SEPT - 2013


The path of commercialisation (in the USA):

We now live in a nation where:
doctors destroy health
lawyers destroy justice
universities destroy knowledge
governments destroy freedom
the press destroys information
religion destroys morals
and our banks destroy the economy.

Chris Hedges (nicked from ICH 21.9.13)

AND COMING TO THE UK SOON????? ..........................................+...▼ The Smoking/alcohol Debate





(Readers who find my cynicism excessive, just do a little research on, say, the flu-shot)

A few days ago (10th Sept) Rod informed me that I'd soon receive an NHS letter inviting me to a screening for an 'Abdominal Aortic Aneurysm' (aaa). He knows someone else of about my age (64) who'd already attended a screening. Then yesterday, I receive mine.

Although it said it was the second, it was actually the first letter I'd received on the issue - a minor detail that arouses suspicion. But if you goto this website (given in that letter), you'll find a summary of the screening and related details, plus a link to a page containing additional information 'for professionals': which includes a video of the programme director explaining the screening.

On the first web-page, among other info, is a list of FAQs; here's three key ones:

How many lives will the programme save?

It is estimated that, once fully implemented, the programme will reduce the death rate from ruptured abdominal aortic aneurysms among men aged 65 and over by up to 50 per cent, eventually preventing around 2,000 premature deaths per year.

How common is the condition?

It is estimated that around 1 in 25 men in England aged between 65 and 74 have an abdominal aortic aneurysm. Most of these are small and not serious. However, small AAAs can increase in size and develop into large AAAs which can rupture, a medical emergency that is often fatal.

What are the chances of having an aneurysm identified by screening?

It is estimated that for every 200 men screened by the NHS AAA Screening Programme, eight will have an aneurysm, but only one will have a large aneurysm that may require treatment.

So 'once fully implemented' the death rate will be reduced by 'up to' 50%.... so that could be 10% or any% under 50. And what, precisely, does 'it is estimated...' mean (in all three FAQs)? Then it says 1 in 200 will have an aneurysm that 'may' require treatment. Many uncertainties, many missing explanations. Also on that first page is a list of links to 8 other screening projects: 5 concerning infants/pregnancy, one sickle-cell, one professional development, and just one that's appropriate to adult public health: 'diabetic eye'.

According to a WHO report > 30% of deaths are associated with blood clots: ie, cardiovascular disease and strokes. And there are many other more common health issues than 'aaa' (which I'd never even heard of until a few days ago, in spite of checking most health reports that come to public notice over the years through the usual media).

In view of the above I replied to Rod's email thus:

Nothing about any of this makes the slightest sense to me. If it was to take a blood sample and check for things like clotting, sugar, etc, etc.... whatever of the many conditions there are that blood can reveal, I'd go for it without hesitation. But this looks extremely suspicious. The director says the chances of a problem are very small, the leaflet says that only 1 in 25 will have a larger than normal aorta, and only 1 in 200 will be larger than safe. It's 'estimated' that the scan will save 'up-to' 50% of victims from dying, that 8000 (mentioned elsewhere in the text) will die per year (that's approx 1 in 8000 of the population), that high cholesterol, high blood pressure and those with a family history of aneurysms are at greatest risk (none of which apply to me)... my blood-pressure check earlier this year was 112/69 which is consistent with previous tests, lifestyle, etc., and is considered OK.

[the figure above quoting 2000 premature deaths a year, means < 1 in 30,000 will die than if the screening didn't take place. How can a huge nationwide screening - as indicated on that website - be justified for such a small figure when other far-more-common lethal diseases are not being screened for?]

So the greatest mystery of all is why the NHS should waste 10-mins-per-patient of a nurse's time, plus all the overheads, on such a low risk issue? And why not first filter-out those who pass a quick pre-check for blood-pressure, etc? Nothing about this screening makes any sense. I'll write an email to radio-4's 'More-Or-Less' because if the NHS is forking-out such vast sums as this must require for such small 'dividends', why don't they do it first for clots which kill far more people with cardiovascular disease and strokes? 

Because this all makes such little sense, I will decline the test. Who knows the truth of the situation? If, subsequently, I keel-over from an aortic burst, then so be it. I'll take that chance. But there's definitely something very weird here. I just can't fathom what it is.... so I'll stay out of it.

I'll never forget the medical check-up upon finishing a post-grad education course at Bath Uni when the doctor asked if I'd had any health problems in the past year since the preliminary obligatory medical. I replied NO, and he responded: GOOD. KEEP IT THAT WAY, DOCTORS ARE DANGEROUS PEOPLE. True, he spoke with a smile, but I reflected on the old maxim: 'many a true word spoken in jest! and never forgot his advice. After all, doctors are human and fallible and curious, and frequently make errors. ONLY I am qualified to take care of my own health, though I certainly take note of what doctors and other medics say... but then respond how I think best, all things considered. 

