Friday, March 27, 2015

Lili's thought for the day

I was watching one of those amusing characters played by the talented Australian Aboriginal comedy actor Steven Oliver in the Black Comedy Australian TV series, and a sense of deja-vu grew a grew. A campy fellow in the habit of bursting into scenes to make brief uninvited over-familiar comments about people, and then he's gone in a flash? I feel I've seen this behaviour before, but in a white presentation. Of course! He was my favourite character in the classic American comedy movie Flying High! (US title Airplane!). It seems a little bit strange that these roles that are so alike have been played by actors with such similar names. Rest in peace Stephen Stucker, you will never be forgotten by those who love a laugh, and Steven Oliver, you are the funniest man in Australia today.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Lili's alarmed thought of the day

I have read reports that West Papua leader Benny Wenda is being detained by PNG immigration authorities and faces an immediate threat of deportation from PNG. 

PNG Immigration: +675 323 1500

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Lili's sad thought of the day

Goodbye and thank you Malcolm Fraser. Even as a child I felt that I was looking at an essentially decent person when I saw the former Prime Minister of Australia on TV, even though at the time I was witnessing one of the most controversial events in Australian political history, The Dismissal, and Fraser was cast in the role of the villain, and one of the adults in my family was incandescent with rage. We probably watched the political coup in black and white, as we weren't wealthy enough to be early-adopters of the exciting new colour television technology. 

Even in grayscale, at a glance I understood what type of person Mr Fraser was; a serious, thinking man in the business of ruling, not entertaining or charming, but who has demonstrated throughout his life a willingness to stand beside those who were locked out of a place in society: the refugee and the victim of racism and racist govermnent policies. Fraser was the only Liberal Prime Minister of Australia in living memory to welcome refugees to this country, was a champion of multiculturalism (we can thank the Fraser Government for SBS), he opposed apartheid as a PM and in his later career, and right up the the end of his life he has been a unequivocal and outspoken critic of the cruel and racist refugee policies of Liberal and Labour governments in the 21st century. As a PM Fraser modified but retained the system of universal health insurance created by the previous Labour government, which has served Australia well for many years and is accepted as a normal part of Australian life. 

Now that I have learned something of Fraser's formative years from media coverage of his passing, it all makes sense to me. Many sources describe Fraser's rural childhood in a wealthy family as one spent alone among nature without peers but apparently his best friend was an Aboriginal girl. My faith in individuals of character in Australian politics, (not parties or policies), is always reaffirmed when I think of Malcolm Fraser, but I am constantly saddened that there are so few of these individuals in positions of leadership these days, in politics or elsewhere. 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

One big fail - a major corporate recruitment assessment company sponsored the event that built the reputation of a man with a hidden past

SHL Group is a company that offers tests and questionnaires relevant to personality, abilities and aptitudes for use in recruitment selection by companies and government bodies all around the world. Their list of clients includes ANZ, Coca Cola, Oxfam, Qantas, Vodafone, Nissan, KPMGColes and NASA. SHL Group were also the sponsors of Daniel Tammet's now-controversial 2004 "Pi in the Sky" memory record event to raise funds for the National Society for Epilepsy in the UK. One source is currently claiming that the memory record was not really broken by Tammet in 2004 even though press and official sources from the time claimed that the European/British record for memorizing Pi had been broken. 

Money raised by the event was to go toward a new leaflet from the NSE about epilepsy and memory, which is quite an irony considering that this event was a feat of memory that was publicized as being the result of extraordinary mental powers mysteriously created by an early childhood seizure suffered by Tammet, while the currently-available leaflet about epilepsy and memory from the NSE (now the Epilepsy Society) only discusses memory problems and strategies to help deal with memory difficulties

Expressions of skepticism about claims that Tammet has mysterious savant memory and calculation abilities date back many years, with figures from the memory sport community asserting that Tammet, who competed in memory championships in 1999 and 2000 under his original name of Daniel Corney, used much the same memory techniques as other competitors. Daniel Tammet is clever with numbers but his story never did add up, but that didn't stop a major company, whose business it is today to decide whether countless job applicants get an interview, from sponsoring the event that created Tammet's international reputation as a "genius" and a "savant". I'd say that was one gigantic failure of SHL to identify an issue with the talent.

