Never let the future disturb you. You will meet it, if you have to, with the same weapons of reason which today arm you against the present

Saturday, 28 November 2009

It's not just in black and white!

Woodman, spare that tree! Touch not a single bough! In youth it sheltered me, And I'll protect it now

Poly toynbee of The Guardian is standing in defence of Professor David Nutt's and advisers like him. She, like many others, believes scientists have right to speak their mind, so long as they have the evidence to back what they say in public. She thinks his sacking was a mistake. She also argues that:

Bad politicians are slave to public opinion. Good ones try to change it

She then gives examples of historic evidence that was ignored by politicians before when making policy. One of which is about divorcing parents and that "family discord causes great harm, but separation doesn't necessarily. The quality of parenting matters most. Screening out the effect of discord and bad parents, separation itself has no impact" and hence "Cameron's marriage bonus is a complete nonsense."

I don't care much about such research, because when it comes to social science, there will always be one more piece of research that comes along and cancels it's predecessor. This is because of the complex and ever changing nature of society itself, given, for example, changing demographics and movement - and the changing habits and attitudes as a result. Family dynamics is therefore not as black and white as this piece of divorce research seem to have considered, while ignoring all the possible shades of grey in the middle but that do exist in real society.

For example, I don't know if any research was done specifically on grown up children of divorced parents, in particular those who experienced first hand the horror of being pulled between divorced parents, with each trying to win grounds over the other? How a child in this case is tossed like a as a football and used by one parent to tease and cause discomfort to the other. How about scenarios where research considers the extended family's part, on both sides, in messing with that poor child's mind while trying, using anyway to suit their end, including mental torment if not physical abuse as well sometimes and his/her continuing torment and heartache! Or attempt to make the child believe that it was the other parent and their family that were the devil who caused the separation in the first place. That of course has an incredibly damaging effect on that child's psyche ... something that would last for life!

Whether the harm is greater than living with unhappy but together parents? That depends on the degree of discomfort in both scenarios!

That, however, doesn't mean that society should let go of both, including for those who want to separate AND have children. David Cameron's initiative to protect the family unit is the right thing to do. It is a leader's duty to protect the family unit and curb the astronomical rise of divorce. I suppose Mr Cameron's initiative would be geared towards those families who do split up because of social and financial pressures and that maybe members of those families would reconcile with society helping them to deal with their difficulties. Of course those bent on divorce will always divorce anyway , while those who may still have some hope may benefit from a much needed second chance - and many may succeed in putting their lives together again and live a 'bearable' life together thereafter, if only for the sake of the children and until they grow up at least.

If everybody divorced because of boredom or at the first disagreement, the whole world would be divorced and the word 'family' will no longer have any meaning! With children comes the responsibility for parents to do all they can to ensure their children's welfare ... and parents always endeavour to do that in any social system, including many societies belonging to members of the animal kingdom. Even those act from an instinctive sense of duty when they sacrifice some of their own comfort to protect and to ensure stability for their offspring and 'family'. It therefore follows that divorce should only be the option when everything else fails for us clever and very wise humans, or have 'our own' natural instinct to protect have all but disappeared as we got cleverer and modern day wiser?

As for the Nutt's case ... the article then states:

"Between social science and politics falls the shadow of public opinion. Politics is often the mediation between fact and public sentiment. Bad politicians follow the focus groups and ignore inconvenient truths. Good politicians persuade the public of the necessary facts."

Again, a simple black and white approach ignoring the fact that it is the public whom the politicians work for in the first place ... and, as "politics is an art" as the article states, it then follows that you can't classify politicians as 'good' or 'bad' from such a simplistic and blinkered point of view! What makes a good politician is lots of things, including being one who realises that his/her first duty is to protect the public. Good politicians should therefore be well equipped as leaders to strike a balance between what public opinion wants, their duty to protect and any other factor/s that they stand in the way, such as any 'inconvenient truth' as the article puts it. Good politicians should then be able to make decisions regardless of how strong outside pressures may be. And implement suitable policies how they see fit ... and not how those brandishing that 'inconvenient truth' decide, and only 'good' leaders have the qualities needed to stop others doing just that! Leaders who allow interference in decision making are those who should be considered 'bad', because this is grave weakness whose result can and would open Pandora's box ... with certain harm to the public. As for the suggestion that 'good' politicians should be able to approach the public with the following message:

"This drug research is accurate, but people fear softening the law sends the wrong message. I intend to talk about it openly. Politics is about listening and talking to people. When the facts are more widely understood, we will review drug classifications."

