Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Flu Tall Tale

Your doctor is like a cab driver on a very rainy night with potholes all over the road. You're in good shape, he's a good driver who wants to get you where you need to be. But there are all sorts of hindrances and possible disasters in the way.

Right this minute, you aren't sick. You haven't shown symptoms of the new H1N1 influenza virus. Reports are that this bug can make someone feel really sick. Some theories hold that we are surrounded and inhabited by various viruses and bacteria all the time, but that our immune system, bolstered by our general health, keeps them harmlessly at bay.

There has been plenty of discussion in this blog about the dangers and lack of efficacy of any vaccine, including a flu shot. So there's one pothole we're going to avoid and tell our favorite physician sorry, no shot--no thanks again this year.

He shakes his head, like the cab driver who says, "You really want to go through that flooded street instead of over the bridge? In my cab?" And you say, "Trust me--that's a reflection. There's no flood--just drive." And he's still shaking his head telling you about endangering your family and children etc...

Now you handle a bunch of family business, professional business, and stress. You're losing sleep, and your body gives up on the immunity support because it's too busy dealing with your over-wracked brain.

You left the door open. So one of those virulent persistent mean little microscopic DNA/chromosomal poor-showing-for-a-cell wannabe flu viruses gets a foothold on your unsuspecting, unaware, unprotected cell tissue. As your body responds with all the antibody immunity it can muster, you start to feel really bad.

Billions of those little viruses--not one of which can live alone but has to parasitically feed off of one your cells--are causing your body to produce histamine, antibodies, fever, and more. Each of these reactions makes you feel awful. That's how nature cures you. No one said this would be easy, but it works and lasts forever.

The doctor used to tell you to stay home and rest. The cab driver used to drive more carefully and get you to the door...

NOW -- The cab driver says, "I've got wings and a sea-plane underpinning built into this cab, so we can FLY over the flood and avoid the bridge altogether--even get you to your destination that much sooner!"

What that means is that the doctor has told you about Tamiflu. Now that you have the flu (whether or not your kindly doctor has swabbed your throat for a culture to test for sure that it is one of any number of hundreds of influenza viruses, is another story), your doctor says that you can take a little pill the drug companies came up with, in case the vaccine doesn't work, which it doesn't, called "Tamiflu," which they tell you will lessen the painful symptoms of your body's immune system defense, and maybe even shorten the number of days you feel bad.

It's like a Disney movie where the good fairy waves her wand and the magic dust comes out and ... the flu goes away.

And if you're over 12 and you still believe in fairies, you should go get a flu shot and stock up on Tamiflu.

There are a couple of problems with the cab driver's wings and sea-plane landing gear--you're likely going to crash into the Hudson River without a floatation device and either be sick or dead: Tamiflu doesn't work.

That's not my big left-wing-reactionary-"I hate big pharma"-scream. It's a quote from the CDC (U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

The director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that the prescription drug Tamiflu isn't working against the virus strain that is causing this year's [2008] influenza in the United States.

Now, to really confuse you, the cab driver tells you to avoid the wings and sea-plane add-on after all, because he got a call from one of his fellow cab drivers with the same contraption, and that other cab is now sinking into the briny depths of the Hudson River--the wings were too small and the sea-plane buttress was made for a bicycle, not a car! But you don't know what the cab driver is talking about anyway because he doesn't speak English:

Confusing directions on liquid suspensions of the antiviral drug Tamiflu may inadvertently cause parents to give either too little of the drug, impeding the child's recovery, or a toxic overdose, physicians warned in a letter published Wednesday in the online version of the New England Journal of Medicine...

...Jacobson and her husband, an internist, had to do a Google search, then solve an equation to determine the correct dose: 5 ml. (volume of a teaspoon) x .75 x 12 mg./ml. of Tamiflu = 45 mg. It took them both working together for 30 minutes to solve the equation, and they suspect that many parents would have greater difficulty doing so.

I swear I'm not making this up. Except for the cab driver.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Lou Dobbs Wrong Again

I have been writing and referencing, in this blog, the positive cultural and economic effect immigrants have in our country.

Here is another expert's input which adds that there is a safety net due to immigration as well. Chris was asked about his book, Securing the City, about the efforts of the New York City Police Department to prevent terrorist attacks.

