The Lower Quote, As If You Didn't Know, Is By Richard Dawkins, Son.

Monday, October 05, 2015

Update Type New Stuff

Wow. Look at this place. I miss it when I've been gone for so long. Blog still looks ok here, maybe I'll pop back and hang out for a little bit.

This chick blinded herself (though with the assistance of a "helpful" psychologist) to fulfill a lifelong desire to be disabled. I really have no comment on this except to think, fuck, there's a psychological disability where you're so *not* disabled that you want to be disabled. Weird.

The pope decided to meet with Kim Davis (if you don't know who Kim Davis is, you're awesome and we should hang out - you clearly have better things to do and that's where I'd like to be in life) and then almost immediately distanced himself from meeting with Kim Davis. We all know, however, just how committed to saving clumps of cells the Catholic church is because of Anjezë Gonxhe Bojaxhiu, the former "Mother" Theresa. She took in millions in donations - also the proceeds from criminal activity via the Duvaliers and Keating - and instead of spending that money on her "hospital", she forwarded it to the Vatican so they could fund the fight against women's rights, safe abortion access, and community health education. So let's not play like we're surprised that Francis met with this woman in Kentucky.

There was *another* mass shooting in the U.S. Dan Hodges, political commentator, said on Twitter, "In retrospect Sandy Hook marked the end of the US gun control debate. Once America decided killing children was bearable, it was over." Not much left to say after that. The truth just kind of stabs you in the chest and leaves the knife handle sticking out for all to see.

Donald Trump is in the U.S. GOP running for presidential candidate. There's really not a lot to comment on here, I just wanted a record of that statement on my blog for future laughs/weeping.

The insecure, wannabe bullies of the world, ISIS, destroyed the Arch of Triumph in the formerly protected UNESCO World Heritage Site of Palmyra, Syria this past Sunday (October 4). They took control of the city in May, beheaded the antiquities expert, and then started blowing shit up. There really needs to be more money put into R&D to get one of those Charles Xavier world-wide mind control devices to we can just get into the heads of all these ISIS morons and cause them great pain anytime they even ponder the idea of destroying historical sites. These dickheads must be stopped. They are the Nazis of our time. We have to take them seriously and get rid of them.

In slightly happier news, the Nobel Prizes are being handed out again and William Campbell & Satoshi Omura were awarded the prize for medicine. They jointly developed the drug Avermectin which helps save people from River Blindness and Lymphatic Filariasis. Saving lives and being awesome - that's what scientists are about.

I need some breakfast. Eggs is on the menu. Come on over and I'll make something delicious to make your mouth water.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Medical Qi Gong = Marshmallow Foundations

Imagine you went to school to learn how to build houses. You went there and the instructors taught you about foundations, materials, framing, nailing patterns, sustainable and/or green technology, etc. There was along the way a little bit of weird talk about fringe stuff like making buildings out of "alternative materials" and how some people were amazing at doing it that way. Some instructors were all about those "alternatives".

Of course, no government would ever actually let you build a house out of these materials. It wouldn't be safe and it certainly wouldn't stand up to the test of weather and actual building stresses. The supporters of these "alternatives", however, were convinced that not only were the "alternates" safe, they were better than "conventional" materials. They argued that the governments were impinging on their "freedom" to use whatever building materials they chose; if they want to pour a house foundation of marshmallow, they should be able to because look at the amount of shock absorption it would have! It would be damn earthquake-proof!

Silly, right? The thing is, it's no more silly than what is being bandied about (and has been for decades) in medicine, particularly around the edges of health care. One major difference is that if you actually built a house foundation out of marshmallow, the building would not even get vertical. The failure would be so complete and catastrophic that denying it as anything else would be the ruining of anyone attempting such a ridiculous position.

