Blog Archives

Anti-smokers.

Just a very quick blog this, because I’ve just read something that boils my piss virtually to flashpoint.

Parents should be banned from smoking in their own homes and private cars, a Government health chief said today.
Dr Tony Jewell, chief medical officer for Wales, said that stopping people lighting up in their own homes would protect their children from the dangers of passive smoking.

Go fuck yourself, Tony. Go fuck yourself in as humiliating and degrading as way as possible. Do I have to explain what’s wrong with this?

But furious opponents said the ban would be a breach individuals’ right to privacy.

Clearly I do. It’s not fucking privacy rights, which in any case are a fucking fantasy anywhere that is a public space. It’s property rights that are being trampled on here, got it? PER-OP-ER-TEE, not fucking privacy. Why, apart from the fact that I got this from The Mainly Fail as well, is this so difficult to grasp. It is not an infringement of privacy but an infringement upon property. Yes, it is property which belongs to an individual and is therefore private, but it is the property rights that are being shat on and if people can’t understand exactly how their liberty is being eroded how the cunting fuck can they expect to hang on to what’s left?

Oh, and in case you didn’t get the message the first time, fuck you, Tony Jewell. Fuck you right in the lungs.

Warm disregards, a fellow non-smoker.

The state is mother.

And that means, ladies, that if you bring any children into the world you are in fact bringing them into the world on behalf of the state, and as you lie exhausted and drained and drenched in sweat by the effort of childbirth, and as the hours of labour and the straining of both your body and your entire vocabulary of swearwords is swept away by new maternal feelings as you see and hear and touch for the first time that being you have created within yourself, the state would very much like you to fucking remember whose kid it really is and how they’re to be brought up. So tits out for the sprogs, girls, because breast is best and the state’s drones want to ensure you don’t have any other option.

A CONTROVERSIAL call to make infant formula available only on prescription to boost breastfeeding rates has merit, the Australian Breastfeeding Association says.
A Melbourne expert argues that infant formula should be available only on prescription to boost breast feeding rates.
Doctors say a push to restrict infant formula could create difficult hurdles for young mums.
But association spokeswoman Kate Mortensen said RMIT University expert Jennifer James’ proposal had merit and should definitely be seriously looked at.
Ms Mortensen also backed Dr James’ proposed ban on infant formula manufacturers marketing their products to the public.

Yes, this is still bottle milk formula we’re talking about, not tobacco.

“We support more support for mothers in general because most mothers do want to breastfeed, and they’re able to with better support and better information,” [Kate Mortenson] said.

It sounds like she’s nicked half the supports for that Delhi footbridge. Look, Kate, our species is about 200,000 years old and our ape-man antecedents go back maybe twenty times that, and in those thousands of years we’ve managed get along without any need of support for support in support of breast feeding. We’re good at the whole sex and child rearing thing, including breast feeding infants. We’re so good at breeding and raising children that we managed to rebuild the population from possibly as low as a couple of thousand individuals 70,000 odd years ago to its current 7 billion despite war, famine and disease wiping out uncountable millions of us in the meantime. Individuals may not be, which in the past meant they’d be unsuccessful at raising children and in the present means they’ll buy formula, but as a species we’re bloody good at rearing replacement humans not only without supportive types supporting supportive efforts of support but, for much of that time, without a even a language with which to offer any bloody support. Christ, my cat managed, and in her case six million years of evolution has produced a creature that, while capable of surprising affection, is also so daft that she’ll walk over the food in the near side of the dish to see if the stuff on the other side tastes better. Thick as two Planck length planks, I’m telling you. But despite being dense enough to bend light she still managed to feed a litter of kittens without some bossy tortoiseshell earth mother cat offering support for support of support to support her. In a supportive way.

I’ve got no problem with Kate Mortenson or Dr Jennifer James or anyone else thinking that breast is better. Hell, I’m prepared to believe it probably is better since we’ve evolved for it and it for us, whereas drinking cow juice and formula is a very recent move. And I have no problem with that information being put out there and I have no problem with trying to remove social barriers that might discourage breast feeding. Obviously in an ideal world everyone would just be able to look at breasts very functionally and mothers could simply feed whenever and wherever they needed to without anyone being bothered, but the world is not ideal and breasts do have a sexual significance. Sorry, sisters, but they do, and denying it is not dealing with it. And so prudes will complain about the dreaded breast while most of us men will either try to sneak a peek or look in absolutely every direction but the breast feeding mother unless forced to, and even then we’ll try to look at a point at least twenty feet above her head. Yes, I am one of those, and yes, I realise that while it’s a lot less embarrassing for her than staring straight at them and going, ‘Phwoar’ it’s still going to make the poor girl feel self concious. It’s often embarrassing for the mum and for men around her doing their best to respect both her privacy and her right to do one of the most natural things she ever will. We all know it shouldn’t be, but it is. A very brave girl might go to extremes and bare her breasts with the announcement that the gents have a few minutes to admire the view after which she’s going to feed her child, thank you very much, and she’d deserve nothing less than a twenty minute standing ovation for it. Others would be mortified at the thought and choose – the operative word, for the benefit of Jen and Kate – choose a more private environment. Probably the majority these days take the middle ground of lifting tee shirts or undoing some buttons and ignoring the extra attention drawn by what is really a pretty modest amount of skin being exposed, and there are even products available to help with that. Not surprisingly the breast zealots (is ‘brealots’ a word?) disapprove of them.

Nursing covers – the postnatal clothing accessory designed to allow mothers to breastfeed “discreetly” – are becoming an increasingly common sight as mothers cover up for fear of accidentally flashing a bare breast or midriff in public.
Mothers and breastfeeding experts are firmly divided over whether they are a wonderful idea or a step back to the Dark Ages.
Firmly in the “pro” camp is Murrumbeena mother Rebecca Azzopardi, who says her Peek a Boob cover allows her to feed six-month-old daughter Maya in situations where she might otherwise feel too self-conscious.
“I’m not ashamed of breastfeeding, but [the cover] is something that comes in handy when I’m out in public by myself, or even when I’m in a group with some male friends or around people that I think might feel uncomfortable,” she says.
“For example, I used it at the doctor’s surgery the other day. I had to feed her in front of quite a few older men and I thought they would probably be a bit embarrassed to see me breastfeeding. It comes in handy for those times when you’re not sure how people are going to react.”

Fair enough. She wants to breast feed and has chosen – Kate, Jennifer – chosen to buy a product that means she’s comfortable doing it in places where otherwise she’d rather not. Sorry the world’s not perfect yet but in the meantime isn’t something that gets more women who want to breast feed actually doing it a good thing? Apparently not.

Jennifer James…

Oh, gosh, what a surprise.

Jennifer James, a senior lecturer in breastfeeding at RMIT and a lactation consultant for 28 years, believes breastfeeding covers only reinforce the idea that nursing women should cover up.
“It’s time that women stood up and said, ‘Sorry, don’t like it? Then look away’,” she says.

As I said, it takes a brave girl. Or possibly just one more intent on making the point than feeding the baby.

“It also sends an incredibly negative message to the baby.”

What, more negative than, ‘Sorry about lunch, kid, but your mother’s tits are political now’?

Breastfeeding is meant to be a very interactive thing. When they are awake and feeding they are learning, so if you cover them up with a tent, the baby loses that contact with the world.

Oh, come on. What about the millions and millions of us who were born at a time when mothers had to leave the room? Did we all lose that contact with the world, and if so did we miss out? Or did it all take place at an age where we couldn’t even focus on the world, which we would entirely forget within five or six years, and actually had few desires anyway beyond mum, milk, cuddles and not being in our own shit for too much of the day? I’ll credit the Australian Breastfeeding Association spokesbrealot – not Kate this time – with being a bit more practical.

Australian Breastfeeding Association spokeswoman Karen Ingram says there are arguments for and against the cover-up range.
“We need to be really clear that women don’t need to cover themselves while they are breastfeeding and by law they are allowed to breastfeed anywhere, any time, whether they have a cover over their baby or not,” she says. “But for some mums it does help. Whatever assists the mum to breastfeed her baby should be accepted.”

Quite. It’s simply a matter of choice, and if the brealots are right that most mothers want to breast feed – and again I suspect they are – then given half a chance those mothers are likely to make that choice of their own volition. Ideally there’d be boobs on every street corner (and not a car crash to be heard) as women exercise their right to breast feed anywhere, but in this less than perfect world some women would rather minimise the exposure of their breasts.

