Our indefatigable Anne Dachel passed along a story Friday with the kind of title we are by now immune to, so to speak: "The Dangerous History of Anti-Vaccine Comspiracies," by Jeffrey Kopman. It was the usual mashup -- mishmash is probably a better word -- of Andy Wakefield being a fraudster, and the horrifying attack of mutant killer illnesses, and parents being so profoundly deluded as to think their child had a life-wrecking vaccine reaction just because their child had a vaccine followed by a life-wrecking reaction. (They are not the same thing!) How dare these benighted parents tell anyone such a tale, when endless scientific "experts" say it didn't happen because it couldn't happen? How very dare they?
But this article, as the Church Lady would say, was special: the piece was published by The Weather Channel, of all places. And its first paragraph is quite a piece of work: "Forty-three years after the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine hit the mainstream, the disease is still flaring across the country — as are mumps, rubella and whooping cough."
Now say whut, exactly? MMR disease is still flaring, as are mumps, rubella and whooping cough? Not gonna happen. Like all Gaul, the MMR is divided in three -- their cumulus total is not another disease, unless you want to count autism (snicker, snicker). These people, they make fun of our lack of scientific understanding and then they start off like that?
On a happier note, I was really glad to see that Paul Krugman is retiring from Princeton and heading to City University, in part because he wants a vibrant big-city milieu (he mentioned Zabar's, a specialty food store on the Upper West Side), and also to focus more sharply on the issue of income inequality.
Not that there's anything wrong with Princeton. What makes me happy, rather, is that Paul is my age, 61, shares my political outlook, and even my college class, and is serving notice that he's not letting up, he's bearing down on what he cares about most. And he's enjoying himself.
I can dig it.
Another thing I can dig is that our friend (and not just the Facebook kind, although he is that!) Erik Nanstiel is out with a new communications App with the very cool name Avatalker. Check it out at Avatalker.com and download at the App Store. It ain't cheap ($189.99), but for the right kids it could be a game-changer. A new version is expected next week. According to the site:
"Avatalker ® AAC is a robust, full-featured augmentative and alternative communication solution designed for the iOS platform (Apple's iPad and iPad Mini). It gives nonverbal children and adolescents the ability to build phrases and sentences pictographically, which are then converted to audible speech. It features a 1,500+ word vocabulary and exclusive symbol set library by Aurora Symbols that is easy to navigate and fun to use!"
And speaking of friends, one of AOA's best, Laura Hayes, has written a fascinating two-parter on Monsanto and GMOs, titled GMO Food: Failed Promises, Toxic Impacts.
To whet your appetite, here's the beginning -- "I have a new friend. His name is Howard Vlieger, and he is a third generation Iowa farmer. I started asking him questions about the food I buy in the grocery store to feed my family.
Laura also called our attention to a great 16-minute YouTube video, Vaccines -- Are They Safe and Effective? -- that "pits" Boyd against Paul Offit's outlandish claims for the current vaccine schedule's safety and effectiveness. (Talk about a mismatch.)
" Next week," Laura says, "there will be a fundraising campaign to raise $15K to refilm Boyd Haley so he's not on Skype." But as she points out, he looks pretty good right now!
I also commend to your attention the new book Preventing Autism and ADHD -- Controlling Risk Factors Before, During and After Pregnancy, by Dr. Debby's Hamilton. She looks at everything from Preventive Nutrition to Environmental Toxins to, yes, Vaccines. While she's not as emphatic as I would be about the lunacy of the current vaccine schedule, she calls these disorders an epidemic, gets new and prospective parents to slow down and think, and urges them to put good questions to their doctors. And she makes the critical point: "Vaccines are a medical intervention. With any medical intervention, there are risks and potential side effects."
That's obvious, but not said often enough. Why, I'm sure even Dr. Offit and Jeffrey Kopman would heartily agree.
Have the Feds ever met a pill they wouldn't push? I ask after Lou Conte sent me a flyer this week from HHS's Office of Inspector General, titled Pharmaceutical Alert Bulletin.
What, some rogue supplier of counterfeit drugs is up to no good? Nope, "FDA Approves Zohydro." "Although it has been declared a schedule II drug and will contain a 'strong' black-box warning, there is considerable apprehension that this drug will fill the recreational drug void left by the original version of OxyContin 80mg," warned the FDA's own watchdog.
"The FDA did not require abuse deterrents prior to approval. Zogenix is 'considering' employing deterrent, but that is expected to take considerable time ..."
To quote Laura Hayes, yikes! This is HHS talking about a drug that HHS approved. Turns out there is a lot of Congressional concern over this.
Re bad drugs, whatever you think of the not guilty verdict in Kerry Kennedy's drugged driving trial, Ambien didn't come off looking too good. My doctor won't prescribe that class of sleeping pill because, she says, it blocks REM sleep and sooner or later makes you flat-out crazy.
No matter. On TV Friday, one of the doctors who helped get the drug approved acknowledged that it could "zombify" people. That didn't appear to bother him one bit. Maybe he's a zombie and welcomes more company among the not-entirely-dead. No worries -- between MMR disease, Weather Channel vaccine experts, Zohydro, and Ambien, mutant killer zombieism is still flaring across the country .
Dan Olmsted is Editor of a Age of Autism.