Tuesday, February 27, 2007

THAT Was Intense!

Great googly-moogly, my palms are still sweaty. I'm having a hard time calming down enough to write this. What was it? The most recent episode of The Unit, "The Dark of The Moon." Holy cow. It was essentially a 43 minute firefight between a small group of US soldiers and over 200 Afghan terrorists. Oh yeah, at NIGHT. We're talking Blackhawk Down intensity here. Very little dialogue, it really was a kind of "Alamo" type stand. You can go to the CBS website and watch the episode if you missed it. Some of the best television I've ever seen. Go watch it.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Perry-Gate Update

This keeps getting better and better:

(AP) AUSTIN, Texas Documents obtained by The Associated Press provide new detail about the relationship between Texas Gov. Rick Perry's office and Merck, the company that makes a new vaccine to prevent cervical cancer.

The documents show that Perry's chief of staff met with aides about the vaccine on the same day that Merck donated $50,000 to Perry's campaign and a total of $5,000 to the campaigns of eight Texas lawmakers.

And my favorite part:
The governor's spokesman says the timing is just coincidence.

Right. And if my grandma had wheels, she'd be a wagon.

Friday, February 16, 2007

New Evangelion Movie Release Date!

Just in time for my birthday, too!

AnimeNation reports that according to Sponichi Annex, executive director Hideaki Anno has announced that the first of four new anime movies, planned to retell the story of Evangelion, is schedule to premiere in Japanese theatres on September 1, 2007. In an odd footnote, two of the katakana characters in the Japanese spelling of "Evangelion" will be changed, resulting in "Ivangelion" becoming "Wevangeliwon."

Monday, February 12, 2007

Oh For Allah's Sake, Not Again!

And history repeats itself:

Durham police are investigating the alleged sexual assault of a Duke University student at an off-campus party early Sunday morning.

According to investigators, the 18-year-old female told officers she was at the party in the 400 block of Gattis Street around 3 a.m. when she was allegedly raped in the bathroom. There were at least 50 people at the party at the time, police said.

Gee, where have we heard this before? $10 says one of 'em on the lacross team...


Well, they're not on the lacrosse team, but in this case the victim is white and the attacker is black. That sound you don't hear is Duke not saying a word. Where is the Group of 88? Where are the student protests? Where is Mike Nifong, Douchebag for Great Justice?

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Austin, We Have A Problem...

And it's name is Rick Perry. Corrie over at Sea of Corrie has posted on His Majesty Perry's completely over-the-line EXECUTIVE ORDER requiring all 6th grade girls to get the Guardisil HPV vaccine (more here). I posted my view over there, but I'll repost them here to get you started:

Well, I 'spose I better chime in as well. The goverment has no business MANDATING this vaccination. Offering it as an option, sure, but requiring it is an extremely dangerous proposition. Several points I would make:

1) Texas has not historically been a "Nanny-state."
2) Rick Perry does not know my kid better than I do.
3) Will Texas be able to afford the record legal bills that will occur when a girl that has been vaccinated gets HPV or cervical cancer or anyway? Or the side-effects damage or kill her?
4) What happened to "A woman has the right to chose what happens to her body?" Does this mean that Roe v. Wade is no longer valid? (A stretch, I know, but you get my point). Where does it end?
5) How insulting is that to my daughter who IS staying pure? "Oh, you've GOT to have this vaccine, because you're all dirty tramps. What's that? You're not having sex? Don't worry, you will and you're not mature to decide if you need this on your own, so we're making you take it. Next in line, please."
6) What about objections on religious grounds (ie. Jehova's Witness, etc...)?

The gov't needs to keep their hands off my daughter. If my wife, my daughter, and myself decide that it's a good idea, then she can have the vaccine. But the goverment has no right to mandate it to me.

Well, today I was thinking about this, and I've come to the realization that this is a MUCH bigger farking problem than I originally thought. Here's some reasons why:

1) We have a governor, not a king. He does not have the power to make unilateral decisions like that, even with executive order powers.

2) Executive orders are to be reserved for emergencies and for when the legislature is out of session, which they are not. They still have over 140 days left in the session.

3) Merck (the maker of Guardisil) is a contributor to Rick Perry. His former Chief of Staff is now a lobbyist working for Merck.

4) Apparently (and I need to do some checking on this), the vaccine is only effective against 4 of the 88 strains of HPV, and is only 70% effective as a cancer deterrent. Also, there's only 400 cases of cervical cancer in Texas a year. Not to diminish those 400 victims and their families, but far more people die in car accidents annually in Texas. Again, I need to double check these numbers, but I've heard them from multiple (although biased) sources.

All of this is a problem. Something is very wrong here. He never brought the issue before the legislature, probably because they would have said "No. Moron." There is already talk of a recall, which I would support at this point.

I plan on staying on top of this, so check back often for updates and news.


Whoa. Potential huge bombshell here. I was listening to the radio (570AM KLIF) at about 6:45pm, and on the John David Wells show a guy calls in saying he's a limo driver, and he drove a democratic state senator around for nearly 10 hours today. Well, the senator was listening to the Mayor Bolton show this mornging (also on 570am) when they were talking about the HPV debacle. This limo driver and the senator get to talking, and apparently the senator (who asked to remain anonymous, natch) said that Perry is getting a $6 MILLION kickback from Merck for this deal. Now, this hasn't been verified independently, but the guy DID verify (off the air) that he had the senator in his limo today. When I know more, you'll know more.


In the comments section, we've had a visit by a pediatrician (I think a friend of Justin's), and he gives some very good insights into the vaccine. Look for d. Blake's comments.


