I’m not sure how they are prioritising vaccines in the UK. If you look at the media, it is by age, although the media is notorious for dumbing things down. My wife (a nurse) is due to administer vaccines (her first time with COVID, although she gives flu and baby jabs all the time) next week. This, apparently, is to “over 80s”. So if we’re delivering by age, that’s where we’re at.

Last week, I received my first COVID vaccination. If you’re interested you can read about it here but it is sufficient to know that although it was above-board, it was completely by accident. I was, for once, in the right place at the right time. I’m 53 and despite the stroke, I’m not considered vulnerable.

So how could this be? The sessions are for over-80s, and yet a 53yo gets jabbed? I have asked myself this same question.

It is one of those scenarios where you think differently, depending on whether you are thinking from your own perspective, or from the wider “public health” perspective.

From a personal perspective, of course I was going to be vaccinated, as soon as it was offered. At present, who would say “no”?

I do think it is a big flaw, however, that we have not drawn up lists of people, with some kind of priority rating. We haven’t done this. There is some loose arrangement to prioritise people, now, by age, but there hasn’t really been much thought about it.

I’m not fussed who would come up with that list, although doctors’ surgeries would seem to be a good starting point. They. after all, already know about the most vulnerable people in society, because they are regularly prescribing meds for them. I repeat, this has not happened, at least, not in any coordinated manner.

This task should have been started last March – I think a lot of questions arising from the pandemic will be “why did they not do x sooner?” – in the full knowledge that sooner or later, this would be a real problem. And, if manpower were a problem, hire people. There were plenty of people at the time, with nothing better to do.

Now, doctors’ surgeries will not have known about people’s occupations, so the story doesn’t end there. But once those initial lists were in place, they could have been expanded to incorporate emergency workers, supermarket workers etc. Any other sectors chosen to be “high priority”. In that way, they could have gradually built up a picture. And the more time available, the better the picture could have been, the more factors could have been taken into account. So, when a vaccine finally did arrive…

It wouldn’t be perfect. There would be holes. But it would be a better system than phoning the burse’s husband to ask if he wanted the jab. There would be cases like mine, because no system is perfect, but they would be minimised.

I am incredibly forgiving toward our government in the area of COVID. The situation is unprecedented and they were bound to make mistakes. But this aspect is something that should have been foreseen by either the politicians or the bureaucrats, and this is just collating names. This isn’t challenging work – it’s not even in the same league as managing the pandemic itself- it should be bread and butter. It should have been somebody’s job to be thinking about this.

Fandango’s Provocative Question (27 January 2021)

Today’s Provocative Question, Fandango asks:

In the context of blogging and writing, what do you think is more important: what you say or how you say it?

How we say it.

Because, even if we come out with the most brilliant piece of wisdom, if it gets misunderstood by readers, then that wisdom is lost.

I had to add a filter, especially when I started blogging, and especially in the area of humour (which different users will interpret differently), because I was aware that something I wrote, which I might think incredibly witty, might get misinterpreted as an insult. Most times I succeeded in applying that filter, a few times I didn’t. As I’ve gotten to know people a bit, I’ve dropped my guard a little bit, but it is still something I need to be aware of.

For example, not long ago I made a comment on somebody’s COVID-related post (so straight away, a serious subject). I thought my comment – about which sites I use to gather data – was innocuous, totally uncontentious. And yet the blogger responded, really coming down my throat. So something I had written had obviously pushed their buttons. It just goes to show how easily we can be misinterpreted.

Man Flu

inspired by Fandango’s One Word Challenge (FOWC) of 27 January 2021, issue.

I was battling with flu uncontrolled,
When my missus came down with a cold,
With no thought for my issue,
She said “pass me a tissue”
So I passed one of mine, two weeks old!


Speaking Your Mind

I saw a post fly past last night by Fandango, the subject was a post he had read on freedom of speech / hate speech. He’d commented on a post and been asked some more questions in return.

