Brian Micklethwait's Blog

In which I continue to seek part time employment as the ruler of the world.

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Category archive: Healthcare

Monday July 09 2018

Last Saturday, in the afternoon, while the rest of England was obsessing over Sweden v England, I was taking the train from Victoria around the south of central London to South Bermondsey, to see an actual man about, a metaphorical dog.  My train stopped off at Denmark Hill on its way to Bermondsey, and there I took another of those inside-a-train photos, with yellow tank tracks on it caused by the lighting in the train:

image

That looks like some sort of helicopter landing and taking off pad, of the sort that they have on top of hospitals.

If this was the twentieth century, it would have remained a mystery, to me, for ever, unless I happened upon someone who knew what this was and I happened to ask him.  But it is the twenty first century, and just now, I googled “Denmark Hill helicopter pad”.  And in no time at all, I learned that this was a helicopter landing and taking off pad on top of a hospital.

To say that I unreservedly love the twenty first century would be to overstate matters.  But it does have its features, in among all its various bugs.

So much for the certainties of this situation, as revealed by the internet, one of the better features of this century so far.

Now for some guesses.

Why the ramp, leading from the pad, to the hospital?

Why not a lift, into which bodies can simply be wheeled, in about ten seconds?

My guess is that nothing is allowed to protrude above the surface of the pad, in case helicopters are blown into it by a gust of wind, or in case they miscalculate in some other way.  No protrusions.  Not even for seriously injured bodies, perhaps close to death.

So, the ramp.  And for the first few scary yards of it, there are no fences to stop you or the body trolley you are pushing being blown off, just a horizontal bit of wire netting to catch it and prevent the very worse, just like the similar horizontal bits that surround the pad itself.  So, take care.  But, as you descend the ramp, a fence slowly rises up around you that will impede any ill-judge horizontal meandering you may blunder or be blown into doing, without in any way impeding the helicopters.  And, as soon as you have got down below the pad, you go under it, into a lift.  And you are in the hospital and can breath easy, even if the body you have brought with you may be breathing very difficult.

It’s my belief that if you look at my photo, you will see, if not all, then at least most, of the above.

I recall reading, once upon a time, that digital photoing is a substitute for really looking closely at stuff.  We photo things instead of really looking at things and really seeing things, said whoever it was who was grumbling.  My experience has been the opposite.  For me, digital photoing has meant spending so much time looking at and seeing things that the problem has been finding the time time to be doing anything else.

Sunday May 20 2018

Next Friday, my good friend Adriana Lukas will be giving a talk at my home entitled Personal Recollections of Life Under Communism.  While concocting some biographical information for my email list members, I took a closer look than I have before at her Twitter feed.

Way back in 2015, Adriana retweeted this remarkable image:

image

It looks like some ancient oil painting, rather than the latest-thing highest-of-high-tech imagery, which of course is what it is.

GE Healthcare’s 3D-printing software works seamlessly with GE Advantage Workstation systems already working inside hospitals around the world. After a scan, the anatomy is rendered as a 3D image using GE’s Volume Viewer software, a 3D-imaging platform that combines data from sources like CT but also MRI and X-ray. The software then converts the image file generated by the Volume Viewer and within seconds translates it into a file format that can be interpreted by a 3D printer.

“In the past, it would take several days to get the images back” from an outside 3D software processor, Cury says. “The advantage of the new software is it’s in the same workstation where the technologists already do work on 3D images. The steps are a lot quicker and easier.”

More than 100 hospitals around the world have already ordered GE’s 3D organ printing software, which can be used for any type of organ as well as models of bones and muscles. GE says that as more hospitals use the software, it will be easier and quicker for doctors like Cury to share files with each other and have 3D models to use for planning and education prior to procedures.

The most impressive 3D printing stories often feature hopelessly old-school businesses, like GE.  This is because 3D printing is the ultimate non-disruptive technology.  It attaches itself to existing businesses and makes them better.  If you know only about 3D printing, and are not willing to cooperate with a regular business, forget about it.

All those stupid 3D printers that they tried to sell in Currys PC World a few years back were just ridiculous junk for making further even more ridiculous junk.

Sunday February 18 2018

I am not well, so blogging here today will be perfunctory:

image

See what I mean.  Photoed by me at Tottenham Court Road Tube Station, last Thursday.

Investigate this further, if you want to.

I’m off to an early bed.

Monday November 13 2017

Busy day.  Busy evening.  So just a couple of quota photos, both taken a little under ten years ago, just before Christmas 2007.

