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A big thank you (3/12/2005)
I have to thank everyone who emailed me during the week offering me sympathy and suggestions for my newly-discovered diabetes. I know that it isn't rare and I am a member of a very big club, but that doesn't make having it or living with it any more pleasant. One correspondent complained that it would have been better for me not to bash alternative medicine, and she couldn't see why the existence of tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of people offering to sell fake cures for an incurable condition is a problem. Some vegans and raw food nuts suggested that it might be my fault for not following their religions in the past, but I'm blaming it on the polio vaccine I had in 1957. Apparently, I'm one of the lucky ones, because I have been told that that year's polio vaccines were contaminated with the SV40 monkey virus and everyone who had a shot at that time is probably now dead from brain cancer. (I am not making this up. The possibility of medulloblastoma in 2005 from SV40 in 1957 is regularly raised by the anti-vaccination liars.) There weren't a lot of vaccines around when I was a kid so it was probably the fillings in my teeth which caused my total inability to either sing or skip with a rope.
Death penalties (3/12/2005)
Death penalties have been very much in the news over the last week, with the US having its 1000th judicial killing since the Supreme Court let the executioners out of the dungeons in 1976, and a 25-year-old Australian being hanged in Singapore for carrying drugs. I believe that murderers and rapists should be severely punished and as someone with children and a grandson I have very little sympathy for drug smugglers, but killing the offenders serves no purpose. It deters nobody, causes immeasurable harm to the families of the dead people, and demeans a civilised society. In the case of Van Nyugen in Singapore, the only results were that less than 400 grams of heroin was stopped from getting to Australia, a young man is dead, and his mother has to spend the rest of her life mourning. Her son was greedy, stupid and callously endangered the lives of many people, but if we executed everyone who met those criteria we would need extra executioners to handle the drunken drivers, bosses with unsafe factories, manufacturers of dangerous or faulty goods, and politicians who commit soldiers to foreign wars on false premises based on poor intelligence.
Supporters of the death penalty always like to talk about its deterrent effect, as if anyone ever expects to get caught while committing a crime. It was interesting to see a spokesman for some pro-death lobby group in the US respond when asked whether he was concerned about the thousand executions. He replied that it was a drop in the ocean compared to the 600,000 murders in the USA since 1976, and it was obvious that he couldn't detect the irony in what he was saying. If it is such an effective deterrent, why are there so many murders? In the case of Van Nyugen, any possibility of doing some good by using him as a witness to convict the people who financed him and were going to distribute the heroin in Australia died with him. The next batch of couriers will be told not to fall asleep at Changi airport while waiting to change planes, and nothing will have been achieved in the "war on drugs". There are nine Australians on trial right now in Indonesia facing possible death sentences for carrying heroin, and they went there while the newspapers were full of stories about a highly publicised drug trafficking trial. They were not deterred by the possible penalty, and the fools who will inevitably be chosen to replace them probably won't be deterred either.
Some light relief (3/12/2005)
One day I will get back to updating Quintessence of the Loon. One of the reasons I hibernated it was that it was becoming increasingly difficult to find new forms of weirdness and I didn't want to keep repeating myself. There is a limit to how often you can laugh at conspiracy nuts, UFO fanatics and other oddballs and after a while they all seem to look the same. This week, however, I came across a site which would qualify as Loon of Any Month You Could Name. It is a site belonging to US presidential aspirants Tom Heneghan and Stewart Webb, and it takes loonity to new heights. It is written in the style expounded in Hate Mail for Dummies™, complete with bizarre capitalisation, punctuation and spelling to reinforce the incoherent ramblings. It is wonderful, and I think that everyone would agree that having Tom and Stew in the White House would lift the national spirit. Now that Frasier and Everybody Loves Raymond have finished the NBC News would be a lay down misère for the Best Comedy Emmy just for showing the occasional White House press conference.
