MedicalIamA flight medic from the army, prior U.S. Marine, reddit writer and current medical volunteer working abroad in Ghana while writing a reddit story, AMA!
Oct 24th 2016 by Salojin • 29 Questions • 71 Points
Hi, we are candidates of the Icelandic Pirate party and we have an election coming up on the 29th of October. These are exciting times in Icelandic politics because we are dealing with a post recession economy and the aftermath of the Panama papers leak where the Prime minister had to resign due to his connection with offshore accounts.
The Icelandic Pirate party got 5% in the last congressional election and are currently polling as the largest party at just over 20%. The amazing thing about that is not only that the Pirate party is the largest political party (by a slim margin) but also that the Independence party which has historically been the largest party by far is only polling at around 20%. The political landscape in Iceland has rarely been as exciting and the possibility for change is real.
We have MPs Birgitta Jónsdóttir and Ásta Guðrún Helgadóttir and candidate Smári McCarthy here to answer your questions.
UPDATE: Thanks for all the questions so far! We're signing out for the evening, but we'll monitor the thread tomorrow at least and respond to any new questions. There are a few questions that haven't been responded to yet ─ don't worry, we'll get to them! Thanks again, and more fun soon! - Smári, Ásta and Birgitta.
What kind of injuries are common and how do you treat them? Also whats one of the particually bad injuries you have treated?
What are some of the most common misconceptions Americans have about Buddhism?
Many say that you score so high in the polls because of young people say that they will vote you because it seems "cool". Then the majority of young voters won't show up for the election day. Any thoughts about that?
Ete se? (How are you, in Twi [CH-ree])
The most common wounds that I've seen are gashes and cuts from any number of bits of debris or the various types of labor that dominate the economy around Kumasi, Ghana. Suturing wounds is fairly common place, but the most common traumatic injury in Ghana is almost certainly motor vehicle collision. It's the most common cause of death by trauma in the nation.
The worst wound that I saw being treated was in Komfo Anokye Teaching Hospital and involved a fellow having nerve tissue repaired in his neck from where he was struck by a machete. I was not in that surgical team (that is waaaaaay above my skill level) but I got to observe the work. That sort of violence is really uncommon here and the patient came from far away, the state went out of the way to help the guy out as violent crime is pretty rare.
Other injuries include mining incidents or logging injuries as both forms of labor are particularly risky with the amount of massive machinery in operation at all times.
There are quite a few. Firstly I'd like to state that "Buddhism" covers a wide area both geographically and in time, and just like there are a variety of types of Christianity that developed over time, so to are there a large variety of Buddhist traditions, some of which have little connection to each other except for some of the most basic teachings of the Buddha. I will try to be as general as possible in my answer but I do admit to coming from one particular tradition which holds importance on the oldest teachings, so much of my answer may not be 100% accurate across all traditions.
One of the Biggest is regarding the Dalai Lama,whom most westerners, including myself in my pre-buddhist days, viewed as a sort of Buddhist Pope. This is in fact far from the truth as he represents only one school of Tibetan Buddhism which accounts for about 6% of all Buddhists. Like most westerners however the Dalai Lama was my first exposure to Buddhism, and is a respected monastic and public figure.
There is no centralization of power in Buddhism, with the exception of some Buddhist countries like Thailand where government and Religion are so intermeshed that monks hold government ranks and get titles. These powers however hold no sway outside of said countries and have no relation to the actual monastic rules of living passed down for 2600 years. Generally speaking every monastery, and every monk, is a "free agent", so long as they are following the basic vinaya, rules for the monks, and this is essentially done on the honor system. There are no bishops and cardinals and popes, no inquisitions and no excommunications.
Another large one is that Westerners get hung up on rebirth and other things related to the teachings. I think this stems from a judeo-christian upbringing. I myself did 12 years of catholic school, was an altar boy, youth group leader, the whole thing, so when I speak about these things I'm including myself and my own misconceptions as a westerner. In these religions you had to believe, or else you were a sinner, going to hell, etc. I'm a Buddhist monk, and i can't say I 100% believe in rebirth, and thats ok. The Buddha teaches us to question even our most deeply held views and beliefs, like the belief in a soul, a permanent self, let alone something like rebirth. We are called to come and see the truth for ourselves by examining our own experience deeply, and with insight begin to see things as they truly are, not how we wish them to be.
