Posts by Lucy Telfar Barnard

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  • Hard News: Fix up, young men,

    I found the other one (Insull, not Insel) in about a minute on Facebook. He's clearly not the least ashamed of his actions, and nor are his friends.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Hard News: Fix up, young men,

    .

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: What Star Wars can teach us…,

    I find this interesting in the context of my own annual comms campaign: every year I try to let young people know about an overseas school/scholarship opportunity. I want to be the mysterious stranger, but actually I don't know enough Year 11/12 students to do that effectively. So I have to also encourage school teachers to be the mysterious stranger for their students.
    So is that the future for heroes: to become the mysterious stranger themselves?
    Of course, I'm hoping teachers already see themselves as the mysterious stranger - I suspect many do, though no doubt some see themselves as heroes instead, or as well.
    Otherwise: I find comms challenging. I've read all the stuff about saying "you" and "your", or if you must, "we", and never "I". The challenge I find is writing in that way and still sounding genuine rather than saccharine and obviously manipulative. And that's just the scholarship promotion. Fundraising brings a whole new level of squeam.
    I have a feeling the conversation maybe was meant to be about good vs evil rather than the trials of comms, but maybe both is possible.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Polity: Protesting too much: responses…, in reply to Christopher Dempsey,

    The tricky thing is how to address it. You could refund the fees component of any outstanding loan - but then some of those of who paid off their loans early will (quite rightly) feel hard done by.
    The fact is that sometimes a generation misses out on something because government(s) sucked for a while. If we wait until we figure out a way to compensate them for that before we fix things, things will never get fixed.
    That said, I don't think it would be so difficult (just presumably a lot more expensive) to say "3 free years of tertiary education less any free education you've already had". In my case, my PhD scholarship would count as free education. But my two brothers would be able to finish their first and second degrees respectively without having to further extend their student loans.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Access: The Blue Inhaler, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Why is that?

    I'm not the Asthma Foundation, and I'm a public health epidemiologist rather than a medically trained respiratory specialist, so I don't know sorry. But if you ask them, they may tell you. I would guess the answer is something like "we don't want people to underestimate the necessity of medication". Or alternatively "yes, good point, we'll look into it for the next iteration."

    I've certainly seen coffee suggested as an emergency treatment for asthma when other options aren't available (I remember it from an episode of Quantum Leap), but as ever with asthma there are two issues: preventing attacks, and treating them when they happen. According to this, taking caffeine can result in modest improvements in lung function for about four hours. "Modest improvements" probably means if someone's having a life-threatening asthma attack some caffeine might buy them enough time to get better treatment, but won't stop the attack altogether.

    On the prevention front, "It is not known if taking caffeine leads to improvements in symptoms. It may be that in order to improve the symptoms of asthma, caffeine is needed in such large amounts that the drug's adverse effects would become a problem, so more research is needed."*

    *As far as I can tell, the phrase "more research is needed" is compulsory in every public health paper. That doesn't mean it's not true, it just means it's longhand for "um, we don't know yet".

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Access: The Blue Inhaler, in reply to Gray Kirkbride,

    So after a while I started to wonder why this Buteyko breathing method isn’t officially and vigorously promoted as a viable therapy by the NZ Asthma Foundation. It was then that I realised why – when I was on asthma medication I worked out it was costing the taxpayer $3000 a year for just me (just look at the subsidy amount on your medication label) – and that was 20 years ago. Worldwide, the asthma industry is worth billions to pharmaceutical companies. So why would they ever want to promote a therapy that fixes the condition once and for all, when you can keep making money out of just treating the symptoms instead of the cause. And in case you didn’t know, the NZ Asthma Foundation gets a lot of its money from those same pharmaceutical companies.

    Gray, you can be passionate about the Buteyko method without being rude about the Asthma Foundation. I have worked with, and for (for transparency, yes, paid, but it's not like I'm short of other work) the Asthma Foundation, and they are good people who are at least as passionate about trying to prevent asthma as you might be about the method that you've found that worked for you. I recall conversations with Foundation employees where they were clearly still feeling grief over the death of more than one young person they'd work closely with. I feel affronted by your insinuation that they would risk further lives rather than jeopardise one of their sources of funding.
    The Asthma Foundation base their official advice for asthma control on advice given to them by research scientists. The advice they give on Buteyko reads to me as a fair and balanced summary of the current state of research in the area, with appropriate cautions for people planning to try it (talk to your doctor, keep taking your medication). Given the current state of the evidence, to advise otherwise would be reprehensible.

    So, as I say, be as passionate as you like about Buteyko. Advocate for others to try it in case it helps them in the same way that it helped you. But don't assign impure motives to people who must, ethically, prefer research study evidence to your personal, non-controlled, non-blinded, sample of one.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Access: The Blue Inhaler,

    And a good thing you had ventolin and not fenoterol (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/2565417). If you ever get the chance to hear him tell it, Julian Crane’s tale of that study and the threats he received from the pharmaceutical industry over its findings is a good listen.
    ETA I see wasabicube did get fenoterol. Yikes.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Access: Treatment for itching and shyness,

    I agree entirely that non-accident disability should attract the same support as accident disability. At the moment though I would be worried that the result would be the other way round - accident disability would be downgraded to the same level of support currently offered for non-accident disability.

    It would certainly be in keeping with all the other bitter stories I've heard about ACC lately.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Legal Beagle: New Zealand's most racist law, in reply to Rosemary McDonald,

    Could I make a complaint to the HRC of racial discrimination because I was not allowed to be paid as my partner’s carer and this woman was?

    You could complain to the HRC but I'm guessing the couple you cite were one of those who slipped through under the radar, rather than there being different rules for Pacific people. The HRC would contact the MoH and say "please explain", and the MoH would say "gosh, you're right, that shouldn't have happened, we've stopped it". The outcome would not be that other people would suddenly start to be eligible to be paid to care for family, it would be that the Taituas' arrangement would be stopped and they'd be left as miserable as everyone else. I don't think I'd call that a win.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

  • Speaker: The Spirit Level,

    It's just your basic poor logic. Because some (a few) people choose a simpler and/or lower consumption life, then all people who live with less must have chosen to live that way.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 566 posts Report Reply

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