Ex-PM Tony Abbott outed as deep-cover liberal

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been usurped as head quacker by Malcolm Turnbull, after incriminating interweb evidence surfaced exposing him as an anti-conservative mole.

During a press briefing outside parliament house, the former Prime Minister looked relaxed and jovial, evidently feeling the relief of breaking character after such a long stint.

When questioned, he explained that the charade had started as a simple prank while he was studying at USYD: “The boys and I were sloshed at Manning, and I started carrying on like a pork chop, saying that if I were a conservative leader I’d have all inbound boat arrivals scuttled before they crossed into the Exclusive Economic Zone.”

After a passing member of the Socialist Alliance overheard and called him a “fascist prick”, Tony came to the realisation that the best way to combat conservative politicians in Australia was to pretend to be one, and then unleash a torrent of unsalvageable faux pas and policy. It would be guaranteed to undermine the confidence in and authority of any conservative party.

“Going into ‘deep cover’ was a difficult decision”, the Rhodes Scholar said, “but I knew it was the best thing to do for Australia.” Chuckling, he added, “I mean, it was fairly easy to trick people into thinking I was completely batshit”.

Mr Abbott said that the high point of his career was the famous speech delivered by then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard, in which she called him out on allegations of sexism and misogyny; “It was at that point I really felt I had struck a nerve with the people of Australia. It, uh, gave credibility to venture. It meant that I was really getting somewhere.”

Since then, however, Mr Abbott has experienced a number of setbacks, most notably the election of the Coalition into government. On the election, he commented, “I really didn’t anticipate this; it was quite shocking that not only had Australia taken my ideas seriously, but had actually liked them and voted for them”.

Abbott says he counteracted this by buying 58 new jet fighters valued at nearly $12-and-a-half billion. The Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) program has been plagued with bugs from vulnerable fuel tanks posing in-flight fire risks to not necessarily being able to withstand a lightning strike. “Surely they won’t take me seriously after this”.

A reputable blog source claims that Abbott is planning on using his extended political career as a springboard into open-mic comedy.

More to come.

/Satire

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Open Letter to the Australian Vaccination-skeptics Network

This is a letter I wrote in 2013. I had only undertaken high school biology, so please feel free to correct any mistakes I’ve made in the comments. I never received any reply (surprise, surprise). If I were to write it today, I wouldn’t be so sheepish. For reference, the website can be found here: http://avn.org.au/.

Hopefully the infanticidal, disinformative woo-treadmill will run out of fairy capital soon

Dear AVN,

I have a couple of queries about some assertions being made on your site; my intention is not to ridicule you, simply to try to understand a few things better. I’m not a doctor so I don’t pretend to be well educated in this area. As a consumer who attempts to be informed, however, I would simply like to better understand a few of your positions as the reasoning is not readily clear to me. I am hoping you will be able to patch the holes for me.

Firstly, I noticed that your page has a link to “vaccine ingredients” which unfortunately I can’t view but I was wondering what it is about vaccine ingredients I should be worried about? I assume you don’t mean aluminium (there’s roughly 1000 times more in a single antacid tablet), thimersol (which has actually stopped being used in most vaccines but even if it was still there there’s more in breast milk and deep-sea fish/tuna than in vaccines). In addition the cumulative amount of formaldehyde that is acquired through complete vaccination is far lower than a child can expect through natural exposure throughout the course of day-to-day life. So which are the things I’ve missed that I need to be concerned about putting into my body?

Secondly, does your organisation cite and rely on Andrew Wakefield’s publication of his study in The Lancet on the MMR vaccine as scientific proof of autism despite his conflict of interest? Are you aware that he was developing his own vaccine and was being paid by a class action specifically to find the link? Or do you use a different study to make your assertion that MMR causes autism?

Thirdly, on your Vaccination Page under the subheading “Keep the following in mind”, point 7 states: “No vaccine can give you lifelong immunity – only natural infection can do this. So everyone who is vaccinated may, at some unknown point in the future, again be susceptible to the diseases they were vaccinated against.” I may be mistaken, but my understanding was that after natural infection, memory b and t cells are produced which are used to stimulate the production of cytotoxic t cells upon reinfection. Is this not exactly the same mechanism that occurs through vaccination? Why is it different when a dead/inactivated version of the same string of DNA is injected? Surely this can’t be referring to live/activated vaccinations as they are literally the same as the actual disease only weakened. Am I missing something?

