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August 5, 2006

Almost back on track (5/8/2006)
The promised Part 2 of the analysis of get-rich-quick advertisements in my local paper will appear next week. I made an executive decision that the highest priority thing to do with this site was to get it back onto a regular weekend update schedule. This means that the new content this week will be a bit thin. Now that the office move is complete, all the furniture has been assembled, the computers have been reconnected and the books are back on the shelves I can go back to a routine of working during the week and hobbying at weekends. Which is the way things ought to be.


Thank you, Yuri (5/8/2006)
Yuri's cardI don't know who Yuri is, but he sent me a lovely religious card. Well, the card was lovely as was the thought, but the story on the card would have not been out of place in the old Twilight Zone television series as it was a horror story featuring one of mankind's greatest terrors. I don't think I will be converting because of the card, but I might be a bit careful who I get to help me escape from prison if I the need ever arises. You can see the card here.


Not everyone wishes me well (5/8/2006)
I received the following considered criticism of this site and my opinion about Mannatech. As the points were so well argued I will have to take my time preparing a reply:

From: "Shawn D"
Subject: Mannatech
Date: Wed, 02 Aug 2006 15:55:42 +0800

YOU ARE A FOOL MATE, YOU ARE DOING MORE HARM THAN GOOD. YOUR FACTS AND FINDINGS ARE SOLELY BASED ON YOUR OWN OPINION AND THE MINISCULE LENGTHS YOU GO TO TO VERIFY YOUR FACTS. YOU SHOULD BE SMART ENOUGH TO KNOW IT'S NO-ONE ELSE'S FAULT, EVEN YOURS, THAT YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY SERIOUSLY ABUSED AS A CHILD AND PERHAPS IN YOUR LATER YEARS. HOW DO I KNOW THIS? AFTER CAREFUL ANALYSIS OF THE BS ON YOUR SITE, IT IS OBVIOUS YOU'RE JUST AN ANGRY LITTLE MAN WHO CAN ONLY FIND FULFILLMENT IN DESTROYING OTHERS HOPES AND DREAMS, BY PROVIDING THESE SO-CALLED FACTS THAT QUITE FRANKLY ARE DOWNRIGHT LIES. WHERE IN ANY OF YOUR ATTENTION SEEKING PEOPLE DESTROYING LIES IS THE PROOF TO BACK UP EVERY CLAIM YOU MAKE?? ON TOP OF THAT YOU DON'T ACTUALLY ANSWER OBJECTIONS, BUT RATHER ATTACK THE SMALL DETAILS SO THE AVERAGE PERSON WILL JUST LISTEN TO YOUR OPINION AND MAKE OTHERS LOOK BAD. SOME PEOPLE DO HAVE A LITTLE MORE KNOWLEDGE THAN TO BE SUCKED IN BY A PLAYGROUND BULLY WHO NEEDS SERIOUS DISCIPLINE. YOU ARE AN INCOMPETENT FOOL WITH A VOCABULARY THAT IS TOO BIG FOR YOU TO HANDLE AND WHEN DID YOU DECIDE TO STOP GATHERING NEW INFORMATION TO SUBSTANTIATE YOUR CLAIMS? IF YOUR SO INTELLECTUAL LIKE YOU MAKE OUT THEN DON'T YOU REALIZE THE WORLD WE LIVE IN IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING AND NEW RESEARCH AND FINDINGS ARE BEING DISCOVERED EVERY DAY!!! YOU NEED TO FIND SOMEONE PROFESSIONAL TO HELP YOU OVERCOME YOUR OBVIOUS SOCIAL AND MENTAL ISSUES SO YOU CAN STOP SPREADING HATEFUL HERESAY, AND DO SOMETHING PRODUCTIVE WITH YOUR WORTHLESS EXISTANCE THAT MAY ACTUALLY HELP PEOPLE MOVE FORWARD, NOT DRAG THEM WITH YOU WHILE YOU TAKE GIANT LEAPS BACK. EITHER THAT OR I SINCERELY HOPE KARMA CATCHES UP WITH YOU, AND A GREAT MISFORTUNE IS PLACED UPON EVERYTHING YOU EVER TRY TO ACHIEVE, UNTIL SUCH TIME AS YOU START TRYING TO GENUINELY DO SOMETHING FOR THE HUMAN RACE. WHAT YOU ARE DOING NOW IS CLOSED-MINDED NEGATIVE NASTY VINDICTIVE SHIT THAT CAN ONLY COME FROM SOMEONE THAT HAS BEEN THROUGH SEVERE TRAUMA AT SOME STAGE OF THEIR LIFE. YOU PITIFUL EXCUSE FOR A HUMAN BEING!!!!!


