V for Vaccine: A slightly rude film with a powerful point

January 10, 2013

A couple of kids in the Dallas area have died already from influenza — neither had been vaccinated against it.  Deaths have occurred across the nation, frequently in young, otherwise healthy people.

Nasty flu bugs going around this year, and the every-year epidemic has hit about two months early.  One part of the good news is that the vaccines this year are especially well-suited to target the viruses that cause the trouble.  The vaccines work well every year, but especially well in 2012 and 2013.

The bad news is that millions of people haven’t bothered to get vaccinated. That’s not good.

  1. Under Obamacare, there’s no copay for insurance for a flu shot.  It’s “free” if you have any kind of insurance. In addition, county health offices offer the vaccines for free to any comers.  A couple of weeks ago at the pharmacy I stood behind a woman who confessed she’d not gotten a flu shot (pharmacies are pushing vaccinations these days, to promote their mini-clinics).  “I’ve got that crappy teachers’ insurance,” she told the technician.  “It never pays for anything like that.”  The tech looked it up, and told her that her copay was zero, and her insurance paid for it — essentially a free shot, to her.  On the way into the clinic she said, “I’ve never gotten a flu shot before.”  Oy.
  2. Think Herd Immunity:  Are you usually healthy?  Great.  But if you’re pregnant, or you work around people who are or may be pregnant, or if you’re over 60, or if you have any chronic condition like diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic sinusitis, or a raft of other things, you’re at risk, and you put others in those risk categories at risk.  My grandfather worked at a hospital while my mother and my oldest brother were living with him; after a week of my grandfather’s working in the polio ward, my brother came down with the disease.  Of course we don’t know for sure, but my grandfather kicked himself for 40 years, until his death, because he thought he’d brought home the disease my brother caught.  With vaccines, those incidents become much more rare.

Risking this blog’s G rating, I’m going to post this film, “V for Vaccine.”  Found it at New Anthropocene.  Turn up your offense filter, or ignore the language — but pay attention to what this guy says, PowerM1985:

Is it worth getting your children vaccinated if it risked them becoming autistic? In this video I give a short demonstration of why I personally believe that even if there was a risk of my child becoming autistic (AND THERE IS NOT!) I would still get them vaccinated.

You should probably know that the work of the Centers for Disease Control to correctly predict which strains of the viruses will be most prevalent, and get vaccines that will fight those viruses, has been very, very good this year.

  • Influenza A (H3N2), 2009 influenza A (H1N1), and influenza B viruses have all been identified in the U.S. this season. During the week of December 23-29, 2,346 of the 2,961 influenza positive tests reported to CDC were influenza A and 615 were influenza B viruses. Of the 1,234 influenza A viruses that were subtyped, 98% were H3 viruses and 2% were 2009 H1N1 viruses.
  • Since October 1, 2012, CDC has antigenically characterized 413 influenza viruses, including 17 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses, 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses and 115 influenza B viruses.
    • All 17 of the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) viruses were characterized as A/California/7/2009-like. This is the influenza A (H1N1) component of the Northern Hemisphere vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.
    • Of the 281 influenza A (H3N2) viruses, 279 (99%) were characterized as A/Victoria/361/2011-like. This is the influenza A (H3N2) component of the Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine for the 2012-2013 season.
    • Approximately 69% of the 115 influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Yamagata lineage of viruses, and were characterized as B/Wisconsin/1/2010-like, the influenza B component for the 2012-2013 Northern Hemisphere influenza vaccine. The remaining 31% of the tested influenza B viruses belonged to the B/Victoria lineage of viruses.

What are you waiting for?  Go get a flu shot!

More:

English: This is CDC Clinic Chief Nurse Lee An...

This is CDC Clinic Chief Nurse Lee Ann Jean-Louis extracting Influenza Virus Vaccine, Fluzone® from a 5 ml. vial. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Graphic on influenza, 2013 - Flu.gov

Information from Flu.gov; click image to get to active Flu Vaccine Finder


Montreal baby experiences terror of being ‘lifted up by eagle’s wings’ (hoax?)

December 19, 2012

East Coast son Kenny sent this video, noting his reaction was the same as the guy in the film; an encounter with a golden eagle in a Montreal park:

You can take the eagle out of the wild, but you can’t take the wild out of the eagle.

Looks mostly like a golden eagle to me — anyone want to make the case it’s a different bird?

What’s going on in Montreal, I wonder, that would make a golden eagle think a human baby might make a good meal?  (No, I don’t think the bird was trying to give the kid a thrill.)

Other reports of similar incidents around Montreal?

