Archive for the ‘Dr. Phil Plait’ category

Let’s Show Them A Whole New Meaning For Lupus Flare

October 9th, 2010

The first week of updates to the Lupus Awareness Virtual Art Gallery were a success if I do say so myself. Not only did I receive a handful of really fabulous submissions but I’ve received some very nice feedback. The free eBook and audiobook I created for the gallery got a really nice boost of traffic thanks to a certain Bad Astronomer being nice enough to send out a tweet regarding it. That same day, the gallery was nominated for a Mashable award in the Most Creative Social Good Campaign category and I received a shout-out in a Mashable article regarding start-up communities. By Thursday, my week was looking more than hunky dory. And then…

I’m neurotic about stats. I knew Thursday was going to be a busy day for the art gallery so I did something I normally don’t do: I monitored the Twitter feed for the search term “lupus.” What I saw that day managed to turn my really elated mood into one filled with rage, anger and disgust in a nanosecond. I saw multiple Twitter accounts tweeting about a natural lupus “cure.” Knowing it would cause my blood to boil but being the type that need to know all information available on any given topic, I clicked the links. Sure enough, I became all shades of livid. I’m not going to give links, but I will give you enough information so that you can find these links on your own and inform yourself on this quackery which is preying on those who are desperate for a cure.

The link led me to one of those used car salesman type, pages upon pages, sales letters. You know the ones I am talking about, with highlighted text and trumped up user testimonials where you have to scroll down for what seems to be an hour to find out cost and purchasing info. It contained thing such as (to paraphrase): “This will make you better. Ignore doctors and research, it is all BigPharma conspiracy!” and “I now consider my cured! I can show you the cure for a fraction of the cost of what you pay your doctor.”

I sent an email venting about this. Yet another piece of woo for me to have to battle. I sent a tweet about it so that I wouldn’t allow the anger, threatening to consume me, to ruin what was an overwhelming (in a good way) day. I had let it go, even so all day long multiple twitter accounts were sending the same garbage link. And then last night, I saw the following status update from one of my fellow Lupus Warriors on Facebook:

LIVID! Offended! Lupus Snake Oil Salesperson pissing me right the F off! I will NOT be adding your snake oil sales pitching freak ass to my friends list. You and lupus can both kiss my mixed breed ass.. and bloody hell, there go some of my peeps ogling over the fuckers tent! WTF?!

My reactions consisted of:

Is it that fucking book! “Find out how I “cured” my Lupus at a fraction of the cost that doctors charge you with their BigPharma conspiracy meds?”

You should have seen me rant on Twitter yesterday when I found a link to it. And I send a really ranty email re: it.

UGH! Unfortunately, there are people desperate enough to buy into that bullshit.

After some discussion, it was discovered that we were talking about two different books! Two different books selling the exact same bullshit but disguised with different packaging. I asked for the name of the Facebook account who is going around trying to friend every one on  Facebook with Lupus in their profile, in an attempt to peddle their snake oil. Why?

Maybe we should request to be her friend then bombard her page with FIRE! Give a whole new meaning to Lupus Flare!

Some people made comments that we could be reported and yet they continue to sell their garbage with no reprimand. My reply to the question, “are we going on a bombard her page campaign? If so then I’ll add her I think she’s friend requesting everyone on our group!” and subsequent comment about being reported:

Well, that is what I plan to do. However, we have to be careful so that she doesn’t report us for harassment or something.

I plan on very simply stating, “How dare you prey on those who are desperate, alone and scared! How dare you make a profit off of those who will grasp at any straw because they are terrified! If you had a cure, why are you not giving it for free? Or why are you not donating the money to Lupus orgs so that they can give real help to others! You make me more ill than my Lupus ever could!”

Then I expect to be blocked and removed.

Yes, we could be reported. But as long as we don’t swear or threaten her, then we should be fine.

It really pisses me off that the likes of people like her can get away with the stuff they do.

[…]I’d rather be reported and be heard than remain silent and people buy into her crap.

I was given the name to this profile, Lupus Bible. I sent a friend request. Thankfully, the page was public so I could see the links to the book they are peddling. And that is when I noticed all of the links on the page were through an affiliate program called Clickbank. I decided to go to this website and search “lupus”. And that is when I discovered 3, THREE of these books:

  1. Yours for only 27 dollars!
  2. Yours for only 37 dollars but act fast! Only 5 copies left before it isn’t avail for another 120 days
  3. Yours for only 47 dollars!

Two of these books had pretty much identical sales copy, except one was a “female” selling the book and one was a “male”. But within the first couple phrases on both of them read:

Close the door, turn of your cell phone and put a “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door

And the title of the other is equally telling:

Do Not Read This Page If You Believe Everything Your Doctor Tells You About Your Lupus Condition… Click The Back Button Now, If Your Current Lupus Medication Works For You.

I am beyond livid. It is beyond disgusting that there are people out there preying on and trying to make a profit off of those who are desperate. As one fellow Lupus Warrior stated:

You have a Lupus Cure and you are SELLING it? What is wrong with you? As an alleged Lupus Sufferer you should know what we go through on a daily basis. I suggest if your cure is so good peddle it to the Docs, The Research Centres or the Lupus Charities. Are you for REAL??? Puhlease!!!!

