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Roald Dahl's Heartbreaking Take on Vaccines

Fri Jan 30, 2015 at 11:57 AM PST
Roald Dahl's Heartbreaking Take on Vaccines
by tmservo433

With so much debate around the seeming return of Measles - in part spurred by those who were not vaccinated, and putting more at risk, many friends have reminded me of this statement about the impact of Measles on child author Roald Dahl.


Olivia, my eldest daughter, caught measles when she was seven years old. As the illness took its usual course I can remember reading to her often in bed and not feeling particularly alarmed about it. Then one morning, when she was well on the road to recovery, I was sitting on her bed showing her how to fashion little animals out of coloured pipe-cleaners, and when it came to her turn to make one herself, I noticed that her fingers and her mind were not working together and she couldn't do anything.

"Are you feeling all right?" I asked her.

"I feel all sleepy," she said.

In an hour, she was unconscious. In twelve hours she was dead.

The measles had turned into a terrible thing called measles encephalitis and there was nothing the doctors could do to save her. That was twenty-four years ago in 1962, but even now, if a child with measles happens to develop the same deadly reaction from measles as Olivia did, there would still be nothing the doctors could do to help her.

On the other hand, there is today something that parents can do to make sure that this sort of tragedy does not happen to a child of theirs. They can insist that their child is immunised against measles. I was unable to do that for Olivia in 1962 because in those days a reliable measles vaccine had not been discovered. Today a good and safe vaccine is available to every family and all you have to do is to ask your doctor to administer it.

It is not yet generally accepted that measles can be a dangerous illness. Believe me, it is. In my opinion parents who now refuse to have their children immunised are putting the lives of those children at risk. In America, where measles immunisation is compulsory, measles like smallpox, has been virtually wiped out.

Here in Britain, because so many parents refuse, either out of obstinacy or ignorance or fear, to allow their children to be immunised, we still have a hundred thousand cases of measles every year. Out of those, more than 10,000 will suffer side effects of one kind or another. At least 10,000 will develop ear or chest infections. About 20 will die.


Every year around 20 children will die in Britain from measles.

So what about the risks that your children will run from being immunised?

They are almost non-existent. Listen to this. In a district of around 300,000 people, there will be only one child every 250 years who will develop serious side effects from measles immunisation! That is about a million to one chance. I should think there would be more chance of your child choking to death on a chocolate bar than of becoming seriously ill from a measles immunisation.

So what on earth are you worrying about? It really is almost a crime to allow your child to go unimmunised.

The ideal time to have it done is at 13 months, but it is never too late. All school-children who have not yet had a measles immunisation should beg their parents to arrange for them to have one as soon as possible.

Incidentally, I dedicated two of my books to Olivia, the first was 'James and the Giant Peach'. That was when she was still alive. The second was 'The BFG', dedicated to her memory after she had died from measles. You will see her name at the beginning of each of these books. And I know how happy she would be if only she could know that her death had helped to save a good deal of illness and death among other children.

As the parent of an autistic child, I wanted to add a little something to this - more below the fold.

Over the last few years, a pervasive hysteria has grown, linking the use of vaccines to maladies without any scientific basis or real study. This linkage has led seemingly rational people to make irrational decisions. More importantly, for those of us in the autism community, anti-vaxxer advocates have done considerable harm to real research that may help those with autism.


“Disease Risks” and “Autism Correction” had slightly better results, but neither seemed to convince parents. And while “Autism Correction” proved to some parents that there’s no link between vaccines and autism, it produced a strong backlash in others that just reinforced their sense that vaccinations are a conspiracy theory. Only 45% of the already anti-vaccine parents said they would vaccinate after they saw the “Autism Correction” message, compared to 70% of the control group.

Autism is a baffling and difficult to grasp problem that causes many a parent a sleepless night. The need to find a reason - any reason - for autism is gutwrenching, a question parents ask each other: 'why did this happen'. The fixation on conspiracy theory laden anti-vaccination themes, though, is one of the most harmful for real research.

By portraying autism as a matter of a modern fluke, due to vaccines that have been around for decades without similar results we aren't just anti-vaccine, we start to be anti-finding real answers.

Because the range of autistm is very wide - thus why we call it a spectrum - the inbuilt need to equate all of it as having a single root forces far too many autistic parents to step back and say 'no, it wasn't a vaccine', and it puts too many children in the role of being seen as 'permanently damaged' by those who want the vaccine theory to be true.

