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January 15, 2022

Happy New Year (15/1/2022)
Welcome to a brand new year. We can only hope that this year is better than the last two and that one day we can stop wearing masks everywhere, stop needing COVID testing because we have been exposed to plague carriers (I've been tested about a dozen times, all thankfully negative) and maybe even stop listening to batshit crazy people offering "cures" (in 2020 it was bleach, in 2021 it was horse dewormer paste, in 2022 the old "drink your urine" thing is already back). I'm optimistic but I've been doing this for too long to hope that sanity finally wins over idiocy in the near future.

See more from Sketchplanations here

Things will be a little random around here this year. 2021 was a bit of a disaster for my other hobby, media coverage of car rallies, because almost everything was cancelled because of floods, other weather conditions (I got snowed on in November! In Australia!) and of course COVID restrictions about travel and about people getting together. 2022 looks to be a lot busier and you can see my planned activity here. Also, I've resurrected my motorsport competitor credentials so I might be inside some of the competing cars instead of standing out in the dust, rain and wind taking photos. There are those old sayings about being as busy as a one-armed paper hanger or a one-legged arse kicker. That's me for the next twelve months.

Speaking of kooks … (15/1/2022)

Stolen Borrowed from somewhere. I'll acknowledge the creator* if some one tells me who it is.
(* Not that Creator. I haven't gone mad.)

And speaking of predicting the future … (15/1/2022)

This isn't the Ziggy who played guitar, it's the one by Tom Wilson.

Fun with old friends #1 (15/1/2022)
Marcus Blackmore, main owner of Australia's biggest purveyor of snake oil had a couple of parties over the Christmas period. Mr Blackmore denies being anti-vaccine (of course) but hasn't found the time in between counting his millions to get to a doctor and actually have the shots. As it could be expected that his social circle would include people of similar quackery sentiments (plus the usual brain-dead hangers on social butterflies who worship the rich list) the headline in the Sydney Morning Herald was sort of predictable - "Party pooper COVID ruins rich-lister fun". You can click on the image to read the complete article.

See more Loose Parts from Dave Blazek here

Fun with old friends #2 (15/1/2022)
It would come as no surprise to anyone familiar with this site to hear that Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination-[more dead children] Network has been found to be being less than truthful. You could even say she was lying, although there is some doubt about this because there is a school of thought that says that to be a liar you have to know that what you are saying is not true. My opinion is that she not only knows that what she says is not true but she is what philosopher Gary Hardcastle called a "bullshitter" in that she doesn't care if it is true or not.

Her latest was to claim that 20% of children between 5 and 11 in one state have contemplated suicide, caused by the unnecessary disruption to family life caused by the COVID scare. She of course denies the severity (and even existence) of the disease and is totally opposed to any campaign of vaccination to defeat it.

Someone bothered to check the facts of her claim and to nobody's surprise it was found that she was citing the wrong statistics from the wrong age group. Unfortunately I can't provide a link to the article telling this story or even quote it because of this warning:

All information, text and images included on the AAP Websites is for personal use only and may not be re-written, copied, re-sold or re-distributed, framed, linked, shared onto social media or otherwise used whether for compensation of any kind or not, unless you have the prior written permission of AAP.

One could wonder why they bother writing something if they don't want anyone to read it or talk about it, but I will respect their request for invisibility and totally avoid telling you where you can go to read it.

See more from the apparently now defunct Chain Saw Suit here

My letterbox gets polluted (15/1/2022)
I went away for a few days over the New Year weekend and when I got home I found a turd in my letterbox. Not an actual turd, but a couple of pieces of paper doing a reasonably good impression. They came from an outfit called Reignite Democracy Australia warning about the dangers of vaccinating children. This outfit is virulently anti-vaccine and no lie is too untrue for them to use in their deranged campaign to oppose vaccinations. (The RDA web site has been closed by the hosting organisation.)

The owner of RDA is a woman named Monica Smit and she has been imprisoned for organising anti-vaccine and COVID denial demonstrations in Melbourne. Nothing coming from her or RDA can be believed. There was news over the weekend of someone who tried to burn himself to death to avoid vaccination. This was the second such attempt over just a few days and Smit had declared the first one to be a martyr acting heroically for the anti-vaccine cause and encouraged others to follow. One did.

Click on the picture to see what turned up, but wear a raincoat and put plastic sheeting down to avoid damage to your clothes and carpet from the vomiting. The good news is that both my town's Mayor and the local police are concerned about this sort of thing being circulated in the town, although I'm not sure what, if anything, they can do to stop it.

Click to see the filth.

