On quacks and bogus "food intolerance" tests

Our doctor's surgery has been good to us, with a thorough GP who seems competent. I'd always been wary of the practice owner though, as she prescribes so-called Traditional Chinese Medicine (which is neither traditional, nor Chinese, nor medicine). The doctor we used to see has left the practice so we've been stuck seeing her.

On my most recent visit, she suggested I get a food intolerance test to see if it might be involved in my high blood pressure. Not knowing much about the subject, I agreed to it. The blood test was on Monday, cost $330 and the results came today. Quick service and not my usual experience with pathology.

One thing made me suspicious: while talking to me about the test, the woman who drew the blood mentioned that all wheat in Australia is genetically modified. This is plain untrue, and makes me think of the usual nutty conspiracy theorists. While wheat, and particularly the way it's turned into bread in modern food processing, is potentially a problem for digestion, there's very little GM wheat floating around.

So having received the results from this test and finding it claims I've shown a "Marked" reaction to Cow's milk and a "Moderate" reaction to some of my favourite and core foods, I decided to look around and find more about this test, and the recommended treatment of avoiding those foods.  Turns out this "Cytotoxic Food Sensitivity" test is pretty bogus.  Essentially they smear your white blood cells on slides coated with dried target foods and see what happens to the cells.

The Australasian Society of Clinical Immunology and Allergy calls it "inappropriate testing" and that results with identical samples can't be reliably reproduced. Choice seems to agree.

This morning I took Louis to the same doctor with a nasty, persistent cold. She prescribed a Chinese thing with homeopathic snake bile and menthol in it.  Oh dear.

So, I'm off to another doctor. One who recommends evidence-based diagnostics and therapies. I need to be more hardcore about this in future. Mention chiropractic, homeopathy, naturopathy or any other snake oil, and I'm outta there.

Taronga Zoo

We took Louis to the zoo for his first visit on the weekend with his grandparents and cousin Abigail. We all had a fantastic time, and Louis now has a few more animals he can recognise and whose noises he can mimic. Awesome!

Sydney is very lucky to have such an amazing zoo in such a perfect location on the harbour.  Being able to travel by ferry to this kind of attraction really is awesome.  Loads of fun.

Blot unveils the new "I'm not racist, but..."

I am very uneasy about laws limiting free speech.

This is the man fighting a court battle about free speech, aiming to protect his right to vilify Aboriginal people who aren't Aboriginal enough by his standards. So of course he doesn't actually say "we should shut this down", but a principled free speech advocate would say "I don't like it but I'll fight for their right to say it".

Principles and Blot. They don't go together.

Fishing, Jinja Safari and Cloud Control gig

Last night Holly and I had a grandmother looking after Louis and tickets to a gig. Date night! Lots of fun was had.

First, dinner at Arisun, the latest stop on our quest for the best Korean Fried Chicken. I have to say, this one is the goods! Crispy, spicy, unctuous. Mmmm.  Brilliant stuff.

Next up, the gig.  It's not often we want to see a band and both supports, but this gig had three bands we wanted to see.  I'd caught Fishing with Ben Askins late one night at the Peats Ridge Festival, randomly wandering into a tent and really digging them.  Holly had done the same with Jinja Safari while I was looking after Louis one night.  Holly got to see Cloud Control while I was looking after Louis, so I was keen to catch them at last.

All three bands were great.  Fishing are particularly awesome, with a wonky kinda live electronic vibe going on. You can check out their single here. I really like their sound and can't wait for some more releases!  Cloud Control were sensational, very polished, and the crowd were rapturous and singing along to every song, which I imagine is a bit novel now they're in London and nobody's ever heard of them.

Pretty exhausting though, given we're used to bed times closer to 21:30...

What does the Marrickville Council boycott of Israel resolution actually say?

I've been having a bit of a twitter debate with my mate Josh about Marrickville Council's Israel boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) resolution, when I realised I hadn't read the actual text of the piece. Given the amount of misinformation already going around about it, I thought it would be worth having a web-based source for the full text, rather than it being hidden in Marrickville council's PDF-based archives.

I've attempted to keep the formatting consistent with the original documents. I'm also attaching the PDFs in case they disappear from Marrickville Council's site, get moved or whatever.

