I Am Now A Flu Shot Truther And I Hate Myself For It

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Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG
Illustration by Sam Woolley/GMG

Your letters:


Flu shots are bullshit right? I mean, I get it for kids because their immune systems aren’t fully developed, but for adults? It seems like there is no correlation between my getting the shot and not getting the flu. In fact, the one time I got the shot, I GOT THE FLU. Otherwise I’ve been flu-free. Is BIG FLU SHOT just ramming sucrose into our veins?

This will stun you, but bossman Tim Marchman has been a flu shot truther for ages and I have always laughed at him for it because A) I always get the flu shot, and B) Marchman is the sort to believe that the banks can track your daily movements using sound chips implanted in microwave ovens.

But this flu season has been a fucking disaster. After my kid got sick, the doc told us that this year’s shot was only 10 percent effective against the flu, which is even lower than its standard low odds of keeping you immune (roughly 40 percent). The method for producing the flu shot—using delicious, farm fresh chicken eggs—has been around since the 1940s and fails to account for ways that the virus can mutate both within the vaccine AND out in the greater world. My wife has gotten the flu the past two seasons despite getting the shot. And holy shit, does it make her mad. Just a whole week of blowing into tissues and cursing the National Institutes of Health.


They desperately need to fix this vaccine. Obviously, it would behoove society to have a flu shot that actually helps prevent the flu. But more important, I do not need public faith in vaccines further undermined. We live the fucking stupidest country on Earth, with obscenely rich people (including the President) actively questioning the efficacy of vaccines, often to devastating effect. I don’t need these people validated. One botched flu shot is probably enough for Jenny McCarthy to declare penicillin a proven carcinogen. Ninety percent of our national labor output now goes toward putting out bonfires set by idiot truthers and psychotic racists. I don’t want to give them any more encouragement.

That’s why I’m STILL gonna get the flu shot, even though it frequently doesn’t work. I’ll take the ten percent bump, plus the placebo effect, and hope that combines with my VERY STRONG, MANLY ANTIBODIES to repel bovine death lupus for yet another winter. More important, I will do it as a battle cry in solidarity with BIG PHARMA, who sometimes make decent vaccines when they aren’t busy poisoning the rest of the world with opiates.




What the hell are license plate covers for?

They’re if you’re too cheap to buy vanity plates, of course. Vanity plates are $50 a year where I live. That’s too steep to brandish NSFW on the back of my Kia. I’d much rather spring for an officially licensed plate cover from the Metallica shop to let people know that I may be driving to the CVS for Hello Kitty Band-Aids and zinc butt cream, but that I can still RAWK.


Otherwise, there’s not much of a practical need for license plate covers. The only time license plates go flying off a car is when a bomb goes off in a Michael Bay flick and Bay needs a money shot of a license plate blown off a car and spinning on one corner for five seconds before finally dropping to the ground. That lets you know the car blowed up real good. Plate covers were clearly invented by some nefarious local dealer like Jim Hugfart Chevrolet of Niptoogit who made a point of appending branded plate covers to every car he sold, knowing customers would be too lazy to remove them. For real, how many of you drive around with an ad for your stupid car dealer covering your plate, for free? I say cut those covers off. Don’t let Hugfart get the better of you.

By the way, I have a long and proud tradition of owning myself, and it continued the other week when I got a ticket because the registration sticker on my license plate was on the FRONT plate and not the back. I didn’t realize that this was a rule, nor did I realize where that sticker even WAS on my car. Regardless, it was too late and I got tagged for $100. But that’s not the worst part. The worst was that when I went to switch the plates, the screws were so corroded that they took a chuck of the fender along with them. Somehow I had torn apart my own goddamn car just to get a license plate off, and didn’t even succeed at it. Don’t be like me, kids. Know where your bureaucratic stickers belong.



What was it like watching live sports without the “score bug” always displayed on the screen? I’m too young to really remember when this wasn’t standard practice. Was it annoying? Did you just have to remember what the score or time left was if the broadcast didn’t consistently remind you? Were certain sports worse to watch than others? I have so many questions.


Oh, Mark. Mark, let me tell you about THE DARK TIMES. Not only was the score not continuously displayed on the screen, but certain networks (*cough*cough*NBC*cough*cough) deliberately WITHHELD the score for seemingly endless stretches so that you couldn’t tune out until you finally knew what the hell was going on. This is why Dick Ebersol of NBC was the last TV guy to finally embrace the scoring bug, and it’s why he owes me punitive damages for it. When Fox invented the bug back in the ‘90s, I was like, “Wait, are they just gonna, like, leave that there? The whole game? They can actually do that? OH MY GOD.” It was like tasting chocolate for the first time.

