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Off to TAM…or the Vegas in July open thread

Here we go again…

Yes, I’m off to The Amazing Meeting, a.k.a. TAM, where I’ll commune with a bunch of fellow skeptics, help do a workshop on science-based medicine, and participate in a panel discussion of so-called “complementary and alternative medicine.” Things have been so crazy the last couple of weeks that it turns out that I don’t have my talk completely finished, which means I’ll be doing what I frequently do for talks, scientific, skeptical, or otherwise: Putting the finishing touches on it during the flight there. Good thing it’s a four hour flight.

To those of you who are going, hopefully I’ll see you (or most of you) there, and maybe hoist a brew. For those who aren’t going, well, it’s not so bad. True, you’ll miss out on all that skeptic-y science goodness (not to mention the drunken arguments about various skeptical topics), but at least you can console yourself by remembering that you’re not in Las Vegas in July, whose climate this time of year can best be described as “blast furnace.” No, Orac is unlikely to be spending much time outside, although he might manage to hit the strip.

While I’m flying to Vegas today, I can’t help but note that there is an extreme disturbance in the antivaccine crankosphere. Yesterday, there was a meeting of the Interagency Autism Coordinating Committee (IACC), and the antivaccine cranks were there in force (well, as much force as they can manage), and now they’re ranting and making “demands” and complaining about the new members of the panel. Same as it ever was. On the other hand, I might just blog about this because it’s so emblematic. Perhaps the most amusing thing is the appearance of the Canary Party in bright yellow T-shirts with brain-meltingly unscientific slogans on them. They really don’t realize how ridiculous they looked.

And if that’s not as good a place as I can think of as a jumping off point for a pre-TAM open thread, I’ll have to post something better during TAM.

By Orac

Orac is the nom de blog of a humble surgeon/scientist who has an ego just big enough to delude himself that someone, somewhere might actually give a rodent's posterior about his copious verbal meanderings, but just barely small enough to admit to himself that few probably will. That surgeon is otherwise known as David Gorski.

That this particular surgeon has chosen his nom de blog based on a rather cranky and arrogant computer shaped like a clear box of blinking lights that he originally encountered when he became a fan of a 35 year old British SF television show whose special effects were renowned for their BBC/Doctor Who-style low budget look, but whose stories nonetheless resulted in some of the best, most innovative science fiction ever televised, should tell you nearly all that you need to know about Orac. (That, and the length of the preceding sentence.)

DISCLAIMER:: The various written meanderings here are the opinions of Orac and Orac alone, written on his own time. They should never be construed as representing the opinions of any other person or entity, especially Orac's cancer center, department of surgery, medical school, or university. Also note that Orac is nonpartisan; he is more than willing to criticize the statements of anyone, regardless of of political leanings, if that anyone advocates pseudoscience or quackery. Finally, medical commentary is not to be construed in any way as medical advice.

To contact Orac: [email protected]

114 replies on “Off to TAM…or the Vegas in July open thread”

The good folks at Thinking Person’s Guide to Autism were live-tweeting the meeting yesterday, with the hashtag #IACC. Some interesting descriptions of the comments from the anti-vaccine types.

Orac, enjoy your time at TAM! I would’ve gone, but a) I have no interest in Vegas, b) I have no interest in the heat, c) I can’t afford it (where the heck is my Filthy Pharma LucreTM?) and d) I have no interest in the heat.

@ lilady:

Seriously. The Rebel Alliance enacted a bit of guerilla theatre ( performance art?) involving tee shirts and ‘turning their back’ on the Secretary. Dan admits that a column in the room made the ‘statement’ hard to see. Supposedly, hotel security was warned that there might be a protest ( via Homeland Security, no less). He also describes speeches by the attendees ( Blaxill, Wright, Weisman, Larson, Holland and Jake) He promises more write-ups by them
I can hardly wait.

I ploughed through his entire article and that of EBCALA (probably Mary Holland)- nothing new here. More drivel on IACC @ TMR.

I will provide more useful information for TAM attendees later on. Las Vegas in July?

@ Autistic Lurker: Good for you…and I hope you get your comment through *moderation*.

@ Denice Walter: I’ll be offline for a while. Your interpretation of the drivel is on-point…again.

What floors me is the claim that one billion dollars has been spent on autism research with nothing to show for it. Can these people not read? Or do they just depend on their own to say what they want to hear?


They say that the research that’s been funded has been useless and doesn’t look at what “needs” to be looked at. In short, they don’t like what they hear, so they ignore it and call it waste. Remember, they already know all the answers.


Nothing to show for it is code for “hasn’t confirmed our devout belief that drug companies are responsible and therefor isn’t helping us get money from them”.

@Todd – sometimes, I feel a bit down about sharing my living space with a regular evening fog (that sometimes stays for the whole day when the mood strikes), but then we just road trip somewhere that has a real summer, and I’m glad we live where we do. I’ll take The Amazing Comfortable Night’s Sleep With The Windows Open, thanks.

Enjoy the conference! I don’t do any kind of things like that. Can’t afford the travel and don’t travel well usually to begin with. Will look forward to future insolence from the conference.

A well ventilated wide-brimmed hat, sunglasses, and a well iced piña colada to moderate clock frequency , will go a long way to protecting your circuitry .

lilady @ 9:59 am

Is it me,or are the posts over there getting harder and harder to read ?I could barely make sense of Olmstead’s semicoherent rant.I couldn’t stay too long,I can only stand so many pictures of that con artist Jenny McCarthy.

