Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Time to fight for your life

It comes to something when you have to stage the equivalent of a sit-in at your local hospital to avoid dying. However it would seem that might be what you have to do in future if you think your medical advisors haven’t understood how sick you are, or if you think they have failed to correctly diagnose your condition.

18-year-old Ben Brown of Whangarei might still have been alive if he had known to refuse to leave the hospital when doctors TWICE sent him home and told him he was okay. Ben died of meningococcal disease last week after doctors at Whangarei White Cross Accident & Medical Clinic and the Whangarei Hospital Emergency Department both failed to realise what was wrong with him.

Now I understand meningococcal disease is difficult to diagnose, but isn’t that all the more reason to take no risks when somebody presents with the symptoms? Surely it would be far better to hold a few people overnight to ensure they don’t have the disease than send them home where they can (a) die through lack of appropriate treatment and (b) pass it on to another?

Furthermore isn’t it worrying how careless our medical profession is becoming? I can’t help feeling it is part of the general malaise wherein people don’t give a stuff about doing their job properly and have insufficient vision to see the bigger picture.

Actually it is worse than that because the majority of us simply accept these lower standards instead of confronting the lazy and the stupid and ‘waking up their ideas’.

I have experienced two examples of incompetent medical practices since moving to Tauranga (only 4 years ago). I was once wrongly diagnosed and twice given the wrong treatment by my (now ex) doctor. And before anyone tells me diagnosis is a difficult art; I should point out that in the case of the misdiagnosis I had suggested what might be wrong and was rubbished and dismissed out of hand and given the wrong medication. Trouble was; I was spot on.

In the other case I was given the wrong treatment for several months with no improvement whatsoever until I sought alternative treatment and the matter was cleared up almost immediately.

Following these two incidents and some extremely unprofessional doctoring experienced by my wife at the same practice we changed to another. All of which reinforced to me the importance of taking responsibility and control off your own health. Changing practices was a revelation. We now attend a medical centre that has a good feel to it and where the doctors actually know who you are when you enter their surgery and (shock horror) you will find they have read your notes before seeing you!!!! Another bonus for us was that we learned that our previous practice is charging more than any other in Tauranga and more than twice what we pay now.  For those of you who live in Tauranga and are less than satisfied with your doctors, I commend this link where you can find out how much the others are charging. http://www.bopdhb.govt.nz/PDFs/GP-Fees.pdf

Elder care is another and even scarier proposition as I have also had cause to find out this year. The entire system is myopic. For the benefit of those who haven’t dealt with this yet, here are some words of warning.

If your folks are getting old and need some assistance in the home; good luck. Unless you have screeds of money to pay for it (or they do) you will get bugger all and furthermore you will be buggered about every step of the way. The problem arises if they don’t have a serious physical infirmity. If they are completely buggered then they will get help (I am told – though probably not very reliably). However if they can walk and seem to know what day it is (give or take a day or two), then the assistance available to them is negligible.

If for example one parent is a bit difficult and requires a lot of extra care you can EVENTUALLY get them into some kind of temporary care to give the other party a break. However if this has been going on for any length of time and the carer is really stressed out; then tough luck. Unless the carer has a physical infirmity it would seem the system considers removing the other party is all that is needed. A full-blown nervous breakdown and all that entails (or a heart attack or stroke) would appear to be required before that person gets any assistance at all. If you are about to enter the point where your parents need some of this sort of help, then I hope you have lots of money because if you don’t you will need lots of stamina and you will feel like you are constantly bashing your head against a brick wall.

So when the cheerleaders in their eye-catching blue and red rosettes starting flaunting themselves around trying to get your vote in a couple of months time, ask them what they are going to do about it.

We see grinning idiots up here every other week cutting ribbons to open new parts of a hospital or whatever other bright shiny distraction they have provided in the place of any proper treatment. So why not corner these turkeys and ask them why they prefer to bail out banks and insurance companies than put effort and money into health care.

Ask these dorks how they think an ambulance at the bottom of a cliff is ever going to be more economical than a well built fence at the top. We need to apply a blowtorch to these politicians’ nether regions until they find the pain too much to bear and start paying attention to their electorate.  

Monday, 22 August 2011

You’d better give the suckers an even chance

The recent riots in England have raised the question as to whether such a situation could unfold in New Zealand.

I would have to say that I seriously doubt it at present, but that is not to say it is something you could rule out entirely. As things stand right now, I feel it is unlikely as the ‘powers that be’ (of low wattage though they are) seem to have worked out just the right formula to keep the plebs from revolting. The method seems to be to offer just enough of a carrot from time to time so the rabbit still thinks he’s got a chance of actually getting the rest of it.