But the ultimate sin against the sacred boob is that other women don’t do it at all and buy formula milk instead. There are lots of different reasons why but again it boils down to a personal choice, the most offensive c-word in the vocabulary of the righteous. Choice is bad when the wrong choice might be chosen, so what Dr James and her ABA pal Kate want to do is to make breast feeding the only approved choice – approved by them and, since they want the law to remove the option of formula for any woman whose nipples aren’t sufficiently wrecked to convince a doctor to write a ‘scrip’, approved ultimately by the state itself.

So let’s just imagine a scenario where this actually comes about and let’s imagine what the results will be when, for whatever reasons – and the actual reason is none of our business – some women want to bottle feed their babies. ‘Breast is best’ is already orthodoxy and there’s an element who’ll judge and criticise mothers who’ve chosen bottle, which must make them feel really good about themselves if they’ve tried to breast feed and given up with cracked nipples or just didn’t produce enough. So let’s imagine that formula milk is basically off limits to anyone who is feeding a baby and who isn’t in fact a man. How many will feel judged and looked on as failures, inadequate mothers, by society and by their peers and by the medical profession itself because the orthodoxy of breast is best is even stronger than now? How many of them will go to the doctor to ask for the government permission slip to buy formula milk, and how many will be too embarrassed and ashamed to? How many will be bullied and cajoled or shamed into carrying on as best they can despite pain and discomfort, or a possibly underfed baby? How many of them will actually have to beg milk, breast or formula, on the QT from their most trusted friends or relatives? And how long will it be before a black market supplies that which Dr Jennifer James and Kate Mortenson want to have put beyond the casual reach of mothers, and the nourishment of a significant minority of babies becomes reliant on the activity of criminals?

Ridiculous? Impossible? Not at all. Why wouldn’t there be when there’s already a black market in breast milk?

A BLACK market in breast milk has developed in Australia as families desperate to feed their babies the natural elixir are being charged up to $1000 a litre on the internet.

A thousand bucks? ‘Elixir’ had better be right. That’s… that’s… that’s more than petrol for God’s sake. Does it come in a 24ct gold bottle? Was it expressed by Scarlett Johansson? It’s MILK, not cocaine.

One mother contacted the Gold Coast based Mother’s Milk Bank to ask what the real “going rate” was for breast milk after online sharks demanded the extortionate amount when she placed a web advert seeking human milk.
Mother’s Milk Bank director Marea Ryan told her that the not-for-profit bank sold milk for $50 for 1.2 litres.
“I think it is increasing more and more as people become a lot more aware of the benefits of breastfeeding,” Ms Ryan said.

Or as they’re increasingly made to feel like lousy parents if they’re buying formula.

“It is very dangerous because in an unregulated fashion there are no checks and balances, the milk would not have been tested for viruses and bacteria,” Dr James said.

Well, yeah, obviously, but … hang on, Dr who?

“Women are being put in this insidious position because of a lack of breast milk banks nationally.”

Which will be the same as if government controls the supply of formula. But what did you say your name was again?

“They have no option but to look outside the system.”

Exactly what I’ve said will happen if women have no free choice between breast and formula. In fact it sounds like you’ll not only create a black market but you’ll boost an existing one. And sorry, but I’m sure you said your name was Dr James, am I right?

RMIT (Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology) lactation expert Dr Jennifer James said she was aware of the growing unregulated black market.

It is you! Bloody hell, Jen, you may know more than I will ever care to about lactation but how the hell can the likelihood of a formula black market escape you when you’ve got the evidence of a breast milk black market in front of your face? It’s demand and supply – what the fuck did you expect was going to happen when you inflate that demand by nagging about breast milk all the bloody time?

The risky practice has increased with the advent of the internet where women advertise their milk for sale.

[sarcasm]No? I’m in shock.[/sarcasm] And her solution?*

Dr James said there should be breast milk banks in all major hospitals but blamed inconsistent legislation for making them difficult to set up.
“In some states it is classified as a food while in others it is human tissue or bodily fluids,” she said. “The milk bank at the Royal Prince Alfred in Sydney had to close down because it was classified as bodily fluid. We need nationally consistent guidelines.”

Ah, yes, of course. The answer is central government. The answer is always central government, especially when it comes to raising future generations of the taxpayers that are essential to governments’ own survival.

Quite often I blog with a slight element of despair because someone has suggested giving government even more power to intrude and micromanage lives, and rather than howling them down vast numbers of people begin to nod and mumble that yes, it would be just super if the government would monitor and rule on the minutiae of their existence, and yours and mine and everyone else’s too because the government have to do it for/to everybody. Happily, stepping between mums and their children looks to be one step too far (my emphasis).

Avondale Heights mum Christine Rookas said it should be a mother’s choice whether to breast feed or not.
“I would be very frightened and afraid to think that formula will be prescribed,” Ms Rookas said.
“I think there’s already a paranoia for mothers. They feel guilty enough about using formula milk.”
… other mums who commented on the heraldsun.com.au were scathing about Dr James’s suggestion.
“What do these people know about every person’s situation?,” Dee said in a post at 12.57am this morning.
“Unless you are in a situation such as my family, please don’t speak for us. Don’t push your ideas on us if you haven’t walk in our shoes. These are personal decision that is made (sic) by each individual.

They are woman, Jennifer, hear them roar: ‘Piss off and leave us alone’. You would force mothers into breast feeding despite the fact that many would choose to do so anyway, even if many of them would rather keep their breasts covered up instead of partaking in the open display of maternalism that you advocate. Surely it’s best if mums can find whatever level of exposure or screening they as individuals are comfortable with and then carry on with the job of getting milk down babies’ throats, which I thought was the whole idea. But if you get government to intervene, if you get it literally to lay down the law on how babies must be fed and to force mothers, who by nature overwhelmingly want the best they can do for their children anyway, to breast feed regardless of whether they’re comfortable, then once again government takes away a little bit of our ownership of ourselves. Parents may still conceive their children and mothers may still give birth to them, but the state, which already demands so much control over a child’s upbringing and education and yes, diet too, will also control how they are fed from birth. With that level of needless interference over both of them how much could a new mother honestly say that her child, and even her breasts and milk, are hers and not the governments?

I’m sure your intentions are the best, Dr James, but the road to hell is paved with many more like them.

* That is the process which will solve the issue, not her personal solution. That’d be yucky and not what I want to think of when I’m about to get a milky cup of tea.

Edging towards sanity…

… but no doubt infuriating the Righteous.

A number of hospitals are reintroducing “smoking shelters”. They are doing so on health grounds: not, of course, because they have changed their minds about the hazards of cigarettes – that really would be a spectacular medical U-turn – but because patients have been caught smoking in dangerous places. Stairwells, lavatories, storerooms: nowhere except the operating theatre is safe, it seems. Some patients have even been caught smoking next to the oxygen store.

The normal pattern of prohibition. Take away the opportunity to be reasonable and sensible by removing smoking rooms and what else is going to happen? Don’t get too excited, though. It says ‘shelters’ not smoking rooms, and The Teletubbygraph was helpless to resist the temptation for a little Righteous style dig at smokers implying they should give up and that they wouldn’t be in hospital if they had.

There are a few more stressful experiences than a stay in hospital, and it is not an easy time to give up. So let the patients puff away in their shelters – reflecting, perhaps, that if they had kicked the habit earlier they might not be there in the first place.

Oh, really? I was still a smoker on my last visit to hospital and it had fuck all to do with what I was going in for. In fact I’ve never been to hospital for anything related to smoking or any other lifestyle choice I’d made. Nor was it at all stressful being unable to smoke because they had me off my tits on morphine – that drug of instant evil that a previous generation of Righteous had banned – and what a success story that wasn’t. The fact I subsequently gave up smoking and never became a heroin addict suggests I’m either unusual, and I assure you I’m not, or that there’s a lot of bullshit being peddled by those who love telling others how to live.

Which of course is what the Righteous themselves are addicted to.

Death cured.

Well, more or less if certain figures are to be believed. I refer you to Velvet Glove, Iron Fist. Having seen the the claim that 40,000 deaths are due to junk food he’s done what I’ve wondered about for ages and added up all the claims of the things that we like to do that supposedly kill us. Interesting reading.

