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Life in cuckoo land

BY BEAU ELLIOT | OCTOBER 13, 2009 7:20 AM

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So this is the way it apparently goes these days. On NPR recently, an infectious-disease expert, in urging people (that would be us, if you’re keeping score at home) to get flu shots, stressed that people cannot get the flu from the flu vaccines, contrary to some rumors.

The flu shot is made from a dead flu virus; thus, it cannot reproduce and cannot cause people to contract influenza. That’s the way he put it.

The nasal-spray vaccine, on the other hand (not that vaccines seem to have hands, from what we can tell), is made from a live virus, but that live is so weakened that it, too, cannot reproduce, given the heat inside the human body, and cause the flu. Again, this from the scientist.

So then, a few minutes later on BBC Radio, a medical journalist said the nasal-spray vaccine will cause a flu pandemic because it is made with a live virus.

Well, well, well. So what are we to make of all this? Do we get the flu vaccine and thus start a flu pandemic? Or do we not get the vaccine, then contract the flu, and start a flu pandemic?

Or do we dawdle, sitting on the sidelines, not quite making up our minds (which, you have to admit, human beings are exceedingly expert at doing)?

And while we’re dawdling, we could gaze at the weather and wonder how global climate change is getting along as November roams through the October landscape. (Yes, yes, we know intellectually that global climate change does not mean every place warms up. Still. We’re just saying.)

Or, global climate change being not so sexy anymore, now that even some big corporations believe in it (Apple, Exelon, and Pacific Gas & Electric have quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce because of the Chamber’s perceived foot-dragging on climate change), we could dawdle and wonder about the fate of Tom DeLay, the former Republican Pooh-Bah. Poor guy had to drop out of “Dancing with the Stars” because of stress fractures in his feet. Of course, the cynics among us would say a lot more is fractured in the “Genius of K Street” than his feet. Not me. I think the guy just wanted to dance.

How’s he going to find his feminine side now?

Or we could dawdle on the sidelines and engage in the latest national sport, which, of course, is making fun of President Obama for receiving the Nobel Peace Prize for, well, apparently, for talking nice.

Yes, I know; Obama hasn’t yet waved his magic wand and brought peace between the Israelis and Palestinians. (What’s he waiting for? His flu shots?)

And yes, the United States is still engaged in two wars, which doesn’t sound all that peaceful, just on the face of it.

And yes, I’ll admit when I first drowsily heard the announcement on the radio, I rolled over and went back to sleep. A couple hours later, when I woke up, I was sure that the announcement was part of some surrealistic dream induced by my surrealistic pillow.

But no.

And so the ridicule continues. Everyone from Rush Limbaugh and Ross Douthat on the right to Howard Zinn on the left is heaping it on Obama by the dump-truck load. (Douthat, you Obama supporters might be interested to know, describes you as having “cloud-cuckoo-land expectations.”)

You’d think Obama had campaigned for the Peace Prize.

Well, I don’t know about the prize. But anyone who can unite Limbaugh and Zinn on an issue has accomplished something previously believed impossible.

And those vaccines we’re dawdling about? Me, I’m going to get the flu shots. Not that I ever get the flu. But this year’s edition of the Boston Red Sox has severely compromised my immune system.

Call it one flu over the cuckoo land.


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