Make a Difference

Art and Indecency

A school principal in Florida has been fired after showing her grade six students a photo of Michelangelo’s David.

You can’t understand the history of Western art without knowing Michelangelo’s David. It is an astonishingly beautiful and detailed work.

But it might have been wise to let parents at a conservative school in a conservative district know you were planning to show their ten and eleven year old children a statue of a naked man.

Of course the truth is always more complicated than it first appears. The principal claims a letter was written to parents but school admin forgot to send it. There are also claims the school board had been concerned about her performance for months, and that this incident was the last straw.

It is easy to manufacture outrage. Don’t be outraged on demand. Step back and investigate first.

The Savagery of the Kind

I have mentioned before that I have never met anyone who claimed to be an “empath” who did not turn out to be a self-absorbed narcissist. That is a tautology, I know, but the contrast between empaths’ avowed ability to imagine themselves in other people’s situations and feel other people’s feelings, and the often shocking unkindness with which they treat anyone whose views differ from their own is worth noting.

Recent incidents in Australia and New Zealand are a perfect example. Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, better known as Posie Parker, visited those countries to speak on the importance of maintaining women’s identity, and women’s spaces in sport and art and politics (not to mention restrooms). Her rallies and events had the general theme “Let women speak.” The idea that women should speak on matters which concern them is an outrage to the kind and inclusive.

Protestors responded with violent fury, doing everything possible to silence and intimidate, so that everyone’s voices could be heard, and no one be afraid. No, it doesn’t make any sense, until you realise that everyone’s voices means only the voices they want to hear, and that it is OK to intimidate and act with violence towards people who disagree, because those people are nazis and therefore not real people.

Posie Parker describes her experiences here.

Did the Good Guys Win WWII?

There are many alarming things on social media. This is one of the most concerning I have seen recently.

Did the good guys win WWII

There is a frightening depth of both ignorance and contempt for our history in the responses to this survey. It is not hard to understand where this comes from. School and university students are taught to value other cultures, and that is good. But at the same time they are taught to revile and reject the culture of the West.

I had a discussion with a history student a couple of weeks ago. She said that the West had no culture, nothing worth preserving. I was horrified, but not surprised.

We have given the world its greatest art, its greatest architecture, literature, dance and music. We have given the world science, democracy, rule of law, secure property rights, and the notion that all human beings have intrinsic value. We are the only culture in the history of the world that ahs voluntarily given up slavery.

Western culture and values are adopted around the world because people find them attractive. People from other cultures form an endless stream of immigrants to the West. By all means let us value what others have to offer. And at the same time, let us recognise the enormous gift the West and its accomplishments and values have been to the world.

COVID Research

Despite what you may have seen in shonky crockumentaries like Died Suddenly, COVID-19 vaccines have not caused a massive increase in fatal blood clots.

Despite memes being passed around social media, sudden cardiac death, even among young people, is not new (see this Australian journal article from 2004, for example: https://www.mja.com.au/journal/2004/180/3/causes-sudden-cardiac-death-young-australians ), and has not increased in frequency. It’s just that your average social media meme creator and passer-onner has very little knowledge of pathology, and imagines that if he or she has not heard of something before, it must not have happened before, and must be related to something new…

In reality multiple large studies have shown LOWER rates of cardiac death following COVID-19 vaccination. Hardly surprising, since cardiac arrest is common in severe COVID cases. See this summary from the world’s most highly regarded heart research foundation: https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/news/coronavirus-and-your-health/coronavirus-vaccine-your-questions-answered/myocarditis-and-covid-19-vaccines-should-you-be-worried

Also, despite what you may have seen being passed around social media, often consisting of statistics which the posters don’t understand, and which say the opposite of what they claim, the vaccines are effective in reducing transmission and even more effective in reducing severe illness and death.

However, vaccines are not effective for everyone; people with impaired immune systems, for example, who cannot mount an effective response to the illness despite the prompting given by the vaccine. In addition, COVID-19 is very good at evading immunity. Existing vaccines may be less effective against newer strains like the Omicron BF7 strain causing the current massive outbreak in China.

A vast amount of research is being done around the world, in thousands of hospitals and research facilities, to develop vaccines which are even more effective at reducing transmission, and which will be effective against new strains.