I’ve wondered for some time what would happen if you added up all the ‘preventable’ deaths claimed in reports like this. I’ve never got round to doing a proper estimate but as a very rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation, here’s what I’ve come up with…

As a starting pointing, there are about 490,000 deaths a year in England and Wales (ONS, 2008). Of these, 175,000 involve people aged 85 or over. It’s surely pushing it to describe these deaths as ‘preventable’, so lets exclude them, leaving a total of 315,000.

Of those 315,000, there are some that even the most eager public healthist has yet to blame on lifestyle. For example:

Intentional self-harm: 8,000

Flu/pneumonia: 11,000

Accidents (including traffic accidents): 13,00

Alzheimers/Parkinson’s/motor neuron disease: 7,000

There are many, many others but let’s be ultra-conservative and just exclude these 39,000 deaths. That leaves us with a total of 276,000.

Now let’s look at how many deaths are attributed to specific causes in the newspapers:

Junk food: 40,000

Smoking: 106,000

Alcohol: 40,000

Obesity: 30,000

Air pollution: 50,000

Medical accidents and errors: 40,000

= 306,000 deaths

In other words, we seem to have more deaths from the estimates than we have bodies in the graveyard. Even with the implicit, if ridiculous, assumption that every cancer and every heart attack is preventable, the figures don’t add up (and we still haven’t taken into account things like fires, assaults, drownings, murders and contagious diseases).

As a commenter over there pointed out we also have to make some allowance for deaths which have multiple causes, though I think using the term ’cause’ implies something rather more definite and ‘factor’ is probably a better choice. Still, if the claims of the various bansturbators, killjoys and Strength-through-Joy types are to be taken seriously it looks like if only we’d put that bloody fag out, board up the pubs and burn down all the take-aways then dying would be a thing of the past.

Almost.

Any related deaths in the cleansing process will not count towards statistical purposes

Of course, the other way of looking at it is that they pull numbers of dead from [insert hated activity here] out of their arses whenever they need to top the last lot of terrifying headlines, but who’d seriously believe that?

Well, for starters anyone who remembers that these healthist bastards have form in making up the safe limits in the first place.

End of lifeline -part II

A few days ago I blogged about a paper on involuntary euthanasia in Belgium, or rather on the tabloid misinterpretation that JuliaM’s blog on it alerted me to. One point the paper made, which the Daily Mail managed not to include, was that while some questionable things were happening in Belgium they were also going on in other countries which, unlike Belgium, have no legal euthanasia or assisted suicide.

“In previous surveys, physicians reported that nurses sometimes administered drugs explicitly intended to hasten death. Nevertheless, uncertainty remained about the understanding by the nurses of the act that they performed. In our study, nurses did administer life-ending drugs with the recognition that the death of the patient was intended. In the cases of euthanasia, 12% of the nurses administered the drugs. In the United States, where no legal framework for euthanasia is provided, 16% of critical care nurses 10 and 5% of oncology nurses reported engaging in euthanasia. Similar findings have been reported in other countries.”

In other words if you look at other countries it doesn’t seem to matter if the law allows it or not. Kind of makes the supposed slippery slope that the Fail is getting all excited about seem rather flatter and high-friction than their article suggests, though in fairness they covered this when they said… er… just bear with me, I’ll find it in a tick… sorry, no, my mistake. They didn’t mention it.

And as if to bear that point out in The Telegraph we have this:

A GP cleared of murdering three patients has broken his long silence to admit that he did hasten their deaths as well as those of dozens of others in his care.
Dr Howard Martin, once feared to be a “second Harold Shipman”, told The Daily Telegraph that he gave what proved to be fatal doses of painkillers to elderly and terminally ill patients.
But he said he only acted out of “Christian compassion” and was merely trying to limit their suffering rather than “playing God”.
He disclosed that, in two cases, he hastened the deaths of patients without their permission, while one of those to whom he administered a final injection was his son, Paul, 31, when he was dying from cancer in May 1988.
Dr Martin, 75, spoke out as the General Medical Council struck him off for professional misconduct, ruling that he had hastened the deaths of 18 patients in “egregious, despicable and dangerous” conduct.
He accepted that his confession put him at risk of “spending the rest of my life in prison” if it prompted police to reopen his case.

If there is a slippery slope then I feel it’s likely that most industrialised nations are already on it anyway. It might even be worth asking whether the slope was ever flat. The other way of looking at it is, as above, that recognising that people own their lives and should be free to relinquish them if they want and seek (which is not the same as successfully find) professional help to do so does not necessarily increase the numbers of medical staff who are prepared, for whatever reason, to stick the needle in without asking.

End of lifeline.

Strolling past the Ambush Predator’s cave again today I saw that she’s again baring her fangs over euthanasia and assisted suicide, prompted by something similar (which I’d missed somehow) over at Counting Cats. Julia, and probably Cats too, and I don’t completely see eye to eye on this subject, but I’m not posting about it here instead of commenting at Julia’s out of fear of those impressive upper canines – you can always get away safely if you throw a couple of CiF articles behind you as you run – but because the reply was just too big for a blogger comment (now I know – 4,096 characters isn’t just a good idea, it’s the law).

Anyhoo…

Taking up the gaunlet thrown down by Counting Cats…, here’s my take on the euthanasia report from last week:

A high proportion of deaths classed as euthanasia in Belgium involved patients who did not ask for their lives to be ended, a study found.

More than 100 nurses admitted to researchers that they had taken part in ‘terminations without request or consent’.

And why are these admissions not made in the dock, following the words ‘I swear to tell the truth, the whole truth, and…’?

In spite of my pro-euthanaisa views and my desire for a big dose of barbiturates or something if I’m ever at a stage where continuing my life looks much less attractive to me than ending it, I also have to ask why this hasn’t emerged in a court and why the fuck nobody has been charged with murder. Turns out the answer is that the study was designed in such a way as to guarantee anonymity, so it’s rather hard to know who to charge. Not only that but since it’s the result of a survey it’s all a bit anecdotal. Pity, because this sort of thing damages the pro-euthanasia position and shook my faith (inasmuch as I have faith in anything in particular), so I’d really like someone to have been in the dock over this. However, my faith in newspapers is less than my belief that I should have the option to end my life at a time of my choosing and to be able to seek (not necessarily successfully) medical expertise in doing so, and that goes double when the newspaper in question is The Mainly Fail, who I feel are not as unbiased on the issue as we might hope for. So I went back to the article for another read.

The fact that they just say the research is from “a study” and don’t give a source for it beyond the fact that it appeared in a Canadian medical journal made me wonder if that was the whole idea. It’s hardly unheard of for something described as a study to turn out to have been the result of funding from a source pushing a particular agenda. Would this study, I wondered, turn out to have been funded by one of those groups that, like one commenter on the Fail’s article, believe your life is still about serving their 13 billion year old invisible friend even if every waking second is merely prolonging an agony – an agony which they also believe the same 13 billion year old invisible friend inflicts on people to begin with, the sick fuck? But not to worry because after a little googling it looked like just sloppy journalism – I found and read the paper (via this related paper, which incidentally is also worth a read) and it’s nothing like that at all, though I feel the Fail still restricted itself to what supports the anti-euthansia position.

For example, the wild-eyed headline claimed half of Belgium’s “euthanasia nurses” admit to killing without consent, and from what I can see that’s complete bollocks. For one thing it’s far from established in the paper that there’s any such thing as a euthanasia nurse – if there is the survey certainly wasn’t looking at them so much as nurses who had said in an earlier survey that they were involved in a case where the patient was euthanised or had assistance to commit suicide. And that’s it. Not the Angels of Death at the Belgium version of the Dignitas clinic, if there is one. And the claim that half the nurses admit to “killing” without consent is an even bigger load of bollocks. What the paper actually says is:

“In our study, more than half of the nurses surveyed in Flanders, Belgium, reported that they were involved in the physician’s decision-making about the use of life-ending drugs. In most cases, the involvement was merely an exchange of information about the patient’s or relatives’ wishes and about the patient’s condition.”

The Fail seem to be equating a nurse passing along a patient’s wishes to the doctor with strapping ’em down and sticking the needle in without asking. Make of that what you will, but in my opinion impartial reporting it ain’t. Incidentally, the criticism here seems to be that Belgian law apparently says that doctors must always discuss such a decision with nurses, and far from being Angels of Death running around with syringes full of poison without the knowledge of the doctors it’s actually doctors failing to meet the legal obligation to involve the nursing staff all the time. The only hint of this given by the Fail is… uh… it’s er… well, there isn’t one as far as I can see.

