Wednesday, August 23, 2023

Absolutely Brillat!

Someone anticipated my blog many, many moons ago...


"Another  reproach which might be levelled against me is that I sometimes let my pen run away with me, and tend to turn garrulous when I have a tale to tell. But is it my fault if I am old? Is it my fault if I am like Ulysses, who had seen the cities and ways of life of many peoples? Am I to be blamed if I include a little of my own biography?"

Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin, The Physiology of Taste (Physiologie du goût), 1825.


E@L found a Folio Society edition from 2008, in mint condition, in a second-hand store in Geelong for a bargain AUD25.

How that last  quote, eh?

'I looked about me and took note of what I saw, and often at the most sumptuous banquets I have been saved from boredom by the pleasure I derived from my observations'

Brilliant Brillat. Worth the money right there.

We are talking (and observing pleasurably) about: recalcitrant toasters in hotel buffet breakfasts; komplex kopi concerns; restaurant capers and caprices.

Much of E@L's blog in an edible nutshell! 


Interesting also that "goût" is essentially, says arrogant anglophone, spelled the same as "gout" (at least you don't have to cut and past the latter from somewhere), so many may mistakenly think of this foody's treat as a treatise on the afflictions associated with improper uric acid metabolism! 

Ha! Nuh!

Fortunately, fingers and toes crossed, this is one of the few afflictions that has not (yet) brought low that gallavanting gourmand of the grand guignol that was his former expatriatdom, 


Sunday, May 21, 2023

Un-Blocked At Last

In case no-one has noticed, I should explain that I am having trouble making a start on any of those writing projects I told myself I’d be doing to soak up the damp hours and soggy days of retirement (enforced, or otherwise)

When someone asked Anthony Burgess if he had ever had writer's block, he shot back, in typical snarky Burgess fashion, “Of course not. I am a writer. I write. Have you ever heard of a cobbler getting cobbler’s block?”



My paternal great-great-grandfather, Charles Radnell was one of the two cobblers in a small town of Tarnagulla, initially called Sandy Creek, in "The Golden Triangle" of central Victoria in the mid/late 19th century, from the time of rapid development in that area during the great gold rush. 

His father (also named Charles) back in Nottingham was a leather-worker and harness-maker, and GGGF Charles presumably picked up the suitable shoe-making skills from him. It seems that after said GGGF Charles passed away in 1890, the tools of the trade; its awls, chisels, punches, edgers and various knives and cutters, and shoe rests or lasts, presumably went to his son (my GGF) William John, the second child with that name. His namesake, the firstborn, died at 10 months while GGGF Charles and GGGM Sarah were living in a tent town, in the goldfields of Llanelly at the height of the Victoran gold rush. 

"Diggers" were coming in from all over, including Hong Kong and the provence of Canton. There are several Chinese memorials doing their best to survive the elements in the town's cemetery. Lots of stories which I won't go into here about the struggles of the Chinese in Australia during the gold rush. 

For the lucky few, a good living could be made in the many gold strikes in the region, such as the Poverty Reef mine, right in the heart of Tarnagulla, which was still in full stride when GGGF Charles moved into town in 1853. Several of his sons, GGF William John maybe, and his brothers, later worked there. Two of the six brothers, Charles(!) and George, were killed in action in the Great War.

I am guessing this heritage of cobblerdom because I don't know what GGF William John's actual trade was, but when his daughter, my paternal GM, Ethel [daughter of Annie née Titus - aunt of the great Richmond footballer in the then VFL, now AFL, Jack Titus] married my GF, John George Ramm, apparently known as George. [Geo. the Neat Executor of the card, below], the evidence would strongly suggest that he learnt the trade as well. ["Bot. of" - meaning: ???] 

There was only one cobbler in town by 1920. That would have GF Geo, who lived there until he passed in 1950. 

A young GF John George (Geo.) Facial enhancement by Topaz AI.

Of course, back in the heady rushed days of sudden golden wealth and desperate arduous slog in mud and non-glittering rock, those gold miners needed solid work boots. Their wives needed dress shoes too,  maybe with bows on them, for social events at the town's Garibaldi Lodge or, in later days with Geo as bootmaker, at the Masonic hall in nearby Dunolly... 

