Saturday, 19 November 2005

Well written? Phone 0800.....

I have always appreciated the grace and dignity of written English. The ability to express oneself is much to be valued. My years in the Army were under the cosh of officialdom where there was plenty of form but little style. This is not to say that the services encourage illiteracy; their staff writing has very serious style directives but is drawn to convey intentions and to report detailed fact rather than wander lonely as a cloud.
This explains why I enjoyed something in today’s Times Register amongst the obituaries. One of these concerned a Romany man who became a leader of the organised Gypsies. (It’s OK – the p.c. brigade cannot touch me - I used a capital G).
He was described as having an ‘impressive physical presence, softened by a touch of the dandy that emphasised his Romany heritage’. Having grown up in Essex where Gypsies were known for the purity of their breeding, I can see him before me. So well, almost, that I could have forecast the next comment. “S***h left his wife for a male friend, which led to some tactless criticism amongst traveller families in southeast England whose social tolerance lagged behind those of mainstream society”
There, is that not wonderful?

Friday, 18 November 2005

Common sense really

A good outlook

Having let you into the medical secrets of the day, can I just cheer you up with this forecast?

Have a nice day!

As today is Friday, I intend to have a theme for today’s blogging.

As an aged oxygen-thief and coffin-dodger, thoughts of health occupy most of my sentient hours. How I might improve it, is it worth the bother, where will it all end up.

So, some good and some bad. Let us start with the bad.

We have heard much about a bird flu epidemic and how it would be wise to remain in peak condition lest we start to develop feathers and wings. One of the things was a mass effort, all out, intensive, cost no object campaign to produce zillions of injections of tamiflu for mass distribution to all. OK – now read this little crumb of comfort.

U.S. probes deaths of children who took Tamiflu

WASHINGTON(Reuters) - U.S. regulators are studying the deaths of 12 children in Japan who took Roche AG's flu-fighting drug Tamiflu, officials said on Thursday, but they said it was difficult to tell whether the drug played a role in any of the cases.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said it was "concerning" that 32 psychiatric events, such as hallucinations and abnormal behavior, also had been reported in children who took Tamiflu, which is in high demand because it is considered to be one of the best defenses against avian flu in people.

So – whaderugonnado? I suspect there is little one can do. The government is certainly not going to waste all the drug they spent all that money on are they? It will be renamed. We will be told it is better than tamiflu. Get it down your neck.

OK – let’s balance that with something that might, loosely be termed as good. There is a pun in there that you should detect as you read on.

Daily dose of good bacteria cuts sick leave

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Workers who took a daily dose of beneficial bacteria, also known as probiotics, were much less likely to call in sick than their colleagues given a placebo, a new study from Sweden shows.

Probiotics are contained in yogurt and other fermented foods. They've been shown to have a number of positive health effects, helping, for example, to prevent gastrointestinal ills and to boost immune system function.

So, all one needs to do is spend idiotic amounts of

money on those stupid little bottles. From my experience, the people who had the real McCoy did not call in sick purely because they were closeted in the lavatory whilst foul smelling liquid flowed out of just about every orifice designed for one way traffic. The results of the battle between the ‘good’ bacteria and the ‘bad’ bacteria were such as those last seen on the Somme in World War One. Apparently, the rationale is that the ‘baddies’ are very powerful once ensconced in the gut and massive over-prescription of ‘goodies’ is needed to ensure they do not storm the stomach as some sort of Forlorn Hope.

Statins may delay effects of Alzheimer's -study

LONDON (Reuters) - Cholesterol-lowering drugs may help to delay the progression of Alzheimer's disease, the leading cause of dementia in the elderly, French scientists said on Thursday.

In a three-year study involving 342 Alzheimer's patients, they found that the illness did not develop as quickly in sufferers with high cholesterol levels who were given statins as in patients not taking the drugs.

Professor Florence Pasquier, of the University Hospital in Lille, France, said the drugs "may slow cognitive decline in Alzheimer's disease and have a neuroprotective effect."

Nearly 130 patients in the study had high cholesterol levels. About half were given statins while the remainder did not receive any treatment.

So – I might get to the final curtain with a clear idea of what is to happen to me and exactly how it will come about. Thanks God – I was kind of hoping I’d miss out on that degree of awareness.

Now, this final one is really the bees knees. These guys don’t care about bird flu, tamiflu, Delhi belly or Who the fcuk am I? I think it is a worthwhile enterprise. My only concern is that they might not let me nominate those who should be drafted into the movement with a view to cleaning up the gene pool.

VHEMT (pronounced vehement) is a movement not an organization. It's a movement advanced by people who care about life on planet Earth. We're not just a bunch of misanthropes and anti-social, Malthusian misfits, taking morbid delight whenever disaster strikes humans. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Voluntary human extinction is the humanitarian alternative to human disasters.

