Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Dangerous celebrities

July 3rd, 2015 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

Public figures such as Kiwi celebrity Jemaine Clement should seek the facts before sharing their opinions on the vaccine debate, an immunisation expert says.

Clement, best known as one of the Flight of the Concords duo, has posted messages on his Twitter feed backing Hollywood star Jim Carry’s anti-vaccination comments.

Carey’s own Twitter ravings to his millions of followers criticised the danger of immunisation, saying jabs poison children with mercury and aluminium.

In a series of tweets, Clement defended Carry’s right to make such observations, saying: “well I guess anti anti vaxxers are important too! My argument is about not closing down debate.”

But this has earned the oprobrium of Dr Nikki Turner, director of the immunisation advisory centre at the University of Auckland.

She said public figures had a lot of influence through their words and they should undertake some basic investigation before taking stances.

For example, in New Zealand, vaccinations no longer contained thiomersal, a neurotoxin Carry said he was against.

And in another story:

Dr Barham-Floreani insists that her position on vaccination is “pro-choice” rather than anti-vaxx. But the vaccination chapter in her book Well-Adjusted Babies (with which Miranda Kerr is apparently so enamoured) is heavy on anti-vaccination content, including:

She implies links between SIDS and vaccinations, quoting a “medical historian” who says, “there is absolutely no way a pathologist can tell the difference between crib death and death caused by vaccination.”

Carrey, Kerr and Clement are experts in acting. If you want to learn how to be a better actor, you should listen to them.

However taking the advice of celebrity actors on whether you should vaccinate your children is stupid and dangerous – it’s like getting medical advice from some bloke in a pub.

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General Debate 3 July 2015

July 3rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 2 July 2015

July 2nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 1 July 2015

July 1st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 30 June 2015

June 30th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Belle Gibson still lying

June 29th, 2015 at 3:00 pm by David Farrar

News.com.au reports:

BELLE Gibson’s interview with Tara Brown took a tense turn tonight, as the hard-hitting reporter confronted the disgraced wellness blogger with fresh evidence suggesting she knew all along that she didn’t have a brain tumour.
Brown hammered the 26-year-old shamed health guru, asking, “Do you accept that you’re a pathological liar?”

Gibson replied: “No.”

As she is a pathological liar,the answer really means yes.

Gibson, who, in April, was forced to admit that she lied about having brain cancer and curing it through natural means, was offered no reprieve from Brown, who was clearly fed up with her storytelling.

“You don’t have a good record on telling the truth, do you?” Brown put to her.

Sitting face-to-face with Brown, Gibson teared up as she told how she “lost everything” after her cancer confession came to light.

But Gibson maintained that she didn’t deceive her followers or the public. She argued that she had been deceived. Gibson said she was told by an immunologist and neurologist, ‘Mark Johns’, that she had terminal brain cancer after he diagnosed her using a ‘frequency’ machine in her home several years ago.

“He went to my home and did a series of tests. There was a machine with lights on the front. There are two metal pads, one below the chair and one behind your back, measuring frequencies and then he said to me that I had a stage four brain tumour and that I had four months to live.

Yes neurologists of course do home visits, and bring big machines with flashing lights to detect if you have cancer!

60 Minutes has not been able to find any record of a ‘Mark Johns’.

No??? Surprise.

After the interview, Gibson handed over her medical records to 60 Minutes which showed that she had a brain scan at the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne in 2011, two years before she started to market her sob story to the public for profit and adulation.

Gibson said that she had that brain scan because she started to doubt the diagnosis ‘Johns’ had given her but that the scans had been directly sent to ‘Johns’ from the hospital. Johns then showed her a scan with brain cancer.

However, her medical records from the Alfred stated that she a 40-minute consultation with a neurologist there who told her that her brain scans were clear. But the reason she went to the Alfred for scans was not because of her brain cancer but because she believed she might have multiple sclerosis.

Brown put to Gibson that she had a history of claiming dramatic health problems and pointed out to her that she had previously said that in one year, 2009, she had three heart operations, two cardiac arrests, that she had died on the operating table and a stroke.

Good to see the journalist nail her on her lies so well.

She maintained that she is a victim and that she didn’t intentionally deceive anyone.

She really needs psychiatric help.

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General Debate 29 June 2015

June 29th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 28 June 2015

June 28th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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The Confederate flag and hyprocisy

June 27th, 2015 at 11:06 am by Lindsay Addie

After the tragic mass shooting in Charleston, South Carolina recently the displaying and usage of the Confederate flag has been much debated. But Fox News point out there is some hypocrisy at work here.

