The chances are fairly slim, but if I were ever to have something named after me, I would prefer a star in a galaxy far, far away — or a postcard-inducing beach — rather than an abscess.

It's not easy being a green amoeba

I’m sure Sir Benjamin Collins Brodie was a rather pleasant chap who liked patting puppies and drawing unicorns — and by all reports was an outstanding surgeon and physiologist.

However, it is an interesting way to be remembered — some poor bugger’s abscess sticking out of his shin being named after you.

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  • stephen says:

    06:25pm | 27/02/13

    What about a star ? NGC Stevo ? Or Williams’s Black Hole ... sorry, sounds like a credit rating. Or a pub in Dubbo. (Or Hayley’s credit rating.) The real test for immortality is amanuenses : do anything mildly interesting, get yourself on the Tube, then get a friend to… Read more »

  • Gregg says:

    03:06pm | 27/02/13

    All that suffering you have eased though Professor S. , nearly making all the fun worth the pain. Read more »


Today is World Cancer Day. This year’s theme is “Cancer Myths – Did you know?”, so it’s timely for me to put one prevalent cancer myth to rest.

More survive now

Whether it’s someone on our Cancer Council Facebook page, our iheard myth-busting website, someone at a dinner party or a chatty taxi driver on the weekend, most of us at Cancer Council have at one time or another been asked the million dollar question: why haven’t we found a cure for cancer?

Taking it a step further are the conspiracy theorists who claim there is a cure for cancer but that the “cancer industry” covers it up. We would be delighted if cancer was eradicated overnight. Most people know someone who has had cancer – it affects one in two Australians by the age of 85 – and indeed personal experience of cancer is often a factor in people wanting to work for a cancer charity.

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  • marley says:

    06:19pm | 04/02/13

    Oh, and more members of the GLBTI community will die of cancer than of HIV. Read more »

  • PsychoHyena says:

    06:16pm | 04/02/13

    @Kika, are you being serious? IF I had prostate cancer then yes I would put having it removed before sexual gratification, however it would also depend on the likelihood of it developing into a malignant tumour. Would you have say every mole on your body surgically removed ‘just in case’?… Read more »


Here in the oh-so-civilised West, we like to see ourselves as a rationally-minded bunch driven by reason and science.

Was it one teaspoon or two of Lemsip?

Every winter, however, great snotty swathes of us become amateur alchemists and turn in sniffly desperation to the dark arts of Flu Voodoo.

According to the most cutting and edgy of medical research, there is no real cure for the average winter snotfest aside from a) time and b) a bit of luck. 

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  • Rustyglitter says:

    03:47pm | 14/07/12

    There is an easy solution for this. When my fellow colleagues turn up to work coughing and spluttering I promptly tell them I am going home for the day, and will continue to stay at home, until they are cured. Works a treat. Try it. Read more »

  • Maree says:

    03:50pm | 30/06/12

    I have a colleague whose flu remedy is to bring it to work and give it away to others… being a “good corporate citizen” should not include sharing your germs. Read more »


This is the first in a series of pieces The Punch will run featuring speakers from the upcoming Adelaide Festival of Ideas. This week, oncologist Ranjana Srivastava writes about the last days of a terminally-ill patient.

Surprisingly, it takes until mid-morning for the code blue call. The way he has declined, I would have expected him to have breathed his last by now.

Dying is easy. Letting go, not so much. Pic: AFP/Getty

Aghast at the code, I climb the stairs two at a time to get to Mr Johnson’s bed side. There he lies, surrounded by a throng of doctors, each moving to a different part of his body, to bring it back to life.

“Quick, is he breathing?” asks one. “The pulse, the pulse”, presses another, already plucking open the patient’s gown. “Mr. Johnson, wake up, wake up darling,” urges his lovely, white-haired nurse.

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  • St. Michael says:

    06:24pm | 23/08/11

    Also: “like to know what you think could’ve been gained by harassing the family of someone who just died, all because in a time of extreme stress & emotional pain, they didn’t make the decision you would’ve.” Short answer: so they don’t keep someone suffering for 6 straight days. And… Read more »

  • St. Michael says:

    06:21pm | 23/08/11

    “second, you’ve been through it yourself. fantastic! glad you gave shit to the person who brought it up, then played your own tiny violin for a few minutes just so we all knew your story. shame you can’t take your own advice about keeping your sob stories to yourself…” I… Read more »


A couple of Sundays ago in Port Moresby, Stephanie Copus-Campbell – the head of AusAID’s program in PNG – invited me and a colleague to accompany her on a regular Sunday activity.

The cold statistical face of the human tragedy in PNG

Every Sunday, Stephanie goes to the local supermarket and buys $70 worth of oranges which she then takes to the AIDS ward at the Port Moresby hospital.

HIV infection rates are high in PNG and while antiretroviral drugs are available, people still come to this place to die.

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  • Not a great white hope says:

    09:05am | 31/05/11

    Great comment Cranky.  To be honest, I wonder how many of the comments posted under this article were written by AusAID communications staff.  The author had best leave these coms staff to do their job rather than taking on the role as a defacto AusAID cheerleader. Mr Marles, a much… Read more »

  • Cranky PNG watcher says:

    09:42pm | 27/05/11

    This is such a ludicrous hagiographic article. Written by the Parliamentary Secretary for Pacific Islands Affairs - a man who should be keeping AusAID accountable, not being a suckhole. Does anyone else see a problem here? Let me affirm the obvious - people in PNG are very hard done by,… Read more »


Dear Mum,

This illness has gone on long enough. I can’t bear to see you suffer any more. I know you are going to say in your usual way, ‘don’t worry about me, I’ll be ok’, but it is becoming hard to see what the point of it all is anymore.

