At the End of the Day

It says a lot about the innate conservatism of the medical profession that it chose to call the bad guys ‘Free Radicals’. We had friends for supper the other night, and one bloke said he thought I was a free radical. Then his wife asked, “What, you means he ages people? If they read the Slog every day, I’m bloody sure they do age”.

All very fair comment. So I decided after much rumination that what I really wanted to be when I grew up is an Antioxidant. But here again, another feature of medics – being eternally naggy and pessimistic – comes through. The very stuff we breathe – oxygen – is also the very thing that must kill us all in the end, because apparently it acts like rust on the body. So they recommend we all eat lots of, if you like, anti-death.

An antioxidant is defined as ‘in opposition to, or corrective in nature, when it comes to arseholes who talk bollocks, decreasing their destructive power. Antioxidants can also help repair damage already sustained by society as a result of these jerks’. You may have noticed I added a few of my own explanatory terms in there; but even having done that, it doesn’t really work does it? I neither want to be anti everything oxygenic, nor do I want to beat up people called Free Radicals: the people I’m after are the anti-freedom Establishment.

Maybe what I need to be is a Probiotic. Forty years ago it was hip to be an antibiotic, but they turned out to be men of straw in the end, your antibiotics. That’s why we had to find the probiotics. Probiotics, it seems, are ‘live microorganisms which, when administered in adequate amounts, confer a health benefit on the host’. This doesn’t cut it at all. First of all, I’m not very good live, as the few who have suffered my guitar accompanied singing will attest. Second, I think microorganism sounds like an insult – ‘Lord Mandelson, you are a depraved microrganism’ – and third, as a guest I have never conferred anything other than toxic ramblings upon the host. Last but not least, it makes me sound like the Director of the Health & Safety Executive – an organisation to which I would gladly administer a lethal injection.

What I’m saying here in my usual roundabout way is that no medical analogy or term works for Sloggers. Their chief desire is, I think, that the good things about returning to the naturally human way of life should prevail. And the entire medical profession these days is about stopping the natural from happening. It started seventy years ago with antibiotics, and it continues with antioxidants and the HS&E. There are too bloody many of us already, and we are all going to die: so medicine should stop exacerbating the ‘too many’  dilemma, and focus instead on making people happier during the three-score and ten.

Practised wisely, medicine is the greatest calling of all in my view, because it has more potential than any other single action or policy to produce Bentham’s ‘greatest happiness of the greatest number’. Jeremy B thought material wellbeing and education would achieve that end, and in some ways they have made some people happier. But nothing I know of can replace your health. Healthier people are almost  without exception happier people. Contemporary medical practice, however, has lost sight of that goal.

Nag somebody uphill and down dale about their drinking habits, and it removes a lot of the undeniable pleasure of altering the consciousness. The same goes for cutting out smoking, eating less fat, avoiding complex carbohydrates, drinking a gallon of water a day, and piling one’s plate high with bland vegetables. All this advice does is prolong a miserable life.

My solution would be to let people do what they want, and offer humanely enjoyable ways to make an exit once the roue’s life catches up with them. This would present a worthwhile challenge to those in medical research, and also act as a strong antidote to the average doctor’s God complex. The task would be to heighten the enjoyment of leaving the mortal realm in a manner never previously imagined….not to be in search of the elixir of immortality. There is no such thing in a Time-based Universe, and there never will be. (I can see the Government ad campaign now: ‘Immortality is forever, not for you’).

This approach would divert massive funds away from the pointless time and money expended on aged care, slowing the destruction of ageing cells, liposuction, colonic irrigation, and all the rest of the bollocks. Instead, more would go towards treating blindness, deafness, indigestion, post-nasal drip, depression, and mental ill-health generally…for all these things degrade one’s quality of life dramatically. Osteoporosis, rhuematoid arthritis, motor neurone disease, multiple sclerosis: there are thousands of chronic illnesses not often life threatening, but terribly life-destroying. Eradicating these would increase contentment without much discernibly negative effect on the population total – that is, it would produce fewer of us, not more.

It all sounds terribly harsh, and I have no doubt that at least one Guardian troll will say on the comment threads for this piece, “Yeh, right – and I suppose you want to be the one to decide who lives and who dies, right?” To which my reply would be, “If necessary chum yes, because somebody has to”. The core problem with those who claim to put ‘human rights’ at the centre of their Mission is that they have no solutions to dilemmas, merely a purity that allows them to blather a lot without actually doing something. Their hearts bleed all over carpets the length and breadth of the land about the Syrian opposition, for example, but they have no desire to deal with the most likely replacement to the arsehole Assad: more radical Islamism.

