Autism on CNN [G]

CNN had an article on tonight about Autism. One thing discussed was the causes. You have probably heard them all: mercury as a preservative in vaccines; environmental pollution; pesticide residues in food.

Some of these we can discount based on simple science. Thimerosal, the preservative used in vaccines (contact lenses too) is no longer used in vaccines. So if that was the case, autism should be on the decline. Mercury in the environment used to be at horrific levels; at levels absolutely dwarfing that in vaccines; yet autism was less in the past. In fact, all levels of pollution (both air and water) are at much lower levels than they were decades and centuries ago. And one can say the same about pesticide residues; in fact it has been more than half a century since arsenical pesticide were used in the US.

Well, what could be causing autism, or at least contributing to it significantly. Here is a news flash for many - did you know that a woman is born with all the eggs she will ever have? Let me put it this way; due to the way the human reproductive system works, a woman at birth has – in her ovaries – every egg she will ever produce. Contrast this with a man who produces new sperm cells about every 30 days, and clears out all sperm cells within 90 days.

This fact has a profound influence on chemicals that can damage genetic material, those things classed as teratogens and mutagens. So this would mean that a woman who has significant exposure to these things can end up with genetic damage to the DNA in her eggs. And all damage is cumulative; so that even small amounts of exposure add up to a lot over time.

So what are some teratogens and mutagens? How about alcohol, cigarette and other smoking materials; cocaine, heroin, LSD, many prescription painkillers and other narcotics. Now I am not being a prude; in fact I believe in legalizing and taxing drugs.

Think of the scenario, exposure to these materials can cause genetic damage; but you may ask, women have been exposed to these items for decades centuries, why autism now?

One of the facts in the US is the increase in the average age of a woman having her first child. So the longer a woman waits to have a child, the greater the chance that genetic damage has occurred.

Now of course this concept is not frequently espoused; I mean the blame would rest solely with the mother of the child. Now again, this is just a theory, but let’s use one outspoken celebrity example.

Jenny McCarthy is an autism champion, in fact she has even cured her son of autism. And of course Dr. McCarthy knows that vaccines gave her son autism. So how does Ms. McCathy fit into my demographics?

She was 31 when she had he first child, well above the national average of 25. As to the other potential causes, one can decide if her on-screen persona matches her real life.


US Air Fails [AN]

I have nothing left but anger. Anger and sadness. My US Air flight to Newark is now in Allentown PA. I sort of figured we'd have to get fuel as I swear I could hear the engines sputtering!

Through the miracle of technology that works, this was sent from my iPhone.

I'd also like to tell the guy a few seats back that even though he is calling California, he does NOT HAVE TO SHOUT even though he is far away from whom he is calling.

Update - 9 hours from Pittsburgh PA to Newark NJ.

Useless Air [AN FE PG]

I should have known it would be a bad travel day. I mean, to start it off, it was US Air. I know I could call them “Useless Air” but that is a cheap shot. I could call them "Uvula Air" (the “useless” appendage hanging at the back of the throat) but that would be too cheap and easy. "Urethra Air" gets closer to the mark. How about “Incompetent f-wads Air” or “Flaming sack of sh-t Air” as each accurately describes them.

Remember – in libel or slander cases, truth is the final defense. It is not libelous as I can guaran-frickin-tee you that I could easily amass several thousand signature of people that agree with the above assertion.

Anyway, my flight to Pittsburgh was gone. It never existed. One could say “canceled” but that implies there was an intention of the flight actually taking place. I think they offered this direct fight merely to let people think it actually existed. Then they cancel it so their Philly and Newark flights will be full. My evidence is twofold: 1) there was no information available as to why the flight was canceled. Sunspots? Beri Beri among the pilots? Spontaneous dental hydroplosion? No idea. And then 2) I am supposed to get some sort of message from AMEX or US Air that the flight was canceled. It is supposed to be e-mail but I think they write it on a scrap of paper and throw it in the street hoping that I will find it.

I was put on the 3:30 PM Philly flight , that was now leaving “around 5:00”. Note that in US Air-speak “around 5” means really 5:59 PM. That was what I thought based on the display above the gate – Flight departing 5:59. So I went at about 4:15 to get a quick bite – thinking I had plenty of time.

I returned at 5:15 to see a different flight number leaving to Philly at either 7:00 or 7:19; depending on if you looked at the gate doorway or the gate counter display. Now that is either a screw-up or one big-ass plane. I asked the lady where’s the 5:59 plane; she replied that it had left, and they had paged me.

Now one rule I have of air travel in the post-911 craze is never get mad. If you get mad you can get arrested. I’ll tell the conversation in reverse order. I asked how loud was the announcement, and where was it broadcast, as while eating I heard Southwest ask for the lady going to Philly (on-time I hasten to add) and the US Air flight looking for the guy going to Chicago. I did not hear any call for US Air to Philly, and I did note that I am especially astute when my name is concerned. I should also parenthetically add that my hearing is still good – I have listened to the “mosquito ringtones” available for teenagers’ cell phones. These are so high a frequency as to be inaudible to adults. I can still hear the 16 kHz tone, which is not bad; my wife can hear 18 kHz (note wives can often be considered “carriers” of male hearing loss; heart attacks too); my kids can hear near or above 20 kHz. The lady replied they broadcast it all over the airport. We were at a quandary to explain how I did not hear it.

Okay, so I didn’t hear it – but the best was her response to my question about the posted departure time. “Oh, you can’t go by that” was her statement. “But that’s all I got” is what I replied. Apparently if a flight is delayed, the airlines – when receiving the “go” message (how about “go to hell”?) they just GO! I did get a space on the 7:00 or 7:19 flight.

And of course two things happened. We boarded at 6:12 for a 6:30 departure, natch’. I also went to the men’s room before boarding (a personal habit) and - of course - the announcements faded to inaudibility once inside the bathroom right across from the gate.

So what did we learn here, dear reader?
Southwest can apparently fly on-time.
US Air is staffed by poltroons.
US Air does not pay their CEO enough.

Update - now trying to leave Pittsburgh for Newark NJ; and got an earlier flight. It is of course now not departing on-time and is listed as "update @ 6:00" which does not mean the flight will leave at 6 PM. Note as I site here typing Continental has had flights leave for Newark.