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John Costigan
Works at Google
Attended Virginia Tech
Lives in Sunnyvale, CA
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John Costigan

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I agree completely with Susan.

It's an interesting coincidence (I hope) that this measles fiasco occurred in the same week as the poll about how public views (on climate change, GMOs, etc.) differ from those of scientists[1].  Of course, the percentage of people who think vaccines are bad is (thankfully!) lower than that of people who think GMOs are bad, but there's still a parallel: a surprisingly-nonzero number of people think they're smarter than scientists with years of formal training.

[1] http://www.nbcnews.com/science/science-news/survey-shows-scientists-public-odds-over-climate-gmos-more-n296231
 
I wasn't going to weigh in (because I'm a passive-aggressive non-confrontational coward ;)) but just in case there are still people on the fence and trying to decide for their kids and for themselves, I wanted to at least offer my POV. I could say that my 8 years in graduate school and 2 degrees and 14 years spent in public health give me a certain amount of background on this topic, but I'd rather speak as a mom of two little ones.

Infectious disease used to be the number one cause of death in the entire world. It was the advent of vaccinations and antibiotics (along with improved sanitation) that made them fade from the industrialized, 1st world (keep in mind that infectious disease still runs rampant in 3rd world nations). I keep hearing that people want "proof" that vaccines work. We have historical records for hundreds of years of devastating infectious disease outbreaks (Black Death, anyone? 1918 flu epidemic? Small pox??), and we have documented proof that those numbers have been dramatically decreased since vaccines became available and routine. We eradicated smallpox. Besides landing on the moon, this is possibly mankind's most amazing achievement. We eradicated (completely wiped-out) the existence of one of the most infectious and greatest killers to humans with the use of vaccines. Just 30-40 years ago, we were on the verge of eradicating measles as well. So measles is just a rash and a high temp and runny nose, you say? During the last run of unchecked measles epidemics in the mid 20th century, it also had a death rate of 20% in many areas that were affected. That's 1 in every 5 children, dead.

The vaccines have adverse side effects/events? Yes, sometimes they do. But the number of children who are affected by serious adverse events (serious side-effects like those that are caused by measles: deafness, brain swelling, death, disability) are very rare. You know someone whose child had a serious reaction to a vaccine? You've read about someone's child who had a serious reaction to a vaccine? Yes, it does happen. Consider how many people vaccinate their children though - how many of those numerous vaccinated children then had serious side effects? It is a very, very small number. In epidemiology (my field for the last 14 years), we call this a risk-to-benefit ratio. The risk, although life-changing and devastating to the families that are affected, actually affect a very, very small percentage of the entire public. But we as a society no longer see the benefit, and I think that's the crux of the problem.

We no longer see children in iron lungs or paralyzed due to polio. We no longer see children born with severe birth defects because moms were exposed to rubella (German measles) while pregnant. We no longer see body counts in the thousands due to childhood deaths from measles, mumps, whooping cough, or rotavirus. You want to be a cautious vaccinator and delay Hep A and Hep B vaccines? I hear you. I understand that. You question whether to give your child the HPV vaccine? Okay, I can understand that (although HPV is highly common/prevalent in the population and increases your odds of cancer). But for the love of all that is good in this world, do not decide against vaccinations of preventable childhood, infectious diseases. Because not only is that irresponsible towards your own child, that is negligent and unethical towards the children of others who cannot receive the vaccine (because they are babies and simply too young, or immune-compromised, or allergic to the ingredients).

You want to argue that it's a big ploy between CDC/WHO and big-pharma to put toxic chemicals in your children for profit? I assume that you do not abstain from antibiotics if your child has a major ear infection? Or you have over-the-counter drugs like ibuprofen and Tylenol for high fevers? Vaccines are not a big-profit generator for big pharma. They would rather sell you something that comes in a pill that you will have to take for the rest of your life. One or two doses in your lifetime is a pretty small financial venture for them. Also, most vaccines are already around - there's not much drug discovery and profit to be made there. Viagra on the other hand, or Ambien or Prozac . . . blockbusters. If you can trust antibiotics and over the counter treatments, if you can let your child play on grass that has been treated by pesticides, or pools/waterparks that have been cleaned with chlorine, or brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste . . . don't pick and choose your science based on a handful of "doctors who disagree" or cherry-picked websites about the dangers of vaccines. Choose peer-reviewed publications like Nature or Science, New England Journal of Medicine or the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). Or choose to believe the medical establishment and your doctors, the CDC or WHO or NIH.