Then there’s the caveat. Or rather caveats. (My bold.)

“In previous surveys, physicians reported that nurses sometimes administered drugs explicitly intended to hasten death. Nevertheless, uncertainty remained about the understanding by the nurses of the act that they performed. In our study, nurses did administer life-ending drugs with the recognition that the death of the patient was intended. In the cases of euthanasia, 12% of the nurses administered the drugs. In the United States, where no legal framework for euthanasia is provided, 16% of critical care nurses 10 and 5% of oncology nurses reported engaging in euthanasia. Similar findings have been reported in other countries.

In other words if you look at other countries it doesn’t seem to matter if the law allows it or not. Kind of makes the supposed slippery slope that the Fail is getting all excited about seem rather flatter and high-friction than their article suggests, though in fairness they covered this when they said… er… just bear with me, I’ll find it in a tick… sorry, no, my mistake. They didn’t mention it.

And…

“First, we wonder whether nurses overestimated the actual life-shortening effect of the drug administration, especially when opioids were used, and whether the physician had intended to end the patient’s life when he or she ordered the nurse to administer the drugs. Nurses may have thought that they were ending the patient’s life, when in fact the drugs were intended to relieve symptoms in an aggressive, but necessary manner.”

This is a very important point. I certainly don’t want to denigrate nurses or have a pop at their pharmacological knowledge (which will be a hell of a lot better than mine) but when the doctor says to give the patient X milligrams of something potentially dangerous they can’t know the doctor intends it to oil the hinges on the door to the next world unless the doctor actually says so. Further, if it’s a dose that’s certain to be lethal then you’d hope the nurse would have raised the matter there and then. What could well be happening here is that the nurse gives the drug, the patient then carks it and it’s not clear that the drug was not responsible, and the nurse then begins to wonder if the doctor actually meant that to happen. As Julia’s title points out, they’re not mind readers, and that applies as much to the intentions of the doctor prescribing a big syringe full of morphine as to a patient’s desire to live or not. In the Mail this was dealt with by … sorry, no, actually it wasn’t dealt with at all.

And on that topic…

“…the nurses we surveyed who administered the life-ending drugs did not do so on their own initiative. Although the act was often performed without the physician being present, it was predominantly carried out on the physician’s orders and under his or her responsibility.”

Which the Mail’s article made crystal clear in… er… oh, actually they didn’t mention that either.

Also…

“We also have to consider that the administration of life-ending drugs without the patient’s explicit request may have included situations of terminal sedation or an increase in pain alleviation, in which the delegation by physicians to nurses to administer the drugs is considered common practice.”

Which occurs in places without legal assisted suicide and/or euthanasia, as pointed out by the Mail when they said… er… uhm… oh, who am I kidding? Of course they didn’t fucking point that out.

Sure, I’ve been selectively quoting too, and the caveats themselves have caveats which strongly suggest that there are cases that are at the very least a bit iffy and more probably downright illegal. I’m not arguing that and I’m still disappointed that some Poirotesque Belgian isn’t exercising his leetle grey cells to get someone in the dock. I want the choice of when to go, preferably after first getting utterly off my tits on all the highs (legal and otherwise) that I’ve never indulged in, and there’s no element of choice if some medico, no matter whether for sick kicks or a kind and well intentioned act, sticks me with an armful of Happy Exit Juice. On the other hand I’ve quoted rather more than the Fail and provided the fucking source so people can read and decide for themselves. But for those in a hurry I can boil it down to a few sentences.

Firstly, Belgian euthanasia law is almost certainly being broken but actually instances of euthanasia and assisted suicide are no more common than it is in countries where the law does not permit it at all, which suggests we have nothing to fear from legalisation that we should not already fear anyway. Secondly, and from the other study, euthanising patients without their consent seems less common in Holland and other countries where it’s legal, which suggests that there is something unusual about where this survey took place. And thirdly, The Mainly Fail really is waste of a perfectly good tree sometimes.

Post(humous) Script: it’s slightly depressing that the only commenter at The Mainly Fail to even mention that the findings of the survey were “more complex” than the article suggested (an understatement if you ask me – I’d have said the Fail got it arse about face in places) and to suggest that a properly framed law to allow rational adults the choice of when to end their lives got a large negative rating. Choice means no more and no less than that. It emphatically fucking does not mean Lifeclocks in everybody’s hands or anything like it since this would not be a choice.

Retarded parents.

I’ve given my views on abortion here often enough. I’m not keen on it but I’m even less keen on the idea of telling other people what they can do with their own bodies, and doubly so when it comes to people without a uterus deciding what those with a uterus can do with it. But I’ve just read something that makes me wonder if there are times when a woman should be told in very clear terms that she can’t have an abortion. Like maybe when she wants to terminate a pregnancy from IVF treatment that she used to get pregnant in the first place.

DOZENS of young women are having abortions on the NHS after expensive IVF treatment because they have changed their minds about becoming a mother.

This is so mind boggling that I’m really struggling for something to say. We’re not talking about a pregnancy resulting from a casual shag in the nightclub toilets. We’re not even talking about an unplanned pregnancy in a long term relationship. We’re talking about pregnancies that require medical intervention, so if anything they’re planned and intended to a greater extent than normal. How the hell can a woman want a child so much that she’s prepared to go on various hormonal drugs, have the resulting extra eggs harvested (ladies, this apparently involves needles in intimate areas), and a selection of the fertilised ones reinserted later (this apparently involves a catheter which is very unlikely to bring flowers or respect you in the morning)* yet be prepared to write it all off later because things aren’t quite how she thought they’d be?

Some terminate pregnancies after splitting from their husband or boyfriend, others because they were pressured into starting a family.

Seriously? Okay, I can see something in that last one. I’m sure some women are expected to just produce offspring on demand and they might not really want to. Fair enough, though stopping the process before the actual pregnancy stage would be ideal. But just because they’ve split up with the hubby or boyfriend? Christ, if things are that rocky is it really a good idea to even begin IVF treatment in the first place?**

I can’t help but feel that part of the problem is that these pregnancies, even after all the extra trouble and effort that has been made to begin them, aren’t as highly valued as they might be. Would this be anything to do with the fact that it was all free? Yes, of course the NHS isn’t actually free in a real sense, but it’s hard to remember that when you simply rock up to the doctor and get seen without putting your hand in your pocket. You know it’s not free because a combination of tax and the ever increasing national debt are paying for it, but it feels like it’s free.

So what if IVF treatment wasn’t available on the NHS (I checked and apparently it is providing certain criteria – pretty broad criteria, I felt – are met)? I don’t know how much two or three cycles of IVF would set someone back but I can’t help feeling it would be high enough that casual abortion of any resulting pregnancies would be a very rare thing indeed. Failing that, or perhaps as well as that, what if terminating a healthy IVF pregnancy wasn’t ‘free’? Yes, the cost of raising a child will always be far more and it might not make that much difference to the numbers that are aborted later, but if nothing else it would mean the cost goes only to the person concerned. It doesn’t sound like terminating healthy IVF pregnancies is particularly common, so charging for the abortion wouldn’t affect the majority of women who wouldn’t dream of aborting the baby that they wanted badly enough to go and have IVF in the first place. But it might make others think a little harder about how much they really want that child.

I think that, as with so many things in Britain (and elsewhere***), it comes back to the warped view of ‘rights’ that has developed over recent years. As things stand it seems that it’s possible for a woman to decide that she wants a child, and this is apparently her right. And if she can’t get pregnant any other way she can get IVF treatment on the taxpayer from the NHS, and apparently this too is her right. And if she gets pregnant and then decides that she doesn’t want that baby after all, not because there’s anything wrong with the foetus or any doubt that she can carry it to term but because it’s no longer the right time (or worse, the right baby), she can get the termination on the NHS and paid for by the taxpayer too. Well, okay, I might not approve of what she does with her body and what life choices she makes but that’s for her and no-one else to decide – my big nose is staying well and truly out of it. However, she shouldn’t be expecting everyone else to chip in and pay for her choices, but she does because some fucktoons have let her think that it’s her right to have a child and her right to bill everyone else in pursuit of that.

Wrong.

Children are not a right at all – they’re a privilege. More people might remember that if there was a bit less getting other people to pay for them. That goes double when it comes to conceiving them.

