Irish doctor with too many thoughts, too little time and a blog that's supposed to check in on reality.

Friday, April 29, 2005

Central Mental Hospital

The Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum has been in the news recently with regard to its proposed move to the new prison complex. The reasons given by Dan Neville of Fine Gael and the Irish College of Psychiatrists against the proposed move make some sense. I spent this morning on a visit to the Central Mental Hospital - I was horrified by the human rights abuses that still go on - the majority of the patients there have not committed any criminal acts, and those that did were under the influence of mental illness at the time - and their facilities leave so much to be desired. It is a large Victorian building built in 1850, the first forensic hospital built in the British Isles. From what I saw it hasn't changed that much since. All patients in high and medium security have their doors locked at 830 pm and are re-opened at 830 am. Toilet facilities are a bucket which must be "slopped out" by the patient in the morning. It is only when you stand in one of the "cell" like bedrooms that you realise how systematically dehumanising these conditions are. Obviously patients at high suicide risk must be kept in spartan conditions for their own safety but those with mental illness deserve much much more than this.
The Central Mental Hospital has made many advances in treatment in recent years with the introduction of individualised care plans and a multidisciplinary team approach but these old fashioned conditions are not good enough. I appreciate that further stigmatisation of those with severe mental illness will probably follow if they are housed inside the new prison complex but the facilities that are currently been used need to be modernised urgently.
Dan Neville lists many other problems with the Irish Psychiatric Services in this Dail debate transcript (about a 1/5th of the page down).

In other medical related stuff, I posted a comment at atlanticblog's post about the further developments in the Sachs story following the tragic death of Kay Cregan. While I agree with what he says about RTE's sloppiness, it is not as simple as injecting more competition into all areas of Irish medicine.


Falun Gong now Catholicsm

As a student in Trinity I know loads about Falun Dafa - in between protests and people demonstrating it in Front Square Trinity students appreciate how religion in suppressed in China. Amy Welborn's open book blog covers the story of 7 priests who were arrested for holding an "illegal retreat".
Not wanting to take from the seriousness of this story, as someone whose done various retreats, an illegal one sounds like a lot of fun!!

Pope's New Coat of Arms

Sounds like a Mastermind specialist topic but Shrine of the Holy Whapping blog has much discussion on it. One of the things that draw me back to the Catholic Church again and again (apart from women like Teresa of Avila and Edith Stein) is the symbolism in everything. Who knew coats of arm (or is coats of armss??) could be so controversial?


Thursday, April 28, 2005

Shock, horror Irish not Catholic

Irish Eagle provides a link to an article which discusses how the Irish weren't the Catholic sheep that many make them out. This of course makes sense - we would be a very different society if our Catholic forebears were thoroughly Catholic and educated...the amount of half truths that many now consider to be "official Catholic teaching" are testament to this.


Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Girls who want boys who like boys to be girls.....

City Journal is one of my quartery must reads. Stanley Kurtz has good summary of the whole boy-not-like-girl debate that was recently reignited by Larry Summers.

Girls and Boys by Blur (title line of post) was a song that I used to love that now irritates me intensely - but I still like the line "love in the 90s is paranoid"....watching Ally McBeal repeat at the moment and am struck by her outmodedness - apart from how much fashion has changed from the 90s, her ideas on men and women are so paranoid - relationships war zone in unisex bathrooms. It's not the "are there no good men out there?" questions of Carrie Bradshaw who at least grasps male/female difference at some level - Ally just wants boys who like girls to be boys who do girls (ad nausem)... in short skirts with whiny country-pop in a vortex of after-work dancing. Thank God for Desperate Housewives - but am I the only one who is disappointed every week because the whole murder mystery thing is not progressing at all????