First, Guys Hospital, looking as good as it ever could:

image

At first, all I was thinking was: artistic impression.  But it also has interesting info in it.  No Shard.  Which got me noticing another, at the time very commonplace photo, of the Gherkin.  Also interesting info in it.  No nearby Big Things.  There it stands, in splendid isolation.

image

I also photoed lots of photoers that day, and have so far showed you only some of them.  There are several more good photoer photos deserving of resuscitation, all with impeccably concealed faces, but these will have to wait.

Thursday September 28 2017

I am continuing to read Martin Gayford’s conversations with Hockney book, and it is proving to be most diverting.

Gayford begins the chapter he entitles “Seeing more clearly” with this intriguing anecdote about Picasso, which was related to him by Picasso’s biographer, John Richardson:

Lucien Clergue, the photographer, knew Picasso incredibly well. The other day he said to me, ‘You know, Picasso saved my life.’ I said, ‘What?’ He said, ‘Yes, it was after a bullfight, in Aries.’ Lucien said he had been feeling fine, had lost a bit of weight but wasn’t worried. Out of the blue Picasso said to him, ‘You go instantly to a hospital.’ Lucien asked ‘Why?’ Picasso said ‘You’ve got something seriously wrong with you.’ Lucien was damned if he was going to do it, but Jacqueline
[Picasso’s wife] added, ‘When Pablo says that, for God’s sake go.’ So he went, and the doctors had him taken straight into the operating theatre. They said he had an extremely rare type of peritonitis, which is lethal. The bad thing about it is that it doesn’t manifest itself in pain, it just kills you. ...

Hockney’s reaction to this is to say, yes, this is because Picasso spent a huge amount of time looking at faces, really looking, the way you only do if you are someone who paints pictures of faces.  Picasso could therefore see signs that others wouldn’t.

I’m not the only one to have found this a very striking story.

If it’s right, it occurs to me that maybe face recognition software ought to be able to make similar diagnoses, if not now, then quite soon.  Excuse me while I try to discover if the www agrees.

Partially.  It seems that face recognition software can already spot rare genetic disorders.  Whether it can spot the onset of rare diseases in people previously unafflicted, I could not learn.  But I bet, if it doesn’t yet perform such tricks, that it soon will.

Monday August 14 2017
Monday March 20 2017

This evening I attended a talk at Christian Michel’s, about (and against) major increases in the human lifespan.

The speaker quoted luminaries saying that infinite life would lead to infinite meaningless of life.  People would just get bored.  It is death that gives life its meaning.  Immortality would drain the meaning out of life.

But from the floor came a different surmise, to the effect that the imminence of death, to some anyway, causes a slowing down, a draining away of zest.  Greatly prolonged life - accompanied by the enhanced and prolonged energy and zestfulness that would make prolonged life enjoyable, rather than merely bearable, or worse, unbearable - would surely cause many now considered old to get stuck seriously into new projects, confident that they would have a serious amount of time and energy left to devote to them.  Something like immortality would cause more lust for life, rather than less.  People who expect to die soon are now inclined just to sit back and wait for it.

When I first encountered a primitive version of the very word processing that I am indulging in right now, nearly fifty years ago now, I hurled myself into learning to type, confident that the investment of time and effort would more than pay for itself.  Had I been nearly seventy when I first encountered word processing for the first time, would I have bothered with it?  Probably, not.  If, on the other hand, I could now confidently expect another seventy or so years of active life, would I now be more inclined to adapt to new techniques and processes?  Yes.  I am pretty much certain that I would be more adventurous, more willing to invest time and energy, if the pay-off was going to be five or more decades of further potential impact rather than just the one decade or so that I now anticipate.

The speaker from the floor who expressed this most eloquently was Chris Cooper, who is giving my next Last Friday of the Month talk, on March 31st, on the subject of the rise of the robots.  Chris thinks they will become our robot overlords.

What I can say with confidence is that one of the reasons I don’t now get stuck into new ways of doing things, new ways that might greatly improve things for me, is that whereas the investment of effort and energy would be unchanged from what was required fifty years ago, the benefits I can expect to gain, now that death looms, will be greatly diminished.

So, if death did not now loom ...

Saturday February 25 2017

imageI am hopeless at drawing, as you can see.

But having been watching the Six Nations rugby tournament for the last few weeks, and having in particular been listening to the various television commentators, I feel the need to offer you all this attempt at a cartoon.

