Monday Morning Open Thread

What’s up?

In domestic news: the Sacramento Bee ran an article about how difficult it is for undocumented youth — brought here at a very young age by their parents — to experience rites of passage in the United States like dating, traveling or getting a driver’s license.

A couple articles in Newsweek I would like to highlight: the first is the juxtaposition of vaccination rates falling in areas where people are likely to sport “Darwin fish” stickers on their hybrid cars.

The second one is about how lawmakers live on the road since their families no longer move to Washington D.C.. I’ve heard arguments in favor and against this “trend.” The pros: this forces politicians to spend more time in their districts. The cons: this doesn’t allow for politicians to reach across party lines and strike deals. I still say whether politicians are in D.C. or in their home districts, they spend way too much time raising money for re-election. What say you?

In international news: a German court has just ruled that companies are not infringing on women’s personal rights by asking them to wear a bra — either white or beige so it doesn’t show through — and keep their fingernails short and clean, according to the Post-Chronicle. What do you think, ladies?

And I will end on that note on Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday. What are you doing today? What else is in the news?


57 thoughts on “Monday Morning Open Thread

  1. More on autism/vaccines

    Our own roundpeg wrote a great article about the damage done by Dr. Wakefield’s unethical, fraudulent work.   The damage to parents – guilt, mistrust of honest professionals, and delaying other interventions – is immeasurable.  Thanks, C, for summing it up so clearly!

    In other news, Ross Douthat makes the argument that the media needs to stop paying so much attention to Sarah Palin (and she needs to stop seeking the  media out).    He picks on Markos as an example of the latest round of media over-attention, but I think his overall point is well taken.

    Today, DS and I have the day off, but DH had to go (bummer, working for an Indian company….no MLK day).  DS and I will see the Green  Hornet this afternoon – he’s insistent that he doesn’t want to see it in 3D, so we had to find the one or two theaters near us that are carrying it as a regular movie.

    • Green Hornet

      I’ll be eager to hear your review!  My DH has to work today as well but I’m off the hook since Sophie’s mom is a county worker and Kenai doesn’t have school.

    • Ahhh, vaccines

      I’m reading Dr. Sears’ Vaccine Book, which I got secondhand over the weekend, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised by how “pro-vaccine” it seems to be. I did dip into it before buying it to see what it said about MMR – and while I was not too impressed with all the conclusions he drew, I thought for $6 it might be an interesting read. I’m enjoying it more than I thought.

      Since we consider us to be pro-vaccine, I am appreciating the information about how the vaccines are made and what those diseases are. I doubt we’ll follow Sears’ schedule, though we may talk with our pediatrician about some modifications to the “standard” schedule (I don’t know what those would be).

      AND, I think we’ve settled on a ped we really like. In this small town the pickings are slim and my GP, who’s also the only female doctor in town, does not see kids. I serve on the school board with a local doctor, and he’s really intelligent, curious, always learning, and has a hilarious dry wit. DH is going to have him as his primary care physician, too. We think he’ll take the time to explain the “why”s and make us feel at ease with whatever we choose. He’s also NOT disparaging or demeaning, and I think I like his philosophy.

      • Glad you found a doctor you like

        I never had a doctor I really liked until a few years ago. We all see the same doctor (Kids, DH, and me) and we LOOOOOVE him. It makes such a big difference to see someone you like and trust who takes the time to both listen and explain. Even though he’s nearly always running late because of that :) We’re usually running late too so it works out!

      • I continue to be mystified

        I still can’t figure out why so many people believe they know enough about the immune system that they can personally improve the vaccine schedule.  

        Or why they believe that there is a better schedule but pediatricians prefer to inflict the “bad” one on children.  

        Or why they believe that evidence on health effects is routinely dismissed rather than incorporated into the guidelines.  

        Or why they can’t figure out that there is no conceivable financial incentive for the “evil” pharma companies to prefer a six month vaccination schedule over an every other Tuesday schedule, when the truth is that all the “evil” companies really care about is that the kids not have health outcomes that can expose them to a lawsuit.  

        • It boggles the mind

          Meanwhile we are seeing outbreaks of whooping cough and other serious but preventable diseases.  I am all for Sammy being vaccinated for everything as soon as is recommended given that fact.  That is all.

          • word

            When DH and I first lived in London, we lived in Muswell Hill, which was an affluent neighborhood (we squatted in a tiny basement studio apartment, but I digress). Muswell Hill’s immunization levels had dropped below 80 percent while we were there (2002-2003, key years of anti-MMR hysteria due to the article). Two years in a row, there were outbreaks of measles. Crazy.

