04 Dec 2013
In the interest of balance I just needed to mention this. Nigella Lawson is apparently in court today. I’m not that interested in the story as it seems rather horrible to look at someone’s married life breaking down so publicly. Anyway the Guardian, yes the Guardian, of all places sees fit to include the following line in its coverage:
“Lawson, dressed entirely in black apart from a white collar on her shirt, said:”…
There’s been a very lurid and unpleasant news story doing the rounds this week. In bald terms it sounds absolutely horrendous – so it’s perfect tabloid fodder then.
There’s a woman. She was pregnant. A “secret” family court agreed that medics could then require a c-section on her and then take her baby away. Orwellian nightmare! So says the judge who insists on the state’s agents explaining themselves.
And it is pretty horrible.
But the real oddity is the way the story was reported. It all seems to be about the faceless bureaucrats merciless stealing a woman’s baby, helped by evil medics doing the state’s dirty work. And, reading that link’s comments, this is how people are reading it. Even Liberty seem to say that this is all horrible and they’re the bastions of uber-PC nonsense and protecting scum [/irony], so it must be bad.
On first thought though it does seem a trifle overblown.
Firstly the medics can’t force treatment on someone unless they’re detained under the mental health act. So clearly there are at least some mental health issues in the story. This is quite an extreme response so I’m guess that the mental health issues are quite extreme. Indeed the last line in that linked story says
“Essex children’s services said a health trust had applied for the forced caesarean after telling social workers it had concerns over risks to the health of mother and baby. It said Italian courts had been made aware of the case and ‘social workers liaised extensively with the extended family”.
That sounds very thorough. No doubt the county court weighed the evidence and came down on the side of the county. Of course there can be errors but to contemplate actions like forced c-section I can’t believe they didn’t have some pretty urgent and valid reasons.
The judge asking them to explain themselves isn’t news – it’s what judges do – that’s what going to court is about.
And Liberty didn’t say it WAS horrible they said
“At first blush this is dystopian science fiction unworthy of a democracy like ours. “
Hardly the same thing. In fact it’s pretty much what I’m saying now. Sounds horrible but without the back story (which we rightly won’t get the full details of) it’s impossible to know.
And of course the flip side of this story could perhaps have ended up with a story along the lines of
“Schizo woman kills unborn baby after social services fail to intervene. Sack those responsible for failing to protect this child.”
28 Sep 2013
The IPCC report on Climate Change came out. Frankly we should be bloody scared about what it says because if we don’t get our backsides into gear and actually do something it’s going to be terrible. Start with intensifying storms and increased frequency and severity of natural disasters to acidification of the oceans (leading to the devastation of aquatic life as the smallest things at the bottom of the pyramid starve hence everything else will), to raising sea levels, to potentially major extinctions (some experts currently believe we’re in a mass extinction event now). Bloody hell!
What’s depressing about the whole thing…. well how many things are depressing? I’m not talking about potential outcomes, I’m talking about how it’s being discussed in the media.
The first thing is that huge numbers of normal folk seem to think that it’s all overblown. Is it? Possibly. My opening paragraph will be read by some as hysterical nonsense. Well that’s just a description of the outcome if the bods doing the science are right – the only questions there are “how soon” and “what can we do to stop it”.
And then the “facts” keep changing. Do they? Yes well inconveniently the surface temperature hasn’t risen much since 1998 – hah, caught you. AND the arctic ice sheet has expanded this summer, hah again! OK well 1998 was a massively hot outlier caused by a known climate phenomenon so picking that is like saying “computers aren’t getting any faster ‘cos the US had a supercomputer back in 1998 and my desk top isn’t that fast even now”. And this is the hottest decade on record, and the one before that was, at the time, the hottest on record, and the one before that was the hottest on record etc etc… And the arctic ice did expand – to the 6th lowest level ever recorded. Ah but what about the antarctic sea ice – that’s expanded hasn’t it, they cry. Yes, yes it has. In area. Volume however hasn’t, and major ice shelves are breaking apart like never before. What’s so depressing about this tack is that every single one of the objections has been answered but people don’t want to hear it so they parrot basic unthought through facts as if they’ve landed a stinging blow to those who’ve spent years actually looking at the details. No matter how many times they’re rebuffed they’ll keep parrotting nonsense until someone they’re talking to hasn’t heard the rebuttals and then they’ll both nod sagely and think how wonderfully clever they are seeing something that thousands of profs and PhDs haven’t seen (or refuse to see ‘cos they’re only it for the moolah of course).
So yes, apparently the scientists involved are only in it for their “lucrative jobs”. But apparently the known funders of the denialist campaigns are oil magnates aren’t in it to keep their somehwat immense profits. If you’re looking at funding then surely the billions profit to the oil companies far outstrips the probably less than £100k salaries of the very top scientists (and certainly dwarfs the salaries of the post grads and such – UCL’s website suggests top qualified lecturers get around £40k after many years of work). Do people really think that scientists earn immense amounts of money? Really?
