You are currently browsing the monthly archive for January 2008.

If you use windows, most likely you would have come across the problem where you lose the Safely Remove Hardware Icon in your lower right hand corner.
I know its not strictly necessary to do, but I feel much better about doing it because once I did it without and it rooted my USB key.

Here is Puddle’s sure fire way to get it back
Make a new shortcut and stick the following, sans inverted commas, as the link and voila!
“%windir%\System32\RUNDLL32.EXE shell32.dll,Control_RunDLL hotplug.dll”

I was talking to a friend of mine who recently got a job as a research assistant to a law professor looking at we could/should legislate a minimum ‘quality of life’ line to make decisions about who to save/let go clearer and simpler.
They are going to look at whether there is a minimum quality of life, which can define a viable life – where the patient is unable to make their wishes known.

My initial reaction was no – there are far too many factors involved in such a decision for a blanket legislation. Also for something this personal, I really feel the law should stay out – it should provide support for either action, but proscribe neither. But having also had a discussion about death on one of my forum rampages, it did get me thinking.
In Australia, and most western countries, we do shy away from death and the discussion of death.
Death is the ultimate limit, the final failure

“The USA is a nation which tends to find failure shameful, mortifying or even downright sinful…It is a nation of eager yea-sayers and zealous can -doers…American culture is deeply hostile to the idea of limit, and therefore to human biology. “Terry Eagleton, After Theory

Because of this fear and refusal to accept death as simply part of life, perhaps it means we never really engage with the idea of passing during our lives, and causing problems when it comes to treatment at the end of life.

I’ve never had to make the call, and people tell me that often once families see a code, they quickly decide not to call for it again, but I hope that I will gain the wisdom and strength to make the right choice when and if I ever have to.

I’ll probably return to this over time, its one of my favourite topics of mulling over. But here are some other perspectives

A beautiful post which expresses my thoughts far far better than my garbled musings can.

Religious perspectives on withdrawal of treatment from patients with multiple organ failure (Medical Journal of Australia)

As a dancer and ne’er do well, I’ve never had to have proper shoes, I have spent the majority of my adult life in sneakers, socks, barefoot or in ballet shoes. Its very comfortable.
However, I am now the proud owner of fancy black leather shoes with the leather soles, and while uncomfortable, I’ve found it tremendously amusing to stride around in tiled hallways. The clipitty cloppity has such a nice air of importance to it. Its like in the movies, you always hear the men in the suits power walking with a briefcase to deliver the turning point of the movie.

Its fun.

In brief, Le Canard Noir, an excellent skepticism blog, has been shut down by his ISP, in response to a legal threat by a Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi 

In support, Orac has asked bloggers to repost the offending articles.   I shall be doing just that and ask that if you are also a blogger and support free speech and skepticism, to please be doing the same.

Read the full story here.

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From Le Canard Noir

Right Royal College of Pompous Quackery – Dublin, Thursday, September 28, 2006

I had to share this with you. Following on from my recent Quack Word ‘Doctor’ blog, I came across the Royal College of Alternative Medicine (RCAM) , a Dublin based – well, I’m not sure quite what it is…

What caught my eye was just the shameless aggrandisement of the site. It is quite hilarious, if not a little repetitive at times. Calling yourself ‘Doctor’ is somewhat pompous when all you have done is paid for some international postage. However, the man behind RCAM has absolutely no shame and titles himself as the:

Distinguished Provost of RCAM (Royal College of Alternative Medicine) Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK)

Wow! Probably, just Joe to his mates. Naturally, when you Google the qualification FRCAM(Dublin), there is only person who appears to revel in this achievement. I’ll leave the rest as an excercise for the reader.

The distinguished provost looks like he is just another pseudoscientific nutritionist, his spin being “Nutritional Immunomodulation”. This is obviously a lot more clever than Patrick Holfords mere ‘Optimum Nutrition’, but having only one ‘omnipill’ is probably a poorer commercial decision that Patrick’s vast range of supplements.

