About me
About me

The art of translation

I found this Aoen essay by Mark Polizzotti very interesting. He talks, with enormous knowledge and experience, about the art of translating texts and what the ultimate goal of translation should be.

I read quite a lot of books in translation, not least because English is the only language I can read to any reasonable level of competence. When I really enjoy a translated book, I often wonder whether I would have liked the original to the same degree. I also sometimes find myself wondering whether particular annoyances in translated texts are attributable to the original author or to the translator.

The article reminded me of my amazement a couple of years ago at Megan McDowell’s masterful translation of Alejandro Zambra’s Multiple Choice, a book with only a very small number of words, all clearly carefully chosen to have multiple layered meanings. I’ve no idea how McDowell approached the task, but the result is astounding.

There were three paragraphs towards the end of Polizzotti’s article which I found particularly interesting:

At its best, translation exposes us to minds and voices able to stir in us a particular sense of delight or kernel of insight, a shiver of discovery that would be available nowhere else – minds and voices that are truly unique, that have something to say that is dissimilar from what anyone else has to say, in any language. Such minds and voices are exceedingly rare, and we cannot afford to be ignorant of a single one of them. They are the reason that humans have hungered after stories since consciousness began. We are as enriched by having come in contact with them as we are unwittingly impoverished by having forgone or been denied that contact.

For this reason, translation is often cited as a preventative against cultural atrophy and homogenisation. If done well, the translation of a foreign work is uniquely positioned to usher in viewpoints different from what we see at home and make them resonate in another context, giving them a new and vibrant voice that they would not otherwise have had. What this means, somewhat paradoxically, is that translation in the best of cases not only bridges distances but, even more so, safeguards them – not by keeping cultures at a safe remove, but rather by helping ensure that the contact produces sparks rather than suffocation.

In our increasingly interconnected world, it is tempting to posit the end of national and cultural boundaries. But there’s another aspect to it, and it has to do not with the repressive aspect of boundaries but with their utility, for boundaries can also be guardians of difference. The flip side of heightened familiarity, of potentially infinite contact (including, of course, the kind of contact made possible by translation), is the erosion of diversity. Just as the notion of barriers can call to mind a vast gulag of barbed wire, so their absence can as easily conjure an endlessly uniform expanse. The diffusion of ideas, the intellectual and aesthetic free-for-all of arts, literatures, philosophies and viewpoints ricocheting throughout the world, could bring one of the greatest revitalisations in the history of humankind, a new Renaissance. Or it could lead to the blandest global monoculture we’ve ever known.

I hadn’t previously considered translations of books as having the potential to break down cultural barriers to the extend that ‘it could lead to the blandest global monoculture we’ve ever known’. I wonder if the language barrier, and the fact that we are reading a translation and hence having slightly different experiences, is at least slightly protective.

But then, I suppose the same argument could be made for anything: there are mild differences in the taste of Coca-cola around the world as a result of different recipes and manufacturing processes, but no-one could deny that product’s contribution towards a bland global monoculture.

Something to think about!

This 2,347th post was filed under: News and Comment.

Is the Government misleading people over Junior Doctors’ Contracts?

When people accuse politicians of lying, I generally roll my eyes. Almost a decade ago, I laid into my local MP for sending me an inaccurate letter. Guido Fawkes picked it up and called the poor guy a moronic liar. The episode was a whiny hurling of personal insults that achieved nothing of value. I still slightly regret it.

And these days, too often people choose to quote politicians out of context, wilfully misunderstand their position, or turn slips of the tongue into conspiracy theories. I have no interest in any of that.

And yet. And yet. And yet, I have noticed a lot of inconsistency in Government statements on the Junior Doctors’ Contract dispute. I’m not accusing anyone of lying. I’m not even accusing anyone of being deliberately misleading. I’m just highlighting statements which, as far as I can see, don’t match one another.

Look through the list yourself. Check out the sources. Draw your own conclusions.

There will be no imposition.

Source: Government statement in response to petition, 21 March 2016

There has been no change whatsoever in the Government’s position since my statement to the House in February … We are imposing a new contract, and we are doing it with the greatest of regret.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 18 April 2016

Is it really the Government’s position that “no imposition” and “we are imposing a contract” mean the same thing?


