Thursday, January 29, 2009

Get the Stitches


Death from Lack of Vaccination

This is a blog from Dr. Phil Plait. Please read it and pass it along if you wish.

An unvaccinated child has died from a preventable disease
by Phil Plait, Jan 28 2009

This story is so sad, and what makes it worse is that it was preventable.

The Centers for Disease Control has put out an alert: in Minnesota in 2008, there were five confirmed cases of Haemophilus influenzae type b (or Hib) among children younger than five years old. Of these five cases, three of the children were unvaccinated, one had started the series of vaccines but did not complete the series due to shortages, and the fifth — who had been fully vaccinated — had an immune deficiency.

Five cases may not sound like a lot… until you learn that one of the unvaccinated children died. This was a baby, just a seven-month-old infant.

I can barely type that sentence out; my heart is aching so. I can only imagine what the parents are feeling. I literally have nightmares about such things.

There are several things to note about this incidence of Hib:

1) It’s the largest number of cases in one year since 1992 in Minnesota, when 10 cases were reported. In the intervening years, between 0 and 4 cases were reported per year (1994 saw four cases, the average is about 2). These are small number statistics, so 5 cases may just be a normal statistical fluctuation. But the stakes are very, very high here.

2) We do not know why three of the five children were unvaccinated. It may be due to the antivax crowd, or it may be due to any number of other factors; the report doesn’t say (however, see (5) below).

3) Out of three unvaccinated children, one died. The historical rate of death from Hib, once infected, is about 1 in 20, so this is something of a fluke. But 1 in 20 is still way, way too high… and of the ones who do survive the infection, 1 in 5 will suffer deafness, blindness, or severe, permanent brain damage.

Russian roulette has better odds than 1 in 5; do you want to play that with your baby? If that sounds harsh, good. We’re dealing with babies’ lives here. The best thing you can do is make sure they don’t get the disease in the first place.

4) Getting a vaccine does not guarantee not getting the disease. We don’t know how many babies were vaccinated, and how many weren’t that didn’t get the disease. But with 1 in 20 odds, I know which way I fall.

5) There is a shortage of Hib vaccines right now, and it’s expected to last for a few more months. However, according to the CDC report, there are adequate supplies to have infants inoculated and complete the primary three-dose infant series.

Data were reviewed for 25,699 children born between November 1, 2007 and March 31, 2008… Among children aged 7 months, 3-dose primary Hib series coverage was 46.5%, which is lower than the age-appropriate coverage for children who had received pneumococcal conjugate or diphtheria and tetanus toxoids and acellular pertussis (DTaP) vaccination. In contrast, data from the 2007 National Immunization Survey, conducted prior to the shortage, showed that Hib vaccination coverage among children in Minnesota aged 19 months to 35 months was high and did not differ from the national average, suggesting that coverage has declined as a result of the shortage.

So there has been a decline in coverage due to the shortage, with roughly half the children in the survey being vaccinated.

Putting this all together is difficult, with so many unknowns. But to belabor the obvious, we do know one thing: of the three unvaccinated children who got Hib, one died. The doctors from the CDC add this editorial comment:

Before development of Hib conjugate vaccines, Hib was the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in children aged <5 years. Since implementation of the Hib conjugate vaccine immunization program in the United States in the early 1990s, the incidence of Hib disease has declined from a peak of 41 cases per 100,000 children aged <5 years in 1987 to approximately 0.11 cases per 100,000 in 2007.

In other words, the infection rate among infants dropped by a factor of nearly 400 after the Hib vaccination was developed. This recent increase may reflect a loss of herd immunity, meaning too many kids are not getting vaccinated.

Folks. Please. Vaccinate your children. The science is in, the tests have been done, the results are solid: vaccinations do not cause autism. What vaccines do is save the lives of thousands of children who would otherwise be suffering the effects of preventable diseases… and one of these effects can be death.

Save your kids’ lives. Take them to a doctor and get his or her advice on this. And if they recommend vaccinations, then do it.