To give you some idea of the flavour of the site, here is a quote from the front page:
Hillary Lesbian Rodenhurst Clinton has Incurable Herpies. Rumor has it Lesbian Rodenhurst was caught in bathroom stall with Carolina Panther cheerleaders. George W. Bush has Lethal Gonorrhea contracted from Jeff Gannon. Both Clinton & Bush considered major Biological Health Terrorists. Rumor has it Matt Dreck aka Matt Drudge operates as their pimp.
And here is something from deep inside:
Breaking News August 4, 2005 THE WHITE HOUSE IS FALLING APART: US Intel Sources are reporting today that The White House Occu-punk George W. Bush is secretly asking for Political Asylum with Australia Officials. This is the Country full of Nazi's from Adolph Hitler's Regime. Remember Prescott Bush George W. Bush's grandfather was charged with Trading with the Enemy Act by US Officials during WW11 after financing Adolph Hitler during World War 11. George W. Bush one would say thinks he will feel comfortable this his brother Nazi's. The American Revolution Continues.
Australia is full of Nazi's (sic)? Stew is understandably cautious, almost to the point of paranoia, and he has his web site protected by some software which prevents viewing the page source and which disables the Windows Copy/Paste functionality. Luckily, I am an experienced computer hacker with access to very sharp tools, and I was able to defeat Stew's security measures. At the risk of being seditious (which will be a crime in Australia by the end of the week) I am going to let you into the secret. You need two software tools to hack into the text of Stew's secret page. The first one extracts the page source from Stew's Secure and Secret Server, and the second program allows you to analyse the data. I found three programs on my computer to do the first step. They are called Internet Explorer, Netscape and Firefox. The second step is much trickier and requires the use of an undocumented feature of Windows named "Notepad". (I have heard that a similar exploit exists for Linux, but I can't check right now because it is Sunday and the above-top-secret computer laboratory in the nuclear-attack-hardened bunker at Northmead Technology Park is locked up tight. I could ask the people at Ratbag Graphics about whether it can be done on a Mac but they are all plugged into their iPods and dancing around like a mob of demented zombies.)
See Tom and Stew's site here. Laugh at them, not with them.
They lie! (3/12/2005)
Here is a quote I read this week from someone who claims that medicine is useless and that all diseases are caused by nutrition inadequacies, with bacteria and viruses being indicators of disease, not causative agents. He was explaining why so many people died in the 1918 influenza pandemic.
Denmark did not suffer the flu. The minister of health for that country had converted the country to vegegtarian because he could not feed people and animals at the same time with the limited food supplies due to ww1. Explain that if the flu was actually what we are being deceived to believe.
You would imagine that the Danes would be very proud of this achievement, because people were dying in their millions in countries all around Denmark at the time. It is strange, then, to read in a history of medicine in Denmark on the web site of the Royal Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs that:
... although it is impossible to produce actual figures, the major epidemics left their mark, with the Black Death in the 14th century, the plague in 1711, cholera in 1853 and Spanish Flu in 1918.
Perhaps the Danes have forgotten all this vegetarianism and disease resistance. You would think that something so successful in controlling disease would have been retained as national policy. The reason for not doing so could have been that if the Danes had stuck to vegetarianism they would have disappeared under mountains of grains and other vegetables, because elsewhere on the same ministry site it says:
The annual harvest yield in plant production varies between 160 and 170 million crop units, of which c. 60% are cereal crops. Over 90% of plant production is used as animal feed, primarily for pigs and cattle. From the beginning of the 1980s the production of pork has risen by almost 50% to c. 1.8 million tonnes in 2000.
Time management (3/12/2005)
My life hasn't been this organised since I was in the army. I have a busy life with work, this site, and a couple of other interests and I now have to structure everything around meals and tests which are supposed to be done within relatively strict time windows and write down a whole lot of things that I do. As I work with computers it seemed obvious to do the record keeping on a computer, and as I carry a Palm PDA everywhere it made sense to find something which would allow me to enter data either in the office or when I am out. I figured that I wasn't the first person with diabetes to come to this conclusion, so I hit the 'net to find some answers. As everyone knows, everything on the Internet is both useful and true, otherwise they wouldn't let it be there, would they? Apparently this is not always so.
