[saveandquit.co.uk] Vaccinations

There was a good article about the rise of the anti-immunisation movement in WIRED a couple years ago: http://www.wired.com/magazine/2009/10/ff_waronscience/all/1

On 13 April 2011 11:07, Save & Quit <post@saveandquit.posterous.com> wrote:
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Vaccinations

Posted by  Anand Modha to Save & Quit

Vaccination

I am writing about this because in New York, in Times Square, there is a big CBS billboard showing an anti-vaccination advert. The message is shown every hour for 18 hours a day on the 20 x 26-foot full colour big screen. Every day, more than 1.5 million people and 60,000 cars pass through Times Square. That is a lot of people getting BAD advice.

 

Vaccination can prevent a child from getting serious diseases that can kill or cause long-term health problems. Vaccinated babies are much less likely to suffer the devastating consequences of these diseases. To me it is a no brainer, and I always struggle to understand why people buy into the scares the media peddles in regards to vaccinations. And while in the UK it is MMR, in France it was their Hep B vaccine, and other countries have their own fears. They always have to some strange and intangible link to politics, and the feeling of a country, as much as it does the illness and the protection vaccines provide.

 

A vaccine works by containing a tiny part of the virus or bacteria that causes the disease. When the vaccine is given, the body's immune system reacts towards the vaccine and forms a protection (antibodies) against it. These antibodies will be ready to protect a child or adult should he or she ever come into contact with that infection.

Immunisation helps to prevent outbreaks and epidemics of these infectious diseases.

 

No vaccine is free from side effects. Some parents focus on the side effects of the vaccines, instead of the diseases a child is protected against. The risk of serious complications from the vaccines is always much lower than the risk if a child falls ill with one of the diseases. It is as simple as that.

 

In 2008 there was a big brouhaha about the MMR vaccine. Numerous papers ran scaremongering articles about the possible link between MMR and childhood autism. It had been going for almost 10 years, and culminated just before the recession hit. This was a problem on several levels. It showed an ignorance about vaccines. It showed an ignorance about how scientific papers were reviewed, and it showed ignorance on the wide scale damage that could be wrought to many children’s lives as a result of this poorly researched story. Below is the copy from the NHS regarding the MMR vaccines’ side effects:

 

The MMR vaccine may cause a brief reaction that can begin from a few days to three weeks after vaccination. Your child may get mild symptoms like the diseases that are being vaccinated against, eg cold, skin reaction, fever or swollen salivary glands. Your child will not be contagious. Detailed and exhaustive research over the past few years has demonstrated that there is no link between the MMR jab and Crohn's disease and autism.

 

And even though numerous papers and articles have since debunked the idea, people still have the fear. Which in a way is understandable, especially if you have seen such alarmist headlines, but no retraction was printed. Paper's didn't run stories about what a lot of crap they were peddling because they would lose respect. 

Anyone who thinks Vaccinations are ‘bad’ for want of a more accurate word, I would point them to the eradication of Small Pox, and the global impact on the lives of billions it has had. Something that would have been unthinkable in the past. I could go on, but I think you get my position on this. 

 

For more information about bad science…and vaccines, I recommend the brilliant Ben Goldacre:

 

http://www.badscience.net/2008/08/the-medias-mmr-hoax/

 

- Anand

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Obama 2012… already?

So, I haven’t written a blog in a while so apologies for subjecting you to Anand’s posts alone for so long (that’s a joke by the way). While I haven’t lost the motivation to write, I have not had a great deal of spare time and other things going on have meant this dropped down the pecking order of life’s priority list. Anyway, I’m back…

I saw this morning that Presidrnt Obama has launched his re-election bid with a campaign ad on YouTube. I was struck as just how early this was as he’s only just served over half of his four year term. I know they do elections diferently in the US but I just can’t imagine that happening over here in the UK. It would be hard to maintain voters’ interest for an 18 month run-up to an election. We’re an apathetic bunch as it is when it comes to politics.

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Then there’s the cost. The 2008 election was the costliest election to date and I have no doubt that will be surpassed by the 2012 candidates. Apparently $1 billion dollars was spent on the previous campaign, which more than doubled since 1996. Starting this early isn’t going to help campaign funds.

Next year’s election will be interesting though as it seems the Republican party still doesn’t have a credible candidate. Despite a somewhat indifferent first two years in office, I think Barack Obama has a good chance of re-election but it will be interesting to see what platform he runs on – the “change” he spoke of previously has not been forthcoming so I wonder of voters will take him to task on that.

Lastly, it seems Obama is picking up where he left off with his use of social media as a campaigning tool. Typically election campaigns are kicked off with a memorable poster campaign dreamt up by advertising  executives but he has chosen to launch with a YouTube video – a medium that can be viewed far and wide, and is easily shared. You can watch the video for yourself here:

- Baydr  

[saveandquit.co.uk] Tuesday Tune – The 4 Track Tapes

Tuesday tune, on a Wednesday?! You are seriously losing it!

