Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Ca Pros Report

My latest two-monthly PSA is up about 15% on the last one. But, considered over four months, the rate of increase is barely significant - a huge relief from the dramatic climbs of a year ago.

Other tests seem to be OK but a bone scan yesterday, sneaked onto my phone camera from the operator's monitor, seems to show quite a lot more sparkly stuff than a year ago. We won't know much about that until my next consultation, at present not even scheduled. But what we don't know doesn't need to hold us back at the moment.

And the trying side effects of hot flushes and emotional discomfort have been greatly reduced. More and more I am doing all kinds of things that have been difficult or impossible for many years.

What price democracy?

It's interesting that the Brexit vote was carried on such a modest majority. I guess I would have thought that such a significant issue would need to be decided on more than a bare majority.

Usually a constitution provides for significant institutional changes to take place only on the vote of a strong majority of, say, 66%. Or there may be some checks and balances so that a wide popular vote can be reviewed and countered to some extent by some kind of group who might bring more thought to the decision. The complex US system of voting for President was deliberately enshrined in their constitution so that the collective will of every last individual voter need not necessarily carry the day; the President is elected by the Electoral College of only 538 voters. Furthermore, most of them are not bound by the political loyalties of those who appointed them to the College. Their task is to find the best person for the position.

That procedure could conceivably save the country from a somewhat unpresidential president. And some similar procedure, such as Parliament over-riding the popular vote, might have enabled a less controversial decision in the Disunited Kingdom last week.

Sometimes, the people do not have adequate understanding of the issues. Sometimes, the people are careless of the privilege of being able to vote. Sometimes the vote of the people does not deliver a result that is best for the whole community.

We have an AGM coming up in our village. We could probably use some similar electoral system this week!

Friday, June 10, 2016

Thank you, Aussie!

Image result for end of life choiceThe report has made 49 recommendations, including legalising assisted dying in certain circumstances. (Twitter/Andrew Lund)
Assisted dying a step closer in State of Victoria
Yesterday the cross-party Inquiry into legalising assisted death in the State delivered a revolutionary report to Parliament. The Committee has made some 49 recommendations and at least two members acknowledged that evaluating nearly 900 submissions had changed their point of view on the issue.

One of the clinchers was that Coroners reported that increasing numbers of terminally ill Australians "are committing suicide in horrific and terrible ways" ... "in the shadow of the law" while they are still able to. The implication is that some of those who committed suicide in Australia would not have done this had they known another choice could be available to them.  Certainly, evidence from countries where assisted dying is legal suggested to the Victoria Inquiry (members travelled to several countries) that half of those who obtain a prescription do not use it but live more comfortably and confidently because they have the means if they need it.

That is what choice is all about. That is the option I think we should move towards in NZ. The reasons and the evidence are as relevant for this country as for Victoria.

But I note that the Aussie Inquiry took some ten months and had only 900 submissions. I wonder when our Health Select Committee will get through ten or more thousand submissions.

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

"Give me a child..."

What a fascinating watch was the documentary WHY AM I? last night... The "Dunedin Project" began when I first went to that city and I was aware of some of its methodology and hopes and expectations.

By identifying only five personality types among 1000 pre-schoolers and following these subjects for more than forty years all kinds of possible predictions have been able to be made. And what surprises there are: one sixth of the subjects have had serious brushes with the law. More importantly, most of these were from only two of the five "types" of pre-schoolers in 1972.

I recall a huge fuss in the Church when we introduced personality assessments into the ministry candidate assessment process in 1968. We had to assure the Examiners that the such assessments would not be permitted to contribute to the actual decision. But I can say now that from personal knowledge of many of the 200 people who were involved, these data, now regrettably destroyed, could have predicted a number of very significant failings of the individuals' later performance in ministry.

Alas, the denominations had neither the curiosity, nor the immense international resources of "The Dunedin Project". This is now the largest and most comprehensive research programme of its kind in the world. What a tool for good this could be!

But will governments commit to the cost of the kind of early childhood special education that will be required...?