And the score was but one piece of information that you had to labor to get. You only got scores from other games during the McDonald’s Game Break, and you had to wait until the next day’s paper to get a goddamn box score for anything. I used to get a sports almanac from my folks every Christmas because almanacs and Topps cards were the only were the only reliable sources of records and stats. I would like to use my best Abe Simpson voice and tell you that living that way taught me to APPRECIATE information, especially in an age where false data spreads so instantly. But no, it sucked. In my day, things were sucky and bad and I don’t wanna go back.


What’s more, the internet has NOT stopped young sports fans from getting into numbers the way I used to. My nephew got football cards for Christmas and spent the whole morning carefully arranging them in cellophane sleeves in a binder. My son eyes the ticker every second during games and calls out the scores like a town crier. Numbers are still fascinating to child sports fans and Twitter ratio sentries alike, and you don’t need your hands covered in newsprint ink to enjoy them. The more numbers, the better.



Couldn’t they easily fix the replay review system in the NFL if they set a reasonable limit of 35 seconds to review a play and if they couldn’t come to a conclusion by then, the call on the field stands? This takes the pressure of having to make the absolute perfect call off of the refs in the booth and allows the game to move along.


I heard that also suggested on Bram Weinstein’s radio show in D.C. and it makes sense because it demands that a call be immediately obvious for it to be overturned, with the idea being that if you have to stand there for 10 minutes and pore over the replay again and again, then the call should stand because it’s clearly NOT an obvious overturn.

I like the idea, and yet I have NO faith that the NFL will implement it in satisfactory ways. Right now, the NFL claims that the average review lasts a scant 2:25, which is a goddamn lie. That 2:25 clearly doesn’t account for the time Ed Hochuli walks to the monitor, puts on his reading glasses, fucks up the review, does a few tricep curls, and then takes 12 extra minutes scribbling some shit down on a pad. None of that counts toward the official official replay time, and all of that dead air would still exist with the review window tightened.


Also, and this is more important, just over a third of replays since 1999 have been overturned. That’s it. Has that relatively small number of reversals that been worth nearly two decades of game stoppages, especially when a lot of those reversals have been controversial in their own right? No. No, it’s not worth it. Even if you shorten the review window, they’d still fuck it up, and officials would still be haunted by the specter of replay potentially undermining their work. The system has robbed too many refs of their first instincts, and I don’t think you can fix that without abolishing replay outright.


If I’m in an elevator with mirrors, and an obvious camera, can I flex? What’s proper etiquette whilst alone in an elevator yet potentially being observed?


I wouldn’t risk it. There are other times you can flex in a mirror without some pervert security guard leering at you. Save it for your bathroom. That is a flexing safe space. DAMN LOOGIT THESE TRAP MUSCLES, I COULD SHRUG A MOUNTAIN. Ever jut your chin out and just, like, look at your face? That’s good self-ogling.

If you’re in an elevator alone, just do the normal thing and stare at your phone, praying you’ve entered a magical, Wonka-esque elevator where you can actually get phone reception. I also enjoy staring directly at the security camera mounted in the ceiling. Really turns the tables on the security guy. Now I’m watching YOU, bucko. See how it feels! I even give that camera the double finger guns, like I’m a cat burglar taunting the police before sneaking off with a bag full of rubies.



Does Trump tweet so much because he doesn’t have any friends? Presumably, if he had a solid group text he could send his shitty takes to he wouldn’t need to tweet them. There has to be an inverse correlation between number of friends and desire to tweet. This likely applies to everyone on Twitter. The most prolific Tweeters are sad and alone.


Hey, I tweet a lot. And I don’t think I… oh god. OH GOD. Oh God, you’re right. What have I done with my life.

Anyway, Trump is on the record as not having any friends. In fact, it would appear that Trump will only befriend you if it means he can bone your wife. He is a narcissist in the most classic sense, which means friends are only useful to him if he can use them. This is why I tend to recoil at any wishful-thinking liberal being like, “Trump is clearly such a sad and insecure man!” No he’s not. He’s not crying on the inside. I think he couldn’t be happier. All he wants is to brandish the biggest possible rage boner to the largest number of people, and Twitter is the perfectly outlet for him to get that fix. I know the Internet has long served as refuge for desperate people using it as a cheap substitute for real human emotion and interaction, but I don’t think Trump is the best exemplar of that. He’s just a big stupid baby.


