Categories: Ethics, TechnologyComments Off on New app helps people make ethically informed buying choices
When I first saw this on Facebook I rolled my eyes and thought “I am so sick of GMO-hating whingers and complainers about food products. DNGAF”, but I went and read it anyway. My opinion changed. This is really smart and really powerful.
This is app that you can use to scan the barcodes of products at the supermarket and it will tell you who made it… but not just who made it, but who owns them, and their parent company, and how it relates to political decisions made by those companies. So if you scan a product it will tell you the true root ownership of that product’s producer and whether they, for example, are against labelling of GMO’s or have a terrible track record of human rights abuses.
This is actually the finest example of technology doing something for busy people in the modern world that we couldn’t really do for ourselves. I’m busy. I don’t have the time to whinge and complain and give a fuck about every company that does something bad like stuffing horse meat into a “beef” lasagne. I am sort of interested and I definitely care about SOME issues. I just don’t have the time to research and KNOW where everything I buy from the supermarket comes from and what the opinions and policies of that company are. And that’s bad. Because given the choice of being able to know, and make a decision and go “Oh fuck that product. I like it, but those guys kill baby seals and use their blood to power their machines” and not know and be unwittingly aiding and abetting them by buying their shit… I would definitely rather know.
This is a Dr Seuss world like The Lorax where companies can suck up and destroy the world from far away places out of our sight and we don’t realise that we’re empowering them and supporting them by buying their products which happen to be labelled under another name, way down the corporate food chain. I’m not going to call anyone a sheeple, but we ARE dumb because we don’t have the time to work shit out. Life is busy and tough, and caring whose products we buy based on ideological reasons is just a luxury most of us cannot afford.
Well, now you can. Now it’s actually pretty easy. When you come from the supermarket or you open up a packet of snacks next, scan it. See where it comes from. See what “boycott” lists people have put it on for ideological reasons. You might be shocked to find that one of your favourite products is made by a company whose policies you fiercely disagree with, while some other product is made by a company who openly support something you DO agree with.
If you have a cause and you are angry at a company for doing something horrible and getting away with it because noone realises what products they make (due to the horribly and deliberately complicated corporate chain of ownership), you can create a boycott cause yourself. You can even create a positive cause. If you care about LGBT rights, you can highlight companies who have taken a stand over this cause. If you care about child slavery, you can start one identifying companies with a poor track record in this area.
Because in this corporatised, consumer world…. there is one absolute truth.
And your money is a very powerful thing when combined with everyone else’s. Companies really don’t give a fuck how many Facebook posts you make about them or how many rallies you attend because that doesn’t make any difference to their bottom line. But you have power. You have the power to choose. Exercise it and choose products by ethical companies who give a shit and aren’t just out to rape the planet. Because buying local or natural or whatever is all well and good, but it’s better to be INFORMED than make assumptions. Not all corporate is evil and not all local things are good. You need to KNOW if you want to not be guilty of financially supporting unethical companies.
in·tu·i·tive /inˈt(y)o͞oitiv/ Adjective
1. Using or based on what one feels to be true even without conscious reasoning; instinctive.
2. (chiefly of computer software) Easy to use and understand.
You know how I know a computer system is pretty “intuitive” ? When you give it to someone who has never used a computer before, and they can work it out easily. I’ve seen this a lot before in Asia and while I feel guilty for doing so, it always opens my eyes when I see someone who has not actually used a computer, use one without needing assistance, guidance or asking questions.
I used to teach computing to elderly people. I used to go to their houses and teach them what a “right click” was and how to move a message from their inbox to their trash or whatever. But they were so damn afraid of computers that you’d think that they believed that a wrong keypress would make the whole thing explode.
Young people aren’t like that. Even if they have not grown up with computers, they see them as a tool that everyone has and uses, not a thing to be feared. I remember the first time I saw a Cambodian girl who had grown up in a grass hut switch seamlessly from Linux to Mac environments and work out the way the different operating systems recognised a “click” signal and I watched with total bemusement, thinking “I know seasoned computer users who would throw a fucking hissy fit if you tried to make them use a system that does not have the same characteristics as the one they are used to”. I have seen children as young as five years old make the the “pinch to zoom” motion with their hands before in order to explain “Can you make it bigger please ?”.
This is what an intuitive interface is. One that we can work out without thinking. Apple did it better than anyone else in history. They might not have invented tablets, or multi-touch, but there are billions of kids around the world who owe their understanding of touchscreen information navigation to Apple. The concepts of “swipe”, “pinch” and “tap” are some of the most basic and intuitive things that have ever existed. Far more than “point and click”, even babies of a year old can grasp the concept that when you move your finger from one side of a device to the other, the information will change; you will see another picture, hear a different song, or be shown different textual information.
So anyway, to get to the point… I tried Windows 8 today. Despite having lots of really old computers that I have struggled to save from obscurity by upgrading, I do have one modern laptop with 8gb of RAM and a super fast Intel SSD. It’s a Lenovo so it’s incredibly awkward to use in Linux due to their choice of fucked up chipsets, and Mac OS X is pretty much out of the question. So I run Windows 7 on it. I remember, like most Windows users, being frustrated at the way so many settings and things had been hidden in Windows 7 to make it somehow “easier”. But Windows 8 was on a whole other level of obscurity.
Don’t get me wrong. I actually dig Metro. I installed Windows 8 because I wanted to see something new. But it’s not Metro that I have a problem with. It’s the way you need to LEARN Windows 8. You can’t just pick it up and go “Oh I can figure this out”. Fuck no. You want to change the mouse sensitivity ? Better Google that shit because it ain’t going to jump out at you in a way you can understand. The “Settings” section in Windows 8 is sparser than ever. Beyond changing your date or language, don’t expect it to actually change the way your computer works. That shit is hidden DEEP.
Menu’s aren’t bad. I know that we’ve seen this sort of intuitive OS future in movies like Minority Report and shit where everything can be done by waving your hand or speaking but that’s fucking bullshit. Information and interaction involves real words sometimes. One day voice recognition will no doubt be awesome, but it sucks balls right now (Hello to future people.. it must be nice to live in your world where computers can just fucking UNDERSTAND us, but imagine what it’s like to live in my time where they can’t !) and some things require textual representation. Icons are cool but they are fucking overwhelming. Have you ever had to flick through the full apps listing on an Android phone five times saying “I know the fucking app is here, I just can’t see it” ? It’s annoying right ?
Menus work. They aren’t bad. The “Start” menu is really a fucking great invention. Yes Microsoft, you really actually deserve some credit for that. Unix and X11 had “root menus”. The Mac had an “Apple Menu” which was really just for settings and information, not launching things. Windows pioneered the “Press this button to find out what the fuck your computer can do” concept very well. It works. You can give anyone a computer with this system and they will work it out. “Oh I want to play a game. There’s this button in the corner, and when I click it, there is a listing that mentions games, and when I point at it, it shows me games I can play. Easy”.
I know I’m sort of a year or more late to be weighing in on the “Windows 8’s interface is a fucking joke” debate, but … Windows 8 ? Fuck off, are you guys serious ? Were you on crack ? Were you trying THAT hard to make something “different and groundbreaking” that you failed to realise what “just works” ? New paradigms are great. I love trying new ways of working with information and computers in general. But Windows 8 ? It’s like you idiots took Windows 7, removed all the decent bits, and then replaced them with some hair-brained, acid-induced “Surely I can do whatever I want by pointing and sliding” interface model that you saw someone else use successfully and managed to copy…. badly.
I’m sure it has its good points. But oh my god. Seriously you guys. Do you even compute ?
I want to go to India. Friends who have travelled… and I mean “travelled” in the sense that they have not just gone places, they have LIVED places, many of them tell me “You must visit India. The richness, the culture, the colours, the smells”. I really want to do this. While I do love SE Asian culture, I suspect that much of the wonder and overpowering sense of life that I love about Saigon could be seen a thousand-fold in India.
My brother-in-law is Indian. He comes from Mumbai, but he lives in Saigon with his Vietnamese wife and their adorable son Riza (I hope I spell that right). He doesn’t talk much about India, but his wife is quite interested in it. He, with the help of his lovely mother in Mumbai has very carefully taught her how to make Indian food and she cooks a fabulous biryani that I have be lucky enough to sample on two occasions and as a lover of Indian food I feel I can say with some authority that it is damn good.
I love movies that celebrate the life of another culture. I love foreign movies in general. But I especially love ones that just show you how life is, somewhere else. I watch Indian movies sometimes… not lots, but I have been known to sit down to a well-known Bollywood movie. But I also sort of like the western movies that portray India. I remember once watching “Outsourced” and laughing at it’s hilarious tongue-in-cheek depiction of the quirks of life there… such as a cow being in a call centre for no obvious reason. I can relate to that, having seen a chicken in a mobile phone store in Vietnam before.
I love Slumdog Millionaire. Mostly because it’s an absolutely brilliant love story about overcoming adversity to be with the one you love. But this week I finally watched a movie that I had been wanting to watch for almost three years. Back in 2011, after returning to Australia after living for a while in Saigon, I attended a cinema and saw a trailer for “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel”. Featuring the delightful British actors Judi Dench and Bill Nighy who I am very fond of, it promised to be a fantastic display of fish-out-of-water British comedy in which a group of elderly Brits end up at a retirement resort in India which is most definitely what they expect.
