Oh happy day!

April 6, 2014

For the last few weeks we’ve been waking up in the dark and it hasn’t been warm enough to want to linger outside at dusk.

Thankfully this morning the clocks went back an hour giving us an extra hour of sleep and more light in the mornings – bliss.

Apropos of time and light, the Daily Mail asks are you living out of sync with the sun?

 

Each morning residents of the east India state of Assam watch the sun rise more than 90 minutes earlier than the west of the country.

This is because time on the clocks across India are set to be exactly the same in each of its states and provinces, regardless of location.

The result is a huge discrepancy between the time shown on the clock and where the sun is in the sky – a problem that this map reveals is widespread throughout the world . .

 

solar

 

 

 

 

 

Lucia Maria shares my view that daylight savings lasts too long.

Some is good but more isn’t better because of the shorter time betweens sunrise and sunset in autumn and spring.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Only four days to go

April 2, 2013

There’s only four days left before the clocks go back an hour and it can’t come soon enough for me.

For the last month or so we’ve been waking up in darkness.

When the decision was made to move clocks forward an hour for summer in 1974 it started at Labour weekend and finished in early March.

Then some bright sparks got the idea that if some daylight saving is good more would be better without taking into account that the amount of daylight we get isn’t constant.

The result is clocks go forward on the last Sunday in September and don’t go back again until the first Sunday in April when we’ve got no more than 12 hours between sunrise and sunset.

Delaying the start by a couple of weeks and bringing the end back a fortnight or so would allow us to have an extra hour of light in the evening without having to wake up in darkness in the morning.

I’m not alone in wanting an abbreviated version of daylight saving. Lucia Maria says  daylight saving is lasting too long and has started a Facebook page seeking to put the clocks back on the third weekend in March.


Is cost of children public responsibility?

April 11, 2012

My mother was a tutor sister.*

She loved her job and was very good at it but when she married she gave it up while my father worked full-time as a carpenter and built their house in his spare time.

Looking back years later, she said it was ridiculous that she didn’t carry on working but that was something very few married women contemplated in the 1950s.

When we married nearly three decades later almost all women continued to work after marriage, though most gave up when they had children, at least until the youngest was at pre-school.

That has gradually changed and now it is not uncommon for women to return to work much sooner after having children.

Some do it by choice, some to keep up professional qualifications, some because they need/want the money.

There are both costs and benefits to taking time off to have children and continuing working.

The benefits of uninterrupted time for bonding and breast-feeding aren’t disputed.

Juggling the care of a baby and the tiredness that goes with it with paid work is demanding.

Women brought up to believe they can do anything can find full-time parenting very challenging.

The loss of a full or part-time income can strain family budgets.

But is it the public’s responsibility to compensate for that?

Proponents of paid parental leave think so and are delighted that Labour’s Members’ Bill to extend PPL to six months has been drawn from the ballot.

There’s been a range of views on whether or not it is affordable given high government debt and the need to return to surplus as soon as possible without threatening essential services.

I’ve yet to read or hear anyone questioning the need for PPL at all and whether the cost of children should be a public responsibility.

PPL is a benefit, paid for from taxes. Like ACC it gives more to those who earn more – at least up to $458.82 per week or the equivalent of $23,858 –   but unlike ACC the beneficiaries have not been levied for it.

Unlike any other non-contributory benefit, except superannuation, it isn’t means tested. A woman, or her partner, earning thousands of dollars a week has the same entitlement to PPL as someone on the minimum wage.

Is that right or fair?

I’m not convinced it is on principle and absolutely sure it isn’t in the current economic environment.

I might accept a case if it was means tested. But paying the equivalent of pocket money to high earners when the country is seriously indebted and the only increased spending in this year’s Budget will be for health and education – paid for by savings elsewhere – is a luxury not a necessity.

Lindsay Mitchell argues the economic case against the extension here.

Cactus Kate writes on parental pay madness.

Lucia Maria thinks PPL just grows the state.

* Tutor sister doesn’t exist anymore – that was a senior nurse who taught the junior ones in training hospitals.


Daylight saving lasts too long again

March 23, 2012

The equinox took place a couple of days ago, the sun is now further north than south.

That is obvious to anyone who has to get up early in the morning when it is still dark – and darker than it would be had daylight saving not been unnecessarily extended until the first Sunday in April.

In the best of summers it’s getting too cold to enjoy more light in the evenings by now.

This hasn’t been the best of summers for most of the ocuntry and it’s a cool, wet autumn for many of us.

I second Lucia Maria who says bring on the end of daylight saving please.


Shining light on human achievement

March 26, 2011

Let the luddites light their candles for Earth Hour.

The aim of treading lightly on the earth is a worthy one but I’d rather shine a light on human achievement.

I won’t go as far as Lucia Maria at NZ Conservative  who calls it turn on all the lights night.

I’d rather follow Motella in celebrating human achievement  . Although like Poneke, who reminds us that North Korea has “Earth Hour” all night every night, I will neither be using more or less power than I normally do.

I’ll simply be grateful for the many leaps of science and imagination which bring light and other improvements to our world.

Without them I wouldn’t have been able to read Will Type for Food where Tim T writes he isn’t submitting this poem  to the Earth Hour poems’ page:

The light is off I cannot see
The thingo where I write my verse
The whatsit I just stumbled on
That made me curse. . . 

Tim has more poems for earth hour, the first of which starts: And the second which beings

I think that I shall never see
After that tragic and avoidable incident during during Earth Hour . . .  

Did you see the one about

September 23, 2010

Same planet, different world Oswald Bastable on bookless homes.

Mapping internet sensation stereotpypes – Lucia Maria has found some new world wit.