Also, I know people want Twitter to delete his account, but I don’t think that’ll do much of anything. I know it was fun when that one freelancer shut it down for 10 ecstatic minutes, but Trump already knows about Facebook and Instagram. Without Twitter, he’d just find another toilet to shit into. He’d probably read drafted tweets aloud via phone to Fox & Friends. Twitter should obviously remove Trump’s account on principle, but it wouldn’t un-fuck anything. He’d still be in charge and trying to bone your old lady.



Is the strategy now to immediately grab your possibly woozy teammate, set him on his feet and give a gentle nudge to wherever he needs to be so you can avoid any potential concussion protocol?


Yes! It would appear to be! Also, it appears that the only things they stock in the sideline medical tent are useful alibis. HEY-OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!


I find it morbidly amusing that the NFL established their big concussion protocol, trumpeted their big concussion protocol to everyone, and now have to open up an investigation virtually every week just to see if teams actually FOLLOWED the big concussion protocol. And after every investigation, the NFL is like, “Nope! No, Cam really did sprain his eyes and needs $12 million for his sprained eyes. WE HAD SPOTTERS ON THE SCENE, GANG!”

And you know what? I bet they don’t even mind that this is a farce. So long as they do their legal diligence and wrap everything in 58 layers of plausible deniability, they don’t really give a shit if you KNOW that the protocol was ignored so that the really important football player could go back into the really important football game. It’s not like I, the viewer, am gonna actively complain that I didn’t get to watch Derek Anderson play quarterback for half a quarter. The system is exactly as corrupt as everyone needs it to be.



Would you get just as full if you ate a full bag of sautéed spinach vs. if you ate a full bag of raw spinach? Does cooking it down change the fullness?


Oh yeah. Wilting the spinach takes all the water out of it, reducing a full bag down to two bites and eliminating any excess bloat that comes from eating it raw. Ever eat a raw spinach salad? I don’t care how many bacon bits you dump on top, you WILL end up feeling like you’re grazing in a pasture after you’ve chewed through enough raw spinach leaves. It’s exhausting. Lotta oral labor for something that will make you shit like a busted hydrant.

Actually, you wanna fight? Let’s fight by ranking lettuces:

  1. Bibb
  2. Iceberg
  3. Red leaf
  4. Romaine
  5. Baby spinach
  6. Arugula
  7. Spinach
  8. Green leaf
  9. Radicchio
  10. Turpentine
  11. Endive

My wife never lets me buy iceberg lettuce because it has zero nutritional value of any sort but I don’t buy lettuce for such things. I buy it for CRUNCH.



You’re at some party and all they have is a couple coolers stocked with only standard crappy American Big Brews: Bud, Bud Light, Miller Lite, High Life, Coors, Coors Lite, you get the picture. Which do you drink and why?


Miller Lite. I tend to go on runs with booze and beer. So for a while, I drank mostly PBR because I am nothing if not highly suggestible to drinking the hippest possible trendy dive bar beer. Then someone gave me a Miller Lite a while back and I was like, “Fuck PBR, I’m drinking THIS now,” and that is my current resting beer habit.

I have gotten shit from friends AND family over this, but I really genuinely prefer shitty beer to nice beer. Like yeah, I’ll class it up every now and again and drink a Chimay so that people think I drive a nice car. That’s a quality beer to have when you’re in a hotel lobby. But when I want to get down to the serious work of drinking, I’d much rather have Miller Lite or some other garbage American piss that doesn’t give me any trouble as it works its way into my bloodstream. Flavor is an impediment to my enjoyment of beer. I do not want to pause every sip to savor the notes of lilac and molasses in my nice beer. I truly DO prefer my beer to be less filling. I want to drink it like it’s water. Also, no mass produced American beer will ever be as bad as Heineken. It’s not possible.


By the way, since we’re nearing the Super Bowl, I just recently learned that our own Lauren Theisen had never heard of the Bud Bowl. And I was TOTALLY into the Bud Bowl as a kid. Like when Bud Light had Bud Dry at quarterback?

Oh yeah. I definitely got fired up for some hot Bud Bowl action. Bud Dry was twice the quarterback Blake Bortles is.



Is it rude to leave your car at a pump if there are multiple pumps open?

No but make it snappy. Don’t wander off and catch a showing of Coco or anything like that. By natural law, any gas station that doesn’t seem crowded will become overrun the SECOND you decide that it’s a good time to leave your car at the pump and take an hourlong shit. So take note and hurry the fuck up when you stock up on beef jerky and sandwich cookies.


