Archive for the ‘Stupid world’ Category

The State owns your Xray

August 9, 2013

The highlights of my visit (keeping a relative company) to a socialized healthcare hospital tonight.

The way a young woman was silently screaming in pain and all the hospital staff pretended not to notice. She’d fractured her arm badly and spent several hours without anyone doing anything to help.

I’ve seen this sort of thing before, the last time was a gay man who was passing out after being bashed on the head and no one tried to keep him awake. I hope he didn’t go into a coma. Another time – at a different hospital – a woman with her foot twisted 90 degrees fell off a trolley and writhed on the ground screaming for about 10 minutes while medical staff stepped over her to get to a break room for their cups of tea, until a doctor pointed and barked an order “sort that out!” But not tonight.

The complete lack of communication from doctor to nurse. The latter didn’t know anything about what she was bandaging or what it was for. The doctor, of course, couldn’t do a bandage. He also couldn’t give a copy of the X-ray to the patient, or email it (X-rays in socialized medicine belong to the state). There was a competent administrator who seemed to understand what was going on, which was a novelty, but he had zero authority.

The problem of continuity in care is not exclusively a problem of socialized medicine, but is worse: the client, whatever the mission statement may claim, is not the patient, but the owner of the X-rays.

The “Urgent Care Centre” was a hive of inactivity. It was new and looked clean. It was empty. I’ve spent a quarter of an hour trying to remember the last time I was in a place that exuded less urgency and care than this place. I failed. I was at a crematorium recently and that was like the pit lane of a Formula One Grand Prix racing track by comparison.

There was a two hour wait for a “bed” to put the bandage on, because there wasn’t a footrest in the hospital. In the end a supposedly-qualified nurse tried to put a bandage which was too small, and wanted to tape the edges on the fracture. She and her trainee colleague had to be told by the patient how to bandage a fractured toe. They couldn’t figure out that putting the foot on a chair would made bandaging the toe easier.

I counted seven doctors sitting around doing nothing. Actually not nothing: they were taking up chairs that could have been used as footrests.

A visit that would have taken one hour in a competently managed facility took three hours, most of it spent waiting for an unnecessary bed. Apart from the X-ray, which required equipment, nothing that happened would have required anyone more competent than a cub scout who has his first aid badge.

A visit to the nearby private hospital’s Accident and Emergency centre would have cost something like £200 (I looked it up here). I wonder how much in taxes the socialized version costs?

Open email to Amazon

September 7, 2011

Here’s the text of an email I sent to Amazon‘s customer services, about my last-minute decision NOT to buy several albums of music from the store.

Having read the terms and conditions I have decided not to make a purchase for the following reasons:
1) I don’t understand what Amazon’s “right to withdraw” software means for my MP3 download. Does it mean that I can pay for a download and Amazon can, without warning, disable the download? If so, that sounds like a rubbish deal.

2) Ownership. I understand the restrictions on retransmitting and not sharing MP3s, but the statement that I do not own the download begs the question: what exactly am I paying for if I don’t own the download?

3) Cross border restrictions: I currently live in the UK, but I have lived in other countries and I may go and live in the USA. Am I supposed to destroy my UK downloads every time I go and live in another country? What if I spend half my time in the USA and the other half in the UK? Am I not allowed to keep one set of files? Seems very inconvenient.

Consequence: I have never yet bought any downloaded music. At £0.79 a track and my likely target of 1,000 pieces, that’s about £800 of lost business for Amazon. What benefit are you getting that’s worth annoying potential customers this much?

Kind regards,
Antoine Clarke

Bad news for freedom, the UK’s AV referendum

April 3, 2011

On Thursday May 5th 2011, a tiny number of people will vote to make a badly understood change to the UK’s electoral system. It seems likely (unless there’s a change in public awareness), that the Alernative Voting system will replace the current system of ticking a box for one’s preferred candidate.

The date of the referendum coincides with local elections in some parts of England, but not London. It does coincide with elections to the Scottish, Welsh and Northern Ireland assemblies so turnout will be high in areas where nationalist and extremist votes are voting anyway, but low in those areas where fewer extremists live.

As usual with referendums, there is no minimum threshold for the result to be valid. If 50,000 people, all of them rabid fanantics for election reform, happen to vote while 45,950,000 stay at home, then we will see a very bad electoral system introduced.