My thanks to Dr. Joe Albietz for providing me with some of the numbers in this article.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Act Now!!

Science vs. The Bible?

I knew this day would come, but I did not expect it so soon, or so blatantly. Dinner time here at Castle Marius usually consists of the missus and I finishing our food relatively quickly, and then 45 minutes of getting the COA to finish. Last night I was unusually weary and lay down on the couch after finishing, leaving the ladies at the table. As I was dozing I heard the young'n pipe up, "Should I believe the Bible,or science?" Needless to say I was instantly awake. This is a tricky issue round these parts. I am, on a good day, agnostic, and given the antics of the Religious Right over the last decade my stance on religion has soured to the point of derision and antipathy. My wife, however, is a Southern Baptist and does not always appreciate my questioning of biblical issues. I was anxious to have this discussion, but knew I must needs tread carefully to maintain domestic tranquility. So I told our young inquisitor that the two are not, necessarily, at odds. We then went into a discussion of what metaphor means, and then I told her that science describes the universe as it is, and religion describes the universe as it should be. She seemed to accept that, and so did my wife. Crisis averted. I did, however, tell her that should any Science teacher try to tell her that evolution is wrong, or that the Earth is only six-thousand years old that I wanted to know about it immediately. I want her to have the same opportunities I had to make up her own mind about religion, but I will not tolerate her being force-fed any of that 'Intelligent Design' BS in a public school. So far it doesn't seem to be a problem, but the more I hear about Creationist leaning school boards in Louisiana and Texas, the more I fear that such ignorance can't be too far away from our own peninsula.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Episode 4

This week we talk about Ricardo Montalban, a new Buck Rogers series, and read some of your emails.
Starbase 66.


Last weekend Mrs. Marius announced her intention to put in for a couple of days off at work. She is currently working two jobs, and gets no days off, so it was quite understandable that she would need a breather. The day after this announcement I got word that the Hoggtowne Medieval Faire, in Gainesville, was starting this weekend. We still only have the one car(waiting on tax refunds for down payment)so even when she does get time off all she ends up doing is sitting around the house, so the faire was just the right medicine. Thus yesterday morning we piled into the car and headed north. Normally we'd dress up in our period finery for such an outing, but we decided given the chilly weather, and the desire to just relax, we'd dress normally and be part of the great, unwashed masses.(although we did shower)

The nice thing about Hoggetowne is that there is a very strong SCA presence at the faire, so it is a bit more grounded in reality than most renn faires. You still get your fair share of elves and wizards wandering around, but the general atmosphere is friendlier. We also got to see many old friends who happen to live in Gainesville. Friends such as his Baronship, Syr Terrell:

As you can see, one of his trademarks is his serious, humorless demeanor.(and just by way of explanation, his lady and he are major Gators fans)

Also at the faire was a place where you could get a ride on one of the war horses used in the jousting demo, and since the COA is quite stereotypically in love with horses, she went for a ride:

Later the SCA put on a fighting demonstration:

We also ran in to some very old friends, Dell and Widget.(yes, her real name is Widget...she's on the left):

But my most pleasant encounter was with my second mom, Natasha. We met more than 25 years ago, and she has been Mom to me ever since. With the events of the last couple of months still all too fresh in my mind it was so good to see her I can't really describe it:

Finally, around 4ish, Mrs. Marius had seen all she wanted to see, eaten all she wanted to eat, and bought nearly all she wanted to buy.(you could easily go broke at one of these things) We made the rounds, got hugs and said our goodbyes, and headed home. The diem had been fully carped, and my lovely wife was in a better mood than I've seen her in for quite some time.

