We are told that the Ukrainian standoff is an international crisis and that WW3 looms. Only last year Tom Clancy wrote a prophetic novel predicting a similar scenario. Airport bookshops did good business, but it was hardly taken seriously. And despite all the huffing and puffing from western politicians, world stock markets and the gold price indicate that the world is not taking the real thing any more seriously. Pragmatists remind us that the Muscovites take their holidays in the Crimea, and park their battleships there – it is definitely a “Russian interest”, whatever the legality or otherwise of their behaviour. Cynics point out that if a thoroughly hostile regime took over in Panama, it might well not escape the attentions of the Pentagon for very long. Nevertheless we should be alarmed by current events. The trouble with dictators, and we all live in the shadow of the huge tragedy allowed to unfold in 30’s, is they do not behave rationally, or with the consent of normal people. When their paranoia and territorial ambitions are indulged by weak democracies around them, they move on, sometimes to the point of no return, and war. Putin is an extreme Soviet patriot, phenomenally wealthy, attractive to Russian (and maybe other?) women, and in every way well protected. After more than a decade in power he is in common with all long stay leaders, prone to madness. Something needs to be done to put him back in his box.
I took delivery of anew laptop recently from our IT consultants. Needless to say, they had, without being asked, put user names and passwords on it which completely frustrated my attempts to get to grips with its wondrous technological advances for a whole weekend. Is it just a sign of age on my part, or are we now all being hounded for passwords at every step? It seems half the people you speak with on the phone will not carry on a conversation at all without eliciting a password from you. This obsession with confidentiality, which I suppose is based on attempts to counter fraud, has found increasingly fertile ground in the health sector, sometimes to the detriment of healthcare itself. Consultants and geeks profit hugely from all this relatively newly emerging middle class neurosis. So allow me to strike a blow for transparency, another important contemporary buzz word to be used as often as possible. I, T Sackville am honoured to share my medical information with the world. I would take it as a compliment that anyone should wish to know which physiological changes I am experiencing, and what idiotic conversations I am holding with my doctor.
Some iFHP members have been kind enough to ask how we are getting on following the sad loss of Maria. The answer is we are managing tolerably well: our previous web and communications consultant Andrea Craig has nobly stepped in to hold the fort. If however you find any gaps in what we do for you over Madrid or whatever, point them out to us, but keep in mind that we were and are a small organisation and Maria kept a lot of things in her head: she took a few key pieces of information with her to a better place (because that is certainly where she is).