            Needless to say, both Jess and Lily have had all their immunizations at exactly the time put out by the health care system. The schedules differ – in London, they were given at 2, 3 and 4 and 12 months; here in Australia it’s 2, 4, 6 and 12 months.

        • asdf

          When Simone was a baby, I was pro-vaccination but a little more concerned about the safety of vaccinations than I am now.  What concerned me was that, with all the hysterical people who heard one (probably fictional) horror story and shunned vaccinations altogether, the medical community was operating under a public health agenda vs. an agenda of providing people with facts.  So I guess I did worry that there was a better schedule and that peds. were “choosing” the bad one, because if they gave a frank disclosure of any potential risks peole would overreact.  To an extent this is still one of the reasons I resent blanket vaccine-shunners–I feel like their reactionary choices prevent the general public from hearing the facts about possible risks.  

          I even tried to bribe Simone’s ped. at the time, promising that I was definitely going to vaccinate, so could he please give me an honest disclosure of any risks?  He took me seriously, but seemed to feel the same way I did, and apparently didn’t have any secret information that I could access with the secret password.  

          • but there is no secret information

            That’s the point.  Maybe future information will indicate a different schedule – if it does, the schedule will change – but if there were a “lower risk” schedule we’d already be on it.  Health guidance changes all the time, and the public is not as a rule alarmed when they hear, “we used to recommend X, now we prefer Y”.  So there’s no public health agenda that would be served by a “stay the course” mindset.  

            There are risks associated with vaccines (and every other medical intervention, of course), and risks associated by failure to vaccinate.  But there is no evidence that I am aware of that these risks are altered by rescheduling – that idea appears to have materialized out of thin air.  The only risk I can think of is the risk of lowered efficacy.  Vaccine boosters do need to be given with a certain spacing – that’s the way the immune system works.  The optimum spacing varies with the antigen so the optimum window varies by vaccine.  But pediatricians are generally willing to move off the optimum to give parents the feeling that they are doing something – it’s better than not vaccinating at all.  

            So I guess I get frustrated by this widespread assumption that people wanting to vaccinate children are an enemy to be resisted.  (This is definitely not directed at you, by the way.)  But the mindset seems to seep into popular thinking so that even people who don’t consider pediatricians the enemy end up with doubt implanted in the backs of their minds.  The blanket vaccine shunners did more than just stifle discussion (and put kids at risk), they also planted the seeds of distrust between parents and pediatricians.

            • I know that now…

              I even sort of knew it then, but since it is clear that the general public cannot be trusted with facts it’s easy to imagine and even understand why a group of well-intentioned people might keep them from us.  I was never convinced that an altered schedule was for the best, I just wanted to have a discussion about it with my pediatrician.  Which I did; he said that he couldn’t promise 100% that vaccinations were always safe, but that in his 20-30 years as a pediatrician he had never seen a child harmed by a vaccine, but he had seen children with illnesses they could have been vaccinated for.  At the time those illnesses really didn’t scare me at all, although I see now that they should have.  I thought of herd immunity exactly like non-vacccinaters do (that enough people were vaccinated that said diseases wouldn’t be a problem), which was precisely what made me resent them so much.  The vaccines scared me more, and I was having them done almost exclusively for the good of the whole rather than my baby, so I wanted to do it carefully.  

              However, even if there were secret information (and I’m not saying that there is!) I doubt pediatricians would be informed, since most genuinely do what’s best for their patients. I see what you’re saying about there being no public health benefit to preserving the current schedule, but I can imagine altering it backfiring–like Jenny McCarthy saying “See?  If vaccines weren’t dangerous, why did they suddenly change the recommended schedule?”  

              • That’s the problem

                with conspiracy theories in general.  While I am positive that we are being deceived in a conspiratorial manner on at least some points (I’m not talking vaccines now, just general information regarding politics, science, whatever), those who conceive of these conspiracies are no fools.  We wouldn’t be able to guess it, and the conspiracies that we do think we have figured out might themselves be all a part of their plan; red herrings to keep us from figuring out what’s really going on.  So trying to uncover them is useless; they weren’t made up carelessly.  

              • no reason to withhold these facts

                There’s nothing you can do to defend yourself against the crazies, and you certainly don’t set policy guidelines based on what they may or may not say.  Jenny McCarthy was perfectly able to make arguments of that sort whether the recommendations changed or not.  Besides, the powers that be would open themselves up to infinitely more criticism if it were revealed that they failed to incorporate valid data.