* The gent’s contribution is, predictably enough, simply to knock one out into a jam jar or something. I can’t speak for other men but personally the presence of needles and catheters would probably work against this. 
** I wonder how many would get a termination if the hubby or boyfriend had died instead.
*** Don’t know about the situation with taxpayer subsidised IVF here in Australia but the taxpayer sure as hell pays for everybody’s sprogs after they’re born through the ‘baby bonus’. To the government’s credit they have changed it from a lump sum payment to instalments to make it a bit harder to spend the money on flatscreen TVs.

"No-one’s talking about gassing anyone. Not at this stage."

Been to the doctor’s in Britain in the last few years? It’s starting to get this way sometimes, isn’t it?

Frustrated by their continued awfulness, the Royal College of Physicians said the poor should be herded into long barrack huts in remote areas and surrounded by a large wooden fence so that affluent, middle class children will not be able to see them.

RCP president Professor Sir Denys Finch-Hatton said: “We’ve tried controlling their vileness with bans and taxes, but it’s not working, so eventually we thought ‘fuck it, let’s just round them up’.”

“I really don’t see why this has to be a big deal. It’s just a few camps, a bit of barbed wire, maybe some dogs. No-one’s talking about gassing anyone. Not at this stage.”

For once I wouldn’t be too surprised if The Daily Mash weren’t first with this, because I wouldn’t fall over in shock if someone found it in an unmarked folder in a filing cabinet somewhere.

On a slight tangent I wonder if I’ve ever mentioned that several of the most prolific drinkers – at least three of whom I’m sure would qualify as alcoholics – that I’ve met in my life were in the medical profession?

Time to die.

Very interesting piece in the Times about assisted suicide, the right to die and the views of the author and Alzheimer’s sufferer Terry Pratchett.

The debate over assisted suicide will be reopened tomorrow when Sir Terry Pratchett uses the annual Dimbleby Lecture to call for a radical overhaul of the law.

The best-selling author, who has early-onset Alzheimer’s disease, will say that the “time is really coming” for assisted death to be legalised.

Sir Terry said that if he knew he could end his life at a time of his choosing, without the fear of incriminating a friend or family member, he would enjoy the rest of his life far more.

“If I knew that I could die at any time I wanted, then suddenly every day would be as precious as a million pounds. If I knew that I could die, I would live. My life, my death, my choice,” he will say in the lecture.

“I certainly do not expect or assume that every GP or hospital practitioner would be prepared to assist death by arrangement, even in the face of overwhelming medical evidence. That is their choice. Choice is very important in this matter. But there will be some, probably older, probably wiser, who will understand.”

Couldn’t have put it better.

And then, as Penn and Teller say, there’s this asshole (via the Ambush Predator).

But what about the sufferers, don’t they have a right to escape their pain? No, not if we believe that life is sacred.

So because of your belief that you have a 13 billion year old invisible friend and that all life belongs to him we all have to suffer through whatever diseases life – or your god if you prefer – throw at us. Well, I have to say that if you’re right and it’s your god doing it then that’s pretty fucked up of him. And if you’re wrong then our lives don’t belong either to ourselves or a non-existent god but to you and your beliefs, and that’s pretty fucked up of you. I’ll offer you another possibility though: what if God is still choosing when everyone dies but he’s directing people’s wills so that some off themselves and some do so with help from others? I’d still say that’s fucked up and the implied lack of true free will offends me as much as some three way man love during a Sunday service would probably offend you, but you can believe what you want whether it offends me or anyone else. And it’s still less fucked up than a ‘loving’ god who goes round cancering people to death on purpose.

Here’s the science bit.

Numbers can be dull as shite, and when they get too big they can start to become unwieldy and difficult to wrap your head around. National debt? Well, it’s turned into a number between one and ten with a lot of zeroes behind it, isn’t it?* One of the things I’ve admired on other blogs is the imaginative way in which some bloggers have tackled the numbers to make them more user friendly, and so we have things expressed in terms of things like how many tons of £50 notes or how many years would be needed to burn a certain amount of money every day to reach the same sum. Still mind boggling but you can at least picture it. But even so there are some things where even this approach hits the buffers. Homeopathy, for example.

I have just purchased a packet of Boots-brand 84 arnica homeopathic 30C Pills for £5.09, which Boots proudly claim is only 6.1p per pill. Their in-store advice tells me that arnica is good for treating “bruising and injuries”, which gives the impression that this is a very cost-effective health-care option.

Unlike most medication, it didn’t list the actual dose of the active ingredient that each pill contains, so I checked the British Homeopathic Association website. On their website it nonchalantly states that to make a homeopathic remedy, they start with the active ingredient and then proceed to dilute it to 1 per cent concentration. Then they dilute that new solution again, so there is now only 0.01 per cent of the original ingredients. For my 30C pills this diluting is repeated thirty times, which means that the arnica is one part in a million billion billion billion billion billion billion.

The arnica is diluted so much that there is only one molecule of it per 7 million billion billion billion billion pills.

It’s hard to comprehend numbers that large.

You’re not kidding. How about making it easier on the brain then?

If you were to buy that many pills from Boots, it would cost more than the gross domestic product of the UK.

Okay, we’ve reached meaningless pretty early and we’re only able to get it down to GDP of a major economy?

It’s more than the gross domestic product of the entire world.

Ah. Fuck.

Since the dawn of civilisation. If every human being since the beginning of time had saved every last penny, denarius and sea-shell, we would still have not saved-up enough to purchase a single arnica molecule from Boots.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

Then the process of consuming enough pills to get that one molecule also boggles the mind.

Oooooh, I’m not sure, but you can try me.

You can try imagining Wembley Stadium completely filled with people, all drinking pints of medicine at the rate of two an hour. For just one of these people to eventually consume one molecule, you would need a million Wembley Stadiums all at full capacity with people who have drinking pints constantly since the Earth formed 4.5 billion years ago.

Number too big again.

Oh, and you’d need 737 million such Earths.

Fuuuuuuuuck.

To put homeopathy in a medicinal context, if you wanted to consume a normal 500mg paracetamol dose you would need ten million billion homeopathic pills. Where each pill is the same mass as the Milky Way galaxy. There is actually not enough matter in the entire known Universe to make the homeopathic equivalent of a single paracetamol pill.

Fuuuuuuuck. See what I mean? Normally when someone wants to talk about massive quantities or sizes of things they reach for London buses or jumbo jets or Eiffel Towers. This guy’s using fucking galaxies and the universe… and it’s not enough. Holy shit!

Homeopathy is actually based on 18th century wishful thinking that water will somehow remember substances that it had previous contact with (but will forget the countless effluent that it has passed through). That a 10 billion year old water molecule will remember everything it has touched flies in the face of all known science and is an insult to any thinking person.

… at least snake-oil has the decency to contain some snake.

Mate, why didn’t you just start with that? Alternatively, here’s Dara O’Briain on the subject.

* And there are a lot of zeroes behind it in more ways than one, buduhm tish.

Won’t somebody think of the chiiiiiiiiiiiiiiilllldren?

Dick Puddlecote is wound up about another smoking story, and with good cause because this one comes with extra stupid. Lily Allen and Lady Gaga have each smoked on stage [gasp sharply….. and then cough theatrically]. This caused one alleged Lily Allen fan* to say that it ruined the night for him and his 17 and 15 year old kids, which in turn caused Dick Puddlecote to say:

When questioned further, Mr Hall said that references to spending ages giving head, post-coital wet patches, and fucking the girl next door were fine for his little darlings, but this was just too much.

Mr Hall, born in the smoke-filled 50s but seemingly still quite healthy, was last seen disappearing up his own gullible, self-righteous arse.

Quite. I’d like to say something approving about Lily Allen at this point but since I reckon she was probably only able to light up at all by temporarily removing her own head from her self-righteous arse I think I’ll give it a miss. Personally I’d be pissed off if she came into my home and lit up. For that matter I’d be pissed off if she came in to my home and just stood there, but the owner of a property gets to set the rules and if, as is almost guaranteed these days, the owners of the concert venue where Lily Allen attempted mass murder by ciggie smoke had already banned smoking before the government blanket ban she wasn’t rebelling so much as just being rude. However, that’s between them and her, not whiny pricks like Mr Hall. Fuck the pair of ’em, but especially him.

