Monday, March 26, 2012

Remembering: Dr. Jonas Salk and The Polio Vaccine

March 26, 1953 Dr. Jonas Salk announces to the world that he has successfully created and tested a vaccine for polio. By 1954, two million children had been involved in clinical trials. In April 1955, the vaccine was pronounced effective and safe, leading to nationwide inoculation.

Salk began his research into a polio vaccine in 1948, after receiving a grant from the University of Pittsburgh. For his work, Dr. Salk would be given many awards throughout the rest of his life, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1977.

Polio attacks the nervous system, causing varying degrees of paralysis. Mostly striking infants, it could strike adults as well. Perhaps the most famous of it's victims was President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who became partially paralyzed after being struck with at the age of thirty-nine. In 1952 alone nearly 3,000 Americans had died from the disease.

The disease has not been wiped from the earth, and does pop up every once in awhile in the United States. Most cases are people who have immigrated from other countries, especially developing ones.

Colorado Fires Continue to Spread During Night

The Lower North Fork fire has grown to over 3,000 acres, and burned down several houses. Jefferson County officials have confirmed that there has been a fatality linked to the fire. The death is under investigation, and no further information has been released at this time. Fifteen fire departments are already fighting the fire, with more agencies preparing to join.

Mandatory evacuations have spread to nearly 1,000 homes. All residents south of Highway 285, in the area, have been warned that they should be ready to evacuate as well. Evacuated residents were asked to go to Chatfield and Conifer High Schools. Large animals evacuated due to the fire can be taken to the Jefferson County Fairgrounds.

Due to the smoke from the Lower North Fork fire, the entire Denver metro has been placed under an air quality advisory. Authorities say if visibility is less than 5 miles in smoke in your neighborhood due to a wildfire or controlled burn, smoke has reached levels that are unhealthy. If smoke is thick or becomes thick in your neighborhood it's recommended you stay indoors. This is especially important for people with heart disease, respiratory illnesses, the very young, and the elderly.

Another fire has broken out near Loveland, but is already half contained. All other fires that started on Monday have been contained or extinguished. Winds are expected to dissipate over night, which will slow the fire's growth, and allow for air crews to join the fight, in the morning.

More Warnings For North Korea Over Planned Launch

North Korean plans to launch a rocket in April, met with continued hostility and warnings. The United States and Japan have already warned them not to.

On Monday, China and South Korea joined the nay sayers. China pledged to do it's best to dissuade North Korea from actually attempting the launch. South Korea joined Japan in saying they may shoot it down if it crosses their airspace.

North Korea maintains that the rocket is purely for scientific reasons, and will launch a satellite into space. The other countries condemn it as a long range missile test, and warn that it would hamper peace processes, likely including food shipments.

Originally the trajectory would have had it go across the main islands of Japan, eastwards, just as a previous rockets have in the past. Last week North Korea replotted the course to go south, causing concerns it may hit Indonesia or even Australia, should it fall back to the earth.

Fires Ignite in Colorado

Fires have been burning all day throughout Colorado, increasing allergies and making breathing difficult. High winds and humidity in the single digits have added to the problems, driving flames and spreading smoke and ashes further east.

As the wind dies down this evening, most of the fires have been put out, or at least contained. Summit, Larimer, Morgan, Weld, and Logan Counties, all have dealt or are dealing with small fires.

Hardest hit is Jefferson County where multiple fires took off, the largest of which, the Lower North Fork fire, is still uncontrolled, and burning over 200 acres at this time. So far it has caused mandatory evacuations, for 400 plus homes, in the south west Denver metro area. Roxborough and Conifer have been directly effected by the fire, though no structures have been lost. Firefighters battling it hope to contain it by the end of the night.

Photo Courtesy of Danny Grace
Views from Aurora, in the eastern metro, show just how thick the smoke is. The picture was taken from an area about thirty-five miles away from the fire. It also highlights the return of the infamous red sun, as the sun is choked by the smoke from the fires.

Near Saddle Rock, in the south east metro, it smells as if someone is having a nice bonfire just down the street. The smoke has pervaded itself into everything, luckily the fires have not.

Classic Pick: Lady for a Day

This is a fabulous Frank Capra movie about Apple Annie, an elderly street vendor (May Robson) with tattered clothes but a heart of gold. She wants to impress her daughter who’s coming to visit with her fiance, a hoity-toity Count.

All these years, Robson’s daughter has been away at a Spanish school, and Robson has been signing her letters as Lady Manville and describing in great detail a make-believe high life spent hobnobbing with luminaries; now Robson needs to play the part for real, or risk breaking her daughter’s heart and jeopardizing her marriage. Heart-warming and delightful seem such over-used, trite and flimsy words, but in their purest definition perfectly describe this movie.

The cast combination, though it may be “lesser-known” to classic movie newbies, is magic: Warren William plays the slick gangster who believes his gambling luck depends on Annie’s apples, and so, partly out of superstition, but mostly because he has a soft heart which he tries mightily to conceal, he moves heaven and earth (or, rather, all the underworld figures he can intimidate, blackmail or cajole), directing all his considerable charm and resources to helping Robson pose as the center of a high society circle. The fantasy world he creates is awe-inspiring, populated by colorful characters and played by comedy masters in juicy roles, greats like Glenda Farrell, Nat Pendleton, Ned Sparks and a deceptively doofus-y Guy Kibbee as Robson’s “husband,” “Judge” Manville.

The way they all pull together, despite bickering and threats to quit, and hold the spectacularly ridiculous masquerade together is as suspenseful as any thriller. Nosy reporters smell something’s not right? No problem, kidnap them. Gangsters and their molls don’t sound convincing enough to pass as swells? No problem, write scripts and speeches for them and rehearse everything like a big Broadway production replete with lessons in bearing and posture, much to the puzzlement of the authorities, who seem convinced this weird behavior is all meant for some criminal purpose.

When things finally seem doomed to fall apart, and even Robson loses all hope, Warren William pulls off one whopper of a save, and restores not just the situation at hand but your very faith in humanity. This is one of the movies that falls into the category “they don’t make ‘em like this anymore.”