Hummingbird moth in the lavender at 6:00 a.m.

May 25, 2010

Hummingbird moth at the lavender, May 25, 2010

Hummingbird moth (Hyla lineata?) breakfasts at the lavender in the front yard - photo by Ed Darrell

Kathryn planted lavendar on the front walk.  It crowds the walk, so you have to brush by it coming in or going out of the house, and sometimes you get a great whiff of lavender.

On the way back from getting the newspaper this morning I was greeted by this hummingbird moth sipping its breakfast from the lavender blossoms.  It was too dark for natural lighting.  The flash froze the wings, and exposed colors that you can’t see as the little creature hovers.

Probably a Hyla lineata, no?

Hummingbird moth at the lavender, #2 - IMGP4107 - photo by Ed Darrell, all rights reservedHummingbird moth at the lavender, #2 - IMGP4107 - photo by Ed Darrell, all rights reserved

Hummingbird moth in the lavender in the morning

Measles vaccine: Britain bans anti-vaxxer Wakefield

May 25, 2010

Dr. Andrew Wakefield’s license to practice medicine in Britain was stripped away by British authorities earlier today, due to his “ethical lapses” in conducting research against measles vaccines.

Wakefield’s research claims, published in the distinguished medical journal Lancet in 1998, sparked a worldwide hysteria over the claimed link of Mumps-Measles-Rubella vaccine (MMR) to autism.  The journal earlier withdrew the article when the research was exposed as faulty and reaching erroneous conclusions.

Lancet retracted the paper earlier this year.

Effects of Wakefield’s errors ripple across the globe, as children pay the price with measles rates up worldwide, especially in Africa, and in North AmericaRob Breckenridge described the damage for the Calgary Herald:

However, Wakefield’s foul legacy is very much consequential. His latest comeuppance is hopefully a small step in undoing that legacy’s damage, but much damage has already been done.

Wakefield authored a now-discredited paper published in 1998 in The Lancet, which implied that the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine was linked to autism.

Numerous studies have shown no such link exists, but Wakefield’s research had the predictable effect of scaring people away from the MMR vaccine. Vaccination rates plummeted in the U.K., and the number of measles cases soared.

In 2008 in the U.K., there were almost 1,400 cases of measles compared with 56 the year Wakefield’s paper was published. In 2006, a 13-year-old boy died from measles — the first time in 14 years such a death had been recorded.

On top of the multiple studies rejecting the MMRautism link, The Lancet issued a formal retraction of Wakefield’s paper in February, citing his unethical and irresponsible conduct.

Once a disease like measles becomes rare, we tend to drop our guard, either forgetting how serious it is or assuming it can never come back. As we’ve seen in the U.K. it can come back with a vengeance. Unfortunately, it’s not only the U.K. where we’re learning that lesson.

This month, Alberta Health Services confirmed five cases of measles in the Calgary area. Given our lack of recent experience with measles — there was only one case provincewide in 2009 — AHS offered a primer on the disease.

Measles is extremely contagious, meaning one need not have close contact with an infected person. There is no cure, but vaccination can prevent it. There are still pockets of the province where vaccination rates are low and measles cases there have been higher.

Southwestern Alberta is one of those regions. Not only has measles made a comeback there — a 2000 outbreak closed a Lethbridge-area private school — but cases of mumps and whooping cough have been documented over the past two years.

In B.C., 87 measles cases have been confirmed this year. It’s believed many stem from infected out-of-country visitors at the Vancouver Olympics.

All cases involve people who were either not vaccinated, or only partially vaccinated. Eight cases were associated with a single household, where no one had been vaccinated.

As Typhoid Mary denied she could be the cause of the deaths of the people she cooked for, and so continued cooking, Wakefield promises to keep up his campaign for measles.

Dan Valentine – Victor Buono gets into the act

May 25, 2010

By Dan Valentine

Victor Buono and my dad were friends. Drinking buddies, on at least one occasion. He was in Salt Lake, appearing as Falstaff in “Henry IV” at the University of Utah. The year was 1964.

