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November 3, 2007

Updates, catchups and stuff (3/11/2007)
Here are some things which relate to recent activity around this place:

You can see more like this at Hypnocrites

More about the weight loss fraud (3/11/2007)
I mentioned last week that my friend Loretta Marron of had had a victory by getting an article about fraudulent weight loss pills into a prominent position in a major newspaper. She has followed that up with another story about how Australia's largest food retailer is continuing to sell the rubbish despite being advised that the pills are a fraud and a corporate charter which says that Woolworths will "always be truthful in what we advertise". You can see the article here. (Footnote: I read the article in the offline version of the Sydney Morning Herald while having a coffee after driving my daughter to her job. Her job at Woolworths!)

Weight loss pills aren't a problem just in Australia. The US Federal Trade Commission has just published Consumer Fraud in the United States: The Second FTC Survey. (I will politely refrain from asking why it took almost two years for the FTC to publish the results of a December 2005 survey. Oops! It looks like I did ask.) Here is what the report says about the fraud that topped the list:

More consumers were victims of fraudulent weight-loss products than of any of the other specific frauds covered by the survey. For purposes of this report, fraudulent weightloss products are considered to be products, such as nonprescription drugs, dietary supplements, skin patches, creams, wraps, or earrings, where the seller promised that by using the product losing a substantial amount of weight would be easy or could be achieved without diet and/or exercise and where consumers who purchased the product lost, at most, only a little of the weight that they had expected to lose. An estimated 2.1 percent of consumers – 4.8 million U.S. adults - purchased and used such fraudulent weight-loss products during the one year period preceding the survey. There were an estimated 8.3 million total purchases of such weight-loss products during this year.

Speaking of fraud … (3/11/2007)
Because of Australia's ridiculous and draconian defamation laws I have to the very careful what I say here.

In 2002 I wrote to the developers of what appeared to be a perpetual motion machine to offer help in assessing the device. The reply I received from one of the principals of the company said the following (you can read the complete exchange here):

Hi Peter, you will, just like everybody else, have to wait and see. Incidentally, we dont take peoples money, we dont want it. Regards

Looking at he front page of the Lutec Australia Pty Ltd web site today I see:


The reference to "sophisticated investors" is a way of circumventing the legal requirement for a company to issue a prospectus if it wants to make a public offer to sell shares. A prospectus has to be approved by the relevant authorities before being issued and there are severe penalties for inaccuracies in a prospectus. As a reasonable case could be made that statements like "A TYPICAL LEA SYSTEM IS 440% OVERUNITY" could be seen as inaccurate if the reference is to something existing in the real world, it is very handy that there is a loophole in the law which might allow the promoters of such a scheme to gather a million dollars without the inconvenience of having to issue a legal document saying what they want the money for. A "sophisticated investor" is a legal fiction. It is someone who is assumed to be capable of making investment decisions based on an independent assessment of the risk, whereas a normal investor needs to be told things like financial details and projections, scientific evidence for scientific claims, and the truth.

I thought that the relevant authorities might like to know about Lutec, and you can see complaint number 75880137 to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission here.

Alternative medicine is always safe (3/11/2007)
Here is a story from my local paper:

Homeopath's baby 'died of infections'
Geesche Jacobsen
November 5, 2007 – 11:55AM

The nine-month-old daughter of a homeopath died of multiple infections that caused bleeding in her lungs and airways, an inquest was told this morning.

Gloria Mary Thomas had suffered from severe eczema for much of her brief life and had been treated by her father, Thomas Sam, a practising homeopath.

The girl had also missed two appointments with specialist dermatologists when her parents took her to India for further homeopathic treatment, the Coroners Court in Glebe has heard.

Forensic pathologist Ella Sugo told the court Gloria also showed signs of malnutrition and immune deficiency.

She had zinc, protein and vitamin A deficiency, a fatty liver, and bacterial infections on her skin, her eyes and in the blood stream, the court heard.