So for a fair part of a century, the Radnells and a Ramm ran the town's cobbler business, unblocked.


Aside: The Poverty Reef mine in Tarnagulla was named after Poverty Bay, the New Zealand home of the two prospectors who made the first strike there. And then they made their fortune. Isn't that ironic! Doncha think?

The mine was intermittently operational until quite recently, though it peaked production with 13½ ton(!) of gold in the inital years of 1852-53.

As the seam became exhausted, different methods of gold extraction were tried there, and the first cyanide factory in Australia was built just behind it. 

Some locals


This is the house where my paternal family lived. I guess it is where my father was born. When we were young kids, our widowed mother required respite, so each summer we stayed with my uncle and aunt who still lived there, for two weeks or so. But we weren't to go into the closed front room, the one behind what once might have been a shop window (presuming here), under the recently refurbished awning. 

Too much important stuff in there for clumsy children. General uncle and aunt storage, my father's stamp collection for sure, etc... And some of my great-great, and great, and grandfather's work implements. 

When we were allowed in, once only I think in the many years we holidayed there, I recall trying to figure what this strange multi-footed steel montrosity was exactly. I doubt that we could have damaged it, however clumsy we were.

(Not GGGF's or GF's but same same.)

A cobbler's last. A block of steel that allowed consistant work from a range of angles. Shoes for men, women, and children, made to order. Neatly executed repairs. And cheap! 

If I had one now, I would rub it as a talisman of progress, and getting a move on from this blogger's block would be  


Saturday, May 20, 2023

A Week Of Serious Drinking*

On Friday evening after work, EvilD called EvilK, E@L, and Bruce and asked if they wanted to go out for drinks...


They went to Lan Kwai Fong and drank a few Carlsbergs and jello-vodka-shots on the street corner there. 

Soon it was 1am and LKF was closing down, so they took a taxi to Wanchai, particularly The Wanch, where a criminally awful band was playing. They drank a few Old Speckled Hens, which was on tap, and they pretended to fit in with the awkward Lamma locals. 

When the band finished, E@L suggested Mes Amis, a slightly classier place. There they switched to G&Ts until E@L was kicked out for knocking over half the dance floor with his bouncy bouncy interpretation of Fatboy Slim classic. 

Right there, right then, they all moved on to one of eight girly bars on Lockart Rd for a laugh or seven, and shared few $250 ladies’ drinks with the girls and bar staff. Bruce grabbed E@L's Charisma Card before he paid for those18 tequila shots for the three women on his arm, and they exited hastily though the heavy red curtain, Bruce with luminous lipstick marks on the front of his jeans.

When the bars and clubs started to shut down around 3am, EvilD said he knew a place where you could get beer - it was where the band from Amazonia goes after their gig. E@L discussed the Hendrix chord with Sammy, the best and shortest lead guitarist in Hong Kong (and Singapore one week a month).

Soon the sun came up to separate the sheep from the goats, which they all toasted with another jug of margaritas! 

By 7am the early openers were there for the working girls coming back from their long-times, and for diehards like EvilD, EvilK, E@L and Bruce. With Guinness being on tap, they were well supplied with calories. 

They kept drinking like this all Saturday; in Wanchai Irish pubs to watch AFL by themselves, and EPL jammed in a crowd, and to cocktail bars to watch potential tai-tais cadge drinks, and by Saturday evening you could find them dancing on the bar at Carnegies. EvilK suggested some shots of absinthe, which triggered a series of most welcome hallucinations, such as: They were sober enough to have more shots...

Saturday night and Sunday morning were more of the same, right through to Sunday lunch when it was High Tea at the Filipina Bars. They stumbled down various stairs to basement level bars like Uranus II, where off-duty maids went to dance in front of mirrors until their 9pm curfews. A few other expats they knew were there on the pick-up, so a few rounds were shouted until one by one those expats paired off with an amah in time for a quickie before their girl had to get back and cook 5 different suppers for 5 different people, and darn the underpants of the incontinent uncles, then grab a bowl of cold rice before unrolling her blanket under the kitchen table for her 2hr kip, or to wake up in a king-size bed with her boss and his wife. 

