No, the Flu Shot Hasn’t Become Partisan

Reading disparate polling numbers critically.

A CNN report headlined “Flu shots uptake is now partisan. It didn’t use to be.” seems plausible. That it carries Harry Enten’s byline made it more interesting.

It starts strong:

Uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine has, unfortunately, become partisan like so much else in our society. Almost every Democratic adult (90% to 95%) has gotten a shot, while a little less than two-thirds of Republican adults have.

That partisanship appears to have transferred to at least one other important vaccination. An examination of flu shot data suggests that which party people belong to is highly correlated with whether they have or will get a flu shot this season — something that was not predictive of flu shot uptake the last few years.

Take a look at two recent polls that have asked about whether or not people have gotten the flu shot: Axios/Ipsos and Kaiser Family Foundation. By assessing two polls instead of one, we know what we’re seeing is a real phenomenon and not statistical noise.

According to the Ipsos data, 68% of Democrats said they have gotten a flu shot or are very likely to get one. Just 44% of Republicans said the same. This 24-point gap is very similar to the 30-point gap for Covid-19 vaccines.

The Kaiser poll shows basically the same thing. A clear majority (65%) of Democrats indicated that they had received or will definitely receive the flu shot. Just 40% of Republicans indicated they would. The 25-point partisan gap in this data is a near carbon copy of the 24-point gap in the Ipsos poll.

Now compare this data to what we saw in past years — specifically, in the years before the Covid-19 pandemic took its hold.An AP-NORC poll in February 2020 asked adults whether they had received a flu shot in the last 12 months. In this poll, 58% of Democrats said they had compared to 54% of Republicans. This 4-point gap is well within any margin of error.

A Princeton Survey Research Associates International from the second half of 2016 queried adults about whether they had gotten a flu shot in the past year. This poll looked nearly identical to the 2020 poll with 55% of Democrats and 53% of Republicans saying they had gotten a flu shot in the last 12 months.In other words, there was no partisan gap.

So, yes, this looks interesting. Headline confirmed for those who read past it.

But for those who continued to read to the eighth paragraph, there’s a plot twist:

If you look at the data, the partisan gap in the flu vaccine data for this year is appearing because of two phenomena.

The first is that Democrats appear to be more likely to have received or will receive the shot than in past years. The second is that Republicans appear to be less likely to have done so.

It seems plausible that the push to get the Covid-19 vaccine has led to more Democrats getting the flu shot, while it has had the opposite effect on Republicans.

Indeed, Americans who have gotten a Covid-19 vaccine are far more likely to have received a flu shot. Just 17% of those who have not gotten a Covid-19 vaccine say they have or will likely get a flu shot in the Ipsos poll. This jumps to 64% among those who have received a Covid-19 vaccine.

Speaking for myself, I’m an unreliable getter of the flu shot. When my kids were younger, and therefore more at risk from the flu, I got it every year. Since then, I’ve gotten it haphazardly, either when it was being offered at my workplace or I was getting another shot, anyway. Last week, when I scheduled my Covid booster, there was an option to also get the flu shot. I did so.

I strongly suspect that this explains the newfound “partisan” divide. The flu shot hasn’t been politicized. But Democrats, because of Covid shots and/or boosters, are more likely to be getting a shot and adding a chaser of the flu vaccine.

Absent an independent reason to think the flu shot has been politicized—say, a campaign on Fox News or by Republican politicians or influencers to discredit the vaccine—it makes sense to treat things that are problably knock-on effects as knock-on effects.

If you combine the percentage of Americans who say they have gotten or will definitely (or will very likely get in the Ipsos poll wording), about half the country will get a flu vaccine this year. This does not look to be significantly different than in past years. That is, the rise in Democrats getting the flu vaccine this year looks like it will be canceled out by fewer Republicans getting it.

Of course, we’re examining only the flu shot in one season. We don’t know whether there will be a continued partisan split on who gets the flu shot in future years. We also don’t know whether other life saving vaccinations will see a similar partisan split going forward.