My last argument will be this, and the one that I hope carries the most weight: I vaccinate my own children. So does my pediatrician and all of my friends in medicine and public health. If these vaccines really were as poisonous as you may fear or those blogs may claim, why in the world would we "poison" our own children? Surely if there is anyone we are going to protect first, it would be our own kids. Or maybe we are all ignorant and stupid? That may be, but we went to the same schools as the people who built the roof over your head and the car that you drive and the plane that you travel in. You can choose to trust that humans are innately good and believe in our collective talents at developing advanced technologies, or you can believe that it's all a conspiracy aimed at harming children (why?? there's no profit in that, really). I believe in the good in people, and I believe in a personal and professional responsibility to try to help others. Trust me, no one goes into public health for the money.

I love my children as much as you love yours, I will bet on that any day. I vaccinate my children for their safety, as well as for yours. I would do it for you. You should seriously consider why you won't do it for their sake or for mine.
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I agree with you, Ryan - there is a lot of misinformation on both sides of many issues, and the result is confusion in the public. I mentioned GMOs because it was the largest discrepancy between scientists and the public, but there are a LOT of other examples listed in that article, including a smaller discrepancy (12% vs. 30%) regarding vaccines.

In rebuttal to your (probably true) assertion, however, the poll suggests that the majority (63%) of the public thinks it is unsafe to eat (not grow) GMOs, as compared with scientists (12%). I have little doubt that the result would be different if that question had read "grow" instead of "eat," but that is orthogonal to the study I linked.
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Congratulations, San Francisco Giants! :)

Saving Bumgarner for the 7th game was wise.  Making him the "relief" was brilliant.  Well done, Bumgarner!

Why isn't this a more prominent strategy in MLB?  "Starter" stats are over-rated....
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John Costigan

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Okay, finally.  Android L = LOLLIPOP

But wow, the Nexus 6 is huge.  I had been hoping for a smaller Nexus option - I like being able to use my phone with just one hand.  I guess I can stick with my good ol' Nexus 5....

(Who am I kidding?  I can't resist the latest and greatest.)
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You can't wait for a circular one?  (You just know Gen-2 will be circular.)  Or do you actually prefer a rectangular watch?
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Amen.

The only problem with manual transmissions is figuring out how to make them work with hybrid drivetrains, i.e. those that can take full advantage of the low-end torque provided by an electric motor.

For example: is it possible to give the BMW i8 a clutch?
Save the Manuals! The official home for the Car and Driver Save the Manuals campaign. Join the cause, share stories and photos, and find out how to get involved!
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resqian syah's profile photoPeter Chung's profile photo
 
Stresss
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If you care about net neutrality, please re-share this.  Because the current state of things is just insane.

If you don't care about net neutrality, then ask yourself this: "Why not?"  Do you really want to pay more just to be able to use Netflix at a usable bandwidth?  Unless you're crazy, the answer should be "No."  If you provide a useful service, then you should have reasonable internet access to the people to whom you provide that access.
The U.S. Federal Communications Commission will take public comments before moving forward with a new set of net neutrality rules that sparked controversy when they were leaked in a news report earlier Wednesday. The FCC will release a proposal soon to reinstate net neutrality rules that would allow broadband providers to negotiate with content providers for preferential treatment, an agency official confirmed Wednesday. Some digital rights g...
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Steve Cirelli's profile photoTimothy wojciechowski's profile photoMark Faine's profile photoJeff Pineda's profile photo
 
The pricing schemes are irrelevant.
Stop talking.
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If you live in the U.S. and have been dying for the chance to drop $1500 to become a +Google Glass Explorer, then next Tuesday is your chance. Too rich for my blood (I'll wait for the price drop), but since supplies are limited, I bet it sells out in minutes.
 
Become a Glass Explorer on Tues April 15

Whoops. So... we’d planned to post this next week, but it looks like the cat's out of the bag now. Over the past several months, we’ve been trying out different ways to expand the Explorer program. Some of you signed up at Google I/O, some told us what you would do #ifihadglass , some were referred by a friend, some joined through their school or university. Our Explorers are moms, bakers, surgeons, rockers, and each new Explorer has brought a new perspective that is making Glass better. But every day we get requests from those of you who haven’t found a way into the program yet, and we want your feedback too. So in typical Explorer Program fashion, we’re trying something new. 

