More religious bigotry and idiocy (1/9/2001)
On 18 August, 2001, a court in Islamabad sentenced Dr. Muhammed Younus Shaikh to death for blasphemy. His crime was to have said that Mahommed was not a Muslim when he was forty, and that his parents were not Muslims. Apart from the insanity of any place in the world still wanting to kill people for blasphemy, the facts are that Mahommed's parents were not alive when Islam was founded and so could not have been Muslims (his father died before he was born and his mother died when he was six years old), and Mahommed himself did not have the inspiration that led him to create Islam until he was himself older than forty, so he could not have been a Muslim at that age. Dr Shaikh has therefore been sentenced to death for speaking the truth. The High Court in Lahore gave Dr Shaikh leave to appeal his sentence (he was given only one week to appeal) and the appeal has been accepted. In case you think that this case is based on some ancient law, remember that the country of Pakistan did not exist sixty years ago and this law was only enacted in 1986.
So what can you do? At the Rationalist International web site you can find suggestions about who you can write to to try and change this absurd situation. I would suggest that you don't write to the President of Pakistan with an abusive attack on Islam, because that would almost certainly be counterproductive. The problem here is not a religion per se, but the interpretation and application of religion by lunatics and fundamentalists, probably for reasons which have little to do with religion. This is the 21st century, and in the 21st century, civilised governments do not kill their citizens for what they think or say. In fact, civilised governments don't even put such people in prison. (More comment about this matter can be seen in this press release from Amnesty International.)
Murphy's Law and Google (1/9/2001)
Just as I was getting organised to fix all the links from here to newsgroup messages that had been broken when Google took over Deja.com, Google changed everything again and rebroke the links I had already fixed. So now there are broken links to Deja.com addresses, broken links to Google addresses, and a few that work because I just updated them. The new Google system is better, but it would be nice if the target stopped moving for a while. I apologise for any inconvenience, and things will be fixed as soon as possible.
A great big "Thank You" (1/9/2001)
August 2001 had the highest number of visitors to The Millenium Project since the site opened, and to make it even better the average number of pages that each visitor looked at was also the highest ever. Visitors have more than doubled in the last nine months and it is very encouraging to me that people are interested in what I do. Thank you.
Where has all the AIDS gone? (1/9/2001)
I am surprised at the concern around the world about AIDS. I read that a possible cure was available in 1993, and it came from the man responsible for the plague of photo processing stores that you find in every shopping mall. I mean, if someone can figure out how to get your holiday happy snaps back to you in just an hour, curing disease must be a simple problem. I will grant it that Dr Frome did not claim that his machine would cure AIDS, but as it cured cancer the next step is just a formality. I notice that Dr Frome had friends in the Nobel Prize business, so I am surprised that I can't see his name on the list of recipients since 1993. Maybe it was an oversight. Maybe the liar can't cure cancer or AIDS either.
More sad news (1/9/2001)
Last week I reported that Professor Varro Tyler, the author of , died on Wednesday, 22 August, at the age of 74. I have now heard that the co-developer of the German measles vaccine, Dr Harry M Meyer Jr., died on 19 August, aged 72. Dr Meyer and Dr Paul Parkman worked for five years to develop a vaccine for German measles, or rubella, a vaccine which helped save millions of children from birth defects such as blindness and cerebral palsy. While liars will attempt to belittle his achievement, about 12.5 million cases of rubella left 20,000 children with birth defects after a two-year outbreak beginning in 1964, but there has been no major epidemic since the vaccine was introduced in 1966.
Harassment upsurge (1/9/2001)
It was the week leading up to the full moon, and Mr William P O'Neill came back like a slamming gate. Apparently I am bankrupt, being sued by all and sundry, have been expelled from professional associations and my web site has been closed down. When I look around, however, it seems that this site is very much where it was last week and has been for some time. The Gutless Anonymous Liar has also resurfaced with a new anonymous remailer, but it can't hide that old familiar style and it still doesn't seem to understand that saying nasty things about my family is not the way to get me to do something. Oh, and I was subscribed to a lot of mailing lists by someone who connected to the Internet by dialling in to Sympatico in Ottawa. I wonder who that could have been.