No. No we don’t. I strongly suspect, though, that this was a one-off. Former President Trump made Covid denialism a feature of American politics for selfish and idiosyncratic reasons. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll see those circumstances repeating themselves.

FILED UNDER: Health, US Politics
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. MarkedMan says:

    This is exactly the discussion I often have with Steven: How much of partisan correlated behavior is actually caused by party leaders or party messaging and how much is simply along for the ride.

    2
  2. KM says:

    I strongly suspect that this explains the newfound “partisan” divide. The flu shot hasn’t been politicized. But Democrats, because of Covid shots and/or boosters, are more likely to be getting a shot and adding a chaser of the flu vaccine.

    Soooo that means there’s a partisan divide in the results, not necessarily the motivation. That means the headline is correct in that you are more likely to get a flu shot based on your political stance then not.

    I am also a unreliable flu shot taker in that I am afraid of needles and need to be pushed hard to get it. That being said, I’ve 3 for 3 these past few years simply because COVID has opened my eyes to how stupid it is to let a preventable disease run rampant due to fear or unfounded misgivings. That’s a direct result of the current social and political climate, making my choices and actions partisan.

    Also the education around it is not great – how many people can tell you how they decide which strains go into the shot and how effective it is for how long? Unlike COVID in which most (non-crazy) folks are aware of how effective it is, flu shot effectiveness can vary wildly from year to year, leading to the public perception of an inconsistent product not worth their time. People are bad with math and risk assessment so convincing them that this *pic of shot and flimsy plastic shield* is better then this *shot of ambulance wailing with the light on* is imperative. If you are already convinced vaccines are vital to public health at this time, that logic is going to work better than on someone who walks around maskless during the outbreak of an airborne contagion.

    That is, the rise in Democrats getting the flu vaccine this year looks like it will be canceled out by fewer Republicans getting it.

    I’m willing to bet there’s a strong correlation between “COVID vax is evil, you can’t make me” and “flu shot is stupid, you can’t make me”; it just gets drowned out in the general public disinterest in getting a yearly shot with an admittedly not great record. Just because they aren’t screaming the flu shot has mind control chips in it (right now, it used to be a fav hit) doesn’t mean partisan thought isn’t driving actions at least subconsciously. It’s easier to justify a unconscious predilection to not getting the flu shot if you’re so vehemently anti-prophylactic in your daily life.

    11
  3. Monala says:

    Unfortunately, we’ve seen some Republican politicians recently question the need for any vaccines or vaccine mandates (like the ones for school children). They’ve usually backed down after negative feedback, but what if that changes?

    5
  4. JKB says:

    It doesn’t help that some pharmacies, like a couple cases at Walgreens, have “mistakenly” given people the COVID vaccine when they came in for the Flu shot.

    So, the fly-by-night pharmacy distribution of shots has become suspect.

    1
  5. Thomm says:

    And right on schedule, a member of the gop base wades in with misinformation to put an organic point against the minimization of the effects of the gop leadership and the words of the ‘thought leaders’.

    6
  6. Michael Reynolds says:

    @JKB:
    Oh? Evidence supporting that statement?

    9
  7. wr says:

    @JKB: “It doesn’t help that some pharmacies, like a couple cases at Walgreens, have “mistakenly” given people the COVID vaccine when they came in for the Flu shot.”

    Ooooh! A “couple” of cases in a nation of 350.000,000 people. I see why manly man Republicans like you are so terrified of taking a little shot when the odds are so terribly against you.

    4
  8. MarkedMan says:

    @JKB:

    So, the fly-by-night pharmacy distribution of shots has become suspect.

    Are you under the impression that pharmacies didn’t give out vaccinations before COVID? Or is this just a “everything done to prevent COVID is bad” Fox wail?

    5
  9. Michael Reynolds says:

    Nurses will tell you that fear of needles seems more common among men. It’s a cliché, well-worn, and I don’t know if there’s data to support it, but I suspect needle phobia – which I have – is a huge contributor to anti-vax paranoia. Maybe what we’re seeing in these partisan numbers is simply a reflection of the larger number of men identifying as Republican. IOW, a freedom issue? Nah, more likely a surfeit of gun-totin’, body armor-wearing, cos-playing, macho pussies.