But the movie turned out to be so much more. It actually did not feature a million crazy pitfalls of being a foreigner in India and in fact, all of the guests adjust incredibly well to the different lifestyle and very little comment is made on the quirks of being a white person in India. The movie is funny because the actors are all so charming, but it is not a comedy. It is a beautiful drama about love, existence and finding oneself.
If ever a movie made being old look cool, I would have to say it is this one. When I was young, as most young people do, I insisted I didn’t want to get old. I hoped I would die young. I hear that from young people all the time. I don’t feel that way anymore. Being old looks awesome. Just the whole idea of having done it all, made mistakes, had good times and bad and not taking everything too seriously… of having lived your whole life according to society’s rules and acting a certain way, but then sometimes just going “Yeah, but you know what ? Fuck that”.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel is not a movie about India. It’s not a comedy. It’s not really an incredible love story (though it ends with three happy new couples), but it is a movie about taking chances. About going in way over your head, out of your depth and still managing to find your feet. About just going “Well this is fucking different. But I can work with this”. And I love that about this movie because it really does, in a subtle way, glorify what it is to just uproot and live “somewhere else” and love it.
So many people don’t travel or live abroad because they are afraid how they will cope with things when their world isn’t the way they are used to. When the people around them don’t speak the same language and they can’t read signs and the food is different. They think they can’t adapt. But you can. Very easily. Humans do that. We do seek comfort in familiarity and we run to it when things are difficult sometimes. But living a life that is not the same as everyone around you is fantastic. The lack of pressure to conform. The constant questioning of your life and the way you present yourself. These issues can melt away when you get out of your own little homogenous, everything made out of ticky-tacky (“Little boxes, on the hillside…”) world and throw yourself in the deep end. Living in a foreign land makes you realise that we are all the same. As much as we are all so different, we are far more the same than we are different.
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel contains some of the most amazing quotes. They are simple things, but meaningful. And somehow they mean more coming out of the words of these people’s mouths than they do when you read them on some stock background on Facebook.
“Everything will be all right in the end… if it’s not all right then it’s not yet the end.”
“Nothing here has worked out quite as I expected.”
“Most things don’t. But sometimes what happens instead is the good stuff.”
“Nothing happens unless first we dream”
“Is it our friend we are grieving for, whose life we knew so little? Or is it our own loss that we are mourning? Have we traveled far enough that we can allow our tears to fall?”
If you have a chance, do watch this excellent movie. If it is not easily available for sale (and let’s face it, what is except junk ?) and you are unable to obtain it via a streaming service or whatever wonderful means of delivering content to users that we develop in the future and you live in the world and time that I live in, then search for it on your favourite bittorrent search engine or ask google where to find “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel torrent”. You might just want to grow old and live in India :)
Categories: Religion, ScienceComments Off on I don’t want to live on this planet anymore
The source for this picture has not been fully verified yet. Noone has been able to say with certainty whether it is from some home schooling group or not, but one poster on Facebook claims that it comes from a school in South Carolina.
Ahh yes, another tragedy, another spike in the #PrayFor….. hashtag. This week we had another tragedy, immediately followed by a sudden jump in the amount of people on social media networks such as Facebook and Twitter suddenly expounding on the need for urgent prayer. Just as with the floods and cyclones in Australia, the earthquakes in Chile, Japan and New Zealand, immediately after the Boston marathon bombing, Facebook and Twitter exploded (pardon the pun) with spontaneous prayer.
I like to call this form of religion “deathbed prayer”. It is an act normally non-religious (or non-practicing) people engage in at a critical moment in their life. Like the saying “there are no atheists in a foxhole”, it implies that when faced with the danger of impending death or crisis, these people become momentarily religious.
These are not people who step outside their home and look at the flowers and say “Ahh, flowers are so beautiful because God is great !”, but when something terrible happens, even though they are not praying for their personal safety they are expressing the need to believe in a god. They are saying “This is terrible. Who can do something ? The police have failed, our government has certainly failed. Who is left to fix this terrible wrong ? God will help them”.
But what is god to do ? Will a hundred million prayers to god bring 8 year old Martin Richard who was killed in the explosion back to life ? Will god smite down all the terrorists (whether they be from within or outside of the government) ? Will god bestow a winning lottery ticket and eternal happiness on the families who have lost loved ones ? Or will god somehow punish the offenders greatly ? Considering that depending on who you ask, simply being homosexual, or being part of the wrong branch of the splintered Christian faith will cause you to burn in hell for eternity, it’s hard to imagine that there is somehow an even greater punishment reserved for terrorists who kill small children.
Eleanor Barkhorn, who herself identifies as a Christian, wrote an excellent story for The Atlantic this week in which she talks about this trend of social prayer calls.
Eleanor noted that while mentions of “pray for boston” on social media spiked incredibly after the event, it also fell away very rapidly. Just as quickly as people began inciting each others to prayer, they stopped again, instead getting on with discussing the more pragmatic things such as who was responsible and why it hadn’t been prevented and whether or not citizens should be willing to relinquish civil liberties in order to find and punish those responsible.
Even though this is my third or fourth article on this subject I’d like to remind people that while I do not personally believe in “god” as people refer to, (I do not deny the possibility of a creationist being, but I certainly think it is highly unlikely) I like to think of myself as a non-practicing Buddhist (I have a shrine and a statue and I observe local religious rituals from time to time, but I do not regularly study the dogma). I do however believe that prayer has power.
Prayer during times of need has the power to make people stop and think. To be aware that life is fragile and that there is a bigger picture. Life is a very complex, living structure. Every single living person contributes to the thing we know as “society” in many ways. It shapes our law, our culture, our education systems, our folklore and how we interact with each other. Life, in terms of its non-biological aspect is massively complex and something we cannot easily be aware of. When life is this constantly struggling force working like the old computer “life simulations” in promoting new concepts as others die out, it’s understandable why in tumultuous times, even the non-religious among us will just turn to the concept of a higher power as an easy explanation or reassurance.
Eleanor quotes Elizabeth Drescher as folows:
Obviously, we can reasonably conclude, prayer memes shared in times of crisis do something besides expressing traditional religiosity, calling us to God, to regular spiritual practice, or to worship. Rather, in an increasingly secularized America…praying or calling for prayer in times of tragedy seems to mark a kind of existential angst, sorrow, or confusion for which other words or gestures seem inadequate.
A 2002 Gallup report stated:
Public perceptions of religion’s importance in society tend to spike following crises, but those perceptions are often short-lived, and don’t frequently translate into behavioral changes.
Call me cynical, but I think the fact is that many of the people who are engaging in this sort of public call to prayer are not doing so for religious reasons. Two of the well known celebrities who frequently come out on Twitter the second something happens and ask everyone to pray are Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber.
Kim Kardashian is well known for Tweeting about her religious activities, claiming that she gives away 10% of all that she earns to the church, and regularly tweeting things like:
“Perfect day so far! Church and family brunch”
Some claim this is to offset some of the things she has done in the past such as leaked sex tapes and short-lived marriages. She herself was raised as an Armenian Orthodox and claims to be a non-denominational Christian who supports a local celebrity church also endorsed by Lee-Ann Rimes, so it’s fair to say her devotion to religion seems as calculated as that of any politician or public figure.
Justin Bieber is even more public about his religion. In Twitter posts he has said:
“im only judged by one power, and i serve him”
A pastor from Seattle known as Judah claims he sends Bieber scripture excerpts on a daily basis. Bieber came out and tweeted about this.
“Love to my big bro Judah. I love u man u inspire me. When u have a moment of weakness ask god to be with you and bring his peace. I know for a fact it helps.”
Bieber is endorsing Judah’s new book, “Jesus is”. But do we imagine that Bieber actually attends church ? Probably not due to his high profile, but even still, does he even pray ? It could be said that god does not exist in a church but within the hearts of man, but how dissimilar is a young man like Bieber saying that god will keep him strong through tough times than someone citing patriotism in the face of adversity ?
What is the difference between Bieber saying “I had a tough week, but my faith in god will keep me strong”, and Obama rallying people together and saying “We will not give in to terrorism because we are Americans !” ?
Everyone needs something to believe in. Even atheists discovered this and turned to science as their saviour, because a belief in nothing is very hollow, thus they claimed to believe in “facts and science”. Some might say this is just a dig at religion which is backed up by mystical wonders and unrealistic events from thousands of years earlier which are refuted by science, but more likely is the theory that everyone needs something to believe in, even if it’s just in name.
With just under 38 million followers at the time of writing, it is odd to realise that on Twitter at least, Justin Bieber is the most listened to and followed human being on the planet. When Bieber speaks, more people listen than to anyone else on Earth, including the latest Catholic Pope, who has a mere 2.3 million followers.
With this sort of scrutiny, the day Bieber first tweeted about a tragedy asking people to pray, he became committed to doing it for every tragedy, lest someone say “Why did you pray for Japan, but not for New Zealand ? Do you hate New Zealand ?” It seems likely that Bieber, with his busy touring schedule, might even hire someone to tweet thoughts of prayer when disasters occur.