A judge goes mad (5/8/2006)
I received an email during the week (from one of the crooks promoting a scam, with the subject line "Have you read the Evening news loser?") which contained a news story about how a pack of crooks named Truehope had been found by a judge to be not guilty of the charge of selling medications without the appropriate registration number, despite them having produced these concoctions without the benefit of a registration number. Truehope sells pills which were supposedly designed to stop pigs from chewing each other's tails and offers them as a cure for bipolar disorder. (You can see something I wrote about this disgusting outfit here.) The judge declared that Truehope "were overwhelmingly compelled to disobey" the law. As judges are not supposed to tell people that breaking the law is acceptable, one can only hope that the judge is removed from the bench as soon as possible and confined to an institution where he can receive the appropriate treatment. Perhaps he could be medicated with grass clippings from Truehope to fix his psychiatric disorder. He might even stop chewing other piglets' tails. See the story of this travesty here.


The Australian Skeptics Prize for Critical Thinking (5/8/2006)
Australian Skeptics - Seek the Evidence!For the last few years Australian Skeptics has sponsored an award in the Australia Museum's annual Eureka Prizes. From 2006, they will be offering their own independent $10,000 prize for critical thinking. The winner will be announced at the National Convention in November and entries and nominations close in early October. You can see details about the prize here. (This site was nominated in a couple of Eureka categories in 2004, but I am not eligible for the Australian Skeptics prize because I am on the committee.)


Shock and horror!! (5/8/2006)
I sometimes think that people run out of things to complain about so they have to invent problems. A free magazine in the US has received thousands of complaints about a picture on the cover. This picture was so disgraceful that women hid the magazine from their husbands lest the husbands be driven into paroxysms of lust and debauchery. The cover had to be hidden from children in order to protect them from corruption. The moral fibre of the nation was being threatened.

We are all adults here, so I have decided to make the picture available to those who believe that they might have the ethical and moral strength to resist temptation, but, just in case, I have hidden it and you will have to put your mouse over it to see it. Please do not look if you think that looking might endanger your soul. You have been warned!

Shocking picture!!!!

August 12, 2006

I'm devastated! (12/8/2006)
IOmega Centauri - a long way away should be so ashamed that I have offended people with what I had to say about a multi-level marketing scheme going down the drain. What was I thinking when I laughed about Omegatrend calling in the corporate undertakers? Well, what I was thinking was that there is now one fewer scam for innocent people to lose money to. Someone did not agree with me.

Date: Sat, 12 Aug 2006 12:29:41 +1000
From: Michael Borg
Subject: Har! Har! Hearty Har! Har! So sue me for saying it

The above is the comment you made regarding the collapse of Omegatrend.

I have no idea what you find so satisfying or funny about peoples livelihoods being destroyed. I would say you know nothing about the business.

If you had paid attention to what I wrote you would have seen that I expressed sympathy for the people who were deceived into joining this scheme and who had subsequently lost money. It is also probably worth thinking about the idea that if Omegatrend had been such a good business to be in and that participants had in fact been able to make it their "livelihood" then it might have been moving enough product and money to keep the doors open.

I would like to say burn in hell but I sincerely hope that pain and misery find you before death. But then again, it's quite obvious that you are a pethetic and miserable individual in any case.

You are scum

Thank you. I always take it as a compliment when I am called names by pyramid scheme enthusiasts.