However if you don’t offer the subject something good, albeit in small measure from time to time, he will go feral and scratch you up big time. I don’t know how many of you are aware how much damage a feral bunny can do, but let’s just say the scratches are only the beginning. Once the infections kick in things get really messy, and it is that serious bacterial infection that caused the ‘rash’ of violent acts that England experienced.

Much as I can’t stand that upper class twit of a British Prime Minister; I can’t help but feel he hit the nail on the head when he said, “The greed and thuggery we saw during the riots did not come out of nowhere. There are deep problems in our society that have been growing for a long time: a decline in responsibility, a rise in selfishness, a growing sense that individual rights come before anything else."

Way to go Davey! And it’s not just the politicians and other civic leaders either!

But for a society to reach the sort of tipping point where it is cars they want to tip and not waiters, it only requires for most people to feel others are granted privileges they are not simply based upon their income or family standing.

Our society is already heavily weighted in favour of those in a position of economic or political power. Most of us accept that to a certain extent because it has been so deeply entrenched that nothing short of violent revolution is likely to completely eradicate it. And even then, as anyone who has seen the film of the Harold Robbins book, The Adventurers will know; that is no better solution than moving the deck chairs on the Titanic.

However I think even placid Kiwis will have their limits. Just how high their threshold actually is; who knows? I wouldn’t recommend anyone trying to find out, though.

And that is why we need to wipe out the sort of circling of the wagons and self interest protection that happened when 39-year-old Hawke’s Bay barrister Sacha Beacham was convicted for her third drink driving offence last week.

For those who haven’t seen it; Beacham was stopped by police because of complaints they received about how erratically she was driving. When she was breath tested she blew 561mcgs which is nearly 40 percent over the limit. I suppose I should be grateful inasmuch as this is lower reading than her last conviction and about the same as her first. In 2002 she gave a blood alcohol reading of 112 (40% over) and then in 2007 she blew 703mcgs (76% over).

Under the Government’s much publicised tinkering with the legislation we were all told that offenders would go to jail on their third drink driving offence. I hardly need add this has not been the case for Ms Beacham. She was merely fined $1200 with costs of less than $150 and disqualified from driving for 9 months. Big deal.

But wait, there’s more as they say in Infomercial-Land. She called the shots on where she was to be tried. She didn’t want to be tried in her home town where she would have to deal with Probation Services personnel who knew who she was (oh, the embarrassment!) So the judge kindly agreed to move the trial to Auckland for her. And then she didn’t even bother turning up because she heard a media application had been lodged to take pictures of her in court.

The judge expressed his annoyance at her not turning up to court, and they had to hold another hearing to complete the matter, but that doesn’t appear to be reflected in the sentence. Furthermore he denied the application from media to photograph the defendant in court.

An enterprising Fairfax photographer seems to have swiftly realised all bets were off OUTSIDE the court and managed to snap a pic of her anyway.

But I am not that bothered about whether her picture is in the paper or not. This issue is that she appears to have been treated differently to, say a beneficiary from Flaxmere who might find himself facing the same charge.

The Law society say they might investigate Ms Beacham’s suitability to continue holding a practicing certificate, although the statements they have made remain ‘theoretical’ and avoid any direct comment on this particular case.

I’m thinking they might be a bit embarrassed about it too, considering Beacham’s track record. She was first convicted in 2002. This apparently did not make her unsuitable at that stage because she was admitted to the bar in 2005.

Then in 2007 she racked up her second conviction but apparently was still suitable at that stage. Now she has this third conviction and it should also be mentioned the police laid a charge of disorderly behaviour in connection with this latest offence. However that was dropped because police said it ‘had been dealt with by means of a formal caution’. Now that might not have been anything as dramatic as an assault, but clearly she must have reacted in some way when stopped that gave rise to such a charge. Is the New Zealand Law Society going to think this is alright too?

For laws to work they have to be applied evenly and fairly and when they are not the number of those who feel no affinity with nor have any respect for society grows. That is the climate that creates riots like those in England. That is not to say that the rioters in England weren’t a bunch of rabble-rousing criminals; I’m sure most of them were. But the point is if you create an environment where the rule of law can break down; you give such people an opportunity. And if the omens are right, they’ll sure as hell take it.

Wednesday, 17 August 2011

Rabbits’ feet and four leafed clovers

Luck is an interesting concept. Some say there is no such thing as luck and that you make your own luck. Tantalising though that idea is, and much as I am a believer in the powers of positive thought, I think we all have to concede that luck, both good and bad do exist. How else do people win Lotto? It certainly ain’t the result of any cunning sure-fire plan, apart from the decision to actually buy a ticket. Nope, it’s just old fashioned god luck against enormous odds.