    4
  10. Barry says:

    @JKB: Riiiiight.

  11. Kathy says:

    Honestly, this sneaky, underhanded life-saving has got to stop.

    10
  12. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Monala:

    To reinforce what Monala pointed out, we’ll know whether vaccines have become politicized when we see a partisan divide over vaccinations for diseases like measles, rubella and TB. To this point resistance to those vaccines has mostly existed amongst progressive and financially comfortable. Today the R’s that have spoken up against vaccines in general, have been on the margins, if that attitude becomes mainstream, we will be in trouble.

    3
  13. Tlaloc says:

    @MarkedMan:
    I’m not sure why the causality matters, really. The partisan divide exists. It’s measurable. What precisely caused it might be of esoteric interest but that seems to be burying the lede.

    1
  14. inhumans99 says:

    Even if you do not agree with everything he said in the trucker shortage thread, at least JKB’s posts had a point to make and sounded like they came from an individual who has lucid thoughts.

    And then you get JKB posts in this thread that just make him sound like someone who only gets his information from goofy doofy RW sites and does not think for himself.

    Even when my brother and I just got the flu shot, the folks at Rite Aid/Walgreens/CVS have you fill out a form, they had our info/history on a computer screen in front of them, and this year they took our temperature (so even if you claimed you were not ill, had no fever, they would know if that is true soon enough)!

    A first for me, my exact temperature was noted on the paperwork they processed in the system. So yeah JKB, nice try with your dumb attempt at a fear-mongering posts.

    You know what makes me angry JKB, that you should be better than this, comparing your post(s) in this thread to the trucker one, I almost think I am reading posts from two separate JKBs, or one with two different personalities.

    You are better than this man, stop posting such dumb things that they do not even act as good trolling the libs posts because they sound so ridiculous.

    I would not believe for a second anyone who claimed that they went into a Walgreens for the flu shot and instead walked out vaccinated against Covid, it just such a patently dumb thing for someone to say and you have to be a special kind of dumb/ignorant to believe such a claim.

    6
  15. Neil J Hudelson says:

    @inhumans99:

    Yup, you’ve nailed what’s frustrating about JKB versus the other right wingers here like Keef. When he wants to, JKB can have coherent and insightful thoughts. He just doesn’t seem to desire coherence and insightfulness most of the time.

    He’s Frank the Tank.

  16. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Nurses will tell you that fear of needles seems more common among men.”

    And the really crazy thing is that unless you’re around four years old, shots don’t really hurt. The person giving it says something like “little stick” or “little pinch,” and that’s really all it is. When I got my flu shot last year, I could barely even see the tiny needle — it looked like one of the medical devices on the original Star Trek.

    And these are the manly men who are going to rise up and kill all the libs to maintain their freedom. Unless they get a paper cut along the way.

    5
  17. Mimai says:

    Research indicates that needle related fears and phobias are more prevalent in females. This is consistent with anxiety disorders more generally.

    Shifting standards theory + cognitive biases may help explain why so many nurses believe the opposite.

    Shots do indeed really hurt for a lot of people. It’s not about the tissue damage, which is minor. Severity of tissue damage != severity of pain experienced.

    tl;dr: “well actually”

    1
  18. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I used to think I was cynical, but reality over these last few years has schooled me. I would never have believed this many men were this insecure, this frightened, this pitiful in their little macho cos-play outfits. It’s nauseating.

    2
  19. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai:

    Shifting standards theory + cognitive biases may help explain why so many nurses believe the opposite.

    That makes sense. It’s ludicrous watching some hulking, 6’2″, 230 pound, sexagenarian man (not naming any names, ahem) afraid of what by any rational standard is an insignificant pain. Yes, it does sting sometimes, but the reaction is clearly irrational – a spatter of grease when you’re fring chicken hurts more. I always had enough pride not to show it, but it used to take me a couple weeks to sort of man up for a needle. However, the exposure therapy of Covid, with needles constantly in view, seems to have largely crushed my phobia.

