Education, Logic and Reason. The Vaccination for Ignorance…

Last week I posted about a story on channel Seven’s “Sunday Night” program on the issue of vaccination.

I was impressed with the story, it was well written, backed by science and about as unbiased as  commercial networks get on a prime time current affairs style program. ( 60 Minutes, I’m staring at you buddy. )

I started seeing promos for last nights program that made me worry, it felt like they might be going to focus on “The Other Side” of the debate. It was with quite some trepidation that I sat down last night to watch the followup.

I was all ready to hurl a heavy object through my TV….

Fortunately for me and my TV this didn’t happen. What I saw last night was clearly an attempt to provide a forum for the anti-vacc movement to have their say while still keeping things firmly based in reality.

The panel featured Prof. Peter McIntyre from NCIRS ( The National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance ) and Dr Giselle Cook (apparently the only doctor they could find that was anti-vaccination and willing to appear on the show).

The started with a recap of the previous weeks’ story and then allowed questions from the audience.

The most vocal audience member was, as I expected, Meryl Dorey of AVN (Australian Vaccination Network). The AVN claim to be all about “Empowering the people to make informed choices”.

Their website looks professional (if you ignore the numerous typos) but seems to be largely concerned with attacking the traditional medical establishment and spruking “Alternative Medicine”. There were plenty of things you could buy from them and an easy way to donate to the cause, but I couldn’t see any links to peer reviewed articles or studies.

To me the AVN seems to be all about muddying the issue, spreading doubt and making a tidy profit on the side.

I was very pleased to see that Prof McIntyre was easily able to refute Meryl’s claims and that Mike Munroe stepped in to rebut her as well.

When asked about her professional qualifications Meryl Doyle stated that she has been researching the issue for 20 years and has a brain.

When asked why she provided no evidence for her claims she stated she sent many studies and the names of vaccination victims to the Seven network. Mike Munroe denied that they recieved her evidence and stated that the victims she named refused to speak with them…

Please check out this link to a post on “The Skeptics’ Book of Pooh Pooh”, the poster was actually at the debate and has a lot to say about it…

Here is a link to a post from the father of Dana McCaffery that everyone should read…

The debate ended up with the anti-vacc movement calling for “More information” so that parents can make an informed decision….

This tactic, we need more information, crops up in many areas as a means to create doubt in the minds of the audience. The fact is that vaccines have been studied, tested and retested for as long as they have been around. The risk factors are well known and understood, the information about the risks is readily available.

The problem is that not that there is too little information for parents but rather that there is too much information to wade through.

As a parent myself I can attest to the fact that it is easy to become confused and overwhealmed with all the information that you are bombarded with by friends, relatives, healthcare professionals etc

Unfortunately many parents choose not to read what they are given, they don’t ask enough questions of the healthcare professionals looking after them and their children.

In todays modern, frantic, ADHD ridden, push responsibility onto others culture we want to be spoon feed everything and make sure there is someone to blame when it all goes pear-shaped.

Taking the time to read the information ( Click here for the comprehensive Australian Government immunisation guide ) is probably the most important thing that a parent can do. It might be a pain and require some commitment but to put it bluntly it is part of your job as a parent to make informed decisions based on the most accurate information you can get access to.

If we can put the emotional outbursts aside (which I admit I have a lot of trouble doing) and approach this issue with logic and reason backed up with a through thorough education then it will be clear what the right choice is…

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The Rise Of The Anti-vacc Movement, Are We Still The Clever Country??

Back in the 80’s Australia was pushing to become “The Clever Country”, recognising the importance of a well educated populace (and hence workforce) in securing a bright future for the entire nation.

Roll forward nearly thirty years to the current day, how well educated and “clever” are we now??

The “Internets” are abuzz these days with debate over the “Vaccination Issue”, on one side we have well known celebrities like Jim Carrey and his wife Jenny McCarthy spewing torrents of pseudo science, lies and downright non-sense and on the other the medical and scientific communities desperately trying to counter them with logic and reason.

Personally, I place as much credence on the opinions of celebrities as I do on those of random people on the street, the trouble is that there are a lot of people unable to separate the celebrity from the status.

Outside of North America we tend to look on the “antics” of “The Yanks” as amusing and fun to comment on but largely unimportant. Unfortunately in the case of the “Anti-vacc” movement, here in Australia it is becoming all too real.

I read an interesting blog post (via Twitter) from Phil Plait’s Bad Astronomy website. I was disturbed to hear that we had any serious “Anti-vacc” movement in this country.

One thing Phil and I have in common is that we both get worked up over “woo woo”, pseudo-science and quackery.

A post here at “Skeptic Zoners” talks about the Australian “Anti-vacc” movement.

All hope is not lost, according to figures from the “National Centre for Immunisation Research and Surveillance“, immunisation rates in Australia are around 90%, we cannot afford to be complacent though.

There is a link from Phil’s blog to a story about an episode of “Sunday Night” on the Seven Network that screened last night and covered the vaccination, including the tragic death of Dana McCaffery aged 1 month, in a way that was positive and well researched.

On the topic of Vaccination I feel very strongly that it is our duty as citizens to maintain the currency of our vaccinations for the good of the whole country. Vaccination is not only beneficial to the one that is vaccinated but the “Herd Immunity” that comes from the majority being vaccinated helps those who are unable (or unwilling) to be vaccinated themselves.