Three reasons for voting “No” to AV, although a different change could be better

1) It is important to realise that the referendum is NOT about “should we change the UK election system to something fairer”. If that were the case, then I would expect the result to be “Yes” and I’d probably support it.

If the referendum question passes, AV will be introduced and any discussion of other, better, voting systems is over. Once we have AV, it is very unlikely that any agreement can ever be secured to have a referendum on scrapping it. It’s like demolishing St Paul’s Cathedral to build a rubbish landfill site. Not something one can reverse easily. Any reform that is as crucial as changing the electoral system should have the same standard of approval as, say a vote by a building society to become a high street bank: 75% of members have to approve.

It is simply crazy to have a fundamental issue of how democracy works in the UK decided by what is likely to be less than one in ten people.

2) Complexity

Most of the people I know who will be voting for the AV change do not strike me as really having examined how it is supposed to work: they support AV for tribal reasons, being members or at least staunch supporters of the Liberal Democrat party. That alone alarms me, as it means that the risk of an unintended negative consequence of AV is almost certain to be overlooked by its supporters. They tend to assume that any opposition to AV is the same as opposition to the Liberal Democrats having a chance of power in the UK parliament.

For what it’s worth, I’m happier that the Lib Dems are in the government coalition than if they were not. So my opposition to AV has nothing to do with my opinion of local government, the environment, European Union, same-sex marriages, drug policy etc.

In my parliamentary constituency of Hampstead and Kilburn, the Liberal Democrats were the first placed party, according to BBC projections of the 2005 general election to the new boundary, with Labour second and the Conservatives third.

Under the AV system, we would have had to vote for our first and second preferences based on that (as it turned out faulty) analysis. So a supporter of the Green party who wanted the non-Conservative candidate to win would have put Green 1st and Liberal Democrat 2nd. A UKIP voter who wanted Labour out would have put UKIP 1st and Liberal Democrat 2nd.

In fact, the analysis was based on what I predicted would be a false reading of the local election results in the London Borough of Brent, where wards with high Lib Dem support were pushed into the Hampstead constituency. I know the areas concerned well and knew that lots of Conservative voters had been voting Lib Dem to get Labour out. Given the chance of voting for a Conservative in a first past the post parliamentary election, they could vote Conservative.

The actual result was a Labour victory and the Conservatives coming second, 42 votes behind.

Under AV, total confusion would have occurred. Unlike the French election system, where there is a second round of voting two weeks later between the top two candidates if neither passed 50%, we wouldn’t have known that the Lib Dems were eliminated before the Conservatives. So the Green and UKIP second preferences would ALL have been wasted. But any Communists or Nazis who happened to prefer Labour or Conservatives would have got a second vote that mattered.

I can see no basis for supporting a second preference when I don’t know who has a chance of winning.

Another problem is the number of people who are likely to be confused and tick two boxes (as they are told to do in local elections for multi-member constituencies). We should be making it LESS complicated, not more.

3) Pandering to the extremists

If the people who vote for the most extremist political parties with the smallest support have their second preferences counted first, they have twice as much influence as the people who vote for the larger more moderate parties.

Specifically, if a British Nationalist Party candidate gets 1,000 votes, but the gap between both Labour and the Conservatives reaching 50% is, say 900 votes, then both Labour and Conservatives have an interest in capturing the BNP vote. This is unlikely to be by offering anything nice. The same obviously applies to socialist or communist fringe groups.

By contrast, in 2002 the French Presidential election unexpectedly threw up a Republican centre-right versus National Font extreme-right run-off. Because the French voters DID NOT HAVE AV, they had two weeks to decide if they preferred “the crook” to “the fascist”. With AV, all Socialist voters who didn’t realise that their support would be needed to keep out Jean-Marie Le Pen would have abstained, so a National Front victory could have been realised.

What change should we consider?

I don’t favour party list systems (like the system used in the European Parliament elections in the UK) because they reduce the connection between the elected politicians and their voters. To succeed, a politician will want to be higher up the party list, which means grovelling to the leader and ignoring local voter concerns.

However, a party list system would mean that if we prefer to back a label then we get a parliament that reflects the aggregate preferences of more people than AV does. If we have to have this, then a D’Hondt method of allocating seats might make sense.

