A NOTE FROM PENNY: I'm on vacation ... resting my sciatic nerve via the confines of my recliner ... so here's a column from 2014 that reminds us that stupid stuff making headlines -- and what is more stupid than racism? -- is nothing new.

When my nephew Daniel was younger, he was taught that a person shouldn't use the word "stupid," as it wasn't very nice.

I think it was a lesson in preschool or something.

For a while, we had to watch ourselves around him and not use the "S" word just to help make the point. After all, it's not a very polite word. There is worse language that a person can use, but, especially in school, "stupid" isn't very kind.

Let me tell you, though, in adulthood, sometimes it's the only word that fits.

That's my thought, in a nutshell, over this whole whoop-dee-doo about some people not wanting to vaccinate their children, and the talk specifically this week is about immunization against the measles.

Suddenly, a number of parents don't want their kids to have the vaccine because they, for some reason, believe it will harm their youngsters, or it isn't necessary. And ... voila! Now we have a measles outbreak in several states.

Just what is it within a person that makes them think they somehow know better than decades of proven science? Or better than most doctors?

They don't get that "M.D." behind their names just because they scribble it there, you know.

As kids, we all got vaccinated against measles, polio, etc. Years ago, polio ran rampant and crippled many, many children -- spreading damage so much so that once a vaccine was available, parents lined up with their kids to wait as long as it took to get that immunization.

Maybe you've heard of a fella named Roosevelt who was wheelchair-bound due to polio. Most of us probably know someone who was and is affected by having polio when they were a child.

Measles isn't as bad, but it still can kill a person. Doctors who've seen cases of the measles spoke out this week, urging all parents to get their children vaccinated against the disease.

I watched interviews on TV with parents who are convinced that the measles vaccine caused children they know to have autism. There is no scientific basis for this. No study has found that to be true. But they aren't getting the measles immunization for their children because of their own belief.

Don't they understand that "conventional thinking" is "conventional" ("based on or in accordance with what is generally done or believed", aka, standard) for a reason?

I'm all for free thinking and using your own brain, and not following blindly behind the first fast-talking guy or gal who comes along.

But proven science it just that. Who on earth do these people think they are to second-guess it?

Now their children are more likely to get measles, and therefore potentially pass it along to another child. The danger just spreads, without the vaccine.

This has also brought up the issue of parents' rights. Where is the line between a parent's right to do what they think is best for their children and the government's responsibility to all children?

I'm not sure where that is exactly, but it falls before allowing parents to not get their children basic immunizations. Some politicians have hedged and said they're not sure it should be unlawful to refuse vaccines for a child, but I'm not hesitating. Basic immunizations should be required. Period.

What we really need is a vaccine that prevents stupid.

The above version of stupid just kind of ticks me off. Other stupidity on display this week makes me laugh, but just because I'd rather laugh than cry.

Maybe "stupid" is also the first thing you thought of when you read details about the Obama administration's new budget. And I'm sure Republicans won't counter with anything less laughable.

To me, the plan is idiotic on its face because it continues the huge deficit spending of which our government has made a habit throughout numerous White House administrations, Republican and Democratic alike. Funny ... I was always taught that if you didn't have the money for something, you just didn't do it.

And there's plenty of pork in the budget. For example, Obama's reached out to Kentuckians and others in coal country with a huge chunk of change to make up for the lagging coal industry due, in part, to emissions regulations that have caused power generators to back off of the use of this fossil fuel.

Then again, one man's pork is another man's bread and butter ... well, you know what I mean.

If the federal government wanted to prop up Mattoon or Charleston with some money to fill in the gaps for, say, the factories that have closed here over several years, we wouldn't see it as pork. We'd think we were simply getting our piece of the pie.

Speaking of federal spending, I did laugh out loud to see that good ol' FutureGen is probably really truly actually deep-sixed because there's no big chunk of funding for it coming from the Department of Energy.

Color me surprised.

Most of you know the long history of FutureGen, when Mattoon was chosen as a finalist for the project, then chosen as the final site for the effort.

Then the downhill slide took away the power plant aspect of it from Mattoon via what was dubbed "FutureGen 2.0," local officials subsequently withdrew from the revamped plan altogether, and now, a few slips and slides later, its vital signs appear gone for good.

I guess I shouldn't laugh at that. Such a reaction is kind of like a kid on the playground giggling because someone else took her toy and then it broke, so no one can play with it.

But I still laughed.

Lordy, lordy. Just watching the news every day is a roller coaster of stupid in all its forms. We need a vaccine for that.

Someone get right on it, will you?

Penny Weaver is the associate publisher and editor of the JG-TC. Her columns include her own opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views, opinion or editorial position of the JG-TC. Contact her at pweaver@jg-tc.com or 217-238-6863, and follow her on Twitter @PennyWeaver.

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