FFS! It's still going on! (3/8/2013)
The Great AVO Saga has been adjourned until September 18. This will be thirteen days after the anniversary of Meryl Dorey from the Australian Vaccination Network filing an application with the court to have an Apprehended Personal Violence Order placed on me to stop me talking about her child-endangering activities. Here is a letter I wrote to the Attorney-General of New South Wales, the man at the top of the legal pyramid in my state.
Attorney-General of New South Wales
Mr Greg Smith.
Dear Mr Smith,
As you must be aware, some of your ministerial colleagues have taken recent and ongoing interest in the activities of the Australian Vaccination Network.
I have a long interest myself in the AVN and applaud the actions of the NSW Government in trying to bring this dangerous organisation to heel, but there is an aspect of the AVN's activities that you might not be aware of and which is of direct concern to your Department.
Meryl Dorey, immediate past President of the AVN, has on many occasions declared her commitment to free speech, but over the last few months she has been taking action which looks suspiciously like an attempt to use the courts to silence critics.
In September last year Ms Dorey applied for Apprehended Personal Violence Orders against three of her critics. The applications contained the usual requests for orders to keep away from the applicant, but also contained the request for an order that "The defendant must not mention the applicant in any online forum in any derogatory manner". This is clearly outside the ambit of an AVO. Also, Ms Dorey lives and works in Bangalow on the north coast of NSW. The three defendants live in Guildford, Wentworth Falls and Perth, so are many hundreds of kilometres away from her.
One of the applications has been granted with the consent of the defendant, with the request for silence removed. He decided that he no longer wanted to continue the action as the granting of an AVO would have no effect on his life or actions.
The application against me was dismissed on April 26 this year, after seven mentions in the Local Court. Ms Dorey lodged an appeal against the dismissal on the last possible day, and a mention has been listed in the District Court at Lismore on July 29. A final hearing for the third application (against the man in Perth) was to have been held on May 24 this year, but again at the last possible moment Ms Dorey had the date vacated in order to request a change of magistrate. The next mention in that matter is set down for August 22, almost eleven months after an interim order was placed on him.
You can see a timeline of the action against me at https://ratbags.com/rsoles/history/2013/05may.htm#4avo (This was obviously written before the appeal was lodged, but as no interim order was ever placed on me I am free to comment.)
In summary, two applications for AVOs have been dragging on for nine months with no resolution in sight. The applicant was in no personal danger at any time from any of the defendants, all of whom live and work many hundreds of kilometres away from her. Her actions have delayed the process on several occasions (failing to appear for a mention and a mediation session, late request for change of magistrate, request to make a second submission of evidence, request for an extension of a non-existent interim order on me). I have no information about her grounds for appealing the decision in my favour, but she had three opportunities to present evidence (two submissions, plus the final hearing) so it is unlikely that she will be presenting anything new in the District Court.
I realise that you have a very limited capacity to direct the actions of judicial officers and the courts, but I feel you should be aware that the time and resources of the courts are being wasted by what is obviously a blatant attempt to abuse the legal process in order to stifle criticism of an organisation of which the government clearly disapproves.
And here is the reply I received:
Dear Mr Bowditch
Thank you for your email to the Attorney General, the Hon Greg Smith SC MP, about the Apprehended Personal Violence Order (APVO) applications made by Ms Meryl Dorey. The Attorney General has noted your correspondence and asked me to reply on his behalf.
I note your concerns that certain APVO applications are a waste of court's time and resources. However, I can advise that the Crimes (Domestic and Personal Violence) Act 2007 (the Act) contains a number of different safeguards to ensure that only genuine applications are granted.
Section 53 of the Act provides that an authorised officer or registrar may refuse to begin processing an APVO matter if satisfied that the application is frivolous, vexatious, without substance or has no reasonable prospect of success, or if the application could be dealt with more appropriately by mediation or other alternative dispute resolution mechanism.
Section 19 of the Act provides that a court must be satisfied on the balance of probabilities that a person has reasonable grounds to fear and in fact fears either 1) the commission of a personal violence offence against the person, or 2) conduct in which the other person intimidates the person or stalks the person, and that conduct is sufficient in the opinion of the court to warrant the making of the order.
Section 20 of the Act sets out the matters the court must take into consideration when making a decision. These include any hardship that may be caused by making or not making the order, and the accommodation needs of all relevant parties.
