We all know that "millennium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "annus" and means a thousand years. The word "millenium" comes from the Latin words "mille" and "anus" and means something else. This web site is devoted to the millenium of sites which don't deserve a place on the Web. We are not putting them on a pedestal - we are offering them a stool.
|Offending the offensive since 1999|
September 13, 2014
Doing something useful (13/9/2014)
Today I joined a group of people on a walk around a park. It was part of a project by Lifeline called "Out of the shadows and into the light", with the aim of raising awareness and getting people to talk about suicide.
The Penrith event was organised by my friends Jay McGarrity and Jess Morton, and they have to be congratulated. I've been involved with this project for about four years now, and at the first walk all the people who attended were able to be seated around a single table at the Nepean Rowing Club afterwards for a beer and lunch. This year more than 100 people came along.
People might ask why it is important to publicly talk about suicide, with some even suggesting that mentioning it might encourage it. It's important because it takes more lives than road accidents (2,535 versus 1,310 in 2012, the last year for which comparable figures are available), but it has been a taboo subject for years. (My great-uncle shot himself, but the family mythology was that it was an accident.)
Several people who had been touched by suicide spoke to the group before we set off walking, telling their tales of personal desperation and family loss. I was going to give one of the talks, but I decided to refrain. Here is what I would have said.
I'm one of the lucky ones. I've suffered from depression for years, but I have never contemplated suicide. I'm lucky in another way, because it was averted when it came very close to claiming people I love. I hope that I never again have to utter magic words that take me and a patient to the front of the queue in a packed emergency department waiting room on a Saturday night. I hope that I never again have to hear a doctor say the words "I think we've saved her". I hope that I never again have to pass through a succession of locked doors in a hospital to get to visit someone who is under 24 hour supervision to prevent self-harm. I hope that I never again have to drive to places with high cliffs to talk someone back from the edge because they had stopped taking medication. (While driving that day I heard a quack on the radio advising people to stop taking psychiatric drugs and use herbs instead, because there is no such thing as mental illness. The word "rage" was inadequate to describe my emotion.)
It is important to talk about suicide, to bring it out as the slogan for today says "into the light". It has been a taboo for too long, but by removing the stigma it will become possible for those in the depths of despair to reach out without shame or embarrassment, for listeners to respond with sympathy and help, not criticism. At a government level, millions of dollars are spent each year on road safety but the number of suicides is twice the road toll and mental health is a low priority. Actions like this one today will help to break down the taboo and hopefully lead to this very serious social and health problem getting the attention, and answers, that it deserves. It also shows that families who have been affected by suicide are not alone and that there are others who understand and sympathise with their pain and loss.
Thank you all for coming.
When I did my link check on this site this month to find links that have gone or moved I discovered that Bill Mutranowski's Atheist Cartoons has disappeared. I wasn't too surprised at this, because I couldn't find it when I went looking for updates a few weeks ago, and the last time I saw it it looked like it hadn't been updated for a while. A Google search turned up another site calling itself by the same name but it was just a tumblr collection of stolen and unattributed images, some of which had a gaucheness and stupidity that made me feel like going to church. It is the sort of thing that allows believers to say "Atheists can't think and have nothing to say".
Now to fix the 23 links from here to there. And here is the first of the cartoons I ever used, in September 2008.
Good news week. (13/9/2014)
The remnants of the band Queen are currently touring Australia (with the replacement for Freddie Mercury getting a surprisingly good reception from fans - he really is excellent) although I wasn't able to see them in Sydney. My disappointment has been heightened, because I would have loved to sing along with "Another One Bites The Dust". The reason for this is that my link check showed that the web site for the Canadian Cancer Research Group is no more. It is dead, has fallen off the perch, and has gone to join the sewer invisible. For those unfamiliar with CCRG, it was the web site of Mr William P O'Neill who did the world a favour by dying in March 2013. Here is the condolence message I posted on his family's memorial site.
For thirteen years this vile creature published lies about me and my family, using the foulest language known to man. He contacted businesses and organisations I could be connected to and lied to them about me. He used to pop up on almost any blog or forum where my name was mentioned and say disgusting things about me. The fact that he caused the early deaths of at least two people but used them in advertising (and at one stage pretended to be the husband of one of them when he emailed me) shows the depth of his vileness. You can see the record of his interaction with me here, including the mass of email and Usenet messages he created (many of them with a transparent anonymity).
I fully expected that the site would just wither away after he died or that someone would take over his quackery business and continue with his work of deceiving the desperate, but not only has the site gone but the domain name "ccrg.com" now points nowhere at all. In technical terms, it is no longer delegated. This is the result of a trace from my computer to the CCRG site:
But the news might not all be good. Here is the current Whois record for the domain name:
The registration was updated in February this year and is current until the end of January, 2015. The registrant has the email address email@example.com and the web site associated with that domain name appears to be a retread of the CCRG site using the name "Immune System Management" that Mr O'Neill had been moving towards just before his timely death. It looks like the family is continuing the tradition of lying in order to steal money from desperate people. I wonder if I can get the current owners to also continue the tradition of stalking me. Perhaps I should send an email to "goneill" asking whether I should archive all the CCRG material here or expect to be able to expand it in the future.
