Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Odd and Ends

Historical Explanations and Fact

Those who have attained the chief places are led to seek the character of “safe men,”—which is gained by avoiding entering into questions or giving reasons, that they may “not commit themselves;” by evading difficulties neatly; and by speciously turning away from troublesome duties, and letting evil principles work themselves out at the expense of the public, unless forced into notice by clamour,—applying the rule—“Never to act until you are obliged, and then do as little as you can,” …

—Chadwick 1854: 

I noted Kevin Keen’s recent tweet: “Disagree with him often but Ian_Gorst is a good man. I for one want to see less playing the man & more playing the ball in Jersey politics.”

Imputing motivation is fraught with dangers, but whenever history is written, there is a need to consider motivation, either in the absence of a response, or even when a politicians statement might not be taken at face value. Anyone who has watched "Yes Minister" understand this only too well!

But in fact no one has taken the view expressed by Sir Humphrey in the photo. Even Reform have been judicious in accusing Ian Gorst of deliberately lying to the house.

Politicians do, however, engage in avoidance strategies, and just as it would be unprofessional of a historian to ignore that as a possibility for motivation, so too, it would for a commentator on current events.

An example of how to explore options came in my own comment on Ian Gorst’s reply to Mike Higgins that indicators such as average wage or the general economy improving have only a tangential relationship to relative poverty – which is defined by the median wage, and was spotted by Matthew Price recently on BBC Radio Jersey.

In the first part of my comment, I note the factual inaccuracy, and secondly, I explore what is hypothetical – the reasons for the reply. There may, of course be other reasons, but I think it is legitimate both to explore possibilities, but also give possibilities rather than just one explanation for the reply.

“Well done to Matthew Price of BBC Radio Jersey for pointing out that Ian Gorst's measure - average wage - is skewed and therefore misleading. If the gap increases between rich and poor, this would not show with average wage - indeed that indicator could point the opposite way as higher earners getting even more drag it upwards. By contrast, Median Wage is the accepted best statistic for looking at anything to do with wages which is why the UK and Guernsey use Median Wages in any discussions on the economy.”

“Either Ian Gorst shows a lamentable lack of knowledge of statistics, or has been badly informed, or is deliberately choosing a statistic which gives no indication of relative poverty at all.”

Data Protection

Having just attended a 3 hour presentation on the forthcoming new Data Protection Law coming in by May 2018, I was bemused to hear from a friend that a clergyman refused to give the location of a grave on the grounds of Data Protection.

Note to clergy: Information about where a dead person is buried is NOT covered by Data Protection and cannot be refused on those grounds. The Data Protection Law (current and future) only covers rights to protection of data on living individuals..

Green Light for Stargazing

Saw some of Australian Stargazing on BBC – I was interested to see that one presenter had a green astronomy laser like me. It is really good for pointing out stars and planets and constellations and galaxies to others.

Just the smallest amount of water vapour in the night sky is enough to pick up the laser and make it look as if it is a long beam, which can be used to show exactly where a star is. Two things are needed: a bright enough laser, and enough water vapour. Light can only be seen when it strikes objects, which is why the laser in the James Bond film “Goldfinger” is such an obvious fake,

Bailiff’s Veto: A Comment

In response to my recent blog, former Deputy Paul Le Claire made this comment:

“Standing orders should be reviewed and the States of Jersey Law including how they answer the ones that get through the net or in many cases do not answer them. Another thing to look at is the power to give way to respond to the many instances over the years where Ministers have spoken to the detriment of other members without them having an opportunity to be heard in defence of what they said. “

“There were many occasions when propositions and questions were denied me whilst I was in and some were approved by latter Bailiffs. Therefore opinion of the person comes into play in approving them. This should not be allowed and the only option it would seem is to lodge propositions asking the States for the Bailiff to review his decision. All in all a futile time consuming process when at the end of the day the majority could not care less about the people who are trying to represent the electorate.”

“Too many States members have in the past and continue now to act as Directors in putting the States ahead of their constituents. At election time they should make it clear that when elected they will represent the interests of the COM as this is in effect the position now!”

No ECT In Jersey

Remember that "Call the Midwife" with electroconvulsive therapy used on Sister Cynthia. In a recent blog I highlighted the potentially life changing damage it could (and is known to have caused) to memories.

Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) was used in Jersey during the 1980s under Dr Fogarty at St Saviour's Hospital, and one of my friends was frequently subjected to it. As a short term fix for depression or schizophrenia, it may work, because it causes at the very least retrograde amnesia for a few weeks, but there is always a danger which is now well documented of long term effects on memory.

Moreover because it effectively wiped the time shortly before the depression kicked in severely, it was effective, but because it did not treat the underlying causes of depression, it needed to be repeated frequently.

I'm glad to find out that the Health and Social Services Department does not provide Electroconvulsive Therapy in Jersey. If a patient required treatment with ECT they would need to travel to an alternative Hospital in the UK.

The FOE response: “There were no patients treated with ECT in 2016. H&SS have not been providing ECT for a number of years.”

And lastly...

I thought of those famous lines by W.H. Auden when I was taking in the impact and the shock of that attack at Westminster recently:

Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

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