Another option would be to have a second preference, but not cast at the same time (and in ignorance of the choices available). This system, sometimes called “runoff voting”, is used in France where a candidate fails to get 50% support in the first round, as mentioned previously. It is sometimes described as a system where one votes with one’s heart in the first round and with one’s head (or wallet) in the second.

A third option, which I oppose for some of the reasons I oppose AV, is the Single Transferable Vote. It can be VERY complicated to count. If we want a proportional representation system, this is the one that delivers proportionality.

Consequences for freedom

The pandering to extremism that the AV system would likely produce, coupled with the outrage when an election “goes wrong” (millions of people discovering that their second choices were wasted) does not create a climate for pro-freedom policies to get enacted. Scapegoating, already a feature of British politics with attacks on immigrants, bankers, or people who went to public school. Any change to the voting system that is confusing to many voters and which encourages nasty populism is not one I can support.

I know that most people who support AV would not do so if they were convinced that the negative effects I’ve outlined above were true. I hope I’m wrong, or that I don’t get the opportunity to remind readers that I was right. We shall see.

The one where I defend Bill Gates

August 5, 2010

I believe it was Spike Milligan who once said “money can’t buy friends, but you can get a better class of enemy.” He wasn’t accounting for envy.

Until the British general election in May, which saw off a government that seemed to be trying to combine all the worst aspects of incompetent socialism with the nastier instincts of fascism (racialist immigration policies, ever more puritanical and police-intrusive legislation), the British left had a nasty, but identifiable purpose.

Now it has none.

This article in the Guardian is the sort of dog vomit one would expect to see in an Ayn Rand parody of a collectivist newsrag.

Bill Gates is big enough and ugly enough to take care of himself (and I hasten to add, has never offered me any inducements to speak his mind). I’m writing this on an old Mac because I don’t trust the first billion copies of Windows 7 to be free of bugs.

(Would a free copy of Vista be a bribe or a threat, I wonder? Pleease, nooo! I’ll say what you want, but don’t put Vista on my poor laptop, noooo!)

The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation also has its issues for me: it’s rather more politically correct than I would like it (but hey, it’s up to me to make $30 billion and decide how I spend it, right?), and with size and leverage, comes the power to make big mistakes, rather than smaller ones.

Specifically, in a region of an African country where the Gates Foundation chooses to back a malaria project, this will tend to dwarf existing efforts to, say, distribute a vaccine for schistosomiasis (the reason I won’t take my shoes or socks off in some parts of Egypt). The concern is that in the short term, the effect will be to incite most of the health workers to sign up for Gates’ campaign. (more…)

Has the State nationalized Global Warming?

January 11, 2010

I can only offer one suggestion for the very cold weather throughout the northern hemisphere, given that my acceptance of the scientific explanation of sunspots causing weather changes has me branded a “denier.”

The government must have nationalized climate change: that’s why the warming is late and crap.

The UK’s Meterological Office (a tax funded body which is up to its neck in the warmist propaganda) has already decided that this is the warmest winter for years. Dominic Lawson writes here [hat tip: Instapundit]:

one of its staffers sniffily protested in an internet posting to a newspaper last week: “This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

Headline news

December 28, 2009

I hope these story headlines from the BBC are NOT related news:

OTHER TOP STORIES
Labour MP dies after heart attack
Pope on first visit since assault
Six held on suspicion of murder
Cameron urges ‘good clean fight’
High-speed rail report expected
‘Simple’ anti-theft ads launched

The possibility that HH Pope Benedict XVI might have assaulted a Labour MP (who died of a heart attack), with six accomplices (including David Cameron) because simple anti-theft advertisements are launched to prevent the stealing of high-speed trains, would be disturbing, to say the least.

Late thoughts on bigotry

December 14, 2009

I’m publishing here my response to a Wonkette piece about Sarah Palin’s Down Syndrome child, Trig. The article was written in June by Ken Layne, though my comments are aimed at the blog’s founder, not her flunkies.

antoineclarke says at 2:53 pm, December 14th, 2009
– Reply

Is that the best you can do? Lame.

If the stormtrooper is some kind of hint of Nazism, how come the people who are accused of being Nazis are the ones AGAINST eugenics, and the people supporting eugenics are the ones calling out “fascist.” Seems like disinformation to me.