I’m not sure how best to describe what I thought, but it all felt a bit skewed, as though questions were not even on the same playing field. That description, in itself, probably sounds daft, so it is probably best that I jump in and provide my own answers to those same questions. Maybe in that way I can at least illustrate what I mean.

What do you consider “hate speech?” When can something be described as inciting violence?

What do I consider…? Hang on. Straight away I’m being asked for my opinion. In the UK, at least, it isn’t an opinion. Our parliament has helpfully described several types of hate crime – discriminating against a person on the basis of their race etc. So, all of our police forces work to that common definition, and happily publish it. Those are the consistent standards.

It is also a sufficiently-accepted definition that it appears in dictionaries, even, for example the Encyclopaedia Britannica or the Cambridge English Dictionary.

Even the USA has a standard definition, which will be used in a court, provided courtesy of the FBI. So, another reasonable answer to the question of what do you consider to be hate speech? would be the same as the FBI.

There’s very little wriggle-room, here – these are pretty standard definitions – Feel free to disagree with it if you like, but it’ll land you in court.

So, the reason I thought that question was skewed is because it is soliciting an opinion, on something which is already defined. It is like saying “what is your opinion of the sky?” It doesn’t make sense.

Do you see the Terms and Conditions as black and white rules, or with a lot of gray area?

They are a contract. Like any other contract, the amount of grey area depends how well-written it is.

That there will be a large variation, because contracts are written to different standards… well, isn’t that par for the course?

Do you yourself block others? Why/why not?

Of course. Because I have Terms of Service, too, although I don’t tend to label them as such. But why would my site be any different to another site which invites user-participation?

Why is it that you limit your social media use to only WP?

I’ll miss this one because I don’t really understand the relevance. Maybe Fandango provoked it by something he said in his comment. But either way, the platform we use is not relevant to our general freedom of speech.

Do you see now why I thought it was skewed? It’s really that “hate speech is an opinion” thing. It isn’t. As a result, possibly a lot of things which appear obvious to me are not so obvious to others?

A Day At The Races

Yay, it is time for Paula’s Tuesday Story! Images today are:

This was fun, he thought. He had never watched live horseracing before, so when his latest belle suggested they go to The Curragh for the day to watch her father’s horse run, why not? The promise of a champagne picnic had simply sweetened the deal.

“Molly’s Folly?”, he repeated. “What race is it in?”

“Oh, dad said she was not running until 4:15. We’ve got hours yet. I tell you what, why don’t we have some fun and place some bets in the meantime?”

So they spent the next twenty minutes studying form. Had Padraig been there on his own, it would have been quicker – he could just about tell the front of a horse from its rear, but Aisling had been around horses her whole life. Having made their choice, a good each way bet, whatever that was, Aisling sent him off to place the bet.

“£20 on Grandpa’s Winter Woolies, please” as he reached the bookie. “Is that to win?” came the response. Padraig was baffled – of course it’s to bloody win! Would he really be placing a bet on a horse to lose? Thinking on his feet, the bet was made and he returned to Aisling.

At racetime, they turned their attention to the track. “Which one is ours?” he asked. “The guy with the gold sash”, came the response. The jockey was wearing a colourful maroon shirt, with a striking gold diagonal on it. Padraig watched him disappear into the stall, and a minute later they were off.

“They’ll be a few minutes, yet”, warned Aisling, as they jumped the first hurdle. The race is over two miles, so get comfortable.

With a mile to go, they were both glued to events on the track. Padraig couldn’t believe it – Winter Woollies was right up there, in a clutch of four horses. His first race, and already he had picked a winner. Coming up to the last hurdle. they were too close to call.

They saw a horse come crashing down, but which horse?

Padraig showed visible disappointment as he realised that his rider was no longer to be seen in amongst the three running horses.

And learned a valuable lesson – it ain’t over ’til it’s over.