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October, 2009:

What would really, really scare me at Hallowe’en?

Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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As if the PM didn’t get out enough of his aggression in Afghanistan, he does THIS!

Yeah, so I have scribbled a lot of bad things about our current PM.  I happen to think that he is a cynical, plotting bully who throws a hissy fit if things don’t go his way.

But an international bully? I didn’t think it was possible.

Yet, according to the Niono news source, our own Prime Minster has been a key part of a greater effort by the G-8 to goad Lichtenstein and Andorra into going to war with one another!

This, of course, is completely reprehensible! Why aren’t they covering this on The National?

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The G8’s proposal, which seeks to pit the small, landlocked principalities against each other in military combat, was reportedly drafted after the leaders of the eight nations had grown bored with their recent negotiations over international energy tariffs.

“After much careful deliberation, we have come to the consensus that the nations of Liechtenstein and Andorra need to just man up and fight, ” said U.K. Prime Minister Gordon Brown during an afternoon recess. “All of the bigger countries want them to, and everyone agrees at this point that it would be quite lame if they didn’t. Therefore, I would advise Liechtenstein and Andorra to grow some balls already and get on with it.”

“This is going to be so hilarious,” said President Barack Obama, who plans to take time away from health care negotiations to oversee the distribution of heavily armored mobilized units to the citizens of Liechtenstein and Andorra. “Once they get into it, they’re going to go nuts. They’re just going to totally go off on each other.”

“I cannot wait,” he added.

In a final effort to ensure that the proposed confrontation between Liechtenstein and Andorra commenced tomorrow afternoon “without a hitch,” Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper held a press conference intended to persuade the two countries.

“Fucking just fight already!” Harper said. “Fight! Fiiiight! Fiiiiiiight!”

Um.

OK. I got most of that from The Onion… just bored with posting serious end of the world stuff like the flu, killer robots and wars…

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OK – I’m officially freaked out – vid of Stevo’s cousin!

The first Terminator has always been one of my fave flicks (1). A killer robot intent on changing the future by changing the past really got my attention. Arnie was über-cool and Linda Hamilton was pretty hot.

But the concept was pretty out there – especially back in the mid-80’s. I mean, killer robots that look like humans build a time machine while warring with the human race in the then-distant 2029. As the tag line went back then:

In the Year of Darkness, 2029, the rulers of this planet devised the ultimate plan. They would reshape the Future by changing the Past. The plan required something that felt no pity. No pain. No fear. Something unstoppable. They created ‘THE TERMINATOR

Now, in 2009, 2029 is only 20 years away but still… pretty far-fetched, eh?

Which brings me to what has freaked me out.

Boston Dynamics is a small engineering and robotics firm spun off from MIT in 1982. According to its Web site it “builds advanced robots with remarkable behavior: mobility, agility, dexterity and speed.” Mostly military applications: the US Army, Navy, and the Marine Corps.

You might remember their robot dog a couple of years back. Cute little thing that didn’t pee in the corner and would do as told all of the time.

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And there is this guy – called Petman…

According to fastcompany.com, BD says its an “anthropomorphic robot for testing chemical protection clothing. ”  Petman will balance itself and move freely; walking, crawling and will also simulate human physiology within the protective suit by sweating when necessary.”

This is the first generation of the machine.

What will Version 15.0 lo0k like?

And does Stevo have plans to create a body-double?

1. It’s likely tied with Predator – the only movie that I know of that starred not one but TWO future Governors!

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Just cuz I love this banner!

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TMLHC – Canada’s team.

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Canadians to royal family: “meh”

It seems as though we Canucks are becoming indifferent towards our favorite foreign royal family.

While about 80 per cent of respondents agreed that the monarchy had an important place in Canada’s history, a majority also felt it was out of step with the times. More than 60 per cent felt that a constitutional monarchy was outdated.

Uh, yeah, our system is way outdated and due for a change.

And will this happen in my lifetime?

Doubt it.

All of the provinces would have to agree to a Constitutional Amendment that would effectively make Canada a Republic.

