Tuesday, March 31, 2009
Each of the episodes has a theme - Arrival, Finding my Feet, Looking Back, The Future.
Basically, a collage of her still photos - each child (187 nationalities resident in the UK of the 192 nationalities in the world) was shown - with excerpts from her interviews with some of the children. Jaime appeared for about 30 ms as many other children -and only those whose interviews were quoted had their countries of origin named - a shame.
Even though there was not time to produce the audio from all of Caroline's interviews many of the children/young adults, it seems each got a soundbite.
Jaime's, (which I missed the first time round) ... "It was busy and dark and cold".
Another favourite quote from an unidentified source in the first episode "When I first arrived, there were so many white people!"
My favourite interviews from the four episodes are those from the first episode with two Liberian and Mongolian young adults. They are eloquent and intelligent. All these young people have much to offer the UK, their own countries and UK foreign relations.
So many of the soundbites speak with the regional accents of the area of the UK in which the child resides - I have certainly noticed that as Jaime has been learning English it is with a Rochdale accent!
I speak the language of my adopted country fluently, incorrectly and with a decidedly British accent. Speaking English to non-UK colleagues (including Americans), as opposed to drinking companions at the local pub in Rochdale (even though I was brought up in the south rather than the north), I codeswitch (a Linguistics term) to Standard English and "Received Pronunciation" rather than "ain't" and double negatives - "I ain't got no money" - which are perfectly understood in Rochdale.
The nationals of my adopted country codeswitch all the time between the official colonially-imposed language and various creoles (hmm ... another future post on this subject) .
I digress ...
Unfortunately, I cannot show you the programme ... copyright! Nrgggh!
"I had my first op yesterday, and they have confirmed that yes, there is a malignant tumour right on the back of my tongue, so far back it's actually in my throat.
The good news is that it is small - 'very small' as the consultant put it. My favourite phrase this week is 'very small'.
Naturally, the hope is that this is the primary tumour, and the lump on my neck is the secondary, and that it hasn't spread.
I won't find this out until the MRI scan (tomorrow, Weds, they have brought it forward, hurrah).
Then I get the results from the whole shebang next Tuesday, when I find out what treatments are going to happen, and in what order.
I want to thank you sooooo much for the love that's been coming from you. I can't begin to say how much it is treasured - well, I CAN begin, so there. Here I am beginning to say how much it means to me.
talk again soon - but it may be email rather than phone, as I'm pretty croaky today. No surprise as I had a large Maglite shoved down my throat for 2 hours yesterday morning. Any further fnarr fnarr jokes cheerfully accepted.
love to you, & the family
Monday, March 30, 2009
I've not been well since last Sept, and noticed a lump on my neck which I went ot the GP about and initially he said it was nothing to worry about.
Anyway, it wasn't going away, so I went back 2 weeks ago & he decided he didn't like aforementioned lump at all.
He sent me to a consultant... 6 hours at the hospital, Needle biopsy, camera down my throat, being poked with sticks, x-rays, ultrasound, you name it...
However, the results aren't good I'm afraid, as I have cancer.
It is a malignant tumour on the back of my tongue. Apparently the lump on my neck was a red flag, indicating something dodgy going on out of sight. They are doing an investigative op on my tongue next next Monday, and an MRI scan on Wednesday.
They are being cautiously optimistic, and are using phrases like 'we are aiming for a cure'.
I have decided that I am NOT going to bugger about on the internet scaring myself crapless, and I shall divert that energy into being optimistic myself.
This has come as a shock (no sh*t).
But this isn't priviledged information: if people ask you & want to know where I am, I believe in telling the truth (rather than having some big secretive drama). So please share where feels appropriate. I'm telling people.
more news as I get it Angus, and love to you & the family.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
But I enjoyed this euphemism from the NAO report:
"Managing C-NOMIS as an IT project required the Project Board to coordinate up to 40 individual workstreams, something it delegated to the project team. While the workstreams had their own plans, a report by Internal Audit found each was operating as a functional silo."
For more information on the chaos of the NHS Connecting for Health IT project I would thoroughly recommend the e-Health Insider website - it provides much more information than Dr Crippen, Dr Rant, Tom Reynolds, myself etc etc could provide in months.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I will present it to the local primary school Jaime attended before he left to the UK.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Seemingly, the next appointment will be at the new RMCH in the centre of Manchester - she said Pendlebury was already showing signs of packing out.
