Cuts and access to education

No, not the shameful plans for higher education (see here).
Rather, still shamefully, 1 in 5 councils have cut services for deaf children. This further restricts access to the kinds of support needed for deaf children to access and fully participate in education. Details here.

Another approach to problems with peer-reviewing

Sympose is proposing to start up a philosophy journal for which the reviewing is “crowd-sourced.”  They need more people to sign up for reviewing before they can begin.  Let’s do it!

They also are proposing an Intro to Philosophy book.  They have four people, they say, to write (some or all of?) it.  It would be good to contact them and suggest that they have an opportunity here to break up the monopoly on academic philosophy.  Somewhere recently we reported that only 17% of the tenured-tt phil profs are women.  If that’s accurate, it really is intolerable.

And don’t forget the recent post on the percentage of women getting doctorates.

h/t to Pea Soup.

“Advance Directives”: Would you sign this standard form?

I am assuming that the issue I’m about to raise is not purely personal, but rather one that could affect most of us and that feminists probably have illuminating things to say about it.  I take it that the form I’m describing below is absolutely standard.  I am now inclined to think it would be a bad idea to sign it, and I cannot understand why it is the standard form, when the general advice is that one sign one.

So I am looking at with the possibility of filling out an “Advance Directive,” which specifies what I want to happen when I am “unable to make medical decisions about myself because of illness or injury.”   My understanding is that the directive has legal force and it has to be notorized, witnessed and so on.

It has two major clauses.  One starts “if, in the judgment of my physician, I am suffering with a terminal condition from which I am expected to die within six months, even with available life-sustaining treatment provided in accordance with prevailing standards of medical care.”  The second is similar except that it is about being in “an irreversible condition so that I cannot care for myself or make decisions for my self and am expected to die without life-sustaining treatment…”.  One’s choice is to keep the life-sustaining going or to have it cut off, with the understanding that suffering is to be minimized in the latter case.

The picture that initially comes to mind is that one is lying comatose and on a ventilator.  However, “life-sustaining treatment” can cover just medication.  Blood thinners needed to prevent a stroke presumably can count as life-sustaining.  Procedures like dialysis would also be included, I think.   “Irreversible conditions” include those that can be managed even if not cured. 

The “my physician” sends off alarms for me.  The directive gives one physician the power in effect to decide whether my life is worth living.  One might think that the directive applies only when one is mentally incapacitated, but it is more accurate to save that it applies only when someone decides one is mentally incapacitated.  Nothing specifies whether the incapacity is temporary or permanent.

In addition, there are situations when one can have a temporary mental inability; for example, in the case where one arrives at a hospital incapacitated from a stroke, damage from which one can nonetheless be lessened greatly with swift medical intervention.  Apparently cystitis can make old people mental incompetent as can being moved around a hospital, which the elderly can find extremely disorienting and confusing.

Given the evidence suggests that white men are more likely to have life-sustaining interventions, I think there may be a concern with this standard form  for people of color, white women, and perhaps most elderly. 

I should add that I have had one personal experience with such a situation.  My 86-year-old father was in a hospital because he had a heart attack.  He was sort of minimally rational and got disoriented when he was moved around.  The question arose whether he should be discharged with life-saving medication that had a particular downside or not.  He was completely and entirely cut out of the decision-making even when he became much more rational. 

So what do you think?

Things people say to fat people

You can read about the project here, and you can read some of the things people say here. Clue – they’re not kind:

The hostility fat people experience is extreme. One woman spoke about being on an operating table for a C-section and having a surgeon mock her fat, suggesting they get rid of it while they’ve got her open. Another spoke of sitting in an ambulance while a police officer refused to believe she was raped. Others were told they should be happy to have been sexually assaulted.

Extra university places for the rich

Another brilliant proposal from the Tories. Supposedly it will increase social mobility.

Under current government plans, annual student numbers are capped to keep costs down, with English universities allowed to charge UK students a maximum annual fee of £9,000 from 2012, which graduates do not have to start paying until they are earning £21,000 a year.

However, Willetts suggested universities could increase the numbers of British students by charging some the full annual fees of up to £28,000 a year for the most expensive courses, payable up front, who would not then require the support of the taxpayer.

The changes would give more students the chance to attend their first choice university, a suggestion that many see as enabling the children of the wealthiest parents to buy their way in. At present, the government sets a quota of undergraduate places that English universities are allowed to offer each year.

How will it increase social mobility?

David Willetts, the universities minister, has argued the extra places will boost social mobility by freeing up more publicly subsidised places for undergraduates from poorer homes….

Willetts told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “People are coming to us with innovative ideas about how you could liberalise the system so it was possible for extra people to get to university. These are people who we wish to go to university and who sadly are being turned away at the moment just because there aren’t enough places.

“We would need to have a set of criteria, if this went ahead, that absolutely passed muster as improving social mobility.

“I start from the view that, by and large, more people going to university is a good thing for social mobility. Anything that we did if this does go forward would have to pass the test of improving social mobility, not reversing it.”

As The Guardian notes: “The move is being considered at a time when the government is cutting 10,000 publicly funded university places”. So the proposal is to cut publicly funded places, but allow universities to create extra high-priced places for the wealthy. And if you’re a Tory, that looks like social mobility.

Thanks, L!

Concealing women

If you got your news from Di Tzeitung, a Hasidic newspaper you’d think the Secretary of State had been kept out of the loop on killing Bin Laden.

A counterterrorism expert has also been photoshopped out. Why? Because the newspaper never publishes pictures of women, due to worries about sexual suggestiveness. (Thanks, Balk!)