So what does it mean when Bieber tweets about a factory explosion in Texas or a bomb that killed four in Boston ? And why isn’t he tweeting about the earthquake in China that killed 160 and injured almost 6,000 people ? Does Bieber not care about China ? Does his loving god only care about what happens in America ? Or is it just a publicity stunt to make him look like a squeaky clean “good boy” ? Perhaps, like many Americans, Bieber has faith in something above religion – patriotism.
It’s easy to see these #PrayForBoston posts as being about religion, but are they ? Or are they about nationalism ? We pray for our family, our friends, our countrymen and our allies, but not for those far distant that we have less in common with. Thus, Bieber will apparently pray for Japan, but not for China.
Praying for a cause is as throw-away a term in today’s world as to say “God bless you” when someone sneezes, but how many of us still think that sneezing is a result of evil spirits inside of us ? Elizabeth Drescher in her article for religiondispatches.org quotes a woman she once interviewed who I believe has a wonderful insight into what causes people to pray like this.
I only pray in a crisis, out of total desperation. Which is nonsense. Hypocritical. I know this, but I can’t help myself. When my best friend was dying, I couldn’t just ‘wish her well’ or tell her I was ‘thinking about her.’ I prayed, even though I don’t believe in it.
But there are times when my internal experience is just more than thinking intently about how I’m feeling about someone I care about or some difficult situation. I guess when I end up praying, it’s me wanting there to be a higher power, wishing there were, even though I don’t believe there is. So, as a last resort, my mind goes there. I guess you could say that prayer for me is a brief expression of hope in times of extreme fear that ‘I’ll be thinking about you’ just isn’t. I hope it’ll all be okay. I don’t want to face that I don’t really know if it will be. Maybe I want a second when I’m willing to believe there’s some force that can make it all okay if I ask very sincerely.
And there we have it in a nutshell. The reason otherwise non-religious people pray in times if crisis is not because they believe that there is a higher power controlling the world, but because they wish that there was. It’s sort of like Fox Mulder from “The X Files” with his poster of the UFO on the wall with the caption “I want to believe”.
This article is not meant to insult those who are genuinely praying in the face of tragedy, but to try and explain this unusual phenomenon whereby people suddenly become religious en-mass at the drop of a hat when something bad happens. Why a new pope can be ordained and Justin Bieber doesn’t give a crap, but when a child dies somewhere, he’s suddenly all over the religious talk like a bad rash.
I have suggested before in other articles not related to religion that Twitter (and to an extent Facebook) acts as very much as a means for people to confirm they are a good person. When you post a picture meme about Boston, or you comment on Twitter about the explosion in Texas and your friends “Like” it, or share it, you feel a sense of confirmation that by saying something good and having others support it, you yourself are a good person. Most people resist posting their most desperate moments on social media. They try and paint their life as wonderful and happy for the most part, always focusing on what’s cool and wonderful. In many ways people seek acceptance and approval via social networks. When your life is average and you find it hard to stand out, a simple call to prayer on Facebook or Twitter can mean the world in terms of bolstering both your self-image and your image in the minds of others. When you are feeling guilty of doing something bad, this positive affirmation via social media can make you rise up and feel better about yourself and have others think more of you.
Whether you disapprove of the insincerity of public calls to prayer, or you just find it offensive when the person calling for prayer is a pint-sized pop star with limited understanding of the real world, the fact is that social prayer has become a phenomenon in times of crisis with no sign of slowing down.
Categories: ConspiraciesComments Off on Conspiracy Hour – “Fruit can cure anything !”
Welcome to “Let’s make fun of conspiracy theorists” Episode 2, or “Look out for the whackjob”. Today’s lesson is “Fruit and toxins”.
I know a guy who lives in my building.. he’s American and he just got back from visiting his old home in Colorado and we went up onto the roof to have a chat about the dangers of corporatism and whatnot. I pleaded with him to not use the phrase NWO at any point. He refrained. Mostly I agreed with everything he said (I will excuse his comments about “the good book” as simply buying into The God Delusion) except one thing.
He tried to tell me that doctors were all stupid and that all sickness comes from poor nutrition. Now, everyone in this house has a theory on what causes cancer. One guy SWEARS that it’s solely caused by petroleum. Another says it’s caused by (wait for it….) fluoride. Another says that it’s a depopulation conspiracy from many sources. Anyway, Mr Colorado says that it’s bad nutrition. He’s a health freak and he insists that all sickness is caused by toxins in food.
I asked “So you don’t believe in doctors ? What about medicine ?” “Nope” he said “I would never take medicine. If I am sick, I go on a fruit binge”. I grimaced in mental pain from the severe disapproval inside me. I said “So, no vaccinations, right ?” and his reply was “No way. The skin is a complex system. No way would I put a needle in it for any reason. Who are we to say that we are smarter than God in creating this perfect being ?” At this point a small part of me died but I continued talking to him anyway.
I said “What if you had cancer. Say … let’s use breast cancer as an example. If you were a woman and you had breast cancer and you knew that cutting off your breast and undergoing chemo would fix it… you wouldn’t do it ?” “No” he said. “Because good nutrition will make it go away. Cancer is caused by toxins. If you eat healthy, the cancer will disappear. Cutting it out will just make it come back”. A little more of me died inside.
I said “My mum ate healthy her entire life. She did not smoke, she did not drink. She exercised every day, ran marathons regularly, ate almost no meat and almost exclusively vegetables and fruit. Her kidney failed at age 60 and she is now on dialysis. So what did she do wrong ?” “The doctors. Kidney failure is a manufactured disease. Doctors don’t know shit. They just tell you your kidney failed because they make money from hospitals and dialysis. Fasting would cure her. But noone makes money from that, so therefore noone will tell her to do it”. A little more of me died. I pretty much needed mental dialysis at this point.
I hit him with one final question. I said “What about HIV ?” “Yes” he said. “Healthy eating will cure it”. I tried to facepalm as subtly as possible so that he wouldn’t notice, but by now my hand was permanently on my face. I looked him in the eye and said “But, HIV is a sexually transmitted disease. It’s not something we develop naturally. How could it be caused by toxins ?” “Well, it might be caused by toxins in the original person, but it can be cured in the recipient by healthy eating”. My mind reeled.
He then went on to tell me that he had a urinary tract infection. He told me it was caused by “eating bad herbs”. I laughed. He said “I was stupid and some guy conned me into buying some bad herbs”. “Toxins huh ?” I said with a smirk. “Yes” he said. “They were toxic herbs. I went on a fast for two weeks to purge myself of the toxins. I feel better now. I read a good book on fasting and purging and it explained everything”.
I said “I really have to go now” (before my head exploded) “But I’d just like to leave you with this thought… I know a guy who had cancer and believed like you that it could be cured by natural means… by eating fruit and vegetables, fasting and natural medicine”
“Who’s that ?” he asked.
“Steve Jobs” I answered, and walked off with my cigarettes and wine with a chuckle.
Categories: Asia, LifeComments Off on Going Grass Roots
I chuckle when I hear Americans on Facebook talking about going all grass roots. “Find your local co-op” they say. “Buy fresh. Don’t support corporate monopoly agriculture”. Why do I chuckle ? Because I just bought my food for the week at the markets around the corner. I got up and my wife and I walked about 500 meters around the corner to the roadside markets, bought fruit, vegetables, noodles, rice, pork, chicken and a fish so fresh that it was plucked right out of a bucket of aerated water, clubbed to death and then scaled and gutted in front of us. I think it may have been still twitching when we got it home. On the way back we stopped to get some fresh bread rolls from a woman’s stall outside and some eggs from another. I grabbed a few beers for the day from a an old couple who run a small convenience store out of their downstairs garage. Corporations ? What are they ? Oh you mean “banks”. No I don’t use them either. I get paid in cash… in an envelope. Old schoooooool.
I don’t shop at corporations. I don’t use banks. The government doesn’t know where I live (other than that I’m in the country) my phone is prepaid, my internet is “borrowed”, I don’t have a driver’s license and my motorbike doesn’t need to be registered.
Off the grid ? I’m barely aware there is even a grid to be “on”.
The quote comes from a drink called “L & P” (Lemon and Paeroa) which claims to be “World famous in New Zealand”. I think the theory is that you are “the most famous FROM the world, in a small area”. So that’s how I am selling this story … I (and Yi) are World Famous … in Vietnam.
Why ? This…
This is a feature in this month’s “The Word HCMC”, an English language magazine in Saigon. The article is by Scottish journalist Derek Millard and the photograph is by Vietnamese-American photographer Kyle Phamrot. The subject ? Yi and I !
Yes, we are world famous… in Vietnam. That’s just how we roll, you know ?
If you want to download the PDF of this story to read, click here.
Or you can read the entire magazine online here or if you happen to be in Saigon, you can read it at all good restaurants and bars or at the magazine’s offices for free.
Also, could the paparazzi please respect our privacy. We get photographed enough. We need our privacy. K, thx.
Categories: RantsComments Off on The 70 year old drug pusher pharmacist
Yi is sick. Well actually we’re both sick. No big deal, it’s just a cold. But she has to stand up and work at the markets for 11 hours a day and her boss won’t give her a day off because she’s a bitch. So I promised to go get her some medicine today. I went to my local pharmacist lady. She’s a lovely old biddy with a grey perm and she speaks pretty good English although it took me ages to realise this because I mostly speak to her in Vietnamese where possible.