                Usually when facts are being withheld it is to protect the interests – usually financial – of the powerful few who control them.  In this example there was just no way to make the conspiracy theories fit.  With a few exceptions, vaccines are among the least profitable products in the pharma industry.  Most major pharmas dumped or spun off their vaccine divisions years ago, and many countries actually subsidize vaccine production as a national security measure.  And while industry sponsored research can be kept quiet, publicly funded research is publicly available – and there is a vast amount of public research on vaccines.  The facts are too accessible to be controlled by a powerful few.

                Facts don’t always make things better, but since they generally don’t make things worse there’s not much reason for non-evil entities to withhold them.  The real problem is that the general public often doesn’t know how to determine whether they have the facts or not, especially if those facts are complex.  In the case of vaccines, they did; science being what it is, information is for the most part freely available.  But when people who understand the facts are loudly and repeatedly accused of conspiracies by people who don’t understand them, it’s hard for rest the public to know where to turn.  Sometimes the applause meter determines the victor – the loudest voices win.  And that’s where the media becomes criminally culpable, by handing a megaphone to Jenny McCarthy.

        • As I’ve been reading this vaccine book,

          it’s the very same question I have. I mean, I like the stuff I’m learning, and I’m interested in some of the questions he raises, but in the absence of information that “his” schedule is truly better, I’m going to trust the standard schedule that many doctors have agreed to.

          I suspect that one question to our doctor, “Is there any reason for our child to deviate from the recommended vaccination schedule?” will allay any other concerns we have. If there are specific concerns, I trust this doctor to tell us, and if he explains that it is his professional opinion that we stick to the standard schedule, I strongly suspect we will.

          Thank you, Lyn, for your sharp scientific mind, which sets me more at ease.

    • I’ve been reluctant

      to mention it here, even though it’s been on my mind, because it can be such a hot-button issue.  But just the other day, on Simone’s birthday, I was listening to the Vanity Fair Writers Reading podcast.  It was a coincidence that it was January 13, but made me feel more connected to the couple featured in The Panic Virus (I find it hard or impossible to link from my iPad).  They had a daughter, Brie, born exactly a year before Simone–January 13, 2003.  She died of Protussus at two months, four days before she would have been vaccinated for it.  Considering that they should have had an eight year old that day, I felt less bitter and more sweet about my “baby” turning seven, but I digress.

      Her parens knew nothing of the vaccine debate until several years later, when her mother saw Jenny McCarthy on Oprah.  She was shocked to hear Oprah giving a voice to this woman who has absolutely no science or medical credentials, without even presenting the other side.  This women gets not even an equal but a greater voice than people who have devoted their lives to science and medicine.  And, as Erika pointed out, the whole thing is perpetuated by people who normally would never shun science.  It reminds me of An Inconveinient Truth, the way Al Gore showed the number of articles that disputed climate change vs. the amount of actual evidence that does (none).  And ultimately Oprah made Jenny McCarthy another one of her gurus.  So criminally irresponsible.  

      • DH wasn’t vaccinated

        as a kid- which turned out to be a blessing- but he’s slowly going through a modified protocol now.  I’m not sure I understand all of it, but one of the things we know is that he has to be absolutely rigid with his classroom.  If he has a kid who hasn’t been vaccinated in his class, he has to prepare to be out of school on almost no notice if there’s anything going around that he hasn’t been vaccinated for.  It’s a pain in the hiney but not nearly as bad as it would be if he had a bigger school and a bigger class (the whole school is 40 kids and his class has 7 usually).  I’ll be glad when we complete the protocol, but he still won’t be covered for some things- no immune response to the “test” protein so there’s no point in giving the vaccine.  If he gets exposed, he’s cooked.  

        • Does he have the right to know?

          I worry about this point.  I have no idea how many unvaxed kids are in my children’s classrooms.  I think I have the right to find out the percentage of kids in the school (or is it the district?) who refused vaccine, but I don’t have the right to know who they are.  That’s not really an issue for me personally, since my kids are not currently immune compromised, but I know young cancer patients who are vulnerable.  

          • The nurse has a list

            and as far as I know he can know it in the same way he knows who has asthma or chronic bowel issues.  He can’t share it publicly, but it’s part of the information that the nurse shares with individual teachers.  It’s a small community though and he’s shared the facts of his condition with all the grown-ups in the building and they’re all committed to keeping him (and all the kids) healthy.  

            • How does that work?

              We have to demonstrate proof of vaccinations to enroll our children in kindergarten and even our private nursery school requires it.  I know some people get around it but I am not sure how that works.  In the higher SES districts I think people who don’t vax get waivers but in the lower SES ones I suspect the students just fly under the radar as in the protocols are more lax.  I don’t know but it is a requirement in our state.  I always thought it was something that most states require.

