All entries for Thursday 23 March 2006

March 23, 2006

Killing in the name

Some people are driving too fast. Some people can't help but think they know what's best for their country. Some people can't help but think they know what's best for other countries.

Holland is a perfect example of what happens when there is no governing moral standard. The Dutch have decriminalized most drugs and people smoke dope openly in venues set aside for the practice. Prostitutes display their wares like mannequins in department store windows. And now we have at least one hospital murdering already born babies because someone has decreed them unworthy of life. Read here

Let's have a look.

The Dutch have decriminalized most drugs
Oh dear! Drugs… Let's assume you don't mean medicine, but the kind of stuff you don't get from a drugstore. You probably don't mean alcohol or tobacco either. Fact: so called coffeeshops are allowed to sell 5 grams of cannabis [weed, dope, grass] and as a result the posession of such a small quantity is tolerated.
Actually, of most drugs, only cannabis is tolerated, and in very small quantities. Turns out that coffeeshops are prevalent in Amsterdam [mostly occupied by tourists, though] which makes people believe you can smoke all the dope you want. But no.

Prostitutes display their wares like mannequins
Not sure what you've seen, and what you were looking for in the red light district. Yes, that says district – there are zones where prostitution is allowed, making up a wopping 0,00001% of the city centre [figure subject to author's abuse of mathematics] and there's no other reason to be in those zones but to have a look at those mannequins.
Also, none of them display their wares, for what would be the use to show what you've got when people can just stand outside looking at you without having to pay? So much for a job. It's just women with strong make up on in bathing suits, smoking a cigarette is optional.

Hospital murdering already born babies
This is what it's all about. Italian minister Carlo Giovanardi is convinced the Dutch are culling all the handicapped, blind, and ugly babies to make way for pretty ubermenschen. Fox News [why am I taking this seriously?] columnist Cal Thomas believes "Dutch parliament passed a law allowing doctors to actively kill patients they deemed terminally ill".
Fact: doctors are allowed to assist patients in euthanasia. This is in accordance with a patient's right to die. It involves lots of forms to fill out, by the patient as well.
Fact: in the law, minors from the age of 12 can request euthanasia. 12–16 year olds need their parents' consent. 16–17 year olds need to involve their parents in the decision process.

The current controversy doesn't speak about minors under 12, but focusses on newborns. Eduard Verhagen from the University of Groningen started the whole thing suggesting a protocol for termination of life for newborns. While looking for more information, I came across Verhagen's latest article [abstract]:

In the Netherlands, as in many other European countries, the majority of deaths in newborns are preceded by end-of-life decisions. In most cases, these decisions concern the withholding or withdrawing of treatment. Drugs with a potential life-shortening effect are often prescribed in the terminal phase of treatment of newborns to alleviate their suffering. The use of lethal drugs in order to deliberately end the life of newborns with a very poor prognosis and intractable severe suffering has been reported by Dutch paediatricians. Recently published data about end-of-life decisions in newborns in Flanders have shown that paediatricians in Flanders also consider the deliberate ending of life in newborns and young infants to be an acceptable option in exceptional circumstances. Real insight into the existing practice remains limited because the deliberate ending of life legally qualifies as murder in both countries. Few cases are reported because of the physician's fear of prosecution. Physicians in Flanders and in the Netherlands have pleaded for a different system of control of the deliberate ending of life in newborns. The Dutch government has recently announced the instalment of a multidisciplinary committee of experts to whom all cases must be reported. The advice of the committee to the prosecuting authorities will be crucial. It is expected that this change will increase the willingness to report cases.

It seems his sole purpose is to surface these cases that currently take place in murky waters. It probably happens in Italy and the USA as well, but this doctor would like to structurize the procedure and make it more humane, and as such needs a legal body to decide on this. For an objective review, go here. Anyone taking this whole nazi comparison seriously, please try and read up on what's happening before making Orwellian statements.


He's Misstra Know–It–All

Someone got a bit annoyed by the stupid Tubthumping entry being at the top of my blog for the past 2 weeks. Hence this.

Saturday 4 March

We had a concert with Revelation. It was beyond amazing! We had some great new talent singing solos, and none of the conductors ever stopped smiling. I even managed to keep the speeding up potential at bay in Khumbaya! I actually only sang for half the concert, as a poor diet didn't give me enough energy to blast throughout the performance. As a result, the encore turned into a comedy act, where I was supposed to get the audience to make some noise, with hardly any more than radio scatter of a voice myself. Ah well – that's what makes it all the more fun! Hopefully the CD will come out soon…

Sunday 5 March

My culinary skills have extended and now cover french toast. No single bit of egg shell in the mixture! I yet haven't managed to expand on the meal like I've done with pancakes [cheese and sugar and syrup. Try it!] but I think Nikki, Jenni, Hayley, and Mike enjoyed their breakfast regardless.

