We need to talk about this

Hi there, welcome to this website and blog. I am the person who wrote “We need to talk about this”.

I’ve just wrapped up the much improved new edition. (See also this post, for the time being.)

In this book, I discuss matters of life and death, such as abortion, designer babies and euthanasia, all within the context of the new eugenics.

This counts as “bioethics”, a challenging combination of ethics, law, philosophy (which is the basis of law) as well as science & technology and policy. It includes human rights issues such as discrimination and questions regarding the rights of animals. Rights generally come at the cost of duties, namely for starters the duty to respect the rights of other beings. Without duties, there can be no rights.

“We need to talk about this” is globally available in print and as Kindle version from Amazon, from Britain to Japan. It will also soon be available as e-book from various other online retailers across the world.

Because the topic is vitally important, I wrote the first version in a big hurry and published it in early 2017.

Then I revised it thoroughly and expanded it. There is now also a chapter on euthanasia, for example, with a discussion about the Groningen Protocol.

 

Public transport accessibility

Once you start thinking about how many of the impairments of physically non-mainstream people are created by society, you notice it increasingly frequently.

 

Why, for instance, isn’t it much easier to roll onto a train than it currently is in most cases?

(For blind, deaf, and deaf-blind people, more could be done as well, but that kind of research, into wearable technology that connects with the already present station networks, is underway.)

About a week ago, someone tweeted about a very positive experience with Eurostar. Others reported similar experiences. But it still involves complicated activities that simply shouldn’t be necessary.

In my home country, it’s no better. If you’re in a wheelchair, you can get the required assistance that enables you to travel by train, but I think that you actually have to book it in advance. So, while the rest of us simply hop on the train to the next town if we suddenly feel like attending a theatre performance or concert of any kind, anyone who uses a wheelchair is probably forced to jump through multiple hoops first and then realizes he or she won’t be able to get to the event in time.

(At this point, I am not aware of any transport-related research in my home country that focuses on accessibility, but I have not concluded my little investigation yet and still need to make some phone calls as well.)

Why don’t trains come with automatically extending ramps that lower onto the platform?

In the rare cases that the platform is higher than the train floor, they should not extend, of course, but that can be accomplished either sensor-based or programmed.

Someone on Twitter (Sven Slootweg: thanks!) helpfully made a drawing for me (see here).

Well, here is one possible answer as to why no innovation is taking place, for the case of Britain:

https://www.standard.co.uk/business/business-focus-why-your-boxfresh-train-is-being-replaced-by-a-brand-new-model-a3766501.html

I also ran into some other news, though, and sent the message below to the Spanish manufacturer of those new trains. I am looking forward to hearing back from them.

Hello,

I saw that you are constructing new trains for Britain (here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-42937218).

As you probably know, 10 to 20% of any population is considered “disabled” but many physical impairments are actually caused by hindrances created by society.

By 2050, there are expected to be nearly one billion urban dwellers who are “disabled”. How are you taking them into account in your new designs? Do your trains have automatic extending hinging ramps that lower onto the platform so that anyone in a wheelchair can easily roll on and roll off and make use of public transport just as easily as anybody else?

I am neither disabled nor looking after someone who is disabled. I am merely becoming increasingly aware of how biased society is toward mainstream people.

I look forward to your reply. Thank you.

Kind regards,

Angelina Souren

There is no way that they can ignore such a large proportion of the human population, and I can imagine that increasing accessibility, also for parents with small children, would also improve punctuality.

As someone else commented or hinted at (a blog post for which I currently don’t have the link at hand), such automatic ramps would likely also be very handy for freight trains.

For more on the topic, see for instance this article in The Guardian:
https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2018/feb/14/what-disability-accessible-city-look-like

Ta-da!

The first dozen or so have low-resolution images inside. My fault! I’ve meanwhile remedied it, and the new images are 400 dpi. That should certainly do it. (I’ve done enough publishing and chased enough article authors for better-quality images to know that, yes.)