For a "modality" like homeopathy, however, it gains an amount of fake credibility because the effects - or, more correctly, non-effects - are interpreted as the patient (or should I say, "victim"?) getting better. Nevermind that homeopathy has been repeatedly, to the point of nausea, been shown to be ineffective for any condition. Nevermind that the implausibility of the basic workings of homeopathy would render any further investigation moot. Nevermind that if even the most elemental principle of homeopathy were proven true a Nobel Prize in chemistry would be given and textbooks the world over would be rewritten. The fact remains that it sometimes looks like it is effective, so it's still on shelves and recommended by gullible health-care providers to their trusting patients.

For example, I work at a physiotherapy clinic doing massage therapy. Being an RMT (registered massage therapist) gets you invited to partake in loads of seminars for all sorts of wacky crap. One of the more recent emails I received was to see if I would like to take a "medical Qi Gong" course. If you're not sure what Qi Gong (aka Chi Kung) is, you're lucky, as it's one of the more pervasive and dumb forms of TCM or "traditional Chinese medicine". I use the word "medicine" very loosely there. Here is a video of an old news show purportedly showing a "chi master" demonstrating on his students:Obviously, this is silliness at its most egregious. Willing students not wanting to make their teacher look foolish, an American who has "studied hard martial arts" but can't get even the rudimentary pieces of a throw together, and dumbfounded giggling hosts make for an embarrassing spectacle.

Medical Qi Gong claims to use the so-called "energy" supposedly produced by these people to diagnose and treat sick people. It is pretty gross to think that seriously ill people can get taken in by parlour tricks, convinced to use them instead of actual medicine, and then get more sick or even die. Just ask Makayla Sault - oh, wait, you can't because she's dead due to leaving real medicine behind and using quack nonsense to try and treat cancer. I find it disgusting that a professional health organization in Canada is promoting fatuous crap as a way to "treat" sick and injured patients.

Here is a great explanation of how one particular "qi" or "chi" demonstration works: It is disheartening to read the comments (disappointing YouTube comments?! No way!), but believers will do what their name implies.

The burden of proof lies on the one making the claim - if Qi Gong is real and it can do all the stuff attributed to it, get some actual proof and go get you a Nobel Prize in physics. Please. That would be awesome.

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Saturday, April 18, 2015

The Flu Babe

Way back in 2013, Vani Hari (aka the Food "Babe") decided to put her five cents worth of "research" into a post on whether or not you, dear reader, should get a flu shot. The results are exactly what you think they'd be if a seven year old asked their insane, conspiracy-theory-laden, drug-addled father about "chemicals".

Her post, cryptically titled, "Should I Get The Flu Shot?" is a disastrous mess of out-dated "arguments" against a well-established public-health measure. She begins with the completely fucked-out tactic of referring to those who get immunized as "lemmings":
This is why it is extremely important to understand the Flu Shot – I want you to think about what you are directly injecting into your bloodstream. Before you consider jumping off the ledge with other lemmings and taking this years Flu Shot
Hm, I wonder what her position is on this issue? If we told her the ingredients were organic and slathered in kale, I'm sure she'd line up around the damn block to get three.

Also, regarding the whole, "directly into your bloodstream" thing. If she took the same vast amounts of time to research her article that I did to write mine (approximately nine seconds), she may have come across page 9 of the CDC guidelines for vaccine administration where it says:
There are only two routinely recommended IM sites for administration of vaccines, the vastus lateralis muscle (anterolateral thigh) and the deltoid muscle (upper arm). Injection at these sites reduces the chance of involving neural or vascular structures. The site depends on the age of the individual and the degree of muscle development.
You'll note the attention to reducing the involvement of vascular structures, contrary to what Ms. Hari repeats in her article, "...the mainstream medical community, government agencies and pharmaceutical companies suggest that I directly inject these ingredients into my bloodstream? And I need do it every year until I die? Are you freaking kidding me?" No, we're not kidding. Oddly, you also need to ingest iron. I KNOW!! That same stuff that's in the railings on your goddamn stairs and in your CAR!

