In a struggle to be happy and free

Drystone Wall

Category: responsibility Page 2 of 5


The “Occupy” demonstrations that started with Occupy Wall Street are getting on my nerves.

I understand what the protesters want. Every generation, upon coming of age, sees inequity and believes it is wrong. Some generations make their feelings known, as this one has.

As Benjamin Disraeli said,

A man who is not a liberal at sixteen has no heart.

He continued by saying, “A man who is not a conservative at sixty has no head,” but that’s a different topic entirely.

Wanting everything to change is more effective if there’s a plan to make it happen, but even putting this aside, the entitlement the protesters feel is really making it hard to feel any sympathy for them. In Edmonton, they’re camping out on a property owned by Melcor Developments Ltd. The company maintains the downtown property as a park, for the benefit of the city residents.

I heard an interview with Ralph Young, President and CEO of Melcor Developments, yesterday on The Current. He said that for the most part, the demonstrators have been well-behaved and respectful. Unfortunately, they will not respect the property owner’s wishes in how they use the land. Melcor wants them to follow the same rules the city has instituted for the public parks, namely the city by-laws. It is certainly a reasonable request, and even generous given that the company need not be so flexible if they choose. In particular, the by-laws state that the public must vacate the parks from 11pm to 6am. The protesters will not leave, however.

Protestor Chelsea Taylor said,

It would be quite a logistical undertaking to set up our information tent, set up out art tent, set up our food tent, set up our medic tent, to rearrange all these things every morning and every night. That would be a lot more volunteer labour that would be better directed [to] making banners, to painting signs, and getting prepared for the next action to challenge the severity of the situation right now with regards to economic injustice.

So to protest an injustice, they’re going to commit an injustice of their own. Why? Because treating the owner of the property they’re using with respect is too much trouble. Cry me a river. One might deduce that this problem throws their whole action into question. If they can’t manage the logistical machinations required to pack up their tents in the evening and erect them again in the morning, how can they possibly have any meaningful input on how to change society for the better?

Regardless, to get respect, you need to show respect.

Rock the vote!

20110502_elections_canadaToday is voting day. If you haven’t voted at an advance poll, make sure you get to a polling station today to make your opinion known. If you can’t stand any of the candidates, blank your vote. No matter what, get to your polling station and cast your ballot.

It’s the right thing to do, it’s easy, and it’s important. Get it done.

Closing ranks

Laurie Johnston is suing Windsor’s Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital, Leamington District Memorial Hospital, and Dr. Barbara Heartwell for $2.2 million. She was told that she bad breast cancer. The disease runs in her family so it wasn’t a bolt out of the blue. Then, two weeks after the mastectomy, Dr. Heartwell told Johnston that she didn’t have breast cancer and she never had breast cancer.

According to the CBC article, “Mistaken mastectomy victim sues for $2.2M,”

Another doctor had given Johnston the initial diagnosis of cancer, but a pre-surgery pathology report showed she did not have cancer.

Heartwell misread that final report and proceeded with the mastectomy on Nov. 5, 2009.

Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital officials said Heartwell only discovered her mistake when doing a post-surgery report.

Dr. Heartwell voluntarily stopped performing procedures immediately. She then changed her mind a few days later and the hospital suspend her from surgery.

The real kicker is that this wasn’t the first time it happened. In 1995, Dr. Heartwell told Ginny Hillis she had cancer and she needed surgery as quickly as possible. Hillis sought a second opinion and found she didn’t have cancer. Further tests confirmed the lack of cancer.

Last week, Dr. Heartwell and her lawyer met with the hospital board of directors, arguing for her suspension to be ended. The board agreed, with a few restrictions. Her procedures will be limited to elective surgeries, and for a minimum of three months, another surgeon will review each case before she can operate.

What exactly is going on here? I thought unions were powerful, but they’ve got nothing on the organizations supporting doctors and lawyers! Dr. Heartwell performs unnecessary surgery because she misread a report. She removed part of someone’s body.

The chair of the hospital board, Egidio Sovran said:

The midterm suspension of Dr. Heartwell’s privileges was not necessary, because Dr. Heartwell was not an immediate threat to patient safety.

Not a threat? I’m forced to assume that Sovran believes that this isn’t an issue of any real significance. Chief of staff Dr. Gord Vail seems to agree. Commenting on the Ministry of Health’s investigation into the matter, he said,

We think that this will just show them that we are taking everything serious [sic], and that we’re trying to put our best foot forward and show them that hey, we are taking responsibility.