Muppets in blue goNZo Freakpower casts the blue end of the blogosphere as Muppets.

How did the poor come to be poor – Anti Dismal on why understanding wealth matters more than understanding poverty.

Building inpsectors – Credo Quia Absurdum Est on why practical experience beats the a bloke with a folder.

Reaching Atip – Cactus Kate explains fashion week.

Be careful Gareth – Patrick Smellie on the fine line between integrity and hubris.


Right to die gives right to kill

July 23, 2010

When proponents of euthanasia talk about the right to die they omit to explain that it involves other people and would also give the right to kill.

Would health professionals who are bound by the Hippocratic oath to do no harm want to do that?  Is it fair to ask them to? Even if the answers to those questions were affirmative, how could we be sure decisions would always be based on medical and humanitarian grounds?

Macdoctor points out the dangers of a financial incentive to hasten the end of dying patients.

This brings me to the central problem I have with human euthanasia.

It is a cheap cop-out.

Least I be called insensitive in the face of Dr Pollock’s eloquent and  emotional letter, let me say that I say this entirely in the context of medical practice. I do not consider Dr. Pollock’s desire to die rather than suffer a “cop-out”, I consider the legalisation of euthanasia to be a cheap (and nasty) alternative to adequate palliative care. And therein lies the chief dilemma.

Governments being what they are, as soon as euthanasia is legalised, there will immediately be a subtle drive to euthanase dying people.

 Would it be possible to have safe guards that ensure that those who wanted to opt for voluntary euthanasia  could without the danger that others would feel pressured into it?  They may feel they have to opt for an early death, not for their own sakes but that of their family and friends or even because they felt they were using scarce resources and wasting the time of the people caring for them.

Most of us think if we were severely disabled we would opt to forgo treatment, but would we?

Theodore Dalrymple writes of a man whose life support was about to be turned off until he blinked:

Mr Rudd, 43, was injured in a motor accident. He was paralysed and thought to be severely brain damaged. . .

However, taken to the neuro-intensive care unit at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, he was kept alive by the miracle of modern technology, without which he would undoubtedly have died.

His close relatives and doctors thought that the life he now had was not worth living. They prepared to turn off the machines keeping him alive. They thought this is what he would have wanted. It is also what most of us probably would have thought too.

At the last hour it was noticed he was able to move his eyes and that by doing so he could communicate a little. And what he communicated to everyone’s surprise was that he wanted to continue to live, even the life that he was now living. In other words his relatives and the doctors, with the best intentions in the world, had been mistaken. . .

That would have been a fatal mistake.

Dalrymple goes on to explain about Quality Adjusted Life Years (QALY) and how that measure could influence treatment.

Health policies are often decided on the basis of QALYs. Interestingly and alarmingly the QALY assumes that the life of a quadriplegic (someone paralysed from the neck down) not only has no value for the person who lives it but has a negative value for him: that is to say such a person would rather be dead and in fact would be better off if he were dead.

Whatever they thought before they were paralysed, however, most quadriplegics think their lives are worth living.

With a few exceptions, such as the young rugby player who was accompanied by his parents to Switzerland to be able to be given assistance in suicide, they don’t want to die. The fact that before they were paralysed most quadriplegics thought (as most people, including health economists think) that life as a quadriplegic would not be worth living but change their minds once they are quadriplegic, has very important implications for the idea of living wills.

In fact it invalidates the very idea. It is impossible to decide in advance what would be intolerable for you until you experience it.

When discussing this situation most of us think we would choose death rather than a life with severe impairments, but how can we know how great the desire for life, or death, would be until we are faced with making a choice?

When euthanasia is spoken of, it’s usually described as providing a merciful end, but would we feel the need to hasten our deaths if we could have a painless and natural one instead?

Dalrymple raises another problem. If we did legalise the right to kill, where would we draw the line and how would we stop it moving?

One of the problems with assisted suicide and euthanasia is what the Americans call mission creep. We live in non-discriminatory times: why should only certain categories of patients have the benefit of what Keats called “easeful death”? Indeed, when euthanasia was legalised in Holland it was not long before a psychiatrist killed a patient with supposedly intractable depression.

Why should only the terminally ill and the quadriplegic have the right to assisted suicide or euthanasia? Do other people not suffer equally, at least in their own estimation?  An old saying goes that hard cases make bad law and it is also true that there are pitiful cases in which a quick death would seem a merciful release.

Unfortunately it is well within the capacity of carers to make suffering unbearable and therefore death seem the preferable, quick and merciful option. And if people have a right to death on demand then someone has a duty to provide it, otherwise the right is worthless, a dead letter.

Who is this person who has such a duty? Will we strike off doctors for refusing to kill their patients? This is something that the indomitable Mr Rudd would not approve of and I think he deserves to be heard.

Euthanasia is not the same as choosing to forgo treatment. It is not passively letting someone die or even giving pain relief which might have the side effect of hastening death. It is actively killing and if we give the right to do that how can we be sure it wouldn’t be misused?

Rather than agitating for the right to die we should be agitating for the right to live with dignity and without pain.

The right to die sounds like control is in the hands of the patient and I struggle to see any difference between that and suicide.  But euthanasia is much more than that. In legalising the right to die we’d also be legalising the right to kill.

UPDATE:

Lucia Maria aat NZ Conservative has similar concerns in  euthanasia raises it’s ugly head again.

Dim Post is cautiously in favour of legalising euthanasie but also sees the dangers in death panels.

goNZo Freakpower supports legalisation in any last requests,

So do Brian Edwards in the doctor and the right to die and Richard McGrath at Not PC in Cancers – personal and parliamentary.

Lindsay Mitchell asks what happend to the death with dignity bill?


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