However I don’t believe luck is a totally inanimate thing. You might not be able to control it but sometimes you can work it, ride it, or learn from it.

Luck often gets a bad rap. Often it is blamed for things which have nothing to do with it. For example envy gives birth to many claims of luck intervening in matters when often it is just that the other bloke, company or whatever was more intelligent, skilful or whatever.

We usually curse what we deem to be bad luck, but so often it is a wake-up call when we are doing something stupid or wrong. Often good luck comes disguised as not so good luck. Think of the little apprentice scumbag that gets caught early in his criminal career and actually turns himself around as a result. And I am sure most of us can recall some occasion we were to have been present at, but because of what seemed bad luck at the time we were not and it turned out to be a disaster of some kind, which we were later glad to have missed.

If we get a lucky break that offers the opportunity for advancement in one way or another, few of us with argue with the idea of grabbing that luck and running with it. But how many have the wisdom to see a lucky escape as a totally different though equally important opportunity? Sadly, in my experience those numbers are much smaller.

One such apparently slow learner would have to be Daniel Rockhouse; one of only two survivors from the Pike River mining disaster. Daniel, who lost his brother in that tragedy, seems to have attached little significance to his good luck and has been working in the mines in Australia since.

Now you might think that is kind of silly, but it paled into insignificance when I read this week that Daniel had ‘experienced’ another mine collapse in Queensland’s North Goonyella mine where he is currently working. He was uninjured and according to the story wasn’t sure whether he would go back mining again. I have deliberately used quote marks and italics here because I have some serious doubts about this story.

I made many attempts to Google versions of it other than those in the NZ Herald and Stuff, neither of which said WHEN (one of our W’s is missing), this incident actually ‘happened’. Guess what? I could find only two other sites carrying the ‘story’. One was mining.com who had done a total cut and paste from Stuff and the other was 9news. There was still no word as to when this incident had actually occurred and interestingly nobody apart from our lucky miner seems to have been spoken to.

So what is going on? Is the Queensland mining community in denial or is the story a complete fiction? Either seems equally likely when you get an industry that is notoriously cagey about admitting its mistakes and it produces a ‘story’ about another industry that takes a similar stance over its own shortcomings. I doubt we’ll ever get any answers from the NZ media who seem quite happy to spend most of their time as mouthpieces for captains of industry and politicians. But if it’s true, young Daniel should take heed and stay out of that lion’s den for life. A third strike could see him walking to the great bench in the sky.

Some would say we need some luck before the event next month that none dare speak the name of, and yes we do need some, but most of all we need a good effort on the field and a strong will to win.

Lucky charm, anyone? Guaranteed to work...honest. (Well it did in ’87, anyway).

Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Do as I say; not as I do

Ever noticed how often those with economic or political power wield it so gracelessly? Every little jumped up nasty piece of work and every scumbag company you can think of has a good sense of right and wrong when it comes to the behaviour of you and me, but the lines get a bit blurred where their own is concerned.

What makes it worse is when some of these low-lives support each other either inadvertently or even advertently (ever wonder why you never see that word?). Actually it used to exist, but has fallen out of favour, probably by accident or inadvertently.

A case in point is the furore that has arisen about the price of the new All Blacks supporters’ jersey. Fat cats addidas – and I put them into lower case deliberately, because they are the lowest of the low; want Kiwis to fork out $220 for one of these jerseys which were probably made by 10 year-olds in a sweat shop in Mumbai at a cost of about $0.22 each. Rebel Sport has momentarily found the rebel in them, and protested to addidas about their price, but the burghers at their Nuremburg headquarters are unmoved. They reckon Kiwis should stop whining and be happy to show their support for the All Blacks by forking out $220 for a jersey that will probably pull apart at the seams within twelve months. And not content with making the retail price in NZ outrageous, the swines have stopped Internet outlets overseas from selling the very same jerseys for less than half the NZ retail price to Kiwis. I think we should show the same level of support Adolf Dassler’s company has shown to us and stop buying ALL addidas goods until they get it.

Heartening though Rebel Sport’s stance seems, I fear it might just be a bit of cheap PR. They have already talked about dropping the retail price and taking a hit themselves to make the jerseys more affordable for Kiwis. However the cynic in me feels this could simply be a way of ensuring they are the only Kiwi retailer that will sell any. I hope I am wrong about this, and that they live up to their name and...Rebel.