So I dropped into her store this morning and waited for her while she finished sweeping up outside and then came in and said “Can I help you ?” with a smile. I nodded and said “Cough medicine, cold tablets, and codeine-paracetamol”. She said “I have tramadol or panadeine forte if you want. Much stronger”. I said “No thank you. Just a headache. Only need codeine”. “Ahh ok” she said and got me out a few strips. The reasons she offered these things is because nothing requires a prescription in Vietnam. It’s just not worth the hassle and would make it too onerous on patient’s wallets and doctor’s time to screw around with such things. If people wanted to abuse drugs here, it wouldn’t be pharmaceuticals because they’re relatively low-strength and high price compared to the street drugs. If you wanted to get high you’d do it on opium or heroin, not on Vicodin or Percoset.
I’ve bought diazepam (valium) there before in the past, though not in the last six months. But on at least three or four occasions over the last few years and I guess she figured that if I was sick I may well want to hole up in bed and sleep. I can only assume that was the reasoning behind why she then said “I have new types of diazepam if you want. I get new ones from Holland yesterday”. “Really ?” I asked with mild curiosity, wondering why she seemed so excited by this. “Yes. I have Clonazepam but it is little expensive and only comes in small boxes, but I also have very good Roche brand Bromazepam. 30 tablets, 6mg for $25 USD. But tablets all cut in four. You only take quarter tablet. Enough for three months if only use one a day”.
I was like “Hrmm. Very good. I’m OK for now thanks. I’m leaving in a week and I don’t think I could take that overseas but thank you”. She smiled and said “No problem. If you know anyone who wants it, tell them come here. Much better than the cheap diazepam other people sell” she added, pointing up and down the street at the shadier pharmacists who sell generic or fake medicines sometimes. I smiled and said “I know. Xin cam on ba” and waved as I walked out.
Some countries have the most insane restrictions on medications. Some countries require a prescription for basic codeine, while others just need to sight you driver’s license and record it on a computer system. But other things can be a nightmare. Many of the medications that people need to treat depression in Australia can only be prescribed by a psychiatrist and those people are hard to find outside of a capital city. Even in large cities of 60,000 or more people there just isn’t one and if you do find one in a nearby city he will have a 3-6 month waiting list and even then he’s unlikely to prescribe you what you need on your first visit. If you move town to a smaller city and have no medication, you could be waiting months before you can get it, which is insane considering the damaging effects of withdrawal, not to mention the high cost of a doctor’s referral to a psychiatrist, travel there, accommodation, consultations with the psychiatrist, travel to the pharmacist, travel home etc. If you lack your own car it could cost you something in the order of $800-1000 before medicare rebate just to get authorisation to pickup a small bottle of pills which only cost $5 in the first place.
They say it’s to stop doctors improperly prescribing medicine to themselves or their friends and to stop unauthorised people getting access to precursors with which to make harder drugs, but is that practical ? The justice system is supposed to work on the principle that it is better to let a 100 guilty people go free rather than have 1 innocent person suffer (Note that I said “is supposed to”). But our health system works the opposite way. The war on drugs causes innocent, sick people to be unable to get hold of their medication because the amount of red-tape and difficulty in getting a prescription makes it at times financially impossible for lower-income patients to get what they need, and by definition, people who need strong medication are the very ones who are likely to be lower income.
And when it comes to the drug abusers, we all know they will find any way to get what they want. I had an ex-girlfriend who used to be able to get benzodiazepams very easily because, well, girls are given them much more readily by doctors than guys are. She would regularly doctor shop for benzos and then trade them with morphine users. Friends I’ve known have just gone to the doctor for a tiny 10 tablet dose of the terribly weak temazepam only to take it home, crush the whole thing up and then inject it. Another friend stunned me by telling me that when he couldn’t get heroin he would just buy lots of codeine and do a cold water extraction and inject that. I was dumbfounded that people would seriously go to the trouble of injecting codeine to get high. Other people like to get high on cough syrup which is a pretty strong hallucinogenic. So the point is, it doesn’t matter what you restrict, people will find a way to abuse anything.
What harm does removing the need for prescriptions have on the population of Vietnam ? None that I can see. There are no crazy people smashing through pharmacy windows to steal medication. Ultimately the reason why is that street drugs are cheaper. Sometimes they might go and get something from a pharmacy to tide them over if they can’t get what they normally take, but the price makes it prohibitive, and pharmacists don’t sell on credit.
But the nicest thing I like about the lack of prescriptions being needed in Vietnam is that you don’t have to feel like a criminal just because you want some Tramadol for your back pain or some Valium to help you sleep. There is no stigma attached to it. No doctor is going to say “Well I’m sorry but I just can’t do that because you’ve asked me twice before” or “I can’t give that to new patients for reasons of abuse”. And no pharmacist is going to look disapprovingly down his nose at you just because you produce a script for both dexamphetamine and rohypnol at the same time even though you got it legitimately from your psychiatrist. Here it’s like “Oh you’re sick ? Do you need to sleep ? I can give you some strong pain medication and some diazepam too if you’d like”.
In Vietnam, a pharmacist’s job is so sell people medication that helps them. Yes, if someone does come back regularly demanding the same thing, they may politely suggest that it wouldn’t be appropriate to sell it to them so regularly, but from my enquiries, that doesn’t happen.
Fortunately I’m not really into benzo’s anymore after a bad experience with them after I was prescribed too many for too long, and I don’t take strong pain-killers because they make me sick. But it is very nice to just be able to pickup some cough medicine, some basic painkillers (even a carton full of them if I want) and even anti-depressants or anxiety medication without need to have a signed bit of paper from two different health professionals and then have the pharmacist scrutinise it for any excuse as to why they should not sell it to you.
When are western countries going to give up the war on drugs ? Drugs are meant to help people. If some people want to take legal drugs and turn them into powerful illegal drugs, that’s their business. It doesn’t mean that the rest of us sick people should have to suffer and wait ages and jump through all sorts of legal hoops to get something just because we MIGHT be a drug cook rather than just a regular person with a cold.
Categories: Love, PersonalComments Off on Some things get better with age … ME
Proving that some things get better with age…
The best thing about this photo is that even though a decade has passed, the wife sitting across from me taking the photo is now younger, cuter, funnier and more decent than the one I had ten years ago. Hahahahaha. Life goes on doesn’t it ? :”)
Categories: RantsComments Off on Vaccines are poison! (And if you believe that, I hope you die of a preventable disease)
Ok I recently posted a rant about the dumb fucks who don’t vaccinate their kids because they’re all new-age and think that putting foreign things or “poison” into your body is the cause of all evils in the world. But it’s such a huge issue right now. People are really fucking losing it over this shit. It’s all over Facebook and YouTube. I mean, maybe I know the wrong people. Maybe I hang out on too many alternative news sites and stuff, but some of them are interesting and some of them do say intelligent things, some of the time. But often it’s just whackjob bullshit, so insane it just makes you want to say this:
So there was this video. A “truther” group called “A sheep no more” posted it on Facebook. Don’t look up the group. Seriously. For your own sanity, don’t do it. If you’re a rational human being you will probably kill yourself out of desperation, and if you’re not, you might fucking believe it. I really am not going to spend all night disproving this by quoting dozens of scientific papers because I don’t think I need to. This woman’s lunacy is evident if you use just a fraction of the common sense that I hope you have and that’s all it should take to convince you she’s insane. So let’s begin. Here’s the video. You may watch it as you continue reading. I would annotate where each point that she raises begins so that you can skip straight to it, but I’d have to rewatch it, and considering how desperately I wanted to stop watching it after only about 1 minute, there’s no way in hell you could make me watch this shit a second time. Here we go. Please, don’t have any loaded weapons around you while watching this. You WILL kill yourself. This is going to hurt your brain. I’m sorry.
The first bit is a blur. I don’t remember what she said. I was too busy trying not to hurt myself. But the first bit that made me just double take and made my eyes nearly pop out of my sockets like in a Warner Brothers cartoon was where she tells us about her “interview” (listen honey, you aren’t a journalist, and chatting with someone on ChatRoulette is not an interview, but let’s move on) with a gulf war soldier.
Now the bit that gets me about this is she calls him an “undeployed gulf war soldier”. This puzzles me. How can you be a gulf war soldier if you were not deployed in the war ? Is it because he was a soldier when the gulf war was on, even though he never attended ? WTF ? My father watched the moon landing, but that doesn’t make him a fucking astronaut, does it ? To be honest, this just illustrates the dangers of listening to people cite information from sources saying “well a gulf war soldier told me, so it must be true”. Really ? Was he in the war in the Gulf ? No ? Well then how does he manage to be a gulf war soldier ? I wish I was in the audience for this so I could ask her this question and watch her fumble. But let’s move on to what she says he told her. Oh and by the way, he was apparently from the second gulf war, not the first.
Well apparently, many soldiers were given the anthrax vaccine whether they went to the gulf war or not. Maybe that’s the basis of his claim to be a gulf war soldier .. “I didn’t go, but I got the vaccination, so it’s almost like I went”. Anyway, she claims, based on his information that three times as many soldiers died from the vaccine as died in the war. In fact, hundreds of thousands of them died.