The search for Utopian solutions has produced more death, destruction, loss of liberties and wasted human endeavour than everything else put together. To those who continue to search, I say this: Life is not perfect because we are not perfect: get over it – and instead, deal with the problems we have.

The problems of our island culture today could easily be the basis for an Encyclopaedia of Disaster: fractured communities, lousy parenting, dysfunctional education, inward-turning technology, State surveillance, poor manufacturing base, growing youth unemployment, braindead and cruel media presentation, anti-social indiscipline, political apathy, multiculturalism, eroding business ethics, sclerotic and corrupt politics, process triumphing over creativity, massive overpopulation, and an economic model that can never hope to employ and feed everyone. That’s more than enough to be going on with: demanding Nirvana is just a distraction – a way for the clueless suit to say one thing, and then do nothing.

Dealing with these kicked-half-to-death cans of the West requires the approach I’ve chosen to adopt for the positive aim of The Slog beyond bollocks deconstruction: Radical Realism. Some of its ideas may not sound very pretty. But twenty years hence, the only solution left will be shooting the folks with glasses, euthenasia for everyone over 75, and draconion birth control legislation. We must take the tough option now if we want to avoid the unthinkably obligatory later.

43 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. ‘But twenty years hence, the only solution left will be shooting the folks with glasses, euthenasia for everyone over 75, and draconian birth control legislation. We must take the tough option now if we want to avoid the unthinkably obligatory later.’

    Speaking of ticking time bombs JW, take a look at this ten year one!:

    ‘Between 2011 and 2020, the FSA expects about 1.5million such mortgages – worth a staggering £120billion – ‘will be due for repayment’.’
    ‘The vast majority of people with these types of loans – 80 per cent – have ‘no repayment strategy’, the FSA said.’

    And so the property Ponzi scheme rumbles on…… for now!
    That’s a lot of people that will HAVE to sell up.

  2. I enjoyed your essay immensely and agreed with all of it. However, your references to specific ages such as three-score-and-ten and 75 have me concerned as I passed the first of these two milestones on La Via de la Plata in Spain last fall :-).

  3. “.. drinking habits…cutting out smoking, eating less fat, avoiding complex carbohydrates, drinking a gallon of water a day, and piling one’s plate high with bland vegetables”: and the only one supported by conclusive evidence is smoking – don’t do it! On the subject of booze nobody knows any useful generalisation about sensible amounts. (My own advice – don’t drink more than you can hold.)

    Since the evidence is feeble, what can the motive be for all the advice strewn around?

  4. Any idiot could add to your list of problems of our island culture and as I’m reasonably well qualified in that regard I hope you will not mind my doing so. One serious omission to an otherwise impressive list is bureaucracy. Like Topsy it just growed – and growed – it ain’t stopped yet and it succeeds in making a major contribution to misery in almost every sphere, and like couch grass it’s ineradicable.

  5. I don’t know why this enters my head again, probably the wine. But when someone implies that my four year old nephew owes 40,000 quid because of the debts I’m supposed to have run up, I can’t help thinking “Which is the most moral course?”
    If I owe money, I owe it to a bank. I believe the most moral course is to tell the bank to f**k off, not to sign a paper assigning that to my nephew.

  6. @AF: I s’pose we’re talking about ‘endowment mortgages’, based upon the risky assumption that investments always go up and the cash lump sum after 25 years pays off the mortgage, often with a surplus.

    But don’t people with such mortgages get an annual statement of the value of their endowment fund? If it showed signs of bad performance, did they not consider switching to a straight repayment mortgage? or taking some other action to mitigate a future timebomb eg: increasing payments?

  7. “Of the 11.2million mortgages in Britain, about four in ten are interest-only”
    My goodness, is this true? I had no idea.

  8. “My solution would be to let people do what they want, and offer humanely enjoyable ways to make an exit once the roue’s life catches up with them. The task would be to heighten the enjoyment of leaving the mortal realm in a manner never previously imagined….”

    At last , someone who understands the medical use of the Brompton Cocktail: most efficacious in every case!

  9. To me it’s a balancing act, between looking after myself & enjoying life, as for death it’s the when & how, the death part doesn’t scare me as long as it’s not what I would consider premature, I truly believe there is something else through that dark door, but not in any religious sense, & heaven, being goody goody for eternity ?, no way please.
    I fear dementia & cancer, the former because to me it’s the equivalent of being dead, but it means your zombie body is left behind causing hardship & misery for others, I would if it were possible sign something to ensure that I would be bumped off in that eventuality . As for cancer I spent 16mths in it’s shadow, being a helpless witness as it destroyed a vital & special human being.The main thing it taught me was a certain perspective, one that, this person achieved, I now try to squeeze every last drop out of life.
    Mickey’s father said in Hannah & her sisters, something to the effect of : ” Why should I worry about when I am going to die ?, I’ll be unconscious, & if I’m not I will deal with it then “. I like that philosophy,

    I think I will have just one more glass. Cheers folks.