Amazon has banned all Confederate flag items from being sold on its site. But the ban doesn’t extend to selling various items with images of this guy.

928179-che-guevara

The Fox News article goes on to remind readers that Guevara was a murdering thug:

Although Guevara is a popular image on T-shirts, he executed many non-communists in Cuba. At one point he admitted in a speech to communist officials: “We executed many people by firing squad without knowing if they were fully guilty. At times, the Revolution cannot stop to conduct much investigation; it has the obligation to triumph.”

There are other examples cited in the article as well which could be interpreted as hypocrisy.

I don’t agree with how the Confederacy treated slaves, and displaying of the flag is a valid topic for debate but there is a double standard at work here.

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General Debate 27 June 2015

June 27th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 26 June 2015

June 26th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 25 June 2015

June 25th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 24 June 2015

June 24th, 2015 at 9:26 am by David Farrar
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General Debate 23 June 2015

June 23rd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 22 June 2015

June 22nd, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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How mobile tech helps education

June 21st, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Mobile technology is the key to boosting student performance, according to a director from what was once one of the United Kingdom’s worst schools.

When Abdul Chohan was made a director of Essa Academy in Bolton, about 30 minutes from Manchester, just a third of students were passing the UK’s national education standards.

The school was out-dated, not fit-for-purpose and students came from some of the country’s lowest socio-economic areas, with a large migrant population and 46 languages spoken at the school.

Chohan, who is visiting Auckland to talk to teachers about how he turned his school around, was appointed as one of the directors tasked with improving the school and he did so with the help of mobile devices.

The school made technology a central part of learning and all students now had iPads and used the mobile devices at home and school.

Essa Academy’s pass rate had gone from 33 per cent to between 93 and 95 per cent, Chohan said.

Superb, and that will make such a difference in the lives of those students.

Chohan said the introduction of mobile technology increased student engagement and decreased operating costs, with things like textbooks, printing and one-on-one tutoring eliminated.

On Thursday, Chohan visited Elim Christian College in Auckland to talk about how the Kiwi state-integrated school was using technology and to share his advice.

Chohan said his main advice to teachers was to make sure devices students were using were mobile.

The NZ system is heading towards a device for every student, which is good.

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“anecdotal evidence”

June 21st, 2015 at 2:00 pm by David Farrar

Stuff reports:

Government building officials say there is no widespread issue with tiled showers that leak, despite ample anecdotal evidence that the problem is rife.

There is evidence and there are anecdotes. The two words do not go together.

There is an old saying that the plural of anecdote is not data.

No tag for this post.

General Debate 21 June 2015

June 21st, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 20 June 2015

June 20th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 19 June 2015

June 19th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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General Debate 18 June 2015

June 18th, 2015 at 12:11 pm by Kokila Patel

Apologies for the lateness….Kokila

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General Debate 17 June 2015

June 17th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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Do you want a bankrupt business mentor?

June 16th, 2015 at 4:00 pm by David Farrar

The Herald reports:

A bankrupt business trainer whose mentoring companies are in liquidation has been revealed as a taxpayer-funded envoy hired to teach fledgling Tongan firms the secret of success.

Auckland’s Richard Peter Gee, 64, was in Tonga last week on his third mentoring session since being made bankrupt in the High Court at Auckland. Herald inquiries have found Mr Gee received $29,000 for the mentoring courses in Tonga – part of an aid package for the Pacific nation funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade.

A spokeswoman for Mfat – which runs the aid scheme – said it had no idea Mr Gee had been bankrupted during a period he was carrying out business mentoring courses.

She said the money was paid to the Tonga Chamber of Commerce as part of a larger aid package and the organisation then handled contracting itself. She said Mfat believed $29,000 had been paid to Geewiz Group Professional Speakers Ltd which provided “six courses of up to five days in length” between 2013 and 2015.

“The ministry takes the delivery of its business development programmes very seriously. We have high expectations of the procurement standards and contractual arrangements set by our aid partners, and expect action to be taken in the event of any potential breach.”

 

The fault appears to be with the Tongan Chamber of Commerce, but it is still our money being wasted.

Mr Gee was made bankrupt in August last year. The bankruptcy followed the liquidations of two mentoring businesses and a High Court case critical of how Mr Gee met his legal obligations as a company director. In the case, Justice Brendan Brown found it had been “irresponsible” for Mr Gee to continue to trade as Richard Geewiz Gee Consultants Ltd when he had not worked out how to pay outstanding taxes.

Mr Gee’s former accountant Tim Livingstone told the court the company operated by Mr Gee was insolvent the entire time it was in operation. He had written to Mr Gee each year advising him of this.