On 9 March 2011 18:58, Save & Quit <post@saveandquit.posterous.com> wrote:

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Tuesday Tune – The 4 Track Tapes

Posted by  Anand Modha to Save & Quit

It is Tuesday Tune day, and I have finally decided to deal with the 4 track. Basically, I realised that as a band we were reaching a point where we were splitting away from what we liked. I loved the earlier rough stuff that we had recorded, and I equally liked the better produced stuff that we had done with Kyri, and I wanted a way for us to have both. We seemed to struggle to find a middle ground.

 

I also realised at the time that I was having less and less influence in the sound we were making. Previously, when I had worked just with Alex or Kyri, I was able to be heard. Yet we had become a three, their superior music knowledge meant that the songs were shaped far more by their dialogue, with occasional input from myself. So I bought myself the 4 track so I could lay down some simple songs. I was never going to be as proficient a musician as either of the other 2, but I wanted to be able to have some sort of input regarding the direction and sound.

 

Alex was living in his nan’s flat at the time, and I don’t know if it was being surrounded by the chintz, but there was a very definite sense of mortality regarding the lyrics I wrote whilst we were recording there. There is a very definite 4 songs which I feel are from this period, and over time I will post them all, but the one I will post today is Build Me a Tower.

 

I was listening to a lot of Modest Mouse at the time, and when I listened to those songs, there was a lot of anger, but a great deal of acceptance and honesty about how the world was. There was a sense of loss, but it wasn’t gauche, just a world weary acceptance of the whole thing, and when I wrote the words to Build Me a Tower, I wanted it to embody the same feelings.

 

What is the song about? I think it is about how all of us try very hard to do something, only to be thwarted at every turn. It is about how plans rarely come to pass, and why we continue and try regardless. How we constantly look for answers from someone / something in the shape of god, when they are the person who maybe doing this to us, yet who never answers.

 

It also has one of my favourite lyrics that I ever wrote, which goes,

 

Rapunzel, let down your hair / I’ll cut it off and watch it fall down the stairs

 

Why do I like it? Because it links to the idea of building a tower (like Babel), but also, rather than the hair being an escape route, it is removed, because what use is escaping? Where do we escape too? Surely the angels will continue to find us and throw thunder bolts. There is pretty simple guitar track, with an even simpler keyboard backing, but to me it all clicks into place to embody that Modest Mouse feeling I mentioned earlier. Apologies about how quiet the song is, one thing we never really mastered with the 4 track was the mastering, funnily enough. We recorded very quietly and had difficulty removing the hiss and feedback.

 

Next week I will discuss 9 to 5 man (remix), which was the song that Kyri showed himself to be a genius (in my opinion).

 

- Anand

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Build Me A Tower 3 by Future Farmers Listen on Posterous

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Nexus S… so what?

So Google’s second attempt at a handset, the Nexus S, goes on sale in Best Buy tomorrow in the States. You’re probably thinking, “so what?”. This time last year there were rumblings that a Google branded handset was imminent and shortly after the Nexus One which was manufactured by HTC, was released to favourable reviews.

The handset however, did not sell in the quantities Google would have hoped for as they tried to break the traditional sales model for mobiles by offering it contract-free, direct from Google. They faced two problems:

1.       Consumers on both sides of the Atlantic are used to some kind of subsidy on their handset

2.       Google realised they would have to offer some kind of after-sales support, which they weren’t really ready for

They swiftly withdrew the phone from direct sales, and their “iPhone” challenger died a bit of a death. In the interests of transparency it is worth saying I have a Nexus One (given to me by Google for free at a seminar) and I love mine and think it’s great.

So the big G is having a second bite of the cherry with the Nexus S, which this time around is being made by Samsung.  Should you be excited? Well, probably not about the actually hardware. Spec-wise, it is nearly identical to the Galaxy S apart from the curved screen and NFC (near-field communication) chip on board. NFC is a new technology which will allow mobile devices to interact with other devices – the end goal being able to pay for things with your phone as it could replace your bank cards and your Oyster card. Although it’s something to shout about, I can’t see NFC making a huge impact straight away although I am sure it will appear in the next iPhone too.

What is more interesting is that the Nexus S brings with it the latest version of Android, version 2.3 or Gingerbread as its been known while in development. This latest release makes further refinements to the look and feel whilst added a few new features around copy & paste, and voice over IP (VOIP) calls. All in all, not the revolution we were hoping for. It probably does bring Android closer to iOS 4.2, but I think we’re going to have to wait for Android 3 before Google’s mobile OS will really be giving Apple’s a run for its money.

- Baydr

The Force isn’t strong

I sometimes wonder what people who don’t work in the marketing and advertising talk about with their colleagues when they get in to work in the mornings. Yesterday everyone at work was talking about the new Star Wars / adidas commerical that had aired over the weekend with real excitement – maybe the rest of the population just isn’t so easily impressed?