Taking everything seriously? Taking responsibility? How’s that, again? She made a grievous error at minimum, and one could easily argue that she was grossly negligent. She didn’t operate for a few weeks and has to have another surgeon look over her shoulder for a few months. Maybe she also received a stern look? Nothing I’ve read indicated the doctors and hospital will make any procedural changes to ensure something like this doesn’t happen again. The hospital apologized to Johnston, but the meetings are held behind closed doors and it appears that everything is business as usual.

It seems that’s how they take responsibility at Hôtel-Dieu Grace Hospital.

Do you think my reaction is unfair? Help me with a little thought experiment. Imagine that you’re in the hospital. You’re wife/mother/sister just underwent a mastectomy and you’re at her bedside. It’s a major surgery, after all. The doctor comes in and explains that there never was any cancer. She simply misread the report that said there was no cancer so the surgery was entirely unnecessary. The doctor also says she’s very sorry.

Now, how do you react? What do you say? How do you feel when, a few weeks later, you hear she’s operating again?

Happy new year

We’re almost there, now. Today is the last day of 2009. I think Don described it best in his Facebook status earlier today:

Don is looking back over the past 12 months and must say it’s been a good year, and next year will be even better.

The new year might work out to be better all on it’s own, but I’m going to do my best to help it be a better year. It’s up to us. You have the tools to do the same thing for yourself, so let’s all make it a good one.

Happy new year!

Vehicle or not?

I stopped at a red light on my way home after work. I was the first car in the lane to turn left so I looked across the intersection to see what the on-coming traffic intended to do. If the driver in the right lane (his right) went straight, I’d have to wait for them to pass before turning. The cross street was four lanes wide so if they turned right, I wouldn’t have to wait.

As I looked, I noticed a cyclist come up to the intersection. He didn’t stop, but he slowed right down. He was barely moving, but managed to stay upright without putting his feet on the pavement. Examining the traffic, he waited from a break and then proceeded through the red light.

The cyclist wasn’t young. I’d estimate the guy was in his forties. He had one of those helmet-mounted rear-view mirrors and was riding what seemed to be a nice bicycle. I don’t know that he appeared to be a serious cyclist, but he certainly seemed to be a commuter who cycled. Adding credence to this thought was the time. It was 4:45 p.m. and although the area wasn’t jammed, it was rush-hour. Perhaps the worst example I’ve seen is a cyclist zig-zagging his way across five lanes of traffic during dense rush hour when he did not have the right of way. That joker was clearly relying on motorists to stop despite his doing what he shouldn’t be doing.

This summer there have been a larger-than-average number of cyclist accidents in town, and the cyclists are not pleased. I can’t say I blame them. But at the same time, cyclists are fighting a steeply-uphill battle. The problem is that cyclists aren’t a single uniform group. They span the spectrum from the serious biker who believes they are a vehicle on the road like any other, to person who treats their bike more like walking, but faster. This second group doesn’t act like their bicycles are road vehicles, on par with cars.

The cyclist I saw this afternoon had all the accouterments of the first group, but he acted like part of the second group. Honestly, when is the last time you saw a car driver stop at a red light, wait for an opening, and then proceed through the intersection, despite the red light? Though there are far more cars on the road, cyclists break this fundamental rule of the road more often.

The serious cyclists are fighting to be recognized as a road-vehicle like any other, and the others are sabotaging their efforts. Which type of cyclist is right? I don’t know, but as a driver, I’d certainly prefer cyclists to act like other vehicles because I’d at least know what to expect of them.

Now don’t misunderstand me. I’m not trying to say that all the accidents are the cyclists’ fault. They’re not. I’m just commenting on the wide range of cyclists, themselves.

Interestingly, while searching for something while writing this post, I came across an article published today in England’s Daily Mail called “Drivers ‘should always be blamed for cycle crashes’.” The article begins:

Motorists should be made legally responsible for all accidents involving cyclists, even if they are not at fault, say Government advisers.

Cycling England, an agency funded by the Transport Department, wants the civil law to be changed so drivers or their insurers would automatically be liable for compensation claims.

The only people who would benefit from such a law would be the second group of cyclists I mentioned earlier. I expect the first group would fight such a proposal because it goes against what they’re trying to do.

I’d object to it as well. What do you do when a group of people refuse to follow the rules? I’d suggest that taking away what responsibility they should have is not the way to handle the situation.

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