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The Phantom of the Opera

I’ve just been to see this, and I thought it was really good. As a big fan of the stage production I suppose I’m rather biased, but I was concerned that the transition from stage to screen wouldn’t work terribly well. But they really pulled it off. Despite what some reviewers might tell you.

Okay, I accept that the Phantom wasn’t played by the best person in the world (far too nice, if you ask me), and they had messed around with bits (with good reason), but I enjoyed it and would certainly recommend it. Though given the choice between the stage version and the film version, I’d still choose the stage every time. But hell, you can’t keep an entire cast and theatre in a little box by the telly for when you’re bored on a rainy afternoon. So bravo.

Those of you who know me may also be interested to know that I’ve had my hair cut today. Therefore, it is now much shorter than it was yesterday. Just, you know, to let you know.

This post was filed under: Reviews.

My Work

I’ve updated the CSS for the rest of the site to fit in better with this new blog-cum-homepage. Hope you like it!

This post was filed under: Site Updates.

‘We doctors work in a climate of fear’

‘We doctors work in a climate of fear’ (Times)

This article, with its accompaniment Why doctors must ‘jump through hoops’, raises some very important points about the medical profession. Is it necessarily so bad to have guidelines set down as to the best treatment for any given condition, with these guidelines being based on firm evidence as opposed to the practicioner’s previous experience?

If everything was simple, and patients fit into neat boxes, then of course guidelines are helpful. But they cannot cover every scenario, and there will be occasions when following the guidelines is not in the best interest of the patient. For this to open up the possibility of litagation is absurd. There are always going to be cases where the doctor genuinely does know best, and most doctors will always try and act in the best interests of their patients. The growing climate of ‘Give x to treat y’ is not terribly helpful, and appears (to me) to be driven by the vast increase in non-medically trained managers within the NHS. They want to be able to plan expenditure down to the last penny. If they know that every patient who comes in with x will get y, this is made considerably easier. And, of course, in other industries (from which many of these managers are recruited) the situation really is this simple.

Whilst I would agree that it’s best to rely on evidence where evidence is available, the prevlance of Evidence Based Medicine should not be allowed to grow to such an extent that doctors work in a climate of fear, where they no longer feel free to do the things that they judge to be in the best interest of their patient.

This post was filed under: News and Comment.

How can religious people explain this?

How can religious people explain this? (Guardian)

An interesting slant on the Asia Disaster, courtesy of Guardian Unlimited. Certainly worth reading alongside the corresponding (and illustrated) Newsblog item. It must have been a difficult decision for the Editor, whether or not to publish this item in the middle of the crisis itself, but I certainly think that the right decision was made.

If you have not yet read Scott Adams’s books God’s Debris: A Thought Experiment and its sequel The Religion War then you are genuinely missing out on some interesting challenges to traditional philosophies. From the guy who brought you Dilbert. Unlikely, but true. Both books are also available in the ebook format, which I’ve come to love with my Pocket PC (I’m currently making my way though The Da Vinci Code, if you must know). Check mslit.com for details.

This post was filed under: Reviews, Tsunami 2004.

Cash incentives for volunteers

This post was filed under: Homebase, News and Comment.

40,000 dead – and toll still rising

40,000 dead – and toll still rising (Guardian)

This is the most horrific news story in a long time. Over forty thousand mums, dads, sons and daughters killed in one major natural disaster. If nothing else, then it certainly reminds us of the value and delicate nature of life. Of course, in reality the death toll will be much higher, once all of the unsurveyable areas are covered. On this scale, though, it’s almost as if the numbers don’t matter – how can you quantify the loss of 10,000 lives compared to the loss of 60,000 lives? They’re both tragedies of epic proportions.

In Galle, Sri Lanka, officials used a loudspeaker on a fire engine to tell residents to place bodies on the road for collection. Muslim families used cooking utensils and even their bare hands to dig graves.

What more horrific image can there ever be?

If you’re wondering what you can do to help in this situation, then there’s a fair summary on The Guardian’s Newsblog. Somehow, supporting relief agencies always seems so futile to me in the aftermath of such loss of life, but they do some sterling work, and we really should support them more. Relief Web have a good summary of everything that’s going on in South Asia to help the victims.