The inquest continues.

Quintessence nook (3/11/2007)
Here are some cautionary tales from the misty past of Quintessence of the Loon. We are all bound for Hell. Don't say that you were not warned.

Here's preachin' at ya, kid!Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God by Jonathan Edwards
I like a good sermon. A good preacher can fill the hall with the smell of brimstone and get you a'shakin' in your shoes. You hear this stuff and you know you are going to Hell. You will not pass Go. You will not collect $200. If you have been wicked, and you know when you have been wicked, then God will cast you into a lake of eternal fire where you will spend eternity wishing for a single drop of cool water on your tongue. But no water will come, only bile and vinegar. And even they will dry up before your eyes. Remember this before you covet your neighbour's ass, or even his donkey. Don't even think about his Lexus. Imagine what it will be like, standing up to your waist in molten steel being thrashed with barbed wire and having salt rubbed into the wounds. And that's only for the first million years. After that it gets nasty.

Upside down – with its top pointing towards HELL!God Hates America
Fred Phelps. Does any more need to be said other than that name? A name which strikes fear into the hearts of hairdressers, crossdressers, sodomites, catamites, dancers, prancers and men romancers. And funeral directors. Fred has now declared that, as well as those who ignore Leviticus, we are all doomed and are GOING TO HELL! Well, I'm not, because I'm not in America but it will happen here as well. It's now too late according to Rev Fred and even praying won't help. When God gives up, He gives up for good. There is something wrong with the expression "gives up for good" in the previous sentence. I must look it up in my dictionary. Aaarrgghh!! The dictionary has rude words in it! I am going to Hell! Why didn't I listen to Phelps?

What has this go to do with the harlot?Gospel Plow
Even though I am a religious remnant and a part of the intellectual elite and am therefore accused of playing the harlot, I have always made it a habit to avoid harlots. There is something about the average harlot which makes me uneasy. Perhaps it's the clothes harlots wear, although some of them don't wear much at all. Maybe it's because you can't have a good conversation with a harlot, as their profession is so intellectually demanding that the only thing they can talk about is harlotry. Just about the only time I have anything to do with harlots is during the local Chamber of Commerce's "Helping Hands for Handicapped Harlots Festival" when I push a wheelchaired harlot in the parade. Usually I'm like the man in that old film who told a woman called Scarlett O'Harlott that he didn't give a damn. Whores are a different matter, but we will get into that subject at another time.

Sadly, the amazingly amusing religious site Gospel Plow died without subsequent resurrection in 2009. Who will warn us of the perils of harlotry now?

November 10, 2007

Vote early, vote often (10/11/2007)
The Australian Constitution gives us the following assurance of freedom both of and from religion:

116. The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

One of the people closely associated with the similar sentiments expressed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution, Thomas Jefferson, is supposed to have said "Eternal vigilance is the price of freedom". There doesn't seem to be any record of Jefferson actually saying or writing this (the earliest public use of the expression seems to be by John Philpot Curran in 1790), but he was certainly someone who was in favour of "building a wall of separation between church and state".

That wall has been looking a bit shaky lately in Australia so it is time for some extra vigilance. Into the breach has stepped the Secular Party, and my friend Ian Bryce is at the top of the party's ticket in my state in the coming Senate election. I'm not going to attempt to explain how a proportional voting system with preferences works but the record of candidates from minuscule parties getting elected without assistance from other candidates is not encouraging. Strange things can happen, however, and the blatantly religious Family First party managed to win a Senate seat at the last election, although the experts seem to think that this was because of some bad arithmetical predictions by a major party when preparing "How to Vote" cards. Still, that creates some hope that Ian and his party colleagues might get enough votes to make a difference and to encourage them to try harder next time.