Thursday, March 19, 2009
However, when I attempted to stream the Ben Goldacre/Norman Lamb interview on ITV about the MMR vaccine and EDM 754, despite using Privoxy and UK Tor Exitnodes, it recognised my IP address as being overseas. I then tried Channel 4's streaming (as I would really like to see Jaime in Caroline Irby's Home from Home documentary scheduled for next week). Same thing. Strange I thought ...
Then I found this paper on discovering IP address location in spite of using Tor and a proxy server. Rather technical, the coding examples are rather beyond me, but it seems that a website using Java coding, FlashPlayer etc can tunnel back through Tor servers to find the originating IP address and hence location. Disabling ActiveX, Java etc would probably disable Channel 4, ITV streaming, although I haven't tried this yet.
Clearly, ITV and Channel 4 are using one or more of these techniques to discover your geo-location ... but it is a mystery why the BBC is just using a simple geo-IP look-up and not one of these more sophisticated techniques?
Of even more concern, is that in countries that censor access to websites and where users are dependent on Tor and proxies, it would seem to be easy for governments to monitor Tor traffic and trace users. If the "hostile" government setup a website on an overseas server e.g. if the Chinese government set up a pro-Tibetan independence website on an overseas server, using such coding, it could trace pro-Tibetan dissidents resident in China using Tor and a proxy server to connect to such a site. Conversely, a western intelligegnce service could create a "spoof" jihadi website and an unwitting Muslim extremist Tor user could still be traced.
As an aside, it is interesting to note that the US Department of Defense originally developed the technology behind Tor, put it in the public domain since to be taken up by the Electronic Freedom Foundation (EFF) - if the EFF is serious about Internet anonymity, then it must come up with something technologically more rigorous than Tor.
What is going on?
Friday, March 13, 2009
That this House notes that children with cancer say that it is important for them to be able to go home during their treatment; expresses concern that a lack of community children's nurses and social workers means that nearly half of parents say they do not get the support they need for their child to be able to go home safely; welcomes the release of CLIC Sargent's report More Than My Illness: Delivering quality care for children with cancer, published in February 2009 to outline the case for better, equitably available community-based care and support; highlights the report's recommendation that every child and young person with cancer should be allocated a key worker better to co-ordinate, plan and support every aspect of their support; welcomes the child health strategy Healthy Lives, Brighter Futures, which acknowledges the need for more and better community-based care and support and for more community children's nurses; and encourages service providers across the UK to ensure a more co-ordinated and holistic approach to delivering social, emotional, financial, educational and clinical support for sick children and their families.
Norman Lamb, Liberal Member of Parliament (MP) for North Norfork, tabled parliamentary Early Day Motion 754 motion objecting to sensationalist media coverage of this discredited research. It has now been signed by119 MPs and ranks as no. 34 of the 1161 EDMs put forward in the current parliamentary session. (As an aside it is interesting to note how many MPs from each party represented in parliament have signed this EDM).
Jeni Barnett's irresponsible journalism has now been widely published on the web both in audio and transcript form. LBC - are you going to sue us all?
Dr Ben Goldacre and MP Norman Lamb (who had never before met) responded to Jeni Barnett and LBC when they were interviewed by a major UK TV channel this week (youtube video here - and I don't imagine ITV will sue!).
I will quote the NAO's press release:
"The project to provide an IT system to support a new way of working with offenders was to be introduced by January 2008, and had an approved lifetime cost of £234 million to 2020. By July 2007, £155 million had been spent on the project, it was two years behind schedule, and estimated lifetime project costs had risen to £690 million. The Minister of State at the Ministry of Justice called a halt to the project while options to get the budget under control were sought.
Many of the causes of the delays and cost overruns could have been avoided with better management. There was inadequate management oversight and the technical complexity of the project was significantly underestimated. Budget monitoring was absent and change control weak. In addition, the main supplier contracts were designed in such a way that sufficient pressure could not be brought to bear on suppliers to deliver to time and cost.
In January 2008, the National Offender Management Service began work on a rescoped programme with an estimated lifetime cost of £513 million and a delivery date of March 2011. They opted for the lowest cost approach, which would deliver the Service’s revised needs, although this option did not have the best benefit to cost ratio.
