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

Friday December 12 2014

I just chanced upon this list of London’s twenty tallest buildings.  What I particularly like about this list is that it includes date of construction.

No less that sixteen of these tall buildings were built during this century.  The other four are: One Canada Square (the pointy Docklands one), “Tower 42” (aka the Natwest Building), the “South Bank Tower”, and the Guy’s Tower (aka the ugly little monster now dwarfed by and right next to the Shard).  Those are all twentieth century.  All the rest are twenty first century.

That last one, the Guy’s Tower was, when first perpetrated, the tallest building in London.  I did not know this.  Now it holds the number eighteen spot.

image

That’s a picture I took of the middle of the Shard and of the top of Guy’s Tower from Blackfriars Station (the one on the bridge) when both that station and the Shard were still being constructed, in 2012.  I chose that picture because in it, the Guy’s Tower looks particularly ugly and bedraggled and stained and horrible.

I recently speculated that the Guy’s Tower might have made the Shard possible, by destroying all concerns about aesthetic suitability in its area.  Now I am starting to suspect that it may have had an even more profound effect, on the whole of London.  I mean, if that horrid Thing is the tallest Thing London has, then the sooner we build lots of other taller Things the better.  That’s what I would have been thinking in the seventies, if I had been thinking about London Things at all at that time.

What I am saying, to spell it out, is that if that Guy’s Tower had not been built at all, then the subsequent architectural history of London might have been very different, and far less interesting.

Monday December 01 2014

Today I went walkabout in the City of London with my friend Gus, father of Goddaughter 1.  This evening I found, for the first time, this short video interview at the Arup (his long time employer) website, done with Gus in 2010.

Here are four vertical favourite-photos I took:

image image image image

On the left, Gus shows me a magazine picture of the Cheesegrater, taken on a much nicer day than the day, cold and windy, that we were having to put up with today.  Next in line is one of those Big Things seen through a gap in the foreground shots, but with a difference.  This time, there are two Big Things involved.  There is a sliver of Walkie-Talkie on the right, and then way beyond it, you can see the Shard.  Then, we see Gus joke-propping-up the miniature Lego Gherkin that is to be seen next to the regular Gherkin.  On the right, Gus looks up at something or other, this being the best snap I did of him.

Now for all my favourite horizontals.

I’m too tired after all that walking about in the cold to say much about these pictures, but see in particular 2.1, which is, I’m pretty sure, some of the bolts, a few of which recently disintegrated.  Now they are having to check all such bolts, and there are a lot.

1.1: Mmmm, cranes.  Grim day, well done my recently acquired camera, good in low light conditions.

1.2: Canon Street tube.  Designed like a bridge, said Gus, ace bridge designer, because under it there are tube lines which it is built on top of, like a bridge.  This is the building I asked about in an earlier posting here.

1.3: I included this because of the sign saying “all inquiries”.  All?  You know what they mean, but there is fun to be had on the phone with this sign.

2.2: A Gherkin detail, is there because I said, when I saw it, that looks rather plastic.  And guess what, it is plastic.

2.4: Shows us the Lego Gherkin in front of the Actual Gherkin

image image image image
image image image image
image image image image
image image image image

3.2: A more fun picture of Gus, featuring also: me, in the right hand purple circle.

3.3, 3.4, 4.1: All the Walkie-Talkie.

4.4: For scaring pigeons, something you seldom see from above.  I saw this particular cluster of pigeon scarers while descending a staircase at Liverpool Street station.  That last was the very last photo I took.

When I emerged from Pimlico tube, near my home, I was amazed at how dark it had become, at a quarter to four in the afternoon.  Like I say, my new camera really did the business today.

Sorry for all the cock-ups and mispronts in this posting.  I’m knackered and am now going to bed.

Thursday October 30 2014

This article confirms not one but two of my medical prejudices, which is double nice.  Experts have their uses, one of which is to tell you that you have been right all along about something they’ve only just discovered.

The article is about artificial sweeteners, and this is how it ends:

What does this all mean?

1. Our gut bacteria matters a lot. Some guts can withstand artificial sugars well and others can’t. It stands to reason that, as we learn more about the uniqueness of our own microbiome, those of us who want to lose weight would be well served by diets that are tailored to the way our body and its biomic mini-me processes sugar.

2. Artificial sweeteners are pervasive and some people still can lose weight and enhance their health while consuming them. But since we now know that, on balance, they seem to be more bad than good, moderating how much we consume might be smart, too.

3. The study suggests that if people replace artificial sugars with real sugars or cut it out, their biomes could change in a way that contributes to the restoration of normal glucose tolerance over time, all other things being equal.

So, artificial sweeteners have a tendency to be very bad for you.  That’s prejudice of mine number one.  But, they may not be bad for you because, and this is prejudice of mine number two, people vary, physically.  There is not just the one way of being healthy.  There are a minimum of several, and what is harmless or even beneficial for you and to those like you may be very bad for other sorts of people.