So now you know how I spent my time for the last couple of days. Wasted my time is probably a more accurate description. I have to go now. I have a four-minute meeting with the family scheduled.
Back in court (10/12/2005)
I will be back in court on Tuesday, December 13, at 4:15 in the afternoon for a brief appearance. The applicant has made an Offer of Compromise, but it looks like me that would have to do the compromising so I am not sure how much progress has been made. I will know more after my lawyers have had time to consider the offer.
I don't publish complimentary emails about this site, but I thought I would make an exception for this one because of a coincidence.
I really like your choosing scripture to back yourself up. There is no book more powerful than the word of God. I once read a quote that said "The Bible is the only book that the author is present when we are reading it" I thought you might like that. Anyhow I am a third year student at XXXXX and I often use scripture in my writing. Glad to see someone else enjoys that!
I haven't yet worked out a suitable reply, but while I was thinking about it I ran my normal two-weekly link check on the site. One of the sites which has disappeared completely in the last fortnight is the online version of the King James Bible which I have been using for years as a reference. I am a bit worried by this coincidence. A believer writes to me, a non-believer, about using scripture and then some power takes away my source of scripture. Is someone trying to tell me something? (You can read some of my thoughts about the Bible's status in my secular world here.)
Last-minute dumping of article leaves hole in web site!
I was planning to fill the rest of this week's update with an article about Christine Maggiore. She's the AIDS-denier who breast-fed her children even though she was HIV-positive. People are entitled to believe any stupid nonsense they like, but when it comes to the safety of children their rights to enforce idiocy should stop. Maggiore's three-year-old daughter died of an AIDS-defining illness, and the parents have been rushing around ever since trying to prove otherwise. One of the people they have recruited to help is Dr Mohammed al-Bayati, who is not a medical doctor but has PhD in toxicology. (Dr al-Bayati was the person who declared that the child beaten to death by Alan Yurko had really been killed by the hospital staff after the baby was admitted.) Al-Bayati wrote some fiction about the child dying due to anaphylactic shock following a dose of an antibiotic, and, in another parallel to the Yurko case, there have been attempts to smear and defame the coroner.
Just as I was about to publish this week's update I found that some new information has become available, and someone whose thoughts and comments I want to reference will be releasing an updated opinion incorporating the new material in the next few days. I had three choices: publish something incomplete and then post a follow-up next week, delay the update until I could make the amendments, or put the whole thing off until next week. I chose to take the last option.
Speaking of Alan Yurko ... (10/12/2005)
When Alan Yurko was released from prison in Ohio, there was not a mention on any of the anti-vaccination liar mailing lists that had been so full of praise for him over the years of his incarceration. Not only was his release not mentioned, but his name has not been mentioned since on any of the lists that I have access to. He has become a non-person. The reason for this is that he is no longer any use as a martyr. When he was inside there were grandiose promises of him being offered a career in public speaking or journalism, but as soon as he was out he was abandoned. Someone who lives near him has written to me to say that Yurko is unemployed and appears to be having marital problems. It is very difficult to feel any sympathy for him, but it must be more than a little discouraging to have hundreds of people claiming to be your friends and offering you support only to find that they were just using you for publicity and would discard you as soon as your usefulness was over.
I didn't know I was "one of those people" (10/12/2005)
I have just received this rather startling email. As it mentioned my race it made me think very seriously. On one side of my family the genealogy goes back 950 years and appears to be almost exclusively Anglo-Saxon, so I don't think Gerry could be talking about that. On the other side the family tree goes back a few generations before disappearing into the mists and bogs of Ireland, and while many would claim that the words "dishonest, criminal and mentally unstable" might apply to the Irish it would only be those bastard English oppressors who would say it, so again this might not be what Gerry is on about. There is a third possibility, seldom spoken about in the family and which causes my mother to look embarrassed and hastily change the subject whenever it comes up. I was born on an equinox following a well-documented UFO incident and alleged alien visitation. Maybe Gerry just doesn't like lizards.
