Making a Pigs Ear of it all…

I have swine ‘flu. So I am told, from the very thorough medical examination I underwent from some idiot on the end of the phone.  I have to say this is the best thing that has ever happened to me.

Not because I get to spend a week in bed, alternately sleeping and complaining on facebook. But because if this is how the country manages in the ‘early stages’ of this supposed pandemic, I am really glad that I will hopefully be immune when the real thing kicks off…

This all started on Friday, when Aimee was sent home from work, having collapsed and become very poorly. Though, to be fair, I have felt worse from various other respiritory illnesses this is quite a bummer of a disease, not least because it seems to go in waves and one point you are sat there thinking ‘am I imagining all of this, have I succumbed to the media hype?’ and the next minute it hits you like a jack-hammer and you feel shite.

Anyway, Aimee phoned the helpline.  First they ascertained that she was not unconscious – ‘hold on, I’ll check… “Can you hear me? What is your name?” Slap, Slap… Oh my god I’m unconscious I’m in a tunnel and there’s a beautiful light at the end… Wham! Oh, no hold on I’m not unconscious…’

After a few questions she was duly  diagnosed. It turns out the nearest place to pick up Tamiflu is Seacroft. An hour each way on the bus. And only open office hours in the week, and 11-4 on Saturdays. I always said that I was not going to take the latest wonderdrug, as I am normally quite anti this sledge-hammer medicating of the masses. But I did ask the helpline what would be the procedure if I subsequently became ill, and we had problems finding someone who would take the morning off work to trek to the arse-end of chav-town to pick me up some drugs.

Despite the fact that anyone with even GCSE science could probably work out that even with the utmost hygiene the chances of my becoming ill and then not really wanting to have to trek across Leeds again were quite high, one cannot get any drugs in case. One suggestion was that I should ‘quarantine my girlfreind’. Bet you’re single love, ain’t you. The next was that whoever was feeling the least ill should go…

Now I thought, that becuase the illness is actually quite mild, the general dosing of the population (conspiracies about drug companies notwithstanding) was to keep people indoors and try and prevent the spread as this variant was one that most people have no resistance to. I was tempted to do this: ‘Oh yes, this batch is for me, Atischoo, oh, do excuse me, sorry did I splatter you…” But I persisted. After the helpline, NHS Direct, and my GP’s Out of Hours Service had all given contradictory information I gave up.

I went to Seacroft. Honestly, the place was like fucking Fort-Knox. Security at each end of the corridor. I was told to go to the end and speak to the nurse. Putting one foot too far over the yellow line resulted in a barked ‘Wait there!’.

You will recall that you can get this drug just by phoning and telling them you have a list of symptoms which you could, if you so chose, just recite of the website. Yet they seem to think that I am likely to be about to storm the doors and steal mine. Maybe it’s the leather jacket, that makes me dodgy it seems.

OK, I know there is quite a black market trade in Tamiflu, but it all seems a bit daft to me.

I did ask why one has to trek out to Seacroft, and they can’t set something up at LGI. It seems one of the main problems is parking. So (despite the fuck-off multi-story attached to the hospital) those of us who don’t drive have to trek miles on the bus because those who are surgically melded to their cars can’t be trusted to park nicely. Typical.

Anyway… Sure enough at some point on Sunday my temperature shot up to god knows what and I started feeling like I’d filled my system with scopolamine or some other vile poison. I called the helpline on Monday and then the hospital and informed them that they would be deliveing me some drugs. They did so.

After all this I decided that I probably would give it a go, also on the advice of the one medical professional I actually trust, who reminded me how ill pneumonia makes me. I think it’s helped, but at some points I actually wish I was feeling worse, so I could just sleep and not go through this I feel OK, no I feel like death would be a release, oh I feel OK again business…

One thing I will say from this. Don’t take shite from them. Challenge them, and don’t let them assume that you can expect your mates to disrupt their lives ‘cos the PCT has decided that the only place they will hold drugs is miles away. Everyone’s joining groups about I love the NHS… Hmmm. It’s better than most, but cut the fucking bureaucracy and it would be 20 times better…

Giving them drugs, taking their lives away…

I should be writing my dissertation, but this requires comment. Finally, in peer reviewed journals, sensible discussion on the risks of drugs is coming to the fore.

