Saturday, 29 November 2008

Daily Mail In Dramatic MMR U-Turn

The Mail's online edition carries news that, "There have been more than 1,000 measles cases so far this year – putting Britain at risk of a deadly epidemic, health officials say."

Well there's a fucking surprise! If you don't give vaccine to your children, there's a bloody good chance they'll become infected and statistically, if MMR uptake drops year-on-year as it did thanks to (among others) The Daily Mail's grossly inaccurate harping, the chances become ever greater.

Of course, this isn't really a U-Turn.

Seems like every time the "MMR Causes Autism" debate crops up, The Mail is there screeching at the middle classes.

Surely The Mail isn't that bad, is it?

Oh yes it is...

This is the "respectable" newspaper that for years carried the "Frankenstein Food Watch" with it's stock picture of a guy in some Hazmat suit and effectively fucked up GM food research for decades. This is the paper that let an idiot journalist write a massive piece about how "Darwin got it wrong". That would be Charles Darwin, father of the Theory of Evolution.

GM food has a bit of a scary label largely because the people that fiddle with genes work in white coats in sterile conditions, but there's no evidence at all that it's harmful: and worse than that, what precisely do you think GM does?

Let me tell you this much: it doesn't make living things by grafting dead things together like Victor Frankenstein did. It doesn't hang limp bits of barley from the top of dark castles in the middle of massive thunderstorms in the hope that a passing bolt of lightning will bring it back to life.

What it can do is increase the plant's resistance to disease; or its nutritional value. It can make a plant that can thrive in the harshest of conditions and still crop well.

It could help solve the world's hunger problem.

But the Daily Mail think GM is playing god - so fuck the starving children in Africa, we'll send them money instead which their corrupt government officials will use to line their own nests.

Way to go, Daily Mail.

Dail Mail Wows at Downs Increase: Wrong Again!

Research for the BBC, reports the Mail has resulted in: "An increasing number of women are choosing to bring a Down's syndrome child into the world rather than have an abortion. More babies are being born with the genetic condition than before screening was introduced 20 years ago, figures show. And research reveals that many parents believe the social stigma associated with Down's has been removed and the quality of life for these babies has improved."

But as my fellow blogger, Dr Ben Goldacre (that's a GP type doctor, not a quack) at observes, the real factor is obscured but the simple application of a statistic.

Live Down's Syndrome births are up by about 4% so that means, according to the Mail, that more parents (mothers in particular are choosing to keep a child with this moderate genetic disorder). As usual no one bothers to check for other contributing factors and the anti-abortion (anti-choice) leaning Mail is delighted at this news.

And as usual, they are wrong.

The simple fact is because of the changes in modern life, women are choosing to have their children much later in life. In fact, in medicine, a woman is considered to be a geriatric mother if she becomes pregnant at over 30.

Holy crap!

This isn't as staggering as it sounds, we're all living a very long time compared with our recent ancestors largely due to modern medicine and better diet.

As abhorrent as it sounds to us in the modern West, what we rightly regard as children today, would have been parents at the ripe old age of perhaps 11 or 12 only a few thousand years ago. Mind you, they would also have likely been dead before they hit 35 too.

Nature didn't intend for the human animal to live as long as it does; so by choosing to fuck with the natural order, we're playing dice with our offspring. No one is sure what causes Downs syndrome, but what we do know is that the instance rises dramatically with maternal age; paternal age is also though to be a factor although less so.

For a woman usual age, the chance of conceiving a child with Down's is about 1-in-1600 but by 43, the chance of is about 1-in-40. Of those women (of all age groups) who do, about 9 from every 10 actually terminate the pregnancy.

Since more women are selfishly putting their careers first than ever before, there's been a dramatic upsurge in Down's conceptions - NOT a reduction in terminations.

The more you put in, the more you get out - it's so simple even I can understand it, which is probably why the fuckwits at the Mail won't hire me.

Will the Mail be publishing a correction? Fuck no!

Friday, 28 November 2008

Nero Fiddled, Karen Went Shopping

It is often said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned, when in fact, history says otherwise. Besides, the bloody cacophonous-racket inducing concoction of wood and string had not even been invented at the time.