Now, that’s pretty fucking absurd right. Even taking into account that the second gulf war was in 2006, she claims that by the following year, hundreds of thousands had died of the vaccination. Wow. That’s some quick acting poison. But even presuming that soldiers were all vaccinated against anthrax since the first one in 1991 (and I really don’t need to research this because it’s really irrelevant) then basically in 20 odd years, hundreds of thousands of soldiers have been dropping like flies. Sallie (that’s the woman’s name) says that’s due to a government policy of “depopulation”. Well, that may be the government’s policy (not a bad one either and I’d like to start by depopulating the earth of Sallie if I can please), but killing off your troops doesn’t seem very sensible. Sort of hard to win a war when you’re poisoning your own troops. But forget that for now.
Only 294 Americans died in the gulf war, including those who didn’t die in combat or died due to friendly fire. Three times that isn’t even a thousand, so how did “hundreds of thousands” die of the vaccine if three times as many died of the vaccine as in the war ? The mind boggles, right ?
One thing that’s possible is that Sallie is confusing “illness” with “death”. See, statistics have in fact shown that around 250,000 of the almost 700,000 soldiers who were deployed got sick from things they were exposed to. Maybe toxins used by the enemy, maybe some of the medicines given to them etc. Noone knows conclusively, but studies have been done. Thing is, they were veterans who served. As in, took part in the war. There are no stats on anyone who didn’t serve in the war getting sick (that I can find), but that’s probably because it’s hard to find stats on something that didn’t happen.
Anyway, yeah, 250,000 thousand odd people did get sick, and it’s believed to have been caused by Pyridostigmine Bromide which was given to them to help the efficacy of anti-nerve toxin treatment later. But it’s not a vaccine. Soldiers did get an anthrax vaccine as well, but it has since been ruled out as a cause of Gulf War Syndrome (Yes you’ll notice that I capitalise the G in “the Gulf”, and also in “Gulf War Syndrome” but not in “gulf war”. That’s deliberate. You can try and work out why for yourself). I guess these truthers would tell you the government are just lying. Except… they’re clearly telling us something did cause these people to get sick. It’s just not the anthrax vaccine. Whoops. Sorry about that Sallie. Oh and birth defects that Sallie goes on to talk about ? Didn’t happen. No amount of birth defects was recorded that was significantly different to that of what happens in normal society. Sorry again Sallie.
Ok, moving right along, Sallie goes on to say that vaccines cause autism. Well, yes, I admit that the incidence of autism has risen dramatically around the world in recent years. Mind you, that’s in “very” recent years. Vaccines have actually been documented as being used since the 17th century. But to be fair, back then they weren’t in teeny tiny little vials full of mercury. Many people blame the mercury for all sorts of things. I can’t comment on that. The scientific evidence seems not really yet completely conclusive. But Sallie for some reason doesn’t hold firm on her reason for autism. No, it’s not just vaccines according to Sallie. It’s also genetically modified foods. Oh and flouride. *facepalm*. I know, right ? Yeah, flouride. It’ll make you dumb. It’ll make your kids autistic. In fact, just brushing your teeth will kill your neighbour’s dog.
I could easily say that the increase in autism diagnoses is because we know what autism is now. We used to just say “Oh he’s fucking retarded” and leave it at that. Now, I know autistic children are actually really intelligent an analytical, but it’s fair to say that when they act up or have social problems they used to be just labelled as retarted. In fact these days everyone who is even a tiny bit socially awkward suddenly has asbergers syndrome and therefore falls on the ASD (Autism Disorder Spectrum. I know that’s not the acronym, but the acronym is stupid. You can’t have a disorder of a spectrum, it’s a spectrum of disorders so the acronym is clearly wrong in terms of basic English. It’s a pet hate of mine. The acronym ASD is clearly wrong in terms of basic grammar). My own daughter is apparently autistic even though none of the rest of the family think she is. That’s what my ex-wife says because she wants to pick up an extra 12 grand a year in government assistance and have a good reason for her new boyfriend to not force her to go and get a job, but you can see my point… now that doctors and the government recognise autism (and give you welfare as a result), suddenly everyone has it.
To be honest, you logically have to make some correlation between the increase in autism and our lifestyle. I’d love to blame it all on welfare scams and healthcare and such, allowing people who really shouldn’t breed to do so anyway (don’t hate on me, I don’t think the world should be like in Gattaca, but I do feel that from an evolutionary standpoint we are encouraging genetic deterioration by letting people with diseases breed when we don’t have the technology to fix the problem yet), but if I said that people would call me a nazi or something. Of course it’s it’s largely due to our diet and lifestyle. I don’t think it’s all due to a tiny bit of mercury in our vaccines, nor due to GMO products, but it could well be to the chemicals in our fast food snacks. That seems logical. But noone wants to blame that. Everyone would rather stuff doritos and twinkies into their mouth 24/7 while pointing the finger at the doctor with the needle and saying “It’s his fault”. But let’s move on.
Right near the start of the video Sallie says:
”Vaccines are ALL risk and NO benefits”
That is a stunning statement. I can’t even address that I just repeat it and let stunned silence fall and let you draw your own conclusions. I mean, you either accept that that’s just utter crap by using simple logic, or else you’re an irrational fool and nothing I can say will change your mind anyway so I’ll just leave it alone for now. Let’s listen to Sallie make an absurd (but, on the surface, seemingly quite logical) conclusion about why it’s obviously vaccines that cause autism.
Because Quakers don’t vaccinate and they don’t have autism in their communities. Now, I could try and argue that that might be because Quakers are nutcases and many people say that their behaviour is actually very much akin to autism in the first place and that fringe-religion weirdos are the least likely to take their kids to a psychiatrist and have them diagnosed with autism (whereas trailer trash mothers are the most likely) and that would be fair, but it’s a little hard to quantify, and while I believe it’s valid, it’s not the best argument to use, so here’s a better one.
It’s just not true. Quakers do have autism in their community. Some of them come out and are open about it. I didn’t have to google more than a few seconds to find them. Here’s one.
This girl, Amanda is a Quaker with autism. But there’s something even better. I found her blog mentioned and held up by other people as an example of an autistic Quaker. It wasn’t hard to find at all. But the real gold is in her latest post at the time of writing. Presuming you’re reading this later and she updates it, here it is.
That’s dated just a few months ago. The post is how she’s just been released from hospital after almost dying… from pneumonia. Yeah, that’s a disease that’s preventable… with a vaccine.
Seriously, I didn’t go hunting for that. I was just searching for “quakers with autism” on Google, and I found those two blogs within the first page or two of results, clicked on them and straight away that popped up. The irony nearly killed me the way pneumonia almost killed Amanda.
That’s awesome because that’s not the big bad FDA or the WHO or someone who are “spreading lies to the sheeple”. That’s just a girl, writing a blog. About being a Quaker. With Autism. Who almost died from a disease she should have been vaccinated against but wasn’t because she was a Quaker.
So… being a Quaker and not getting vaccinated did not stop her getting autism. Nor did it stop her almost dying of pneumonia. What was that Sallie said earlier ?
“Vaccines are ALL risk and NO benefits”
Really ? Because it would seem Amanda would have been autistic whether she was vaccinated or not. But not being vaccinated for pneumonia almost killed her. I don’t think Sallie’s statement quite holds up, does it ? I admit these are just individual examples, but it’s hard to get statistics on the amount of Quakers with autism because these people resist such labels. But when Sallie tried to claim NO Quakers had autistm I thought “That seems incredible. I wonder if it’s true”. It didn’t take long at all to prove that it’s not true in the slightest. There are Quakers with autism. They’re not hard to find if you open your goddamn eyes.
Ok, but then to further stomp on the efficacy of vaccines, Sallie tries to tell us that “84% of people who get whooping cough have been vaccinated against it”. Shit. That does sound convincing doesn’t it ? But the problem with statistics is that if you take them out of context and you don’t research the facts behind it and look at the other side of the statistics it’s very easy to draw one-sided conclusions.
Facts like, whooping cough vaccine does not completely prevent it. It does reduce the chance of getting it, and it also reduces the severity if you do get it, but it doesn’t completely prevent it. Also, the vaccine wears off. That doesn’t bother most people because it’s mostly young children who are in danger of dying of the disease, so adults are a little less concerned about getting the vaccine a second time later in life, which is perfectly fair enough because just because vaccines do good, it doesn’t mean we should go around vaccinating ourselves for a million things. Those vaccines DO have mercury in them and I guarantee you, if you have enough of that shit, you WILL get sick. Whether it’ll make your kids autistic or not is still unsure, but whacking a thousand vaccines into you isn’t the best thing to do, which is why we don’t normally re-vaccinate for whooping cough. It’s also why not everyone is supposed to get a flu shot – only those at the greatest risk of dying from the flu.
