Friday, 28 May 2010

The screens please Nurse

This year marks the centenary of the death of Florence Nightingale and 12 May was her birthday. She may well be regarded as the Mother of Army nursing having been dispatched to the war in Crimea after reports in the newspapers described the desperate lack of proper medical facilities for wounded British soldiers at the front. She had a vocation for nursing but her practical training was extremely limited; her forte was organisation and leadership. She was able to significantly improve conditions and her spell in the Crimea led to the formation of the Army Nursing Service in 1861.

From this came a number of military nursing organisations; the main one being the Queen Alexandra's Imperial Military Nursing Service. QAIMNS or the ‘Regular' military nursing service was formed in March 1902, as part of a general reorganisation of the Army Medical Services, and included many existing members of its forerunner, the Army Nursing Service, which had provided nurses for military hospitals since 1861. Despite a reluctance in some quarters to welcome female nurses into military hospitals, they proved themselves an asset, both for their nursing expertise, and for their skill in training orderlies of the Army Hospital Corps and later the Royal Army Medical Corps.

My maternal grandmother was a Matron in the QA. My wife was in the QA until I trapped her into marriage. Grandma Edwards was a fearsome figure originally from Southern Ireland. She was a Spiritualist at a time when that religion was fairly widespread and I am told she was a widely respected medium. She was quite spooky and there have been occasions when I have felt that she has reached out to me from wherever she may have gone after the last V2 to land in London put an end to her earthly existence.

The current generation of Army nurses are doing sterling work in Afghanistan. Due to disastrous decisions in the past, the QA and RAMC had been reduced and military hospitals closed and the majority of Army medical staff in Afghanistan are TA personnel serving away from their civilian hospitals.

So - a belated "Respects Ma'am" to Flo and those she inspired.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

Caution - idiot at the keyboard

After a few days of light depression, I feel quite perky this morning. I'm going to get a few things off my chest. May not be totally sensible but - so what. It is my time.

Firstly, The Times did a thing on creatures that live in our deepest oceans, One of them was this beastie. Quite a fearsome item to have crusing about
and look at those teeth! They seem designed merely to grab and stab with no sign of any front dentures to tear things apart or molars to crush its prey. And those eyes - what are they all about given that there is zero light that far down. Snakes have heat sensors to detect prey and to aim their strike so why has this fish not evolved to those instead of these big eyes?

Once again we are submerged in debt stories. Whole nations standing on the brink of extinction if one believes the pundits. I cannot believe this. We have seen what African nations do and it is most certainly not worry about their economy. So, it takes a wheel-barrow load of money to buy a loaf of bread. Solution to me is to revalue things - instead of having to carry half a million of Lubola notes, print half million notes. Easier to carry about.

I also fail to understand another element of this debt thing. Seems that everyone is owing money to another and at the same time is owed money by some other Nation or entity. OK - cancel all existing debts and set up a system that means each country has to live within its own assets. No lending. No borrowing. I read that X company has made Yea many millions and everyone applauds. Yet, no one ever asks who lost out here; Whose funds went down the Swanee and ended up elsewhere as profit?

Shareholders. I worked for a firm where the founder had got on his bike in Newcastle and rode down to London. This in the early 1830s. He was a plumber who did a bit of electrical work on the side. By the 1960s the firm he founded was one of the leading mechanical and electrical contractors in the country. We had some of the best tradesmen and design engineers that existed. Our projects were priced right and executed properly and we had none of the after-completion wrangling with sub-contractors that was a hallmark of our industry. But, all this brain and muscle power was subordinate to the benefits demanded by shareholders. They largely ruled what the CEO and directors did. Most of the shareholders didn't know the difference between a 13 amp plug and a bath plug. But they ruled the roost. Their loyalties were so strong that they were all for it when a major competitor came along and wanted to buy the company. Some two years later, the old ethos was expunged and we were no better than any other Tom, Dick or Harry contractor. So, get rid of shareholders. They hold paper acknowledging that way back someone gave Geordie Lad a quid or two. Right - give them that pound back, tear up the bit of paper and let companies be run by those with the knowledge and drive that made the company what it was.

Further puzzlement to this old feller comes from the question of Banks. We see that some went broke because of possibly buccaneering ways and avarice. Others had to bail them out. This all played a part in the general monetary cock-up. So - why do we need so many banks? We have a Bank of England that could well do all that is needed in terms of banking. I can see that there needs to be two sorts of bank. Mine - plain straight vanilla and no frills. It takes in money and pays it out. Alongside that establishment we have what I understand have been named Casino Banks. Bit shady. Dodgy dealings. They will take a set amount from my 'nice' bank and use it. Flash Harry makes a few quid and wants to buy a few flats for rent. He goes to the Casino Bank. They make a deal with him. Tailored especially for him - terms, repayments etc. - the whole shebang. If he goes tits up - his flats belong to the bank who are free to pursue him for anything not recovered. If the bank fails - tough on him and he gets to keep what he has and that is it.