Think about this: the anti-vaccine movement is telling you they would rather risk the death of their child rather than an unbelievable longshot - even in their own, non-scientifically supported view - of autism. Even those who believe that vaccines=autism acknowledge that in their fever dream of non-science that the impact is a small percentage. But that small percentage is so scary to them that their child's death is OK to avoid it. Talk about a stigma to put on those with autism.

There is a saying amongst Scientologists - yes, those kooky L Ron Hubbard followers - "If it isn't the truth for you, it isn't true for you." This circular argument basically means: if you don't believe it, no matter how many people tell you it is the truth, you have no reason to accept it.

But any parent who has read James and the Giant Peach, or any of Dahl's other works can appreciate a man who lost his child due to an illness we can now prevent.


Tweet of the Day

Texas bill will allow teachers to kill students to protect school 'property'

Thu Jan 29, 2015 at 10:48 AM PST
Texas bill will allow teachers to kill students to protect school 'property'
by Hunter

Two men with rifles inside a Chipotle restaurant
Texas, where you may need to shoot someone at any moment.

This may be the most Texas thing I have ever heard.

The Lone Star State already permits teachers to have firearms in the classroom, but H.B. 868, also known as the Teacher’s Protection Act, would authorize instructors to use “force or deadly force on school property, on a school bus, or at a school-sponsored event in defense of the educator’s person or in defense of students of the school that employs the educator.” Instructors would also have the right to use deadly force “in defense of property of the school that employs the educator.” Moreover, civil immunity would be granted to those who use deadly force, meaning they would not be liable for the injury or death of student.

Having a teacher whip out his or her trusty sidearm to protect one's students from encroaching bears or Muslims or one of Texas's many, many other proud gun toters who may have momentarily lost one's mind is one thing, but instructing teachers that they are to use deadly force in defense of school property and that they don't have to worry about getting sued afterwards, now that adds a whole new layer o' Texas. Presumably this new law is needed because on occasion teachers have come across students defacing school lockers and have been previously unclear on whether or not that is sufficient grounds to shoot them in the head (answer: yes!) or because little Timmy (oh, who am I kidding, little Miguel) is preparing to carve his initials into a desk and only a teacher's well-placed bullet can stop the destruction of school property that is about to occur. (This also stands to make turn-in-your-textbooks day considerably more exciting. Better hope I don't see any penned-in mustaches in your history book, you little snots.)

I'm honestly trying to come up with a scenario in which having a teacher execute someone on campus "in defense of" school "property" does not sound like the dumbest thing anyone has ever proposed, and I'm drawing a blank. Perhaps the bill's author, State Rep. Dan Flynn (R-BecauseDuh), has this sketched out in his own mind, but the rest of us may need a bit more explanation. Then again, summary execution for property crimes has been high on the Texas list of must-have laws for some time now, so expanding it to every teacher at your kid's school must no doubt be considered a perfectly logical extension.


Actual op-ed headline: 'End Obamacare, and people could die. That's okay.'

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 07:17 AM PST
Actual op-ed headline: 'End Obamacare, and people could die. That's okay.'
by Laura Clawson

Making the case that it's okay if repealing Obamacare kills people appears to be the new front in pro-repeal arguments. The American Enterprise Institute's Michael R. Strain takes that one to the op-ed pages of the Washington Post, hinging his case on the notion that if the government really cared about keeping people from dying, the speed limit would be 10 miles per hour. The speed limit goes much higher than 10 mph, so therefore the government also should be fine yanking health care from millions of people. Because zomgnannystatestrawman:

Consider this question: Should society have as its goal that the government prevents all deaths from any health-related ailment other than natural causes associated with ripe old age? The notion is absurd — to both conservatives and liberals. There are limits to the proper amount of scarce resources, funded by taxpayers, that Washington should redirect toward health care.

The notion is absurd! Ignore that it's not what we're talking about when we talk about Obamacare. We're talking about people not dying or being forced into bankruptcy by illnesses or injuries that our medical system can absolutely cure or manage. If you can afford it. Which many, many people could not until the passage of Obamacare.