I also changed the font in one image. Yes, there are always more things to consider. Sometimes, it makes sense to still implement such improvements, but only when they are real improvements.

(And after I wrote the above, I found even more room for improvement! Good! The back cover looks much better too now. I am a kinesthetic learner, as you can probably tell by now.)

The challenges of publishing a book

Well, of course, after I thought I had weeded out all the typos, added a reference that I was sure I had already added, and tweaked the new cover for the print version sufficiently, I still found a missing space, and one or two missing words in the proof. That’s how it goes!

Anyway, it’s available from Amazon now, both as print and as Kindle version. Other online retailers will follow soon.

In my book, I mention that I have worked with hot concentrated strong acids. Well, one day, I stupidly managed a get a drop of acid onto my jeans. (Yes, I was wearing a lab coat.) I still have the jeans! I’ve meanwhile covered the hole.

In the book, I also mention my mother who passed away in 1975, when I was 14. Advanced metastasised breast cancer. What I didn’t mention was that she was misdiagnosed not once but twice. The first time probably cost her her life. “Just a milk gland.” The second time put her through an immense amount of unnecessary pain. (She was sent to physical therapy, but the problem was caused by metastases in her bones.)

I also nearly lost my youngest sister after a misdiagnosis, but it was a very common one. She had appendicitis, but it was mistaken for a bladder problem.

Writing this book was so hard, it plunged me into a bad depression at some point. Not because of personal stuff, but because reading up on eugenics is a depressing activity. Not very cheerful. The tone of the book is not one of overall depression, however.

 

 

UK police liability becoming a real thing

The Supreme Court, in Robinson v Chief Constable of West Yorkshire Police [2018] UKSC 4, has declared that if “a third party such as a pedestrian is injured as a result of a negligent arrest on the street by a police officer, the police are liable in negligence where that injury was a reasonably foreseeable consequence of the police’s actions.”

Read more, here:
http://www.ukpolicelawblog.com/index.php/9-blog/163-an-assault-on-hill-police-liability-in-negligence-narrowed

It’s always annoyed me immensely that British police could almost never be held accountable for anything they did. It’s a recipe for carelessness, almost literally, when duty of care does not apply.

So I am pleased to see that a little bit more liability is finally appearing.

(I used to have an interesting in policing and the law a few years ago but local police officers weren’t very fond of that, I was made to understand, and I decided to drop it.)

No wonder Rees Mogg wants Brexit

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

See also this post: https://angelinasouren.com/2018/01/31/the-illegality-of-british-government-actions/

Update for Brits abroad (within the EU)

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

See this earlier post (and various newspapers in the UK and the Netherlands):
https://angelinasouren.com/2018/01/17/british-and-residing-in-the-rest-of-the-eu/

James O’Shaughnessy has done it again

Who he is, you ask? UK Government Health Minister.

Last year in October, he said, as reported by the Evening Standard, that the “British taxpayer” funds the NHS, which suggests that foreigners in the UK do not pay taxes. That could have been plain sloppy. Unfortunately, the Standard did not correct him.

https://www.standard.co.uk/news/health/migrants-and-visitors-to-uk-charged-upfront-for-nhs-treatment-under-new-government-rules-a3665591.html

But now he’s done it again.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2018/feb/05/annual-charge-paid-by-migrants-for-using-the-nhs-to-double?

Remember, this is a UK government minister. When I was living in the US, a colleague remarked to me that I was spared all the hassle, in early April in the run up to the tax return deadline. He thought I didn’t have to submit a tax return, thought I didn’t pay taxes in the US. To hear a colleague say something like that is one thing, but to hear a UK government minister suggest something like that is quite another.

In view of the major troubles the NHS is in, I have to see this as extreme sneakiness within the light of the UK government’s “hostile climate creation”. This is how bullshit ideas get planted into the minds of many Brits, by their own government. Despicable!

Because now it’s the fault of, “them”, the migrants, that the NHS is in trouble. Sick!

