Archive for the ‘Current Affairs’ Category
My latest for Quadrant Online:
One of the most interesting phenomena of the last weeks has been the enthusiasm with which media pundits who have previously expressed the opinion that the Church is dying and irrelevant have expounded upon the importance of the right person being elected to be the new Pope. Like liberal nuns and other anti-Catholics, most of these media persons (I decline to call them personalities) believe the world would be a much better place if someone was elected who had the same opinions they do.
Alas for them, it is likely, as Philippa Martyr has pointed out in her usual delightful style, that the next Pope will be a Catholic. Which means no gay marriage, no women priests, no abortions.
Going to Mass, trusting in Jesus, reading the Bible and the whole religious thing will still be a large part of what the Church is about. It might be interesting to spend some time talking about whether it is possible to identify exactly where any culture is less than healthy, by noting at which points its demands conflict with the teaching and practice of the Church. In our case, I suspect, in the areas of gender, sexuality, and ‘self-realisation.’ But instead I’ll stick with wondering who the next Pope might be.
We start with a potential field of all unmarried baptised adult male Catholics. Betting website paddypower.com offers odds of 666 to 1 on Richard Dawkins. You can also bet on Fr. Ted at 1,000 to 1 if you are absolutely determined to lose your money.
Read the rest at Quadrant.
One of four.
Andrew Wakefield and the faked link between MMR vaccinations and autism.
Andrew Wakefield is one of the heroes of the anti-vaccination crusaders. In 1998 prestigious British medical journal The Lancet published a paper by Wakefield and others which implied a link between autism and the MMR (measles, mumps, rubella) vaccination. Not only was there no such link, but Wakefield’s data was faked. The article was retracted by The Lancet on February 2, 2010.
Wakefield must have known the likelihood that his faked research would reduce vaccination rates and lead to increased levels of preventable infectious childhood diseases. That is, he must have known than faking data so as to suggest a link between MMR vaccinations and autism would lead to increased child deaths.
Whatever Andrew Wakefield is, he is no hero of child health.
Apart from faking the results, there were several other ethics violations. These included failing to disclose cash payments from a lawyer representing families claiming MMR caused their children’s autism, failure to disclose financial interests in patents for MMR alternatives, failure to include data which contradicted his conclusions, and the use of contaminated samples to support his conclusions.
On January 28, 2010, Wakefield and two of his co-authors, John Walker-Smith and Simon Murch, were found by the UK’s General Medical Council to have acted irresponsibly, dishonestly and not in the clinical interests of the children involved in the study. The Medial Council found, amongst other things, that Wakefield had used colonoscopies, MRIs and lumbar punctures when such procedures were not clinically indicated. On May 24, 2010, the General Medical Council issued a determination that Wakefield and Walker-Smith were guilty of professional misconduct and should be struck from the Medical Register in the U.K. His license to practice medicine has been revoked.
There is no moral difference between this faking of medical research with foreseeably lethal consequences, and adding Melamine (a poison) to milk with foreseeably lethal consequences.
Some supporters of the MMR/autism theory claim that just because a few bad apples faked their results doesn’t necessarily mean there is no connection between vaccination and autism. No it doesn’t. But there isn’t. Not a speck. Not a jot nor a tittle.
In the next few days I will explain exactly how scientists know this. I’ll also examine the story that when Japan stopped vaccinating children, SIDS (cot death) stopped completely. It didn’t.
Ninety per-cent of Facebook and Twitter causes are based on false information, bigotry or both.
From scare stories about preservatives in food, to stories of dogs being hooked alive and used as shark bait, to stories about how people who don’t look like us eat something we don’t like eating and it’s disgusting and they are horrible and it should be stopped, almost every “Please pass this on, this must be stopped” story turns out to be based on false or misleading information, or cultural bigotry so blatant that it verges on racism.
