Make a Difference

Author: Augustus (Page 2 of 105)

Geothermal Power Dud

A $4 million geothermal power plant built in outback Queensland in 2019, touted as a “game changer” in renewable energy, has never produced any electricity. The plant was built at tax-payer expense of course. Now the manufacturers/installers are demanding over $1 million in “repairs” to get it going.

Winton failed geo-thermal power station
Failed $4 million geothermal power plant at Winton, QLD

Dune Part Two

Part Two of Denis Villeneuve’s interpretation of Dune appears in cinemas in November. If you haven’t seen Part One, and you are even remotely interested in science fiction, or what it means to be human (which is what all science fiction is about), or even just cinema or story-telling, see it now.

The Evil of the Anti-vax Campaigners

Most social media anti-vaxxers are not evil, just ignorant and irresponsible. But those who deliberately misrepresent medical data, who originate the memes and misquotes that the useful obliviates pass on without thought, they are evil. “Dr” John Campbell is one. So is Joseph Mercola. So is Simone Gold. Another is Aseem Malhotra.

One thing most of these have in common is that while railing against the profits of big pharma, they make a fortune peddling alternative schemes, programmes and medications which have no research support, and do not work.

COVID -19 scammer Aseem Malhotra is touring Australia. He promotes himself, and is promoted by anti-vaxxers, as a highly regarded cardiologist. By anti-vaxxers, yes. By other reputable doctors and researchers? Not so much.

You will note that whenever anyone takes an anti-vax view, in anti-vax circles that person immediately becomes “highly regarded,” a “leading scientist,” and “authoritative expert.” Robert Malone, who was a secondary author on two minor papers in the eighties, suddenly became the “inventor of mRNA technology.” Just so for Malhotra.

Incidentally, the so-called Australian Medical Professionals Society does not represent Australian medical professionals, but is a tiny minority group set up to spread anti-vax misinformation. This is the group that is sponsoring, and expects to profit from, Aseem Malhotra’s tour.

Grifters like Malhotra are not just wrong. They deliberately mislead vulnerable people for their own glory and profit without care for the health impacts on those who are taken in. More information here from the invaluable Susan Oliver.

Debunking Aseem Malhotra

Body Positivity

Not shaming people because of their body shape does not mean telling people it is perfectly fine to be anorexic. Nor does it mean telling people it is perfectly fine to be morbidly obese. There is nothing positive, healthy, or attractive about either anorexia or morbid obesity.

The COVID Pandemic is Not Over

I keep seeing people write “Now that the COVID pandemic is over..”

The COVID pandemic is far from over.

Ceasing mandated distancing and masks means far higher infection rates of influenza and other respiratory diseases are likely. Take care, for yourself, and especially for older or otherwise vulnerable people.

Why People Don’t Trust the Media

Are Illegal Immigrants Texans Now?

What would you think about the perpetrator as you read that headline? If you were in the vicinity is there anything that would help to identify and avoid this person? Are illegal immigrants Texans now? When does leaving information out become deliberate deception?

Australian Mothers in Syria?

The Guardian reports today that Australian mothers trapped with their young families inside one of Syria’s brutal detention camps say they are desperate to get their children out, fearful they will be taken from them, or they will die.

“The kids are shaken each time they see a soldier holding a gun,” one mother in the camp said. “And each night, when the boys hear a car, they can’t sleep, afraid they will be taken away from their mother.”

About 40 Australians – 10 women and 30 children – remain held within the Roj camp in north-east Syria, near the Iraqi border.

They are the wives, widows and children of slain or jailed Islamic State fighters.

A woman and a child in the Roj detention camp in northeast Syria

I am sympathetic to anyone in difficulty. But I do not understand how people who left Australia, repudiated their Australian citizenship to join the caliphate, and supported murderers and torturers, have any claim on the goodwill or finances of Australian tax-payers.

No Truth to Anti-vaxxers’ Claims Linking COVID Vaccine and Sudden Cardiac Arrest

You may have seen posts on social media, or even received emails from from anti-vaxxers, claiming evidence has shown they were right all along. The only place this is true is in their own dangerous delusions, and in the darker reaches of the internet.

In the real world, research by real doctors and scientists shows a vanishingly low number of ill effects which can genuinely be attributed to COVID or any other vaccines, and huge number of lives saved.

This article from the Sydney Morning Herald (paywalled but copied below in full) is just one piece of large-scale research from thousands of research programmes around the world…

The COVID-19 vaccine does not cause sudden cardiac arrest in young people, according to new research that dispels a persistent and unsubstantiated claim from anti-vaccination activists.

Researchers from the Baker Heart and Diabetes Institute examined more than 2000 instances of out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Victoria before and during the pandemic, and found no change in the median monthly rate of cardiac arrest among those aged under 50.

New research shows that there is no association between the COVID-19 vaccination and sudden cardiac arrest.

Dr Liz Paratz, a cardiologist at the institute, began the study, which has been published in the journal Circulation, after being besieged by abusive emails from anti-vaxxers following the publication of separate research into sudden cardiac arrest.

“They said I was a child-killer participating in state-sponsored genocide,” she said.

It didn’t stop there. A US Republican senator accused the cardiologist of a cover-up and the producer of Fox News’ Tucker Carlson Tonight asked Paratz to share her database so it could be examined more closely.

“We realised that there was this intense interest in whether vaccinations were causing sudden cardiac death,” Paratz said.

A cardiac arrest occurs when the heart suddenly stops beating.

The Heart Foundation says 20,000 sudden cardiac arrests occur out of hospital in Australia every year, and the survival rate is just 10 per cent.