I don't do politics here, but I have to make an exception in this case because I so closely identify with the aims of the party. (I am not a member.) Similarly, I often get invitations through business organisations to attend political meetings and never go, but I made an exception and went to the Secular Party's campaign launch event. As long as they stick to "secular" and avoid "anti-religion" (they are not synonymous) they will serve a useful role in raising public awareness of the dangers foreseen by the people who wrote Section 116 of the Constitution. I should point out that being "anti-religion" is bad politics, not bad policy, and, again, the terms are not synonyms.

While I'm promoting political candidates I suppose I should also mention an acquaintance, Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who is standing in the Senate for the Climate Change Coalition. Again, this is a party with aims which resonate with my thoughts. The two biggest threats facing the world are religious wars and climate change. The solution to the second one might depend on fixing the first, because droughts, floods, hurricanes and submersion aren't going to make distinctions based on who believes what or who hates who.

Speaking of religion and global warming ... (10/11/2007)
I have found a cogently-argued refutation of the idea of anthropogenic global warming in the November 5 edition of that journal of record, WorldNutDaily. You can read the whole thing here, but here is the important part:

... God controls the world's temperature, not man. God controls the climate, not man. God controls the earth's "eco-system," not man. God controls our environment, not man.

It is so presumptuous and haughty of believers and non-believers alike to think man is in control of the destiny of the planet God created for us.

If it were so, would he not have warned us? With all of the prophecies in the Bible, should we not expect to be told that such matters are actually in our hands? Why would we be told exactly the opposite throughout scripture?

It's not that the Bible tells us there are no consequences for our actions on the planet. In fact, it quite explicitly does. But it is not the production of carbon dioxide that God finds offensive. It is the commission of sin. Nowhere in the Bible does God ever suggest that producing CO2 is sinful.

And speaking of religion and the state ... (10/11/2007)
World Youth Day will be held in Sydney in July, 2008, and a huge crowd is expected. Unfortunately, I missed the closing date for applications to perform at the Youth Festival with my sextet, the Sick, Sick Six, but I'm sure that the 300,000 young folk will still find much to amuse them. I will be participating vicariously, however, because a large amount of taxpayers' money is to be provided by state and federal governments to subsidise the festival. ($70 million is the rumour, twice the subsidy to the Australian Formula One Grand Prix.) There is a valid argument that the money spent by overseas and interstate visitors exceeds the amount of the subsidy so everyone wins, but there is the equally valid argument that subsidies should not be given to sectarian events. Not everybody likes motor racing, rugby union or soccer, but nobody needs to ask what qualifications they require to be a spectator. (As an aside, I am a Formula One fan but I can't understand how the Grand Prix needs the subsidy it gets.) If the government wants to buy my vote, perhaps they should heavily subsidise the upcoming tour by Rod Stewart to get the ticket prices down. I know that Rod is significantly rich, but I don't think he has as much in the bank as the Catholic Church does.

At least the World Youth Day project has inspired some Australian entrepreneurs to provide peripheral and associated services. I was particularly taken by this bumper sticker:

Mind Body Spirit Festival (10/11/2007)
It's November, so it must be time for another Mind Body Wallet Festival in Sydney, where woo woo, madness, fun and fraud combine in an excess of money collection. There were some nice clothes on display, some excellent foods and spicy condiments, many attractive ornaments and even some good health advice. There were many examples of relatively harmless voluntary taxation, like psychic readers, people who read auras or draw spirit images, and purveyors of vibrating massage chairs. To balance all of this there were the charlatans and outright frauds. The people testing for allergies with the little bottles of pickled energy have raised the price to $150, and I hadn't been in the place for a minute before I heard someone telling an outright lie about the education of real doctors. I was tested by a chiropractor who didn't manage to detect diabetes but did find that there was a 0.4Kg difference between the weight going through my feet. Apparently this is very serious, and for only a handful of dollars I could have it assessed further. I declined. I spent a lot of time riding a surfboard and ballroom dancing when I was a bit younger, and I think I might still have the skill to make small adjustments to the weight going onto each foot. I was tempted to ask her to test me again to see if the measurements changed, but that would have been impolite of me.

