Archive for the ‘Website’ Category

Site is Back!

Wednesday, June 27th, 2012

Many apologies!

For those who don’t know, I’ve been running for the US Congress.�� I’ve been so ridiculously busy that when the site was taken down (due to my failure to update my credit card on the host) I didn’t notice for a week.� By the time I noticed, the host had deleted my files.�� Thankfully, I was able to restore them from backups which were made only four days before the site was taken down, so nothing was lost, except a few comments.

The reason it took so long is I had to manually rebuild the SQL database from the log files and that was rather involved.� Being so busy, I had been unable to set aside the few hours it took to do so.�� However, now I have and the site is back.

Sorry again for the service interuption!


Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

I’d like to make something clear:� No posts or opinions expressed here are bought.�� In fact, you can’t buy them because they’re not for sale.�� I’m willing to post guest content from time to time, but only if I consider it to be something I can stand behind.� Furthermore, it’s always labeled as such and attributed to the proper creator.

That is why I am so downright offended by this e-mail:

Subject: Guest editorial on


Could we purchase advertising on

We could pay you $195 for a guest editorial about my client’s site (http://www.NAME OF A MEDICAL PRODUCT and payment can be made by PayPal (or check delivered via FedEx US/Canada only).

I know time is valuable these days and I appreciate yours.

Marketing Assistant

Yep, that’s what I got. Of course, it had the actual name of the site and the name of the marketing assistant.

Obviously I did not actually accept this offer, but when I declined I was then responded to with another e-mail explaining that they understood that I was declining but then offering me $315 if I should happen to change my mind. Well, honestly, I could use $315, but not bad enough to take a blatant advertisement and pass it off as an editorial.

As for the site, it was not a blatantly quack-related site. It was basically a site about cosmetic surgery which would be used to find cosmetic surgeons in an area for those looking for cosmetic procedures. I suppose it could have been worked into this site and looked believable, perhaps by starting off by saying how some surgeons are quacks and then stating that people should go to this site for referrals to qualified ones.

However, if I did that, I’m not sure I could ever feel clean no matter how many showers I took.

So I must pose the question to any others who have blogs: Has anyone else ever gotten this kind of solicitation? Is this a common way of advertising?

Finally, I should add that while I’ve never actually published anything here for money and have no intention of it, I have to admit that it’s not impossible that I could be bought off – but it’s going to take a real real real lot of money.�� So I’ll give this warning: if ever you see an article posted here that seems questionable and the next article posted is about my personal experiences in shopping for a private jet, moving to a private island or becoming a space tourist, you may assume that I have sold out

Just When I Thought I Could Resume Posting…

Friday, August 26th, 2011

If you have been reading this blog for any period of time you have probably noticed that recently there have not been as many posts as normal. There’s a reason for this: I recently moved into a new place, and, as tends to be the case with moving, it’s turned out to be a bigger job than I thought. First it was signing the lease and finalizing the documents. Then it was moving stuff in. Then came putting up blinds, hanging pictures and rolling out rugs. After that I had to deal with the gas company, the cable company (who had to come twice because the junction box was in an area that required the building maintenance guy to access), and other service providers. Then I had to go change my address at the DMV, the bank, the insurance company and everyone else who had my address on file.

Finally, I have recently been feeling like most of the work with moving was over and I could get back to posting as often as I normally do.

Now this…

Hurricane Irene is predicted to arrive in my area early Sunday, although tropical storm force winds and heavy wind may be here by tomorrow (Saturday). All computer models and forecasts now predict a direct or near direct hit for my area (Southern Connecticut). By the time it gets here it will likely be a strong category 1 or possibly a category 2 storm. This will be the first hurricane to strike this area since Hurricane Bob in 1991.

I really do not expect anything catastrophic. I’m reasonably near the coast, but well above sea level and there are no dikes or pump stations required to keep my area dry. My building is well built of masonry and my family’s house is reasonably strong and sheltered. Everything is insured and there’s nothing too fragile outdoors.

Still, it’s likely that there will be power outages and some roads may be impassable. Internet is likely to be down (although I can get it by my wireless phone, as long as service is not interrupted). The ground is fairly saturated so flooding is highly likely. There’s always the chance that things could be worse than that.

