Letters for March 27, 2014

How’s this?

I’m a current member of Phi Delta Epsilon an international medical fraternity, one of the first here at the University of Nevada, Reno. Phi Delta Epsilon is an organization driven to assist college students who aspire to become future physicians. In May, we will be holding our annual Miracle Madness: Dance Marathon event to raise money for Children’s Miracle Network, an international non-profit organization that raises funds for children’s hospitals, medical research, and community awareness of children’s health issues. Miracle Madness is a six-hour philanthropic dance marathon, focused on raising funds and community awareness. Intended for people of all ages, Miracle Madness offers tons of events. Best part is that all of our proceeds go to our local children’s hospital at Renown Regional Medical Center. We are hoping to see if we could get you to endorse our event simply by advertising for it in any way possible.

Jeffrey Dominguez


Ummm, I’m tellin’

Re “And get off my lawn” (Letters to the Editor, March 20):

I agree with the reader’s comment that Bruce Van Dyke is a moron. I never liked him as a radio personality, and I like him even less as a columnist. But let the fuckstick known as Bruce Van Dyke say what he wants. Who cares?

John Gibson



Re “Dear City of Reno mayoral candidate” (Left Foot Forward, March 20):

I really liked Sheila Leslie’s essay on the mayoral race, but I’m still waiting for her answer to my (old) question. What happened to the state’s $2 billion tobacco settlement money?

Jon Obester


Nada Dada shish boom badda

With low expectations my gal and I attended the Morris Hotel “Nada-Gras” event recently on East Fourth Street. From several blocks away, we detected a full, operatic voice beckoning us from beyond the darkened buildings and gravel alleys that led to the rear of the hotel. Climbing to the second floor artist rooms we soon greeted the perennial Eric Holland. Then a squeeze into some first-floor lobby seats as Bernie Beauchamp was wrapping up his puppet act. Josiah Knight appeared on stage next hiding behind an unkempt beard and thick woolen cap, with the look of a guileless amateur. I searched for an escape route but, blocked in, I stayed put and by the end of the first song he possessed the room. The close of the set was marked by thunderous applause and cheering. He sang originals with impassioned, stirring lyrics and played his acoustic guitar fearlessly. His performance was followed by a duo that featured another gifted singer/songwriter whose name escapes me. I felt as if I were present at the rebirth of lyric and melody. Has the Morris become a nexus for a Reno renaissance? I commend the new owner and hope that his musical tastes continue to bring us such excellence!

Steve Lefevre


Taking shots at CDC?

Re “Take two. They’re small.” (Let Freedom Ring, March 13):

Brendan Trainor notes that CDC is large, centralized, public and staffed with experts. That is exactly the right description for a national public health service. It’s large, because we’re a large country. It’s centralized, because we want the best data to come unambiguously from a single source. It’s public, because “promote the general welfare” is a primary duty of the public sector. It’s staffed with experts because, obviously, the task requires highly specialized knowledge. To assert that CDC is untrustworthy because it’s all those things is absurd.

The reason we have CDC (and WHO) address epidemics is that pathogens affect everyone, everywhere. We need a coordinated response. Private enterprises could hardly accomplish that through competition. Should we have all 50 state health departments consider dozens of competing recommendations from vaccine vendors? Have the vendors self-regulate? Certify their own products? In a pandemic, would we want the best people scattered around, fighting for market share? Do we sell vaccine by auction when the need spikes? This all makes as much sense as privatizing the Coast Guard. Have we simply run out of things to make money from?

About that flu/pneumonia conspiracy: Pneumonia is the most frequent complication for influenza. That’s why they’re basically treated as a syndrome. Getting a flu shot makes it much less likely you’ll be one of the 40,000 Americans who die from this each year. It also makes it less likely you’ll pass the infection on to others, which is the real reason we get vaccinations. Effectiveness is halved by those, like Trainor, who don’t participate. If we were all as selfish as Libertarians, the program would lose all effectiveness. Sure, we’d have all kinds of consumer choice in the matter, and 20,000 more dead each year. Everyone else can’t simply opt out of infection the way some opt out of vaccination.

CDC has been on the libertarian “enemies list” for some time. In 1993, a CDC-funded study was published called “Gun ownership as a risk factor for homicide in the home.” It showed that having guns in the home makes people more likely to be killed with one, not less. (Evidence is not kind to libertarianism.) The NRA—a highly libertarian pressure group—reacted by pushing Congress to effectively ban CDC research on firearm injuries. A similar thing is happening today with the NRA derailing the nominee for Surgeon General. So this stuff is not just the usual “privatize everything” pitch. It’s more of a grudge shooting.

C.G. Green


Just get a shot

Re “Take two. They’re small.” (Let Freedom Ring, March 13):

Brendan Trainor’s column is usually harmless, sometimes amusing, and very occasionally I agree with a point he makes. His recent anti-flu-vaccine column, however, is dangerous and wrong on a number of points:

1) Pneumonia, which can cause death, is sometimes a secondary infection that occurs after having the flu. If the person would have avoided getting the flu, he or she would not have gotten pneumonia in the first place.

2) The CDC does not “guess” which strains of influenza virus to include in a particular year’s flu vaccine. CDC scientists predict which strains will be prevalent, then formulate the vaccine accordingly. (Of course if you don’t believe in science, that’s the same as guessing.)

3) Trainor shows a lack of understanding of mathematics. In the hypothetical example he gives, two people get the flu out of 100 people vaccinated, which is a 2 percent infection rate. In the control group, none of the 100 people is vaccinated, six of them get the flu, for a 6 percent infection rate. Therefore, statistically, the vaccine was 67 percent effective, not 60 percent (i.e. 6 minus 2 equals 4, then 4 divided by 6 equals 67 percent). Trainor then combines the vaccinated and the control groups, which is not statistically valid because they are two different data sets. The best way to look at the data is to compare the chances of getting flu with and without being vaccinated. Using Mr. Trainor’s hypothetical data, someone who is not vaccinated is three times more likely to get the flu compared to someone who did get vaccinated (i.e. 6 percent compared to 2 percent).

I have little sympathy for people who choose not to get the flu vaccine, then get sick. You can’t protect people from their own stupidity. However, when a person gets sick, he or she becomes a walking reservoir of influenza organisms. This increases the risk of everyone else getting the flu.

Michael Powell