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BallaDoc last won the day on October 23 2019

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About BallaDoc

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  1. Possibly true - that thought had occurred to me too. However, the would be plunderers would have three problems to contend with: 1. Most of the "food" is inside my head, i.e. it's the skill and knowledge of how to grow food, not the actual food itself 2. There is only a small amount of actual food available for plunder at any one time, because it becomes ripe at different times of the year (assuming you are not growing a monocrop, which would be a bit silly) 3. If they plunder too often, they increase their risk of being arrested, or shot, or both.
  2. I am glad the Powers That Be are at last thinking seriously about food security. I've been thinking about this for years which is why I now rent an allotment and practise growing my own food. There are food shortages coming, independently of the current pandemic, because most of our food is made with, or from, fossil fuels, and those are finite. Don't get me wrong, I'm not a new age hippy, back to the land, survivalist type. Call it more of an insurance policy. The best time to get insurance is before you need it, not after your house catches fire.
  3. Yes, point taken about the suburban sprawl, but the nice thing about Peel (and Castletown) is they have both managed to keep the suburban sprawl on the periphery and retained the historical core more or less intact. Contrast this with the redevelopment of South Ramsey in the 1960s, when what used to be the historical core was flattened and replaced with hideous 1960s style buildings like the St Paul's shopping arcade and the Costa Del Ramsey tower block. The collateral damage from this included the Queen's Pier, which used to go into the heart of the old town, but is now a stranded asset on the edge of town.
  4. Yes, keep the Victorian heritage stuff, it's unique and there's a danger in throwing the baby out with the bathwater, as they did when they flattened large areas of Douglas and Ramsey and rebuilt them with drab modern buildings of no interest. Think of the contrast between those areas and Peel, which managed to retain its 18th/19th century character and is now a cultural hotspot.
  5. Yes, but the point is, you have to come into much more intimate physical contact with the victim in order to transmit Ebola. If someone comes and sticks their tongue down your throat or vomits on you, you are quite likely to notice, whereas if someone coughs near you on the bus, you may not even be aware that you have been infected with Coronavirus.
  6. I don't generally respond to abusive comments - I usually just ignore them - but I felt this needed a factual correction. From the World Health organisation website https://www.who.int/mediacentre/news/ebola/06-october-2014/en/ "Ebola virus disease is not an airborne infection. Airborne spread among humans implies inhalation of an infectious dose of virus from a suspended cloud of small dried droplets. This mode of transmission has not been observed during extensive studies of the Ebola virus over several decades. Common sense and observation tell us that spread of the virus via coughing or sneezing is rare, if it happens at all. Epidemiological data emerging from the outbreak are not consistent with the pattern of spread seen with airborne viruses, like those that cause measles and chickenpox, or the airborne bacterium that causes tuberculosis." Coronavirus, on the other hand, is spread by respiratory droplets within a range of 6 feet: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/transmission.html
  7. This policy of isolation / containment would have made sense for something like Ebola, which has a relatively low transmission rate and high death rate. However, I'm not sure that it makes sense for Coronavirus which has a high transmission rate and low death rate. Given what we know about it, and its pattern of rapid and apparently unstoppable spread so far, I don't think all these drastic measures like cancelling public events are going to do very much other than just slow it down and postpone the inevitable, which is that eventually we will all get exposed to it, the vast majority of us will recover, and those with lowered resistance or weakened immune systems will die. However, I must stress that this is just a personal opinion and not the official line.
  8. BallaDoc