These campaigns have real consequences. A campaign against the use of lean beef trimmings was bulldust from beginning to end. But the facts fell before a tidal wave of disgusting pictures of pink slime, and assertions the slime was loaded with ammonia and other deadly chemicals used as preservatives. None of the slimy pictures had anything to do with lean beef trimmings, and claims about high levels of preservatives were false.
It didn’t matter. The US beef industry responded with factual information, photos of the real product and descriptions of production methods. No one cared. Lean beef trimmings are high in protein, reduce the overall fat content of burgers and other meat products to which they are added, and in blind taste tests, were found by a majority of people to improve the tenderness of processed meats. It didn’t matter. The facts had no weight compared to the emotional fervour and manufactured horror of the pink slime campaign.
The end result was that factories were closed, businesses were forced into bankruptcy, hundreds of workers lost their jobs, and hundreds of families their incomes.
It may feel like you are doing a good thing when you click ‘Like’ to some circulating campaign against something, or pass it on to your friends. But when ninety per-cent of such campaigns are simply wrong, then clicking ‘Like’ or passing it on is not good, or even morally neutral. It is wrong.
At very least, we should check, every time, that what we are being told is true. Look for opinions opposed to those expressed in the message. Ask yourself “Is this reasonable?” “Is it really likely to be true?” Even if it is true, local governments may have the matter in hand, and demands for action in a Twitter campaign may be counter-productive or insulting.
Don’t pass on alarm stories without checking first, and if you have any doubts about the accuracy or fairness of a story, don’t pass it on at all. The truth matters. Don’t be a party to lies.
There is a point, though, at which the merely lazy, ignorant or bigoted nature of most Facebook campaigns tips over into actual evil. This point is the ongoing campaign against vaccination, and especially vaccination against childhood diseases such as measles and polio.
Over the next week I will write four articles explaining why this opposition is based on false, and in some cases deliberately false or misleading information. I will explain why the campaign is not just misguided but evil. And I will explain what you can do to help the truth be heard.
Green activists are once again turning Japan’s annual dolphin hunt to their financial advantage, deep-sixing facts in favour of fund-raising propaganda. Sure, the slaughter at Taiji Cove is not for the squeamish, but neither is any Australian abattoir …
Lies, damned lies and dolphins
Villagers in Taiji in Japan are halfway through their annual dolphin harvest, which runs from September to May. Villagers in Australia are halfway through their annual feeding frenzy of self-righteous indignation. Twitter accounts gurgle with rage. Facebook pages quiver with fury. Post after post proclaims the Japanese to be vile, murderous, and deserving of the same fate as the dolphins.
There are clear emotional benefits to participating slacktivists. A scrumptious sense of moral superiority. The feeling of purpose that flows from with aligning oneself with a righteous cause. Being part of a community of like-minded believers.
But the hunt continues. The Japanese are disinclined to change their behaviour on the basis of what they see as the petulant posturing of a group of ignorant, hypocritical, glory seekers.
Read the rest at Quadrant Online.
I haven’t posted anything for about three months now, and did not intend to.
But constant harrassment by the chief thugs at ESL/Eurosoft has prompted me to add a little more to previous discussions of those scams.
There are two reasons for writing again. Last time I added anything about JBC/CFS/ESL was over a year ago. While others have added comments since, I thought it was worth noting that the product name has been changed from ESL Trader to Eurosoft Trading. It is still the same fake stock trading, stock prediction software.
The name change seems to take place every couple of years. When it became widely know that JBC was a rip-off, it changed to CFS. After word began to spread that CFS was a scam, the name was changed to ESL. Now it is Eurosoft. The software and the people are the same. All the comments made on previous posts about JBC and ESL apply equally to Eurosoft Trading.
If you have been called by them, you should note especially that any websites they refer you to, eg My Money Magazine, Smart Business Service, etc., are fakes. The creation of superficially convincing fake websites claiming to have tested and approved or given awards to their software has been part of their practice from the beginning. See earlier posts for websites which gave glowing reviews to JBC, CFS and ESL - all now defunct.
