OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Set it on fire, then

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  • DCBCauchi, in reply to DexterX,

    Cave painters would not have made your or anyone’s version of middle age

    Middle-aged cave painters would be about 25 years old. The boy'd be about 13. The oldest cave painter, head of the school and enforcer of traditional values, would be about 40. His main physical problem would be his teeth, but even after he can't chew for himself someone else would do it for him.

    He wouldn't need to be able to walk by himself either. His real main problem is being nobbled in a coup.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Islander,

    Emphatically there was a distinction in quality of medical care – none for the poor. Let’s take Victorian England and workhouses & baby-farming for starters -

    Yes, obviously. You just made it sound a bit more deliberate than that, rather than the (highly disturbing, but inevitable) result of massive income inequalities and a total lack of state healthcare.

    It's also worth remembering that before the twentieth century, medicine was essentially a gamble that killed as many as it cured. Once you got past stopping bleeding to death, you weren't much better off with a doctor than without one. Genuine medical breakthroughs like the epidemiology of cholera were very rare. Things like living conditions and nutrition that made far more of a difference to people's outcomes than actual medical care.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Yes, obviously. You just made it sound a bit more deliberate than that, rather than the (highly disturbing, but inevitable) result of massive income inequalities and a total lack of state healthcare.

    But it was deliberate. I don't think it was the impersonal forces of social inequality that determined whether someone was withheld treatment or not given a decent standard of care. I suspect it was more the individual attitudes of individual practitioners.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    It’s also worth remembering that before the twentieth century, medicine was essentially a gamble that killed as many as it cured. Once you got past stopping bleeding to death, you weren’t much better off with a doctor than without one.

    And I dispute this as well. Doctors before the 20th century could do a lot more than stop bleeding. For example, they could remove a damaged limb before it develops gangrene and kills you. How they went about doing that, i.e. the degree of care and attention, would have a major effect on your subsequent quality of life, and capability. They could also treat your pain with drugs such as laudanum, if they chose to do so of course.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    And drilling holes in people's skulls to relieve pressure on the brain is a very old medical treatment, a stone age technology used to treat our 40-year-old cave painter in fact.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Once again, back in the stoned age.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to DexterX,

    We never left it! Speaking for myself at least.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    In any age anywhere, if you're marginal, a 'drunken wastrel', not a 'contributing member of society', judgemental medical practitioners – not just medical practitioners, anyone 'official' – who think they know best, who don't even treat you as an individual human being with the right and responsibility to make your own decisions, will not treat you with the care and respect you deserve.

    I think you should tell them clearly and firmly exactly where they can fuck off to.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    Look at how we treat the homeless.

    Right here, right now, in our own backyard. You and me and everyone we know.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    It wasn't too long ago that eugenics and lobotomies were considered normal medical practice.

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 3893 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    And when did absolutism become such a bad thing?

    I tend to think it's a bad thing generally. But not absolutely.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to BenWilson,

    To me, the formulation of argument against torture isn't something you should leave to one killer point. It's OK to have multiple lines of attack. ...

    Far more likely is that the dirty bomb goes off before intelligence ever knows about it. Or the terrorist dies in a shootout as the FBI bust into his lair. Or lies about where the bomb is, wasting valuable time. …

    Yeah I pretty much agree. I was being a little ‘Devil’s advocatey’ with my reply to Graeme. The only thing I question is whether a terrorist’s right not to be tortured is in itself always greater than the potential victims’ right to life. But in practice, it’s a very bad thing. Amnesty International may kick me out if I said otherwise.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Islander, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    I think you should tell them clearly and firmly exactly where they can fuck off to.

    I totally agree with you BUT-unfortunately a *lot* of homeless/marginal people are not only addicts but also mentally ill and are unable to do this- and there are very few people disinterestedly speaking on their behalf…

    one of my friends has a family member with manic depression/schizophrenia*:
    my friend has worked through available channels (including SF and hospitals)
    speaking vigorously *for* people who cant adequately express themselves (or who express themselves in truly undesirable ways (violence, including self-harming…) )My friend is about worn out by what has been a decades-long struggle.
    What I have noted is how many ‘helping’ organisations actually have a self-interested motive. The NIMBY factor *is* also prevalent – who really wants the
    town drunk** camping on your backdoor-step because they figure you will help?***

    *1 An especially disabling combination
    *2Eventually potted them to local cop because they were driving drunk
    *3Knew I had a family history of alcoholism – I eventually figured *2 was the only option before the person killed someone on the roads (slow? yeah…) and it did work. But it takes a bit of – risk – to do that in a v. small community.

    Big O, Mahitahi, Te Wahi … • Since Feb 2007 • 5643 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    (cf, in kind of a related way, Pinker on violence),

    Anyone wondering what DB and Lucy were referring to, or who hasn’t seen the talk Pinker gave on violence at a TED conference (which would be hard to believe, as I seem to have linked to it on every web panel on the net) can watch it here.

    He’s got a book just out elaborating on his argument.

    (My general impression of Pinker is that he makes a good case, but tends to overstate it a bit.)