Anyone who wants to copy this, or indeed copy it and improve the graphics, is most welcome.  I am surely not the first to have thought of this particular observation.

(There was a bit of fiddling about with the presentation of this, on account of my software not actually showing me exactly how a posting like this will look.  Sorry about that.)

Friday November 11 2016

I’ve already shown a very similar picture of this building …:

image

… at this blog, in this posting.  The above photo is only very slightly different, in that it includes the Spraycan on the right, but excludes the Walkie-Talkie.  Also, I was able to compose it because I was on the platform of Battersea Park station, rather than in a train and just taking a chance.

I show another shot of this thing, because, well, I just like it.  There’s something about the way it gets lighter at the top, and how photos of this thing end up looking like they’ve been faked up by an architect’s office before the thing has even been built.  Photos of it don’t look real.  They look like Photoshop.

When I started doing this posting, I had it in mind for tomorrow (which is a busy day), having already done a rather perfunctory posting about a cat, Friday being my day for cat-blogging.  But it turns out that this blue building is also all about cats and other creatures.  I tried googling it for that earlier posting, without success.  But I just gave that another go, this time typing “"blue new building Battersea” or some such word combo into the great computer in the sky, and this time it worked.  This blue building is the recently opened Battersea Dogs (and now also Cats) Home Veterinary Clinic & Centre of Excellence.

Blog and learn.

Tuesday September 27 2016

Sunday was a good photography day.  After lunching with a friend in the Waterloo area, I made my way, as reported yesterday, to the Tate Modern Extension.  When up at the top of this I took many photos, and some quite good photos.

But none, for me, was better than this, which I spied just before getting into the lift from Floor 10 back to the ground:

image

I can’t remember exactly when the change happened from plaster casts to … that, but happen it did, and I am impressed.  I’m guessing that one of the many advantages of this system is that you can take it off and put it back on again, to do things like assess progress, or deal with skin discomforts.

I’m further guessing that you can dismantle one of these things, give it a good wash, and then use it again.

More from me on the subject of plastic and its newly devised applications in this at Samizdata earlier today.

Monday September 26 2016

Photoed in January of this year. from the top of the tower of Westminster Cathedral:

image

The Parliament website says that the tower above, the big one with lots of pointy bits, is called the Victoria Tower, but I’ve never heard it called that.  For me, it’s the Big Parliament Tower.

Anyway, whatever you call it, there it is, with the Shard beside and behind.  Very sweet alignment, I hope you will agree.

While categorising this posting, I had to check the picture to see if there are any cranes.  Of course there are cranes.  In shots like this, there are always cranes.

There are also two major London hospitals in the shot.  On the left St Thomas’s Hospital (the building on which it says “St Thomas’s Hospital"), on the far side of the river.  On the right, further away, bigger, next to the Shard, Guy’s.

Monday July 18 2016

I have been slightly ill for quite a while now.  About three weeks.  Not properly ill, just slightly ill.

One of the symptoms of being ill is that I don’t like coffee.  Normally, I do like coffee.  But when ill, I don’t.  And for some reason the experience of being slightly ill has thrown this effect into sharp relief.  Every morning for the last few weeks, I have asked myself: do I want coffee?  Each morning, I have said to myself: yes, I do.  Not as much as I do when healthy, but I still want it, more than I don’t want it.

This is because I am mostly well, but a bit ill.  Mostly, I still want coffee, but I slightly don’t.  Because I am slightly ill.

Maybe it is the constant decision making which has made me so very aware of this equation, that being healthy means I can drink coffee, but that being ill means I don’t.

What this shows is that there is a definite connection between regular coffee drinking and a healthy lifestyle.  But, for me at least and probably for quite a few others, the causal arrow goes in the opposite direction to the one usually assumed.

Every so often, Instapundit does a posting about how coffee is good for your health.  Drink three cups of coffee every morning and live to be ninety five, that kind of thing.  The clear implication is that it is the coffee that is causing you to live so long.

My surmise is that this is wrong.  Your healthiness is what is causing you to be so healthy that you live to be ninety five, and your healthiness also causes you to drink lots of coffee.  You drink it because you can.  You are healthy!

Sickly people, the sort who die younger, cannot stomach coffee.  But it is their sickliness that kills them, not their failure to drink coffee.

I can’t be the first person to say all this.  I am slightly ill, and so can’t be bothered to search out all the other people who say such things.  But, I bet they are out there.