... not very wise IMO, because not everybody is intellectually equipped to understand ... There will always be weak, under educated, impressionable young .. etc, etc segments of society. And so, we will never have a society who will ever be fully equipped to understand the full intellectual content of this 'truthful' but equally 'harmful' to many message either! I already can imagine a group of teenagers interpreting this message - that the drugs mentioned in the Nutt case are safe ... and that harder drugs are safe too but the government is hiding this fact, after all, governments have to hide something! I dread to think of the consequences of such interpretation!

I do not know whether that professor should have been sacked or just given a caution for going public against government policy. But I also do not agree with this article re scientists having the right to speak freely regardless. However, I do agree to this: " We need cadre of louder public intellectuals who understand the nature of politics" ... only I would replace 'louder' for'sensible' and/or 'responsible'.

Then gain, what do I know?! I am only a member of the public who should be persuaded to change their mind ...

I want my mum[click]

Against a foe I can myself defend, But Heaven protect me from a blundering friend!

Thursday, 26 November 2009

Happy Birthday Ann :-)

Anyone who keeps the ability to see beauty never grows old.

Health Minister Ann Keen turns 61 today, so, Happy Birthday Ann and many happy returns of the day ... and you're looking absolutely gooooorgeous! I mean come on, look at her! 20, 30, 40, 50 year olds ... eat your heart out! :-)

Then again, Ann was born a good looking woman anyway and have always looked good. But, not so long ago she was a bit over weight and fat does make you look older ...

But she was very attractive still ... look at that smile! And as I said, being overweight does eventually take it's toll, especially with age and so, here is a close up of how she used to look like until recently .. assuming this picture below was taken at the same time as she is wearing the same brown suit and accessories too

Then again, part of why Ann has always been beautiful is this optimism indicated by her drive to achieve as well as that smile ... for her 'age is just a man made number' ... I like that because it is what it really is, a ficticious number! .. and she smiles everywhere she goes too, whether working or not ... Nice! :-)

But then Ann decided she was going to lose the extra weight, improve the way she looked and promote her own health ... with this absolutely amaazing result above and below ... and she looks rrravishing for it too! I sincerely mean that :-)

That's the way! Ann is my type of girl .. a woman who wants to live life to the full at any age, she is assertive, energetic, fully charged and ready for whatever life throws at her .. and for a bright future ahead ... good for you Ann :-)

... and I was thinking, with this new drive to promote health and well being among NHS staff, success stories like Ann's should be promoted to act as a role model, maybe on the High Quality Care for All site too. After all, Ann has always worked in health herself .. and what better impact can that have on motivating NHS staff? ... to do the same and care for their own health and well being as Ann did. So, forget about celebrities ... it would be more effective if Ann let everybody know how she did it .. perhaps give a step by step instruction on how and what she did to achieve this beautiful new her ...which diet and describe in detail what she had to eat, and if she had to follow a special regime of exercise to go alongside her dieting and what that entailed ... etc, etc ... Let everybody learn from her experience ..

... and I am not NHS staff, but I am thinking, I would be over the moon if I too can manage to look that good now, let alone when I am 61! Especially now that I have put on lots of unwanted weight after quitting smoking, I need to lose it too but it is not easy as I am still very hungry all the time still :-) Soooo, I too want to know how she done it too .. and I will be the first one to follow ...

.. and .. as the saying goes, That man never grows old who keeps a child in his heart .. I think Ann has one and I hope it stays .. always ... no ageing population here, eh? :-)

Happy Birthday Ann ... and good for you ... and isn't that ensemble below chic! ... and those accessories tooo ...

.. and it's time for my daily dose of Tom and Jerry ... sooo bye for now ... :-)

We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young. The greatest thing in life is to keep your mind young.”

Monday, 23 November 2009

Now you see me, now you don't!

"it was just an illusion caused by the temporary absence of reality.