One of the things we did was to hand out invitations to people to collect the $100,000 prize on offer from Australian Skeptics for demonstrating anomalous abilities. Most took it in good part, but a man selling books about out-of-body travel and offering training in this arcane art became a bit hostile when we suggested that he might like to provide some evidence that such a thing existed. He said that we should pay the money and try it for ourselves and was not very receptive to our view that it was up to him to demonstrate the effect, not us to see if we could be deluded. Claims of research going back to the 1960s were made, but I suspect that the results might only be visible in the astral plane. In any case, research isn't needed to prove the claim. Just astrally travel to Ratbag Castle and then describe the two pictures on the wall above my desk. Simple. If you can do it.

If I can do it, why can't they? (10/11/2007)
A few years back I spent some online time with believers in and practitioners of astral travelling and out-of-body experiences. In December 1999 there was a coincidence of December solstice, full moon and lunar perigee which resulted in a moon which seemed very large. A group of people from the forum decided that this would be a good opportunity to test their powers and they agreed to meet at the Taj Mahal. Afterwards there were a lot of excuses, but I announced that I had been there. This announcement was not received well, as nobody liked the idea that a skeptic might have done what they claimed was possible but which the skeptic was doubtful about. Put another way, when I said that I had experienced an out-of-body event they didn't believe me and wanted evidence. The word "irony" was apparently not in their vocabulary.

Here is the report of my adventure which I posted at the time. The identities of the people I "met" are not relevant now, but three of them were outspoken skeptics who were regular participants in the discussion. The lady with the bedpost was a believer who claimed that she kept score of how often she scored with spirits with silver cords coming out of their backs.

I am there. It shines before me in brilliant moonlight against an ink-dark sky. Figures stand silhouetted against the marble backdrop, but I cannot make out their features from this distance.

I move towards the first silhouette and gradually it takes on form. I see the cloven hooves, the tail, the horns. I detect a smell of brimstone and see the vague outline of letters on the apparition's garment. It looks like "GH", but I can't be sure – it seems to change from time to time. I hear a voice and then the words become clearer. It is a riddle, repeated over and over. I can only catch the first few words: "Please provide evidence ...".

I move back from the sight and towards the second silhouette. It assumes the form of a teacher in academic gown. The teacher is closely examining the entrails of a small animal while muttering incantations in a language with such long words that I cannot understand them, yet somehow I know that they are the correct words. I, too, have the spirit of pedantry and I sense that we have met elsewhere.

I move towards the third silhouette. It is a woman. She holds a long object in her hand. I feel desire rising as I approach closer, yet I can make out nothing clearly. I see that she has her back towards me and is performing some operation on the object in her hand. At last she turns her head towards me, but her face is a blur. She turns away again and I can see that she is carving a notch on a bedpost. I realise that I am too late, and slowly recede as my desire abates.

The fourth figure is now in shadow, but as I approach I can hear the tinkling of tiny bells. At last I can make out the form of someone wearing a jester's motley hat of black and gold, with bells on its extremities. The figure points, points and points again. I hear vague words which suggest that the figure is pointing towards the follies of others. Suddenly, moonlight strikes the face of the apparition and I know that I have seen this face before, reflected in the glass.

A bell chimes. Once. Twice. Three times. I am lying in my bed and through the window I can see a full moon of such size and brightness that at first I think I must be dreaming. I am home.

The music goes round and round, and round, and round ,and ... (10/11/2007)
Last week I mentioned that Australian company Lutec were seeking investors to fund the development of a free energy device. Coincidentally, Ben Goldacre had an article in The Guardian about free energy. Heaping more coincidence on the pile, I came across this cartoon while looking for something else.

(Wellington Grey's web site seems to have evaporated.)

