Sunday, 7 February 2010

Diana Watch

Today’s opening question is, how many of you met a Minister of State this week? Come on be honest, did you? No, of course you didn’t. I, however, met Andy Burnham, Minister for Health, my ultimate boss. He seemed like quite a nice bloke. Slightly ill-fitting suit though.
 I did ask on twitter if anyone had any questions for him and I received a few suggestions, most of which were appropriate, one was less so. Unfortunately my bosses where quite keen to stop me asking any questions but I did manage to get one in about the proposals to axe GP practices boundaries so that you can register anywhere you like. It’s an ok plan but there are issues i.e. home visits for patients who are really far away form the surgery and, if patient is registered with 2 practises and one prescribes a really expensive drug that the other one doesn’t use, who is going to pay for that drug. He is, at least, now aware of these problems.
 Other questioned were on such topics as NHS Homeopathy (what performance indicator and monitoring arrangements there are for the 4 NHS Homeopathic hospitals) and what will he do to improve dissemination of evidence to healthcare workers and the public? That last one was from Ben Goldacre, he had 2 others as well. Does he type as fast as he speaks because if he does that would be a sight to behold?
 I was impressed by the amount of sucking up my bosses did to the Health Secretary and the local MP who also tagged along.

As this is Diana Watch I feel that it is important to point out that she was on the cover of the Sunday Times last week but I missed it, sorry.
 There was, however, a much funnier story that was sort of about her at all this week.
The Daily Express had found that there is a Twitter account called @dianainheaven, this is an amusing feed that pretends to be from the dearly departed Princess Diana, and it says that people are outraged. Well it says admirers of PD (can we call her that?) are outraged but really they mean them.  
 They have also managed to find someone from something called Diana Appreciation Society. Alan Berry, co-founder of (and I assume half the membership of) DAS, said “It’s sick that some people can pretend to be Diana. What respect is that showing?” He also called for Twitter to ban the page.
 They also found it necessary to point out twice in the article that the account was fake and wasn't really PD. As if Daily Express readers, of all people, would be in any doubt that she is dead.
 After reading the article @dianainheaven simply said “Sick? Cheeky Cunts

Prof Colin Pritchard of Bournemouth University is to publish a study into violence against children with particular emphasis on deaths. He looked at children from birth to 14. He has come up with some interesting findings. Despite what you may hear and read in the press your children have never been safer.
 This will, of course, come as a crushing disappointment for Chris “it’s like the Wire round here” Grayling, Shadow home secretary, who has been accused for misleading people with has pretty poor use of the statistics regarding crime figures.
 He has sent out some numbers to Tory activists saying that crime figures have risen under Labour. Unfortunately for him he has forgotten to point out that the way the numbers are calculated changed in 2002 and, as Sir Michael Scholar, chairman of the UK Statistics Authority, the pre-2002 and post-2002 are not directly comparable. Well what he actually said in note attached to a letter sent to Mr Grayling "a comparison, without qualification, of police-recorded statistics between the late 1990s and 2008/09 as likely to mislead the public”.
 In the letter it’s self he said "I do not wish to become involved in political controversy, but I must take issue with what you said yesterday about violent crime statistics, which seems to me likely to damage public trust in official statistics."
 Seriously, if you are getting smacked down by a statistician you are in serious trouble.
 That was not the full extent of Conservative voter scaring this week, oh no. Liam Fox, Tory Defence fool, managed to get fear-mongering, Xenophobia and Jesus into his response to the Governments green paper into Defence review. Here are a few selected highlights, (this is a link to the Conservative Party homepage, I wouldn’t recommend it),
 “That our nation’s security should be compromised by Labour’s historic economic incompetence is truly a national tragedy.”(fear-mongering), and “We also agree that France and the United States are likely to be our main strategic partners. For us there are two tests: do they invest in defence? And do they fight?  Sadly too few European allies pass both these tests.” (Euro-Sceptic Xenophobia) and my personal favourite, “And despite all the good words in this Green Paper today, the future defence budget will have to be conducted against the backdrop of Government debt of 799 billion pounds. That is the equivalent of borrowing 1.1 million pounds every day since the birth of Christ.” That is an odd reference point unless that was a call to the elderly Christian usual Tory voters. Taking into account all the old Conservative touchstones mentions, do you think that he was appealing to their base?

How about a few awards to lighten the mood?

The Award for, Again, Proving the Tories Wrong,

Dear David Cameron, if Britain is so broken, if it is the home of an uncaring people, of thugs and yobs, of divorce and broken homes, then why, we when we saw people who we didn't know, suffering in ways that we couldn't possibly understand, then why have we given £70 million to the Haiti appeal so far?

The Award for the Most Horrifying Pictures of the Week,

This goes to an article on MSN about Miley Cryus’ sister Noah starting her own range of  kiddies “lingerie” (to be honest it is probably only children’s underwear and it’s a PR thing ) but the photos that accompany the article are truly awful.
 I feel that the link needs a disclaimer. Whilst the photos are not child porn, I really don’t think that they are suitable for work. Or any other situation for that matter. Click here at you own risk. Scroll up to see as this link takes you to the comments section.

So my week has been pretty good. I met 2 MP’s, neither of whom turned out to be arses (despite what you might have read in the papers) and I had a bit included on the Pod Delusion (A podcast about interesting things.) Because I have finally worked out how to embed MP3’s on the blog (and a few people have said some nice things about it) here is my bit,

or you can listen to the whole thing if you just look to the left of the screen…… No, up a bit, there that’s it, the whole episode is embedded there.

 My advice to you this week is, if you haven’t already (and I can’t imagine you haven’t), you must watch Charlie Brookers Newswipe on BBC4. It is, by far, the funniest show on the television at the moment. It says all the things that you think about News coverage in our lovely country but it says them in a really funny way. Here is British television news deconstructed in 2 minutes, enjoy.

 Some of the things I haven’t had time to talk about this week are,

Obama says that he doesn’t “want to make decisions based on getting re-elected” and does things that are “the right things to do.” I still think he may be a great man.

Pope criticises the Equality act. Does that mean we can criticise him back, the intolerant, sexist, AIDs spreading, paedophile protecting, superstition promoting, Nazi?
 He says the homosexuality is against “Natural Law”. What is natural law? Does he mean that it is unnatural because that is an odd path to go down? Nature is pretty weird.
  Most parasitic wasps lay their eggs inside caterpillars and the Lava eat their way out? Mallard Ducks exhibit behaviour the researchers call “rape flight”. Male lions kill any cubs that they think are not their own. Is this the “Natural Law” that the Pope is referring?

10 Americans arrested for trying to kidnap 33 Haitian children, although it may be a little bit more complicated than it first looked. Still taking children without official permission with possible lying to parents, I think that qualifies you for “Cunt” status.

If you are on Twitter, or even if you aren’t, please check out Soichi Noguchi. He is currently in the International Space Station and is taking pictures of our beautiful plant and posting them on his feed. It is truly fantastic.

BAE Systems admits a lesser charge of bribery and corruption so that is can get bigger and better charges dropped.

Ok, I think I have to except that the Sunday Blog will ramble on a little, hope that’s ok with you lot.
 Hope you all have a lovely week.

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