But on top of that, let’s just look at whether the vaccine IS effective or not. And for what it’s worth, I got these statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) rather than just out of my fat arse, which is where Sallie gets her information. 2012 saw the largest whooping cough outbreak in almost 60 years. 42,000 people in the US got the disease, and yes, around 84% of them had already been vaccinated. That sounds shocking right ? Sallie should totally use that statistic to scare the shit out of people and warn them that vaccines are ineffective. Except, the fact that 84% of people had been vaccinated meant that only 18 died due to the vaccine helping them fight the disease. However, in the 1930’s, doctors recorded over 250,000 cases every year and in 1930 alone there was around 8,500 deaths. Wow. That’s more than 5 times as many, even though the population of the country was much smaller. So… vaccination has cut whooping cough infections by an order of magnitude of hundreds of percent and reduced the amount of deaths from 3.4% of all those infected in in 1930 to 0.2% in 1993. Death due to whooping cough has been all but eliminated.
“Vaccines are ALL risk and NO benefits”
Bullshit Sallie. You’re a certified fucking moron. I hope you get whooping cough.
You may think “Fuck Sallie. Let her not vaccinate herself and her children and the dumbasses can die. Make it voluntary and let’s sit back and watch the stupidest people die. Call it natural selection. We don’t want dumb shits like that in the world anyway” and that might seem like a reasonable point of view (it does to me) but it doesn’t stand up to scientific fact. Why ? Well, this is why.
Everyone should be vaccinated as a child because vaccinations rely on herd immunity. If half the people don’t vaccinate it means we still get exposed to the disease. That means the disease becomes more vaccine-resistant. We need 90% vaccination rates to achieve effective herd immunity. Which means that the more we allow people like Sallie to go unvaccinated, the greater the risk of these diseases such as whooping cough becoming slowly resistant to the vaccine. That’s happening. The vaccine used to be more effective than it is now. And that’s due to people like Sallie. That’s why vaccination is, to varying degrees, mandatory in the USA and in many other developed countries. In fact, in some places we even go further.
Sallie bitches that it’s unfair that the government forces people to be vaccinated and in fact in some places, not vaccinating your child could cause your child to be taken away from you and you could be sent to jail. She says that the government insists they are doing it for “your own good” and that people should have the right to choose. No Sallie, that’s not the case. The government does it for EVERYONE’s own good. Because it only takes a few percent of these uneducated, reactionary nutcases like Sallie to refuse to vaccinate their kids and it takes the percentage of vaccinated citizens down from that 90% goal necessary for herd immunity which causes the disease to be all but eradicated (as some diseases such as polio have been due to pervasive and mandated polio vaccines) and we end up with the disease becoming vaccine resistant. No, I’m afraid when a small percentage of people refuse to vaccinate, it hurts everyone. Not in the short term, because the vaccinated people are still fairly resistant to the disease, even when exposed to it by Sallie’s filthy disease-ridden children, but in the long term because the disease becomes resistant to the vaccine over the decades. Just as we should not over-use anti-biotics, we should not under-use vaccines as a society or they will cease to work.
People like Sallie don’t understand this. They don’t understand anything, as evidenced by the crazy rant where she says that that vaccines are like putting a monkey kidney inside you and “when the antibodies have finished devouring the monkey kidney they will devour your own because that’s what anti-bodies do – fight things not from your body”. That’s complete bunkum because obviously your own kidney is not a foreign body and there is no reason anti-bodies would attack it. Sallie seems to think that antibodies are like Hannibal Lector and ones they get a taste for flesh they won’t stop until you’re dead – eaten out from the inside.
It’s impossible to reason with people who take this sort of “Anything foreign in your body is a POISON and poisons are bad and anyone who tries to put them inside you is doing something illegal” attitude because they don’t want to look at statistics on the amount of people whose lives are saved by vaccines. They just latch onto the tiniest, most remote one-in-a-million chance of adverse side effects from something and then they blow it way out of proportion. Once people become obsessed with something, they see evidence of it everywhere. They can draw conclusions all over the place that aren’t based on scientific fact but on a flawed sense of logic. Suddenly they can take something like “Quakers don’t report high incidences of autism” and turn it into “Quakers don’t get autism” because they fail to realise there could be other reasons why Quakers don’t report having autism. Then they go and draw other conclusions and say “Well, since Quakers don’t vaccinate then clearly not vaccinating your kids will prevent them from being autistic”. Totally flawed logic.
That’s the basic facts of the matter. I know I have presented this in a fairly offensive and judgemental manner but I don’t care. This isn’t a scientific paper, it’s a rant, because the people who most need convincing of this wouldn’t be convinced even if it was. There are none so blind as those who will not see, and anti-vaccine campaigners are among the worst of those people. You can have the most clearly obvious statistics showing how vaccination has almost eliminated death or sickness but they refuse to accept the correlation, instead focussing instead on that one news story they heard about a little girl who got sick and got a nasty rash after being vaccinated at school or the one guy they spoke to who had some second-hand anecdotes about how a vaccination caused people to get sick or die, and then they twist some statistics or “facts” to support their view.
People do trust first and even second-hand experience more than they trust what the government tells them sometimes and that’s because government does lie to people from time to time. It’s a sad fact of life that when the government lies to its citizens in order to start a war over oil or diamonds or gold or whatever, that it erodes the public’s trust in them. Many times we know the government is lying, especially when it comes to things like the premises for war, but we don’t speak up because it looks like we are unpatriotic. Criticising soldiers is a big social no-no, especially in America. So we just let it slide. The problem is that when we get used to the government lying to us, this happens. People start disbelieving everything it says. No matter how many FDA reports come out, we don’t believe them because we know they have lied before.
And that’s unfortunate, and that’s why we need to ask questions. We do need the truth. But the truth is something you have to find out on your own, by gathering different opinions and evaluating them in your own mind. You cannot be spoon-fed the “truth” via Facebook memes or by some reactionary nutcase who themself, refuses to look at the facts objectively. Then you end up with people like this woman, Jasna who says this in the comments of Sallie’s video:
“I notice ,videos with this video on YOUTUBE together , are just same videos,they are on my channel-site_ENVIRONMENTAL GALLERY JASNA SEVER .My channel deserves more views too ,but naptha-pharma-cosmetic owner ,can with one click to stop my video views.In one year I have made 50 videos,some should have higher view because of health of world population.But in one year there are only 600 view..My channel views liste is long ago like OPEC–NAPHTHA OWNERS liste.Channel is interrupted with click”
Maybe your new age bullshit is just fucking boring Jasna. I’m pretty sure big pharma doesn’t have a “stop Jasna’s YouTube views” button.
It might seem odd at first but the profile on Jasna’s own page explains (in all capitals I might add) that she is angry because she “got parkinson’s disease from working in a perfume shop”. Her evidence is that a few people at her first workplace told her they had “similar problems”. I’m not sure what problems are “similar” to parkinson’s, but from the way this nutcase talks I’m betting people tell her whatever she wants to hear in order to get the hell away from her. I should point out that English is not her first language as she is from Slovenia, but frankly, not being a native English speaker is no excuse for just vomiting punctuation, capitals and leaving out spaces. Not speaking English fluently doesn’t make you write garbled all-caps nonsense. Being a moron does.
Also, like Sallie’s, Jasna’s channel is full of videos called “the circle of life”, “one family on this blue planet”, “chemical toxin information put to rainforest music and overlaid over nature pictures” and every second video is about meditation, evolution of the mind, peace, love and destiny. Don’t get me wrong, I love peace, love and environmentalism. But anyone who has a Youtube channel full of nothing but new age bullshit like this is clearly not a credible source of information.
You aren’t all sheeple.
You are intelligent, rational and informed citizens. Or at least you have the potential to be. So stop wasting that. When these action groups give a call to arms and tell you you need to “wake up and learn the truth”, then do it. LEARN THE TRUTH. Don’t just go “Oh well this person is saying government is bad and that I need to wake up, therefore whatever they are saying must be the real truth”. Why is it that when the government says “This is the truth, those critics are morons” and the critics say “No, the government is lying. We are telling the real truth” that so many people side with the nutcases by default without even researching ? Just because our government lies about some things sometimes doesn’t mean everything they say is a lie and it’s this sort of thinking which is the most dangerous. Stop being led. If you want to not be sheeple then do it by not following ANYONE’s advice on what’s true. Research and work it out for yourself. And don’t listen to anyone who calls you a “sheeple”. They’re just playing on your emotions to try and convince you that if you don’t have an extreme, reactionary viewpoint like they do that you are just part of a flock of sheep.
No, accepting the existing consensus doesn’t make you a sheep. It just means that you trust what society has come to believe to be the truth. Yes, sometimes that can be distorted or even wrong, but that’s why you should think for yourself and RESEARCH for yourself. Because thinking without information is dangerous. Very dangerous. Next thing you know you’ll be Sallie, going to schools and seminars and preaching to gullible people and causing the next smallpox outbreak.
Don’t fucking do it. If you mistrust the government, that’s fine. That’s a good thing to do. But don’t automatically take an opposing viewpoint on every fucking issue because you think the government are liars and want to kill you. They’re not depopulating the world because frankly, they want your tax dollars. They’re not turning you into robots with flouride. And they not fucking poisoning you with vaccines. Don’t be a moron. Don’t be Sallie. Go and learn something today.
Categories: LoveComments Off on Gather ye rosebuds while ye may
This is a poem by 17th century English poet. Robert Herrick.