The full financial impact of the delays is uncertain, but it is likely to be at least £41 million; £15 million of which has been spent on aspects of the project which have now been cut from the design. £226 million has been spent on the project so far and roll-out of the system to prisons is expected to commence in April 2009."
The NAO is not impressed. I am sure questions will be asked in Parliament.
So Dr Crippen, Dr Rant, Dr Goldacre et al ... don't think the NHS is the only one being taken for an IT ride.
Wednesday, March 11, 2009
The former relates the experiences of a World Bank representative in Equatorial Guinea (EG) in the late 1980ss. I thoroughly recommend it - as it relates much about the horrors of the Macias Nguema regime and the only slightly lesser horrors of his successor and nephew Obiang.The Wonga Coup seems to have been updated since its original publication in 2006, I assume to include updates on Mark Thatcher's fate and Simon Mann's extradition from Zimbabwe to the notorious Black Beach prison in the Equatorial Guinean capital Malabo.
As I have loaned him several books over the last few years, he offered to loan them to me. As I have read the former and latter fairly recently and having only recently learned of Forsyth's admitted knowledge of or involvement in a 1973 coup attempt in EG I opted to borrow Forsyth's Dogs of War first published in 1974. I haven't read it in 20 or more years so, with my current knowledge, it will be gripping - and if he was ever to write an autobiography or permit someone to write a biography, it would make interesting reading.
Just opening the first two pages are chilling in their dedication and epigrams ...
And Big Marc and Black Johnny,
And the others in the unmarked graves.
At least we tried.".
In the novel's introductory epigrams he reproduces two quotes:
"Cry "Havoc" and let slip the dogs of war" - Julian Caesar, William Shakespeare.
"That ... be not told of my death,
Or made to grieve on account of me,
And that I not be buried in consecrated ground,
And that no sexton be asked to toll the bell,
And that nobody is wished to see my dead body,
And that no mourners walk behind me at my funeral,
And that no flowers be planted on my grave,
And that no man remembers me,
To this I put my name."
Unrelated (?) regional developments: The French judicial system has frozen the substantial French bank accounts of Africa's (currently) longest-serving president, Omar Bongo, of our nearest continental neighbour, Francophone, Gabon.
Friday, March 6, 2009
Meanwhile, I learn that the novelist Frederick Forsyth, who wrote the famous novel The Day of the Jackal and then the The Dogs of War, the latter fictionally based on a planned coup d'etat in a mineral-rich African country, was actually involved, in a coup attempt. In an interview last year he admitted to his involvement in a planned 1973 coup in Equatorial Guinea. I don't actually condemn him for this as he was a BBC correspondent during the Biafran War in the Niger Delta area of Nigeria, whose Igbo people suffered much and emigrated to Equatorial Guinea only to suffer more under Equatorial Guinea's first president Macias Nguema,
In a media interview last year he gave his professional opinion that Simon Mann's attempt to execute a coup d'etat by air was dumb. He has a website and comes across as a right-wing git but it would be hard to be more extreme than Macias Nguema.
In related news ... I've just read that famous French mercenary Bob Denard who is most reputed for his involvement in the Comoros islands on the other side of the continent, but was involved in much more over the years, died last year - not in violence but of old age.
You might wonder what "Wonga" means? According to Adam Roberts book I previously referenced, Wonga is an old Romany word which originally meant coal but latterly then attained the meaning money.
Two white South African acquaintances, long term residents here, were questioned by local security forces after the alleged coup attempt here - the first I phoned denied knowing anything about it (which I believe), wouln't talk about it and didn't mention he had been questioned. The other I phoned on Monday but is doing a job on our sister island returning on Thursday, admitted he'd been contacted by the security services and agreed to talk to me about it this coming weekend.
The aforementioned acquaintances once worked here for another interesting South African Cristoph Hellinger, who once owned luxurious hotels on both islands and still runs a large (in terms of a small island state) construction company here. He is the owner of a vineyard and estate in Stellenbosch near Cape Town. Hellinger was not a great friend of the apartheid regime and got rich running diamond mine logistics operations for the MPLA in Angola during the civil war with Savimbi's UNITA and, given our first president's support from/for the MPLA, used Sao Tome as a staging post.
I have heard anecdotes of Filipino workers recruited by Hellinger hiding in the roof-spaces of their accomodation of MPLA-controlled diamond mines under attack from Savimbi's UNITA.
