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Monday Book Review: Vaccinated! Halfway House! The Path to the Spiders’ Nests! And Taking on the Gates Foundation, To Boot!

July 16th, 2007

(That’s a whole lotta exclamation points, no? WM)

Reviewed and mentioned today:

For this week’s review, we’re talking about “Vaccinated: One Man’s Quest to Defeat the World’s Deadliest Diseases”, by Paul A. Offit, M.D. Your unfriendly reviewers are Wacky Mommy and the Pink-Housed Housewife. To start, may I, WM, just say that the book is about Montana native Maurice Hilleman, but you wouldn’t know it from the title. I thought Offit was the big genius but he’s not. They need to add Hilleman’s name to the title. (They may have — we’re reading review copies.) (Also, there are no indexes in the review copies. I have found this vexing.)

(Also, PHH and I refuse to discuss this book further, so I’m posting what we’ve got.)

(Which is not much.)

Read this if you’d like (it’s about Wakefield, the scientist whose motives are in question). And post away in comments, if you’d like.

Hilleman was a vaccine researcher and developer, who created vaccines to prevent measles, mumps, rubella (German measles), chickenpox, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, pneumococcus, meningococcus, and Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib).

WM: Pink-Haired Housewife? Who is now a raven beauty? Have you finished the book? I got to the part about Waring blenders and mouse brains, then had a little “episode” and put the book down. It made me upset. But I finally finished it. In case some of you out there don’t know, they tested many of the vaccines on mentally handicapped children, for chrissake. Then x-rayed them repeatedly and did some questionable stuff. Jesus. They should subtitle this book: “It Takes a Man to Make a Vaccine, Because Women Would Never Pull This Kinda Shit.”

PHH: From the rebel in me to MISTER DOCTOR PAUL OFFIT: Suck on this! Who cares about vaccines, anyway? Who needs em? We have more pressing issues to attend to…Have you ever watched “Intervention,” WM?

WM: No, I have not. But I think I’m in need of an intervention. What is it? A show? And did you know that the last concert John Lennon and Yoko Ono gave was for the children at Willowbrook State School? Did you know, in fact, that after he left the Beatles all of the concerts Lennon performed were for charity benefits? He didn’t play for money for himself. It’s true. I know this because I just watched “The U.S. Vs. John Lennon.”

What was Willowbrook, you ask? What do we care about Willowbrook?

PHH: Is this a segue? Nicely done! What was it? A benefit for what? Antidotes? Weapons for the terminally defenseless? Do we have to review this book, Wacky Mommy? Do we have to? (Whine. Whine. Pause. Smiles. Picks her nose.)

WM: We don’t really care to review it. (Pause. Smiles. Picks her nose.) Honestly? I hate that book. I’m trying to wrap my head around it. Can’t. “Halfway House” was scary good, I loved it. I stayed up until 2:30 a.m. last night reading it. I got it from the library but I’m going to buy a copy.

PHH: I’m finishing Italo Calvino’s “The Path to the Spiders’ Nests.” It’s beautiful. And we saw the new Harry Potter movie (my favorite so far)…without the children. Not a movie for little people; dark scary stuff. Ralph Fiennes returns again…as himself. Creeeeeeepy.

Let’s just tell the people the thing about the thing, ok?

WM: You go first.

PHH: No.

WM: Alright then, over and out.


  1. Pink Haired housewife says

    No. We can’t just leave it at that, WM. We need to tell them why we were unable to even discuss Vaccinated, muchless “review” it…
    The first half of the book is generally informative, and fairly interesting. Maurice Hilleman is a fascinating guy, and when Offit delves into the politics, intrique, and questionable ethics of the science industry, it feels a little like a Tom Clancy novel. Which is to say that this isn’t a “dry” science.
    The second half of the book is where things go horribly awry. Offit – the great and terrible champion of Maurice Hilleman (apparently defenseless) and spokesperson for vaccine safety steps into the light and – quite literally – begins staging written attacks on vulnerable members of the population (parents of Autistic children) who have dared to question the science science scinece of vaccines, etc. It’s tyrannical at best, and ill-informed bullying at worst. He rants, he raves, and he throws punches accusing the anti-vaccination “team” of mass hysterics and media hype, suggesting that they are nothing more than an angry mob out to destroy the work of great men like Mr. Hilleman…and himself. (Mr. Offit, you see, was once an employee of Merck. OOPs. Houston we have an ethcial breach!)
    It’a a big disappointment, because the vaccine argument is well worth pursuing in this context.
    WM – take it home, Sister!

    July 17th, 2007 | #

  2. WackyMommy says

    The Gates Foundation donating big cash for vaccines is what got to me. Because, yes, it’s awesome that they’re trying to help. But as much good as they do with their money (money that would have been taxed, anyway, and lost, anyway, by Gates… So it’s all one big tax write-off and big whoop, way to go, Bill and Melinda! You’re saving MORE money!)… where was I going with this?

    As much good as Gates does, they’re doing an even larger amount of UNgood. (Is that even a word?)

    To wit: L.A. Times expose of bullshit that Gates is pulling abroad:

    “The Gates Foundation has poured $218 million into polio and measles immunization and research worldwide, including in the Niger Delta. At the same time that the foundation is funding inoculations to protect health, The Times found, it has invested $423 million in Eni, Royal Dutch Shell, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. and Total of France — the companies responsible for most of the flares blanketing the delta with pollution, beyond anything permitted in the United States or Europe.

    Indeed, local leaders blame oil development for fostering some of the very afflictions that the foundation combats.”

    Check here:
    and here:


    To quote Pink Floyd, “Don’t give me that do-goody-good bullshit.”

    July 17th, 2007 | #

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