All in all, it was a good day. :-)


Friday, January 23, 2009

Tech Support

I just received this in my in box:

Dear World:

We, the United States of America , your top quality supplier of the ideals of liberty and democracy, would like to apologize for our 2001-2008 interruption in service.
The technical fault that led to this eight-year service outage has been located, and the software responsible was replaced November 4.
Early tests of the newly installed program indicate that we are now operating correctly, and we expect it to be fully functional on January 20.
We apologize for any inconvenience caused by the outage. We look forward to resuming full service and hope to improve in years to come. We thank you
for your patience and understanding,


Thursday, January 22, 2009

Do Over

Yesterday evening President Obama(damn, that's fun to type) re-took the oath of office after he and Chief Justice Roberts got a bit befuddled the first time. This was probably unnecessary, but since there were already some right-wing jerk-offs saying he wasn't really president, it was a good move. Here's the CNN story.(and thanks to Chris for pointing this out)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- President Obama retook his oath of office Wednesday after Chief Justice John Roberts flubbed while delivering it at Tuesday's inauguration.
President Barack Obama takes the oath of office -- his second in two days -- in the White House on Wednesday.

The second oath -- also administered by Roberts -- took place at 7:35 p.m. Wednesday in the White House's Map Room. Roberts asked Obama whether he was ready.

"I am, and we're going to do it very slowly," Obama replied.

The do-over was aimed at dispelling any confusion that might arise from Tuesday's take -- in which "faithfully" was said out of sequence -- and erase any question that Obama is legally the president.

However, per the Constitution, Obama became president at noon Tuesday without taking the oath.

"We believe that the oath of office was administered effectively and that the president was sworn in appropriately yesterday," White House counsel Greg Craig said Wednesday in a written statement.

"But the oath appears in the Constitution itself. And out of an abundance of caution, because there was one word out of sequence, Chief Justice Roberts administered the oath a second time," the statement read.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


This was the first presidential inaugural I've ever paid attention to, and I am so very glad I did. It was funny that Roberts and Obama fumbled the oath, but Obama didn't fumble on his inaugural address. It was short on specifics, but then again that's not what the inaugural address is about. It was about hope, and inspiration, and getting the nation's spirit up, and it succeeded beautifully. And now that the pomp is finished(well, at least for most of us) it's time to get back to the business of putting this country back together. Do I think we can do it? With Obama and his cabinet leading...yes we can.

Happy Obama Day

I'm sitting in my office watching the lead up to the inauguration, and I find myself reflecting on what I expect from our new president. I'm not so foolish as to think that he'll wave his Jedi hand and all will be puppies and flowers, but I do think that we can, at the very least, expect competence.

And that's a change I can live with.

This is an auspicious day, and I am proud to be an American on this day, and even more proud that mine was one of the votes that helped make this possible.

We still have a lot of work ahead, but hopefully we'll have a good hand on the tiller for the next four to eight years.

Marius the Hopeful

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Well, That's A Fine How D'Ya Do!

So on Thursday I planned to take my car into the shop to get the alternator replaced. The lights have been flickering for a while now, and 10 days ago, when I had the radiator replaced, I asked them to check out the alternator. They confirmed that it was on the way out, and the gods of automotivation blessed me by letting it last long enough to get to the next payday. Then, Wednesday night, Artemis started bunching up and peeing, or trying to pee, on the kitchen rug. We know what that means, so before the car could see her doctor, we took the cat to see the vet. Yup, UTI. Antibiotics and oh, can you get a urine sample for us? Apparently Artemis has an unusually small bladder, so the vet couldn't get a sample. Unfortunately locking her in the bathroom with food, water, and a clean cat box didn't work, and when I tried to catch her using her litter box so I could try to stick something underneath her she is just too stealthy. But the antibiotics seem to be working, so at least that's something.

The car got it's new alternator, but when I went to take Mrs. Marius to work this morning it wouldn't start. Fortunately the Hyperion is a standard, and our driveway slopes downward, so I got the car running and got the wife to work. Tomorrow I will be having a word with the shop.

On the up side of things, I got the COA to watch Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan last night, and then she asked me to show her The Trouble With Tribbles this morning.(you can watch all the original episodes in streaming video at And, as you can see, COA wasn't the only budding Star Trek fan:

They may both be prone to pee-pee problems, but at least they are developing good TV habits. ;-)

Adios, y'all,

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Starbase 66, Episode 3

This week we are joined by Mark from California(El Diablito on the Intertubes) to discuss the treatment of gay and lesbian characters on Star Trek and Science Fiction.