Here is what happens when you force young people into doings what they are not up for:

University accused of £36m student scam

The body which funds English universities has taken the unprecedented step of calling for the mass resignation of governors at a university accused of misusing public money ... It follows two damning reports which revealed that the university falsely claimed funding for thousands of students. As a result it has been ordered to repay an unprecedented £36m in funding – which is expected to lead to hundreds of job losses among academic staff.

The reports, one from Sir David Melville, former vice-chancellor of Kent and Middlesex universities, and the other from Deloitte, the accountancy firm, found that
London Metropolitan failed to keep track of students at the university or ensure they sat exams at the end of the year ... As a result it continued claiming funding from the Government on the basis of an artificially low drop-out rate, getting funding for far more students than were attending the university. Its failure to keep track of the students meant that many would not get the kind of help they needed to stay on their courses.

The case highlights a lack of care towards students from some of the most disadvantaged backgrounds in higher education. Inner-city universities such as London Metropolitan take far more youngsters whose families have no history of entering university than the average – just the kind of people the Government is trying to attract into staying on in education.

Sir David Melville's report laid much of the blame at the door of the former vice-chancellor, Professor Brian Roper, who resigned this year. But it suggested that the problems were endemic. Sir David wrote: "I received over 50 such submissions, from a wide range of staff, predominantly academics but also including some from support staff. They attest to problems of student data quality over many years and provide many detailed examples of the difficulty of removing students from the record whom they know to have left or who never ever appeared.

"[There was] a strongly held view amongst staff and students that student academic potential is not being realised by a laissez-faire attitude ... and a failure to provide much-needed extra support for the many students admitted with modest educational backgrounds."

There you go! Blame it on the academics! Not on the flawed policy that is obssessed with forcing those who are not prepared .. or even interested .. into university.

Young people from deprived backgrounds have a history of working hard when they are really motivated to gain a university degree and have always succeeded in getting into the best educational establishments who were always keen to get them. But then the government decided to 'widen the access', then promoted the idea that a degree was the thing to go for whether you have the academic inclination or not! After all, we're going to help you do it!

Only it doesn't work this way, that's why students enrol and either drop out or never show up to begin with! Young people have their own minds and mostly know what they are capable of doing themselves ... and not everybody is suitable for university ... and not every degree is worth the paper it is written on either ... judging by this above alone!

Why doesn't the government give it a rest and let those young people choose for themselves what they themselves want to do?!

.. and, why turn a compassionate vocation into an intellectual obligation?!

Could this above be the future of that forced degree in Nursing too?

Interesting comments on that article too ...

[24 Nov 2009 - Article on the same subject in The Guardian]

We must select the illusion which appeals to our temperament and embrace it with passion"

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Hopping mad!

Il est des parfums frais comme des chairs d'enfants,
Doux comme les hautbois, verts comme les prairies,
Et d'autres, corrompus, riches et triomphants,

There are perfumes that are fresh like children's flesh,
sweet like oboes, green like meadows
— And others, corrupt, rich, and triumphant)

How do you expect a business to function effectively when it's managers average stay in post is 18 months?! I understand this is the average time an NHS manager spends in post before s/he hops along to another more lucrative post! .. and still within the NHS too regardless of the trail of incompetence a manager leaves behind!

"Ms Young was allowed to spend up to £5,000 each time without permission from her board, but she did not follow instructions and her actions were only found out when she left the job in September 2008.

As a result of the overspend, the cancer network was forced to shelve and postpone some projects, including a training scheme to make doctors communicate better with the parents of dying children.

A confidential report seen by the BBC showed that between 2007 and 2008, Ms Young had overspends of £63,000 on printing, £107,000 on advertising, £108,000 on hardware and £539,000 on consultancy ... "

... then she ran away! But was she never found so that she can be held to account for this mess?!

"She has since moved to a new job as a senior commissioner for that PCT."

Oh no! She is STILL working for the NHS! ... and STILL responsible for SPENDING NHS money! ... and .. she declined to comment saying she preferred her 'New' employer did so instead!

