Saturday, March 23, 2013

Pass the remote

Whenever I see any of these people on TV, I usually change channels. I just wish there was some sort of automatic filter.

Tony Blair
Kelvin MacKenzie
Ed Miliband
Ed Balls
David Cameron
Eric Pickles
Bob Crow
Melanie Phillips
Ricky Gervais
Janet Daley
Sayeeda Warsi
Michael Gove
Vincent Nichols
Alison Ruoff
Chris Evans
Polly Toynbee
Nigel Farage

Evans is loud and annoying. Gervais is creepy and egotistical. I know what the rest of them are likely to say, and I don't want to hear it.

The list could be longer. It may get longer.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The meaning of life

Found on Facebook - American spelling! J
A couple of days ago, when my math teacher asked, "Any questions?”, I asked, "What is the meaning at life?". She replied, “The meaning of life is math."

Today, we realised that, in the alphabet, M is the 13th letter, A is the 1st letter, T is the 20th letter, and H is the 8th letter.


Friday, March 15, 2013


I shared a car the other week with two unrelated old people who were comparing notes about the size of their families. One had to do some arithmetic to work out how many great-grandchildren she had. Both had gone forth and multiplied, resulting in the birth of at least 30 people over 3 generations. Yet it didn't appear to occur to them that multiplying at this rate is unsustainable. Just do the maths.

From The Onion - We Must Preserve The Earth's Dwindling Resources For My Five Children.

Demand for school places driven by the birth rate rising more quickly than at any time since the 1950s.

Population Matters.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Save the Disabled Living Fund

"Disabled people with the greatest needs make up 2% of the population, and yet they are weathering 15% of the cuts. By 2015, the combination of measures targeting this group will amount to losing more than £8,000 each a year. It's the difference between being a trustee of one of the country's most dynamic charities, and having to go to bed at 5.45pm – because that's when your 15 minutes of care has been allocated." -- Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 13 March 2013
The Government's plan to scrap the Disabled Living Fund is being challenged in the High Court by a small group of severely disabled people who rely on it to maintain their dignity and standard of care. I've written to my MP about this:
Dear Mr Yeo,

Though I'm disabled, I fortunately don't need the ILF, but my niece Kate, who died a few years ago, did. I'm appalled at the thought of people like her being forced to manage without the support that it offered. Her sister, my niece Jenny, who's also severely disabled, wrote about the legal challenge to the scrapping of the ILF in the High Court:

"Anne Pridmore, who is and has been very active in the Disabled People's Movement, is one of those taking a case to the High Court to defend the Disabled Living Fund, which is necessary for disabled people with high care needs. I knew Anne from my days at the BCODP (British Council of Disabled People), as she was then on the Management Committee.

"My sister, the late Kathy Mitchell, used the ILF to help fund her 24-hour care needs. It makes me incandescent with rage to think that she, if she were still alive, would be expected to pee and shit into nappies in bed, with no assistance at night, meaning she wouldn't be able to shift positions either, leading to intense pain.

"I have serious problems shifting at night. 'Normals' do it naturally in their sleep. I have to wake up when it starts hurting and it's a real effort heaving myself around in the bed. I wake up alright!

"People all over the country need this for personal care and independence. It's a scandal that it's due to be scrapped by the Government."

Please prevail upon the DWP to withdraw this plan.
There have been several e-petitions about this (why don't campaigners co-ordinate their action?) but writing to your MP can be more effective. Let's hope the High Court puts a stop to this stupidity.

Click here to find your MP.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Douglas Adams and other animals

"We don't have to save the world. The world is big enough to look after itself. What we have to be concerned about is whether or not the world we live in will be capable of sustaining us in it."
— Douglas Adams, Speech at The University of California.
If Douglas had lived, he'd have been 61 today. This is a speech he made in 2001, only days before his sudden death.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Cheap sheep

Flock, originally uploaded by Sparrows' Friend.