The Snow Jobs of Kilimanjaro (12/8/2006)
The National Museum of Kenya is blessed with one of the finest collections of hominid fossils in the world, which is in no small part due to the work of the Leakey family who have been researching humankind's ancestry in that part of the world over decades. It is awesome to think that in one place it is possible to see the development of humans over millions of years. Of course, it depends on your definition of "awesome". If you use it in Ernest Hemingwaythe colloquial sense, as it would apply to me and I hope to you, it means inspirational and challenging. To some, however, it means frightening, especially to those who would deny the way that the evidence of the fossils points inexorably towards an an ancient earth and ancient inhabitants.

If you fell into the second category, how would you deal with the existence of the fossils? What you could do is demand that they be hidden from the public, lest the public start to believe their eyes and doubt some myths. This is just what some church leaders in Kenya are demanding, as if hiding the fossils will make the truth disappear. I hope that the museum can resist this attempt to corrupt its purpose and reduce its ability to educate and inform its visitors.

(The title of this piece is an obvious allusion to the book of short stories collectively known as The Snows of Kilimanjaro. One of the other stories in the collection is called A Clean, Well-Lighted Place, and I am sure that Hemingway wasn't referring to the inside of a creationist's brain cavity when he came up with that title. And, yes, I know that Mount Kilimanjaro isn't in Kenya, but it would have been if whoever was drawing lines on the map of Africa for Queen Victoria had kept the ruler straight.)


More Truehope (12/8/2006)
A book about the scam.Someone didn't like what I had to say last week about Truehope, the pack of Canadian crooks who appeared before a judge who was insane enough to need the psychiatric help that their quack remedy could never provide. This someone (almost) anonymously wrote to me in the following manner. I wonder who it could be.

From: Anonymous via Panta Rhei <anonymous@panta-rhei.eu.org>
Date: Wed, 09 Aug 2006 14:49:20 +0000
Subject: Facts?

I note your report on TrueHope is riddled with erros.

You couldn't report a fact even if it bit you in the arse.

Here's a fact:

Now that TrueHope has a judgement, they are sueing Polevoy (Liar/Charlatan/Molester) Barrett (Liar/Not-A-Doctor) and Bowditch (Liar/Unemployed/Convict) for Libel and Defamation.

Seems the three of you have no assests so the suit will be just for fun.

I know it's anonymous and I know who wrote it, but is a threat so -


And more suing is promised (12/8/2006)
A person lacking the courage to use a real name has posted a message to the Usenet newsgroup misc.health.alternative which says:

CCRG sues CTV News and W-Five

see http://www.ccrg.com/w5_ctv.htm

Good News for complimentary and alternative healthcare.

The first thing I noticed (after noticing the gutless anonymity of the writer) was that it was good news for free medical care. Isn't that what "complimentary" means? I had a look at the page in the link and I saw that CTV were being sued for both libel and defamation. I always prefer it when kooks say they are going for the trifecta of libel, slander and defamation because the acronym LSD reminds me of the delusional state of that which passes for minds in kooks. If you wonder what the suing is about, it is about a television show in which the head honcho at CCRG was shown to be a liar and a blowhard. You can see the show here.


But wait, there's more ... (but not yet) (12/8/2006)
No truth! No courage! No value!There has been a resurgence of Gutless Anonymous Liar activity over the last week or two, but enough is enough for this week's update. I have received several electronic greeting cards and some other collected drivel, but I will save them for later. Just as I will the promised Part 2 of the examination of money-sink advertisements in the local paper. A correspondent has pointed out that one of the mystery "opportunities" which was keeping its details secret was Herbalife, so that makes at least two different versions of the same scam in the same set of advertisements. And if you want to know why I do what I do, it's so that people don't need to write to me to say "I just wish I had found your website before I found theirs, as I blew six grand on this B.S.".


Some good news for once (12/8/2006)
It is very rare for authorities to act against sellers of snake oil, but someone finally has. The Australian Consumer and Competition Commission has commenced action against a company called The Menopause Institute of Australia. You can read the media release from the ACCC here. In this news item about the story it mentions that the man behind the Menopause Institute seems connected to another person who runs male impotency clinics, was prosecuted recently for misleading and deceptive conduct in their advertising and who was also found a few years ago to be importing unregistered drugs into Australia. Am I surprised by these connections? Not really.