Management in the NHS is a lucrative job for life! .. and the managers do make sure no one from outside the NHS will ever be allowed into their gravy train to this day as management job ads always ensure there is something in the detail to stop anyone from outside the NHS applying! Like; having a number of years NHS experience, a number of years in a large organisation, knowledge of specific NHS software, procedures .. etc .. etc Look on the NHS jobs site!! ... and so, the circuit is definitely closed .. and electrifies anyone else who dares come near it, egardless whether they can do the job better! .. and, of course, if you are an NHS manager, you have your guaranteed job for life .. and ... you can also get away with murder when you hop along from one NHS employer to another 'New' NHS employer!

... Meanwhile, there is not enough money to train Health Care professionals, the DoH is suggesting raiding the doctors in training wage fund to pay for same! ... and what do you do with those doctors! SACK THEM ... and give their jobs to the nurses!

This whole thing makes sense, doesn't it? ... so long as the managers are happy! ... who cares about doctors?!

Introduce competition to those managers; make it illegal to advetise NHS jobs asking for NHS specific criteria to open up all those NHS management posts to outside talent to flood in - if only for the sake of saving all this wasted money as well ass effeciency!

! And if doctors will need to be revalidated in the future, why don't 'all' NHS manager's get revalidated too?! Meaning, each manager within the whole of the NHS be made to undergo thorough performance evaluation then get to hold a license to show and prove how 'fit for purpose' they are before they are allowed to hop along and be accepted for a 'New' job by a 'New' employer still within the NHS! ... and if, like those money squandering managers above, if a manager fouls up then runs away from post before they are found out, once they are, their licence would be revoked and a sack becomes due regardless of who employs them so long as they are still within the NHS ... and before more harm is done!

Show me 'your licence' Mr or Ms manager! ...

No valid licence .. No 'New' job in the NHS!

Je suis l'Empire à la fin de la Décadence,
Qui regarde passer les grands Barbares blancs
En composant des acrostiches indolents
D'un style d'or la langueur du soleil danse.

("I am the Empire at the end of the decadence,
who watches the large, white barbarians passing,
while composing lazy acrostic poems in a gilded style
in which the languor of the sun dances.")

Paintings by James Ensor

Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Silly idea! :-)

An idea is salvation by imagination.

The NHS needs to make 'savings' of 20 Billion in the next few years. But why concentrate only on making 'savings'?! Why not try to make money as well?! :-)

If operating theatres are becoming as sophisticated as aeroplanes' cockpits, then why not give hospital grounds the same treatment as in an airport?

When you go to airport, you expect to find somewhere to have a 'nice' cup of coffee, eat a decent sandwich or meal .. buy a bar of soap .. a toothbrush or even a game or a camera .. or a nice bottle of perfum ... get a book to read on the plane, buy a new nightie or even gifts to take to those you're visiting ... or for your own use on that holiday ..

Why not be able to get the same treatment from a hospital?!

Hospitals have vast grounds that are not efficiently used at the moment and apart from treating disease, they do not provide the 'retail' services that their 'customers' expect of such large establishments despite the 'guaranteed' influx of people going through their doors everyday!

At the moment, a patient, relatives and friends, would be lucky to find a coffee and tea vending machine or a small no-seats or very limited coffee shop inside a hospital. And if a hospital has a shop, that will usually be the drap looking 'sell it all' from a newspaper to a stale pie that has been in that hot server for hours and only other meagre products like a bag of crisps, Mars bars and maybe a few apples and the odd looking sandwich or salad if you're lucky! Very off putting and inadequate as well as pathetic to look at too. Not 'Fit for purpose' IMHO.

I think hospitals should have a parade of 'proper specialist shops' to cater for the needs of it's clientele. If only because there is a need for those; patients needing toiletries or a night gown and some books and magazines for their in-hospital stay, for example ... or visitors and relatives needing a cup of 'drinkable' coffee or juice will seated in a proper facility .. a simple meal perhaps? Or even buy a proper 'get well card' or a nice present for the loved one they are visiting.

The solution is a proper parade of shops inside hospitals that have enough space to have them .. and hospitals need not bother with the admin or the running of these shops if they just make the space available then rent them out to private businesses that would want to open and run such shops for profit ...

Modern hospital .. Modern services .. sophisticated ... like in an airport!

A proper 'Starbucks' inside The Hammersmith Hospital perhaps? ... and a drug store ... a card shop .. a Pizza Hut ... a salad counter ... a gift shop ... baby clothes ... pyjamas? ...