Is it interesting how both the antivaxers and ASAN are both opposed to genetic research?I know they each have different reasons,but since ASAN is pretty much made up entirely of college students,of roughly the same age as Master Jake,you can’t help but wonder how many grew up being fed the same line about vaccines.

So far, so good; I get schooled about the dictionnary meaning of “Combating autism act” and Jen tell me that I’m not the one they’re debatting for.


I hate Las Vegas.
I especially hate it in July: fortunately, my stay was limited to a 3 1/2 hour layover at the airport – however, 100 F at 11 pm, even if only experienced while on the jetway leaving the plane is, well… an experience.

Unfortunately, I had been bribed previously into visiting- twice- in more moderate seasons ( late autumn and early spring) and still found the climate parchingly dry and horribly sunny. Although I dutifully consumed litre upon litre of water/ iced tea, I still remained awfully dry. I do not gamble ( I already invest in various markets), didn’t like the shops and had time to while away when my host had dreadfully important meetings, so I escaped. Several times.

Yes, escape is indeed possible with a rental car- which are readily available. Although LV is truly ground zero for tawdry artificiality and mind-numbing pretense, it is located in a vast realm of seemingly empty nothingness.. the desert. LV itself sits astride route 15, my avenue of escape.

If you need to escape – or find something to do while your partner/ spouse is otherwise engaged @ TAM, I shall outline my own adventures, giving you a plan.

@Roger Kulp,

For the record, I’m not opposed to genetic research; it can provide clue on how we function and serve to answer many questions. I know that can end up in a pre-natal test and thus, combined with the number of article and general view of autism as a death sentence, many people would end up aborting the baby and for that, we have to blame a good part of the autism litterature for not being ethical wrt autistics individuals as opposed to the geneticist running genetic tests on autistics individuals.


Kelly M Bray:

If they show up throw birdseed at them.

I just came back from a cat vet appointment. She received her rabies vaccine. I chuckled with amusement that paperwork said the vector was “canarypox.”

The one time I DON’T copypasta my comment to a text file, WP eats the comment. Call the Waaaambulance.

1. My people are Alpine people. We don’t do heat, especially at night.

2. Hug Me I’m Vaccinated is the brainchild of the awesome skepchick Elyse Anders. It brings (free?) adult pertussis vaccination clinics to TAM and other conventions. This is an entirely volunteer organization and is worthy of your support. Search for “Hug Me I’m Vaccinated”; the donation button is on the front page.

3. For photographs of grown people wearing yellow t-shirts with pseudoscientific slogans, turning their backs to federal representatives, search for “canary party” “watch the iacc meeting where parents will call out”. It should be the first link; scroll down to the bottom of the page for the photographs.

4. Search for “jake crosby addresses corruption in the federal autism” for a video of Master Crosby’s whinge at the IACC meeting.

@ Liz Ditz

Here’s the link to the three Canary Party representatives at the IACC meeting:

Scroll on down to Jake’s statement…about the 6/60/600/6000 *degrees of separation* betwixt the IACC and the *Vaccine-Industrial Complex*.

Poor Jake, born with a silver spoon……

Escapes** from Vegas

I decided that I absolutely needed to cross the desert, rather like a latter day TE Lawrence or that family in The Grapes of Wrath albeit via a super highway in a modern air conditioned rental vehicle: armed hostilities and grinding poverty were also notoriously absent. If I did cross, I might actually see a bit of green and water.

Travelling SW on 15, I soon came to the California border and the outskirts of the Mojave Preserve. You might ask why anyone would endeavor to preserve so much nothingness- actually, it is a curiously intriguing nothingness- spare and empty vistas crisscrossed by jaggedy mountains ranges and ethereal dry lakes shimmering driftingly in the brutal sun. As you drive over the summit, you can see barrenness for miles and miles: more a moonscape than a landscape. In the far distance, the mountains take on a lavender cast whilst the nearby scrub grows a dull sage green and Joshua trees lift their arms skyward. Undulating hills are replaced by cinder domes, ancient volcanic reminders of a geologically interesting past. The Preserve is littered with the remains of tiny, abandoned towns and miner’s camps, rusting oil drums and other reminders of days gone by.

The sky itself is an almost frightening shade of turquoise, deepening to ultramarine. A few landmarks will be noticed: the gateway to Death Valley is flanked by mountains like palisades, an area of sparkling quartz crystalline sand, a giant thermometer at Baker. Desert-adapted plants range from cacti to willows and the ubiquitous Joshua trees.

Arriving at the oasis of Barstow, I find little to prolong my stay . Travelling eastward again, I stop before sunset to watch the glowering disk sink in the west while a line of cars’ backlights gleam a similar hue. all headed west. I have one last stop to make.

Near a sign for Cima, I turn off the main road and head into preternatural, primaeval darkness. I park the car and take a walk. It is moonless as velvety night descends, lit from within by millions of wheeling stars. There’s nothing like it: you have to go.

** if you try any adventures, first read up on supplies you’ll need for a trip: even though it’s a major highway, it’s a highway within a blast furnace.

Denise, it sounds beautiful. I haven’t traveled like that in years…

Are you going to post more?

@ Denice Walter…Been there, done that…at the “cheaper” Furnace Creek Ranch Motel…~ 15 years ago:

It was a fun roadie trip from Las Vegas. Just the ideal spot in February after a cold dreary winter. The food in the restaurant was barely *passable*…so we had dinners at the Furnace Creek Inn.