More good news - a politician talks sense (yes, really) (12/8/2006)
Most politicians can be expected to stay away from any subject which might offend potential voters and to exhibit vacillation when it comes to anything controversial. The previous Minister for Education and Science in the Australian Federal Government, Dr Brendan Nelson, managed to score a record number of nominations for the Australian Skeptics' Bent Spoon Award by a silly statement which seemed to offer support to the disguised creationism misnamed "Intelligent Design". Dr Nelson is an intelligent man and I don't think for a moment that he would believe anything as silly as ID or not be able to see it for what it is - an attempt to disguise superstition as science. He was acting as a politician at the time and showing "balance".

It is very good to see that Dr Nelson's successor in the portfolio, Julie Bishop, has come out unequivocally against the nonsense and has declared that there is no place for the rubbish in the nation's science classrooms. And she has such an appropriate name for the headlines about this, too. See the story here.

Here is my letter to the Minister:

Dear Ms Bishop.

I would like to personally thank and congratulate you for your comments about the teaching of religion disguised as science in the nation's schools. The farce of "Intelligent Design" has no place in any course where it might be seen as any sort of legitimate scientific hypothesis, although it would be totally appropriate to examine it in a course on the philosophy of science where it could be lined up with astrology and other examples of unscientific thought.

If people want to teach religion to children it should be done openly and honestly and not be used to subvert other areas of human inquiry or pretend that it is something it is not.

Again, thank you and congratulations. I expect that you will be the recipient of some well-organised letter writing campaigns over your comments. Ignore them. Religion has its place, but that place is not in science classes.

Update August 31, 2006

Look what came back.

Reply from the Minister


Talking across the ether (12/8/2006)
A wirelessGet out those old crystal radios or maybe even one of those new-fangled valve contraptions and get ready to listen to radio 4BC in Brisbane between 7:30 and 8:00pm on Saturday, August 19, when I will be on the wireless with Loretta the Jelly Bean Lady. We will be talking about quackery. If you can't find your radio set and the one in the car is broken or if you live somewhere other than Brisbane, Australia, there's this amazing thing called "the Internet" where you can point your computer to www.4bc.com.au and listen through the speakers on your desk. If you live somewhere which has a different time to Brisbane you can go to www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/ to find out when to listen.

August 19, 2006

Finally, it's here! (19/8/2006)
The article I have been writing about suspicious advertisements in my local paper is finished, and you can read the whole thing here. The second part didn't require as much work as I had anticipated because several of the advertisements were for Herbalife, although none of them got round to mentioning this small fact. Not even the one which described itself as "ethical".

Fair Trading notice


Something new (19/8/2006)
I get the occasional email asking about the random quotes from famous people which appear in a few places on this site. I have gathered them all together and you can see the collection here.


Let's misinform some parents (19/8/2006)
The Australian Vaccination Network held a public seminar on August 15, the purpose of which was to provide some information to parents so that they could make informed choices about vaccinating their children. Anti-vaccinators are a health hazardI was a bit too busy to go (my sock drawer needed reorganising). (I might not have been welcome anyway. When they held one of these liefests once before someone volunteered to stand at the door and identify me if I tried to get in.) There were three speakers advertised, and it is worth looking at what they were going to talk about to see what sort of information was going to be imparted to the eager parents. (You can see an advertisement for the liefest here.)

The first speaker was Meryl Dorey, President of AVN. Ms Dorey achieved a certain fame a few years ago by telling everyone who would listen that I and my group of friends had left an AVN seminar early, despite knowing full well at the time that she wrote the words that the person who left early was not me and I only had a single companion at the event. Here is what she was going to be talking about this time.

"Up to 50" - yeah, right.

