Friday, June 27, 2008

Study proves Abstinance-only No Better than Nothing

  • tags: no_tag

    • The abstinence-only grants have been controversial from the start.

      Supporters say comprehensive sex education sends a mixed message and that abstinence is the only method that is 100 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease. Critics say abstinence education simply doesn't stop teens from having sex, and those teens need more information about how to reduce pregnancy and disease.

      In April 2007, a federally funded study of four abstinence-only programs by Mathematica Policy Research Inc., found that participants had just as many sexual partners as nonparticipants and had sex at the same median age as nonparticipants. The four programs had taught students about human anatomy and sexually transmitted diseases, helped them improve their communication skills, manage peer pressure, set personal goals and build self-esteem.

      For Colorado, the study results sealed the decision to get out of the program. Dr. Ned Calonge, the state's chief medical officer, said Mathematica's methods were the gold standard for scientific studies.

      "To show no benefit compared to nothing. That was striking," Calonge said. "These are tax dollars that are going for no useful purpose, and it would not be responsible for us to take those dollars."

Now, I've followed this issue over the years, casually but with some regularity. Therefore, I'm aware that for some of the most vocal supporters of Abstinence Only education, this is exactly the outcome they are looking for.

At Reclaiming America for Christ, Stenzel told her audience about a conversation she’d had with a skeptical businessman on an airplane. The man had asked about abstinence education’s success rate—a question she regarded as risible. “What he’s asking," she said, “is does it work. You know what? Doesn’t matter. Cause guess what. My job is not to keep teenagers from having sex. The public schools’ job should not be to keep teens from having sex.” Then her voice rose and turned angry as she shouted, “Our job should be to tell kids the truth!”

“People of God,” she cried, “can I beg you, to commit yourself to truth, not what works! To truth! I don’t care if it works, because at the end of the day I’m not answering to you, I'm answering to God!”

Later in the same talk, she explained further why what “works” isn’t what’s important—and gave some insight into what she means by “truth.” “Let me tell you something, people of God, that is radical, and I can only say it here,” she said. “AIDS is not the enemy. HPV and a hysterectomy at twenty is not the enemy. An unplanned pregnancy is not the enemy. My child believing that they can shake their fist in the face of a holy God and sin without consequence, and my child spending eternity separated from God, is the enemy. I will not teach my child that they can sin safely.”

The crowd applauded.

Of course, Stenzel isn’t just teaching her child.

Actually, she is. By means of creating and pointing to "instructive failures." This is neither effective sex ed nor is it any moral example of anything other than callus manipulation - and of course, those who discover this and reject a conformist mold for their lives will not have the information or the ethics they need to do that without cost. That is their goal.

It's a goal well worth frustrating.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

If you don't have anything nice to say about Clifford, Seidel on over here.

The title is "Justice" for a reason, Cliffie. And the last thing you ever want to do as a lawyer is to give a Justice an opportunity to DO justice at the expense of your client.

When you are the client - well, that just makes everyone snicker.
Anti-Vaccine Attorney Clifford Shoemaker Sanctioned For Abusive Subpoena To Kathleen Seidel of Neurodiversity Blog | Popehat:

I’ve decided it’s “lawyers behaving badly” day at Popehat. And for once I’m not just talking about me or Patrick.

Stand back, because I may burst with glee over our first entry.

Remember Clifford Shoemaker? He’s the anti-vaccine lawyer who hit Neurodiversity blogger Kathleen Seidel with an abusive subpoena because she criticized him and one of his anti-vaccine cases. Later Shoemaker — was humiliated when the court granted her pro se motion to quash the subpoena. When ordered by the court to show cause why he shouldn’t be sanctioned, he spun a ludicrous argument attempting to characterize Seidel’s blog-based criticism of him and his client’s case as a conspiracy to violate civil rights.

The other shoe has dropped. And it has squashed Shoemaker like a bug.

Kathleen published the judges entire opinion, feeling no need to add any comments of her own.

I almost feel the same. I'll excerpt a part of it. It seems apt to use virtual vermilion ink, for it doth have that cachet of offended official probity that reminds one of scenes from Chinese movies featuring the Virtuous Civil Servant.

Clifford J. Shoemaker’s action is an abuse of legal process, a waste of judicial resources and an unnecessary waste of the time and expense to the purported deponent.