Update:  WHAT?  IT’S FAKED? Thoughtful reader Luisa in comments refers us to Chris Clarke’s Original Blog™ Coyote Crossing, which updates from expert birder Kenn Kauffman who says, as I wondered, it’s not a golden eagle, and other things look hoaxed. (While you’re looking around, check out Luisa’s Crow and Raven; bird photos that will make you jealous.)  You’d think an incident like that would have made it to the newspapers and television stations in Montreal, but I’ve found nothing — have you?)

Update, December 19, 2012:  Now the CBC covers the tale,  noting that it is most likely a hoax.  The film’s maker or YouTube poster has not defended it that I can find.  Watch carefully — the “baby” doesn’t move during the time it’s on the ground, through the bird’s plucking it up and dropping it.  There’s plenty of time to swap a dummy out with a real kid in the stroller while the camera is pointed away.  CBC found a Montreal ornithologist who claims it looks more like an osprey than an eagle.  I’ll buy that.

More:


Keeping warm at Lambeau Field in Green Bay

December 9, 2012

Lambeau Field in the snow, Green Bay fan's view

Picture from the end zone (a favorite place for true Green Bay fans) during a football game at Lambeau Field, with weather much like tonight’s game. (photo via Tumblr for FullMetalStarterJacket).  This is a color picture.

Dad texts the kids:

“You guys got what you need to stay warm [at Lambeau Field in Green Bay]?”

Kids answer:

“We have plenty of green body paint.”


Documentary film worth seeing: “The Other ‘F’ Word” at the Texas Theatre

November 20, 2011

Here’s the trailer:

Kathryn and I caught it last night at the renovated, historic Texas Theatre on Jefferson Avenue in Oak Cliff (formerly an independent town, now a sprawling neighborhood of Dallas).  The audience enthusiasm didn’t overpower the movie — the audience was much smaller than the film deserves.

It’s showing again this afternoon and Wednesday night at the Texas.

Advantages of seeing this at the Texas:

  1. Parking is easy and free after 4:00 p.m. on Jefferson Avenue.
  2. The bar has Mothership beer on tap (and a variety of other good libations).
  3. Popcorn is cheaper than at most megaplexes, plus it doesn’t taste as if made from petroleum by-product (which is not to say it is healthy, but that it may be less unhealthy).
  4. History point 1:  This is a near-Art Deco theatre built originally by Howard Hughes.
  5. History point 2:  This is the theatre in which Lee Harvey Oswald was captured in his flight from the scene of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.
  6. It’s a great film.
  7. It’s a great theatre to view great films in.

Punk never made a great impression on me.  But at length, years later, I think I understand part of the angst and noise of the punkers, thanks to this film.  The description at the YouTube trailer:

THE OTHER F WORD
directed by Andrea Blaugrund Nevins
produced by Cristan Reilly and Andrea Blaugrund Nevins

IN THEATERS NOVEMBER 2ND, 2011
http://www.theotherfwordmovie.com/

This revealing and touching film asks what happens when a generation’s ultimate anti-authoritarians — punk rockers — become society’s ultimate authorities — dads. With a large chorus of punk rock’s leading men – Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, Red Hot Chili Peppers’ Flea, Rise Against’s Tim McIlrath – THE OTHER F WORD follows Jim Lindberg, a 20-year veteran of the skate punk band Pennywise, on his hysterical and moving journey from belting his band’s anthem “F–k Authority,” to embracing his ultimately authoritarian role in mid-life: fatherhood.

Other dads featured in the film include skater Tony Hawk, Art Alexakis (Everclear), Mark Mothersbaugh (Devo), Tony Adolescent (The Adolescents), Fat Mike (NOFX), Lars Frederiksen (Rancid), and many others.

These are Tea Partiers with a cause and a brain, and a sense of social responsibility.  Lindberg said, near the end of the movie:

That’s what I want to hold on to, is that feeling that we can make a change out there.  Maybe the way we change the world is by raising better kids.

Readers of this blog may note the great irony in one of the chief profiles of the film being of Ron Reyes, a member of early West Coast punk band Black Flag, who quit the band in the middle of a set to protest the violence that afflicted the Los Angeles punk scene, and moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, to raise his kids well.

Heck, it’s probably a great film to see even if you can’t see it at the Texas.

(You know, I’ve got some shots of our tour of the Texas Theatre in August . . . hmm . . . where are those pictures?  Other computer?)


“Here’s to the troublemakers”: Labor Day letter from Linda Chavez-Thompson, candidate for Lt. Gov.

September 6, 2010

Worrying about education on Labor Day, with good reason — I get e-mail from the woman who would make a great lieutenant governor in Texas:

Queridos Amigos,

As you light up the grill and enjoy some well-deserved relaxation with family and friends, I hope you will take a moment to reflect on a question I like to ask myself every Labor Day. 


What kind of trouble am I willing to cause?

