As one of my friends is fond of saying – ‘There must be a God out there after all.’
In my last blog, I wrote that I was feeling somewhat depressed at the apparent adverse turn of events with my various medical conditions, yet here I am – a week later – much cheered by a more encouraging prognosis.
Things started getting better back on Monday when I went for my evening walk. Fearing the worst,I was puzzled and surprised to find that the anticipated severe pains in my legs were suddenly barely noticeable.
Tuesday, was even more remarkable.I was determined to give myself a rigorous, testing session of strenuous exercise during my evening walk, as I was seeing a new specialist the next day, (Wednesday), at Bangkok-Pattaya hospital. Well, as much as tried, I felt very little pain – where had it all gone? I had been in agony for weeks.
I assumed that my condition must be intermittent – maybe some days I would feel it, some days I wouldn’t. I saw the specialist the next day and talked him through my medical history and showed him all my records, graphs and spread sheets, all of which seemed to impress him no end.
He immediately agreed with my diagnosis of ‘Intermittent claudication’ and suggested an ‘ABI’ test. This is a simple test which involves measuring the pulse rate in my ankles and arms and hooking the the leads up to a computer which calculates whether there are any problems with the artery blood flow to my extremities.
‘ Aren’t you going to do a ‘Doppler ultrasound scan?’ I asked, as the Bangkok specialist who I had seen last week told me this would be necessary. So too had the Aussie admin doctor at Bangkok -Pattaya who I met two days earlier and had referred me to the new specialist. (The Aussie had told me ‘the ABI test wasn’t very accurate, the Doppler scan is much better!’)
‘No,’ my new doc said, ‘the ABI test is much more reliable, and if it confirms our diagnosis, we will need to do a CT scan to pin-point the blocked areas. Then we will need to insert stents or balloons, depending on the extent and location of the blockages.’
‘Hmm… OK then,’ I said, uncertainly.
He sent me to a nurse who told me they had a special offer for this particular test, and they could do it for 800 baht, if that was acceptable.
You gotta be joking. 800 baht as against 15,000 odd baht for the doppler scan? Bring it on! I’ll have five of them at that price. I’m beginning to warm to this doc.
I don’t know who was more surprised – the doc or me. The ABI test revealed no abnormal function in the arteries of my legs – I seemed to be OK. I asked him why I had been having the pains, (which had now gone), and he could only suggest that I might have had a minor blockage in a very small artery which had now cleared itself. He told me that he thought I was OK and that he wouldn’t recommend any further treatment or tests unless the pains came back again. So I am guardedly optimistic that all is well and I’ll see how my walking goes over the next week or so.
So yesterday I celebrated by taking Noo and her son to Central Department Store in Pattaya, where we had a nice lunch and then took in a movie – ‘The Hobbit’ – which was the first movie I have seen at a cinema for over three years, and the first ever in 3D.
Despite the film’s long, 3 hour duration, nobody fell asleep, and I think we all enjoyed it. (I am a closet Tolkien fan). We certainly all laughed a lot and some of the special 3D effects were amazing. It’s a pity that we will have to wait until 2014 to find out how it all ends….
(A bit like my novel)
The American Gun Lobby is so full of shit!!!
I woke today to the terrible news that yet again there had been a mass killing of innocent people by some lunatic in the US of A – this time, no less than 20 pre-teenage children in their classroom along with another 7 adults, in Sandy Hook Elementary School in the sleepy, affluent town of Newtown, Connecticut, 60 miles from New York
Just when is all this gun madness going to end?
Just how many more massacres will it take before the US population rises up in disgust and finally realises that this total bullshit known as ‘the right to bear arms’ is the biggest load of crap perpetrated on what is otherwise a reasonably civilised society. It is a nauseating philosophy that is perpetuated by the avaricious, selfish and totally uncaring gun-lobby, whose only desire is to peddle their killing machines – regardless of the consequences – and spread their lies, deceit and corruption throughout the country, even right into the very heart of government.
Can you believe that as a result of the latest atrocity, the gun lobby is actually advocating yet more gun ownership – not less – on the basis that if everyone, including the teachers, had been carrying guns, they could have defended themselves from the crazed killer!
If it wasn’t so tragic it would be almost funny.
In the past 14 years there have been at least 15 incidents involving more than one person being killed by a crazed gunman.
- April 1999 – Two heavily armed teenagers go on a rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colorado, shooting 13 students and staff before taking their own lives.
- July 1999 – A gunman kills nine people at two brokerages in Atlanta, after apparently killing his wife and two children. He commits suicide five hours later.
- October 2002 – Two men kill at least 10 people in a string of sniper-style shootings that terrorize the Washington, D.C., area.