The Clerk of Court is directed to forward a certified copy of this order, the motion to quash, the show cause order, and the response of Shoemaker and Seidel to the appropriate professional conduct committee of the Virginia State Bar in order that it may be made aware of Clifford J. Shoemaker’s conduct and so that those authorities may take whatever action they deem appropriate.

As a sanction from this court, Clifford J. Shoemaker is ordered to attend within three months, a continuing legal education program on ethics and on the discovery rules in the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. He is ordered to file a certification of completion of the programs.


James R. Muirhead
United States Magistrate Judge

For the play-by-play we shall return to the off-duty lawyers of Popehat.

As Derrick would say, FATALITY. This is not merely a victory for Seidel and defeat for Shoemaker. This is unqualified vindication for Seidel and a searing, public, ignominous rout for Shoemaker that should haunt him for the rest of his career, the Good Lord willing and Google don’t break.

Shoemaker and his attorneys Brian T. Stern and John F. McHugh should be ashamed (assuming they have the capacity for shame) for the naked attempt at silencing dissent and for floating the insipid “violation of civil rights” theory to justify that thuggery.

Sometimes the good guys win.

And one hopes that the Bad Guys will find a new career involving data entry or possibly odds-making in Vegas.

When the A in AS stands for Assholes

If you are even slightly familiar with the issues surrounding autism from the viewpoint of autistics, or if you read what I've had to say about it, you may have formed a less than positive opinion of "Autism Speaks," a "charity" that has eliminating autism from the gene pool as it's stated goal, and - imho - eliminationist propaganda and concerted campaigns against autistics and parents of autistics who disagree with that goal is one of the primary reasons why that negative opinion exists.

When Is a Humorous Site Not So Funny? Autism Speaks Has Its Say:

Today, the Whose Planet Is It Anyway blog ran a piece entitled Autism Speaks Silences Autistic Child. The blog asserts that:

Autism Speaks got pissed off because [14-year-old] Kelly, [a child with autism], built a parody website, NTSpeaks, which humorously suggested that interventions for certain annoying and intolerant behaviors of the non-autistic population might be in order. The site was designed to resemble Autism Speaks' website.

Building such a site was, of course, completely legal. American copyright law specifically states that a parody is not a copyright violation. Additionally, the First Amendment protects parodies along with other forms of free speech. The parody is a time-honored genre in American public discourse; concerned citizens have been expressing their political opinions by way of parody ever since rebellious colonists in the 1700s plastered their cities with handbills lampooning King George.

Apparently Autism Speaks' lawyers decided, however, that it would be very easy to intimidate an autistic child who did not have the means to fight back. They sent Kelly a letter containing a ridiculous demand for $90,000 for "funds lost." Then they followed that up by claiming that they were willing to settle the matter without receiving any payment because of Kelly's age, provided the website was taken down. They also browbeat Kelly into destroying the source code and giving the domain name to Autism Speaks.

The facts in this case (other than over the question of the legality of parody, on the part of the humorless, faceless corporation that "Assholes Squeak" has become are not in dispute.

Nor are they surprising. While this instance dates from February of this year, more recent instances of equally frivolous and illegal intimidation of autistics speaking for themselves have become public. We can only presume that finding and stamping out the dissenting voices of Autistics is one of their very highest priorities, other than fund-raising, of course.

It's very instructive to note that they felt entitled to make a claim for donations a "parody" that highlighted their misbehavior might have cost them. It's quite a large sum - and it's not unreasonable to think that collecting such large sums and keeping them are the primary goal of AS.

AS T-Shirt shirt

AS T-Shirt by webcarve Get this custom shirt at Zazzle
(or thumb it up, at least, please!)

As always, when such stories come to the fore, the comments threads are where the real meat is, and this one is meatier than most. It wouldn't be all that much of a stretch to say that the comments thread at on this ONE post contains more useful insight than the entire corpus of Autism Speaks.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Why I click on my own ads.

It's like The Onion, with tea and crumpets.