Fuck you all. Fuck you right in the lungs.

Still, the increasing hysteria about smoking and the way people are likely to treat a bit of fag smoke as equivalent to being violently bottled in the face is really starting to piss me off. For one thing it’s tempting me to go down the shops for a pack of Bensons just as a ‘fuck you’ message, but I’ve now been an ex-smoker long enough to have grown to dislike fag smoke and ashtrays. So do you know what I do about it, and I’m asking this of wankers like Mr Hall? Let me give you an example. Couple of days ago I was talking to a smoker who lit one up up, so I took a small step backwards and we carried on talking as before. No theatrical coughing or being a cunt because even though I’ve grown to dislike the smell of the smoke a few inches of extra space was all that was necessary. I doubt he even noticed, or if he did thought I was just slouching against the wall for a bit (and also I did genuinely want to slouch against the wall for a bit too).

I realise I’m doing this all wrong because as an ex-smoker I’m expected to be a pompous, twatty, crusading, anti-smoking zealot who wants to impose his will on others but I just can’t get worked up enough about my new dislike for the smell of smoke and ashtrays to want to become a bossy cunt. Don’t smoke in my home but beyond that I don’t care. Smoke, or do not smoke, and if I have a problem rest assured that I’ll deal with it simply by moving away from the smoke without whining to anyone about it. It’s not like smoke is equivalent to actual violence or anything, is it?

[Avatar is] rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.

Oh, for fuck’s sake.

* I’m not saying he isn’t a Lily Allen fan as well as his kids, but since he’s 52 I wouldn’t be shocked if he suggested getting tickets to see that Alan Lillee bloke and wondering if he’s related to Dennis.

Pocket full of posies.

Recently I’ve seen quite a bit of an ad for free swine ‘flu vaccinations, which the beloved ǝʇɐʇs ʎuuɐu has stockpiled enough doses of to do the whole country.

Aside from the fact that I wasn’t going to bother getting one I really hadn’t thought much of it until I saw this.

song chart memes

Yeah, that’d be about right.

When will someone get around to banning bans?

That’s not a ban – THIS is a ban!
Via Mummylonglegs and Dick Puddlecote I see that Duncan Bannatyne, the dour Scot out of Dragon’s Den, is keeping up the dour Scot act even when British TV owners aren’t being forced to pay him for it (despite having a wad so big that NASA recently mistook it for an asteroid on a collision course with a Scottish health resort and golf course). Duncan used to smoke. Duncan doesn’t like smoking. Duncan, by the sounds of things, doesn’t like smokers. I think both Mummy and Dick smoke and are properly upset. Ladies first.

…..which is worse? A born again Christian or an ex-smoker?

From what I have heard born again Christians are often thought to be full of vim and vigour regarding their conversion and are also believed to be quite hot on converting others. I have come across these peeps and they always appear to be quite happy to say their piece and leave you in peace if you don’t agree with them. An ex-smoker on the other hand, well………

I’ll only be happy if smoking is banned
We should no longer tolerate the minority threatening the lives of the majority.

I have to wonder if Duncan Ban-it-time would be happy if I removed the word ‘lives’ from that second sentence and substituted ‘freedom’ or ‘liberties’. Still, Mummy is just getting warmed up.

The government’s “de-normalisation” of tobacco is welcome, but it’s taking too long. The Health Bill proposes to restrict cigarette-vending machines in pubs. But they should be banned altogether. Even smokers don’t like them, because they typically give you only 16 cigarettes instead of a normal packet of 20 and cost £6, about £1 more than in the shops. And many pub landlords think the government’s halfway-house proposals are unworkable because bar staff would have to check people’s age ID before operating the machine by remote control.

Duncan, if the Government really were that concerned about the health of the nation they could just make smoking illegal. Why do you suppose they haven’t? (something to do with duty?). Ha ha ha, yes most of us smokers hate vending machines because they are a rip off, but we don’t want them banned, we will pay £6 for 16 rather than not be able to buy any at all. Duh. And many pub landlords now what the fuck they are talking about.

Well, the ones who are still left. The 50 or so per week whose businesses go tits up are probably too fed up to give much of a shit anymore. But I have to agree with Mummy’s point here. Any government with a healthy majority could easily pass legislation classifying tobacco as a controlled substance, and because the smell is fairly noticeable and it doesn’t have the high of weed they could expect reasonably high compliance. So why don’t they? I’d bet the answer is a very simple one – tobacco is heavily taxed and governments of all parties are far more addicted to that revenue than probably any smoker has ever been addicted to the nicotine. They make a lot of noise about helping people give up and ‘banning’ smoking for everybody’s health but really all they’ve done is bring in a ban that’s nothing of the kind (heroin is banned, smokers have merely been put to an inconvenience – don’t fucking kid yourselves that that counts as a ban) and put the price up until smuggling is worthwhile and people will seriously think of buying illegal baccy. Well, as long as HMRC is happy with lost revenue going into the pockets of the smugglers I suppose it’s nothing to do with me anymore. The buggers had the last money they’ll ever see off me a couple of years ago now.

Incidentally, ‘de-normalisation’, as well as being a word that to me doesn’t fall easily off the tongue or look right on the page, is a scary concept. Think about what that means in English rather than this crypto-Newspeak – it means making what is thought of as normal considered abnormal instead. So shall we stop calling this particular spade a person powered soil inversion horticultural device and use a clearer term for it? Might I suggest ‘reprogramming’?

Dick Puddlecote on the other hand has gone in for a little psychoanalysis of the BBC’s joyless pet porridge wog:

Well, would you credit it? Just what we need right now – yet another selfish, bigoted, closet Nazi from Jockland. Is there something in the fucking water up there? Some severe strain of viral puritanism which turns every kilty into a mouth-frothing paternalist with a sideline in sadistic subjugation of those they consider unclean, once given a badge/microphone/newspaper column?

So, what has this deeply miserable multi-millionaire got to say to back up his anti-social view?

I used to be a smoker.

Ah. I think we know where this is going.

I tried several times to give up, but only lasted a few months before going back. During one of the periods when I was off cigarettes, I went to the pub. Somebody bought a round, then someone passed round a packet of fags. I foolishly took one – I’d had a few drinks – and the next thing I was a smoker again.

Er, Duncs, I’ve been there myself and do you want to know who I blamed for my succumbing to temptation?

Me.

If your willpower isn’t that strong, and Jesus smouldering Christ I know from personal experience how strong it needs to be, especially when the fucking gum and nicotine plasters and hypnotittery hasn’t worked and willpower is all you’ve got left, but if resisting temptation in the pub is a struggle then don’t go to the fucking pub until you can say no. Personally I simply gave up drinking at the same time and took up driving like a twat when leaving the pub in the hope the cops want to breathalyse me.* It’s an irrelevant point to make now anyway – your nanny state mates have stopped it in the pubs, and since their next target seems to be the grog the fact that pub closures are up by more than an order of magnitude is presumably a bonus for the nannying bastards who control Britain.

You see, an ex-smoker will never be a never-smoker. Ask anyone who has ever quit if they would, deep down, want to smoke just one more fag and they will tell you that the urge never leaves.

The brave will just accept this as a fact of life and get on with being a part of the rich diversity of modern living. Selfish cunts like Bannatyne, however, will demand that the rest of society comply with their personal wish to be free of temptation. Even being 176th on the rich list can’t take that nagging desire away when a wisp of smoke errs, like a naughty schoolkid, close to their cowardly nostrils.

And here I must disagree with Dick Puddlecote. Read the rest of his rant because it is a thing of beauty, but as I mentioned in the comments on both his and Mummy’s blogs not all ex-smokers are like Duncan Bananatime. I gave up a while back and like many smokers it wasn’t for the first time, but it’s been long enough now that I just don’t feel the urge normally. Very rarely I might experience a passing moment where whatever bit of my brain that got the nicotine effect kind of mentions in passing that smoking was really quite nice, but then the money enjoying part says that it’s not as nice as having an extra 90 bucks a week and the smelling part – that’s my nose, by the way, not my arse – says that actually the smell of tobacco smoke doesn’t seem particularly nice anymore, and why don’t we just forget about it, eh? And since I started this I’ve been trying and failing to recall the last time even that happened. So in short I’m as certain as I can be that I’ve stopped smoking for good.