Under section 99 of the Act, a court may award costs to the defendant, against an APVO applicant. This provides a further safeguard against vexatious or frivolous applications. However, a court is not to award costs against a police officer who makes an application unless satisfied that the police officer made the application knowing it contained matter that was false or misleading in a material particular.
It is also important to note the Act provides that a defendant may, at any time, make an application to a court for the variation or revocation of a final AVO or an interim court order.
Having said that, I advise that the Department of Attorney General and Justice is currently completing a statutory review of the Act. The review is considering whether the policy objectives of the Act remain valid and whether the terms of the Act remain appropriate for securing those objectives. Various issues regarding APVOs including options to address concerns regarding frivolous and vexatious applications are being considered in the review. It is anticipated that the reforms arising from the review are likely to be extensive.
I hope this information resolves some of the concerns you have raised about APVOs.
for Director Community Relations Unit
NSW Department of Attorney General & Justice
In 2012 the AVN "won" a case against the Health Care Complaints Commission in the NSW Supreme Court due to the relevant legislation being out of date (it was written in 1993 and the Internet had bypassed it). The discrepancy has now been fixed by Parliament, and sane people are now thankful that quacks and charlatans can be chased effectively. Homeopaths, sellers of quack cancer cures and other people practising pretend medicine should be appropriately grateful to Ms Dorey for exposing them to the force of the law. It looks like Ms Dorey's latest efforts in the courts might contribute to further legislative amendments, this time limiting the ability of kooks and dingbats to waste the court's time with "frivolous and vexatious applications" for orders outside the spirit of the law.
A laugh a minute (3/8/2013)
Another thing that had disappeared from the web was a page I had linked to with a wonderful review written in 1998 by Richard Dawkins of a book named Intellectual Impostures by Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont. You might remember Alan Sokal from his famous 1996 hoax when he managed to get a postmodernist magazine to print an absurd parody of pomo thought and intellectual wisdom. I found several versions of Dawkins' review to replace the one I had lost but I decided that it might disappear again so I now have a copy here. I had originally linked to it because it contained some beautiful comments about feminist "science".
It's called Postmodernism Disrobed, and you can read it here. Enjoy! Enormously!
And one last thing. (3/8/2013)
If you ever mention anywhere on the Internet that you have computer problems, within a short period of time you will receive the very useful advice to "Get a Mac". A similar Pavlovian response occurs if you mention the diet fad du jour, as people (often self-diagnosed) with dreadful allergies and food intolerances tell you about the dangers they face and the unbearable burden they carry of having to be aware of what's in what they eat. As I have Type 2 diabetes and have to look at the ingredients of everything my usual response is "So what?", but it seems that I'm not a special enough case to understand the terror they face daily.
When I did the shopping this week I noticed that the supermarket had put a "Gluten free" message on legs of ham. I posted the following message to Twitter and sat back to wait for the fun to start.
I must congratulate Coles on having gluten-free ham. I hope the pineapples are low on cholesterol too. Then I'll be really healthy.
Someone suffering from lack of a humour and sarcasm-detection gene asked if I was serious about the pineapples and cholesterol. Well, of course I was - I like to be assured that all vegetable matter I eat is free from chemicals that only occur in meat. As for the ham, the meat is cured using salt, sugar and some nitrate or nitrite salts. There is nothing in any of these or in the raw pig meat that can possibly be a source of gluten. The sign on the meat is there to reassure people who have no idea what gluten is or where it comes from that they can safely eat the meat without suffering from acute nocebo effect. This leaves them free to worry about catching Lyme Disease from ticks that are not found in Australia and to scratch their arms where the Morgellons is erupting.
I'll be writing something about this and other dietary fads for Australasian Science, but in the meantime I'll recycle this old joke:
My favourite, however, is still "permeate free" milk. There is no such chemical – filtrate is what passes through a filter, permeate is a special sort of filtrate that has been passed through a semi-permeable membrane. The next time we have a drought in Sydney people will be quite happy to drink permeate coming from the desalinisation plant. But they will probably call it "water".