She of course drags out the old, "the flu shot doesn't protect us anyway" argument. I find it amusing when flippant shit-heads start wailing about how people who have to do actual complex science and math to predict what strain(s) of influenza will be here at flu season get it wrong. Not completely wrong, but wrong enough to reduce efficacy a tad. A degree of protection still exists and that will be enough to protect some vulnerable populations (the very young, very old, and immuno-compromised) from maximum morbidity & mortality. But, hey, why protect those people? Food "Babe" seems to think they're worth just letting go. And people say atheists are lacking in emotion....

Check this shit out:
Q: Why do I have to get a Flu Shot every year? Aren’t vaccines suppose to immunize you for life? A: They have to continuously give you a flu shot, because it is not a real vaccine.
Not a "real vaccine". C'mon, even Ernie knows this is bullshit! What are you sellin' over there, lady?

More equine excrement:
"...(W)hy do I need to get another shot if I got one last year? This is the way the pharmaceutical companies continue to make money off of you – The CDC says it “wears off.” And this brings me back to my previous point – if the flu vaccine were truly a vaccine – it wouldn’t wear off. Think about it – Once you get chicken pox as a child, your body develops antibodies to strengthen your immune system from ever getting chicken pox again.
Ok, for the thousandth time - pharmaceutical companies don't really make a lot of money from vaccines. They make their money off of the drugs you take two, three, four times a day like heart meds, liver meds, blood pressure meds, and, of course, boner pills. Medication you take once a year doesn't really add that much to your bottom line...but, I guess math isn't her strong point. Numbers are made of chemicals, don'tcha know.
Why does every drug store have a sign up promoting the shot? Why are shots available at work? And at school? Why is their so much propaganda each year around this time? There is only one answer – Money.
It has to be money, eh? Couldn't be that the medical community and health professionals are trying to quell the 250,000-500,000 deaths worldwide every year because of influenza and its associated problems. Why fix that?

She questions why pregnant women, children, and the elderly are supposed to get the vaccine and then drops a steaming pile of shit as reasons. Instead of me just swearing more and perhaps feeling my rising pulse behind my eyeballs, I'll point you at Mark Crislip's Science Based Medicine post where he brings a large can opener, cracks several cylindrical containers of Industrial Strength WhoopAss, and pours them all over this post. It's really a thing of beauty.
Australia banned the flu shot for all children under 5 last year when 250 children were hospitalized and one died after receiving the vaccine. Finland and Sweden also banned the shots and opened up an investigation last year. Don’t you wonder why this didn’t make major news here in the United States?
Right, that did happen and it sucked. But what was the end result? Scientists (not fake-expert, fearmongering, hype-machines) figured out what to do and put precautionary measures in place to protect the vulnerable populations. You didn't hear about it in the U.S. because you probably don't pay attention to Australian news regularly - I certainly don't.

Finally, the gem of the whole article. Please, bask in the logic pool that the Food "Babe" lays before you:
Q: Can I immunize myself naturally from the Flu? A: Yes! You can build lifetime antibodies against the infection. Just Skip the vaccine, boost your vitamin D intake, and encounter the flu naturally. If you encounter the flu – rest, take care of yourself, understand that your body needs a break and focus on getting better...
So, you can immunize yourself from influenza by being infected with influenza. That's like saying you can protect yourself from a vampire invasion by going to the nearest vampire bar, walking in, and yelling insults at the fanged crowd.

What scientists would say is, hey, let's capture a vampire and beat the shit out of him, then let him stagger into the town square at high noon. Everyone in the town would see him, realize that there are vampires afoot, and set to making wooden stakes post haste. The whole town would be equipped to face off with an army of night-dwellers. See the difference? Careful thought leading to practical preparation versus brainless wandering in the dark coupled with over-confidence with your abilities leading to a lot of death and misery.

I also absolutely love that she signs off with this:
I am not “anti-vaccination”, I choose not to take the flu shot for the ingredients they contain as stated above.
In other words: "I'm not anti-library, I just choose to not read all those fancy-big-wordin' books because chemicals. Dirty filthy CHEMICALS!!"

In conclusion.