Obviously, Professor Obi has had a few problems with what probably amount to bewildering comments about his site as the legal threats and press releases concerning his ‘ethical’ responses to criticisms cover more space than anything else. ‘Ethical’ is a favourite word on the site.

The most recent press release states,

7th September 2006 : The Distinguished RCAM Provost, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi FRCAM(Dublin) FRIPH(UK) FACAM(USA) MICR(UK) has formally accepted appointment as Chief Professorial Examiner for the Doctor of Science (DSc) programme in Evidence Based, Alternative Medicine (EBAM) of a highly respected International University in one of the British Commonwealth Protectorates.

This new qualification is primarily aimed at Medical Graduates, Physicians, Surgeons, Pharmacists, Dentists, Osteopaths, Chiropractors, Opticians, Wellness Consultants, Herbalists, Acupuncturists, Naturopaths , Healers, Podiatrists , Chiropodists , Scientists , Healers ,Therapists, Homeopaths, Chinese Medicine Practitioners and Nurses wishing to ethically upgrade their current Qualifications in Alternative Medicine over an exceedingly intensive 12 – 36 month period of study.

British Commonwealth Protectorates? Could that be Dublin?

I really have no idea what this organisation is all about. But it looks like it could be getting quite big soon…

RCAM currently has International Vacancies for One Million (1,000,000) ‘Foundation Fellows’ (‘Movers and Shakers’) ; who will independently play a highly pivotal role in diligently mentoring (and regulating) it’s future Global Membership.

So if you really think that you seriously have what it takes to become a ‘Leader’ in Alternative Medicine , then (perhaps) RCAM may definitely be exactly what the Doctor ordered for you.

One million. That’s a lot of quacks! And they are just to mentor (and regulate) the wider quack membership! This man has ambition.

The Big J really hates real doctors. This is his most recent press release…

RCAM would like to warmly commend the various Chieftans of the National Health Service of the United Kingdom for ethically and appropriately ignoring utterly misguided calls (from a rather amusing Group of thirteen Clinical Yestermen) to compel Hard-Working (and Tax-Paying) British Citizens to additionally pay for Life Enhancing Alternative Medicine Interventions out of their very own pockets – rather than get such treatments free via the NHS. RCAM would like to also categorically state that such exceedingly flawed ‘G-13′ demands that the National Health Service of the United Kingdom expediently abandon Alternative Medicine altogether (in total favour of Conventional Medicine) be diplomatically treated with the very utmost contempt which such unguarded verbal flippance duly deserves ; as none of these 13 ‘Eminent UK Scientists’ behind such calls has professionally attained Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications in Alternative Medicine and as such cannot be deemed competent enough to make such sweeping ‘Shilly-Shally’ statements about the noble independent specialty of Alternative Medicine.

RCAM therefore publicly advises the General Public to lawfully go about their normal Wellness-Seeking Behaviour as usual – without any unwarranted prejudice or fear resulting from such highly self-serving, morally unethical , abjectly crude , totally unprofessional, utterly unstatesmanly, morbidly barbaric, wantonly uncivilized, profanely undemocratic and unspeakably sacrilegious perpetual affronts on the therapeutically formidable institution of Alternative Medicine.

Now, I do not have ‘Globally Acceptable Fellowship Qualifications’ in Santa Clause Studies to know he does not exist. But hey. I must be a morbidly barbaric and profanely undemocratic, unethical duck.

So, struggling around the acres of pomposity I find one place where Prof Joe might be making some money. You can call him to seek his wisdom, after pre-booking an hour’s slot (and handing over your credit card) for a mere 300 Euros. Alternatively, you can pay by the minute on the contact line for a trifling $10 per minute.

Its going to cost you $20 just for Joe to say Hello and to read out his numerous titles, qualifications and names. Not bad ‘ethical’ work.