I guess I'll find-out at some point what the logic is behind the 'aaa' screening. Is it some private company making a killing like the opticians with their 'free' eye tests I keep getting letters for? I have no idea what they charge the NHS for such tests, but the owners of several optician outfits have become multi-millionaires in recent years.

This is yet another aspect, I imagine (as the incorrigible - though well justified - cynic I am), of the monumental swindles revealed in those recent TV programmes 'The Men Who Made Us Fat' & 'The Men Who Made Us Thin' and is almost certainly tied up with a whole gamut of food, drink and pharmaceutical multinationals - ie, one little branch of the ubiquitous, ravenous corporate machine that feeds like a deadly parasite off us ordinary 'unsuspecting' public.

I know this sounds smug, but to me - as probably to anyone who keeps half-an-eye on the way of things in the world these days (who would at least suspect malpractice) - all this corporate involvement in 'health' activity is so obviously devious that I wonder how anyone trusts it. And the only intelligent response to suspecting something is to modify one's outlook and actions accordingly. This is why I'm declining the screening.

Not only do I mistrust its usefulness and purpose, but for all I know it could actually (like most drugs) present a greater risk than doing nothing. Might the whole exercise be a ploy to gather some other kind of data, an assessment perhaps of the long-term effects of deep-ultrasound scans, say, or as Rod suggests: propaganda aimed at reversing the lousy reputation of the NHS in wake of recent highly publicised neglect of old people and premature deaths?

It's a ten-minute scan, they tell us. That's a long time to be exposed to a weird/unnatural vibration. Low frequency sounds have been known to kill. Such lethal effects are probably the result of greater energy than here; even so, this particular scan strikes me as completely unnecessary - unless you have high blood pressure or whatever other aspects are associated with aneurysms as this scan is designed to test for... it's quoted to be specific, not able to check for any other condition.

I for one didn't need to watch those 'The Men Who Made Us Fat (Thin)' programmes to realise how harmful in so many ways 'junk-food' can be... nor either would anyone who reflects, puts their brain in gear, and considers what we all know about food and health these days. And why anyone who wishes to remain healthy, fit and contented should stuff themselves with the kind of shite the BIG processed-food and junk-food producers tempt us with is a mystery to me. Do we still, as adults, retain the unreflective mentality of little kids, incapable of seeing through the variety of devious 'attractive' ways these multinational crooks invent to palm-off their crap, the way they design packaging, drench in flavour-enhancers, sugar and salt and fat and a range of other duff ingredients? Don't we know that we should consume only, or at least predominately, natural food without all the crap, that our bodies and brains have evolved with natural foods, and that all these adulterated and synthesized products are essentially poisonous... that they influence our mood as much as our metabolism, and send both awry so that eventually our life-support begins to fail in some way - with ultimately serious consequences? See this youtube - goto 20-mins in -: Sugar - the bitter truth.

And natural food is cheaper too, if not so readily available as ice-cream and sweets and sugar-pop, and the gunge that passes for 'chocolate' in the UK.

The fact is we each carry around a life support mechanism we call our 'body' that has evolved under certain conditions beyond which it will inevitably come under strain. Sitting in a chair all day puts it under strain as much as consuming nothing but crisps and pepsi, living beside a busy road with traffic fumes or stressing about what you look like, how you shape-up to neighbours, how wealthy you are and how much power you have over others.

All these strains, and others too, are mere diversions; they're harmful and are easily avoided. They cause our bodies (and brains) to function poorly and reduce the pleasure of living. None that I've mentioned are in the least appealing as I see it - except maybe eating crisps - yet many people seem to indulge in them nonstop. They are mostly displacement behaviours - ways to distract us from a reality we find disagreeable. Observe how kids, for instance, are FORCED to attend school with all it's insane rules, rituals and other humbug and funnelling, its tests and competitiveness, its enforced conformity, its mediocrity, dullness, and general tedium. Is it any wonder we grow-up transfixed by the kind of narrow perspective of possibilities that lead to automatically seeking diversion? No future many of us perceive for ourselves is in the least attractive or alluring... And we're programmed to live 'in-the-future', to have nine-tenths of our focus on 'what's-ahead'. To my mind the entire scenario is, as Eduardo Galeano would say: UPSIDE-DOWN!

Conclusion: School should be abolished in favour of 'An Experience of Liberation' - the precise opposite of the current position.

This should, of course, be the situation for everyone besides only the middle-class. Millions of workers are subjected continually to conditions that are destroying their health.... in offices and factories all around the world people sit all day, snack on junk-food and then go home and slump in front of their great soothing propaganda opiate: TV. And many also have lousy living conditions, have scarcely enough income to feed themselves properly (and pay utility bills), and worry all the time... yet generally struggle along somehow. AND that's precisely how the corporate elite likes it.... the billionaire thieves who live off this diabolic situation which they've engineered with such stealth over past centuries but now have taken to extreme levels. They have it all under control... JUST SO LONG AS WE PLAY OBEDIENTLY ALONG. See my little assessment from Oct 2011.