I like to pull up to the pump, put on the pump lock, and then go into the minimart WHILE the gas is pumping. It’s like having to beat an hourglass. I live for the thrill. I also make sure to peek out at my car from the Gatorade case to make sure no THUG has pulled up alongside my pump to steal my gas. I should probably just re-park the car.


Has there ever been an acoustic version of a song that is better than the original? I believe the answer is no.


The answer is EXTREMELY no. This is part of the reason that growing up in the ‘90s was fucking terrible. Not only did I have to contend with sports almanacs and shitty Bud Bowls, but it was the heyday of MTV Unplugged and muso assholes being like THIS SONG IS SOOOOO MUCH BETTER DONE ACOUSTIC. That was never true. That show was an hour of toilet sounds.

Music people will tell you that stripping a song down to its acoustic elements reveals its strengths and weakness. And that’s true, but I also don’t give the barest of shits. Why would I want a song I normally enjoy to be exposed as horrifically flawed? Cover that shit in WAVES of distortion, please. In fact, they should electrify every original acoustic album. I heard enough James Taylor this Christmas to know loud guitars can’t possibly make things worse.



A coworker just microwaved grocery store sushi cause raw fish grossed him out. Fuck this country. I quit.


Yeah fuck that guy.


When you’re reading something on the internet that includes a hyperlink within the text, at what point do you follow said hyperlink to get an idea of what the author is referencing? Right away? Only after finishing the paragraph/post? Or do you do it before reading any of it like some sort of hyperlink-crazed junkie looking for a fix?


I’m completely deranged because I hover OVER the hyperlink with my cursor and spot the URL first. From the URL name, I can ascertain the theme of the hyperlink (“‘pats-fans-still-paranoid-losers.htm’? Yes, that sounds like a viewpoint I endorse.”), or I can judge the link strictly by its source (“oh god it’s from Awful Announcing”), and I can decide if I want to open the link in a new tab and let it hang around for an hour or so before finally closing the tab again. That is my process with referral links and I hope you are not nearly as impatient and ignorant in your online habits.

I also like to guess the hyperlink just from the tone of the post. I’m like, “Oh man, I bet this link goes right to that Cat Person thing,” and then it does! I feel like Professor X when I nail it.



Could you take a stud D1 offensive line from say Alabama and put them on a semi decent D3 team at the beginning of the season and have them win the D3 College Football Championship? Rules are just the offensive line makes the move: one center, two guards, two tackles, but not the tight end.


They’d obliterate the field. The average Bama lineman has a good 20 to 30 pounds on the average D-III lineman. The running back would already be eight yards downfield before anyone laid a hand on him. If the past few NFL seasons have taught fans anything, it’s that having a fantastic O-line has a ripple effect that improves virtually every other aspect of a team. It makes the QB better by protecting him. It makes the running backs better by opening canyon-wide holes. It makes wideouts better by giving them more time to get separation downfield. And it even makes the defense better because they won’t get overworked.

Alabama wins the national title every other year and can confidently stick Hawaiian Kurt Warner into the game at the half because they have a row of 500-pound road graders paving the way for everyone. It’s a nice luxury to have. If elected President, I would provide EVERY American with an offensive line of his or her own, to bowl over mean bosses, clear out crowded subway platforms, and fine each other $50 in kangaroo court if any of your personal enemies lay a hand on you. You could buy them all watches for Christmas.



Can any grown man that wears a visor be trusted?

Not if you need him to run the ball early against Bama. HEY-OOOOOOOOOO!!!

No but for real, a visor is practical in that it provides shade, but the open roof also prevents your scalp from getting smothered and overheated. And yet, I have never seen a visor bro rock a visor for those reasons. Your average visor bro wears one because he thinks it makes him looks like the coolest guy at the $5 Hold ‘Em table at Caesar’s Palace. Shitbags and rich golfers ruined visors for you and me. It’s not right. We should take visors back from these villains.


Email of the week!


My wife hates spending money to go to the movie theater and she doesn’t like Star Wars. This is a problem for me since I’m a giant nerd who loves Star Wars. I usually don’t miss going to the movie theater since it really is expensive af and we can watch stuff at home conveniently and cheaply. But Star Wars is obviously special and there’s no fucking way I’m going to miss it on the big screen.

When TFA came out, I took time off work and went by myself to a daytime screening and didn’t tell my wife. Then I came home like I had been at work all day. It was great. I’m planning to do the same thing for The Last Jedi. Is this a harmless lie that protects me from nagging and my wife from a space opera that she’s uninterested in? Or is this going down a road of deceit that will rock my marriage if uncovered?


Oh I think it’s fine to tell her you did it. Just don’t tell her you went with your mistress.