I suggest to many people who are interested in buddhism but get hung up on these kinds of things, that it is ok to shelve them and practice, as you will see the benefits of meditation and living by virtuous principles in the immediacy of your daily life as your mind changes and you become less judgmental, of yourself, and others.
I'll close out by also saying that due to the previously mentioned Judeo-Christian backgrounds, people are looking for something that is "like" a religion, but what you can try to get away with and not call it a religion, but a "philosophy" and things like this. Buddhism has come down to us in Asia through 2600 years and has become a religion, complete with all the trappings of it, rituals and ceremonies etc.
Each person doesn't have to take Buddhism on as a religion, and in deed people can remain whatever religion they were raised and take aspects of Buddhism that help them, this is common.
You also see today in the 6 Billion dollar mindfulness industry that it is also common to take the teachings of the Buddha and make them clinical and scientific. There is a wide range of practice going on, from the religious to the secular to the scientific, all of which stemming from the teachings of a bald headed guy in robes 2600 years ago.
Ásta: Maybe. But we actually have good support in all age groups according to polls. Just that we are polling with around 40% support in the youngest age group, 18-29 years old. And it is true that it's a generation that's unlikely to go and vote. And I think that's concerning that young people are not showing up on election day.
Hi fellow pirates!
My name is Martin van Vuuren from the netherlands Candidate House of Representatives for Pirate Party Netherlands electoral list number 34.
How is it going over there? Are you all excited for being the biggest pirate party to date? I am excited to see how it unfolds that this party knows how to change the future for the best. I will be following the election through social media but i do wish you all the best since we are one big party worldwide.
Martin van Vuuren
A common issue that I've seen with wound management is terrible wound management.
For example: I watched a kid come in with sutures on his index finger from the second knuckle down to the base and a little bit into the webbing between palm and thumb. It was a bit of a hack-job by the doctor but it would essentially hold the tissue together for a decent recovery. The nurse then proceeds to bathe the injury site in alcohol, compromising the strength of the sutures and chemically ruining the fresh tissue being developed by the body.
Turns out that this is pretty much standard practice. They'll pour clear alcohol into fresh wounds, undiluted hydrogen peroxide into gaping bed sores, scrubbing away freshly healed scar tissue with iodine and such. It's the standard of care most of the nurses are taught and it generates some absolutely horrific scars and magnified healing times.
I feel a little concerned that, in all this discussion, nobody's mentioning the original anti-intellectual-property stance that was sort of the core of the Pirate philosophy.
I've often heard that many of the awkward parts of intellectual property law are locked in via treaty. In the US, for example, we can't go back to "registration required" copyright, or a 14-year term, for example, without breaking treaties.
How can you handle that issue in a nation like Iceland, that can't just say "we're the biggest/richest/strongest, screw your treaty?"
Also, if you're Icelandic and Pirates, did anyone suggest branding as Vikings? My apologies for the horrible stereotype joke.
Here in country there are no substantive or effective wound care products. There's the typical battery of ethyl-alcohol, methyl-alcohol, hydrogen peroxide, iodine, bacitracin, and sterile water. But that's really it. The high end medicated wound care tools like honey with silver nitrate or simple stuff like derma-bond simply isn't used. It's expensive and it's foreign and it's expensive because it's foreign.
Many of the locals will use aloe-vera on wounds to help facilitate healing and such, but most of the studies on aloe-vera are dubious at best and while some state there are some healthy benefits the claims carry with them some shaky evidence that is easy for the laymen to read, but not thoroughly researched and supported.
The best report was conducted by the University of Maryland and essentially concluded that its a common, simple and easy remedy for shallow injuries and that's it. Which is my long winded way of saying: there ain't much here for wound care.
The maggot thing is actually, likely, going to take off here when its efficacy is rediscovered. For those of you who don't know or are squeamish about bugs, the next sentences may not be for you. Maggots are the best wound care tool on Earth for combating necrosis secondary to ulcers or other circulatory compromise related tissue injuries. Healing and recovery times in patients treated with maggots as opposed to patients treated with "the standard of care" (not maggots) were between the range of 100%-85% more effective and faster. The reason for this is two fold.
Maggots only eat dead tissue. Dead tissue is dangerous on the body because it is food for bacteria as well as homes for bacteria. As these sites fester with bacterial colonies the microbes will compromise more tissue, generating more tissue death and spreading the infection. Maggots shear away the dead tissue quickly and cleanly at a far more accurate level than surgical debridement.