There was another EPL game Sunday evening so the crew headed to back the Irish bar on the corner where several ladyboys accosted them briefly, and Bruce nodded a shy greeting to the ugliest one. Guinness and Kilkenny were on tap. Sharpeners. Lovely. 

Sunday night, once the game was over, they moved to Joe Bananas where the manager greeted EvilD with a huge hug and an insistence that they all have a free bottle of Jack Daniels for the night! Still dancing and sweating it out on the crowded floor at 4am, trying not to spill their JD (third bottle) and diet coke on the floor, they shook themselves to the duff duff beat from the DJ’s extensive collection of duff duff music. 

Monday was a holiday, so they had no cause to stop partying, and the cycle repeated itself. Beer here, G&T’s there, with EvilD scoring free shots for them at Dusk ’Til Dawn. Bouncers were high-fiving and fist bumping EvilD, EvilK and Bruce as E@L looked on in awe at how popular his friends were with the staff, the bands, and working girls everywhere they went. So it continued right through until the next morning. 

They were too far gone for work on Tuesday, so they all called in sick and stayed out drinking still at various bars. 

Wednesday was the same, with a variety of vodkas at a new bar that EvilD remembered, down by the cop-shop, which brought them past Crazy Camel, where Western girls in bikini tops and cut-off jeans danced on the bar and poured free tequila shots into the mouths of customers who, like the crew here did repeatedly, leaned their heads back over the grog-sticky bar.

By Thursday, E@L was feeling a little squeamish, so he said the EvilD, “How about we get a packet of peanuts and some chips?”

EvilD was furious! “What? Listen! Did I invite you out for dinner or to have a drink?!”


Punchline stolen from another joke, but the rest is a compendium of something close to a previous reality, which may, or may not, have included the person who was



* Recommended: Hallucinatory, magic unrealism.

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

From The Archives: Nov 2004: Whom Adjusted The Situation Of My Cheesy Comestibles? (not the original title)

[E@L was randomly reading stuff on his computer when he found the text version of the archives from his old blog, pre-Blogger, which was lost when there was a change the programming language when he wasn't watching so his free software didn't run anymore... He had already saved the more salacious ones to Evernote, but some, like this one, he had forgotten and hadn't reformatted.

Here for today's Nostaligia Hour is:]    


Business seminar and/or a self-help book I'd like to see

Who Took A Dump on My Cheese, Spread It Over A Pissed-on Cracker, Made Me Eat It, Then Forced Me To Say I Found It A Challenging And Rewarding Experience?: Coping with Change in the Multi-National Organisation, or Not. A Seminar/Book/AstrologicalGuide for Distraught Marketers, Traumatised Technical Support, Melancholoy Managers and Failed Salesmen. 

Coming to an unemployment agency waiting room coffee table near YOU! 


What is it with Big Companies' obsession with all this fucking around with Logos and Mission Statements and Prime Directives and Branding...? 

Fucking hell, the only guys making money out of all this change are; 

 1: printers: redoing your stationery and business cards every other fortnight 
 2: the logo designer: ditto... 
 3: the caterers for all those re-branding team meetings and "change" seminars 

 4: the "trainers" at said seminars. 

(I remember one "efficiency" seminar I was forced to attend where the guy in his opening 15 minute speech berated all hospital workers at the time - we were in the early stages of being Jeffed! - for being so inefficient that 30% of our time was wasted in unnecessary and redundant activities! He then started some John Cleese videos and went outside and to lie down in the sun, have a sandwich and a smoke, and stare at the back of his eyelids for two hours. That's about 90% saved time for him. Obviously this was the efficiency we were to aim for! And considering how much the hospital paid him -- sweet! However he never told us what those unnecessary and redundant activites were - x-raying the fractured skulls of motorcycle accident victims who were going to die anyway? [Fucking twat he was. Drove a Beemer. Total Quality Wanker!])

 5: the psychologists who deal with the stress and anxiety to intelligent, experienced, mature workers, those who had over the years gradually devised strategies for using the system to its max, and making things work smoothly, keeping things going, staying ahead of problems, anticipating issues... only to have a bloody/bloodless coup in upper management force everybody to try it THEIR way for a change... Until that "change" is revealed as a dismal failure and another coup takes place upstairs and everything changes again... Next narcissistic fucking young gun with their experimental MBA thesis, please... 