Orac, let me know if you want me to send my *lucky* T-Shirt…the one I wore when I scored $ 870 on the E-Bay penny slots at the Mohegan Sun Casino.

@ Mrs Woo:

I was there in late March ’02 and late November ’03; the stopover was in 2007. I will try to write about my solo flights which basically didn’t stray very far from route 15. I did take a peek at my photos before writing. I also made a few escapes wherein I served as both co-pilot and navigator that involved driving over much more difficult terrain and nearly unusable roads. But they did lead to lovlier oases.

I thought that people ar TAM might like to know what’s out there just beyond the horizon.

@ lilady:

I never actually went to Death Valley but saw the road that led there from 15: it looked impressively desolate. I basically stayed within the Preserve and then along the highway to Barstow. Memories of geology class were summoned up by the rock formations et al I viewed. Unfortunately, I saw little wildlife and very few people. While I usually prefer greener, misty environs, I found a quiet, restrained, harmonious beauty in the barren silence.

@Denice: I will look forward to hearing more. My grandfather had his license and flew – he was an engineer and did aerial photography and surveying. I never got a chance to fly with him, though; he had retired and lost his license for health reasons by then.

@ Mrs Woo:

My solo ‘flight”/ “co-pilot/ navigator” status involved rental cars: I was being metaphorical- although, with the distances involved, a plane might have been a better idea!
– however, you can travel at 70 mph on route 15.

Ah. I’m slightly disappointed – I would have loved to have had you fly and take pictures, though taking pictures on the ground is lovely as well. I really enjoy photography.

Still want to hear the stories. Right now I’m locking horns with Mr Woo on our vacation destination for August. I want to go where we always go; he insists that we should try new places because I might have missed something better. We go to a tiny little town in Shannon County, Missouri. It reminds me of the county seat in the county my father worked in when I was growing up, so there’s something about it that just really speaks to me.

I might sound kind of strange, but it’s hard to give up what I know I will love and what will make me feel at peace for something that may or may not be at least “just as good.”

I had a nice time with the Granite State Skeptics in the Pub this Monday, some of whom are at TAM.

So, Orac, if you happen to see Larian hangin’ round – say hi!

Death Valley is one of the most spectacular places there is, and the entrance through the Panamint Valley is remarkable. I would guess that it’s an example of the old aphorism that there’s no accounting for taste. As a native Angeleno and sometime desert rat, I’ve been to Death Valley in the summer back when cars didn’t all have air conditioners (mine didn’t). I camped out at Furnace Creek just by tossing a cover on top of a picnic table and sleeping on it. I think there might have been 4 or 5 people there in total. Since that time, the place has become a tourist destination, partly because it was photographed so beautifully and shown in the pages of Paris Match and other European publications. Ansell Adams also did remarkable photos. To me, going into the desert was like going back in time a hundred years. I could visit old ghost towns that might have one or two inhabitants, or none, or a surviving community of folks living in trailers.

I used to go out to places that were 60 miles from the paved road, without electricity or running water, and I had to carry everything I would need. And then you find a desert mountainside with a waterfall, and somewhere else a double rainbow from an isolated storm cloud on an otherwise crystal clear sunny day.

There are lots of other places besides Death Valley out there, some remarkably scenic and some rather dull. But I would suggest that viewing the Mojave area from an air conditioned car on an interstate highway is not the most optimal way of really knowing the desert. I will concede that it’s an incredibly large area considering that it is almost uninhabited by humans — I think this is something that Europeans can’t quite grasp for the most part, and folks in the northeast are usually unaware of the real size and grandeur.

I do agree though that anyone who intends to go offroad or even on some of the unpaved roads needs to understand that it is a special skill, analogous to scuba diving or mountain hiking, and you have to know what you are doing and carry the proper supplies.

Las Vegas is different.

I posted the quoted passage below to the first link above, its in moderation. Wonder if it will be published?

“1 in 166 Americans, or approximately 2 million people have ASD, yet your organisation with “tens of thousands of parents” (say 90,000 parents or 45,000 people with ASD, that is 2.25% of people with ASD) has more than 9% 0f the members of the committee, and you claim you are UNDER-REPRESENTED?”

@Autistic Lurker

Interesting how quickly someone tried to suggest you weren’t who you claimed you were.

I found this comment particularly disgusting:

“unless a disabled person is financially and physically independent they do not have moral right to refuse a cure or treatment. And they especially don’t have any right to sit on a panel that was created to COMBAT that disability. “

@ Todd
Would that mean that if one isn’t financially and physically independent, they might try every experimental treatment they think of?
And let us decide what way we will treat your disability?

It makes it very hard not to use the N-word they love to use.

I found a lot of their comments *interesting*. They themselves have a collective overwhelming sense of self-importance, within the autism community… and an overwhelming lack of empathy for anyone outside their circle.

@Todd – that is quite a horrifying position to take. If someone with a disability is a “burden” they should be forced to undergone whatever treatment or procedure that “might” remove them as a burden?

Who is going down the slippery slope now?

That is just sick, and once again confirms that AoA believes that autistics are “less than human.”

The comment floored me. In just two sentences (let alone the whole comment), there is so much wrong. I might write up a post about it later. In the meantime, I…ugh!

@ Bob G:

I also saw selected points of interest within the Preserve and have made other trips in and around it. Someone who had lived there gave me ideas about what to look for years before I ever got there.