Finally, the page “Make an informed vaccination choice” suggests that the site offers pros and cons about vaccinations, however I am having difficulty finding the listed pros. Your organisation may feel that there is absolutely no benefit from vaccination, however in the interest of balance I would still be interested in reading what they are.

In addition, I’m finding it difficult to access much of the information on your site. For instance, under the ‘Vaccination Information’ tab, many of the listed diseases return only a heading and no information on the disease or the vaccination. Am I misunderstanding how the site operates (is all this on a forum or something) or could it be my browser or is there no information there currently?

Thank you very much for your time,

Isaac

[Note: This has been edited slightly to clear up some grammatical errors that I’d made two years ago]

When you’re allowed to rebuke people

In this post, I’ll be discussing everyday conversations with grandparents, parents-in-law, friends and the friend potentials. This obviously doesn’t apply to professors and other career self-esteem tyrants.

Let me start by saying that provided you have no issue with breaking etiquette and being taken for an arsehole, you can argue and chastise about any topic you like, whenever you like.

This guide will help the rest of us to be more socially cohesive in our constructive criticism.

Examples:

1. I think my Grandma’s gone crazy

Q: My grandmother just said, “Go and fetch my watering can and water the garden. I don’t want the fairies to get dehydrated”. Should I link her to The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe and patronisingly tell her that “it’s ok, even Sir Arthur Conan Doyle believed in fairies“?

A: Absolutely not. Your grandmother is always right. If she told you she keeps a one-horned one-eyed flying purple people eater and asked you to fetch some cat food for it (and also some for her cats), the correct response is, “Yes, grandma”.

2. Vaccinate?

Q: My girlfriend’s brother has just informed the whole family at the dinner table that echinacea is a wonder herb which cures everything from common colds to measles. Further, vaccines are basically just antifreeze and everyone knows antifreeze can give you a fever, so he does not plan to vaccinate his newborn baby against any diseases, including polio, measles or whooping cough. Should I tell him he’s a muppet?

A: Yes, yes you should. Very loudly. And if your girlfriend and her parents have a problem with you stating your objection, you can tell them to thank you for saving their grandchild/niece’s life. And then you should link him to my wonderfully short and punchy rundown of the simple refutations to some common anti-vax claims. Finally, you should make a mental note not to let this person babysit or Godfather your potential future children. Exercise your veto quickly.

3. Like, gluten or whatever

Q: My waitress reckons a gluten-free diet will help me reduce weight, fart less and cure my autism. Should I have a go at her?

A: The trendy, hipster gluten-free diet thing is actually a massive money maker. Not only did it earn $2.6 billion in 2012, it also elicits absolutely no benefit for the general population. So, she’s wrong. But in this case, she’s not actually hurting anyone. Not eating gluten won’t hurt you as much as not getting a vaccine, for example. Gluten-free diets are the only treatment for celiac disease. There is also very, very mild and poorly understood evidence for something called ‘non-celiac gluten sensitivity‘, on which only three papers have ever been published and they all seem to contradict one another. In addition, they were not able to identify a cause, and many participants suffered other food sensitivities as well. If it exists, the highest current rate estimate for NCGS is about 6% of the population. In short, the gluten-free thing is a fad. Of course, there is no evidence that it cures autism, despite some goblin’s horrendous and counter-scientific claims that “the road to autism recovery starts with diet“. People will say anything for a buck. But basically, if they’re just misled about yet another fad diet that won’t do a bunch of harm (other than maybe issue false hope, which is pretty bad), let her have a whinge about gluten then pick up your sourdough on the way home.[Note: I will be writing a piece on this topic soon, as well as #hipsters]

4. Help! I just found out my best friend’s an Atheist/Christian/Jew/Muslim/ALP member/Some other category that is inherently divisive and different to me (read: wrong). Should I tell them how stupid they are and how clever I am?

You’ll be alright. Unless they’re about to stone their neighbour on the sabbath or try to implement fair and cost-effective domestic policy while maintaining a realistic lens through which to approach foreign affairs, keep it to yourself. If it comes up in conversation and they ask what you believe, then you can debate ’til the cows come home, but don’t go picking fights with mates. Just remember that they’re your friend, which is more important than them believing exactly what you do. If one of you wins, you both lose.

Writing more regularly is fun. I’ll try to keep posting as often as possible. Discussion, criticism and charming compliments all welcome!

On #sydneysiege

This morning Sydney awoke to the devastating news that two innocent people had lost their lives, caught in an involuntary ideological skirmish and gutlessly used to satiate a degenerate’s reprobate agenda. Some number of others were injured, including a police officer, who has since been discharged from hospital.