Ethical Quackery, the Monarchy and Kate Moss – Thursday, October 12, 2006

No, this is not about our Defender of Quackery, our Quack-in-Chief His Royal Quackiness, Prince Charles, but about the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Joseph Chikelue Obi. And yes, it is just a rather lame story written solely to get a picture of Kate on my blog.

I’ve written a rather lazy blog on the distinguished professor before that was just a bit of a gawp at his quacktastic website and what looks like a health phone-line scam.

Well, I’ve done a little more digging with Google and it has revealed a few quack gems. It has been pretty hard work, since Google returns some 6,000 pages, the vast majority just appears to be Prof Obi’s self-promotion. However, if you persist in digging a few interesting facts turn up.

So, what has the little black duck found out about the “most Controversial Retired Physician and ‘A-List’ Medical Celebrity, Dr Joseph Chikelue Obi”?

Here we go…

1. The Irish Independent reports that his college does not exist at the Dublin address given on the web site. There’s a surprise! It’s just a front.

2. The Independent goes on. “In January 2003, he was suspended by for serious professional misconduct at South Tyneside District Hospital. Among the allegations made were that he failed to attend to patients, wrote strange notes about colleagues and at one point gave a dating agency phone number to a psychiatric patient.”

3. He was being investigated by the police for taking thousands of pounds of a 58 year old woman to in order to cure a long standing illness.

4. The GMC strike Dr Obi off their register for “serious professional misconduct”. So much for him being retired.

5. On another tack, Dr Obi has been involved in a little cyber-squatting. This looks as if it took place while he was a doctor – always after a few quid!

6. Since then, now self-titled Prof Obi, a few new avenues have been opened, including trying to entice Kate Moss away to one of his ‘safe-houses’ in Ireland. Hat’s off!

He is quoted as saying:

Under the European Convention on Human Rights, Miss Moss still has fundamental rights, just like anyone else out there, and as far as I am concerned, she is not guilty of anything until an Ethical Jury says so.

(I mentioned before that ‘ethical’ was one of his favourite words.)

7. Prof Obi has been developing a Penis Enlarger (watch out Kate) that his own Royal College has now endorsed.

8. At least one person (out of the targeted million) has paid Prof Obi the fees for his college to accredit them. Dr Michael Keet (8 Canards) of the Central London College of Reflexology handed over ‘hundreds‘. Do we feel sorry for out-quacked quacks? I guess we ought to.

9. For those of you wanting to see behind the grand titles and see the real human being, Joseph lists his interests as Comedy in London, Whole Food Nutrition and Christian Music. On this ‘Meetup’ site, he describes himself as “Just a very ordinary guy . . .”. That’s nice.

10. His name appears very often on the blog Abolish The General Medical Council (GMC), often reporting something he has got up to. The blog describes itself as:

An ethical blog for those who publicly feel that the General Medical Council (GMC) should be Statutorily Abolished in favour of a Medical Licensing Commission (MLC) to solely register and revalidate Doctors who practise Conventional Medicine in the UK. The Blog also recommends that the GMC/MLC hands all disciplinary functions over to an Independent Clinical Tribunal (ICT) in keeping with the EU Convention on Human Rights ; to avoid (both) Institutional Bias and Multiple Jeopardy.

Oooh. There is that word ‘ethical’ again. And ‘European Human Rights’. No name is given for the blog author but the avatar is a portrait of the queen. Another apparent obsession of Prof Obi – royalty. Could the author be none other than the Professor himself, a little agrieved for his ticking off? I hope you all click through to the blog. Maybe we will show up in his stats and whoever the writer is can get in contact and confirm one way or another.

I rather hope it is, as the final thing I turned up would just be fantastic…

11. Is the Distinguished Provost of the Royal College of Alternative Medicine, Professor Obi now selling ethical ring-tones? I do hope so.