My “escapes” described here involved an air-conditioned car and the highway because I was alone and had limited time. And I don’t do trekking or heavy duty hiking: I hate the clothes.

Escapes** from Vegas

During another trip when my tolerance of plastic and poor taste had reached its limits, I recalled some reading and maps I had already seen and decided I would head in the other direction on route 15: north and east.

The trip begins and traces of the surreal city vanish as miles and miles of open sky and open road beckon before you- you will see lumpy brown mountains in the east and cross Indian reservations, encountering a lone food shop and service station infrequently. Along the way, you’ll find another mini-mecca for gambling delights called Mesquite, Then you enter Arizona.

You drive directly through the canyon of the Virgin River in which rock walls line to the roadway: I imagined I had been transported far away- perhaps to Jordan or Afghanistan. A friend of mine had travelled overland from Turkey to India (just prior to the Iranian Revolution and the war following )taking photos and my photos would fit in right amongst her’s. Something about the desert calls up images and ideas from both testaments – Jewish and Christian- which, believe it or not, even have some resonance for an atheist like me, who comes a historically atheist/ agnostic family.

Aloneness, stillnesss, contemplation and wonder about the majesty of Nature and our own part within it. The deity isn’t the first thought that comes to mind for me but the processes that shaped the desert and its ecology ARE. It’s astounding to come across a particular rock formation/ structure that you had only previously seen in a geology book long ago or notice that the plants growing near the springs or creeks appear very different from those further away: water is precious to plants as well as people. While I searched in vain for a glimpe of the mountain sheep, I did manage to catch an image- forever in my memory- of wild horses, mostly black ones, running along a lower level of the canyon.

If you continue as I did, you will enter St George, Utah, in red rock country: the Mormons called the area “Dixie” after the South of the US, because of its warmer climate; some of their leaders went there to escape the harsher winter conditions at Salt Lake. Should you like, it’s not very far to Zion- a place of beauty which should be seen.

** remember, if you do any exploring by auto, be sure to have the appropriate supplies.

The one time I DON’T copypasta my comment to a text file, WP eats the comment.

If you’re using Firefox, the Greasemonkey Textarea Cache add-on can prove useful in this regard.

If you go to the Canary Party’s web site and scroll down to just past the t-shirt ads, you’ll find that they’re equipped with a “quotation” from Thomas Jefferson. I was suspicious of it — the language seemed too modern — so I looked it up, and it’s bogus. It’s sort of a paraphrase of something he did write, but decidedly enhanced for their purposes.

If this is an old observation, my apologies. I haven’t had as much time to read RI as I’d like, lately.

@Todd W.,

It didn’t took me by surprise having had a similar statement (and worse) said to me in real life; Ok I have to admit the guy who said that to me was a psychopath who also ruined my public reputation so much I had to change city for a time.


@Todd – food for thought. According to their rationale, all non-independent deaf people should be forced to get cochlar implants and blind people should be forced to get whatever experimental surgery to restore their sight, regardless of the consequences…..

Dig into the inhumanity of that single comment really floors me, even now after digesting it, the implications are truly frightening.

M@”Does focusing on access barriers rather than cure make a wheelchair user less of a stakeholder in discussions re physical disability?”

“From my taxpayer perspective the answer is No, they don’t have a right to be there. No one has the right to refuse a cure or a treatment that would make them less needy of state-sponsored services.”

I would much rather see my tax dollars going towards a CURE, I would rather be paying to ERADICATE autism than paying for your wheelchair access barrier and many millions of wheelchairs to come.

Yeah sure, I refused *treatments* for my *financially-dependent* son because I wanted him to stay in his wheelchair.

BTW, see the seething anger displayed by Jake Crosby during his testimony because, “he was nominated to the IACC” (and was not appointed).

My irony meter just exploded.

I guess it couldn’t imagine anyone less suited to be a member of the IACC than Jake either…

Wow, I just read the comments on that post at AoA. I find their perspective very strange – not just “Taxpayer” who seems utterly callous about all people with disabilities. What struck me about the comments by parents is that they have not come to grips with the fact that their children are disabled – they just don’t accept it that they are disabled. They are searching for a cure for something that doesn’t have a cure. I have a good friend who has a son with Down’s Syndrome, who is also an occupational therapist who works with very severely disabled children. Her son has learned a lot in his life (he graduated high school and is now working) and he continues to learn – she works very patiently with him on learning new skills. It takes him a long time but he is able to progress. She doesn’t have the attitude, as far as I can see, that she is searching for a “cure” for him – she begins with where he is, and does her best to bring him along a bit further.

How about an enthusiastic round of applause for A.L. who entered into the lion’s den and emerged unscathed! ( Not that I would really compare AoA commenters to lions- who are rather nice animals- all in all).

I notice that AoA has the videos available and I am so glad that this computer balks at playing videos ( the other is devoted to other tasks- I keep them separate for arcane reasons). About lilady’s characterisation of Jake’s reactions- would we expect anything less? He has grown up in an atmosphere that has contributed to his odd ideas – think about it: if you- or the people who raised you- believe in myths about governments, doctors and companies perversely harming children for profit and covering up their dastardly deeds- how angry would you- the victim- be? These unrealistic notions about how the world works and automatic dismissal of anyone who disagrees with your cherished party line will not help you win friends and influence people. He is painting himself into a corner.