The Tiffin Times:
"Government wins vote enabling them to “make people scared to commit acts of terror”

Plan to fight terror with horrifyingly repressive legislation meets with mixed reception

By Eleanor Childress

Human rights campaigners have reacted with dismay to the success of the Government bill allowing the police to hold terror suspects for 42 days without charge. The bill, which was passed in a Commons vote thanks to last-minute support from the Democratic Unionist party, doubles the length of time the police are allowed to detain suspected terrorists for. However, a spokesperson for the Home Office insisted that the extra time the bill would allow the police was a crucial factor in the war on terror:

“Yes, we only needed two weeks back when we were dealing with the IRA, but al Qaida is a lot more sophisticated. According to the official Home Office Level of Terror Swatch (pictured), which we are issuing all senior police officers with, they are generally positioned somewhere between ‘pernicious’ and ‘insidious‘. IRA suspects tended to be inherently Catholic and thus prone to confessing anyway after a few drinks”
Believe it or not, Google Adwords has a policy that states that you may not click on ads displayed on your own site. Which would be fine, if you got a say in what appeared. You don't.

Me, I like knowing what is attached to my blog, even temporarily, so I use services that don't do that to me. Project Wonderful gives me a whole list every morning of things people think my readers (and therefore this writer) will be interested in.

I'm lazy. I appreciate things that come to me, especially when they beg prettily and offer to pay me for my time and attention. Nice advertiser. Pat Pat Pat.

And when they are particularly nice, or particularly apt, or if I find myself weeping with laughter - I tend to hang a post on it. It's not pandering, I do that to any link that does that to me. And already, I've found several web-comics and other sites it would never have occurred to me to look for and which I would never have stumbled across in my usual daily patterns.

By the by, I've found I'm not the only one who seems to use Project Wonderful this way. I will often put together a little ad and scattershot it across the membership. Often there are empty slots that will be filled with a bid of zero cents! This way, I find people who would not ordinarily read my blog, and it's a great way to build a readership base.

Me, I'd prefer running a freebie to the default "your ad here" appearing, so it's good for me as an advertiser as well.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Go home, the Party's over.

Conservatives Anger with GOP May Be Party's Downfall -
"54 percent of conservatives feel so abandoned by the current crop of Congressional leaders and President Bush that they plan to reduce their contributions and/or grassroots work for GOP candidates in the next election. And 70 percent would support a principled conservative challenger running against an established incumbent Republican in a GOP primary.

'Conservatives feel betrayed by the Republican leaders, and they want them replaced,' said Richard A. Viguerie, chairman of, which sponsored the survey."
Wall, ain't that special?

l am unsure which aspect of this is more ironic; but it seems to me that the situation amounts to an agreement between old Cons and old southern racists that they have been played.


The Conservative approach to problems is one that leverages (and assumes) social and emotional intelligenceand is all about avoiding unintended consequences. Almost always, the devil you know is better than the devil you don't.

But there is no political or social philosophy that can survive massive willful stupidity and policies that depend upon deception. Conservatism requires a degree of honesty and a degree of humility that Liberals need not have. Indeed, a degree of arrogance and presumption could even be argued to be Liberal virtues. In the purest sense, of course.

There is reason that the most respected thinkers use both Conservative and Liberal principles in their reasoning. Liberal thought biases toward the "Thesis"; It is about idea generation. Conservative thought biases toward the "antithesis"; the "Negative Case." Blowing holes in ideas.

Both are required to interact in order to get too a workable synthesis. A synthesis is an idea that has been tested and found to be workable.

The current situation arose because Neocons are not Conservative. They have an affirmative presumption, even wrote it down. Its called the Project For A New American Century, and it is an impressively ambitious scheme.

"And then, Pinky, we take over the world!"

Only a true Liberal could assume such a madcap scheme would work.
Only a collection of fools and liars could think they could depend on so many lies being believed, much less produce any predictable outcome.

The only reason that Bush has any support at all is that the chaos he has unleashed creates so many opportunities for theft and looting. This is kinda like getting an endorsement from the Gambinos.

All these years our "Conservative" and "Christian" leadership have been exploiting our benefit of the doubt. Its proper and reasonable to assume competence and good will on the part of our Leaders, even or even especially when we disagree here and there. This is because the average Conservative assumes they are probably not as smart, well-educated or informed as the President. I mean, really, one should be able to assume that!

But results speak louder than words. That is a very Conservative aphorism. The results so far can be pleasing to no-one of a Conservative bent: I can think of few times in history when there have been more sudden changes for the worse for more people; and with nothing much to show for it. So, as a good Libertarian fiscal Conservative I must ask. "what's in this for me, or any other ordinary Citizen?" I am unsurprised that others wonder the same.