              • You have to fill out a form

                declaring either a medical necessity to skip the vax (which has to be signed by a doctor) or you have to declare yourself a religious exception.  DH was raised Christian Scientist so none of the kids in his family had any health care as children.  (His sister actually had a documented healing when she was about 10.  She broke a bone and was taken to the ER by a coach or something.  The x-ray showed a break, she asked her folks to take her home and give it the weekend to see if she would be healed.  On Monday when they went back to see what the deal was, there was no break.  Pretty freaky.  Then again, his dad had quadruple bypass when he was in his early 60’s.   Just woke up one day with a strong sense that he needed a doctor. He went in at 9 and was in surgery by 3.  They said he wouldn’t have lasted another 72 hours without the surgery.)

                    • Christian Science

                      is weird and cool, if you really do it right.  The whole idea is “If you have any doubts, seek medical attention because doubt will prevent healing.”  DH’s dad felt like he needed to see a doctor, so no problem as far as the church was concerned.  DH’s sister was absolutely certain she’s be healed, it wasn’t a bad break and her folks followed her lead (and kept her off it).  I think they would have had it set if it still showed a break on Monday.  There’s a misconception that there’s a lot of guilt around seeking medical attention, but that’s not really what the church teaches- it’s all about individual choice with a lot of internal examination and reflection on your own faith and relationship with God.  In some ways it saved DH’s life- he wouldn’t have survived a normal vaccine protocol as a kid and the requirement that he be pulled whenever there was something going around at school certainly protected him as a child. Then again, it gave him a simultaneous mistrust of medicine and a hyper-awareness of his own symptoms with an eye towards “the wheels can come off at any moment.”  And since he has absolutely no religious or spiritual life as an adult makes it more complicated- he doesn’t have God to fall back on.

                      I keep my mouth shut on that last one.

  2. Cleaning out the kids

    old clothes today and maybe starting a project about converting our current ottoman into a storage ottoman. Wish me luck!

    • Our winter project

      is to switch bedrooms – moving DS into DD’s much larger room, moving DD downstairs to what is now the guest room so she’ll have a private bath and more privacy when she’s home, and then moving DH’s study into DS’s small room.

      We have to clean out toys, books, and several years of “stuff” in DD’s room.  

      We started this w/e with DS’s old books and games.  I’m the pack-rat of the crew, so I let DH and DS take this on.  I’ve already “reclaimed” a few things for my work, but otherwise I”m letting  DS decide what he wants and what he doesn’t

  3. MLK Day

    I’m always very moved by thinking about Martin Luther King, Jr. and his legacy. I’m proud to live in a state which honors him by having a holiday.

    That said, I really really really wish today was not a school holiday! Or holiday at all! I have so much work to do, and things to schedule with offices which are probably closed, that it’s going to be one hell of a tough day with the kids home.

    • That’s how DH feels

      He has today off, but he checked his emails this morning and it seems like everyone is still doing some type of work. He thinks he should as well, but I’m putting my foot down a bit! That’s the trouble of being a work-at-home consultant…free time or vacation is such a flexible, foggy thing.

      • And it’s not really a work holiday

        I don’t know anyone besides my teacher friends who have today off. Plus, I just came off a 3-week “vacation” — even though I was actually working that whole time on my website, I was closed to clients. So I can’t really take today off after being back for only a week.

        It’s snowing sideways out there today, too, so it’s going to be a long day inside : ). I SO wish my kids could enjoy going to a movie!! I’m tempted to take them to see Tangled, but worried Avery will be so anxious throughout it that it’s not worth it.

        • Do movies in general

          make Avery anxious? Or is it chase scenes and bad guys and stuff?

          Because Tangled has a pretty easy time of it by say Snow White standards. Most of the movie the princess is off having adventures for the first time and even the “bad guys” she meets up with are multi-dimensional as we learn in the “I Have a Dream” number. The Wicked Witch is a very beautiful, but spoiled and selfish lady. The kidnapping scene is over quickly. The “handsome prince” (not really a prince) is hurt at the end, but that is over very quickly and Rapunzel brings him back pretty quick (in a nice shout-out to the original fairy-tale) and the Wicked Witch gets her comeuppance very quickly and goes POOF in a ball of dust out the window.

          Just my take, YMMV.

          • Yes

            This girl runs out of the room during Arthur half the time! So going to the movies has traditionally been very anxiety-producing for her. Ive shown her all of the funny clips on YouTube of Tangled, and she still doesn’t want to go see it.

            I’ve decided I’m taking her anyway! We’ll sit near the back and hopefully she can enjoy the fun parts.