The assumption that your average consumer wouldn't know if his arse was on fire ignores the presence of all the pain receptors we have under the skin of our buttocks. So why rebrand? Why not just give up and sell your widget cheaper if it's so bad that sales are crap! Consumers distrust change. That why they use credit cards. No noisy heavy change filling up their pockets. No, I mean "change" as in alteration, difference, variation, cheese-moving.

And don't employees hate change? Yes, they do! They all know what it really means. More empty seats in the office, and fewer people in the shout on Friday nights. Bad news, in a word. You see, there's Change (rising tone then falling tone) and then there's Change (low tone.) 

Change would be OK if it was sold as "Improvement", but it is not marketed that way. It is just branded as ambiguous "change" and that implies the possibility of the quality of the changed thing going either way. To worse, or to better - who knows? Someone knows. But they don't want to tell you! And that's part of the strategy! Cunning! Indeed! They can always say, later when things go to hell in a handbasket that they had hoped we would all pull together (in a big corporate wank, a mass debate?) to ensure that the change would be for the better. As if they didn't know! 

You know that up top, in the head office, there really has to be someone in the organisation who has an idea of what is going down in the marketplace... Well, you can only maintain your sanity in the organisation if you have that belief. Like believing in God helps good people cope with world-wide suffering, cancer in lab mice, the coffee in Starbucks and other existential horrors. Unfortunately in most corporations, this person is most likely the building janitor.  Nevermind, God does a lot of minor running repairs as well, like, um, making statues bleed, and um, etc... I am sure there must be other things Alanis has done recently, but I'll save that for another blog (when I want to get kicked off my ISP again...) 

Well, yeah, that person, (like every employee) knows that "change" is just a synonym for "mass sackings and profiteering before it all goes belly-up." But they would have trouble getting that past some of the more sensitive board-members and share-holders (for the whom the world was created), so they repackage their personal parachutes as Total 69 Quality Sigma Depowerment or somesuch and surf the boardroom on that wave for a while. Then, as part of the new deal, they alter the company logo so no lawyers, employees or customers can recognize who they are, where they work, or who the product was manufactured by, let alone who for. 

Then, lacking any other coherent methodology to improve sales, they do a round of downsizing that boosts the sales/employee ratio [this is a real ratio - even companies like Royal Dutch Philips, for one, put it in their annual reports! see below] and restructure some 3rd world (European) factories with a bull-dozer, all of which jumps the market price up a notch, then they take their share-priced enriched retirements... or would if they could. 

 (From Philips annual report, 2003.) 

So you either improve your sales or sack people - the result is the same. Which is easier? 

Well we're not going to take it anymore! We're on to you! We deserve to be more than a cell number in a spread-sheet, a liability on the denominator of our life-worth's equation. We want to know in advance the REAL direction any proposed "change" is going to take our work, our knowledge, our lives, our window desk! 

We're going to find out what it really means when you put some fancy Powerpoint 3D semi-transparent graphic of the new reporting structure on the screen and we're not going to take it lying down.

Ah, yes the Better/Worse HIAH ratio

(Adapted from Philips annual report, 2003) 

We certainly won't be lying down at all, as we haven't achieved that level of efficiency yet... 

Not even 


Trumpeting A Reunion

E@L caught up with a bunch of old school friends and some other guys he knew from that end-of-school era when some of my friends were at just starting at the brand new Deakin University. We are talking just shy of 500, sorry, typo, 50 years!

Hey, you, turn the Nostalgia Machine to 11!

We spoke of some common acquaintances from those days (1974-76). A few of those who were my closer friends back in the day seem to have vanished, though E@L knew of one who has passed away, The brother of one others was there, but he also had little idea where the once popular guy had gone. It's sort of sad, but it was good to chat to these two (no names, no pack drill), even though, as we were not that close, it took a few seconds for them to recognise the reconstructed  E@L (no wild surfie hair, no flat tummy, not any more).


And we were at a CHURCH!!! and no, E@L didn't catch fire or get hit by a falling spire that had been struck by lightning as he entered! Hoo wooda thunk!

