COULD YOU SAVE A LIFE?

June 27, 2010

I never discuss family or friends in my column. But in this case I’m going to make an exception.

My little grandson is 20-months old. Since his birth his liver has never worked properly – as in it was absolutely useless, and was slowly poisoning him.

He would have died. But he didn’t, because a suitable donor was found. From that moment there was an ambulance dash, an air ambulance flight and a 10-hour operation. Now, the little lad’s new liver is working better than was expected.

That’s good news for him. But I realise that it’s bad news for somebody else. Because the fact that a donor was found means that some unknown family, right now, is going through absolute heartache. I can only hope that they somehow find out that a tiny, frail life has been saved.

Which brings me to the point: I USED to carry a donor card. But I lost it, or used it to light a fag or something – I don’t know. Anyway, I have now placed my name on the Organ Donor Register. I simply logged on at http://www.organdonation.nhs.uk and typed in a few details. The whole thing took, literally, two minutes – if that. And it’s done.

If you don’t want to do it that way, then you can call 0300 123 23 23 at local rates. They’ll sort you out. You can even simply text SAVE to 84118.

Under current law, if you want to donate your organs after death you must make your wishes known. May I suggest you do just that? Somebody somewhere did that and they saved my grandson’s life.

Whose life will YOU save?

Drew McAdam

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THE END IS NIGH (AGAIN)

June 20, 2010

 

It was in 1997 that I first started to realise that sometimes experts get it badly wrong.

That was the year the scientific community scared us half to death all by telling us that Mad Cow Disease had the “potential to infect 10 million Britons”. Of course, it didn’t.

Then the science-based hysteria kicked in again during the SARS outbreak of 2003 – remember that? – when one expert informed the Media that the outbreak meant a “25% chance of killing tens of millions.” It didn’t. In fact, not one single Briton died.

Then, in 2006, the science community informed us that AvianFlu “will be the first pandemic of the 21st century.” And the World Health Organisation (WHO) stated that “one in four Britons could die.” We didn’t.

Mind you, a dead swan found in a harbor in Fife.

Then there was Swine Flu when a member of the World Health Organisation task force declared that 40 per cent of people in the UK could be infected within the next six months if the country was hit by a pandemic. It wasn’t, and we weren’t.

Yup; scientists love End of the World stories. Though they are always careful to couch their prophecies of doom in words such as “if” and “might” and “could”.

Well, now we have another. And if we discount the prophecy of the Maya Indians that the world is going to end in 2012, this one is really serious. Or it could be.

According to NASA, no less, our little blue planet is due to get clobbered by a barrage of solar flares in 2013. Now, what makes this really interesting is that this is something that happens on a regular basis but we’ve never noticed it before. According to the experts we’ll notice it this time though, because it has the potential to wipe out all the super-duper technological micro-chip technology on which we all rely so heavily.

Solar flares will generate a massive shift in magnetic activity. The result is that computer systems around the world will fail, resulting in blackouts, the loss of financial and medical records, along with the destruction of television stations, web sites, communication systems – the lot.

And one Oxford-based professor told reporters that “It’s not scaremongering.”

Do you want MY prediction? I can confidently predict that absolutely nothing will happen. Except one thing… several companies will make huge profits selling some sort of device to combat such carnage, rather like when the Millennium Bug that was supposed to bring the world to its knees – but didn’t.

It’s a win-win for them. If nothing happens to your computer, then their device worked. If it doesn’t work, the telephone system will be out of commission so you won’t be able to contact them for a refund.

Still, we all enjoy a jolly good panic from time to time – and on this occasion we can use the solar flares of 2013 as an excuse. It sounds like a good one!

Drew McAdam


CORPORATE TRICKSTERS

June 14, 2010

 

Scams used to be simple and unsophisticated. For example, back in the ‘70s it became the rage to etch the registration number of your car into each window. That way, if the car was stolen and the plates changed, the real registration number was still on view. Companies were set up to carry out this expensive procedure.

However, one supplier was selling the glass etching kits by mail order for just a few pounds. It seemed like a bargain, until it arrived in the post. What you got was a six inch nail!

The internet has changed all that. Today, scams by organised criminals are worth £3.5 billion in the UK. There is an army of twisters and conmen out there waiting to separate us from our money.

 These scamsters would probably see it as a way of “increasing their revenue streams”. Changing the rules in their favour.

But plenty of established and – until now – reputable national companies are playing the same game.

BT recently changed the times of their weekend calls. Instead of 6pm, the weekend now starts at 7pm. Which means that free evening calls between these hours are no longer free. Notification of this change was buried within letters and emails that went out to customers – I’ll bet you didn’t notice it in there.

And consumer experts recently listed a number of financial products that are useless. The long list included mobile phone insurance (it’s covered by your home insurance), extended warranties (far too expensive to be worthwhile), identity fraud cover (that’s you bank’s responsibility).

 They must know the product is useless when they sell it to you. They’re all at it, I tell you.

And small print; why has that not been made illegal? It’s only there to trap the unwary. I discovered a great computer program that would speed up my internet connection – allegedly. I was just about to use this “free” product when I noticed, in writing so small that an ant with a magnifying glass would have trouble reading it, “To avoid being charged the recurring subscription fee, simply cancel before the free-trial period ends.”

And this from a multi-billion dollar corporation. I suppose that’s how they became multi-billion dollar corporation. Legal trickery.

It was so much simpler in the old days when you could trust nationally recognised companies to look after you. All you had to watch out for was the guys selling six inch nails.

Drew McAdam


“Time, the Magician, played a few old tricks on us”

June 4, 2010

 

I have a theory. And if the theory is right, this will be the last time you’ll read my column. Because I’ll have shot back in time to 1960.

As I write this there are only a few hours to go until the exact moment of the 55th anniversary of my birth. Now, there’s a theory I’ve been harbouring for a while – 50 years, to be exact. I’ve always had this conviction that on reaching the age of 55 – exactly 55 years from the moment I was born – I would slip through a time warp and find myself back as a 5-year old kid again. In my old bedroom, with my childhood friends, getting ready to start school BUT carrying with me all the confidence, knowledge and experience I have gathered over the past half century.

Although I would be back in time, I would know of all the future momentous events in history – I should win a few bob at the bookies with THAT knowledge. I would also know which fledgling computer companies to invest in. And I could tell my teachers with absolute confidence that there was no point in me doing arithmetic because by the time I needed to do any adding up in the real world we would all have personal calculators. Great stuff.

I’ll also have the fabulous 1972 to look forward to again. And I’ll be bending spoons a month before Uri Geller instead of a month after – as happened the last time. Well, my 55th birthday is now only a few hours away. So, just in case it happens the way I always though it would, if you don’t hear from me again it’s because I’ve gone back in time and I’m listening to “The Twist” by Chubby Checker and “It’s Now Or Never “ by Elvis Presley on a valve wireless the size of a telephone box.

Or I’m busy running barefoot through the park, chasing bees and collecting conkers.

Here’s hoping. Failing that, the Drew’s Views column will be here again next week.

ENDS