  4. Coming up for air…

    I have about half a minute of free time in between my dad and his fourth wife’s visit, my aunt & uncle’s visit, and my trip to see my sister. Busy busy busy. DD has been going nonstop and has huge dark circles under her eyes. She looks like the oldest two year old on the planet. Will she ever take a break and just sleep in?

    My aunt and uncle came up for my cousin’s 60th birthday party and stayed with us. They are 80 and 90, respectively. We should ALL be so lucky to be in such good shape, mentally and physically, at their ages. Ninety years old and my uncle doesn’t miss a thing and is really quite spry. 80 years old and my aunt is on Facebook. They both volunteer several times a week at a homeless shelter and the hospital. They are amazing people. I felt truly grateful I could host them, cook for them, and spend time with them this weekend.

  5. It’s our anniversary!

    Thirteen years of marriage…. how did that happen?

    DH has been declaring his love on facebook all week, with sappy quotes and poems as his status updates. It is very sweet. I am lucky to have him!

    I feel bad though that our anniversary has become an afterthought since DD was born 1/19, and now DS’s birthday is just a couple of weeks after that. And this year, our anniversary lands on a school holiday, LOL.

    So I think we’ve decided to really “celebrate” our anniversary in late February/early March each year, after all the holiday/kids’ birthday madness has blown over. We’ll be spending a night away together then.

  6. why my mom rocks

    My friend’s mother just passed after a long illness. Friend lives in New England and her family are still in NYC, about 10 or 15 minutes from my parents. Friend’s family dynamics are pretty wackadoo, so I asked my mother if it would be okay for Friend and her husband to have the option to stay w/her if they need to escape. Her BFF lives about an hour away, and of course she could go there, but my parents are very close. This is a friend from high school, so my parents know her. Mom agreed (“but tell her to give me about an hour to clean a little”).

    Yesterday, about the same time I thought, Damn, I should’ve booked a flight to be with Friend this week…my mom attended the wake. I never expected or asked her to do that, she just went. Friend told me.

    It doesn’t mean she’s not nuts, just that she can be very, very awesome, my mother.

  7. okay, so this is a neat thing

    Last night I posted about a friend whose son drowned about 18 months ago.

    Today, out of the blue, I got an email from her. She and her family moved to Japan [where she is from] last summer so our contact had been very sporadic — probably I had not heard from her or been in touch for several months. Then the day after I post about her, I wake up to find an email from her.

    She says she is doing much better and she wrote at length about a visit she and her husband had with a psychic, who helped them feel more at peace. I am highly skeptical of psychics, even though I am very open to the idea of spirits watching over us, our deceased relatives getting messages to us via dreams or other methods, etc. It’s just that I think probably a lot of psychics are just scams. “I see someone with an initial R” — well, probably just about everyone has an initial R somewhere in their family or friends, ya know?

    But, I absolutely feel that if it makes someone feel better and doesn’t hurt them (e.g., scam them out of a lot of money) then to each her own. She seems to be feeling much better,  believes that there isn’t anything she could have done to save him, and feels connected with him and like he is watching over them.

    Such an interesting occurrence that I thought I’d share it with y’all.

    • Whatever works

      I, too, am skeptical of “seers” although I do believe we don’t know hardly anything about the other side, so who knows? I lost a good friend ten years ago in a car accident. I heard later from a friend that her parents were able to see the psychic John Edward (I don’t know how it came about) and left feeling very comforted and positive. I’d like to know what he said, but I wasn’t close to her parents at all, and her mom has since passed away.

      I dealt with her death in my own way, and have my own ideas about her continued presence in my life, which may not make sense to anyone but me. So I’m pretty open to letting people do what they like, as long as they aren’t being taken advantage of or exploited.

    • I am glad she is comforted.

      I am praying the family here can be comforted as well. They go to the same church as some friend’s of mine, so I know they have the support of their congregation which has to help.

  8. Home from NYC

    We had an absolutely amazing time.  Molly was so patient and grown-up.  The American Girl store could have been a nightmare and instead she counted how much money she had and then made really smart choices about what to buy and what to put on her “later” list.  All around us there were little girls throwing full-on tantrums and Molly was quietly weighing her options.  I was wicked proud.

    Today, however, she’s in full-on exhaustion mode.  Total bratty beast- but it was worth it.

  9. working…..R’s 4th birthday!

    This past weekend was very busy. On Sunday morning, our synagogue held a “mitzvah fair” for the kids in the religious school (instead of classroom essons) — kids could pick different projects to work on that would help the needy. I was the parent in charge of baking dog biscuits from scratch to donate to a shelter. The kids made almost 300!! biscuits! Other projects included making breakfast bags and soup and dog toys.

    On Sunday afternoon, we had a birthday party for R — she turned FOUR! last week.

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