Maggots secrete a molecule that stimulates cell growth and advances tissue recovery. I figure it's a matter of time before that chemical is identified and replicated, but for now the humble maggot has the monopoly. The maggots are grown in sterile conditions in a lab and exposed to the tissue in need for 12-24 hours and then immediately placed in an autoclave.
For more information on maggots, the Stuff You Should Know guys did a fantastic episode on the medical miracle of maggots. I highly recommend it, just not during a lunch break.
My answer probably wont be very useful but even before I was a Buddhist I had the mindset to view my experiences as a lesson to learn and grow from, so I can't really remember in my adult life ever regretting anything major I've done.
Of course growing up you do stupid things and maybe your caught and punished and you regret the action in that respect, that is a sense of moral shame which is a good thing as it helps to steer you in the right direction.
everything that has happened to me and that I've experienced has been a stepping stone to bettering myself, creating a more wise, friendly, and compassionate person inch by inch. I still have quite a ways to go down this Journey, but it's all about baby steps. It's important to have compassion and understanding for yourself as well as others, to drop the harsh judgment we often have about ourselves and what we've done.
This short Q&A answer I did might be helpful in further explaining how to deal with remorse and regret - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IF9pUSVRRho
AFL - Acknowledge what you've done, forgive yourself(and others) and make amends for your action, and learn from it so you do better next time. Of course this is all easier said then done, which is why it takes practice in changing our habitual tendencies.
Ásta: On the Viking, that came up. On the IP law, it's complicated. We are working with Julia Reda Member of European Parliament on the IP issue. But the problem is that we are bound by treaties and respecting those treaties is actually necessary to be part of stuff like, the UN and stuff. No country is an island in a globalized world, not even Iceland which is really an Island. The problem is that IP law is so twisted and that's the reason why we were formed in the first place, to fix it. But as many other IP specialists (Lawrence Lessig) we are moving towards tackling corruption and digital rights, because this is all intertwined. Copyright reform was just the starting point, but from there we have grown and it's awesome!
I had a similar motivation during my training: to save lives and practice prehospital care in my own capacity (within protocol of course). Being able to bring someone back provides a unique satisfaction, it's truly amazing! It seems you chose this profession with a great intention.
I'm loosely Buddhist (the Chinese kind). I've never understood why monks aren't allowed to eat onions or garlic, but are able to eat eggs.
Care to explain?
I dig it. I like being able to help even if it's as easy to putting a band-aid on somebody. It's definitely a job in which you can very quickly see the rewards to what you're doing and I think "unique satisfaction" is probably the most poignant phrase I've heard that justly sums up the experience. I wish you luck in any task you choose, you'll be fine and even if you hit bumps in the road you can always reach out to the network of medics and veterans.
Hi there! As a citizen of Iceland in my twenties I have a few questions for you. I'd like to start by stating that I like most of what you are doing and what you have stood for so far. I will be voting for you in the coming election, unless something huge happens to sway my opinion.
Now. You guys have a huge following with the young people in Iceland. I'm wondering what you are thinking about doing for us. Life for students has, I think, never been harder than it is right now. The student loan situation is horrible and the Renting Market is in the gutter.
Do you guys have any plans to fix this? What are your thoughts on the renters market and what can be done to make things easier? Is the only option for students in Iceland to flee the country, just to be able to study what they want?
I would love a bit of insight :)
Currently staying in a town outside of Kumasi called Tikrom. It's along the N6, Accra-Kumasi road, between Kumasi and Ejisu. For more specific instructions for locals, it is just south of Antoa.
There's a buncha Mormons running around here at all times. Were you one of them?
What are your points of universal basic income and what would be needed to make it fair ?
Christianity and Islam run hand in hand in this part of Ghana and it was really surprising and pleasant to see just how little either party cared about the religious preferences of the other. There are some who care, but there are vastly more who don't give a damn, and I think that's pretty progressive.
Especially in Africa.
does the pirateparty have any policy regarding taking harder action against parents that alienate their children from one parent ?
So far the only friction I've heard about from another expat was that one of his volunteers wasn't allowed to perform evening prayer in the family house they were staying in. The host home matron just didn't allow it. The volunteer was shifted out of the home amicably and the host family was removed from the list of host homes. Everyone was pretty amenable but it was still took us aback.
Nothing else like that has happened yet.