Beware of people trying play into your emotional turmoil and desperation. Science works. Woo doesn’t, except to be emotional terrorist.

Also, they accepted my friend request. I put up my message. Now waiting for it to be removed, reported and blocked.

UPDATE: I do not know if it is because of the fire a few of us Lupus Warriors set to the profile in question or someone complained to Facebook about the offending profile, but it no longer exists! Hopefully, it stays gone. Now if only the 3 books and multiple Twitter accounts would disappear as well.

Intelligent But Hilarious Children And Critical Thinking

September 14th, 2010

Today has been one of those day where the slightest thing has tried my patience. A normally even-tempered Jules had to avoid much of the internet today. Things that normally would cause me to say, OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE!”, had me yelling, “OH FOR FUCK OFF!” to my monitor. This is not good. So I spent a lot of my day avoiding blogs, which I normally love to read, and avoiding reading my Facebook news feed. I was in such a mood that I would have not felt any remorse at all when I inevitably stopped biting my tongue, so to speak, and lashed out.

In an attempt to calm the raging monster lurking inside of me, waiting for a moment to devour the first of many unsuspecting but deserving victims, I decided to listen to the one time that I was interviewed. Kid2 decided to join me for the last few minutes of the interview. And am I ever glad that he did. The conversations that occurred as a result managed to not only calm this savage beast but also subdue it into fits of roaring laughter.

Near the end of this interview, I was asked who I liked better, Wil Wheaton or Phil Plait. He came in just to hear the end of the conversation, where I say, “That is like asking me who I like better, Kirk or Picard” and some banter on that subject. Kid2 asked me, “Did Joe just ask you who you like better, Kirk or Picard?” I replied, “No. He asked who I like better, Wil or Phil.” His eyes became wide as saucers as he said, “OUCH! That is even more difficult to choose between! How could he ask you to choose?!” I howled and said, “You’re awesome! Yes, it is a more difficult choice.”

He sat with me for the remaining 10 minutes of the interview. We laughed together over the ridiculousness of it and other things; such as having Joe and Sammy team up on me being just as bad as if it were him and a myriad of other people, who are very good at teasing me, team up on me. Once it was done, I told him it was time for his shower.  Still laughing, he went to the shower and I checked Twitter. That is when I saw the following tweet from my friend Travis, “Just saw a good-looking woman I’ve never heard of accepting some kind of important Republican nomination on CNN. Most unpleasant deja vu.”

I HOWLED! I giggled and snorted for a good few minutes. I was still giggling when Kid2 got out of the shower. He asked me if I was still laughing from our discussion prior to his shower. I said, “No. I’m laughing at something a friend said on Twitter.” He asked me to tell him what it was. I told him he wouldn’t understand. He gave me that puppy dog look, which only children can give their parents, so I told him what it said.

Wanting to be part of the conversation, he laughed. I smiled at him and said, “You don’t get it, do you?” He shook his head, “No.” So, that is when I explained to him that it was a reference to Sarah Palin. He cocked his head and said, “That name sounds familiar, but I don’t know who she is.” I then explained to him that she was a candidate for the Vice President of the USA, she is pretty but she is not that smart. She believes that the earth is 6000 years old and that she can see Russia from her house in Alaska, among other things.

The look on his face and the ensuing conversation was priceless!

Kid2: Wait a minute. She thinks she can see Russia from her house?

Me: Well, that is what she said.

Kid2: Okay, well… that seems a little ridiculous to me. But what I have more issue with is, SHE THINKS THE WORLD IS 6000 YEARS OLD! REALLY? Has she ever heard of Science, mom?!?”

I smiled and said, “About 50% of Americans are what is known as “Young Earth Creationists”. Meaning, they believe that the Bible is literal, therefor the Earth is only 6000 years old and people and dinosaurs inhabited the planet together.

Kid2: Seriously?!? Again, have they not heard of Science??? Do they not go to school? How can they believe this?

It was then he gave me a demonstration of the history of the Universe using his arms. He held his arms as wide apart as they could go, told me to imagine this was the entire time line of the Universe and then showed me the minuscule portion of when the Earth formed, the even smaller portion of when dinosaurs inhabited the planet and the yet even smaller portion of human existence.

Kid2: It’s more complicated than that, mom. But that is basically it. That is SCIENCE! How can they rationally believe anything else?

Me: I didn’t say it was rational. I said that is what Young Earth Creationists believe. They believe that people rode dinosaurs, etc.

Kid2: Honestly!? You mean to tell me, what? That they think the time that the earth was all molten rock and stuff… and what about the ice ages, mom?!? What about those? So they think the earth being a molten lava pit and the ice ages, happened in like what? Minutes from each other?!?

Me: Pretty much. Well, you see, love. They have their own “scientists” who, with their own “science”, “prove” Science wrong.

Kid2: Well, isn’t that just stupid! That isn’t how you do Science! They are purposely going to find the answers they are looking for! That isn’t how it’s done! It’s like…  ummm… okay… as an example, if I go out searching for proof that God doesn’t exist, of course I’m going to find proof to suit my own beliefs because I’ve made my mind up on what the answer is. The same is if I go search for proof that God does exist! Of course I’m going to find “proof”. That isn’t finding answers or proof! That’s just trying to find things to support the ideas you already have! That isn’t how you are suppose to do it! And they call that science?!?

