Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: Dear Prudence

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  • Russell Brown,

    When there are groups like Generation Rescue that say they have research that vaccines increase Autism rates there is certainly more science required.

    Sorry, but there simply isn't good evidence to that effect, and IMHO, the likes of Generation Rescue are not helping anyone.

    Indeed, in sluicing money into yet more vaccine research, they're actually hurting people with autism and their families.

    And I get really pissed off about the airtime the Huffington Post gives this stuff. It's just wrong.

    Gotta love Orac, though ...

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Personally, I'd tend to take the other side of any argument that had Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey as its proponents.

    That's too bad, I heard them taking strong issue with robbery's ideas on copyright once.

    (That was a chilling link, by the way. I wish I hadn't clicked on "Let's Go Shopping").

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    That's too bad, I heard them taking strong issue with robbery's ideas on copyright once.

    Ohoho! I'd need a cite for that, Gio! ;-) (besides, I said "tend")

    Let's see, airhead celebs vs. scientists, hmmm...

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Mark Harris,

    (That was a chilling link, by the way. I wish I hadn't clicked on "Let's Go Shopping").

    And I get the feeling that that's what it's all about.

    Waikanae • Since Jul 2008 • 1343 posts Report Reply

  • Kracklite,

    Indeed, in sluicing money into yet more vaccine research, they're actually hurting people with autism and their families.

    Let's see, airhead celebs vs. scientists, hmmm...

    Well, if you're at the 'high functioning' end of the spectrum, its damned good fun - the only problem is that it makes six to seven billion neurotypical people seem like insufferable, facile fools who have no idea how to run the world. Stuff the "cure" let's look for what <i>causes</i> it and start selling it.

    Seriously, though, the paranoiac edge helps no-one, no-one at all.

    The Library of Babel • Since Nov 2007 • 955 posts Report Reply

  • Alan Macdougall,

    Alan Macdougall ran an interesting discussion of Powershop on his blog a wee while ago.

    Thanks for the nod, Giovanni.

    And for the record, I still haven't shifted to Powershop. :-)

    Since Nov 2006 • 24 posts Report Reply

  • Hilary Stace,

    Indeed, in sluicing money into yet more vaccine research, they're actually hurting people with autism and their families.

    Couldn't agree more. It's about biopower and biopolitics. Spending money on vaccine or even genetic research takes resources away from the more important but less prestigious work on ensuring people with autism and their families get appropriate and timely services and supports now.

    But on a more inspiring and local note have just been to hear Ahmed Zaoui speak to a large crowd at the Palmerston North library as he is a local now. Talked about the years in jail and the 4000 or so letters he received that meant a lot to him, and his philosophy of acceptance and moving on. Great humanity. He's reading his poetry at the annual Palmerston North May Day concert next Saturday.

    Wgtn • Since Jun 2008 • 2006 posts Report Reply

  • Robyn Gallagher,

    On a recent episode of Newswipe, Dr Ben Goldacre gave a brutal smackdown to the MMR/austism media bullshit:

    Raglan • Since Nov 2006 • 1843 posts Report Reply

  • Christopher Dempsey,

    Oddly enough, the Powershop reporting I thought did go too far was the Campbell Live story on Monday night, which was presented as a report but came across as a promotional video.

    That's been done before. Paul Holmes, about 5 yrs ago, featured a promotional video for a mystery shopper company on his show, calling it 'news'.

    Retailers are there because the alternative would see us all shafted (even more) for our electricity

    Not if it were owned by the people for the people, as God intended.

    That's the problem with some NACTs; they think they are God. Just ask Bradford.

    My humble view is that so long as we must have corporate overlords (which, clearly, we do), it would be nice to be able to talk to them every once in a while instead of having them talk at us the whole time via their marketing people and advertising agencies. Fencepost those spaces however you like, but they will be a more valuable addition to the site than the ads, unobtrusive as the latter might be.

    Heh, that'd be interesting... imagine - how does that story go... the emperor has no clothes...

    Parnell / Tamaki-Auckland… • Since Sep 2008 • 639 posts Report Reply

  • Peter Ashby,

    Why do so many of you think that offsetting is a really good idea? The whole offsetting industry is an absolute mess, see New Scientist's reporting on the issue. The companies selling offsetting for plane flights for eg can't even agree on a standard price for the same flight. There are no international standards, or monitoring of schemes. There is nothing to stop a forest planter in the 3rd world from selling the same sapling many times over then in 20years time when people have stopped looking chopping them down for firewood then starting again.

    There is no alternative to properly renewable energy. Offsetting is simply a salve for Western consciences so we can continue to use profligate amounts of on renewable energy and not feel bad about it.

    Dundee, Scotland • Since May 2007 • 425 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Why do so many of you think that offsetting is a really good idea?... There is no alternative to properly renewable energy. Offsetting is simply a salve for Western consciences so we can continue to use profligate amounts of on renewable energy and not feel bad about it.