(EU citizens alone have contributed 20 BILLION pounds to the UK in the past ten years. Net! See https://www.ft.com/content/c49043a8-6447-11e4-b219-00144feabdc0?segmentid=acee4131-99c2-09d3-a635-873e61754ec6)

Don’t get me wrong. I am not overlooking that the surcharge is only for non-EU citizens (although you have to ask why non-EU people who pay the same level of taxes as EU citizens – and for example include the nurses and doctors who help keep the NHS afloat – have this surcharge and EU citizens don’t).

What I am protesting against is the sneaky way in which the UK government apparently operates in its hostile climate creation for migrants, now trying to put the blame for the troubles with the NHS on the shoulders of migrants and at the same time suggesting that foreigners don’t pay taxes in the UK. I’d be angry about that too, if I were a Brit and believed what my own government is trying to make me believe.

There is no way a UK government minister could be this dense and have done this by mistake. (Is there, James?)

(Others and I confronted him on Twitter, and I am sure that those others got the same response as I did. None at all!)

October 2017:

February 2018:

 

So, what does this video below mean? Anything at all or is it just the usual hogwash? Because these are empty words that aren’t currently backed by practice. As the man in charge of the NHS, he can say that passing on patient data to the Home Office has to stop, now. He doesn’t. So it’s just the usual empty BULLSHIT. Meaningless hogwash.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

We need to reconsider our view of other species, urgently.

Read this story: https://www.thedodo.com/on-the-farm/starving-pig-shared-food-with-his-friends

Two pigs were rescued, one had piglets and was well and the other one was very thin. Rescuers were puzzled. Turned out that the latter had been giving most of the food he had to the other pig. To help the other pig survive.

We need to reconsider our views regarding other species, urgently.

Personally, I have seen small parrots stand up for cats.

How on earth did we “developed” humans manage to think for so long that other species have no cognitive abilities? No capacity for emotions? Mind-boggling. The more developed we become, the less wisdom we humans seem to have?

Traditional scientists have to stop being so damn pig-headed about this. To see the obvious does not make you stupid, silly or dimwitted.

Sad

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Landlords no longer rent homes to EU citizens and EU citizens can no longer easily find work either. Many are being forced underground, into being exploited. And foreigners are no longer very welcome at foodbanks either.

And this remains, too.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

There is no way in hell I’ll visit a British hospital while this stays in place. That’s essentially the only protest available to me.

I am seriously worried about all these hostile measures. It all seems too much like those days when people became required to wear a star on their sleeves and that’s creepy.

But there is this, too – plenty of Brits do protest against what the Conservative government is doing – and like the previous time when tens of thousands of people marched in London. the German news (Tagesschau) reports on it, but the BBC does not. The previous time, they marched past the BBC’s offices… Probably today as well.

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

And once again, the UK government has gone back on two promises it recently made to EU citizens in the UK. It keeps doing that, and as a result, it is impossible to know whether the UK government considers you to be here “legally” or “illegally”, and as a foreigner, anyone can get arrested and placed in detention indefinitely. Indefinitely!

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Citizens’ rights and reality

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

The illegality of British government actions

A pattern is starting to emerge. The British government does not display a lot of respect for the law.

At least one judge has commented that the government is wasting the tax payers’ money as well as judicial capacity.

The pattern shows unequivocally that the British government goes after the most vulnerable in British society and seeks to protect the wealthiest in society.

Apparently, the Lord Chancellor has the task of ensuring the government’s compliance with the rule of law. As of the beginning of this year, that is David Gauke, appointed by HM the Queen on advice of the Prime Minister. So the Prime Minister recommends who gets to monitor the legality of her own government’s actions? Hmm.

His predecessors were Chris Grayling (2012-2015), Michael Gove (2015-2016), Elizabeth Truss (2016-2017) and David Lidington (2017-2018). All Conservatives.

Liberty

I just ran into the case of KW, a 52-year-old woman who suffered a brain haemorrhage during an operation at age 34. A complicated matter. Am still reading and mulling it all.