No trainee working within contracted hours will have their pay cut.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 11 February 2016

No one will see a fall in their income if they are working the legal hours.

Source: Ben Gummer (Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health), speaking in Commons debate, 21 March 2016

Is it the Government’s position that “contracted hours” and “legal hours” mean the same thing? Or did Gummer choose to to undersell the Government’s own guarantee on 21 March?


It will actually cost us more. If you’re going to ask more doctors to work at weekends, you’re going to have to pay more.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, on The Andrew Marr Show, 7 February 2016

[We have agreed] the cost neutrality of the contract

Source: Jeremy Hunt, in letter to Professor Dame Sue Bailey, 5 May 2016

Does the government consider “cost neutrality” and “it will actually cost us more” to have the same meaning?


What we do need to change are the excessive overtime rates that are paid at weekends. They give hospitals a disincentive to roster as many doctors as they need at weekends.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 13 October 2015

What we’re actually doing is giving more rewards to people who work the nights and the more frequent weekends.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, on The Andrew Marr Show, 7 February 2016

Was the Secretary of State mis-speaking when he said that the contract reduced excessive overtime rates at weekends, or when he said that the new contract increased them?

Junior Doctors Contract March London - 03

Certain features of the new contract will adversely impact on those who work part-time, and a greater proportion of women than men work part-time; women, but not men, take maternity leave and some aspects of the new contract have certain adverse impacts regarding maternity; certain features of the new contract will potentially adversely impact on those who have responsibilities as carers.

Source: Government Equity Analysis of new contract, published 31 March 2016

Shorter hours, fewer consecutive nights and fewer consecutive weekends make this a pro-women contract that will help people who are juggling important home and work responsibilities.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 18 April 2016

Is it the Government’s position that it got its own Equality Assessment wrong when it concluded that it discriminated against women?


No doctor will ever be rostered consecutive weekends.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 18 April 2016

Good practice guidance will be published in the near future to support employers, including guidance on rotas and scheduling, and will make clear that, where possible, routine rostering of consecutive weekends should be avoided.

Source: NHS Employers, 31 March 2016

Does the Government consider that “ever” and “where possible” mean the same thing?

Doctors put on masks and observed three minutes' silence.

We will make the NHS more convenient for you. We want England to be the first nation in the world to provide a truly 7 day NHS.

Source: Page 38 of the Conservative Party Manifesto, 2015

There is concern that the government may want to see all NHS services operating 7 days. Let me be clear: our plans are not about elective care.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 25 April 2016

Were the Conservatives up front about not including elective care in their plan to make the NHS more convenient with a truly 7 day service?


We have a plan for every stage of your life
Source: First line of the first page of the Conservative Party Manifesto, 2015

The first line on the first page of this Government’s manifesto said that if elected we would deliver a seven-day NHS.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, speaking in Commons debate, 25 April 2016

Will Hunt correct the Parliamentary record for misquoting his own Party’s manifesto?


It is now not possible to change or delay the introduction of this contract.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, in letter to Dr Johann Malawana, 19 April 2016

We will pause introduction of the new contract for five days from Monday should the Junior Doctors’ Committee agree to return to talks.

Source: Jeremy Hunt, in letter to Professor Dame Sue Bailey, 5 May 2016

Is Hunt claiming to have achieved the impossible? Or was was his earlier statement erroneous?

Images used under by or by-sa licence as appropriate. Sources (in order of appearance): Ted Eytan, Roger Blackwell, University of Salford Press Office, Garry Knight, Ted Eytan (again), Garry Knight (again), NHS Confederation, Roger Blackwell (again). Thank you all!

This 2,305th post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Rants.

M&S should have sacked the weatherman


Marc Bolland stepped down as Chief Executive of Marks and Spencer today, after his fifth consecutive Christmas of disappointing sales. Among the reasons M&S has cited each year for its disappointing sales:

2015: Unseasonably warm weather
BBC News, 7 January 2016

2014: Unseasonal conditions
The Independent, 8 January 2015

2013: Exceptionally unseasonal weather
The Telegraph, 9 January 2014

2012: Mild, wet weather
The Guardian, 8 January 2013

2012: Mild autumn weather
The Guardian, 10 January 2012

If they were genuinely surprised by the ‘mild’ weather five years in a row. perhaps they would have been better off sacking the weatherman than the CEO?