Friend Don watched me starting to cut up a cauliflower I was going to cook for my supper tonight, and the conversation turned to the cost of food. The cauli wasn't expensive, I said, because it was one of Sainsbury's "basics", which probably meant that some poor grower had had his or her profit margin trimmed to the bone. Don started going on about something he'd read somewhere about the link between the cost of food and the rate of inflation, and I said that we'd have to get used to more expensive food because we've had it too cheap for too long. In real terms, the cost of food in the UK has been kept low for ages, and now it will have to increase because of a hike in the cost of staples like wheat and the effect of the wet weather on British crops. Then we'll all starve, says Don, who's in no danger of doing so.

After Don had gone home and I'd had my cauliflower cheese, I watched Countryfile with Prince Charles. Part of the programme was from a hill farm in the North of England, where the farmer, his wife and two kids struggle to keep going with rising feed prices, lower sale prices, and all the costs incurred by running a farm, even a small one. Charlie helped a charity in their area that supports similarly struggling farmers. There've been too many suicides over the past few years, after they've failed to make a living despite long hours in all weathers. Some make as little at £8000 a year. How many of the shoppers at your local supermarket, grumbling about rising prices, would keep going for that sort of money? Yet they expect cheap food and will throw a substantial part of it in the bin because they've bought too much, or a picky eater in the family turned up his or her nose at it.

There's a lot of fuss in the media currently about benefit caps and the rising cost of living, yet most people in work, even those on low wages, are still getting more than £8000 a year. A hill farmer with sheep or a small scale dairy farmer will work much longer hours than most other people, so their low income works out at well below the minimum wage, pro rata. Imported food comes from places where people are expected to work for even less. Still think it's OK to complain about rising prices and throw stuff in the bin? If you do, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Click here for a previous post about the dairy industry.
Click here for The Farm Crisis Network.
The cost of cheap food.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Worth the wait

Was in the dermatology clinic today, having a small tumour cut off my face. Nine stitches. They didn't hurt a bit but the local anaesthetic injections did, though not for long. I asked for hospital transport today, as I'd been advised not to drive myself, so it took longer than it otherwise would have done. The other passenger in the hospital car was in oncology, having radiotherapy and seeing a doctor, so I had to wait for her. As I didn't have to be anywhere else, it didn't matter.

The doctor who did my excision was ahead of schedule, but one of the others was forty minutes behind. Maybe he was attending to patients who were seriously ill. When one of the nurses announced the delay, there was an minor outbreak of grumbling. I said that I was sure that some of my American friends would be happy to wait forty minutes for treatment, knowing that they wouldn't have to worry about a bill. It went quiet after that. I reminded me of the fly-on-the-wall TV series, 24 Hours in A & E, which often showed patients with minor injuries (some inflicted by stupidity) complaining loudly about being kept waiting, oblivious to the fact that the staff were busy dealing with seriously injured or ill people.

When the driver eventually came to collect me he was very apologetic for keeping me waiting. I said there was no need. Without the NHS, I'd have died a long time ago. Waiting is the least of my worries. I love the NHS.


An American friend posted this comment on Facebook -
A woman I know was trying to get a CAT scan for her son but no one would take him because he didn't have insurance. She asked how much it would cost if she paid cash. Less than half of what it would cost if she had been billed. So she withdrew $3,800 (all of her savings) and paid for the scan. Health insurance for us would cost $790 [£524+] per month. Even then, it would only cover 80% of the bill. Truly poor system we have.

Monday, March 04, 2013

The Pope and population control

The election of a new pope is in the news, together with the disgrace of the former Cardinal Keith O'Brien. The Catholic Church's scandals over child abuse and priests attacking homosexuality while secretly lusting after other men are bad enough, but by far the biggest problem that the Catholic Church has inflicted on all of us is its opposition to population control. Catholic women, like brood animals, are expected to produce lots of babies, whether or not they can afford to feed them. In countries like the Philippines, priests bully women into not using contraception, though a new law will allow them free access to it.

The poverty issue is only part of this. The world's population is increasing at a terrifying rate, with consequences for climate change, food and water scarcity, conflict, land issues and species extinction. This short video by Dr Jack Alpert shows why, and that it's no longer just about stabilising the population - it must decrease.

As long as the Catholic Church keeps denying the truth, it's difficult to see how things will change. As far as child abuse and homosexuality are concerned, the issues are serious, but when it comes to contraception, the church's influence is deadly.

Population Matters