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Angelique Flowers was dying of cancer just before her 31st birthday. She recorded this message for the Australian Prime Minister and asked Exit International to publicise it after her death. She died on Aug 19 2008.

I’m reviewing laws around end of life care, and was reminded of this case from a few months ago. I had a heated argument with a friend of mine over the matter.
It is a topic I am very interested in, and will continue to mull over.
In med school, you can see in people the optimism of science, the primacy of survival. Death is losing, and losing is anathema to these people.
But my thought was that, death is not always bad, there is a dignity in knowing when it is time to move on.

from Angelique’s video:
“I don’t believe in stoicism. I freely admit to not being a brave soul who grins and bears the pain and soldiers on

I deeply admire people who rise above the adversity and their suffering. But I haven’t grown from my illness or become a better person from its torments. All I want after 16 years of painful Crohn’s disease and now cancer is to die a pain-free peaceful death.

“Because euthanasia was banned in Australia I am denied this right …

“We finally have in Kevin Rudd a prime minister who is a person as well as a politician. A man who had the conscience to say sorry to our indigenous people, the integrity to ratify the Kyoto Protocol.

“I beg the Labor Government to continue beating with the heart it has shown and to ensure euthanasia is made legal once again.

“The law wouldn’t let a dog suffer the agony I’m going through before an inevitable death. It would be put down. Yet under the law, my life is worth less than a dog’s.”

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…

pulpprotest01.jpg

The turn out for the anti pulp mill rally was fantastic, with an estimated 10000 turning up in crappy weather.
I’m hopeful that it will have some effect, though I’m dubious how much the government, largely controlled by Gunns, are going to pay attention to it.
more information can be found here on the pulp mill proposition.

On a related note, a series of really horrible ads have been popping up on Tasmanian TV – misinformation about the pulp mill , and the latest, a scare campaign against the Green party, saying that
1. They’ll introduce heroin trials
2.Support gay marriages
3.Create a new gender – intersex
and other bunk which really aren’t a bad thing at all, in fact they’re reasons I’ll vote for the damn party, but done in a hilariously b-grade horror film way.
I’ve even heard of some Bob Brown posters being defaced with ‘suspected paedophile’ on it.
Absolutely disgusting.

With all the furor over the Big Day out and flags, political correctedness and a great deal of poo slinging by poli’s and assorted jackasses, my personal favourite reaction came from Dr Clifton Evers.

So read it dammit. I shan’t regurgitate it for you here. (well maybe a little bit)

However it reminded me of why I find the flag disturbing and how I found a friend of mine having a Made In Australia tattoo also disturbing. Its because it becomes a symbol of proof, a marker of belonging and something that one can be challenged on. It legitimises that awful awful idea of UnAustralianess, because it is now defined. The new ‘thing’ is to wave flags, chant and sing the anthem, and if you don’t, or if you question it, then you are NOT AUSTRALIAN. It creates the whole ‘us’ and ‘them’ thought pattern again which is frankly unhelpful. A few thoughts on nationalism from far more eloquent and thoughtful people than I. (from wikiquote)

  • Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind.
    Albert Einstein
  • Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. “Patriotism” is its cult.
    Erich Fromm,
    The Sane Society (1955)
  • Nationalism … is like cheap alcohol. First it makes you drunk, then it makes you blind, then it kills you.
    Dan Fried, US diplomat (Jan 07)
  • Our hearts where they rocked our cradle
    Our love where we spent our toil,
    And our faith, and our hope, and our honor,
    We pledge to our native soil.
    God gave all men all earth to love
    But since our hearts are small
    Ordained for each one spot should prove
    Beloved over all.
    Rudyard Kipling

It seems that in the enthusiasm to prove our ‘Australian-ness’ by displaying our patriotism, in someways loses, for me, the meaning of it. Democracy, about freedom, not about who some daft piece of cloth which silences dissent. It becomes mob mentality – belonging to a group to the exclusion of others. It strikes me as glib and hollow, contrived even, the latest in accessories to ensure one’s ongoing identification as Australian, righteous.

Another opinion by Tony Stephens. I’ll regurgitate a piece here, a proposal by the Victorian Australia Day Committee to have peopel recite this at some point during the day.

“We are Australian. We stand here proudly, brave, strong, open and tolerant. We stand here equal, fair, true and free. Together we will build the future but we will not forget the past. We will stand together. We are Australian.”

“There is something intolerable about the concept of tolerance and that if we concede a power to tolerate we logically concede the power to be intolerant”. Preston King in Evers’ Article above.

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As a humanist I found the ‘Strict Standards’ Proposed by Dednam to be frankly ludicrous. (SMH pg 3 24/01/07)

  • The flag should not be subjected to indignity or displayed below any other
  • It should not be allowed to fall or lie upon the ground
  • It should not cover a statue, monument or plaque, or be used as a table or seat cover
  • When the flag is raised or lwered, or carried in a parad or review,all present should face it. Men should remove their hats and all should remain silent.

What the American Flag Stands For
by Charlotte Aldebron

Published on Wednesday, April 3, 2002 by Common Dreams

The American flag stands for the fact that cloth can be very important. It is against the law to let the flag touch the ground or to leave the flag flying when the weather is bad. The flag has to be treated with respect. You can tell just how important this cloth is because when you compare it to people, it gets much better treatment. Nobody cares if a homeless person touches the ground. A homeless person can lie all over the ground all night long without anyone picking him up, folding him neatly and sheltering him from the rain.
School children have to pledge loyalty to this piece of cloth every morning. No one has to pledge loyalty to justice and equality and human decency. No one has to promise that people will get a fair wage, or enough food to eat, or affordable medicine, or clean water, or air free of harmful chemicals. But we all have to promise to love a rectangle of red, white, and blue cloth.