This 2,304th post was filed under: News and Comment, Rants.

The gathering storm of the next NHS crisis


There are roughly half a million beds in residential or nursing care homes in the UK.1 Private providers operate almost all of these beds (90%) though the sector isn’t particularly lucrative: the average operator draws a profit of less than £5 per resident per day. Most beds are funded either in full (40%) or in part (10%) by local authorities. The NHS pays for a few (5%).

Central Government funding to local authorities was cut by 25% per person over the period of the last Government, though these cuts were not uniformly distributed across the country. This came on top of smaller reductions in funding over the previous five years. As a result, local authorities had much less to spend on social care. The number of day care places plummetted by 50% over a decade. About 20% fewer people received local authority funded care in their own home. And, partly as a result of this, the number of older people in residential or nursing care homes rose by more than 20%.

Over the next five years, we will see a perfect storm in social care for elderly people. The number of people aged over 75 is predicted to grow from 5.3 million today to 6.1 million in 2020 (a virtually unprecedented rate of increase, almost double what happened over the last five years). Yet Central Government funding to local authorities is to be cut further. Funding is being reduced while demand is predicted to increase more than ever before.

The burden will fall on the NHS, as it is in NHS beds that people often wait for care home places. The absurdity of this is that the average per-night cost of staying in an NHS hospital is three times greater than the average care home cost.


Yet there is another insidious factor imposed by Government which will push this situation from ‘substantial problem’ to ‘perfect storm’.

Most workers in residential and nursing care homes are paid minimum wage. By 2020, this will rise fromt £6.50 to £9.

Few could argue with giving hard-pressed workers a living wage. But given that average care home profits are less than 21p per patient per hour, care homes cannot maintain their current charges while increasing staff wages by £2.50 per hour. Yet they cannot raise their fees because Government cuts mean that local authorities can’t pay.

So what happens when care costs increase and funding decreases? First, care is cut: HC-One, Britain’s third-largest care home provider, is already training carers to take on highly skilled tasks which were previously done by more experienced and expensive nursing staff. But, since the cost of those carers is also increasing rapidly, this is only a stop gap solution. As Southern Cross, previously the UK’s largest care home provider, showed in 2011: care home providers can and will collapse.

As care home companies collapse, the supply of care home beds collapses with them. More elderly people get ‘stuck’ in NHS beds, at much greater cost to the taxpayer, and much greater risk to their own health.

And, to add extra thunderbolts to the storm, the number of NHS beds is decreasing rapidly: by nearly a quarter over the last ten years, with no sign of slowing. In this context, an increase in elderly people needlessly occupying NHS beds due to a lack of social care will cause the NHS to grind to a halt.

The underlying problem here is that the Government fails to understand that protecting NHS funding does not protect NHS services. Health and social care are two arms of the same beast: cutting one leaves the other with more to do. Yet the long-term solution isn’t obvious: there are limits to the burden of tax people are willing to carry to fund health and social care services.

The forecast is for bigger storms ahead.


  1. As with all posts like this, I’m using rough figures to illustrate the broad situation. These are thumbnail figures, not accurate-to-the-penny accountant’s figures. 

This 2,303rd post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics, , , .

Netflix might tell us why the election polls were wrong

Netflix headquarters in Los Gatos, California, Thursday, July 10, 2014 for Alibaba.  (Paul Sakuma Photography) www.paulsakuma.com

It’s said that so-called ‘shy Tories’ swung the General Election: those people who are unwilling to admit to pollsters that they vote Tory for fear of a negative response, but who put their cross next to a Conservative candidate’s name in the privacy of the polling booth.

‘Shy Tories’ is basically a shorthand for a particular form of social desirability bias. When asked questions by pollsters, we may be unwilling to admit views that we think might upset pollsters. After all, most people like to please people.

Online polls, so the theory goes, should be less susceptible to social desirability bias because they remove the imposing pollster from the equation. Peter Kellner, President of YouGov suggests:

One of virtues of online research is, or should be, that it allows respondents to submit their views with complete anonymity, as there is no stranger watching over them or listening to their answer.

Or should be. An important caveat given that YouGov, online pollsters, were as wrong in their General Election predictions as telephone pollsters.