Watch out Crazy Frog! Here comes the Crazy Provost…

To nick a phrase found on Orac’s blog, ‘the stupid, it burns’.
I happen to be a forum and blog junkie and recently on one of the many I visit, an argument appeared as to what a ‘dancer’ is.

Dancers are one of the few groups of people who are so insanely ego-centric that they would get uppity over the correct usage of the designation of dancer. They have elevated it into a hallowed title, conveying an aura of ‘dancerness’, of ability, passion blah blah blah.
So some argue the strictest dictionary application – that dancer is one who dances in public for pay.
Which is patently stupid when considering the rich heritage of other cultures where dance is simply a way of life. The advent of ‘dance’ and indeed ‘art’ as a profession is very recent, these activities have been a part of all human cultures for thousands of years, pretty much as soon as culture developed – from caveman days of rockpainting and jewelry making.
But no, bobbleheads still insist that a professional arts corps is necessary because without it There would be no jane austen, no bach, andy warhol, no great musicians, building would only be functional, walls would all be one colour’ I mean, jeebus, if we didn’t have professional artists, holy jeepers batman, colour would never have been invented!!!!
also highly amusing because one of Warhols ideas was that art is potentially anything one considers to be art. And that art and not art is a blurred distinction

Other knuckleheads content that to be worthy of the term dancer one must have ‘passion’ for it, as if that is a useful definition. You might as well make ‘dancerness’ a criteria.

Interestingly it was only students and non-professional dancers who were all up in arms. My pet theory is that dancers as a whole are so mindboggling insecure that they need a shibboleth to feel secure in themselves and their art. They need a way to differentiate themselves from the mass of the ‘other’.
Or perhaps, as some of them will not assign the title of ‘dancer’ to themselves, feeling themselves unworthy of the title, it is because of the deification of dancers and artists generally – something that John Carey talks about in ‘What good are the Arts?’.
“talk of the immortality of art, in the absence of a belief in God, is childish and self- deceiving”

I was recently at a shindig for dancers and dance artists and had to exert considerable self control not to explode in an indignant mess.
I love the arts, despite being a grouchy bastard, I really believe and enjoy them, but recently I am seeing that we, as artists, could possibly be the worst thing that ever happened to art.

On several occasions I’ve been to talks and showings about ‘research’, movement ‘research’ and the like.  As a budding scientist and also just because I have a brain, its pissing me off – I am more than willing to accept the need to discover new things in art practice and that it requires investigation. But what I’ve seen is absolute rubbish which is indulgent, stupid and justifies why people hate contemporary art.

Case A.
A  choreographer and dancer have been given 4 weeks of rehearsal space time to research her project, which was vaguely looking at Communication Technologies, pas and present.  So I dutifully trundled out, as my practice is technologically mediated and I do love a good stickybeak.   I then spent the next hour physically holding myelf in so I didn’t launch myself onto stage and hurt someone – either that or holding in bales of laughter at the sheer idiocy of it.  It was actually offensive how insanely stupid the showing was.   It consisted of 2 dancers in various scenarios looking at communication technologies
*Idea one.  Stand on one leg, balance while wriggling fingers like they do in bad hacker movie. This was supposed to represent SMS-technology.
*Idea two. Hold hand to ear like you had a phone and rush around.
*idea three. Do the same as above but run from the back of the stage to the front of the stage, stopping suddenly and running back
*idea four.  Walk in circles rapidly. Apparently this was to convey the idea of radio wave propagation.
*sitting down while flapping hands – smoke signals

Case B.
this time a 2 week research grant.
Which developed a ‘call and response’ technique using sensors.
I mean WTF? A cellist plays a phrase. the dancer moves a limb hooked up with a bend sensor which triggers a pre-recorded track. Woop. Who the hell cares? Its old, and uninteresting to boot.

