Some teachers are pricks, and then some

12 09 2010

A simple investigation experiment looking at the pH of blood at a Tasmanian high school has turned into a biohazard scare after teacher somehow thought sharing needles would be totally fine for adolescent boys. In some muddled form of defence the teacher did “attempt to sterilise the needle with methylated spirits between tests.” (Methylated spirits its not really suitable for sterilizing).

Pretty much any official is saying that this was a major balls up by the teacher, and I’m finding hard to believe that with all the red tape (in the for of occupational health and safety) present in Australian workplaces these days, that this investigation was ever approved. I have no problem with hands on experiments. In fact, I think these should be encouraged. On top of that, if we expect to have smart and scientifically literate graduates from high school, experiments involving potential biohazards should be allowed. However (or even because of that) it still very important to recognise that risks are involved and the appropriate precautions be taken.

Do read the comments on The Mercury article too.

There seems to be some sections of the world who are somehow thinking that the teacher has not done anything wrong, because there are no schoolboys in Tasmania with bloodborne infectious disease. Perhaps they could do well to investigate the Health and Ageing website which show that historically (prior to vaccinations) they have been one of the highest risk groups for Hepatitis (which is probably the largest worry in this instance, rather than HIV). Blood-borne transmission is probably the number one risk that health organisations try to minimize to prevent the spread of disease.





Reality Boats

20 08 2010

I sort of wish Get up would spend their funds putting non-partisan and worthy public education advertisements like this one on TV rather than random Abbott quotes.

(That said, this one was pretty good too)





No, not Latin and Owls!

16 04 2010

Friday night at the movies:

How do I know this is bullshit? She says Harry Potter was “beautiful written and extremely provocative”. Excuse me? One word. “Muggle,” just, “Muggle.” Whenever anyone tells HP is the bomb, I say this, “Muggle?”

I also think it is a wonder of self-contradiction that such adamant True Believers in the One and Only God, still think that their is power in the symbols and practices of Thor and Wicca.





I am not your friend

13 11 2009

One of the best farewells that was written on my end-of-prac card was “you r now mi friend”. I had told this student earlier that day when he was not cooperating that today was the last day he had to make me his friend.

But is it okay to be friends with students? Particularly where everyone’s friends are now, Facebook.

During my last week, Education Queensland updated their code of conduct for employees to clearly stipulate that teachers “must not use internet social networks such as Face Book, My Space or YouTube to contact or access present students enrolled in any school or institute” and “If you use internet social networks in your personal time you must ensure that the content is appropriate and private, and that you restrict access to specific people who are not students” (Section 2.2.2 (b) Interactions with Students).

Teachers (along with probably everybody else) have been needing to be increasingly careful about what sort of material they make available online (for example). Thankfully a lot of social media websites have been updating features to make it easier to control how you are viewed online. At the start of previous school year Facebook blogged specifically to teachers about the benefits of making friends lists to control what is viewable by “students” (or non-teachers may like to create a similar group for “Uncles, Aunts and Grandparents”).

The private education sector in Queensland has yet to install a blanket ban on social media interactions with students (and last I heard they were not intending to go that far, but were considering available options). While I understand where EQ is coming from on this, it is a bit disappointing that there appears no room for leeway or principal-appointed exemptions (which are included on clauses regarding camera usage and other points). This means a whole range of Web 2.0 based activities and learning environments (Second Life, class blogging) are excluded from Queensland state school classrooms at all age levels (and I think it may also apply to TAFE classes too).

The Queensland Curriculum embraces technology on most levels, to me it just seems disappointing that it is not being flexible on this one. Perhaps their strategy is to ban it while they work out a more appropriate strategy to monitor student-teacher interactions on the world-wide-web.





What, there’s a reputation to uphold?

5 11 2009

This week’s storm in teacup is brought to you by comedy-news-quiz show (we can’t afford individual shows in Australia) Good News Week and Akmal Saleh.

Akmal took the opportunity of national television to go on an expletive filled rant about the people of Rockhampton. This has upset Rockhampton, and the little git has apologised. Too be fair apparently he was punched in the by some woman in an alley who accused him of being a paedophile wog, but hey, who hasn’t?

