Sunday, August 8, 2021

Quit Your Whining and Get Vaccinated

If I hear, “oh, they made it too fast” one more time, I’m going to bop somebody upside the head. It’s not like the drug companies made the COVID-19 vaccines in a garage–although good things, like Apple computers, have come out of garages. Then again, people make meth in garages and some folks suck it up without complaining about how long it took the drug dealer to make it.

As for the COVID-19 vaccines, they were actually made by folks who know what they’re doing. Vaccines have been around since the 1700s, although early vaccines were a lot more scary than what we have now.

Back to the whiners. Here’s the main problem with so many slackers, you’re affecting the rest of us and ensuring the virus and its variants will be with us for a very long time. Truth is, most of you whiners would been dead before you hit 40 years old if visionaries hadn’t figured out that vaccinating people saved lives.

Raise your hand if you got measles, mumps, whooping cough, diphtheria, tetanus, or polio shots. All in all, I doubt there are many U.S. citizens who haven’t had multiple vaccinations during their life. Shots that kept them from contracting debilitating and deadly diseases.

According to an old school record, by the time I was a year old, I’d had smallpox, diphtheria, whooping cough, and tetanus vaccines. Which means my brothers and I got measles and mumps as kids. I remember getting the polio vaccine in elementary school. Yep, they just lined us up and gave it to us. By the time I got it, they were soaking the vaccine in a sugar cube. So we ate the vaccine.

My dad was in the Navy and he got orders for an accompanied tour to Malta when I was about 8 yrs old. That meant he could bring his family. I don’t know how many weekly visits to the medical clinic we made to get all sorts of shots.

I probably got a smallpox booster shot because it hadn’t been eradicated worldwide yet. In case you didn’t know it, eradicating small pox was a tremendous feat of modern medicine and global cooperation. Imagine defeating a horrible disease that killed or disfigured millions of humans for centuries. Traces of small pox have been found on Egyptian mummies so it had a long run.

Years later, I accompanied my Army spouse on a tour to Germany. Another round of shots for me and our daughter. Not nearly as many as I got to travel to Malta, but it was twenty years later.

When I learned a vaccine for shingles and pneumonia was waiting for me when I hit the right age bracket, there I was, sleeve rolled up! I tripped and cracked my knee cap a couple of years ago. Was my tetanus up to date? Nope. Not a problem, here’s my arm! They gave me a DTap for tetanus, diphtheria, and pertussis in the ER.

Just one of the lovely vaccines we have to fight infection and disease. All brought to you by medical researchers and infectious disease doctors. I don’t know why some people seem to think these guys just sit around twiddling their thumbs while various diseases run rampant.

Can you picture yourself running toward the outbreak of a disease like Ebola? That’s what many infectious disease doctors do. They go to hotbeds of disease to get data about the disease. Then medical researchers use that data to research and often create vaccines or medications that will help control the disease.

mRNA type vaccines such as the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines may be the newcomers on the block, but Dr. Katalin Kariko, an immigrant who escaped communist Hungary in 1985, was key in researching their use. Soon after arriving in the U.S., she began her research into mRNA vaccines. In those early years her work was overlooked and she was repeatedly refused government grants. Fortunately for humanity, she persevered in her research.

Maybe some folks think 35 years is too fast for vaccine development.

I say nay, nay.

Dr. Kariko shared her research and others also began following the mRNA path. All the research in the world doesn’t help if you’re told it’s not the traditional way to create a vaccine and you’re denied funding for clinical trials.

Then along comes a pandemic and the wealthy countries throw gobs of money at you because suddenly the world needs a vaccine against a deadly virus. You’re in the right place at the right time and the research you’ve been doing for years provides plenty of data for vaccine companies. And there’s the funding you could never get.

There have always been people against vaccines for one reason or another. Had everyone listened to them, the life span of the average human would still be 40 years.

Is that the world you want to live in?

Tuesday, January 26, 2021

Goat Gonads and QAnon

There are a lot of outlandish claims floating around the Internet these days. They are so whackadoo I can't believe anyone would believe them. But then, I read the Charlatan: America's Most Dangerous Huckster, the Man Who Pursued Him, and the Age of Flimflam by Pope Brock. It’s the story of a man named of John R. Brinkley. 

In 1917, John R. Brinkley–America’s most brazen con man–introduced an outlandish surgical method for restoring fading male virility. It was all nonsense, but thousands of eager customers quickly made “Dr.” Brinkley one of America’s richest men–and a national celebrity. 

Efforts to expose him “seemed only to spur Brinkley to new heights of ingenuity, and the worlds of advertising, broadcasting, and politics soon proved to be equally fertile grounds for his potent brand of flimflam. 

What was the outlandish surgical method?

How about let me cut you open and stick goat gonads in or near your sexual organs to increase virility in men or increase fertility in women.  

Doc with Saw

Brinkley claimed to be a doctor. He did attend medical school for about a week, but even in those days you needed more than a week of school to be a real doctor. The lack a degree didn’t bother Brinkley. He was a seasoned scam artist. He and his new wife went a town in Kansas that needed a doctor and set up a clinic.

This man killed a lot of goats, became internationally famous, and made pots of money.

He also took advantage of the recent development of the radio to broadcast his false medical claims far and wide. In fact, you could call in to his radio show and he would listen to your symptoms and prescribe a cure. Naturally, the cure was one of his tonics available for purchase, the sale of these tonics netted him thousands of dollars a week.

Think about it. Brinkley’s listeners heard him on the radio and believed his claims. No one fact checked him although one man did pursue evidence for years and eventually brought Brinkley down. There are no statistics on the number of people he killed because the patients left the clinic after the procedure and went home. There were a number of wrongful death lawsuits, but that didn’t slow Brinkley down too much. He had plenty of money for lawyers.

Let's face it, he implanted a foreign organ in people. The goat gonads were going to rot inside the patient’s body which can’t be healthy. Still, many patients claimed the procedure worked and that kept people coming to the clinic and kept Brinkley rich.

Of course, modern research has revealed people don’t like to admit when they’ve been conned.

Here we are, almost a century later and instead of the radio, we have the Internet. We also have a lot of folks believing an anonymous Internet person called QAnon who makes unfounded claims about various United States citizens, institutions, and political leaders. This person has never come forward and identified him or herself. Rather, this person, or computer artificial intelligence program, or Russian minion, or Chinese hacker makes unfounded accusations.

Since the statements are vague, a group of followers have taken it upon themselves to interpret them. Reminds me of all the Biblical scholars debating Revelations. Or people who try to figure out what Nostradamus meant in The Prophecies

The followers believe so deeply in this anonymous person’s prophecies, they  alienate themselves from friends and family. I base this observation on the fact that friends and family have readily identified and tipped off the FBI about QAnon followers from video and photos taken during the infamous attack on our Congress earlier this month.

Whoops. Off to jail the followers go. But not their leader. He or she or it has chosen anonymity to avoid any jail time for causing mayhem in this country. 

It seems to me, the more things change, the more they stay the same. Ninety years ago a portion of Americans were willing to allow Brinkley to cut open their scrotums and uteruses and insert goat gonads in their bodies. Today, a portion of Americans have chosen to believe an anonymous Internet person who claims to be the source of knowledge about our citizens, political leaders, and institutions. Rather than question the source, these Americans lay down on the table and let QAnon insert goat gonads into their brains.