I wonder how much money would hospitals make from the substantial income in the form of rents made from otherwise unused space? And since these shops will be inside hospitals, they will also provide an opportunity to promote well being and healthy living too ... if you choose your 'trade' right. Nice elegant shops wherever possible .. as well as providing a much needed and currently ignored services to patients, visitors and staff, it also changes the image of hospitals only providing a 'sick service' ... to providing prevention and well-being service too ... :-)

Modern hospital, modern outlook ... much like in an airport ... good for the 'patients' experience' ... and makes lots of money too!

There, that's called 'thinking out of the box' ... During a downturn, you don't just think of ways to 'save money', you also think of ways to 'make money' too ...

Will I now get the chance to start my own chain of drug stores .. and gift shops ... inside all those beauuuutiful hospitals soon? ... Yummmmm! ;-)

Hospitals given the airport treatment! Silly, silly idea! .. But ... does it have the potential to take off?

Daring ideas are like chessmen moved forward. They may be beaten, but they may start a winning game.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

I've got the power! :-)

"The right is not created in the exercise of power, but if the right does not have the power to become established, then power will rule of itself."

Here is the 'Health' POWER list for 2009

And this one for 2008

Even those top 50 power wielders of 2007

... and I am wondering, what is the purpose of that list exactly? And what is the definition of power here? And, is there similar lists for other government departments? The 50 most powerful in defence for example? Or for The Home Office? Education perhaps? Or is it that this counting and celebrating of power is exclusive only to Health?! ... an irony!

I also wonder about the ethics of the celebrations of power that follows especially now because of the projected financial turbulence ahead!

And how do you hold people to account when you embed in them the very notion of possessing power in this way?! No wonder the list contains 'some' who badly need to present their accounts here!

And no wonder Professor Darzi did not attend the extravagant partying made in honour of these celebrations of power of 2008, despite being named as The most powerful in health! ... then again, he always said he 'does not do power'! ... no wonder he appears second in this years list despite resigning office!

And no wonder, there are so very few doctors mentioned in this quest for power! Funny that, since we are talking about health! .. and of course, there is that turbulence!

Now that needs to change sooo ... all you lucky powerful folk, repeat after me:

Clinical leadership ... clinical leadership ... clinical leadership ...

That's where the 'real' power to save the NHS is .. to stir it away from the turbulence .. and safe to shore!

The attempt to combine wisdom and power has only rarely been successful and then only for a short while

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Dors! ... is .... Sleep!

Ecoute-moi, mon ami. Aimes-tu la liberté ? Voudrais-tu t'enfuir d'ici ? Aimerais-tu t'évader ? Veux-tu revivre à la vie, Marcher sans chaînes à tes pieds ? Oh, réponds-moi, mon ami, Aimerais-tu t'évader ?
Je sais comment... Comment scier tous ces barreaux Qui sont là en guise de rideaux. Je sais comment... Comment faire sauter les verrous Entre la liberté et nous.

Je sais comment... Comment faire tomber en poussière Ce mur énorme d'énormes pierres. Je sais commment... Comment de sortir de ce cachot Fermé comme l'est un tombeau.

Je sais comment
revoir les fleurs
Sous un ciel bleu. Je sais comment avoir le cœur Libre et heureux...Tu ne dis rien, mon ami, Mais tu as au fond des yeux Plus de rêves que d'envie Pour voir ce coin de ciel bleu.

Tu crois que je t'ai menti, Que je n'ai pas de secret. Pourtant, tes yeux l'ont compris C'est eux qui sont dans le vrai...
Je sais comment... Comment faire tourner sur ses gonds
La porte en fer de la prison. Je sais comment...

Comment faire voler en éclats Les boulets qui gênent nos pas. Je sais comment... Comment briser de nos mains nues Toutes ses entraves sans être vus. Je sais comment... Comment sortir de ce cachot Sans risquer d'y laisser la peau. Je sais comment revoir les fleurs Sous un ciel bleu. Je sais comment avoir le cœur Libre et heureux...

Dors !...

Paintings: Henri Rousseau
Post depicts any jungle, where 'freedom' is forced to Dors!

Wednesday, 11 November 2009

NHS ... we're on The Frontline! :-(

Because no battle is ever won he said. They are not even fought. The field only reveals to man his own folly and despair, and victory is an allusion of philosophers and fools.

