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Surviving The Flu Frenzy
Being an old curmudgeon, I’m a bit jaded by the yearly flu frenzy. This year the furor is unusually high-pitched. We graduated from the usual, annual prediction of hundreds of thousands of fatalities to millions. My advice, which I give gratuitously to myself and to no one else, is this: forget it.
Hurricanes are given names of people, with flu it’s animals. When I was a boy it was turtle flu. They weren’t quite so apocalyptic in those days. It was just dangerous to have a turtle and they let it go at that. I had a turtle, the kind with a painted shell that used to be sold in New York City’s novelty stores. To skip to the end of this story, the turtle died and I lived. Turtle flu, turns out, was dangerous to turtles, not people.
Turtles were followed by parrots. It was “parrot fever.” Again, I was in the danger zone. I was raising parakeets in my teens. I rented a garage, and used chicken wire to make a double doorway to keep them reasonably contained. I had dozens of these little parrots flying around me in my aviary, so my chance of surviving was like playing Russian roulette with a fully-loaded pistol. But obviously – at least to most – I’m still alive and my flying friends are long gone.
Skipping over minor flu scares, for brevity’s sake we come to the swine flu fiasco of 1976. With this animal we go into big-time annihilation. Whole continents decimated. A pandemic replete with the warnings of the deadly consequences of the 1918 flu epidemic. The swine flu was indeed record breaking, but not in the way predicted. There was one human death due to the virus, but several hundred were killed and crippled by the vaccine.
Yes, vaccines are not your hot-milk-and-honey cure. They contain thimerosal (a preservative), formaldehyde (to inactivate the virus), ethylene glycol (better known as antifreeze), phenol (a disinfectant), and, perhaps as in 1995, viral contaminants. These are not without unwanted effect. According to Hugh Fudenberg, MD, the world’s leading immunogeneticist, if an individual has had five consecutive flu shots, his chance of contracting Alzheimer’s Disease is ten times greater.
Now, as last year, we’re led to believe that all that stands between us and the grim reaper is a flu shot. But overestimating the value of a flu shot is as dangerous as underestimating the flu bug. Viruses are as small as they are smart, smart enough to outsmart the doctors. Every year they change, mutate just enough to make the previous year’s vaccine ineffective.
The flu manufacturers, trying to keep up with the viruses’ mercurial nature, have resurrected the 1918 flu virus, which appears to be similar to this year’s avian flu virus. The fear is that the bird virus will mutate and make a species jump to humans. To head them off at the pass virologists will take a modified form of the 1918 virus, mix it with a few other flu strains and hope that one of them will kill the bird-to-man mutation – i.e., if it occurs.
However, if I hear that H5N1 (the bird virus) has mutated to a contagious human-to-human form, and if a vaccine has been properly tested and shown to be effective, then maybe I’ll stand in line. But identifying, incubating, testing, licensing and gearing up for mass inoculations would take about six months. By this time the flu season will be over. So it looks like I’ll be sitting this one out, as I’ve done every year.
Irresponsible? Maybe not. After all, it’s not the virus per se that causes illness, but a weakened immune system. And even in cases when one manifests serious flu symptoms, it’s not the flu virus that is the primary danger, it is an immune system which is further compromised, which leaves one vulnerable to yet more serious secondary infections.
Speaking for myself, I prefer to rely on a strong immune system. And the key to a strong immune system is proper diet, nutritional supplements, sufficient sleep and exercise, personal hygiene and peace of mind – all proven, effective and safe flu fighters.
New Milford, PA
There Is Loving Help
Mankind has always been capable of coming up with legal and plausible reasons for ignoring truths that get in the way of comfort or commerce. Personally I thank God that it is possible for the Supreme Court's rulings to be overturned. Otherwise slavery in our United States would still be legal (Dredd Scott Decision - 1857). There, just as in abortion convenience dictated the blacks be deemed "personal property" rather than a creation of God with rights far more clearly identified in our nations founding documents than a woman's right to abortion. In WW II many of us looked the other way as millions of Jews, Poles, the mentally ill and handicapped were slaughtered because they were judged inferior.
Whenever I read a person's "explanation" of why abortion rights should not be challenged I think of Mother Teresa. On her visit to Scranton she was asked why God does not make more Mother Teresas to help mankind. "Oh He does," she insisted, "We just keep throwing them away." And another time when she said, in her quiet little voice, (Paraphrased) "Abortion is such a heinous crime against God's created world that, if it continues, it will cause a tear in the fabric of nature and great natural disasters will follow."
Do not label me a "right wing fanatic" for accepting her words. We are all either a unique creation of a loving God or we are all accidents of nature. I, as a Christian, know the first is truth and although I do not see the great disasters of this year as punishment from God, I do believe that God allows us to accept the consequences of our actions. The killing of the innocent can never become a "fundamental right" guaranteed under any law mankind comes up with. History has and will continue to prove that.
