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Archive for the ‘UK’ Category

A question or two

Yesterday we went to see ‘Any Questions?’ hosted by Jonathon Dimbleby. It was excellent. Anthony Horowitz was on the panel. How I love Anthony Horowitz.

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Mastering the masters

A masters is like a black hole that you throw your time and life into. What month is it? December? How did that happen? What happened to November? All I know is that I have two more deadlines for next week. And then a further two a few weeks after that.

This first semester has gone so so fast. The whole year is going to be a blur I can tell. Hopefully at the end I’ll be found in fancy hat, masters degree in hand, smiling knowlingly, and not in a gibbering wreck under a desk somewhere. As it is I am quite tempted to build some kind of fort out of all my books and articles and have a little nap.

How do academics survive? Is it always like this?

I need to buck up and grab this thing with both hands. I’m determined that I will master the masters.

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Remember a few months ago there was all that controversy about a new advert for ‘Oven Pride’? It got loads and loads of complaints. Here it is:

I just found this vinatge ad:

delmonteo

It’s interesting that this goes both ways. And people get very outraged. Apparently according to this article there were over a thousand direct complaints to the company calling the oven pride advert sexist.

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Oh, I’ve been so naughty not writing on here. Once you stop doing something regularly it’s pretty difficult to get going again. I shall try to be a better person though.

So in a quick update (not much as I try to focus on the present) I have now moved to London. Woo! And we’ve moved into a shiny (shiny-ish) flat. Oh the amount of space we now have seems decadent. I’ve managed to fill it quite well though.

I’m also 3 weeks into my new course. So far my impressions are “Ah the reading, the reading”.

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I’ve been a bit sickly in recent days. This is why I haven’t blogged for a while. That and I didn’t really have anything to say. This was a more or less direct consequence of being ill. It’s not very interesting to blog about having watched over an entire season of House in a week (although I have – boom ra. Anyone want to ask what diseases can be diagnosed with a lumbar puncture I am your gal).

Daring to be different I didn’t actually have swine flu, which, as I’m sure everyone knows, was declared a pandemic by WHO a few months ago. Of course as the UK is currently diagnosing people over the phone, using non-doctors and then throwing TamiFlu at anyone with a temperature I’m not sure I trust the current statistics of how many people have been affected thus far.  Several people have been found to have been misdiagnosed. Sadly only when they got worse or died. A 48 year old woman died of meningitis after being diagnosed with swine flu, and a 13 year old boy had to spend six days in hospital after being diagnosed with H1N1 when he in fact had a kidney infection.

As for myself, C (I couldn’t talk at this stage) had to assure the receptionist at the health centre that I didn’t have a temperature or any flu like symptoms before I could get an appointment to see a doctor. The doctor rather unhelpfully said that it was “…probably a chest infection caused by a virus in which case you’ll have to fight it off yourself, but just in case it’s a bacterial infection here have these anti-biotics”. I’ve seen way too many House episodes to not realise that just means ‘I have no idea just eat these and see if it works’. I was all for not eating them but C persuaded me.

I’m much better now. But I think that’s mainly because of the bucketfuls of squash I consumed.

Incidentally there’s also government advice set up on swine flu at directgov including links to the NHS ‘Online symptom and treatment assessment tool’.

I had a go on this tool and it told me to CALL 999 IMMEDIATELY!!!!!!!!!!! Okay it didn’t have so many exclamation points but it definitely sounded like it was trying to convey a great deal of panic. Needless to say I didn’t call 999. I wasn’t even messing around – I just answered the questions seriously. I don’t think it’s a very useful tool, amblances take forever anyway (more on this later) without fools wasting their time because the online NHS tool led them astray. The whole flu panic is out of hand – people need to take deep breaths and calm down.

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The dilemna of sperm donation

A big problem sperm donation has in the UK is the 2005 changes to rules about anonymity. These are that any child created through donated sperm has the right on their 18th birthday to learn the name of the donor. Naturally this has led to a fall in donations as most donors don’t want the risk that in 18 years time dozons of their biological offspring will arrive a-knocking at the door.

These changes also apply to egg and embryo donors.

There’s been lots of discussion on the radio about IVF and a recurring theme is the difficulty of getting your hands on quality sperm/eggs. Most UK couples it seems choose to go to Europe to get IVF.  The current favourite is Spain. The waiting times are shorter than the NHS and the price is cheaper. Also, because Spain pays people for donating they have ample supplies of sperm and eggs.

In the UK the idea the NHS had to cover the shortage of donations was to offer a discount in the price of IVF treatment if women donated eggs. That’s right – eggs from people having fertility problems. Is it any wonder the chance of successful impregnation is so low in the UK, compared to say Spain?

Personally I think the ‘Gathering Sperm Trust’ (or whatever they’re called) should use this cartoon from Dinosaur comics in their advertising material.

The fertility watchdog has recommended that women should be offered payment for donation of their eggs as the most effective way of ending that shortage. In America payment is offered for both sperm and egg donation.

Personally I think I would be unlikely to donate my eggs unless I was offered a substantial payment (this is what critics are worried off, that people like me would risk their health purely for finacial gain, to pay for university etc). It is quite a big needle – right into the ovaries! And I also don’t really like the idea that my genetic material would be just wandering around somewhere. I believe reproduction comes with a great deal of responsibility. Also I am a big advocate of ADOPTION! I have little sympathy for couples who spend thousands upon thousands on IVF instead of adopting.

At a push I might donate an egg (or a syringe full) to someone I actually knew. But I’d have to like them a lot.

It’s a thorny issue. Should the rules be changed back to total anonymity for donors? I feel that would be one of the most effective ways of getting more donations. But when it comes to it there’s still the bigger issue of how much help a couple should be given in creating a baby from scratch.

(sperm and eggs are also used for various experimentations, not even creating babies. Is that more controversial? I don’t think so)

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I didn’t get around to posting about the duck race in Cheddar on the first of May. I just found the photos from it though and was compelled to add them. Just look! Cheddar Duck RaceDSC02297

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