Bonus payments. Another thing we hear too much about. Given as rewards for good work. Here we come back to my point that your profit is my loss. The argument made regarding bonus payments is that if not made, the individual will trot off elsewhere and we have to pay 'the going rate' Who sets and determines this going rate? Who? - other guys who get paid bonuses.

There is a very simple solution. Set a reasonable salary for those who might be in receipt of a bonus. Offer that. No bonus any more. If some - what I understand is termed as a Big Swinging Dick - demands more - tell him to get stuffed. If he threatens to walk, point out that all salaries are the same so he will not get more money or better terms elsewhere anyway. After some initial scurrying about as the rats all change ship, the BSDs will realise that they are in the same position as us salaried employees. Better paid but that is all. So - they are paid for performance and might not perform in the absence of a bonus? If they do not cut the mustard - point this out. Two interviews without biscuits later - sack em. Happens to us poor salaried slaves all the time.

Not a lot more today. The Two Ronnies have said they want greater involvement from the people in decision making. This can be done quite easily. Ant change or new idea is investigated by some existing commission or such like. They examine the whole thing. They ensure that all angles have been covered so we are not conned with half the facts as so often happens now. Then, they prepare a short - 15 minutes - TV report with the pro and con facts clearly detailed. After a short pause - maximum a week - we all vote. Each home will have a terminal if they do not have internet access. Using a PIN, we vote Yes or No. It is then the Government's job to facilitate anything new and approved or think again on anything rejected. We could even have the actual election run this way. As add-ons, there could be a regular 'What do you think of it so far' where we as the voters can rate our elected representative. Three strikes and he is out.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

My doggone

Just this side of heaven is a place called Rainbow Bridge. When an animal dies that has been especially close to someone here, that pet goes to Rainbow Bridge. There are meadows and hills for all of our special friends so they can run and play together. There is plenty of food, water and sunshine, and our friends are warm and comfortable.

All the animals who had been ill and old are restored to health and vigor. Those who were hurt or maimed are made whole and strong again, just as we remember them in our dreams of days and times gone by. The animals are happy and content, except for one small thing; they each miss someone very special to them, who had to be left behind.

They all run and play together, but the day comes when one suddenly stops and looks into the distance. Her bright eyes are intent. Her eager body quivers. Suddenly she begins to run from the group, flying over the green grass, her legs carrying her faster and faster.

You have been spotted, and when you and your special friend finally meet, you cling together in joyous reunion, never to be parted again. The happy kisses rain upon your face; your hands again caress the beloved head, and you look once more into the trusting eyes of your pet, so long gone from your life but never absent from your heart.

Then you cross Rainbow Bridge together....

She was always so good in responding to that whistle - it was not silent for her even four or five fields away. I keep blowing it now but she does not respond. One day - not just yet though - I will have to go and look for her.

Aged parent

What is it that causes people to act like this?
It is not as if the tube from my hearing aid is very visible. I do not smell of stale wee. My hand does not shake (very much) I have not inherited any of Prince Charles' cast offs that might make me look like an Edwardian politician.
Ah well - what cannot be ended has to be endured

Monday, 24 May 2010

Good men go bad!

I see that a defence group has been formed to protest the treatment afforded to a former service man. The basis of the case against the man are summarised "A former Royal Marine has been ordered to repay almost £90,000 which he made as a result of concealing criminal property. A judge at Carlisle Crown Court yesterday decided that Raymond Baty, 39, of Ambleside Airfield, Silloth, had benefited to the tune of £140,283.30 as a result of his crimes. He had been buying, selling and fixing cars for cash and made money which he didn’t declare to the Inland Revenue.
At an earlier hearing – when Baty was handed 100 hours’ community service – the court heard that police had found £24,235 in shoeboxes in his house.
Not all former booties get treated this was. A descendt of Long John Silver escaped punishment in one of these recovery of the proceeds of crime operations.
What is getting to me is the idea that former service means one is a paragon of virtue. There is a lot ho hoo hah elsewhere where a former Military Police officer is getting support on his seemingly corrupt trial purely because he has an MBE and 20 odd years of service. They can only say, "He was OK when I knew him" That is rather like Mrs Crippen saying "He was a nice guy when I married him"

Men of Honour

I have this impression that things are becoming undone in the aftermath of the reign of Aintworth and his mendacious cabal at MOD. Tonight, there is a BBC Panorama programme dealing with the death of a Staff Sergeant EOD specialist. His wife will be interviewed and is expected to tell her side of the story as to how her husband was treated. Christina Schmid said that Staff Sergeant Olaf Schmid was “flaking” with exhaustion on the day he died because of demands being made on him and his elite team due to staff shortages. Her fears that he and other bomb disposal experts have been let down by the Army were backed by Colonel Bob Seddon, Britain’s senior bomb disposal officer, who agreed that his team was under intense pressure.