Yeah, yeah, I know, hoorah for me. The thing is I haven’t just given up smoking, I’m over it. As in I just don’t care about it. I may not like the smell of tobacco smoke very much but I’ve lived near a mushroom farm, a landfill and a marsh and on a hot day with the wind from the right direction they all fucking stank. Even the bay here can be a bit niffy from time to time depending on winds and tides. And then there are the arse biscuits of the cats and the dog… what I’m saying here is that on the league table of unappealing smells ciggie smoke really isn’t anything special. If smoking wasn’t already banned here not allowed in privately owned business premises such as restaurants and pubs I certainly wouldn’t avoid ones where the owners still let customers light up. Good food or a good time would get me in the door and a bit of smoke wouldn’t drive me out again. Equally if it was shit it wouldn’t matter if it was non-smoking. The smoke free air wouldn’t make up for a crap meal or whatever. It would be the food and/or the craic, Duncs, not the smoke that decided it for me because I’m over it, see?

I. Just. Don’t. Care.

I realise that Duncan Ban-it-now and many other ex-smokers become the worst kind of anti-smoking zealots after they give up the bastard baccy…

Bannatyne has bought into the anti-tobacco movement with every part of his being. So much so, that he is now President of No Smoking Day and a co-opted rep for fake charity, QUIT.

… cheers DP. See? There is a worse thing than an ex-smoker who got converted into an anti-smoking crusader: a filthy rich ex-smoker with a famous face who converted into an anti-smoking crusader. I quit smoking for selfish reasons (i.e. money) and I say smoke or don’t smoke, sell tobacco in plain sight or stick it under the counter or don’t stock it at all – it’s all up to you. I also say that governments who ban smoking in public places make smokers stand outdoors should be told to fuck off and catch a terrorist or something useful, and just leave it up to the business owners. I’ll tell you now that there’ll be no smoking in my house, but if I was a restaurant owner I’d damn well have a smoking section if I got a lot of custom from people who like a fag after a nice meal.

Oh, oh, oh, but, but, but what about the other customers? Well, you can be certain that there’d be no shortage of all non-smoking places to go if the demand for them was there. If the demand grew large enough that the smoking made too many non-smokers stay away I’d change it to non smoking. That’s what happens in a free market when you just let it be and don’t fuck with it – supply alters to meet demand and people get a free choice. Did you think I’d go out in the street and drive non smokers in at gun point?

Oh, oh, oh, but, but, but what about your poor staff? Funnily enough, fucknuts, they’d apply for the job of their own volition and hired if they were happy with the terms – including the fact that the place allowed smoking. I wouldn’t be dragging them in at gunpoint either.

Why can’t the world’s Duncan Bansturbates see things that way? Worse still, as Dick Puddlecote points out, even what they’ve done already isn’t enough.

So, has the self-indulgent drivel come to a close yet? Like hell it has.

Smoking should be banned in cars, and particularly any vehicle with children in it.

Duncan. Again, can you please keep to the subject at hand. That’s for next week, you caledonian berk.

On a school visit I met a 12-year-boy who wanted to be an athlete who told me that every morning his mother lit up when she was driving to school, even though he’d begged her to stop. He should be able to report her to the police.

Because that was quite effective in 1930s Germany, so it’s a proven winner, huh?

This anecdotal 12 year old boy who wants to be an athlete but is being smoked out by his own mother – how very fucking Strength Through Joy that it is, by the way, how very correct it was of him to denounce her to you – but are his legs fucking painted on or something? Shouldn’t he be cycling as part of the athlete thing? Then not only would he be improving his fitness but his mother’s cigs wouldn’t be an issue as he wouldn’t be in the car when she’s stopped by the brownshirts, dragged from the car, her cigarette extinguished by a boot heel while it’s still in her mouth, and carted off to be re-educated er, smoking.

Sadly that has already reached these shores, and while it doesn’t affect me the whole illiberal attitude just gets up my hole. As I explained to Dick Puddlecote, at least four states here have or are about to ban smoking in cars. I made a couple of remarks about it putting off DP and other smokers from maybe visiting Oz and spending some much needed dosh in the tourist industry because they’d want to enjoy the holiday, not sit around wondering if the fucking Smoke Police are going to appear and fine them, but it occurs to me that most would be in rental cars and not allowed to smoke by the hire company (fair enough since it’s their car). What really hacks me off about it is that it wouldn’t be too bad if it was just one or two states. I always thought that living in a country that was a federation of competing states would mean that if you didn’t like the law where you were you could bugger off to where it’s different without actually having to leave the country**, but if they’re all doing the same thing where’s the competition bit?

Still, while Mummylonglegs and Dick Puddlecote and others might not want to visit Oz I’m sure Duncan Ballantyne would be tumescent at how much of a pain in the arse it is to be a smoker here. So if he’d like to come over I’d recommend a nice long trip through Australia’s marvellous Outback pubs where things are just waiting to sink their teeth into your bell end. Still, as long as it’s a no smoking snake, eh? And while you’re trying to squeeze it down from the size, shape and colour of a bagpipe reservoir perhaps you’ll think about the irony of someone now telling people how to live their lives having once been dishonourably discharged from the Royal Navy… for threatening to throw an officer off a jetty for abusing his authority. What happened, Duncan? Can’t beat ’em so joined ’em instead.

* True about the drink, but not about driving like a twat. The cops here have guns and I’m not sure about their sense of humour.
** Federal laws are another matter of course, but you can at least fine tune the legal environment by moving interstate. Yes, you can do it by moving from England or Wales to Scotland and vice versa, but where the choice in the UK is between two options here there are six states and two territories to pick from. Why the fuck can’t one of them be fairly liberal?

The Simpsons sell out.

Kind of, though it’d be fun if it turned out that they needed some permission and didn’t bother, and ended up getting sued by Fox. We can but hope but in the meantime it looks like Homer is now on the anti-fat payroll.

Strength through joy.

Cunts.

Good intentions paving a road to somewhere nasty.

I have nothing but sympathy for the family of Kerrie Wooltorton, the suicidal woman who recently took an overdose and then called an ambulance only to refuse anything but palliative treatment. Not only are they coping with a bereavement but they are also dealing with the death of their offspring, something which we seem genetically programmed to find completely unnatural, and must also cope with the awful knowledge that she actively chose death. However, this isn’t an answer.

The family of a suicidal woman whom doctors allowed to die because she had signed a “living will” are planning to sue the hospital for failing to intervene.

Even if they sue solely to create a precedent and demand only nominal damages NHS funds and resources will be used up on a legal matter instead of on patients. I’m not a huge fan of the NHS, its monopoly position and particularly the way everyone is forced at the point of a metaphorical gun to pay for the inefficient monster, but suing just doesn’t make sense. Who pays if you win? Answer: everyone pays, including the people who sued in the first place.

But that’s almost a side issue to the point that really troubles me.

The parents of Kerrie Wooltorton are also calling for an urgent change in the law to stop rules which gave the terminally ill the right to decline treatment being used by those wanting to kill themselves.

As I said, I have a lot of sympathy with the Wooltorton family, but their daughter’s life and body were not theirs but her own, and I feel that their desire to solve the problem by giving the state ownership is highly immoral. I’ve watched someone drink themselves to death, and while I wished like hell they’d just stop drinking I’d already recognised two painful truths years earlier – that they were probably going to die and that it was through their own choices. Would we accept some kind of pindown regime to prevent another boozer drinking themselves into the grave? I’d hope most people would find the idea of treating a rational adult that way abhorrent, yet is it so different from forcing life saving treatment on someone who has decided that they don’t want their life to continue? Okay, clearly someone who keeps drinking – or smoking, or taking a drug, or eating lard pies with double salt, or whatever – at a rate which is harming them because they’re enjoying it isn’t quite the same as someone who’s suicidal. I accept that the decision to end one’s life is often, though far from always, irrational. But if genuine mental illness is involved does there really need to be a change in the law when people can already be sectioned? And if there is insufficient cause to section someone why can we not assume that they are closer to rational than not and have arrived at their decision after thinking about it carefully? I don’t know which would have applied to Kerrie Wooltorton but I’m sure that if I chose to end my life in a similar way I’d be pretty pissed off with her family if my rational choice was denied and treatment was forced on me against my will. However, the coroner found that despite a personality disorder and a history of depression:

… Miss Wooltorton had “full knowledge” of what she was doing and said that it would have been “unlawful”for the doctor overseeing her care to intervene.