A similar volume of research is seeking new treatment and prophylactic protocols. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have tested hundreds of existing drugs to check for possible utility in the fight against COVID-19. They have just published the partial results of this research. Read the link below. Ursodeoxycholic acid is an off-patent medication which is cheap and quick to produce.

Vaccination is the cheapest and most efficient way to slow transmission and stop severe illness – better not to get it, than to get it and have to treat it. Even apparently mild cases can have unpleasant long-term effects. But for people with impaired immune systems, and perhaps as a prophylactic for medical staff or in areas of very high community infection, this medication offers another tool to save lives.

France – Riots over Retirement Pension Age

Lots on the news over the last few days about protests in France, the fiery but mostly peaceful kind, about changes to the age at which citizens can access the old age pension. Currently in France it is 62. It is being raised to 64. In Australia it is 67.

The protests are being framed as complaints about changes to retirement age. They are no such thing. Anyone can retire at any time they like. They just can’t expect someone else to pay for it. That is the objection – that they have to wait two more years before someone else will pay for their retirement.

In a way I understand the frustration. I am 64 now, nearly 65. I have worked and paid taxes all my life. Twenty years ago I could have retired on a pension just a few months from my current age.

But the reality is that the old age pension was never intended to be a 25 year tax payer funded holiday, and it simply cannot be.

Unreliable Energy and Electricity Prices

Compared with wages, Australian electricity prices went down consistently from about 1955 to 2001.

Over the last twenty years, electricity has increased in price to a point higher than at any time in our history.

The speed of increase is accelerating. Residents of Victoria have been warned to expect a 30% rise this year. Homes and businesses in NSW and Queensland get off lightly, with only a 24% predicted increase.

What has changed?

Chris Bowen, Federal Minister for Industry, Energy and Emissions Reduction blames the Russians. Maybe Russia’s adventures in Ukraine have had some minor effect on Australian electricity prices over the last two years. What else has happened?

Over the same period, Australia has spent more than any other nation, on a per capita basis, on free energy from wind and sun.

The problem is that when you take high capital costs, short component service life, unreliability, transmission and storage costs into account, free energy is far from free. Everywhere large scale renewable energy has been forced into the market by government, prices have increased.

Australia used to be a world leader in primary industry and manufacturing. We are no longer. Australia cannot compete when our energy prices are disproportionately high compared with our neighbours and major trading partners.

We cannot run an economy in the modern world market on unreliable, expensive energy. Businesses will move somewhere else or close.

Australia must stop basing energy policy on wishful thinking, must stop spending tax-payer money on pipe dreams, and as far as possible, stop interfering in energy production and transmission and let the market do its job. Everywhere this has been tried, it has worked.

The Input of Unreliable Energy Sources to the Australian Grid
Australian Electricity Prices Relative to Wages
Per Capita Renewable (Unreliable) Energy by Country

Halloween and Heathenism

Every time a major Christian festival comes around there is a flurry of posts on social media about how this festival was originally a pagan feast which was stolen by the Church. Not all great feast days, only those secular society has figured out how to make money out of. The Martyrdom of Peter and Paul, Ascension Day, Pentecost, and Epiphany, for example, are harder to make a buck out of, and have so far escaped commercial and wider public notice. Following the “this is a pagan festival” posts, there are often posts from Christians who have accepted the claim of the wiccans or pagans or modern druids, and agree that, since it is a pagan festival, Christians should not join in celebrating it.

Both of these claims are false. I have written previously about Christmas and its supposed roots in the Roman festival of the invincible Sun, or the Northern European celebration of Yule, and about Easter and its claimed background in Ishtar, Tammuz or other dying and rising fertility gods.

There are some genuine Christian feast days which have drifted so far from their real meaning as almost to be completely opposed to what those days stand for and encourage. St Valentine’s Day is an example. In the Church’s year it celebrates the humble service and self-sacrifice of Valentinus, Bishop of Umbria, who as well as secretly marrying Christian couples contrary to the orders of the emperor, was known for his care for the poor and for prisoners. He was murdered by Roman authorities in 269AD, on 14th February, which has been kept as his feast day ever since. The lessons of his life are generosity, love for others, discipline, obedience and self-sacrifice. A very long way from advice in Valentine’s Day editions of teen girls’ magazines about how to give their boyfriends oral sex to celebrate their love. Or what they imagine is love.