    UK Budget

    Going back to the original question, "discuss the UK budget", I have to say that my initial reaction was heartsink. It's a large and complex budget, so it's difficult to do it justice in a few sentences, but the main points I took away from it were: It's supposed to be paid for by an enormous amount of borrowing which my kids are expected to pay back. Alternatively, maybe the borrowing will never be paid back, just defaulted on, covertly or overtly. There are projections about how the UK economy will grow in the coming years, and presumably the Chancellor is expecting this growth to provide the means to pay back the debt, but if the growth doesn't occur, then the interest on the debt will become a headwind on the economy. Or maybe the Chancellor subscribes to "Modern Monetary Theory" in which debts by countries never have to be paid back because we can just print our way out of trouble (for further details see Weimar Republic, Zimbabwe, Venezuela etc) 27 billion pounds to be spent on motorways, when we should be trying to get cars and trucks off the roads in order to meet our carbon emission and climate targets
  9. It's an extraordinary result, and I'm going to make a note of the name of his lawyer in case I ever need to use him.
  10. My purely unofficial opinion is: 1. The pattern of virus transmission so far suggests it can't be stopped. If an authoritarian country like China can't stop it, I can't realistically see liberal Western democracies being able to stop it either. 2. There is no point cancelling major public events like the Olympics and the TT if the virus is going to spread anyway and it won't make any difference to the ultimate outcome. 3. Those and many other events will be cancelled anyway because the authorities will want to be seen to be "doing something" and to absolve themselves from legal liability. 4. Keep a sense of perspective. The authorities are being cagey about the death rate but reported figures suggest it is somewhere between 1-5%, mostly among the old and the sick. Therefore, if you are an averagely healthy person, you are very unlikely to die from it. 5. The best defence against the Coronavirus is to be generally healthy (don't smoke, don't be obese, have at least some fresh food in diet) and the best time to start this is about 10 years ago. Just in: this here from the BBC news website: "Tests for coronavirus are being increased to include people displaying flu-like symptoms at 11 hospitals and 100 GP surgeries across the UK. The tests will provide an "early warning" if the virus is spreading, Public Health England medical director Prof Paul Cosford said." This at least partially bears out what I was saying. We are now moving from containment mode to monitoring mode - "lets monitor how fast the virus is spreading".
  11. I agree that there is no dishonesty in the IOM Government scheme, so probably "Ponzi" scheme is not the best description, but I think "pyramid" scheme would be fair. That is where people at the top receive benefits, but these benefits are paid by a much larger number of people at the bottom. As the people at the bottom move further up the pyramid and start to claim benefits themselves, more people have to be recruited to pay in at the bottom end to keep the scheme going. There are always more people at the bottom than the top. Isn't that a reasonably accurate description of the island's strategy to grow the working population?
  12. As I pointed out in a previous post, we are basically all f****d, and this pension deficit is just one of many symptoms of that. We think of pensions as being a permanent part of the human condition, but in fact they are relatively recent, having been invented in Germany in 1889 and then rapidly adopted by the rest of Europe. Before that, people were looked after in their old age by their children. Pensions are basically a Ponzi scheme which require continuous economic growth to fund them. Take away the perpetual growth, and the pensions can no longer be paid. And you can't have perpetual growth because it's physically and mathematically impossible. It's no coincidence that pensions were invented just as the Industrial Revolution and the British Empire were getting into full swing, because those conditions created the biggest boom in economic growth that the world has ever seen. But unfortunately, it couldn't and didn't last.
  13. BallaDoc


    What the UK needs isn't a fancy high speed rail link between Birmingham/Manchester and London, but more normal local trains running at normal speed along normal tracks, on time. Also land use / planning policies so that people can live closer to where they work and don't have to commute.
  14. I've been at the cutting edge of this drug switching operation for several months now. Here's how it works: doctors are too busy treating people to have the time to research comparative costs and efficacies of different drugs and do the switching themselves, so the DHSC sends a pharmacist into the surgery to work there full time for several months looking at all aspects of prescribing: cost, clinical appropriateness, potential drug interactions with unsafe combinations etc and they make the recommendations for switching, basically asking the doctors "is it OK if we make this switch?". The reply from the doctor is nearly always "yes, go ahead" (we don't have the time to research the pros and cons of it, see above) so the switch gets made. After the switch is made, we get a small number of patients, maybe less than 5% who say "the new drug doesn't work for me, can you switch it back again?" which I nearly always do. The overall effect is considerable cost savings, and if a few people have side effects and are switched back, this doesn't significantly affect the cost savings provided relatively few people do this. Most people don't seem to experience any difference with the switch, or anyway, they don't complain about it, which I realise may not necessarily be the same thing. One thing which makes me a bit uneasy is that one drug (say Metformin) is being switched to another drug (say Sukkarto) which is supposed to be as effective but cheaper. But suppose next month, the manufacturers of Sukkarto raise their price and the manufacturers of Metformin drop theirs, so that Metformin becomes cheaper. Will we have to change all the patients back again? I asked the pharmacist this but didn't really get a straight answer. Wrighty is righty (sorry, couldn't resist) about the psychological or placebo effect in some patients. A particular case in point is Vitamin B12 injections (which are red, making them doubly effective). I get lots of patients saying "I always know when my next Vitamin B12 injection is due because I feel tired all the time, but then I feel much better after the injection" but if you measure their B12 levels before and after the injection, they are normal in both cases.
  15. I've been reading around the history of the British Raj (British direct rule) in India (1858-1947) and grappling with the question "Why did it last so long before the Indians got independence?". And I've come up with two principal reasons: 1. The British saturated India with hundreds of regiments of soldiers who were there for the express purpose of kicking the sh*te out of any natives who dared to express resistance; and 2. A lot of the Indians preferred British rule to the alternative which was rule by the maharajahs (the indigenous Indian aristocracy) as in the former Mogul empire, when they had the power of life and death over their subjects and it was basically a mosaic of corrupt dictatorships and warlords without any real rule of law. At least under the British you were oppressed in a consistent way instead of an arbitrary and corrupt way.
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