Thursday, March 8, 2012

Not dead, just sleeping

Oh, Hai!
I know, I've been beyond slack. Somewhere in the space between posts I became a doctor and discovered the wonders of working the grave-yard shift in a tertiary hospital ER. Yay me. So far I am still alive, and as far as I know, most of my patients are, too.
I appreciate all the comments (even that put-down that relied heavily on plagiarism, cheers, it made me LOL). There may even be some future rants coming, much to the relief of my family members, who tend to be on the recieving end of post-night shift telephone versions. Because you gotta vent.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The crazy makes me lol

I love the meeting of psychology, climate science and the main stream media. Sometimes, the logic (if you wish to call it that) gets so convoluted I feel like I need a whiteboard and a flowchart. It's kind of reminiscent of arguing with my 10 year old, Thing-two, only I can't put and end to the ridiculousness by screaming "Because I damn well said so!" and then threatening to set fire to all the chocolate / gaming systems / trampolines in the house.

See if you can stay with me, and I will attempt to take you on a tandem water-slide ride of modern health research.

A new report from the Climate Institute has found that the recent drought was really bad for mental health in the bush. The researchers know, KNOW, that since the drought was "caused" by climate change, ergo climate change has negatively impacted mental health.

Still with me?

Good. Luckily, there are warning signs to look out for if you think that the mental health of someone you know has been negatively impacted by climate change:
such as changes in normal behaviour, flat moods, not enjoying things they enjoyed before, isolating themselves, not going to barbecues and social functions, and not keeping up with work.

Oh no. Add "lying on the couch refusing to move and watching several hours of really bad science fiction in protest at your life", then that pretty accurately describes medical school.

The reasoning behind the report was so overtly questionable that even Bjorn Lomberg commented on it.

When John Connor CEO of the Climate Institute, was questioned on "...the evidence for climate change not being believed in many rural areas", he ignored the fact that this then negated the entire presumption behind the report.
he says despite that the vast majority of Australia's do have concerns about climate change.

Adding also, that lots, LOTS of science-ey guys believed in climate change, too. So there. No news on how the drought affected those science-ey guys mental health.
Tim Flannery, however, seems to be doing just fine.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

You've got to be f******g Sh*tting me.

I just received a letter from someone claiming to be "my neighbour", spruiking the benefits of the carbon dioxide tax. This on a day when the global economy looks like it is finally going to take the belly flop off the cliff that I predicted a while back. What was most offensive, was that it was a letter template from SayYesAustralia, the organisation that Cate Blanchett did that ridiculous television ad for. I got cranky, and thought it only fair that I reply. Please consider the letter that follows to be a template that any of you out there who recieved a similar "my neighbour" letter can use in response.

Dear XXX, my “Neighbour”,

I just received your mail out today, and I have to say I was quite offended by the content therein. Firstly, the basic premise of you feeling that you need to tell me what to think about the Labour-Green Government’s carbon dioxide tax is offensive in the main, as I was raised with the firm etiquette that inquiring about how one votes, ones political affiliations and how much money one earns is the worst sort of crass.

Secondly, I find that the subject matter that was espoused in your missive represents the worst sort of dishonesty. For starters, the letter that you sent was not penned by you, which I would have accepted as an expression of your own viewpoint, however unwelcome. It was compiled by a consortium of politically motivated organisations, and amounts to propaganda of the worst kind. Not only that, but the issue which it sought to address was fundamentally misrepresented. Not once in that execrable piece of junk that you gleefully put your name to was the term “carbon dioxide” mentioned. It referred several times to “carbon” and a price on same, which is somewhat of a misnomer. Carbon, as most of us know it, is the stuff left over in a fireplace or on a burnt piece of toast, so one could be forgiven for thinking that “carbon pollution” refers to the worst kind of industrial effluent. Soot, if you will. Carbon dioxide on the other hand, which the subject tax of your letter refers to, is not a blackened by-product of industry, it is plant food, and essential to life.

To say that I was cranky upon receiving your letter probably undersells the eyes-rolling-back-in-the-head irritability that ensued. I was ropable in the extreme. In a bid to talk myself out of calling you at home and giving you a piece of my mind, I drank half a bottle of chardonnay (and I don’t even like chardonnay) and ate a three week old wheel of camembert I found in the bottom of the fridge that I suspect by all appearances my youngest child attempted to eat with their feet). At first I told myself that you were probably a teenager, feeling strongly about things you’re yet too young to understand, unfortunately, with the marvels of the internet, it took me only a matter of minutes to establish that not only are you an adult with school age children, but also your home ‘phone number, mobile number and street address. Whilst I commend your courage in placing your name so freely in the public domain, (after all, there wouldn’t be a ‘phone book without people like you) I must counsel caution. I myself am a fairly reasonable human being, I recognise your right to a difference of opinion and firmly recognise that it is impossible to legislate against stupidity, and had you not cluttered up my mailbox, I would have been happy to live and let live sans reply of this nature. However, given that a recent Galaxy poll showed the stable figure of 55% of people being against the carbon tax versus 37% in favour, it would appear incumbent upon you to let discretion be the better part of valour on this highly politicised and emotive issue, especially given the fact that the global economy seems to be sliding into an abyss. Just a heads up that not everyone you letter-box dropped may be so reasonable in the upcoming financial and philosophical climate.