For those who haven’t had the pleasure they can check it out here:

So what’s the verdict? Of course it’s cool… did you not see Snoop with a lightsaber? But for me, that is it. It’s like some ad executives sat around the boardroom saying, “wouldn’t it be cool if we could recreate the scene from Star Wars with David Beckham?”. And then they made it…

Maybe you can be cool by association but this ad doesn’t really have a message apart from a vague connection to the World Cup, based on the sign at the beginning. This is nowhere near as good as Nike’s “Write the Future”. But then again, I don’t have “Like” it to see it…

Independent thinking

Ok, so it’s been a while since I’ve blogged but have been busy with training for a marathon and also finding a new job.

Had to post this new general election-themed ad for the Independent which I really like:

I like its simplicity in getting across the fact that the Independent will provide balanced reporting, unlike some of its more partisan competitors in the run up to the election. A simple idea, well executed. Will be interested to see see the supporting digital ads.

From Paris with Love

Preamble

In the run-up to the race, my left knee was really painful and actually prevented me from doing any running before the big day. In fact, on the Friday when I traveled out to Paris it was actually painful to walk around while Iona and I did some sightseeing around the city. The only thing I could do was load up on ibuprofen and hope for the best.

On Saturday morning we had to go to the Marathon Expo which was on the outskirts of town so I could register and pick up my bib. I knew there were 40k competitors in the race but I didn’t expect them all to turn up that morning:
Anyway after navigating a queue for the best part of an hour, I managed to pick up my bib:
And also find a running partner for the race:
The best thing about the day before the race was I had a license to eat… I must have had about 5 meals during the day just to load up on carbs. Not only was I eating pasta at about 11am, I had Pizza Hut for the first time in about 15 years for dinner. They don’t say Paris is a gastronomic delight for nothing.
The Race

After a somewhat less than strenuous warm-up, I sauntered down to the start on the Champs-Élysées at around 8.30am for the start 15 minutes later.


Although it was a sunny, bright-blue skies, kind of day it was freezing at that time although I resisted the urge to wear, what was effectively a white bin-liner, as most of the other competitors did. I had chosen to run in the 4:15 group – essentially you got two pacesetters running with you at that pace for the entire race. I was pretty nervous but my fears were allayed when they played the 15 minute version of the Black Eyed Peas’ “I Gotta Feeling” at volume 11 over the PA system. I think I knew then that everything would be alright…

The race finally started for me about 9:00am as we crossed over start line.

We headed east along the route which took me past the Louvre, then Notre Dame effectively heading east out of the city towards the Château de Vincennes – by this point I was about 6m (10k) in to the race, after about an hour and was feeling ok still:


For whatever reason, my knee was actually feeling fine that morning. The next hour or so was spent running round the large park where the château is situated. After hour two, I thought it would be sensible to take one of the energy gel packs I had brought along with me – for the uninitiated, and I was one until a week ago, these sachets contain isotonic carbohydrate energy which basically give you an energy boost for about half an hour without the need to eat anything.


The next part of the marathon, was probably the most memorable for me and that was running alongside the right bank of the Seine. We were right by the riverside going underneath each of the bridges with large crowds cheering you on from over head:



Just a note on the crowds which were fantastic. For the entire 26.2 mile route, there were huge crowds alongside cheering you along and offering support. This encouragement honestly made a difference and definitely helped lift you during the low points of the race. Amazing, amazing support.

After miles 18/19 (about 30k) and going past the Eiffel Tower on the left bank, I was probably about 3 hours in to the marathon. This was probably the most difficult part of the race for me. As you might guess, there isn’t much to do while you’re running apart from taking in your surroundings and your own thoughts. A lot of competitors run for charities personal to them in some way – for whatever reason seeing people with shirts with people that have passed away or currently afflicted really got to me. There was also a group of runners who were carrying disabled children around the course which was just incredible. I’m not sure if it was mental or physical fatigue, possibly both, but I could feel myself welling up. I knew I had try and just concentrate on my run and finishing the race.

The last section of the course took us out to the west of the city centre to a large park area called Bois de Boulogne. According to Wikipedia, it is “one of Paris’s most prominent red-light districts”. Now I find out! The last hour was hard physically but knowing I was on the home straight, gave me the will to keep going knowing that it would all be over soon. The only difficult point was when my Nike+ had decided that I had finished the marathon, whereas I knew I still had about 20 minutes to go based on the mile markers alongside the course.

Coming in to one of the final corners, I had a renewed sense of energy:

With the end finish in sight I was able to sprint the final 500 meters to finish the Paris Marathon in 4:15:41 seconds. It was such an amazing feeling to finish the race – a sense of achievement and also one of relief… it just feels awesome. I actually didn’t feel too bad after the finish line and went off to find Iona and pick up my medal:

Summary

Sunday 11th April was an amazing day, and one that I won’t forget in a long time. I have a sense of accomplishment in both running a marathon and also raising £850 for the British Heart Foundation. I felt before the race that I would either hate it and never want to do another one in my life, or that this would be the first of a few. I knew as soon as I finished that I’d want to do it again next year.

Thanks again for all of your messages of support and donations. There were appreciated more than you know!
If anyone wants to see more photos from the marathon, you can check them out here. A special thank you to Iona for her photography skills on the day and also for managing to navigate the Paris Métro to find me at various points during the race!