Tuesday, 31 January 2012
Johan Viemmix has recently made a short video taking the piss out of the burqa. This garment is now illegal in Holland and his video features a T shirt that can instantly be transformed into a burqa. Unsurprisingly he has had death threats and there are calls for the video to be banned and suppressed. Well we can't have that now can we.
Monday, 30 January 2012
The scammers are back! If you spend even a short time each day surfing the web you will probably have seen ads for a slimming product promising to turn you from a lard eating pie bucket into a lithe slender sex bomb, just by taking their magic pills. If you click on the link to find out more the telltale signs of a scam are all there.
1, The site makes wild and implausible claims to appeal to the desperate and the gullible.
2, The web is saturated with sites promoting the product, often heavily supported by testimonials from satisfied customers. Some of these testimonials might even be genuine.
3, You find that the magic pills are in fact of two types and they only work in combination. So you have to buy both.
4, There is a special offer ending very soon giving you a free trial for just a few pounds.
5, You can only pay by credit card, and you are required to authorise regular deductions from your account.
6, It is difficult, if not impossible to actually contact, or get a response from the company by phone, post or email.
If you look at the list of ingredients there is nothing special. Just a few random substances, green tea, acai berries, inorganic chromate. What are these supposed to do exactly? There is not a jot of evidence that they can in any way help you lose body fat. If you really want to try them you can get them from a health shop far more cheaply, and waste much less money. And when you find they don’t work you don’t have to buy any more. There are already cases of people having signed up to this finding unexpected deductions from their credit card account.
Steer well clear. Don’t give these people your credit card details.
Saturday, 28 January 2012
The NHS reforms do have some supporters in the medical profession, as is seen in this article, warning of the dire consequences of the reforms not going ahead.
So who exactly are these people? The article reveals that the signers of the letter are mostly doctors who are already heavily involved in setting up the clinical commissioning groups, and who will be prominent in them once set up. In other words people with a very significant financial vested interest.
The letter has been organised by the “NHS Alliance” an organisation heavily promoting the reforms, but which has no formal or official standing whatsoever. A considerable proportion of it’s members are not doctors. And it, and some of it’s members are enthusiastic proponents of “complementary and alternative medicine”, that’s woo to you & me. One of the Alliance’s high ups is Dr Michael Dixon (OBE) who was president of the Princes Foundation for Integrated Health before it went tits up. Dr Dixon’s surgery is a centre for quack therapies.
I have no doubt Lansley will make the most of this support to claim major support within the medical profession, but in reality they are very much a splinter group, made up of self advancing doctors on the make, and a bunch of medically qualified quacks and loons.
If this is the only real support that Lansley can muster then I think he is on very shaky ground.
Friday, 27 January 2012
Wednesday, 25 January 2012
Monday, 23 January 2012
Despite the almost universal opposition across the medical profession now to the governments plans for the NHS, there remain a few ambitious sycophants who keep telling the government what they want to hear. Is it just me or is there a resemblance between these two.
In these days when ladies comprise at least 50% of medical school intakes it is often forgotten how dominated the profession was by males until surprisingly recently.
Today is the anniversary of the graduation of Elizabeth Blackwell from medical school, who, in 1859, was the first woman ever to appear on the British medical register. Unsurprisingly she encountered great difficulty in finding employment.
There is no doubt that the medical profession has come a long way in just 150 years in it’s attitude to women, but we should not be too smug. There is still a significant degree of entrenched conservatism in our profession and women are still grossly underrepresented in some specialities, particularly the surgical ones. More unjust is the chronic and persistent disproportion of women among CEA holders.
We still have a long way to go.
Wednesday, 18 January 2012
In one of my earliest posts I commented on the degree nursing course, and how I felt that nurses as a profession had been conned. That they had been so blinded by the status of a degree qualification that they had had the financial tables turned on them completely. In pre degree days nursing was taught in parallel with ward work, for which they received a salary, albeit small. But now they are considered students, and have to pay out for their course like any other student. The reality of this was brought home to me this week in, of all places, Tescos.