Now; when you have had eight years of Conservative promises leading to either the complete opposite or some even worse result, It's probable that a lot of folks will "Vote For Change" in hope that at least they can anticipate what charge will occur.

I anticipate Obama.

I hope that will be a good outcome, but it's the just outcome. The Republican party has earned a sharp rebuke.

It has become so corrupt that no honest man or woman can find a place within it and if they should, they will soon be driven forth by the patronage appointees, grifters, Robber Barons and religious fanatics who are now the Base.

Far too base for me, or any honorable person.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Kathleen Siedel v. Clifford Shoemaker: The court should sell tickets.

I wish I could link to a design that directly benefits either Kathleen or her long-suffering pro-bono council, who really should not have to put up with crap like this. That's a hint, by the way. I'd do it pro-bono.

But it's all been well worthwhile, I think; if nothing else, it's establishing just how stupid the people wasting all our time are - and how stupidly they persist in trying to demonstrate that they are NOT stupid!

My wife refers to this as being stereotypical of sorts of Special Needs students. Not the mentally retarded, but rather those with about an 80 IQ; those who know that it's important to look smart, try very hard to mimic the forms, processes and intellectual formulas of smart people - and dull enough to think that the facade they present is indistinguishable from actual intelligence.

Anyway, a brief recap. First, the Shoemaker Slappoena was tersely quashed.

From the United States District Court for the District of New Hampshire, Case No. 1:08-mc-00013-JM:

ENDORSED ORDER granting MOTION to Quash Subpoena.

Text of Order: “Granted. Attorney Clifford Shoemaker is ordered to show cause within 10 days why he should not be sanctioned under Fed R Civ P 11 – see Fed R Civ P 45(a)(2)(B) which requires that a deposition subpoena be issued from the court in which the deposition is to occur and Fed R Civ P 45 (c)(1) commanding counsel to avoid burdensome subpoenas. A failure to appear will result in notification of Mr Shoemaker’s conduct to the Presiding Judge in the Eastern District of Virginia.”

So Ordered by Magistrate Judge James R. Muirhead.
(Entered: 04/21/2008)

Order (.pdf format)

It's probably unwise to attempt to read emotions into it - especially for me, considering my Spectrum Membership - but the terseness and choice of wording would suggest no particular effort to preserve Shoemaker's dignity before the Court - or any other court. Shoemaker has apparently ignored the order to show cause; speculation being that in his absence, the court may assume bad faith and issue financial sanctions while, were he to appear in court under oath his attempts to explain could well lead to disbarment.

Meanwhile, Sykes v. Bayer itself, the given reason for the overweening and over broad subpoena has been dismissed with prejudice.

So you would think that would be the end of the matter. But this is not occurring within the land of common sense or even within the meaningful bounds of Common Law. We have now been led past the Swiftian Cloud-Cookoo Land and into The Realm of The Whackadoodles. Alas, Swift himself never discovered this land, because he had no internet access.

You see, apparently Shoemaker believes (or is willing to allege before a court in hopes of finding a particularly credulous judge) that Kathleen Siedel the leader, or at least part of of some Vast Autistic-Scientific Conspiracy that exists for the sole purpose of depriving him and other anti-vax professional crusaders, researchers and "expert witnesses" of their due and just income. They have actually gone to this well before.

Kathleen dryly summarizes the current state of Shoemakerean Thought, before executing an Onion-Worthy hyperlink-Fisking of the various pleadings.

Elements that should be of particular interest to the online community include these assertions:

• that a single individual (in this case, my “principal co-conspirator” and husband of 25 years, Dave Seidel) can exert covert control over Wikipedia;

• that principled, non-violent criticism, advocacy, and sustained focus on complex, controversial topics should be legally defined as criminal harassment by those who object to one’s opinions;

• that skill at using Internet search engines, publicly-available databases and other information sources should render one legally vulnerable to invasive scrutiny by hostile parties;

• and that the only writers who should be entitled to benefit from the reporter’s privilege are those who ask no pointed questions, express no personal opinions, and reveal no embarrassing information about the subjects of their inquiry.

You really have to read through this with your cursor hovering over the links.

I pick one at more or less random - there are pages and pages, all Pure Comedy Gold.