One evening after a performance, they painted the town, as they say. Upon leaving a private club, Buono stepped to the curb for a cab. Upon seeing one, he turned to my dad and said, “What sneaking fellow comes yonder?”

He stepped into the street to flag it down. “Hark! Do you not hear the people cry?”

The cab stopped and he turned to my dad, opening the back passenger door for him. “Enter Troilus.”

A year later he appeared as “Captain Hook” at the Music Valley Music Hall in Bountiful. Believe me, when I say, there has never been a better Captain Hook. Ruta Lee was Peter Pan. He got me an autographed picture of her in her costume. It’s somewhere in a dump in Houston, pigeons pecking away at it. Just one of the many things I had to trash when I became homeless again.

Victor Buono, 1953

Victor Buono, 1953

On the day my sister Valerie started school, late fifties, somewhere thereabouts–she was born in 1955–my dad wrote a column, his best, a “newspaper classic”, to the world.

“World, I bequeath to you today one little girl in a crispy dress with two blue eyes … and a happy laugh that ripples all day long, a batch of light blonde hair that bounces in the sunlight when she runs. I trust you’ll treat her well …”

I Googled it. The results: hit after hit, if that’s the right word. Many minus my dad’s by-line. Some have changed “two blue eyes” to “two brown eyes.”

Many have Victor Buono as the author. He first read the piece on The Joey Bishop Show. When he read it one night as a guest on the The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson–I think the year was 1967–the result was countless letters from viewers pleading for a copy.

Buono called my dad. He wanted to make a 45 of it. My dad gave his okay.

It had been read many times on television in the past. Tennessee Ernie Ford read it on his show, Art Linkletter on his, Garry Moore on his.

There is a picture of the 45 on a site called “Victor Buono Fan Page.” No date.

Not much came of it. I don’t even think it got as far as the distribution part.

A copy could very well be in a Houston dump. When I was tossing box after box, I couldn’t look at the contents. It was too painful. There may be a copy in the BYU Achives. That’d be nice.

Victor Buono came to town and visited my dad several times. At the time, we were living up by the University of Utah. Butler Avenue. My folks had bought a sorority house. I’m not kidding. Can’t remember the name of the sorority. They got kicked off campus. The reason: the sorority members couldn’t keep their grades up or the birth control pills down. That was the often-told joke. For months after my folks bought it, frats would walk into the house without ringing, look around disappointed and say, “Where’d all the girls go?”

Three stories, a trillion rooms, one bathroom with rows of stall showers and toilets; a huge dormitory. My folks put a pool in the basement. My dad’s mom lived with us in the Sorority Mother’s quarters (living room, bedroom, kitchen.)

I loved my grandmother. I called her “Mom Mom.” She was my second mother. Her name was Marie. And she was a piece of work. Was she ever! She’d been a Roaring 20s flapper. She loved to party. I mean, she LOVED a party.

Picture Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard and that’s my dad’s mother. She wore a turban like Norma Desmond. She sported a long, long cigarette holder like Norma Desmond. She wore dark sunglasses like Norma Desmond When she drank, she WAS Norma Desmond.

I’ll never forget the last time Victor Buono visited. He and my dad and mom would be talking and my grandmother, after a few martinis–no, a lot of martinis–would do her best to change the conversation. “Victor, don’t you think I still look young-young-young?” “Victor, don’t you think I’m beautiful?” Funny/sad. Very embarrassing.

Can’t remember him stopping by after that.

Towel Day 2010

May 25, 2010

After the train wreck in the Star Chamber of the Texas State Soviet of Education last week, I’m glad to have my towel.

How big a towel would it take to fix the McLeroy Massacre?

Remember the words of Douglas Adams, wherever he is:  “Don’t panic.”


Towel Day display, 2010

Towel Day display, 2010 - from

So long!  And, thanks for the fish!

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