The truthYou will notice that she was going to mention the "up to 50 vaccines" that children receive by school age. It's just as well she said "up to", otherwise some people might think that she was being a little deceptive. The table below lists all vaccinations given in the current Australian schedule for all children up to school age. (Note: The schedule has changed slightly since 2006. You can see the latest schedule (2013) here.): You might like to count them, and you will see that the total number is 10 vaccines given in 26 doses. If you take out the three shots which are only recommended for "Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children in high risk areas" you get back to 8 vaccines and 23 shots (Hepatitis B is given at either 6 or 12 months, but not both). If you generously allow that some shots vaccinate against more than one disease, the total is 35 vaccinations. Not 50. Not even near 50. By the way, I notice that AVN has changed the name of its magazine from Informed Choice to Informed Voice. This is consistent with AVN's agenda to ensure that no parent makes an informed choice about vaccination. It's best not to even mention the phrase.

The next speaker describes himself as an "Anthroposophical Medical Doctor". The only mention of him that I can find is on the web site of a New Zealand purveyor of magic homeopathic nostrums. (I actually found him in Google's cache, because the page has been removed from the site.). I'm not sure what an "Anthroposophical Medical Doctor" is, but according to Wikipedia "One of the most prominent and well-researched anthroposophical treatments is a range of mistletoe extracts used to treat patients with cancer". If this is anything like a true statement then the term "Anthroposophical Medical Doctor" is synonymous with "quack". I am sure that he would have much good advice for parents, especially if he is going to tell them not to "fear childhood illness" and therefore not bother to protect their children against such illnesses. I suppose that in the day or two between being exposed to meningococcal disease and dying from it children can be given lots of love and care, and the same treatment might even be useful for a child with measles or diphtheria. What's there to fear about a little blindness or suffocating?

The third speaker presents a conundrum, as he is a homeopath espousing something called "homeoprophylaxis".

The problem with this is that the principles of homeopathy quite distinctly reject any idea of homeopathy being used to protect anybody from anything. A system of medicine which states that the only things which can be treated are symptoms and that each person is so individual that there can be no standard medication cannot accommodate prophylaxis. Samuel Hahnemann was quite clear on this, and he should know because he invented homeopathy. You might think that Dr Golden had moved on from Hahnemann's teachings and was promoting the new, more scientific homeopathy. Well, you might think that until you found out that Dr Golden was the founder of the Australasian College of Hahnemannian Homoeopathy. Perhaps he thought that the people attending this seminar wouldn't know that, or, if they did, would not detect (or would not care about) the almost incredible irony of him standing up on a stage and preaching something completely contrary to Hahnemann's philosophy.

But we are talking about an anti-vaccination seminar, so why should consistency, common sense or facts be of concern to the promoters and the speakers?


Radio Ratbags (19/8/2006)
Radio RatbagsI was on the radio on Saturday, August 19, venting about health fraud. You can listen to the program and also some previous appearances by going to the podcast page.

Sorry - you need Flash


Listen to the program here


What's an astrologer to do? (19/8/2006)
Astrologers Xena - the warrior one, not the planet oneat the world's leading universities and cosmology research institutes have been thrown into confusion by the suggestion that the number of things called "planets" might be about to change. We all know that Ceres used to be a planet but isn't any more, except that it might be one again under the new rules. Pluto seems to be out but Charon is in, something which is a bit surprising as they are right next door to each other. And as for Xena, for some reason I can't hear that name without thinking of a twin-planet system. But I digress ...

My plans for the week are in chaos as well because I was supposed to have my horoscope cast on Wednesday at 11:12 am. The timing was determined by my last horoscope, so that will probably have to be revised before I can adjust my calendar and change the appointment time. Life's never easy, is it? I hope that the recasting doesn't give me a new set of Lotto numbers for the weeks when I didn't win anything. It would be terrible to look back and see that predictions for the past had come true but I hadn't known about them until after the event.


Hard times for AMI? (19/8/2006)
Some of the most annoying advertisements are from Advanced Medical Institute. Not only on television, but on billboards which seem to be on every road in the country. The wheels of justice grind slowly, but here's a media release from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission.

