Aug 242012

There is a persistent cynical claim that changing the law to permit assisted dying would diminish disabled people. (Variations include “it would make disable people more  vulnerable” and “it would suggest that disabled peoples’ lives are less valuable“). Wrong! It would empower disabled people, and enable them determine for themselves the value of their lives! The argument from “Ability” Able-bodied people can die if they want to. (Suicide is legal). They have autonomy. Tony Nicklinson’s fate demonstrated his dependence on others and the unwillingness of the law to help him overcome this particular aspect of his disability. His own opinions . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 222012

So after 2 years of a legal struggle for a relatively painless and dignified death, Tony Nicklinson had to starve himself to death. What a cruel system we have! And what cruel people there were opposing his death! I hope that they will reflect on what their opposition achieved, or rather failed to achieve. If they have sufficient empathy even to appreciate what they did. Some quotes from (BBC) Tony Nicklinson’s legal fight for right to die: “The condition left him unable to speak or move and relying on a computer to communicate….  Mr Nicklinson said he did not want . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 202012

Let’s remind ourselves: Suicide (and assisted suicide) is legal! You don’t need to justify it. You don’t need to ask permission. If you are able-bodied, you just do it! The question “whose life is it anyway?” was answered decades ago: if you are able-bodied, it is your life. What is special for Tony Nicklinson and others is that their disabilities stops them doing it for themselves. In any enlightened country, we would help disabled people achieve what able-bodied people can legally achieve. Mostly the UK aims for that. In this case the UK falls short. What sort of person could . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Jul 312012

Two UK TV programmes this week have presented problems with the new approach to sickness and disability benefits. (Channel 4 “Britain on the Sick” and BBC2 “Panorama: Disabled or Faking it?”) Both programmes used anecdotes and under-cover investigation to make their points that there are flaws with the new system. And there do appear to be flaws. But are these flaws of philosophy/policy or flaws of implementation? I think they are primarily flaws of motivation and implementation, not of philosophy. First, some statistics presented as criticism by Channel 4 about the assessments performed by Atos, the private-sector contractor used for . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Feb 212012

Yet another scare story about the dangers of alcohol: BBC: 210,000 people face alcohol death risk, warn doctors Independent: Doctors warn on alcohol deaths NHS Choices: Alcohol ‘could kill 210,000 in next 20 years’ What proportion of deaths is this? This is about 10,500 people a year. Every year, more than 500,000 people die in the UK. So this is about 2% of all deaths! (This is the lowest estimate for the proportion of deaths by alcohol that I’ve seen! Normally the figures tend to be about 3% overall, but typically 4% or more for men). What about lives saved . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Nov 042011
My breakfast today - an example of healthy English food

The unhealthiness of Scottish food is in the media. Suggestions are to copy the healthier English cooking instead, to reduce obesity in Scotland. Here is what I (an Englishman) had for breakfast this morning: 2 hash browns. A sausage. A rasher of bacon (streaky, smoked). A slice of Bury black-pudding. 2 small mushrooms fried in butter. 2 pealed plum tomatoes from a can. A fried egg (fried in extra virgin olive oil). A glass of Golden Grapefruit juice. A mug of tea (Twinings Chai tea, with full-fat milk). It sets me up for the day. I suspect it acts like . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Sep 022011
Abortion - some unemotional analysis

Abortion is in the news in the UK. See: Nadine Dorries’ abortion proposals – Fact and Fiction I am among the least qualified to comment on abortion. I am a childfree man who is not likely to be remotely involved in such a process in the foreseeable future. But my detachment may be useful for introducing some analysis to this topic. (I don’t claim originality for most of the ideas here, but it would hard to cite all the influences). Trying to treat an inherently emotional subject unemotionally leaves out a lot that is important. I expect there is something . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 302011
Alcohol consumption - discussion

This is the 3rd of a 3-part discussion on alcohol drinking guidelines: Part 1: Alcohol consumption at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Part 2: Alcohol consumption – science and politics Part 3: This article Preamble I started this 3-part discussion because of the recommendations in the report “Our invisible addicts” by the Royal College of Psychiatrists about alcohol guidelines in the over-64s. They were wrong on a number of levels. Much of the literature on alcohol consumption suffers from one of the errors made by that report: there is a failure to see the issue from the individual drinker’s perspective. . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 292011
Alcohol consumption - science and politics

This is the 2nd of a 3-part discussion on alcohol drinking guidelines: Part 1: Alcohol consumption at the Royal College of Psychiatrists Part 2: This article Part 3: Alcohol consumption – discussion Via Twitter, 2020Health say they will publish a report ‘Risky drinking’ in October. The Daily Mail and Telegraph have written about it, perhaps from a press release. I’m confident that it won’t say anything significant that I don’t already know, but if it does I’ll comment eventually. Lack of information Are the following questions reasonable? “If my alcohol drinking pattern and quantity is X, what is my increased . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]

Aug 242011

This is the 1st of a 3-part discussion on alcohol drinking guidelines: Part 1: This article Part 2: Alcohol consumption – science and politics Part 3: Alcohol consumption – discussion In June 2011, the Royal College of Psychiatrists published a report “Our invisible addicts” which contained some sloppy analysis that was rightly ridiculed in the media. The Daily Mail has re-opened the discussion, perhaps to fill up spare column-inches: Why an extra glass of wine (or three) does more harm to older drinkers. This gives me an excuse to post some analysis I did before I started this blog. Sloppy . . . . . . . . . . [Read complete post]