It’s a poem about finding love while you have a chance. Specifically youthful love. About being bold and wasting no time and grabbing opportunity by the collar while you have it within your reach lest you regret your complacency when you are older. It’s very nice and I like the theme. You know I love roses right ? I miss Nam and Lynne so much. My vases are empty now, but I have gathered my rosebuds and I found my love. Still, every time I look at them, I am reminded of the two kids that helped me distribute roses all over this city to so many girls for so many reasons. So, this poem is for them more than for anyone else.
“To the Virgins, to make much of Time”
by Robert Herrick.
Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying:
And this same flower that smiles to-day
To-morrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he ‘s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he ‘s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry:
For having lost but once your prime,
You may for ever tarry.
It’s truth night for some people apparently, so here’s mine, though I know it’s basically a whine.
I unfriended someone yesterday. They weren’t exactly a close friend. In fact I didn’t even like them. But they did say some interesting things. They liked some interesting things, and they were a foreigner living in South East Asia so we had something in common.
They were the cause of a little post on Facebook defining what an “internet entrepreneur” was the other day. I’m very cynical about such people because I firmly believe something about internet entrepreneurship. It requires technical knowledge. See the thing that that all these wanna be entrepreneurs don’t realise is that they will never be one. Because they don’t know what the fuck they are talking about.
People seem to have this crazy idea that anyone can create Facebook and all you need is an idea. No. That’s fucking bullshit. You think Twitter was created because of an idea ? You think Facebook was created because Mark Zuckerberg went “Hey ! Maybe if we let people connect with each other, lots of them will do it and we can make a business worth over a hundred bullion dollars !”
No. It doesn’t work like that. See, Twitter was a fairly original idea. But Facebook wasn’t. Lots of sites existed that did the exact same thing. There’s one difference. Facebook did it better. It’s not because the idea was better. Iet’s because someone (Mark Zuckerberg) understood the technology. He put in the hours coding the damn thing. He actually did real work. He didn’t just snort a line of cocaine and go “Duhhh.. people like to communicate. Maybe if I hire some people to make a site and let them do that, I will be a billionaire”.
NO. IT DOESN’T WORK LIKE THAT.
You think Apple became a huge success because Steve Jobs had an “idea” ? No. It became a huge success because he was a genius with great attention to detail and very specific technical knowledge and understanding of what people wanted in technology. Not just because he hired the best people. Because he put in the hours beating them and saying “You’re doing it WRONG dipshit. It has to be done like THIS”.
You think Facebook became a huge success because Mark Zuckerberg had a good “idea” ? No. It became a huge success because he worked his fucking arse off paying attention to the little things. He was obsessed about layout and pixel-perfect precision and analysing how people used the site and what they liked and dislike. Oh yeah. He also understood people.
Both were or are assholes. But they had more than an idea. They had an idea and they PERSONALLY made it become a reality through hard work.
But some dumb fucks like to come along and say “Hey. Facebook is popular right ? And Groupon is popular right ? Maybe I can mix those two together and create the mother of all awesome social discounting sites. It doesn’t matter that I don’t know the first fucking thing about technology, because I can just hire some coder and promise them lots of money in the far distant future by luring them with the idea of “creating the next Facebook”. If they’re an even dumber fuck and they come from a business background and wear a tie they might even get it in their fucking head that the IDEA is the bit worth everything. And that because they got the IDEA and they’re the one hiring people, that they should have a larger share in the resulting enterprise. Even though they don’t really do any work. All they are is a business executive who makes phone calls and goes to expensive lunches and shakes hands with venture capitalists.
Sure. Those people are necessary in a business. They’re important. But they are not the driving force. They are nothing more than “managers”. Who made Apple a success ? Was it John Scully, the tie wearing asshole who brokered the deals ? Or was it Steve Jobs ? the guy who not only had vision but actually sat there late at night WORKING and making it happen and refining every fucking last detail to make sure that the product he was creating was perfect ? That question is clearly rhetorical by the way.
If there’s one thing I hate more than fuckwits who want to get rich by exploiting poor people by paying them fuck all for their labor and selling their hard work to rich customers and making obscene profits off it, it’s the fuckwits who want to get rich because they have an “idea”, but have zero fucking understanding of the technology required to make it a reality. If you’ve ever worked in IT you no doubt know those people.
Dilbert has a famous and stereotypical boss like that. Completely technologically inept, but manages a technology company. The IT Crowd has one too. Have you ever had one ? I had one some years ago when an old friend asked me to come work with him on a project. When he told me what he was doing I said “Wow. That’s genius. You are really making that ? That’s brilliant. I think that could be a massive success. I’m in”. But when I got there I found that my friend was a technical person and an ideas person but had no patience for business and had let his business partner basically run the show.
The problem was that his partner, who was the “Yeah.. let’s take over China !” type who thought he could do anything, knew zero about the technical aspects of the business itself. He was just a bullshit machine. You don’t have to figure out that people are like this because these people actually TELL YOU. They make a special point of it like it’s a point of pride in fact – “I don’t understand anything about computers. I couldn’t set my VCR timer if my life depended on it. But my employee here does ! He’s a genius (even though I pay him sweet fuck all)”
It takes a special combination of business accumen, technical knowledge and vision to succeed in turning a great idea into a billion dollar company. Sometimes you can do it with two out of three if your other strengths are good enough. Bill Gates had amazing business accumen, and some fairly decent vision, but not that much technical knowledge. Zuckerberg had vision and technical knowledge but not so much business accumen (fortunately he hired people who did though, because “business people” are the most easily replaceable and purchased). Google ? Well, Google actually had a team behind it. It was a rare case when it was possible for multiple people to compliment each other’s strengths and make up for their weaknesses, but to be fair they did all possess quite a bit of knowledge in all fields.
But my point is, that working for some online hotel industry company and then having some genius idea about combining two existing successful ideas and thinking that all you need to do is hire one coder and he’ll work his ass off and create the next multi-billion dollar company for you is GODDAMN FUCKING RETARDED !
It takes more than a code monkey to create Facebook. You need people who have many qualities. People who understand people. People who understand code. People who understand technology as a whole. You can’t just hire a coder and say “Hey, take Facebook and Groupon and make a new site to combine the two. And by the way I’m the real genius here because I thought of it and I put some numbers on paper which suggest that I can be a millionaire real soon. Start coding now please because I don’t understand shit about that stuff”. I mean, do you even have the slightest fucking understanding how much work, thought, planning and man-hours it takes to make a website ? You think that because you can knock some tacky shit up in Dreamweaver that that’s all that’s required to create Facebook. Do you even know what AJAX and JSON and such stand for ? No you don’t, do you ?
Just because you use Facebook does not mean you understand social media. In fact, I wish those fucking people would stop even TALKING about social media. They’re the sort of fuckwits who see a couple of girls who want a puppy getting a million likes and go “YEAH ! You’re leveraging social media properly !” No they’re not you dumb fuck. They’re just a couple of kids who want a puppy and everyone likes puppies and clicking the like button takes zero effort. They don’t understand social media. They’re just some kids with a cute cause. You want to see someone who knows how to use social media ? Show me the kids who managed to “leverage social media” to cure poverty in their state. Because THAT takes some fucking effort. Saying “I want a puppy. Like this please” does not make you a fucking social media genius. It makes you a kid who wants a fucking puppy.
Seriously, shut the FUCK up about social media, all of you. I’m not saying I’m a genius on the subject, but you dumb fucks who think you can “leverage it” to make yourself rich because you have an IDEA about how “people can share shit because sharing stuff means viral stuff and viral stuff means customers and customers means money”. Just because you understand that basic concept DOES NOT MAKE YOU A FUCKING SOCIAL MEDIA ENTREPRENEUR !
Every second motherfucker on the planet has an idea like that. The idea does not make you special. Being able to understand the technology well enough to make it a reality does. And you people CAN’T. So shut the fuck up and stop trying to hire me and people like me to make your shitty idea into a billion dollar business. Because I don’t fucking care about you and I wouldn’t work with you because you don’t understand SHIT about technology and you think that just because you have an idea and call yourself an entrepreneur that you’re the boss. You’re nothing. You’re a fucking suit who did a line of coke and his brain got addled and he came up with a fucking idea that millions of people already had but somehow you’re under the delusion that your idea is special and will make you rich. Fuck off.
Here’s a hint for you people who want to be “internet entrepreneurs”. Calling yourself one does not make you one. Calling yourself a doctor does not make you a doctor and I don’t see why people think they have some god-given right to run around telling everyone they’re an internet entrepreneur. You’re one when you make a million dollars and a magazine does a feature article on you and calls you one. Anyone who actually proclaims they are one almost certainly isn’t. I make websites for a living. I write code and I have good ideas and I understand people’s technological needs. I still don’t run around calling myself an “internet entrepreneur”. Primarily because I’m not a fucking douche.
Oh but really, that’s just my rant. The reason I actually unfriended and blocked you Todd Indiana Bizendrine is because your A MOTHER FUCKING RACIST and I hate those people more than anyone. Crawl back into your pathetic little hole in Phnom Penh and continue fucking your semi-retarded white bitch of a wife while constantly complaining about the way society works in Cambodia because it’s not the same as America while simultaneously thinking you’re an awesome adventurer just for living there. Because that’s what you do best. I hate people who do that too.