- November 21, 2004 – Six people are killed when a man shoots eight people while deer hunting in northern Wisconsin.
- March 12, 2005 – A man opens fire at a Living Church of God service at the Sheraton Hotel in Brookfield, Wisconsin, killing seven and wounding four. He then commits suicide.
- April 16, 2007 – A gunman kills 32 people and himself at Virginia Tech, a university in Blacksburg, Virginia.
- October 7, 2007 – A sheriff’s deputy kills six people and wounds one at his ex-girlfriend’s apartment, in Crandon, Wisconsin. He then kills himself.
- April 3, 2009 – A Vietnamese immigrant opens fire at an immigrant services center in Binghamton, New York, killing 13 people. He then kills himself.
- November 5, 2009 – A gunman opens fire at Fort Hood, a U.S. Army base in Texas, killing 13 people and wounding 32. An Army major is charged in connection with the rampage.
- January 8, 2011 – Then-U.S. Congresswomen Gabrielle Giffords is the target of an assassination attempt in Tucson, Arizona, in which six people are killed and 13, including Giffords, are wounded.
- April 2, 2012 – A gunman kills seven people and wounds three in a shooting at a Christian college in Oakland, California.
- July 20, 2012 – A masked gunman kills 12 people and wounds 58 when he opens fire on moviegoers at a showing of the Batman film “The Dark Knight Rises” in Aurora, a suburb of Denver. A 24-year-old former university student is charged in connection with the rampage.
- August 5, 2012 – A gunman kills six people during Sunday services at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, before he is shot dead by police.
- December 11, 2012 – A gunman opens fire inside an Oregon shopping mall, killing two people and wounding one. He then kills himself.
- December 14, 2012 – A heavily armed gunman kills at least 20 children and six adults at an elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, and a body is found elsewhere in the town. The gunman is also dead.
One of the most apparently telling and also the most disingenuous arguments propagated by the NRA gun lobby to justify the mass arming of the population is the suggestion that if guns were banned, then then it would result in even more deaths from weapons such as knives.
They point to countries like the UK, (where even most of the cops are not armed), and totally distort the statistics to try and maintain that the UK suffers more deaths from knife violence that the US does from guns.
This is totally preposterous, and today I took the trouble to research this matter and have unearthed a comprehnsive document produced by no lesser august body that the UK House of Commons (parliament) which provides full details on UK Knife crime and other crime statistics over the past 10 years.
Firstly let us take a quick look at gun statistics.
In 2011, in the USA, there were 9 gun deaths per 100,000 of population, of which 2.98 are designated as homicides.
In the UK there were 0.22 gun deaths per 100,000 of population, of which 0.03 are designated as homicides.
But the American gun lobbyists then say that there are far more knife crimes in the UK than there are in the USA. There seems to be little or no reliable statistics on knife violence in the USA, so it is impossible to make a direct comparison, but as you will see below, it is actually of little relevance. Here’s why.
The American gun lobby makes the following statements:
- In the UK, there was one knife crime committed for every 374 people
- In the US, there was one gun crime committed for every 750 people — less than half a gun crime per 374 people.
- That means that, based on these statistics, you are more than twice as likely to be a victim of knife crime in the UK as you are to be a victim of gun crime in the US.
I ask you; what do you think might be missing and what might be very misleading in the above assertions?
Firstly, they are comparing American gun statistics with UK knife statistics – but surely, to be a proper comparison they should compare American gun AND KNIFE statistics with UK GUN AND knife statistics.
But even if it transpires that American knife crime is relatively low – which I frankly doubt – we have to look much deeper into these numbers to come up with something approaching a common sense conclusion.
I have already stated that there are 9 gun deaths (2.98 homicides) per 100,000 of population in the USA as compared to 0.22 (0.03) in the UK. So what about knife DEATH statistics in the UK?
The gun lobby, in their paper, states that in 2006 there were over 163 thousand knife crimes in the UK, yet the UK government statistics, as presented to parliament, state that in 2008, the number of violent and sexual offences involving a knife or sharp instrument recorded by the police, England and Wales was 36,347, dropping to 29,513 in 2011.
Where on earth did the gun lobby get figure of 163,000? Strange, ain’t it, as it blows their ‘twice as likely’ argument to smithereens….
But let’s just look at this real figure of 30,000 odd knife crimes in the UK a little closer.
Of this number, a mere 4,490 required hospitalisation, (only 15% of the total) and an even smaller number – 193 in 2011 – resulted in death. (0.6%of the total)
From the above, you could actually argue – not that I would really bother – that knife crime is infinitely preferable to gun crime as it is far less likely to end in a serious injury or fatality.
More importantly, in the UK in 2011, (the last year the relevant breakdown is available), there were 232 deaths from a ‘sharp instrument’ and 61 deaths from guns.