Fun with old friends #3 (15/1/2022)
With the arrival of yet another COVID strain and an outbreak of infection and hospitalisations following the ill-advised relaxing of contact and mask rules just before Christmas (when people could be expected to travel and gather in groups) new restrictions have been announced by my state government. Prominent among these new restrictions are bans on groups gathering for singing and dancing. We are all being encouraged to buy and use Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) kits. Unfortunately, RATs are almost impossible to find and the laboratories doing the more usual PCR tests have been overwhelmed. I had to have a test because the contact tracing system put me in a place where there had been a positive COVID carrier - no RAT was available and it took almost a week to get the (negative) results of a PCR test (never more than 24 hours on previous occasions), during which time I had to isolate at home.

So, ICU beds full of unvaccinated people leaving no room for people who didn't get sick by choice, no quick home tests available (or at gouge prices if any can be found), fun, games and live entertainment closed down, huge delays in getting tested (the queue for drive-through testing near my place was blocking traffic two streets away) and more delays in getting the test results out, but the big news story of the week has been a tennis player who came to Australia to compete in the Australian Open but refused to comply with the rules regarding disclosure of vaccination status.

While all this was happening, our local "church" devoted to the worship of money, Hillsong, held youth camps. At these, everyone was given two RAT kits (I'm supposed to get ten free ones because I'm a pensioner with diabetes but there are none available) and it probably won't surprise you to hear that there was much singing and dancing happening.

So, a pretend church can defy all the rules that dictate the behaviour of the rest of us, rules intended to control an epidemic and protect the health of everyone else. You might wonder how this travesty was able to go unnoticed until after it was over. I don't want to sound like a conspiracy theorist, but the Prime Minister is a great supporter of Hillsong and has waved at the crowd from their stage, and the Minister responsible for managing the tennis player situation and keeping it on the font pages of the newspapers is a regular Hillsong attendee.

And have Hillsong been fined or suffered any other penalty for blatantly defying the rules being applied to the rest of us? Don't ask silly questions, just reread the last sentence in the previous paragraph.

January 29, 2022

Looking back. Looking forward. (29/1/2022)
The month of January is named for the Roman god Janus, who had two faces to look both forwards and backwards. It is a month when we look back on the year that has gone and forward to what the next year might bring

Looking back over 2021 all I can see is a continual and continuous load of fear and nonsense about the COVID19 pandemic. The disease has produced a coalescence of anti-vaccination liars, sovereign citizens and other believers in pseudolaw, right wing nutcases (there have been people attending anti-mask and anti-lockdown protests in Australia waving Trump flags and wearing MAGA hats - in Australia!), grifters lying to make money, snake oil salesmen with magic miracle cures and almost any other form of vermin you can imagine climbing onto the bandwagon.

A bandwagon! (Photo by Bob Cline. Maybe.)

For this reason I have decided to not have any Millenium Awards for 2021. It was either give an omnibus award to all the lunatics and liars or try to separate the worst from the rest. As I am neither omniscient not possessed of unlimited time I decided that giving nobody any awards was the fairest thing to do.

Looking forward, I can't see much changing over the next few months. Governing myself accordingly, as hate mail writers like to advise, I'll probably only be updating this site about once a month unless something special happens. If you want to be advised of updates, I suggest you register this site with Visualping. I use the site (to remind me when I do something?) and it doesn't tell me if you register so your privacy is protected. If you register a site there, chose the "Visual" changes option which lets you map out an area on the site's page that will trigger a notification email for changes. If you don't include areas that aren't significant (like the column at the left of the front page here) you will only get told when something important changes, My map for here only covers the top right hand part of the screen, so I get notifications like this.

As I've said before I'm going to be as busy as a one-armed banjo player this year anyway with my other hobby and with Wooworld apparently stuck in a vortex i don't want to be continually (and continuously?) repeating myself.

See more from XKCD here

Wise words from a wise man. (29/1/2022)
One thing I've sorely missed over the last two years because of COVID-related restrictions on travel and gatherings has been my annual trip to address the young people at the Young Scientist Awards, organised by the Science Teachers' Association of NSW. It's sort of the highlight of my year, even though I only get three minutes to speak to the audience. Hopefully we can get back to some sort of normality in 2022 and we can all meet again. Obviously, the science teachers who encourage their students to enter the competition are the sort of teachers we need, and I'm reminded of this comment from a very smart science teacher indeed.

Richard Feynman had another thing to say about knowing things and learning things.

See more from Brian Kent here

Something new that's actually something old

I've written a lot of short articles and news items here over the last two decades. Each week a couple of these pieces will be randomly selected and displayed at the bottom of the week's update. They might not always still be relevant, but that's the way history works.