And then it’s all about tax isn’t it. Oh yes those sneaky governments just wanting to find ways to tax us more. What an utterly pathetic argument. That’s right yes the government just wants us to have less money that’s right. Why? Because they do. Oh yes I forgot governments just want lots of money, no doubt so they can spend it on subsiding food and drink at the houses of parliament eh?
Such a depressing thought that I share air with such imbeciles.
So on one side we have a body set up by the UN, presided over by a multinational panel of experts in their topic looking at thousands of research papers, answering every single question put to them by the governments of the UN, yes every question no matter how banal or how often asked before, and kicking out a paper that has to be agreed on by the signatories – no mean feat in science (apparently scientists aren’t easily herded sheep unlike the masses). On the other the fat bloke down t’pub says it’s all bollocks cos he read an article that questions it written by a journalist with no more knowledge of science than a bleedin’ slug. And what good did scientists ever do anyway, with their frankenfoods and bombs and that?
Who are you going to listen to? The level of certainty shown in the report is the same that says “smoking causes lung cancer and heart disease” and “HIV leads to AIDS” – there are denialists who think those things aren’t true too but they’re routinely looked down on and laughed at – because that’s what they deserve.
I’m sure it’s comforting to repeat the mantra “It’s not happening, it’s not happening” to yourself over and over as you slowly crouch into a foetal position as the consequences become clearer and clearer over time. But that’s really not helpful.
We’re an inventive species – we can sort this, or at least have a bloody good go. What benefit is it to NOT do something? Well you’ll save some of that extra tax no doubt. You pathetic moron, you have evolved intelligence, bloody use it.
22 Jul 2013
Please please please don’t read this entry’s title as “Yes THE Prime Minister is right again” – I wouldn’t dream of such a hideous thought.
I learned a lot from the tv show “Yes Prime Minister”. One of the most useful things it taught me was the logical fallacy of:
“All dogs have 4 legs. My cat has 4 legs. Therefore my cat is a dog.”
or in other terms:
“Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”
I have seen this happen so many times and it seems to be the inevitable result of a media led government.
And what’s the most influential newspaper? Yes, sadly it’s the Mail. They have a massive hypocrisy thing going on where they’ll berate some for their lascivious ways but somehow their own website, which is chock full of scantily clad “celebs” and more shockingly, celebs’ daughters, many under 18, looking “all grown up” in their scanties.
Back in the ’80′s it was “video nasties” – they successfully canvassed for the most draconian fillum censorship in the western world for that one – not only do fillums and videos have to be “classified” and/or censored but they even got a quango set up that censors and vets the bloody video box covers. In recent years the classification board has gone searching for public input and the stuff we
can see are allowed to see now is far stronger than the vast majority of stuff that got banned way back in the 80′s. Oddly the serious violence statistics haven’t sky-rocketed. Could that possibly be because, ooh I don’t know, we’re all adults and don’t need a nanny telling us what we are allowed to see?
Now it seems the baddy is the internet. We must save the children.
OK so am I now backing the pornographers and the exploiters of women, children and whatever? Not really no. I am concerned that, once filters are set up it’s a short hop from “opt in” to “not allowed”. It also won’t take much tinkering to add a few other search terms to the banned list – maybe “demonstration” or “riot” or “sit in” will be banned next after all we don’t want too many people getting involved in direct action – we know best and we’ll keep them ignorant.
In other areas of life the Mail is banging on about how too much government is bad for us – they want lower taxes and fewer public services as a case in point. But somehow when it comes to parents being in charge they feel that we’re not up to the job and it needs government action to “help” us.
Frankly if someone’s giving their children unfettered access to the seedier side of the internet they should be done for child abuse or at least neglect.
Can anyone argue that it’s NOT the parent’s responsibility to keep their children safe? (That’s assuming there’s any evidence that viewing “damaging” material is in any way materially damaging) . Somehow we’re expected to keep them safe in every other way but not when they’re on the computer? Really? How pathetic some parents must be.
I propose a referendum:
Question: Do you adults wish to be treated like adults? Yes or No?
How about the government start treating us like adults? Chance would be a fine thing.
Further problems with the system occur – my mobile provider has an opt-in system in which they ban certain websites that are flagged by visitors to them or picked up via search algorithms. One of these is a daily diary written by a comedian I like. It’s entirely written IE no pictures – there’s no porn, there’s no threat to anyone BUT the language used isn’t suitable for use in a family newspaper – to read this site I would have to phone up my provider and ask them to unblock the “adult” filter – thus opening me up to the entire seedy side they’re stopping at their end. Nice unintended consequence there.
Maybe this website would be blocked under the proposals because there’s an occasional category A swear word.
And depressingly nothing will change – there are many and varied ways to subvert filters – many developed by techies in places like Saudi Arabia and China (wow aren’t we doing well – copying the practices or those 2 places just as any good free democracy should) – some of which are now untappable and impossible to decrypt. What next? Ban all those systems? It would stop political dissenters keeping their anonymity but that’s a small price to pay for “keeping our children (read “your children) safe”.
