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Absence note from Mum (3/10.2020)
I'll be away from here next weekend doing my other hobby, standing in forests taking photos of rally cars. There haven't been many events this year because of the COVID-19 epidemic and this one is based in my town, so I had better be there. The local paper will expect a story and pictures and the deadline for the week's edition is Monday, so I'll be busy from when the cars start arriving on Friday until I can hit the "Send" button for the story, and I also have to update my rally web site. See you all in two weeks.
Here is what some of the roads look like. Good times ahead.
Pandering to food faddists! (3/10/2020
I was reminded of this joke when I saw that a well-known brand of vegetable oil based margarine now comes in a "Dairy Free" version (almost inevitably at a higher price). I checked the ingredients in my tub of table spread and the only way anything cow-like could have come near it would have been if the cow knocked down a fence and got into a canola field to chow down on the pretty yellow flowers.
At least no whales were boiled down to make it.
(Please note that I would have no problem if they had simply announced that the existing product was now free of any dairy content, but the company introduced another line at a different price.)
The madness not only continues, it escalates (3/10/2020)
Back in September I updated the continuing saga of überarchkook Solihin Millin and how he had been joined by another refugee from the asylum, Brian Shaw, in a continued legal attack on the instruments of government in Australia. Brian has taken it a step further and has issued paper accusing the police in the state of Victoria of doing dreadfulness.
A few points:
I look forward to this major development in Australia's jurisprudence, although I would hope that we don't return to the days when men convicted of treason were hung, drawn and quartered and women were burnt at the stake. Surely being forced to discuss the law with Sol Millin and Brian Shaw would be a sufficiently horrible punishment.
By the way, if you believe Wikipedia nobody has ever been convicted of the crime of treason in Australia. Some have been charged (for example the "Sydney Twelve") but the charges were later changed to other offences.
The Bus of Pestilence approaches (3/10/2020)
Now that COVID-19 restrictions on travel between states are being relaxed, plans are afoot to bring the Vaxxed II bus on a tour of my state, New South Wales. Locations have been announced where the bus will appear across the state, although unfortunately none of the places are near enough to me for me to either turn up and make a nuisance of myself or to campaign to keep the bus away. (The Council in the Local Government Area adjoining my local Council area has already announced that the bus is not welcome and will be refused entry to any Council owned or operated facilities,)
Of course a campaign like this needs lots of people to work on it to make it successful, and Meryl Dorey, occasional President of the Australian Vaccination-(we can't stop lying) Network is calling for volunteers. They have to be volunteers, of course, because there is no money left over after buying and painting the bus to pay people to sit there all day and tell lies. I was offered the opportunity to volunteer, but the locations listed so far are a very long way from where I live.
In accordance with the request at the bottom of the message, I am forwarding this to you all privatly (sic). Don't spread the word around unless it's to people you know or who might be interested. If you live in or near Grafton, Coffs Harbour or Port Macquarie you can privatly (sic) share it with your local Councils.
Confusion and chaos reign (24/10/2020)
I was supposed to be here last week but I wasn't. I came back from the rally on October 10 with 2,400 photos and I had to make some in-car videos of the roads used but an application of Murphy's Law to the battery in my action camera, a tyre that had all its air fall out while recording one video, plus a compulsory family birthday party meant that time evaporated. I had to update two web sites and write a story for the local paper so I've been as busy as a one-legged arse kicker (or one-armed wallpaper hanger if you prefer). You can go here to see some evidence of where I've been. I don't just do this web site. I'm a multifaceted eclectic polymath. Or just someone who retired from work and wonders how I ever had time for a job.
This weekend I was probably supposed to be at the Australian Skeptics annual convention but I'm not so I'm here, and I was supposed to be at another rally 500 kilometres from home next weekend but I won't be so I'll be here again. Then I'll be 500 kilometres from home in the opposite direction at another rally the weekend after that and not here. When I had a real job I used to sell and support time management software. Now I write my diary entries in pencil and keep an eraser handy. (To avoid confusing non-Australians I didn't say "keep a rubber handy".)
This week will be a bit like a wedding - something old, something new and something borrowed. Nothing blue, because this is a family web site and I don't work blue.
Sadness abounds (24/10/2020)
My skeptic world went into meltdown this week at news of the death of James Randi. Randi was one of the founding members of what could be called organised skepticism and was a massive influence and role model for freethinkers everywhere. I met him on four occasions - at the 2000 World Skeptics Convention, in 2004 when I was honoured to be a speaker at The Amaz!ing Meeting in Las Vegas, in 2010 at TAMOz in Sydney and in 2014 when he toured Australia with the film "An Honest Liar". (I interviewed him for Australasian Science magazine.)
Facebook filled up with people's photos of themselves with Randi, so I might as well continue the tradition.
TAM2 in Las Vegas, 2004
At TAMOz in Sydney, 2010
I'd had lunch with him earlier that day but I wanted to talk to him after the film. I managed to be the last person in the line and our conversation was conducted with my brain telling me that it was almost midnight and the last train out to Boondocksville left at 00:18 and if I missed it I'd have to sleep on Central Station. I made the train with a couple of minutes to spare.
I suppose nobody should be too surprised when a 92 year old man who had survived at least one serious heart attack dies, but lack of surprise doesn't mean lack of grief. He was a small man in size but he has left an enormous hole in our lives and in the world of skeptical thinking.
Creative writing (24/10/2020)
I've written a lot of stuff over the years - hundreds of pieces about science for various publications, articles about motor sport way back then and again now, a plethora of things for this site and some blogs, articles relevant to business and IT practices for newspapers, a best-selling book about the Internet, ... What all these things have in common is that they are non-fiction. Apart from the humourous little snippets I wrote for Quintessence of the Loon and the novel I've been trying to write for about five years I seem to have trouble making things up. This failing severely limits my ability to ever get a job doing PR work for the anti-science and anti-medicine community (my conscience prevents me from ever looking for work there, of course).
I've come across a couple of examples where imagination has been let run free, and I have to admit that I'm somewhat envious of the creativity.
I suppose attributing a change in mobile phone technology to Satan makes a change from saying it's all a plot by Bill Gates to microchip us all with the COVID-19 virus, but even all those years I spent studying psychology didn't prepare me for something as good as this. I'm going to get in first, though, and say that when 6G telephony comes along it will bring out the fact that the word "hexagon" is an obvious reference to how witches are going to put spells on us ("hex") to make us disappear ("gon" is a short form of "gone"). Oh, wow - it looks like I can make stuff up after all. I'll have to get that novel up into Word and get cracking on it again.
I'm actually not surprised at this because Jon Rappaport has been writing amusing fiction for many years. And by "amusing fiction" I mean "lies". Still, it takes skill to so comprehensively misrepresent reality as if it the truth is being told. Of course, if you believe that it's possible to live outside reality then anything else is possible. (He seems to think that the film "The Matrix" is a documentary.) Would you be surprised to find out that he's an AIDS denier? No, me neither.