Me: Yes, hun. And you are exactly right. When you have an idea about something, you are not suppose to make up your mind first regarding the results but just test your theory and go from there. You gather the data, apply the math and let it give you the answers, not the other way around.

Kid2: I still can’t believe in this day and age people still think the Earth is only 6000 years old! That is just insane!

And with that, he went to bed.

I smiled. I am still smiling. I have some of the best conversations with my children. It makes me happy that I’m teaching them how to think critically and be skeptical about the world around them. I worry sometimes because Kid2 will see something on YouTube or elsewhere (2012 being a big one lately) and we have to have long discussions about the faulty science behind it. But then he will have a rant of Jules Epic Proportions or we will laugh and geek out about things together, and I can be content.

Aside from being able to laugh with my child tonight, chasing away the monster within, I had the opportunity to have a very good discussion about the world in which we live and the people we share it with. And to think, those comments came out of the mouth of an 11 year old child.

It is too bad that many adults still do not know how to apply such logic to the world around them.

Ranting Again

October 11th, 2009

I really wish I had something truly wonderful to write about lately, but I don’t. This time of the year is never a good time for me. And this year, it just keeps getting worse. It is coming up on the cold and flu season. And thanks to all the wonderful crazies out there and people reacting out of fear and ignorance instead of science and logic, I get to spend the winter in reverse quarantine. YAY! I guess one good thing has come out of all the crazy stupid. I have been inspired to write a second book entitled “The Stupidity of Humanity.” This book will take a long time to write and it will be a rant and I know it will anger people on both sides of the fence since I am going to take a middle ground on a lot of issues and not so middle ground on a lot of others.

I feel sorry for my followers on Twitter at times because I am not sure if they are aware of why I rant so loudly against certain thing, the Antivax movement being one of my loudest rants. Here is an example of my latest rant:

Everytime something like this happens, I am filled with such rage! A DC laywers (Jim Turner) is suing the FDA to prevent approval of the H1N1 vaccines based on falsified information. FFS! When is the insanity going to end?!? Info via @achura RAGE! JULES SMASH!

Maybe I should write a second book entitled “The Stupidity of Humanity” which would be a complete rant against idiots.

JULES SMASH! “He’s suing 2 stop Swine Flu vaccine on behalf of a client who sells snake oil fake medicine (via @achura )

Just because you don’t get sick, doesn’t mean you do not carry disease that can kill babies, elderly, the immuno-compromised, transplant patients, cancer patients, those who on the outside look healthy but are not. Just get jabbed already.

And if you think the side effects of the shot are bad imagine how sick you would be if you actually got the disease you are being protected from

Look into the eyes of a child who’s parent you helped kill or the eyes of a dying child or elderly person & explain to them your choice.

I am one of those parents that you will get to explain to my children why something as the “simple flu” took away their mother. Hell even if you are a normally healthy person, these diseases that vaccines help prevent can make you seriously ill. I am so tired of the look I get from my children when I am sick. The look of fear and panic that this illness is the one that is going to take away their mom. They have spent their lives with a mom who has been in and out of hospital more times that one can count. I am a single mother who relies on public transportation to feed her children. I do not have physical support. So of course I get really angry and upset when people just don’t care to understand. I get really angry when the normally sane Canadian health authorities stop the normal fall flu schedule. I break down in tears when my child comes to me and says, “um will you live… and don’t lie to me.” Right now the elephant in the room is HUGE and I cannot ignore it. If I ignore the fact I have Lupus at this moment, it could mean my death.

And it is not only just because of my situation why I rant the way I do against this idiocy, but there are millions of families just like mine. Babies are already dying in countries such as Australia because of all of this nonsense. Australia is not some third world country that does not have the resources to protect the population and babies are dying. Look in the face of of Dana McCaffery’s parents and explain to them why their baby had to die. Explain to them that it is a necessary casualty of war against the BigPharma. Explain to them and the other parents who’s children have died of pertussis because they were too young to be vaccinated and there is no herd immunity.

Explain to the family members of transplant patience, cancer patients, the elderly why their family members are dead because you were either too lazy to get jabbed or you gave into the fear mongering or you used the excuse “I never get sick.” Explain it those who cannot be vaccinated to do allergies why they are sick. Explain it!

Just because you never get sick, does not mean you cannot get others sick. Call it my crazy socialists ways, but it our jobs to protect everyone from these things. What good are we if we are sick, infirmed or dead.

As I said on Phil Plait’s blog last night, we have become lazy and complacent in our instant gratification society. People expect perfect knowledge and heaven forbid there are mistakes made along the way. That is how we learn. That is how we grow. That is how we make advancements and better products. Yes there have been some mistakes made in science and medicine along the way, but we deal with them and move on. Nobody has ever denied that, except for the denialists. As someone pointed out in the comment section, our parents never thought twice about jabbing us. My response to this was perhaps it is because they grew up in a time where they saw first hand the devastating effects of mumps, measles, polio, whooping cough etc. We are lucky enough to be in a part of the world were up until recently, those diseases were under control.

