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|
July 12, 2014
Disruption! Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world. (12/7/2014)
Well, if Jesus can quote Yeats for his purpose, who am I to do otherwise. Following on from the disruption caused by the temporary disappearance of ratbags.com last week, I've been busy writing my speech for SkeptiCamp, finishing off my new book (to be officially launched at the event), writing more chapters for my book about management, getting my car fixed (I drove it somewhere and when I got back in the previously perfectly working brakes were no more. A mechanic is now looking at it. It's a Falcon and it could not hear my commands - more Yeats!), thanking the deities that the huge storm which tore the door off my garden shed threw it at a tree and not at the glass doors at the rear of the house (I have since reviewed my house insurance), working for a living, and generally getting on with life. Things will return to normal (I hope) next week, after SkeptiCamp.
The new book (12/7/2014)
I have been writing and speaking in public for a long time, so I decided to collect all the speeches and articles together in a handy anthology. The first volume, covering late 1999 to mid 2003 is now available. I had been writing for newspapers long before this, but a lot of the words have been lost in the evolution of email programs and word processors over the ages. Someday I might do some archeology and publish a prequel. Unless a generous publisher offers to pay for printing paper copies the new version is only sold online and is distributed in digital form. And it's only $6.
This book will be officially launched at the SkeptiCamp conference in Brisbane on July 19, 2014, but you can order it in advance. Deliveries will be made by email shortly after the launch.
The introduction to the book says:
I love writing and I have been contributing to magazines and newspapers for a very long time. In 1996 I was commissioned by Choice Books (part of the Australian Consumers’ Association) to write a book, How To Connect To The Internet, which was published in 1997 and was rumoured to be the best-selling non-fiction book in Australia in that year. When I decided to put together a collection of things that I’ve written I had to pick an arbitrary starting date so I chose 1999, which happened to be the year I started publishing an online magazine called The Millenium Project (the spelling is intentional). For the first item I chose the first article I had published in The Skeptic, the journal of Australian Skeptics Inc. I had given a talk at an Australian Skeptics national conference and I was approached by the magazine editor immediately afterwards and asked to write up the talk for publication. As they say in the clichés, the rest was history. This volume covers the period from late 1999 to June 2003. There will be more later.
I make no apology for writing about things that interest or concern me, and I have been lucky over the years in that editors have generally given me freedom to write about what I want in the style that I want, although obviously there have been occasional suggestions for topics. I like to think that I have a broad range of interests, although I might go through periods when one thing interests me more than others. The thread running through everything is skepticism – I like facts and I like those facts to be supported by evidence, or at least reasoned argument.
The Vaccination Chronicles (12/7/2014)
My friend Richard Saunders has just released his new video, The Vaccination Chronicles, containing interviews with people with direct experience of some of the diseases that we rarely see today because vaccines against them exist. It is an inexplicable tragedy that there are people who want us to return to the days of iron lungs and children dying from diseases for which there is safe and effective prevention.
Richard should be congratulated loudly for this. It will probably come as no surprise that I personally know many of the people interviewed.
Other people's books (12/7/2014)
I'm an avid reader and I rarely leave my local library without a few more books to read. The last time I was there I borrowed a book ostensibly about the study of ignorance. It had the title "Agnotology: The making and unmaking of ignorance", an anthology of scholarly papers edited by Robert N Proctor and Londa Schiebinger. It was not quite what I expected, so I've written a review of it.
And I write more stuff (12/7/2014)
The latest edition of that fine magazine Australasian Science is on the newsstands and as usual I'm in it. I have to admit that with winter coming to the Blue Mountains I have to carefully consider the policy of getting into character to write my Naked Skeptic column. I have a similar but unrelated problem in bush fire season when I have to be prepared to evacuate my dog and belongings to a safe place at a moments notice. Even when the weather is perfect there are still potential problems. I answered a knock on the door mid-column once and found a lady from the Post Office there to deliver a parcel. She was off work on PTSD leave for months and now my deliveries from eBay are just thrown from the street onto my verandah. I put out a mattress or two if I'm expecting anything fragile.