The provinces cannot even agree on time zone standards, so how can they be expected to see eye to eye on something like that! As long as federal government after federal government continues to decentralize the nation’s power away from the centre and toward the regions, little progress is likely to be made on major structural changes in our political system.

Like ’em or not, we’re likely stuck with these inbred nincompoops for a long time to come.

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H1N1 immunizations – just do it!

There are still a lot of misconceptions out there about the H1N1 vaccine. Confusion about the vaccine in general as well as more specific concerns about the adjuvanted vaccine versus the non-adjuvanted vaccine.

I’m not talking about the Jenny McCarthy lunatic fringe element. The Squid-dude and I have dealt with that in a past posting.

I’m referring to some sane and normal individuals asking some sane and normal questions about the vaccine.  After all, if you are going to put this stuff into your kids’ bodies, or your own, then you should understand a bit about what is in the vial, correct?

So – here are some realities and myths about the vaccine in general and the adjuvanted vaccine more specifically:

1. The H1N1 flu vaccine will give me the flu.

FICTION

This is a common myth that doctors battle every year. And the H1N1 flu is being made the same way that seasonal flu is manufactured. The flu vaccine is created from killed virus, so there is no way to transmit flu from the vaccine.

Flu season coincides with the cold season so people frequently confuse the common cold with the flu. Also, in some cases, people who get a flu shot can still get the flu, but they may get a much less severe form of the illness and, most importantly, they’ll have a decreased risk of flu-related complications — especially pneumonia, heart attack, stroke and death — to which older adults are especially vulnerable.

2. Wearing a mask will protect me from flu.

FICTION

Except in certain health care settings, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) does not recommend wearing a face mask. They have a lot of shortcomings for infection control. They’re only good for a short period of time and as soon as they get moist, they become ineffective. They also do not fit tightly enough around the face to prevent small infected droplets to get through. The best advice is that if you’re sick, stay home. Stay away from sick people and make sure to keep your hands clean and practice good cough etiquette by coughing into your sleeve. Still gross – as discussed by XUP, here.

3. Hand sanitizer is as effective as washing my hands.

FACT

They are an effective way of cleaning your hands of germs. Doctors use them and they’re commonplace in hospitals.

Ashton referenced the CDC, saying, the influenza virus is destroyed by heat. In addition, several chemical germicides, including chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, detergents (soap), iodophors (iodine-based antiseptics), and alcohols are effective against human influenza viruses, if used in proper concentration for a sufficient length of time. Wipes or gels with alcohol in them, for example, can be used to clean hands. The gels should be rubbed into hands until they are dry.

4. I am sneezing, have a sore throat and a cough, so I have H1N1 flu.

FICTION

No, you need to also have a fever. Coughing and shortness of breath are common symptoms, but also vomiting, fatigue, muscle soreness and diarrhea.

Ashton cited the CDC saying the symptoms of novel H1N1 flu virus in people are similar to the symptoms of seasonal flu, although vomiting and diarrhea has been reported more commonly with H1N1 flu infection than is typical for seasonal flu.

The CDC studied the hospital records of 268 patients hospitalized with novel H1N1 flu early on during the outbreak. In this early subset of cases with significant clinical data, fever (93 percent) and cough (83 percent) were the two most reported symptoms. This is not surprising since cough and fever were part of the case definition. Other symptoms were shortness of breath (54 percent), fatigue/weakness (40 percent), chills (37 percent) and myalgias, also known as muscle soreness (36 percent).

5. If the rapid flu test comes back negative, that means I don’t have H1N1 flu.

FICTION

The CDC reports that many of the rapid diagnostic tests may miss many cases of the H1N1 flu, Ashton said. The overall sensitivity ranged as low as 40 to 69 percent. So, she said, the first result may not be the most accurate. The CDC recommends that clinicians use their judgment based on the patient, and prescribe Tamiflu if necessary.

Q1. What is the difference between an adjuvanted and non-adjuvanted vaccine?

An adjuvanted vaccine is a vaccine that includes a substance that boosts an individual’s immune system and increases their response to a vaccine. An unadjuvanted vaccine has no “booster” element.