Are you going to have to see a resurgence in these diseases to kick your lazy asses into motion and get a simple needle? I really hope not.

Wil, Phil and Shane Available For Download

July 13th, 2009
I do have to say my last four days have been pretty awesome. I got to geek out with Shane Nickerson. I got to geek out for hours with a friend. I got to geek out all day with my youngest over the Star Wars Lego game for Nintendo GameCube and listen to hours of sheer excitement when he finally unlocked the secret level, and then Star Wars in general. Being able to geek out with your own children is the coolest thing one could ever do. Way cooler than geeking out with a peer as far as I am concerned.

Then imagine my even greater joy when some of my favourite more well known geeks started to geek out about the exact same things I have been geeking out about for days! I just love when that happens. It is a nice reminder of how extremely cool the geek community is. There are many things that define what it means to be a geek. However, in my experiences (despite our own flavours of geekiness) I can always find at least one common thing with all geeks. There is this stupid, warm, giddy excitement we feel when we grok each other.

I have had the pleasure of interviewing three of my favourite more well known geeks, Wil Wheaton, Dr. Phil Plait and Shane Nickerson. I have respect for these people that reach far beyond the fact they are geeks and are well known for each doing their own thing. I do hope my list of favourite geeks I have interviewed becomes more. If it doesn’t it will not matter as I have had this awesome opportunity that I never in a millions years thought would ever happen. I have uploaded these interviews here to my blog but have not made them available for download (save one) and really, that is a shame.

So I am going to fix that problem to allow people to geek them as often as they want and find them easily without having to search my blog. I am also going to include a new sidebar that will allow for easier finding of these interviews and the stories that may accompany them. I really do not know why I did not do this earlier. But the events of the last four days have made me think if I enjoy these similarities so much, then maybe others will to. And if others will to, then maybe I should make it easier for people to find them, enjoy them and share them with others.


(Note: Each interview does contain some language. So please bear that in mind before listening.)

To download my Wil Wheaton interview, right click, save as (or whatever the equivalent is for the browser you are using).

To download my Dr. Phil Plait interview, right click, save as (or whatever the equivalent is for the browser you are using).

To download my Shane Nickerson interview, right click, save as (or whatever the equivalent is for the browser you are using).

Please enjoy, share freely, geek and be merry.

p.s. I had to put back together the Wil Wheaton interview as it was cut into 5 parts. I did not listen prior to uploading as I wanted this available as soon as possible. Hopefully I didn’t duplicate anything or miss something. If you notice a problem with it, please let me know. As well, the interview does end rather abruptly. That is not an issue. Since the interview was not live and was pre-recorded, after the final segment I went on to talk about how things were wrapped up and did not include our good-byes in the interview.

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Dr. Phil Plait Interview

June 6th, 2009

Click here to listen to the interview with Dr. Phil Plait. This link is the temporary fix until our server issues at the radio station are fixed. Thank you all for your patience during this time.

Last night (June 5, 2009), I had the pleasure of interviewing Dr. Phil Plait aka The Bad Astronomer live for my Geeky Pleasures show on Party934. We discussed a variety of topics from the Hubble Space Telescope and NASA to the antivaxx movement and homeopathy, plus a few other topics of interest to the both of us. A warning: I drop the “s” word a couple of times during the interview. So consider yourself warned. At the very end of the interview, Phil gave me some inside scoop about a couple of projects he is working on. You will only hear it here. The total runtime for the interview is 1hr 38min 23sec.

I want to apologize in advance for the editing of this broadcast. Phil sat down with me live last night and we took a couple of breaks to play some music. I had to edit out the music portion of the interview as it would be in violation of the station’s royalties contracts had I left the music in. After close to 12 hours of editing and technology failing over 20 times during the process, what you are hearing now is the best that is available at the moment. I wanted to make sure the broadcast was available as soon as possible for people to listen to and give feedback. Hopefully I will be able to find the time soon to clean it up a bit.

It was a real pleasure interviewing Phil. I had a lot of fun doing it and my impression was that he did as well. A couple little show notes:

I was very surprised how silent the listeners were as we discussed a couple of topics that have caused Phil to receive some heat on his own blog. We discussed these topics very frankly and openly. Considering the feedback he has received on his own blog regarding these topics, I was expecting some listeners to come out and put him to the fire while he was live on air and accepting questions. This did not happen. This leads me to conclude that people are much braver behind a computer typing out words than when they are given the opportunity to express those opinions live and in person.

You will notice during the interview, that I appear to be tongue tied, at a loss for words or do not complete my thought. There are a couple of reasons for that. The first reason is that when I do an interview, they are not scripted. I like the interview to have the feel of two friends sitting down to a cup of coffee and talking about subjects of mutual interest. Yes I have a general outline of what topics I would like to discuss, however I do not script out the questions and the person being interviewed does not know what questions I am going to ask. This allows for a more natural and organic conversation to occur. The second reason is almost 3 years ago, I suffered from a stroke. So whenever I am excited or passionate about something, my ability to communicate (both verbally and written) is one of the first things to be affected. And let me tell you, Phil gave me many reasons to be excited. Not only is he a very passionate speaker, he is extremely funny.