This is something that the late Nicholas Saunders commented on nearly 20 years ago, though his statistical assessment put the risk as similar to that of fly-fishing. Whilst it is true that there is ‘no safe dose’ of ecstacy, as it can kill unpredictably this is also, as the Cheif Constable of North Wales suggested a year ago, the same for many over the counter pharmaceuticals, or other drugs consumed everyday.

Caffeine, a drug with an LD50  estimated at between 3-10g orally (a single packet of the US brand pep-pill No-Doze is reported to be possibly fatal)  is a key component of many peoples’ “morning stimulant” and present in many energy drinks and in pills such as Pro-Plus or the aforementioned No-Doze. Nicotine, a drug which provokes similar withdrawal effects to Opiates and Benzodiazepines is a major consumer product, yet still smokers may be refused coronary treatment. The list goes on; the argument about the criminogenic effects of alcohol consumption is well known.

Incidentally the risk of an unpredictable reaction from pure and unadulterated MDMA, taken safely, is very very low.

What is perhaps most problematic about this affair is the National Drug Prevention Alliance calling for Professor Nutt’s resignation. For what? presenting accurate statistics. If he did indeed present his ‘opinion’ as the NDPA suggest, I would agree that he should resign, as there is little room for opinion in the dissemination of medical fact. But it was statistical analysis he presented, and it is encouraging that this has been presented in an academic setting.

And now, Home Secretary Jaqui Smith has demanded and received an apology. This is perhaps most concerning.

Whatever one’s personal opinion on the morality or safety of drug use, Prof. Nutt has published an article, based upon statistical analysis of the dangers, in a respected peer review journal.

It is often argued that hiding debate around drugs serves a contrary purpose to the management of the drugs ‘problem’. Furthermore, to demand an apology for publishing a valid scientific argument is tantamount to censorship of scientific knowledge. Jaqui Smith has done both these things.

Hole in the Head…

Once again, I am astounded by the plain stupidity rife on the BBC website comments. One day I’ll stop reading it, but I guess I’ll lose a large amount of my entertainment. But honestly…

So what is it this time. Don’t you know, the world was due to end today? A black hole was about to swallow us all up when they switched on the Large Hadron Collider at CERN.

As I am still sat here writing this, I think it’s safe to say this hasn’t happened. Now if we are to believe the scaremongers that it was gonna blow the moment they switched it on, I guess this is probably easily explained by the fact that it was actually switched on quite a while ago. If you believe the ones who reckon it’s gonna create a mini black hole then the lack of oblivion might just be accounted for by the fact that they haven’t actually collided anything yet…

Don’t get me wrong, pushing the boundaries of physics is dangerous. I’m sure the City Fathers of Hiroshima would be able to tell you that if they weren’t ripped apart to their constituent atoms half a century ago. My personal fear is, like Einstein’s reputed despair about the Atom Bomb that knowing more about the fabric of the Universe will enable us to learn to commit atrocities of a Stellar scale if we ever survive to leave this ball of rock – have a read of Greg Bear’s Anvil of the Stars for a pretty scary moral explanation of what knowledge of the fabric of spacetime could enable us to do. But that’s down to how we use it. I can hope we might just manage to control our violence one day.

But not content with telling us that Islam is The Beast Incarnate, that paedophiles should all be forcibly castrated before their hanging and so on, the panic merchants are now telling us that physics is the end of the world. Most of them hail I’m sure from the Bible-belt of the Mid-West and of course have their ulterior motives. But it seems some people are daft enough to truly believe them.