    I retain my irrational fears of hotel rooms in need of a refresh, hardware stores and sharks.

    1
  20. Michael Cain says:

    @Mimai:

    Shots do indeed really hurt for a lot of people.

    Is there research about why this is? Is it expectations? Are there physical differences? Is it just needles? Until recently I’ve been an epee fencer. In a 90-minute open fencing session I take a lot of hits that hurt more than a needle stick. Would activities like that be right out for such people?

    1
  21. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    Off topic but you may be amused (or perplexed, as I am) by the fact that there is apparently a very successful athlete – I’ve heard no names – willing to put half a million into developing some of my IP. Now, speaking of paranoia, I’m afraid I’m going to walk into a conference room, be confronted by a smiling and very famous athlete I won’t recognize. Unless it’s one of the Williams sisters, there’s no chance I’ll click.

    1
  22. Gustopher says:

    @Michael Reynolds: My fear of needles went away when I had to give myself injections, twice a day, into the fatty part of my stomach for a few weeks.

    Luckily, the fatty part is all of it, so it was hard to miss.

    On the other hand, I was once supposed to give my ancient cat subcutaneous water… that did not go well. Cat was fine with it, I was a wreck. Lift the skin, insert needle, wait, why am I wet?, oh I got the needle out the other side of the loose skin and all the water has been going through the cat rather than into the cat, try again, why is she biting me now?, oh, god, I am failing my cat, she’s going to die and it’s all my fault, give up, call the vet.

    5
  23. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Gustopher:
    I’m doing weekly, off-label (I’m not diabetic) Trulicity, which is an injection pen. I did it myself, twice, just to be all manly and stuff, but every other time I’ve had Katherine do it while I suck on whiskey. Phobias are robust, they keep trying to come back.

    1
  24. Scott O says:

    @Sleeping Dog:
    “To this point resistance to those vaccines has mostly existed amongst progressive and financially comfortable.”

    I believed that about a decade ago. Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was a big anti-vaxer. But I think amongst some religious communities it wasn’t uncommon. In 2011 Michele Bachmann claimed that the HPV vaccine caused mental retardation. Here’s some Trump tweets from 2012 and 2014.

    3
  25. Mimai says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Is there research about why this is? Is it expectations? Are there physical differences?

    Short answer: Yes!

    Slightly longer answer: Pain is an output, not an input.

    Slightly longer still: It’s better to think of pain as a perception, not as a sensation.

    Final answer: The nociceptive input that travels from spinal cord to brain gets processed in all kinds of ways. There are a lot of factors that turn the volume up or down on that input – before it gets to brain and when it’s in brain. These include biological, psychological, and socio-contextual factors, all of which are colliding and combining in an integrated system. The final product (an output) is what we experience as pain.

    @Michael Reynolds:
    AceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAce
    AceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAce
    AceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAce
    AceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAce
    AceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAceAce

    This one’s on the house.

    1
  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Careful, google earth shows that there is a shark lurking under your pool filter.

    2
  27. Michael Cain says:

    @Mimai:

    So it’s entirely reasonable to assume that there are people out there who find the needle stick quite painful, but not the epee hit to the same muscle hard enough to leave the characteristic dime-sized bruise?

    1
  28. Mimai says:

    @Michael Cain:

    Reasonable and expected! The context is entirely different, hence the pain experience (or lack thereof) is too. The cool part is that this is not a 1:1 with tissue damage.

  29. CSK says:

    Most of us, when we were kids, heard horror stories about how awful rabies shots for humans were. Well, they haven’t been awful for decades now. Back in 1994 I got scratched by a stray cat that ran off afterward, and I was advised to have the shots because the animal couldn’t be tested. The chances I’d start foaming at the mouth and run around biting people were low, but still…

    The worst thing about it was that I had to keep shlepping back to the hospital for about a month to get a weekly dose. I think they’ve since cut it down to four doses over the course of two weeks.