But history is replete with examples of people who have failed to care for those in their charge and Karen "I didn't do it" Matthews is a current example.

Despite her little daughter going missing during a trip home, causing a massive man-hunt the like of which had not been seen in years, Karen (the BBC reports) actually went shopping for a Sat Nav. Maybe she needed some help locating little Shannon (who, it was later revealed, was actually drugged and held hostage at her uncle's flat)?

As of this writing, the evidence so far release suggest that Karen (despite her tears on national television) knew precisely what was going on and the whole thing was an ill thought-out scam to extort millions from public good-will.

It's amazing how fast that evaporated when the little child was found alive and reasonably well: physically at any rate.

Nero might have looked on while Rome burnt, but I can imagine a lot of people would like to watch Karen "Whadaya mean, me boyfriend's a pedo?" Matthews suffer a similar fate. As it is, she'll probably end up some bull dyke's bitch in prison.

How can a bitch be someone's bitch anyway?

Bishop Sentamu Talks Bollocks: Politician Counters

Bishop Dr. John Sentamu talks shit a lot of the time (he has an invisible friend after all) but the following quote seems to counter an argument that wasn't made in the first place.
"For any honourable member to suggest that someone who has made out reasonable grounds, and has succeeded in their appeal under the due process of law 'has no right to be in this country' is a worrying development." -- Dr. Sentamu, quoted by BBC News.
Does anyone know when Phil Woolas, MP actually implied this? Best we could find was this:
"You cannot manage a system unless it is efficient. That is fairer for the immigration and asylum seekers who are using the system." -- Philip Woolas, MP. Minister for Immigration
I'm not a labour supporter - the party has fucked up the UK horribly over the last ten years and Blairshite policies have screwed up the education system terribly: particularly in science.

As for the matter in hand, Mr Woolas is clearly a pragmatist (and has a large muslim majority in his own constituency: people who were immigrants just a few generations ago). So he has a pretty good finger on pulse but the fact is that the UK is a tiny island and there's only so much room for everyone. We need to have a robust debate about immigration. The colour of a person's skin or the amount of money they have shouldn't determine if they should (or should not) come here: it's simply a matter of room first and need second.

If people are being persecuted in their own country then they have a human right to get away and the rest of the world has a duty to offered relocation: but that doesn't the UK has to take all comers.

What's wrong with the Eurpoean continent? What about America? Vast tracts of land many times larger than this crowded island.

We need this debate and we need to be able to ask tough questions: people like Sentamu get far too much press because when it comes down to it, this is little more thana PR exercise for them to demonstrate how "nice" they [Christians] are.

The racist would let the white dude stay and send the coloured dude home. It's not racist to decide if a person can stay: it's practical!

I wonder how many Bishop Sentamu would put up in his home, rent free?

Measles Back: Quick, Vaccinate!

Measles in the UK has reached a peak of over 1000 cases in the last 13 years. The problem in Cheshire is so bad that the local health authority has ordered mass vaccination of local children.

While most children recover, about 1 in 10 will require hospital treatment and as I've pointed out in this column previously, some will suffer brain damage or even die.

Are you listening Jenny "I know better" McCarthy? Are you listening Tony "I'm not saying" Blair? How about you, Dr. Andrew "scaremongering" Wakefield?

Will the Daily Mail apologise and admit the years of its spent promoting the insidious, unproven bullshit about MMR where all a mistake?

Will they fuck!

MMR is generally safe: as safe as any other vaccine - and probably safer than many. All vaccines have some risks, but you have to balance that against the very real risk of death from measles or problems mumps and rubella will cause to adults in years to come.

Vaccination saves lives as much as MMR doesn't cause autism (or IBS). It's simple: your children can't make the choice so it's your responsibililty. If they die from measles related disease, their blood is on the hands of those who refused the vaccination and those who promoted the lies against it.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Jenny McCarthy is pretty. Stupid

McCarthy is pretty and full of a sense of her own self-worth - and that's a problem.