Betsy Ross would be quite surprised to see how successful her creation has become. But Thomas Jefferson would be disappointed to see how little of the flag’s real meaning remains.

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Happy Australia Day.

I’m reading Noam Chomsky’s Failed States.

Its a great book, in the vein of that sort of thing. But it does leave one feeling tremendously frustrated, angry and very ineffectual.  In fact, I could summarise a good portion of my angst as a mind numbing lethargy as I can’t see a way to win.  And by win I mean not some overarching scheme to rule the world, though that of course is an option, but to somehow see my way through this life without helping destroy the world.

I won’t reguritate Chomsky, you can read the book or there are a good many blogs out there who are far more outraged than me, but suffice it to say that, essentially, the worlds greatest military power, is, in many respects, one of the ‘Failed States’ that it so violently and virtously claims to oppose.  Which is obviously to those with some degree of sanity, not really a teneable or desirable position to be in.
So we have the United States actively trying to destablise the world, and ironically providing the perfect training ground for new terrorists in Iraq, Australia is following with our head up the US’s arse – putting back the ideas of democracy with lovely new laws curtailing civil liberties (and we, Australia are particularly vulnerable to this as the only democratic country without a national bill of rights, instead relying on the good sense of the parlimentary process. And we all know how well that is working), both the US and Australia ignoring global warming its all looking really quite bleak.

The insidious rise of religious bollocks such as Intelligent Design being a science and the fact that our education minister actually considered it as a viable thing to be taught in Australian Schools as science.  Sure, lets chuck out rational thought, in fact, we can do as the US and redefine science so that ID can be taught.

The environment – So we’ve decided carbon is bad.  Fossil fuel is bad.  But then solar is ineffecient, requiring highly toxic chemicals to manufacture and regular replacement.  Hydro isn’t bad, but then it requires damming of rivers which leads to tremendous environmental damage – see Lake Pedder and the 3 Gorges in China.  Nuclear is quite a good option, but will take 10 – 20 years to save the carbon it took to create the bleeding thing, plus all the associated risks with it.  Wind isn’t consistent enough, meaning we have to run coal as backup (and coal is very ineffecient unless its running full pelt) and other studies have shown that building wind farms on peat bogs (common enough) releases a stupid amount of carbon trapped in the peat bog.  Carbon Capture and Sequestration, touted by Al Gore just seems stupid to me.  A large, costly exercise in burying your head in the sand.  But please inform me more on this matter.
Biofuels – given a big boost by everyones favourite billionaire, Richard Branson.  But then, where are we going to plant the vast quantities of grain to make our biofuels? And doesnt it seem slightly daft to plant hideous amounts of crop (in the processes likely destroying rainforests and useful things like that) and then mashing it into fuel when so much of the world goes hungry?
We’re arsed.

In my on-going spew about Art – I find this very difficult to reconcile, most artists I know are incredibly concerned with the environment. Its kind of our thing as loud opinionated sorts.  But ask most any artist what they want to do, and more than likely it is to travel – to take their show international, to see international shows/galleriers.  Galleries are swapping their collections around the world, shows fly around the world. But then this is all, of course a tremendous cost of resources.  What are we going to do about it? How to reconcile the politic regarding the environment and our practice?  I mean, I can’t help but feel excited that the Paris Opera Ballet is coming. But thats an entire plane load of performers, support and scenery. Ok its probably a more worthwhile cause than idiots who fly from london to new york for a spot of shopping because the pound is so monstrously overvalued, but still…

Pitifully ineffectual…

Acronyms you never knew about

HNWI- high net worth individuals. Defined as those with assets in excess of 1million, not including primary residence.

Ultra HNWI – Ultra high net worth individuals. 30million +

CLWEI – the Cost of Living Extremely Well Index

Well, this being Christmas time, I thought I would spare a thought for those whom the media routinely ignores in favour of refugees, the poverty stricken, victims of natural or man made disasters, the war. I am of course, speaking about the HNWI. The High Net Worth Individuals.
According to the World Weath Report (well worth a read) by Capgemini, US HNWI growth slowed, and despite “Strong real GDP growth and robust corporate
profits were offset by a string of interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve and the post-hurricane devastation in the Gulf Coast
states. HNWIs felt the sting. ”

Mon Dieu, and here I was mislead that the real story was homeless African Americans, but no, the rich also suffered. But all is not doom and gloom for our poor millionaires. On page 9 of the WWR, Capgemini reports that the costs of Living Extremely Well is becoming more affordable, as measured by the difference in growth of cost of the stuff that ordinary people buy and that of the extraordinarily well off. So a silver lining in the diamond studded cloud of our HNWI.

Keeping the christmas spirit alive.

The International Herald Tribune, 13/12/06

Sao Paulo is removing all bilboard advertising above eye level. Quite a move, as Roberto Pompeu de Toledo writes, it is “a rare victory of the public interest over private, of order over disorder, austhetics over ugliness, of cleanliness over trash…For once in life, all that is accustomed to coming out on top in Brazil has lost”

Of course advertising and business  is most displeased  saying this damages the rules of market economy and respect for the rule of law, the essence of capilatlism being the availability of information about products.  The sole dissenting vote bemoaned the loss of advertising, saying “Advertising is both an art form and, whhen you’re in your car or alone on foot, a form of entertainment that relieve solitude and boredom”.

How incredibly awesome! I sincerely hope that the law makes it through the ineveitable flood of challenges in court. It would be quite something that a city reclaims its visual space from the onslaught of advertising and relieve the visual clutter and overload of modern megalopolises.

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