In a television documentary made by Mrs Schmid, Colonel Seddon said that he was now “very concerned” about the toll being taken on his staff.
Then, today, we have the resignation of the officer who led the Unit. Could it be that he has, in those ominous terms, 'reconsidered his position'? Was it the alternative to the locked room, tot of whisky and the Mess revolver scenario? Senior officers who slip up get to retire; senior NCOs who slip up are killed.
The Army is known for getting on with the job without too much public bitching - public because they do little but moan when by themselves. I suppose the Legionnaires on the wall in those desperate winters did the same but remained true on post. Now, it seems that the senior Army staff are quick to address their concerns to the faceless ones and the Ministers but hold back off resignation. Some had more direct ways of dealing with armchair generals but in the case of Oz, death was too quick. Mrs Schmid will say "He told her that he was drained, leading her to believe that extreme fatigue may have played a part in his death.

Reading from his letters and recalling his phone calls home, Mrs Schmid says: “He basically said it was absolutely relentless — that they weren’t getting a break at all and that the amount of IEDs that he was doing, that he was asked to do, was just overwhelming. He was flaking at that point, saying, ‘I do need a break from this. I need to step back because I need to recharge’ and I don’t feel that he necessarily had that time.” Relaxation arising from the fact that it was his last device before leave may well have caused him to miss something or his exhausted state may have undermined all his training and experience. The pitcher went to the well one last time too often.

One would not really treat animals this way without RSPCA or PETA intervening. But, our political bosses have no idea what they are doing to fellow human beings. We have just seen a high-power delegation visit Afghanistan on a fact-finding and meet the troops mission. Why they seem unable to understand their briefs in UK is beyond me and I am sure that Beck's genuine visit gave 99.99% of the troops a much better feeling. Visits such as those of Hague, Fox and another used to be described as Seagull trips. They fly in, sh*t all over everything and fly out. The new boys are in what I call the Pro Patria party.

They see that death for one's country is a glorious thing. I happen to think that one contributes more by living and doing good deeds over a longer period and wider community. The real waste of lives, money and effort in Afghanistan comes from the petulant response of Afghan personalities and media to a remark made by Fox. the Defence Secretary, diplomatically prefaced his trip to Helmand by remarking: “We are not in Afghanistan for the sake of the education policy in a broken 13th-century country “. At last, a Cabinet Minister willing to tell it like it is. However, Dr Fox’s characterisation of the country was raised at a meeting with President Karzai on Saturday. The President expressed his deep displeasure at the remarks. A senior Afghan government source said "His view appears to be that Afghanistan has not changed since the 13th century and it implies that Afghanistan is a tribal and medieval society. Despite the sacrifices of British soldiers and the massive support of the British Government we do not feel that there is a mutual respect. His remarks show a lack of trust"

Fox had to issue a smoothing explanation but avoided the opportunity to say "Damn right". He was speaking of education and we have all seen just what happens to young girls denied education and women held back. Would that someone would say "If you don't want us her - fine. We will march to the airport tomorrow to the beat of martial music with flags and standards unfurled "
But no. I suspect that Schmid was not the first to be pushed that bit too far and he was certainly not the last.

Given what the Colonel now has to say, I would have had far more respect for him had he gone out with a bomb suit on whilst personally doing something practical to remove the strain instead of most probably putting on his demob suit and forming up in front of some security company's door.

Hag unpacks travel bag

The latest sting involving Fergie and access will pander nicely to the anti-Royalists. She as a (disgraced) ex and him as a member of Queen Inc.
His role is neatly defined here:
Over the past seven years he has become the royal family’s business champion, a role that has required him to travel the globe to help promote UK business and wherever possible to open doors that are not so accessible to others
The italics are mine but, to me, show that is is presented as a 'man with connections' Reminds me of the Mafia underworld slang - their version of a funny handshake - 'friend of mine: introduction of a third person who is not a member of the Family but who can be vouched for by a Family member'

Fergie - poor cow - was just selling what she saw Andy doing for free. Arranging introductions. Did we not just have another sting where MPs were shown offering the same facility? Andy's costs have attracted much comment - mainly at his life style and travel arrangements but the sale of SarahFork attracted some adverse comment. Ian Davidson, a Labour member of the Commons public accounts committee, questioned whether the prince was blinded by the opportunity to make a windfall profit.
“Possibly the work he does in Kazakhstan is to the benefit of Britain,” said Davidson. “But he has got to avoid giving the impression that he is for sale or at least for rent.”