Federal Court declares Advanced Medical Institute's advertising 'misleading'

Advertisements themed on "TV's Star amazing CONFESSION!" to erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation (impotence) featuring Mr Ian Turpie have been declared to be misleading and deceptive by the Federal Court.

The court declared that Advanced Medical Institute Pty Ltd engaged in conduct that was misleading or deceptive in breach of section 52 of the Trade Practices Act 1974 by causing the advertisements to be published in major newspapers* in Australia from 27 March to 18 April 2004 featuring Mr Turpie, and containing representations including:

  • that Mr Turpie had undertaken an interview during which he disclosed, in the presence of his wife, that he was losing his sexual potency, and
  • AMI nasal delivery system had cured or alleviated Mr Turpie of the effects of impotence or erectile dysfunction.

The court also declared that Mr Philip Somerset, of ColbyCo Media, the advertising agent for AMI, by preparing and causing the advertisements to be published, was knowingly concerned in, or party to, the breach of section 52 of the Act.

Justice Lindgren found that Mr Philip Somerset had been knowingly concerned in AMI's contraventions as he knew that the advertisements representations were not true. The court also ordered both AMI and Mr Somerset to pay the ACCC's costs.

Justice Lindgren declined to make any orders as to injunctions and corrective advertising. He thought that the conduct of the parties had ceased and there was no longer any threat of repetition. He also thought that the offending representations in the advertisements had also ceased to have any influence that might be overcome by corrective advertising.

The ACCC instituted the proceedings on 19 July 2004, against AMI, Mr Somerset and Mr Ian Turpie alleging that the representations in the advertisement featuring Mr Turpie were not true.

Following Mr Turpie's admission of his involvement in the alleged conduct, the ACCC granted him partial immunity in return for his cooperation. On 1 September 2004, the ACCC discontinued legal proceedings against Mr Turpie when the court, by consent, made an injunction restraining Mr Turpie from engaging in the offending conduct or similar conduct in the future and to attend a trade practices compliance seminar.

"This decision is an important warning to all celebrities in that they must ensure that they have used the product or services of a corporation before recommending or approving a corporation's products or services to the public", ACCC Chairman, Mr Graeme Samuel, said today.

"The decision is a warning to advertising agents who play an important role in the preparation and causing the publication of advertisements on behalf of their clients".

A cross-claim made by AMI against Mr Turpie was dismissed.

Release # MR 183/06
Issued: 17th August 2006

Background

*The advertisements appeared in the Daily Telegraph (Sydney); the Herald Sun (Melbourne); the Weekend Australian; Sunday Mail (Adelaide); Sunday Times (Perth); and Sunday Tasmanian.

Between 27 March and 2 May 2004, AMI published an advertisement which appeared in newspapers* published in all major Australian capital cities having the following headlines.

SPECIAL RELEASE

TV Star's amazing CONFESSION!

"Impotence nearly ruined my life forever"

Entertainer and longtime star of popular TV shows like "The New Price is Right", Ian Turpie speaks exclusively about impotence in a frank and revealing interview. Behind the smiling façade, Ian was struggling with a devastating secret shared by 1 in 3 Australian men - Ian was losing his sexual potency. "Not to be able to perform in the bedroom makes you feel like you've lost your manhood. I even started to make excuses to avoid sex, but deep down I was ashamed." Finally after years of torment, Ian confessed to his wife and long-time friend Jan, "It was the most difficult thing I did" he admitted. After a deluge of tears - from both sides- Ian realised it was time to do something. It was time to take action!

"How I got my sex drive back!"

"I'm one of the very lucky ones", Ian says as he holds Jan's hand and they smile playfully at each other. "I had heard from a friend about the Advanced Medical Institute and their new treatments. It certainly wasn't easy, but I made the call and talked to one of their doctors. I was embarrassed and frightened at first, but they made everything so comfortable and easy"

Ian opted for the new nasal delivery system method because "it's so discreet and simple to use and it worked for me….I mean IT REALLY WORKED!" Clearly, it has made a huge difference to both Ian and Jan and their love life. "I feel like a young bloke again", says Ian and she nods coyly. "I can't believe I waited all that time and went through all the grief. I don't have a problem anymore and I look forward to the night time." Ian's story is not unique. Over 90,000 men develop impotence each year and many of them have found an answer through the Advanced Medical Institute Clinics. Does it give you your life back? The final word goes to Ian; "It made my 60th Birthday and I haven't stopped celebrating yet!"