Monday 6 March

Honestly, I've no clue what I did this day. It's too long ago to care. I must have done some bit of supervision, and I probably watched Smallville. It might have been this day that I finally got my first remotely useful results out of the C++ model I've been working on this term.

Tuesday 7 March

Revelation cabaret. After 2 years of preparation [I'm sure we discussed it in our first year here] Marta and I finally performed our Dutch-Italian combo of Vivere/Zonder Jou. I almost lost track as people started laughing, convinced they laughed coz I had to sing so low [hadn't really prepared and didn't feel like singing a few As and Bs that night] and forgetting that maybe people here aren't used to hearing me speak Dutch.

Wednesday 8 - Friday 10 March

Again temporary memory loss. Though I know most of this time was dedicated to supervision marking. The powers that be had decided to give the first year one massive assignment to hand in on Thursday. They forgot that I actually have a life and don't like being forced to mark work within 24 hours. Yet, I prevailed, and even took time to meet up with the supervisees to hand back their work and have them hear the verdict through me, rather than some website or their tutor.

I just realize I also discussed the mild successes of the model with my own supervisor, which left me with quite some work to do for the next week. See further on.

Friday 10 March - Sunday 12 March

Pre-WiM. That means before WiM - or before Week in March which is actually a week in April. Plus a day. Yes TP, I almost literally stole your joke.
Anyway – WiM is a Revelation event in the Easter hols where the choirs in the UK come together to rehearse songs from scratch to perform in a concert at the end of the week. It's always great fun, and I've met some great friends in previous years! This year, I'm Arts Director, which sounds really posh, but in Rev leadership means making sure people are happy, so I ended up bringing my team members cups of tea and bags of crisps.

Monday 13 - Friday 17 March

Warwick Turbulence Symposium
_Environmental Turbulence: from Clouds through the Ocean_
Spent the Monday attending 2 out of 4 talks. I was still exhausted from the weekend, and so many thoughts and ideas were running through my head, that all I could focus on was the bright window above the poorly lit presentation screen. I did eventually get my C++ program to work on the maths computers as well [Borland apparently has an immune system that lets poor code stay where it is - after changing it for g++ the code is much faster already!].

Trouble on Tuesday, however. Missed the bus, with the next one not arriving for a lovely 50 minutes – as a result, I missed two extremely relevant talks. Thanks TWM. You have actually inspired me to buy a bike. Better not try and run me over next term! That afternoon, I found out that to get the right distribution over time, I'm going to need to track 1,000,000 bubbles. To track 10,000 bubbles for a second currently already takes quite a few minutes. Lovely – TBC.

Wednesday and Thursday I made some important baby's first steps in my degree. First, I went up to a speaker after his talk to ask him about one of his experiments. He seemed to be in a hurry though, so couldn't get a lot out of him. Next, I went up to someone I'd met in the December conference, and ended up chatting to him for the whole next hour. We discussed: air bubbles, rain drops, collision efficiency, granular motion, sand dunes, PSV Eindhoven, Zenit St Petersburg, Abramovich, Hiddink, Israel and Palestine. In that order. Then Peter came in and we discussed bubbles some more. We're afraid that merging bubbles is not the kind of phenomenon that is useful for further research, but we'll have to see.

We also discussed the C++ model some more, and Peter tried to convince me to learn yet another language, but I'm quite happy being a sheep and use a language everyone uses. Like English. Then he tried to convince me to change one of my algorithm into a big tree and spent an hour explaining it to me. Then we realized it wouldn't be useful since the bubbles rise at different speeds and the tree would have to be cut down and grown each time which probably wouldn't give us any advantage when trying to track 1,000,000 bubbles.

The final step was that I actually asked a question in a seminar! Big deal, you might say. Pot you! Ali would say. It was a talk by someone from Southampton whose articles I'd been reading last year – mainly concerning phytoplankton and turbulence, something I hope to be researching at some point in life – and he obviously didn't have time to discuss every little bit, but I thought he left out something really important. And I even linked my question to another question! If only I'd have worn my name tag.

The Friday was a bit of a let down. I think I went to the most interesting talk of the day [at least most relevant to me] and I spent some more time talking to Peter about bubbles. We decided we could study bubbles merging in sparkling water or whatever soft drink you like, but we'd need all of you to start pouring your drinks into the ocean now if this were ever to be important in air-sea gas exchange.