Ewiger Jude! Letīs see now, Dr. Töbenīs īopinionsīare
buffonery, ludicrous, non-sense blah-blah, blah, blah. You assault his
integrity without ever as much as proposing ONE argument against any
of his historically correct FACTS. Why? Because you are kike, a bottom
feeder who masquerades as a proponent of free speech. Donīt give us
revisionists words, give us facts. SHOW us where we are wrong. PROVE
your insane claims. PROVE your race is NOT dishonest, criminal and mentally
unstable. PROVE 3000 years of documented history are wrong. PROVE Töben
is spreading nonsense, prove it kike. As Professor (ret.) Faurisson
said; īDonīt give me words, but show me a drawing of an actual working
gas chamber.ī ĻRatbagsĻ? What a fitting name. A bag of rats, hell thatīs
about right, Ewiger Jude. www.germancross.com,
I would like to congratulate Professor Barry Marshall and Dr Robin Warren for winning the 2005 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. The award was granted for the discovery that stomach ulcers were predominantly caused by Helicobacter pylori bacteria rather than stress and diet as had been believed before. This was one of those paradigm shifts that Thomas Kuhn had written about, and the findings took some time to become accepted. Proponents of alternative medicine love to use Barry Marshall as an example of someone persecuted and suppressed by the medical orthodoxy, but the facts are that his ideas were completely accepted once the proper scientific process had been undertaken and the test results were available. It always interests me to observe support for Marshall from people who accept chiropractic, acupuncture and other folk remedies which deny any effect of bacteria, but hypocrisy and woolly thinking are rife in altworld. They always like to tell about how Marshall had to drink a bottle of bacteria to convince the doubting doctors, but they seem to forget that Edward Jenner had to attempt to infect himself to demonstrate his ideas to the orthodoxy of his time. Jenner doesn't qualify as a suppressed hero, however, because we all know what he invented.
Having a holiday (17/12/2005)
It's been a tough year at Ratbag Castle, with the attacks on this site by a multi-level marketing company who didn't like me mentioning that a court had found them to be operating an illegal pyramid scheme and the subsequent court case, followed by the diabetes thing. As next weekend is Christmas and the following one is New Year, I will be taking a short break. The next update to The Millenium Project will be on January 7, 2006, unless something unexpected happens like a homeopath curing something, an alien spaceship landing in my front yard (across the street doesn't count), a vaccine against venality being announced, a bigot recanting, or a court announcing that pyramid schemes are once again illegal in Australia.
I would like to thank the many people who made up the more than a million visits to this site over the last year. This started as a hobby to amuse me, and the response has been enormously gratifying. I especially want to thank those people who wrote to me with compliments and suggestions or with support for my legal and health problems. I know I haven't answered every email, but all I can say, as I do every year, is that I will try harder next year. Just because I don't reply doesn't mean I don't appreciate the friendship. I would even like to thank the hate mailers and others who try to set me straight, because they are at least reading the site.
I hope that everyone has a pleasant and safe festive season and that Santa brings you what you need, even if it might not be what you want. Drink safely, drive safely and do them on different days. I would like you to all come back next year.
Court Report (17/12/2005)
Yet another appearance where putting on a tie took longer than the time actually spent in front of a judge. On the positive side, I didn't set off the alarm when passing through the security check to get into the court building as I have done on all except one of the previous occasions. The judge was a little nonplussed that a settlement had not been reached, but the Offer of Compromise from the applicant had been unacceptable for several reasons. We have a date with Justice Madgwick on February 15, 2006, but he has given some broad hints that he would like matters to be settled before that. I have to keep reminding myself that this action was commenced against me ex parte (that is, without notifying me of the first day in court), and when the judge refused to hear the case without me present or represented it was brought on with extreme urgency due to alleged massive and continuing damage to the applicant's business. All that urgency seems to have gone away.