I wonder how he finds the dating world?
Now I am just being evil.

I wonder how he finds the dating world?

In my case, I find it wonderful 🙂

I won’t say more because the persons I’m dating ask for some discretion.


Autism Lurker, you have held your own at AoA. I would say you deserve a committee seat on the IACC much more than Young Master Crosby.

I nominate “Autistic Lurker” And “Lawrence” for accolades from RI…for going into the viper’s nest (claps hands).

“@Lurker, you need to understand something since you are so “into” needing services. The services people like you need are for higher functioning people. My child and many others like her have Down Syndrome and Autism. Not one child I know with the dual diagnosis is high functioning. At least with just DS, there is a good chance for school, for friends, for jobs, etc. For kids with the dual dx, it is almost guaranteed that it won’t be the case. So while you may need some help, kids like mine (and the estimates are now anywhere from 18.2% to as much as 22% of the Down Syndrome population) will need MUCH, MUCH more. And it will be devastating if the rates increase in our population (and it is.)

Posted by: Julie Leonardo | July 11, 2012 at 10:35 PM ”

Who would have ever thought that a child diagnosed with Down Syndrome could also be diagnosed with ASD?

It must teh ebil vaccines!!!

@ A.L.:

I was merely being snide about Jake’s prospects- his parents obviously didn’t raise him to get along with other people like your own did.

My own late and lamented father used to tell me that I shouldn’t expect people I met to be ‘like us’ or think like us- not because we were so perfect but because we have some odd ideas and an interesting history- and that I should try to understand other points of view- years later I heard much about the topic when I studied developmental psych and counselling.

Best wishes to you.

@Denice Walter,

My parents did the best job they could with limited means (my father was a trucker and my mother a seamstress) and I had a good foundation upon which I built up but a good part of my development has been lately with the help of my two best friends, a manager working for the government and second, a woman which is dear to my heart and which taught me a lot about womans in general and recently, about baby (she is the mother of a 3 weeks old baby beside a 14 years old girl).


Autistic Lurker, you were brill over there.
I get BS like that said to my face about my son. Never mind that he rarely gets ill (vaccines might have something to do with that) and can’t use most public amenities that tax payers’ money is spent to maintain he is a burden on the state and we only sought a diagnosis to claim money from the state and to use the nice parking spaces. Never mind that DH and I both work and much of out money goes straight back into the economy buying special needs goods at their ridiculously inflated prices. Yep. Those comments got me angry…

In other news: went to my 1st Skeptics in the Pub and met Rhys Morgan – the young man who worked to get MMS banned in the UK. He did a great talk and I drank great gin.


Thanks for the comment, now you should check out the latest comment with Shain. It really snowballed over there at AoA (thinking of M too).


“BTW, see the seething anger displayed by Jake Crosby during his testimony because, “he was nominated to the IACC” (and was not appointed).”

Jake didn’t have the support of JB Handley, whose unrelenting praise of Sullivan’s knowledge was surely one reason Sullivan was selected.

@Autistic Lurker

Kudos to you for holding your own over there. I would comment there, but I was banned a while back for asking questions (though it took a few comments before the banhammer dropped). Instead, I wrote up my thoughts about Taxpayer’s comments over at my blog (address above). Good to see comments like yours, M’s and Shain’s getting through.

Escapes** from Vegas:
Vicarious Tourism for TAM Attendees

I though I’d sum up with brief accounts of escapes I made with a ‘hostage’, i.e. I bribed my cohort into accompaning me and doing some of the driving- once per visit. Both of these journeys involved overnight stays and cliff hanging motoring, so be forewarned.

Due south of Las Vegas, you need to access route 95 south- it’ll take you through desert country which can be very interesting if you know something about the vegetation; in the vicinity, there are a few odd liitle ‘towns’ worth a look: Nipton ( off the main road), Cal Nev Ari ( with an old timey airport) and Searchlight- the last two are on the highway. You’ll head east on ascending 163 to an oasis- Laughlin, more gambling, it’s true but it’s on the Colorado River, widened by a nearby dam and looks rather like a lake. I liked the water taxi- enlivened by a group of Native kids who enjoyed it even more than I did.

Nearby across the river is Needles, an old depot town with a movie set look. Crossing back again to Arizona, along route 66 are the remains of a mining town, now a semi-tourist trap ( Oatman) with wandering burros and a decent barroom: it is accessed by a dodgy excuse for a road where you might see deteriorating miners’ shacks and a column of quartz- which marked it as a likely source of precious metals- thus the miners arrived in droves.

My last escape is the jewell in the crown and the most difficult travel: we drove to Barstow and took 247 south to route 18 which scenically ascends into the San Bernadino Forest, crossing over progressively higher inclines and twisting spirals laughingly called state highways. Route 18 is called the “Rim of the World” for good reason- trust me on this. After passing through the most successful gold strike in So Cal ( Holcomb Valley), you enter pine forest and blessed relief from desert heat and dusty dryness- for you have entered the nirvanic environs of Big Bear Lake: a true oasis in the seemingly endless desert.. And the end of my tale.

** you know the drill: be prepared.

@Rebecca: What struck me about the comments by parents is that they have not come to grips with the fact that their children are disabled

You see that in the language they choose. Note how often they say “has autism” rather than “is autistic.”

@Denice – sounds beautiful. I might have to google some of the locations to look for images! Thank you.

@Ken – what an interesting difference. Having versus being…

So yesterday Emily Willingham published Is Autism an “Epidemic” or Are We Just Noticing More People Who Have It?