We don't carry on about how the human race has shown itself to be a greedy, amoral parasite on the once-healthy face of this planet. That type of negativity offers no solution to the inexorable horrors which human activity is causing.

Rather, The Movement presents an encouraging alternative to the callous exploitation and wholesale destruction of the Earth's ecology.

As VHEMT Volunteers know, the hopeful alternative to the extinction of millions of species of plants and animals is the voluntary extinction of one species: Homo sapiens... us.

Thursday, 17 November 2005

Way back when...

Our local paper republishes items from the archives.

This comes from fifty years ago:
A former rector of Berwickshire High School, Doctor D. S. I**** is receiving protests from parents against their boys taking part in the school swimming classes in the nude. The swimming master says it is the most hygienic way because wool from the costumes clogs up the pool filters.
And this is from a hundred years back:
Residents of our cities are familiar with the imposing vehicles reserved for the accommodation of transgressors of the law. In country districts a much more primitive means of transit is adopted. The good town of Coldstream boasts a humble two-wheeler drawn by a quadruped that may have been a frolicsome young colt something like twenty years ago. In its infrequent runs to Duns, this gaunt steed is driven by the policeman who has charge of the prisoner. But though the distance between the two places is ten miles and the intervening country is very sparsely populated, efforts of escape are seldom, if ever, made.
What a lovely picture this paints from 1905. The leisured style of writing, the words chosen seem so very dated in what is really not much more than my lifetime. As for the nude swimming! I cannot imagine that this was just fifty years back. All costumes were wool – no Speedo skin-tights then. I can remember the woollen shorts. They looked so very smart until getting wet when they drooped down like rhino skin. No matter where purchased, they all looked like they had been knitted by your mum. I doubt if the matter would be so easily disposed of today when one needs almost a licence from Interpol and certificate of approval from the World Health Organisation to come within 100 yards of a fully clothed juvenile. When I concentrate, I can remember that by 1955 I was quite an exponent of mixed bathing and skinny dipping at midnight. I doubt if we would have thought of the excuse about clogging filters had we been challenged.

Wednesday, 16 November 2005

Underpants and soldiers - saucy eh?

I see that David Davis’ wife has revealed that after 30 something years, the passion has gone out of her marriage. She says he still likes a cuddle though.
The fop Camerooon claims that he protects some of his vegetables by planting garlic around them. Just last week we were given the low-down on their preferences in the underwear department. Funny that I know this much – more than I care for – about them but find myself almost totally ignorant of what they are claiming to do for us when one or other of them gets eligible for a Leader of the Opposition pension. Not that it matters who will lead. Neither will have the opportunity to decide what the country does. In a way, I hope it is not Davies who wins. The thought of PM questions every week involving a statement about how he is the child of a single parent and grew up on a council estate is quite daunting.
The circles in which I move are getting quite het-up on the question of politically motivated courts-martial involving soldiers in Iraq. A senior officer has been warned for trial. Opinion seems to be divided between this being a serious case of political correctness where the Guardian-reading community are doing a mea-culpa over the war or just another example of T Bliar again selling the troops down the river in some holier-than-thou act of penitence. To the ordinary Tommy-in-the-trench it is no more than he expects after seeing the lack of support they feel exists. This time though, it is serious. The officers feel wronged. I think the government has nailed its colours to the mast by claiming that the decision to prosecute comes from a totally independent body free of all political influence. Yeah – watch out for effects of blue moon tonight. Some means will need to be found to escape this sackgasse which is leading to no good way out.

Tuesday, 15 November 2005

MRSA kills

There was a radio item this morning about a guy who claims that MRSA is far more widespread than has been admitted by the NHS. He sells MRSA cleaning kits and the general opinion of experts is that he is a con merchant.
Well John, that was interesting – not. Why bother us with the news and then deflate it by saying it was rubbish?
There was much talk about MRSA and cleaning standards. That struck a chord going back to some while ago when I was sitting around in a ward as a visitor. Yes – there was a cleaner operating in the ward. Yes – we had all treated our hands with some spray thing. However, the cleaning method was poorly devised or supervised. The operative had a mop which she fumbled around on the floor. The water used to rinse the mop was dirty. The mop left dirty or greasy smears on the lino. Items such as side cupboards, tables and desks were not moved and the mop was just run along the outline. There was no apparent cleaning of anything between the floor level and flat surfaces such as desktops. The moulded skirting board was not cleaned. There was no sign of any disinfectant.
I cannot understand the debate about proper cleaning. Even if the ward I saw had received attention to the deficiencies, I still would not regard it as ‘proper’ cleaning. I started mentally to draw up a specification for a cleaning contractor and it was quickly apparent we were really looking at a decontamination operation. After all, if it were possible to control MRSA with a Jiffy cloth and Mr Muscle, what is the problem? Even with a decent specification, there could be no guarantee that the standards were maintained by operatives. They would need special training and constant supervision. The Health & Safety people would get involved in protection for cleaners and would doubtless call for the wards to be emptied whilst the work was in progress.
Given the serious complications – not least death – that MRSA brings, it is surprising that the risk has not been better handled. Maybe there is a connection between the cost to achieve the proper standards and the government’s half-hearted response to the threat?