Not only am I a single parent living in a rental property that costs $18,000 per year, with gas-ducted heating and several mouths to feed at prices that are some of the highest in the developed world, I also work at the local public hospital. Guess what? Hospitals are not being compensated under the proposed Gillard government carbon dioxide tax. A hospital energy bill runs into the millions per annum, and under this proposed carbon dioxide tax, energy utility bills are set to rise by around 20%. How do you propose the hospital meet the extra costs? Should people such as I lose their jobs in a cost cutting exercise? Are you personally volunteering to wait longer in the Emergency Department for treatment? At present, key performance indicators at this hospital call for a Category 4 triage patient to be seen within about 3 hours of presentation, that’s a long time to be sitting around with a broken limb, and we don’t always meet it anyway. Are you seriously telling me that you will be OK with, for instance, a 6 hour wait to be seen if your little one breaks their arm on the jungle-gym? How about 8 hours? Or even 12? And that’s just to see the junior doctor who will inform you that, yes, indeed, the limb is broken. So this is not withstanding how long it takes the orthopaedic surgeon to get around to seeing you. Perhaps instead, we should have a garage sale and on-sell the new PET-CT machine that cost this community so dear? I’m sure that the next time you or someone else you know is investigated for cancer, you won’t mind a 2 hour drive to access the next available machine.

Finally, I note with interest, that at no stage do you, SayYesAustralia who authored your letter template, or the Gillard Government, actually quantify the exact amount of warming that will be averted by knee-capping our entire economy and beggaring our way of life, based on current (albeit essentially flawed) modelling. In case you haven’t pondered this yet, estimates run around 0.01 of a degree Celsius. That, to me, does not seem worth it, and I withhold my thanks at your misguided and somewhat rude attempt to change my mind.

Sincerely Yours,

Your Neighbour.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Paging Doctor Turnbull

Opposition frontbencher Malcolm "it should have been me" Turnbull has been touted by the ABC as decrying "the war on climate science." Hey, I thought, thats what I do, isn't it?
He likened climate change denial to "ignoring your doctor's advice on the basis that someone down the pub told you his uncle Ernie lived to 95 and smoked a packet of cork-tipped cigarettes every day and drank a bottle of whisky".

Wait a minute, isn't medical advice what I do, too?! Luckily, I kind of disagree with Malcolm, or I'd be out of a job. Misuse of the word "denial" aside, I think that being somewhat skeptical of the current anthropogenic global warming meme based on a careful evaluation of the current evidence for and against, is not like the "uncle Ernie" example cited by Turnbull above. If anything, it's more like being skeptical of:

* Radioactive thorium toothpaste.
* Eugenics.
* Avoiding eggs from fear they will raise your cholesterol, and
* The perception of homosexuality as a mental illness.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Stick it in your backyard

Oh, look. Apparently we're all going to die of climate. Again. "News at JAMA" have just reported on a recent "analysis" which found that extreme weather, infectious diseases and air pollution (air pollution?) due to climate change will pose a growing health risk, which will be most pronounced in the south-eastern United States. Quick, someone tell Jimmy Buffett.

Wondering what this "analysis" was, I clicked the link provided and was taken to the web site of some activist collective named the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and a page entitled "Climate Change Threatens Health." with the bi-line "Serious threats where you live and what to do about them". Which just didn't seem right. Clearly what was missing, apart from science and an actual analysis, was some of these !!!!!. There, thats better. Still unable to find an actual scientific study, it appears after further scrutiny that the analysis referred to is actually a map of the United States which allows you to see in handy image form exactly how threatened by Dengue you will be "in your own backyard."!!!!!! Emphasis mine.

Good 'ole Dengue. Its always getting trotted out as the next great climate thing. Sadly, it ain't all that. In fact, if you refer to great entomological minds, such as Dr. Paul "You're so hot, lets do a field study together on a beach in the Caribbean" Reiter, or a WHO publication from 1989 a.k.a "Before the world went completely mental", it turns out the mosquito most implicated in dengue spread is a big fan of human settlements:
The peri-domestic, highly anthropophilic Aedes aegypti is the principal vector of all the serotypes and the sole vector in the New World and Australia

In other words, it's expansion of the urban environment, not climate change, that increases the vector distribution. The same publication shows the dramatic decline in A. aegypti distribution between the years 1930 and 1980.*

Such a shame that much vaunted JAMA, the Journal of the American Medical Association, is getting its breaking medical news from an NGO infomercial. I expect the next News at JAMA story will be on a recent analysis of exactly how many times its weight in water a Shamwow can actually absorb (!!!!!). Or maybe they could elect Dr. Ho to the editorial board. (Hes a "caring doctor".)

I'm not even sure how deep in the climate alarmism funding pie the NRDC has sunk its fingers, but it didn't take too long to work out they aren't exactly about balance in the scientific debate. Their founding director appears to also be the Pew Oceans commissioner. Enough said. Well, if "enough" means "partisan-extremist-behemoth-that-seeks-to-destroy-the-livelihoods-of-fishermen-across-the-globe-and-dictate-to-other-sovereign-nations-that-they-must-lock-up-their-marine-resources-in-green-zones-so-a-few-rich-nobs-from-the-US-can-feel-better-about-their-oil-inheritances." Gasp. Then enough said.

*Many people assume the reduction in mosquito borne disease during that time was probably due to DDT, but thats because they haven't seen this:

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Tofurkey of the week

I have met sputum samples I like better than some of the folks over at Doctors for the Environment Australia (abbreviation DEA, not to be confused with the more police-type DEA who have a history of harshing the mellow of people like the enviro doctors).

Apart from the stupid name (Rival to my own NGO that I think I will call DR GRRRL -"Doctor Girls for Rum Reggae Rollerskating and Lurv"), they have at other times pushed for:

* An end to democracy as a cure for climate change. No sh1t.

* Advocating to patients that they stop eating meat to curb climate change.