So perhaps social desirability bias exists online just as much as elsewhere. Perhaps. And there’s an intriguing piece of evidence from, of all places, Netflix, which described this week putting much greater emphasis on recommending shows based on what people actually watch, as opposed to how they rate individual shows. Todd Yellin, Netflix‘s VP of Product Innovation reports:

Most of our personalization right now is based on what they actually watch, and not what they say they like, because you can give five stars to An Inconvenient Truth because it’s changing the world, but you might watch Paul Blart: Mall Cop 2, three times in a few years … so what you actually want and what actually say that you want are very different.

Is rating something highly because it’s changing the world rather than because you actually enjoyed it a form of social desirability bias? I reckon it probably is. I reckon it’s an attempt to make ourselves feel more educated and ‘worthy’.

And if we fake our Netflix ratings, conning only ourselves, why wouldn’t we equally fake our responses to online polls?

This 2,302nd post was filed under: Election 2015, News and Comment, Politics, , , , .

Driverless cars, algorithms and the ethics of valuing of human life

Today, RDM Group have unveiled the Lutz Pathfinder, a prototype driverless car. This is to be the first driverless car tested on public roads in Britain, after legislation was passed a few months ago to allow their operation.

Yet there are unresolved questions about the ethics underlying the algorithms which direct driverless cars; and, in particular, how they weigh the value of human life. Despite what other sources might say, these are not really new problems—but they are, nonetheless, interesting.

In this post, I’ll draw on some historic examples of similar problems, and see if they help us to make sense of this 21st century quandary.

Back in 1948, the Cold War between the Eastern Bloc and the Western Bloc was beginning to heat up… or cool down, depending on how you look at it. Either way, the US Air Force wanted the capacity to blow the Soviet Union to smithereens, should it come to that. So the US Air Force asked mathematician Edwin Paxson to use mathematical modelling to work out how best to co-ordinate a first nuclear strike.

Paxson and his team set about their work, considering almost half a million configurations of bombs and bombers. They took into account dozens of variables including countermeasures that might be deployed, targets that could be selected, and routes the bombers should fly.

In 1950, after months of work and billions of calculations, Paxson delivered his verdict in a now-famous report called Strategic Bombing Systems Analysis. His solution: fly a nuclear device to Russia in a cheap propeller plane, surrounded by a large number of similar decoy planes. The huge swarm would overwhelm Russia’s defensive capabilities and, although planes would be lost, the likelihood that the armed plane would be destroyed would be exceptionally low. One of his team described the strategy as “filling the Russian skies with empty bombers of only minor usefulness”.

image description

The response to this recommendation was not positive: Paxson was vilified. The Air Force responded with a combination of bewilderment and indignation: how could Paxson possibly suggest sending Air Crews on a suicide mission in cheap rickety planes? After all, war surely meant doing everything possible to protect allied servicemen while killing enemy servicemen—preferably using the leanest and meanest cutting-edge technology available.

But Paxson was vilified not because he gave the wrong answer: rather, he gave the right answer to the wrong question. His method was the way to cause the greatest amount of damage to the enemy for the lowest system cost—but it didn’t consider the value of human life.

Or, rather, it didn’t consider the value of the lives of the American Air Crews. Nobody thought for a moment that it should consider the value of Soviet lives. Of course, had it considered all human life as equal, it seems hard to imagine how a nuclear strike could ever come to have been proposed at all.

There’s a scene in the fourth season of The West Wing in which President Bartlet is considering intervening against genocide in Aaron Sorkin’s favourite fictional country, Equatorial Kundu. In frustration at his limited power to right the wrongs of the world, he muses

Why is a Kundunese life worth less to me than an American life?

Will Bailey, working as a speechwriter and having been in the show for a handful of episodes, gives the ballsy response

I don’t know, sir, but it is.

What is the value of human life?

This is a deeply philosophical question, but it’s also one that needs answering for practical purposes: without a value, we can’t make cost-effectiveness calculations to answer all sorts of important questions.

The US Environmental Agency pegs the value of a life at about £6m. The airline industry uses a value of around £2m. The UK Department of Transport puts it around £1m.