The flying monkeys have landed, including Dr. Jay, with his anecdata

Any pediatrician can tell you that there are just plain lots more kids with ASD than ever before and the condition–not just the diagnosis!–is becoming more common. The increase may have absolutely nothing to do with vaccines–the most controversial discussion–but it certainly has to do with environmental impact on genetic predisposition. To suggest otherwise ignores everything from CDC and NIH publications to common sense. Your article is truly disappointing and does a great disservice to children and families affected by autism spectrum disorder.

This is a formal invitation to come refute. Or write a rebuttal. Or refuttal, which is what I typed first.

@ Mrs Woo:

I appreciate your kind words. I thought the folks at TAM also needed to know what exists nearby (- all these distances are considered short by desert standards- what’s 200 miles anyway?)

And I leave you with the icing on the cake:
after miles of dust, dryness and dessication… on arriving at Big Bear, there was snow ( 7000′) and kids riding inflated tubes…

@ Ken:
Some people in the SMI community dislike calling someone a ‘schizophrenic’ and prefer instead ‘a person with or who has schixophrenia”- I’ve even read ” a person who experiences schizophrenia” See E. Fuller Torrey

@ Liz:
And probably a few will land right here @ RI!.

@ Liz Ditz: I’ve commented directly at Dr. Jay on Emily’s blog. Ren has already posted a few comments; mine is still “awaiting moderation”.

Go and post everyone, because the Dachel bot and her minions as well as Blackheart have posted.

In other news:

Jake harps and squawks while rankling on about that British blog and Mssrs Leitch and Carey. Interestingly, he reprints a note AoA received from the former which is obviously included in order to make Kev appear inappropriate however, its effect is entirely the opposite.

Jake never stops to think that the reason he is excluded from positions like the one he has coveted is BECAUSE of his writing- altho’ his echo chambre might applaud it, the rest of the world finds it off-putting and unrealistic.

I just attempted to post over at AoA regarding the tortured arguments they make against Matt Carey & his position on the IACC. Seemingly, because Left Brain / Right Brain is on a domain registered in the UK, that somehow invalidates Matt’s position……by that very same argument, I can say that Andrew Wakefield, as a British Citizen, has no standing to discuss autism issues in the United States.

Jake is relying on purely semantic argument & continues to expose his lack of any real ability to conduct himself as a professional.

Maybe, one of his pals at AoA will nominate Jake for a Nobel Prize:

Remember this bullshit artist?

Nobel Prize controversy

“During the (Terry) Schiavo hearings, Hammesfahr was criticized for saying he had been nominated for a Nobel Prize in medicine. He testified in 2002 that U.S. Representative Michael Bilirakis (R-FL) had nominated him. In 1999, Bilirakis had in fact written a letter to the Nobel Committee recommending Hammesfahr for the prize, but he was not eligible to make such a nomination. Furthermore, the letter erroneously referred to the nonexistent “Nobel Peace Prize In Medicine.” [3] Despite this, on March 21, 2005, during interviews about Schiavo on Fox News and MSNBC, Hammesfahr was billed as “nominated for the Nobel Prize” several times by hosts Sean Hannity and Joe Scarborough.[4] Pat Robertson also mistakenly introduced Hammesfahr on The 700 Club as a “Nobel Prize winner”.[5][6]”

(I’m stuck in moderation…but look up William Hammersfahr on Wikipedia, to see another bullshit artist who was “nominated” for a Nobel Prize)

I bet mama Nicole and daddy Giff are SO proud of little Jake…for wearing a clean shirt to the IACC…the “grunge” look is so not cool…especially for a speaker “from the G.W. University School of Public Health”.

@ Lawrence:

They’re showing your comment and GH addresses you as “Brian”..

AoA, like much of the material I survey, has become an in-advertent comedy gold mine.

I suggest you ‘mine’ it for whatever it’s worth.

I got Master Jake’s post this morning on my feedreader and it seem to me that they’re looking for lice where there is none.


GH goes on to balk that computer-hardware expert Carey’s main connection to autism is the blog – leaving out the fact that he is a parent of a child with autism- i.e. what so many of their cohort rely upon as a sacrosanct qualification for declaring expertise in autism science.

@Denise – too funny.

I don’t think my second post will go through – he is my response to Jake:

@Jake – you are the one harping on the “.uk” domain signature in the URL, not me.

“In other words, LBRB is still a British blog because its URL is still a UK domain name which remains under the ownership of UK citizen Kevin Leitch – until he gets around to sorting it out.

Weeks after Matt Carey was first criticized for his appointment to IACC here on Age of Autism, Carey announced to readers that Kev’s blog would be moving to the US-based blog host, WordPress. The reasons cited by Carey were primarily technical, and the blog also acquired a WordPress URL. What was never explained, however, was why the domain name remains a UK one. Typing in the WordPress URL brings you to the old UK domain name as soon as the site uploads.”

I understand that you are upset that you were rejected, despite your “stellar” qualifications – can you let us know what those are again, exactly?

You are the one waving the “straw man” flag by continuing to highlight the “foreign” nature of an internet domain, regardless of the now ubiquitous nature of the Internet.

Continually playing “six-degrees” to attempt to connect anyone you don’t like to some sort of giant conspiracy isn’t journalism, it isn’t research, and it isn’t helping the cause of getting the appropriate attention focused on autism.

