Thursday, April 23, 2015

Waking Up the Masses?

Yesterday I had a first on Facebook.  I got booted out of a group.

The group was "Canada: Waking Up the Masses".

I joined originally because the group seemed dedicated to being a rallying point for unseating Harper and his cronies in the next election.  Listed were many reasons for such a move.  They resonated with my views on the current government.

The other day, however, there was a post complaining about how BC's water was being sold at give-away prices to a bottled water company.  Good point.  Then there were responses claiming that access to water should be a right (fine), should be free (really?) and then one where the poster claimed not to have drunk tap water for decades, supporting the bottled water industry.  (Huh?)  I pointed out that water was a commodity and that it's value wasn't being recognized by sensible pricing and that it seems a bit odd to complain about water being sold on the cheap to big corporations while supporting the bottled water industry through one's own purchasing practices.  A mini-debate ensued.  Tap water bad.  Bottled water good.  Bottled water should be banned.  And so on.

Then there was a typical anti-GMO post or two with comments claiming that you'd have to be "stupid" to not be against GMOs.  I responded in my usual way - some GMOs could be beneficial; no evidence of harm....

I then wondered, aloud, how such posts were related to unseating the Harper government and had this group become just another soapbox for anti-GMO and anti-vaccine hysteria.  One response to me wondered if I was a troll for corporate interests.  Obviously that person didn't bother to know me very well....  :-)

By later in the day, I had been removed from the group and I noted that the group had been changed to "closed", meaning that it was no longer possible to even see the discussions, let alone participate.

So, I guess I got my answer.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

It's Election Time in Alberta

Yes, Alberta is in election mode.  Will it be more of the same, or is it time for something different?

Watch this and decide

Saturday, April 11, 2015

The Anti-Anti-Vax - Part 7 - Glyphosphate

If endless arm-waving and shouting about mercury and aluminum wasn't enough, now we have glyphosphate, the active ingredient in a herbicide called Roundup.  One article claimed to "know" that aluminum (especially the aluminum in vaccines) became especially toxic when combined with glyphosphate.

This supposed link is being made because of the current hysteria over GMOs and now the attempt is being made to link that with vaccines.

Here is a reasonable response to all of that.

The Anti-Anti-Vax - Part 6 - Aluminum (Again)

A couple of weeks ago, there was an article trying, once again, to "expose the skyrocketing cases of autism" and link that with various things supposedly in vaccines.

One response went as follows:

According to the FDA & AAP Aluminum can build up in the brain and bones & is toxic to the body and it's organs. They also state that Aluminum can cause neurological harm.Per FDA, the maximum level of Al. allowed for 8 lb. healthy baby is approx 11-18 mcg.So how much Aluminum is in the vaccines routinely given to babies and children? 
  • HepB (at birth) 250 mcg
  • Hib 225 mcg
  • DTaP 170 to 625 mcg
  • HepA 250 mcg
  • HPV 225 mcg
  • Pentacel 330 mcg
  • Pediarix 850 mcg
These amounts of Al. are not even safe for a 350 lb. adult, let alone a child who weighs less than 25 lbs. The neurotoxicity is made far more dangerous when mixed with another neurotoxin, thimerosal (mercury), which is STILL in many vaccines.  Dr Seneff is correct...add glyphosate to the mix, and we will continue to see the AutismEPIDEMIC numbers grow.
Given some real numbers to work with, I spent some time searching around to see if there was some basis for these numbers.  My response was:

