G C Lichtenberg: “It is as if our languages were confounded: when we want a thought, they bring us a word; when we ask for a word, they give us a dash; and when we expect a dash, there comes a piece of bawdy.”

Shel Silverstein : “Talked my head off Worked my tail off Cried my eyes out Walked my feet off Sang my heart out So you see, There’s really not much left of me.” ~

Martin Amis: “Gogol is funny, Tolstoy in his merciless clarity is funny, and Dostoyevsky, funnily enough, is very funny indeed; moreover, the final generation of Russian literature, before it was destroyed by Lenin and Stalin, remained emphatically comic — Bunin, Bely, Bulgakov, Zamyatin. The novel is comic because life is comic (until the inevitable tragedy of the fifth act);...”

Werner Herzog: “We are surrounded by worn-out, banal, useless and exhausted images, limping and dragging themselves behind the rest of our cultural evolution.”

John Gray: "Unlike Schopenhauer, who lamented the human lot, Leopardi believed that the best response to life is laughter. What fascinated Schopenhauer, along with many later writers, was Leopardi’s insistence that illusion is necessary to human happiness."

Justin E.H. Smith: “One should of course take seriously serious efforts to improve society. But when these efforts fail, in whole or in part, it is only humor that offers redemption. So far, human expectations have always been strained, and have always come, give or take a bit, to nothing. In this respect reality itself has the form of a joke, and humor the force of truth.”

विलास सारंग: "… . . 1000 नंतर ज्या प्रकारची संस्कृती रुढ झाली , त्यामध्ये साधारणत्व विश्वात्मकता हे गुण प्राय: लुप्त झाले...आपली संस्कृती अकाली विश्वात्मक साधारणतेला मुकली आहे."

Saturday, July 14, 2007

The End of Vaccines?

The last chief of the Maratha Confederacy, Pune-based debaucherous Baji Rao II (1775-1851) has gone down in the history as one of the first high profile person in India to get vaccinated (with golden needle?) against smallpox. The British doctor was paid Rs. 2,000 in 1807 for administering it! (Source- “Peshvekalin Maharashtra” by Vasudev Krishna Bhave)

During my childhood (almost more than 150 years after the royal insertion above), the only vaccination we knew was still only against smallpox. First such exercise has left two big marks at the top of my left arm.My son has been administered tens of vaccinations against plethora of ailments such as measles, diphtheria, and polio etc. The Indian government runs high profile polio vaccination campaigns using Hindi film celebrities

But of late vaccines seem be generating one controversy or the other.

Recently,while in India Dr. Atul Gawande told Outlook magazine (Jul 09, 2007) :”…. In order to eliminate polio, or 25 years ago to eliminate smallpox, you start out with a problem that is endemic everywhere. Investing the public dollar in such programmes makes a lot of sense because you have millions of people at risk. But in order to get from a few hundred cases of polio, which is where we are today, to having zero cases, you have to spend tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars. And then people start to say—why should we spend all this money here, when you can take care of a malaria problem that affects millions?”

Laura H. Kahn writes in “The End of Vaccines?” for “The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 13 July 2007”:
“….The latest vaccine controversy is the concern that vaccines containing thimerosal, particularly the measles, mumps, and rubella (MMR) vaccine cause autism…
Around 5,000 parents are suing the vaccine manufacturers because they believe that the vaccines caused their child's autism. If the plaintiffs win, it could have a profound impact on the availability of vaccines in the future.

Even without the lawsuit, the supply of vaccines has been dwindling. According to the 2003 Institute of Medicine report, "Financing Vaccines in the 21st Century," the number of vaccine manufacturers has decreased from 25 to 5 companies over the last 30 years. This trend developed because vaccines frequently generate lower revenues than drugs and not all insurance plans include them. In other words, the vaccine production and distribution infrastructure is crumbling, and shortages are occurring. If this lawsuit succeeds, there is a good chance that no one will remain in the vaccine business. It has been easy to forget what life was like before vaccines. Untold numbers of people suffered and died from infectious diseases that can now be prevented. It would be a tragedy if we return to that era.“

Do you know what life was before vaccines? Check the picture below...




Artist : Whitney Darrow,Jr. The New Yorker 22 Apr 1933

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