Starbase 66

Friday, January 16, 2009

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

To The Last, I Will Grapple With Thee...

Prior to 1982 had you asked me to make a list of Star Trek villains I probably would have started with Harry Mudd, and then went on to Bele, Kor, Kang, Balok, and eventually the name Khan would have appeared. But in that glorious Summer, my first as a high school graduate, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan premiered and changed everything. From that day forth when you say Star Trek villain, the first name that comes to mind, screamed at the roof of an imaginary cave, is KHAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA

Ricardo Montalban died today at the age of 88. He was known across the genres as a movie star, TV star, car sales spokesman(who among us over the age of 30 can't quote, in a shameful parody of that marvelous accent, "rich CorINthian leather"?) He was Mr. Roarke on Fantasy Island, a benevolent/sinister granter of wishes, and from all that I've read he was a gentleman and a truly nice guy. What many people don't know about him was that in the early 50s he was thrown from a horse while filming a movie, and then got stepped on by another horse. The resulting back injury left him in constant pain for the rest of his life, yet you would never know it to watch him.

I can't say it's a tragedy when an 88 year old man dies, but it is very sad. But at least, for whatever it is worth, he is no longer in pain.

Adios, amigo. You will not be forgotten.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Blog? I have one? No kidding.

Ok, I suck harder than Paris Hilton on X. I've been so wrapped up in events and stuff that I completely forgot to update you wonderful people re: said events. I humbly beg your forgiveness.

Enough grovelling. On to the news. Firstly I am totally digging podcasting. A year ago, when my mother-in-law gave me an MP3 player for Christmas I thought I'd check out podcasts. I had heard of them, but since I did not own an iPod I thought that I could not access them. Then I discovered that podcasts were not behind the Apple Curtain, and anyone could listen. So I searched for science, science fiction, and of course Star Trek. This led me to my fated introduction to the Simply Syndicated podcasting empire. The more I listened, the more I thought, "Hey! I could do this!" But the thought languished in unrealized fantasy until very recently. About two or three months ago it occurred to me that there were two people on the Simply Syndicated forums whose opinions of Star Trek and Sci Fi were harmonious with my own, and the idea flared in my brain. I contacted them, and was thrilled when they agreed to join my endeavor. It took us a while to get all the bits and pieces together, and a few abortive recording sessions to work out the worst of the bugs, but we now have three episodes in the can(2 published, and one awaiting editing) and I am enjoying this far more than I ever dreamed. I am constantly thinking of what to do next, whom to try to interview(if any of you out there have connections with any genre celebrities, or just want to join me at the Admrial's Table to talk about your connection with Star Trek or Sci Fi just drop me a line), etc. I haven't been this passionate about an enterprise(hee) for a very long time. Of course the idea of this leading to fame and fortune always lurks in the back of my mind, but I must be honest with myself. Fame of a sort is possible, but fortune is highly doubtful. But should it ever develop in a way that brings even a few pennies our way, who would complain?

In other local news, the COA returned from her Christmas visit to her father, and once again we had to do damage control. Among her many emotional peccadilloes is an unfortunate tendency to forget the basics of personal hygiene. We know that here, and know to remind her from time to time. Her father, on the other hand, does not. She started complaining of back pain, and I attributed it to sore muscles from playing. Eventually it became clear that this was no backache, and we took her to the doctor. She had a kidney infection. So a bottle of antibiotics and several unpleasant days later she's fine and back in school.

And now: product placement. I recently picked up some Zip-Lock vacuum bags. They are just like regular Zip-Locks, but they come with a little bicycle pump. On the bag is a valve that allows you to pump the air out of the bag. These things are frikken awesome! I bought a tomato that I've been using for the COA's lunch sandwiches. Normally a tomato will last a couple of days in the fridge before you have to throw the majority of it away. This one has been in the fridge for a week, and is still as fresh as the day I bought it. Tomorrow will see the last of it go into a sandwich.