As someone who would possibly have been gassed by real Nazis, and who had a relative executed by them (he was a hostage that was murdered because a prisoner escaped), I find the attacks on a woman (for not having an abortion) at the very least silly. Next you’ll be supporting some idiot who calls for conservative women to be gang raped. I honestly don’t recall your stance on that story, but I hope you condemned it.

There was me thinking pro-abortion people were in favour of choice. I guess “choice” is just a propaganda tool for collectivists to chip away at individual rights.

I used to consider abortion of a Down’s Syndrome foetus an unfortunate idea but on the whole the right thing to do. Until I traveled to work every day for a year on a train in London with a young woman who had the condition. Most people in the train were grumpy, cramped, seemed pretty miserable. She on the other hand listened to her music and seemed happy. I certainly do not have the right to decide if she had the right to live. And I don’t think you do either.

However, call me a bleeding heart if you like, but I would not condone physical threats or any assault on you, simply for being wrong on an issue. Let’s see how sane your readers are.

Bring back Ana Marie Cox, I reckon.

[H/T ] William A. Jacobson

I want my sharks with sharp teeth

December 7, 2009

A discussion in the New York Times about whether a law firm should refuse to hire qualified people on the grounds that they have worked with the Federalist Society (described as an U.S. conservative-minded group). The bigot who wanted an excuse to refuse to hire people who weren’t as “liberal” as himself admitted that the candidates had all the qualities for the job, apart from sharing the same ideology with him.

Although the NY Times “Ethicist” argued that political views should not be used to discriminate the following concludes the article.

UPDATE: Believing that all the applicants were qualified, but able to hire only a few, this person recommended rejecting each member of the Federalist Society.

[HT: Instapundit]

I say: Good. I want my sharks to be mean, nasty, spiteful, ruthless, vicious, vindictive and petty. I want the people who are generous of spirit on the jury, and then only if I’m the defendant.

There is just one tiny snag. I’m not sure that a law firm that only hires people with the same viewpoint, will be as effective at avoiding groupthink and losing cases because the attorneys all agreed on a bad case strategy. I wonder how one could avoid that?

Propaganda from UK’s CO2 reduction organisation

December 5, 2009

It should come as no surprise that what is supposedly a request for public responses to the Carbon Trust’s plans to destroy all business in the UK, is in fact a fraudulent propaganda stunt.

However, thanks to Guido Fawkes, I’m hopeful this will blow up in the bureaucrats’ faces. In his “Seen elsewhere” feature, Guido points to the survey, which has resulted in some interesting results.

Under the misleading title: CRC Energy Efficiency Scheme: What does it mean to you? we get the following six questions:

Question 1 of 6

Which of the following apply to you?

Owner of a business
Senior manager of a business
Other

Question 2 of 6

If one group should bear the brunt of efforts to cut the UK’s carbon emissions, who should it be?

Consumers
Government
Business
Other

N.B. The question is loaded in several ways: 1) there is no option to either say “both government and consumers” for example, which is dubious, there should at least be the chance to indicate more than one; 2) where is the “none of the above” or “I don’t want UK carbon emissions reduced” option?

This is not a survey of people’s opinions, but a propaganda excerise designed to “prove” public support for a government programme. Sounds familiar?

(more…)

BBC smoking crack

September 28, 2009

Someone at the BBC has overdone the magic mushrooms or taken a puff on a crack pipe if this report of the German elections is anything to go by.

Also possible, though less likely, is the Christian Democrats teaming up with both the Free Democrats and the Green Party – creating a so-called Jamaica coalition of black, yellow and green.

And what about the reds – the Social Democrats? Well, their candidate, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, the current foreign minister, is dreaming of a red-green government, in a tie-up with the Green Party. That is the combination that led Germany under Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder between 1998 and 2005. But opinion polls suggest that neither red nor green will get enough support to make that possible this time.

They could try to persuade the Free Democrats to join them, in a red-yellow-green government, a so-called traffic-light coalition.

I take it the drugs wore off a little, because we then get a disclaimer:

But the Free Democrats claim they are not interested.

Speaking of traffic lights, I hope whoever came up with this entertaining fiction didn’t drive home without having a lie down followed by several cups of coffee.