Most Western medical organisations, NICE included, price a year of life lived in full health at about £20-30,000. That’s a little tricksy, because—based on life expectancy—that means the UK value of a 20 year-old woman’s life is about £1.5m, versus about £1.1m for a 30 year-old man. It also means that a baby girl in East Dorset is worth about £360,000 more than a baby boy in Glasgow. And if you’ve a disability, your life is worth less than someone of equal life expectancy without a disability.

Variation in the value of lives, whether by gender, age, or nationality feels inherently wrong… but is it actually wrong? Or is it the reality of the world we live in?

So what of driverless cars? Effectively, they can be considered as robots, and we have an established set of laws for robots: science fiction writer Isaac Asimov proposed three laws of robotics in 1942, the first of which is

A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

Like much political legislation, this robotic law is well-intentioned but functionally useless in the situation we’re considering.

You may already be familiar with the “trolley problem”: a runaway train is heading down tracks towards a group of five people. A woman is stood next to a lever. Pulling the lever will shift the points in the track and send the train barrelling instead towards a single person. Should the woman pull the lever?

Some ethicists would say the woman should pull the lever: from a utilitarian viewpoint, she is obliged to reduce the number of people who come to harm. Others would say that the woman should not pull the lever: a deontological view might hold that the act of pulling the lever would make her complicit in the killing of another human being.

Replace the woman with a robot, and the robot is forced to break Asimov’s First Law of Robotics no matter what action it takes (or doesn’t take). We’re effectively entrapping the robot.

image description

Perhaps it isn’t surprising that we haven’t “solved” an ethical problem for robots given that we haven’t “solved” it for humans. But that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a problem. In humans, we can rely on the free agency of the individual and judge them post hoc.

Robots, at least for the time being, are not sentient. They do our bidding, and we must decide our bidding in advance. There is no ‘in the moment’ free agency to rely upon—we will know (or at least will be able to know) with certainty the action that will be taken in advance.

So what are driverless cars to do? If a driverless car finds itself in a situation where it must choose between a high speed collision with a pedestrian or with a wall, which should it choose? From the point of view of the car, should the lives of the pedestrian and the car’s occupant be of equal value? Or should the car prioritise the life of the owner? And what if the individual pedestrian is replaced by a group of pedestrians? Or a group of children?

It could be argued that the car should prioritise the lives of its driver, since that it what humans tend to do in practice. Or it could be argued that the car should value everyone equally, and protect the greatest possible number of lives possible, since that utilitarian view is how we might want humans to act. Or it could be argued that the risk should be borne entirely by the person choosing to operate the vehicle, and so the car should act to prioritise those outside of it.

Some writers have suggested that driverless cars will be forced to prioritise the life of the driver due to market forces—no-one will buy a car which might decide to kill them. Yet, of course, there is also society and legislature to consider—and it seems unlikely that cars which did not give due weight to the life of pedestrians and others outside the car would ever gain societal acceptance.

image description

And so, driverless cars look like they’re stuck in an ethical rut: they can neither prioritise the life of the driver nor prioritise the life of the pedestrian. So what can it do in the “wall or pedestrian” situation? Choose randomly? That also seems… unethical.

We’ve reach an impasse.

Much is written about the ethics of self-driving cars in these extreme situations, and they are interesting philosophical and ethical questions to ponder. But they aren’t particularly helpful in a practical sense. Much like Edwin Paxson, we being compelled to consider the wrong question.

One of the flaws in the trolley problem is that humans are rarely in a situation with two clear, diametrically opposed options. We have a range of choices available to us, not just pulling or not pulling the lever that controls the points. Maybe we could shout a warning to the people in the path of the train; maybe we could signal to the driver to stop; maybe we somehow derail the train.

And this is the first reason why the question is wrong: the car can take more than two actions. It can sound its horn; it can perform an emergency stop; it can can deploy an airbag; it can hand control back to a human. The dichotomous choice is unrealistic.

In addition, the technology isn’t at the standard required to assess a situation in the detail the problem describes—and the programming in the car will probably never consider the situation. It is unlikely that any self-driving car will be programmed with a “crash self” option. It will have a number of reactions to stimuli, including “do not crash into pedestrians” and “do not crash into walls”, and will respond in the event of a conflict probably by avoiding the pedestrians rather than the wall: just like a human, it would not know at the decision point what the outcome would be for the human driver, but there would no doubt be advanced protective mechanisms in place just as in non-driverless cars. In fact, by allowing the car to crash in a predictable way, the safety of the occupants can probably be increased even in the event of a crash.