Writing fake reviews in the name of well-known financial journalists like Anthony Green or John Lloyd is another favourite method of deceiving potential victims. Don’t be fooled! Eurosoft Trading is a scam run by unscrupulous thugs who will promise anything to get their hands on your money.
The second reason for writing again, as I noted above, is that even though I have not written anything on this for over a year, Rhys and the other thieves at ESL Eurosoft continue to try to bully me into removing any information about their ESL Eurosoft stock trading software scam.
This has taken the form of harrassing phone calls, fake blogs and websites criticising my business or making accusations about me, constant attempts to hack into this blog, and signing me up for porn and casual sex dating sites using my real name and address.
Rhys, Gail, Rika, Phil, etc, do you really think this kind of behaviour is going to convince me you are decent, honest hard-working people, and that everything I and others have written about ESL/Eurosoft is wrong? Do you think that behaving in this way will convince others you are the kind of people they can trust and be confident doing business with?
If you spent half the energy and imagination on earning an honest living as you spend on stealing from ordinary people and harrassing anyone who calls you out for it, you would be well off and could have some self-respect as well.
In the mid 1990s Julia Gillard had a sexual relationship with a corrupt union official, Bruce Wilson. At the time she was a partner in law firm Slater and Gordon.
Julia Gillard has attempted to squash any discussion of that relationship, and of her involvement in setting up an illegally constituted entity – the AWU Workplace Reform Association Inc – into which stolen union funds were deposited. Pressure was brought to bear to have two journalists, Michael Smith and Glen Milne, sacked for trying to bring this to public attention. That in itself is scandalous.
She was asked to resign from Slater and Gordon, or resigned of her own accord in almost inexplicable circumstances – she was in a well paid position and had no other job to go to.
Gillard was either completely ignorant of the law relating to the setting up of incorporated associations, or if she wasn’t, she knowingly arranged a drop box for stolen union funds for her boyfriend.
Slater and Gordon’s credibility has been diminished by this. The media is taking a growing interest, and seems less willing to be cowed. This is not going to go away.
On the facts, Julia Gillard is either dangerously incompetent, dishonest, or both. In any case, the people of Australia can have no confidence in her leadership.
If the Federal Government is to continue to have any integrity (don’t laugh!) Julia Gillard must stand down until there has been a full enquiry.
More details in the latest Alan Jones interview with Michael Smith.
It used to be that inn-keepers could be fined if they were found to be profiting from immoral earnings. Now they can be fined of they don’t.
From the UK Guardian:
Australia’s hotel industry has been rocked by a court ruling that a prostitute was illegally discriminated against by a motel owner who refused to rent her a room to work from.
The judgment has stunned hoteliers, who thought they had a right to decide what sort of businesses were operating from their premises.
The woman, identified only as GK, had taken her discrimination case against the Drovers Rest motel in the coal mining town of Moranbah to the Queensland state civil and administrative tribunal after management refused to rent her a room.
The motel’s lawyer, David Edwards, said on Wednesday that the court notified him this week that it had upheld the discrimination claim. Edwards confirmed the woman was seeking damages, reported in The Australian newspaper to be 30,000 Australian dollars (£20,000).
Richard Munro, is chief executive of the Accommodation Association of Australia.
“It’s absolutely illogical,” Munro said. “If a hairdresser decided to set up shop in the motel and started inviting people in to get their hair cut, I think the motel owner would have the right to say, ‘Hang on, that’s a different business operating out of my business.’”
“If a prostitute decided to start working out of a shopping mall, the owners would have something to say about it. There is some protection for the rights of the motel owner here,” he said.
Janelle Fawkes, chief executive of the Scarlet Alliance Australian Sex Workers Association, said the ruling was a major win for the sex work industry throughout Australia.
“Accommodation discrimination is a major issue for sex workers, but it is not by any means the only form of systemic discrimination that sex workers experience,” she said.
They are not ‘sex workers.’ They are prostitutes. Prostitution is demeaning to both men and women, it is damaging to families and to society. One may not wish to judge the motives of any indivdual man or woman who offers sexual services for a price, but prostitution is still wrong.
