Posted by: bridget | 3 April 2007

Miscellaneous

Catching up on a lot of blogging:

Researchers predict that 2007 will be a “very active” hurricane season.  2004 and 2005, for those who recall, were tough years (2004 having Charlie, Ivan, and a few others that hit South Florida, and 2005 having Katrina, Rita, and going into the Greek letters).  Last year, hurricane researchers predicted a very active season, but there were only ten named storms and five hurricanes, which is a “near-normal” season.

Of course, researchers can predict whatever they like; the real question is whether there will be any extreme weather this year.  Until then, this pachyderm is withholding her judgment.

The Washington Post has an article about young women who are not (shock!) flocking to get Merck’s vaccine that prevents HPV.   The article could not be more biased in favour of immediate vaccination of all of those promiscuous college students.

The article’s first paragraph reads, “The four women are lounging in the Sigma Kappa living room at George Washington University, discussing the new vaccine that may keep them from dying of cervical cancer.”   Right.  Because women are dropping dead right and left from cervical cancer that just sneaks up on them out of nowhere.  The fact is that less than four thousand Americans a year will die of cervical cancer.  While many of them will be infected with HPV in their lifetimes, the virus has little effect on most women.  The vaccine does not obviate the need to get regular Pap smears, as women can develop cervical cancer from strains of the virus that are not protected by the vaccine or from other factors.

The article continues to list the reasons why women don’t want to get the vaccine: “But they give other reasons as well: The virus is transmitted through sexual activity, and they’re not having sex right now. Or they are having sex but are uncertain about how effective Gardasil is or what its long-term consequences might be. Some assume that hookup partners who can afford popped-collar shirts and expensive jeans are not the kind of guys who would be infected. And some admit they think that cervical cancer won’t happen to them — even when, like Strattner, they know someone their age who was diagnosed at an early stage of the disease.”

Many of those are really excellent reasons to not get the vaccine; however, throwing the “popped collar shirt” comment trivialises all of them.  Given that the long-term effects and efficacy of the vaccine are unknown, the women are making a wise, educated decision to avoid it.  Ultimately, this isn’t about cervical cancer and waves of women who are dying from it, but is about an STD.  There is nothing irrational about women deciding that they would rather not receive an unproven, questionably effectual vaccine, merely in the name of “safer sex” that is promoted by the modern progressive movement.

A French train set a speed record of 357.2 mph, which is as fast as a plane.  The speed record was set by a conventional train (not the magnetically-levitated trains used in Japan) on high-speed rail.  The French want to sell the technology to the Chinese.

Americans could benefit from this technology.  The Boston-DC commute, by train, takes about seven hours (on the Acela, Amtrak’s luxury high-speed train).  A Boston-NYC-DC trip, by super-high speed rail, could be shortened to about an hour and a half.   Given the hassles and time involved in air travel (the hour and a half required time at an airport doubles the commute), and the fact that very few cities have downtown airports, America could do well by this technology.  For some reason, we see little reason to invest in rail travel, even as our airports are at capacity.

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Responses

  1. Amen on the HPV post. This situation, the bogus annoying misleading commercials… drive me crazy! Thank you for the educated information on it.
    i’m so glad women aren’t buying into this. I’m pleasently surprised.

  2. Thanks for stopping by and commenting! :)

    It’s good to know that there are other people who can look at this critically… who can think, “Cancer is bad, but that doesn’t mean that we should rush into this.”

    I’m happy that women aren’t buying into it, too! It seems like they are thinking that the vaccine isn’t completely reliable, that the disease strikes mainly older women, and it probably won’t be effective forty years from now. Good for them — it’s all about standing up for their bodies and themselves.

    I guess I just don’t think that women ought to be guinea pigs for Merck or receptacles of everything that is “good for them.”

  3. 357 mph? Wow! I hope it stays on the tracks. If radical Islamists blow up a train in the U.S., will the waits be just like the airlines?

  4. Yeah, I was wondering that, but I don’t think so. It seems like people take a lot less luggage on a train, and you could simply have explosive-sniffing dogs that could screen everyone. I could be wrong, but it would probably take a lot more to take down a train than an airplane; even a small puncture in the side of a plane will kill everyone on board, but the same on a train might just cause a lot of injuries.

    Also, it’s not like you can drive a train into major American buildings. Harder to hijack, I guess.

    Ultimately, though, our trains are pretty vulnerable… but for some reason, people freak out about flying a lot more.


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