Therefore, I’ll be spending the next day or so making various preparations for the possibility of extended power outages or other contingencies.

Thus, probably not so many posts for the next day and after that, we’ll see how things play out…

From Pipeline to Pump: Guest Post

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

Note:� I’m trying something new here.�� Thus far all the posts you’ve seen on this site have been written by me, Stephen Packard.��� Recently I got an email from someone interested in authoring a post on the production of gasoline.� He thought this site would be a good venue for such an essay.�� So here it is.

How it’s Made – From Pipeline to Pump

by, Jeremy Fordham


Post “Assessing Risks of Fukushima Workers” has been taken down

Friday, April 22nd, 2011

Only on rare occasions do I ever take down a post that I have made on this site. This is one of them.

While I continue to stand by the conclusion of the post, that workers at Fukushima face a small risk of increased cancer and that there is a low likelihood that any will die as a result, I had to reconsider the quality of the post.

Simply put: There was at least one�basic mathmatical error in it, and many of the estimates and numbers given were just too hazy.� Too many of the “best guesses” were not good enough and the avaliable data was too sparse to go very far with.��

Upon giving the issue more thought, I simply decided that the post was too speculative, too vague and not of a high enough quality to put out there, especially with the potential that it could be cited by others and spread information which may ultimatey be proven false.

I apologize to readers for publishing something that, upon better consideraton, probably should never have been published.� I have been quick to critisize the media for over-speculation in areas where there is not enough data avaliable.

That said, I hipe to have a similar post on the risks to Fukushima workers in the near future.� It will require substansially more research and consideration than the previous one.

Sorry, comments are not automatically entitled to respect

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Do you want your comments respected? Well then you better say something respectable, because here the policy is that your words can be used against you, your facts can be checked and your point of view can be debated. If it isn’t worth respecting it won’t be respected.

Many people are fine with that, they don’t mind defending their side when called to task. Not all are.

If you can’t stand the heat get out of the kitchen!

That said, once you bring the heat on yourself, that’s it. I own this site and if I like the fact that you made a fool of yourself, then it stands.

I say this because I received the following e-mail:

From: Abi Abbott
Subject: libelous comment

This is Dr Abigail Abbott

Please remove the libelous comment directed at me in regards to Jenny McCarthy/vaccination stream.

Depleted Cranium Blog Archive Jenny McCarthy Explains the

- 7:57pm
11 Apr 2008 You are Dr Abigail Abbott, an Australian Osteopath and as I suspected, a quack. You have no standing and no expertise

I engaged in this thread whilst under the naive impression that my opinions would be respected.

Well, Abigail Abbott, you’re more than welcome to respond to this comment and continue the discussion (although I’m not sure why you suddenly brought it up after three years). Or you can leave it alone. If you think you have been treated unfairly then you can follow up the comment with whatever refutation you like and readers will have the opportunity to decide whether or not to buy it.

The comments stay.

Sorry if your comment doesn’t show…

Friday, January 28th, 2011

Every once in a while a comment is flagged as spam despite not being spam. I try to check out the spam folder and correct comments that are flagged as spam when they should not be, but it can be hard, because the spam folder often contains dozens of comments.

It’s something I had not anticipated about blogging. Many of the spammed comments are simple bot-created advertisements for services and attempts to drive web traffic to various sites. Occasionally some will slip through, but by and large filters can catch these by collecting reports from around the web of the addresses and text used.

There’s another kind of spam that is much harder to deal with and causes the most headaches when it comes to misidentifying legitimate comments. A few people (well one especially) take it upon themselves to repeatedly send me email and comment on this website about their own warped beliefs in Nostradamus or their religion and their belief that I represent some kind of evil in the world. This can be a bit difficult to stop when the individual is constantly creating new email addresses, refreshing their IP address and skipping between ISP’s, proxy servers and locations to login to comment. The best way to deal with it is to block key phrases as well as IP ranges and common links, but it’s far from perfect and all too often it catches legitimate comments.

That said, it has proven important to block these comments because when these do eventually get through they seem to encourage the wacko who sends them to send even more.