So in the UK, there were 0.45 homicides per 100,000 people from gun AND knife crimes …
…. as opposed to2.98 HOMICIDES PER 100,000 IN THE USA, FROM GUNS ALONE!
Duplicitous crap or what?
Put that in your fucking pipes of peace and smoke it, Mr American gun lobby!!!!
The immoral face of capitalism
As someone who spent a majority the last 15 years of his working life in ‘tax planning’ for a major global insurer, trust me, I do have some knowledge on the subject of avoiding tax.
To be honest, I never really considered what I was doing as immoral. Everyone did it – it was part of our capitalistic way of life, whether it was large corporations or simply individuals, carrying out legal ‘manoeuvres’ to minimise their tax liabilities.
Let’s face it, up until the current recession, a vast majority of the public considered it a great sport to cheat the tax man out of every penny they could and would applaud all those who got away with it.
A few years ago, the famous jockey, Lester Piggot, was overwhelmed with the level of support and sympathy he received from the general public when he was caught with his hand in the tax bucket. Many must have thought, ‘There but for the grace of God…’
If Piggot had been caught today, he would have been pilloried, and the lynch mobs would have been demanding that he be hung drawn and quartered for daring to cheat the tax-man out of one penny piece.
Yes, the world has changed, and me along with it. I can see that in these difficult times, there is an element of immorality in attempting to avoid paying your, (or your business’s), full rate of tax on earnings/profits, as was intended by the original tax legislation. I can now see that is unfair for some pay their full share, while others, by one means or another, are able to find legal tax loopholes, and substantially reduce their tax bills.
I do however believe that it is firmly in the government’s court to take urgent action and tighten up all these loopholes.
As I say, I am not a total ignoramus on this subject and I can assure you that is not beyond the wit of the relevant civil servants and government ministers to tighten up the tax laws and get rid of all these legal loop-holes. You will never get it 100% effective, but for organisations the size of Google, Amazon and Starbucks to pay little or no tax is little sort of a scandalous and Osbourne should introduce emergency legislation to remedy the situation toot bloody sweet.
I have always been an admirer of Google, and like millions of others, have cheered its progress as it has strived to equal and even eclipse the likes of Microsoft and Apple.
But – like Microsoft and Apple before them – have they now become too big for their boots? Has a shocking wave of arrogance slowly crept into their organisation, much as it did in the former Gates’ and Jobs’ little shops of tricks?
I don’t know about you, but it certainly seems so to me. The other day, the Chairman of Google stated publicly that he is very proud of the company’s tax structure, and that measures to lower its payments were just “capitalism”. To make such statement at a time when millions of people – many of them his customers – are struggling to survive in these hardened economic times, is nothing short of breath-taking arrogance.
The Google Chairman went on to say:
“We pay lots of taxes; we pay them in the legally prescribed ways, I am very proud of the structure that we set up. It’s called capitalism,We are proudly capitalistic. I’m not confused about this.”
Of course he is basically correct in what he says. It is capitalism and he has a duty to do the best for his shareholders, and if lax tax regimes, such as the one in the UK, permit him to get away with it, then why shouldn’t he?
Documents filed last month in the Netherlands show that Britain is Google’s second biggest market generating 11pc of its sales, or $4.1bn last year.
But the company paid just £6m in corporation tax. Overall, Google paid a rate of 3.2% on its overseas earnings, despite generating most of its revenues in high-tax jurisdictions in Europe.
The company reportedly uses complex tax schemes called the Double Irish and Dutch Sandwich, which take large royalty payments from international subsidiaries and pay tax in low rate regimes.
By channelling its revenues through Bermuda, Google avoided $2bn of global income levies last year.
A Californian pressure group called ‘ Consumer Watchdog’, wrote to the Senate’s Finance Committee demanding a hearing on Google’s “global tax avoidance strategies.”
Consumer Watchdog’s director John Simpson called for the Committee to schedule a time for Mr Schmidt and Google’s chief executive could “testify under oath and explain their company’s apparent abuse of the tax code to the detriment of all who play fairly.”
Mr Simpson urged the Senate to work with “other countries’ tax authorities” to “put an end to egregious loopholes that allow cynical exploitation by this generation’s Robber Barons.”
What makes Google’s activities so reprehensible is its hypocritical assertion of its corporate motto:
‘Don’t Be Evil’.
So Mr effing, Eric, effing, Schmidt, what you and dozens of other international corporations are doing maybe legal, but it’s actually immoral, and you would have been well advised to keep your Teutonic mouth shut and not announce to the world just how clever and arrogant you are, and how rich your beloved Google is.
It doesn’t become you – or Google – and I for one will be trying out a few new search engines in the New Year.
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