26 Aug 2009

Hydrogen Is The Answer

At work, a package arrived address to the 'conseil general' of where I work. Inside was a booklet like this:


Also attached was a letter, that seemed to suggest that I should photocopy this booklet and distribute it freely:



It was written by a French Canadian called Claude Deschennes, who has a bit of a thing about religion:



Not only that, he seems to LOVE rubber stamps, and using them:



He is also keen on drawing diagrams about how he views the world. I liked this one because of the distinction drawn between 'Plants', 'Beasts' and 'Humanity'. To the left, you'll see he's also written "Posters, please, for the classes of biology", as well as more rubber-stampage:



In case you weren't sure, this emphasises once again the importance of Hydrogen:



There's also frequent references to the 'Nebula' as demonstrated by this diagram (and more rubber stamps):



Claude has included a photocopied picture of (what I guess to be) himself:



And thankfully, on the rear, he explains the purpose of the book:



There's so much dense handwriting, rubber-stampage, religious critique and references to the importance of Hydrogen that I can't really do it justice in this blog, but consider this post Claude's first foray onto the internet, as I couldn't find any reference to him when I searched.

Hi Claude!

21 Aug 2009

Chugga Anga

Its not just me I swear. Here is an email a colleague of mine sent to a certain charity:

"Dear Sir or Madam,

I write to express my disappointment with Oxfam, of which I have been a
long time suppoter and once a full time volunteer for several years.

Last night my dinner was interrupted by a young man who stated he was
representing Oxfam. I immediately asked him, as I ask anyone who
approaches me representing a charity, if he was working for a profit
making organisation who were representing Oxfam, or if he was a
volunteer, to which he replied the former.

I have a policy, having been a charity volunteer most of my life, of
never giving money to a private, profit making company working as agents
for a charity. Profiteering out of other people's poverty sickens me,
and I was deeply saddened to discover Oxfam have followed this
increasingly popular route.

However, my concerns run deeper than this. In every contact I have had
with these paid fundraisers, no matter which charity they represent or
which company they are paid by, the conversation runs exactly the same;
I explain my position to which I would expect any respectable and
reasonable fundraiser to accept and move on. However, that is never the
case with paid fundraisers, who have a script of identical responses
that are reeled off. It is quite clear to me from these identical
conversations that the companies concerned are actually training their
employees to argue the toss with their "target". This fundamentally
goes against the guidelines set out by the Institute of Fundraising, and
Oxfam should be ashamed that people are doing this in their name.

This particular gentleman started to become quite aggressive and
perisistent with his argument, and realising that simply telling him
"no, I will not give you my money or bank details" was not going to make
him leave my doorstep, and I was forced to shut the door in his face.

I am apalled by Oxfam's decision to allow a company to make profit from
your charitable activities, and to let standards of fundraising slip so
far as to go against the clear guidelines of the Institute of Fundraising.

I would be grateful if this email could be forwarded to the person or
persons responsible for the decision to contract this organisation, as
well as to your director, so I can hear their responses. I would also
be grateful if you could provide me with the details of the company you
are contracting (if relevant for the process of identification, this
occured on XXXX Road, XXXXXXX) so that I can pass the details
of this incident onto the local council's licensing department and the
Institute of Fundraising in accordance with section 3.1 of their
guidelines on house to house collections.

Yours faithfully

XXXXXXX"

Far better worded than my efforts.

13 Aug 2009

Bit Fucking Rich

Right-wing American conservatives making statements that are innaccurate is nothing new, and I usually take it with a a pinch of salt, but now thanks to Obama's proposed healthcare plans (which are nowhere near as universal or extensive as our own) they've really ratcheted up their criticism, and used our dear old NHS as an example of a bad healthcare system.

Anyone who watches ER or Scrubs will see that their hospitals look more fun, with better kit and overalls, and for some it seems that this is the argument why the US system is 'better' than ours.

OK, ours is creaky in places, but it covers everyone compared to 40-odd million Americans who have nothing except the most basic of emergency treatment. Not only this, the US spends around 12% of its GDP on healthcare and it is unaffordable to many, whereas we spend 6% of our GDP on it, and its universal.

I can only imagine that we're going to see the private health lobby descend into more and more dirty tricks and innaccuracies in the months to come, and depressing as it sounds, I can't help thinking that Obama is going to be defeated on this just like Clinton was in the 1990's.

The power that HMO's, medical 'professionals' and the pharmaceutical industry have over not just politics but culture in the US is extensive. Having visited the US a few times, I'm always amazed that prescription drugs are widely advertised on TV, usually with the tagline "ask your Doctor about XXX-Brand-Shizzle" and then "WARNINGthisproductcancauseanalleakagediscargesunpleasantrashesdepressionsuicidesocialostracismlossoffriends andfamilyglobalapocalypseandrandomtwitching".

When I was on a school exchange at age 17, I stayed with a family whose patriarch was a doctor, and he lived in a 'Golf Community' in a small town in South Carolina. On my arrival, I presented gifts from my own fair city to the family, and in return when I left, I was given a bag of freebies that had been given to said doctor. To be honest, most of it was pretty shit (cuddly toy, a cd of love songs, lots of pens and pencils, a face mask, a hat, a shirt and some alcohol wipes*) but the doc said the he received all sorts from the drug companies, including holidays, electrical goods and various other incentives to encourage him to prescribe their drug over someone elses. This seemed quite ethically dubious in my view, but I resisted the temptation to say:

"Surely the reason we put our trust in doctors and medical professionals is because the general public is not an expert in the effects of medicines, and you people have had at least 5 years to learn more than most?"

And also the point that people should take medicines that work and represent good value, rather than based on which company has the most money to bribe doctors with.



*I actually had quite a good time setting fire to these.