Sunday, September 19, 2021


 I had the impression that the anti-vax movement started with Andrew Wakefield, a British doctor, because of the flap around 1998 when he published a paper in the Lancet which suggested that the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella vaccine (MMR) had not been properly tested and could cause autism.  Usually publication in the Lancet means good research, but it turned out that he'd been paid to find out if there was evidence to support a legal case filed by parents who believed the vaccine had harmed their children.  He invented the evidence  to support his conclusion and his results couldn't be reproduced. By 2010 the British General Medical Council had ruled against Wakefield on several issues and the Lancet withdrew the paper.  Wakefield is no longer allowed to practice medicine in Great Britain.  This is just a summary, if you're interested in the Wakefield incident, read the linked article on him.

I got a lot of this from the History of Anti-Vaccination Movements, a 2018 article on the site History of Vaccines. I recommend the article to the interested.  It reminded me that people have been objecting to vaccines since before vaccines existed as such (the concept was developed by Edward Jenner in 1798).  The reasons aren't very different from what we're seeing now:  people don't trust doctors, or the government.  People don't like being told they have to do something.  People are afraid vaccines will harm them.

A lot of people on social media have been referring to the general acceptance of the polio vaccines in the 1950s, in the United States, as the standard for public acceptance of vaccines against a horrible disease, and comparing it to current rejection of the COVID-19 vaccines.  It was the exception.  There were public objections to the smallpox vaccine, to the Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis (DTP) Vaccine, and of course to the Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) Vaccine.  The only reason there were no objections to a vaccine for the 1918 influenza is because a vaccine was never developed. There were objections in 1918 to wearing masks.

Apparently people in the 1950s were simply more afraid of polio than they were of the vaccine, a reaction we haven't seen in the people refusing the COVID-19 vaccines.  At least until they're in the ICU.

Friday, September 10, 2021

Remembering 9/11

Tomorrow is the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 attack.  I didn't start blogging until several years later, so I don't have a contemporary record, but I remember it.  Boy, do I remember it.  Living in California, I was getting dressed to go to work when I found out about it - I was working at the Bank of America's Concord data center, in the email support team.  

I usually listen to the news on NPR while I'm doing things like that, and I kept hearing some very strange things.  I remember going downstairs to get some breakfast and calling out to my husband, "What the hell is going on?"  Back in 2001 we had a television that we occasionally turned on, and he had it turned on, and I got a look.

The attack happened at 08:45 EDT, which was 05:45 PDT, so by the time I got up and got moving it had been going on for some time.  (I'm not a morning person.)  By 07:00 PDT or so, which is my guess on the time I came downstairs, the attack had been going on for an hour and a quarter.  Both towers and the Pentagon had been hit, the south tower had collapsed, and hijacked Flight 93 was within 10 minutes of crashing in the field near Shanksville, PA.  

The flight 93 hijacking seems to have begun around 09:31 EDT.  At 09:57 EDT, the passengers took a vote and decided to attack the hijackers, so during that period of a little over 10 minutes from 09:57 to 10:10 EDT when the hijackers crashed the plane, there was an active fight going on for control.  This is about when I came downstairs to have breakfast.

Well, I still had to go to work, so I ate breakfast.  And since this was during the period after my right knee went bad and before I got it replaced, I drove to Concord for work.  Everyone in my department was trying to follow what was going on back East.  I remember someone taking one of the TVs they used for video training and faking up an antenna with a wire coat hanger.  They trundled it, on its wheeled trolley, over to one of the windows where it would pick up a signal, and managed to get a news broadcast covering the attack.  In fact I think they hooked up antennas to two TV monitors.  After that, everybody wandered past there regularly to see what was going on.  I remember thinking, at one point that afternoon, I have projects to work on, and nothing I can do here will affect that.  So I went into my cube, away from the TV, and tried to get some work done.  I don't recall what I was working on or whether I succeeded in getting anything done.  

I don't have any other particular memories of the day, although I'm sure I had the news on the car radio as I drove home, because I always do.

This is hardly great history, but it's what I remember of an event that changed our world, so I thought I'd share it.