So much for no more politics … (8/9/2001)
Two weeks ago, I mentioned why there was no "Mad Politics" category here any more. I might have to reintroduce it, because last week I reported the lunacy of Pakistan not only having but apparently enforcing blasphemy laws, and this week I want to talk about …
The Afghan Boat People (8/9/2001)
Australia is a nation of migrants. The only country to have drawn its population from more places is Israel and it is not really a valid comparison because Israel was created to regather the Diaspora. The economic and cultural growth of Australia has been based on migration for the last 200 years, and it is almost impossible to walk down a street in the city where I live without seeing faces in many colours and hearing accents and languages from around the world. Multiculturalism here has generally been a success. Yes, we often treated our indigenous people badly in the past (Australia is not the only country with this sorry distinction) but there are genuine efforts being made towards reconciliation. We are a tolerant people, and generally we don't care what people look like and, within certain limits, everyone is free to practice whatever religions, cultures and traditions they want without interference. We are not perfect – nobody is – but there are a lot worse places to live.
There is still an active program of migration to Australia, and the country has always been prepared to accept genuine refugees. Like most countries, however, Australia reserves the right to decide who comes here, and people arriving uninvited and claiming refugee status or asylum are treated cautiously until their bona fides can be established. This may take some time, but most people seem to think the process is fair even if it takes too long at times and conditions for people waiting may be less than ideal. When leaky boats full of people turn up on our shores we do not drive them back into the sea. We don't like it, but we take them in and do the best we can.
So what went wrong in August 2001? The arrival of the refugees on a Norwegian freighter instead of a leaky sampan gave the government an opportunity to address two problems they had, and they were also lucky enough that this happened just when the loons of Sydney talk-back radio were foaming at the mouth with a xenophobic beat-up about Muslims ganging up to rape good Aussie sheilas. A federal election is due later this year, and the government faces two problems with getting re-elected – a new and almost universally despised tax (which the current Prime Minister promised that he would "never, ever" introduce – he did) and a racist splinter political party that threatens the electoral balance between the major parties. As a coincidence, the papers were full of a story about how a state office of the governing party had been advising branches how to fraudulently abuse the new tax, so not only was a sop to racists required but a new front page story was needed. Enter 400 or so Afghans on the Tampa. (Please remember that if these people had not been rescued (at Australia's request) from a sinking ship and had made it to Christmas Island or some other part of Australia they would now be sitting forgotten in some detention centre while bureaucrats shuffled paper.)
What happened next was a cynical and disgraceful exploitation of these people for crass political ends. Talk-back callers were whipped into a frenzy and their rantings were used as evidence of public support. The international goodwill and reputation that Australia built up by running the Olympic Games last year was thrown away, and we are now seen as a bunch of heartless racists who have forgotten our own refugee and migrant heritage. I am sure that thinking Australians are appalled at what has gone on, but the tragedy is that enough swinging racist and xenophobic voters might be swayed to let the government get back in at the election. I can guarantee one vote they won't get.
Harassment snooozes (8/9/2001)
The drivel drizzle has slowed to a trickle, with Mr O'Neill still calling himself "Lawrence Silverstein" for some unknown reason. The usual stories about my family and how this site is being closed down keep coming along, but it is all getting a bit tiresome. Perhaps he should get onto his lawyer and find out why the documentation promised 74 days ago hasn't been delivered.
There was no update of The Millenium Project on the weekend of September 15, 2001 because of the attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon during that week. Instead, there was a special joint edition of The Millenium Project and Quintessence of the Loon, published the day after the atrocity. This is what I wrote as an introduction to the special edition:
|A few weeks ago, a lawsuit was filed against me by a lawyer acting for a liar and fraud who exploits and cheats desperate, sick people by claiming to have a cure for cancer and AIDS. One of the charges against me was terrorism |
Last week, I was threatened with a lawsuit by a lunatic who claims that the knowledge used to make the electronics in the computer I am using to write this came not from the minds of very clever people, but from an alien spaceship. One of the charges against me was terrorism.