If Queensland law demands such a ruling because prostitution is legal in Queensland, and it is forbidden to discriminate against a person engaged in a legal business, then the law needs to be changed. No one should be forced to allow prostitution to take place at their home or place of business.
In March a group of forty-nine NASA scientists wrote to Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator, expressing their concern that NASA’s climate alarm advocacy is not based in science and is undermining NASA’s credibility:
The Honorable Charles Bolden, Jr. NASA Administrator NASA Headquarters Washington, D.C. 20546-0001
We, the undersigned, respectfully request that NASA and the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) refrain from including unproven remarks in public releases and websites. We believe the claims by NASA and GISS, that man-made carbon dioxide is having a catastrophic impact on global climate change are not substantiated, especially when considering thousands of years of empirical data. With hundreds of well-known climate scientists and tens of thousands of other scientists publicly declaring their disbelief in the catastrophic forecasts, coming particularly from the GISS leadership, it is clear that the science is NOT settled.
The unbridled advocacy of CO2 being the major cause of climate change is unbecoming of NASA’s history of making an objective assessment of all available scientific data prior to making decisions or public statements.
As former NASA employees, we feel that NASA’s advocacy of an extreme position, prior to a thorough study of the possible overwhelming impact of natural climate drivers is inappropriate. We request that NASA refrain from including unproven and unsupported remarks in its future releases and websites on this subject. At risk is damage to the exemplary reputation of NASA, NASA’s current or former scientists and employees, and even the reputation of science itself.
For additional information regarding the science behind our concern, we recommend that you contact Harrison Schmitt or Walter Cunningham, or others they can recommend to you.
Thank you for considering this request.
A month ago the journal Nature Climate Change published a paper by a group of German scientists demonstrating that the world’s temperature has been declining for the last 2.000 years:
How did the Romans grow grapes in northern England? Perhaps because it was warmer than we thought.
A study suggests the Britain of 2,000 years ago experienced a lengthy period of hotter summers than today. German researchers used data from tree rings – a key indicator of past climate – to claim the world has been on a ‘long-term cooling trend’ for two millennia until the global warming of the twentieth century.
This cooling was punctuated by a couple of warm spells. These are the Medieval Warm Period, which is well known, but also a period during the toga-wearing Roman times when temperatures were apparently 1 deg C warmer than now. They say the very warm period during the years 21 to 50AD has been underestimated by climate scientists.
Lead author Professor Dr Jan Esper of Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz said: ‘We found that previous estimates of historical temperatures during the Roman era and the Middle Ages were too low.
Marc Morano and Lord Monckton explain why the whole notion of climate refugees is bunk:
And if you need more, try the NIPCC 2011 interim report which lists dozens of peer reviewed papers published in the last two years questioning the science of man made global warming.
Consensus? Pull the other one.
I have always liked Apple products. Although they are a little expensive compared to other products, they are stylish and reliable.
I would love to be able to sell them. I recently signed up with a new wholesaler who is an Apple distributor, and began to go through the process of becoming an Apple reseller.
Normally Apple require a commitment to sell a minimum of $30,000 worth of their products per quarter. Our total IT sales easily exceed that, but Kangaroo Island is an isolated community with a very small population; less than 5,000 people, so I did not feel able to make a commitment to that level of sales from day one.
I explained this to the Apple rep, a pleasant seeming young woman named Charmaine. It was not necessarily a problem, she said. She asked me to send her photos of the shop and of the space in the shop where Apple products would be displayed. After I had done that she sent me a Reseller Application and told me that once that was completed and returned, we would be ready to go.
A week later I heard from a third party that my application had been declined. I emailed Charmaine to check whether there was anything in the form I had missed, or if there was something else I needed to do. No reply. A week later I emailed her again. No reply. Another week later I tried again. Still no reply.
I was beginning to think that if Apple treated its customers the same way it treated potential resellers, I was probably better off not selling its products. That is a decision we have made before with companies which do not keep their promises. See this earlier story about OKI printers.
