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Here in Australia two parents have recently been convicted of manslaughter for the death of their nine month old baby girl. The child died after five months of suffering with chronic , yet easily treatable eczema. One of the medical professionals who testified said that conventional medical treatment could have seen the girl recover in 24 hours, but the parents chose to pursue homeopathic remedies. The child had been neglected so badly that by the time she was taken to hospital, her corneas were melting. The last five months of her life (more than HALF her life) were spent in terrible pain.

As a parent I’m particularly livid about this. As someone who uses his brain for thinking, I’m also fairly incensed. If you care to read on, you’re going to hear a lot of rather strong language. You’ll learn why homeopathy isn’t medicine, too, but just be aware of what you’re in for.

Here’s a pretty picture. Post continues afterwards.

cat

Homeopathy is NOT medicine.

Here’s why: medicine is a science, which means it follows the scientific method. In medicine, therefore, when you want to say that activity X (such as in this case, imbibing a certain substance) causes effect Y, you have to perform that activity with a large enough sample size of test subjects, and your sample size needs to include a diversity of people to ensure that your results were actually caused by the substance and not some other factor. With homeopathy, some idiot piece of shit loser just goes ahead and imagines that his magic water will cure something or other, and then babies die. Asshole.

I say ‘magic water’, because that’s precisely what homeopaths are convinced they are administering. Homeopathy involves taking an amount of water and adding a tiny amount of some element – said to be the active ingredient in the ‘cure’ – to the water, then diluting the ever-living shit out of it until NONE OF THE ACTIVE INGREDIENT REMAINS. The ‘magic water’ is said to have a memory of active ingredient, which it passes on when taken. I’m serious – that’s what homeopaths actually think is going down. You would have to bee a metric assload of retard to possibly consider that to be medicine.

Hmm, should I make some tea out of fairy dust to cure grandma’s cancer or should she get chemo? Tough call.

As an example, the allowable ratio of arsenic to water in tap water is 10−8 or 1 arsenic molecule per 100,000,000 molecules of water. The standard dilution for homeopathic ‘remedies’ is 10−60 or 1 particle of the active ingredient per 1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 (stupid formatting – you’re missing about a quarter of the zeros) molecules of water. I would die from water intoxication (again and again and again) long before I ever found that one molecule. It is impossible for any of the active ingredient to remain in any quantity of a homeopathic remedy that could physically be consumed – by a factor of A RIDICULOUS AMOUNT. I’m talking a container billions of times larger than the Earth kind of ridiculous.

While I’m quite pleased that these two bowls of dick have publicly proven their unsuitability for passing on their genes, it’s a shame they had to do it in a manner that culminated with two months of terrible, agonizing (and AVOIDABLE) suffering for this poor child. Both parents have been sentenced to lengthy jail terms. Dear Mr. Thomas Sam (the father and practicing homeopath), I can only hope that one of the charming fellows in cell block D stabs you repeatedly in the anus with a sharpened toothbrush – I hear that ass-stabbing is one of the most lengthy and painful ways to die, not counting having treatable eczema ravage your whole body while your shithead parents watch you cry in pain for five months.

In closing: fuck you, homeopathic practitioners. If I ran into you in the street, I’d cockpunch you so hard you’d have to stick your hand up your rectum in order to jerk off. That statement makes no sense, and yet it’s nowhere near as ludicrous as you and your fucking magic water. Douchebags.

If you want more info (and less pottymouthed antics), there’s a good article at Ars Technica about the pseudoscience that is homeopathy.

Mondegreen: (noun) : a word or phrase that results from a mishearing of something said or sung, from the mishearing in a Scottish ballad of “laid him on the green” as “Lady Mondegreen”

Until yesterday, I believed that the chorus (and by extension the title) to West End Girls by the Pet Shop Boys went ‘The eastern boys and western girls’ instead of ”The east end boys and west end girls’.

I suppose that that’s not a terribly bad mistake to make, except I had somehow also my mind decided that this song was about the cold war.  In Viper Pilot’s world, the song was about relationships cast asunder by the erection of the Berlin Wall. I think it’s because I was playing a lot of Twilight: 2000 at the time. Or maybe it’s just that my young imagination was AWESOME.