* Population control and the payment of a "climate tax" for having children outside of the allotted quota. (As if we aren't paying already...)

* And most offensive of all, repeatedly spamming my work in-box with requests to bake cakes or shave my head to prevent climate change. For the record, I have shaved my head before, and not to raise money OR awareness for any cause. It was one more thing I can add to the list of "questionable stuff I have done to try and impress men". What it did was impress my lesbian flatmate, but thats another story.

The DEA are by and large not the type of people who embody the traits one would normally associate with the noble profession of medicine. They flagrantly disregard the principle of primum non nocere (first do no harm) and generally violate the bounds of good taste.* Just ask yourself if these are the sort of people you would want to invite to a dinner party or stick their fingers up your bottom fossicking for cancer? Which is why it is with great delight that I can report that they are now at least somewhat implicated in the Greenpeace GM wheat whipper-snippering fiasco.

Turns out an open letter protestiing the GM wheat trials was circulated (mostly via Greenpeace) from a group of concerned scientists and doctors. The inference being that they provided weight, urgency and grounds to Greenpeace's recent illegal bout of lawn-care activism.

That is, until one of the key signatories, Professor Dave Schubert, realised what Greenpeace had done and quickly moved to denounce their actions and distance himself from the organisation. Two of the eight signatories were Australian medical doctors from our old friends over at Doctors for the Environment. "No comment", they explained, making them at least slightly smarter than Shane Rattenberry.

It has also been pointed out that the open letter is eerily similar to one circulated previously by Greenpeace, with some of the same co-signatories, which protested Golden Rice trials in 2009, and cites the same evidence for concern. After corresponding with Prof. Schubert, one GM pundit came to the conclusion that not only did this signatory not even know the stated reason for the proposed wheat trial in the first place, but also did not write the letter he "signed", nor knew who the co-signatories were. The reasonable assumption being that Greenpeace itself authored the letter, and not very well, if their cut-and-paste job are anything to go by. Read further here. Nice to know they are keeping up to date with the latest evidence base.

* Thinking further on this, they also defy the Declaration of Geneva, one of the more widespread medical oaths that most graduating medical school adhere to, wherein the medical graduate swears they "...will not permit considerations intervene between my duty..."

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Sea Shepherd and their trouble with the ladies

In recent developments for Sea Shepherd, a few legal chickens (perhaps even a Tofurkey or two) have come home to roost. The flagship Steve Irwin, captained by Paul Watson, has been detained in Scotland against an approx. USD $1.4 million bond, while a Maltese fishing company launches a civil suit claiming damages after being attacked by Sea Shepherd last year.

My personal dislike of Paul Watson and relative fondness for sailors (hello boys!) aside, I do know a thing or three about ancient and modern maritime conventions. While much of how Sea Shepherd comports itself bothers me, something that really bothers me is their profligate renaming of their vessels. Do they even have a vessel that they haven't renamed?!

Originally named Westra, Sea Shepherd renamed it on purchase to Robert Hunter and then to My Steve Irwin, after the Australian conservationist's untimely death. The Farley Mowat, which had various names before Sea Shepherd taking possession, was then Sea Shepherd and then Ocean Warrior before its current handle was bestowed.

One of their trimarans was variously named things ending in Adventurer, before being re-named Gojira then My Bridgitte Bardot.

Then of course there was the ill-fated trimaran Earthrace, which was renamed Ady Gil before being deliberately scuttled by Sea Shepherd after they ran it into a Japanese whaling vessel.

Thats alot of renaming. Renaming a vessel is not something to be done lightly. Its generally regarded as bad luck to rename a ship, for two reasons of un-contestable superstition: A vessel is, firstly, and always, female, so some of us tend to look fairly dimly on masculine names, although it is a widely accepted practice. Like any woman, a ship does not appreciate being renamed, and a lady won't necessarily respond to whatever you decided to arbitrarily change her name to. (As I discovered after bestowing the nickname "Dr. Boobzilla" on a particularly irksome intern.) Secondly, the belief was that in Neptune's ledger of the deep is recorded the name of every vessel to sail, so to change a vessel's name requires convincing the Big Guy to go back over his paperwork. If he's anything like me, that makes him cranky.

Additionally, changing a vessel's name to something that could be construed as a challenge (E.g. "Unsinkable", "Best Boat Ever" or "Liquid Asset" all spring to mind as particularly unwise choices) would positively invite disaster.

If you have the misfortune of buying a boat with a particularly loathsome name*, renaming it once is O.K. The maritime superstition police over here at the Daily Suppository will consider that acceptable, as long as the proper formalities are adhered to. However, to continuously rename a vessel you have already renamed since taking possession, is insulting. To the ship, obviously, not to the rich person you are sucking up to by doing so.

If I was the Steve Irwin I would be pretty pissed at someone right now.

* Including, but not limited to, medical names such as "Biopsea", "Boatox", "Bow Movement" or for the budding pathologists out there "Autopsea".

Friday, July 22, 2011

I feel safer already

I just came across this article decrying the, and I quote, "parlous" state of safety and quality research in the medical field. The solution? Take a lesson from climate change science!

The Daily Suppository is feeling somewhat worse for wear this morning, and hasn't quite finished with the requisite bucket of coffee to kickstart brain processing, so some confusion was resulting.


In a number of respects, the parlous state of the quality and safety of medical care resembles the problem of climate change. Both constitute a profoundly serious and growing man-made threat to the public good that has until recently been both ignored and denied.


Their idea: Medicine needs multidisciplinary centres for safety, quality and policy study based on the model of those dedicated to Climate Change research. To which The Daily Suppository would like to giggle immaturely and say "What, like I need a second butt hole?" or alternatively, like that bastion of multidisciplinary research, the CRU?

