Thursday, April 10, 2008

Change in Comment Policy

This doesn't mean that this blog is necessarily becoming active again, but I've decided I need to change my comment policy, as you can see in the blog's description above. The new policy is basically the same lenient policy I've had before specifically designed to encourage critical comments and rebuttals. In general, comments are not deleted unless they clearly violate Blogger's content policy. Messages that violate the policy include things like spam, threats of violence or death, pornography and so forth. In addition to this, from now on I will delete any comments from the following persons:
  • John Best Jr. (AKA Fore Sam)

As everyone knows, John does not contribute to any discussion in any productive way, and simply disrupts comment threads. Furthermore, recently he has made unacceptable personal accusations which he cannot support. For this reason, he is the first commenter to be permanently banned from this blog.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Pleasantly Surprised by David Kirby and Dan Olmsted

Orac over at Respectful Insolence has received a response to his open letter to David Kirby and Dan Olmsted regarding the Seidel Subpoena. Their response reads as follows.
We both take this matter very seriously, and strongly oppose any effort to subpoena the records of Ms. Kathleen Seidel. We have also clearly expressed our feelings to Mr. Shoemaker. While we may not agree with her opinions, we consider Ms. Seidel to be a colleague. Rights to privacy, and to free speech as guaranteed by the First Amendment, must be upheld for all. We urge Mr. Shoemaker to reconsider, and drop this action against Ms. Seidel.

David Kirby
Dan Olmsted

I have to admit that was very big of both of them. They did not try to be apologetic. No "yes - but" or anything like that. For this I applaud them.

I had previously said the letter would be a test of the ethical standards of both journalists. It was. And they passed. I had my doubts that they had it in them. I apologize for any suggestion on my part to that effect.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Conficts of Interest Disclosure

As everyone knows, a couple of worthless pieces of shit from the mercury militia have gone after Kathleen and another blogger by means of legal bullying, with the presumed intention to not only silence two important voices of dissent but also to chill much of the neurodiversity and skeptical blogsphere.

After Kathleen was subpoenaed, she filed a top-notch motion to quash, where she happened to disclose the sort of revenue that is generated by running the site (incidentally, apparently less than its maintenance costs). I see that at least D'oC, Kassiane and Liz Ditz have also disclosed their conflicts of interest.

Earlier today Orac over at Respectful Insolence posted An open letter to David Kirby and Dan Olmsted about the Kathleen Seidel subpoena essentially asking Kirby and Olmsted to issue a position statement on what is now being referred to as the "Seidel Subpoena." Evidently, the letter will end up testing the ethical standards of these two autism journalists – as they are often thought of.

In the comments section of Orac's post, the question came up as to David Kirby's and Dan Olmsted's source of income. I think this is a legitimate question. After all, they do not appear to be employed by any major media. They are not parents of autistic children. They are not autistic. So are we to assume they write about autism because of their love of journalism? It doesn't seem plausible to me, and unlike Shoemaker's apparent suspicions regarding Kathleen, it's not necessary to invoke major conspiracy theories to conclude that Kirby and Olmsted must be payed by an organization with significant funds. I believe it would be of interest to find out whether, as some have suggested, David Kirby and/or Dan Olmsted are receiving money from parties with a stake in vaccine litigation.

Of course, neither Kirby nor Olmsted have an obligation to disclose this. No one is going to drag them to court to force them to disclose how they make a living; at least I sincerely hope not. I have decided to disclose my conflicts of interest, nevertheless. Of course, this is all done under the honor system, and that's fine. I'm willing to take Kirby's and Olmsted's word about their disclosures, if any. Other bloggers who write about vaccines and autism (from any side of the debate) should feel free to use my template below.

How much money do I make blogging?

I make exactly $0 (Zero US dollars) blogging about autism. As you can see, I don't have any ads in this blog, nor do I think I would make much money to speak of at my current traffic. I do not get payed to blog by anyone, be it pharmaceutical companies, the government, or the Illuminati. I currently do not take donations.

Why do I blog?

I blog about autism because I am the parent of an autistic child and because I am autistic myself. I also blog about autism because of my interest in science and scientific skepticism.

What is my occupation?

My formal employment is in an area of IT that is not related in any way to autism, disability, health care, vaccines or pharmaceuticals.

What about other income?

Believe it or not, I do not own any stock in any company of any kind, not even through mutual funds or 401Ks or anything of the sort. (I don't own a single credit card either). What can I tell you, I'm a strange guy.