The ever reliable Morning Bulletin reports Akmal’s version of events at the Rocky Show earlier this year:

The funny man had three days off in Rockhampton and decided to take a camera to the show with his two mates.

The friends dressed in traditional Arabian outfits and did a Borat-esque skit.

The trio was lining up for a ride in sideshow alley when an angry mum confronted them.

“Listen here mate, you’ve got to have permission before you video people’s children,” the woman said.

Akmal said he tried to tell the woman she had it wrong and offered to show her the tape.

“Bulls—, you’re f—ing taping people’s children and you’re a pedophile, you dirty wog (expletive),” she said.

“Go away you idiot,” Akmal said before she punched him in the nose.

She whacked him again, “full-on punches” to his face.

“We just bolted,” Akmal said.

“I thought if we stayed we’d be lynched.”

 





Dapper dolphins dealing crack to children

18 08 2009

And they think it’s just one big joke.

Crackie the dolphin Read the rest of this entry »





Abortion in Queensland – is it what you think?

12 08 2009

If you criminalise abortion, what do you expect will happen?

(The Australian) TEGAN Simone Leach was 19, pregnant and “scared” when her boyfriend’s sister arrived in Cairns last Christmas Day with a consignment of contraband tablets and doctor’s instructions written in Ukrainian.

What transpired after Ms Leach allegedly terminated her pregnancy with the abortion pill RU486 and the Queensland police got involved, has unleashed a legal and political storm of the like not seen before in this country.

Ms Leach will face court next month charged with the crime of procuring her own miscarriage, in what is believed to be the first case of its kind to be brought under Queensland’s century-old abortion laws.

If convicted, she faces up to seven years’ jail.

The young man in her life, Sergie Brennan, 21, faces up to 14 years’ imprisonment for attempting to procure an abortion and three years’ jail on a further charge of supplying the means to procure an abortion. [more]

As expected there is quite a lot of anger coming from liberal left sector – with the launch of the Pro-choice Action Collective in Queensland. They have a facebook group and a website. But is this the right case to be defending? Read the rest of this entry »





There are 6.8 billion reasons why holistic organic tofu farming won’t take off

4 08 2009

You may remember I offhandedly posted a link to a new hard-hitting piece of environmnetal investigative journalism “Food Inc” back ago. You can read a bit more about it at ERV (Her non-judgemental words: “a new movie bitching about GMOs and food production in the US”).

Unsurprisingly the US meat/livestock/poultry industries have put together a debunking website: safefoodinc.org which includes an enlightening myths & facts section.





First swine flu death in Australia

20 06 2009

My boss and some co-workers are flying to Melbourne on Monday to meet with clients. We were joking about how they should be extra careful while visiting the “swine flu capital of Australia“. Maybe she should put herself in a week-long quarantine when she gets back.

One of our Medical Writers pointed out how its all overblown. And I pointed out that no one had died in Australia yet.

Well, I guess I should stop opening my mouth to talk about swine flu from now on. A 26-year old Indignous man from central Australia died in Royal Adelaide Hospital ICU died from a number of complications, including pneumonia. He was infected with the Mexican Influenza A/H1N1 virus.

It is not known where or when the man contracted the virus, nor how much it may have contributed to his fate.

I’ve pointed elsewhere on the internets that WHO has expressed concern over the possibility that Indigenous Canadian groups may be more susceptible to the A/H1N1 virus. Let’s hope that situation is not true here (or there, even).

Do we take this as a sign to panic? That we aren’t doing enough? Or are the governmental precautions still too heavy handed? They won’t do anything to help, they did not help this man? Does this change anything? Is it just a continuation of SNAFU ‘flu?

Image Credit: ‘Chasing pig at Gatton College‘, Unknown circa 1940sState Library of Queensland on flickr





Rx-ky business

16 06 2009

Well, AFM called me up on the Insight post for painting my town¹ a little too apologetic for our phriends in Pharma (possibly due to some comments I made on this post of his, and these over at The Scientist, and also just today on Flickr…) .