Jenny believes in god (oh shit!) and she further believes that autism can be caused by the MMR vaccine (double-shit with ice-cream!) and further to that it can be cured (FUCK NO!)

But only if you make a pact with the almighty, according to Jen!

As a high-functioning Asperger's sufferer who didn't receive an MMR jab (because it wasn't invented then) I can honestly say I'm sick of "famous" people who try to lord it over the rest of us with ideas based on junk science that has been roundly shot down in flames: many, many times.

Yet still papers (read: "rags") like the UK's Daily Mail - one of the most pernicious spreaders of bullshit dressed up as serious journalism - still refuse to admit that Dr. Andrew Wakefield was a twat. His entirely flawed research (on the say-so of a few concerned patients) was motivated by greed and the whole thing is a crock.

Children die of measles every time there is an outbreak, yet more will go blind, deaf and suffer varying degrees of brain damage and mumps is fucking nasty - particularly in adult men; rubella causes serious defects in unborn children.

But Jenny "I Know Better Because I Is Famous" McCarthy won't be dissuaded.

I'm truly sorry to learn that her child is affected; but if he is truly affected by autism there isn't a proper doctor on the planet who can cure it. You can live with high-functioning Aspergers and milder forms of autism because it's a spectrum. It goes all the way from light grey where I exist through to the blackest depth of ... well, whatever it is that goes on inside the minds of those seriously affected. It's a very wide chasm between mild and serious autism; rather like stubbing your toe to having every bone in your body crushed.

Jenny won't accept that - even if some poor (educated) person tries to tell her she won't listen.

I just wish Andrew Wakefield would grow a pair and admit he fucked up. Maybe then this would show some signs of going away so we can get on with having normal(ish) lives and the parents/carers of sufferers wouldn't have to cling to an artificial hope.

But the damage is already done. Wakefield and those who follow him have blood on their hands; and the "wake" will continue to rattle on through generations as parents refuse a life-saving inoculation and their children suffer as a result.

Woman Loses £70,000 bag - in space!

Only a bird could do this and only an American bird at that.

Stargazers are usually not the most exciting people you'll meet down the pub, but this one has to be a first - they've worked out how to track the movement of the £70,000 worth of tools that Heidemarie "butterfingers" Stefanyshyn-Piper through the night sky.

Scientists have used Newton's laws to calculate the progress of the missing bag (the toolbag that is, not the American bag). The ISS is far more interesting to look at and you can at least see that with a naked eye - the bag has been described as looking like a homogeneous blob; NASA refused to comment on the appearance of the toolkit.

See, this is what you get for making it normal for birds to dance around their bags in nightclubs. I always said it would all end it tears.

Suspended Baby P Doctor "Sorry"

Not a development, so much as a follow up. The fucking idiot "doctor" and locum paediatrician who failed to spot a child had a broken back, has been suspended following review.

Dr Sabah al-Zayyat has been suspended by the GMC with immediate affect (but has been previously working under supervision).


This doctor who "qualified" in Asia was considered to be sufficiently capable to work with children but then later missed a the simple fact that a child, with visible injuries, was in serious danger. She decided not to examine the child because he was "miserable and cranky."

He died less than 48 hours later.

What are they teaching these people and who is hiring them? The child had suffered, among other things, a broken back (he would be in intolerable agony) and so far this is this the closest I've seen to anything close to an apology:
"Like everyone involved in this case, I have been deeply affected by the shocking and tragic circumstances of this young child's death. My professional career has been devoted to the care of children. I will co-operate with any investigation to identify whether lessons can be learnt from this case."
What bothers me is not that this is a doctor from an Asian country, but that a so-called qualified practitioner could make such an egregious error! Is anyone checking these qualifications are actually being handed out to people who are actually UP TO THE JOB?

Here's a lesson for you, Doc. Quit!

UPDATE 1 December 2008:
BBC Reports -
"Haringey Council leader, George Meehan, and cabinet member for children and young people, Liz Santry, have resigned over the Baby P case, sources said."
What took them so long?