The basic reason I came to think that artificial sweeteners might be bad for me was, to begin with, pure rationalisation of the fact that I have always thought that they taste disgusting, compared to sugar.  “Diet” stuff, as a general rule, tasted, to me, horrible compared to regular stuff.  In particular, Diet Coke tasted like that pink liqued they make you gargle with at the dentist.  I started out believing that Diet Coke is bad for you because I wanted it to be, and I wanted the Regular Coke that I have always chosen when coking up to be less bad.  But the more I thought about that early frisson of (literally) distaste, the more I came to believe that my at first merely wishful thinking actually did make some sense.  Sugar really is somewhat more natural than most sweeteners, or so I assume, and we are more likely to be creatures that can handle sugar, even if not in the quantities that life now offers.

Plus, about five years ago, my niece told me that aspartame (which she said is an evil chemical used to make evil non-sugar) is evil.  Rubbish says Big Aspartame.  But I reckon, for some people, it is evil.

Monday July 28 2014

Here is a picture, taken from Lambeth Bridge in March of this year:

image

This is basically one of those “I just like it” pictures, that I came upon last night when trawling through the archives, although I liked it a lot more after a touch of rotation had been applied.  I particularly like the contribution of those leafless trees. 

The red brick tower that dominates this scene is something to do with St Thomas’ Hospital, but further googling made me none the wiser about its exact purpose or provenance.  It was, it seems built in 1865.  Other than that, I could learn little.

But googling did cause me to learn about this other tower, which used to be a hospital water tower and has now been converted into a home.

This sort of modernistic box-mongering can be very dull, when that’s all there is.  But put it next to some more ornate Victoriana, and both styles often look the better for it.

That is also part of the pleasure I get from the above photo.  Even if ancient and modern buildings are not next to each other for real, they can put them next to each other, with a camera.

Thursday November 21 2013

Time for an I-told-you-so moment.

I told the Australians not to rouse the kitten:

Darren Lehman may have made a bit of a mistake, when he called Broad a cheat for not walking when Broad was clearly out and should have been given out, and said that Australian crowds should have a go at Broad in the Ashes series this winter in Australia.  Lehman was only joking, but it was a joke he may regret.

But they went ahead and roused the kitten anyway.  Here is George Dobell reporting on Day One of the Ashes:

Rubbished, ridiculed and reduced - the front page of one Australian tabloid dubbed Broad a “smug pommy cheat” on the morning of the game - England, and Broad in particular, arrived with abuse ringing in their ears.

Broad, it was claimed by an Australian media stoked by their national coach, was little more than a medium-pacer whose disregard for the rules shamed him, while England’s batsmen were running scared of Australia’s pace attack.

But instead of wilting in the cauldron of the “Gabbatoir”, Broad appeared to revel in the occasion. Indeed, he even admitted he found himself whistling along as a large section of the crowd chanted “Broad is a w*****.”

This may be no surprise to the England camp. As part of their exhaustive preparation process - a process that was ridiculed at the start of the tour when sections of the Australian media were leaked details of England’s nutrition plans - England’s players were analysed by a psychologist and Broad was one of three who, in his words, “thrive properly on getting abuse”.

“It’s me, KP and Matt Prior,” Broad said. “So they picked good men to go at.

“It was good fun out there. I think I coped with it okay. It’s all good banter. Fans like to come, have a beer with their mates and sing along. I’m pleased my mum wasn’t here, but to be honest I was singing along at one stage. It gets in your head and you find yourself whistling it at the end of your mark. I’d braced myself to expect it and actually it was good fun. I enjoyed it.”

Australia 273-8.  Broad, so far: 20 overs 3 maidens 65 runs 5 wickets, including the first four, and including the one truly class act in the Oz top six, Clarke.

Wednesday November 20 2013

I just left a comment at Samizdata, on this posting by Natalie Solent (who has been very productive there of late) about the lack of security of the ObamaCare website, and this Guardian story on the subject:

The insecurity of the site, probably incurable in less than several months (from what I’m reading), has always struck me (ever since I first read about it a week or two back) as the absolute worst thing about ObamaCare, though I admit it’s a crowded field. The Bad News letters from insurance companies at least put a number to how much money is now going to be screwed out of you, that Obama said (about forty times) you would not be screwed out of. But all that data lying around for any tech-savvy passer-by to grab means there’s no upper limit to what you just might lose, if you have anything whatsoever to do with this horrible horrible thing.