Even given the relative risk of having a Junior Dr. McStabstab screw up your drug chart, I would probably err on the side of wanting an existing medical education or health care body run the safety show. Just sayin'.

I looked into the article author bios, and they all seemed fair enough. Extensive research backgrounds, nothing overtly flakey. One of them has taken money from the Pew Charitable Trust in the past, and we all know my thoughts on them, but hey, money is money. I'll suspend my disbelief for now. So, why would three learned guys say something so, well, thick?

...lack of sustained funding bedevils quality and safety improvement...
...Centres will need core funding from a variety of sources...
...In time, further funding would be secured from...

Ohhhh. At first I didn't understand your angle, but now I get that you just want to fund about the funding you funded about earlier in the funding-funding. Fair enough, why should climate change science get all the funding fun? Healthcare safety researchers with University tenure can haz buckets of cash thrown at them, too.

My favourite bit is the last paragraph, for the best-worst use of the word "sustainable", ever:
They will also, as the climate change centres do, reach out to patients and citizens to foster a wider engagement and support for safe, high-quality healthcare as part of the wider quest for living a life that is both healthy and sustainable.

Hands up who doesn't generally want their life to be sustained?

Climate Doctor Cat contemplates the oxymoron

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Planning the revolution...

Excuse me if I have been a bit low on the posting. I made the mistake of calculating how much of my weekly take home pay will go to the Australian Tax Office when I have a job next year. After calculating sliding tax brackets, student supplement loan repayments, deferred university fees (HECS debt) and flood and medicare levies, I worked out I will have about the same amount of money I get right now. All for the honour of working excessively long hours and never seeing my children. And I don't even get a car park at the hospital!

By tomorrow I will have painted my toe-nails and pulled myself up by my knee-high boot laces, but right now I am feeling cranky. Well, when I say "cranky", I may or may not have requested that someone arm me so I can plan the revolution. I think I would look good in camo.

If I was French I would be marching with hundreds of my colleagues and setting fire to cars or something, but alas I am Australian, so I drink beer and mutter under my breath instead.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Tofurkey Two-fer

The Tofurkeys keep coming thick and fast this week. I meant to post this earlier but was having trouble prying various children and my mother (she discovered the facebook chat function) off of my PC long enough to post. I suppose I could have fired up any of my collection of vintage laptops and / or painstakingly tip-tapped this out on a smart 'phone, but got distracted by beer, shiny things and a new pair of high heels, which I happily combined into a past-time I think I will call "extreme vacuuming".

Anyway, Big Al is going to have to share the podium with ACT Greens MLA Shane Rattenberry this week, following his on-the-record comments in regards to Greenpeace Australia's latest criminal escapade.

Three Greenpeace "activists" broke into a CSIRO facility and whippersnippered (a.k.a. "Weedwacked", "Strimmered" or "Line trimmed" depending on how you're feeling) an experimental crop of GM wheat. "What was this foul monster of genetically modified cereal being grown for in the first place?!" You may ask, if feeling dramatic. The clearly malevolent scientists at the CSIRO report the purpose of the experiment was to lower the glycaemic index and increase the fibre content of the wheat to aid in the prevention of diabetes and bowel cancer. What utter bastards.

Greenpeace then publicised this escapade, to which Shane Rattenberry MLA had this to say:

Mr Rattenbury says Greenpeace has a track record of breaking the law to highlight problems.
"I've certainly been involved in action in the past where Greenpeace has broken the law and that has been necessary to highlight what we've considered at the time to be a greater issue than perhaps a simple trespass," he said.

Clearly he missed the politics 101 tutorial on plausible deniability.

The Daily Suppository thinks that any politician who would not only speak out in favour of criminal activity, but also take the opportunity to happily confess to his own past criminal activity, all without realising that he had done so, deserves a Tofurkey.

And will someone puh-lease go and arrest them all now?!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Tofurkey of the week

Since I'm back to blogging, it must be time for a Tofurkey, the Daily Suppository's own faux-poultry plinth celebrating all those who act like a complete turkey in the name of the environment, climate or the oft-misused clarion of "sustainability". This week's inedible enviro-fail award goes to none other than Al Gore himself.

Al has embarassed himself by using footage of the recent Brisbane floods to spruik the dangers of anthropogenic global warming on youtube, when even Julia Gillard's own pet climate commission populated by alarmists conceded they were not.

A predictable unintended consequence

Right now I have no love lost for the proposed carbon tax, and not for all the usually cited reasons. Nope, right now, I'm annoyed because it made me do math. I hate math.

Faced with the news that hospitals are not going to be compensated for the increase to their costs under a carbon tax, I had no choice but to gird my mathematic loins and join the fray, so as to put this into some kind of perspective. (Albeit with a quick call to good ol' Dad to translate some of the more technical terms. "Hey Dad, whats this thing..its an EM.DoubleYEW.Haich or something?") So if any of my more learned readers think I have gone astray with my calculations, please consider yourself volunteered. Do you have a calculator? I'll make the tea.

This is what I worked out. Hospitals are very expensive places energy wise. Operating theatres run around the clock, we have expensive kitchens, food bills, heating and cooling, expensive equipment, lots of fun drugs and kit made out of petroleum products and aluminium, linens, the list is endless. Oh, and we leave the lights on all the time. (Except when an enviro-bully has used the bathroom last and insists on turning the lights out when they leave, thus leaving the next user (i.e. Me) to stumble around in the dark groping blindly for where the switch should be if the facility wasn't designed for achondroplasic amputees, and hoping not to encounter bodily fluids / rapists / dead people. When I find you, you will pay.)