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    . Doctors before the 20th century could do a lot more than stop bleeding. For example, they could remove a damaged limb before it develops gangrene and kills you. How they went about doing that, i.e. the degree of care and attention, would have a major effect on your subsequent quality of life, and capability. They could also treat your pain with drugs such as laudanum, if they chose to do so of course.

    Oh, sure, and you know how likely you were to survive amputation?

    I don't dispute the genuine desire of pre-twentieth-century doctors to help, or the efforts of most to do so. But the fact was that there simply wasn't a lot they could do. Basically all the major health advances are late nineteenth-century at best, except inoculation. When you don't have germ theory, antibiotics, antivirals, vaccination....remember, infectious disease was the big killer. And there was fuck-all doctors could do about that, once people were sick. You really underestimate the degree to which healthcare was pretty awful for everyone.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • Lucy Stewart, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Anyone wondering what DB and Lucy were referring to, or who hasn’t seen the talk Pinker gave on violence at a TED conference (which would be hard to believe, as I seem to have linked to it on every web panel on the net) can watch it here.

    For those who can't be bothered with videos, there's also an essay here.

    Amherst, MA • Since Nov 2006 • 2087 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    I have a horrible feeling that that generation is now in its 20s (except grumpy middle-aged men have always said that about every generation in its 20s).

    Indeed. I wouldn't put it past any generation, including my own. Traditionally, gratuitous war has been something most pushed for by the people least likely to die in it, rich old men. Indeed, their own children are likely to be beyond conscription age, so it's only their grandchildren, of which there are often many, and plenty that are too young. So, their genetic survival being assured and their own death imminent, it becomes an exciting spectator sport.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 8010 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Lucy Stewart,

    Oh, sure, and you know how likely you were to survive amputation?

    People routinely survived amputation. It was not a death sentence. No picnic either, but not necessarily a death sentence by any means.

    My point was twofold: 1 Doctors could do more than stop bleeding. 2 Your quality of life, assuming no major infection or other unfortunate outcome from the treatment, depended on how much care in carrying out their job the doctor decided you're worth, assuming they'd see you at all (good luck if you're the town drunk who's just broken his leg).

    How much of a stump they leave, how much skin, how the flaps are sewn together, whether you'll be able to walk with a wooden leg or not, how much screaming agony you're in, etc, etc. Assuming you survive the operation of course.

    Late 19th/early 20th century medical advances have clearly made a huge difference, especially in terms of infection, the big killer. However, there was medicine before those advances. And how it was delivered could make all the difference.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Islander,

    These are all very good points, especially about mental illness.

    What I have noted is how many ‘helping’ organisations actually have a self-interested motive.

    Generalising off-topic wildly, I can't think of any organisation or institution that doesn't quickly lose sight of its original purpose and become a self-perpetuating gravy train.

    Gautama Buddha (and, I suspect, Jesus) carefully told his followers just before he karked it, 'Whatever you do, don't make a bloody religion out of what I've been saying.'

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    the empath less followed...
    I see where Pinker is coming from, personally I think the coming 'fifth Sun' is a tipping point for mankind -
    choose the 'co-operative, work together and with the planet' path
    or
    choose the 'blindly consume our resources, and marginalise many people, with no forward thought' path
    My gut feeling is there may be statistically less physical (face-to-face) violence in the present age - but much of the military violence is at a remove by drone or bombs - much like our culture it is mediated by devices - and there does seem to be a lot of psychic violence, passive aggression, lowering of self esteem and general sense of disconnected hopelessness... just as dangerous and deadly...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4186 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    much like our culture it is mediated by devices

    The Futurists (and others) wanted a clean break between Tradition and the Modern. They wanted to stop telling the old stories, the continuous pictorial tradition stretching back at least 50,000 years, and tell new stories with new pictorial means for the new people of the new society, mediated by the Machine. (They were big on initial capitals for abstract nouns back then.) The new free, self-determined people, slaves to neither god nor king.

    Well, we've had our clean break. Pity it hasn't worked out like anyone planned it. Something filled the void that was left. Something that replaced the gods and kings.

    Mediocre careerism and a desire for a comfortable life.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    While I'm on a slightly mad blithering roll, let me tell you what it is that distinguishes us from the cows in the field. It's not the ability to lie, to laugh, to use tools, or to cook food.

    It's our ability to project our fantasies on to the stars and on to the world around us, to transform the world around us, through those fantasies, from something brute and mute.

    To tell stories using visual symbols and music.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • DCBCauchi,

    One example of the clean break with the past.

    From where I'm sitting, those in the service of the Left and Right pay nothing more than hypocritical lip-service to the old slogans of Freedom, Equality, Progress and God, Country, Family. Instead, both openly worship Money, Power, Position, the means to Do What's Right.

    Indeed, some footsoldiers of the Left are so confused nowadays that they think Freedom is a slogan for the Right!

    Okay, enough. I'll stop now.

    Since Feb 2011 • 320 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to DCBCauchi,

    Generalising off-topic wildly,

    Nobody ever does that on PAS.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1122 posts Report Reply

  • DexterX,

    The reduction in violence Pinker examines may well be attributable to what you could call the exponential ghlobal growth in communications technology.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 1156 posts Report Reply

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