A lawyer is defended (20/2/2010)
Lawyer Jonathon Emord was Highly Commended in the 2009 Millenium Awards for his ability to be totally committed to absolute, universal freedom of speech while simultaneously getting ready to argue in court that some people should not have freedom of speech. He is the tame lawyer for the National Vaccination (dis)Information Center, an organisation which shares his ambiguous attitude to free speech. Someone mentioned the awards on the Australian Vaccination Network's mailing list and one of the responses is an excellent example of how people will believe anything if it fits their agenda and ideology. I replied to the poster (directly, of course, because I am banned from the list) but I have not yet received a reply. Somehow I don't expect to ever get a reply.

From: Eileen Landies
Sent: Sat, 13 February, 2010 9:36:49 AM
Subject: [AVN] Re:Ratbags goes too far

For those of your unfamiliar with him, I met Jonathan Emord at the NVIC conference back in October. He gave a phenomenal talk and I have recommended his book (The Rise of Tyranny: How federal agencies abuse power and pose risks to your life and liberty) to many people. He was successful in suing the FDA regarding their suppression of information regarding folic acid and birth defects. He is a strong supporter of health freedoms.

Hello Eileen,

Did he happen to mention when this suppression of the information about folic acid and birth defects took place? As there are papers indexed in PubMed going back more than 60 years dealing with this matter either Emord is close to 90 years old (to allow time to get established as a lawyer by 1958), he was a child prodigy who was able to conduct a complex legal battle as an infant, or he is a liar.

But don't let the facts interfere with a good story.

See everything that appeared in 2010 here.

Speaking of homeopathy … (14/3/2015)
Australia's National Health and Medical Research Council has just wasted a rumoured $800,000 to produce a report telling us what all honest people have always known – homeopathy is useless. I'll be writing about this for Australasian Science magazine so I'll just put the media release here for the time being. More detailed reports can be found by clicking on the images below.

Media ReleaseStatementInformation PaperAdministration

And are the homeopaths whining and complaining? Well, of course they are, but there is a reason I used the word "honest" above. They know, they really know, that homeopathy is a scam of quintessential purity. It has never worked. It does not work now. It will never work in the future. Its sole purpose is to move money into the pockets of quacks.

NHMRC releases statement and advice on homeopathy

The National Health and Medical Research Council today released a statement concluding that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy is effective in treating health conditions.

Its release follows a thorough review of the evidence, conducted as part of NHMRC's responsibility to provide advice and support informed health care decisions by the Australian community.

The conclusion is based on the findings of a rigorous assessment of more than 1800 papers. Of these, 225 studies met the criteria to be included in NHMRC's examination of the effectiveness of homeopathy.

The review found no good quality, well-designed studies with enough participants to support the idea that homeopathy works better than a placebo, or causes health improvements equal to those of another treatment.

Although some studies did report that homeopathy was effective, the quality of those studies was assessed as being small and/or of poor quality. These studies had either too few participants, poor design, poor conduct and or reporting to allow reliable conclusions to be drawn on the effectiveness of homeopathy.

According to CEO Professor Warwick Anderson, "All medical treatments and interventions should be underpinned by reliable evidence. NHMRC's review shows that there is no good quality evidence to support the claim that homeopathy works better than a placebo."

He drew particular attention to the NHMRC Statement on Homeopathy's advice that homeopathy should not be used to treat conditions that are chronic, serious, or could become serious:

"People who choose homeopathy may put their health at risk if they reject or delay treatments for which there is good evidence for safety and effectiveness. People who are considering whether to use homeopathy should first get advice from a registered health practitioner and in the meanwhile keep taking any prescribed treatments."

He emphasised that health practitioners should always offer treatments and therapies based on the best available evidence.

"Each year NHMRC funds research to test treatments and procedures offered to patients, with more than $320 million spent on clinical and health services research in 2014," Professor Anderson said.

"NHMRC conducts reviews of evidence on a range of health topics which is developed into guidelines or advice. Examples include clinical practice guidelines on the management of overweight and obesity and the Australian Dietary Guidelines," he said.

"It is important that the public has access to independent, high quality advice when it comes to
making decisions about their health care."

"From this review, the main recommendation for Australians is that they should not rely on homeopathy as a substitute for proven, effective treatments."

"This statement was the result of a rigorous examination of the evidence and used internationally accepted methods for assessing the quality and reliability of evidence for determining whether or not a therapy is effective for treating health conditions."

"NHMRC is also aware of strongly held views on this topic so it is important to note that the process was thoroughly consultative and that the public was invited to submit information and evidence, all of which was considered by our expert working committee."

The findings of the homeopathy working group's review are summarised in the final NHMRC Information Paper: Evidence on the effectiveness of homeopathy for treating a clinical condition also released today. Its release follows public consultation on the draft information paper in 2014.

See everything that appeared in 2015 here.


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