August 30, 2014
Anti-vaxxers celebrate (30/8/2014)
Because people showed concern when I announced that I had been injured, I published a photograph on Facebook showing what my face looked like. It took almost no time for this to appear.
The thing posting it, "No Vaccines Australia", is of course anonymous, and it was posted in a forum where I am banned from responding. (Note: Jo, Meleese, and Fiona are real-life friends of mine.) Why I should be "Not so Skeptic now" is a mystery, and when asked why it had posted this idiocy it replied "Because I'm a fun guy".
This is a perfect example of the respect that anti-vaccination liars have for anyone who doesn't subscribe to their insane agenda. They don't care how many children die from preventable diseases, or how many are disabled by the diseases, they don't care if their children infect others, they don't care how many women die from cervical cancer, they don't care about people lying in order to get government benefits to which they are not entitled, they don't care how many people they might offend by comparing vaccine researchers to psychopaths like Mengele (yes, Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination(-skeptics) Network did that just this week). Why should anyone be surprised that they think someone being injured is a joke?
And in case you think I'm exaggerating about the Mengele comparison, that nobody could be that insensitive -
The words quoted were written in 1967 and refer to research done years before that. It is because of this attitude that the ethical boundaries around clinical trials are much stronger now than they were five decades ago. But why would you expect anti-vaccination liars to recognise that anything has changed? And remember that they are constantly clamouring for vaccines to be tested in double-blinded placebo controlled trials, where all subjects would be exposed to infectious disease but only some would be give the real vaccine. If they are going to quote Rivers but want vaccines tested to the standards of the Tuskegee and Guatemala syphilis trials it simply indicates the extent of the hypocrisy that they apply to their attitude towards human life.
The more I see of anti-vaccination liars, the more I'm convinced that they want to see more dead children. And people who think like that should be locked away for the protection of society.
I review a book (30/8/2014)
I've been reading and writing and talking a lot about philosophy lately. (Examples - writing for Australasian Science, speaking at Philo Agora, speaking at SkeptiCamp) One thing I have noticed is that philosophy is very much misunderstood so I've been looking out for books which provide an introduction to the breadth of philosophy without requiring the reader to spend some years at university enmeshed in difficult discussions about difficult topics.
One book that I have found useful for years is Mel Thompson's from 2003. This covers the major topic areas and because it's part of the Teach Yourself series it is designed for beginners and leads you through the learning process.
My local council public library has a section labelled "Philosophy" and I always check it whenever I'm passing. Unfortunately the Dewey classification for the subject seems broad enough to include all sorts of woowoo nonsense and self-help books plus a smattering of weird religions, but there is the occasional nugget among the dross. One such book is by Nigel Warburton. I've written a review of this book and you can read it here.
To make life a little easier I've added a Philosophy section to the Millenium Bookshop. Not all books listed are specifically about philosophy, but they all touch on certain aspects of it.
Speaking of philosophy ... (30/8/2014)
I write a book (30/8/2014)
In January 2004, at the invitation of Mr James Randi, I was a speaker at The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas. At the time I was Vice President of Australian Skeptics and I went as a representative of that organisation, accompanied by the other Vice President. Also in the party was SkeptoBear, a bear of little repute, who insisted on coming as a neutral observer. This is the story of the trip around the bottom left-hand corner of the USA and the top left-hand corner of Mexico.
August 9, 2014
God's wrath (9/8/2014)
While attending The Amazing Meeting in Las Vegas in 2004 I suffered an injury to my foot. A different injury prevented me from participating in the 2011 Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras in Sydney with my friends from Sydney Gay Atheists (I am an atheist who lives in Sydney, so two out of three ain't bad). At the Global Atheist Conference in 2012 I suffered a recurrence of the injury from 2004, and I broke my ankle coming home from SkeptiCamp in Sydney later that year. When I spoke at Skeptics in the Pub earlier this year a glass of beer was spilled on my laptop computer, killing it for all eternity.
On Thursday. August 7 this year, I attended Skeptics in the Pub in Sydney and mentioned this sequence of coincidences that suggested that God did not approve of me going to such events.
On the way home He decided to escalate the displeasure and flung me with some force into the steps of the car park where I had left my car. Following a trip in an ambulance I spent the remainder of the night in hospital, where various people did tests to see if I had suffered concussion or maybe even more serious brain damage. Right now I still have headaches, my left eye is very black from the outside and presenting blurred images from the inside, my teeth on that side of my head hurt, my left wrist doesn't like going through its usual range of motion, and I have sore fingers on my right hand (not helped by the torn nail on my thumb).
I will be talking to more doctors in the next few days, but I suspect (and hope) that everything will work itself out without any major drama. Luckily, my phrenologist keeps good records so he will be able to tell if any of the bumps on my head have been rearranged.
Normal transmission will be resumed shortly.
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