On September 11, 2001, the banality and idiocy of these people was exposed as the world watched, horrified, at a demonstration of what the word "terrorism" means.
I will not be producing the normal updates to the Millenium Project and Quintessence of the Loon this week. I find it very difficult to be amusing right now, and the activities of frauds, charlatans, bigots, deluded fools and liars don't seem to amount to a hill of beans while people are searching for survivors in the remains of buildings deliberately destroyed by madmen. The slime mould has started coming out of the darkness – psychics who predicted the tragedy, conspiracists who know why the government/Jews/Arabs/CIA/?? did it, liars who will (for a fee) contact the souls of the victims – but these can wait and I will deal with them later.
The people who would call what I do "terrorism" when it can be starkly compared to the real thing exhibit a detachment from reality which has got me thinking about the dangers of believing in nonsense. In the essay on the following page I have tried to explain why skepticism is important.
… and the aftermath (22/9/2001)
Some say that disasters bring out the best in people; some say that they bring out the worst. September 11 certainly brought out the predictable in some people, and here are a few examples.
IN LIGHT OF ALL THAT HAS HAPPENED THIS WEEK, I FEEL THE NEED TO SHARE THIS SITE WITH EVERYONE. IT HAS CHANGED MY LIFE AND HAS ALLOWED ME TO SPEND MORE PRECIOUS TIME WITH MY WIFE AND TWO CHILDREN WHILE PROVIDING A SOUND FINANCIAL BASE DURING BOTH GOOD ECONOMIC TIMES AND THE UNCERTAIN ECONOMIC TIMES WE SURELY FACE IN THE COMING MONTHS. GOD BLESS AND GOOD LUCK.
Litigation update (22/9/2001)
It is time to report on the progress of the mass of litigation against me which is clogging the courts of the world as well as filling up the in-trays of attorneys, barristers, solicitors, jurists, proctors, nomologists, procurators, ambidexters, pettifoggers, shysters, advocates, counsels, silks, scriveners, nomographers and pleaders.
Speaking of packages (22/9/2001)
I mentioned recently that I had received a lot of email offering to give me a larger penis. I have since had many offers related to my "pacakge", whatever that might be.
Harassment Huh? (22/9/2001)
It must be time for Mr O'Neill to find a new identity as he has been calling himself "Lawrence Silverstein" for far too long. People are starting to realise it is him, especially when "Lawrence" borrows Mr O'Neill's computer and IP address to send messages. Judging by what he has been saying to other people on Usenet, he needs a new set of insults as well. The usual claims that this site has been closed down have been made. The usual advice to look around at its not-closed-down state has been given.
Skeptics' Conference (29/9/2001)
The Australian Skeptics will be holding their national conference on 9, 10 and 11 November in Brisbane. The RatbagsDotCom staff will be there, and one of them will be giving a presentation. The rumour is that this talk will not please the anti-vaccination liars at all. Click on the banner for registration and programme details.
Harassment Hilarity (29/9/2001)
As Mr William P O'Neill, thinly and vainly disguised as "Lawrence Silverstein", maintained a stream of announcements about the demise of this site, someone asked me how many times Mr O'Neill had announced that the site had been closed down or that it was about to happen any minute. The results surprised even me. You can see the number, together with some other statistics, on the CCRG statistics page. (Tim Bolen, spokesgoon for cancer non-curer Hulda Clark, also once announced that the site had been closed down. He was mistaken too.) Next week I will give a complete list of the versions of my name that Mr O'Neill has created.
Why I don't like "alternative medicine" (29/9/2001)
Here is an article I wrote for the September 2001 edition of The Skeptic, the magazine of the Australian Skeptics. Regular readers here will not be very surprised at what I had to say.
They want pictures (29/9/2001)
During September, four more pictures were added to the collection that I am supplying to the President of the Australian Vaccination Network, following her request on some newsgroups for pictures to remind her of the old times and the diseases that she would like to see our children experience. You can click on each picture to see a larger view, or click here to see the full collection.