Co-incidentally, at about the same time, I read about an Apple Store in Sydney which had been copying personal files and photos from client computers for the amusement of staff:
The Sunday Telegraph revealed last week that the inner-city store – an accredited and official Apple reseller – copied private pictures of the household-name star and his wife in numerous sexual acts.
He had taken the computer to the shop to be repaired…
The Olympian is among a number of celebrities – as well as members of the general public – caught out.
This was not an isolated incident, or one or two staff members who were swiftly dismissed:
Shop staff scan machines for intimate material under the encouragement of the store’s owner and upload sensitive photos and videos to a shared drive…
The store owner denied targeting sexual images but said: “If people choose to put photos and personal information on their computers that’s their decision.”
I was gobsmacked. That is a shocking betrayal of trust. People’s computers are their private property. The only time we ever look at client files or emails is if we are asked to recover and check particular files. Otherwise, client privacy is sacred. Even if there are photos on the desktop, we simply ignore them. I don’t even tell my wife what I have seen on client computers.
What was Apple’s response to this?
Apple spokeswoman Fiona Martin … called on any customers who feared their privacy had been compromised at an Apple store to contact the company immediately. However, she would not guarantee Apple would take steps to protect its customers, or that it would withdraw the store’s licence.
What does that mean? Let us know, but don’t expect us to do anything about it? As far as I know the store is still operating, is still an Apple reseller, and existing staff are still in place. Nor has Apple revealed publicly which store it was.
So clients going into an Apple store and having their private files searched and personal photos filched for the prurient entertainment of staff is OK, but when someone with a long-standing interest in Apple products, a high level of technical qualifications, a commitment to customer service, and a solid trading history wants to introduce Apple products into a new market, that’s not even worth replying to emails about.
It seems an odd set of priorities.
Who could not be in favour of helping the disabled? Who wants to pay for that help?
The delectable Philippa Martyr writes in Quadrant Magazine:
The Federal government has recently committed $1 billion to start up a National Disability Insurance Scheme for as many as 20,000 people with serious lifetime disabilities, and their carers and families.
This certainly makes a nice change from cuddling up to a union that has plundered the wages of the very workforce that helps to care for these people.
However, here are some of the ways in which the NDIS – a scheme which is supposed to help genuinely disadvantaged people who are doing it really, really tough – could have been funded from as far back as 2007, when this government was first elected.
- Estimated cost of the unnecessary pink batts scheme, whose graft and waste is well-documented: $2.45 billion, followed by another $424 million to fix the dangerous installations
- Estimated cost of the Building the Education Revolution scheme, ditto: $16.2 billion
- Estimated cost (so far) of the National Broadband Network, as WiFi conquers the known universe: at least $36 billion
- Resources available to the Climate Change ministerial portfolio in 2010-2011, to fix a ‘problem’ whose tractability and indeed existence is questionable: $1.57 billion
- Labor’s ‘literacy and numeracy partnership’ (4 years) which has produced no measurable improvements in either: $540 million
- The dramatically unsuccessful Productivity Places Program which was so badly administered that it is impossible to tell who benefited from it, if anyone: $2.1 billion
Sadly, this catalogue of over-administered political bankruptcy tends to point to one conclusion: the NDIS will become just another unauditable and potentially tragic botch-up. Only time will tell.
Only $1 billion on the latest feel good scheme. That’s only $50 from every every Australian resident. We should probably be grateful. The NBN looks like costing more than $50 billion. That’s at least $6000 from every household – for an internet connection.
I have written about the utter madness of the NBN before, but let me say that again. A minimum of $6000 per household for an internet connection, an amount you will pay through taxation whether you need an internet connection or not.
Perhaps we wouldn’t mind the incredible cost if we were getting an incredible product. But the NBN relies on technology that was outdated before it even began. Most households, even those that connect to the NBN’s overpriced services, would have been better off with newer, mostly wireless, technologies that would have been introduced had the market just been allowed to do its thing.