It just makes you look crazy.

@ lilady:

Interesting developments in the comments at Jake’s most recent *Meisterwerk*. Wonder how long they’re allowed before they’re magickally erased?
Unfortunately, your truly’s presence is required at some sickeningly artsy festivities so I can’t hang around I have to prepare myself because appearance counts…

-btw- Lawrence started the ball rolling…

@ Lawrence:

Oh Lord! Now he’s really going to think you’re Brian.

@Denise- wow, someone is asleep at the switch over there. I never thought the first comment, much less the second one would get posted.

Who is Rueben Gaines? I like that guy!


Don’t you know? According to Jake’s long, ranting, raving email to my employers, Reuben is me. He didn’t get off it for a good three or four paragraphs. I had to show my employers who Reuben really was, violating one of my big rules about pseudonyms.

Jake’s evidence was that Reuben is an epidemiologist. By that logic, John Snow is me as well.


Any idea if that doctor Hammesfahr is tied up in scientology? He’s based out of Clearwater Florida, which is one red flag, and he has quacky ideas, like most scientology doctors.

Did the Terry Schiavo case have anything to do with scientology? The cult dominates everything in Clearwater, to the extent that non-scientologists are not even welcome in cult owned shops, restaurants and other local businesses.

Over 10% of the population of Clearwater is made up of scientologists. It’s creepy to see them all walk down the street in their identical clothing.

They own over 50 buildings in Clearwater and control a major vitamin company and other dubious health practices. Many chiropractors are scientologists too.

@ Ren: I’ve been having some fun with “Grandma” Marsha McClelland at the Ho-Po blog about Rob Schneider’s comments on California AB 2109. Grandma Marsha used to post on RI, until I ran her off. Twice, she accused me of being Orac. Finally another poster replied to Grandma, “I am Orac and lilady works for me”.

I had no *idea* about the contents of Jake’s letter to your employer. (I’d love to see the rest of the rant).

BTW Ren, most of the doctors and nurses that I know who have gone for their MPH degrees, took classes at night. A few fortunate people were able to cut back on their work hours and take day classes. I wonder how Jake is faring working/not working in a science field and able to still have time to attend class and show/stalk meetings?


I’d love to be able to publish it, but the powers that be will not release it to me because it was not addressed to me. They did, however, allow me to read it. It was the usual several degrees of separation rant that we’re used to from Jake. Apparently, I’m in all sorts of cahoots with Big Pharma, I am stalking him by writing about him online (though never have seen him in person), and he requests that I be removed from my position.

The joke is one everyone because they want to have it both ways. They wanted to put that letter in my employee file, but they couldn’t because I’d then have access to it. I could go through the trouble of filing a freedom of information request, but I’ve talked it over with legal counsel and we agreed it’s a waste of time to try to reason with Jake. (See, accusing someone of stalking without having any evidence is a very serious thing in the state of Maryland, as Jake has told us.)

As to how he has time… Well, think about it. He seems to come from a family privileged enough to allow him to study at a very expensive school (my bill from there is huge) and, seemingly, not have to hold down a full-time or meaningful job.

I feel sorry for him. I really do. Not being able to see the world for what it is and basing it solely on what people feed you must be a horrible way to live, in my humble opinion.


I’ve beendoing some reading and there are definitely connections to scientology in the Schiavo affair. The judge who presided, Greer, has longstanding connections to the cult and several scientology lawyers were involved. The county bar association meetings are held in a cult-owned hotel (that’s usually off-limits to outsiders) and the city has a very cozy relationship with scientology. There is even a rumour that Terri’s husband is a scientologist. Her gravestone contains a clue, and scientology’s own “tech” says that invalids or several disabled people are not worth keeping alive. They are low on the “tone scale” (so are homosexuals, by the way) and therefore must be eliminated to make room for more worthy humans.

Sorry to highjack the comments but as soon as I saw Clearwater I started wondering. I never knew the Schiavo case took place at scientology’s ground zero.

@ Ren: I know only too well, how it is, when you work for a government bureaucracy.

Poor Jake, doesn’t he know that if he graduates that he will be unemployable. Human Resources in the private AND public sectors always “Google” names of the people who apply for jobs.

Poor daughter, departed her suburban home for midtown NYC and was at her desk at a brokerage house before 8 AM, departed NYC for Hoboken NJ for her classes at Stevens Institute, then double-backed again through NYC, back to home. She aced her MS-Computer Technology program.

“‘In other words, LBRB is still a British blog because its URL is still a UK domain name which remains under the ownership of UK citizen Kevin Leitch'”

So is Whale actually a Tongan site, or does its ownership make it a UK one? I’m so confused.

@Narad – those people are lunatics. I own more than a few domain registrations, in different countries (for many different reasons) – it doesn’t mean a thing as far as businesses are concerned (or governments, for that matter – unless you are talking about taxes).

They keep using the word “logic” and in the famous words of “The Princess Bride, – you keep using that word, but I do not think it means what you think it means….”

They are being hilarious. That fractured logic would mean that Dr. Racaniello should not have been on the panel on H5N1 research because both of his websites are on non-US domains: and (the reason is that the domain names were already taken).

The funny thing is that the Tongans (of whom I am inordinately fond for reasons of music and general ferociousnous) actually were selling passports several years ago. I imagine Jake could make all sorts of hay involving Scudamore’s “true” citizenship.

Did I really just type “ferociousnous”? Mercy. My kingdom for a preview.