Thanks for posting some actual numbers because at least numbers can be discussed. So let's see what the numbers say. 
First, just so everyone is on the same page and for those who aren't all that familiar with the metric system.... There are about 29 grams in one ounce. A milligram is 1/1000 of a gram ( 1 mg = 0.001 g). A microgram is 1/1000000 (one millionth) of a gram. It's usually abbreviated as ug but some people use mcg. One ug = 0.0000001 g.Yes, vaccines DO contain aluminum. Many "products" for babies contain aluminum, including: breast milk (0.04 mg/litre or 40 ug/litre), infant formula (0.225 mg/litre or 225 ug/litre), soy-based formula (0.46 to 0.93 mg/l or 460 to 930 ug/litre) and so on. 
If you give your baby a buffered aspirin, you will be giving them 10-20 mg of aluminum per tablet. That's 10000 to 20000 ug per tablet. Antacids, which you probably would not be giving to a baby, contain even more: 100 to 200 mg/tablet. 
The numbers you quote for aluminum in vaccines are correct and seem to vary from about 0.17 mg/dose to 0.85 mg/dose. That's 170 ug to 850 ug/dose. As you put it, 170 mcg to 850 mcg per dose. 
To put some numbers together - one dose of a vaccine, let's say 400 ug, to take an average, compared to 225 ug for every litre of infant formula (not soy-based because so many people are concerned about GMO soy) which an infant will drink probably every day or so. 
You can see that very quickly, a baby's infant formula will give him/her much more aluminum than a vaccine. 
People are generally more worried about newborns. According to one source, in the first 6 months, a baby will receive about 4 mg of aluminum from vaccines, about 10 mg from breast milk, about 40 mg from infant formula and over 120 mg from soy-based formula.According to your post's questionable logic, all of us would be receiving massive overdoses of aluminum from everything we eat and drink. It's a wonder we haven't turned into aluminum pots by now. 
Fortunately, your FDA reference isn't correct, for the following reason. The 11-18 ug of aluminum is referring to people receiving Total Patient Nutrition (TPN) which means they are being "fed" completely by an intravenous fluid. Multiple litres of fluid every day for weeks, months or years. The concern is about dissolved aluminum here. The FDA guidelines have nothing to do with vaccines. 
In vaccines, the aluminum is in the form of an insoluble solid and is not injected into the blood stream but into muscular or other subcutaneous tissue. Any aluminum salt that does not dissolve is excreted the same way as other solids are. 
There is much experience with aluminum in vaccines. Hundreds of millions of doses containing aluminum have been given since the 1920s when their use as adjuvants was developed. Not as much is known about aluminum build-up in people receiving TPN because the numbers of people involved are very small. But we're talking about two VERY different things here. 
This is why the amounts of aluminum in vaccines and breast milk and formula ARE safe for babies as well as that 350 lb adult you mention. 
Also, please stop saying that mercury is "STILL in many vaccines". It isn't, and hasn't for many years, nearly 2 decades. In Canada, the ONLY vaccines still containing thimerosal (ethyl mercury) is the HepB and multi-dose flu vaccines. Single-dose flu vaccines without thimerosal are available for children. And, despite removing thimerosal from vaccines, the autism rate has not changed. That, and the hundreds of studies done on the subject, show clearly that there is NO link between mercury and autism.
 Not that information will convince these people.  It's still mercury, aluminum, other toxins....and so on.  <sigh>

Sunday, April 05, 2015

Why is Canada at War?

It's unlikely that we'll get a sensible answer from our "Fearless Leader", but Michael's introduction to this morning's program did raise the question.

Someone is Wrong on the Internet

An Experiment in Social Media....

Several months ago, noticing a fair number of "political" posts on the local community Facebook Page, I decided to set up a page for just such political discussions, and so Kootenay Debates was born.

We never had many "members" and it is difficult to know how many other random views we were getting, but, over the past months, arguments covered a wide range of topics, from vaccines (to be or not to be), government, climate change, science, GMOs, chemtrails, "Big Pharma", society (whether it existed or not), individualism, more government, American politics, Canadian politics and the voting system.

Counted among the page's members was a Libertarian/Anarchist, a couple of died-in-the-wool anti-vaxxers, several climate science deniers, several conspiracy theorists and a number of others who were just "normal".  In short, the page's regular posters came mostly from the ranks of ordinary folk, with a small number of others that I came to see as the lunatic fringe.

