Suffer from the cure

I’m part of the thalidomide generation. Technically. My mother was prescribed it (after it was withdrawn elsewhere), and took it while I was in utero for morning sickness, however she was part of the small percentage for whom the symptoms got worse, she she stopped almost immediately.

Why bring this up? Because I’m still playing catch-up with the Loose Bloggers Consortium and the topic is “if you can cure one leper why not cure them all”? Well I can think of a few reasons.

What if the cure has side-effects? Thalidomide is currently being used in South America, in particular in Brazil as treatment for erythema nodosum leprosum. Needless to say that for young sexually active women, in particular those who want to have children, there is a major side effect. And a new thalidomide generation. Even the current cocktail of drugs being used for HIV/AIDS treatment has a side effect on cardiac function (actually studies are still ongoing to find out if it is an effect of the virus or the treatment, but it’s unethical to withhold treatment to find out which).

Another reason not to treat everyone is cost. I did some actuarial training, human life has an economic value. Medically there is a quality of life question; treatment you make you live a year longer in pain, or let you die peacefully sooner. However research and development of treatments isn’t cheap, companies need to recoup their investments, bit does anyone want to pay for the treatment? Harsh but true.

Assuming that the cost is agreeable and it’s a cure (not just treating symptoms or a vaccine to prevent the disease being caught) without side effects, there is the problem of triage.

Following a major incident, triage takes hold. Usually a group of injured people are split into
1) Walking wounded, dazed not seriously injured but need some minor treatment and can wait.
2) Serious, but not in immediate danger, so can wait.
3) Need attention now.
4) Gone too far to help, leave or make comfortable
5) Dead

The same applies for a cure. Some will be too far gone to benefit from a cure.

Life isn’t fair. Life isn’t perfect. That is why it’s life. A cure isn’t an immediate end to suffering, but it’s a bloody good start.

The topic “If you can cure one leper, why not cure them all?”was chosen for the LBC this week by Magpie who has retired from the LBC. See how the other active members handle the the topic:- Anu, Delirious, Grannymar, Maxi Maria/Gaelikaa, Maria SilverFox, OCD writer, Padmum, Paul, Ramana and The Old Fossil.

Pushing Heroes

Part of this post is for a Tuesday Push that is, namely Decisions for Heroes, and partly for a push that should be, Kildare Street.

Decisions for Heroes is a project that Robin Blandford has been working on for a while. And talking about it. In fact I assumed that the product has been launched a few months back. I was wrong; today is launch day.

And he’s built something amazing – technology that will help rescue teams save more lives. Its essentially a project management tool combined with an incident reporting mechanism that’s able to monitor team histories and readiness and raise alarms for expiration or under manning conditions.

What makes it different is that it is designed for a particular niche; rescue teams. Are the exercises and training reflecting the actual calls? Or the actually locations? Are there enough cliff climbers on-call this weekend? Are there certifications that are about to run out? This kind of thing actually saves lives. Its been studied, over 1,800 rescuers from Ireland, UK, USA, Greece, and Australia helped to trial and shape the development of the software. But one stands out. Robin is a volunteer member of the Irish Coast Guard (a cliff rescue climber to be precise) so he has seen first hand what is needed, and what is the most useful way to get that information across.

I’m sure that the basis of D4H can be used in more business-like settings, or indeed in logistic based industries.

And from saving lives, we move to a performance management technology that may cost the careers of a few politicians.

Created by John Handelaar Kildare Street is, almost simply a database. A database of what is being said in both Houses of the Oireachtas, by whom, when, how often and the complete text of what they say so it can be parsed for content. Based off the UK project,, you can keep an eye on your favourite politician, or all the politicians in a constituency, or even when a particular word or phrase is spoken in the Dáil or Seanad Éireann debates or in written answers or questions to the Dáil.

There are a few bugs still in the system (it is a beta and since Irish addresses are vague it can misidentify a constituency, particularly when one side of a road is in one constituency, and the other side is in another constituency. It happens), and there is up to a 24 hour delay between the speech in the chambers and the text of the speech hitting the system (not a fault with the system but with the source;

Its useful to find out which TD or Senator has stayed quite all along (the records go back to 2004), and finding out how they actually voted on subjects of concern to you. Then you can challenge them when they call around asking for your vote.

Do challenge them. Right now, I’m wondering if there is a version for the MEPs.

Two people who should be praised for being heroes and making a difference.

Will Knott

Cycling about a revolution

Ferg and Si are cycling around the world. Literally.

funky yellow

And, among other things, the are cycling to support the charity Aware.  Aware provides support for those suffering from depression and is working to de-stigmatise depression and suicide in Ireland. Aware provide a wide range of services to ensure that help and appropriate therapies are available to those who need them. And over Christmas a lot of people need help.

So help Aware.  Ferg and Si are selling Revolution shirts for €20 where 100% of the proceeds go to Aware. So go and buy a shirt.

take care,

Will Knott


This is Ocean, she is a Doodle.