Adjuvanted vaccines are included in common vaccines such as tetanus and Hep B.  The adjuvant in Canada’s H1N1 flu vaccine is made up of natural ingredients such as water, squalene oil and vitamin E.

Q2. When was the last time Canada used an adjuvant in a vaccine?

Adjuvants are not new. They have been used for several decades to boost immune response to vaccines.  Many of the commonly used vaccines in Canada contain an adjuvant.  However, they have not previously been approved for use with influenza vaccines in Canada.

Q3. Are adjuvanted influenza vaccines safe for use?

The adjuvant used by GSK has been tested in approximately 45,000 people around the world and has been evaluated by Health Canada and other regulatory authorities as part of the review of the H5N1 vaccine in the pre-pandemic period.  No significant safety concerns regarding the use of the adjuvanted vaccine were detected.

In June 2009, the WHO held consultations on the safety of adjuvanted influenza vaccines to review and discuss known and theoretical safety concerns and prospective vaccine safety evaluation.  The outcome of the WHO consultation was that no significant safety concerns or barriers to evaluating or using adjuvanted vaccines for the current H1N1 virus were raised.

Clinical studies have been designed to study the risks and benefits of using both adjuvanted and unadjuvanted vaccine against the H1N1 flu virus, and Health Canada and the Public Health Agency of Canada are working closely with other national agencies to implement appropriate post-market monitoring.

Q4. Does an adjuvanted vaccine pose a risk to pregnant women?

All evidence suggests that adjuvanted vaccines are just as safe as unadjuvanted vaccines; however there is no safety data for the use of adjuvanted vaccine in pregnant women.  The WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts (SAGE) recommended in July that pregnant women should receive non-adjuvanted vaccine where possible, but that an adjuvanted vaccine could be used if necessary.

Q6. Is the Government ordering non-adjuvanted vaccine?  Who will it be recommended for and why?

The Government of Canada plans to purchase a small quantity of non-adjuvanted H1N1 flu vaccine (approx. 1.8 million doses) as part of its total order of 50.4 M doses.

The purchase of a small quantity of non-adjuvanted vaccine is a precautionary measure for pregnant women as no clinical data of the safety of adjuvanted vaccine in this group is available.

In these cases, should a non-adjuvanted vaccine prove to be effective, it may be the preferred option.  The WHO has indicated that it has no special concerns about the safety of adjuvanted H1N1 flu vaccines in general.  The WHO has also strongly recommended that pregnant women be immunized against the H1N1 flu virus, even if no non-adjuvanted vaccine is available.

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From the weird news department…

A Montréal man died today while parasailing in the downtown part of the city.

There are, apparently, no by-laws preventing someone from tying one end of a cord to a car and the other to a parasail. But Montréal police urge people to use common sense.

Of course, this IS Montréal. And I can sorta picture my brother-in-law doing something like this!

I wonder if, on my way home tonight,  I’ll be seeing daredevils bungee jumping from the Peace Tower… maybe motorcrossers on Albert Street?

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Pretty Big Dig!

As someone who grew up around heavy equipment, I can appreciate this!

If you or your kids love “mighty machines”, give it a look-see.

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Ross Rebagliati, M.P.

So gold medalist snowboarder, Ross Rebagliati, is going to carry the Grit banner and go up against Doris in the next election. And I say why not?

Lotsa of pundits are going to pan this saying that this guy has no experience, has a dubious past because of the whole pot thing and is a bit goofy looking.

So what?

Listen. If any party is going to go anywhere in engaging voters who are not necessarily attracted to 50+ grey haired male spin-doctors, they must recruit candidates that fit the target demographic. Not exactly rocket science, eh?

Iggy. I hope you’re paying attention.

Besides, I think Mr. Rebagliati would make a great M.P. He is an ex-Olympic athete who knows how to compete, must have had a work ethic to get to that level and likely believes that the world is more than 4,000 years old!

Hell, I might even send him out a few bucks to go toward his campaign!

Go for it Ross! Best of luck!

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Dr. Stevo comes to the rescue!

I wouldn’t be surprised if the Harperites do try to take cedit for saving the lives of Canadians.

(Thanks to Warren Kinsella for this).

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