Tuesday July 12 2016

I’ve been suffering from something a lot like hay fever.  Yesterday, the doctor gave me some anti-hay-fever spray to spray it with, up my nose, which I hate.  My symptoms are: aches and pains that wander around all over the left side of my head.  I knew you’d be excited.

But, from the same doctor who wants me to spray chemical effluent up my nose I learned that if you get something stuck in your throat, which is what set all this off, they recommend: coca cola.  I did not know that.  So last night, when I went out for drinks, someone offered me a drink, and I though, no I’ve had enough (what with the headaches and so forth), but then I thought: yes, get me a coca cola.  Apparently it clears out stuff in your throat by dissolving it.  How come it doesn’t dissolve your entire mouth?  (Maybe it does.) But whatever, it felt like it worked, and I’m drinking more coke now.

Last night, at that drinks gathering, I heard something else diverting.

We were having a coolness competition.  What’s the coolest thing you’ve done lately?  That kind of thing.  I contributed the fact that my niece is about to become the published author of a work of crime fiction, which is not bad, and which I will surely be saying more about when this book materialises.  It will be published by a real publisher, with an office in London and a name you’ve heard of, which intends to make money from the book and thinks it might.  More about that when I get to read it.  I usually promise nothing but I do promise that, here or somewhere I’ll link to from here.  It would be a lot cooler if it was me who had accomplished this myself, but it is pretty cool even from a moderately close relative.

But another friend from way back whom I hadn’t seen for years trumped this, with something which in my opinion made him the winner, not least because he did the thing in question himself.

Remember the Concorde crash in Paris, back whenever it was, just before 9/11.  And remember how the other Concordes all got grounded for ever after that crash.  What you may not recall quite so clearly is that the other Concordes were not grounded for ever immediately after the crash.  That only happened a few weeks later.  And my friend told us that he took a trip on Concorde, on the day after the Concorde crash.  How cool is that?  Very, I would say.  There were many cancellations, apparently, but he was made of sterner stuff, which is all part of what made it so cool.

I know, a bit of a ramble.  It comes of me being somewhat ill.  Illnesses can be cool, I suppose.  But this one, which is just uncomfortable enough to be uncomfortable, but which hasn’t actually stopped me from doing things, merely from doing them energetically and enthusiastically, definitely isn’t cool.

Wednesday June 29 2016

I must have walked past it a hundred times, from Currys PC World and on my way down Tottenham Court Road towards to Maplins, seeking blank DVDs and plastic DVD sleeves.  But yesterday I actually noticed it.  Above a back alley called Beaumont Place, just before it arrives at the back entrance of University College Hospital, there is a a footbridge:

imageimageimage

A rather strange one.  Hospitals often have these little footbridges, connecting the Somethingtrics Department to the Somethingology Ward, or whatever, so medics and more to the point patients, don’t have to go down to ground level and into the big outdoors.

But unlike many such bridges, which were clearly added years after the original buildings were erected, this one looks to have been part of the original design, to attach the new green building to the older dark grey and boxy building.  (Form, as is usual with Modern Architecture, is following fashion as well as function.)

What is that strange lump on one side of it, on the bottom?  And what’s with the big sticking-out dark grey and boxy bit that the bridge is attached to?

That strange curved pointy thing, to be seen in the left hand picture behind the bridge, sticks out high above over that back entrance.  Perhaps the idea was to draw attention to the entrance, but if so, it contributes very little along those lines.  Having the words “University College Hospital” and below that, in bigger letters, the word “Entrance” , does that job far better.  Aside from being physically pointy, the high-up pointy thing just looks pointless.  But maybe it has some other more meaningful purpose.

Saturday May 14 2016

Today I attended the Libertarian Home Benevolent Laissez-Faire Conference.  Here is the text of the opening speech by conference organiser Simon Gibbs.  And here is a selection of the photos I took, of the event and of the speakers:

imageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimageimage

Conference programme here.

1.1: An attender.  1.2: The venue, very good, with a big side window looking out to a small basement level garden.  1.3: Syed Kamall.  1.4 and 2.1: Janina Lowisz and one of her slides.  2.2, 2.3 and 2.4: Julio Alejandro.  3.1: Simon Gibbs and Yaron Brook.  3.2: Brook.  3.3: Kyril and Rob helping with the books.  3.4: LH info, lit up by the afternoon sun through the window.  4.1: Anton Howes.  4.2: Howes and Brook.  4.3 and 4.4: Gibbs, Alejandro, Howes, Brook.