August 26, 2006

Maybe the computers are now fixed! (26/8/2006)
Because I do software sales and support for a living I am always installing and uninstalling various pieces of software for evaluation. Even with some excellent tools to protect existing programs and clean up detritus left behind by inadequate uninstall procedures my computer still gradually accretes a collection of small errors over time. The thing went critical last week when I tested some addition to Microsoft Office and it broke the function in FrontPage which took files produced by Access and other programs and used them to assemble web pages. Specifically, FrontPage could not detect which pages had been updated so the only way I could be sure that all changed pages ended up on the server was to upload the complete site. When the program that I make a living with told me that some vital component of Windows was broken and it could not do everything I wanted until I reinstalled something and then Adobe Acrobat started issuing meaningless warning messages I decided that it was time to bite the bullet, grasp the nettle, carpe the diem and take the opportunity for a Nuke'n'Pave. The longest parts were making sure that everything was backed up and locating all the registration numbers for all those software packages, but I am now looking at a computer with everything installed from scratch. It runs faster, starts faster and everything seems to be working well. I look forward to a peaceful life. For a while. Now back to the hobby ...


Bad doctors (26/8/2006)
It is almost an article of faith for alternative medicine supporters that real doctors can do whatever they like and will never be disciplined but the orthodoxy is right there to suppress and destroy any competition who offers an alternative. The fact that there are procedures for reporting problems with real doctors but the only recourse available for anyone hurt by a quack is through the courts is glossed over. The fact that there are systems for reporting deaths in hospitals and adverse drug reactions but no comparable systems for tracking problems with magic herbs is either ignored or lied about. All I have ever asked for is that everyone claiming to treat disorders of the human body be treated the same - claims must be backed by evidence and legitimate research, and problems must be identified, recorded and addressed.

Sometimes the system for real doctors does break down, and it is a testament to the efficacy of the regulation process that it makes news when someone slips through the cracks. A case of this has been running through the courts in my city for the last few weeks. It involves a doctor who has been found guilty of performing an illegal abortion. Abortion has had a de facto legality here for some time (a doctor just has to certify that the procedure is necessary for the health of the mother), so it seemed a bit strange that someone should be before the courts for this today. It turns out that this was the only way to get this doctor away from victims, and because the foetus was actually born alive in this case the authorities could not fail to act and had the opportunity to do something. After the conviction was recorded it was possible to reveal that this doctor had been sued by patients in the past, with several being awarded damages, and had been the subject of several disciplinary actions related to improperly conducted abortions. The reason that this was not revealed sooner is that the criminal justice system restricts the ability of prosecutors to inform judges and juries of prior misconduct.

As I said, I want all people offering medical advice and services to be subject to the same rules, and I want those rules to include transparency about registration, qualifications and disciplinary action. If a real doctor is behaving badly, through incompetence, ignorance or going over to the dark side, I want them in the stocks next to the cancer quacks and energy medicine charlatans. When I was trying recently to find out the licence status of a qualified medical doctor who was promoting quackery I was amazed to find that there is no public record of registered medical practitioners in my state. If lawyers can't avoid a public record of who is licensed to practise as a solicitor then I can't believe that there is any legal barrier to a public database of doctors. It gets worse when you find that a doctor can be subjected to a continuous stream of validated complaints but nobody can find this out without a court order. Did I mention that this particular doctor has been allowed to continue hacking at women's insides until an appeal is heard? It's a disgrace.