Why was E@L tempting such the wrath of The First Cause? you ask.

Ah, another one of E@L's high school colleagues was heading up a small fund-raising concert featuring jazzed up versions of classical music such as Bach and Vivaldi, with some contemporary compositions, all in conjunction with the funereal bellowing of the large church organ! Wow!

Turns out the bandleader, trumpeter, arranger, and composer of some the jazz pieces, E@L's said school colleague, Chris Skepper, is one the most sought after trumpet players around, and legend amongst those who know. He was in backing bands for tours by Boney M, and Cilla Black, and has worked with most of the more media-exposed artists such as Paul Grabowski, and other Aussie jazz legends.


For all the way modern jazz trades ex-tempore 8s and 4s, which can get tedious until they get back the main theme (sorry jazz fans), all the musicians were at the top of their instruments' quality tree and the result was of course was great entertainment.

(Not my photos. Sorry Rob, no way of asking you for permission.)


Why did we know about this concert? Next week [last week now, forgot to publish this] there is an even bigger reunion planned, maybe 20 guys from school and surfing heading to Ye Olde Schoole Pubbe, The Gold Diggers Arms in Skeene St, where once upon a time they served you in your college uniform until you threw up in the hallway on the way to the exit... We found Chris on Meta, sorry, Facebook, and he told about this prior engagement and his inability to attend. So we decided to head there as well! 

So. No music at the Diggers, no Chris Skepper (his band is playing in Melbourne), just copious beer, and wondering who will remember/recognise


Friday, August 26, 2022



It's not just E@L. 

Of the people (bots?) on his blogroll, only 4 have posted in the last six months. Has E@L lost you all? Are you gone. Have you abandoned him, or have you abandoned writing? Or is it just that E@L is not writing anything for you to read and this has shocked you into Bartlbeyism? Something electifying, stunning, overwhelmingly brilliant/funny/pretentious/dull/sad, and you all cracked it? Reacted badly? Cracked the shits and blocked him?  

Was it something he didn't say?


And cheers to those brave souls who stick at it. Those 4 souls slick with perstistence and fortitude. Write, write, write! Pretend E@L is reading. Imagine it. Pretend he is stuck at the computer until 4am like the old days, writing stuff himself, for you Constant Reader. And the Inconstant Many Skimmers. Like E@L himself. 

There he is, in his $5,500 a month garret. Type, type, type. But reading, reading, reading as well. Of course! All you lot in his eyeballs. Every night. He was looking for inspiration in your lives. Yep, 4 am, OK 3am.  The good old days, when E@L should have been in bed. He needed his sleep then, E@L had lives to save. 

But hey, shit happens. Sorry m'am, maybe next time he'll diagnose you properly, if there is a next time, as you know, death. Time's wing'd chariot. The salmon mousse. 

[He had given up his illustrious scanning career many years before he started blogging, so that last bit is merely (merely!?) rhetoric.]


Speaking of patients dying, in 1924, a medical student named Louis-Ferdinand Destouches wrote a thesis for his medical degree on Ignaz Philip Semmelweis. It was his (L-F) first known extended piece of writing.

Semmelweis, you may know, or not, was the guy who said to the other doctors, "Hey, guys, if you just fucking-well wash your hands after dissecting rotting corpses in the autopsy room before you start your accouchier's handing of pregnant ladies in the Lying-In ward, definitely, I mean definitely, fewer, if not zero of the straining, huffing, not-pushing-yet ladies in labour could avoid dying of puerpal fever. You know. Toxic shock. An anaphylactoid reaction to having bits of dead people in their birth canals. How hard is to just - Fucking. Wash. Your. Fucking. Hands? Save a life: scrub out those filthy entrails clogged under your nails. <mumbles> You fucking dickheads." 

Of course, this last bit didn't make him any friends, maybe someone heard or inferred his mumbled oaths, so once Semmelweis left, the other doctors stopped washing their hands and everyone started dying again. And E@L thinks, like Dr Destouches said, "Dickheads. Murderous fucking dickheads."

In his latter years, Dr Destouches worked in the poorer arrondisements of Paris, treating the poor and indigent, often not getting paid, or being paid in kind rather than cash. He was a physician of Semmelweisian self-sacrifce and altruism. 


