Wakefield: Admit Nothing, Deny Everything, Make Counter-Accusations

That’s pretty much all Andrew Wakefield did on CBC Radio’s The Current the other morning. He has always acted in the best interests of his patients (The children! The poor wee sick bairns!), never did anything unethical, had no conflict of interest, the British medical establishment (enabled by muck-raking journos and no doubt spurred on Big Pharma) is out to get him, it’s lies-all-lies I tell you!, he’s a most noble and put-upon hero, yessirree.

I suppose it’s possible the self-aggrandizing fraud even believes all that bullshit about himself.

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Merry Newtonmass 2010

God rest ye merry, physicists
Let nothing you dismay.
Remember Isaac Newton
was born on Christmas Day!
His gravity and calculus and “f” equals “m” “a”!
Oh, pillars of physics and math, physics and math,
Oh, pillars of physics and math!

A factor of big G – the same
for flea and giant star.
Then multiply the masses
and divide by square of “r”.
The force that keeps us on the earth
and orbits moons afar!
Oh, pillars of physics and math, physics and math,
Oh, pillars of physics and math!

Now, calculus is math for those
who change things bit by bit.
To figure out derivatives
and get the curve to fit.
Then integrate and you can find the area under it!
Oh, pillars of physics and math, physics and math,
Oh, pillars of physics and math!

Sir Isaac took a beam of light
and passed it through some glass.
“What shall I call these colours?”
was the question he did ask.
And now we live with ROY G BIV
in every optics class.
Oh, pillars of physics and math, physics and math,
Oh, pillars of physics and math!

Political interference in science

Eric Cantor and Adrian Smith both republican (Duh) representatives have decided to attack the National Science Foundation. Albeit in a cowardly way.

Yet more Canadian religiots

Damn, but we seem to be on a roll lately. The Waterloo (Ontario) District School Board votes to allow the Gideons to hand out Bibles in school. The money quote, from one trustee who voted in favour:

If you deny the religious experience in your education system you open the door to the demonic experience.

Also:
All publications are supposed to be read by the trustees to make sure “such materials are for information [only] and not for the purpose of proselytization.”
I wonder how many of the trustees who voted for this have actually read the Bible? All of it.

Just to piss off Bill Donohue

…’cuz the more people see this, the more it makes li’l Billy cry and pout and stamp his feet:


I’m no art critic, but to me it looks like this film, if anything, is depicting AIDS sufferers as Christ-figures — innocent victims being outcast by the PTB and tortured to death. I can see why BillDo would find that offensive. OTOH, I doubt he even thought that deeply about it.

And speaking of Canadian religiots….

…the province of Prince Edward Island1 decided this week to join the 21st century by allowing Sunday shopping. After the bill’s sponsor suffered a minor accident, Transport Minister Ron MacKinley, suggested — apparently in all seriousness — that God is pissed at her.

Point and laugh, people; point and laugh.


1. For those who don’t know, it’s an overgrown sandbar in the Gulf of St. Lawrence known mostly for having given the world Anne of Green Gables. For some unknown reason, the world has not yet nuked the place to the waterline in retaliation. Oh yeah, there was also some big political shindig there a while back.

More on Dueck’s dreck

…’cuz I can’t just leave it alone.

I acknowledge the danger that, given a legal and social acceptance of euthanasia, old people will be hurried off to save scarce medical resources, or so the kids can get the inheritance, or whatever.

I approach the question as a problem in risk minimization. At present (being a healthy 53yo) I am enjoying life. However, I recognize that at some point (probably about three or so decades hence) I may come to a medical state where continued existence is a subjective burden outweighing any benefit to me. Ideally, I want to die (whether by deliberate intervention or withdrawal of treatment) as near as possible to the crossover point between life being a net positive and being a net negative. Ethically, those in authority over such things should arrange the terminal-care protocols to make that possible, and minimize the risk that my demise occurs either early or late.

Yes, the above is an engineer’s simplistic analysis — a lot of the important parameters are difficult to quantify, and I may feel very differently in the midst of the situation than I do when it’s still far-off and theoretical. But it seems like a good way to think about the problem.

Our friend Lorna of course, thinks we should ask Faith for its advice. And (quel surprise!), not just any faith:

Many faiths clearly have contributions to make to this point. But for those of us who are Christian, this is a challenge that lands squarely in our area of expertise.

For centuries, Christianity has been prime source material for teaching how to love and care for family and strangers in pain.

Of course we need to be honest with those looking to our distinct truth and what we mean by hope. [WTF? Is that even a sentence? — ed.]

For two millennia we Christians have said that this body on Earth is but a shadow of the future self that God has waiting for us after death and we need to regain our practice of how to explain and engage that truth with the reality of dying.

That belief helps us understand that there is no purpose to keeping Grandma, son, daughter or self clinging to life support when a greater beauty comes next.

In debates such as this, how great is our loss if we withdraw the contribution of faith from our collective education and view only individualism as the better way to face the perils of death.

Somewhere under that semi-literate word salad seems to be an assertion that Christianity has a contribution to make to “our collective education”, and part of that education is a brochure for the posthumous Club Med awaiting us (I note she doesn’t commit herself here to either an exclusivist or universalist view of eternal destiny).

Well, Christians are perfectly free to take that delusional belief into account when making their own end-of-life decisions. But I fail to see how telling warm-fuzzy fairy tales to those of us who’ve seen through it constitutes “education”. More importantly, I object that views based on such mythology, or on theological notions of “sanctity of life” should be used to inform law or public policy by which my own fate will be governed. We lose precisely nothing “if we withdraw the contribution of faith” from this debate — faith has not shown it has anything to contribute. Rather, we gain in the freedom to think rationally about the problem.


PS: Yes, the double entendre in the headline is intentional.

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