Tuesday, July 24, 2007

NHS negligence kills little boy

A hospital has apologised to the parents of a baby who died when doctors failed to spot a serious heart condition after mixing up his X-rays. Staff at the Royal Cornwall Hospital in Truro thought that one-year-old Jack Garland was teething and sent him home with painkillers. After a second X-ray two weeks later, they realised that he had mitochondrial respiratory complex, a rare genetic complaint. He was taken immediately to Great Ormond Street Hospital, but died 16 days later of heart failure and a brain haemorrhage.

Jack’s father, Ben Garland, 31, from Truro, said: “Those two weeks when he was first sent home were crucial. The hospital’s mistake cost my son his fighting chance. To hold him while they turned the machines off is something I will never forget. All we want is someone to be honest and say they will take responsibility.”

John Watkins, chief executive of the Royal Cornwall Hospitals Trust, said in a letter to Jack’s parents that a senior doctor had reviewed the first X-ray and could “clearly” see that the child had an enlarged heart. Mr Watkins wrote: “The doctor is at a loss to explain how this happened and can only deduce that the person who reported Jack’s X-ray reported on the wrong film. The conclusion is that it was a failure of the system that caused Jack’s X-ray to be overlooked and not attributable to one individual.” The trust said that a thorough review was under way. The hospital had a 31million pound deficit at the time and had cut 300 staff, although the trust said that no jobs had been cut that would have compromised clinical care.



The mass media age may have increased our freedom of speech but our mass-mediated perception of reality has arguably stifled our freedom of thought. In times past people may have known only what was going on in their own neck of the woods but at least they knew it intimately, which perhaps provided some reality check. Also one community was relatively free from the influence of another. Not anymore. Now, thanks to the likes of the BBC you know so much more - and have an opinion on so much more.

Now you know that some brutal murders merit grief on a national scale whilst others deserve barely a passing mention. You know that jumping up and down at rock concerts will help to save the world from poverty. You know that man made global warming is threatening to destroy the planet and it's all the fault of capitalism. Just like you know that capitalism was virtually brought down on the stroke of midnight in 2000 by something called the Millenium Bug. Older people know that the world was very nearly overwhelmed in the 1970's by The Next Ice Age. You know that if you have ever stood next to someone smoking a cigarette it might one day kill you. Best of all you know what the most important thing going on in the world at any one time is because it is the thing that headlines the news. Thus has the mass media deluged people's consciousness with trashy certainties at huge cost to their freedom of spirit. Killing off The Age of Reason and replacing it with the Age of Feeling.

It is not even that the BBC and its like are deliberately trying to present a distorted perspective on current affairs or anything else. It is worse than that; the distortion is so embedded in media culture that it collectively fails to comprehend that there are other perspectives. The BBC and its hinterland of favoured contributors teems with champagne lefties, celebrity poseurs and assorted other have-your-cake-and-eat-it fellow travellers of the liberal establishment elite.

And it is a veritable honey pot for the not so big wide world of the arts and academia. The joke is that they all think of themselves as radicals and guardians of freedom. Funny business radicalism; the word suggests boldness, independent mindedness, freethinking. The reality is the opposite. It is a me- too mentality of fitting in with the prevailing ethos, often first absorbed during student days. I remember when I was at university in the 1970's, one or two lonely guys in tweeds and sports jackets flitting furtively across the psychedelic bead strewn quadrangle clutching their briefcases. I remember thinking those guys are the real radicals here. The thoroughly predictable `radical' offerings from the BBC in-crowd are invariably dripping with media establishment mythology and the depressing fact that the BBC is often hailed as a great bastion of intellectual independence merely demonstrates the overwhelming brainwashing power that the little box in the corner now has on our intellectual horizons.

The last half-century was so dominated by the spectre of the totalitarian state that no one foresaw what was really coming down the line. George Orwell partly saw the future that we now inhabit - but with one crucial difference. In his nightmare 1984, a political elite controlled the television in the corner of the room and used it to brainwash the citizenry. Whereas in the real post 1984 nightmare, a pervasive mass media - a cancerous organism out of the control of anyone, even its own media elite - brainwashes everyone, politicians included. It is not that anyone is actively trying to brainwash you; it is more that a powerful tendency to group-think is the very nature of mass broadcasting.