For me, I'm out of it, retired, so am unaffected. All the talk of booms and recessions over the years have never affected me. Such issues have only ever been marginal to anyone above the breadline, and only affect the rich insofar as they might get richer in a 'boom'.

If I had any say, I'd immediately educate ALL kids (from age-5 on) to ALWAYS question the actions AND words of Politicians, Priests, Pedagogues and Plutocrats. (And NEVER trust anyone who says "Trust me")

Kids should be left alone as much as possible... only attended to at their request or when it's obviously to their advantage. Whether they should be shielded from anything is a hard question. They should definitely be shielded from the influence of conformists, religion, ritual and prejudice. They should definitely not be shielded from most reality, nor anything on the internet which, like the rest of us, they can ignore or turn away from if they choose.

They should be allowed to learn for themselves, discover, glimpse both beauty and horror, get it wrong sometimes, have regrets, see reality and not some rose-tinted fabrication. The more free we are to know everything/anything, the more the world will improve and evolve in more desirable ways. See vimeo: 'The Man With Beautiful Eyes' (written by Bukowski).

In case you can't see the NOW because it's too close, just glance back a few years to see how ignorant and vindictive the establishment is.... see what they reputedly did to conscientious objectors in WW1, or to people like Alan Turing as recently as the 1950s... no matter what vast benefits they'd given. Even in the 60s we were frequently beaten at school for the most trivial misdemeanours imaginable - even laughing was a 'capital' offence (and I don't mean laughing in an insolent way)... as if there was too much happiness in the world and it had to be curbed. Apart from outlawing institutionalised violence, I'm not sure that there's been much improvement in the past half-century. But the freedom of the internet, even with its negative aspects, is certainly heading in the right direction; that is: towards the LIGHT: the end of censorship by outdated self-appointed busybodies. Someday soon, kids will do their academic learning NOT in dreary classroom under threat of punishment for the slightest suggestion of failing to conform to some absurd ritual/rule, but in relative freedom via the net. School as we know it will be dead. Education will be truly reformed... and society with it.

No more the monumental capitalist rip-offs by BIG corp, banks, etc., no more the cruel correction facility (what a fine reverse-meaning euphemism), that only makes the situation for delinquents even more miserable, no more the prejudices and conditions that keep an underclass slaving a life-sentence in offices and factories, no longer will job-seekers (another reverse-meaning euphemism) on the breadline who refuse enslavement be forced to beg.... these and other issues will be history.... I wish I could be there.... I guess I'll be long dead.... but it'll happen, as surely as climate change. OK.

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The Weird Smoking/Alcohol Debate

On the Yahoo news pages a week or so ago someone called Chris declared that stopping smoking had cured some allergies he was suffering, and implied that smoking was about the worst thing the government allows people to do.... as if the government should play the role of some kind of Fascist prison guard to whose whims the rest of us should be forced to conform. Since I have some experience on the smoking front, I responded thus:

"Two things: How does Chris know the allergies wouldn't have disappeared of their own accord, and it was coincidence they faded when he packed-up smoking? I smoked for 40-years, had hay fever which gradually vanished when in my 30s - smoking relieved the symptoms, incidentally - and am as fit, or feel as fit, as when I was 20... am now 64. I can run up hills, I sleep well, bloodpressure 112/69... etc. True, I might keel over tomorrow, but I really enjoyed smoking and only gave up due to the rip-off cost and health risks: I mean, better to live another 25-years, say, without that little luxury, than maybe 10 or 15 with it. No doubt it's harmful, but takes decades to kill (together, I guess, with additional harmful behaviours). Alcohol, on the other hand, can kill in a single session... so loads more dangerous than mere baccy."

At the top-right corner of every comment are two little boxes: one with a thumbs-up, the other with a thumbs-down. Now what I stated there were facts, yet 10-people have clicked the thumbs-down, while only 5 have clicked the thumbs-up. This suggests that a third of people see my angle, and two-thirds can't see it. Do the latter really fail to acknowledge, I wonder, that smoking does indeed take decades to kill, while alcohol can do so in a single indulgence? Who knows what they think.... but whatever it is, I reckon EVERYONE should understand the 'scientific' method: evidence, facts, reality.... and NOT resort to figments, prejudice, unsubstantiated beliefs and wishful thinking as so often is the case. It's also true, or so it seems, that most people prefer to trust hearsay, wild anecdotes and guesswork, in favour of solid provable/proven facts! Or are they perhaps victims of a wealth of persistent media propaganda that a third of people have some innate ability to see through? Who knows?

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