So I say again – “Something must be done. This is something. Therefore we must do it.”
Depressing to realise that “something” in this case is a clear nod to publicity (that no sane opposition wanting to be popular would oppose) is a vacuous nonsense that does nothing but push the dodgier users on to untraceable systems thus putting them further out of reach than they seem to be now.
Edit: A tory putting my case (or part of it) rather eloquently here
12 Apr 2013
The call is “austerity”. We mustn’t spend more than we need.
Apparently this doesn’t hold when an elderly lady dies. Whatever your views on this particular old lady it does seem odd that someone who championed the view that public money shouldn’t be spent when private money could do the job is going to be buried at huge public cost. Where’s the bidding process for the lowest priced contractor? She’d be horrified.
Not only that but the blinking parliament was recalled. For what? That process in itself was costly as MPs get money back for cancelled plans and travel and housing costs. I read the Mail yesterday. They were complaining that around 150 Labour MPs didn’t show up to eulogise their sainted Baroness. In any other circumstance MPs refusing to show up for a pointless session thus saving quite a decent whack of money would be lauded by them as making a stand against wasteful government.
Why does parliament get recalled anyway? Previous recalls involved discussions about mobilising to war (Gulf war, Bosnia, Falklands) or discussions about how to deal with terrorist attacks (WTC and Ulster). The only one I can find where it was recalled for someone dying was the late Queen Mother. And I’d argue that this was pointless and wasteful too.
Nothing like a whopping great dose of hypocrisy from both the government and their spokesrag.
10 Apr 2013
There seem to be 2 news stories of note at present.
- Old lady dies of old age shock!
- North Korea – weak leader ramping up rhetoric to show strength.
The news I’ve read about Korea makes it obvious that the new guy is a puppet of the government/military and not the other way round. Apparently the NK soldiers love a good mobilisation to war as it means they get fed properly for a change. The military leaders get to check up on all their hardware and the leader gets to show his strength. A win-win-win for them. Sadly a weak leader isn’t what the area really needs. It’s a shame what’s happening in Burma isn’t also happening in NK. Maybe one day. But then again it could only happen after lots more deaths and violence. Sigh.
Edit: And back to point 1. I’ve noticed in both The Mail and The Telegraph that there seems to be an odd response to some of the people celebrating her death. namely that they include a large number of people who are too young to have lived much (or at all) under her premiership. Are these the same papers that constantly whinge about the youth of today not being interested in anything important such as politics? Which do they want? Too uninterested or too interested? Perhaps they’d prefer people to be “about the right amount interested”. I wonder if that amount is “have heard of politicians but not really sure who they are or what they stand for”. Very odd response to people knowing about, or at least having an interest in, recent history. I never lived under Churchill but I’ve got some idea of who he was and what happened under his leadership. But maybe the ToryMail thinks I shouldn’t have an opinion as I wasn’t around then.
29 Aug 2012
We’ve just seen the oddest ever article on local TV news.
There’s a surgeon (cardiac) doing a “course” for racing drivers. Well that’s how the segment started. OK, some thing about cardiovascular fitness no doubt? Not as far as we could tell.
They cut to a morning briefing at the hospital with an F3 driver sitting in. Then they show him in operating garb watching as this surgeon worked. At no point was there anything about what this surgeon was doing that was suppoed to help racing drivers.
We came to the conclusion that this surgeon (incidentally a Sikh gent – as all the local car freaks seem to be) just wanted to meet people with flashier cars than him.
22 Feb 2012
There was a health news story in the local rag yesterday. In short there’s young woman with paralysis via a non-physical cause. She’s been in hospital for ages both in the US and Nottingham and Leicester. The doctors can find no physical cause despite plenty of looking.
She’s in no acute danger so they quite reasonably wanted her to stop taking up a bed in the hospital. All good so far.
The hospital got to the point of asking for the best part of £300 a day if she continued to take up space unnecessarily. Still all good.
The bad seems to be that the family are outraged. Why?
When I worked in a hospital we had a bed-blocker whose son wouldn’t let her be discharged on the basis of “Well what if she falls again?” Well if that happens she either gets up and dusts herself off or comes back into hospital.
These people seem to want to use the hospital as a care home. That’s not what it’s for. The saddest thing is that this latest story should really be a non-story. All she’s doing is parading her mental health issues through the media which will likely have 2 effects.
1 is for other people to give unwarranted reinforcement to her delusion thus locking her in to it some more. And 2 is to allow plenty of us to say “£300? Is that all?” I found an Irish study that suggests a stay on a ward in Ireland would be about €850. A US study suggested an overnight stay in a Swiss hospital would be US$617 whereas one in the US would be around $3600.
I think £300 is pretty good value for unnecessary acute medical care.
Anyway here’s hoping she gets the help she needs. Best wishes.
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