We forget how indebted we are to a brave group of forgotten heroes, all of who were labeled troublemakers in their day.  They bucked the status quo, stepping out of line to stand up for the dignity of every human being. Their bravery was often met with a baton, or the butt of a pistol, but they showed that the human spirit can not be silenced.

Their names seldom make the history books, but we owe these troublemakers for many of the blessings we take for granted today —including the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage, vacations, and child labor laws.

So what are we willing to step out of line for?

This past Saturday a group of over 30 volunteers joined my campaign team to go door-to-door in Brownsville, Texas.  I want to send a special thanks to County Commissioners John Wood and Sophia Benavides, as well as Jared Hockema, the Vice Chair of the Cameron County Democratic Party for helping inspire the crowd.

Stirring up their own brand of trouble, they got South Texas parents to sign the “Linda Chavez Thompson Today, Tomorrow and November 2nd Pledge” — pledging to do more to help kids succeed in school, to stand up for candidates who support education, and pledging to show up a the polls on November 2nd.

Today millions of jobs are being created in science, technology, engineering and math.  But instead of investing in education so our kids can compete for these jobs, Rick Perry and David Dewhurst and have led the Texas economy to the greatest share of minimum wage jobs.

We can do better. And in real conversations in Brownsville, Texas, parents and grandparents told us time and again they want more for their kids.

Labor Day is here folks.  Enjoy your time with family today.  Give thanks for all your blessings.  And then get ready to step out of line and challenge the status quo.

Here’s to the troublemakers,

Linda Chavez-Thompson

Teachers make great trouble, as everyone knows — which is why Socrates was condemned to death, why Booker T. Washington is so feared, and why the world’s greatest democrats always support education — like Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, James Madison, Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and Lyndon Johnson, to mention a few education-supporting presidents.

Strike a blow against ignorance:  Give a few bucks to Chavez-Thompson’s campaign, or sign up to help out if you live in Texas.


High rates of drowning: Why is there a racial disparity in drowning deaths?

August 16, 2010

Congress granted a national charter to the American Red Cross to perform emergency services, and to teach people to swim, to prevent drowning, as part of the disaster-readiness services of the organization originally founded in 1881.  Many of us got our first swim lessons under the direction of a Water Safety Instructor trained and certified by the Red Cross; some of us went on to get WSI certification to teach swimming and lifesaving.

But for some reasons, these drowning prevention measures are not working to save the lives of African Americans as well as for everybody else.

NPR’s Talk of the Nation carried a story about the problem in today’s edition (available on-line here, a 30-minute story):

Swimming Disparity
The drowning deaths of six black teens in Louisiana renewed questions about the long-standing disparity between those Americans who can swim and those who can’t. Neither the teens who drowned nor their families who watched from shore could swim.  According to the CDC the rate of fatal drowning is highest among African-American children ages 5-14 (three times that of white children in the same age range) due to a combination of social, economic and cultural issues. Neal Conan talks about what causes the dangerous disparity in swimming, and how to recognize and assist someone who’s drowning.

Drowning rates run even higher for Native Americans.

Race disparities in drownings in the U.S.; AP chart via NPR

Race disparities in drownings in the U.S.; AP chart via NPR

More than 30 people have died in drowning accidents already this year in Texas alone — victims of all races — after a terrible 2009 record.  About 3,500 people die in the U.S. from drowning every year.  Most of these accidental deaths could have been prevented with the use of personal flotation devices, and may have been preventable had the people involved had basic drownproofing, or swimming, or lifesaving instruction.

(Remember this mantra:  Reach; throw; row; go.  Only after attempts to reach for the victim, perhaps with a pole, or throw a flotation device, or row a boat, should anyone including a well-trained lifesaver, go into the water to retrieve someone drowning.)

Where can people get instruction on how to prevent drownings?  Red Cross courses are offered at countless community pools — those pools are, alas, generally the first services cut back when cities and counties trim budgets, as they have been trimming since the start of our nation’s financial woes in 2008.    Other good sources of anti-drowning instruction are the YMCA, Girl Scouts, and Boy Scouts.

I received lifesaving instruction at community pools, and in Red Cross sanctioned programs at Brigham Young University and the University of Utah.  I earned the Swimming, Lifesaving, Rowing and Canoeing merit badges in Scouting, and I taught rowing and canoeing at a Scout camp and another camp, and I taught Red Cross Lifesaving for several years as a WSI.