Firstly, a reminder that we don’t know everything. Be careful what you believe and repeat. Words have weight, and while reposting ostensibly banal pieces may seem inconsequential, make sure you consider all the potential outcomes of viral content that will likely surface today.

Secondly, this is not a time for battle. The battle has already been fought, and won. Though there were tragic and unforgivable losses, perpetuating the sentiment of retaliation voiced by certain groups/leagues which have popped up on Facebook, Twitter and sundry Blogs is caustic and counter-productive. I, like many of you, know at least one person who was inside, and the natural response is to demand justice. But the person who committed this disgrace has been killed, and seeking informal ad-hoc justice elsewhere for this incident is wrong and intellectually dishonest. Whatever your opinion of Islam as a religion, don’t take one maniac’s behaviour as an excuse to conduct yourself in a violent way. That’s what he wanted, and we’re better than that. “To be good, it is not enough to be better than the worst” – Seneca.

Thirdly, unqualified, vehement thanks to the dedicated, vigilant and professional members of NSW Police Force, NSW Ambulance and the NSW Fire Bridge. In 2014 it is popular to condemn every police action as an act of brutality or unnecessarily violent. I’m sick of hearing the filth uttered by some individuals about police, especially online. I propose Emergency Services Week. If you see a Copper, Ambo or Firey, thank them. If it’s a Copper on beat, from any branch, I urge you to thank them for their service, professionalism and protection. If they’re allowed to, offer to shake their hand. NSWPF are no doubt the best in the world, and performed meticulously throughout the operation, especially after the rapid escalation. If you see an Ambo, thank them for providing you with the assurance that in an emergency, they have the training, care and skill to take care of you, give them a nod or a handshake, but certainly don’t set up tripods on the road in front of their ambulance so they have to dodge you while ferrying critically injured patients. That would be really stupid. See a Firey, same drill. Of course, many more people and organisations committed their time and efforts to help secure the safety of the victims and, in whatever small way, to assuage the anguish of tormented families. Thank you to Bill Shorten MP for adopting bipartisanship and pledging unanimous support to the Government at this time, bringing at least a little comfort in unanimity to the Australian public. Your leadership in opposition was deeply appreciated yesterday. Thank you to Tony Abbott for your calm speech which reassured us that the Government was on our side and was taking it carefully, as well as asking us to continue with life as normal and to listen to the advice of police. I’d also like to thank our other leaders, likeTanya Plibersek, Federal Member for Sydney, for really showing us how great it can be to have politicians. Nobody likes to admit it, but we need you, and you did our country and our city proud yesterday. Thank you.

Fourthly, and most importantly, to the victims and their families. We, as a nation, extend our love and support in whatever way we can. The next few months will likely be traumatic and difficult, with a combination of anxiety and stress, police interviews and undoubted media harassment, not to mention the social media frenzy that is already ensuing (and I am regrettably a part of). Remember that you are one of us, the people of Australia, and what that means and represents. Of course, I cannot know what you are going through and any sentiment I blindly express on Facebook has all the depth of a puddle, but it is genuine and you are in all of our thoughts.

With courage let us all combine
To Advance Australia Fair.
‪#‎sydneysiege‬

The Daily Telegraph’s Disgrace

Front Page

Dear Daily Telegraph Editors,

The disgusting 2pm piece that you printed today [15/12/2014] breaches the Australian Press Council’s General Principles 1, 5 and 6. I have issued a formal complaint.

Regardless of the written standards to which you ought to adhere as a mainstream media organisation, how about demonstrating some journalistic integrity before making the editorial decision to publish blatantly false and misleading information as well as an identifiable image (I have posted a blurred version for obvious reasons) of a hostage on the front page of a periodical?

Your actions were reckless, negligent and shameful. Beyond that, they were against the advice of police for media to temper their responses and to publish responsibly.

How dare you publish disinformative tripe to extort terror victims and capitalise on their torment? You saw the lucrative potential of a shocking front page, and you certainly charged the paddles. This isn’t reporting in the public interest, this is profit-seeking duckspeak.

Your piece is harmful to Australia’s free, informed and socially cohesive discourse. It is sensationalist, inappropriate and inaccurate. You dishonour not only the victims, the outstanding police officers and dedicated standby paramedic crews, but also real-life, grown up, responsible media outlets and journalists.

I demand a national apology.

Isaac Harmelin

[I have also sent this to the Telegraph via separate channels since it appears they aren’t responding to Facebook complaints…on this piece, anyway]