But the most insidious brainwashing happens at a more subtle level than this. The most insidious brainwashing lies in the power of storytelling. It is at this subliminal level that the great soft-left crusades - moral relativism and the cult of victimhood have been won. More than anywhere it is in radio and television film, drama and soap opera.

Try these tests next time you are watching your favourite BBC drama or Hollywood movie: If the characters happen to include - say - a white middle class guy and a non-white working class guy, who is going to turn out to have surprising hidden qualities and who is going to turn out to have a surprising hidden dark side? Or compare the proportion homosexual characters on your tv screen with that in your own real life. Try and find the drama where the `right wing' character turns out to be full of compassion and the `left wing' character full of bile or where the successful business executive turns out to be rather a nice chap. This sort of myth making has underpinned so much of Western story telling for at least fifty years now and has been more corrosive of freedom than any political regime.

More here

A REAL climate denier

Post lifted from Prof. Brignell. See the original for links

Over a quarter of a century ago, your bending author was immensely proud to be offered a chair at the University of Southampton. Like much else in modern Britain, the honour now seems somewhat tarnished. Here is an apologia for that paper as a Letter in the Sunday Telegraph, which tells you more about the state of peer review than it does about anything else, and has a second paragraph that is a collectors' item:

No spinning here

I am one of the authors of the Royal Society global warming paper that you say is simple and fundamentally flawed (Comment, July 15). Simple? The idea was to present a straightforward demonstration, without recourse to complex climate models. Flawed? None of the three academic referees the paper was subjected to found any flaws.

Climate change is by far the greatest threat to everyone's standard of living. Unlike political parties, companies, media stars, works of art, consumer products and even social trends and national economies, a scientific reality is immune to spin.

(Prof) Mike Lockwood, Southampton University

I think I now get where the Lockwood paper fits in to our understanding of climate and there is no doubt that it is an absolute gift to climate atheists. What it said was of course all well-known already but the concession from a Greenie source that fluctuations in the output of the sun have driven climate change for all but the last 20 years really is invaluable. And the one fact that the paper documents so well -- that solar output is on the downturn -- is also hilarious, given its source. Surely even a crazed Greenie mind must see that reduced solar output will soon start COOLING the earth! This month's unprecedented cold weather throughout the Southern hemisphere might even be the first sign that the cooling is happening. And the fact that warming plateaued in 1998 is also a good sign that we are moving into a cooling phase. As is so often the case, the Greenies have got the danger exactly backwards -- JR

Another crooked British "public service" broadcaster

TO LIVE up to his public image of a rugged, ex-SAS adventurer, it must have seemed essential for Bear Grylls to appear at ease sleeping rough and catching his own food in his television survival series. But it has emerged that Grylls, 33, was enjoying a far more conventional form of comfort, retreating some nights from filming in mountains and on desert islands to nearby lodges and hotels. Now Channel 4 has launched an investigation into whether Grylls, who has conquered Everest and the Arctic, deceived the public in his series Born Survivor.

The series, screened in March and April and watched by 1.4m viewers, built up Grylls's credentials as a tough outdoorsman. In a question and answer session on Channel 4's website, he recalls how station bosses pitched the venture to him stating: "We just drop you into a lot of different hellholes equipped with nothing, and you do what you have to do to survive."

But an adviser to Born Survivor has disclosed that at one location where the adventurer claimed to be a "real life Robin-son Crusoe" trapped on "a desert island", he was actually on an outlying part of the Hawaiian archipelago and spent nights at a motel. On another occasion in California's Sierra Nevada mountains where he was filmed biting off the head of a snake for breakfast and struggling for survival "with just a water bottle, a cup and a flint for making fire", he actually slept some nights with the crew in a lodge fitted with television and internet access. The Pines Resort at Bass Lake is advertised as "a cosy getaway for families" with blueberry pancakes for breakfast.