I think that is all I really have to say about that at this moment. I hope you enjoy and your feedback (both negative and positive) are more than welcomed. As I said in the interview, bring it on!

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Dr. Phil Plait aka Mister Bad Astronomy

June 5th, 2009
The day has finally come. Tonight Dr. Phil Plait will be co-hosting my Geeky Pleasures show. I am a tad nervous about this. Mind you not as nervous as I was when I got to interview Wil Wheaton on my show, but nonetheless I am still nervous. No sooner do I think I have all my questions that I want to ask sketched out in my head, he posts yet another wonderful blog that causes me to rethink interview topics. Regardless of what direction the show takes tonight, it will be a very good one.

Showtime is 9 pm PDT, Midnight EDT. To listen:

Winamp/iTunes/XMMS: [Click here]
Windows Media Player: [Click here]
RealPlayer: [Click here]

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More On The Antivaxx Front

June 3rd, 2009
This morning I am doing my normal morning routine. This includes getting my coffee, checking my email, booking appointments, checking sites that I regularly post to, reading Fark Geek headlines and checking the three blogs that I look at multiple times during the day. One of these blogs, that I have mentioned frequently in my own blog, is that of Dr. Phil Plait aka @BadAstronomer. Two of his blogs for today deal yet again with the Antivaxx issue.

The first one, Newsweek Slams Oprah, made me cheer. It is very nice to see that finally mainstream media is speaking out against media giant Oprah and her pseudo/pop science/heath crusade. It is Newsweek’s front page article and 6 wonderful pages dedicated to the danger that is Oprah. Included in this article is a very well worded section that deals with Jenny McCarthy and her antivaxx crusade. As one commenter said in response to Phil’s blog:

” “McCarthy is arguing that the ingredients in some vaccines might be one of only many, many variables that contribute to autism; she’s not arguing they’re the sole cause or even a major cause.”

But she started out by claiming that she was an Indigo mom, or her son was an Indigo child, or whatever the new age terminology was. Then she shifted to saying that vaccines caused autism. Then that the thimerisol preservative IN the vaccines caused autism. THEN that the accelerated vaccine schedule caused autism. NOW it’s a combination of the accelearated schedule and some complicated combination of vaccine ingredients tossed in with possible environmental (and maybe genetic) factors.

The goal posts just keep shifting with her, and every time reputable medical institutions speak up against her, she fires back with the Big Pharma conspiracy charges.

The saddest thing about this to me (besides the resurgence of preventable diseases, of course!) is that the level of publicity that she’s getting has allowed her to turn many of the desperate parents of autistic children against the very medical researchers who are trying to solve the issue of autism.”

It is very scary that people are supporting McCarthy et al for a variety of reasons. I really do not think people know what McCarthy’s issue is, or that McCarthy even knows as she keeps changing her POV on the subject. The more data to the contrary of McCarthy et al’s issue with vaccination and autism, the more they shift the goal post and thus muddy it even more. For Oprah to give McCarthy such a huge platform (own TV show and blog), Oprah is helping condemn children all over the world to death and debilitating disease.

Phil’s second blog of the day dedicated to this issue is entitled Should vaccines be compulsory? He states the following:

I was asked in a recent interview if I thought parents should be mandated by law to vaccinate their children.

I hesitated, knowing this was a thorny topic. I said I wasn’t sure, which was true. But I may be leaning toward a more definite answer now: yes.

He then goes on to explain why he is starting to lean that way.

Now my first instinct is to say yes as well. However, I also see many issues with legislation that makes vaccination mandatory. As I have said in previous blogs, I am a full supporter of vaccines. I have not been able to be vaccinated due to allergies. My youngest has not been able to be fully vaccinated either due to adverse reactions to vaccines. Living with Lupus, this puts me and my family and the general community as a whole, in danger. Now in some places, it is mandatory that your child is vaccinated if they are to attend a public daycare or public school (unless there is a valid medical reason as to why the child is not vaccinated). I fully agree with this. I would even go on to say that it should be mandated on a country wide level. If you want your child to be exposed to other children, you should have to protect your child and other children against the spread of very deadly infection disease. If you do not care about the welfare of your child or that of the greater community, then home-school your child. Do not put my family or other families at jeopardy because of your ignorance on the subject of vaccines and risks involved. If you want to risk infecting yourself, as an adult you can give informed consent to that. However, as parents it is our jobs to protect not only our children, but children across the globe. A child does not have the ability to give informed consent and unfortunately some parents are not rational enough to give informed consent, so maybe it should be left to the state. There is already some legislation in place that would allow for this, such as when parents refuse medical treatment due to religious/philosophical beliefs and the state has to step in and impose treatment due to life-threatening medical issues. Ah but here is the catch, vaccines are preventative. Even so your are placing your child at risk for a life-threatening disease, your child is not at immediate risk according the current laws.

So again, that leads me back to a few issues I have with making it mandatory. Here are a few of my thoughts that I have already made in the comment section off Phil’s blog:

I am on the fence here as well. Here in B.C. it is mandatory if your children are going to attend a public daycare that they are vaccinated (unless the child for medical reason cannot be vaccinated and they need a dr’s letter to that affect). And I think that is more than okay.

