PAUL COLLINS. Marriage equality – some thoughts for the perplexed. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Throughout human history all types of arrangements have evolved to nurture children, of which a common form is a reasonably stable relationship between woman and man. Whether or not this was seen a…

Source: PAUL COLLINS. Marriage equality – some thoughts for the perplexed. | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

If you’ve not yet read this essay (Quarterly Essay #65) by David Marr and you are concerned about the genesis and influence of Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Party, then I recommend reading it.

The White Queen: One Nation and the Politics of Race by David Marr

‘I’m back! One Nation and the politics of race.’

This essay by David Marr is well worth reading, especially by those of us puzzled by the impact of the Hanson phenomenon.  Who’d have thought, after Pauline Hanson’s brief period in the Australian Parliament as the member for Oxley between 1996 and 1998, that she’d be elected as a Senator in 2016, together with three other members of the Pauline Hanson One Nation party?  And who’d have thought that the state of the Australian Parliament is such that Senator Hanson would have such influence in Australian politics?

Who are Pauline Hanson’s supporters, and why do they support her?  Please explain.

In this essay, David Marr sets out to explain some of the mysteries, some of the appeal of the Hanson phenomenon.   Her supporters are overwhelmingly white and Australian born.  They are also people who, while they left school early, have largely been successful.  They are not poor.  Generally, they want a return to a distantly remembered Australia, one in which Australian industries were protected by tariffs, one in which they felt safe, secure and part of a majority.

How much support does Pauline Hanson actually have, and does it matter?  While Pauline Hanson’s following may be comparatively small, it matters.  It matters because neither of the major parties in Australian politics have had the courage to tackle Pauline Hanson over some of her more outrageous claims.  It matters because not challenging some of Pauline Hanson’s claims and assertions sounds and feels like the major parties agree with them.  It matters because many of those views are racist and are divisive.

Since this essay was published, we’ve had the unedifying spectacle of Senator Hanson wearing a burqua into the Australian Senate as part of her move to ‘ban the burqua’.  While this was broadly condemned, she also had plenty of support across Australia.

The Hanson phenomenon will continue, while ever she can tap into the fears and discomfort felt by many as the world they once felt comfortable in continues to change.  Tapping into anti-Muslim feeling at a time when Muslim extremism is driving many terrorist attacks is guaranteed to get attention for the foreseeable future.

Worth reading, and thinking about.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith

RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Last week I began my summary of the Government’s complex negotiations aimed at getting its Media Reform Bill through the Senate with the words:   “Make a deal for political expediency a…

Source: RANALD MACDONALD. ABC deal comes back to haunt the Government (Episode Two). | John Menadue – Pearls and Irritations

Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams

Have you ever had an anaesthetic, and wondered about the experience?

Anaesthesia by Kate Cole-Adams

‘The gift of oblivion and the mystery of consciousness.’

What is anaesthesia and what impact does anaesthesia have on us?  I’ve experienced fifteen or so general anaesthetics over the past fifty years, and I also worked (as a student nurse some forty years ago) in both the operating theatre and intensive care environments.  A lot has changed over that period, but the intention of anaesthesia is surely broadly the same: to alter consciousness and reduce pain.  Well-trained (and empathetic) anaesthetists are critically important to success.  Why empathy?  Because patient confidence is also important, and an empathetic anaesthetist is far more likely to inspire confidence.

As Ms Cole-Adams writes:

‘This book explores perhaps the most brilliant and baffling gift of modern medicine: the disappearing act that enables doctors and dentists to carry out surgery and other procedures that would otherwise be impossibly, often fatally, painful.’

This book is about both anaesthesia in general and about Ms Cole-Adams’ own journey towards major surgery for scoliosis.  It includes accounts from those who were conscious under anaesthesia (where this was not intended) as well as referring to studies investigating situations where people have become aware under anaesthesia, but don’t have conscious memory of this occurring.  I’m interested in how those studies were conducted.  Some of the accounts had me shaking my head, and remembering advice I was first given in 1974: never assume that an unconscious person can’t hear what is being said.

‘It is odd where the mind goes, when it is off the leash.’

Two of the main objectives of anaesthesia are to ensure that the person is unaware of what is happening to them and that they will have no memory of it.  Ms Cole-Adams focusses on these objectives and on the complexity of consciousness.  Do we need to form a memory of an experience for it to be harmful?  And what about those (thankfully rare) cases where people become aware during surgery, and remember the experience?  How should such cases be identified and managed?  If consciousness is a continuum, then managing it through anaesthesia is surely both an art and a science.

There’s a lot of detail in this book, but it is presented in a way which makes it accessible to an interested non-medically trained reader.  It is clear, from the references and sources noted at the end of the book, that Ms Cole-Adams has done a lot of research. The book is both an explanation of anaesthesia and an account of patient experience.

If you’ve ever had an anaesthetic and wondered about the experience, you may find this book interesting.  I certainly did.

Jennifer Cameron-Smith