Some interesting facts about Gardasil (NOTE: Some of these are lifted from another site, but for the life of me, I lost the link where I got them. Profound apologies to whomever compiled them):

1. As mentioned before, Gardasil only reduces your risk of HPV, it does not eliminate it.

From Gardasil.com:

“HPV Types 16 and 18 cause 70% of cervical cancer cases.

GARDASIL may not fully protect everyone and does not prevent all types of cervical cancer, so it is important to continue regular cervical cancer screenings.”

Of course, you'd never know this by all the TV spots and media coverage spinning this like it's the be-all end-all of medicine. See, it's being sold as a CANCER vaccine, and it's noting of the sort.

2. Apparently, cervical cancer has been on a downward trend for the last several years.

The Gardasil commercials refer to "thousands of women" being diagnosed with cervical cancer in the U.S. each year, which is true, but they don't put that number into context.

“Cervical cancer has gone from being one of the top killers of American women to not even being on the top 10 list. This year cervical cancer will represent just 1 percent of the 679,510 new cancer cases and 1 percent of the 273,560 anticipated cancer deaths among American women. By contrast, some 40,970 women will die of breast cancer and 72,130 will die of lung cancer.

According to the American Cancer Society, "'Between 1955 and 1992, the number of cervical cancer deaths in the United States dropped by 74 percent.' Think about it: 74 percent.”

3. Gardasil is one of the most expensive vaccines ever, at about $360 for the series of three shots, plus the cost of doctor visits. Now, considering that cervical cancer has been on the decline for years, is it possible that Merck is "embellishing" the severity of the numbers?

"'We're seeing a fairly remarkable uptake of Gardasil,' said Rick Haupt of Merck & Co., which reported sales of the vaccine had reached $70 million, exceeding analysts' projections."

Oh, good. As long as you're making more money than you thought, it's all OK.

4. If Merck can get state governments to put Gardasil on their lists of vaccines that are required for schoolchildren, it can become a part of a federal vaccine liability program. Meaning that Merck will not be liable if Gardasil turns out to be harmful some time in the future. That addresses one of the points I made earlier.

5. There have been no long-term studies done on the effect of the vaccine after 5-10 or more years, and testing on young girls has been extremely limited.

“Merck has tested the cervical cancer vaccine in clinical trials of more than 20,000 women (about half of them got the shot). The health of the subjects was followed for about three and a half years on average. But fewer than 1,200 girls under 16 got the shots, among them only about 100 9-year-olds, Merck officials said, and the younger girls have been followed for only 18 months."

If parents are expected to take their daughters to get a series of expensive immunizations, wouldn’t it be nice if they had any idea at all about what effects these girls might have to deal with 5 or 10 years down the line?

If you're wondering what the rush was, part of the answer could be patents. When a company's patent on a particular drug expires, that's when generic versions of the drug can be developed and released into the market, which obviously drives the price and the profits of the original drug way down. Merck's patent on the extremely profitable cholesterol drug Zocor expired in June of this year, and Gardasil is one of the new drugs being counted on to bridge Merck's financial gap. According to the FDA, Merck filed an application for a patent extension for Gardasil on December 6th.

6. It is unknown how long the immunity provided by Gardasil actually lasts.

“Public health officials want to vaccinate girls early, before they become sexually active, even though it is not known how long the immunity will last.”

“Tests show that the vaccine lasts at least four years. Long-term results aren't known yet.”

And straight from the FDA:

“The duration of immunity following a complete schedule of immunization with GARDASIL has not been established.”

So, there's always the hypothetical issue that women may have to get vaccinated again in 5 years.

7. The studies done on Gardasil were not set up to investigate whether the vaccine itself has the potential to cause cancer.

“GARDASIL has not been evaluated for the potential to cause carcinogenicity or genotoxicity.”

Oh Glorious Day! The Dark Tower Comic #1 Release!

The GreatMoose has been waiting for this for a looooong time. The first in a seven part comic series of Stephen King's The Dark Tower series gets released tonight! The 7 book novel series (heavily based on Robert Browning's epic poem Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came) was absolutely incredible, and I think even with all it faults, it will go down in history as one of the great literary epics. The first comic is called DARK TOWER: THE GUNSLINGER BORN #1, and it starts in the same place the first novel (The Gunslinger does, with what is quite possibly the best opening line to a novel ever penned:

The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.

Ain't It Cool has an early review of the first issue.

If you're not a Dark Tower junkie, have no fears with this one. They've taylor made the first of the 7 issues to be an introduction to this world. The book does begin with the titular gunslinger, Roland, pursuing the Man In Black, just as in King's first book and focuses on Roland's childhood coming of age.

My understanding is that over the course of this mini-series we'll be getting the story of Young Roland's first tests, which were detailed in WIZARD AND GLASS, the 4th book in the series. There is a promise that we'll see events just hinted at in the books, such as the events leading up to the fate of Roland's childhood friends Cuthbert and Alain and the much hinted at battle of Jericho Hill, where Gilead fell and the world began to fall apart.

Can I tell you how stoked I am? I am stoked.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

WHOA. Across The Universe Trailer

I knew nothing about this movie before I saw the trailer on AICN. It's a musical (sort of) about some college dropout hippies. I think you all know my feelings on hippies.


The music for this is the Beatles. Not only that, they've gotten some VERY good performers to do the music. Check out the version of "Hey Jude" on the trailer, and tell me it doesn't capture the emotion of the original.


The first two-thirds of the trailer are pretty dull, but at 1:55, the whole thing changes. I did NOT see that coming. It's glorious. Definitely check this out.