Monday, September 30, 2013

More on Vaccinations

Dear Madame L, 

I want your take on vaccines. As someone who has lived in multiple countries around the world, who has probably had actual real life experience with some of the diseases vaccinated against (polio, right?), and as someone who seems very knowledgable in the scientific fields. 

When I was pregnant with the first, it never even dawned on me that anyone would choose not to vaccinate. I was blown away by the fact that there are people out there who wouldn't do it for their kids. It seemed so simple. It'd be like if your child had cancer and you chose not to fight it. This made me want to figure out why. I've read the vaccine manufacturer inserts, studied the effectiveness of some of the vaccines available, read about what they actually prevent or don't prevent, read about the actual diseases that the vaccines are meant to protect against and their symptoms and mortality rates, learned about the different possible side effects of the vaccines, read people's studies on why some children are affected in such terrible ways and others are not, toxins from the vaccines pass directly through the blood brain barrier (which I'm still reading about) and I have learned that not all vaccines are created equal, as I once thought. 

Vaccine injuries are real. Many babies and toddlers are permanently damaged by them. People have filed lawsuits against the government for whichever country they live in and the government has admitted fault to the vaccine injuries and end up paying for the child's medical care for the rest of their lives. 

The diseases they fight to protect us against are real. People have suffered and died because of them, and continue to do so. Some in the USA and a lot in other countries with less sanitation. 

So what's your take on vaccines? Are there some you think are very important and others that aren't? Are there some that you believe are more of a risk to have than the disease itself?

Then of course, there's the claim that vaccines are causing the rates of autism to continue going up. 

One doctor, Dr Natasha Campbell-McBride has researched the link between neurological issues and our gut flora. Basically finding that when you have a healthy gut flora your body has the tools and health to fight off things such as autism, add, ADHD, schizophrenia, even allergies and other issues. She says that vaccines aren't the cause of these issues, just another contributor. Things such as antibiotics, lack of breastfeeding to pass on the mothers antibodies, and the lack of nutritious foods are also contributors to the decline in the health of our gut flora. She has a special diet full of probiotics and fermented foods that she recommends that, over time, builds the gut flora back up. She actually had a son who was diagnosed with autism whom she fed these things to and he was later symptom free. 

I think her findings make the most sense to me, out of everything I've read so far.

She suggests that people can simply test their gut flora to know if they are at risk of developing issues. If they are, she helps them repair it before continuing on with recommended vaccination schedules. 

What's your take on all of this? 


The person who keeps driving her mother crazy throwing all my findings at her in an effort to bounce ideas off someone.

Dear Person,

Thank you for your detailed question. Madame L apologizes for taking so long to getting around to addressing your questions and particularly appreciates your thorough research on the topic. 
Yes, it's true that Madame  L had polio as a child, along with her older sister and younger brother.
It's also true that as soon as the polio vaccine became available, Madame L's mother took her and her brother and sister to the public health clinic to get them vaccinated. Even after someone told her that her children probably didn’t need the vaccine if they’d already had the disease, she reasoned that they might have had a mild version that didn’t completely protect them from further outbreaks or that they might have had had a different version than whatever would be going around in the future. In any case, she did everything she could to make sure her children would be safe from any disease, any harm.

Madame L realizes that you are doing exactly the same thing for your children: everything you can to make sure they are safe from any and every disease and harm. Madame L hopes you'll continue reading every bit of valid --- and Madame L emphasizes the word "valid" --- research you can find on the subject of the safety of vaccinations.

Madame L has read many articles and books suggesting that good nutrition will help prevent or even cure all kinds of illnesses, ranging from blindness to multiple sclerosis. Yet none of those articles and books has included scientific, statistically valid, unbiased, replicable studies to back up the authors' conclusions. And, in fact, Madame L notes that in almost all those cases the people writing those books have some ulterior motive or bias; this may include simply that whatever they're selling worked for them.

Addressing the article you mention in your question: Madame L does not have access to, nor does she think most other people have access to, a doctor who will test their gut flora to see if they've been infected with or are in danger of getting a disease for which a vaccine exists. In fact, this whole notion strikes Madame L as more than ridiculous. If a person has been infected with the mumps, for instance, the last place to check for evidence of the disease is in their gut, even if antibodies could be found there. Madame L knows there are many explanations for apparent spontaneous remissions of many diseases, including diet, but Madame L isn't counting on anything like that happening for millions of Americans.