@proudhon made the argument about kids and McD’s and TV, well guess what. Here in B.C. it is now mandatory that your child until they graduate school MUST participate in at least 1 hour of physical activity a day. Some may think that is a great idea but wait. The schools will be responsible for 15 minutes of that if they are in elementary, 30 minutes of that if they are in Middle School or HS. The rest of the time falls on the parents. Again, it is not a choice. So what does these mean, if you cannot prove that your child participates in at least 1 hr of physical activity a day, the state can intervene and remove your child. Yes, this is to combat childhood obesity and the first step they did was removal of all junk foods from schools.

It becomes very scary when the government starts to make how your raise your children mandatory. Even so I agree with it, maybe a happy medium would be that if you want your child to go to daycare or public school, they need to be vaccinated unless they cannot for religious/medical reasons and the religious one poses a huge loophole but its a constitutional thing. If not they have to be home schooled, etc

There is no easy solution here.

Then someone made the following comment, “The government could take a WHO approach to vaccination: when a disease reaches pandemic level 6, vaccines are mandatory.” To which I responded:

If it reaches level 6, wouldn’t it be too late? You cannot be vaccinated if you are sick. At least that is the criteria here. If you have shown any sign of illness for a period of time before vaccination, you will not be vaccinated. The incubation period for these diseases vary, so how would one be able to tell who is already carrying the disease but not yet showing symptoms to those who are disease and vaccine free without carrying out a millions of blood tests that will cost millions of dollars where by the time the results come back, the disease is full blown?

How are they going to herd the people who have not been vaccinated into clinics? Logistically waiting until level 6 would be a nightmare.

In this case, it is so very difficult to find the line between respecting individual freedom and protecting the greater good. Unfortunately, like with many other things, you grant rights and freedoms to one group of people, it impedes the rights and freedoms of another group.

The antivaxx movements scares the living *beep* out of me. I have Lupus and am allergic to vaccines so have never been vaccinated. My youngest had adverse reactions to his first two vaccines, so he was never fully vaccinated. Any time there is an outbreak of the smallest thing, I am not allowed to leave my house. It is not a nice way to live. That being said, forcing this upon people I think is too extreme on the other end of the scale.

Thankfully he clarified is statement to this, “I guess my point with the pandemic level 6 bit was that at that point, the entire population, whether they are attending public schools or not, would need to be vaccinated, barring medical exceptions. In other words, at that point, philosophical and religious exemptions would go out the window.”

Now that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to my thoughts on this subject. As I said, in theory it is so easy to say yes. However, in practice, there is so much that can go wrong and end up causing greater harm. Let’s just start with the logistics of carrying out such a program IF a law was drafted that would not leave it open for the government to start imposing all kinds of other medical treatment that some many feel does not fall under the life-threatening criteria and they feel it is their bodies, they should be able to choose which medical treatments they and their families should undergo.

How exactly are they going to keep record of all of this? For instance, where I live, you do not go to your family doctor or pediatrician to get vaccinated. The program is carried out by the local heath authority aka the government. Before your child is of school age, you take them to your local health unit where the heath nurse administers the vaccine. When the child is of school age, the health nurse goes to your child’s school and administers them there. Now in other parts of the country, you go to your doctor to be vaccinated. Here, the doctors do not keep record of your child’s vaccines the health authority via the government does. Other places, it is up the parent and doctors to keep records. Now if it were nationally mandated to vaccinate, there would have to be a huge overhaul on the health system so that there is a central record of who and who is not vaccinated and how vaccination procedures will take place. That in itself would cost billions of dollars and would be a nightmare. Now that is just one small logistical nightmare I see in regards to this IF the logistical nightmare of how this law would be drafted is solved.

Unfortunately, there is no easy answer here. The best thing people can do is continue to educate in a calm manner and try to counter the fear tactics used by McCarthy et al. Hopefully we can avoid a pandemic of these diseases. At that point, no one will have a say whether they are vaccinated or not.

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Speaking out against Violence Against Women, Silence is the Enemy

June 1st, 2009
Some people may be thinking enough has been said on the topic of violence against women. I have even heard that it is a dead horse and people need to stop griping about it since women now have way more power than men. The pendulum has swung to the other side and now men are those in a powerless position. Even so awareness in regards to violence against women has increased in North America, that is not the case for the majority of the world. And that is why as many people as necessary need to speak up and voice their concerns and do what they can to help a situation that is getting worse around the world. Once friend has even gone as far as calling it the next great holocaust. I prefer the term female genocide.

Today, Phil Plait posted the following blog that is a blog about this blog by Sheril Kirshenbaum entitled Silence the Enemy. It is a very important read and please do your best to spread the word around and get others to blog, donate money and speak out against the massive rape against young women. Sheril talks about the massive rape of young girl in Liberia, Sudan and the Congo. Unfortunately that is just a small percentage of what actually is happening on a global scale.