But Dr Destouches is more well-known as Louis-Ferdinand Céline. But you knew that, or you wouldn't be reading this high-falutin' blog, right? 

In a rather stunning revelation, the likes of Martin Amis and Clive James have said that they have refused to read any of Céline's novels (and this thesis, presumably), because Céline wrote a couple of searingly anti-semitic diatribes in the 1930's. 

Without entering very deeply into the "bad person, great artist" debate, E@L wonders how these Giants Of The World Of Literary Opinion would would even be aware of Céline's Bagatelles Pour Une Massacre, let alone know their content so well as to dismiss the author out of hand. 

Such a severe reaction against one of most innovative writers around, one they might have learned from if they weren't so arrogant... Wow! It is a toxic shock of rejection and cancellation, without having at first experienced the stylistic notoriety of Journey To The End Of The Night or Death On The Installment Plan where any anti-semitism is well disguised, if present at all.  [E@L wasn't looking for it when he read them.] Kurt Vonnegut Jr said he got a headache when he thought about Céline because he admired the amazing, unprecedented, uncopyable, urgency and immediacy of the writing style [E@L's words], but, yeah, those Bagatelles.

So hey, an anti-semite in pre-war France? How exceptional. Not. Who wooda thunk? Everybody. Did someone mention the Dreyfus Affair? Did someone mention Vichy France and its collaboration in the cruel exportation of Jews to Germany and Poland? [c.f. Bad Faith, by Carmen Callil, about her family's particpation in such a despicable policy. And dozens of other books E@L hasn't read.] Yeah, Dr Destouches had unforgiveably bad opinions, but it was the trend at the time, yeah, and so E@L is wondering if Cancel Culture for Céline nearly a century before twitter is appropriate? 

This is not an apology or an excuse, but seriously, Martin, Clive, you are missing out on some unique and wonderful prose.

Moving on. Sigh. 


E@L's plan, most likely to fizzle in uncunning desuetude, as do the best laid of everyone's, is to finish reading all of Céline's novels this year. Approximately.

Over the years decades, he has read JTTEOTN twice (in different translations), DOTIP, Guignol's Band (finally finished it this year), and a fair chunk of Castle To Castle. He has seven to go, plus a short biography. He lost Hélene Cixous's biography, unread of course, in the Garden Shed Tragedy of 2013 - you an see it in the wheelbarrow in the first photo.

Best of luck with that E@L. 

While Amazoning for any "new" and/or unexpected works by Céline, E@L came across a double edition of Mea Culpa, about his trip to communist Russia in the 1930's, and, gold! The Life And Work Of Semmelweis. Shock and delight! A serendipitous treasure! E@L didn't know that a: Mea Culpa existed at all, and that b: the Semmelweis thesis had been translated and published.  

E@L starts at the start. The epigram:

I am still lacking a few hatreds.

I am sure they exist.


Then he reads the translator's introduction from 1937...

Right. To the point of this post, the idea before all these digressions. Forgive him, E@L can't keep on track, keep his mind focussed. It's the 45 second culture, it's old age, retirement, FB, the sound bite, instant messaging, blitz chess, wokeism, sleep-inism, tiktok, buzz alarm.  Where was I? 

In the translator's introduction there is an excerpt from a speech Céline gave in 1933, the year after JTTEOTN was published to outstanding acclaim notoriety, at a meeting about Emile Zola. 

Listen, tell me what this reminds you of...

We are completely surrounded by whole countries of stupified anaphylactics, the least shock precipitating them into murderous convulsions that cannot be stopped.


[Shoddy imitation of Céline's style coming up.]

1933! It's the same as the world today!... No surprise there... People... they ever were and ever will be. Communism, fascism... all over again! It's a polarisation!... a sensitivity... pure tribalism... how easy to take offense... we sharpen our shouting instruments... we listen no more... we're offended... insulted... take that!... punch a Nazi*... I'm all for it!... we're right!... you're misguided!... Propaganda!... it's a tsunami of vitriol...we're drowning in hate... 

We react like another opinion is a poison... a stimulant from a foreign agency... it's an immune allergen, and our immune system explodes!... T-cells!... we swell up... we can't breathe... we clutch at the nearest shibboleth... it's a disaster... the end of the world!  

