Monday, November 14, 2005

Celebrity Weddings For The Birds

Are you surprised at the wide selection of penguin cake toppers?

1) This strikes me as a sad thing to specialize in, sweeping away the wreckage of cancelled weddings. I would be interested to know how big a trend this is, and whether people who know think it has anything to do with the expansion of the wedding into such an enormously complicated and costly event, even for normal folk.

2) Gawker's delighted with Nicole Richie's new book and couldn't put it down. Prepared to tag it as ghostwritten, I perused this excerpt. My revised conclusion is that it's so awful I can easily believe she herself pushed out this mangle of abused language, puerile characterization, and stuff we already know about the well-funded and vapid.

Chloe Parker would be a terrible role model if she were famous. Trouble is that she was about to be. It started innocently enough, or as innocent as you can get on the dance floor of one of the hottest clubs in L.A.

If a junior high-schooler wrote what I read, I would be pleased with her efforts at expression if distressed by her precocious worldliness. That this comes from the "educated" mind of a not underprivileged adult ought to be humiliating to the author and her publisher. That it isn't, and that it will likely make money just proves why I shouldn't run the world. It would be so much unfunner.

3) This is a very worthwhile and link-rich article about the avian flu panic from my favorite health reporter and debunker, Michael Fumento. Before hyperventilating at terrifying cover stories and news crawls, read these avian flu facts that address the panics which many in the media are carelessy and ghoulishly inflaming. The bullets points:

  • Nothing about this particular influenza is new, the frenzy of reporting is new.
  • It well may not mutate or migrate per the worst case scenario. It hasn't yet after decades of living with us.
  • There are things we can do to control the spread.
  • Despite the scare-lede 50% mortality reports, we can't know what these statistics really are, because those who never displayed symptoms or got very sick haven't been diagnosed for counting. As Fumento points out, we know the numerator of deaths, but have no way of knowing how big the denominator of exposed people is.
  • Medicine today is not the same as 1918.
If you aren't familiar with the role secondary infections play in upping a flu's death toll, read especially about the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine which works against 23 kinds of pnemonia-causing bacteria which can never become resistant to it. This vaccine protects for life, and is one we need to invest in as heavily as Tamiflu et al which viral flu strains can become resistant to.

Now is the time for even greater education that viral treatments are not preventative, and should absolutely not be used except in the presence of a confirmed infection that needs them. Overuse will render these agents powerless, because the virus will have mutated past their abilities to inhibit it. Don't stockpile, don't premedicate, don't poison birds, or worry about catching H5N1 from your Thanksgiving turkey should you indulge.

(UPDATE: Michael Fumento is a discredited creep. Your humble author still agrees with the conclusions he made, as these data have been cited by other, reputable sources. However, I must alert you that this man was, quite unfortunately, a paid mouthpiece.)

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