Speaking as a parent I have put my money where my mouth is, so to speak, with both my children. In fact my youngest, Callum, is part of a whooping cough vaccine trial run by the Children’s Hospital at Westmead in Sydney, the trial was to see if vaccination from birth can be effective.

( a link to an article discussing this study can be found here )

As a result of this study, we believe, Callum becomes very distressed whenever we take him to see a Doctor.

We’re sure he will grow out of this but given the opportunity again we would definitely enroll him in the study.

So far it seems that the study is pointing to whooping cough ( and possibly other vaccines ) being very effective even from birth and if the whooping cough vaccination starts to be routinely given at birth then tragedies like the one that befell Dana McCaffery and her family can be entirely prevented.

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Activate the wayback machine….

As you probably known my employer IceTV have been fighting for 3 years now against the Nine network in a totally bogus attempt to misuse copyright law as a weapon against a company they saw as a threat.

We won the first round in August 2007 after an 8 month wait for the judgement.

Nine appealed to the Full Court of the Federal Court in February 2008 and won, overturning the earlier ruling in a verdict delivered in May 2008.

We sought and were immediately given special leave to appeal to the High Court of Australia, we presented our case in October 2008.

At 10:15am this morning the High Court delivered their verdict overturning Nine’s appeal and reinstating the original verdict, we have also been awarded costs for the three court cases.

As you can imagine this comes as a massive relief.

After three years living under a cloud we are finally emerging into the sunlight.

2009 is set to be a great year for IceTV and we are all excited about the possibilities ahead of us…

Watch this space 😉

Here are some links to the many articles about the verdict….

IceTV wins High Court decision – freezes Nine!

The High Court Full Ruling – Interesting reading!!

PC Authority

The Age

IT Wire



ZD Net

If you’re not asleep by now then more power to you…

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Apple: Customer Service Matters

A couple of weeks ago I noticed a crack had developed from the rear corner of the dock connector port on my black iPhone 3G running up the back for about an inch.

The crack did not affect the operation of the phone but it was sure bugging me every time I looked at it.

I looked around on the net and found that the white 3G iPhones were showing cracks like mine either at the dock connector or headphone socket so I thought, hey I’ll take it to the Genius Bar at the local Apple Store (Chatswood) and see if they can help me.

I made an appointment and turned up on time earlier today. The “Genius” asked me a few questions and gave the phone a good look over, presumably looking for signs of rough handling. He then told me he will replace it for me at no cost.

I was once again blown away with the slick, professional an painless nature of the service…

I had a similar experience a few months back when I took my 17″ MBP in for a battery replacement.

Service matters every bit as much as product quality and if I have to pay a premium to be treated like a valuable customer then I’ll do it..

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Sethy the Star

As you probably know our number one son Seth recently started school.

So far his weekly report cards have been really good and his behavior in class has been great.

We’ve heard stories of other children in his class getting awards and certificates but nothing for him until this week.

Sethy won the student of the week award and gets to be the “leader” when the class goes to other locations in the school. He was really pleased with himself and we were naturally very proud of him.

Here is the certificate he was awarded….

Go Sethy!!!!

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An organiser for iPhone Apps….

I stumbled across this blog post by Veronica Belmont (@Veronica on Twitter) about an awesome concept for iPhone App organizing.

I don’t know about you but I have 5, starting on 6, pages of apps on my iPhone and it’s a major pain in the ass to move them around into a sensible order.

Hey Apple, please think about implementing something like this….

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CodeSign error: a valid provisioning profile is required

This is the error message that has been plaguing me for a few days.

What triggered it was replacing my provisioning profiles and certificates.

Fortunately I found an answer in the following blog post

CodeSign error: a valid provisioning profile is required

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UITabBarController refusing to rotate

I was struggling for some hours on an issue with an App I’m writing for the iPhone.

For some reason I could not get any of the views to rotate to landscape, the API docs suggested that this was trivial and only required implementing the method


and always returning YES

The problem is that this doesn’t work if you are using a TabBarController created in Interface Builder. You can verify this by create a new project, specifying the type as “Tab Bar Application” and rotating the simulator…

I found a quick and easy solution to this problem in the following blog post

Change iPhone/iPod app orientation within a UITabBarController

I added maybe a dozen lines of code to my app and the problem is solved….

Thanks Arash…

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To console or not to console…. That is the question

Viv and I have discussed the topic of buying a console many times and we were planning to hold off for a few years.

Well, as they say “The best laid plans of mice and men often go astray”.

We had some friends over last weekend (thanks Christine), and they brought a couple of PS/2s and an XBox360 with them. The boys loved playing with them, Callum really took to “Dora The Explorer”.

While I was out at “The Man Temple” (aka Bunnings Warehouse) Viv called to tell me that I was to buy a PS/2 stat…

I popped into EB Games at Tuggerah and picked up a “Pre-owned” slim PS/2, three games and an extra controller for $150.00

Now I just need to sort through the piles of hack slash & shoot-em-up games to try and find something for the boys to play..

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School Days….

Number one son, Seth reached a big milestone this week when he started Kindy at Wyong Public School.

He’s been so excited since last years jump start program, wanting to wear his uniform and eat out of his lunchbox.

We’ve had two days so far and he’s loving it, he’s already making new friends…

Here’s a picture of our big school boy

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