Hospital electricity bills alone run into the millions per annum, so just times that by anywhere between 10-20% to factor in a carbon tax, and it works out to be a lot of extra dosh the hospital administration is going to have to pull out of their backsides. Somehow I don't think they are going to voluntarily sacrifice large parts of their pay packets to compensate, and I sincerely hope they don't "find" the extra money in the junior doctor's salaries, either. Worse case scenario: we may have to treat less people, less well.

Let us look at one single, important facet of hospital medicine: The MRI scanner. They are really nifty, they have big-arse magnets and are super cooled with liquid helium*, reliably cost over a million dollars AUD to buy and we don't have enough of them to meet demand. The average wait time in the west of Sydney for a medicare funded, elective MRI is anywhere between 1-8 weeks. MRI is also funky because it doesn't deliver the radiation dose of CT.

They also use a fairly hefty wack of power to run. According to an analysis of the Magnetom Avanto MRI system from 2007, it looks a little something like this:

Just to make the things creates a massive carbon dioxide footprint. A fun MRI fact is that they are often shipped by air to prevent the helium that cools the superconducting magnet from evaporating in the absence of a power source (in which case it needs to be recooled at substantial cost and energy expenditure). If the length of time it took me to ship a box of my posessions from California to Sydney by surface mail is anything to go by, I dont think we can ship them by sea in a timely manner. (Even taking into account the length of time needed for customs to open my stuff and steal my CD's). As far as I know, neither marine or air transport will be compensated under this tax, anyway.

The running costs in terms of energy work out to over 600 tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year (at least according to the fine print on the back of my last electricity bill). Thats over AUD $14K a year extra just in terms of the price the government plans to put on carbon dioxide emissions, and not even including the other knock-on effects and existing predicted electricity price hikes. Just for one MRI machine!

So I have a question: What do we do to absorb the cost? Considering the existing waiting times for MRI scans, I'm not sure we can churn more people through. Are the medicare rebates for MRI scans going to be increased? At the moment, say a ball park figure for the rebate amount is around $400 (or you can peruse the list here, if you're feeling particularly masochistic). Thats not very much when you factor in the cost of the technicians needed to run a scan, the cost of purchasing and running the scanner and the cost of keeping a radiologist in luxury yachts and European cars. (I would tell you what a consultant interventional radiologist makes, but you might vomit.)

* For further information on the technological wonder that is the MRI machine, please ask someone more learned. Most of what I know about MRI can be summed up by the phrase "Big magnet = ferromagnetic metal bad" ** or watching the below clip. Warning: People upset by the gratuitous slaughter of melons should turn away now.

** UPDATE: That should probably be "Big Magnet + Ferromagnetic metal = Bad". I told you I was bad at math.

Take that, watermelon

Monday, July 11, 2011

I propose a motion...

If we must have this ridiculous carbon dioxide tax thing which is going to bugger up our nation, I would like to derive some secondary gain from it. Fair is fair, if I can't afford to heat my house anymore, that makes me cranky, I'm a candy-arse when it comes to being cold. At the very least, I want to make someone else suffer more.

This is why I propose taxing cyclists on the basis that their exercising leads to an increase in carbon dioxide exhalation above the baseline of the rest of our sedentary, expanding-girth population. Just to clarify, I mean those sports cyclists who go out in gaggles of lycra cladding on weekends and then clip-clop around coffee shops in those expensive riding shoes. I really have no beef with kids on bikes, mountain bikers, or even cool twenty-somethings with moustaches on fixie-bikes. No, I just have an unreasonable, bigoted, knee-jerk reaction to anyone who takes it seriously. I suck like that.

I have to confess I didn't think of this idea, and it pains me to say that it was actually the Ex-Mr. Paua who came up with it. This is a man who used to have a subscription to New Internationalist, and jealously guarded his box of back issues when the subscription ran out. I would like to point out, that as I am what is known in Australia as a "top chick", I resisted the temptation to "lose" them with extreme prejudice during any of our successive house moves. I have never been the sort of woman who disappeared hated wardrobe items of a spouse either, and its worth pointing out here that the Ex-Mr. Paua owned both leather trousers AND a woolen cloak. Who wears a f#$%ing cloak for f&*$s sake?!

Anyway, I really, really dislike cyclists in a completely unfair and unreasonable way. They sh!t me to tears. I think its the flourescent lycra and their flagrant disregard for road rules. Cycling is reaching epidemic proportions, and there is nothing as terrifying as coming over a hill on a country road doing 100 kph to suddenly find a freaking pellaton of weekend city cyclists in front of you. If they want to be treated as any other vehicle on the road, then that is fine, but then I should be allowed to drive on the wrong side of the road so that I can chat to the driver of the car next to me. In the interest of fairness, they should also be subject to the road rule which says that a motorist cannot do more than a certain amount below the posted limit. A polynesian relative of mine discovered this little known road rule when he was booked by police for doing 30 kilometres under the posted limit. He was so tired after a hard nights work as a nightclub bouncer that he was driving with the door open so he could follow the white line, and it was 4am on a deserted country road, so he figured he better play it safe. A law is a law, however, and he broke it.

Perhaps my visceral dislike stems from my skateboarding days when a fat cyclist in flourescent lycra picked on me at a set of traffic lights to vent some of his cyclist angst, presumably because I represented a fairly soft target. That was the day that a cyclist learnt that the reason why a young woman would skateboard through the inner city at night is because it's an excuse to carry what is essentially a plank of wood covered in grip tape.