Thank you, Microsoft (10/11/2007)
I make a living selling and supporting software, which means that I am expected to have (or at least be familiar with) the latest version of everything that I sell and support. I also sit the other side of the screen as a user, and there I do what I tell my clients to do, which is not to be coerced by suppliers into having the latest and greatest unless the new stuff does things better than what you already have. A case in point is that I use Microsoft FrontPage 2003 for all my web development work. I have been using FrontPage since it first appeared as a Microsoft product and each evolutionary cycle has improved the product. What I have now does everything that I want in the way I want it. The replacement program, Microsoft Expression, is completely new so loading it up and changing over is probably not going to be a trivial matter. I will have to update to Office 2007 eventually anyway as more of my clients start using it, but I try to leave revolutions until the slack time around Christmas and New Year when the clients go on holidays and the phones and cash register stop ringing.

I have stayed with Office 2003 because the majority of my clients still use it (yes, I have Open Office as well) and because until recently it was the only version of Office which was compatible with the software product that my consulting work is based on. For a similar reason I have continued to use Internet Explorer 6, because the majority of visitors to the web sites I manage use this version of the browser. (Yes, I have Firefox as well. And Opera, and Netscape, and Safari, ...)

Today I decided "What the heck?" and allowed the suggested update to Internet Explorer 7 to proceed. Then I fired up FrontPage and "What the heck?" changed to "What the something else?" when I found that the page preview function now just reported a plethora of JavaScript errors. That's right folks – IE7 broke FrontPage. I assume that there is some work-around in the settings of IE7 that can fix this incompatibility between a program written by Microsoft and a program written by Microsoft and I know from another machine that everything works if you install FrontPage after IE7, but life is too short for all that. Luckily (and perhaps auspiciously) IE7 can be removed and IE6 comes back unharmed.

The sedatives have started to work, and the dog can now come out from under the house without the risk of being kicked and shouted at.

(Note to Linux fanatics: My work requires Windows and Microsoft software, so I'm not about to emigrate. Also, the Linux box over there is telling me that it wants to download a complete new version of Ubuntu. If it is anything like last time it will download several hundred megabytes, take some hours to apply the upgrade, and three or four things that worked before won't work afterwards. And I have just one word for Mac evangelists: "Leopard".)

November 17, 2007

Where's he been? (17/11/2007)
This week's update is late because I was aware of some things which were about to happen and I didn't want to miss them or leave them to next week. Even though I didn't attend the Australian Skeptics National Convention I wanted to be able to announce the winners of some awards. Also, a very good friend of mine left for an overseas job on Saturday creating the real possibility that I might not see him for some years, and this required some time to be spent in an airport departure area. The good news is that I misheard when he was leaving and turned up two hours early, thus requiring the purchase of while I waited and caffeined up at Starbucks. (The bad news is that I had to pay for two hours extra parking.)

Congratulations (17/11/2007)
There were three awards announced at the Australian Skeptics national Convention, and I would like to offer my sincere congratulations to the winners.

We must be polite to our allies (17/11/2007)
I was watching the television the other day and happened to see some bloated toad from the Saudi royal family being entertained by Queen Elizabeth II. A couple of days later the Pope played host to the same blimp. While this king was being feted by world leaders, someone was being executed in Saudi Arabia for taking a Qur'an into a bathroom. Please note that I am not using the American euphemism "bathroom" to mean "toilet". Someone was killed for taking a book into a place where you wash your hands. I have just heard that a woman who was gang-raped by seven men in 2005 has had her sentence increased. Yes, you read that correctly. A rape victim has had an additional penalty imposed for her crime. She was originally sentenced to 90 lashes but this has been increased to 200 lashes plus six months in prison. For being raped. By seven men.

One of the world's great tragedies is that we have to pretend to respect the leaders of a country which just happens to have enough oil to balance out the disgusting, primitive savagery of its "legal" system. And why is it a capital offence to take a book into a bathroom and a flogging offence to be raped? Because of the ridiculous rules of some religion.