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCOP/2014/45.html

http://www.bailii.org/ew/cases/EWCA/Civ/2015/1054.html

http://www.mentalcapacitylawandpolicy.org.uk/js-mill-strikes-back-mostyn-j-takes-on-the-supreme-court/

http://www.marilynstowe.co.uk/2015/10/22/when-a-judge-disagrees-with-precedent/

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/high-court-judge-removed-from-second-case-this-year-over-his-passionate-view-of-the-law-a6705001.html

Filthy EU migrants contributed over 20 billion pounds to Britain in past decade

UCL study finds EU migrants to Britain contribute big time in taxes:
https://www.ft.com/content/c49043a8-6447-11e4-b219-00144feabdc0?segmentid=acee4131-99c2-09d3-a635-873e61754ec6

The idea that EU migrants would come to Britain for benefits is utterly preposterous. Sorry, I can’t make this any prettier than it already is! Yay!

I’ll leave it at that and will resume my bioethics focus in my posts (am currently tackling the matter of wrongful life cases, which needed more depth in my book, and then I’ll be largely done).

I think it is impossible anyway to convince people who firmly believe that migrants are all “filthy thieves” of the fact that we’re not. It’s not about the truth, it is about what they need to believe for themselves to keep their world whole, somehow. It probably has to do with the inequality that  the British government imposes on them.

But guess what, we contribute a lot more than mere money, too. We are all from nations with much greater equality than Britain, for example. (Yes, all other 27 nations in the EU have greater equality.) Our insights and experiences help make Britain a better place for everyone.

Dutch in the UK

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Two responses from Brits:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

Brachycephalic dogs

These are essentially fashion accessories. That the dogs are live animals who are bred to look cute and that this means that they have trouble breathing does not matter to anyone who sees a dog as a fashion accessory – or a faithful adoring admirer – but it should.

There are other side effects, such as frequent skin infections.

https://www.bva.co.uk/news-campaigns-and-policy/policy/companion-animals/brachycephalic-dogs/

Decapitation is not hilarious

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

France lends Britain the Bayeux tapestry (from 196 BC) on show and this (see below) is how The Sun and its cartoonist respond. (I can’t help but wonder if the way we Europeans in Britain feel about this is more or less how Muslims feel about some cartoons about their culture and religion. )

https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5366747/brexit-inspired-bayeux-tapestry/

And nobody in my home country can believe that what is going in Britain is really happening. After all, it is going on in a neighbouring country that is only separated from the Netherlands by a sea, not an ocean.

“Surely Dutch people are treated with normal human respect in Britain. Maybe people from the middle east aren’t, yeah, but Dutch people, or French people, nah, they have nothing to worry about.” That must be their reasoning, more or less. (No, it it not okay to deny people from the middle east their lives either.)

Complaining to IPSO (Independent Press Standards Organisation) will be useless as its clause about discrimination does not include nationality, culture or even political orientation. (Britons who want to remain in the EU will feel affected by this too.)

Have filed a complaint. This is what it says:

 

If you read that “revised tapestry”,  you can’t help getting the sense that British paranoia is getting completely out of hand. When I was still living in Amsterdam, 15 years ago, I bought the book “When Cultures Collide” by Richard Lewis (British). The image below shows a passage in that book:

Where on earth does this crazy paranoia come from? A British woman once told me it was all related to when the Vikings invaded Britain. Really?

But that’s the only explanation I’ve heard, so far.

Human rights and Britain

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js
Continue reading

Breathing Space Call for Evidence HM Treasury

This call from The Children’s Society just passed by on my screen and I decided to respond to it. Below is my submission.

1. Poverty – worry about debts, about how to acquire necessities such as food for one’s children, and what to pay for first – can cause a drop in IQ of up to 15 points. This indicates how much stress debts can cause for a child’s parents, creating a stressful environment for the child, not to mention various forms of deprivation (for which forced adoption is definitely not the appropriate solution, but I shouldn’t have to explain that).

https://phys.org/news/2013-08-poverty-cognitive-ten-iq.html

https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2013/11/your-brain-on-poverty-why-poor-people-seem-to-make-bad-decisions/281780/

http://science.sciencemag.org/content/341/6149/976

There are many other publications.