Anyway, fair is fair. If they are going to pollute the atmosphere with carbon dioxide, they should be taxed accordingly. Kind of like how Greens dislike feral camels on the basis of their farting, and just remember what they proposed doing to camels.

Cycling: You're doing it right

Sunday, July 10, 2011

I have a theory

I'm on holidays, and unbelievably for a medico stuck at home with a gaggle of kids in winter, was on some kind of perverse sober health kick. Until yesterday. Happily, I didn't do the usual and get stuck into a bottle of Barbados' finest as a gesture of protest at the carbon tax announcement, instead limiting myself to a bottle or three of sauvignon blanc. I am nothing if not a creature of moderation and rectitude.

Somewhere between tripping over the cat and psychologically profiling Prime Minister Gillard's motivations and likely I.Q. level, I had a sudden revelation:

This carbon tax thing is on purpose! No, wait, still hungover, let me clarify. She doesn't really need The Greens the way everyone has being bleating on about. The Greens are never going to back a conservative government, she doesn't need them the way an obligate intracellular organism needs its host, or even as much as I need a coffee. She could have called their bluff.

Ergo, she must have some deeper motivations, and among the more obvious theories are:

* She actually has deep seated convictions that this carbon dioxide tax thingy is going to do something for the environment and isn't particularly bright. This theory has a certain attractiveness.

* She screwed the pooch so badly on the minerals resources tax thingy that was needed to get the Labour budget out of deficit, that this carbon dioxide tax is a way to recoup the funds, by taxing the same industries that slipped the noose in the last tax-go-round and exempting everyone else.

However, none of the above explains why she would insist on committing political seppuku in such an epic manner. I mean, she's going down faster than a B-grade starlet at Charlie Sheen's house. Then it occurred to me:

* It's all a calculated move to destroy The Greens! She is nobly sacrificing her own continued leadership aspirations, and the future of her own political party, to make sure that The Greens go the way of One Nation and the Democrats! Think about it! Calls have already gone out from both sides of politics to limit their preference flows and sideline them the way One Nation was. Crafty Julia is giving Bob Brown enough rope to hang himself. Just the other day he got so over-excited he started talking about one world government, y'see, it's working already. All those gen-Y knobs who voted for them because they thought they were warm and fuzzy are starting to wise up, and are not about to hand back the keys to the hotted up commodore. Its brilliant.

Julia "KFC"* Gillard, for your noble sacrifice on behalf of the Australian people, the Daily Suppository salutes you!

* Two small breasts, two large thighs and a red box.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Cry. Scream. Vomit.

First of all, a dietary plain language statement from moi: I was vegetarian for a several years there in my teens and early twenties. It wasn't for animal rights, although I did listen to The Smiths a bit, and as a generation X-er I can at least attest to the fact it wasn't for reasons of "sustainability". No. It started as a way to impress a guy. He now runs a grass-roots record label specialising in Jamaican music, has a collection of questionable tattoos, and yes, I would probably still sleep with him given half a chance. In fact, he pursued me for a time there, many years ago, and as part of my cunning plan of reciprocal seduction, I plied him with a particularly lethal home-made dope "chocolate" cake before inviting him into my bed. He passed out on the couch. I guess you could say he's the one that got away.
Thankfully, before I could become a complete wanker, a questionably tattooed lesbian flatmate coaxed me off the vegetarian wagon a fews years later with rump steak, after a particularly bad hangover. Then several successive pregnancies were the last nail in that dietary coffin. In fact, I am cooking a lamb roast as we speak. I also grew up in the beef cattle country of Australia. I, unlike many people in this country, have seen (in real life) cattle being slaughtered, and then eaten their meat.

Now let us examine the recent live-export cattle ban.

For those who have been living under a rock in Australia, or are American and haven't followed the latest Gillard government S.N.A.F.U., the abridged version runs along these lines: Two blonde women from an animal rights group filmed horrendous cruelty to Brahman cattle in a couple of abattoirs in Indonesia prior to their slaughter and a news story was aired. It was horrible. The cattle were live exports from nothern Australia. This apparently made it our fault. The viewing public freaked the fuq out. The government freaked the fuq out. Overnight all live exports were suspended. Beef cattle farmers freaked the fuq out (being several million dollars in the hole overnight will do that to a person). Indonesia freaked the fuq out (losing a big whack of your national dietary protein overnight will do that to a person). Everyone was freaking the fuq out.
To cut a long story short, the Government realised they had, ahem, porked the poodle on this one and backflipped, however the economic effects of this aren't over by a long shot.

Now, on to some hypocrisy worse than my past case of vegetarianism:

There are better ways to slaughter animals. Just ask Temple Grandin if you want a pragmatic approach. However, insisting that the worlds most populous majority muslim nation adhere to the principal of stunning prior to slaughter, when we allow exemptions for Halal and Kosher slaughter here in Australia, is somewhat hypocritical.

It gets better. Not only do we allow exemptions to be granted for ritual slaughter here in Australia, we also allow for wholesale extermination of animals that we deem to be "pest" species. Apparently, poisoning foxes, shooting feral cats, fumigating fluffy bunny babies in their nests and unleashing biological agents of death on same, are OK. Even The Greens think that's OK, in fact, its part of their platform, right under the bits about banning live exports and circus animals, they just say it should be done more "humanely":
5.the most humane and effective means available to be used in the control of introduced and pest species, including humane population management methods.
So what does the Department of Primary Industries say about about animal welfare in relation to a "Pest Animal Strategy"?:
In general, the National Consultative Committee on Animal Welfare has advocated the use of techniques that result in high level and long lasting control, therefore reducing the need to frequently apply controls.