Something worth watching (17/11/2007)
Another couple of my hours disappeared watching the excellent NOVA television show Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial, covering the attempt by the school board in Dover, Pennsylvania, to get creationism into science classes using the tawdry and transparent disguise of "intelligent design" and the subsequent court case which saw the creationists stomped into the ground. I particularly liked it when Michael Behe cited a scientific paper which supposedly provided evidence of "irreducible complexity" and the show's producers managed to get the author of that very paper to tell how Behe and the other IDiots were wrong. I also liked the way that Christian tolerance and charity was demonstrated by the way the judge and his family had to be given police protection after the trial because of the death threats. The best part, however, is the discovery of "cdesign proponentsists". Pure t-shirt material! Watch the show here.

In a wonderful display of hypocrisy, the IDiots are now complaining about the television show being discussed in schools. And what is the basis of their complaint? It's that talking about the trial and the show is introducing religion into the classroom in contravention of the First Amendment of the US Constitution. Hide to the bone! If these people weren't so pathetic they would be funny.

An editorial cartoon by Signe Wilkinson, first published in the Philadelphia Daily News on November 15, 2005, during the deliberations phase of Kitzmiller v. Dover. From NOVA's Educators' Briefing document.

Dr Trademark has a cure! (17/11/2007)
This is a photograph taken at the recent Sydney MindBodySpirit Festival of a person with type 2 diabetes holding a book with the title Diabetes Type 2 You Can Reverse It Naturally!, subtitled "A book to change your life!". You might notice that the book appears out of focus even though other things at the same distance from the camera (eg, the writing on the man's shirt) are much clearer. The only assumption I can make is that the camera has, in addition to such modern magics as face and smile recognition, the ability to detect books which are being held by people who have been threatened by the author. Yes, that's right, folks, this book is the work of the famous Dr Trademark, a person so assured of the correctness of her medical claims that she uses trademark law to prevent people talking about her. At least she doesn't claim a medical degree that she doesn't have on the cover of the books any more. And does she have a method to "reverse" type 2 diabetes? Of course not, but if I tried to analyse her claims she would be forced to respond with lawyers, not with facts.

What's he reading? (17/11/2007)
I mentioned that I bought a book to fill in a few unplanned waiting hours at the airport. The book was an anthology of writings about religion from the past couple of millennia edited by Christopher Hitchens. I had seen some of the essays before (some even appear on this very web site), and the book is a useful resource for anyone wanting to see how atheism, agnosticism and nonbelief have been addressed over the centuries. The book inspired me to include some of the collection here, plus some related work by the same authors. I will add more over the next few weeks.

The other book by my bed is Science & Uncertainty by John T. O. Kirk. This is only available in Australia at present and my copy was supplied to me to write a review for a magazine. I am only part way through it, but it appears to be an ambitious attempt to describe the current state of most of science. I have just finished the chapter on quantum mechanics and I think I have found another application of the expression "irreducibly complex". Still to come are discussions of perception and epistemology, environmentalism, religious belief and James Lovelock's Gaia Hypothesis. I sense a lack of topic coherence, but I will reserve judgement until I have read it all. At least I now know what the Schrödinger Wave Equation is. I don't know what it means, but I know what it is.

November 24, 2007

The election's over (24/11/2007)
The Australian federal election on November 24 produced the expected change of government. If policy means anything we might expect to see a bit more consideration being given to Aborigines, wage slaves and other disadvantaged minorities and less attention paid to the desires of religious fundamentalists in matters such as stem cell research. If promises mean anything we might get better and more widely-available broadband Internet connections and a better and more equitable education system. If symbolism means anything Australia will soon be a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol and a ex-provider of soldiers to Iraq. Apart from these things, it will probably be business as usual as the incoming government discovers the booby traps left behind by their predecessors and pragmatism starts to push its way through the thin veneer of principle. Do I sound cynical? And I voted for them. One problem for the new government is that they will have to do some horse trading to get legislation through the Senate and it looks like one of the people they will have to deal with will be the lone representative of a religious party. The last time this happened we got a ban on the drug RU486, but maybe things will be different this time.