But on to the latest column. It's about a famous visitor to my neighbourhood in 1836, Charles Darwin.
July 3, 2014
Sort of apology (2/7/2014)
The ratbags.com domain was unreachable from late on Sunday, June 29, to Wednesday, July 2, and visitors were seeing a message saying that the account had been suspended. This was caused by a bureaucratic and administrative problem at the hosting company. Annual renewal of the hosting contract was due on June 29 and was paid two days earlier, but the payment was not processed for some reason. It took me three days of emails and phone calls to sort it out (although it has not yet been fully resolved and the reactivation is temporary while an investigation takes place).
I apologise for any inconvenience, but I can assure you I was as inconvenienced as anyone. I had much better things to do this week than chase this up, including setting up a new laptop computer to replace the trusty old one that died after ingesting too much beer (don't ask!) and handling all the usual end-of-financial-year nonsense. Because I effectively lost a week of real working time I haven't had time to do much here, so I will be back on July 12 with lots of interesting stuff.
Don't worry, I'm not going away any time soon. There have been many announcements of the closing down of this site in the past. All of them have been inaccurate. I think my favourite was the threat by Tim Bolen, spokescloaca for quacks, who predicted in 2012 that the crooks at Doctor's Data would take me to court and I would be "gone from the internet, a bad memory, like a fart in an elevator". I'm still waiting.
June 14, 2014
Where's ya bin? (14/6/2014)
So where have I really been? My time over the last couple of weeks has been spent thus ...
An old book comes back to life (14/6/2014)
One of my favourite entertainers, the late Peter Allen, sang a song called "Everything Old Is New Again". He might have been singing about my literary efforts over the last couple of weeks.
I have edited and reissued in digital form a book I wrote a few years ago. Rumour has it that it was the best-selling non-fiction book in Australia in 1997. This isn't a new edition (because it's a historical record) but has been tidied up, some errors have been corrected, some places where I disagreed with the editor's edits have been reworded or put back in, and I'm generally a bit more satisfied with it than I was with the original printed version.
You can go here to read a bit more about it and buy a copy, or if you're impatient you can click on the button below and be taken straight to the shop. It's $5 and all the money will go towards keeping this site on the air and covering my costs for an interstate trip to SkeptiCamp in Brisbane next month.
And speaking of (at?) SkeptiCamp ... (14/6/2014)
I will be speaking at SkeptiCamp in Brisbane on July 19 and I've been working on my talk. My topic will be something I haven't spoken about before, continuing my tradition of doing something new every time I appear at one of these events (titles of previous talks have been "Keeping your skepticism out of court", "Do be a dick", "We're so skeptical we can't be fooled", and "Getting yourself hated" ( a discussion of my hate mail collection).)
The usual practice for SkeptiCamp is that people turn up on the day and reserve speaking slots, but the unorganisers have decided to do things a bit differently for this one and have published a program. It's too late to get on the speakers' roster now, but you can still attend and participate. It's free, and food and cupcakes are included in the price. You can see details of the program and the event here. If you can get to Brisbane on the day I encourage you to come. There will be a lot of interesting speakers. Plus me.
And something to look forward to (14/6/2014)
I've started work on a new book. It will be an anthology of things I've written and talks I've given over the last fifteen years or so. I was a little surprised at how much material there was (and how little I got paid for writing it), so it will be published in stages. I'm experimenting with Amazon's Kindle publishing system using the first couple of chapters and the results so far have been encouraging but not quite what I want. It's a matter of learning how to do it, and if other people with less experience than someone who does IT consulting for a living can get it right I assume that I can get it right too. The working title is "Things I Think About", but as you can see from the early cover art things are still a bit blurry.