Loving help for those who suffer from having accepted society's fix for a problem pregnancy can be found through Rachel's Vineyard - 1-877-HOPE-4-ME or www.rachelsvineyard.org.
To the residences of the Susquehanna Fire Department coverage area.
The annual Fire Department Fund Drive is underway. Every household in the coverage area should receive a donation request by Mail. The fund drive is very important to the operation of the Fire Department. We rely on the fund drive donations to operate the Fire Department each year. When you contribute to the fund drive you are helping to insure that the Fire Department will be available if you should need it. It is more important this year than ever that the community support the Fire Department fund drive given the unprecedented cost increase in operating the Fire Department. All of you who are paying for gasoline know what a hardship it is. You can imagine how much it cost to fuel a vehicle the size of a Fire Truck. If you have not received a fund drive request please contact the Susquehanna Fire Dept, PO Box 175 Susquehanna, PA 18847 or call 853-3861.
The Real Deal
Every spring, all taxable Susquehanna County residents receive an occupation tax bill printed on the same tax bill as their township or municipal taxes. The current tax on a taxable county residents’ occupation is 18 mills (.018) times the county valuation of their occupation. There are seven different evaluations, ranging from $0.00 for Code 1 – Unemployed up to a Maximum of $800 for Code 5 – Professional II for professions requiring schooling beyond a masters degree in college (Lawyer, PhD, CPA, doctoral degrees).
There are currently 15,525 taxable occupations in Susquehanna County that bring in $94,190.40 of total revenue per year. The cost to send out these county tax bills is $3.90 per bill, which equals $61,285.80, leaving the county with a net $32,904.60 per year to apply toward county expenses. Although the lowest assigned Evaluation of $200 for Code 1 Unskilled labor brings only $3.60 in revenue and costs $3.90 to bill out, Susquehanna County brings in a net revenue of $32,904.60 per year by levying the occupation tax.
Without the $32,904.60 that the occupational tax brings in, the county would have to shift the entire county tax burden to real estate owners and raise their taxes to make up for the loss. This would unfairly reduce the occupational taxes now being paid by employed county residents, who own no property to $0.00 per year.
A copy of the Description of Occupational Codes and Evaluations, listing the seven different code evaluations is available at the Susquehanna County Assessment Office for any resident who feels that they may be misclassified (such as unemployed, college students, retirees, housewives, etc.) There are currently 15,525 people who pay Susquehanna County occupation taxes and 10,623 who are classified as Tax Exempt. If your job status has changed and you feel you should be classified under a lower evaluation, please report it to your local tax collector with supporting documentation and ask to be reclassified.
Dragged On Too Long
As a Resident of Susquehanna County, I cannot understand our commissioner’s lack of support and almost flagrant disrespect for the veterans.
The Civil War Monument on the green took several months last year to be completed, although poorly. This year, the company has taken three tablets and done nothing else. I read in the last Transcript that Mrs. Warren said things are getting done. I see no evidence of that. I have been reading of Fred Baker’s efforts and can’t understand why the commissioners aren’t listening. It looks to me like he has been right all along. He has informed the commissioners of the items needing attention. His articles have been informative and on the money. What else do they need?
There are four vacancies on the committee. Mr. Baker found three good men, representing veteran organizations, to make sure the corrections are made. Do they dislike Mr. Baker so much that the monument must suffer? If they consider him a political threat, it is because of their own lack of positive action. Are Kelly and Warren going to keep supporting someone on the committee who is waiting for the monument to be fixed by magic? This has dragged on, with no good results, for too long.
Harold E. Delhagen, Jr.
No Eminent Domain Needed
I have just read, in the Transcript that the newly formed Susquehanna County Rail Authority will get “2.5 million” dollars from the Commonwealth, for construction of a new transload rail facility in New Milford. Maybe the RR Authority should consider the old “Dakota Yards” area in Oakland Township. This is the old, abandoned Erie RR yards, now owned (supposedly) by SOLIDA. This is “land acquired for industrial development.” It has good access, and a now working RR crossing, with lites and cross guards, or arms, with easy access for busses, tractor trailers, and autos, and would not need any “eminent domain” takings, which authorities can and will take for their convenience.
Another thought – maybe the Rail Authority could, and should, pay for the present crossing and roadway, which has been a financial problem for SOLIDA, and now the Susquehanna County taxpayers. Shouldn’t these grants and monies from the Commonwealth benefit the taxpayers? That’s where it all comes from, as the “people in charge” keep raising our taxes and fees.
How Soon We Forget!
Once upon time there was a gentleman in Thompson whose dog was roughed up by a neighbor’s dog. This particular person called every authority he knew because his dog was attacked by this neighbor’s dog and he wanted the dog removed from the neighborhood because it was vicious, etc.