Meeting minutes
Public Speaker: Sylvia Hale, Jennifer Killen
Motion: (Peters/Kontellis)
  1. In particular recognition of it’s sister city relationship with Bethlehem and the strong support for that relationship from local progressive faith communities and other community members, Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the council has with organisations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.
  2. Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic institutions, government or institutional cultural exchanges.
  3. Marrickville Council write to the local state and federal ministers ( Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese ) informing them of Council's position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.
Motion Carried
For Motion: Councillors, O'Sullivan, Phillips, Tsardoulias, Wright, Olive, Peters, Thanos, Iskandar, Byrne and Kontellis
Against Motion: Councillors Macri and Hanna
Notice of motion
Report No: C1210 Item 11
File Ref: 4056-03/78736.10
From Councillor Cathy Peters
  1. Marrickville Council support the principles of the BDS global campaign and report back on any links the council has with organisations or companies that support or profit from the Israeli military occupation of Palestine with a view to the Council divesting from such links and imposing a boycott on any future such links or goods purchases.
  2. Marrickville Council boycott all goods made in Israel and any sporting, academic, government or cultural exchanges.
  3. Marrickville Council write to the local state and federal ministers (Carmel Tebbutt and Anthony Albanese) informing them of Council's position and seeking their support at the State and Federal level for the global BDS movement.
Since the Unified Palestinian call for BDS launched in July 2005, BDS initiatives have been multiplying all over the world and BDS movement has wide and growing international support.
The BDS movement began as a way for organisations and individual globally to support the Palestinian people in their struggle for human rights and equality and the return of the occupied lands.
This campaign focuses on Israeli goods, trading and military arrangements, and sporting, cultural and academic events as well as international companies that provide services for the Israeli government in their continued occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territory, the siege of Gaza and imprisonment of 1.5 million people, and the enforcement of a system of apartheid.
Actions that Australians can consider include
  1. halting any military cooperation or trade with Israel;
  2. refraining from participation in any form of sporting events, academic and cultural cooperation, collaboration or joint projects with Israeli institutions or teams;
  3. advocating a comprehensive boycott of Israeli institutions at national and international levels, including suspension of all forms of funding and subsidies to these institutions;
  4. Divestment from companies that provide goods and services to the Israeli state that assist the continued occupation and colonisation of Palestinian territorites
  5. Economic, diplomatic and cultural sanctions against the Israeli government .
  6. Boycotts of Israeli goods.
1. The following Australian peak union bodies and unions have support the BDS campaign:
  • Victorian Trades Hall Council;
  • The South Coast Labour Council (SCLC);
  • Australian Services Union, NSW and ACT branches;
  • Council of the Queensland Teachers' Union;
  • Liquor, Hospitality & Miscellaneous Workers Union, Queensland branch;
  • Construction Forestry Mining Energy Union, NSW Branch;
  • Maritime Workers of Australia, WA Branch.
International union organisations supporting the BDS campaign include
  • the British Trade Union Congress;
  • Irish Trade Union Congress;
  • British University & College Union;
  • Canadian Union of Public Employees;
  • Canadian Union of Postal Workers;
  • as well as unions in Brazil, Norway, and France.
a. the boycott of South Africa contributed to the ending of that country's apartheid regime. Archbishop Desmond Tutu has been outspoken in his support for the BDS movement: "The end of apartheid stands as one of the crowning accomplishments of the past century, but we would not have succeeded without the help of international pressure - in particular the divestment movement of the 1980s. Over the past six months, a similar movement has taken shape, this time aiming at an end to the Israeli occupation";
b. the National Council of Churches in Australia on 20 July 2010 issued a statement that the NCCA would "continue to add its voice to the call for an end to Israel's occupation of Palestine and condemning all acts of terrorism" and that, "In solidarity with Palestinian Christians, the NCCA asks its member Churches and the wider Australian community to consider a boycott of goods produced by Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territories."
3. The most recent UN General Assembly resolution of 6 October 2010 on the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territories can be found at http://domino.un.org/UNISPAL.NSF/98edce37e189625b85256c40005da81b/e0f07b785ecd9984852577b900617f4e?
4. A question on notice from The Greens to the Minister of Defence revealed that Australia sold $48 million worth of military body armour to Israel in the 2008-09 financial year.

Dear "Web Producers"

If you're going to call yourself a "web producer", surely you could take the time to learn a little about the field in which you work?  I would expect a "TV producer" to know the difference between 16:9 and 4:3 aspect ratios.  A web producer who doesn't know what an iframe is, and hides behind "oh I'm not technical", is not fit for purpose.  Show some professional curiosity fercrissake.

(rant mode off)