Australian post-punk electro rockers Art vs Science do their bit to cement warm Franco-Australian relations (not to be confused with the far more complex Franco-Austrian relations) with this killer track and its mime-enabled video.

Art vs Science – Parlez-Vous Français?

http://tinyurl.com/mcmkvk

I shall be incommunicado for the next few days while submerging myself in geek culture at GenCon Oz.

I’ll be getting my game on at the 2009 Australian Shadowfist championship, playing some WarMachine and enjoying whatever else may come of the weekend.

If there’s one thing to be said for conventions like this, it’s that it’s pretty fucking awesome to be the coolest guy in a room full of fifteen thousand people (okay, not counting the b-list sci-fi celebrities who get roped into appearing).

They’re like Radiohead, except without the shitty, pretentious art-faggotry.

Slashdot recently ran an article about swarms of solar-powered microbots that will soon be pressed into service as data miners and surveillance tools.

More interesting than the article itself was a short lecture on the grey goo theory that was buried in the comments.  I have taken the liberty of reproducing it here for your reading pleasure:

Every time I hear the “grey goo” debate I ponder why some people love so much to hypothesize about the potential future without taking as much at a single glimpse at the past and present. The grey goo hypothesis states that, as a result of some technological advancement, there will be a matter that is able to function and replicate by consuming available background resources until all resources are consumed and turned into more grey goo. This position utterly fails to realize that there already is matter that does exactly that. It’s called life.

Life already functions in the most optimal way possible at consuming energy and replicating more of its own kind. But the “grey goo” scenario doesn’t happen due to a simple natural law of diminishing returns — as more and more grey goo (or, in our case, life) is produced, the less and less marginal advantage is there at producing more of the same kind. Identical species (or in simpler cases, where there are no “individual specimens”, identical biomasses (e.g. mold, grass) first spreads out by consuming the most readily available resource, but as its numbers grow and resources dwindle, it gains less and less marginal advantage at consuming more resources, and becomes its own competitor more than a co-operator. The fact that during the billions of years that life existed on Earth, Earth has not turned into a uniform mass of a single biomatter, utterly destroys the “grey goo” hypothesis.

On top of that, there is this “adaptability” thing. As grey goo spreads more and more, and becomes its own competitor, some strains of grey goo (lets call it blue goo), through trial and error, will function better when instead of cooperating with other grey goo, exploits it, for example by consuming grey goo directly rather than consuming what the grey goo consumes. In turn, the grey goo will now have to modify its behavior to not only consume and replicate but also to defend itself against blue goo. Then we get yellow goo which likewise will consume blue goo. Then we get some violet goo which adapts to the blue-yellow goo rivalry by, for example, becoming poisonous go yellow goo to consume while offering habitat protection to blue goo in exchange for some released energy from what the blue goo consumed.

This sequence goes on and on, until we get an ultimate form (brown goo) that sufficiently adapts to consciously exploit other forms of goo for its own needs, build constructed habitats for itself, wage wars on its own kind, and occasionally debate on whether all brown goo specimens originally evolved from humble grey goo, or whether they were created by some Divine Heavenly Goo instead.

J-to-the-D sent me an interesting packet of intel over the encrypted lightcast.  Back in the day, Van Halen garnered a reputation for excessive acts of, well, excess. At the height of their popularity, touring with a small armada of semi-trailers full of gear, rumour has it they smashed the shit out of a backstage area for a violation of their contract – to the tune of $85k of damage. The infraction that caused the outrage?

There were brown M&Ms in the backstage area. Brown M&Ms.  It might as well have been a big bowl of dick.

In the cold and unrelenting light of fact, however all is not as it seems. When you have a small armada of semi-trailers full of gear, you have a lot of gear, some of which is potentially dangerous. The brown M&M bit was a trick to make sure that the contract had been read in full – a shifty promoter who hasn’t read the technical details necessary for a massive stage show most certainly hasn’t checked that the stage will support all the gear or what voltages the power sockets are. You spot one brown M&M backstage, you need to go over every detail of the show to make sure no-one ends up hurt or dead.

Check the full tale at Snopes.com:

http://www.snopes.com/music/artists/vanhalen.asp

…fighting space insects, or colonizing asteroids, or repairing the fusion reactor.  Something like that.

I have received a message from the future during this downtime, though.  Atomique and I will probably end up like these parents:

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