Before I get started on this week's entry, allow me to answer a question we received a couple of days ago. A reader complimented us on the professional look of our site, and asked how hard it was, and whether it was expensive. It is neither. Everything that you see here is free of charge. There are additional features that can be purchased as options, but you can accomplish what we have done here without laying out a cent.
Simply go to http://weebly.com and follow the simple instructions for creating an account. Choose a theme, or general "look" of the site (there are scores to choose from), upon which you will be taken to a blank screen like the one above. At that point you simply drag and drop from the left sidebar whatever you want, for example, a block of text, a picture, set out quotes in a different format, or a text-picture combination, which is what you see here. Create separate pages to organize your presentation, lock them with passwords if they are for certain eyes only, and import third-party widgets such as the visitors' log you see to the right. The real beauty of this service is that what you see while you're typing is what you'll see on the page when you post. Anyone who has ever struggled with Blogger's "Guess what this is going to look like" text box will appreciate this feature.
And now, on to the business of the week...
OUTBREAK! It's a word that gets your immediate attention, and will cause high anxiety feelings if it appears on your local newscast. Look, I don't try to follow the news too much; I get enough depression dealing with my own issues, but some things are impossible to overlook. There seems to be a sharp rise in the number of mumps infections across the country, and here in California, we're dealing with a small but tragic outbreak of a disease that mimics polio, and can to date only be treated by the amputation of the affected part, which can be especially devastating for the children who are its victims. As a grandparent, these things are distressing to me.
If you went to school in the 1950s, chances are good that you knew a classmate who wore an arm or leg brace because the poliomyelitis had atrophied that part down to a toothpick that couldn't lift its own weight. Some kids were confined to iron lungs because they couldn't breathe on their own. In some of the lesser diseases, I personally had bouts with measles, mumps, and chicken pox. Chicken pox was frightening, as my whole body was covered with multi-lobed blisters that resembled the gun turrets on a B-17, and the measles laid me in bed in the dark for a week while my fever at its peak reached 106`. Okay, you modern kids who have grown up with the benefits of vaccines in your lives, may be thinking, certainly not pleasant, but an old-timer's rite of passage.
But the fact is that these childhood diseases could and did kill children whose immune systems weren't up to the challenge. I seem to remember reading somewhere that measles killed more American children in the 1950s than smallpox. Consider that for a moment. A disease that practically every child in America was guaranteed to get, the only treatment was to put the child to bed in the dark for a week, and it was deadly! What must it have been like for a parent in those days?
And then came Dr. Jonas Salk. At the dawn of the 1950s, this hero developed a vaccine that would prevent polio. The child had an injection when he started school, a couple of boosters during his school years, and the fear of this life-destroying epidemic was banished forever. This was rapidly followed by vaccines to prevent measles, mumps, and a whole pantheon of childhood diseases which became unnecessary to the childhood experience. Miraculous, yes?
Before I continue, I'm going to take a few steps down a side road and shine a light on something for your consideration: Imagine that the pharmaceutical industry of the 1940s and 50s operated the same way it does now. The government funded Dr. Salk, and gave him all the money he needed to find his miracle cure for the most feared disease of the age. Today, it's all in the hands of the corporations. Imagine for a moment that you have AIDS. You are probably taking a drug cocktail three or four times a day at a cost of thousands of dollars per dose. How is it, then, in the interest of a drug company to develop a vaccine that you're given once for $100, and then they never see you again? It's a pretty safe bet that we're never going to see one, and that's only one of the many scandalous developments that has reduced this once-great country to what it is today.
But the subject here is childhood diseases, right? Eradicated, right? WRONG! Now we come to the age of the celebrity-doctor. No, not those guys on the late night infomercials. I refer to such learned lights as Meryl Streep, Ted Danson, and of course the gifted Jenny McCarthy. Credentials? None. Influence? Ah, utilizing the soapbox provided by their dubious acting or posing-nude-for-Playboy skills, they have done more damage to America than Sherman's army during the Civil War. Doctor Streep, with her high-profile campaign against alar, or daminozide, single-handedly destroyed the American apple industry; next time you have to pay top dollar for apples imported from New Zealand, you might consider dropping by her website to leave a thank you note. Doctor Danson warned us 24 years ago that the planet would only support human life for another ten years; don't know about you, but I'm starting to get worried. And now we have Doctor McCarthy standing up to assure us that childhood vaccinations gave her child autism.
It's difficult to blame them. After all, in a population of 300,000,000, it is no surprise to find three high-profile idiots. No, who I blame are the tens of millions of low-profile idiots who ignore the advise of thousands of health care professionals, and the evidence of the lack of leg braces, pox scars, and iron lung wards all around them to listen to the advice of a woman whose main talent consists of showing her crotch to a camera, because she wants someone to blame for her child's tragedy. Stop listening to these fools, America! Turn off Access. Turn off TMZ. Turn on your brains, for God's sake! If you want to be entertained by a movie, check out an actor. If you want to know what's proven to keep your child healthy, visit a doctor.
Or on second thought, don't. Every nation, being not just an outline on a map, but a manifestation of the will of its people, gets what it deserves through its own making. You're making your bed, America. Enjoy sleeping in it...
This is for the grandkids, the family, close friends, and anyone else who can keep a civil tongue in their heads! It amounts to an interactive book of memoirs, but only if you interact... so get to it!
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California has been my home since 1965. I wouldn't want to be anywhere else. I'm home to stay!
What is there to say about a ten-year old turning 65, besides, what the hell happened?!??