Author Archive | korhomme

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The Belfast Bikes and trying to understand mindless vandalism…

The Irish Times reported recently that 210 or more than one-third of the 576 ‘Belfast Bikes’ had either been stolen or so damaged that they had been taken out of service. They contrasted this with the similar scheme in Dublin, where only twelve bikes were stolen or damaged in the first four years of the more…

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Rights are tricky things, especially when it comes to the ‘right to life of the unborn’ and the ‘equal right to life of the mother’…

I get a distinct feeling of unease when I hear an individual or a group on the media complaining that their ‘rights’ to something have been infringed. I wouldn’t necessarily have thought that these people can make any such claim, but they are often vocal in their assertions. A group, for example, may take over more…

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The Third Child and the ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’…

The ‘Law of Unintended Consequences’ scored another ‘success’ recently, though only for women in N Ireland. The Criminal Law Act (Northern Ireland) Act 1967 was copied word for word from the equivalent legislation in Great Britain. The Act was a revision of the law, a tidying-up, eliminating the previous classification of misdemeanour and felony, and more…

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Should doctors strike?

There is to be a further strike by junior doctors in England next week. They will not work between 8 am and 5 pm on 26 and 27 April. In previous strikes, cover for emergencies was maintained; this time it is ‘all out’. (The strikes, and the challenges of the new contract, don’t apply in more…

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No head injury is too severe to despair of, nor too trivial to ignore…

Following a recent boxing match with Chris Eubank Jnr, Nick Blackwell was taken to hospital and placed in an induced coma because of ‘bleeding on the brain’. Thankfully he has since awoken from his coma. The skull is a rigid bony box which contains the brain, blood vessels and a small quantity of fluid. When injured, any more…

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Torture and Cognitive Dissonance

When my information changes, I alter my conclusions. What do you do, sir? —JM Keynes A couple of recent, unrelated articles caught my eye. The New Scientist carried a review of ‘Why Torture doesn’t work’, a forthcoming book by Shane O’Mara, an academic at Trinity, Dublin. The scientific answer is that torture doesn’t work, in more…

George Monbiot on abortion “The religious conservatives who oppose these measures have blood on their hands.”

The Guardian ran a series of articles about abortion in N Ireland recently (details here). Now, George Monbiot has turned his analytical mind to this issue (here). His article is well worth reading in its entirety. He produced some remarkable information; whether legal or illegal, the incidence of abortion remains constant: Here is the fact more…

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So just what is traditional marriage anyway? A short history…

Although the same-sex marriage vote just passed in the Assembly, it was vetoed by the DUP, as if same-sex marriage would seriously impinge on the sanctity of traditional marriage. Yet the concept of marriage—both the ceremony and the institution—has changed a lot throughout the millennia, and it continues to change. There’s a useful, broad summary more…

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How feasible is a 7 day NHS?

So, Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary for England and Wales, wants consultants to work a 7-day week, and is prepared to impose this. Simon Hamilton, the local Health Minister, agrees. This demand is based on there being 6,000 extra and unnecessary deaths (in England and Wales) when patients are admitted at the weekends. This assertion is questionable. more…

Life, death and heartbeats…

The diagnosis of death is mostly straightforward; the medical practitioner looks for somatic, cardio-respiratory and neurological features. Clearly, someone with rigor mortis is dead. Someone with no spontaneous breathing, no heartbeat and no pulse, and whose pupils are fixed and dilated presents the classical features of death. This is usually enough to diagnose most cases more…

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The Duties of a Doctor. Morality and conscientious objection…

Medical practitioners who wish to practice medicine in the UK must by law be registered with the General Medical Council (GMC). If you do not practice, you are not required to register. The GMC is a regulatory body which publishes guidance on the ‘Duties of a Doctor’. Much of this is about registration, and practice more…

The blame game. What doctors can learn from pilots…

You wouldn’t immediately think that airline pilots and hospital consultants, particularly surgeons have—had—much in common. Yet both are in positions of power and control, both are ‘authority figures’ with ‘God-like personas’. There’s one very large difference; the airline industry today operates a ‘just culture’, a ‘no blame culture’; is this the case in medicine? This more…

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A quick guide to carbon monoxide poisoning – the silent killer…

All organic matter contains carbon which has the chemical symbol C. When burnt in the presence of adequate air, fuels such as wood, peat, coal, oil and gas produce carbon dioxide in the chemical process. There is about 21% oxygen in air. The chemical symbol for oxygen is O though in air it exists as more…

Thoughts on the Danish TV series ‘1864’

BBC4 has been showing the Danish TV series ‘1864’ recently; the final two episodes were broadcast on Saturday night. The series began by recalling the First Schleswig War against the Prussians and which Denmark ‘won’, though the main action was centred around the Second Schleswig war in 1864—in which the Danes were comprehensively, humiliatingly defeated by more…

An honest discussion about the A-Word (Alcoholism)

Following the recent death of Charles Kennedy, the former leader of the LibDem political party, two remarkable things happened. Firstly, all the tributes that I’ve read were nothing less than complimentary about him. It’s often necessary to ‘read between the lines’ of such political accolades to discover what the writer really thought of the subject; more…