Monday, 14 November 2005

It was the big kids made me do it

I read (Daily Mail mainly) that someone ‘in government’ has suggested that the age of criminal responsibility be set at 16 years of age. It is currently 10 years and attempts are being made to raise it to 12. Just to set things in perspective, this means that the killers of Jamie Bulger would have escaped trial and punishment. In addition to the free-under-16 idea, there is mention that the majority of young offenders come from broken homes.
Home Office research this year showed that one in four boys between 10 and 17 are 'serious or prolific' offenders - a figure that suggests there are half a million boys engaged in burglary, robbery, drug dealing and other serious offences. The report said that a presumption that children are incapable of understanding right from wrong should run until the age of 16. "This would allow for the gradual and highly variable process of moral development in children," it said.
There should be 'normal immunity from prosecution' until 16. Instead, offenders should be dealt with through "family conferencing, restorative justice and youth offender panels".
Family conferencing means talking to an offender with his family; restorative justice involves the offender apologising to and making amends to the victim; and youth offender panels handle probation and rehabilitation schemes. Of course, one first has to get the little scrote to recognise and admit that he was even responsible for what happened. If he denies it, he cannot be put on trial to see if he is a wrongdoer.
Well now – isn’t that all very nice. Where is the ‘man’ who said they would be tough on crime and tough on the causes of crime? Some little sewer rate will get someone older to read the legislation to him and will be away as the Al Capone of the high-rise world. The police will encourage crime reports to reflect that the offender was a small wee bstard thus allowing them to lose interest as not much more than an interview with hyper-activity sticky drinks and Wagon Wheels will result.
I hold to the theory that some people are just evil. They are born evil and will die evil. Nothing that happens in between will cure them or deter or divert them from their wickedness. These Omen-kids will not be detected until they are sufficiently developed mentally and physically to be a real threat to us all. The idea that under-16s lack the capability to understand right from wrong is clearly fatuous. If need be, teach them by showing them what happens when they put their hand in the fire. Modern parents withdraw from many of the things they should teach their kids and this proposal will only encourage them more in this laziness.  

Sunday, 13 November 2005


Finally gave in and got myself an ID card.

Remember them

Out and about today, we saw numerous gatherings – large and small – for the Remembrance Day ceremonies. Duns had a large turn-out with the pipe band leading a parade of cadets, guides, brownies, cubs and Scouts and a goodly sprinkling of the Old & Bold. I think it is an important thing to keep going. Not just for those who will have sad memories but also for the young. Inevitably, the significance of the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month will die out. The wars of today are not the human mincing machines of yesteryear – never again, thank goodness, will the country have to deal with 15,000 lost before breakfast. Any human death is a disaster but there is not the same national impact even when we may lose six in one incident. So few today know what went on in The Great Wars. Many of those who bother to listen or find out will have the modern day attitude – “Why did they fight? I’d have just refused to go”. There are reports that as battalions were marching towards the trenches, they passed engineers digging vast pits. They asked what these were for and were told they were for the dead from the forthcoming battle. Just imagine your caring Sun reporting that sort of thing today!
I’m quite intrigued about the fuss over ex-Ambassador Meyers and his memoirs. It seems a little bit difficult to work out exactly what it is that has roused the politicians ire. He has revealed the way that ministers and civil servants relate to each other. Is anyone so amazed that they sometimes met under intimate circumstances? Is some important matter of state to wait whilst John Major adjusts his braces? The disclosures of this sort help to de-mystify politics. Background detail that turns the writing into something better than dull as ditchwater reiteration of facts.
Maybe it is his frank but unflattering remarks about the abilities or otherwise of politicians. So, are there many that think Prescott has the vocabulary and delivery of Noel Coward? Jack Straw was a blustering rabble-raiser as a student activist – what may have caused him to become a latter day Descartes? B Liar – of whom anything unflattering is believable.
My end-of-exam verdict is connected with Meyers status – Civil Servant. That bugbear of lower middle classes who get some authority – pas devant les servants? Don’t they know their place? We are the Masters.
Luckily for me, it is all academic. My attitude is that all politicians are neer-do-wells. It goes with the job. Falsehood, blustering, plotting and duplicity are required ‘talents’ in the murky world in which they crawl.