Your washing machine at home is pretty much autonomous in operation. Does it prioritise preventing fire or preventing flood in the event of a malfunction? I have no idea what mine does, but I suspect that the situation is so far out of normal operating limits that it isn’t specifically programmed to do either. Perhaps the same is true of driverless cars.

It’s also worth considering that this sort of problem isn’t as new as it appears. Cars are not the first autonomous vehicles: aeroplanes have used autopilot for decades. Self-parking cars have been around for years. Both of these hand control back to the driver when the situation becomes difficult; perhaps that will turn out to be the solution for driverless cars, too.

I argue that we simply don’t need to worry too much about the ethics of driverless cars. They present an interesting philosophical discussion, but it isn’t a practical consideration at the moment, and nor will it be for a long time to come. By the time it does become an issue, incremental development which have occurred in the meantime will likely point us in the right direction.

For now, I’m just looking forward to sitting back and enjoying the ride!

Many thanks to Amrit Tigga for the wonderful cartoons he's drawn to illustrate this blog post.

This 2,298th post was filed under: News and Comment, , .

News organisations are wrong about A&E waiting times

Hospital surgery corridor

Answer me this: what happened to waiting times in A&Es in England last week? To help you answer, here are some tweets published by reputable news organisations today:

You would be forgiven for thinking that waiting times had reduced. You would be… possibly right, possibly wrong. The correct answer is that we don’t know. Performance against the weekly A&E waiting time targets—which is what all of the above are actually reporting—tells us nothing about the waiting time in A&E.

As an aside, before we get into this properly, I should clarify that “waiting time” doesn’t mean what most people think it means. The “waiting time” referred to in these statistics is the total time a patient spends in A&E, from the moment they walk in the door, to the moment they walk out again (whether that is to go home, to go to a ward, to go to the pub, or wherever). That’s not what we think of as “waiting” in common parlance: while you’re with the doctor, you are—in statistical terms—still “waiting”.

The NHS doesn’t report on waiting times, only on the proportion of patients seen in less than four hours. When the reporters wrongly say that A&E waiting times have improved, what they actually mean is that a greater proportion of people entering A&E are leaving again in less than four hours. This tells nothing about the amount of time people wait on average.

Imagine an A&E department that sees only five patients: A and B have minor injuries, and are seen and treated within 30 minutes. C and D need a more complex set of investigations, so end up being in the A&E department for 3 hours. E needs a very full assessment and ultimately admission; as a result, E ends up being in the department for a total of 5 hours before a bed can be found. The average time these patients spend in A&E is 2 hours and 24 minutes; 80% of them were discharged in 4 hours.

Now let’s say that someone puts a laser-focus on that 80% and says it’s unacceptable: whatever the cost, it must be brought down. So the department tells the nurse that used to do the “see and treat” job (which served patients A and B so well) that she must help with only the most complex patients, because they are breaching the target.

The same five people with the same five injuries now come into the revamped A&E. A and B have minor injuries, but now must wait alongside everyone else. They hang around for 3 hours. C and D need complex investigations, but these are slower to start because of people with minor injuries clogging up the queue. They are discharged after 4 hours. The new complex patient team deals with patient E slightly faster, getting her up to the ward with seconds to spare before the four-hour deadline.

100% of patients were seen within 4 hours. The hospital’s management is overjoyed! The BBC tweets that A&E waiting times have decreased: 100% of patients are seen within four hours instead of 80%. Politicians become a little self-congratulatory.

Yet… what has actually happened? The average waiting time has increased from 2 hours and 24 minutes to 3 hours and 36 minutes. 80% of patients are waiting longer than they did before.

And that is why—whatever the news tells you—we have no idea what happened to A&E waiting times last week. The average time could have doubled; it could have halved; it could have stayed precisely the same. We simply do not know.

This 2,294th post was filed under: Health, News and Comment, Politics.

The content of this site is copyright protected by a Creative Commons License, with some rights reserved. All trademarks, images and logos remain the property of their respective owners. The accuracy of information on this site is in no way guaranteed. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author. No responsibility can be accepted for any loss or damage caused by reliance on the information provided by this site. This site uses cookies - click here for more information.