    The injections themselves weren’t any worse than a tetanus booster. They were not those foot-long needles that got shoved into your stomach we heard about as kids.

    4
  30. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Mimai:

    Slightly longer answer: Pain is an output, not an input.

    I’ve never heard it phrased that way, but that’s a really neat way of putting it.

    I recently had some experience with this. When I started PT for my shoulder, I mentioned that the skin on my upper arm was very sensitive to touch (almost somewhere between “that tickles” and “that’s a bruise”). The therapist said “Yeah. Your brain is getting overloaded with input from the area and it doesn’t know how to interpret it.”.

    My reaction was “Oh! Cool! Ouch… but cool!” 😀

    The other thing that is obvious, but people fail to realize is that pain is not a singular thing. A friend from college used to say “I’d rather have my hand cut off at the wrist than get a paper cut on my knuckle.” A boxer who’s used to getting pummeled all day might feel a needle as very painful.

    In the kink community, I’d run into a lot of people who would say “I like pain”.

    No you don’t. You like being spanked, or whipped, or pinched, or slapped, or bitten, or…

    You would not like arthritis, or migraines, or cramps, or kidney stones, or…

    2
  31. Michael Reynolds says:

    @Mimai: @Michael Cain:
    The fear-to-pain ratio is absurdly elevated in my experience. I never enjoy the experience but I’m able to relax the relevant muscle (my muscles relax a lot) and I’ve never found the actual pain to be significant objectively. It’s certainly much less pain than a stubbed toe. And speaking of context, oral injections do genuinely hurt, but because the drill is far worse I ask for extra novocaine.

    2
  32. James Joyner says:

    @Michael Reynolds: @wr: @Mimai: Since the flu shot uptake rates have been more-or-less equal in past years, I doubt fear of needles is the reason for this year’s differential.

    As to the pain/fear issue, though, I must admit that I’ve always hated getting shots and, especially, blood drawn. (Not as much, oddly, as getting my BP taken, which I find genuinely uncomfortable despite having normal BP.) Anecdotally, though, I’ve decided that some people are just waaay better than others at administering the injection. Hereabouts, most doctor’s offices outsource their bloodwork to labs that do pretty much only that. It’s a giant PITA but an upside is that the techs there are damned good at it. Similarly, I got my three COVID shots from Navy corpsmen well into a cycle of mass vaccination (first two) and a CVS pharmacy associated with a Target (booster + flu). They were all genuinely “just a pinch” if that because they’ve gotten so much practice. Nurses at a doctor’s office just don’t develop that level of proficiency because they mostly do other things.

    2
  33. Stormy Dragon says:

    The worst injection I ever got was when I went to Eastern Europe in the 90s and had to get a gamma globulin injection as prophylaxis against Hepatitis-A.

    It had to be kept refrigerated until the moment of injection, which meant you were getting something really cold injected in your arm, and also that the injection was about the consistency of toothpaste, which meant they had to use this absolutely gigantic needle (a flu-shot uses a 22-25 gauge (0.5mm width) needle, a gamma globulin injecting uses a 16 gauge (1.7 mm width) needle)

    2
  34. EddieInCA says:

    @Michael Reynolds:

    Can’t be a big list. Here are some of the athletes who could easily drop $500K, who also have established production companies:

    LeBron, Shaq, Steph Curry, Tom Brady, Vanessa Bryant, David Beckham, Baron Davis, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Durant, Chris Paul, Tim Tebow.

    There might be more, but those are the ones I know are active in film and tv development.

    3
  35. Grommit Gunn says:

    I can do my own blood sugar testing and daily insulin injections and it doesn’t bother me at all.

    I can get stuck with a needle at the clinic and it doesn’t bother me at all.

    I can not get my blood drawn without looking away. If I watch it happen, I start to freak out.

    Brains are weird.

    2
  36. Stormy Dragon says:

    @Grommit Gunn:

    The phlebotomists always tell me I’m weird because I insist on watching the needle get stuck in. I can handle the needle, I just don’t like being surprised by it.

    1
  37. Mikey says:

    @Stormy Dragon: You got that in your ARM? Holy shit, no wonder it hurt!