It's anaphylaxis! Both sides of the argument... we're not safe... quick with the Epi-pen... the pen of truth... not fake news... 


Yep. We are all anaphylactics these days. And E@L is not, um, immune. 

And of course when we hear the utter bullshit from the self-serving Murdochian (new word!) propaganda machine - in the USA, OMG why aren't we storming Fox News instead of the Capitol building and offering a jute necktie to that fucker, Carlson? 


* OK not a great reference when we are trying to speak nicely about someone who was convicted and imprisoned (and later pardoned) for collaboration! 

Yep, here's a punch for a Nazi from


Sunday, July 24, 2022

Science Shoots Itself In The Foot Once Again

[Too big a post for Facebook] 


It's obvious that climate change is false because these researchers appeared to have fabricated the evidence for Altzheimers disease.



It's quite possible that years and years of research have been a waste of time, and that the millions and millions of dollars that have been channelled into funding for Altzheimers research have been misspent. 

According to research reported in the respected journal Science, crucial images from the landmark paper of 2006 in the respected journal Nature appeared to have been altered to bolster the conclusions of the paper. 

It is indeed possible that targeting those now notorious amyloid plaques in the brain by blocking a specific compound molecule, called an oligomer, is an expensive dead-end. Perhaps this is why 99% of the research for pharmacuetical and other treatment of Altzeimers have proven to be failures (e.g. nuns doing crossword puzzles for years) because they have been looking for results that might never have been measureable. 

The oligomer they are targetting might not even exist in humans, but only in the transgenic mice of the landmark paper, and those amyloid plaques might be merely incidental to whatever promotes dementia and not its cause after all.

AAANNNNDDDD the principal author of the original paper has just received a 5 year grant of $750k from the National Institue of Health to continue research along the same lines. The NIH honkey who ratified this grant turns out to have been... wait for it... a co-author of that 2006 paper.


I want to point out that science is not at fault here. Scientists are. Possibly. He adds, hoping to avoid a law suit.


Early this year, Schrag raised his doubts with NIH and journals including Nature; two, including Nature last week, have published expressions of concern about papers by Lesné. Schrag’s work, done independently of Vanderbilt and its medical center, implies millions of federal dollars may have been misspent on the research—and much more on related efforts. Some Alzheimer’s experts now suspect Lesné’s studies have misdirected Alzheimer’s research for 16 years.

“The immediate, obvious damage is wasted NIH funding and wasted thinking in the field because people are using these results as a starting point for their own experiments,” says Stanford University neuroscientist Thomas Südhof, a Nobel laureate and expert on Alzheimer’s and related conditions.


To say this happens all the time in medicine would not be true, but it does happen a fair bit. There're liveliehood issues, grants, tenure, the kudos of conference invitations, egos...  thanks to the publish or perish mentality of academic institutions...

Beyond Andrew Wakefield's bullshit on MMR and autism, I know of two relatively close cases to me in my working life: 

1 - self-proclaimed thalidomide exposer (it was actually a widwife working with him) William McBride, was working at our local university. He was struck off for falsifying figures in his research into Debendox. Where are all these fucking rabbits? his researchers fellows eventually started asking. His wife, ironically, was chair of the research ethics committee at my old hospital.  

2 - back when I was still working in high-risk obstetrics, we heard of this whizz-kid research obstetrician in England. He had been asked by student at a meeting if it was possible to somehow retrieve a live ectopic pregnancy and replace into the uterus with a successful outcome. A few weeks later he published an article saying that he had done just that. Of course, he hadn't, and he was struck off after one of those present at that meeting brought this to general attention... [I have read of anti-abortion campaigners claiming this imaginary procedure as an actual option for those women with ectopics who would prefer not to die.] 


Enough back to what you're supposed to be working on. You're not too young to write your memoirs anymore, 


Friday, April 01, 2022

No Fool Me, April 1st!

 No joke. April 1st. 

Life began at 40 for me, when, this day 24 years ago I started employment in the small (fucking tiny) Hong Kong office of the No2/3 medical ultrasound company in the world (for radiology and obstetrics at the time I think, maybe No 1.), a team I lovingly call The Cosmodemonic Ultrasound Company 1, aka Advanced Technology Laboratories (indistinguishable from magic). 