Further, as you know, the doctor who published the study most often cited about vaccinations and autism has withdrawn the study and has been thoroughly disgraced, as he has had to admit that the study was flawed and his conclusions were invalid. Madame L is glad you haven't jumped on that bandwagon, which many people are still tooting their horns on, even though it's got four flat tires and a broken-down engine. Madame L found a good video on this topic, which she thinks you'll find informative.

So, what are we left with? If we discard bad science, money-making science, tricks-with-words-by-doctors-who-are-selling-books-and-supplements-and-lab-tests science, government-scientists-are-probably-lying-and-it's-all-a-government-conspiracy science, and celebrity science, we are left with good solid evidence for the efficacy of childhood vaccines and for the value of getting those vaccines on the government-medical-science-recommended schedule.

Madame L recommends this Web site, AntiAntiVax, for summaries of that good solid science and links to pages with more detail.

Madame L hopes you'll read this information, discard the information that comes from unqualified and biased writers, and conclude, as she has, that the best thing you can do for your children is get them vaccinated according to the schedule recommended by the Public Health officials who are concerned for the health of everyone in our country.


Madame L

Government Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Crisis?

Dear Madame L,

I think you're wrong about the government shutdown. I think it's going to happen tomorrow (Oct. 1), and then I think the Republicans will shut down the government again because they'll refuse to raise the debt ceiling limit in a couple of weeks.

What say you?

Concerned Citizen

Dear Concerned Citizen,

Madame L lost her crystal ball a few columns ago, but for some reason she still tries to out-guess Congress, reading everything she can, on both sides of the issues, trying to cut out the rhetorical b.s. and understand what the law really dictates.

And, she is happy to say, Madame L has finally found a good explanation, by an apparently impartial (and actually informed!) commentator, Eric Posner:

Posner writes that Obama cannot avert a government shutdown if Congress doesn't get its act together but that Obama can and should enable the debt ceiling to be raised if Congress still hasn't gotten its act together by Oct. 17th, the current projected date for that ceiling to be reached.

Madame L hopes you'll read the whole article, which is short and easy to understand, unlike so much of the blathering on these two topics.

Meanwhile, Madame L's friends who are "non-essential" federal employees are getting ready to take short unpaid vacations and/or apply for unemployment insurance.

Sincerely, if Unhappily,

Madame L

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Poet Review, Sunday, September 29, 2013: Gerard Manley Hopkins

Madame L thanks Jeff for his comments on poetry. Madame L does not have the love for that kind of poetry that Jeff has, mainly because it was knocked out of her by various English teachers through junior high school and high school and then college.

Yet she still loves that poem by Gerard Manley Hopkins, which she is copying here without further comment:

God's Grandeur

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge |&| shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs --
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast |&| with ah! bright wings.

Friday, September 27, 2013

100 Poems 100 Years (More On Poetry)

Madame L may have mentioned that she's been reading a lot of poetry lately. In fact, Madame L picks up at least two books of poetry every time she goes to her local public library. And even though she likes to snipe and snark at the poets she doesn't like or doesn't understand, she really enjoys most of the poems she has found at the library.

One book that Madame L really enjoyed was "The Open Door: 100 Years 100 Poems of Poetry Magazine." Madame L thinks it must have been incredibly difficult for the editors to choose only 100 poems out of all those they've published in their 100-year history.

But, Madame L must admit, in her snipe-and-snark mood, she wonders why no poems by Emily Dickinson or Billy Collins are included. (See the art in that?---the downright poetic whimsy of juxtaposing Ms. Emily and Mr. Collins?)

Oh, well. Here are some great lines from some of the poems the editors did include:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening ius spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table...
(From T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," of course)

Speaking of beasts:

Shut up. Shut up. There's nobody here.
If you think you hear somebody knocking 
On the other side of the words, pay
No attention. It will be only
The great creature that thumps its tail
On silence on the other side....
(From W.S. Graham's "The Beast in the Space")

And the greatest short poem ever:

The apparition               of these faces          in the crowd             :
Petals          on a wet, black         bough        .
(Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro"---the whole poem---is that brilliant, or what!)