It's official! (26/8/2006)
Pluto is no longer a planet. This decision by the International Astronomical Union has caused consternation in many parts of Earth, one of the remaining planets. One rather ridiculous question posed by someone pretending to be a journalist was how this would affect the current NASA New Horizons mission to the ex-planet, but it seems that NASA have decided that it would be a bit of a waste of money to turn off the lights and the computers and tell all the New Horizons staff to go home and wait for their next assignments. There has been mention of the political incorrectness of the term "dwarf planet", although "vertically challenged planet" doesn't sound quite right either. Others have commented on Gustav Holst's foresight in not having a Pluto movement in his Planets suite, a predicting ability which is somewhat tempered by the fact that he wrote The Planets in 1917 and Pluto wasn't discovered until 1930. It is rather embarrassing, then, for British composer Colin Matthews who fixed the apparent oversight in 2000 by writing a Pluto addition to Holst's original work. Isn't he looking a bit silly now?

Sorry - you need Flash


Listen to Pluto by Colin Matthews

Other jokers have made silly comments about the odds of Mickey, Minnie or Goofy being the next to go, but the real question for Australians, particularly Australians who live in Sydney, is the future of the Pluto Pup. These things are a mainstay of the Sydney Royal Easter Show, and have even been described by some as an essential RES food experience (although there is some dispute over whether the word "food" is appropriate). Words cannot do justice to these objects, but I will try. To make a Pluto Pup you start with a double-sized hotdog frankfurt and mount it on a wooden stick. The frankfurt is then dipped into high-carbohydrate batter and the whole thing fried in highly saturated fat, stick and all. When done the concoction is festooned with tomato sauce before eating. Salt is optional for those watching their health and diet. There have been no recorded deaths from eating these delicacies (at least no immediate deaths). One suggestion has been to adopt the alternative name, "Dagwood Dog", but that would surely change the taste. We can only wait until next March to see the outcome of this dilemma. (It won't affect me personally as I will be carrying a letter from my doctor exempting me from the requirement to eat at least one Pluto Pup before going on the giant ferris wheel. Who would have thought that a diagnosis of diabetes could interfere with participation in society's rituals?)


I'm not sure about this (26/8/2006)
TheA very ugly fruit. following email was sent to me and several people whose email addresses indicate that they might be in the Nonsense Juice business. Should I trade my principles for some foreign exchange and contact a wholesaler for pricing? What is the best way to get a pallet of wellness to Ghana? Does the buyer have a MasterCard? What is a skeptic and debunker to do in the face of such an opportunity?

Date: Fri, 25 Aug 2006 02:28:59 -0700
From: kelvin osei
Subject: Order Enquiry

HELLO,

AM KELVIN FROM GHANA AND WOULD LIKE TO MAKE AN ENQUIRY OF ONE PALLET OF NONI JUICE AND I WANT THEM SHIPPED TO GHANA, PLEASE LET ME KNOW IF YOU HAVE THEM IN STOCK. AND PLEASE LET ME KNOW YOUR PRICE PER ONE AND TOTAL COST OF THE ONE PALLET INCLUDING SHIPPING. PLEASE ADIVSE AS SOON AS POSSIBLE, LOOKING FORWARD TO HEAR FROM YOU SOON. THANK YOU


I'm not sure about this one either (26/8/2006)
SomeonePerhaps this is uglier? seems concerned about my comments about Benny Hinn. The subject line of the email indicates that I probably don't need to take too much notice of what Judith thinks, if, in fact, she can think at all.

From: "Judith"
Subject: sandnigger go home
Date: Sat, 26 Aug 2006 20:32:49 -0500

In being as familar with Binny Hinn only goes to show that your governing of the copyright(c), and being any little bit associated with his scam. You are pulling money out of his thief and putting it into your two-faced pocket. You need a proctologist.

Thank you for your kind thoughts and bigotry. Your message has been passed on to someone who knows a linguist who, in turn, will attempt to translate it into English.


Radio Ratbags Redux (26/8/2006)
My good friend Richard Saunders from the Mystery Investigators and Australian Skeptics has resurrected The Tank, an Internet radio program that we used to take part in some years ago. The second edition of the new season featured a shy, retiring web site owner who just happens to wear bright shirts and sound like me. You can find the show on the podcast page.


or listen to it here



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