Here are a few more examples of exactly how widespread this problem is:

  • In the Congo War of 2007, the military and militias on both sides raped women on a huge scale. Most were not only raped, but also mutilated — chunks of wood driven up their vagina, to destroy their cervix and uterus. Female circumcision also runs rampant.
  • In Eastern Europe, Russia, and Southeast Asia women are being violently trafficked for prostitution on a scale that rivals the African slave trade of the 18th and 19th centuries. Close to 1,000,000 children from around the world, are sold into the sex trade industry each year.
  • In India and Pakistan, acid attacks on women, intended to disfigure and/or blind them, are escalating. In Darfur, and other parts of the Sudan, so-called refugee camps have become nothing but “rape camps” in which women are confined and systematically sexually tortured.
  • In Bosnia and Kosovo in the 1990s, so-called “ethnic cleansing” included large-scale rape, murder, and sexual torture of women and female children.
  • In some Asian countries, it is common practice to kill a child if they are born female. If the child is not killed, many are abandoned or are mutilated in varies ways. One common practice is to drive pins into the newborns skull. This has led to an unbalance between male and female population necessary for procreation of the species.
The violence does not end there. Please do not remain silent and do what you can do to raise awareness. Give your voice for these women who do not have the freedom to have a voice of their own.

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The Evolution of Jupiter

May 28th, 2009
Jupiter is Zeus. Zeus had a thing for the mortal ladies. Zeus bred with the mortal ladies. His chromosomes, mixed with the chromosomes of the mere mortal, evolved into the species of human that now roam the earth.

This segment of Creationist Astronomy has been brought to you by the created human Me and has been inspired by @BadAstronomer and the letters The Evolution of Creationist Astronomy

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Antivaxx Issue

May 25th, 2009
The other day, I wrote I am so excited I could blast off into the farthest reaches of the universe . I mentioned how the antivaxxers chap my biscuits to put it politely (yes, I am going to attempt to be polite here even so this is a very hot topic with me, getting emotional will not help the issue at hand). I want to say the other day (it could be the other week as each day has been blurred into the next the past few weeks), someone on the antivaxx side of the issue made a comment on Dr. Phil Plait’s blog entitled Are Antivaxxers Liable for Preventable Deaths that us “science” people just don’t get it. I literally saw red when I read that. Now normally, I am not one to react out of emotion or anger. I am a very rational, logic driven person. However, this topic hits very close to home and as I said I would explain why, so here it goes (be prepared to do a bit of reading).

To start off with a bit about my educational background. I have my degree in Psychology. When I first decided to pursue Psychology (originally I was going to be an astrophysicist but that is another story) I was just going to do general studies and work towards being a clinical psychologist. However a few things happened to change my area of focus. In the end my focus was Abnormal Psychology, specifically Abnormal Psychology of Infant/Children and Adolescence (a relatively new field). First one was that my mother was diagnosed with a myriad of psychological disorders, the worse of which is bipolar with schizoid tendencies. The second was my oldest son was started to display a lot of ADHD symptoms. The third, and the hardest one to deal with, was neurological and brain development issues with my youngest, which started in utero.

When I was four months pregnant with my youngest, we received some very scary news. During a routine ultrasound, it was found that I had partial placenta previa and this would have to monitored. I was to go back for a second ultrasound a month later to see if my placenta would start to migrate to where it should be on its own or if not, well there is a lot that can go wrong with that condition. So for about a month, I worried about my unborn child and the possibility of miscarriage or hemorrhaging. Now it was time for the follow up ultrasound. During the ultrasound, the tech got very quiet and called in the Radiology doctor to take a look at the scan. He was very quiet and had a very grave look on his face. He left the room and I asked what was wrong and was told you will have to wait till you see your doctor again. Now how the system works here, you do not get a phone call from the doctor unless you have an abnormal test. Well I didn’t need to get that call because the techs do not call in the head doctor unless there is an issue that they are unable to diagnose. Due to this, I was waiting for a call from my doctor’s office to come in ASAP. One did not come. So I booked my own appointment as I could not wait through the Christmas holidays until my six month check up to find out what was wrong. The first thing I asked my doctor was what was wrong with my baby. He didn’t know what I was talking about. So I told him about the events surrounding my last ultrasound. He informed me he had not received the report yet and he would check his office to see if it were there. He returned back to the exam room with another grave look on his face, holding the report. He said that he was sorry, but there are abnormalities in the baby’s brain. I asked him what kind. He said that his left lateral ventricle was twice the size of normal and that his right posterior horn was dilated. My next question was, “Ummm what? What causes that? What does that mean? Does the baby have encephalitis? WHAT?” He had no clue as it is not something that he has ever seen in his medical career. He told me I was to go to the mainland (Vancouver, British Columbia. I live on Vancouver Island) to the women’s hospital within the week for further tests. I told him that would be impossible as I do not have a vehicle, we need to find another way. I received a phone call a couple days later that I was to head down to Victoria the next day to the special obstetrics unit where the rest of my primary prenatal care would be carried out (and FYI, I am really attempting to make a long story short here, however it is a really long story).

