Monday, September 28, 2009

Medical Mafia

"Medical goods and services are immorally controlled by a monopolised profession which transfers the right of decision from the patient to the doctor."

Starting from here we could have a much more exciting criique of the British NHS.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Section 28

A few weeks ago I wrote to the British MP William Hague, lately Shadow Foreign Secretary. When he was Leader of the Opposition in Parliament I well remember the fun he had at Labour's (and Tony Blair's) expense in relation to the proposed repeal of Section 28 of the Local Government Act. This had been introduced by the Conservatives in 1988. Among other things it prohibited local councils from distributing any material, whether plays, leaflets, books, etc, that portrayed gay relationships as anything other than abnormal. Young William clearly thought that such a stand would be electorally popular.

More recently David Cameron, the present Tory leader and likely next Prime Minister has adopted a new approach. On Section 28 he now says "we (the Tories) got it wrong. I hope you can forgive us."

I wished to know from Mr Hague whether he is at one with his party leader in the fulness of this apology, and, if so, to seek a fuller account of the nature of the mistake he had made?

I have written again, repeating my request. I am still awaiting a reply.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Thai teacher caught on cellphone beating pupil

BANGKOK - A Thai teacher faces prosecution after cellphone footage showed him beating a pupil and slamming the boy's head into a whiteboard for forgetting his textbook, officials and reports said Tuesday.
The video, shown on local television stations, showed the male teacher at a privately-run Thai-Chinese secondary school in Bangkok grabbing the 12-year-old by his throat and hitting him around the head several times.

I have a question. What if the abuse was witnessed by other members of staff who had failed to follow procedures and report the assault they had seen? Would they too face disciplinary action? If so this is one clear advantage of cellphones.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Fair play

And just in case you are tempted to blame modern commercialism for the decline in standards of sportsmanship, The Times letters page contains this apt reference:

" . . . in book five of The Aeneid, during a running race, Virgil writes that Nisus “rose from the slime and threw himself in the path of Salius and knocked him head over heels” in order to allow his dear friend Euryalus to win. Even 2,000 years ago they were not averse to a bit of cheating in sport."

No pain, please!

Matthew Taylor finds in a new opinion poll evidence that voters still don't accept that they have to share in the pain.

How about this for a judgement on this Christian country of ours:

Ours is a society in which millions volunteer, donate to charities or adhere to religious or secular creeds advocating selflessness, but the message of our poll is inescapable; when it comes to addressing the fiscal crisis what matters to people is not fairness, or the best interests of the country, but simple self-interest. . . . our elected representatives feel compelled to tell us we can have our cake, eat it and walk out without paying.

Being bored

From a recent interview:

Ian Hislop: I remember being told by my teenagers that Church was boring and thinking, good it's meant to be boring. You need a lot more boring in your life and in the middle of it, you'll find something.

Rowan Williams: I have to confess that has been in the past one of my regular confirmation sermons. Get used to it. It's not always going to be fun. Life isn't always going to be fun and there's something to be said for sitting things out...”

It put me in mind of R S Thomas' The Moon in Lleyn where he addresses those who stand in empty churches to proclaim that religion is over:

But a voice sounds
in my ear: Why so fast,
mortal? These very seas
are baptized. The parish
has a saint's name time cannot
unfrock. In cities that
have outgrown their promise people
are becoming pilgrims
again, if not to this place,
then to the recreation of it
in their own spirits. You must remain
kneeling. Even as this moon
making its way through the earth's
cumbersome shadow, prayer, too,
has its phases.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Prey for me

The weekend Times led with the awful story of the kidnapping of Jaycee Lee Dugard. She was abducted, imprisoned and raped.

In the same issue Simon Barnes was extolling the the ugliness, cruelty and the beauty of nature. Let us celebrate cruelty, he writes, as we do ugliness, with a full heart.

I am not inclined to intervene to protect garden birds from predatory sparrowhawks, though one creature being destroyed and consumed by another in full view is a harrowing sight. For myself I choose to lead as un-predatory a life as possible. I disapprove of slaughterhouses and eschew their produce. I am happiest following the vegan way but I sometimes lapse into a woolly, even fishy, vegetarianism. A rational basis for my position I find in Peter Singer's 'Animal Liberation'.

My problem is with the use of the word 'cruelty' to describe both what was done to Jaycee and what sparrowhawks do in the wild to their prey. Surely sparrowhawks are neither cruel nor kind. These are human attributes. Nature may indeed be red in tooth and claw, but sparrowhawks, being predators, are just - predatory.

Being looked after

A woman I know in her seventies seems to be 'losing her marbles'. It may pass but, if it doesn't, she could well end up being 'looked after' by members of her family. Not the worst outcome you may think. They will be good and kind to her. But they will patronize her. They will not listen to her and take her seriously. They will edit what she says to fit in with their own understanding and priorities. They will tell her what she is feeling - and why. They are all good people - but they never really listen.

How sad.