One more for now, and Madame L hopes these poems have inspired at least one of her Dear Readers to rush to his/her/their local public library and request this book:

           Joy's trick is to supply
     Dry lips with what can cool and slake,
Leaving them dumbstruck also with an ache
           Nothing can satisfy.
(From Richard Wilbur's "Hamlen Brook")

Finally, this bit from an essay, reminding us of how carefully and lovingly we should read poetry---and how carefully and lovingly we should do everything that we do:

"People that read without an abundance of love leave the book they have read as famished as they were before they came to it...How easy it is to go to a great poet with a small listless heart, and with morose surd ears; for for thought the arbute shakes in the wind, the eye is lookless, and though the kelp has the acutest longing for the sea in it, the nose is stupid, and the dells and hard frith that are signs of the opaque substance of mortal will are dead dirt. There is a secret, porcine disgrace in loveless reading, just as there is in any instant of our lives when we are not remembering actively, and our thoughts are of starvelled material, and our passions are not the gems that were on Aaron's breastplate, but just rubble and slain stoned." ---Edward Dahlberg, April 1951

Sherman Alexie's "Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian"

Madame L went to her local library the other day where she found a book of poems and essays by novelist Sherman Alexie. It was in the middle of the Poetry section, which surprised Madame L and the librarian who checked the book out for Madame L.

"I didn't know he wrote poetry," said the librarian.

"Me, neither," said the always correct, coherent, and articulate Madame L.

"Did you know that Sherman Alexie's book Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian made the Top Ten of banned books in the U.S.?" the librarian asked Madame L.

"I did not know that," Madame L replied. "Why would anyone ban that book?"

"It's supposedly racist," the librarian said.

Madame L decided to see why this book has been banned. Madame L has not had time to make an exhaustive search, but one of the first hits she got on Google was about the Richland Schools' ban (in Sherman Alexie's home state of Washington). It turns out that in this case the book was banned out of ignorance.  One of the board members who banned the book and later read it said it was "outstanding." He added that in the future he and another member "will read every book they are to vote on," according to American Libraries Magazine.

Since all the controversy, anyone who wants to check this book out of the Richland Library has to wait, because all 10 copies are on hold.

So, Madame L thinks, there are TWO lessons here for the book-censoring bodies of American libraries and schools: Not only should you read the books you're passing judgment on, but you should recognize that just by banning a book you make it all the more attractive to people who then want to know what the fuss is all about. And that's good for the author, the publishers, and the people who read the book and whose minds are enlarged by the experience.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Madame L Goes to the Library

Madame L loves her local library! She loves it even though getting there means driving through a miasma of evil-smelling smoke from the smokestacks of the industrial town where she lives.

Yesterday Madame L got one of those robo-calls from her library: Hello. Madame. Ell. This is the Public. Library. Calling to tell. you, Madame. Ell. that a book you put on. Hold. Is in. Please come. and pick it up. Immediately."

So, Madame L hurried to the library, where she picked up her book and then went to the poetry section (811.Various, according to the Dewey Decimal System).

Madame L was disappointed not to find any poetry collections by Billy Collins, and then she remembered that she had three of his books she'd checked out from the library at home.  Ah, well, Madame L thought, if the library has any more collections by Billy Collins, it's a good sign that someone else is also enjoying them, and it's a good a reminder to bring my three back so someone else can enjoy them, too. And maybe when they see these three books back on the shelves they'll bring in whatever ones they have checked out, so Madame L can enjoy them, too.

Madame L was surprised to find a book by Dave Barry in the middle of all the poetry books. Dave Barry writes poetry? Madame L thought. Then she looked at the Dewey Decimal number on the spine of the book. It was 814.Whatever, so it was in that location by mistake. However, Madame L thought, maybe it's a sign from the Muse of Humor, whoever that is, that Madame L should be easing up on the poetry.

No, Madame L reminded herself, the Muse of Humor does not give signs. It's most likely a sign from the Book-Shelving Intern that he/she needs to be more careful which shelf he/she pitches those books into. Or it may be a sign from the Dewey Decimal System itself that something is drastically wrong with the system, because supposedly ESSAYS are in the 814.whatevers, and HUMOR is in the 817.whatevers. So Dave Barry's writings are in the essay form, so what? They're humorous essays. Hello, Mister Dewey and Muse of Humor. Wake up and smell the laughs.

Madame L, by the way, hates the Dewey Decimal System, although she hasn't been able to think of a better system for arranging books.