Here’s just part of what my spam folder looks like:


Sorry, but ads are back

Wednesday, September 29th, 2010

Due in part to the economic times and the fact that I’m a bit under-employed, I am once again experimenting with advertisements. These ads will be only shown on the side or top or bottom of content and are placed in a manner designed to make them less obtrusive.

Since previous ads were basically generated by the ad broker and thus could be worse than useless, I’m trying a new approach. The ads now shown will be primarily for interesting products and services which have been selected because I think that they’re worthwhile and readers may actually like them. Note that I am not actually selling these products, but I do get some payment for the advertising of them.

Hopefully this will prove to be unobtrusive and will actually introduce s0me worthwhile products and services to check out and maybe even be useful and worth visiting.

In any case, the content of this site is still entirely independent and not in any way influenced by the ads that are shown.

A Rare Response (and admission) to A Removed Comment

Monday, September 20th, 2010

There are many sites that I have commented on that don’t let disagreeing comments stand.�� “Age of Autism” is one of the most notorious for removing comments that challenge the site’s stand on an issue.� They take comments down all the time.

Plenty of anti-nuclear sites also take down comments or just plain don’t allow them without approval.

The Website “Nuclear News” posted a story several days ago stating that the Bruce Power steam generators were posing a risk to the Great Lakes and described them as “dead reactors.”

I posted the following comment in response:

There are a number of major errors in this article. It’s not generally correct about the nature of the shipment or the items in question.

First of all, these are not “nuclear reactors.� They are steam generators. They’re the portion of the system that transfers heat from the coolant of the reactor to the fluid that drives the turbines.

They are also not “dead.� The power plant is still very much functioning and these steam generators do not represent a retirement of the reactors or the power plant. Rather, they’re the old steam generators that were upgraded to new models. These steam generators are original to the plant and are not replaced with new steam generators that have helped boost the energy output of the plant and extend its life.

So, it’s an upgrade, not a phase-out of any kind.

The old steam generators are being sent to Sweden for recycling. The metal is not actually radioactive, although there may be some minor surface residue, but since it was never exposed to the neutron flux, this is very minor and not really a hazard.

The only expense associated with this is just the fact that it is not cheap to ship a one hundred ton hulk to Europe. It’s an expensive proposition to just haul these to the docks, hoist the up and set them on ships and then send them on their way.

Really, though, the cost is not so bad. We’re talking about a massive upgrade project that has already cost more than six billion. It represents a major life extension and power increase for Bruce Station. This is a fairly small portion of the total project.

It’s not surprising that this comment was removed shortly after being posted.�� What is surprising is that I actually got an email about it!

I accept that the content is pretty much true.� I do note on your website that you do state that some radioactive content is there, though small.
I find it hard to believe that reputable people in the area are so worried, if there is nothing to worry about.
Perhaps these shipments are the precursor of worse ones?

Anyway, although I know that your comment is sensible – I’m not publishing it.� Why?
Well, it’s simply because, like the nuclear lobby – I am not fair.
Also the nuke lobby has funding for its campaign.� We have none.
I can’t afford to be fair-minded
Best wishes

Can’t afford to be fair minded?�� Geez, well that just about says it all!�� It reminds me a little of saying amongst lawyers, which goes something like “Be as honest and straight forward as possible when defending your client, unless, of course, they’re actually guilty.”

To put it another way, being fair minded is the way to go whenever the facts and reality are on your side.�� However, when they’re not, you absolutely can’t afford to be fair minded!

And for that matter, why was this put in a private communication?�� If you can’t defend your position publicly then, at least as far as I’m concerned, you have no place in advocating such positions.

This website does not censor comments, and as far as I’m concerned if you’re actually going to be based on reality, being “fair” should be number one.


TAM 8 Links from GESS

Saturday, July 17th, 2010

Back from The Amazing Meeting 8, which was indeed Amazing, I’ve found a pile of work to get to even as I get over the modest jetlag that traveling across three time zones will cause.�� Luckilly, I don’t have to describe the event all by myself because others have.�� Better still, my friends at the Greater Edmonton Skeptics Society (GESS) have put together a roundup of links from other blogs and news sites describing the amazing events of the Amazing Meeting!

Check it out here