As I was at the checkout I got chatting to the young lady at the till, who told me she was a nurse in training, working at Tesco to fund her way through the course. The true reality of the situation stunned me, that she should have to do this. If she has to work to support herself why can’t she be employed on the wards, where she would get an income as well as valuable experience with hands on patient care. I came away feeling even more strongly that modern nurse training is a complete bag of shit.
And that realisation is starting, finally, to dawn on the nurses too.
Monday, 16 January 2012
Saturday, 14 January 2012
You have no doubt seen the recent shock horror reporting that bacon can increase your risk of pancreatic cancer by 20%. As is usual with these reports you give a much more dramatic and scary impression by quoting relative risk.
The absolute risk is about 13 cases per 100,000 of the population per year, which is pretty long odds, and an increase of 20% increases this risk to at most 16 per 100,000, or 1 in 6250. Hardly significant enough to justify the recommendation for lifestyle change.
If you really want to significantly reduce your risk by lifestyle changes you would do far better to stop smoking, slim down, and maintain good oral hygiene. Add to that only 25% of cases occur in the under 65s. Why do we set out to frighten people, and alter their lifestyle with so little justification?
Surprisingly there is little good evidence that alcohol is a risk factor. So I will have another pint and a bacon buttie then please, and file that research paper in the large black plastic bag where it belongs.
To my mind automatic electronic translators rank up there in the list of mankind’s greatest inventions. It is true that as yet they are imperfect and often give a poor translation, but think of this. Even if the message is imperfect it can usually be understood, which means that ordinary people across the world can now talk to each other.
The quality of translation will inevitably improve and give us an ability to communicate across distance and language barriers that boggle my mind. And with communication, hopefully comes understanding. The power of governments to restrict the information available to their citizens is already crumbling. We are at the dawn of a golden age.
Friday, 13 January 2012
Despite the fact that it has been on line since 2005 I, like many others I suspect, have only just heard of the Jesus & Mo cartoons. The reason I have now heard of it is the predictable offence that it has apparently caused, and the attempts to censor publications and other sites that wish to reproduce the cartoons. It should be restated. It is not illegal to express yourself in a manner that might cause offence. On the contrary, you have the hard legal right to do so. There is a petition for those who wish to support the exercising of this right.
The objections of those who insist on being offended has achieved another Streissand effect, and Jesus & Mo have attracted considerable publicity.
Here is a typical example.
Thursday, 12 January 2012
The ads for “Perfect Radiance” beauty products are back with a vengeance and anyone who surfs much will have seen them. They seem to be everywhere. They include supposed before and after pictures showing such remarkable improvements that they are literally unbelievable. Perhaps this is the real secret.
A while ago I posted commenting on some research that suggested a correlation between religious zealotry and low intelligence. I recently came across a news article that is a perfect illustration.
A would be assassin, an islamic fundamentalist, got close to his intended victim by hiding a quantity of explosives in his rectum and detonating them. The idiot got partly what he wanted, a martyrs death, but his own body took almost all the force of the explosion and the target escaped with a minor hand injury.
The intended victim is quoted as saying, “He surprised me by blowing himself up”
Wednesday, 11 January 2012
My earlier post today favourably comparing Grimsby over the Maldives was a little tongue in cheek, but in fact the more I read the more I actually think I would prefer Grimsby.
If your erotic interests veer more towards the look but don’t touch variety then bear in mind that bikinis are illegal in the maldives. In Grimsby however a sex shop that sold films that were not pornographic enough was fined for breach of trading standards rules.
Also, if Maldives follows the example of other islamic states even logging on to facebook could be risky.
The only thing the two places have in common is their low elevation above sea level. Grimsby is on the coast of billiard table flat Lincolnshire, and the highest point of Maldives is just 2.4 metres above the sea. No-one seems to give much thought to Grimsby but a great deal of teeth gnashing seems to be expressed over the possible loss of Maldives to the sea resulting from global warming induced rise in sea levels. Unfortunately that is another prediction that seems to be a load of bollocks.