Next Tuesday, April 15th at 6am PDT, we’re opening up some spots in the Glass Explorer Program. Any adult in the US* can become an Explorer by visiting our site and purchasing Glass for $1500 + tax – and it now comes with your favorite shade or frame, thanks to feedback from our current Explorers. The number of spots available is limited, so mark your calendar if you want to get in. You can find us on Tuesday at: http://google.com/glass/start/how-to-get-one

We’re excited to meet our new Explorers, and we can’t wait to hear your thoughts about Glass.

*To everyone outside the US... we know. Sorry :( We’re just not ready yet to bring Glass to other countries.
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Nice axe.
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John Costigan

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Maybe not "best related story ever" - but pretty darn funny.
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Maybe they're likening the invasion to a CSection and Crimea to the baby and Ukraine to the dead porcupine.
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Have him in circles
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John Costigan

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The "Highlights" feature is my favorite; I love being able to--for example--see expected delivery dates on packages without even having to open the email.
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please send me invitation for inbox
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iOS 6 Passbook vs. Google Wallet

I googled "Google Wallet vs Apple Pay" to figure out how the latter improves on the former, which I've been using for years. (Anonymity seems to be the main benefit.)

This old article from 2012 showed up, and it's a pretty funny read in light of yesterday's Apple Pay announcement. :)

I wonder what changed Apple's mind....
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The iPhone uses a secure element which is what Google initially used - until it became apparent how easy it was to trigger the self destruct on the secure element rendering it useless, and as it is built into the phone - the only fix is a new phone. If you didn't unlink Google Wallet from the secure element before doing a factory reset, when you tried to use Google wallet again, the secure element would fry itself. Google learned their lesson and moved to Hosted Card Emulation. I hope Apple has thought this through.....
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John Costigan

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Was marketing really this bad in 1961?

"the FUN game that makes THINKING...fun!"
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Yes.. and now I cannot "un-see" it.
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I normally don't like to discuss politics in a public forum, but.... Does it seem to anyone else that the U.S. is putting a whole lot of faith in the (current) standing government in the Ukraine?  Despite the fact that it has been in existence for, what, maybe 6 months?

What if it turns out that this new administration is no better than the old one?  Or even worse?  Russia would look a whole lot better than the U.S. in that scenario.  I'm a huge U.S. nationalist, but (to be honest) I guess that result would seem to be the trend as of late....

I still haven't ruled out the possibility that this entire ordeal is one giant coups d'état by Putin to (re-)absorb the entirety of Ukraine.  In which case the U.S. is playing straight into that tactic.  I trust Putin less than I can throw Obama.... or something like that...
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are you politician haters ? sir
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Let the Fools' begin.  Not sure I want to upload any photos to Google+ today. :)
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very nice family
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Have him in circles
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Education
  • Virginia Tech
    M.S., Computer Science and Applications, 2001 - 2003
  • Virginia Tech
    B.S., Computer Science, 1999 - 2002
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gnuite
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Maemo Mapper creator gone Google
Introduction
Known online as gnuite, I am a Software Engineer by trade, currently working for Google in Mountain View, CA. I have a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science from Virginia Tech, with a concentration in Information Visualization. I began my full-time-professional career at Argon ST in Northern Virginia (since acquired by Boeing), but relocated across the country to California to work with Google and enjoy free lunches.

In addition to my professional work as a Software Engineer at Google, I also harbor a passion for software as a hobby, in the form of Free and Open Source Software. For example, I am the founder of open source software Maemo Mapper, one of the first projects that made its home in the Maemo GarageMaemo is an open-source embedded operating system targeted at internet tablet devices.

I am happily married to the beautiful Kristin Costigan, a.k.a. Kristin Von Kundra.

Disclaimer: I work for Google, but I do not speak for Google in any official capacity.  My thoughts in Google+ or elsewhere do not necessarily reflect those of Google or its affiliates.
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Software Engineer
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  • Google
    Senior Software Engineer, 2008 - present
  • Argon ST
    Software Engineer, 2003 - 2008
  • SAIC
    Junior Software Engineer, 2002 - 2003
  • Virginia Tech
    Undergraduate/Graduate Researcher, 2001 - 2003
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Sunnyvale, CA
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Mountain View, CA - Fayetteville, North Carolina - Fort Kobbe, Panama - Novato, California - Lavaca, Arkansas - De Ridder, Louisiana - Burke, Virginia - Centreville, Virginia
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