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hospital Life

I spend most of my days in the hospital environment (well I should anyway) and am continually honoured with the priviledge of finding out the most personal and intimate details of total strangers' lives.
Your relationship with patients should be very special and often many of us forget that we are talking to real people who were probably up most of the night before worrying about the great disinfected (or MRSA infected) unknown that is hospital. The prosaic and the routine for us is often the biggest event in their lives.
Mere Comments spent some time in hospital recently. His last 2 paragraphs express a reflection I've been thinking about recently.
"It's been a while since I have spent much time in a hospital environment, but having just experienced a little bit of it recently, I can say it felt a bit alien in its clinical assembly line proficiency mixed with the soap-sex saturated culture that views the body as a complex machine with appetites.
Don't get me wrong. I admire the technical skills and the knowledge the medical profession has conerning the 'mechanical' aspects of the body. It's just that, pretty much like the rest of the culture, do they even know what the body is for any longer? Maybe long-term amnesia has set in."

A Good Year for the Roses

The first few months of 2005 haven't been too bad at all.
Despite the sad passing of JP2 we're all cheered up again with Pope Bendict XVI. The world is being policed by GWB. And I have 2 GA tickets for U2 due to some swapping and a possibility of going a second night.
Like alt tag I'll be at Bruce Springsteen in the Point - thankfully I only paid face value for them.
Like new album - Devils and Dust - some good songs and some not so good. We'll report on live performance when we get it!

Sunday, April 24, 2005

Sunday Business Post on High Flying Irish Women

They had some interesting things to say
GERARDINE JONES Joint managing director, Dolmen Butler Briscoe -
"Jones said working in what was once seen as a male bastion has 'just never been an issue'. She has 'no time whatsoever' for the view that there should be a certain quota of women on public boards. 'People should be onthe boards ofpublic companies if theyhave the skill and experience to be there, and for no other reason."
JOAN O'CONNOR Architect and project Manager
"Working in a male-dominated industry, O'Connor has described herself as “an honorary man'‘.
When she first started working as an architect on building sites, she used to tear down the pictures of page 3 girls on the canteen walls.
The pictures don't bother her anymore."

Is the Pope Catholic???

The Sindo asking the pertinent question as always.
3 articles worth checking out -
Eoghan Harris, Liam Collins and Declan Lynch

Collins analyzes the Church as an organisation trying to survive in the world - "But why then do these secular/pagan/agnostic types insist on preaching to those who actually practise their faith that they need a "liberal" Pope who will abandon some of the church's basic rules.....What do they want, some sort of Fr Dougal who believes the whole charade was set up to give him a cushy number? Do they want a Garda Commissioner who doesn't believe in law and order, a Fianna Fail TD who doesn't want to be a Minister or a Kilkenny hurling manager who does not want to win the All-Ireland?.....There has also been considerable tut-tutting at Cardinal Connell's support for Pope Benedict's assertions of the "primacy" of the Catholic Church. What do they want him to do, tell people there are better religions? Would they expect Alex Ferguson of Manchester Utd or the people of Kerry to go around saying, "well, we're not really the best" when it comes to football? They wouldn't. It's the Pope's job to sell Roman Catholicism just as it's Bertie Ahern's business to tell the people that Fianna Fail is the true party....For most people, the decision is simple: you are either a Catholic and you try to abide by the teaching of the church you attend. Or you don't. Apart from those with no beliefs, we're all a-la-carte in our religious beliefs. But if you no longer patronise the restaurant, why campaign to change the menu?"

Lynch - "I was a Ratzinger man, through and through. Not for any fancy theological reasons, or even because of the Sixties, but for this perfectly simple reason: the Pope is a Catholic. Or at least, he should be.
Life is complicated enough, and if anything helps to clarify the situation, I am basically in favour of it. Ratzinger, as far as I can gather, is saying nothing that hasn't been straightforward Catholic doctrine, down through the ages........For example, if you had a teenage son, which would you prefer: to see him on a reality TV show, having drunken sex in a dark room? Or to see him live on Sky News, celebrating wildly with another young man wearing a baseball cap, going mad with joy as it is announced that Joseph Ratzinger is the new Pope? Which of these?
Just think about it."


Worldwide Unsupervised-Catholic Sin Binge

Papal Election Brings End To Worldwide Unsupervised-Catholic Sin Binge from the Onion. Quite funny.
The thing about being Catholic is that you're fully responible for looking after your own sinning activities - am sure Pope Benedict XVI is glad that the Onion has no say in his daily activities.