As a future Army Medical Service Corps officer, any advice?
Are you worried one day you may not be able to turn back to lay life and live normally again? I.e you may be past the age of relationships kids careers etc?
I haven't really worked with any of them much, but here's the advice I give to any young officers coming into a unit for the first time:
Your sergeants are your best assets. They know all the secret routes, they know who the most reliable people are, they know the short cuts and the rule books, they know. They came from the E4 Mafia or the Lance Corporal underground, they want to do the mission and more often then not they're only happy when there is a real job to do. Some young officers hit their units and want to bend the world to their will, shake things up and really make it their unit. Don't do that, it'll alienate you from your subordinates in a heartbeat.
On the other side of that same coin; take the time to learn your staff. Just because that guy has a combat action badge doesn't mean he's worth anything. There's very little that should automatically generate awe and respect in the military. The majority of it is theater and strength of personality, so be ready for a lot of that, even in the medical settings.
It's gonna be some weird hybrid of MASH and Scrubs at all times and I think you'll be proud to have done it.
What are your personal positions on the Icelandic Krona? Should it be swapped in near-future for a steadier currency (e.g. USD or Euro), should it be pegged to another currency or should we continue to use it?
When I went over to the Army I had to transition to a new MOS, so I had to go to an MOS school. Now, I was lucky. I went to a school that was specific to people that were already MOS holders learning a new MOS. The result is that I wasn't anywhere near fresh out of bootcamp kids and was, instead, around a buncha long term veterans. Some were even other prior Marines. It was a good time and great training, but more importantly, it was a snap shot of how the other different MOS's behave professionally.
The combat arms MOS soldiers? They looked liked, moved lived, acted like Marines with way better Hollywood haircuts. The prior infantry guys that were transitioning into medics were routinely the best leaders and most reliable when we hit field effects training, which is what you should expect.
There will be different names and the dice will be a different color, but you're still playing Risk. Just from a different angle on the board. You'll fit in just fine, and if anyone gives you shit for wearing Marine insignia on your right sleeve you can tell them to eat shit.
Having watched CPG Grey's videos on the pros(?) and cons of commonly used voting systems I am very interested in what your views are on the current voting system in Iceland, and more generally the model it is based on. Also, your views on voting single-person instead of parties! (persónukjör? veit ekki alveg enska orðið)
I personally think it's unrealistic to have a single person vote but I hear people mention it as a solution to the current system.
No worries, I had to google OSUT. The Army loves its uniform candy, which is something I kinda miss about the Marines.
As a fun aside, an intel officer from an unnamed foriegn nation was drunkenly telling me how much he loves the U.S. Army uniform. He could tell everything about a unit by a single soldier. He could see what action they'd seen, the level of training of their soldiers, and what units they drew soldiers from. He bitched about how you couldn't tell anything from a Marine because our uniforms only show our names and ranks. Only a very minor few wear anything on our utility uniforms and I can't really think of anyone who wears any badges in a field environment.
To answer your question about the sleeves. On the left sleeve is the unit patch of who you are currently assigned. On the right sleeve is the unit patch of who you have deployed with (combat patch). Now, the Army tells prior-service Marines that they can't wear their deployment patches because you had to have deployed with those units while in the Army, but since the Army wants to wear so much chest candy all the time I choose to wear none and instead keep my 2nd Marine Air Wing patch proudly on my right arm.
How'd you manage to get stuck OSUT?
Thanks for your service. I'm a mechanic for the helicopters that our flight medics fly in. What kind of aircraft are you guys using in Virginia?
Does CCP makers of Eve Online play any part in Icelandic politics?
I'm with the DC National Guard and we use the Blackhawk and Lakota. Both are good aircraft for their specific purposes but, secretly between you and me.
Smári: Nope. They are fairly busy running a galaxy, and have no time for our pithy local affairs. :-)
Ásta: The first bill we put forward in 2013 was on granting Snowden asylum: http://www.althingi.is/altext/142/s/0078.html But he technically needs to apply for it first though. So, it's up to him.
How do yiu typically handle people who assume your party is a joke?
How do you go about explaining what the Pirate Party really stands for?
Birgitta: We don't come across many people that assume that we are a joke, it might have been an issue when we were being formed, but it is not really something we experience now.