One of the supposed major issues in the campaign was climate change and what we are doing about it. A political party called the Climate Change Coalition was set up to raise consciousness about this and fielded some impressive celebrity candidates. In my state they were outpolled by a mob of gun nuts who want the right to kill things in state forests, but I am hoping that this reflected the electorate's polarisation towards the major or better-known parties rather than a rejection of common sense. None of the minor parties did as well as they would have liked, not even the Greens (despite happy faces as results were announced) who were reasonably expected to come out with the balance of power in the Senate.

My friend Ian Bryce, who stood for the Secular Party in the Senate, won't be needing to find accommodation in Canberra during parliamentary sessions. Unfortunately the party had some difficulty meeting some bureaucratic rules and so party affiliation wasn't mentioned on the ballot paper. This meant that voters had to know who they were to vote for them, and I am hoping that this anonymity was the reason that they polled fewer votes than the Australian outpost of Lyndon LaRouche's particular brand of madness. Ian can, however, take heart from the fact that the figures currently being shown by the Australian Electoral Commission are at least one vote less than the actual count. I voted earlier in the week and pre-poll votes are not counted until after the votes cast on polling day.

One advantage of voting early is that I can ignore or laugh at the barrage and deluge of last-minute advertising by political parties. I was a bit concerned, however, when the following flier appeared in the Ratbag Castle mailroom.

I didn't remember anyone named "Owen" on the ballot paper and I hoped that I hadn't wasted my vote by not putting this "Julie Owen" last in my order of preferences. Someone so evil deserves no votes at all, so I am glad that I voted for the similarly-named but obviously different Julie Owens. As I am sure that the anti-abortionists would have been very careful not to misspell a candidate's name in election material I hope that they are pleased that the dreadful Julie Owen didn't get elected and the unborn of Parramatta are safe.

But is London safe? (24/11/2007)
If you take all the text in the King James Bible between Luke 24:41 and Jude 1:24 and analyse it in the proper fashion, you get the following matrix:

Note that London is mentioned twice, plus the words "terror" and "Osama". Be alert. Be alarmed. If it's in the Bible it must be true

I am humbled by criticism (24/11/2007)
The following email has made me seriously consider my activities and my future.

From: "Tony S."
Subject: things i find interesting
Date: Sun, 11 Nov 2007 19:10:23 +1000

That someone called the proctologist on the connection can pretend to know so much about anything except being an arse!!

Enjoy your negative cynical life and with any luck, you'll see inside your own head when next it's up your arse!!

The Lutec perpetual motion I-can't-say-scam (24/11/2007)
More news about Lutec, who have achieved 440% efficiency out of a free energy machine. One of the regular visitors to this site wrote to the promoters. (I will keep his name out of this because I don't want Lutec harassing him.) He kindly provided me with a copy of his email and the reply from the company:

Subject: Perpetual motion fantasies...


After a careful reading of your site I can confidently conclude that you people are (a) crooks, or (b) morons, or very possibly both (a) and (b).

Whatever the case, I shall be lodging my complaint with the Australian Securities and Investments Commission forthwith.

Have a lousy day.

And this ASIC responds – Click for larger viewwas the professional reply from a company trying to raise a million dollars from investors:

Dear Donkey,

we don't have perpetual motion, I don't mined you having a fantasy. Further, you may be able to read the words, obviously you don't understand them.

Have a shit day donkey crook, donkey moron.