Strain's whole argument boils down to "screw the little people," though he works hard to erect enough straw men and redirections to pretend that what he's really talking about is a viable replacement that would bring FREEDOM and not direct so many scarce resources to useless crap like health care. Obviously, stuff like this goes unmentioned:

The end of the year finds the uninsured rate 30 percent lower this year than in 2013. And healthcare spending grew slower in 2013 than it had in the past 53 years. Oh, and the law helped save 50,000 lives because it's made hospitals safer. Enrollments have outpaced expectations, and it looks like the uninsured rate could reach historic lows by the end of this enrollment period.

But, look. Why pay attention to little things like that when you could be embracing the idea that we could repeal Obamacare and be okay with the resulting deaths?


TOM TOMORROW: Science stuff

Mon Jan 26, 2015 at 06:50 AM PST
Cartoon: Science stuff
by Tom Tomorrow


BOROWITZ REPORT: Six Weeks’ Paid Leave Opposed By People With Thirty-Three Weeks’ Paid Leave

January 22, 2015
Six Weeks’ Paid Leave Opposed By People With Thirty-Three Weeks’ Paid Leave
By Andy Borowitz

WASHINGTON (The Borowitz Report)—President Obama’s proposal to give workers six weeks of paid leave is meeting strong opposition from a group of people who annually receive thirty-three weeks of paid leave.

Members of the group heard the President’s proposal on Tuesday night, one of the few nights of the year when they are required to report to their workplace.

The opponents of paid leave, who show up for work a hundred and thirty-seven days per year and receive paid leave for the other two hundred and twenty-eight, were baffled by other moments in the President’s speech.

For example, they were confused by Obama’s challenge to try to survive on a full-time job that pays fifteen thousand dollars, since they all currently hold a part-time job that pays a hundred and seventy-four thousand dollars.



For those who missed it -- The White House had a luncheon today for the media covering tonight's State of Union address.

There were place cards at each table setting. The place cards read: NY Times News, CBS News, NBC News, CNN News, etc.

But the place card for Fox read "FOX".

I understand that the FOX folks are terribly insulted.

h/t Mayfly at Dailykos

Florida teen saves life of Fort Lauderdale police officer as he is being arrested

Florida teen saves life of Fort Lauderdale police officer as he is being arrested
David Edwards
13 Jan 2015 at 15:12 ET

Teenager Jamal Rutledge poses with Sgt. Todd Bunin and Officers Franklin Foulks, Robert Norvis and Raymond Ketchmark (Fort Lauderdale Police Department)

A Florida teenager was honored on Tuesday for helping to save the life of a Fort Lauderdale police officer who was processing his arrest for a parole violation.

Video released by the Fort Lauderdale Police Department shows Officer Franklin Foulks processing Jamal Rutledge after he was arrested for criminal mischief and burglary probation violations, according to WTVJ.

When Foulks suddenly collapsed, Rutledge “immediately began to kick the security fence and yell to alert officers in the area,” a statement from the Fort Lauderdale Police Department said.

Sgt. Todd Bunin responded by contacting police dispatch. Officers Robert Norvis and Raymond Ketchmark quickly arrived to assist Bunin. The officers administered CPR and used an Automated External Defibrillator device to attempt to restore Foulks’ heart rhythm...


Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions

Just 90 companies caused two-thirds of man-made global warming emissions
Suzanne Goldenberg, US environment correspondent
Wednesday 20 November 2013 11.07 EST

The climate crisis of the 21st century has been caused largely by just 90 companies, which between them produced nearly two-thirds of the greenhouse gas emissions generated since the dawning of the industrial age, new research suggests.

The companies range from investor-owned firms – household names such as Chevron, Exxon and BP – to state-owned and government-run firms...


..."There are thousands of oil, gas and coal producers in the world," climate researcher and author Richard Heede at the Climate Accountability Institute in Colorado said. "But the decision makers, the CEOs, or the ministers of coal and oil if you narrow it down to just one person, they could all fit on a Greyhound bus or two."

Half of the estimated emissions were produced just in the past 25 years – well past the date when governments and corporations became aware that rising greenhouse gas emissions from the burning of coal and oil were causing dangerous climate change...


...Meanwhile, Oreskes, who has written extensively about corporate-funded climate denial, noted that several of the top companies on the list had funded the climate denial movement.

"For me one of the most interesting things to think about was the overlap of large scale producers and the funding of disinformation campaigns, and how that has delayed action," she said...