  10. I think it’s about interest only mortgages, the convenient way that banks have of pushing the problem down the road a few years. The only answer to this problem is inflation, and that is what will happen.

  11. Oxidation has got nothing to do with oxygen. It’s from the same root (oxy = sharp, hence acid) but just means the loss of an electron or increase in the oxidation state of a molecule.

  12. My lonely nights would be forgotten if I should have a phone call from my bearded fantasy lover Jack Dromey.
    Jack….please phone soon.
    I,….I…..oh please…

  13. BT
    Sorry I wasn’t specific with my point. People are now only paying the interest on mortgages and they do not have ANY form of a savings scheme to repay the mortgage at the end of the term.
    The reason for that is because people cannot afford a repayment mortgage. In effect they are renting the property from the mortgage provider. Which is alright until the final bill arrives on the mat! It’s a bit like that can kicking thing!

  14. You may be in luck.
    I gather that Harriet has shed a stone in anticipation of putting in a 25/1 trot for a Leadership challenge.

  15. Yes, too much is made of healthy living and keeping fit and active. I can’t afford a pension so I choose to live disgracefully by drinking too much and making decisions upon what I eat based on how delicious it tastes. It’s my anti-ageing regime. Think of the money I’ll save in the long run!

  16. John, I could not agree with you more. As someone successfully engaged in medical research for over 20 years I began to feel utter despair when I considered to think – like you – that it was all a meaningless waste of time. I have been involved in some reasonably significant discoveries including one in which a friend of mine was phoned by Pavarotti to seek a cure for his dog’s cancer. WTF, when 10X the money is spent on keeping old folks surviving in hospitals and holmes. It is money utterly wasted. I utterly, totally agree with you. Money spent on a happy and dignified exit would be much, much better spent.

  17. Palindrome, A good dictionary description but utterly meaningless in scientific terms. A case of a little superficial knowledge being dangerous. John is right in this instance and your REDEX description while technically correct in that context is utterly meaningless in the context of the biological superoxide anions which he describes correctly.

  18. @ Carys
    I know some people who have interest only mortgages and I think as the rates came down to almost zero they paid just a little more each time to reduce the principle at little as well
    Whether this is included in the no provisions total is unclear as there would probably not have been any exact communications

    Richard G
    BTW I had my persona changed under protest by WordPress but i’m still here

  19. there have been reports of problems with childrens teeth more where parents have been abiding by the 5 a day. Of course I can’t find it now to quote it

  20. I can think of one obvious example in respect of compliance with legislation in all areas
    As seemingley more people avoid compliance by legal or illegal means, the rules are made ever more comples to try to cover all the current “get outs” where better use of the resources could probably be put to actually enforcing the rules as they stand at present

  21. there is of course the totally opposite financial side where SHORT TERMISM accounting seems to rule
    The NICE (…. Clinical Excellence) report “Shedding the Pounds” details the way that an INCRESED number of Bariatric surgery procedures should save significant expenditure from the Health Service spend IN ONLY A VERY FEW YEARS yet every TRUST seems happy to put off any large spend (the Procedure) and almost continue at infinitum on the small amounts (Insulin et al)

  22. BT Perhaps you will allow Simone Weil to speak for the dumb?

    “Whether the mask is labeled fascism, democracy, or dictatorship of the proletariat, our great adversary remains the apparatus—the bureaucracy, the police, the military. Not the one facing us across the frontier of the battle lines, which is not so much our enemy as our brothers’ enemy, but the one that calls itself our protector and makes us its slaves. No matter what the circumstances, the worst betrayal will always be to subordinate ourselves to this apparatus and to trample underfoot, in its service, all human values in ourselves and in others.”

  23. By “Bariatric surgery procedures” I guess you mean techniques such as banding that appear to work in some patients – but not others – for some period of time. Meantime we spend millions on bariatric beds, bariatric lifts and other euphemisms for contraptions designed to cope with super fat people (aka clinically obese) that break nurses’ backs while still demanding further attention – as is their right – to deal with their self-imposed Type 2 diabetic symptoms and consequences. Yea, sure, we need to spend much more on that. And, of course, the elderly infirm, some of whom are still getting hip or knee replacements in their nineties when they are already bed-bound.

  24. @Carys/@AF: Thanks, I read the article but assumed it was about endowment mortgages. OK, it’s about *interest only* mortgages, not endowment mortgages. So there’s no life policy maturity fund to pay off the capital after 25 yrs. The situation is worse than I imagined…

    Did these borrowers carry out due diligence at the time and understand the future debt they’d have, which is obviously their responsibility according to the mortgage deed they signed? After all, an interest only mortgage means the monthly payments are a lot lower than on other types of mortgage – meaning more money is available for them to spend on other stuff. Did they think they’d get away without repaying the originally capital borrowed? Or did they go into it without thinking?

