The Pleasures Of Kicking Some Steeler Ass

It’s pretty crass to use “ass” in a blog post headline.  I admit it.  But when your team has a record of utter futility against a divisional opponent and arch-rival — to the point that the opposing quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, has an 18-1 record against you — we Browns fans feel like we can be forgiven a little crassness.

I watched the game with family and friends at a bar called Yogi’s over in Hilliard, and the prevailing sense among Browns fans in the bar was that of . . . disbelief.  Complete, utter, disbelief.  Was that really our Browns out there, beating the Steelers like a drum and making big play after big play on offense and defense?  Were the Browns really winning a game handily for a change, rather than forcing us to endure another nail-biter finish?

Since the Browns came back into the NFL in 1999, the fans have been looking for something that might cause them to think that the franchise has turned the corner.  There have been false alarms before — so many that one win isn’t going to convince me of anything.  Still, it’s nice to beat up on the Steelers and to see this Browns team play a complete game.  Now let’s hope that this team can keep it up and string together a few wins so that Browns fans actually have something to care about as this season progresses.  Go Browns!

The (Potential) Wages Of Hubris

Today the Texas Department of State Health Services announced that a preliminary test indicates that an American health care worker has tested positive for Ebola.  The worker was involved in treating Thomas Eric Duncan, the West African man who came to the United States after being infected with the Ebola virus and died of the disease last week.  The preliminary results indicating the health care worker has Ebola will be subject to confirmatory testing by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

This news of transmission of Ebola in America is troubling in and of itself, but it is especially alarming when coupled with the fact that a Spanish nurse who also was involved in treating an Ebola victim contracted the disease.  The Spanish nurse’s infection is attributed to “human error” — her alleged failure to follow strict protocols designed to prevent transmission of the dread disease — but there is no explanation, yet, for why the Texas health care worker may have contracted the disease.

Perhaps the Texas health care worker also made a “human error,” or perhaps the world health care authorities don’t know as much about how to prevent the spread of this strain of Ebola as they think they do.  Could the CDC, the World Health Organization, and other health care entities have experienced a bit of hubris about their ability to deal with this disease, and could we now be learning that they were overconfident about their understanding of Ebola and how it is transmitted?  Even if the new cases are due entirely to “human error,” the fact that treatment protocols are so challenging that trained health care workers can fail to comply with them should give us all pause.

We’ve all heard about epidemic scenarios — read Stephen King’s The Stand if you want a realistic and chilling depiction of what might happen if the genie of a highly contagious disease gets out of the containment bottle — and Ebola seems like exactly the kind of devastating disease that could cause such nightmares to come true.  The fact that health care workers are being infected should cause us to redouble our efforts to prevent people who might be infected from entering the country in the first place, and to dramatically increase the precautions taken when we identify a person stricken with the disease.

No doubt we will be getting assurances from the federal government and the CDC that the situation is well under control.  Given what is happening, I’m not quite ready to credit those assurances just yet.  Let’s see some actual positive results first.