A study of 1.3 million kids revealed no link between vaccines and autism

You can read more at this link but here are the most relevant parts:

 

Five cohort studies involving 1,256,407 children and five case-control studies involving 9920 children were included in this analysis

 

Findings of this meta-analysis suggest that vaccinations are not associated with the development of autism or autism spectrum disorder.

 

There is no reason to be anti-vaccine other than being pro-disinformation.

 

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Speak out against NSA mass surveillance

February 11, today, is “The Day We Fight Back”, an initiative to have the masses speak up and out to their local representative.  I’m skeptical that writing e-mails or making phone calls will change much, if anything at all.  Most of our congress critters, in my pessimistic view, are already in the pockets of some interest and that interest is not ours.  But I also believe the one thing our political class loves more than money is their seat of power so maybe, just maybe, if enough phone calls are made so that a representative feels that seat is sufficiently threatened… well, who knows.

It’s certainly worth a try, so click the banner below and go send an e-mail or make a phone call to your local rep.  It’s only a little thing but little things add up.

 

Zombies?! Zombies!! is now in print

Just in time for Halloween, Zombies?! Zombies!! An Anthology is live and in publication!

While sites like Amazon won’t have the book or ebook for another month, you can order it now via the new order page located here.

Zombie fiction, zombie poetry, zombie comic; everything for the zombie lover!

And here’s a sample, an excerpt from PJ Oubre‘s excellent story Caesar’s First Zombie War

Two of the legions with us had fought the lemures previously, however, the third legion had no idea what they were about to face.  Caesar rode his horse at the front of the train of soldiers; he always believed that he was responsible for leading and inspiring the soldiers under his command.   After two hours, we could smell the stench of decaying flesh emanating from the town.  This odor managed to rattle the third legion and I remember seeing smoke rising into the sky as we approached.  We found a city in ruins.  The town was ablaze and only a small portion was protected as the appointed leader of the city appealed to Caesar for assistance and described the account of what had happened.

Four months earlier, a family returning from the south had fallen ill and died.  A day later, the pale, reanimated family began to shamble in the direction of any living being and attacked them.  These walking dead began to bite anyone near enough and stupid enough to allow him to get close.  Within days, the western half of the city was consumed by thousands of lemures that the city leadership did not know how to combat.  They built a temporary wall to contain the undead, but not before losing several thousand citizens.

Salamanca was a significant town for the Romans since it contained a massive aqueduct that brought water to many camps and villages.  It was strategically and economically important for control of the entire Iberian Peninsula.  Salamanca was located along the Roman road (Via de la Plata), which was paramount for control of the northwestern portion of the peninsula.  This road gave the Romans access to the ocean and made transport of merchant goods vital.  Caesar knew that he had to liberate this city from the undead as quickly as possible or the water supply might be disrupted and fail to support the forces under Vetus.  He called together his troops and planned to invade the western half of the city at daybreak.  The night before battle, I had not seen him so nervous, for he was about to command troops in battle for the first time.  All of his studying and preparation led him to this moment.  He only had 8000 soldiers at his disposal and for many this was the first significant engagement against a true horde of the decomposing undead.  The moans of the undead trolled on for hours and the smell of decaying flesh tickled our nostrils.  The first sight of shambling former Roman citizens and blood soaked streets and walls must have been a disconcerting sight for the new legion.

Caesar kept 500 soldiers in reserve and utilized the remainder to fight.  He designed his troops to walk in tightly packed formations, shoulder to shoulder, with shields in front of them and swords poking between the front rows of shields, grinding their opponents into pulp.  He ordered his soldiers to march in formation five rows deep on each street and to rotate every hour to combat battle fatigue.  He knew that the best way to combat the walking dead was in slow systematic units that decapitated each undead.  He emphasized the need for each unit to work as a whole and that the only way to defeat their new enemy was by decapitation.  The challenge for this army was the fact that the undead moved slowly and did not always coordinate into groups.  Occasionally one would be overlooked and manage to bite a soldier, which caused the disease to spread into our ranks.  In effect, they had to break formation to combat the shambling individuals aimlessly walking the streets.