Now Ed Balls is reported to have confirmed that Sharon Shoesmith, head of children's services at Haringey Council, has been removed from her post.

Silly Season: Woolies to Close (OH no it isn't, OH Yes it is...)

Panto time is nearly upon us and the usual voices are complaining about hard things are, how wonderful this time of year is and how much we're going to get fleeced for Christmas gifts.

If there's anything left that is.

Breaking UK News. Woolworths UK has gone into administration. The flagging retailer which had refused to evolve (like some of its high-street counterparts like M&S) is destined to fail. Or maybe it isn't. Perhaps someone will buy it and mountain of debt that it's managed to wrack up.

The problem is more one of a knock on effect. If Woolies goes, its distribution arm might go to and that supplies DVDs and the like to places like Zavvi.

O Crap.

Personally, I can't feel sorry for Woolies management or MFIs come to that. Both have teams have been taking very fine salaries for themselves with absolutely no reflection on how the company is performing. I do feel sorry for the everyday joes who will lose their jobs. That's only going to add to the competition for newly created jobs and that can't be a good thing. Particularly as the way things are going, I'm likely to be joining them.


Local US Gun Law Challenged: Conservatives Angry

You would think that no matter which way your politics swing, it would be painfully obvious that losing a gun is pretty stupid thing to do.

Not so apparently.

Pittsburg Post Gazette

reports that liberal councillors are playing fast and loose with the constitution by requiring that anyone dumb enough to lose their firearm reports it to the police

"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?" said Councilwoman Tonya Payne, a supporter. "This is what's right to do, and if this means that we have to go out and have a court battle, then that's fine ... We have plenty of dead bodies coming up in our streets every single day, and that is unacceptable."

If that's really unconstitutional then surely the US Constitution is faulty (it's had loads of amendments already so no one can say it was ever perfect).

Common sense should be common sense and while the right to carry a firearm (outmoded as it might be) remains enshrined within the US constitution, the right be be stupid enough to go lose one isn't!

Over a Conservative Dakota Voice, things take a different spin as blogger Bob Ellis selectively misquotes:
When opponents questioned the constitutionality of the law, Democrat Councilwoman Tonya Payne dismissed such concerns:
"Who really cares about it being unconstitutional?"
Everyone should care whether our laws are constitutional.
While even I have to agree in pricipal, those nice people at Dakota Voice want to have it both ways and misquoting like this is an insidious way to make a point. People who sample a large number of news sources (most of us don't) see this happen all-too regularly.

Payne's point, which Dakota Voice savaged for its own end, was that a bad law ought to be challenged, repealed or replaced.

As a sidenote, after following Dakota Voice for some time now, I've notice that it has not once complained when the boot was has been on the other foot - for example when George Dubya Bush was running roughshod over the Consitution, DV were silent on the issue.

Now that Obama is heading for the Whitehouse they're understandably concerned. We'll hear more of this in the comming months.

Science Exams Eroded: Shocker!

BBC UK reports that children, in spite of getting better grades, are actually performing worse in real science.

Well "d'uh"!

Anyone with a modicum of knowledge of science knows the world was created by a loving god six millenia ago: oh wait, that was Tony Blair's idea wasn't it. Course, he never said as much, but he is the fucking idiot who savaged the UK's education system replacing "poor performing" schools with Academies and was the architect of results-based education.

Science is hard folks. Science requires effort, and honestly, no matter how hard teachers try, not everyone will get it. This is an uncomfortable fact for politicians who want to show results: and this is what drips down to the education system. Results count, good results make politicians look good. It's tricky to massage actual results, so the education system moves the goalposts so that kids have an easier time and hey look, record results in science. Year on year since Blair and his lackies came to power shouting "Education, Education, Education" the results have improved by percentage points, the government looks smug and parents are proud.

The rot sets in when you take your eye off the ball. When these kids take their places at university, they are ill-prepared for the rigours of real science. It's no longer a case of join the dots, you suddenly have to reason for yourself: and for most that's going to be tricky to impossible.

No everyone is cut out for science and the sooner we accept that as parents, teachers and politicians, the sooner we can start moving forward.