"A major shake-up of the way trainee doctors are funded could see hospitals cut training posts for junior doctors and swap their posts for nurses"

"A briefing document by NHS Employers, seen by HSJ, outlines Department of Health proposals to cut central funding given to hospitals to cover the base salaries of junior doctors ... Funding to cover the salaries of junior doctors in their specialty training years would be drastically cut from 100 per cent for years three and four to 40 per cent and 25 per cent respectively ... The changes are being made to free up funding to better fund training places for nurses, midwives and all other healthcare professionals."

And who will be in charge of carrying out this masacre of all hopes? ... Medical Education for England! The 'body' that we thought was recently established to 'ring fence training monies for doctors in training'! ... Following the MMC/MTAS Battle Star Galactica Wars of 2007, when The Dept of Hellth raided 110,000,000 pounds of the juniors' training monies then rolled out the looney MTAS monster on mission 'Chop Chop' unvalidated and untested! ... The aftermath of the maiden MTAS vicious battle saw the so called 'Lost tribe', or a huge cohort of some of the best middle grade doctors in this country fleeing for their lives and their livelihoods! ... and lost to this country forever!

And instead of trying to entice the escapees back because of the shortages in middle grade doctors currently rife in English hospitals thus jeopardising patient safety, The Dept of Hellth also refused to challenge the EWTD, which restricts the number of hours of doctors to 48 hours at the most, thus 'ensuring' patient safety is affected! And you think, with all this new talk about patient safety, are they a crazy bunch on the loose up there or 'something' ?! Don't they realise that if they want to pass the fiscal turbulence ahead, they need to provide some stability to enable staff to operate at their best as well as innovate to keep he NHS ship afloat?! ... then you hear about this nurse for doctor stuff ... and you wonder no more ...

But then they also say that surveys show that staff satisfaction is currently 'very high'! A bit baffling, isn't it?! For how can 'satisfaction' be high when staff are threatened from every direction like that?! And the only explanation is; if you held some people in captivity, then told those people that some of them 'maybe' will be terminated in the near future - then asked them if they were happy, would anyone dare say no?!

And I was talking to one of my cousins who is a KPMG partner abroad the other day ... I was wondering how can a consultancy firm be paid hundreds of millions of pounds only to come back recommending 10% staff cuts! That's 137,000 jobs to go, to include doctors and nurses! Then politicians coming out straight after that report was published saying no, we won't follow this advice after all?! ... But there is an election round the corner!! It is really not that much to pay consultancy companies a 0.03% of a firm's income if the advice you get can improve your performance resulting in gains that would out way this initial expenditure by far. And .. When the McKinsies were employed to advise, didn't anyone brief them on what they were after as an end result?! Were they just told to go figure out a way of cutting costs, full stop! Didn't the top NHS executives sit with the reputable consultancy firm and tell them that reducing the work force was a no go area if that's what they had in mind; to protect the staff?! .. If those top executives didn't, then why are those incompetent fools sitting at the top of the tree squandering tax pays money on failed endeavours like this?! I find it really strange that you employ a huge and extremely expensive consultancy firm only to get such an obvious result out of it at the end! Of course, if you sack all the staff, you will save ALL the money spent on hiring them .. it then follows that if you sack 10%, you'll save 10% of that pay too! Why couldn't the heavy NHS executives figure that simple arithmetic out for themselves and save all this money they spent on consultancy firms?!

But now I wonder no more! For now I understand, from my cousin, that consultancy firms can also be employed to to give legitimacy to a pre-decided outcome, so that when it happens, those who took the pre-decision can say "Not me gov" .. then get away with murder!

Then you read this article in the link above and the last parts of the jigsaw fall into place! .. Those up there ... they are not crazy! .. It's much, much worse than that! ... It's Star Wars Galectica Part II, The Battle for Survival!

... and the comments on the same article gives a taster of the future of things to come ... if things are allowed to continue .. on the route to Destruction!

It's the creep!

Patients! ... for your own safety ... VACATE the grounds ...

And ... Let the battles begin! ...

There is no glory in battle worth the blood it costs

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Going public?

There are more things to alarm us than to harm us, and we suffer more often in apprehension than reality.