In more Lutec news,I have received a reply to my complaint to the authorities about Lutec's scheme to bypass the laws giving protection to investors. I don't know if any real action will be taken, but at least Lutec is now on the radar at ASIC. You can click on the picture to see the letter I received. I encourage everyone in Australia to go here to lodge a formal complaint about Lutec's money-raising activities. To save you having to look them up, the name of the company being complained about is LUTEC AUSTRALIA PTY LTD (I think the name has to be entered in capitals) and the Australian Company Number is 071 943 185. Don't forget to write to Lutec at to tell them what you have done. You to might get a nice, friendly email reply.

And while we are discussing ways of separating investors from money ... (24/11/2007)
Unless you live permanently under a rock, it has been almost impossible to avoid hearing about The Secret, a piece of drivel which has managed to sell millions of copies to people who think that you might be able to get what you want by just wanting it enough. (I apologise to the creators and distributors of The Secret for telling people the secret and letting them have it for nothing.) I've had the rubbish recommended to me by highly-paid motivational speakers and groups promoting business efficiency. I have to admit that the secrets in The Secret have worked for some people, but as in the case of pyramid selling, the people it worked for were the people who invented it.

One of the characters in the fantasy has been trading on his presence in the production and has been offering investment advice. Of course, all the advice he should have to give is "Want it enough". As an example, he wanted money so people sent him money. Simple, isn't it? In reality, "simple" is the adjective that the promoters of The Secret secretly apply to their customers. I can imagine a sales meeting where someone says "I wanted a heap of money and all these simple people gave it to me". Click on the link below to see David Schirmer explain to television reporters in Australia and New Zealand how he makes people rich. Some of the people he makes rich have four spas, a swimming pool and a red BMW. Others do not have these things.

TVNZ Close Up: What's the Secret? (07:49)

More from Cectic here.

The lies keep coming (24/11/2007)
It is a constant battle to keep beating down the lies told by the opponents of sense and reason. I call them "lies" because they are easily shown to be untrue but they keep getting repeated by people who have been informed of their falsehood. Some of the ones I have dealt with here at various times are:

A couple more surfaced this week that I hadn't heard before, so I thought I would do a bit of investigating.

"The only wholly safe vaccine is one that is never used." Dr. James R. Shannon, former director of the National Institute of Health (US)

I can't find any reference to these exact words by Dr Shannon anywhere on the web except on anti-vaccination liar web sites, but it is quite possible that Dr Shannon actually did say something like this at one time. To a sentient person it is a statement of the form "The only wholly safe car is one which is never driven" or "The only wholly safe swimming pool is one which is never excavated". The statement was probably made in 1955 (before Dr Shannon was a "former director" of the NIH) and most likely was related to his investigation of what is called the "Cutter Incident", when a batch of polio vaccine caused problems because of poor manufacturing practices. To quote it today without a date or a context is simply sophistry. The people quoting it might know about its vintage and its true meaning, but as truth means nothing to them they will keep on dragging it out in an attempt to add credibility to their lies. Dr Shannon went on to supervise vaccination programs at the NIH and co-authored a book about the Cutter problems, so it is highly unlikely that he was opposed to vaccination.

"Official data have shown that the large-scale vaccinations undertaken in the US have failed to obtain any significant improvement of the diseases against which they were supposed to provide protection." Dr A. Sabin, developer of the Oral Polio vaccine.

This also only appears on anti-vaccination liar web sites, but the probability that Dr Sabin actually said it is zero. It is simply a lie. If ever evidence was needed that the opponents of vaccination are prepared to say or do anything to further their insane campaign to put children at risk, this is it. Dr Sabin died in 1993, so he is not around to defend himself against the liars.

I have written to the Sabin Institute to see if anyone knows which words of Dr Sabin are being distorted in the quote. Of course, I am always prepared to hear something like: "Yes. Dr Sabin went barking mad and got to a microphone and said that before anyone could shoot him", but I don't expect that to happen.

Here is something that Dr Albert Sabin really did say:

"A scientist who is also a human being cannot rest while knowledge which might reduce suffering rests on the shelf".


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