My book about Daniel Tammet:

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Ten reasons to think twice about attending that block-buster arts or culture event

1.  Transport?

2.  Parking?

3.  Toilets?

4.  Affordable food and drink?

5.  The crowds could push you to the brink of insanity. 

6.  You or your kids might not get to see or do anything much because of the crowds.

7.  The interests of individual members of the public will not be a priority to the event organizers. They might get you to wait in a long queue for hours outdoors among bored children, or they might change the event without notice leaving you with nothing to see, or they might plan an event that they know most of the audience will not have good access to, due to numbers of attendees compared to space available. If you have a disability, good luck in competing with thousands of able-bodied people attending the event, I'm sure you will need it. 

8.  There's a good chance that many of the workers at the event will be paid nothing for their work, because they are volunteers, work experience people, interns or work-for-the-dole people. Free workers can be placed in such roles by government-funded job service agencies and these workers can be motivated by dubious claims that their unpaid efforts will give them an edge over others if vacancies open for real, paid jobs. Believe it or not, freebie workers these days often have to prepare lengthy "job" applications, pass police checks, sit interviews and undergo time-consuming training just like applicants for real jobs, and they wont even get free parking.

9.  It is hardly an original way to spend your spare time.

10. The show could well be a pretentious load of old bollocks. 

Lili's thought of the day

We love to think of ourselves as a nation of brave souls who are not afraid to openly discuss any topic, but we routinely substitute medico-sciency jargon for words for emotions. We talk about "agitation" not "anger" and we make reference to "adrenalin" instead of "excitement". Why do so many Australians talk such a load of bulls***?

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Lili's accusation of the day

I think it is pretty clear that there is some kind of policy in action at the ABC24 Australian government-funded television station of having teams of male and female newsreaders/presenters/journalists reading their news and doing interviews, with the female in the team given the job of asking the sentimental, emotional questions in interviews, and of course, it is the female presenter who is slim, young and attractive, often wearing outfits that show lots of skin, while all the blokes are always covered right up in layers of dignified suits, shirts and ties, in a clear rip-off of the sexist and gender-stereotype-reinforcing style of Network 10's The Project. 

F*** you ABC24, and f*** you too Network 10. Please do stick your sexism and occupational gender segregation of journalists where the sun doesn't shine. 

You never see Anton Enus reading the news half-bare, do you? More's the pity. I like Anton. I like him a lot. 

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Lili's sad thought for the day

Goodbye and thank you so much to Leonard Nimoy. Such a beautiful man, smart, I could watch his acting all day long. So tall and sleek, as a dobermann is to dog breeds, and so, so sexy when he pretended to be a responsible, intelligent and rational being in his day job. Why don't more people pretend to be responsible, intelligent and rational beings in their day jobs? I will never understand those humans.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Lili's astonishment of the day

"My single parent daughter was required by Centrelink to attend a self development course last year. In order to successfully complete the course she was required to do 100 hours of 'work experience'. She was allocated to a Coles store to pack shelves over a number of weeks until her 100 hours was completed. She was paid $5 per 6 hour day for the work, apparently this is what is paid to students on work experience. 

My daughter managed a large store before leaving to have 3 children, she could have run the course but was told her single parent allowance would be cut if she did not attend.

Question is.... what does Coles pay to the Job Agency and/or the Course management (not run by Centrelink but another example of outsourcing ) for this effectively free Labour. Many course participants were allocated to Coles in the same manner"

Comment from

I demand to know whether or not this comment is a reflection of actual events!

If it is then,

WTF Coles?

WTF Jobs Services Australia?

WTF Centrelink?

WTF Shop, Distributive & Allied Employees' Association SDA?

WTF Abbott Government?

I'd love to kick you all to the kerb with my steel-capped Volleys!

Share your thoughts with:

the federal Minister for Employment Senator the Hon Eric Abetz:

the federal Assistant Minister for Employment Hon Luke Hartsuyker MP

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Lili's thought of the day

Now and then in the news in Australia one can find stories about home-schooling parents being prosecuted for not complying with the curriculum of state departments of education, but when was the last time you ever heard of a parent being hauled though the courts because their child or children are simply regularly absent from school? Our governments routinely give a free pass to abusive, drunk, drugged and neglectful parents, but open defiance of government policies will not be tolerated!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lili's question for the day

What's the deal with sign language and facial expressions? I fell like I'm missing out on something fun whenever I watch signing, having not a clue what it all means. 

Peter G√łtzsche and Robert Whitaker speaking in Copenhagen in 2014

Peter G√łtzsche identifies a fallacious form of argumentation as the "You are not one of us" fallacy. I think it is not quite the same as the arguing from authority fallacy, but I suspect might be much more widely used. It is much more of a chore to research the truth of what some person says than to judge their advice by their memberships, connections, credentials and qualifications, and why would you even bother? If the club of powerful people say it is so, there seems little point in arguing or wondering to the contrary. The "You are not one of us" argument generally gets a free pass.

