Newcastle, four-and-a-half years ago

When this is what your life is like, your world shrinks very rapidly, and with it, your opportunities disappear too, and it’s not your fault.

There have been experiments, also in TV series, in which they gave a family £26,000 so that they could finally DO something and turn their lives around. You see people blossom, find jobs, start businesses and keep them going.

Boris Johnson: Can I have that to go, please?

The days leading up to the election, I got bombarded with ads telling me to prevent a hung Parliament so that he could get Brexit “oven-ready”. It worked. Johnson got his blue (Conservative) Parliament.

What did he do first, to get cooking?

  • Limit the role of Parliament, now that it is no longer a “hung” Parliament, a Parliament that does not vote his way. Surprise surprise.
  • Toss out workers’ rights. Surprise surprise.
  • Throw out concern for people who flee from wars. No surprise there either.

No longer such a tasty dish, is it?

Apparently, another thing that he plans to do is put judges in the courts who will do what he wants them to do. Brenda Hale is set to retire in January, by the way. I am sorry to see her go.

Drugs and you

Yesterday, I ran into a video series about Chris van Tulleken getting patients off drugs in a TV series. A very laudable undertaking! During his first morning at a GP practice, 39 of the 40 patients seen by one doctor received a prescription for a drug.

Decades ago, I slowly took myself off meds for an extra heartbeat (ventricular extrasystolia; mainly the sign of a very healthy heart but it can put too much strain on a heart if it is too persistent and I suspect it can for example result from drastically diminished physical activity and from certain solvents used in coffee production). I then showed my surprised and somewhat sceptical doctor that I really no longer needed them. The ECG convinced him.

A minute ago, I ran into this video below.

Wasn’t cocaine initially a pharmaceutical drug too, by the way?

I’ve had “psychiatric drugs” three times in my life. (I am 60ish.)

  1. After I was raped by an intruder in my own home and some days later found I couldn’t sleep and was worried that the sleep deprivation was going to put me into a downward spiral, I talked with my GP. She prescribed 10 pills of Valium. Just a few nights of good sleep was all I needed to keep me afloat. And even half a valium could do the trick. I didn’t use up the prescription.
  2. Many years later, when I was getting into a bit of a burnout, I talked with my GP again, a different one this time, and asked if she could give me a prescription. She did, also for just 5 pills or so. It was enough. I also started sending myself on day trips to relaxing destination and made myself take weekends off. (I was a workaholic for a long time.)
  3. Years after that, I once – one night only – used a “genuine” sleeping pill because I was in a very loud hospital environment; it was not what I wanted but I felt I had no choice. That one pill made me feel scarily depressed – I can’t describe the feeling as it was also very physical as if there was now a pit where my stomach used to be – with a deeper despair and emptiness than I had ever experienced, and also a bit as if I was stuck in the middle of cotton fluff. It scared me. It really scared me. This was the most unpleasant feeling that I have ever experienced (and I’ve seen and experienced quite a bit throughout my life). Never again.

I have no idea who this guy in the video is, but if you are talking people OFF drugs and taking on big pharma, you have to be one of the good guys.

Not all scientific and technological progress is good

I am currently benefiting greatly from n-acetylcysteine (NAC), a substance that was developed not much later than the drug thalidomide talked about in the video below. NAC was patented in 1960 and launched onto the market in 1968.

Now watch the video. Graphic WWII images. Viewer discretion required.

I am posting this because it is time for everyone to start asking many more questions and developing and spreading their own opinions about the use of techniques like CRISPR, without instantly being called a luddite.

 

 

 

What if…

… you could give all the Brits who’ve been living on next to nothing in the UK for many years and whose nutritional needs haven’t been met in a long time, good food and supplements to help their health recover from all the damage poverty has done to their bodies, for 6 months. Or even 2.

It would make a whopping difference.

Britain is one big torture chamber of a country, isn’t it?

If you vote Conservative or Brexit Party (formerly UKIP), you vote for that.

You vote for all that crazy “class” shit that declares millions of Brits disposable. That includes children.

 

I’m kinda scared

In the 15 years that I’ve been in the UK, it’s often been a relatively hostile, callous and lawless place, but this has become more pronounced in the past few years. Probably since Theresa May became Home Secretary and when Iain Duncan Smith started running the Department of Work and Pensions.

Boris Johnson, who has been shown to have been lying about just about everything and who sees nothing wrong with openly peddling violence and intolerance, still has the lead in the polls.

What kind of country is this going to be after the 12th?

 

 

Who to vote for?

You can easily judge the character of a party by how it treats those who can do nothing for it.

That said, do I believe that tactical voting can make a difference? Yes, I do.

Tactical voting is not – as some Tories claim – committing voter fraud by for example voting in two towns. Tactical voting means that you vote for the non-Conservative candidate who stands the best chance of getting elected in your constituency. Because even a marginally better candidate can still help make a real difference.

Poverty damages children

In my inbox this morning, as part of BPS Research Digest, an overview of the effects of poverty.

The British Psychological Society:

https://digest.bps.org.uk/2019/12/03/the-psychological-impacts-of-poverty-digested/

Turns out that poverty can be really bad for children, ruin their chances in life. I talk about this in my course, in the lecture on whether it is better to be tall than to be short. The factor that makes the real difference appears to be childhood nutrition.

But not only can poverty affect your brain, it also often makes other people treat you as if you aren’t a fully-fledged human being. Many belittle you or even ridicule you – and that does not help, in my experience. It does not help when the message “you’re stupid, you’re stupid, you’re stupid” gets hammered home over and over and over again.

There is this blind assumption, for example, that if you visit a foodbank, you can’t possibly have anything to contribute to society. After all, you’re “stupid”.

The fact that you’re poor is not the result of how “stupid” you are.

It’s the result of luck, or rather, its absence, as I’ve posted before. Pure chance. Poverty can be the result of having tripped over that wobbly pavement tile. (Or a hacker. Or a disgruntled employee.)