Wednesday, October 21, 2009

A Cat's Eye View

Well, they've gone and left Me yet again! I'm getting Rather Sick of it. Oh well, at least I'm inside where it's Warm and Dry. It seems to be Raining Once Again out there. Now that the Weather has gotten Cooler and the Humans have turned on that thing they call a Furnace, I like sitting on my Cat Perch over the Radiator in My Room and looking out the Window.

Did you know I have My Own Room? I do. It's one of the Bedrooms, and it's All Mine. (Well, my Female Human does have a Bureau and Wardrobe Closet with some of her Clothing in it, and there is a Desk full of Junk, but that's all). My Box and my Food and Water are all in here, and Best of All, there is a Gate attached to the Doorway that I can run under, but That Dog can't. So I am protected from her when she gets Frisky and decides to chase Me, and she also can't get in to eat My Food or, worse yet, forage in My Box. That would be Very Embarrassing.

So. Time for my News Roundup. I don't really know what the Chief Topic of Conversation should be today given it has been quite Awhile since my Last Roundup. But I do know they spent Way Too Much Time covering that stupid Balloon Boy story last week. And now they're saying it was all a hoax! It is Pitiful how the So-Called News Programs latch on to these Stupid Stories and cover them in Breathless Anticipation, as if they were covering a World Crisis. It's like the Boy Who Cried Wolf. When there is a Real Crisis, who will be able to Tell the Difference?

Speaking of World Crises, President Obama has now declared the Swine Flu a "National Emergency."

"Obama's action allows Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius 'to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements' to help health care facilities enact emergency plans to deal with the 'pandemic.'

Those requirements are contained in Medicare, Medicaid and state Children's Health Insurance programs, and the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act privacy rule."

Of course, Conspiracy Theorists will be All Over this, saying this allows The Dreaded Government to Take Away Our Rights. I'm sure it is not anything That Sinister. The stuff that takes away Rights is usually done when No One is Watching, as it was during the Previous Administration.

One problem the Government is running into is not having Enough Swine Flu Vaccine! After all that Preparation you'd think they'd have Gotten it Right, but no!

"'We are nowhere near where we thought we would be,' Frieden said, acknowledging that manufacturing delays have contributed to less vaccine being available than expected. 'As public health professionals, vaccination is our strongest tool. Not having enough is frustrating to all of us.'

Frieden said that while the way vaccine is manufactured is "tried and true," it's not well-suited for ramping up production during a pandemic because it takes at least six months."

Another News Story this week was the Famous Case of the Northwest Airline pilots who forgot to land in Minneapolis as scheduled, and No One could get ahold of them during that time! As the Humans might say, WTF? One of the pilots said they weren't arguing or sleeping during that time. They were also not Drunk. So what else does that leave? Hmmmm. The Mind Boggles. It is truly a Mystery.

My Female Human went to Minneapolis on Northwestern a couple of weeks ago. She is Glad that didn't happen when she was On Board.

In News from the Animal World, a Russian Bear killed a Circus Hand while he was Ice Skating. The Bear was Ice Skating, that is. For the Details, go read the Article here. It is Very Sad that the Circus Hand was killed, and another injured, but perhaps it's because Bears generally don't Ice Skate in the Wild, and perhaps it's not The Best Thing To Do with Them. Sadly, the Bear was shot and killed as well.

On a More Positive Note, I will End with some Pictures my Humans took Last Weekend up near that Cabin they go to. If you recall, Last Weekend was Very Rainy in New Jersey. Happily for Them, it was Very Nice near Lake George!

Here is a Picture of the Scottish Graveyard in Argyle, New York. Seems to Me this would be a Very Scary Spot on Halloween. Look at all those great Leaning Headstones! The Graveyard includes a lot of very Early Settlers - many date back to the early 18th Century.

This Picture is a Lovely View of Lake Champlain.

These are the Woods near The Cabin.

A view of The Cabin from Across the Pond, and below, the Interior with the Propane Lights on and my Female Human sitting in a Chair Keeping Warm by the Woodstove.

That's all for Now. My Female Human will be Back Shortly. She has received an Award and will be Excited to pass it on to Others!

Till Next Time, keep your Catnip Dry and Enjoy Your Week!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Irresponsible Advice About the Swine Flu Vaccine

Bill Maher should stick to politics. He's been Twittering that people who get swine flu shots are idiots and also mouthed off on his "Real Time With Bill Maher" show about the vaccine, implying that getting the vaccine was the same thing as being injected with the disease, which it is not.

Now ordinarily this would not be a big deal. I mean, who would look to a talk show host for medical advice? Unfortunately, with this being a new vaccine, and a high level of suspicion about the government's ability to do anything whatsoever running rampant in the country, this just encourages those who are dubious about it to feel justified in skipping it. This would not be a good idea.

The H1N1 (swine) flu is a different strain of flu virus. Unlike the usual seasonal influenza that is more apt to be severe in the elderly, with the H1N1 virus, younger people are more vulnerable and become sicker than their elders.

This may be because the new H1N1 virus is related to the deadly 1918 Spanish flu, and since variants of the 1918 flu type were in circulation for several generations after it first appeared, people 65 and over tend to be less vulnerable to the new flu since they have had exposure to its cousin in the past.