The vast majority of my income comes from my formal employment. I do make perhaps and additional $15-$50 a month from hobbies that have nothing to do with anything I write in this blog. That is the extent of my income.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Clifford Shoemaker, What a Dick, Plus Other Views

I've decided to interrupt this blog's hiatus to bring you an important message; one that is actually uncharacteristic for this blog. And that is this: Clifford Shoemaker is a dick-face. In my opinion, that is.

Now let's go over select opinions on the matter around the blogsphere.

Pooflingers Anonymous in Another Day, Another Gasket...
For shitbag lawyer Clifford Shoemaker: grow the fuck up and stop being a fucking thug... or eat a big, steaming pile of my favorite dish. I prefer "grow up", but it's your damned choice.

Letting Off Steam in We Are All Kathleen Seidel
Obviously the American anti-vaccination brigade cannot abide the fact that their arguments are being countered anywhere at all and are seeking to tie Ms Siedel up in legal knots.

Rev. BigDumbChimp in Anti-Vaccination Parents stoop to new lows
As many around the blogosphere have noted, there doesn't seem to be any supportable reason for this subpoena other than being a fishing expedition to try and flush out some paranoid fantasy of the Sykes that Ms. Siedel is an agent of Big Pharma or the government and/or to try and intimidate her into silence.

Pharyngula in Attempted suppression of Seidel
My sympathy is limited, however, by the fact that are lashing out seeking to blame someone, have bought into the thimerosal hysteria, have hired a bottom-feeding shyster to sue various pharmaceutical companies, and said unethical ambulance-chaser is now using the power of the subpoena to harrass and intimidate bloggers who aren't at all involved in the case, but have simply written about the absence of a thimerosal-autism link.

Whose Planet is it Anyway? in Clifford J. Shoemaker and Lisa Sykes: Putrid Lawyering
The next thing you know, they'll be wanting us to appear personally in court to prove that we don't have green tentacles. (Note to self: after returning from secret meeting aboard flying saucer, inspect blog sidebar picture carefully to make sure all tentacles have been completely edited out.)

Popehat in Vaccine-Litigant Thuggery: Subpoenaed For Blogging
Mr. Shoemaker, shame on you. You bullying is contemptible, and if there is any justice in this situation, you will get your critic-intimidating, oversensitive ass handed to you in the motion to quash.

The Voyage in Neurodiversity Blogger Unfairly Subpoenaed
Why would they want a judge (or whomever is responsible for deciding on these matters) to read all of Kathleen's work which shows their claim for what it truly is. She also details Sykes' involvement in the Griers IRB which approved their "research" on chemical castration agent, Lupron, as one of the cornucopia of supposed treatments foisted on autistic children, among them, the son of Rev. Sykes.

Crux of the Matter in Blogger on autism hit with subpoena
Given this incident, however, I would have to say there appears to be more to this whole anti-vaccine matter than meets the eye. In fact, all the subpoena has done is question the motivation behind the intimidation directed at Seidel personally. I mean, requesting personal bank records is way over the top. While I don’t necessarily agree with Seidel’s point of view on all matters, she does bring up some excellent points and I recommend readers take the time to read some of her writings.

Pure Pedantry in Autism cranks attempt to intimidate blogger by subpoena
However, if you are determined to advocate that point of view, let me advise against acting like malicious thugs. That is exactly what this is. It is a flagrant attempt to silence free speech. It is a flagrant attempt to silence the free press. It is a flagrant attempt to silence good science with fear and litigation.

GM/WM in Evidence of Slime
Shoemaker and Sykes (if I understand the subpoena correctly) are trying to figure out if Kathleen is being led around by and paid by shadowy figures who feed her information and direct her to persecute Lisa Sykes for her religion and parenting skills or something.

Autista in Rediculous
If the judge allows the subpoena, then no one will be able to blog freely on any subject. We will all be afraid that everything from our tax returns to our church attendance will be on trial if someone launches a civil action that has some connection to the topic we are discussing.

Law And More in Olson's Trumpet - Blogosphere Unites Behind Kathleen Seidel
This is the most important legal and ethical story in the blogosphere since outed Monicagate. Hourly, we are checking in on the latest developments.

Respectful Insolence in More legal thuggery, this time against
A common characteristic of cranks and denialists, be they antivaccinationists or large corporations or whatever, is an intolerance of criticism for their views. All too frequently, this has taken the form of the abuse of the legal system in order to try to silence their opponents... Mr. Shoemaker is a despicable scum-sucking piece of excrement.

Overlawyered in Vaccine lawyer subpoenas Kathleen Seidel
Instead, the first phrase that occurred to me on looking through the subpoena was "fishing expedition", and the second was "intimidation". Several clauses indicate that Shoemaker is hoping to turn up evidence that Seidel has accepted support from the federal government, or from vaccine makers, which she says she hasn't.