Update on, well, everything

I am, slowly, recovering, I think, from the traveller’s diarrhea I suffered a week ago. Wednesday was the worst day, and I haven’t slept in the bed since Saturday morning. I’ve been sleeping on an exercise mat in the front room, padded with towels. It’s closer to the downstairs loo, and it wouldn’t disturb HWMBO, who has been a real brick through all this.

Anyway, while I did get up a few times last night (perhaps TMI, I suppose), I have been relatively stable today. This is all no thanks to the quack. I went last Monday, she diagnosed giardia as most likely, gave me a prescription for the medicine for that, and said to call her if it didn’t work. Well, it didn’t. So I called her. Twice. Left messages, She didn’t call me back. I left a stool sample for analysis, and that hasn’t returned. I’ve been dehydrated, uninterested in food until today, and close to despair several times. I wept Wednesday night for an hour.

So now, what to do? I feel that the office staff at the GP’s surgery is probably not very efficient, and I expect that she never got the messages. However, HWMBO has also gotten the runaround from the staff there, and I’m starting to think it’s time for a change. There is another surgery up the road that a lot of St. Matthew’s people use; I’ll canvass their level of satisfaction with the service they get there, and whether they are open for new patients, and decide whether I need to change GPs.

I haven’t said much on the London bombings yet in this place. I appreciate all the calls and emails I got from people worried that I or HWMBO had been injured or killed in the events. I do have a couple of observations.

First, I am so very proud of our Mayor, Ken Livingstone. He has said exactly the right things, he exudes a level of love of the city and of Londoners that it would be difficult to find in some other mayors of large cities, and he is passionately committed to helping us cope with this and anything else that fate throws in our path. Even though I’ve never met him, I get this sense that he personally is committed to my welfare as a Londoner, and that he’d go the extra mile to do whatever was needed to make me safe. I’ve not had that feeling in other cities where I’ve lived. Ken is that rarest of politicians: he loves us and our city unconditionally and not for his own gain. I hope he stays in politics after 2008 when his term ends.

Second, our civil liberties will indeed be under threat in the future from this event. The police and MI’s 5 and 6 have cooperated for years in tracking and neutralising threats, and have said all along that the events of yesterday were inevitable. If the new security regime we’ll be living under only includes more CCTV cameras, I’m not so concerned about that. While Big Brother may be watching me, it’s unlikely that anyone will review the tapes unless something has happened in the vicinity. This event will be used to justify even more tight controls on where we can do, with whom we can associate, what we can do, and the like. While it’s unlikely that any sort of airport-like security can be introduced on the Tube, who knows? The problems of screening 3 million people a day, some of whom enter the system through an open door rather than a staffed gate, would be almost insurmountable. And, inevitably, there would be a slip-up when you’re screening so many people every day, and something would eventually happen. So this won’t happen. ID cards will not assist in this case; the fact that there is a database won’t help police on the beat much as it’s unlikely they will have instant access to the database. In any case, a project of this magnitude (a database of 60 million people with god-only-knows how many separate pieces of information attached to each person) is unlikely to be supple enough to use or cost-effective to implement.

So what will help? We could ensure economic opportunity in our poorest neighbourhoods and among our poorest communities. This will ensure that jobless and idle people will not become enraged at the UK for purely personal economic reasons. We must also ensure that people who espouse extremist views, no matter where they originate, are made to stop. This includes the BNP, fundamentalist Christians, fundamentalist Muslims, and any other fringe group that advocates curtailment of life and liberty of another group. We must continue to examine our involvement in Iraq, and ensure that we withdraw at the earliest possible opportunity. We must also ensure that we do not engage ourselves in another adventure of this sort without a proven, public, and personal threat that can be verified–we are not in the business of changing regimes for the sake of liberty. For goodness’ sake, we can hardly preserve it here!

For anyone reading this who is contemplating a visit to London, please come! We are open for business and for pleasure, we are a world-class city with some of the most historic sites in the world. HWMBO and I would love to show you around (and we may even have guest facilities). People here, yesterday notwithstanding, are as safe or safer than they are in their own cities and countries.

