As a trainee doctor i've been involved in the care of several patients with varying stages of dementia as well as end-of-life care planning with the family of the patient and the treating team. Its a hard situation for the family to be in; the person they knew well and loved is slowly losing their brain function, and with it, any semblance of what they once were. The treating team tries to ensure maximum comfort to the patient via pain relief and fixing anything that's easily fixable but ultimately they reach a point where the only options are to keep the patient alive artificially or to let nature take its course.
However the treating team cannot and should not make that call, as Mrs Mathsteach2 was saying. That decision ultimately resides with the family and in specific the spouse or whoever holds a medical power of attorney, and they can any decision so long as they have and understand all the medical facts. Having said that, if the treating team feels that the decision being made is not within the patients best interest - so for instance in this scenario the wife wants the patient kept alive because she feels that she somehow caused his dementia - then they are free to appeal the decision to the appropriate governmental body, who will act as an arbiter and make the ultimate decision after evaluating all sides of the issue.
Does anyone here know what an RPG looks like from a helicopter's vantage point? It's easy for me to mentally compare a camera and an RPG launcher and laugh at the very notion of anyone confusing the two but maybe in a situation where a gun-toting group is advancing a glint of metal is the only telltale sign of an incipient rocket attack. Plus apparently the reporters were not wearing their flak jackets or any other form of reporter identification.
In addition, the communication between the troops was jarring at times but then again i've never been to war; perhaps its easier to pull the trigger by dehumanising the enemy. If the soldiers honestly felt that this group was a threat i can't fault their subsequent behaviour of radioing in and asking for clearance to engage. And even if the targeting of the wounded reporter and wishing for him to show any sign of hostility so they could finish him of was sickening they didn't actually pull the trigger, i believe.
To me the most disturbing thing about this video was the subsequent pentagon cover-up. It scares me to think of just how many other civilian deaths have occurred in this exact fashion and been subsequently been hidden behind vague military jargon and even outright deception.
I hate to do this quick linkdump but i need some sleep (flight to LA tmrw!)
Scanners break child porn laws?
Also, they may not actually detect bombs!
So to summarise we will soon have a new invasive airport detection system in place as a result of something it wouldn't have been able to detect anyway. As an added plus, the machine inadvertantly makes all airport security personnel sex offenders!
I've been following CERN's Large Hadron Collider with great interest. Its one of those amazing projects (like putting a man on the moon) that is done simply because it can be done but perhaps even more amazing is the theory that the theoretical Higgs-Boson particle is trying to stop itself from being built.
Thus far the self-sabotage theory has seemingly been supported by setback after setback, but then again it is unusual for any development on the cutting edge to occur as per the original schedule. I wonder when we can call it either way? Clearly the theory is false if the LHC is switched on and works perfectly at some stage in the near future, but what if there is nothing more than more setbacks and problems?
I just stumbled across a video of one of these scanners in action (link embedded below). Whilst it may seem invasive i agree with Meursault's analogy comparing the scan to a physical examination at the Doctor's Surgery. Even though what the doctor does may seem invasive, in nearly every single the case the ultimate goal is ensuring your own personal safety by trying to detect any dangerous conditions. In much the same way, the ultimate goal of this body scan is ensuring the safety of all other passengers.
Having said that i can't help but wonder if mandatory full body scans are just a knee jerk reaction to the latest terrorism scare. After all, airline travel is still the safest form of travel by far (i can't remember the exact statistic but i think one is six times more likely to die in a car then in a plane).
I tend to travel once a month domestically and once a year internationally, and have been doing so for a little over a decade. Before 9/11 i used to regularly board planes with my trusty swiss army knife in my pocket. Now i can't even take my contact lens solution bottle because it has more fluid then what is permissible under aviation law.
Do i feel safer as a result of all this increased security? Not really. As security measures adapt, so too do the criminals/terrorists, leading to an endless arms race. Sometimes i wonder if all we are doing is treating the symptom whilst ignoring the disease; Make the world a better place and then why would there be any need for terrorism?