Broken promise (17/12/2005)
I was going to write something this week about AIDS-denier Christine Maggiore and her daughter who died from an AIDS-related illness. I had some emails during the week which have encouraged me to do a wider piece about the whole AIDS denial business. It isn't just mad people in the USA - whole countries (like South Africa) are being affected by the nonsense. I will spend my free time over the next few weeks producing a magazine-length article for submission to newspapers. If you think these loons are harmless, consider this extract from an email I received this week.
I am an HIV/AIDS Health Educator and I spend my free time trying to stay abreast of the latest "dissident" crap that the Alive and Well group, Perth, etc. spew. This is very personal for me because I had a client, mentally ill, HIV+, homeless, and a recovering drug addict. Long story in a short version he was on the road to recovery then he read a dissident site at the library and bam stopped taking his meds had a break and ended up in jail, using and not on treatment for his HIV.
It's on the label (17/12/2005)
The sticker in the picture below is on the package for one of the medications I take. I know of one herbal "remedy" which can cause serious interactions with this particular drug, but I wonder what my doctor or pharmacist would know about most of the stuff dispensed by health food shops, naturopaths or traditional medicine men. If none of this stuff is tested or manufactured to consistent quality then the only reasonable advice would have to be "don't take it". The quacks would then be able to whine about orthodox doctors rejecting alternatives. I wonder when we will see stickers like this on snake oil packages advising people not to take them without talking to a real doctor first. Probably never.
As an aside, one of my local weekend papers has a story about how a real university is going to teach Traditional Chinese Medicine (complete with yin, yang and the hot and cold winds, I assume). The article mentions, as they always do, an example of a traditional treatment which has now been accepted by real medicine. It is a plant which has been used for 2,500 years to treat malaria. Now, malaria is a serious problem around the world so it is good that an effective treatment is being used. Except that the extract of this plant is not being used to treat malaria because, despite 2,500 years of tradition, it does nothing for that disease. It is being used for something completely different (as a means of blocking opiate receptors as a way of treating drug addiction), but the claim is still being made that witch doctoring has shown real medicine something. Another article in the same paper talks about a woman who attributes her lack of breast cancer to the herbs she took to "complement" the radiation and chemotherapy which just happened to be going on at the same time. And don't get me started on the article promoting reflexology in the magazine from the diabetes society. Sometimes life can be discouraging, but I am an optimist.
Put a read wring on the calendar. He maid a mistake!!
OK, OK, I made a spelling mistake. You would think that a person who writes incessantly about "alternative and complementary medicine" would know the difference between "complementary" and "complimentary". You would be right. Last week when I wrote "I don't publish complementary emails" I was technically correct (I don't publish emails which add to, enhance or go with what I write), but I obviously meant to say "complimentary" because I don't publish emails that I get for nothing, only the ones I pay for. Or something like that. I would like to thank reader Paul Klarreich for being the first to point out the mistake and for not laughing or mocking me too much. All of this gave me an excuse to dig out that famous poem "Candidate for a Pullet Surprise", which you can read below.
"Candidate for a Pullet Surprise"
By Jerrold H. Zar, Northern Illinois University
Journal of Irreproducible Results 39, 1 (Jan.-Feb. 1994): 13
|I have a spelling checker,
It came with my PC.
It plane lee marks four my revue
Miss steaks aye can knot sea.
Eye ran this poem threw it,
A checker is a bless sing,
Each frays come posed up on my screen
Bee fore a veiling checker's
Butt now bee cause my spelling
Now spelling does knot phase me,
To rite with care is quite a feet
Sow ewe can sea why aye dew prays