PS: After spell-checking this entry, I discovered Livejournal’s suggestions for replacing the word “HWMBO”. To wit: HOMEBOY, HBO, HMO, GUMBO, JUMBO, HOBO, HOMO, DUMBO, LIMBO, RAMBO, BIMBO, COMBO, MAMBO, HEMP, HOB, MOB, HEB, HEM, HM, MB, HEBE, HERB, HEME, HUMOR, HEMS, HOMOS, HUMP, HYMN. How can we add HWMBO and save ourselves from this dreck!!!

7 Responses to “Update on, well, everything”

  1. spwebdesign says:

    You had me until:

    We must also ensure that people who espouse extremist views, no matter where they originate, are made to stop.

    You say they should be stopped because they advocate “curtailment of life and liberty of another group.” But isn’t that exactly what you are doing by saying these groups should be stopped? I have always loathed extremist viewpoints at either end of the spectrum, quite comfortably habitating the middle; but, as loathesome as I find them, I’m not sure I can go so far as to take away their voice.

    For anyone reading this who is contemplating a visit to London, please come!

    One of the things reported last night on NPR is that overseas tourism is likely to suffer short-term because of the bombings. That’s got me thinking that the airlines may lower fares to London to help stimulate travel, and if they do I may pay London a quick visit.

    BTW, I had trouble translating one piece of Brit-speak to American: by “surgery” do you mean what we on this side of the pond refer to as “clinic”?

  2. chrishansenhome says:

    No, what I mean is that those who are responsible for these criminal acts must be punished, and people who espouse that violence is an acceptable form of regime change or retribution against another group must be monitored and their activities stopped if they become criminal. I don’t mean we should kill them (that would be descending to their level) but I do believe that some of these groups are preaching the equivalent of “shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theatre”, as some Supreme Court justice of yesteryear described a limit on free speech.

    Here a family doctor is referred to as a general practitioner, or “GP”. The place where a GP practices medicine is referred to as a “surgery”. Remember that the pharmacist is referred to as a “chemist” here, too.

    The place where a politician holds one-to-one meetings with constituents is also called a “surgery”.

  3. vasilatos says:

    First, you rock, and I’m *very* glad you’re ok.

    Second, in my current schooling, I’m finding out that men are generally
    more oriented toward anger and punishment, though it’s more gender-equal
    when the crime event is recent or close by. But dude, all this lashing
    out is beginning to look like the Hatfields and the McCoys.

    My housemate (male) immediately said “they need to be found and crushed.”
    I understand the sentiment, but I rilly rilly think that kind of approach
    won’t work. This terrorism thing is a disease, and it’s spreading.

    Sure, find these particular guys and make them not bomb any more people.
    That’s just a matter of immediate safety. Are you following me?

  4. chrishansenhome says:

    You notice that I didn’t mention stopping absolutely everyone, nor did I refer to “crushing”. I think that treating the symptoms, while improving our intelligence, is the best (if not the fastest) way to cure the disease (kind of like my dysentery, really). Canada has a series of anti-hate-speech laws that do work when the occasional nutcase starts up over there. We have similar, but not as effective, laws. We need to strengthen those laws and shut down organisations that preach hatred and terror on other peoples or groups. There was a mosque at Finsbury Park that was shut down for more than a year because of the imflammatory sermons given there. It was handed back to a responsible group, and now is a very popular place of worship.

    I would include in this fundamentalist Christians who start going toward the Nazi side of things, too.

  5. vasilatos says:

    Just to get it out of the way: my housemate of the crushing comment is
    arguably (by him) straight. [yes, yes, you may all boo.]

    But what interests me is that you’ve suggested that going after the
    symptoms rather than the cause is the best course of action. And
    strangely, I agree. I hate to quote Dr. Phil, but “how’s that
    working for you?” and you cite working examples where suppression
    of hate speech has civilized the environment. It’s counterintuitive,
    at least for people who dabble in logic.

    Nice. Very nice.

  6. chrishansenhome says:

    I do apologise: I’m still weak from the dysentery and I wasn’t typing straight. I meant that we should go after the root causes rather than just the symptoms.

    Please forgive me for being confused early in the day.

  7. vasilatos says:

    It was still an interesting idea.
    You are not forgiven for being confused,
    because there’s nothing to forgive.
    You’re excellent.