Oh, well thats alright then. Pass the myxomatosis

We also do not require stunning to be performed on wild game prior to slaughter, which means Skippy can get shot in the head from the back of a truck while being chased by dogs, and the little Joey in its pouch "humanely" terminated, all in the interests of supplying the pet meat trade.
And bright sparks, yes, even in government ministries concerned with climate change, have at various times advocated the shooting of everything from wild buffalo to camels to stop them farting. Seriously. Considering that part of the complaint in relation to the Indonesian abbattoirs was that the footage showed animals being slaughtered in front of the other animals, I find it hypocritical in the extreme that the same people wouldn't bat an eyelid about shooting a camel from a helicopter, in front of its mates. Like we do regularly with wild horses and pigs. The link supplied mentions that the RSPCA even monitors the aerial shooting cull of the horses to ensure they are shot "humanely", yet puts spokespeople on national television to state their position on mandatory stunning of cattle prior to slaughter for other sovereign nations.

I will now finish with the most blatent hypocrisy of all. So much uproar over the treatment of Australian animals in Indonesia, leading to the (temporary) suspension of live exports, and yet this is a country that executes Australian citizens by firing squad. I don't see the federal government immediately suspending package tours to Bali.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Hi all

Wow. Its been a while. Sorry 'bout that (to the, oh, one person left who will notice this post since I lost my entire readership while away from blogging).
I had this medical degree thing to finish, and kids to wrangle. I had this horrible moment recently during exams, where I became very cranky at the Medical School's seeming expectation that as a final year medical student I was somehow expected to know ALL of medicine. Then I realised I was. Am. In other words, I've been busy trying to learn how not to kill people accidentally.

So, what a couple of months we've had here in the antipodes! Here was me thinking post climate-gate that the alarmism bandwagon had lost momentum. That an eventual collapse of the global mass delusion was imminent. That we were all going to wake up hungover after some massive "end of the IPCC" do, with sketchy memories, torn fishnets, between James Delingpole and Adam Baldwin on a coral atoll somewhere. (Maybe that last bit is just me). Instead, I'm sober, and woke up to Julia Gillard's wide-load arse preparing to announce a climate tax. Seriously, world, WTF?!

So much WTF-ery, so little blog space. I feel to do current events justice I need to probably triage them somewhat and arrange my thoughts into some kind of coherent snark, else this turn into some kind of rambling manifesto. Speaking of which, I realised that my facebook friends list is getting somewhat unwieldy. I mean, I have facebook friends who I went to high school with who are now militant union, labour lawyers with political aspirations. Just ugh, frankly. The things they clutter up my news feed with, honestly. I have another friend who actually ran as a Green's candidate, and shares thoughts bemoaning the cumulative radiation dose of air travel. Another one was spruiking her idea for a liberal, left-wing, angry emo blog. Pfftt. I need to cull. So I was thinking of "outing" myself, and letting them drop by the wayside naturally. Something along the lines of this:

It's time I came clean. Many of you who think you know me, really don't, and I can't live this lie anymore. In a political sense, in many ways, I'm conservative. I mean, I'm slightly to the right of Genghis Khan. In fact, some of those Mongol policies smacked of socialism to my mind. I think P.J. O'Rourke is hilarious, (albeit a trifle catholic) and James Delingpole is hot. I even think Andrew Bolt is a good guy, although I disagree with his assertion that women can't be Navy clearance divers (You're wrong Andrew, I can prove it). I wish we had a flat (low!) taxation rate for everyone, regardless of income, instead of tax brackets, and a simplified taxation system. I also think that Government subsidies are rarely, if ever a good idea.
Sure, I'm all for access to education and health care, my kids go to a Government school and I'm to too broke to have private health cover. I'm also pro-choice and have a past checquered with questionable recreational past-times involving mind altering substances, loud music and occasional episodes of nudity. However, I went and grew the hell up, abandoned a particularly embarassing bout of vegetarianism in favour of rump steak, took out the nose ring (it was too mainstream) and went back to my red-neck roots. Which were never very far away, anyhow. At no stage did I think that MORE regulation and MORE government was ever going to solve any of my problems, and even with my elementary mathematical ability I could do the sums of beaurocracy and come up with a zero. Or a negative. So please, stop sending me text messages inviting me to a rally against red-meat/live-exports/carbon dioxide/poverty and / or economic summits or instructing me how to vote during the next election.
I'm sorry if this means we can't be friends.


Friday, January 14, 2011

Back again!

Sorry 'bout closing the blog for awhile there, but with my unerring ability to mistime holidays I have been in Queensland for the last 4 weeks visiting family. During that time it was brought to my attention that a company was rather profitably copyright-trolling blogs and litigating accordingly (see: I'm too poor to sue!) thing was brought to my attention, and in a fit of paranoia I just closed the blog until I could get home and do the necessary, tedious searches of my old posts.

Anyone interested in donating to the Queensland flood relief see here. Or alternatively, if you have a high-pressure hose, a pair of gumboots* and live within driving distance of south-east Queensland, they need YOU. (My family has a rich relationship with hurricanes, cyclones and floods ripping through the house. Its messy, to say the least, the mud is quite unbelievable. And as I discovered at the age of 11, if you dont wear shoes in the aftermath of a flood, its quite possible to do something like punch the broad side of a nail covered in mud through the bottom of your foot. Several weeks of crutches and the scar still twinges in cold weather.)

Oh, and for those not of a technological bent, if your house was flooded and you have a solar electricity system, it IS STILL GENERATING ELECTRICITY even though the mains power is out, and if the inverter has been immersed, there can be arcing. Please be careful, some systems can deliver enough DC volts to be fatal.