So I guess I should make some self-apologetics, that my point has *not* been that Pharma is cute and cuddly and can always be trusted – c’mon they are industry – the wonderful Merck saga unfolds beyond just deceptive journals – this sort of awful ‘hit list’ language to “neutralise” and worse, “discredit”, critical doctors makes me cringe (and if you’re sick of hearing about Vioxx, you can get upset at Lilly’s innapropriate off-label Zyprexa marketing instead). There is nothing I can concoct to attempt to downplay the totally unethical nature of that sort of behaviour, to me it is indefensible. There are bad elements out there. Even if we rule the Vioxx shenanigans as an exceptional exception (which is the closest I can get to a defence) just take a look at the US statistics on Pharma fines and settlements made by over the last 9 years (and that just to the government, does not include private parties, class actions etc.)

Pharmaceutical companies are corporations. And yes, they are motivated by making money. And AFM is right, some guy in marketing will try to put that goal ahead of making quality medicines. But let’s remember that’s also what these companies are about making medicines. Medicines that help people. People do not get into this industry because they want to hurt people.

And that is where I start to get annoyed by anti-Pharma movements.

Read the rest of this entry »





Who is testing cancer vaccines?

15 06 2009

ResearchBlogging.orgAs I wrap up my “Pharma is your Phriend” series, lets take a look at some more research.

This is a very interesting analysis of cancer vaccine trials using data mining from Open Access journal, Immunome Research.

The authors have taken advantage of there being quite a lot of publicly available information on clinical trials these days (yes, it is there, if you know where to look¹) to amass a whole host of information on cancer vaccine clinical trials for a type of analysis known as data mining.

There own summary of the results reads:

This application enables rapid extraction of information about institutions, diseases, clinical approaches, clinical trials dates, predominant cancer types in the trials, clinical opportunities and pharmaceutical market coverage. Presentation of results is facilitated by visualization tools that summarize the landscape of ongoing and completed cancer vaccine trials. Our summaries show the number of clinical vaccine trials per cancer type, over time, by phase, by lead sponsors, as well as trial activity relative to cancer type and survival data. We also have identified cancers that are neglected in the cancer vaccine field: bladder, liver, pancreatic, stomach, esophageal, and all of the low-incidence cancers.

Two cool things I learned from the paper were: Vaccines for cancers have been in development since the 1970s, and melanoma has been the cancer studied most for a vaccine, even though the first ones out to market have been for cervical cancer (expect melanoma vaccines in the next 1-5 years?).

But as we are looking to shift this discussion towards the pharmaceutical industry, let’s look at who runs clinical trials (Pop up: Figure 2a).

Read the rest of this entry »





Bible-based marriage

9 06 2009

Bible-based schooling sends mixed messages. Case in point: “Chrsitian marriage”.

This path leads to the madness of rebranding prostitution as “Temporary Marriage Contracts”. I shit you not.

hattip: Critical Mass





Drug-fuelled psycho-textbooks unleashed in hospitals

27 05 2009

Thus reads the tabloid headlines.

Okay. Okay. Not quite.

Wall Street Journal blog actually states:

The Boston Globe got wind of the study, which found that among 20 authors of the guidelines for treatment of depression, dipolar disorder and schizophrenia, 18 had at least one financial tie to a drug maker, and 12 had ties in at least three categories, such as consulting, research grants, speaking fees or stock ownership.

It still sounds like an expose on the sinister Big Pharma Conspiracy.

Is this really worrying? Is it even surprising?

Read the rest of this entry »





Naylor’s Law – You’re just like Big Tobacco

24 05 2009

I’m naming this after the lead in Thank You For Smoking. I couldn’t find reference to this particular phenomenom anywhere.

I saw it twice in one day.

Here. An ad for the hippie doco Food Inc. in reference to the processed foods/factory farming industry.

And Here. A passing reference to anti-alcohol campaigns on a Radio National show.

I also here it plenty of times from the anti-vax crowd.

The law is:

As a discussion on the health effects of a product for human consumption progresses, the probability that one side will bring up a comparison to the tobacco industry approaches 100%.

Should this be grounds for forfeture of the debate?

I can definitely see myself comparing the alcohol lobby to the cigarette lobby. A “cool”, addictive, mind-altering substance associated with a myriad of ill-health effects – hell, they even have the same occasional claims of health benefit (red wine for heart disease). I suppose the main difference is there isn’t such a thing as passive drinking (is there?)





Racist Nonsense

6 05 2009

Hatttip: Planet Irf








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