Obama To Disband the Marine Corps

Thu Jan 01, 2015 at 01:26 PM PST
Obama To Disband the Marine Corps
by SemDem

You didn't know this, did you?

On a flight home I sat in between two individuals, a Marine and boxing promoter. The boxing guy was an older gentleman, and told interesting stories, such as meeting Don King. Both men were very pleasant and that helped make time pass on the flight. We were all combat veterans and all Southerners, so we had a lot in common. Then the discussion, inevitably, turned to politics.

The older guy turned to the Marine and said "You know Obama is getting rid of the Marine Corps, right?"

The Marine was puzzled. He hadn't heard this news. Neither had I. "Yeah, Eric Holder just had a meeting with the Joint Chiefs. Obama is going to disband them by Executive Order."

Hooooo boy. We are going to do this now, are we? Putting aside for the moment why the head of the DOJ would be involved with restructuring a military department in the DoD, I said: "I don't think any president can just disband a branch of service. Also, this would be pretty big news. Don't you think it would be all over the news instead of a message board?" I assumed it was a message board because I follow GOP conspiracy theories on rightwing sites, and never heard of this one. Even the Marine, who was no Obama fan, agreed this sounded very stupid and we moved on to other topics.

We all parted ways and thanked each other for the talk. I told the Marine I'd see him on my flight back since there soon wouldn't be a base for him to go to.

Sure enough, I got back home and did some checking on the interwebs. Although I couldn't find anything about Obama disbanding the Corps, I did find a story that Obama was going to disband the National Guard and Reserves by fall of this year, a post that Hillary Clinton is, in fact, going to dismantle the Marine Corps, and various other hysteria/delusions in the mind of a brainwashed conservative.

I thought about the flight and wondered, how can such a seemingly intelligent, normal man suddenly suspend logic and spout such nonsense?

How can, on one hand, we discuss rationally our jobs, our cars, our families, and then BOOM, a switch goes off and FEMA camps, immigrant take-over, birth certificate time-travel, Sandy Hook being a hoax, and the ever present secret army of "jack-booted thugs" (you know, the bad kind who take your guns away, not the good kind who shoot unarmed brown people).

Paranoia, fear, contempt... it's disturbing. I think to myself, do you ever listen to how stupid this all sounds? We are coming to the end of Obama's two terms. Gun rights haven't been curtailed in the least. If anything, they've expanded and it's easier to get a gun than ever before. Also, no one was taken into camps and locked up (unless you count the record number of undocumented immigrants Obama allowed that to happen to before deportation).

Even the conspiracy theories have gotten lamer. It went from all of us being destroyed to Michelle Obama wants to take dessert away. No. Seriously.

Fox News just reported that Obama is going to ban doughnuts!

And not just doughnuts. Watch the report. Obama's jack-booted FDA is coming after (and they list these) popcorn, Christmas cookies (ohhh he hates Christmas!), crackers, frozen pizza, and canned frosting. Fox News host Clayton Morris actually said they would be prohibited!

Hoooo boy. I shouldn't have to explain this, but what they are referring to is the FDA ban on trans-fat, which was enacted well over a year ago. Trans-fat isn't needed to make anything, and has already been eliminated by doughnut companies for years! (This includes the stupid doughnuts Morris was displaying.) In other words, trans-fat is a dangerous, non-essential ingredient that has already been replaced. No one gave flying f***.

Yet Fox is lying to its viewers, again, and telling them that this year your favorite desserts will be BANNED! As Cenk said in the video, it is pretty much guaranteed that one of your brainwashed relatives will state, matter-of-factly, that Obama is banning doughnuts. It was on the "news".

Yet in a few months, when we see that our doughnuts are still on the shelves and no one is trying to take them, the Fox viewer will not once ever stop and say to himself--"Hey, they lied to me!". That is because he will already be outraged at the next lie. The cycle will continue, and I'll keep trying to get through.

To all of my conservative friends, past, present, and those I'll meet on flights in the future: Can one of your New Year's resolutions be that when you hear something SO INCREDIBLE about your president or, in fact, any politician, that you will put a minimum amount of effort to verifying it is true before you spout it as fact? Just ONE google search will usually do it.

That's all I ask. You'll seem more normal, less gullible, and you'll find that people will enjoy your company without suddenly questioning your intelligence.

Happy New Year my friends, and Benghazi.

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