    In the military we all got that (we nicknamed it “the peanut butter shot”) but they were kind enough to give it to us in the buttock. It still hurt like hell, but not nearly as much as that big-ass (no pun intended) needle going into an arm.

    1
  38. Mu Yixiao says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Twice in past couple months, I’ve had giant needles shoved into my shoulder–once in the tendon sheath (watching via ultrasound), and once into the space between the ball and socket (watching via “live x-ray”). I insisted on watching both–because it was so interesting. 🙂

  39. Scott says:

    I go to the blood bank about once/month. They love my platelets. It is so routine. But I can certainly tell the difference in skill levels amongst the phlebotomists. I hate it when one misses the vein or if it doesn’t draw right and they have to wriggle it around to get it in the right position.

    And yes, I watch the entire operation.

  40. Scott says:

    @Mikey: I came into the AF in 1980. They were still using air guns. Not sure how well they worked. I remember the vaccines dribbling down my arm. And I still have a hole in my arm.

  41. Michael Cain says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    I’m the other way for blood donations. If I see the phlebotomist start the motion, I flinch. Not a good thing. I flinch when I’m not looking, also, but it’s already in by then, when the small flinch doesn’t matter.

    @James Joyner:

    Agree on the value of experience for minimal-pain vaccinations. The one thing I’ve noticed is that the good ones all just put it in — no dawdling around or chance for the needle to shift. I assume there’s more to their technique than that, but they’re quick and sure.

    Also agree that it’s more than just needle-phobia coming out. Some of the states, including deep red ones, that have been quite good on childhood school vaccinations, seem to be entertaining the notion of dropping those requirements.

    1
  42. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Gustopher: I’ve given myself intramuscular injections every two weeks for over thirty years. The pain of COVID vaccine injection is trivial.

    1
  43. Joe says:

    @Scott: Thursday I will be celebrating my 365th platelet donation – I donate every other Thursday. I feel like they should put a grommet in my arm, but I frequently can’t even feel the needle stick and the needle is a garden spade in comparison to the needle used for flu and COVID shots. It makes getting those other shots and even blood draws seem pretty insignificant.

    1
  44. just nutha says:

    @Scott: Last time I had a blood test was about 2 months ago. No pain, seemingly good phlebotomist, but it left a bruise about the size of a silver dollar on my arm that didn’t go away for a week or more. WA!

    1
  45. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: Make your agent or manager send you a ton of press on the person. That’s what they’re for…

    1
  46. Mister Bluster says:

    The last time I had blood drawn was in 2008 before intestinal surgery. I watched as the woman stuck the needle in my arm. I did not feel anything. I couldn’t believe it. I told her so.
    “Why thank you!” she said.
    I got the idea that she hadn’t heard that before.

  47. Jay L Gischer says:

    @just nutha: I faint when I give blood. Or at least I used to. It’s not really fear. It’s because I have a highly reactive vasovagal system. You can get me to faint with a little bit of manipulation of my pressure points.

    So, of course, it’s been my fate to endure a LOT of blood draws and become a connoisseur of them. That bruise means your phlebotomist blew it. Even the good ones make mistakes, but this was one. When I had my heart attack, I got a lot of blood draws, and I was on blood thinners, so the bruises were everywhere, BUT, the best draws still did not produce a bruise.

    1
  48. Michael Reynolds says:

    @EddieInCA:
    Hah! Thanks dude. OK, I’ve heard of a few of those, and oh shit, I think I may know who it is. Huh. I know a guy who was involved with a major athlete. Just occurred to me. Unless it’s a Brit, that could be too, I suppose.

    @wr:
    I am un-agented. In publishing I use an IP lawyer who charged 10%, a savings over a lit agent’s 15%. I didn’t need access, just contracts. I keep thinking I’m retiring, so I’ve sort of halfway replaced my IP lawyer, who is retiring, with another IP lawyer who only wants 5%. Next I’ll find a paralegal who’ll do it for 1%.