Anyone who has ever posted a question about a PC problem to Facebook will know that within a short period they will be given the useless advice to "Get a Mac" or to change from Windows to Linux. I had a similar experience with this. Amazon's preferred format for the original of the book is Microsoft Word. I happen to be rather competent with Word (I've taught it at TAFE) and I posted a comment about how I had to make some changes to get the Kindle book to look the way I wanted. Almost immediately I was told that Word is useless for anything (no, it isn't), that I should use LaTeX, that I should write it in Word without formatting and then use Adobe InDesign to lay out the copy, and, yes, that I should stop using Windows and change to Linux. Have I mentioned that Amazon want a Word file and they reformat it to the way they want Kindle books to look? As they used to say in the papers in Nature before the editors said "Stop that!" - further research is needed.
Then there's the book about management idiocy, gleaned from years as an external consultant ...
May 31, 2014
I get mail (31/5/2014)
I received a very nice letter from Troy Grant MP, my state's Minister for Hospitality, Gaming and Racing. It says:
Thank you for your letter and material of 31 March 2014 to the former Minister George Souris MP concerning fund raising activities conducted by the Australian Vaccination-Skeptics Network. I am pleased to be able to respond in my capacity as the newly appointed Minister.
I have requested the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing conduct an investigation into the matters raised in your complaint and am advised that this is currently underway.
The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing will write to you directly at the conclusion of the investigation and provide you with any findings on the matter. Thank you for your interest in this matter.
Should you require further information, Mr XXXXX, Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, can be contacted on 99 9999 9999 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Troy Grant MP
I published the letter on Facebook (with the contact details of the public servant blacked out, of course - he doesn't need harassment for just doing his job). I was asked why I didn't redact my address. I posted this in reply:
People have questioned the wisdom of revealing my address.
My address has been public for some time. It was published as part of the AVO documentation, and in any case I'm in the electoral roll and it's no secret I live in the Blue Mountains so anyone with the research skills of a typical PhD anti-vaxxer should have no trouble finding me. Also, my company is not a secret (Google will turn up my name on the work web site) and a search at ASIC will give the suburb.
Plus, I don't care if they know. I have a shredder for disposal of hate mail after I scan it and put it up on my site, and if people want to start turning up at my house they will soon see what AVOs were created for.
I've had the President of Scientology in the region turn up at my place for a chat about comments I'd made about CCHR, so I'm not going to be frightened by any of Meryl's flying monkeys. I've been threatened by experts.
Picture for the benefit of flying monkeys.
Testimonials - for me! (31/5/2014)
A prolific Usenet kook was asked to look at something I had written and replied:
The mere fact that something appears on the bowditch website, shows that it is based on faulty science combined with fiction.
I thought about having this printed on a t-shirt, but before I could do anything the following comment was made by the same loon:
The logic behind most of bowditch's ratbags website is blatantly pro-mainstream / pharmaceutical medicine. Whatever mainstream ridicules, that is what ratbags ridicules.
I have asked her to point out the Big Pharma bias in the following things, but I don't expect an early (or coherent) reply.
You can see the correspondent's web site here. Enjoy yourself.
Shaken baby Vileness (31/5/2014)
Meryl Dorey, ex-President of the Australian Vacination-skeptics Network, spoke at a wooness expo last weekend. A "debate" with her was scheduled but had to be cancelled. She claimed nobody would "debate" her, and when I offered she went Full Mental Jacket on Facebook and her blog, calling me all sorts of names. In the end it became logistically impossible for me to attend as I had commitments on both the days before and after, and getting from my place to the venue and back on the one day would have taken almost 23 hours (I live three hours from Sydney airport, for a start). This meant that she was free to produce her normal stream of lies. I'll have more to say about this next week, but for now I'll just mention that she again brought up the disgusting lies about vaccines causing Shaken Baby Syndrome and containing parts of aborted foetuses. (In answer to a question, she suggested that the products of abortion are sold to vaccine manufacturers to use as an ingredient. Apart from the obvious insanity of this idea, she knows it's not true).
Here are the thousand links to places I don't like
and these are the sites added or changed recently
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