Chiropractic cleanout? (10/8/2013)
Everyone has been getting very excited over the last week because the government-sanctioned Chiropractic Board of Australia has announced that it is going to have a mighty crack-down on chiropractors who spread lies about vaccination. (I would have avoided the dreadful "crack-down" pun used by all media outlets reporting this, but it comes directly from the CBA. They wrote the material.) Here is the media release from the CBA.
8 August 2013
Board cracks down to protect public
The Chiropractic Board of Australia is cracking down on chiropractors who step outside their primary role as healthcare practitioners and provide treatment that puts the public at risk.
Details of the Board's initiatives are published in the report of its July Board meeting.
Board Chair, Dr Phillip Donato OAM, said the Board took its core role of protecting the public extremely seriously.
"We know the vast majority of Australia's 4,600 chiropractors work effectively to provide high quality care in the best interests of their patients," Dr Donato said.
"However, the Board takes a very strong view of any practitioner who makes unsubstantiated claims about treatment which is not supported within an evidence-based context," he said.
"We will not tolerate registered chiropractors giving misleading or unbalanced advice to patients, or providing advice or care that is not in the patient's best interests."
The Board's Code of Conduct, published at www.chiropracticboard.gov.au/Codes-Guidelines.aspx, details its expectations of the chiropractic profession.
"We hold chiropractors to account against the standards set out in the code and anyone with any concerns about individual registered chiropractors should bring these to the Board," Dr Donato said.
The Board also cautioned chiropractors about marketing and promotional activities that breach the advertising requirements in the National Law. Section 133.1.e of the National Law specifically rules out directly or indirectly encouraging the "indiscriminate or unnecessary use of regulated health services".
Chiropractic Board of Australia
G.P.O. Box 9958 | Melbourne VIC 3001 | www.chiropracticboard.gov.au | 1300 419 495
"The Board reminds chiropractors that they need to comply with the Law and the standards set by the Board. We take a very dim view of any practitioner who does not put the best interests of their patients first," Dr Donato said.
I am far less sanguine about this than many of my friends. My prediction is that chiropractors will carry on as before opposing vaccination, sorry "advising their customers of the potential dangers of vaccines", and not a single chiropractor will be deregistered and pushed out of business by this. Oh, there might be some PR-worthy wrist-slapping but that will be all. The Board really has little influence over what chiropractors say or do, but a little lip service and window-dressing never goes astray.
The professional body of chiropractors (with about 50% of them belonging to it), the Chiropractors' Association of Australia, has already expressed disquiet at the Board's threat and suggested that the responsibility of chiropractors to provide "good" advice to customers overrides any attempt by the Board to pander to people who don't understand the value of a good neck snap.
Two things in the media release are encouraging, however.
The Chiropractic Board of Australia is cracking down on chiropractors who step outside their primary role as healthcare practitioners and provide treatment that puts the public at risk.
That should mean that neck twisting is out because of the well-known and proven danger of cerebral artery damage caused by chiropractors doing sudden and sharp manipulations of the cervical spine. Then there are the people put at risk because they go to a chiropractor instead of a doctor and therefore miss out on correct diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions, but that is a general and valid criticism of all "alternative" medicine.
"However, the Board takes a very strong view of any practitioner who makes unsubstantiated claims about treatment which is not supported within an evidence-based context," he said.
Well, there goes the whole of chiropractic. Take out the stuff that's not based on evidence and there's nothing left. Perhaps we can look forward to a coming Board meeting when they follow the example set by the gay-bashing Exodus International organisation and announce that the whole chiropractic thing is over and they apologise to all the people deceived since DD Palmer invented the scam and his son worked out how to turn it into a business.
Oh, to any chiropractors who object to my use of the word "customers" and would prefer "patients", I say "Dear Mr X, when you are a doctor, not just someone who likes to be called 'Doctor', I will use the word 'patients', but not before".
And another thing (10/8/2013)
On Tuesday, August 13, I will be attending a conversation between Lawrence Krauss and William Lane Craig titled "Why is there something rather than nothing?". It is the second part of a three-part show under the overall heading "Life, the Universe and Nothing". (Part one was in Brisbane, part three will be in Melbourne – I can only get to the Sydney one.)
I'm in there as a media representative, so I get to meet the speakers and maybe even ask them a few questions. It's a bit late to book now (and all the tickets have been sold anyway), but I will have a report here shortly and I am sure it will be covered in the religious media. As it has something to do with science and something to do with thinking and debate, the mainstream media will probably only mention it if nothing else at all happens in the world that day.