So down the Victoria I went where began my bi-weekly tests and exams. After the first visit, I was sent to get a bunch of blood work done that would be sent off to the CDC (I believe they did 100 tests for a myriad of odd diseases). One of their major concerns was that I had never been vaccinated and my Rubella titre was zero. Now the reason I have never been vaccinated is because I am allergic to eggs and a lot of vaccines are grown in egg white protein. Given my lack of family history of abnormal brain phenomena, they thought I may have contracted some bizarre disease that would have caused the brain abnormalities in my fetus. To make matters even more scary, they gave me the sex of my child (they do not do that here unless you are risk for losing the baby for a variety of legal reason). And to compound fear, there was talk of having to put a shunt into the baby’s brain while he was still in utero to get rid of the water on his brain. Test results came back, everything was negative. Every two weeks, they would do another ultrasound to check the swelling in his head and finally at around 7.5 months, the ventricle started to go to a normal size. The specialists wanted me to deliver in Victoria where there could be a team of doctors at his birth. I refused since my doctor would not be able to deliver (very important to me as he has been my doctor since I was 6 and is like a second dad to me). I assured the specialists we could assemble the same team at my local hospital, but I would not deliver anywhere else.

There was 3 doctors and 4 nurses present when it came time to have him. The deliver did not go smoothly. The cord was wrapped around his neck and they had to force my cervix open when I was 9 cms dilated as his heart rate was dropping rapidly. Then when he was born, he was not breathing and when they finally got him to breath, was not alert. He was cyanotic. A scary pregnancy was followed by a very scary delivery. And well more problems occurred after he was born that really is not too relevant on this topic, however to illustrate a point that will come, it was a very stressful time. He had to have another ultrasound on his head before we were released from hospital and then a CT scan when he was one month old. The CT showed that there was still the abnormalities shown from the ultrasound, however not severe enough anymore to worry. What we did have to monitor, however, was that his right temporal lobe had atrophied slightly.

Now came the early days. It was awful. You could not hold him chest to chest otherwise he would become stiff as a board and scream as if someone were killing him. The only way he would allowed to be touched was that if you were holding him with his back to your che
st. Nursing was a huge pain. He wanted to nurse and was a huge eater, however he was constantly pushing away because of the front to front contact and then would freak out when he would lose the nipple. So came some very creative ways (football hold being the easiest) to nurse so that it was not a constant struggle. Every week like clockwork on Wednesday, he would stay up for 2 days straight. At around 2 years of age, that changed to every second week. And heaven forbid I would ever leave the room. A few of his motor skills were developmentally delayed as well.

We had to see an infant development specialist once a month and the pediatrician every two weeks. As he got older (even so we had a lot of challenges due to the Autistic tendencies) we got to have fun with some of his “neurosis”. He was and continues to be a sorter. He would spend hours a day sorting and lining up all of toys. One of the things he would spend hours on was lining up all of his cars (he had at 200 of them) back bumper to front bumper in a perfectly straight line. He would then leave the room. Then either his father or I would change just one of the cars so that it was pointing the wrong way. Instantly upon my son re-entering the room, he would see what car was out of place and then spend a few more hours fixing it. Taking him shopping was a nightmare. If anybody would look at him (and worse talk to him) he would have the biggest meltdown. His meltdowns (both inside the house and outside) would most often lead to vomiting. Now what I have just described is just a small fraction of what we had to deal with when it came to my youngest. We had issues to deal with (not nearly as bad) when it came to my oldest. My oldest was the easiest baby but as he got older (as often does) his behaviors got more difficult and eventually he was diagnosed with severe ADHD and ODD. My youngest was never given a label beyond displaying Autistic tendencies as a label was not needed for him to receive the treatments and supports he needed. Thankfully due to behavioral therapies, for the most part my youngest is able to manage and self sooth with very few meltdowns.

Now comes the question, were my children vaccinated? My oldest was and my youngest had to stop being vaccinated after his 12 month vaccine as he had 2 neurological reactions to vaccines in a row. I have never been vaccinated. For my family, the fact two of us are not vaccinated is a very thing. One of the biggest reasons is because I have Lupus (more about that here)and I have no immunity. Anytime there is any form of outbreak of anything (flu included) I am not allowed to leave my house since a simple flu could kill me. My youngest has no immunity (he was exposed to chicken pox many times as a baby however he was nursing at the time and was provided with temporary immunity). If he were to contract any of the diseases vaccines protect against, he could die as well.

According to the antivaxx community, vaccines are the cause of pretty much any abnormality that is not chromosomal in children. Well (and this is not science but anecdote) one of my children was vaccinated and the other was not and they both have a “disorder” according the the DSM-IV. Now some may argue that if I had vaccinated my youngest fully, his tendencies would be worse or they are explained by the abnormalities while he was developing in utero. Exactly how or why these things happen is a whole different topic at hand which I could write about for hours. If you read my comments on Dr. Phil Plait’s blog entitled Are Antivaxxers Liable for Death I go into that briefly there. The reason why I am writing this tonight is because I felt it the responsible thing to do to explain my comment to the person that stated us “science” people don’t get it. Most of us do get it more than those with antivaxx agendas could ever understand. We deal with it in a more real way than they have to. Not only do we have family members that are afflicted with different issues and it could be very easy to blame it something outside of genetics so that we don’t feel as if we failed our children by breeding our faulty genes, we continue to do research and to teach in hopes that we can find REAL answers, instead of blaming something that has been proven over and over again to not be linked to Autism or other childhood issues.

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