In addition, those who were vaccinated against the swine flu strain that was prevalent in 1976 may also have a certain degree of cross-immunity to the new H1N1 virus.

This leaves younger people at most risk for severe illness in this new pandemic. In addition, pregnant women, whose immunity is lowered by their condition, and those with specific health problems, are also vulnerable.

There are two kinds of vaccine: One injectable, which is a killed virus that is incapable of causing illness, and a nasal spray version that is a weakened virus. It is recommended that those with impaired immunity only receive the injected vaccine.

It is the height of irresponsibility on Maher's part to be blathering about a medical subject about which he obviously knows very little, and contradicting Dr. Bill Frist, his guest on the show, who was trying to get across the importance of vaccination.

There are reasons some people shouldn't receive either vaccination. If they are allergic to eggs, as my mother is, they cannot receive any flu vaccines because the virus used to create them is incubated in eggs. In addition, there may be concerns about the preservative, thimerasol, which is used in the injectable vaccines for both H1N1 and regular seasonal flu.

And of course, it is always a personal decision whether one wants to have a shot or not. But to make that decision, a person needs to be armed with the facts, not a talk show host's personal aversions. If you want the facts, please go to this site and read up on them. Then you can make a truly informed decision about receiving the H1N1 vaccination.

(cross-posted at Medicana)

Friday, October 09, 2009

Nobel a Mixed Blessing for Obama

As I believe most people (including the President himself) were, I was surprised to learn today that President Obama has been chosen to receive the Nobel Peace Prize for his "extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples."

It's a very exciting honor for our President to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and I commend the efforts he is making toward more cooperation between nations and increases in the United States' participation in the fight against global warming, and more. Certainly the change in U.S. policies has thawed the relations between the United States and many countries around the world, in contrast to the previous President's bellicose and "you're either for us or against us" attitude toward the rest of the world.

But is this worth the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm not sure. I feel it's a bit too early to say that good intentions are the same as accomplishments, or that this change in official U.S. attitude will actually bear fruit. Former President Jimmy Carter received the Nobel Peace Prize after decades of post-presidency work toward world peace, his support of Habitat for Humanity, and many other accomplishments. So far, Obama's lofty goals are still only goals.

Also, while Obama has been making an effort to bring the U.S. back into compliance with the Geneva Conventions and declared the U.S. will no longer waterboard prisoners, he has not yet been able to close Guantanomo Bay as he had promised, due to the various stumbling blocks that keep being raised. It seems as if the Prize might have been more appropriately awarded after the camp was actually closed and justice had been served to those who have been detained for so many years - either by conviction or freedom, but through a fair judicial process.

Beyond whether or not it was a good idea to give President Obama the Nobel Peace Prize, the fallout from this award will be a decidedly mixed blessing for the President.

On one hand, it's great that such a prestigious group as those who award Nobel Prizes believe President Obama has already made such a paradigm shift in world relations only 9 months after taking office. Certainly the contrast vs. Bush had to have something to do with that perception, and the President should rightly feel good about receiving the Prize.

But on the other hand, for Obama, this may do more harm than good in the short run. The GOP and right-wing talk show hosts will go totally nuts about this honor; Obama will get nothing but flack and distractions from the right as a result, when he is trying to keep the conversation on his plans for health care reform and other initiatives.

In another, more personal way for Obama, receiving the Nobel Peace Prize this early in his life may be a mixed blessing as well. Here he is, only in his late 40s, and he's become President and received the Nobel Peace Prize. After his presidency, what on earth more will he be able to aim for? The second half of his life may be a huge letdown for him!

But, be that as it may, it is certainly a great honor, and I congratulate the President on receiving it. Let's hope his accomplishments during the rest of his Presidency will continue to live up to that honor.

Thursday, October 01, 2009

Haiku Thursday

Live from the Adirondacks, this is Haiku Thursday!

Spending time up here provides new perspective on current events. I start noticing little things instead of worrying about big things. A small blue wildflower peeping up from the grass, a shaft of sunlight brightening the goldenrod; tracks in the soft dirt - whose? Somehow the rest of the world seems far away - and I know it will still be there when we get back. But in the meantime I think I'll just watch the ripples in the pond and listen to the geese call. I think they still migrate up here, unlike in New Jersey where they remain all winter long, fat and happy in the well-landscaped office parks.

So, without further ado...Haiku (yes, that rhymed!)

GM killed Saturn
But Jupiter still remains
Up there by the Moon.

I heard some sad news
Earthquake in Indonesia,
And a

Roman Polanski
Is being extradited
After thirty years.

Michael Vick endorsement
Being denied by Nike

"We just give him stuff."

The healthcare debate
Continues in Washington
But news is
not good.

Democrats will fight
To get a public option

Against all the odds.

Diplomats meeting,
Discussing nuclear bombs
Progress being made?

Here it is chilly
And autumn winds are blowing
The leaves are turning.

Red, yellow and gold
Contrasting with cloudy skies
And a patch of blue.

The leaves on the ground
Will camouflage the chipmunk
As he scurries by.

Squirrels are furtive
Gathering nuts for winter

Under the bushes.

Birds still flit in trees
But now they are quieter
Mating is over.

Frogs' voices are still;
But the owl is still calling
Deep into the night.

Things are different here
Life passes by the seasons
No news is good news.