It can be caused by genetic mutations, a blockage of the coronary arteries or a weakness in the heart muscle. In about 20 per cent of cases, the cause is unknown.

Using data from a registry set up to investigate cardiac arrests among Victorians aged under 50, Paratz looked at 2242 instances of cardiac arrest from April 2019 to the end of March 2022.

She divided the data into three periods: before the onset of COVID-19 in Australia, during the pandemic but before the rollout of a vaccination program, and following mandatory vaccination.

No variation was seen in the median monthly rates of cardiac arrest – it ranged from 61 to 63 deaths per month – or myocarditis, where there were just 13 cases over the three-year study period.

Previous research has linked the coronavirus vaccine to rare complications such as myocarditis (inflammation of the heart) and pericarditis (swelling of the membrane around the heart). But it has also found that COVID-19 infections are much more likely than vaccines to cause these heart complications, and when they do occur, they are more severe.

Paratz said the majority of myocarditis or pericarditis episodes associated with the vaccine were mild, and her research showed they had not led to a rise in deaths.

“This is an incredibly reassuring amount of data for people who’ve been vaccinated,” she said.

“Extrapolation can be the enemy when you say, ‘vaccinations may cause a cardiac issue, therefore, cardiac deaths are going to go up’ … we’re not seeing that borne out. ”

Paratz also examined the deaths of 38 people who suffered cardiac arrest within 30 days of their COVID vaccination. No differences were observed in the underlying causes of their deaths when compared with age-matched data, and no one in this group had myocarditis.

Professor Jason Kovacic, the executive director of the Victor Chang Cardiac Research Institute in Sydney, said the research convincingly showed there was no increase in sudden cardiac death linked to the COVID vaccine.

Kovacic, who is also a senior cardiologist at St Vincent’s in Sydney, said he had also observed this clinically.

“I am aware that there’s been a couple of people around the world who have had a serious cardiac issue related to vaccination,” he said.

He has treated a handful of people with vaccine-related myocarditis and said they had all made a complete recovery following a short stay in hospital.

He has also treated patients with heart issues linked to COVID infections and said they had spent much longer in hospital, and some had never recovered.

“There is no question the vaccination has saved many, many lives, is very effective, and has been the thing that has helped us get out of this pandemic.”

Qohel Blog History

Qohel has been in operation for fifteen years. The first post was in 2008. That makes it one of Australia’s most resilient blogs.

I get a lot of visitors. Perhaps because of the sheer volume of material – 1500 posts, just under a million words, on topics from sport to PC and console games, to philosophy, literature, art, mathematics, science, health, stock scams, and politics and current affairs.

The downside is that I also get a lot of unauthorised admin login attempts. That is, people who want to remove posts they find annoying, or because they want to take advantage of site traffic to boost their own schemes. We must be doing something right!

Child Abuse in Aboriginal Communities

The current Australian Federal Government has proposed amendments to the Australian Constitution to create a first nations “Voice” to parliament. There are multiple concerns about this. Many Australians are not happy about enshrining division by race in the Constitution, or granting special privileges to any group on the basis of race. It is not clear exactly how the Voice would operate; on what matters it would have the right to comment, how much notice parliament and executive Government would be required to take of any recommendations, what avenues of appeal there might be, how members of the Voice would be appointed, etc …

There are already multiple bodies which offer advice and guidance to government on matters relating to aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with various degrees of representation from sub-groups and communities remote and urban. These are supported by tax-payers with over $30 billion of funding. Some aboriginal leaders have expressed the view that they do not need another voice in government. Instead, they say, they need ears that listen.

Two weeks ago an delegation of aboriginal people came to Canberra to talk with those in government proposing the Voice. They wanted to express the view there were better ways forward that did not divide Australia by race, and would mean better listening to the real needs of indigenous people. None of the mostly white proponents of Voice were willing to meet with them.

Aboriginal people gather in Canberra but are ignored by proponents of the Voice
Aboriginal people gather in Canberra but are ignored by proponents of the Voice

Australian Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, got in trouble with some sections of the media a few days ago when he suggested that poverty, employment, and high levels of domestic violence and child abuse were more important to many aboriginal people than another body claiming to represent them.

Karl O’Callaghan, Police Commissioner of Western Australia believes Peter Dutton is right, and asked asked these questions:

“How would you react if your 11-year-old daughter had a sexually transmitted infection? How would you take the news that your daughter is up to 10 times more likely to be the victim of sexual abuse than others in her class? How would you feel if she was sexually abused and no one bothered to report it?

To most of us these situations are unthinkable and it would be difficult to fathom how we would react to them. This is the plight of hundreds of Aboriginal children in remote communities throughout Australia, and this is only half of the story.”

Senator Jacinta Nampijinpa Price, an aboriginal woman from the Northern Territory, also agrees. She has repeatedly asked for a halt to the seemingly endless stream of feelgood consultations and new voices, and for better listening and real action and solutions to poverty and abuse.

The choices are: division by race enshrined in the Constitution, and another large layer of bureaucracy with unspecified representation and powers, or real listening and real action to resolve issues. If you care about Australia and about justice for indigenous people, the answer seems clear. Vote no to racism, and yes to real answers.

Smart Cities

I keep seeing a meme that claims that smart cities, phones, etc stands for “Surveillance, Monitoring, Analysis, etc, etc …”

Smart does not stand for that. It is not an acronym.

Smart cities simply means making resources easier and cheaper to access, and travel, communication and workflow more efficient.

There will be real issues in how this is managed. There are risks to privacy and there may be barriers, as in additional costs, to the freedom of movement we now take for granted. These will be important to recognise and address. But simply making stuff up, as in “SMART stands for…” does not help, and reduces the credibility of those who raise genuine concerns.

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