Mr Gee was ordered to pay $85,000 in the wake of the company liquidation. It was separately found the successor company, Geewiz Ltd, also went into liquidation in 2011 and was found to be owing $70,000.

I think most people would agree that someone whose business mentoring business has gone bankrupt, is probably a very bad choice to be a business mentor.

However we are the country where the host of The Apprentice went bankrupt, so maybe it is following in those foot steps!

 

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Snowdon on the prohibitionist’s dilemma

June 16th, 2015 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

Christopher Snowdon blogs:

There’s a very revealing quote from the ‘policy and advocacy director’ (ie. chief lobbyist) at Queensland’s Cancer Council in this story that Dick Puddlecote picked up. He’s talking about e-cigarettes:

“This was a problem we didn’t have a number of years ago. It’s a real frustration for those of us working in public health because it wasn’t even on the horizon a number of years back.

“It’s something we’re just better off without.”

This tells you a lot about the mentality of the anti-smoking crusade. Consider the following scenario.

You are deeply concerned about the effect of smoking on health. You’ve spent your whole career trying to help people give up smoking. You dream of a ‘smoke-free world’.

But it’s a struggle. Smoking rates tend to be on the decline in wealthy countries, but they are falling very slowly. Globally, there are more people smoking than ever before and there will be more people smoking tomorrow.

No matter how many bans you introduce, a large minority of adults continues to smoke. Tax rises have had some effect on smoking prevalence but—although you would never say so openly—you are aware that these taxes are a major burden on the poor and are fueling a large and growing black market.

What’s more, nearly everything has been tried. All the reasonable stuff—health warnings, anti-smoking ads, banning sales to minors—was introduced before you were born. Even the more extreme measures on the list have mostly been ticked off, which is why you’ve had to spend the last few years scraping the bottom of the barrel with this silly plain packaging campaign. But what comes next? It has to be prohibition of some sort, and you know that won’t work.

At one time, many years ago, it seemed that nicotine patches and gum might offer a solution, but it has become clear that smokers don’t really like them and their efficacy as stop-smoking aids is pretty negligible.

And then, out of nowhere, a product falls into your lap that smokers actually like and which helps smokers quit. Incredibly, even smokers who had no intention of quitting find themselves switching to it. There is no evidence that it causes cancer, heart disease or COPD and it doesn’t create an odour that non-smokers would find objectionable.

You can’t believe your luck. This is the kind of thing that people like Michael Russell hoped to discover in the 1980s: a device that delivers nicotine in a satisfying way without delivering the smoke and the toxins. At last! This changes everything! What anopportunity!

That’s scenario number one.

And there have been some (a minority) who react like that.

In scenario number two, you are a journeyman public health advocate picking up a nice, steady wage from the government every month. You hold lots of meetings and you go to lots of conferences. You and your colleagues developed a plan of incremental prohibition in the early 1980s and you have it all mapped out.

The Plan was to ban tobacco advertising and then ban smoking in as many places as possible. You were going to raise taxes on tobacco until it became unaffordable for people on low and median incomes. Other ideas—display bans, graphic warnings, banning menthol cigarettes—could be incorporated if you could convince politicians that something should be done and these policies were something.

You would attack what you considered to be the source of problem—the tobacco industry—with plain packaging, windfall taxes, standardised cigarettes or whatever. Gradually, you would beat smokers and the industry down until both were so unpopular that you could push for the final goal of prohibition. Within twenty years (it was always twenty years away) the tobacco industry would be outlawed and there would be no more smoking. In the meantime, there was good money to be made getting research grants to prove that the various policies in The Plan would work.

And then something comes along that you didn’t expect. A new product that gives smokers a way to enjoy nicotine without the health risks of smoking cigarettes. You didn’t come up with the idea. The government didn’t come up with the idea. It came from the private sector, and private businesses are making money out of it. Worse still, after a few years of monitoring the market, the tobacco industry buys up a few companies and now they’re making money out of it.

Sure, lots of people are giving up smoking as a result, but not in a way that was part of The Plan. Where does this leave you? What will become of the public health professionals and all their peer-reviewed studies? What about the ‘endgame’? What a problem!

So you bite your nails and say to yourself…

“This was a problem we didn’t have a number of years ago. It’s a real frustration for those of us working in public health because it wasn’t even on the horizon a number of years back.”

And then you pour yourself a glass of skimmed milk, slump into your armchair and say…

“It’s something we’re just better off without.”

There are public health lobbyists who hate the effect of smoking, and there are public health lobbyists who just hate tobacco companies. The former tend to be rational about reducing harm.

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General Debate 16 June 2015

June 16th, 2015 at 8:00 am by Kokila Patel
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