Even in Dick Schwendiman’s astounding Advanced First Aid course at the University of Utah, I didn’t learn the following stuff about drowning, however (another Red Cross certified course).  Regardless whether you can get a lifesaving course, or if you’ve had one, you need to go read Mario Vittone’s stuff on drowning, and how to recognize when someone in the water needs help:

Button, Drowning doesn't look like drowning

The new captain jumped from the cockpit, fully dressed, and sprinted through the water. A former lifeguard, he kept his eyes on his victim as he headed straight for the owners who were swimming between their anchored sportfisher and the beach. “I think he thinks you’re drowning,” the husband said to his wife. They had been splashing each other and she had screamed but now they were just standing, neck-deep on the sand bar. “We’re fine, what is he doing?” she asked, a little annoyed. “We’re fine!” the husband yelled, waving him off, but his captain kept swimming hard. ”Move!” he barked as he sprinted between the stunned owners. Directly behind them, not ten feet away, their nine-year-old daughter was drowning. Safely above the surface in the arms of the captain, she burst into tears, “Daddy!”

How did this captain know – from fifty feet away – what the father couldn’t recognize from just ten? Drowning is not the violent, splashing, call for help that most people expect. The captain was trained to recognize drowning by experts and years of experience. The father, on the other hand, had learned what drowning looks like by watching television. If you spend time on or near the water (hint: that’s all of us) then you should make sure that you and your crew knows what to look for whenever people enter the water. Until she cried a tearful, “Daddy,” she hadn’t made a sound.

You’ll find that life-saving article at Mario Vittone’s blog on boater safety. If you are a teen ager, a parent, a grandparent, or you ever swim, you need to read that article.  (Thanks to P. Z. Myers at Pharyngula for pointing the way to that post.)

Will you help save a life, please?

Resources:


It takes a choir to sing, “It takes a village”

August 4, 2009

Kathryn sings with the Arlington Master Chorale.  Last week they performed for the Texas Choir Directors Association Convention in San Antonio.  Randy Jordan leads and directs the group.

Before the San Antonio performance, they sang the program at St. Marks Episcopal Church in Arlington, a beautifully spare performance space suited well to a hundred good, mature voices.

Joan Szymko‘s “It Takes A Village” made a stunning and rousing finale for the concert.  The piece opens with the choir tapping their chests for a heartbeat rhythm, which by itself stirs an audience when performed by so many.  It features a simple melody and lyric, though inspiring when done en masse or with a good solo.

And it packs an integral political message.  The text is that same phrase that became a watershed between conservatives and liberals in the 1990s.

Cut to the chase:  Hillary Clinton was right, and so especially was the Children’s Defense Fund right, and Jane Cowen-Fletcher right, about our collective obligation to raise the next generations.  When pared down to the basic claim as sung by a good or ambitious choir, it’s an inspiration.

It takes a whole village to raise the children.
It takes the whole village to raise one child.

We all — everyone — must share the burden.
We all — everyone — will share the joy.

Some music is best experienced live, and this may be one.  There are several recordings of this piece available on YouTube, not one done so well as the Arlington Master Chorale last week in my opinion (the choir directors loved it, too, I hear).

Here are two performances of the piece, each done very differently from the other.  Until some enterprising group makes a more polished and better recorded video of the Arlington group, these will have to do (there are other versions on YouTube).

It is particularly spine-tingling to hear and see it performed by our children.  When sung with gusto, the thought transcends and soars over politics.  Song tells truths of the heart that politics needs to hear, and feel, and experience.

The Oklahoma All-State Choir

Oklahoma All-State Choir

Performed by the 2009 All-OMEA Mixed Chorus (Oklahoma All-State Choir).
Clinician: Johnathan Reed
Accompanist: Ron Wallace

Mt. Eden, Tennyson High and Hayward High Honor Choir at Chabot College (California)

Are there good, commercially-available recordings of this song?  Please note them in comments.  If you are a commercial music producer, I recommend the Arlington Master Chorale’s performance for recording.

 


Oops: International Literacy Day sneaked past

September 13, 2008

Dear Readers, you forgot to remind me!

UN poster for International Literacy Day 2008

UN poster for International Literacy Day 2008

September 8 was International Literacy Day. It’s one day a year to help promote the decade-long project of the United Nations General Assembly, through UNESCO, to improve literacy across the planet.

On International Literacy Day each year, UNESCO reminds the international community of the status of literacy and adult learning globally.

Despite many and varied efforts, literacy remains an elusive target: some 774 million adults lack minimum literacy skills; one in five adults is still not literate and two-thirds of them are women; 75 million children are out-of-school and many more attend irregularly or drop out.

But then, most of us missed each of the previous five International Literacy Days of the Literacy Decade.  The good news is that we still have five opportunities before the end of the Literacy Decade, in 2012.  The other good news is that the celebration will probably continue past 2012, as it has for nearly 40 years already.

But enough of the celebration — how about doing something about literacy and reading?  Start out with this great post from Farm School, with dozens of links to and about good, mostly sorta new books you ought to be reading and giving to your kids.

Who do you kiss on International Literacy Day? An author?  A publisher?  A bookseller?  A librarian? A teacher of reading?  A reader?


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