We are a party that focuses on human rights in the digital era, with special focus on direct democracy. You can read more about our core policy, all our policy had to be based on the principles found there. http://piratar.is/en/core-policy/
You can also find more info here: https://newint.org/features/2015/01/01/democracy-digital-era-keynote/ and here: http://grapevine.is/mag/feature/2015/11/19/hacking-politics/
Birgitta. Every time a foreign media outlet interviews you, you are portrayed as potentially being the next PM of Iceland. Last time this happened was on Friday, when the Washington Post named you "possibly the country’s next leader". When you are asked by the Icelandic media if you want to be the next PM, you always say no. Why is that? Are the foreign reporters misunderstanding the situation? Have you ever tried to correct them?
Birgitta: I tell them this is not what I am seeking and that we have horizontal structure. They want juicy headlines. Just like the Icelandic media play it out as if Katrin Jakobsdóttir will be the next PM, even if she has never said she wants it. You can have a look at my faq at my web page if you dont believe me :) http://birgitta.is/92-2/
On a lighter note, what are you going to do for the puffins? The world needs to know your stance.
Ásta: I bet Smári wants to eat all the puffins since he was brought up in Vestmannaeyjar. I just want to cuddle them and make sure they are happy.
Heyo! I'm an anthropologist and filmmaker in Iceland and have talked with Ásta about this before (sup Ásta) but would love to know what inspired each of you to join the Pirate Party and what you want to see for the future of Iceland. Also, based on my interviews with Icelanders all over the country the last year the consensus is that the next economic crisis is around the corner (folks say to count the construction cranes in the sky) - Do you think the next crisis in inevitable and what will the Pirates do to address the problem at the root? (I'm giving a paper on the Panama Papers, Pirates and Utopic narratives in Iceland on Friday at the University of Iceland so this is for SCIENCE!)
Ásta: Sup Jen! Wanna hang out tonight? What inspired me to join the Pirate Party and actively do politics is after my stay in Iran in 2011. Iran being an authoritarian theocracy made me realize how privileged I am. Participating in a democratic society is not a right, it is a privilege and being a young woman, being able to participate in my democratic society and influence it.
On the construction cranes, the difference between this boom is that it is actually better financed than the previous construction crane invasion in Reykjavík. So hopefully this will not go bad. I believe another global crisis is inevitable, but I don't think it's going to hit Iceland as hard as the 2008 one.
What's your opinion of the British and Norwegian fishing industry near Iceland and do you plan on raiding it?
Smári: We've won three cod wars against Britain. They had warships, we had awesome fishermen. Nuff' said. :-)
If you had to pick one Icelandic town you'd have to give back to Denmark, which one would you pick?
Birgitta: That would be the notorious town of Fosshöfn, who is to blame for the gigantic sinkhole east east west of nowhere.
Will the pirate party be a non authoritarian form of government?
I'am a diligent endorser of the original endorsement of participant controlled governance. Wouldn't it be more simple to reduce power of state government and hand it to local government to be able to shorten the distance between voters and their representatives?
Ásta: Well, the mission is to make a more non-authoritarian form of government, so, yes. In Iceland the distance between voters and local government on one hand and national government on the other hand isn't the same as you'd get in larger, more populous countries. But I generally agree with the notion of bringing the power back to the people.
What's your policy on renewable energy - how does it distinguish you from other parties, and what do you think other European nations should be doing with renewable energy that they are not?
Thanks, and good luck!
Smári: Right now, Iceland's energy for electricity production and heating is almost entirely renewable. There are a few places where emergency generators are still used on occasion, but that'll presumably go away with improvements to the power grid in those parts of the country that have that problem. The remainder of non-renewable energy is fossil fuels used for cars, ships, planes and the like.
Current projections (PDF) suggest that with increased use of electric cars, we can reduce our use of fossil fuels substantially. The Pirate Party therefore has a policy to try to build out the infrastructure for EV's quite fast, so that by 2025 we can stop importing new non-electric cars.
What distinguishes us from other parties here is mostly the speed at which we wish to achieve the Paris agreement goals, but to be fair, there are other parties that have quite radical environmental policies too.
As for Europe, my personal (if heretical) opinion is stop shutting down nuclear in favour of natural gas. Nuclear is problematic in various ways as everybody knows, but right now natural gas (not to mention coal) is a much bigger problem that needs to be addressed immediately. Eventually nuclear should also go away in favour of renewables, in particular solar power and grid stabilization of various kinds ─ probably some mixture of batteries, molten salt, and other solutions.