I get mail! (10/8/2013)
Someone was not pleased about something that I had said about crooked MLM spruiker Joel Wallach. I received this otherwise empty email:
From: "Fred Lundgren"
Subject: Why the angry attack on Wallach?
Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2013 13:43:36 -0500
Perhaps because he's a fraud, a liar and a crook who can't back up what he says and has to resort to lawyers to silence critics.
The writer was not satisfied:
From: "Fred Lundgren"
Subject: RE: Why the angry attack on Wallach?
Date: Wed, 07 Aug 2013 19:53:44 -0500
Peter, Interesting but certainly not a universal conclusion.
The doctors gave up on me and I began to follow Wallach's advise and began taking his products and I went from deaths door to losing 80 pounds and walking 2 miles a day.
My wife's bones are regenerating after two failed operations and her pain is finally going away after doctors told her she would be in a wheel chair.
My staff a KCAA Radio is sold on the products and they take them religiously. I have over 1000 customers who buy these products each month.
Wallach is almost 75 years old and when I saw him last, he looked like a man in his early 60s and he works 14 hour days.
Founder and ceo
Loma Linda, CA
This is all over the place. I'd appreciate it if someone could tell
me who to acknowledge as its creator.
I get a job offer (10/8/2013)
Paul Simon wrote "I go looking for a job but I get no offers, just a come-on from the whores on 7th Avenue". Well here's one come-on where I won't be taking any comfort therein. I was particularly impressed with the final paragraph, but I still decided that I didn't need to waste my time on a scam. And it would have been inconvenient to move to the USA.
From: Keegan Kathrin
Subject: Peter bowditch
Date: Thu, 08 Aug 2013 15:57:23 +0000
Location: any within the USA
Vacancy: part-time, work from home
About our company:
We are an experienced financial service provider, our company holds a leader's position in the field of investment and online payments in many financial markets throughout the world. Our head office is located in London, UK, we are developing rapidly in the Eastern and Western Europe, and in the near future, we plan to open a representative office in the United States of America.
Our customers appreciate the professionalism, high quality of provided services and a wide range of services provided by us throughout the world.
If you reside in the USA, you are talented, experienced, and responsible then you are exactly the person we are looking for!
General description of work:
You will be officially employed by our regional representative in the United States of America. Your responsibilities will include support of our financial department. All tasks will be carried out from the comfort of your home and it will take no more than 15-20 hours a week.
Your tasks will include: supervising the financial activities of our customers and ensuring that all the transactions go through. Your responsibilities will also include correspondence via e-mail, making phone calls and reporting.
Candidates for the position must meet the following requirements:
- Data entry skills;
- Experience with the Microsoft Office suite;
- Oral and written communication skills;
- Attention to details, self-organization;
- Stress tolerance and problem solving skills;
- Clear criminal record.
In return, we offer:
- Attractive salary plus bonuses;
- Flexible working hours;
- Online training and support center.
We are confident that our environment, flexible demands, and excellent salary will be of interest to you. The choice must be made now.
To apply, please reply to this email and we will get in touch with you shortly.
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It's jihad time! (17/8/2013)
In 2000 I was accused of terrorism in a ludicrous lawsuit brought by the late and very much unlamented cancer quack, Hulda Clark. It seems that some memes never die, and the following was posted to Facebook this week by Meryl Dorey, past president of the Australian Vaccination Network and another person who thinks that wasting my time in court proceedings is a sensible thing to do.
Another thing that never gets old is the Pharma Shill Gambit. Here is Ms Dorey accusing me of financial corruption in 1999. (There was specific legislation then called the Secret Commissions Act, but the crime has now been covered by other laws.)
You're right Heidi (and I love the name of the page – vaxquax :-) Not only that, but he has given me the links to a lot of pro-choice sites that are missing on the AVN web site so he's done my research for me. I am very proud that the AVN site is at the top – we must be doing something right (of course, it's alphabetical too ;-).
Thanks for pointing this site out Jan – I don't really think there is much point in corresponding with the person who has done this – they are on somebody's payroll (or payrolls) – but we are in very good company and like Heidi says – anyone who goes to this page will get some great resources to choose from for information.