In one episode Grylls, son of the late Tory MP Sir Michael Grylls, was shown apparently building a Polynesian-style raft using only materials around him, including bamboo, hibiscus twine and palm leaves for a sail. But according to Mark Weinert, an Oregon-based survival consultant brought in for the job, it was he who led the team that built the raft. It was then dismantled so that Grylls could be shown building it on camera.

In another episode viewers watched as Grylls tried to coax an apparently wild mustang into a lasso in the Sierra Nevada. "I'm in luck," he told viewers, apparently coming across four wild horses grazing in a meadow. "A chance to use an old native American mode of transport comes my way. This is one of the few places in the whole of the US where horses still roam wild." In fact, Weinert said, the horses were not wild but were brought in by trailer from a nearby trekking station for the "choreographed" feature. "If you really believe everything happens the way it is shown on TV, you are being a little bit naive," he said.

Channel 4 confirmed that Grylls had used hotels during expeditions and has now asked Diverse, the Bristol-based production company that made the programme, to look into the other claims. "We take any allegations of misleading our audiences seriously," said a spokeswoman for the channel.

The latest suggestion that Channel 4 may have breached viewer trust comes as the broad-caster's supervisory board prepares to issue new editorial guidelines to suppliers in order to stamp out alleged sharp practices that mislead viewers. "Born Survivor is not an observational documentary series but a `how to' guide to basic survival techniques in extreme environments," the spokeswoman said. "The programme explicitly does not claim that presenter Bear Grylls's experience is one of unaided solo survival."

Nevertheless, the disclosure is likely to disappoint fans of the Eton-educated adventurer, who at the age of 23 became the youngest Briton to scale Everest. Just two years before that he had broken his back in three places after his parachute ripped during a military exercise. On screen he has emerged as a natural performer, with stunts such as squeezing water from animal dung and sucking the fluid from fish eyeballs. Grylls could not be contacted for comment this weekend as he was trekking in the Brecon Beacons with his four-year-old son.


Michael Winner salutes a brilliant, politically incorrect, British comedian

Bernard Manning died recently. Michael Winner is an English film director and producer

To say I was fan of Bernard Manning is a gross understatement. If a stand-up comedian could be a genius, then Manning was a genius. He may have offended people, but since when has that been a crime? Comics have caused offence since the dawn of time. And not only did he offend with brilliant gags, he did it to anyone. No one was safe from his jokes - they always cut close to the bone and that is why the audiences loved him.

In my opinion, he died twice. Not just this week, but also on that day many years ago when those crackpot, sourfaced, people known as The Politically-Correct Brigade forced him off television because they considered his jokes to be racist. He wasn't racist. If Bernard wanted to make fun of any race, he did so without discrimination. And why shouldn't he? His job was to make us laugh, and that he did brilliantly.

I met Bernard a few years ago, when, with a friend, I paid for him to come from his beloved Manchester and do a cabaret in a private banqueting room for Marco Pierre White's 40th birthday. He sat like an out-of-breath walrus - even then his skin colour was a shade of grey, indicating severe heart problems. But when he took the microphone, everything changed. He was alert, sharp, his delivery and nuances were impeccable, his timing perfection. I introduced him to the distinguished dinner crowd, which included Madonna, with the usual words - "Ladies and gentlemen ... Bernard Manning".

Bernard took the microphone, his pause was perfect, then in that marvellous, gravelly voice he said: "Michael Winner, the most hated Jew in Europe." That was funny. That, as the old saying goes "brought the house down". None of us considered that racist. Least of all me, the one who should have been most insulted.

Some years ago, I remember one of those undercover TV programmes secretly filmed a private dinner. Manning was speaking. He came out with another of his great jokes: "I lost a relation in Auschwitz. Fell off the guard tower." There was indignant uproar from the chattering classes. The politically correct brigade said it was just disgraceful. I remember thinking: "What are they going on about? That was funny. It made me laugh." And I actually lost relatives in Auschwitz.