Case C.
I overheard two choreographers passionately talking about this ‘research’ they were going to do on tango  dancing.  I like tango dancing. I can’t do it, but it sure is awesome to watch.  However the premise for their research was ‘what if i put my leg here, instead of here’.  I mean, what if? Its exactly the same as tango, except every so often my leg goes on the outside instead of the inside – amazing.

While these may all be necessary stages in their arts practice to develop as artists, I really have to question, does the public purse have a duty to fund them? Perhaps I’m just grouchy, but for me, these projects, answer and deliver nothing of use.  It seems that this sot of thing is better left to dicking about in loungerooms.
A problem is the funding structure that I am talking about in particular – which is specifically for ‘research’ and not to be outcome oriented. But perhaps it should be – maybe it will filter out stupid, if people know they are supposed to put something on.  One thing to say about free market capitalism is that it forces some sort of applicability due to the need for public consumption – it does limit innovation as it means work has to ‘populist’ (not always a bad thing), but the state supported model goes the other way, and lets artists get all carried away with their own importance and encourages them to waffle about directionlessly.

Three works by Nacho Duato is lovely.Really really lovely. I took a friend who is admittedly not into the contemporary dance thing, and there is little better to take someone like her to. The dancers are just phenomenal, they move with strength and precision and such liquid grace- it made me more than a little jealous.
However his work is, same-y, for wont of a better one. The three works are vague and similar in movement style, but when his signature is creating glorious long liquid phrases of movement with witty and whimsical musicality, I really didn’t mind that they were similar.  He has a nack for picking gorgeous music, and a talent for arranging the space with bodies, light, costume and set brilliantly.  In short, a breathtakingly beautiful night of dance – for me, it does what dance does best, convey something visceral, something one can’t express it in words.

‘Alas’ also by Duato was a huge disappointment after the triple bill.  The elements were there – Nacho’s choreography, Thomas Pandur as director and Wim Wenders gorgeous film, “wings of desire’ as the text. But somehow in bringing it together, it sucked.  Once you put dramaturgy with dance, you had better damn well make sure its good. This was overblown and self indulgent.  The images were beautiful, the dancers exquisite, but the movement and musicality lost out, the digital projections were woefully bad, the use of voice and text basic and uninspired.  Nacho himself played the angel Demiel, and it was bad.  He can’t move as well as he  used to, and in stark relief against his dancers its painfully obvious, as my less kind friend said, he had no acting ability, nor personal charisma. It seemed largely a vehicle for him to take off his shirt, look distractingly handsome and writhe a bit.  The end image, while lovely in conception (the dancers climbing up a column to heaven, the floor flooded with the angel writing on the ground splashing) was hilariously bad as Nacho splooshed around in the flooded stage, periodically splashing meaningfully as he did 1st year contemporary dance floor work.
Kudos to him for trying something different, but very disappointing after the sublime beauty of the triple bill

Construct by Tanja Liedtke.
It was superb. Clever, witty, fun, accessible.
The dancers are just superhuman, capable of feats of control, daring beyond comprehension all with a cheeky insouciance.
Great use of props, and staging. See it.
It was incredibly difficult to watch, as I had worked on one of the precursor pieces to it, and could still hear Tanja giving us the task (and incidently getting cranky as I wasn’tn doing it very well)(and now I see how its supposed to be done, totally fair enough), but a really special work.
The team which pulled it together are truly astonishing. And lovely to boot.

Mortal Engine – Chunky Move
Unbelievably irritating. It was like watching the windows media screen saver for an hour.   It lost the charm and  connection that ‘Glow’ their previous work had.  I didn’t feel any connection to the ‘narrative’ or the dancers – it was all engine, with little of the ‘mortal’.
I was so totally distracted by the technology – which as an artist who is working on similar things, I know is not all that super mega difficult, that I lost interest in the work as a performance and spent my time rebuilding their effects on my platform.
It really looked like a first stage work – where they found cool effects and made up dances to go with it, incidentally.

I think there is some potential in dance and technology but it is elusive and difficult.

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