It took me years to trust Amazon with my bank details. Only when about half the world seemed to be signing up for that deal did I take the plunge, and I still fear that in some mysterious way I might one day regret this. I mean, what if Amazon gets taken over by greedy incompetents, skilled only at crookedness, of the sort now already running ObamaCare (and also “advising” people about it)? I know, there are safeguards in place, but my fear is, although small, real. My fear with Obamacare would now be big, and real. My attitude to ObamaCare would be (a) I want nothing – absolutely nothing – to do with it, and (b) If the President and his gang say I have to have something to do with it, then I hope the President and his gang rot in hell.

Obama, it seems to me, has been treated like a great many other bad black Americans.  He has been cut a million miles of slack, never criticised, never taught any morals, and now suddenly, patience has run out and he faces a lynch mob of enraged citizens.  He is going to get the political version of a life-time prison sentence, namely a place in the Presidential Hall of Infamy.  (I know what you’re thinking: wishful thinking on my part.  Maybe.  But his friends are all abandoning him now.  He surely now realises that he has screwed up big, and that there is no way back.)

Heinlein had things to say about this.  If you are going to punish big later, then it is kinder to give your punishee some warning, with small punishments earlier, when he does small things wrong when younger.  I’m not talking physical abuse here, just the odd harsh word when the kid does a bad thing.  That way he learns, instead of being hit with the kitchen sink, out of the blue, when he turns 18 or 50 or whatever.

LATER: Some cyber security experts recommend shutting Obamacare site.

Wednesday November 13 2013

… in among all the stuff that does not.

Foster’s flaccid Gherkin used to advertise erectile dysfunction treatment.  Personally, I don’t think the Gherkin looks like a penis, more like a vibrator.  Certainly not a gherkin.

And: Synthetic creature could “save nature” says Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg.  Has this woman never seen any horror movies?

Related: Will Jellyfish Take Over the World?

Tuesday November 12 2013

This is a posting of a type that is likely to become more common here, as the years roll by, because it is about bodily discomfort.

The discomfort today, which lasted all day, came whenever I tried to walk, and was all around my midriff.  This was either caused by eating too much junk food, or by the manner in which I slept last night.  Perhaps both.  Maybe it was not junk food, but rather: too much cheese.  The pain is in what I think is called the lumbar region, lumbar being a word I googled with the spelling wrong, making it sound like wood, which tells you that this kind of thing is rather new to me.  Google corrected me, like a rude doctor.  I hope that tomorrow morning all will be well, but just now that does not feel likely.

The blogging advantage of this particular discomfort is that it is not too undignified or disgusting.  I am also beginning to experience discomforts that are very undignified and very disgusting, but these I prefer not to tell you about.

This latter reluctance explains, I think, why the discomforts of old age come as such a surprise to many people.  The previous lot of old people only supplied to me a very censored version of what was happening to them, so I now have to find most of this out for myself.

Although, it could be that the previous lot of old people did tell me these things, but I wasn’t paying attention.

The worst thing about it is that you just know it’s going to keep on getting worse, and worse, and worse.

Sweet dreams.

Pain in the midriff
RNSQotD
Sperm Bike
Algernon Sidney sends for Micklethwait because Micklethwait is wise, learned, diligent, and faithful
Stuart Broad has a kitten heel
Blepharitis
Bad times for the NHS
Doctor Theatre - here very briefly but now there
The Jobs difference
Another reason to like Colorado
Bopara’s chance?
BM.com quote of the day
Animals that like the smell of humans dying
Potential dental interruption
Jobs departs from Apple (again)
A laptop but not in my lap
A down and up weekend
Why does a coffee lover not want coffee when he’s ill?
Blog hiati
Another strangely punctuated headline and a depressing television play
Cathedral photo
Happy hundredth
Shard sitings and and an agreeably honest rabies prevention sign
Green cat email mystery solved
Unusual leg extension
Getting well soon
Shingles
Those angry Americans
More sign photos
France falls in love with Hugh Laurie
Philippa Micklethwait - the Eulogy
Nothing from me here today but something on Samizdata about cannabis
The shadow of Shipman – and forgetting things
Philippa Micklethwait (1914-2009)
“Dying is a fulltime business. You haven’t time to do a lap of honour.”
The impossibility of God but the possibility of Michael Flatley’s cure and of super-super-flees
Do not read this if you prefer all epigrams about getting well to be tasteful
When the carer needs to be cared for
Not happy
To Guy’s with Gerald
Tumor
Linkable Lefever
Man regrows finger
Why it helps to be exposed to the lower classes and to dogs when you are young
Tajo
F1 athletics?
Cuba before Communism
Moore versus Stossel on Cuban medical care
The robotic future
The cat genome is cool
More roboteaching
An education link
A dreadful age
There ain’t no such thing as a free NHS
End the medical monopoly!
Adriana and Ivan in Addis
The (very) slow fade of Bolshevik Cuba
Today I ate something that disagreed with me
Irrelevant heart attack adverts
Search
Antoine Clarke and I don’t talk about elections
Groan
Patrick Crozier talks with me about Japan