    How did they expect to pay off their original mortgage debt without saving or was it so far ahead it could be ignored? Or did they sit back and assume that property paper values would rise enough over the period for them to pay it off by downsizing and using the surplus capital? That’s a risky gamble.

    Whatever, this doesn’t seem to me to be a problem that should be dealt with by taxpayers and savers bailing them out – they’ve already been blessed with ultra-low mortgage rates since 2007 at the expense of savers; and that is tantamount to rewarding people for irresponsibility and greed. But if we get another Labour Govt that is what will happen. They will see it as another opportunity to buy votes and further destroy any obligation people have to take personal responsibility.

  25. @tembo11:
    I know what you mean. Someone once said “if the present laws aren’t being enforced, government will pass another law.” The recent idea to pass a new “stalking law” is typical. Existing laws are adequate to deal with it but are not being enforced.

    Thanks for that quote and I entirely agree with it. “Bureaucracy” has long existed in every country to varying degrees. In Britain, it’s mostly created by unelected Civil Servants who write the rules, regulations and procedures but in many cases haven’t got a clue what they’re doing. And in any case they write the rules/procedures to suit themselves with little regard to the effect on citizens.

    But what we’ve seen in Britain over the past decade or so is something far worse: a huge increase in new anti-liberty laws and regulations to achieve further authoritarian control of the population, coupled to a strong increase in the bloody-minded enforcement of existing laws and regulations. One example: the days when you’d get away with driving at 36mph in a 30-zone under the give-and-take notion are virtually gone. Now it’s CCTV and £90 penalty or threats of bailiffs and points on your licence if you go over the speed limit.

    This new fascist approach required a new army of (often) low-level civil servants to be employed for enforcement. Jackboots supplied. These people are very often without any understanding of the age-old give-and-take in British society. To them, the rules are the rules and must be obeyed. Many of them struggle to speak correct English. Enter: Blair’s/Brown’s 900,000 increase in Civil Servant jackboot jobsworths. Obviously it had the benefit of reducing official unemployment and increasing State revenues, so Brown and his ilk saw it as a win-win for the State. Despite the Coalition Govt promising to “end the war on motorists”, I see very little action to do so.

  26. @BT
    As has been seen the threat of points on your licence is now very empty when people are still caught driving whilst having no licence either through a “totting up” of points or through never having the licence in the first place

  27. @Erica
    From a personal contact point not all Type 2 is self inflicted.
    I know of one case that IS probably attributable to the previous prescription of Amitriptylene as a solution to Cervical Spondylosis where even with all the healty eating nothing now seems to work regarding weight loss

  28. totally agree with your philosophy…..i aim to spend the next few years in Philippines (my wifes place) there is a definite difference in emphasis there i can notice…..people rely on care from their families……yes, their children basically …..maybe because they have to for financial reasons but also because its just the accepted way
    Of course that means the trade off between prolonging your days and the cost to others in time, money, worry, and general aggravation must be so much more focused…… I think thats a good thing and something UK could use a good dose of

  29. Is not as bad as it looks
    keep in mind that sometimes there are tax exemptions for loan interest repayments , so many take advantage of it , they take an ” interest-only” loan and instead of reducing the original loan they use the money they save on other investment so they keep their tax advantages .I dont live in UK but it applies to many countries , so assume thats the case here as well.

  30. Everyone
    The only upside of gigainflation is that most of these people will pay off their mortgages and have trillions left over.
    The downsides are they won’t be able to afford the repayments, and the money they make will all go on that morning’s bacon sandwich.

  31. Wow, read all the comments…….
    Having walked and talked today with hubby…..we had come to the point about too many people, too few houses (for all those who want to live alone??), not enough local food, and poor care for the elderly.
    So have just finished tea…..home made elderflower wine, home grown potatoes, parsnips, sorrel, parsley, leeks, wild garlic leaf, cabbage, winter radish, some Lidl Pollack fillet at £3.99/kg (frozen) and to follow, strawberry crumble with raspberry couli and cream….yup, fruit from the garden….(frozen). Fed Ma who lives with us, enough left for a few days lunches.
    Enough moaning,( John warns us), let’s live and love.

  32. @tembo11: Yes, and also let’s not forget the approx 1 million cars on the road without insurance!

  33. What are you on about? Are you trying to tell me I didn’t do Chemistry ‘A’-level? You do know, don’t you, that ‘oxidation’ is *not* simply an uncomplicated derivation of ‘oxide’?

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