Halloween falls into this category. It began as a Christian festival, and All Saints’ Day (All Hallows) is still one of the major feast days of the Church year. But contemporary secular celebration of Halloween has little to do with rejoicing in and giving thanks for the saving work of Christ in the lives of ordinary men and women.

One of the common claims is that Halloween is really Samhain, a Druidic festival in which the boundaries between this world and the next are blurred, and the dead or other spirits may walk the earth, needing to be placated.

However, the reality is that no one has much clue who the druids were or what they believed. They were one of two upper-class groups in Celtic society, and in France and the British Isles (and possibly other locations) had priestly and legal functions. The other upper-class group were hereditary nobles. Much of what we do know of Druids and Celtic society comes from Julius Caesar’s History of the Gallic Wars, written in about 45BC.

He wrote: “The whole nation of the Gauls is greatly devoted to ritual observances, and for that reason those who are smitten with the more grievous maladies and who are engaged in the perils of battle either sacrifice human victims or vow so to do, employing the druids as ministers for such sacrifices. They believe, in effect, that, unless for a man’s life a man’s life be paid, the majesty of the immortal gods may not be appeased; and in public, as in private life they observe an ordinance of sacrifices of the same kind. Others use figures of immense size whose limbs, woven out of twigs, they fill with living men and set on fire, and the men perish in a sheet of flame. They believe that the execution of those who have been caught in the act of theft or robbery or some crime is more pleasing to the immortal gods; but when the supply of such fails, they resort to the execution even of the innocent.”

It is important to note that apart from this (and a few other) very limited accounts, most of our conceptions of who the druids were are a result of mistaken or fanciful conclusions dating from about two hundred years ago. For example, we have no idea what the Druids wore, what the core beliefs were that drove their legal decisions and cultic practices including human sacrifice, or what their festivals were. We do know they had nothing to do with Stonehenge, which was built long before Iron Age Celtic Druidism.

Of course, reality, whether in relation to science or history, has little impact on popular belief, or on social media!

Samhain is first mentioned in Irish literature dating from the 9th century. By this time, Ireland had been Christian for five centuries, and there were no known practising Druids. These accounts, which mention Samhain only incidentally, and make it clear it was a minor festival, about as important as Arbor Day is to us, appear to be based on no earlier written material and are Medieval fantasies about events, largely imagined, which supposedly took place over six hundred years earlier. Other supposed details, such as the burning of bonfires, disguises and blackening faces, do not appear in any stories until the 15th century.

Interest in Celtic art and myth, and in Druidism, began to rise in the wake of the Romantic movement in Europe, and especially its belief that primitive societies were closer to nature, happier, gentler and wiser. This, of course, was and is nonsense.

Tribal societies are notori0usly violent, generally view people not of their tribe or group as less than human, and often as commodities. Early shamanistic religions were frequently hideously violent, and demanded torturous human sacrifice. The best known example is the mass human sacrifices of the Aztecs, but others included Middle Eastern mother religions, the worship of Odin, and Druidism. Hobbes was more accurate with “”No arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” than Rousseau and his delightful but baseless fantasy of the noble savage, basking in sunshine, eating what he chose, going where he wished, and enjoying sexual freedom.

The suggestion that All Hallows was based on Samhain was first made by James Frazer in his highly influential book The Golden Bough, which was published in varying numbers of volumes between 1890 and 1915. I first read The Golden Bough when I was nineteen, and thoroughly enjoyed it, in the same way I had enjoyed reading the works of psychoanalyst and fantasist Immanuel Velikovsky. Both are fascinating, detailed and well-written. But because they try at every point to turn every detail to fit the Procrustean Bed of their over-arching theories, they are often completely wrong.

Someone (I cannot now find who) said of Velikovsky, “He is wrong, but he is magnificently wrong.” The same could be said of Frazer. His work is incredibly detailed, but fails to be convincing at any point. Edmund Leach, president of the Royal Anthropological Institute from 1971 to 1975, wrote of him: “Frazer used his ethnographic evidence, which he culled from here, there and everywhere, to illustrate propositions which he had arrived at in advance by a priori reasoning, but, to a degree which is often quite startling, whenever the evidence did not fit he simply altered the evidence.”