Poverty is also linked to lower physical health, as you know from various studies conducted in Britain. Merely think of the combination of black moulds and cold homes. Tens of thousands of people die in Britain every winter as the result of being unable to afford to heat their homes properly. In insufficiently heated or insufficiently insulated homes, the probability of mould growth due to condensation against cold walls is higher as well. Then add lack of proper nutrition.

2. “Economic inequality harms societies”

Richard Wilkinson and other researchers, in various papers and presentations

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_G._Wilkinson

3. “IMF research has shown that excessive inequality hinders growth and hollows out the country’s economic foundation. It erodes trust within society and fuels political tension.”

Christine Lagarde in a public speech at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, October 2017

4. Low wages are a major cause of poverty hence of debt in Britain. Parents have no control over this.

5. Problems with benefits are another major cause of severe poverty in Britain. Parents have no control over this either, but these issues can aggravate stress immensely, particularly debt-related stress.

6. All humans have human rights and human needs (such as the need for food and shelter), not just a few lucky people for whom fate decided that they were born and are growing up in lucky circumstances. Continue reading

We need a global guideline for eugenics – urgently

People are currently focusing on Trump and his silly comments, but perhaps they should be focussing on Britain.

A few days ago, British newspaper The Guardian reported about a eugenics meeting that allegedly had been convened in secret, involving someone who has previously advocated child rape. This meeting is supposed to have taken place at University College London and white supremacists supposedly were present at this meeting. Continue reading

Tony Blair on social engineering

Interview with Mark Easton, BBC. Date unknown, but near the end of Tony Blair’s premiership.

Keep in mind that “hooliganism” and “anti-social behaviour” are often labels used to indicate (and reject) people from a lower socioeconomic class in Britain and that this “hooliganism” for example gets expressed in graffiti.

Of course, causing (increased) financial hardship for parents by taking any benefits away is most definitely not “in the best interest of the child”.

Tony Blair did consider graffiti “anti-social behaviour”. During a photo-op as part of his crusade, he hosed down graffiti and said that older generations of his family would have abhorred such behaviour. It then turned out that his own grandmother had been a “commie” graffiti vandal.

There probably is a work by Banksy somewhere in response to all of this.

Tony Blair also criminalized a lot of behavior that is essentially merely human behavior. That too was in nobody’s best interest and probably did nothing toward decreasing inequality in Britain.

It did not enable (more) people to flourish.

Flying to Cyprus for a designer baby

A designer baby is any baby who is preferred over another baby, the way one might pick a handbag or a rug.

The only exception should be when the resulting baby ends up having a life not worth living. In my book “We need to talk about this”, I give a definition of “a life not worth living” that has held up so far. This definition does not represent what I feel, but what could be doable to work with in practice.

This also means, however, that parents should get all the assistance they need. This means that the baby (and child) should get all the assistance he or she needs to enable him or her to FLOURISH.

Society creates so many hindrances for anyone who isn’t mainstream. We should embrace diversity as it enriches society and we should address the artificial impairments so that they disappear.

I also believe that techniques like CRISPR should be used first to help remedy these “lives not worth living”. Why? Because it is a logical approach, based on the application of (generally globally accepted) principles instead of personal preferences.

Model and former Miss Great Britain Danielle Lloyd is flying to Cyprus for a designer baby:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/av/uk-42611687/danielle-lloyd-on-why-she-s-choosing-the-sex-of-her-next-child

 

“We need to talk about this” – updated version

I am wrapping up the much improved version of “We need to talk about this”. There is now a chapter on euthanasia, for instance, with a discussion of the Groningen Protocol.

I didn’t write this book to convince you that my views are the right ones, even though I hope you will agree with many of them. I wrote this book to encourage as many people as possible to develop their own opinions in these areas, to go beyond impassioned exclamations like “this is so wrong” or “this is very good” and to make their opinions known to their governments and  academics, and to discuss these issues with their friends, relatives and colleagues. Continue reading