Why shouldn't we poke fun at Jews, Muslims, the Irish, Scotsmen, the French, the Italians, Catholics, Seventh Day Adventists, Mormons, blacks, Chinese... I could go on. Another saying, one of my favourites, goes: "If you can't take a joke you shouldn't have joined."

I remember once attending a TV special, An Evening With Jackie Mason - the Jewish American comedian. The jokes he told were hysterical. Many of them deriding Jews in a dry, very funny, observational way. At the end of the evening, Pamela Stephenson came over to me, white with rage. "No wonder the Jews hate him," she said of Mason. "He's so anti-Semitic." Nonsense. Jackie was, and still is, extremely funny. And believe me, when Jews are talking among themselves, it's not at all uncommon for them to refer to "Yid" and "Yidden". Try that in a joke today and you wouldn't just be off television, you'd be banned from the planet!

When Lenny Henry, one of our wonderful black comics, started out, he had a terrific line in his act. He'd say: "If you don't laugh, I'll come and live next door to you." Funny, funny, funny. Later, I seem to remember Lenny apologising for that. Silly, silly, silly.

Where do these politically correct people live? Do they have their own special world. Do they not realise that in the real world people speak a different language to theirs? I was for many years on the Council of the Directors Guild Of Great Britain. Suddenly I saw on their notepaper the word "Chair" and then the name. "I never voted for James Cellan-Jones to be a chair," I protested. "I voted for him as our Chairman." "Can't use 'Chairman' any more," I was told. "It's not politically correct because it discriminates against women."

As far as I'm concerned, our world today is being controlled by this tiny group of out-of-touch loonies who'd prefer to see The Merchant Of Venice's finest lines disappear because a wonderfully written and beautifully spoken Jewish character is shown to be a greedy villain. And what about Othello, which might suggest that black soldiers are capable of strangling their wives in a fit of unfounded jealousy? Or Hamlet, which could offend Danes by suggesting that one of their countrymen could poison his brother in order to gain a throne?

These are the people who forced Benny Hill off TV and want topless girl pictures banned from newspapers. Don't they go to art galleries, these blinkered buffoons? There, they'd see picture after picture of topless (and some times bottomless) nymphs and ladies, many of them painted for their patrons' titillation - from Lucas Cranach in the 16th century, through Rubens and Goya, to Lucian Freud today.

Then Bernard Manning comes along, speaking the language of the British people, brilliantly phrased, exquisitely delivered, wittily composed, and above all unbelievably funny - and he's suddenly too rough for TV! Who do these idiots think watches TV? Bernard Manning spoke as his audience spoke. Except that he honed and perfected his jokes until they were gems. His humour came from the spirit of England. Brave, tolerant, welcoming to all races - a land that is rightly proud of Shakespeare, even though some of his writing is of such vulgarity that Bernard Manning is a churchwarden by comparison. Do these tight-bottomed idiots not realise laughter is a release? The day we cannot laugh at ourselves, and other people, without fear of censure is a sad day indeed.

Tragically, that day has come and it may get worse. I'm glad I'm old enough to have visited the music halls, still thriving in the Fifties and Sixties, and saw our great comics perform their art. And, yes, they made wonderfully ribald jokes about sex and gender and race and religion - all subjects that are taboo today. Now, the music halls are shopping malls and comedy has been replaced by smart, utterly unfunny political parody performed by nonentities who think the F-word is funny, while the old-timers who could stand up and enthral an audience for two hours single-handed are buried in English soil.

In a few days, Bernard Manning will join them. Make no mistake, he was a great and noble Englishman with a glorious sense of humour. I could, and should, have enjoyed him on TV for the last many years. But those arrogant enough to think they know better than everyone else decided he was not fit for mass consumption. This is not only a crazy world. It is a politically correct, tyrannical world where we let an intolerant minority tell us what to think. Goodbye Bernard. I salute you and I thank you. At least you'll be laughing at our lunatic world from on high.


No comments: