Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chemical Weapons In Iraq, Obama/Clinton Tussle, And Autism And Communication (Wednesday's First Hour)

Hi everybody. We've got John King and Kiran Chetry hosting for us again from New York and they begin the broadcast by undergoing one of the most awkward Larry King handoffs ever. And if you've ever watched Larry King you know that's saying something. First off, Larry calls them the "dynamic duo," which is what he always calls any two people that happen to be hosting. Then he starts in on poor Kiran's name, talking about how it sounds like a food or something. WTF, Larry? Go to bed! See, Anderson is a pro at these handoffs. He throws on a big grin and keeps it there no matter what crazy-ass stuff Larry says. But Kiran's a newbie, so she just looks horrified. John looks pretty uncomfortable too. This is why they should not let Larry stay up past five. Poor Kiran. I'm actually liking her.

Kiran then recovers enough to tell us that the terrorists in Iraq are now creating truck bombs by combining explosives and chlorine. That does not sound like a fun mix. Michael Ware joins us live to discuss this further. He tells us that if used properly, it's a horrific weapon that can cause a nightmarish death. Apparently the insurgents have experimented with chemical weapons before and this is just more evidence of how they adapt. Kiran asks if something like this is easy to do. As far as getting the supplies, Michael tells us it's extremely easy. However, not so easy is knowing the right mix. Kiran then points out that the attacks were actually on the outskirts of the capital and she wonders if maybe that means the new stategy is working. Michael quickly knocks out any optimism that might have been hanging around by flatly saying no. The terrorists adapt and the violence continues. Now it continues with chemical weapons.

Next up we've got some political sniping between Obama and Clinton. It all started when Hollywood producer David Geffen, who used to raise millions for the Clintons, gave an interview to the New York Times blasting them. Now Geffen is an Obama supporter. He's also kind of a jerk if you ask me and I'm not even a Clinton supporter. So anyway, the Clinton camp wants the Obama camp to condemn what Geffen said or something since Obama is suppose to be all about civility. But the Obama camp says no. Then both candidates give carefully worded statements to the press. Blah, blah, blah. Whatever. How many months are we going to have to go through this, again? Sigh. You know, people talk about Clinton's rapid response team, but I have to say I'm pretty impressed with Obama's. He's handled this and the madrassa BS really well. The guy's got a shot. John Kerry he ain't. Dana Bash then joins John King to discuss. I really think this story is more about the media having political controversy withdrawl and wanting to make a bigger issue that it is. John, however, disagrees. He thinks it matters because Geffen is putting issues on the public table that democrats have been talking about in private. Dana says the Clinton people are mad because they think Obama is getting a free ride. Yeah well, wait until the republicans get their attack dogs in order. The free ride will be over soon enough. Although the Clinton people are right in that the media clearly love Obama.

Transitioning now to a fascinating Sanjay Gupta piece on autism. I know a little bit about autism (I think I wrote a paper about it in college), but it's still such a mystery to everyone. In the piece we meet Amanda, who is severely autistic, but quite surprising. Amanda doesn't talk or make eye contact, but she has a keyboard and can communicate up a storm. She actually shot, edited, and put her own video up on youtube, which is how CNN found her. Amanda calls the rest of us "neurotypical," because she thinks in patterns and colors. Going out into the world is really overstimulating for her, so she prefers to spend her time at home, often on the computer on the website Second Life. When you hear a story like this it really makes you wonder how many people in the past that were locked up in hospitals or prisons were actually just unable to communicate the normal way.

When Amanda was younger she actually talked, but as a teenager she started regressing. One in 150 kids have autism or an autism like disease, which is kind of astounding. Amanda is guest blogging on the 360 blog and I wanted to ask her what her take was on the theory that vaccinations cause autism, but after reading her post it didn't seem like an appropriate question. Amanda thinks that autistic children should be exposed to autistic adults. That makes sense. After the piece we get Sanjay and Kiran asks what causes the disorder. Sanjay tells us it's still kind of a mystery, but there seems to be a genetic component. I'd like to see someone besides Robert Kennedy look into the vaccinations angle. I'm not saying I have anything against him, I'd just like more perspectives. Kiran also wonders who pays for Amanda's equipment and Sanjay tells us that the state does. The state of Vermont specifically. Actually some states don't offer any help, so yay Vermont. I'm guessing my state doesn't since my governor is a jerk, but who knows. Anyway, not exactly hard news, but I really enjoyed it. Maybe 360 can look into the whole vaccine thing and alleged coverup.

Next we have a clip from Anderson and Jeff in the jungle, but they play more of it next hour, so I'll deal with it then. And then we're on to more ANS crap. Over 15 minutes worth! What's really sad is that today I learned that CNN is actually taking the high road with this story when it comes to the amount of coverage compared to Faux and MSNBC. That makes me very sad because this is so not an actual high road. The Shot tonight is a cow loose on Route 140 in Upton, Massachusetts. Not all that interesting to me, but our co-hosts banter the hell out of it. They work well together. I think I approve. The show was fairly good. B

What do you think about the Obama/Clinton dustup? Have you heard about vaccines being linked to autism? Your thoughts?


Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

Yes, I said something on Sanjay's blog, that basically, so many people overlook the autistic because they think they're retarded. It's amazing when you can find the person underneath. My oldest son has Asperger's, my best friend's two sons are PDD-NOS, and my other best friend's son has Kanner's which is what Amanda has (I think). We've found that Isaac can communicate prety darn well with sign language. Granted, he's flapping, rocking, and looking everywhere but AT you, but he can communicate all the same. Autism is fascinating. That's why I decided to continue with my education after becoming a PTA; my major is actually Chemistry. I'm absolutely facinated with Cognitive Neuroscience. I think I'm sort of half-way in love with Sanjay because he's a neurosurgeon :)

Honestly I don't think ANYONE is "normal".

As for the chemical weapons in Iraq? I swear. Just blame Einstein. And hatred. It just boggles my wee wittle brain that people would dump toxic crap on their own- just to prove a point? What point? That they're all crazy and have no respect for human life? That's what I see, anyway.....

9:35 PM  
Anonymous gissou said...

First and foremost, I was just as shocked as you when Larry made that food comment. I felt so bad for the poor woman. I think she didn't quite know how to respond to that old fart.
Contrary to most of your readers, I've liked her right from the start. I've never watched Faux News so I'll try not to hold that against her.
As far as the whole autism thing, there has been several medical studies looking at that very matter and there is absolutely no link between the preservatives used in some vaccines and autism. It always worries me when the odd parent refuses to vaccinate their kid for that reason. I mean I understand that their intentions are good but I think it is mad to deny your kid vaccination for say mumps, meningitis or polio.

9:52 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@sharla-Who isn't half-way in love with Sanjay? And yeah, I find neuroscience cool too. I actually have a degree is psych.

@gissou-One thing I've learned is that 360 fans are very fickle. I've been trying to get people to ease up on John Roberts, now I guess I'll have to stick up for Kiran.

I would never advocate not getting a vaccine, but I'm curious as to why all of the sudden there are all these autism cases. Or are they just being diagnosed better? Have you read the Robert Kennedy piece that was in Rolling Stone? I know it's been widely criticised by some, but it is interesting that there did seem to be an actual coverup. So of course one wonders why?

10:01 PM  
Anonymous gissou said...

I've never heard of the Rolling Stone article. They cover medical topics?? Who knew? Next you'll tell me to read Playgirl for its articles. hehe...:)
I remember reading this book my cousin gave me a while ago. The main character is autistic. I forget the name of it, something about a dog and the dark..( sorry, can't remember the name ). It is pretty accurate in describing how autistics think and behave. As far as your question about the increased incidence of autism, I suspect we didn't diagnose them as autistic before. I wonder how many of those patients would have been diagnosed as mentally challenged.

10:27 PM  
Anonymous Sharla Dawn said...

The expression "autism" is relatively new, also, there are better diagnostic tools (currently the DSM-IV). It's most likely been around, like gissou said, just called something else. For example, depression used to be "melancholia". Feeling melancholy today? Or straight up dead-depressed? Things just started getting more and more narrow with what was what.

10:33 PM  
Blogger eliza said...

@gissou-Here's the Rolling Stone article. You laugh, but I actually subscribe for the politics and other features. Also, I kid you not, but I have a Playboy article downloaded in PDF format on my computer right now about the military industrial complex. Craziness, huh?

Was the book "The Curious Incident of the Dog at Night Time"? I just googled.

The RS article has been widely attacked, but it still made me wonder.

10:41 PM  
Anonymous gissou said...

That's it Eliza.Funny name for a book eh?
"Also, I kid you not, but I have a Playboy article downloaded in PDF format on my computer right now about the military industrial complex. Craziness, huh?"

10:46 PM  
Anonymous Sharon said...

Hi, anyone interested can read about the autism-vaccine connection and RFK's story about a big, nasty conspiracy here and here. There are loads of good blogs by autistic people (including Amanda's own excellent blog) on the Autism Hub.

7:18 AM  
Blogger Dannie said...

@sharla: I agree that no-one is "normal". We all deal with the world in different ways, and if our way isn't readily visible to others (eg. no rocking, no repetitive hand movements), then we fit in.

Amanda made a great point about exposing autistic children to a variety of autistic adults. The child (and his/her parents) can then see that autism has many different faces. With the parents' and caretakers' help, the child can discover which means of communication he or she is most comfortable with, whether it's speech, sign language or, as in Amanda's case, typing (up to 120 words per minute!).

8:51 AM  
Blogger eliza said...

@sharon-Thanks for the links. So what's your take on the connection?

12:34 PM  
Blogger Sharon said...

You're welcome Eliza.
My view is that there is no evidence supporting a link. All of my 3 children were vaccinated, one of them is autistic, and it was nothing to do with vaccines.

11:08 AM  

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