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Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Makayla Sault Dies - Brian Clement Got Some Money

On November 18 of last year I wrote about an 11 year old Canadian aboriginal girl named Makayla Sault who had acute lymphoblastic leukemia or ALL. Her parents had ceased medical treatment because Makayla "had a vision of Jesus" and told the doctors that the chemotherapy was killing her, which, to be fair, is a normal child's reaction to a painful medical treatment. Parents are supposed to know better and do what is best for their child. They instead took her to a Florida quack farm called the Hippocratess Health Institute because of some bullshit peddler named Brian Clement.

Makayla has died.

I am not going to blame the parents. My feeling toward them is frustration and a wish that someone had gotten to them to explain the ins and outs of quackery, to explain how the processes of medicine and science work, and to show some skeptical support. My real vitriolic hate is aimed squarely at Brian Clement and his fucking quack farm.

Leeches like Clement don't suck blood, they suck money from the pockets and savings of desperate people, preying on the sick and injured (and their families) in times of incalculable stress. Hope dwindles, the future looks bleak, and then the smiling, goateed face of Brian Clement shows up with promises of cures and miracles. "Just eat raw food, use homeopathy, and think positively! Leukemia isn't at all difficult to treat - *these* doctors just don't want you to know the cure because they're part of Big Pharma and all they care about is money."

I have an irony device beside me that just melted and formed the letters "Fuck Brian Clement" in liquid on my floor.

It is notable that the family says that Makayla died because of the effects of chemotherapy and that the damage done by the treatment was what caused her stroke. An oncologist from McMaster University, however, said that Makayla had suffered a relapse back in September of 2014 and took the family to court to have Children's Aid Society (CAS) remove Makayla from custody and have the treatment continued because it had an 85-90% chance of curing her. The hospital lost the case and Makayla was taken into the waiting arms of the quacks.

The fraud bullshit salesman, Clement, came to Canada to talk about his stupid money scheme to fleece the ill and said this (my comments in italics):
"Eat a raw plant-based organic diet...This is how we've seen thousands and thousands of people reverse stage four 'catastrophic' cancer...Change your lifestyle first with your attitude. Be positive." If eating fucking raw food and thinking positively cured cancer, real doctors would have figured it out decades ago and would have been using it in hospitals. What a fucking disgusting toolbag.

(P)atients are advised to make sure they don't do things that "contaminate you and pollute you." I guess "contaminating" and "polluting" their minds with bullshit is an exception Clement is ok with.

"Your immune system is what heals you...There is no magic in this process. It's common sense. If you use common sense and what we've learned here at Hippocrates for six decades, you are going to have the same results so many others have." Yeah, if the result you're looking for is to be dead.
What a tremendously ignorant piece of shit. When people say that doctors are arrogant, that hospitals want you to be sick, or that Big Pharma is only about making money, it shows what good marketing the woo peddlers have because those statements can be applied ten times over to the "alternative" medicine world and its practitioners. The arrogance of having no positive (or ANY) clinical trials or even basic understanding of physiology and still claiming that their nonsense can out-perform treatments that help people survive these diseases makes the arrogance of real doctors look like nothing. It's sickening.

I am sad for Makayla's family, but they seem to have comfort in their religion (another big part of the problem). The loss of such a young girl when it was, by all accounts, preventable is heart-breaking. Brian Clement, if he has any sense of humanity, should kill himself out of shame - but of course he won't. There are still families with sick children from whom to get that phat cash, son.

Excuse me while I vomit.

Dr. David Gorski's post from last year on Makayla Sault at Science Based Medicine can be read here.

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Friday, January 16, 2015

Brian Dalton aka Mr. Deity Nails It

Stepping out from his Mr. Deity persona, Brian Dalton defends his fellow satirists and gives the Pope a decidedly necessary verbal beating regarding Frank's recent statements about punching people who offend him. Please to enjoy.

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Raif Badawi - Prisoner of Conscience

Imagine writing something.

