Saturday, February 28, 2015
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
"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"
I demand to know whether or not this comment is a reflection of actual events!
If it is then,
WTF Jobs Services Australia?
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
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
Peter Gøtzsche 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.
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?
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
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.
Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Sunday, February 08, 2015
Go see this guy speak. You think you're a skeptic? You think you're a rationalist? This guy's the skeptic!
Saturday, January 31, 2015
It was a sweet thing, such a sweet surprise, to hear his voice again. I have no idea how many years it has been. Wasn't even sure if he is still alive.
For the most part I do what I am able to do, what I am allowed to do, and make the most of it and get on with things. But there have been times, as a girl and as a woman, when I've stopped still and wondered what might have been possible, had the world been made up of different ingredients.
Saturday, January 24, 2015
Wednesday, January 14, 2015
Sunday, January 11, 2015
That's odd. So many Australians who seem to have attitudes that advocate vaccination, science, medicine, skepticism and the pursuit of truth have been demanding that an anti-vaccination speaker have her visa cancelled and be prevented from doing a speaking tour of Australia, on the basis that she is regarded as being a liar. But I don't recall any similar fuss and bluster in response to last year's Australian tour by James Randi. Randi has been a major figure in the skeptics movement for many years and is still regarded by many as a hero of truth-seeking, but one doesn't need to look too far to find claims and evidence that Randi is a lair and a bully:
Randi is a male who endorses a world view that is very much compatible with the interests of those who are in power in developed countries, while the anti-vax speaker is a woman advocating ideas that question the authority of the medical profession and also the government of Australia, which punishes parents who do not vaccinate by cutting off welfare payments. Both speakers appear to be liars, but clearly they appeal to quite different sections of society and quite different interests.
Friday, January 09, 2015
There are credible claims that civilians are being detained and tortured in the Timika region in West Papua, near the Freeport McMoran gold mine. The accused are police and military from Indonesia, and homes of indigenous West Papuans are also reportedly being burnt down by the Indonesians. Make no mistake; this conflict is all about persecution associated with political and economic interests, and the fight for independence and self-determination by the people of West Papua who have been colonized by Indonesia and other countries through history. This conflict is not merely an issue of law and order.
Do you care? You could contact your local representative of the government of Indonesia and tell them about what you think of the violence and killing and persecution that has been going on for so long in West Papua. You could also maybe tell then to f*** off out of a piece of land that they have no ethnic connection with and where they are not wanted. You could also join with concerned citizens and activists in all corners of the world who support the local and international movement to Free West Papua. Please take a little time to support a cause that really matters.
Wednesday, January 07, 2015
I argued for the "No" case while being accused of hypocrisy for condemning Islamist violence in France while Australia and associated nations continue to send armed forces to interfere and intervene in the affairs of Arab and Muslim nations. I have no issue with the killing of a killer or the killing of a soldier in a murderous movement, but I do take issue with killing people simply because they have said or expressed a view that one does not like. You feel offended? Then why don't you take to the media or pen and paper or the internet to express why and argue the opposite case? If you can't or won't do that then suck it up! In the civilized world feeling offended is not a valid reason to go about killing people. If you desire or demand to behave in that way, demanding blood for your hurt feelings or injured sensibilities, I advise that you should without delay migrate to some dust-blown hell-hole where sheep-herders make up the intelligentsia.
I could write all day about the complexities of the Sherri Tenpenny affair, but I have other things to do with my day, but I do want to share my conviction that we should think very carefully before we place other values and considerations above the safeguarding of free speech, because if we don't have free speech we are really screwed. Without free speech and a strong, independent press, open and effective criticism of an unjust or corrupt government is impossible. Without free speech victims cannot warn other potential victims of whatever or whoever. Without free speech and whistleblowers who feel willing or safe to report their concerns and evidence, broken systems and corrupt networks remain unexposed, unchallenged and broken. When individuals feel too intimidated by the threat of legal action to go to the media to make a statement about something that isn't right in society, then journalists are at best hampered in how much they can report, as there is little substance or popular interest in a story if no one will dare to go "on record".
These days in Australia thinking people are forced to discriminate between Islamophobia and secular values. I'm an atheist and I've never pretended otherwise. I try to support Palestinians, Sri Lankan Tamils and the (indigenous) people of West Papa because I believe they are seriously persecuted people. Religion has nothing to do with it. One of the above are mostly Muslim while another are being persecuted by a Muslim nation, so I think that should look pretty fair and impartial in regard to Islam, but I'm not going to pretend that it is not true that many aspects of Islam make me want to puke and throw things on a regular basis. It is no secret; I'd love it if the whole damn world gave up religion and all other forms of irrational thinking, or at least recognized the many flaws in the thinking processes of normal, intelligent people and made some effort to remediate. I don't expect it will ever happen though. I think religion is stupid and an excuse for mental undiscipline and an ugly bag of evil behaviours, but I'm not going to give any individual person a hard time for being Muslim or any other religion, because I don't believe bullying is the way to go. But I do very highly value the right to criticize any religion or political philosophy or intellectual idea or fad, as I often do at this blog. Apparently there is nothing in the constitution of Australia that guarantees this right, and I know that in Australia journalists are restrained in their reporting by a variety of legal restrictions and threats, along with all of the implicit social, economic and personal safety threats that go along with reporting.
Today more than ever I value free speech and freedom of the press and freedom of expression. I will be forever grateful to Google and Smashwords and the people of the United States of America with their fabulous First Amendment for granting me, an Australian nobody, freedom of speech and the freedom to blog away to my cold heart's desire, and I plan to continue to abuse that privilege for the foreseeable future.
Wednesday, December 24, 2014
Tuesday, December 16, 2014