Anyway, the main concern i have with this idea is the risk of radiation that such a scan may involve. I don't know what technology is involved in making these scans but if they use technology like x-rays/CT's then the radiation exposure would be unacceptable for frequent travellers. I'm not so concerned about privacy invasion issues because i believe that already the security used in airports is quite invasive, and i don't think the customs officers will get much joy from having to look at naked CG models throughout the day (i imagine it'll be like working in a mannikin factory). Perhaps however if privacy is an issue it would be possible to have an automated system that examines the scan and sends an alert if anything at all is detected on the scanned person?
Also, one other thing i'd like to point out is that even though those scans show dramatically how its possible to conceal weapons on a person, the metal detector scanners would have gone off in most of those cases. As such, is there really a need to increase security at the airports? After all, the failure in the most recent case wasn't that of airline security but rather of the people who approved the travel of a person with known terrorist connections?
BDS, whilst i can see where you are coming from i think you have misunderstood the spirit of the law. You are absolutely right in stating that no doctor can accurately predict the estimated time of a patients death and indeed the internet is full of stories of people who were given months by their specialists and went on to live for years or days. Nobody knows this fact better then doctors, many of whom face the death of a patient on a semi-regular basis. The best we can do in the medical profession is assess how advanced the disease is in a patient then look at the average survival of patients in similiar situations and this gives us a rough estimate as to how long the patient can expect to survive.
So why bother with a 90 day cutoff? Because it gives doctors an arbitrary cutoff for which patients should be considered as being "euthanisable". Its a loosely worded law that allows for breathing room and this is exactly how a law on euthanasia should be because ultimately euthanasia is something that must be decided on a case-by-case basis. Also, i think the reason why the decision rests with the physician is because they are typically a neutral party - Doctors don't get paid directly by a patient staying in hospital but rather get a per-hour wage from the hospital, and they are most likely not going to be ending the life of Aunt Doris over her inheritence rather then her incapacitance (assuming they aren't Harold Shipman, that is).
I personally defined courage as the willingness to risk a significant negative outcome in order to achieve a goal. So to be courageous a person must:
a) Understand the risks involved with the situation
Do what it takes to acheive the goal.
If there is little to no understanding of the risk involved then i would call that behaviour foolhardy. A child who rushes into battle thinking they are invincible is no hero but an adult who braves even a single bullet to protect something that is important to them is.
Mind you, courage is in itself neither a positive or negative quality. A thief who braves hazards to get money for his family can be courageous, as can a police officer who tries to capture that thief in order to maintain social order.
I don't know which i find more dissappointing - that the government still use such blatant scare tactics or that the scare tactics still work. Of course lives can be at risk if every phone line isn't tapped. The counterpoint that Sir David Pepper neatly avoids mentioning however is that lives are still at risk even if every phone line is tapped. Apart from a populace that is even more closely monitored what else do we gain from implementing such measures?
More to the point where do we draw the line over what liberities to give up in the interests of our own safety? Already the government has unprecedented control over civil liberties. Are we honestly any more or less safe then what we were fifteen years ago? After all, as counterterrorism has evolved so too has terrorism, a never-ending arms race that accomplishes nothing for any party involved.
Sometimes i wonder what would happen if we spent even a small part of the billions of dollars required to keep our countries secure on improving the impoverished and beleagured states which seem to harbour terrorist recruitment camps. Surely over the long run said countries will improve financially, perhaps up to the point where the prospect of enciting terror no longer seems as appealing?
I have no way of proving that this morning happened apart from my memories and the memories of the people around me. If this collective consciousness is my link to the past, and if the past gets altered, then our collective consciousness will be a product of the new past and thus we probably wouldn't know any better anyway?
Lets say i went back in time and killed Hitler before he rose to power in Germany. If i then came back to modern times to brag about what i've accomplished it would be nonsensical to modern people because Hitler as the leader of Germany has never existed for them. For them history has always followed a different course and thus you could call it a different time-line i suppose.. but it would still be the sole natural flow of events.
Although he's fallen out of fashion with historians these days, Edward Gibbon's "The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire" covers the Roman empire from the reign of Augustus all the way to the fall of Constantinople in the 15th century. Its a thoroughly entertaining read, although one best tackled with a good dictionary in my opinion. There's a few quotes from his work here, for reference.