I've posted earlier on some of the "discussions" that focused on vaccines, society, conspiracies, Ayn Randsocial goods and so on.

What became obvious fairly quickly was that some people really believed that "government" and "Big Pharma" was out to poison them (vaccines and other pharmaceuticals), and that there were no problems that could not be solved by less (or no) government and less (or no) regulation of any kind.  It mattered not what vaccines had done in the past 70-odd years or that deregulation was one of the causes of the economic meltdown of 2007-8.  It was simply a matter of sticking to same old talking points and re-writing history where necessary (a strategy used by the current Harper Government.... but I digress).

What also became obvious was that these views were supported by information that could easily be shown to be incorrect but that contrary facts made no difference to them at all.  In some examples, the most outrageous posts made completely outlandish assertions.  It was astonishing and rather disturbing to see such entrenched, uninformed beliefs.

Never being one to pass up an argument, I found time spent on Facebook increasing over time.  The research I did to counter some of the most outlandish posts certainly made me better informed, and I suppose no educational experiences should be disparaged, but other than educating me, I wasn't sure what good it all was doing.  I also started to wonder if it was even a good idea giving the lunatic fringe this platform for their viewpoints.

Eventually, I became bored with the same old Libertarian "answers" to everything, the same old misrepresentations of science, vaccines and climate change and decided to close the page down.  As it happened, it was closed on April Fool's Day.  Possibly appropriate.

If anything, this experience has made me much more hard-line in my own beliefs.  Before, when someone happened to mention that they didn't "believe in" vaccines, I pretty much shrugged it off.  As long as herd immunity was high enough, no problem.  After seeing some of the nonsense these people based their "beliefs" on, I'm almost ready to start lobbying government to make vaccinations mandatory for school attendance or start charging parents with neglect if they don't vaccinate their children.

The Libertarians can be mostly written off as a very small subset of neo-liberal, regressive, pseudo-conservative nutters who believe "the market" can solve everything (free market fundamentalists) and that there are no societal issues, only individual issues.  Some of it forms the basis for the wrongheaded direction of the current federal government, and I completely disagree with it.  I have vowed to fight even harder to defeat such small-minded, wrong-headed philosophies when it comes to local, provincial and federal governance, because, IMHO, it's hurting the country.

There is more, but basically, I just grew bored and was spending too much time arguing with people who could not be persuaded that obvious facts were not just tentative opinions.  Hearing the same refrain that "everyone's opinion had to be respected".  I'm not the only one to question that "logic" and I've written about it elsewhere.

So, there it is.  Social media, where every nutter is free to post anything they want and claim the moral and factual high ground.  It's been said that the Internet and it's various sectors has made it easier for people to be informed.  It's also had the opposite effect and I find it concerning.

Saturday, April 04, 2015

Minimum Expectations of Elected Representatives

There was a report the other day about one of BC's Members of Parliament, a certain James Lunney, from Nanaimo-Alberni.

Apparently, Mr Lunney is complaining about being "publicly shamed" in social media for comments he made about evolution, among other things.

Here's the thing, Mt Lunney:  for me, as a voter and a taxpayer, I fully support your right to hold whatever nutty ideas you want, but I'm having concerns about those views affecting your ability to do certain jobs that are part of being an elected representative in the HoC.  

Government has to make decisions about investment in science and technology just to keep Canada up to speed with the rest of the world.  With your views, which apparently extend to disparaging vaccines and viewing climate change as a hoax, it is really questionable as to whether you have the education and understanding of science and important social issues to do your job properly and make intelligent decisions for the country.

The political party you once belonged to has muzzled scientists and has moved actively to limit free speech, privacy and the rights of Canadians and has neglected to invest in the country's infrastructure, including education, science and basic research.  These actions are the result of views such as yours.

Obviously, voters need to examine the qualifications and views of prospective elected representatives much more closely.

By the way, Mr Lunney, Evolution is not "just a theory".