I never just follow public opinion and just agree with the crowd when Ifeel I shouldn't. Because I think this is a very negative thing to do if what you believe to be right is different to public opinion. How else is the world going to advance otherwise?! Most of the times I will even voice my opinion despite the chance that I maybe resented for that ... it bothers me not .. I can also be more vocal with those I care most about because by voicing an opposite opinion which I believe to be true, I feel that this gives all parties the chance to think, to consider and then to weigh up the argument, before they arrive to a decision based their own moral compass .. without being affected by anything else except their inner self and the unbiased knowledge that helps make a sound decision, hopefully ... never always.

Unbiased thought leads to logic and logic leads to wisdom ... me thinks :-)

I have lately been following the row over Professor Nutt's advisory role as a scientist advising government on drugs. Professor Nutt made public his views, which he says, are based on scientific evidence; that alcohol and cigarettes were more harmful than Ecstasy and cannabis and that riding horses kills more people than cannabis ... or something to that effect. Hearing that the eminent scientist went public with a view that contradicts government policy, Alan Johnson, the Home Secretary asked Prof Nutt to resign ... and the row began ...

Then, Dr Grumble, who has been covering the whole Nutt affair, wrote in a comment here

"The public are not on Nutt's side."

And, as a none scientist, I think this may well be true. Because I believe Professor Nutt made a mistake by going public with his views! I am not on Professor Nutt's side despite firmly believing that he is an able and above board scientist. He wouldn't be a professor at Imperial College or an adviser to the government otherwise. And thanks to Dr Aust's comment here, I now understand why many members of the science community are angered by professor Nutt's sacking. But it seems the objection stems from 'technical' points of view re the relationship between science and the government and the Independence or lack of those advisers ... and whether politicians are to be considered dishonest if they do not follow scientific advice as given when making policy and .. whether a politician can sack an independent adviser to begin with .. etc

To me, those technical points are irrelevant! It is up to the government and it's advisers and helpers to regulate how they work together and that has nothing to do with me. Let alone that the public would understand how this relationship works or even want or care to understand . . What is more important to the public is the end result of this collaboration. In this case, I think the Professor was wrong to give information, in a public lecture, that may persuade an impressionable teenager, for example, to take this drug ecstasy with alcohol thinking it was ok, then end up dead! After all, science says it's more harmful to fall off a horse than to take Ecstasy, doesn't it!

To the wrong crowd, this is the wrong message ... and the consequences can be dire!

Two wrongs don't make a right! If cigarettes and/or alcohol kill more people than ecstasy, then do something about them ... not go ahead and promote/legalise ecstasy or other addictive drugs as well, especially when you are trying to control the first two! ... And I believe the home secretary must always have the upper hand when it comes to protecting the public from harm resulting from matters like this. Or indeed the alarm such views like Professor Nutts can generate when those are made public without government vetting and agreeing them first. That's what politicians are for!

I therefore believe Alan Johnson was right to do something about Prof Nutt going public with his contradictory to policy views. Especially because I read somewhere this was not the first time Prof Nutt did something similar either. I think it is such a shame a Professor of the standing and calibre of professor Nutt made such a mistake with a result that wasn't very nice for him. As apart from contradicting policy, this looks like a bit of 'arm bending' to force the government to oblige .. or so that looks like to an outsider like me. Hence, Alan Johnson's reaction, which now also has the approval of the conservatives! That said, humans make mistakes and do get held accountable for them too and that goes for scientists and doctors too. So, whether professor Nutt is paid for his advisory role or not, he has a 'moral' obligation that must go hand in hand with his jobs as an academic and a government adviser. This is an obligation like a doctor's obligation to 'put the patient first' .. only for an adviser on sensitive issues that will affect many lives and the public at large, this should read 'put the public first'! ... Everything else, including what to do with a piece of advice and/or how that science/government relationship should look like is secondary and ... should be done behind closed doors.

And in the public intrest and for the sake of justice; everyone, regardless of who they are, should be held accountable for what they say or do and for the effects of their action on the public ... Whether the punishment, if deemed necessary, should be a caution or a sacking? I don't know ... I leave that up to the politicians we elect to decide ... In this case, it is Alan Johnson .. an able politician I trust.

The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.