In the case of the pagan origins of All Hallows, Frazer offered no evidence at all, for the simple reason that there is no evidence. To demonstrate what he suggested was true, he, and those who then and now share his view, would need to show:

  • Contemporary records that Samhain was a major Druidic festival
  • That Church leaders as far away as Baghdad, Alexandria, Constantinople and Rome were aware of it and concerned about it
  • They decided to institute a festival with similar themes to counter or overwhelm it

    No evidence exists for any of these things.

    By contrast with the fantasies of Frazer, the Romantics and neo-pagans, there is no doubt about the evidence for a day of thanksgiving for the holy people of God set aside by the early Church.

    A day of commemoration of unnamed saints and martyrs had been held in the Eastern Church since at least 373 (mentioned as an existing festival in a sermon by St Ephrem in that year, and in the 74th homily of St John Chrysostom in 407). In the Chaldean calendar (411AD) this feast was held on the Friday after Easter. In the West, on 13th May, probably in 609, Pope Boniface IV dedicated what had been the Roman Pantheon, long in desuetude, to the Virgin Mary and all the martyrs. From that time thanksgiving for all the saints was held on anniversary of that dedication.

    On 1st November in about 735 Gregory III dedicated a chapel in St Peter’s to all the saints, and the feast of All Saints or All Hallows (saint, sanctify, hallows and holy all have the same root meaning) was held on that date from then on. Finally, in about 835, Pope Gregory IV, after consultation with other bishops in both East and West, promulgated that date, November 1st, as the date on which the celebration of All Saints was to be held throughout the entire Catholic Church. Vigil celebrations, that is, Mass and prayers of thanksgiving on the evening before, All Hallows’ Eve, took place from the same time.

    This hymn, written by English clergyman William Walsham How, captures the sense and purpose of this feast day. These are the first three verses of eight:

    1 For all the saints who from their labours rest,

    who thee by faith before the world confessed,

    thy name, O Jesus, be forever blest.

    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    2 Thou wast their rock, their fortress, and their might;

    thou, Lord, their captain in the well-fought fight;

    thou, in the darkness dread, their one true light.

    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    3 Oh, may thy soldiers, faithful, true, and bold

    fight as the saints who nobly fought of old

    and win with them the victor’s crown of gold.

    Alleluia! Alleluia!

    This hymn, and the feast day for which it was written, celebrate the saving work of Christ, the victory won in the lives of all faithful Christian men and women, especially those unremembered, who served humbly in their own families and communities, and encourage us to honour our Saviour by living with the same courage and commitment.

    This is the second verse of Bernard of Cluny’s great hymn, Jerusalem the Golden, also often sung on All Saint’s Day:

    O sweet and blessed country, the home of God’s elect!

    O sweet and blessed country that eager hearts expect,

    where they who with their leader have conquered in the fight

    forever and forever are clad in robes of white:

    in mercy, Jesus, bring us to that dear land of rest

    where sings the host of heaven your glorious name to bless.

    This verse from Hebrews 12 is relevant:

    Therefore, since we also have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us rid ourselves of every obstacle and the sin which so easily entangles us, and run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking only at Jesus, the originator and perfecter of the faith…

    Catholic and Orthodox Christians believe that this great cloud of witnesses (those who have gone before us in the faith) continue to watch over us, care for us and pray for us, and that we in turn can ask their prayers, just as we ask fellow Christians on Earth to pray for us. The prayer of a righteous man availeth much, James tells us James 5:16), and the prayers of those in God’s nearer presence, unencumbered by sin and distraction, and with unimaginably clearer insight into the will and purposes of God, availeth much indeed.

    Christians should participate in worship, celebration, and thanksgiving on All Saints’ Day. But what about participation in the myriad secular traditions which have grown up around that day?

    We need to be very careful indeed about any words or actions which may encourage interaction with the occult. There are spiritual realities and spiritual forces, and not all of them are good or wish us well. Some are full of hatred and spite, and will use any means; from intimidation and deception to offering us exactly what we want, to drain us of life and happiness, and drag us into darkness.

    Christians should not under any circumstances participate in seances or use Ouija boards. Role-playing games which invoke demons or ask players to play as demonic forces should also be avoided. Books which encourage an interest in witchcraft, including the Harry Potter series, should be read with caution, especially with younger readers.

    However, it is difficult to see any major harm in children dressing up as their favourite character, even if scary, and going from house to house in their neighbourhood in the company of friends or parents. It encourages a sense of community, and helps neighbours to get to know one another. If you want, get your children to dress as their favourite saint or Bible character: Judith, Esther, Samson John the Baptist, Mary MacKillop, Fr Damien of Molokai… the possibilities are endless, and fun.

    Just remember to tell them what it’s really about, and to take them to worship the following morning.

    Rings of Power Review. Can it really be this bad?

    Rings of Power review. Can it really be this bad?

    First, let’s get past the accusations from some media organisations that customer disappointment with the series is based on racism. It is not. As anyone will realise who has actually read the reviews, complaints about the inclusion of “persons of colour” form a small part of the overall disgruntlement. They form a small part of mine.

    Tolkien’s mythology was specifically based on Northern European myth and legend. Its peoples are white. That’s it. There is nothing racist about this, any more than there is anything racist in the people of Wakanda being black, or the characters in The Tale of Genji being Japanese. Including a few random European shopkeepers in a film version of The Tale of Genji for the sake of inclusiveness would not be brave or creative, it would just be silly. So is including a few random black dwarves, elves and harfoots in a screen version of stories set in Tolkien’s world. It is not a deal-breaker, but it is shallow and annoying to people who love Tolkien, and who care about the integrity of the stories.

    While on the subject of silly prejudices, the producers’ prejudices are so much in evidence that they are bulging at the sides and bursting out the bottom. The dwarves are suspicious, stupid, belligerent, grasping, and drink too much. So naturally they are Scottish, or at least, speak with embarrassing attempts at Scottish accents. The Harfoots (more on them later) are naïve, stupid, have no apparent way of living, and wander around aimlessly in dirty clothes with sticks in their hair. So naturally, they are Irish, or at least speak with embarrassing attempts at Irish accents. The elves, however, all sound like they went to Oxford or Cambridge, so naturally they are gorgeous, brainy, produce beautiful art and are probably secret ninja warriors. Because as everyone knows, people who went to university and live in the city are superior in every way to yokels who live in the country and grow carrots and rabbits, and to those grubby, sweaty people who work in mines and factories or other yucky places.

    Another minor annoyance, well more like a grinding, groan-inducing face-palming piece of stupidity, is characters holding lanterns right in front of their faces when they are trying to see ahead of them. Has anyone involved in this production ever been camping? Ever used a lantern, or even a candle (apart from the scented kind you put around your bath)? Holding a lantern in front of your face means you can’t see a damn thing except the lantern. If you want to see what is around or ahead of you, you hold the lantern or candle over your head, or beside you, so it is out of your field of vision.

    There are other, intermittent bits of silliness. Hunters, to whom speed and stealth are vitally important, roam around the countryside with massive moose antlers on their backs. Massive as in bigger than they are. Why? Sauron, in his guise as Annatar (at least, I think it is he, since it cannot be a wizard – they did not arrive in Middle Earth until the beginning of the Third Age) streaks across the sky in a great flaming fireball which then crashes into a paddock. This is Sauron, master of subtlety and deception, who is about to insinuate himself into Elvish society and is desperate not to draw attention to himself. So why?

    These are niggles. There are two bigger problems.

    The first is that this is not Tolkien.

    It is as if the producers have taken the name, picked a period in Tolkien’s timeline, and then ignored all of Tolkien’s history and philosophy.

    Again, just a few examples. There is no record of hobbits of any kind, including Harfoots, in Middle Earth until a thousand years into the Third Age, that is, some 3,000 years after the events in the first episodes of Rings of Power. They are included presumably because the producers thought viewers would find them appealing. Men, on the other hand, were present in Middle Earth from the beginning of the First Age, and were known to Elves from about the year FA 310, that is, about 900 years before the period in which the series is set. Yet no men appear in the series. Perhaps in later episodes. But why mess about with the timeline in this way?

    Elrond is told he cannot attend a meeting because it is for Elf-Lords only. But Elrond is an Elf-Lord, and has been since the moment he decided to be counted as elf-kind. This was his right by birth. He is a descendant of Thingol and Melian, grandson of Beren and Luthien, and son of Earendil and Elwing. So why?

    The character called Galadriel in Rings of Power bears no resemblance to Tolkien’s Galadriel. To distinguish the two I will call the RoP character Sadriel. Galadriel is an elf of enormous power and strength of character. She led her people into Middle Earth across the grinding ice, a crossing that had previously only been made by the Valar and Ungoliant. Sadriel is more like a cross between Princess Leia and Neo from The Matrix, with the worst qualities of both. She seems to have no regard for the wellbeing of the people she leads. She certainly doesn’t listen to them. In one absurd scene, she jumps from a ship, apparently planning to swim 1,000 miles back from the shores of the Undying Lands, through treacherous and clouded waters.

    By about the year 1,000 in the Second Age Galadriel had been married to Celeborn for 1,500 years. But Celeborn is nowhere to be seen, and is not consulted by Sadriel in any of her decision-making or obsessive campaigning.

    Then there’s the fact that no one in this series can act. Perhaps that is unfair. There may be some quite competent actors in this schmozzle, but it is impossible to tell, because the script is so wooden, and the lines in places so pretentious, that it would be bordering on impossible for even the best of players to deliver them with conviction. Outstanding amongst these are the snippets of ageless wisdom delivered by the elves. For example: “The wine of victory is sweetest for those in whose bitter trials it was fermented.” Um, what? This is not wisdom. It is the kind of banal motto fourteen year old girls obsessed with unicorns write in their secret diaries.

    The root of all this is that the writers and producers seem not to care about Tolkien or his writings at all. It isn’t even clear whether they have read LOTR or The Silmarillion, or any of the other works. If they have, they have not understood them. Tolkien’s work is pregnant with providence and sacramentality. Peter Jackson largely missed this as well, especially in the omission of Tom Bombadil, who represents what we are saved to, which as least as important as what we are saved from, but at least Jackson was mostly faithful to the story.

    Most people whose understanding of Lord of the Rings is based on Jackson will never have heard of Glorfindel, will believe that Arwen found the fellowship and led Frodo to Rivendell, that it was she, not Elrond, who called down the river on the Nazgul, and that Saruman was killed at Isengard. Jackson’s agenda is in evidence where the text is changed, but in his film version of LoTR the actors can act, the characters, though sometimes distorted (Frodo was fifty-one years old when he set out with the Ring), are sympathetic, and the story largely holds together.

    Rings of Power’s worst fault is simply that it is boring. It is impossible to care for characters who are shallow caricatures, or who are self-obsessed and arrogant. The first and vital step for the writers and producers of any drama is that the audience must feel a connection with the characters. If they don’t, they will not care what happens to them, and they will be bored. An audience will forgive almost anything – bad dialogue, cheesy special effects, even changes to beloved characters – but they will not forgive being bored.

    Rings of Power will meet the same fate as Disney’s dire attempts at the Narnia stories. People who love Narnia went to see the Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe because of their love for the books. The movie missed most of what was important to Lewis, but as a movie it wasn’t terrible. Prince Caspian spent its first fifteen minutes deliberately alienating the audience from the main characters, and went down from there. Half as many people went to see it. Even fewer to Voyage of the Dawn Treader.

    Widespread love for Tolkien meant Rings of Power achieved high viewer numbers for its first two episodes. But it is not Tolkien. It is not even interesting. It will not last.

    Yes, it really is that bad.

    Lost Ark Fairy Lullaby Island Song of Resonance Forest Minuet Guide

    Lost Ark Fairy Lullaby Island Song of Resonance Forest Minuet Guide

    To progress some parts of Lost Ark, you need the sheet music Forest Minuet.

    If you are looking for Forest Minuet, you may get frustrated about timing for the entrance to the secret area on Lullaby Island. The relevant quest is called It’s OK Miss Fairy. The quests on Lullaby Island up to that point are straightforward, and there is good foraging, mining and logging to fill in time. I will assume you have already acquired the Song of Resonance from Peyto.

    The key to getting into the secret area is timing. The secret area at the far East of Lullaby Island opens at 20 past the hour on even numbered hours server time for Western US servers (PST). So if you are playing in Los Angeles, make sure you are there at 6.20, or 10.20, or 12.20, etc.

    If you are playing on the East coast of Australia, as I am, this means being there and ready at 20 past the hour on odd numbered hours. So if you are playing in Brisbane, be at the entrance at 1.20, or 9.20 or 7.20, etc. Once in, go right to the end, wait for the golden circle to appear on the ground, and then play the Song of Resonance, more than once if you need to.

    Once you have done this three times, eg at 5.20, 7.20 and 9.20, you will be rewarded with Forest Minuet and some other useful items, including the island soul. There are also two mokoko seeds to collect inside the secret area. Return to the hidden fairy. She will send you on a short quest to nearby island Mercia. You then report back, and the game goes on…

    Senators Lying to You

    Getting vaccinated is important. It protects you and the people around you.

    It’s not just a personal choice. We all have a responsibility to care for the most vulnerable in our communities.

    I replied a few days ago to a post on Facebook which claimed vaccines didn’t work, and are unnecessary because there are good, cheap medications which prevent COVID-19 or reduce its severity. It was talking about Hydroxychloroquine and Ivermectin, of course. I posted a link to studies showing there is no evidence of any positive effect for Hydroxychloroquine, and very limited evidence for any value in Ivermectin.

    Someone responded that this was wrong because the whole world had seen the huge benefits of Ivermectin treatment in India. Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. What happened was that the usual anti-vax quacks misunderstood the data, and came up with impressive looking misleading graphics (one of the few things they do well), and circulated these amongst the usual people on Facebook and Twitter who could be guaranteed to look no further and ask no questions, but would simply pass them on because they agree with the positions they have already adopted.

    Bad enough that ordinary people do this. I can understand questions, but reposting misleading and dangerous graphics and misinformation costs lives. If you have questions, go to genuine medical and science sources, or ask your GP.

    It is even worse when politicians and public figures, who should be held to higher standards, repeat the same dangerous propaganda.

    This morning I noticed a post from Senator Gerard Rennick, which makes the claim that Australia’s COVID19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has found that Ivermectin reduces deaths from 53 to 22 per 1,000 cases, ICU admissions from 115 to 61 per 1,000 cases, and increases viral clearance within 7-10 days from 539 to 701 per 1,000 cases. Impressive figures. Except that a few minutes of checking reveals that this is not what the COVID19 Clinical Evidence Taskforce has found at all.

    Even good sources can be misread, and misrepresented. In this case, given that the Senator and the Senator’s staff can be assumed to be reasonably intelligent, and to have reasonable comprehension skills, it is difficult to avoid the conclusion this post and accompanying graphic are not deliberately misleading. That is, the Senator is lying to you. If a person or organisation needs to lie to make a point, then they almost certainly have no point to make. Lying about vitally important medical information and treatment is especially morally despicable.

    What does the Taskforce say? It has reviewed hundreds of papers on dozens of different subjects relating to COVID19 spread, prevention and treatment. On Ivermectin, they summarise the results of relevant papers. That is what the figures above are – summaries of a few of many papers reviewed. NOT. I repeat, NOT, the view of most papers, or of the Taskforce itself. The taskforce specifically says about each of the papers quoted, that they have low confidence, because in each case the reliability of those studies is undermined by bias (in other words, the writers found what they wanted to find) and poor study design. The Taskforce, after reviewing all the papers available, and considering the dozens of ongoing studies into possible anti-viral effects of Ivermectin, find there is no evidence to support its use outside of well-designed clinical trials.

    The real findings? “In comparison to SOC or placebo, IVM did not reduce all-cause mortality, length of stay or viral clearance in RCTs in COVID-19 patients with mostly mild disease. IVM did not have an effect on AEs or severe AEs. IVM is not a viable option to treat COVID-19 patients.” https://academic.oup.com/cid/advance-article/doi/10.1093/cid/ciab591/6310839

    What is particularly disappointing about this is that Gerard Rennick, Malcom Roberts, and George Christiansen, who have a lot to offer, are undermining their credibility in matters on which they are knowledgeable and in which they have made genuine contributions, by repeatedly posting what amounts to anti-vax silliness.

    Ditto for some other sources such as Catallaxy Files, one of Australia’s best websites for discussion of economic issues, which has posted such nonsense as the claim that the COVID19 virus and variants have never been isolated. This would come as news to the dozens of teams around the world who have done just that, and on the result of whose work the vaccines were designed. Or that Ivermectin research is being quashed. Again, news to the dozens of teams of researchers around the world who are pursuing possible anti-viral effects, even though there is currently no evidence of such effects at non-lethal doses, and it is difficult from a pharmacokinetic point of view to see how there could be useful anti-viral effects in vivo.

    The tidal wave of dangerous nonsense continues. Don’t accept it. Check with real sources, or ask your GP.

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