“I cant believe they would put our lives at danger!
They could have had a world wide vote to see what everyone thought just like they did for england with terminal 5.They put billions of lives at risk more lives then how much money they spent one the experiment in the first place ? Why the world is gonna stop anyway so whats the point on spending the money when other people need that money to survive.What went through their heads i do not know but next time is there is one STOP & THINK AGAIN!” Holly Burton, benissa/spain

This experiment has a potential of duplicating Big-Bang. But,we know that the matter was created from”Nothingness”and it started expanding thereafter.Collision of Zero Particles might start another expansion process capable of colliding with “God Particles’. Important question is,do we know beyond doubt if this experiment will not violate nature in a”Big Way”starting a collision course of “God Particles” with Man-Particles expected to ultimate destruction?

Muhammad Saeed, Islamabad, Pakistan

Worse than that are those who show a complete inability to constructively manage their fears, and hide behind those of their children. This goes a little off my main point, but these are two gems from the BBC

“My 2 daughters aged 10 and 8 are absolutely terrified of this experiment…”
Marc, Lanarkshire”

Hmm… So what you are saying is that you do not have the ability to explain to a child of that age that sometimes people talk shite. Or is it that you are scared, and blaming your children.

And the classic…

“i think its stupied, my children are scared bye this and i am not happy about it”
stacey, nottingham

If one can get past the atrocious spelling and understand what the fuck you are on about, this is stupied [sic] because you believe evryfing that people tell u and so they shouldnt do it cuz you are an idiot who lets ur kids watch tv all day wile ur smoking rocks?

Ok, maybe I’m being a little cruel. I feel for another commenter on here who said he needed to sit all night with a “mentally handicapped” friend who was upset by this. But the idiot responses to this are akin to scaring the shit out of kids telling them they will go to hell if they are naughty (haven’t most of us realised that threatening children in the name of discipline is a bit last century..?) – this is the church breeding ignorance.

This I don’t get… Not that I consider that Vatican to be the paragon of Christian Virtue. But it’s certainly pretty vociferous. Last I heard, the Pope had abandoned the Inquisition and accepted that much of our theory of Physics was entirely compatible with creation, Big Bang included. Having turned my back on the majority of the Christian Church a long while ago for its abject hypocrisy, I don’t know how the rest of the Church sees this, but my feeling is that the majority of rational (i.e not American) Christians in this world agree that discovery and progress is a good thing. Most rational, thinking people do not think that X-rays, Semiconductors, MRI scans, The Internet and so on and so forth are a threat to all humanity.

Or am I wrong…

…. I believe God has sent us a message already. Have you seen four earthquakes in different parts of the world happened in one day? Ed Li, Vancouver, BC, Canada

For fucks sake…

OK, some people baulk at the cost, while happily accepting the latest military behemoth to protect us from the evil Arabs. OK I’m sure many millions of starving children could have been fed with the cost of this… But lets face it while we sit in our capitalist bubble (which looks to burst soon, guys) that’s not gonna happen.

But back to the point. The simple thing to learn from this is use your fucking heads. The simple fact that the eschaton brigade have chosen today to portent doom shows us clearly how daft it is. Why today? Why is it going to happen today, when all they are doing is sending the first test beam round the whole circuit? Not switching it on. Not colliding things for the first time. No-one making these claims has said it’s gonna be today, but everyone is prattling on about it.

Because today is publicity day. Today is the day when people can see something going on in the news that they don’t understand. And because they don’t understand it (which is fine, it’s complex, not many people do) instead of learning about it, reading the facts and making an informed assessment, they hide behind the first scare rumour they can find.

I’m sounding like the scientists now, sticking up for the idea, which was not my plan, but I can’t help it. I’m fascinated by all this, though it’s well outside my field. Like most people. Maybe it will all go horribly wrong, and in a few years time we’ll realise it did create a mini black hole and we are fucked. If you are a conspiricist you will doubtless believe there are many more potentially dangerous things going on. To be fair, I think I do. But we’ve more to gain from this than Trinity and Enewetak. Even if the risks are real, people in power risk the future of this planet on a daily basis, often for little more gain than their sense of pride.

You hide your heads in the sand. One day, if you’re lucky and we’re feeling altruistic, we’ll come and show you the secret of fire.