    You know, I sit here in my poolside ‘office’ looking over at the Hollywood sign, and I’m torn between two paths. Really, I’m not being facetious. On the one hand the uncertainty and the grind and the goddamn meetings and the whole being part of something bigger than myself thing, and on the other hand a place in Lisbon, or maybe Valencia, where I’d wander down to the beach every day and have an espresso and a brioche while gazing at the Atlantic or Mediterranean. I could write, or I could not. Then again, I could just stroke out.

    It’s six o’clock, I’m on a hillside outdoors, full dark, and I’m wearing sweats, in November. I love LA. But the weather’s nice in Portugal, too.

  49. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Jay L Gischer: Yeah. I have a fair amount of experience with blood draws. I’ve been taking INR tests to measure how much warfarin to take for almost 20 years and most of the time, I didn’t have insurance that would cover a finger stick test, so I’ve been getting a blood draw at least monthly for most of those years. I just thought that it was interesting that the phlebotomist blew it on the test without my experiencing any pain. Other times that I’ve bruised (not very often all things considered), it felt like I’d been stuck with an embroidery needle. And this one was by far the largest, most long lasting bruise I’ve had other than falling down.

  50. al Ameda says:

    @Grommit Gunn:

    I can get stuck with a needle at the clinic and it doesn’t bother me at all.
    I can not get my blood drawn without looking away. If I watch it happen, I start to freak out.
    Brains are weird.

    This.
    For years I’ve received all manner of shots/vaccinations, given blood, but …. I just can’t look.

  51. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “But the weather’s nice in Portugal, too.”

    My wife and I are seriously contemplating the Netherlands. The weather’s not as nice as Portugal, but the culture there is smart and reasonable and deliberately insanely moderate. Been learning Dutch on Duolingo for a year now and it’s not a hard language — what’s best about it is if you’re half-hearing a conversation in the background the rhythms are close enough to American English that I never get that sense of dislocation I feel in, say, a Chinese-speaking country.

    Basically, I just can’t stand this country anymore, and can’t see any way in which it isn’t going to get immeasurably worse over the next decade. Stupidity and evil have taken over a huge chunk of the population, and those opposed don’t have a clue how to fight them. I’m beginning to feel like a Jew in Germany in 1932, and I’m thinking it’s getting to be time to follow Billy Wilder and Thomas Mann’s example…

    1
  52. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I was done in 2016 for obvious reasons. Took til 2019 to get my wife on-board with the idea. We’d considered London (in fact we were down to looking at neighborhoods) but we both have bad seasonal affective disorder: no sun, no work gets done, and realized if we did London we’d also have to pull the Brit routine of running away to the Algarve or the Costa del Sol regularly. So, not one but two overpriced housing markets.

    Then, this producer, who at the time was an up and comer Brit talked me into taking a run at GONE for TV, and Katherine had various bits of IP in various stages of development, so we u-turned and moved to LA. The dude just got signed to produce for Soderbergh so he’s no longer a comer, he’s there.

    I love what I’ve seen of Netherlands, which is some coastline but mostly Amsterdam. I’ve been to Amsterdam many times, twice for book research (figuring out how to rob the Rijksmuseum), a couple times to just go there for no reason (inhale. . . hold it, hold it. . . exhale), once on King’s Day which I recall as being mostly tall blondes in summer dresses on bikes. (I was younger.) I love the Dutch. They’re what we could be if we pulled our heads out of our asses.

  53. Michael Reynolds says:

    @wr:
    I’m beginning to feel like a Jew in Germany in 1932, and I’m thinking it’s getting to be time to follow Billy Wilder and Thomas Mann’s example…

    Ditto. But I’m married to a shiksa who lacks the 5,000 years of entirely justified Jewish paranoia.

  54. wr says:

    @Michael Reynolds: “Ditto. But I’m married to a shiksa who lacks the 5,000 years of entirely justified Jewish paranoia.”

    Somehow my own shiksa goddess is feeling it worse than me…

  55. de stijl says:

    @Mimai et alia above:

    Fear of penetration?

    It is a symbol laden act. An obvious intrusion into personal space.