Ocean the Doodle

Actually she is a goldendoodle. A what? A Goldendoodle is a cross between a poodle and a golden retriever. The dog is especially useful as they don’t shed. And this particular dog was being cuddled like a teddy bear by every child that came across her at the Picnic in the Park (she was very tired by the end of the evening).

She is also a working dog. A fully trained Guide Dog. And a cuddly one at that.

Why bring her up, well it’s a cute picture. And almost a cover star.

And it has nothing to do with naked people in Cork.

take care,
Will Knott

Light breeze

I’ve asked this question a few times. “We have solar powered lights. Why can’t we have wind powered lights?”. Think about it. These garden lights are not the brightest, but they look good in the garden (which is their entire point). Being powered by a renewable source gives you freedom as to how you place them. But given the amount of light we get in Ireland during the winter, when the lights are needed the most, why isn’t there a wind powered light.

Wind Farm_1Image by Mancio7B9 via Flickr

Now there is.

Firewinder is a wind powered light, or rather a series of them in a vertical column which rotates in the wind. The rotation generates power which is used by shining (and pulsing LEDs at the end of the column. Its a little hard to describe but watch the video of the light in action and you can see how it works.

Watching the video, it occurred to me that these things look like they could cause epileptic fits (hence no embedded video). So beautiful, but might be deadly after all. Given that I’d like to plant up a medieval style poison garden (medicine garden doesn’t sound anything as good), I might as well have dangerous lights.

Pity I can’t afford version one, but by version three I might have the readies.

take care,

Talking Shite

Would you be willing to donate time you already spent, to help give people more time to live?

This is international breast cancer month. It’s why I actually started putting up the pink images here. At the time I joked about what would be done with Bowel Cancer Awareness month. Bowel cancer does not have any glamour to it. We are talking about a part of the body which we tend not to think about until something goes wrong.

Two things occured this week and it sparked an idea. One where I’ll need your help.

I listened to the Podcast Sisters creating a book by re-using your blog (I’m paraphrasing). And I came across Chris Anderson talking about Blogging Heroes: Interviews with 30 of the World’s Top Bloggers by Mike Banks.
Bank’s book is a series of interviews with bloggers. Sales are presumably going to be based on the fact that everyone likes to see their name in print…

Which is where “Talking Shite” comes from.

A book of Irish bloggers (which means Bloggers in Ireland, from Ireland or about Ireland) by Irish bloggers doing what we do best. Talk and blog (same thing really).
This is about being a patron, not being patronising to a cause.

Would you be willing to donate a blog post for inclusion in a book which would be sold in aid of bowel cancer?

Would you be willing to donate time you already spent, to help give people more time to live? And would you buy the book? And get your friends to buy the book?

Let me know in comments and such?
Will Knott

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I have the heart of a young man

and not in a jar on my desk. Picked this Real Age Clock meme thing up from Kathy Foley.

Simple idea… enter your real age and details about you and (accidents not withstanding) it will calculate your body’s real age (and life expectancy).

Well, my real age is almost ten years younger than my biological age. So maybe my toy collection is actually a reflection of my age (I will admit that I would dread a “mental age” test).

Me smug, no,
Will Knott

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Shine no more

A news report which caould get me scratching my head… a cure for baldness which actually works. Yes I’m shiny and cromedome-ish, and factor 50 on the head feels nice in weather like this, but despite my use of the number one blade, or even the full blown head shave, I’d like to get the hair back.

It works by getting the genes to activate the follicles in damaged skin. So I’m scratching now.

Knowing my luck, if it does come back it’s going to be completely white.

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Physician: cut yourself?

Could your blood chemistry get you to cut yourself?
Or rather is it possible for the chemical imbalance caused by haemochromatosis to trigger a self harm response?

For the record, I’m NOT advising you find out!

Its something which a Steven D. Levitt could answer (you can tell I’ve just finished reading Freakonomics).

What started this is the New Scientist podcast and article about the survival of the sickest. The gist of the article is that haemochromatosis is a disease which causes too much iron to be stored by the body, but it has an odd side effect. If you have the condition, its harder for you to pick up certain diseases… like the black death. This may explain why the disease is especially common in people of “northern European extraction”. In this way Haemochromatosis may be a benefit with a bad effect in the same way that Sickle-cell disease helps the carrier be resistant to malaria.

The treatment for haemochromatosis is to have a blood donation. There is an anecdotal story in the article about Sharon Moalem’s (the author of the article and the papers) grandfather feeling better after a blood donation. It may also explain why the medicinal leech was used so much in Europe as a treatment. The patient felt better after their regular blood letting.

Which brings me to self harm, and cutting in particular. While the “relief” brought about by the cutting is from the actual cutting and very little blood is lost, is there a correlation between cutters (or former cutters) and haemochromatosis sufferers?

Dumb question, but that’s why I’m the idiot.

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