What makes this whole RWC (yah -I said it) saga even more irritating is the message from authorities to NZ retailers that incidents of price gouging around the Rugby World Cup 2011 (and again) will be investigated and dealt with. How about this one, then?  Dassler was reportedly a member of the Nazi party and I’m sure his old namesake would have been proud of this move. On the other hand there is a suitable trial venue near to addidas’ headquarters so we should just assemble a tribunal and get on with it.

But the best example of a sauce that is okay for the goose not being okay for the gander is the American debt situation.

They racked up an international debt of a bit over $14 trillion US dollars and didn’t have any money left to run their country. So what did they do? Front up to their local trading bank and after duly completing an entire forest of paperwork and undergoing a dozen or so credit checks, walk away with a loan?

No. Don’t be silly. That’s what people like you and me have to do. These guys have got it worked out much better. Here’s how they do it.

Phase one: Raise the debt ceiling. Now this is not to be confused with the glass ceiling. That is too easy to break and anyway it’s only for women. This ceiling is probably on a block and tackle so that it can be raised or lowered at any time the government sees fit.

Phase two: Once the ceiling has been raised enough to make room for all the extra money they go to the Fed to borrow the pre-determined amount.

Phase three: No need for credit checks to get the money – all that is needed is a signed bill from the President or a signed President from Bill. I can’t remember which.

Phase four: The ‘loan’ is given; only it isn’t actually a loan. You see the Federal Reserve PRINTS the money the US Government wants.

Good scheme, eh? But how unfair is that? For most of my life I have been running my finances about as unsuccessfully as the US Government has, yet if I went out and got someone to print me a whole lot of money so I could help my financial situation I would be sent to jail for a very long time.
POSTSCRIPT: I have just read that Pussy Sports as they shall hernceforth be known has done what I suspected and lowered their retail price to $170 which is still nearly twice what overseas people are paying for OUR jersey. Thanks a bunch you wimps!

Tuesday, 2 August 2011

Break a leg, Johnny ... or yer neck!

Newsflash! Our Prime Minotaur thinks he’s a thespian (a change from the allegations surrounding his predecessor).

So why does JiangQi think he should be treading the boards instead of treading water (or walking the plank)? Well it seems our little showman got the idea some time ago when he sent a fan letter to that man of letters Da-aaavid Letterman asking him to come to New Zealand and sign his autograph book or something. Anyway, our starstruck wannabe decided the best tribute he could pay to his idol and which might guarantee him a close-up and personal moment was to make a video of himself being ‘entertaining’.

Rumours emanating from the National Disgrace HQ say the TV presenter literally fell down in a helpless heap watching the clip. It is unclear exactly what the cause of his mirth was, but the rumour would have it he was so bowled over by Johnny’s talent that he sent out an urgent missive to get him on the programme.

Those of us who finished Primary School felt this was extremely unlikely given that neither Letterman not his ‘people’ probably had any idea where New Zealand was never mind who this lisping little troll with an impending comb-over moment was.

However now some spoil-sport (there always is one, isn’t there?) leaked details of the $10,000 paid out to a PR company by Tourism NZ to get little Johnny his gig. So this was a pay to play type gig. Not very cool Johnny, but hang on a minute – that’s not even YOUR money! So we paid for him to perform and make an even bigger dick of himself and us by implication than he did on Hardtalk in the UK when he tried to argue that there were degrees of 100% pure. Duhhh!

So that’s the UK and the US gigs over. Somebody needs to muzzle this pillock before he makes us a laughing stock in the rest of the world as well. Let’s face it; humour is not his best suit. Although his best suit might be humour – but that’s a whole different fashion gig, I mean gag.

In fact the National Disgrace is pretty light on comedians – apart from the unintentional ones like Jezza Browneye who makes you laugh just watching him trying to get in and out of his limo and Bill Nospeakada English who is really funny when he loses his rag and starts shouting and spitting.

So who are the best comedians in our Parliament? The Laboured Party used to have most of the best comedians in Parliament. It’s just a shame nobody could take any of them seriously enough to vote for them. However there are still some in the chamber who are capable of making the rest of us laugh. Trev (Duck) Mallard can be very amusing (but then he went to the right school); and Catherine Delahunty has performed stand up comedy (she also went to the right school). Peter Dunne has funny hair so perhaps he could develop a Ken Dodd type act, and of course Shonky John Hadfield thinks he’s all things to all people.
But then perhaps it’s not such a bad thing we don’t have too many comics in the House. Let’s face it; what they’ve been doing to the country over the last three years is no laughing matter.