"But without a pope around, well... Let's put it this way. For a couple weeks, Catholics the world over adopted the motto, 'If it feels good, do it.'""


Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Best Article on Pope Benedict 16th

The Anchoress rocks. Full Stop.

Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Ratzinger Fan Club Temporarily Unavailable

Ratzinger Fan club who have some pretty cool t-shirts - smaking down heresy since 1952 or something.....are now displaying the message "The server is temporarily unable to service your request due to maintenance downtime or capacity problems. Please try again later."
I look forward to their new site and to this new papacy. Pope Bendictus XVI is somehow new and fresh while stuck firmly in the tradition of the Church. Just like the message of Christ which he will proclaim.

Papabile blog which I pointed to yesterday says -
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam. Reverendissimum Patrem
Annuntio vobis gaudium magnum. Habemus Papam. Reverendissimum Patrem Josephinum Ratzinger!!!!!!!!!!!!

I'm happy. I'm overjoyed...... Today is a beautiful.
I'm literally crying with joy.

Habemus Papem

Ratzinger. I'm thrilled!!

BBC NEWS : provide quotes from world leaders in reaction to his election ....I like Stanislas Lalanne, Spokeman for Frence Bishops' Conference's quote... just read "Salt and Light", Pope Benedict XVI's book recently and I admit to the same experience...
"When I met him I liked his clarity of expression, his rare intelligence, his extraordinary deep knowledge, his extraordinarily deep faith - and at the same time he has a way of talking to you in a simple language.
When you listen to people like that you think you become intelligent yourself as you listen to them. "

Saturday, April 16, 2005

Geoff Hoon has same musical tastes as me!

A narcissitic observation perhaps, but Geoff Hoon is the only one of the politicians interviewed by yesterday's Gaurdian whose musical tastes I would agree with - The Byrds, Gram Parsons, Ryan Adams. I like his catty comment at the end "'I've been listening to the Beatles and the Beach Boys a lot longer than I've been secretary of state for defence,' he counters at the suggestion. 'And I do get a bit annoyed when I go to see U2 and Bono calls up the White House. These people wouldn't be interested in my ideas about music and I'm not interested in their ideas about politics.'"

David Cameron, the Conservative's policy co-ordinator seems to play some good stuff too - Bob Dylan and the Killers.


Peggy Noonan rocking as usual

There is one thing that I would love to do before I die, an aspiration which I doubt many would share - to write 1 column like Peggy Noonan. For the meantime we can thankfully read Peggy weekly "Maybe--maybe . . . Maybe people, being imperfect and human, live whatever lives they live but deep in their hearts--way down deep and much more than they know--they actually notice when somebody stands for truth. And they actually honor it. Maybe that's why in all the big modern democracies they'd burst into tears when John Paul came by, when he was visiting America and France and Germany. Maybe they knew they were not necessarily living right themselves but they were grateful--they were grateful on behalf of civilization!--that there was a man like him among us. They recognized him and honored him in their hearts. And then word came that he's dead and suddenly their hearts told their heads: Get on the train and go honor him. Because he adorned us. Because he was right. And we can't lose this from civilization, this beacon in the darkness."


Papabile meaning "one who is considered a possible candidate to be Pope" is also an excellent blog on news/speculation of the conclave.

Haven't been posting much (at all!) for the last few days due to an inability to concentrate properly on study/surfing the net but hopefully my brain has engaged a few more gears at this stage.

In other news, I managed to buy 4 Bruce Springsteen @ the Point tickets in May online from ticketmaster. I still can't believe my luck - it was such a fluke given that all tickets were "printed" in 40secs according to ticketmaster. I just wanted to gloat!

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Text from St Peters

From a friend who flew out Wednesday and finally got to pray in front of JP2's body this morning at 6.30am Roman time...