I take pleasure where I can get it, folks. ;-)

See ya!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Philosophical Mutant?

I hate basketball. To be truthful I am apathetic toward most organized sports, but I quite actively hate basketball. I enjoy pro football, although I have serious professional objections to the amount of focus, both financial and emotional, placed on college football, but if forced to watch a college game I can still enjoy it. But I would rather slide naked down a fifty-foot razor blade into a vat of salt water than watch five minutes of basketball. When I turned twenty-something my grandmother sent me a Shaquille O'neil birthday card. When questioned about it she said that she thought he was someone famous that I would like. Most people would have laughed it off, but I was actually offended. This is not normal. Granted I don't usually sweat 'normal', but I have no idea where my antipathy toward this sport originates. I have never watched a basketball game. Nor have I been forced to participate against my will. I have been forced to attend a wrestling match, and play lacrosse and football by over-enthusiastic PE coaches, but I don't loathe any of those sports. Only basketball earns my hatred. I don't get it.

There are other things that guys are supposed to be into that I don't get. Cars, guns, wrestling with each other, baseball stats, competitive farting. Somewhere there must be a 'guy gene' that is recessive in me. That's not to say I'm totally pansified and give a damn about window treatments. I spent a great deal of time in my young adulthood wearing forty pounds of steel and leather and hitting people with sticks. After which we would laugh manfully and drink copious amounts of whatever alcoholic beverages we could get our hands on. I miss those days, and if I can get past all my excuses, most significant of which is dropping at least fifteen pounds, I intend to fight another day.

But I still hate basketball.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

She Got Me Again!

Darn that Stinkypaw and her stealth tagging. I decide to go into blogging hibernation for a few weeks, and when I wake up, BOOM!, there's a tag on my ear. Oh well, I suppose I'll just do as I'm told this once. ;-)

Honest Scrap
A) first list 10 honest things about yourself - and make it interesting, even if you have to dig deep!
B) pass the award on to 7 bloggers that you feel embody the spirit of the Honest Scrap.

1. I have come to accept that no one will ever make the book Dune into a decent movie.

2. My complete lack of mathematical ability is very frustrating.

3. I'm really enjoying podcasting.

4. Coming up with ten things about myself that are interesting is not the easiest thing to do at 6:30am.

5. My immune system is fine, what I need is a pill that will boost my willpower.

6. Most of the stuff I believed in as a young man is bullshit, but the universe is still a groovy, exciting place.

7. I prefer Miracle Whip over mayonnaise.

8. When I was 12 I was so in love with Marie Osmond that I truly believed that she was singing to me on her show.

9. I still think Superman is a cool hero.

10. I am really trying to accept the premise that the Star Trek canon should be flexible since it is, after all, just an entertainment franchise and not life as we know it...Jim.

Ok, if you're still awake and want to do this too, go for it. My damned dart gun is jammed, so no tagging from this quadrant. And I promise to blog more henceforth. If nothing else it will be good therapy for getting back to normal...whatever that may mean. ;-)

In nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti. Amen

Marius is Risen.

(ooo, I'm a naughty boy)

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Slothman Strikes...well, be fair Lays Around Again

I'm in West Palm Beach, and doing as little as possible. I'm busy tonight and tomorrow night, but if you want to get together any other time give me a ring. I'm sorry I'm not being the social butterfly, but it has actually proven to be more difficult to be here than I expected, and it's all I can do to keep myself from bolting for home. I want to see folks, so please don't hesitate, but I'm just having great difficulty initiating anything more strenuous than getting out of bed.

Oh, and there won't be any sentimental year-end wrap up here. I'm going to do my best to stay positive about 2009, and I'm also putting out a moratorium on death. If you are reading this, and are alive now, I fully expect you to stay that way for the entirety of 2009, dammit!!

So there.