ATL was smallish company, as these things go, from rain-drenched Seattle and as smallish companies go, they liked to party. I was covering North Asia, South Asia with occasional trips to Thailand and Singapore to give product training. Awesome. Many friends made in Hong Kong, Taiwan, India, Singapore, Korea (I could tell the difference between good and not-so-good kimchi), not so much in China at first as I was not a qualified doctor like all the minions there. 

Also, as smallish companies go, they went. 

Two years later the fun and games came to screeching slow-down when the Big Boss took his $44M payout and ATL were swallowed by The Cosmodemonic Ultrasound Company 2 - aka the dour dutch Philips. 

This moderately huge light bulb and sandwich toaster company from Eindhoven wanted to buy their way into a burgeoning health-care market (due to the ageing population - opportunity?  yeah baby!). To be fair they were/are world leaders in cardiac catherisation labs, and their general x-ray systems were generally a cut above the others. Something I appreciated 12 years later in Sienna. Our ATL Big Boss had convinced Philips that ATL were an echocardiac (heart) ultrasound specialist company that would sit well with their cardiac angiogram predominance. They soon found out we weren’t (due diligence guys!). 

So Philips, with too much money (that that they didn’t waste on salaries I must point out after I lost 40% of my ATL salary: housing allowance mainly), then went for Hewlett-Packard’s excellently structured Medical Ultrasound Division, which itself had just been spun off by CEO Carla Fiorina into a new company called Agilent. *They* were the cardiac ultrasound leaders at the time. Their product development and training team were so well organised and professional it was a joy to be with them in Andover. (One of the trainers later took on my role in HK.) 

They ruled cardiac U/S, until a tiny Danish company came up with an innovative wedge technology (cardiac muscle strain measurement) that GE bought and used to shut the door on everyone else some 6 months later. GE also bought from the financially troubled Korean company Medison (who had done all the initial awareness and promotional work), a German technology for obstetric 3D scanning, and that pushed ATL/Philips from the No1 spot in the anxiety and litigation swamped world of fetal imaging and assessment (that was in fact my specialty).

Even the amazing Agilent/Philips 3D cardiac system introduced a year or so after (in the middle of SARS lockdowns) could not compete. Someone should write book on the intrigue here. 

Then, 3 & 3/4 years after their takeover, Philips saw fit to allow me to investigate other career options, such as opening a bookstore in Stanley. Yep, they asked to lift my game one day and the next day, literally, sacked me. Moi? Can you imagine any company succeeding without my input as a Marketing Manager? WTF does a Marketing Manager do anyway? I never had time to find out.  

Thanks to a key nomination by an old friend (who may or may not have been my line manager in HK and the guy who brought me to HK in the first place) I moved to Singapore into the smaller, not quite family-run Japanese Cosmodemonic Ultrasound Company 3, called Aloka, whose excellent logo, borrowed from Gandhi, was “Science and Humanity”. I loved them for that already, until it was subsequently fucked over by some unmemorable Hallmark Business Logo blandishment. 

Thus began a revitalised life of fun, parties, etc, in South East Asia, Africa, the Middle East, Canada. Some brilliant party animals in this company, and many stories that can’t be told outside this blog to non-expats, or non-ex-expats for a plethora of reasons: moral, intellectual, physical, typographical, topographical, graphical, outrage to modestical, ethical, sexualical, libelical, marital suicidical, dubious, apocryphal, and plain spooky mystic weird.  

But as smallish companies go, they too went. 

The inevitable takeover was by a (surprise surprise as we were thinking it would be Philips) moderately huge behemoth - the Cosmodemonic Ultrasound Company 4, another Japanese company called, let me think, ah yes, Hitachi, who, ironically [cue Alanis Morrisette type pedantry], were selling Philips machines in Japan. 

And as largish companies don’t usually go, they kept paying my outrageous salary for many years, until my retirement age approached (see other posts here.) I should add that much of the partying continued but not necessarily at the level I enjoyed with those forever to remain unnamed colleagues of yore. 

And the rest, like all the past not suppressed by the winners, became the post-40 laughable history of


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