Pox parties (5×8 – 11/7/11)

When facts take a licking, the latest Vikings stadium video, the heart of a racer, dreams denied and dreams fulfilled, and Oklahoma’s seismic mystery.


The Monday Morning Rouser:

1) FACTS TAKE A LICKING

“Are you scared enough of vaccines to give your kid a lollipop that’s supposedly been licked by another child with chicken pox?” the Los Angeles Times asks. Apparently, plenty of people are and it’s not a good idea. But this is one area of health care where facts don’t seem to matter.

People are selling lollipops allegedly licked by their infected kids to people who think they can be used to give their own kids chicken pox, and get an immunity that lasts longer than that provided by vaccines. It’s being organized on Facebook. The problem is it also makes kids more susceptible to complications, the paper says.


Thirty years ago, it was common for parents to bring their kids over to a sick friend’s house to get exposed to chickenpox — maybe that’s why today’s “pox parties” seem like a good option to parents put off by vaccines. Mason likened the practice to playing roulette. “It was not a good idea then, and it’s still not a good idea,” he said.

UCLA infectious disease expert Dr. Peter Katona was even more blunt: “I’d like to see charges pressed here,” he said, referring to the practice of sending the virus through the mail.

Why would parents do such a thing? Getting something from a complete stranger in the mail and asking your kid to lick it?

“If you are engaged in this type of behavior, you’re not only potentially exposing innocent people to dangerous viruses and illnesses and diseases, you’re also exposing yourself potentially to federal criminal prosecution,” the U.S. Attorney in Tennessee is warning.

2) ANOTHER DAY. ANOTHER STADIUM STORY

How’d you survive yesterday without the Minnesota Vikings playing on a Sunday in the fall? You did survive, right?

Another pro-stadium video has surfaced — it came from the Vikings — to remind you what you might have missed… or not.

The Vikings haven’t actually said they’d move if taxpayers don’t pony up for a new stadium. But the latest video confirms the threat.

“It’s one thing if someone believes that the presence of an NFL team isn’t worth the cost of a new stadium,” the Pioneer Press’ Tom Powers writes today. “You can disagree, but you have to respect an honest opinion. It’s quite another to simply stand idly by and intentionally do nothing – have no position, no ideas, no desire to be bothered.”

3) THE HEART OF A RACER

Joao Silva, the New York Times photographer who lost his legs when he stepped on a land mine in Afghanistan, ran the New York Marathon yesterday and finished 52nd in the handcycle division. He had originally intended to stop along the way to take pictures, but after he crossed the Verrazano-Narrows Bridge from Staten Island, he stopped taking pictures.

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“I realized that if I was going to take more pictures, I was never going to finish this race,” he said. “It felt good. I’m a racer at heart. I wanted to race.”

His pictures and story are available on the New York Times’ Lens blog.

Related: Cartoonist sketches while running marathon.

4) DREAMS DENIED. DREAMS FULFILLED

Nathan Nerland, of St. Paul, says he and his sixth-grade pal had dreams of growing up to be teachers. “We hoped we could find a school where we’d have neighboring classrooms and work together for the rest of our lives and share the gift of learning,” he says on his website. But his friend died and Nerland went into advertising. Now he’s paying for building a school in his friend’s memory.

5) SEISMIC MYSTERY

Rare earthquakes hit Oklahoma over the weekend. When it did, National Weather Service radar picked up bugs and birds heading for the sky to get away from the rumbling ground.

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It’s not entirely comforting that scientists reportedly are “puzzled’ by the increase in seismic activity in the area, according to the New York Daily News.

Oklahoma typically had about 50 earthquakes a year until 2009. Then the number spiked, and 1,047 quakes shook the state last year, the paper says.

Bonus: A former colleague who works for CBS News, snapped this picture of Andy Rooney’s office on Saturday, the day Rooney died. Note the presence of a computer and the absence of a typewriter.

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TODAY’S QUESTION

Around Minnesota, local officials and the citizens they represent are grappling with hard choices involving public services and shrinking budgets. Today’s Question: If your local government has to make severe cuts in services, where should it start?

WHAT WE’RE DOING

Midmorning (9-11 a.m.) – First hour: Campaign managers and consultants spend a lot of time trying figure out the traits that will help sell their candidate. But research shows that in many cases those traits aren’t what voters consider important. A political scientist wonders if this suggests a fundamental problem with our modern electoral system.

Second hour: Author Colson Whitehead joined Kerri Miller to discuss zombies, Twitter, his childhood journal and his new book, Zone One. Recorded at the Fitzgerald Theater on November 2nd.

Midday (11 a.m. – 1 p.m.) – First hour: Rep. Pat Garofalo and Rep. Mindy Greiling discuss Tuesday’s elections to raise taxes for schools.

Second hour: A debate from NPR’s “Intelligence Squared” series: Do Grandma’s Benefits Imperil Junior’s Future?

Talk of the Nation (1-3 p.m.) – First hour: The new politics of race.

Second hour: War correspondent P.J. O’Rourke thought he was too old “too keep being scared stiff.” So he retired and decided to travel for fun.