Tag Archives: cancer

Project Truth: SPUC off

Is going swimming in natural water (that is, in a river or a lake or the sea, not a swimming-pool) a particularly dangerous thing to do? Between 2008-2010, 160 people died of drowning in natural water.

We don’t think of pregnancy as being a particularly dangerous undertaking in the UK. But between 2008-2010 147 people died of their pregnancy and/or childbirth.

(Between 2006-2008, 261 people died of “causes directly or indirectly related to their pregnancies”: the mortality rate for pregnancy in the UK 2006-2008 was 11.39 per 100,000 maternities and still declining.)

Pregnancy may be regarded as about as dangerous as going for a swim in open water. Most healthy adults who go for a swim in natural water survive the experience – even if they accidentally fall in. Nothing would justify pushing someone into deep water without knowing or caring if they could swim: not even if they survived. Anyone offered the experience of a swim in natural water should have a right to say “no thanks”, or to change their mind and go back to shore. Any organised swim across open water ought to include rescue boats to pull people aboard if they change their minds, for any reason or none.

Most people in Scotland agree: the same applies to pregnancy. Even if most healthy adults could survive a forced pregnancy, nothing would justify pushing a girl or a woman to have a baby against her will, her conscience, or her judgement. And anyone can decide for herself that her pregnancy needs to be terminated: no one should be denied rescue from an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy.
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Filed under Healthcare, Human Rights, Poverty, Women

Evolution of bullying

Michael Gove has approved three Creationist-run state-funded “free schools”: Exemplar-Newark Business academy, Grindon Hall, and Sevenoaks Christian school. All three schools promise unblushingly that they will teach Creationism / Intelligent Design in RE, and stick to the facts in science classes.

However, Grindon Hall has a policy document on its website that says just the opposite:

However, we vigorously challenge the unscientific certainty often claimed by scientists surrounding the so-called “Big Bang” and origins generally.

We believe that no scientific theory provides – or ever will provide – a satisfactory explanation of origins, i.e. why the world appeared, and how nothing became something in the first place.

We will teach evolution as an established scientific principle, as far as it goes.
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House MD: Everybody Dies, Everybody Lies

I’ve watched episodes of Casualty and M*A*S*H and Nurse Jackie and even ER, but I’d never say I was a fan of medical dramas.

But I have just watched the final very last no there’s not going to be any more episodes of House MD – season 8, episode 22, “Everybody Dies” … and yes, I have now seen every single one of the 178 episodes, probably 134 hours total (in fact, probably more like 400 hours, since I own a boxed set from earlier in the run and the episodes are always repeating on Sky).

“I don’t feel he was my character; he’s not like me, or I’m not like him, but I do love him. I think it’s part of an actor’s responsibility to love the character you play, and I found him endlessly unpredictable and funny and self-loathing and unhappy. I was attracted to and moved by his unhappiness, and by unhappiness in general. Unhappiness is an unfinished state; happy people don’t need our help.” – Hugh Laurie on Greg House

House was a jerk. A “medical genius“, whatever that means, but a jerk. While TV Tropes has him down as bigoted, I’m fairly sure we never actually found out if House was bigoted or just enjoyed saying the most infuriating thing possible to all of the people he met.

Spoilers under the cut. Continue reading

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Megrahi and the Lockerbie bombing

In December 1988, I was living in a single room in a two hundred year old block of flats in Edinburgh that looked every year of its age. I was a student: I didn’t own a TV: and my only access to the Internet was via the university’s mainframe and terminals, and on the night of 21st December, I was on my Christmas break. The Lockerbie bombing was headlines in the papers next day, and for some time after that, and the source of the question airline staff are required to ask: “Did you pack your luggage yourself? Did anyone give you anything to carry?”

Lockerbie is a small town in Dumfries and Galloway, 74 miles from Edinburgh by car: the fastest way to get there by train is via Manchester. The Lockerbie Creamery has been making cheese and butter for more than fifty years, but ever since 1988 whenever I see “Lockerbie”, even on the wrapping of a dairy product, I think bombing, plane crash, death.

Three years after the Lockerbie bombing, I heard two men had been indicted (by the then-Lord Advocate, Peter Fraser: Baron, QC, and briefly a Conservative MP) and over eleven years later, the Scottish court set up in the Netherlands. A special reminder has been added to Scottish jury duty notices ever since, warning potential jurors that in principle they can be asked to serve in Scots courts anywhere in the world. Just over twelve years and one month after the Lockerbie bombing, one of the men indicted was convicted, 31st January 2001, over 11 years ago: Megrahi went to jail in Inverclyde, sentenced for life.

But for most of that time, there has been an awful niggling doubt as to whether Megrahi was actually guilty. Continue reading

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Filed under American, Human Rights, Justice, Scottish Politics

He’ll hold his nose.

One unamed “loyal senior Lib Dem MP” said: “I’ll hold my nose and vote for it [the NHS bill].”

That’s nice for him, whoever he is. He’s probably rich enough that he thinks he can do without the NHS. Perhaps he even thinks he can leave enough money for his children that they’ll always be able to afford private healthcare.

I read in Cake and Morphine’s blog a few days ago a hopeful assumption that if Tory MPs had only experienced the kind of shattering “lifestyle choice” of devastating illness or injury, they wouldn’t have voted in the Welfare Reform Bill.

But two or three years ago, Iain Duncan Smith’s wife had cancer. IDS took six months off work to care for her (and claimed thousands from the taxpayer while he was doing so). David Cameron had a disabled child, but Cameron doesn’t give a damn about the disabled children of families who aren’t, like himself, wealthy enough not to care what’s the price of services. Continue reading

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