Imagine that what you wrote was a form of criticism against a system you thought unfair and wrong. You criticized the leaders of this system.

Then the leaders get wind of what you have written, arrest you, charge you with apostasy, and sentence you to 10 years in prison, a fine, and 1000 lashes. The lashes are to be given in doses of 50, once a week for 20 weeks.

Think about that for a minute. One thousand lashes. Now think about Raif Badawi, a Saudi blogger who had just this situation fall upon him and who, today, was due to have the second 50 lashes of his 1000 but it had to be postponed due to health reasons. The "health reasons" are that the first 50 from last Friday had not healed enough for him to withstand more. To refer to this punishment as "barbaric" is an understatement. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, a member of the Jordanian royal family said of the sentence:
“Flogging is, in my view, at the very least, a form of cruel and inhuman punishment...Such punishment is prohibited under international human rights law, in particular the convention against torture, which Saudi Arabia has ratified. I appeal to the king of Saudi Arabia to exercise his power to halt the public flogging by pardoning Mr Badawi, and to urgently review this type of extraordinarily harsh penalty.”
Not only was Mr. Badawi sentenced to a ridiculously harsh series of punishments, but his lawyer (and brother-in-law) Waleed Abu Al-Khair, was found guilty on charges that included offending the judiciary and founding an unlicensed organisation and his original sentence of 10 years in prison was increased to 15 years.

Imagine living in a place, under such a weak system, that "offending the judiciary" was considered a crime worth 15 years of punishment. The rulers of Saudi Arabia should be ashamed of harkening back to an age of darkness for horrific "solutions" to non-problems.

Canada, where Badawi's wife and children live presently, is concerned about the floggings and has, "made representations to Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador in Ottawa, and Canada’s Ambassador in Riyadh has met with the Chair of the Human Rights Commission and has sought a meeting with the Government of Saudi Arabia". This translates to very little in actual help for Mr. Badawi. Having an "ongoing, respectful dialogue" with Saudi Arabia can include telling them that what they are engaging in is inhuman and cruel, that they should cease torturing prisoners with (to say it as mildly as possible) questionable criminal credentials, and that there could be policy implications in the future if this behavior continues.

But you will, of course, excuse me if I don't hold my breath while I wait.

Kate Allen, UK director of Amnesty International, spoke about Badawi's case and what should happen there:
“David Cameron and his ministers should have the courage of their convictions and say – loud and clear – that Raif Badawi’s case is an absolute disgrace, that this weekly flogging should be halted and he should be freed from jail...At the very least the Foreign Office should be calling in the Saudi ambassador and telling him this in person if they haven’t already done so.”
I guess having the oil makes the political puffy chests fade into the back of the room until the dust settles and the next shiny news item grabs the attention of the population.

Hey, how are those Boko Haram assholes doing? We've handled them, right? Ohhh...damn....

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Thursday, January 15, 2015

Not Very Popely..."Poply"? No, "Popely".

Media darling and sometime delighter of the non-religious for his seemingly liberal announcements, Pope Francis recently said something much more in line to what we think of when religious faith is concerned.
"One cannot provoke, one cannot insult other people's faith, one cannot make fun of faith...There is a limit. Every religion has its freedom of expression there are limits...If my good friend (Vatican aide Dr. Alberto) Gasparri says a curse word against my mother, then a punch awaits him,"
He followed that gem up with another that seemingly contradicts itself:
“One cannot react violently, but if (someone) says something bad about my mother, he can expect a punch. It’s to be expected,...There are a lot of people who speak badly about other religions. They make fun of them. What happens is what happens with my friend (who insults my mother). There is a limit.”
So are people supposed to react violently or not? Does Frank consider punching a person for talking about his mother a violent reaction? So confusing. And what about that whole Matthew 5:39, 5:44 thing? Out the window?

Thankfully, Frank also said, “no one can kill in the name of God. This is an aberration.” While I am happy that this is his opinion, it is sort of unsupportable in the light of his own source material. I mean, saying that no one should kill in the name of god is just crazy when you look at the cruelty and violence in the bible. I know he's the go-to guy for Catholics with respect to this stuff, but he might need a refresher course or something.