Friday 17 March - Tuesday 21 March

After two exhausting weeks [yes, I've got bad stamina. And no, this is all relative, of course I know 99% of the world population has got far bigger problems than I do, and don't get a lie in] I thought it to be time for a holiday, and arranged a weekend of fun in London.

Actually, it was Pat's birthday [St Patrick's Day] party on Saturday and he suggested a long time ago I should stay till Monday for London Revelation's rehearsal. I thought I'd add Friday in to work on a song for Rev with Dan, and meet up with Frank as well while there. And so we proceed.

Euston -> Euston [it was too busy Friday 7pm] -> Euston Square -> Moorgate -> Tooting Bec: Dan's house -> Camden Town: Underground. Good night out. Though all 5 layers I decided to wear smelled of smoke afterwards. Night bus back was ok until some guy thought I was someone else, namely someone that gets all the girls he wants [spot the sad false assumption] and gets his beep beeped [or smurf smurfed] whenever, wherever. But no. Then he sat down. And 5 minutes later started muttering obscenities in my general direction. So Dan suggested we sit downstairs.

Didn't get anywhere arranging the song on Saturday. Spent two hours deciding what key to put it in, then thought it best to keep it as it was. It needs some serious work to make it vaguely interesting for the choir though… Went to some burger place with the best burgers within some radius which couldn't have been too far, because despite the obvious quality ingredients, I usually enjoy a Big Mac more than the overdone piece of carbon I got on my plate. Ah well. No tube stations this day. Pat's party was amazing – possibly the best party I've been to. Lots of drunkenness with lots of things that could have ended badly, but in the end were just really funny. Despite earlier statements that no one would sleep in the dance floor room, 7 of us did, and we thought we were ok the next morning, until we found out in the hall way that an alcohol percentage below 70% in the air was possible.

Sunday got more tube action again: Clapham South -> Tooting Bec: Dan's house to do nothing, really -> Bank -> Aldgate East where I met Frank despite his phone being stolen and mine out of battery. Had a lovely alternative roast and listened to Charlotte Church and saw his fun loving housemates again. Chats involved lots of Dutch speaking and future foreseeing. No night time bus this time, just the tube back to Pat's.

Monday involved me and Pat going to Brixton, testing if it really is as exciting and interesting as the buzz makes us think. But no. It's just Coventry's Indoor Market. But then outdoors. And with lots of Afro-Caribean music and rhythm. And more smell of wee. But we did walk down Electric Avenue. And I did buy a gospel CD. And a kitchen sink drain thing that stops the rice from going down. I also got shouted at by some Jamaican "asking" me if I was with de Bri'ish or de Irish man – at this point I realized that maybe I should leave my bright green coat at home next time, as it seems to be giving me the wrong kind of attention. No one got hurt, however, so we went -> Green Park -> Leicester Square to see the Photographer's Gallery which was a tad bit dull but had good lemon cake and then we went to try and find Fopp in Covent Garden but it wasn't there. Instead, we got lost in the Seven Dials and found Fopp. Then we had to help Pete and his brother [or Richard and his brother] but they didn't understand my directions:

Cross the road at the station, then take a left into Short Street [actually called Short Gardens or something] then there's a map, or you end up at a roundabout thing where you'll take the road at 1 o'clock, at the end of which you'll find Fopp.

Apparently analogue clocks don't help in directions. Bought Innervisions [it's good!] and went to a restaurant where they served rijsttafel and I got excited. It's Dutch. No more boring stuff happened and then there was Rev!

Silly enough, there's no official Revelation rock-gospel choir in London [bar Royal Holloway - which is a lifelong journey away from the city], and they're trying to change it. The choir needs to be affiliated to a university to be an official part of Rev, but in London, it needs at least 20 students from 4 different colleges to sign a form if it is to be a student society. Sigh. But the workshop was good. Learned a new song and some interesting approaches to old Rev songs. Plus, it was good to sing with Dan, Pat, Pete, Kate, and Jenni again.

So we went back on the tube, making the Northern line my most visited tube line. Must have spent 0,0001% of my life on that line now! Tuesday, it was time to say goodbye with one more trip on the Northern line to Moorgate to have lunch with Dan, Pat and Kate where Kate demonstrated the goodness of work for a charity organisation: casual dress.

And then I went back to Cov and then I suddenly had lots of emails that were of no interest to me and then I went to the pub and then I slept and then I downloaded lots of research articles and then I arranged more of the song and now I finally finished this entry.

He's a man

With a plan

Got a counterfeit dollar in his hand

He's Misstra Know-It-All


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