Now I can understand the family saying things like being ashamed of British law when it allows this sort of thing to happen – it’s the grief talking*. But what is the excuse of people like The Telegraph’s George Pitcher when he says:

Kerrie Wooltorton’s death shows how we have lost respect for life.

Have we, George? Have we really lost respect for life, or are we simply starting to wake up to the fact that freedom is actually of even greater importance? And since freedom is very much an individual thing perhaps this is not so much an erosion of the respect for life as feared by George Pitcher but an elevation of the respect for personal choices, including the ultimate choice anyone can possibly make in their life – the decision to stop it.

George asks that we

Try this: just for a moment, imagine that the police visit your home to tell you that your child has committed suicide. Now imagine that they tell you that the ambulance and hospital staff could and would have saved her life, but she handed them a letter asking them not to.
So they didn’t.
This is where we have arrived in our attitude to suicide in Britain today. A disturbed young woman, with all the promise of adult life before her, is left to kill herself, because under her current circumstances she wants to.

Well, George, according to the coroner she wasn’t that disturbed. It’s very sad but she made a decision, and unless people are to be treated as little better than property such decisions must be respected. As I said above, would you force treatment on a rational adult who’d arrived at death’s door from simply abusing their body? The NHS have a track record of refusing treatment to people such as smokers, drinkers, fatties, etc., ostensibly because they’re the architects of their own misfortune but possibly as a cost saving measure too. Even when a patient begs for treatment for a self inflicted condition they might be refused and allowed to die because of the guidelines the NHS works under, so isn’t it just a bit inconsistent to force treatment on someone who’d calmly decided to take a big overdose in order to end their life?

George goes on to mention the recent law that is involved in the case.

Apparently, doctors who could have treated Kerrie didn’t do so, because they feared that they might have been prosecuted for assault under the Mental Capacity Act (2005). This legislation forms part of a raft of laws and “guidance”, introduced on this Government’s watch, which promotes the individual’s right to die over our society’s responsibility to save their lives if we can.

Wait, what? Did I just read that right? George has a problem with the concept that an individual owns their life being put above “society’s responsibility to save their lives if we can”? George, what fucking responsibility are we talking about here? Society has no such responsibility and has no more right to force treatment on a someone who has made the considered decision to refuse it than a wealthy film director has to drug a teenager so as to give her one up the backside without her resisting. Yes, I really do equate the forcible application of medical treatment when it’s been clearly and expressly refused as morally equivalent to anal rape. You might protest that unwanted medical treatment would be forced on someone out of a desire, supposedly on the part of society, to do good and to help the person. Fine, and I believe it, really I do. But I also believe that a rapist can genuinely love their victim, but if we all agree that ‘no’ means ‘no’ then I think we’d all agree that it’s still rape no matter how much love was felt or how genuine it was. So it just boils down to a question of whether we, ah, sorry George, I should say society gives the same weight to “no, I do not want you to perform a quite probably invasive medical procedure on me” as “no, I do not want to have any kind of sex with you, especially penetrative”.

It passed onto the statute book to enable terminally ill patients to have a degree of autonomy over their medical treatment. It was intended to allow those who were dying, or who knew that their condition could only end in their death, to refuse medical treatment so that nature could take its course.
In its intent, this is important and altruistic legislation. As medical science advances, we can live to grossly extended, grotesquely burdened and undignified old ages. Within a couple of decades, it is said, we could effectively be immortal, short of the serendipity of accidents and the actions of our own hands.
It follows that we are at a pivotal era in medical ethics and human morality. We are asked to decide whether we want or should live forever, or whether we believe that there is a more “natural” span and narrative to human lives. If we decide on the latter, then we are going to hang on to, like old friends, the diseases and conditions that have carried away our forebears, rather than live out lives in which we forget out youths and watch our children grow decrepit with us.
That kind of hell was, I imagine, what the living wills legislation was aimed at. It can’t, please God, have been intended to allow distressed and depressed twenty-somethings, in otherwise good health, to kill themselves because they want to, with our blessing.

No, it probably wasn’t, but then governments are pretty good at failing to see all the consequences of legislation they pass. As a libertarian I’d always say it’s better to have less legislation in the first place, which would have the same effect in this instance. A distressed twenty something would be at liberty – by the way, that’s a word you should look up in the dictionary, George – to kill themselves because they wanted to without the need for the Mental Capacity Act’s living wills, though if that’s what it takes at the present time to get some bloody legal recognition that an individual’s life is their own then I’ll take it for now.

There is a public attitude that is now pro-suicide, fostered by the euthanasia lobbyists Dignity in Dying, Lord Falconer’s frustrated assisted-suicide amendments in the House of Lords the commercialisation of self-destruction by Swiss clinic Dignitas. Want to kill yourself? Of course you do. You have that right. Go ahead.

Yes, there are some people that are pro-suicide, and that might be because the fear of death, or rather being dead, is starting to become smaller than the bit immediately beforehand. People are getting frightened of scenarios like weeks or months plugged into various machines via an array of wires and tubes, or a slow decline into increasing pain until oblivion really is the most attractive thing in the universe, or the gentle decay of the nursing home where the Alzheimer’s might even be a blessing if it prevents you from noticing that you’ve just shat yourself. Again. Yes, those are possible futures and many of us will have seen enough of them to prefer being dead to experiencing them personally, and that naturally fosters a demand for a peaceful and painless exit. Personally I’m not pro-suicide as such, but I’m very much pro-owning my body. If there comes a day when, in Jeremy Clarkson’s words, I want to be drunk and happy and then I want to explode the, aha, very last thing I want to happen is for some well intentioned busybody to stop me. I can’t reiterate it enough – my body belongs to me. Not to George Pitcher, not to a Church, not to the state, and not to society. It’s mine, okay, so if I tell you to bugger off and not put needles into it, or for that matter to stand by and do nothing while I put a colossal needle containing a truly epic quantity of heroin into it, I expect everyone to bloody respect that. Got it?

These people have successfully usurped what generations of humankind have known as the sanctity of life. That doesn’t have to be a religious belief. It is simply the intuition that we hold and value human life over the taking of it.

Again, George, no usurpation of the sanctity of life has taken place**. We can still value human life over the taking of it, but this is not the taking of life at all. ‘Taking’ strongly implies forcibly ending the life of someone who wants to live, and that isn’t remotely applicable to the situation of someone voluntarily ending their life. I suspect George Pitcher talks about ‘the taking of life’ from a desire to make this sound like murder as opposed to simply respecting, albeit perhaps with sadness and regret, the considered wishes of another human being. Coming from someone who is not just of a religious persuasion or even just another practising Christian but is a working C of E priest this attitude isn’t altogether surprising, but George, we’re not talking about forcibly ending someone’s life at all. I’m as opposed as anyone else to the taking of life, probably as much as you and probably more so than some self professed religious people in this world, but this is not about ‘taking’ life – it’s about relinquishing it.

And the pro-death lobbyists and Lords, evidently, have now infected the intuitive responses of our medical emergency services.
They would argue they were only following legal orders. Tell that to the Woolterton family.

I wouldn’t say I’d be exactly happy to, not least because it might earn me a punch in the mouth for being such an insensitive bastard. But I think someone should tell it to the Wooltorton family. It is desperately sad that a young woman has decide to end her life, and as I said at the very start I am sympathetic. But sympathetic to the point of supporting forcible medical treatment? Sympathetic to assuming that all decisions to end one’s life are irrational and to be considered the product of an unsound mind? Sympathetic to de facto state ownership of our lives… well, even more so than now? No. Absolutely not. It’s a retrograde step in one of the few areas where, and I grant you that it may be serendipitous rather than intentional, towards a more libertarian situation. Try it, and I for one will fight to stop you.

UPDATE: And at the same time as the Wooltorton family and George Pitcher are worrying about how to force treatment on people who don’t want it the NHS are again showing how good they are at refusing to treat people who do want it – H/T to the Ambush Predator.

* Maybe. On the other hand maybe they would agree to this even had their daughter been a happy and well adjusted woman who’d never even considered suicide. I’ll give them the benefit of doubt and assume that the desire for treatment to be forcibly applied to someone who’s made a rational and considered choice to stop living comes from the crushing sense of loss that they’re going through.
** Well, it has when you can get stabbed for a mobile phone or blown up in a foreign land fighting a pointless war, but that’s really not what’s being discussed here.