Additionally, I wonder if implying that Islam is a "deviant form of religion" counts as "making fun" of it? In a National Post article from January 13, 2015, Frank said about the Charlie Hebdo attack:
“Religious fundamentalism, even before it eliminates human beings by perpetrating horrendous killings, eliminates God himself, turning him into a mere ideological pretext...Losing their freedom, people become enslaved, whether to the latest fads, or to power, money, or even deviant forms of religion,”
Hm, that really sounds sort of insulting to Islam. He might want to prepare because, by his own logic, he just might have a "punch" coming.


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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Parce que la liberté d'expression est extrêmement important: Je Suis Charlie.

When, on January 7 of this year, Islamic extremist cowards entered the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo's office and opened fire, ultimately killing 12 people, the world was once again rocked by the "religion of peace" flexing its atrophied muscle. Nothing highlights how lame a belief system's arguments are than the resorting to violence of its acolytes. We also see this in the recent story of Pastor Eric Dammann who punched a "bright kid...which made him dangerous" in the chest as hard as he could because Ben, the kid, wasn't taking the Lord serious (sic). At least it was a punch and not a gun, I guess.

I was unaware of the existence of Charlie Hebdo until the recent attack and murder. I would venture to say that many of the users of the #JeSuisCharlie hashtag on Twitter were also in the same boat, but because of the moronic and predictably ultra-violent reaction of the extremists, they are experiencing the Streisand Effect to its fullest. Way to go, dumbasses.

This was not the first attack on the magazine's offices. In 2011 the building was firebombed by...who do you think? If you said offended Jews, I'm sorry but you're wrong. It was the Muslim dickheads again, but it resulted in one of the most famous covers for Charlie Hebdo: the kissing one.
Love is stronger than hate, indeed.

There are a ton of cartoons that you can see here if you want to check them out. A lot of them are great, like this one:
Or the most recent cover:
It's important to republish these wherever we can, and not just because it annoys Muslims. No, offending individual Muslims is not the goal; the goal is to further free speech and free expression. As Christopher Hitchens once said, "If someone tells me that I've hurt their feelings, I say, 'Well I'm still waiting to hear what your point is'." As has been said a million times before but bears repeating, obviously, again - You do not have the right to NOT be offended.

A separate bit of disgusting revisionism took place at an ultra orthodox Jewish newspaper, The Announcer, where they both cropped and photoshopped (poorly) female leaders (German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Paris Mayor Anne Hidalgo, EU foreign affairs and security chief Frederica Mogherini, and Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt) out of a historic picture of politicians marching in support of France and the Charlie Hebdo victims. Ham-handed, misogynistic, and inexcusable actions by supposedly godly men. So, in light of that unpleasantness, here's another Charlie Hebdo cartoon that shows both Muslims and Jews:
There are some who have criticized those who have republished the critical-of-Islam cartoons saying that we should be publishing all of the offensive cartoons so as to not isolate Muslims and contribute to "islamophobia". I would reply to that by saying that if Christian extremists went into those offices and shot up the place, killing cartoonists, I'd be republishing the anti-Christian drawings. If there were a couple of Hindu shitheads who took up the fight for some group and blasted 12 writers/cartoonists to their deaths, I'd be publishing anti-Hindu drawings. I do agree with them that all religious texts are nonsense and should be treated with contempt. Here's what CB writers/illustrators did on that front:
Funny how no one freaked out or shot anyone over this image, huh? Weird....

The fact that it was Muslim extremists who committed this horrible crime makes it inevitable that the republication of any cartoons will be of the anti-Islam variety (except, obviously, for the anti-Jewish one up there for the photoshopping bullshit). I may not agree with the writers/illustrators of Charlie Hebdo, but they are correct in that free speech is a right that must be protected and that, "The pen is always above barbarism." Je suis Charlie.

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