These miniature armies systematically walked each street and let the undead walk toward them and they severed the heads as swiftly as possible.  Caesar had ordered his soldiers to shout and bang their shields together in order to attract larger numbers of lemures making combat easier.  Apparently, we had noticed that the lemures were attracted to loud noise, which suggested that their hearing was more acute than under normal living conditions.  The idea that Roman soldiers had to alter their training to attract the enemy and let them come to them was a new and unusual concept for them to grasp.  Roman soldiers were accustomed to walking slowly in formation towards their enemy and devastate their opponents with methodical precision and destruction.  Caesar ordered them to remain calm and stand in formation and make every effort to draw the walking dead to them.  This required a great deal of patience and many soldiers did not possess the patience required.  Often, a pair of soldiers would break formation and go out in search of glory, only to receive a bite and quickly turn into one of the lemures.  Those soldiers stationed behind these street units, Caesar ordered to remove the decapitated bodies to the side of the streets for removal at the end of the day.

At the end of the first day, they had slaughtered 500 lemures and Caesar ordered the citizens of the city to erect movable walls to barricade each street recently cleaned up.  The reserve troops hauled the corpses to the camp outside the city and built massive pyres for corpse removal.  Caesar understood the need for sanitary conditions and conducted the pyres outside the city for this purpose.  I oversaw hours of burning corpses upon these pyres.  I also overheard some of the standard soldiers weeping in their tents (either out of fear or shame for being a part of such a scene).  War is a crazy spectacle and men react in ways as various as the stars in the sky; in addition, all of these soldiers had never before seen the reanimated corpse of the dead and this second shock caused many men to run in fear.  Luckily for us, Caesar had an inhuman ability to inspire the most uninspired soldiers under his command.  Caesar had gained two legions assigned to him that he had not recruited from his private army.  That first night was the longest of my life.

Remembering Return of the Living Dead

When I was six I went with my mother to a friend’s house.  This wasn’t unusual as the house belonged to her childhood friend who had twin sons my age who were now my friends.  I spent a significant chunk of my youth with and around that family, so being over at their house was business as usual.

What was not business as usual was the movie playing on this particular day.  Return of the Living Dead had come out the year before and their father had bought a copy of it on VHS just the night before.  And because he was kind of a sick twisted dick, he decided that playing the movie for a group of children ranging from three to 10 would be tons of fun.

The movie terrified me.  I mean, run out of the room screaming into my mother’s arms terrified.  And yet, it was also fascinating.  I’d never seen anything like it, literally.  I’d never seen what I now think of as typical 80s punk look:

A few years later I would try - and spectacularly fail - to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look radical

A few years later I would try – and spectacularly fail – to replicate some of these looks in an attempt to look totally gnarly

I’d never seen a fully nude woman as Linnea Quigley’s character Trash does about 19 minutes into the film.

I’d never seen zombies or vast amounts of blood and gore and destruction.  I’d never seen a good guy, as I thought of dopey protagonist Freddy, turn bad and proceed to try to murder anyone around him.

The movie marked a lot of firsts for me, but perhaps it is most notable for being the movie that began my fascination with zombies.  Without seeing this movie 27 years ago, would I be working on my Zombies? Zombies! anthology today?  I really don’t think so.

And so when I saw today on Youtube that the entire movie is available streaming on the site, well, I couldn’t resist a walk down memory lane.  I watched the movie for a second time about 10 years ago and after watching it for a third time today I must say it holds up surprisingly well.  In my mind at least, but in my mind it’s been a hokey, silly experience since I was old enough not to be terrified of zombies anymore.

There’s really nothing hugely special about this outside of the morbid humor used at times, “Send more police” but it will always hold a special place in my heart.  It changed my life, which is kind of sad because it’s such a ridiculous movie, but I’m okay with that.  And so here it is in its glorious majesty, Return of the Living Dead

The Daily Ditty 4.8.13

The year 2005 is one of my personal favorites.  I started the year by traveling to Ormskirk, a small market town about a thirty-minute train ride east of Liverpool, England.  Liverpool, where the Beatles were formed!  I spent four months living there, going to school and traveling often to Mathew Street to visit the Cavern Club and its neighbor the Cavern Pub.

cavernpub

About a month after getting home I found myself working at Books-a-Million for the summer, and it was from there that I discovered the band featured in today’s Ditty.  Thanks to a mutual love of alcohol and live music, a small group of us meshed together that summer and became more than co-workers who were acquaintances.