In the interests of hilarity, Here’s Marsha McClelland’s foray into RI.

Good grief. I had forgotten that particular infestation of batsh@t crazy loons.

That’s ok Krebiozen, you still have a reserved front row seat at the FSM’s Beer Volcanoes.

Okay Sauceress…Thanks for that trip down memory lane with Grandma Marsha. How did you locate that thread? I tried to find Marsha’s debut on RI and was unsuccessful.

Please, please give me a clue 🙂

I had a couple of her quotes (along with thread address) saved in a notepad file from back when the thread was running. It’s still in my “Antivaxx Quackery” folder. 🙂

That’s ok Krebiozen, you still have a reserved front row seat at the FSM’s Beer Volcanoes.

Yay! I don’t believe in the FSM, but that’s OK cuz she doesn’t believe in me either.

AJW’s very busy legal representaives will have more work before them because Brian Deer has submitted an amended declaration ( see his website).

My last post at AoA today – been in the mud for long enough…

@Zed – Just as those doctors “observed” the African American study participants slowly die of syphilis…..there is overwhelming evidence that vaccines are effective in preventing the spread of disease – to purposely without them in a double-blind study (as has been requested – here and elsewhere), is unethical.

The kind of population study you also ask for has been done – and the results were conclusive that vaccines were not related to an increase in autism diagnosis.

As to the “vindication” of Dr. John Walker Smith – the findings showed that he believed he was treating the children in the Wakefield Study & not part of the study itself. His lawyer also admitted in Court that the question of the MMR – Autism link was “settled,” meaning the results of the study were not in any way related to showing a vaccine-autism link.

In no way does what happened to Dr. JWS have a bearing on the overall judgement against Wakefield. His case was unrelated to the results of the study, since his defense was that he was only treating patients, not studying them. If that was truly the case – then it was right that he get his license back.

In the case of Wakefield, certainly truths remain:

1) Wakefield did not present a defense during the GMC proceedings.

2) Wakefield refused to appeal the ruling of the GMC findings.

3) Wakefield dropped his first defamation suit against Brian Deer & the BMJ – mind you, in a country where the libel laws are extremely plaintiff-friendly, resulting in his paying of all legal fees of the defendants.

4) Wakefield was given the opportunity to continue his research in England to replicate his original study – and he refused the offer.

5) Wakefield, before his 1998 Study, was paid a large sum of money by an English litigator who was in the process of suing over a link between the MMR & autism. This conflict was not disclosed until after the study had been published.

It was my sincere hope, that when Wakefield’s abuses were finally exposed, that the anti-vaccine community would “do the right thing” and disown him. Very much like I had hoped that the community here would rapidly disassociate itself from vile alternative autism treatments like Chemical Castration & MMS – Bleaching, which have not a single shred of Science that show that they help (or have any way to help) autistic children.

There are “bad actors” on both sides of the house. I get mad every time I see an abuse by the medical establishment – but at least there are mechanisms in place to both catch and punish those that break regulations, cause purposeful harm, etc – the system isn’t perfect, but it does work.

Unfortunately, there are few ways to deal with those that continue to push false hope and quack cures – they seem to be embraced even harder whenever their abuses are exposed (like Mercola & Null).

I hope, at least, that I’ve presented a rational point of view – perhaps one that has been stated before and rejected out of hand because it doesn’t fit into the AoA worldview – I won’t be changing any minds here, but I do hope that we can at least try to elevate the conversations around fact and Science, and not resort to mudslinging (and my writings regarding Wakefield above are not designed to smear, only relate the facts of the case) – so please, take them in the spirit with which I write them – not to denigrate or attack anyone here, you all have your viewpoints – which although I disagree heartily with, but please try to at least keep an open mind, that those that do not agree with you are not monsters, not in the pay of some giant conspiracy, and not trying to cause harm to anyone, either accidentally or on purpose.

We are all human – please try to treat each other as such. And with that, I do wish you all a great rest of the weekend and my kindest regards to both you and your families, friends, and others close to you.

@ Lawrence:

I count 7 of your comments allowed! An impressive achievement. Perhaps they let them pass through censorship because mod believes you might be BD- as if a person who is a writer couldn’t put up an adequate disguise and change voice – or that he just isn’t smart enough to drop his middle name. Unlikely.

You mention something I’ve noticed about alt med proselytisation: they keep on mentioning ‘bad actors’ in SBM continuously- as they do with governmental malfeasance and the media’s *faux pas*- because they want to dis-credit those who dis-credit their own crap. In fact, over the past year or so, both Null and Adams possibly spend more time – and waste more electrons- carping about the governmental-corporate- media cartel than they spend on health BECAUSE this garbage supports their other garbage. Yes, they are wise and honest ;leaders of men leading their followers to a better place. Plus political ambitions may be involved.

Your effort is truly sterling and deserves recognition
Woo hoo.

They let pass my last comment but didn’t answer it…

anyway, tomorrow, I have a road trip (which I just finished preparing) so I’ll wait ’till tomorrow night to see if there’s any activities over there and if not, I’ll call it quit.

Good night (those who are still up…)


I used to offer virtual cookies regularly in some forums. Of course, the offer was always started with “come to the dark side… ”

Surprising how many people wanted my cookies!

M O’B, I guess “tossed” works better. Apparently the newly automatically downloaded version of Firefox tossed out all of the previous cookies. I guess they did not agree with its preferred bits and bytes.

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