Also, Ms Dorey – you probably mean "jihad", not "fatwa". We don't have spiritual leaders who can call down curses on people. And if you are comparing yourself to Salman Rushdie, well, I'm going to have to respond to your hubris in Arabic - أعطي نفسك حديد صدئة العلاج. When you have to hide out from death threats for a few years you might be entitled to talk about fatwa.
Speaking of lawsuits ... (17/8/2013)
I am continually reminded by Tim Bolen, spokesanus for cancer quacks and dentists who sexually molest patients or perform insurance fraud, that the bunch of crooks at Doctor's Data are suing Dr Stephen Barrett of Quackwatch and how the finalisation of this case is imminent, with the subsequent and immediate destruction of all who dare to point out that Doctor's Data is a shonky outfit that produces the sort of results that quacks expect and pay for. In April last year Tim even suggested that I might be drawn into the maelstrom, with Doctor's Data closing this web site "like a fart in an elevator". I am still waiting for the paperwork.
As far as I can ascertain the current progress of the action hasn't moved much past November 2011, when a judge looked at the complaints and ruled on what was in and what was out of the suit. Of course Tim says otherwise, but the day he tells the truth about anything will be the day they hand out ski parkas and mittens in Hell.
One thing I particularly like is the way that Doctor's Data included Quackwatch Inc in the list of defendants but then went on to state that the corporation didn't exist at the time they brought suit. I don't know whether this was just a case of wacky lawyer humour, incompetent lawyering or Doctor's Data just carrying on with their normal disregard for facts and the truth. Possibly all three.
Never let a chance go by. (17/8/2013)
Way back in ancient history a dam was built on the Jamison Creek near my place to provide water for steam trains. The steam trains have long gone but Wentworth Falls Lake is still there, providing an environment for the survival of such endangered species as the 190 million year old Giant Dragonfly as well as being a place for picnicking, relaxing, watching waterfowl and generally having a good time. There is also a pirate ship that kids love to climb on.
A little while back hysteria broke out about how dangerous the pirate ship is. It has only been there for about fifteen years but suddenly mothers discovered that it is near a body of water and young children might go away from the pirate ship and fall in the water while their mothers are chatting or texting on their iPhones. The solution was to demand that the local council spend other people's money to put a fence around the thing so that the chatting and texting can go on without the need to simultaneously be aware of what your kids are doing.
To the credit of the locals the response in the local paper was almost universal ridicule of the idea, plus suggestions that mothers who are worried about their children going near water should pay attention to what the children are doing when near water. Did I mention that the pirate ship has been there for fifteen years without a single drowning incident? The council ignored the demands and got on with useful business.
I had to buy in to the discussion, but I thought I'd add a little propaganda to what I had to say. This appeared in the Blue Mountains Gazette. It probably didn't increase my popularity with the local anti-vaccination loons, but I consider that a win.
Secrets revealed! Or were they? (17/8/2013)
The US government has finally come clean and released documents setting out the real purpose of Area 51 in Nevada. In fact, they have admitted the existence of the place for the first time. Of course there were still parts of the papers redacted, so the UFO nuts are ramping up the crazy and saying that there is obviously more secret information hidden more deeply. Nothing can ever satisfy a good conspiracist, because it is impossible to prove a negative – that there is nothing more to be known.
A few years ago I came across this photograph of Area 51, taken from a vantage point on the quaintly-named Extraterrestrial Highway. The person showing the picture on his web page said that pictures were forbidden, but when I asked him how it was that he could publish the picture without being arrested (or worse) he didn't have a coherent answer.
I decided to look at the place myself, but I had to use some super secret spy satellite technology (probably developed at Area 51!) to avoid being shot (or worse).
I have been accused of working for the CIA (and Mossad too, at one time), but of course I can neither confirm nor deny this. I will say that my first job after high school was with a laboratory doing research for an unnamed defence department (I can't say any more, even now), and on one of my trips to an associated research facility operated by one of our allies I was given a coffee cup which is on my desk at this very minute.
I really must stop talking now before I get into trouble. I rent this house and the landlord does not take kindly to SWAT teams blowing the door off and shooting holes in the walls.
And another thing ... (17/8/2013)
A friend of mine was invited into the cockpit of a commercial airliner. He managed to take this photograph of part of the control panel. I do not know what it means, but he thought it was important for some reason.