really want a 7-inch tablet instead of an 8-inch one, the larger version is worth the extra money.

This article was written by K.T. Bradford and originally appeared on Techlicious.

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The Ethics of Wearing an Ebola Costume for Halloween

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:17 AM PDT

It’s that time of year again. Those last few weeks in October when everyone frantically tries to come up with a winning Halloween costume—some magical combination of topical yet funny, sexy but not desperate, and clever without being opaque. A costume that promises to be a conversation starter at any party, making you impossibly alluring by displaying both your charming wit and your physical attractiveness.

So what is the must-have getup this season, along with Elsa from Frozen and the superhero mainstays?

Ebola.

As in, Ebola doctors, Ebola patients and Ebola zombies. The New York Post’s Oct. 15 cover declared Ebola disease suits the “hot” costume this year, begging the question of what a “sexy” Ebola doc might look like. And then begging the question of if we even want to know the answer.

The prospect of this costume going viral, shall we say, has some people crying ‘too soon.’ “Normally I think that irony and humor is funny, but this thing with the costumes, is it really that funny?” Maria Mckenna, a physician’s assistant in Philadelphia, asked the Associated Press. “I mean, Ebola’s not even under control yet.”

On the other hand, Jonathan Weeks, chief executive of BrandsOnSale, which is selling a full Ebola containment suit costume for $79.99, told the Associated Press that he doesn’t want to “stray away from anything that’s current or controversial.” That, after all, is what generates buzz. The Ebola suit was the most shared item on his site.

So how do you navigate the treacherous waters of the Ebola Halloween costume? (Or, rather, the treacherous contagious bodily fluids?) Is dressing up like this tacky, tasteless, too soon – offensive to the thousands who have died from the disease and the thousands more who stand to? Is it ethical?

Or instead is it actually the perfect costume? A seamless mixture of contemporary, provocative, sexy (if you decide to go that route) and genuinely terrifying in a way that the usual cast of Halloween ghosts and witches can never hope to be?

I decided to ask an expert to weigh in.

Kathryn Getek Soltis, Director of the Center for Peace and Justice Education and Assistant Professor of Christian Ethics at Villanova University, said she finds the Ebola costumes “rather disturbing.”

“It allows people to stay far from the situation and not to imagine the human suffering that’s actually occurring,” she said. “The issue isn’t that you’re a bad person because you have an insensitive costume, it’s that actually you’re closing yourself and the people around you off from trying to understand how you might be able to participate in this issue in a way that affects people’s lives.”

She clarified, “I don’t want folks to think being ethical means you can’t be fun. I think there are lots of things to laugh about. But… this isn’t funny.”

With the resounding ‘no’ of the expert ethical opinion in hand, I took to the Twittersphere to look for reactions on the other side.

Good points, all.

Weeks, of BrandsOnSale, recently told the Atlantic, “You can go on any website for a zombie mask for an eight-year-old with cuts and scars all over their face. It’s Halloween, it’s one day, if people are that serious about it, they don’t know what Halloween is about.”

But Soltis thinks this commercialized spookiness is part of the issue. “I always am nervous of ways that we use ghoulishness and horror as a way to distance ourselves from humanity,” she said. “And certainly the images we see from the Ebola crisis look like something out of this world, otherworldly, when you see some of the protective gear people are wearing. But that’s exactly the problem. It’s just about creating more barriers from being able to empathize.”

So here we’ve reached an impasse. Of course wearing an Ebola protective suit on Halloween is in some sense trivializing the work of the real Ebola doctors, cheapening their life-saving uniform to a kitschy costume. But on the other hand, to say this trivialization is truly damaging in a moral sense may be giving too much weight to a frivolous, self-consciously provocative holiday. In the end, of course, it’s up to you to decide whether it’s worth the potential backlash to dance to Monster Mash in your Hazmat suit on October 31st.

But I will say this: if all these passions are ignited by the thought of dressing as an Ebola health worker, maybe think twice about being a sexy Ebola zombie. There’s a line here somewhere, and I’m pretty sure it’s around “dead” and “slutty.”

Writing that last sentence made me very happy that Halloween only comes once a year.

Warner Bros Unveils Plans for 10 DC Superhero Movies

Posted: 15 Oct 2014 10:14 AM PDT

A baby born today will be spending its 6th birthday money on Green Lantern action figures, at least according to Warner Bros.’ announcement today of its new slate of movies, leading through 2020.

The list of projects includes ten DC Comics-branded movies, beginning with 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2015), starring Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck and leading through 2020’s Green Lantern, with The Flash starring Ezra Miller (We Need to Talk About Kevin) and Aquaman starring Jason Momoa (Game of Thrones) both coming in 2018.

There will also be a stand-alone Wonder Woman movie starring the Israeli actress Gal Gadot, who is to make her debut in the Batman-Superman crossover film. A full list is available via The Hollywood Reporter.

As for other Warner Bros. projects, the studio is to produce three movies taking place within the Harry Potter universe, a trilogy based on J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, as well as three new Lego movies, including The Lego Batman Movie. Don’t rush out to buy tickets, though; in keeping with the long-range nature of the studio’s plans, the first Potter and Lego sequels will be coming in 2016.

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