I am not sure what to think of these NoW stings. We do not know all of the preamble prior to the denouement in the set-up suite. When I read of her offering a handshake with her old mate for £500,000, I get the phrase "There but for the grace of God go I"
I even doubt that this is any form of eclipse. She has had headlines before and moved on. Andy is obviously well protected against any allegation of wrong doing. They seem to have a good relationship when it comes to parental responsibilities towards the daughters of their couplings. Who knows? - he is not referred to as Randy Andy for no reason and she is what she is.

Playing dirty

The saga of the Gulf of Mexico continues. Perhaps this is a real demonstration of a Mexican Stand Off!
POTUS is getting more and more wound up at what he sees as the weakness of BP in dealing with the matter. He does not have any oil background so may lack the sort of approach needed to deal with the 'good ole boys' that Dubya will have learned at his father's knee. I only had about six years with a US oil company operating in the North Sea before someone made me a better offer but even in that time I learned that oil men are a separate breed. They come in two main flavours. The extremely well dressed, suave and polished sort and the rougher version who may have spent his time on the dirty and dangerous task of actually finding and gathering the black stuff. I found a sure way of classifying these colleagues - the man whose heart and soul was oil wore cowboy boots; even with his Savile Row suiting.
The requirement to push technology out to the outer rim of working blind at great depths engendered a spirit that was very much 'Can Do'. The niceties of the law were not of great consequence - if oil was found, one was almost a hero. The sums of money involved were enormous - much of it at high risk of being a total waste or irrecoverable loss. From my second-row seat, it seemed we had two groups. Those who got the oil out of the ground and those who found the money for them and kept a too officious Government at bay.
BP is in a good position right now. The markets are hitting them but that is just a gnat bite. They certainly have not deteriorated as fast as the cowboy banks did. When - and not if - it all comes down to the post mortem they will be in a position to say that they did all they could - who else has the expertise to gainsay them? The remainder of the industry will work on the basis that dog does not eat dog.
Obama is loud in his denunciations and threats - much like a drunk in a police cell. He is described as a lawyer but I seem to find him as a professor of law which is not the same thing when it comes to knowing what will work in a court and what will not fly.
The flood of condemnation and invective around BP is ultimately to their good. When the whole nation is against them, how can there be a fair an unbiased venue for any hearings or for trial should one result. Some of the protestations are so wild and the offered methods of dealing with the problem so Heath Robinson that they will be rich fodder for any BP advocate to thrown at some of the better evidence.
We are now hearing of suggestions that BP may be shoved aside and others invited to have a go. For sure, few who may have the same sort of expertise and equipment as BP will want to accept the chalice with so much dirt around the rim and step into what could turn out to be BP II - The Sequel. That leaves some Government agency that has engineers. The Armed Forces are fully engaged and more besides. This is not a task for the National Guard!
In the meantime, the oil continues to flow. A true example of what is meant by the phrase 24/7. It could be that we are already at the stage where massive loss is guaranteed - the killer lake is out there and is merely waiting for some trick of the wind to see where it desolates first. There is what seems to be a reliable article on the effects of such an oil spill. It contains a dread forecast: Florida's coastal ecosystems are particularly vulnerable to oil. Florida's seagrass beds, mangroves, and coral reefs provide shelter, habitat and breeding grounds for fish, shellfish, bivalves and many other species. If the oil impacts these habitats, not only will the seagrass, mangroves or coral reefs be impacted, but all of the other species that reside or depend on these ecosystems will also be impacted. According to research previously carried out on an oil spill in Panama, it was predicted that although seagrass beds may recover in a period of 1-2 years, mangrove ecosystems may take up to 50 years to recover, and coral reefs may take as long as 100 years or more to fully recover. Marine birds and sea turtles are two other types of marine species that can be heavily impacted by oil spills. So, the outcome is already desperate; it is only a matter of degree now.
Mankind has achieved much since that Big Bang or since crawling out of antediluvian slime - as your religion see it. Moon rockets, the creation of life itself without any of that nasty coupling, arts and sciences but it takes something such as this to realise just what a tiny dot we are in the scheme of things organised by whoever may be in charge of us all. I think God may really be a woman and what we ere seeing is the onset of her menopause. Those who have shared a home with a 'lady of a certain age' will know just how bad that can get.