Madame L has her own system, which is NOT a better system. It doesn't even work for Madame L herself, so it would be impossible to think it could work for anyone finding any book in her collection.

Madame L's So-Called Book-Ordering Nonsensical System (hereafter to be knows as the MLSCBONS) consists of having a bunch of poetry books arranged whimsically (because that's how to arrange poetry, correct?) on a couple of shelves, a bunch of reference books arranged by subject on another couple of shelves, and a bunch of fiction scattered randomly on shelves and floors throughout her study and guest room and elsewhere throughout her home.

Unfortunately, Madame L is not going to get around to re-arranging her books (logically or sensibly or any other way) very soon. And that's ... okay ... with Madame L, anyway.

Madame L checked out the Dave Barry book, Muse or no Muse, and a couple of books of poems, including a book by Sherman Alexie. Madame L was surprised to find that book in the Poetry (811.whatever) section because she didn't know Mr. Alexie wrote poetry. Neither did the librarian who checked out the book for Madame L.

Madame L is going to write a whole new post about Sherman Alexie and his writing and the people who think his ideas may be too hard for the youngsters of America to deal with. Stay tuned.

Eventually Madame L will also write more about poetry, fiction, and essays, including the poetry of Billy Collins, the poetry and essays of Sherman Alexie and the essays (and humor) of Dave Barry.

Government Employees Roaming the Streets?

Dear Madame L,

Is it true that Congress is going to shut down the government just so Ted Cruz can have his day in the sun?

And what will happen to the government employees who are shut out of their offices and unable to work and forced to go on unemployment?

Also, by the way, not that it really matters to anyone in Congress, if the government is shut down, what will happen to the rest of us, I mean, the ones who are not government employees?


Afraid of the Apocalypse

Dear Afraid,

Madame L's saying soothing sounds

as she types this reply. 
"Shush now, baby, don't you cry."

See, it's a lullaby! Go to sleep now and don't worry about it.

No, My Dear Readers, Madame L predicts that the government will not really be shut down on Oct. 1; that Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex) will live to regret his ridiculous faux-libuster; that government employees won't have to receive unemployment checks from their state governments; and that non-government employees will keep asking themselves, "Why do I watch the news any more, anyway?"


Madame L

P. S. If the government is shut down, yes, the Apocalypse will break out in hives, and, yes, you should blame the Republicans in the Senate and the House of Representatives. If you want to write or call them to remind them of who the real non-essential federal employees are (i.e., not them), check the contact information at the top right of this screen.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

How to Deal with Rudeness

Dear Madame L,

There's a guy in the gym where I work out who is always rude and negative, and besides that he breaks all the rules of the gym, for instance diving into the pool after sitting (and sweating) in the sauna, right under the sign that says "NO DIVING" and the other sign that says "Please Shower Before Entering the Pool."

When he talks to me, I try to be polite and engage him in a normal conversation, but he always ends up saying something insulting or mean. By the way, he's not this way with other people, and he only does this with me when there's no one else around.

How should I deal with this person?


Fed Up

Dear Fed Up,

Madame L congratulates you for your courage and politeness in the face of such rudeness. However, Madame L thinks you should never have put up with this behavior from the beginning.

Madame L will not advise you to point out to the rude person the signs he's ignoring because (of course) he would only ignore you, too, or worse, find new ways of insulting you.

Madame L will advise you to leave whenever this man comes into any area where you may encounter him without other folks nearby. You don't have to do it rudely or loudly or with facial expressions of dislike or disgust. Just get up and leave. Don't worry about offending him, and, more importantly, don't worry that this will mean you're being afraid or cowardly. You're just taking charge over your own well-being while denying him the opportunity to bully you.

And it won't keep you from accomplishing your own fitness goals. He won't be in any place long enough to keep you from working out, swimming, enjoying the sauna, or whatever you want to do.

Additionally, Madame L is confident that this bully IS this way with other people, but only when others are not around, same as he is with you. As you get to know people in that environment, you will hear from them, and they will strengthen you. A time will come when you can converse with him without feeling bullied, and at that time the words will come to you, if you need to say anything.

Meanwhile, Madame L thinks you may enjoy this answer, by one of her problem-solving heroes, Cary Tennis, to the same question.  It is essentially the same answer Madame L has given to you:. Shut the man down. Don't let him into your world. What do you care what he thinks?


Madame L