From the section entitled:

Response of Clifford J. Shoemaker, by John F. McHugh, His Attorney, to the Order to Show Cause Dated April 21, 2008

5. Faced with the specific harassment of witnesses and parties to this lawsuit, by a person utilizing investigative ability well in excess of that available to the mother and housewife she claims to be, justifies inquiry as to whether any of her support and information originates with this defendant or its affiliates, employees or industry organizations is legitimate. There is circumstantial evidence of a link between these activities, i.e. Ms. Seidel’s fixation on this case and her apparent easy access to hard to obtain information about the parties and the witnesses. If a party to litigation is engaged in intimidation of witnesses, the court, in which that case is proceeding, has an urgent interest.
All of this is of course helped by the sheer absurdity and presumption of the arguments - eg, we learn from the section titled Declaration of Lisa Sykes that it is somehow a tortuous harm to bring attention of a factual and serious financial conflict of interest to a person's employer, in that it may negatively impact one's employment, or one's ability to successfully pursue said financial conflict of interest.

16. Ms. Seidel’s commentary against all these faith-based efforts followed the filing of this action in Pennsylvania. It had the effect of impugning me to those in my denomination with oversight for my conduct of my ministry. She also insinuated that I have misused my pastoral office in a far-fetched attempt, which she asserts I mischaracterized as a “valiant search for justice,” to manipulate my denomination for the specific purpose of bilking pharmaceutical companies of millions of dollars:

Rev. Sykes has represented her campaign as a struggle between good and evil, a valiant crusade to protect the most vulnerable individuals in society from heartless, indefensible baby poisoners, a battle against dark forces responsible for perpetrating heinous crimes against humanity and stealing from children “the future that God intends for them.” The situation is not so simple as that. The current litigation-inspired “vaccine safety” crusade is also a for-profit enterprise in which Rev. Sykes and her colleagues have a significant financial stake. That stake — as well as the full range of arguments and evidence relevant to the “vaccine safety” debate — should be fully disclosed to all persons invited to consider her arguments, the evidence she presents to support them, and the “experts” upon whom she relies.

17. Not only does Ms. Seidel accuse me of withholding information from my superiors about the lawsuit, a charge which is patently false, but she also grandly suggests that my Bishop, the Women’s Division, and others have improperly discharged their offices by supporting my efforts to make vaccines safer:

• Does the United Methodist Church and Women’s Division require that its leadership and staff disclose conflicts of interest with respect to their church-related responsibilities?

• Have either Rev. Sykes or Kelly Kerns ever fully disclosed the extent of their involvement in vaccine-injury litigation to the congregations, Methodist colleagues and superiors to whom they appealed for support of their “vaccine safety” campaign? Was Women’s Division executive Julie Taylor aware of Rev. Sykes’ status as plaintiff in a twenty million dollar product liability lawsuit, or aware of the size of her legal team, when she planned and announced the upcoming “educational event,” described families who subscribe to unproven theories of autism causation as “marginalized,” and characterized their efforts as a “search for truth” and “questioning”?…

• Did Rev. Sykes disclose to the United Methodist Church and Women’s Division the fact that the “team of researchers” who spoke at their press conference are all consultants to plaintiffs in vaccine-injury litigation, and that their claims and methods are accorded little credence within the medical and scientific community? Did Bishop Kammerer exercise due diligence prior to committing church resources to support Rev. Sykes’ campaign, and prior to using the authority of her position to lend credibility to and create media opportunities for Rev. Sykes’ expert witness associates?

18. Ms. Seidel’s efforts have damaged me personally, as intended. Recently, the senior pastor at the church to which I am currently appointed by my Bishop, suggested to me that the congregation might not request my reappointment for the following year, as some congregation members had taken exception to my advocacy work on the issue of mercury. In addition, a new member of the church who heard that I was in an upcoming PBS documentary on the issue, walked into my office some weeks ago, and said, “There are some really mean things about you on the Internet.” I would wager that these members have searched the internet and read Ms. Seidel’s posts, as the church publicity on my advocacy work has only affirmed me in my efforts.

I mean, folks, as completely unintentional humor goes, it doesn't get any better than this. But then we realize that it actually does! Not only did these persons choose to say things such as this aloud, in public, before God and Everyone, but each statement is followed by this legally required boilerplate.

"I declare this 12th day of May at Richmond Virginia, under penalty of perjury that the foregoing is true to the best of my knowledge and belief.


Oh, honey. I believe you. I really do!



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