Lili's rhetorical question for the day

So, you aren't bothered that two convicted drug traffickers seem destined for execution, because of the harm such people do to society? But at the same time you are happy enough to invest in, to own, to buy from, to work in or to tolerate the large and profitable and legal industries which every day supply alcohol to alcoholics and essentially harmful, dangerous and addictive drug products to smokers. Aren't you a f***ing hypocrite?

Lili's thought for the night

Everyone believes that they are a unique individual, in some important way different to every other human being who ever lived. But how empty are the city streets at the mid-point of a warm night at the mid-point of a working week? The only sounds to be heard are the freeway, and the occassional crash of one board at the skate park, in the darkness of the half-pipe.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Lili's book review for the day

I'm very much enjoying reading Ben Goldacre's latest book I Think You'll Find It's a Bit More Complicated Than That, even though most of it is material from Goldacre's newspaper column in the Guardian, some of it quite old. I love the way the book kicks off with a piece that asks a serious question about the scientific credibility of the loud, emphatic and often-repeated pronouncements of Professor Susan Greenfield about the supposed dire effects of computer use on the brain development of children. With the greatest politeness Goldacre places Greenfield's controversial idea outside the arena of credible scientific debate. I am so fed up with seeing that bigmouth in heels popping up on Australian television and Australian speaking engagements, so it is gratifying to see a good hard questioning of this public nuisance given a position of prominence in Goldacre's book. I can only hope that people from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation might come across it. Another publicity-seeking English academic who has been a target of my attentions at this blog is discussed in the book, in an investigation of a "bizarre" and embarassing matter concerning autism and a media report that appeared to go against the consensus of science. Can you guess who that English autism researcher might be? Yes, in this book Goldacre writes about Baroness Greenfield and also Professor Baron-Cohen. 

I'm pleased to read just about anything Goldacre writes, because he is a journalist and writer in an entirely different class than most. There are plenty of people (mostly men) out there who like to think of themselves as hard-headed skeptics or rationalists, but their critical scrutiny has definite limits. They love to ridicule the usual targets of the scientifically smug: new agers, homeopathy, anti-vaccination campaigners, but they show no interest or awareness of the many crises of credibility within conventional medicine, and they love to quote textbook accounts of how they believe science works, without acknowledging the many scandals and fundamental problems that are coming to light in academic research, including conflicts of interest, research fraud and failures of peer review. If these people were true skeptics, they would see and acknowledge problems wherever mere humans make claims to know how to heal and to know how diseases and human bodies work. Ben Goldacre comes fairly close to meeting my high standard of what a true skeptic should be, and he's not just an armchair knocker, he is a qualified doctor and academic with a high-powered career, so he certainly does not argue from ignorance. Goldacre is great and it is a unique service to humanity that he writes books, a blog and newspaper columns, but in my eyes he could definitely do better.

I do not recall ever seeing Dr Goldacre questioning the labels and the basic concepts in medicine and psychiatry that are so controversial among elite academic and medical researchers and non-professionals alike. Researchers such as Gordon Rugg and Sue Gerrard, as well as the man in the street, have questioned the value of "autism" as a diagnosis or a way of categorizing people, while Goldacre writes about autism in much the same way as any other medico would. Countless critics such as former politician and teacher Dr Martin Whitely, and the bloke in the street, have questioned the application of ADHD as a label for children, but I don't recall ever seeing Goldacre go down this path in his writing. Professor Peter Gotzsche, who is no less than a co-founder of the Cochrane Collaboration shares Goldacre's serious concern about the quality of research and government regulation pertaining to commonly-used prescription drugs, but Gotzsche takes an important step beyond Goldacre's campaigning in his assertion that mental illness is over-diagnosed, a belief that many people with no medical education would agree with, based on their common sense and personal observations alone. A passionate advocate of evidence-based medicine and careful research, Goldacre's focus is exceedingly sharp but disappointingly short-sighted. He's all about designing the study properly and reviewing the literature to standards of excellence, but I don't see him asking too many questions about the assumptions and definitions behind the study's premise. All the same, his books are 100% less frustrating to read than the work of all of those "skeptics" whose main motivation to write or speak appears to be a misogynistic joy in taking the mickey out of harmless old ladies who believe in Reiki healing. Dr Goldacre's humanity and civility shine through all of his work, and this alone is a pleasure to read.