    I think we need to offset and offset properly - with systems in place that ensure that planted trees stay planted, and so forth - at the same time as we move to renewable energies. Combustion fuels are not going to disappear overnight. We're not all of a sudden going to all convert to zero emission forms of transporation (that don't yet exist, at any rate). Until we have completely revolutionised industrial processes, farming, transportation, etc., we need to offset and do it aggressively.

    I find the Monbiot idea that it's all a conscience-cleaning exercise quite daft to be honest. It's not as if shouting "everyone completely change the way we live at once" is going to work, or is any less conscience-warping. For one thing, it fosters this ridicolous idea that the change we need can happen from the bottom up, as a consumer movement. It can't and it won't. Politicians and corporations matter a lot more than the sum of the citizens.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Kerry Weston,

    For one thing, it fosters this ridicolous idea that the change we need can happen from the bottom up, as a consumer movement. It can't and it won't. Politicians and corporations matter a lot more than the sum of the citizens.

    Quite. And this particular point in time when the system is shaky would be the best opportunity to re-orient political thought there's been.

    Manawatu • Since Jan 2008 • 494 posts Report Reply

  • Sam M,

    A dumb question perhaps - what does NACT stand for?

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 40 posts Report Reply

  • Bruce Thorpe,

    I want to say something about the age demographic topic raised on the Media 7 clip you linked from your column.

    I am over 70, and recognise it is much harder to sell stuff to an older person, especially one still managing their own affairs.

    Generally we have been around long enough to feel confident making decisions and setting of our own priorities.

    Even those who were diffident and insecure in the thirties have weathered a few storms and learned to establish our own terms

    Quite a lot of us watch bugger all tv.

    I have just watched it on demand , because it is a wet Anzac Day morning.

    The tv will be repeating cliches, or more skilfully, packaging nationalism but I do not feel like buying any of that today.

    I catch most of my news from the 10" screen of my ASUS which is much admired by my age group.Two of us have had them for a few months and two of my friends are planning to buy them.

    I got it after asking for advice on the TradeMe community board, picking from the answers on the computer topic.

    My criteria were the degree of sophistication to the very restricted dollar. Under a grand I could afford. Downloading the news, email, broadband, but as quickly and efficiently as I could afford.

    I liked the idea of portability, from room to room, the lack of furniture, and satisfied my self that if the screen was too pokey, I could organise a bigger screen.

    I think tv1 has very little to offer me, precisely because I am a discriminating purchaser, confident I can do better making my own calls.

    I listen to national radio, because I live remote from city broadcasts, google a great deal, read overseas news media and local bloggers.

    Hard News is a good place for advertisers wanting my attention.

    Without your enthusiasm I probably would not have become such a coffee elitist, and I certainly look to public address to keep me up to cultural date.

    Hokianga • Since May 2007 • 42 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    A dumb question perhaps - what does NACT stand for?

    Dumb answer poss but I think it is National/Act party.(I should read this first eh?)
    Nice to read your input Bruce.(Now I will start at the beginning :)

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5920 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    Giovanni

    It's not as if shouting "everyone completely change the way we live at once" is going to work, or is any less conscience-warping. For one thing, it fosters this ridicolous idea that the change we need can happen from the bottom up, as a consumer movement. It can't and it won't. Politicians and corporations matter a lot more than the sum of the citizens.

    The major problem as I see it, is that its not all about us, who have developed large infrastructure over the last century. Luckily its coming to the end of its life and is now it appears a dying edifice which has attracted an awful lot of parasitic life forms or pseudo corporations. Powershop may not fall into that category, I dont know.
    Plus I think the developed nations, apart from Denmark and Sweden, failed to show some backbone when those first oil shortages occurred, and realise that the nations who sat atop those large oil reserves were run by people who were in thrall to superstitions which would make them increasingly difficult to deal with. (As they thought the reserves were bequeathed to them by their brand of sky fairy so they could spread their mental fanatasies globally by any means they dreamt up). And developing technologies to make us energy independent of them should be a priority.

    We cant change that now its too late. But the technology is now available anyway. And the best way to utilise it, I think, is to build infrastructure in underdeveloped continents which is completely renewable in a massive way. When this is well on the way to turn to looking at how best to upgrade our infrastructure. Tho' the problems may have been partially fixed on the way. E.g. the power system plans for the Sahara.

    But such selfless cooperation on a massive scale..................... Its never likely to happen.

    Liked teh discussion on Media 7 re older viewers.
    One thing that is clear the behaviour nazis are in full flight now and me, being an unrepentant recalcitrant, am continually repulsed by my fellow future members of the senility club flight back to anymanner of conformity. I just hope by the time I have to take my last breath's I can follow Aldous Huxley's example. But these fuckers seem to want to make dying a miserable exercise.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1155 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Without your enthusiasm I probably would not have become such a coffee elitist, and I certainly look to public address to keep me up to cultural date.