“Immigrants are a strength because they come to build lives and come to build the country. The NYPD doesn’t ask immigrants their status because you can’t have someone who is afraid of the police and then recruit informants [from immigrant communities]. CIA analysts have said that a big part of what goes on in the United States is the ‘American dream’. So the safest big cities in the United States are those with the highest number of first generation immigrants.” (Christopher Dickey interview in "Epoch Times")

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Back to School (The Prison Block)

My daughter's back in school. Prison. I mean school--it looks like a prison to me. No windows, cinder blocks for walls. One girl spoke out in class today and the teacher gave her a "detention." I think that means the girl has to be in a room without anything to do for at least an hour.

My daughter wanted to attend this school because it has a performing arts program that she wanted to be part of. Last year, in the 6th grade, she got too much homework. She didn't want me to tell her counselor she was unhappy with the amount of homework because she didn't want to call attention to herself.

My daughter got all these plaques and honors which we have used as wallpaper for her room because she is a top student in her class, of which there are 650 students.

I went to see her counsellor yesterday, her first day of 7th grade, because I didn't want to have a year again like last year--where my daughter couldn't have any extra-curricular activities, or see any friends on weekends, because she had so much homework to do for school.

Believe me, if my daughter, a top student among 650 students, has trouble finishing her homework and can't go out on weekends or have friends over because of the amount of homework, is having a problem with the amount of work required after spending 7 hours a day in school--then there is a problem, because the "average" student must by overwhelmed by this requirement.

And anyway, schools look like prisons, not like a place for children to be all day.

Now I find my daughter doesn't want to go to school. She doesn't like it and she doesn't like her teachers. I know this sounds familiar -- but she enjoyed school last year...except for the homework and "pressure." I know we adults have a lot of "pressure" and "homework" etc--but children deserve a childhood and a schooling that is nurturing and rewarding--not prison, with dictatorial unprofessional people who don't belong in the teaching profession, and "educators" who have no clue about what education is all about.

Which is what we have now.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Madonna Makes a Difference

How can one person make a difference? Unless you're
Oprah with an audience, or Obama with the power, how can someone step up and make a pathway for change?

I have believed since I can remember that a single individual can have influence beyond any conventional measure. Although Kirk tells Spock in an episode of the original series of Star Trek, "Mirror, Mirror," "One man can make a difference..." My influence did not originate with that.

When I worked as a volunteer for the election of anti-Vietnam War candidate Joseph Duffey for senator in Connecticut in 1970, I remember the slogan of one person making a difference from that time.

Turns out, with the passing of Senator Ted Kennedy, the memory returns of that saying coming up repeatedly throughout the 1960's from JFK, to Bobby, to Ted. In fact, Jacqueline Kennedy wrote the following on a card "...for an exhibit which travelled around the US when the John F. Kennedy Library in Boston was first opening (1979), quoted in Respectfully Quoted : A Dictionary of Quotations (1989) edited by Suzy Platt:" "One man can make a difference and every man should try."

Well, Madonna's not a man, and her outspoken remarks in Bucharest can indeed make a difference. Even though the headlines say she was booed for criticizing the discrimination against Gypsies while performing on stage in front of 60,000 fans --some observers say many people cheered as well.

"Roma, or Gypsies, are a nomadic ethnic group believed to have their roots in the Indian subcontinent. They live mostly in southern and eastern Europe, but hundreds of thousands have migrated west over the past few decades in search of jobs and better living conditions.

Romania has the largest number of Roma in the region. Some say the population could be as high as 2 million, although official data put it at 500,000.

Until the 19th century, Romanian Gypsies were slaves, and they've gotten a mixed response ever since..."

Madonna had this to say during her concert:

"It has been brought to my attention ... that there is a lot of discrimination against Romanies and Gypsies in general in Eastern Europe," she said. "It made me feel very sad."

Thousands booed and jeered her.

A few cheered when she added: "We don't believe in discrimination ... we believe in freedom and equal rights for everyone." But she got more boos when she mentioned discrimination against homosexuals and others...

Discrimination, bigotry, and prejudice are a human preoccupation worldwide. In the case of Gypsies, the Europeans may even have outdone Americans in the wrath of biased hatred of a single group.

It's always good to speak out against irrational hatred, and when a celebrity like Madonna takes a stand in front of thousands, it's even more effective.

If anyone wants to question the courage of such an act, let that person try telling off someone who makes a bigoted remark out loud. If you have the guts to do it, wait for the unreceptive reaction--it's never full of smiles and agreement. And it always makes a positive difference in at least one person's life.