* Galoshes or wellingtons, depending on where you live.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Waking up is hard to do

Just when you thought funding for ridiculous climate studies was on the wane, Professor Ole John Nielsen of Copenhagen has discovered that gases used in anaesthesia are up to 1600 times more potent as greenhouse gases than CO2. Happily, he reassures us that he won't call for them to be banned. Yet.
Nielsen, who got the idea while his wife was having a baby (whereupon the Daily Suppository will restrain herself from defamatory comments against the male persuasion...its been a rough few weeks) has written in the British Journal of Anaesthesia that the global impact of inhalation anaesthesia is comparative to a million cars. This sounds exciting, until you work out that that is the same as one coal fired power plant. Lets not freak out prematurely or anything.
Prof. "Not a medical doctor" Nielsen, has advised anaethetists that they should "sit up and take notice" of this, and since of the three anaesthetic gases analysed, one is more potent as a greenhouse gas than the other two:
If all three compounds have equal therapeutic work, there is every reason to use the one with the lowest global warming potential.

A statement so cute in its over-simplicity and mis-identification of significance. Just hazarding a guess here, but from what I know of anaesthetics (which isnt much, and Im not looking it up because Im on holidays) Im going to go right ahead and guess that the complex physiological and pharmaceutical science that is anaesthetics takes into account more factors in selecting an agent than its "therapeutic work". Thats because the "therapeutic work" of an inhalation anaesthetic is usually "knocking you out", and they all do that. Amazingly though, the pharmacokinetics of the agent, and dare I say it, the patient's individual physiology, plays a part, too. Not to mention the availability and cost of the agent itself.
Thinking of the anesthetists I know, I'm somehow not too worried that this is going to radically change the profession. Perhaps Prof. Nielsen should have investigated the climate impact of runnning just one hospital laundry, instead.

EDIT: Anthony Watts just debunked the paper's claims in a particularly educated and erudite fasion. His rebuttal is based on science-y stuff, mine on hanging out with anaesthetists at three in the morning on a labour ward, or watching one napping against a wall while I helped put a rubber hose up an unconscious patient's bum. Probably go with what Watts says, Im thinking.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Weather update

Hi All,
Usually I get the irrits with all these medical students who constantly update their facebook pages with comments about how many lives they've saved. Go and notch your stethoscope, or something. Seriously, who saves lives? I certainly dont. I'll be happy if I can just get through the next few years without accidentally killing anyone.
Until two nights ago that is, when I saved a life! It was actually my own. Good for me.
Yes, folks, I had "thunderstorm asthma", and it really sucked. I had never even heard the term before, nor ever had asthma, but realised something was wrong when I couldn't breathe. I find thats usually a diagnostic giveaway. Reasoning that it seemed to be occurring in line with a rainstorm, I thought perhaps pollen could be implicated (in your face all those people who said that being a science nerd is a bad thing, knowing how pollen behaves in the rain is useful after all!) and rummaged around until I found some old antihistamines and a bottle of prednisone left over from the last time the kids had croup. Then I sat around wheezing heavily until they kicked in. This is the point in the story where people are probably wondering: a) Wheres the weather / climate angle? and b) Why didnt you go to a hospital, you retard?
The answers are as follows: a) I'm getting to it. b) Medicos make terrible patients and usually dont go to an ED until they are unconscious, whereupon someone else takes them. Also, the kids were asleep and I didnt want to wake them.
Now, on to the weather angle. Australia is one of the worst places in the world for asthma and hayfever. I could provide links, but cant be bothered, just google it if you dont believe me. Interestingly, when people move to Australia from overseas, they run the risk of developing asthma and hayfever that is a function of how long they have been here for. 2-4 years seems to the magic number, then you get a bunch of expats suddenly presenting to their doctors with their heads exploding, saying things like "I've NEVER had this before." Lets just say our environmental conditions can be tough on the atopic.
Anyhoo, this is one of the wettest, coolest summers in southern Australian since around 1996. All of those bastard pollinating thingies are going apeshit. Then you get a couple of hot days where they pollinate themselves into a frenzy, followed by a thunderstorm, which bursts the pollen grains in the air. So instead of getting stuck in your nose and causing hayfever, you breathe all these antigenic particles down into your lungs and suddenly find it difficult to breathe.
Melbourne has been hardest hit and had 300+ people calling for an ambulance due to thunderstorm asthma in one night, which doesnt count those people who presented to ED themselves (or sat at home in Sydney self-medicating with kiddy prednisone and Phenergan). The Alfred hospital has had to open another wing to deal with the number of cases. Apparantly this hasn't happened on such a scale since the 1970's.
Television news are running stories warning people with hayfever to go straight to a hospital if they start wheezing. Fun times.
Global warming has clearly foresaken us. Bring back the drought.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010


Hi all,
I realise I kind of went AWOL for awhile there, so I thought I would put up a quick note to explain that I am around and will return to blogging in another 2 weeks or so. Lets just say that a perfect storm of hospital work, the obligatory hospital acquired illness, end of year exams and Mr. Paua going FUBAR in the head and disappearing on me in the midst of all this has put The Daily Suppository on a backburner for awhile. (BTW Mr. Paua, they have pills for that. Oh, thats right, you stopped taking them...)
I have been reduced to yelling at ABC news 24 stories instead, (which FYI would have made their way into the blogosphere had there been a Daily Suppository intern with a dictaphone and mad typing skills on hand. Just a thought, people.) And listening to angry nerd music about recalcitrant boyfriends.
Whatever gets you through.
See you in a couple of weeks.

Its funny 'cause my nickname for him really is "bitch":