    Thanks to you, too Bruce. That was an interesting post.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    Why do so many of you think that offsetting is a really good idea? The whole offsetting industry is an absolute mess, see New Scientist's reporting on the issue.

    Because a ton of carbon is a ton of carbon is a ton of carbon. And from the atmosphere's point of view, it doesn't matter whether that ton is emitted (or rather, not emitted) by you or someone else, or sucked out by a tree.

    And that said, I agree: many of the "offsets" on offer are dodgy (different prices though are not an indication of this - instead they're a sign that different methods are being used to gain those offsets). The only advice I have is "shop around". There are offset companies - NZ's CarbonZero is one - which do highly robust and scientifically monitored offsets. (Air New Zealand's also seem to be robust, backed by NZ Kyoto AAU).

    As for the wider view, yes, individual consumers offsetting is really just salving their conscience, no matter how robust those offsets are. But OTOH, unless you're willing to live like a medieval peasant and burn dung, that's the only option on our table as individuals ATM. Reduce what you can, offset what you can't, and pressure the government for serious policy. Because this consumer movement bullshit won't make a bit of difference - to solve this problem we need real policy from our government to reduce our emissiosn and shift us to that shiny, renewable, sustainable low-carbon future we need to be in. And that requires engagement with politics, not abandoning it to the market.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Idiot Savant,

    ...which is an angry and cynical way of saying:

    As a consumer, you have no real power over whether your electricity is generated renewably or not, whether there is good public transport or not, whether companies have to pay the full cost of the environmental damage they are causing (or better, being prevented from inflicting it in the first place) or not. Those things are determined by the framework of energy, transport, and environmental policies set by national governments.

    Theoretically, to the extent that our democracies actually work, we have control over those frameworks.

    The upshot: buying is not enough. "Ethical consumerism" is not enough. You need to fucking vote.

    Palmerston North • Since Nov 2006 • 1625 posts Report Reply

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    The whole offsetting industry is an absolute mess, see New Scientist's reporting on the issue.

    Bit off topic but I found this intriguing.Wonder what this man did ?

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 5920 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    There is no alternative to properly renewable energy. Offsetting is simply a salve for Western consciences so we can continue to use profligate amounts of on renewable energy and not feel bad about it.

    Thanks for the tip on offsetting Peter, I'll look for the article. It does seems to me that offsetting is simply a cheap alternative to investing in clean generation. Unless governments are going to support investment as per MRET in Australia, then the dosh needed to develop windfarms are going to be hard to find... which brings us to I/S's position.

    Bit off topic but I found this intriguing.Wonder what this man did ?

    Indeed.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha,

    The upshot: buying is not enough. "Ethical consumerism" is not enough. You need to fucking vote.

    Hear, hear. And vote thinking of your grandchildren, your friends, and the parts of this planet you especially enjoy and want to know will still be there for them.

    Better still, get more active in the political process than just voting - stand, speak up, gather others around you, join with those you admire and trust.

    One of the best things about the current stripping of Auckland's democratic voice has been the gathering resistance to it. Look out for new movements and parties on both local and national stages.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16272 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    Bit off topic but I found this intriguing.Wonder what this man did ?

    The end of the story, reproduced below, makes me wonder if the Herald journalist was fired in turn while he was still working on it:

    In one of those cases, he said he gained clearance from Niwa's national communication manager for a reporter to join a snow-line survey flight, only to be told afterwards that he should have sought approval from someone e

    The upshot: buying is not enough. "Ethical consumerism" is not enough. You need to fucking vote.

    Hear, hear.

    Sure, and we're lucky enough in New Zealand to have MMP and the Greens, but in most countries who you vote won't make any material difference. In most western democracies, and a great deal of developing countries, there is nobody on the left or the right prepared to forego short term productivity and growth for the sake of building a new infrastructure. Obama has packaged the project as an economic opportunity, but let's see what he actually delivers. Certainly nobody in Europe has shown any leadership in this regard thus far.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Paul Williams,

    <quote>Sure, and we're lucky enough in New Zealand to have MMP and the Greens</quote.

    Gio, I have respect for the Greens also, but it'd be a little unfair not to mention Labour have been strong on Kyoto and related initiatives too.

    Sydney • Since Nov 2006 • 2191 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso,

    but it'd be a little unfair not to mention Labour have been strong on Kyoto and related initiatives too.

    Sure, but Kyoto is a palliative at best. The changes we need are radical and require a radical rethinking of the notions of development and growth, as well as of human and environmental capital. From that broader perspective the difference between Labour and National is negligible. (And I'm a Labour voter, mind.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

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