It is that time of year when we all start thinking about booking our summer holidays, and start perusing the travel brochures, the greatest works of pure fiction since Gulliver’s travels. Thankfully these days with the internet we can get a more independent appraisal of our potential travel destination.
This year Mrs DZ fancies the look of the Maldives, described in the brochures as “paradise on earth”. And it does look very pretty.
But there are things the brochures don’t tell you. The Maldives is one of the most religiously intolerant, and repressive countries in the world, with serious human rights concerns. It is illegal to pursue any religion except islam, and even owning a bible is viewed dimly. This is unlikely to deter the average irreligious Brit on holiday but there are some things dearer to his heart that are also off the menu. Adultery is illegal and the punishment, for women at least is draconian. As usual in islamic states naughty boys can generally get away with sexual indiscretion.
The populace seems very much in favour of this approach and demands have been made to tighten up further by banning pork and alcohol completely.
The typical British holidaymaker has pretty strong ideas about what constitutes a good holiday. Ideas which strongly feature bacon sandwiches, cocktails by the pool, and perhaps a little illicit nookie. If that is your idea of a good holiday then be advised, you will have more fun in Grimsby.
Saturday, 7 January 2012
My understanding of the law is that stolen goods remain the property of the original owner, no matter what subsequently becomes of those goods. If I buy a TV on ebay and it then transpires that the seller had stolen it, I would have to surrender the TV back to the legal owner, regardless of the fact that I had paid for it, in good faith. I might even find myself prosecuted for “receiving stolen goods.”
It appears that this simple principal does not apply to political parties. In 2005 the Lib-dems accepted a donation of 2.4 million pounds from a certain Michael Brown. It was subsequently revealed that this money had been stolen, and Mr Brown has been sentenced to 8 years inside for the theft. Unfortunately he has skipped the country.
You would have thought that, in the spirit of the law the Lib-dems would have to give that money back to be returned to the rightful owners. You would be wrong. The electoral commission ruled in 2009 that the Lib-dems could keep the money as it had been accepted in good faith. One rule for us, an entirely different rule for them.
Wednesday, 4 January 2012
The Earl Howe amendment to the Health & Social Care Bill was announced, with perfect timing, just before the Christmas break. This is the amendment to allow English NHS Trusts to raise half their income from private practice. At present only 2% of their funds may be derived privately.
This raises a number of questions. Firstly many doctors choose not to engage in private work, for a variety of reasons, including moral objection. Are these doctors going to be forced, not only to treat, but to prioritise private patients? As an illustration, is a breast surgeon dedicated to cancer work going to find himself expected to do cosmetic work by his employer?
And what of the financial arrangements? If you look in your contract there is a clause forbidding consultants from doing private work in NHS committed sessions. This could be used to insist that you do this work as part of your NHS contract, for your basic NHS pay, while the Trust charges the patient or insurer premium rates for your work, and makes a profit on you.
The alternative is even worse. They could allow consultants to charge these private patients in the traditional manner. This would be hugely divisive. The almost complete unity of the profession in opposition to the bill would evaporate, as a considerable proportion would suddenly see great potential financial benefit, and switch sides. And we all know how much bitterness, backstabbing and conflict is caused by consultants competing for as big a slice of private pie as they can get their grasping paws on.
It is in the government’s interests to keep the consultants divided amongst themselves, and thereby weakened. Up until now they have achieved this by use of the clinical excellence award system, but the writing is on the wall for CEAs. Perhaps this amendment is deliberately intended to replace CEAs as the main dividing force among hospital consultants. Just like Bevan they intend to stuff (some of) our mouths with gold.
Sunday, 1 January 2012
DZ has been amused, and bemused by some of the absurd ritual practices of established religions for many years. The virtual cannibalism of catholic mass and starving yourself for no logical reason being just two. But today, January the first, apparently is Feast of the Circumcision day for many christians, even though christianity no longer practices ritual male genital mutilation. When I first heard of this I thought it was a joke, something you might read about in News Thump but no, it is quite real. I wonder if there is a tradition as to what is on the menu. Pork scratchings anyone?