Anyway, Hellinger earned plenty from the Angolan MPLA in diamonds or diamond-money and paid our first president plenty for long-term leases on two prime pieces of land on our two islands, where on our sister island he built a luxury hotel. His admin complex and local construction company HQ remained on our island and he established the first national airline. He also got a contract to manage the state-owned luxury hotel constructed in the late '70s/early'80s by Yugoslavia (before it fell apart). However, the first democratic government here annulled this contract, awarded it to a Portuguese company which let it fall apart and it was then handed over to a member of Germany's aristocracy who sold it to a multinational Portuguese company a couple of years ago. In the meantime, Hellinger built another luxry hotel here.
In South Africa Hellinger had employed S. African B. and Filipino R. as an accountant in his hotel business there - they were both marvellous - and supported us 200% during the beginning of Kezia's leukaemia.
B. once told me how Hellinger would hide his staff in a top Cape Town hotel he owned. Black and Coloured people were not permitted to serve whites in public places under the ica, apartheid regime. Classified as "Coloured" (as her maternal grandmother was black although she looks as white as "Whites" come) under the apartheid regime and thus not allowed to serve white people. she would have to run as well.
Moving on ...
A work colleague tells me the security services didn't actually find an AK47 in the hands of ex-Buffao, leader of insignificant political party FRNSTP, Adelecio Costa, but just a magazine and 300 bullets.
Our president has threatened to resign stating he is fed up with political instability + I don't blame him but has since addressed the nation in a rather strict and paternalistic tone urging the population and political class to be more disciplined ...
Thursday, March 5, 2009
I wrote to the Secretary of State for Health requesting him to sign EDM 754 regarding uptake of the MMR vaccine and media coverage. Although parliamentary guidelines advise that cabinet members do not normally sign EDMs, the guidelines do not forbid them from doing so. Here is Alan Johnson's response ...
Dear Mr Gascoigne,
Thank you for your email of 13 February to Alan Johnson about the Early Day Motion (EDM) 754 on the MMR vaccine. As I am sure you will appreciate, Mr Johnson receives a large volume of correspondence and it is not always possible for him to respond personally. Your email has been forwarded to me for reply.
The EDM supports the Government’s position that all children should be vaccinated with two doses of MMR vaccine to protect against measles, mumps and rubella. You ask why Alan Johnson, Ed Balls and Gordon Brown have not signed the EDM. It may be helpful if I explain that Ministers and whips do not normally sign EDMs. Further information on who can and cannot sign EDMs is available on the UK Parliament website at www.parliament.uk (type ‘EDM’ in the search bar and follow the links).
The scientific community has been convinced for a considerable time that there is no link between MMR and autism. Just recently, three
The Department of Health’s most immediate concern is that cases of measles are on the rise due to poor vaccine uptake over the past decade. The Department has an MMR catch-up programme now in progress and have provided extra funding to Primary Care Trusts, as well as additional supplies of the vaccine.
The message that the Department is promoting is that MMR is the safest way to protect children against measles, and that it will also protect them against mumps and rubella. Furthermore, it will also help protect those children who cannot have vaccinations for medical reasons.
I hope this reply is helpful.
Customer Service Centre
Department of Health
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Yup, you heard right - it's even in the list of ingredients!
And it claims on the side of the benefits of Pearl Extract - Natural sea minerals that cleanse your skin gently along with a Refreshing Perfume for dynamic personality as well as what you might expect in a bar of soap - Sodium Soap, Water, Glycerin, Titanium Dioxide, Teta Sodium EDTA and CI 42051.
Made in Indonesia, I imagine impoverished pearl divers selling their pearls, and rather than embellishing the necks of rich western women, earning a pittance from the soap manufacturer.
Is there a glut in the pearl market?
Observing the rather charming young lady on the packaging, she must be using Pearl Extract toothpaste as well. I hope she can tell this man (and myself for that matter) what brand of toothpaste she uses.
If any of my readers, especially Ben Goldacre and Dr Crippen (please promote it to your patients, write to NICE so it can be prescribed in two years or so as a treatment for teenage acne), would like to sample the benefits of Pearl Extract, send me 20 Euros or an equivanlent hard currency to to allieve your consciences about impoverished Indonesian pearl divers, and the father of a daughter with leukaemia (come on there - I'm going to take a 5% cut for the trouble!).