One of those co-workers was the drummer for a local cover band called Two Way Radio, and the bassist in the band was married to another co-worker.  Over the course of the summer they would play weekly or bi-weekly shows around town and the B-A-M crew would always show up in force.  It was a very fun summer, full of what I grew to call three-day “drinkends” where my fiance and I would go out drinking with our friends every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday night.

We drank a lot of alcohol, spent a lot of money and had a ton of fun.  And we got the majority of our youthful exuberance out in one final blast, as that September we would discover my future wife was pregnant with our first child.

But oh, what a summer.  Because many of those nights were spent at a Two Way Radio show, the songs they played now remind me of that summer.  They played a superb, eclectic mix of covers – from David Bowie and The Talking Heads to Ryan Adams and Modest Mouse.  This week the Ditty will be a miniature Two Way Radio playlist and it starts with Uncle Tupelo.

There were three Uncle Tupelo songs that made appearances throughout the concert and I’ve included them all here.  “Gun” is a fun song that reminds me of Mentos for some reason while “I Wanna Be Your Dog” is surprisingly good to dance to… but then again when you’ve had too much to drink almost anything is surprisingly good to dance to.  “I Got Drunk” could certainly serve as our anthem that summer, but regardless it, too, was surprisingly fun on the dance floor as well.

The Daily Ditty 4.4.13

I’ve been to a lot of concerts, seen a lot of bands both good and bad.  Between the ages of 16 and 22 I went to as many as I could with my friends, with my brothers, with anyone that wanted to go with me.  I loved, and still love, seeing live music.  Live music from a band I greatly enjoy?  It’s superb.

My first concert was a festival called Rockstock 96, thrown by Chicago rock station Rock 103.5.  Rockstock 96 was kind of a downer concert; one-hit wonder Candlebox and old terrible band Cheap Trick were the two headlining acts.  The station got it right the next two years as Rockstocks 97 and 98 were great experiences that I remember fondly, though Rock 103.5 would be dissolved in November 1998.

June1997 to August 1998 was probably the best extended year of concerts for me, personally.  It started with Ozzfest.  I’m not a huge metal fan, or really a fan at all, but that was a great show.  Black Sabbath and Pantera were amazing, and even Marilyn Manson – whose pathetic gimmick I despise – put on a fun show.

Rockstock 97 was two months later.  There were no huge bands at that show – I believe Megadeath and Faith No More were the headliners – but there were enough good bands and good friends with me to make it highly enjoyable.

Two months after that I went with one of my best friend’s boyfriends to another Pantera show that was one of the most insane experiences of my life.

In February of ’98 half of my high school turned out at the Aragon Ballroom for the Black Crowes.  We waited outside in line for about 8 hours in the cold Chicago winter and it was worth it, because we all got front row… most of us also got ridiculously sick, but it was so worth it.

Rockstock 98 was the cherry on the cake.  Another concert where there weren’t any huge major bands – Black Crowes, Creed and Rammstein were the headliners – but still so much fun.

The highlight of the year, however, was seeing the Rolling Stones in September of 1997 at Soldier Field.  Despite crappy nosebleed seats and the weather progressively getting chilly as the evening went on, it was amazing.  The music was amazing, the band was great, even the crowd was awesome.  And eclectic.  There were the college frat boys sitting to the right of us, in front of us a couple of old bikers in leather jackets and beards passed joints with a couple of businessmen in suits.  Behind us an elderly couple would get up and slow-dance every so often.  All around was a motley collection of humanity, and all of us were entranced for a couple hours by one of the best bands the world has ever seen.

Today’s Ditty is a clip of that very same concert at Soldier Field in 1997.  The music doesn’t start until the 4:30 mark and watching a concert via youtube video is nothing like being there in concert, but looking at it brings back memories of how absolutely amazing that night was.