This post was filed under: Tsunami 2004.

Elias Fotinis DeskPins

Elias Fotinis DeskPins

This is one of the most useful tools I have ever discovered on the internet – I’ve been using it for months now, and can’t imagine how I ever did without it. It’s completely free, and allows you to make any window ‘Appear on Top’. Definitely worth a click.

This post was filed under: Reviews.

Merry Christmas

This is my new blog – Weclome, especially to those of you who have found your way here via The LBSC, which has sadly passed away (or is it just sleeping?). All of the content that used to be on this site is still very much here, via the links on the right.

I plan to post here fairly sporadically, as with The LBSC, so don’t expect to see daily updates or anything so exciting. I also plan to base much of the posting on here around particular links and webpages, and so you’ll find that, in most cases, there is a link to the relevant page – click the link, or the title of the post, to find out what I’m blabbering on about.

Anyway, all that remains is for me to wish all of my readers, old and new, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This post was filed under: Site Updates.

Guardian-Reading Liberal Wet

I’ve officially become one. It’s been a year-long process, but it’s finally happened – Guardian Unlimited is my homepage.

Have a good Christmas.

Originally posted on The LBSC

This post was filed under: Miscellaneous.

The Bushman

From The Grauniad, Friday December 3 2004, page 14….

Washington funds false sex lessons

Gary Younge
in New York

The Bush administration is funding sexual health projects that teach children that HIV can be contracted through sweat and tears, touching genitals can result in pregnancy, and that a 43-day-old foetus is a thinking person.

A congressional analysis of more than a dozen federally funded “abstinence-only programmes” unveiled a litany of “false, misleading and distorted information” in teaching materials after reviewing curriculums designed to prevent teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases.

There are more than 100 abstinence programmes, involving several million children aged from nine to 18, and running in 25 states since 1999. They are funded by the federal government to the tune of $170m (£88.5m), twice the amount when George Bush came to power.

The money goes to religious, civic and medical organisations as grants. To qualify they may only talk about types of contraception in terms of their failure rates, not about how to use them, or the possible benefits.

The survey was conducted by the staff of congressman Henry Waxman of California, a longstanding Democratic critic of the Republican administration’s approach to sex education. His team concentrated on the 13 programmes that are most widely used, and found only two of them were accurate.

“It is absolutely vital that the health education provided to America’s youth be scientifically and medically accurate,” Mr Waxman said. “The abstinence-only programmes reviewed in this report fail to meet this standard.”

Other “facts” include that abortion can lead to sterility and suicide, half the gay male teenagers in the US have tested positive for HIV, and condoms fail to prevent transmission of HIV in 31% of heterosexual intercourse. US government figures contradict all of these assertions.

AC Green’s Game Plan — a programme named after a basketball player who said he would not have sex before marriage — teaches: “The popular claim that condoms help prevent the spread of STDs is not supported by the data.”

Mr Waxman told the Washington Post: “I don’t think we ought to lie to our children about science. Something is seriously wrong when federal tax dollars are being used to mislead kids about basic health facts.”

But government officials said Mr Waxman’s report rehashed old anti-abstinence prejudices for political purposes. Alma Golden, the deputy assistant health and human services secretary for population affairs, said it took statements out of context to present programmes in the worst possible light.

“These issues have been raised before and discredited,” Ms Golden said. “One thing is very clear for our children: abstaining from sex is the most effective means of preventing the sexual transmission of HIV, STDs, and preventing pregnancy.”

Mr Waxman also criticised some programmes for reinforcing sexist stereotypes to children. One — Why Know — says: “Women gauge their happiness and judge their success by their relationships. Men’s happiness and success hinge on their accomplishments.”

Another programme, Wait Training, says: “Just as a woman needs to feel a man’s devotion to her, a man has a primary need to feel a woman’s admiration. To admire a man is to regard him with wonder, delight, and approval. A man feels admired when his unique characteristics and talents happily amaze her.”

Originally posted on The LBSC

This post was filed under: Media, News and Comment.

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