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Barack’s Very Very Bad Day

h/t Larry Johnson at No Quarter for the CNN video.

The American media is stunned, horrified, shocked at Europe’s failure to bow down to America’s “rock star” President. Here’s USA Today:

It started with a jaw-dropping first-round defeat for Chicago, the United States and President Barack Obama. It ended with an overwhelming final-round rout for Rio de Janeiro, South America and Brazil’s own charismatic president.

[….]

Chicago had long been considered a front-runner, if not the favorite, to get the games. The decision by Obama and first lady Michelle Obama to travel to Copenhagen to pitch their city’s case in person to the IOC had been seen as a potential game-changing coup to seal the deal over Rio, Madrid and Tokyo.

[….]

It was a humiliating result for Chicago just hours after Obama had become the first American president to appear at an IOC host city vote. He and his wife, Michelle, spoke about their love for his adopted home and her native city, but it wasn’t enough.

“They (Obamas) were well received, they were welcomed,” Gosper said. “That’s what’s stunned me. There is no evidence other than a positive reaction to their presence. The whole thing doesn’t make sense other there has been a stupid bloc vote. To have the president of the United States and his wife personally appear, then this should happen in the first round is awful and totally undeserving.”

Some members criticized the Chicago presentation as being flat and dull, apart from the Obamas’ appearance. Even the president’s pitch wasn’t seen as inspiring as some had expected.

“Objectively seen, he didn’t do too much,” French member Guy Drut said. “Michelle Obama was exceptional. She held a really great speech.”

Who thought it was a good idea for the President to go all the way to Copenhagen to make a pitch that might fail? NPR–NPR!–is calling it “Obama’s Olympic Oops.”

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PSA on H1N1: I am going to be harsh

This morning’s New York Times has a disturbing report about the spread of the H1N1 virus.  This strain of flu is proving to be especially dangerous for pregnant women:

Dr. Schuchat expressed particular worry about pregnant women. As of late August, 100 had been hospitalized in intensive care, and 28 had died since the beginning of the outbreak in April.

“These are really upsetting numbers,” she said, urging obstetricians and midwives to advise patients to get swine flu shots as soon as they become available.

Doctors are also reporting that some parents are not planning to have their little human vectors vaccinated because these parents stupidly want their children to develop “natural immunity” and because they are afraid of the vaccination:

Confirming the centers’ anxiety that many Americans are reluctant to get swine flu shots, Consumer Reports released a poll late Wednesday showing that half of all parents surveyed said they were worried about the flu, but only 35 percent would definitely have their children vaccinated. About half were undecided, and of those, many said they feared that the vaccine was new and untested.

One worrying aspect, said Dr. John Santa, the director of health ratings at Consumer Reports, was that 69 percent of parents who were undecided or opposed to shots said they “wanted their children to build up their natural immunity.”

“Your body produces exactly the same antibodies, whether it’s from a ‘natural’ infection or from a vaccine,” Dr. Santa said. “If your child is the one that dies, you’ve paid a very high price for ‘natural’ immunity.”

Ok, this s%^& really pisses me off.   I get the most ridiculous, hysterical emails every frickin’ day from former PUMAs who really should know better, claiming that the H1N1 “pandemic” is really a global conspiracy to panic people and keep them in their place.  I will admit that when I first heard of this virus, from Obama no less, I too was skeptical.  It seemed a little too Code Orange for my taste, especially since he was getting his first taste of media pushback at the time.  But a little investigation convinced me that this is no faux terrorism alert.  The only global conspiracy that is going on is being perpetrated by the H1N1 virus itself to infect as many hosts as it can get its grubby genetic material into.

And human beings are the perfect baby virus incubators.  Little influenzas just love our warm, moist respiratory systems.  H1N1 likes our gastrointestinal tract too.  What joy!  Because once it gets into an unprotected body, where the local antibody cleanup crew has never seen them before, they get down to business and multiply like crazy and then have an orgy of genetic material swapping with each other.  Yes, YOU parents who refuse to vaccinate your precious vectors may be allowing the virus to mutate into something even more deadly.

Anyway, I can’t spend a lot of time on this because I have to get to work but here are the salient points that you should know if you can’t tell if the H1N1 virus is really serious:

1.) The H1N1 virus is serious because it is the result of antigenic shift instead of antigenic drift. Imagine the seasonal flu genetic material looks like the typical English qwerty keyboard to your body.  The seasonal flu virus can rearrange the letters and your body will adapt because it is somewhat familiar with the typography.  Now, imagine one day a new flu comes in lugging a keyboard in Cyrillic.  The body has to get used to making antibodies with a new alphabet.  This is what we’re dealing with.  The new genetic material is unlike anything your immune system has seen before.  Before your antibodies can get the hang of typing in Russian, the virus will have a perfect opportunity to overwhelm your system.  That is what happened during the 1918 flu outbreak.

2.) Pandemics mean there is more likelihood of a deadly mutation.  A global pandemic means that the virus is hanging around barnyards in third world countries like Afghanistan, mixing sheep and pig and fowl and human genetic material altogether.  And that genetic material spreads all over the world much more quickly via planes, trains and automobiles than it did in 1918.  Add to the mix the well known fact that the influenza virus is promiscuous.  It swaps its genetic material and mutates at a higher frequency than many other viruses.  It uses your body as a petrie dish.

3.) Vaccine makers aren’t going to be able to make huge profits from this bug. Nope.  They signed contracts with the government years ago during the Bush administration to provide the government with vaccine.  During pandemic flu outbreaks, it is very difficult to provide sufficient flu vaccine for everyone.  So, targetted groups get the vaccine.  For example, school children are likely targetted groups because anyone who has one in their possession knows that they are unclean and careless little beasts that cough and sneeze all over each other.  Health care workers will get it.  People with vulnerable immune systems will get it.  You and I will probably NOT get it.  I already asked when I went for my seasonal flu shot.  The companies that make the vaccines turn it over to state and federal government agencies and they decide whether you make the targetted groups list.

4.) The vaccine is as safe as a seasonal flu vaccine. Seriously.  The vaccine has undergone clinical trials for saftey and efficacy and has been approved by the FDA.  I know that back in the 70’s, there was another Swine Flu vaccine that triggered Guillaume-Barre syndrome in some participants.  And that is still a risk for people who have had Guillaume-Barre in the past.  (I’ll have to check to see if this is true for seasonal flu vaccine as well) But even with that caveat, the risk of an adverse side effect is tiny compared to the risk of getting seriously ill from H1N1 and passing that on to some other person.  People with a history of Guillaume Barre syndrome should consult their doctors to see if the risk is serious enough to be excluded.  The flu vaccine should be available to you at the end of the month.  It takes 21 days to build up full immunity to the virus.

Now, to those of you who are still convinced that this is some kind of global conspiracy to numb people into a sense of terror and passivity, I have only one thing to say: GET A GRIP!  I will be very relieved if after all of the precautionary measures we have taken that this virus turns out to be wildly overblown.  If I look like I have egg on my face next year for being such a Chicken Little, I can live with that.   (There’s still no reason to panic but you should follow the instructions of your local public health officials even if they sound restrictive.)   But it it turns out that some of you out there didn’t vaccinate your kids because you listened to the ignorant nutcases who sent you email and as a result, a lot more people got sicker than they should have, I will be very angry.

And I have your email addresses.

For more information:

The Centers for Disease Control

The World Health Organization

She’s a supergeek, supergeek, she’s supergeeky (Check this for podcasts and youtube videos describing the 1918 Influenza and how the flu virus behaves in general.  Choose your comfort level of science.)

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