Now, here we are, just a couple of short years later. This gentleman has a new male friend (no, he’s not a gentleman), who has moved in with him. This male friend has two dogs who have made a public nuisance of themselves. They have killed two cats, they have gotten into a neighborhood swimming pool and ruined the liner, they continue to tantalize dogs who are tied up (like dogs are supposed to be in Thompson Boro). The dog catcher has made repeated visits to this pompous male and the dogs continue to run. What’s a person to do?
I find it quite amusing that you move into a neighborhood and expect everyone there to conform to your standards. On the block where these men live, there are approximately 22 dogs and these two are the only ones there seems to be a problem with. What does that tell you?
In closing let me say that Thompson is a small town where new folks are taken into the community as our own. We are proud of our community and we do all that we can to make newcomers feel welcome. If the person is in business, we are eager to try their product or utilize their services and recommend them to outsiders in order to make them feel welcome and be successful.
This is a business I will no longer recommend to anyone, as, when you have no respect for your neighbors or your community, we no longer have any respect for you.
A Thompson Resident
To Allow Those Freedoms
As a veteran who served her country for 22 years, I thought long and hard about the letter I am now writing. Six families in our area have suffered an indescribable loss and the very last thing I wanted to do was intrude in any way on their grief. I had hoped that our community would put aside their political differences for a decent period of time, for the sake of those families but I was shocked and saddened to see that this was not to be.
The individual(s) who wrote to this paper over the past two weeks could not possibly have realized how devastating their remarks could be to those who have suffered this loss. Illegal and immoral war? No connection to 9/11? Not worth the cost? Are you saying these brave young men sacrificed their lives for nothing? Is that what you want to say to their families?
Allow me to say something a little different to these families. While in the military, I served as a Middle East intelligence analyst. It was no secret then, and is no secret now that Saddam Hussein was financing terrorism throughout the Mid East and the world. He paid the families of suicide bombers to ensure a continued supply. This has been widely reported in the media for decades. He may not have broken bread personally with Mohammed Atta, but he was a major player in international terrorism up until 9/11. I sincerely believe his removal and our efforts to establish a representational government is the right thing to do to ensure our future safety and that of our children.
As far as the Vietnam War is concerned (and this is a topic for another day), the Vietnamese did not attack us on our own soil and did not vow to annihilate us and everything we stand for.
One final thing. I know my opinions are not shared by everyone, even some veterans. That is why we served – to allow freedom of opinion. However, I beg you to think about how your public discontent “plays” in the Mid East. Your protests are exploited by the national and international media and provide powerful encouragement to the very people who are killing our men and women to continue to do so and in greater numbers. It makes our job even more difficult. I’m sure that is not what you intend to do, but that is what is happening.
To all of our servicemen and women: I pray for your safe return and I support you and the mission you are on.
To all of our brave men and women who have paid the ultimate price and their families: we will never forget what they did to keep us safe. May they rest in peace.
Jo-Ellen S. Greene,
Mr. Scroggins’ recent letter is a prime example of the kind of nonsense that was thrown around thirty plus years ago. He obviously doesn’t want to let the facts get in the way of proving a point. I will be the first to defend his right of free speech, but I cannot condone his falsehoods to back up his point of view. The Vietnam soldier was labeled with a multitude of false accusations and many of them perpetuated by Hollywood. Mr. Scroggins falsely alluded to “the Marine who on a surveillance fired a RPG into a suspicious hut only to find the splattered remains of women and children.” I can testify, as a fact, that this never happened. First of all Marines didn’t have RPGs, they belonged to the enemy only. Secondly, rules of engagement precluded firing into suspicious hooch’s and quite often permission was denied even to return fire. Thirdly, his fanciful description of the carnage, which he presumes to suppose, is closer to a movie depiction than the actuality.
He defends Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, but ignores the UN’s resolutions for Saddam to cease and desist. Also, ignored were the murder, rape and theft perpetuated by Saddam’s troops upon the civilian population. Moving ahead to Iraq of today, he described an Iraq far removed from the truth. Over a year ago there were already more services including canals, schools and hospitals available to the populace than during Saddam’s reign.
I will not presume to attempt to answer Mr. Scroggins’ question of whether it was worth it. I will remark that using figures alone, our present casualty rate is 0.4% and remarkable things are happening in Iraq, in spite of the prominent media reports. Most of our wars have a casualty rate of 10% with one exception; both sides in the Civil War suffered 30%. The media is quick to point out that we have lost over 2,000, but they neglect to mention that only a little over 1,400 resulted from hostile action. To put these figures into perspective, 10% would give us 35,000 dead by hostile action. It is always tragic to lose even one, but it is a fact of war. This country can no longer show weakness to the fanatics that hate us so much. Was it worth it to ignore the over two decades of terrorist attacks culminating in the attack of September 11, 2001?
Finally, I must congratulate Mr. Scroggins for his extensive knowledge of the VA, because I never met anyone so insensitive or so stupid as to call any ward in any VA hospital a “freak ward.”
Fred B. Baker, II
TO THE EDITOR POLICY
Thank you, Susquehanna County Transcript
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