Fucking racists. Line them up behind the internet entrepreneurs and shoot them. I suggest doing it this way because internet entrepreneurs are complete fucking airheads and the bullet will go right through them and because really racists don’t even deserve a bullet of their own.
Categories: PeopleComments Off on A grumpy old man
When an old man died in the geriatric ward of a nursing home in an Australian country town, it was believed that he had nothing left of any value.
Later, when the nurses were going through his meagre possessions, They found this poem. Its quality and content so impressed the staff that copies were made and distributed to every nurse in the hospital.
One nurse took her copy to Melbourne. The old man’s sole bequest to posterity has since appeared in the Christmas editions of magazines around the country and appearing in mags for Mental Health. A slide presentation has also been made based on his simple, but eloquent, poem.
And this old man, with nothing left to give to the world, is now the author of this ‘anonymous’ poem winging across the Internet.
Cranky Old Man
What do you see nurses? . . .. . .What do you see?
What are you thinking .. . when you’re looking at me?
A cranky old man, . . . . . .not very wise,
Uncertain of habit .. . . . . . . .. with faraway eyes?
Who dribbles his food .. . … . . and makes no reply.
When you say in a loud voice . .’I do wish you’d try!’
Who seems not to notice . . .the things that you do.
And forever is losing . . . . . .. . . A sock or shoe?
Who, resisting or not . . . … lets you do as you will,
With bathing and feeding . . . .The long day to fill?
Is that what you’re thinking?. .Is that what you see?
Then open your eyes, nurse .you’re not looking at me.
I’ll tell you who I am . . . . .. As I sit here so still,
As I do at your bidding, .. . . . as I eat at your will.
I’m a small child of Ten . .with a father and mother,
Brothers and sisters .. . . .. . who love one another
A young boy of Sixteen . . . .. with wings on his feet
Dreaming that soon now . . .. . . a lover he’ll meet.
A groom soon at Twenty . . . ..my heart gives a leap.
Remembering, the vows .. .. .that I promised to keep.
At Twenty-Five, now . . . . .I have young of my own.
Who need me to guide . . . And a secure happy home.
A man of Thirty . .. . . . . My young now grown fast,
Bound to each other . . .. With ties that should last.
At Forty, my young sons .. .have grown and are gone,
But my woman is beside me . . to see I don’t mourn.
At Fifty, once more, .. …Babies play ’round my knee,
Again, we know children . . . . My loved one and me.
Dark days are upon me . . . . My wife is now dead.
I look at the future … . . . . I shudder with dread.
For my young are all rearing .. . . young of their own.
And I think of the years . . . And the love that I’ve known.
I’m now an old man . . . . . . .. and nature is cruel.
It’s jest to make old age . . . . . . . look like a fool.
The body, it crumbles .. .. . grace and vigour, depart.
There is now a stone . . . where I once had a heart.
But inside this old carcass . A young man still dwells,
And now and again . . . . . my battered heart swells
I remember the joys . . . . .. . I remember the pain.
And I’m loving and living . . . . . . . life over again.
I think of the years, all too few . . .. gone too fast.
And accept the stark fact . . . that nothing can last.
So open your eyes, people .. . . . .. . . open and see.
Not a cranky old man .
Look closer . . . . see .. .. . .. …. . ME!!
I think the message behind this is that there is more to an old man than just some geriatric guy who can’t remember his children’s names. Think again before you dismiss someone.
Categories: FamilyComments Off on It’s not over yet Joanna and Michael
Just wanted you to know… you think the matter is finished ?
Oh no. Far from it. Those anonymous threats Michael sent ? They’re being taken as evidence. The Premier Campbell Newman has referred the matter to the Attorney General and Minister of Justice, the Honorable Jarrod Bleijie.
Your threats will not make this go away. They will only dig you deeper.
Joanna, when it comes out that you have forged government documents, you are going to go down for federal fraud and document tampering. And Michael, you are going to lose your job.
Categories: Rants, ScienceComments Off on Dumb fucks who don’t vaccinate their kids
Oh my god. The people who insist that vaccinations are evil and will give their kid autism or reduce their children’s lifespans and give them problems in life are so fucking stupid that I cannot even get angry at them. I honestly.. I just have no words for that shit. But let me try and find some anyway.
People who don’t vaccinate are fucking idiots. Complete morons. It baffles me how otherwise highly intelligent people in technical and scientific fields just turn into raging conspiracy theorists when you mention vaccinations. “Vaccinations have been linked to higher rates of mental illness” they will tell you. “Vaccinations are deadly. Why would you deliberately introduce a disease you don’t have into the human body ? It can only cause damage”.
No, you know what causes damage ? The fucking diseases we vaccinate against. We live in this world where people don’t get whooping cough or tetnus or polio anymore. People forget what those things are. All they see is a big nasty needle full of something bad and they go into fear mode and start believing any new-age bullshit about how vaccines are bad and all you really need in life is a good diet and you will never get sick.
Bull fucking shit.
Ian Williams of New Zealand didn’t vaccinate his child. He was a smart guy. He had a science degree. But for some reason, when it came to his child’s health he let the “hippy freaks” convince him that “natural is best and immunisation is bad”. And then his son almost died of tetnus. Bleeding from the mouth, he came within inches of his heart stopping and he had to be put into an induced coma to stop the spasms that wracked his body from tearing him apart. He recovered, but will have to spend the next year in a wheelchair, learning to walk and eat all over again. Because Ian listened to the hippy fuckwits who said that there was a one in a million chance of an adverse reaction instead of using common sense and realising that an un-immunised child had a 1 in 10 chance of dying of tetnus if they happend to be exposed to it.
Ian Williams and his wife learned a valuable lesson from this and it turned them from anti-vaccination believers to being campaigners for vaccination. New Zealand had one of the lowest vaccination rates in the developed world until recent years when they have finally started to turn this statistic around after recent outbreaks of devastating but completely preventable diseases such as whooping cough.
It’s sad that children have to die before people finally see the threat of these diseases as real. But noone in New Zealand’s history at least has ever died as a result of a vaccination. Many children have died from lack of it though.
If you don’t want to vaccinate your kid, that’s up to you. I’m not worried because mine will be vaccinated and I don’t have to worry about your kid making my kid sick. In fact, I’d prefer you didn’t vaccinate. As far as I’m concerned it’s a case of natural selection. If you’re that fucking dumb that you eschew common sense and basic facts and rely on some absurd one in a million possibility as an excuse to not vaccinate your kids then frankly I think your genes deserve to be removed from the gene pool.
That’s why I personally don’t try and change people’s minds when they come out and tell me they don’t vaccinate their child. I just shake my head in amazement and silently think “Good. I hope they get sick and die. One less dumb person on this Earth is all the better for my own kids”
You can read Ian Williams’ story about how not vaccinating his child almost killed him here. He makes no bones about how he feels about “stupid hippies” after this wake-up call.
My medical policy for my children involves science and fact. Not mythology, scaremongering and fear.
Categories: Life, PersonalComments Off on These will not be forgotten years
In 1999 I was jaded with my job and my life in Brisbane and I said to my girlfriend “Do you wanna move to Perth ?”
“No reason. Just bored”
And we packed all our things into a trailer I bought and headed off across Australia in my XF Falcon with no particular destination in mind and knowing no-one at the other end other than a friend I met online. Halfway across the country I fell asleep at the wheel because I was doing all the driving and we veered off the road and rolled the trailer, destroying most of our most valuable possessions. Upon arriving in Perth we had little money, no jobs and our most valuable things were destroyed and the car was totalled and had to be towed. We managed to rent a small cottage just near the free bus route into the city and I started a webhosting business (which I still run to this day) a few floors below iiNet’s headquarters in the QV 1 building.
But despite having no money we had some good times and met some great people including some old friends from school I hadn’t seen in more than a decade. And we didn’t stop geeking. I had become obsessed with classic Macintosh computers and we went to auctions together and frequently caught the train down to Freemantle to purchase numerous antique Macs from a crazy old collector who had a tiny run-down store in the old section of town.
This is a photo of my lounge room just before Christmas 1999. The cottage had three bedrooms and I can assure you that the other rooms had many computers in them too. In fact, I left the oldest and cheapest old monochrome Mac out on the porch to do creative writing on. Lacking a network card, I would take my work inside on a floppy every night and leave the Mac outside to see if anyone ever stole it. Despite being a poor neighbourhood, noone ever did. I guess it wasn’t worth carrying the damn thing to the pawn shop for the sake of 50 cents hahaha.
My point is. You don’t have to be rich to geek out. We had a cheap bed, no lounge chairs and the computers were all stacked on milk crates. Our house was a hackerspace. Dinner was spaghetti and vegetables and occasionally we would lie to McDonalds and say we’d been given the wrong meal and they’d offer us a replacement and we’d walk 4km to get it. We drank water and cheap wine out of a box. But I still remember it as one of my favourite times of the late 90’s.
We didn’t get along and we broke up bitterly upon returning to Brisbane a few years later but I remember seeing in the year 2000 at midnight on the foreshore of the Swan River, broke but trying our best and happy to be living somewhere new and interesting. Watching movies in Kings Park, Drinking cheep wine in Leederville and Pan-Galactic Gargle Blasters in the Oak and Ivy in the city.
Peace out Amanda, wherever you are today. Those were pretty good years.