"In at half 6 after 15 hours. Amazing. No one will ever be loved like this again in out lifetime. This has to rock world to foundations. So tried. Can't move"

Eamonn Fitzgerald provides a blow by blow, hour by hour account of his wait.
I like his final account -
2.10 am Face to face, at last. "What a piece of work is man! How noble in reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving, how express and admirable! in action how like an angel! in apprehension, how like a god! the beauty of the world! the paragon of animals! And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" From Hamlet (II, ii, 115-117). Tranquil, he is, despite the bursts of flashes from all kinds of photographic devices. This is how the new pilgrim gathers relics. No piece of the robe, no sliver of bone. A digital image.

Monday, April 04, 2005

Be Not Afraid

Larry Kudlow might be known to Dublin viewers of NTL provided CNBC's Kudlow and Company. This is the story of his conversion to Catholicsm after reading JP2's "Veritatis Splendor" and his reflections on the Pope's life.

JPII Rock Star, Showman

If you want to listen the Pope's words accompanied by beautiful music check out Abba Pater.
It is a fantastic CD that I got when it first came out and forgot about until a friend told me he was listening to his and getting weepy. So I dug it out and am experiencing similar lacrimation.
Abba Pater provides audio and video clips as well the english translation to all his words.
I tried posting a copy of Pater Noster (the Our Father) which is very powerfully sung by him but it didn't work. Will try again!

George Weigel on the Pope's Legacy

Excellent article from George Weigel in WSJ on the Pope, history, freedom and his life.
"That is why John Paul relentlessly preached genuine tolerance: not the tolerance of indifference, as if differences over the good didn't matter, but the real tolerance of differences engaged, explored, and debated within the bond of a profound respect for the humanity of the other. Many were puzzled that this Pope, so vigorous in defending the truths of Catholic faith, could become, over a quarter-century, the world's premier icon of religious freedom and inter-religious civility. But here, too, John Paul II was teaching a crucial lesson about the future of freedom: Universal empathy comes through, not around, particular convictions. There is no Rawlsian veil of ignorance behind which the world can withdraw, to subsequently emerge with decency in its pocket.
There is only history. But that history, the Pope believed, is the story of God's quest for man, and man then taking the same path as God. 'History' is His-story. Believing that, Karol Jozef Wojtyla, Pope John Paul II, changed history. The power of his belief empowered millions of others to do the same."

National Review interviewed Weigel as did Zenit, a news agency in Rome. National Review have a collection of articles that are well worth a read.


Need quote from supporter

Powerline provides a screen shot of a New York Times article on the Pope on Saturday. They had all their criticsms lined up but left the rather telling line "need quote from supporter" in the article and posted it on their site.
After the Jason Blair affair, you'd think their editors would be a little more observant. Or maybe they're not aware of any JP2's funny how many live in closeted worlds - how many said they were amazed that Bush won when they knew no one who voted for him?

Bob Dylan and the Pope

I thought I posted this Saturday and never checked - turned out blogger was misbehaving.
Eamonn Fitzgerald posts 2 of my favourite Bob Dylan songs in relation to the Pope's death -It's not dark yet and Knockin' on heaven's door. I think my all time favourite Dylan song Ring them Bells is very relevant to the Pope's passing.

Ring them bells, ye heathen
From the city that dreams,
Ring them bells from the sanctuaries
Cross the valleys and streams,
For they're deep and they're wide
And the world's on its side
And time is running backwards
And so is the bride.

Ring them bells St. Peter
Where the four winds blow,
Ring them bells with an iron hand
So the people will know.....

Oh the lines are long
And the fighting is strong
And they're breaking down the distance
Between right and wrong.

And it is in the distance between right and wrong that Pope John Paul II stood steadfastly, fighting for truth and goodness with courage and compassion for many many years.

Sts Leo and Gregory the Great were called so by popular appeal - crowds of the faithful shouted "magnus" at their funeral. Unfortunately I'm just back from Rome and cannot return so soon, but I hope that this shout, over a thousand years old, will ring out as loudly in St Peter's Square as "Vive La Papa" or "Giovanni Paulo" have done in recent years. I will certainly be shouting it here in Dublin at my television screen.

Friday, April 01, 2005

BBC on Pope

This is a series of thoughts of ordinary people who have emailed the BBC site expressing their regard from the Pope, and their wish that he pass peacefully. It's quite touching, since many of them state explicitly that they are not Catholic and disagree strongly with Church teaching. But, while there are a few uncomplimentary remarks, most of the comments are very warm, expressing a level of affection for this gigantic, historic Pontiff.


Holy Father nears the end.

According to this report, the Pope suffered heart failure during the antibiotic treatment he was given on Thursday evening to treat the fever brought on by his infection.

A doctor, Dr Paolo Nardini, points out that "a heart attack, which is very serious, affects only the heart, while heart failure signals a breakdown of the entire system, (and is) basically uncurable."

So much will be said in the following days about John Paul II's legacy. For me, as a young Catholic, he is the only Pope I have ever known, and a figure who has profoundly influenced my life. His message, it seemed, carried a special mission for the youth, for whom he carried a very particular love. Anyone whoever attended a World Youth Day will know that this love was very much reciprocated.

As I said, there are so many things which can be said about this giant historical figure, so it would be foolish of me to attempt any sort of a comprehensive retrospective look. To me, though, his insistence on according the utmost dignity to every human life was his most powerful bequest to my generation.

The 20th century cost the most human lives in history. Never before were so many killed so systematically, all in the name of universal brotherhood, or the perfection of man. One could say that it was a century of death.

It is up to my generation to attempt to ensure that the 21st Century is a rebuke to that history, to make the next century a celebration of human life and potential. It's a daunting project, but anything would shame this great man's memory.


Pope "fading serenely"

The Holy Father's condition has worsened overnight - he suffered a cardiorespiratory arrest and is in septic shock. The Vatican deny that he is in a coma - "This is absolute rubbish, We are not going to lower ourselves to playing these games".

His spokesman said that he received the "Holy Viaticum" communion which is reserved for those near death, and had told his aides he did not want to return to hospital for treatment. He also said that the Pope was still "conscious, lucid and tranquil" and had celebrated Mass early this morning.

Cardinal Javier Lozano Barragan head of the Pontifical Council for Health Care Workers, said it was clear that the pope's condition was "very, very serious" and that the prognosis was pessimistic.

Other sources are saying that Cardinal Camillo Ruini, vicar for the Diocese of Rome, whose job is to announce the death of the pope arrived at the Vatican this morning.

Like most Catholics, I am praying for the Pope and in perusing the news I am bewildered as to the exact state of his health - the Vatican are due to make a statement in the next hour. The Vatican are handling the situation very delicately and with grace - the Vatican is a hotbed of rumours at any time and in these last days of Pope John Paul II's pontificate it is no different. The Pope wishes, like most people, to die in his own bed, it seems and hopefully his passing will be peaceful.
His strength and serenity at this time are testament to his faith and his character, formed in the difficulties of the idealogies of the 20th century that reduced man to nothing, which the Pope has worked all his life to counter - expressing the dignity and worth of man through his words and his actions.

UPDATE - Italian state TV has suspended normal programming and is now showing tributes/pictures/sermons of the Pope. They have never done this before.

The Holy Father responding well to Antibiotics

Apparently "unnamed Vatican spokesman" has said that the Pope is responding well to antibiotics.
Obviously this is a good sign.
Hopefully, my earlier posts will prove to be wrong and that he will improve over the next few hours.

The Pope's Health

According to Sky News, the Pope is not well enough to make a trip to hospital. My day job is the study of medicine and from the patchy information released so far, low blood pressure and high temperature is very serious especially with his recent history of illness and weight loss - he is very sick - probably in septic shock and this will be very difficult to overcome.
It is doubtful that the Vatican will release a statement over night - it will probably be early morning.

Their correspondent says that many people are gathering outside and are very subdued.
I think most people who have been following this are not just subdued but sad - regardless of religious beliefs, the Pope has been one of the greatest forces for good over the last quarter century.
His strength and power of convinction shine through his weakened body. Many commentators have said that the Pope should resign with his illness and let someone else "run" the Church. This is a poor interpretation of the Pope's role in the Church and in the world- he is not a CEO or a micro-manager - he is the shephard, the spiritual leader of Catholics - his suffering and his courageous perserverance is possibly the greatest Christian witness any one man can give.