The Grandfather clock would look great in the den!

I am worried about you, really worried. You shouldn’t have to live through this. This cancer isn’t who you really are.

I really don’t think I can bring the kids again. The thought of them seeing you like this – with no hair, helpless to look after yourself, those blotches on your skin, your face screwed up in pain – is killing me.

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  • LC says:

    08:02pm | 07/04/11

    “PS a disclaimer that the author is heavily influenced by religious bias would be good on an article like this.” Funny that you mention this. A man who was rendered a quadriplegic after a climbing accident was allowed to refuse to be fed and end his life on his terms.… Read more »

  • LC says:

    07:38pm | 07/04/11

    Firstly, don’t pretend palliative care is a treatment. It’s nothing more than a place where people are left to die. The purpose of the panel (which would consist of 2 doctors and a psychiatrist) is: - To make sure that the patient is well aware of his condition - To… Read more »


We all have to pay tax. And then we have to die.

Animated debate…the Greens are in step with the public on euthanasia.

These two fundamentals are well understood by most Australians - that’s what I surmise from our latest Auspoll. Somewhat astonishingly, to me anyway, a massive 76 per cent of Australians we asked this week said people with terminal illnesses should be allowed to choose euthanasia without breaking the law.

76 per cent is an extraordinary figure. It’s hard to get that for a tax cut. We thought we would find a modest majority on this question, but backing from four out of five Australians for the right to choose the timing and manner of our inevitable exit is very emphatic.

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  • LC says:

    11:47am | 07/04/11

    The slippery slope is still a logical fallacy, Robert. There are only two gaurantees in life, and one of them is death. If we find a cure for stage 4 cancer, for inoperable brain tumors etc that’s great. But that won’t stop people from dying. And in the interm, if… Read more »

  • Robert says:

    12:24pm | 29/09/10

    But who pulls the plug, effects the injection, strangles the patient or poisons one who may or may not be dying. Is this the legacy of today, for the generations of tomorrow. Will then it be compulsory, for anyone, who has retired and is considered a drain on the public… Read more »


Workers should never feel bad about taking a sickie if genuinely sick. Your first priority is you, your wellbeing and quality of life.

Being hungover is not a pretext for a sick day.

Unfortunately Australians are notorious for taking ‘sickie’for all the wrong reasons. If they are stuck down with flu they often choose to come to work so that they can preserve their sick leave for some non illness related purpose. This leads to increased “real” sick days by other employees whom they infect.

There are the self-proclaimed martyrs who say they never have a sick day even when they are sick. These same people often get angry at those who do genuinely take a day off.

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  • Matt says:

    10:39am | 19/05/11

    MarK, I think you will find the author is advocating for people to not drink so much that they have a hangover (a.k.a. diminished capacity) when they go to work. Personally if it is Sunday - Thursday, one or two drinks is the limit. Read more »

  • Mike says:

    10:13pm | 14/09/10

    Ian, so glad you invoked the ‘Things were so much better in my day’ argument. It’s so reassuring to hear that from someone of your generation. I mean, things were so much better in your day. No wars, no crime, no discrimination and I’m certain no crushing bores from the… Read more »


Sometimes you wonder whether you’re living in a parallel universe.

Bottler of an idea: just ban the chemical.

Like that South Park episode where Cartman is nice all the time, or in Seinfeld when Elaine meets Bizarro Jerry.

Or when the Federal Health Minister – who’s also the mother of a small child – won’t ban a toxic chemical that’s making babies sick.

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  • The Original Realist says:

    01:36am | 13/01/10

    This article is a very good example of why it’s important to get a scientific education… so you aren’t fooled by such pathetic drivel! Read more »

  • Vin says:

    06:33pm | 12/01/10

    If you haven’t figured that roxon is the worst minister in australian politics (failed cataract policy, no healthcare policy that works, trying to make nurses into pseudo-doctors, no plan for the oversupply of new medical grads in less than 5 years) than you must have your head really deep in… Read more »


The strange thing about having swine flu is that it is more like meeting a pop culture icon than being told you’re sick.

Swine Flu. Sort of like a Lady Gaga concert. But not really.

After being examined by two doctors yesterday (the intern called for backup) I was told that I had the best accessory in the Winter 2009 collection – the H1N1 virus.

This terminology was obviously preferred by doctors who refuse to engage in the more tabloid pig or swine flu. It also would have sounded alarmist when paired with their sage advice which was basically “go back to bed and you’ll be right, young bloke like yourself” etc.

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  • Alex says:

    09:27am | 18/10/12

    Your post has lifted the level of dbteae Read more »

  • miles says:

    10:24am | 19/08/09

    babar is not a contradiction it’s the settlement of the colonies you can work at a select few and give them money and culture and they will try and keep the rest of the savages in check… propaganda for the youth Read more »


Restaurants are defensive of their hygene in the same way that newspapers are defensive of the accuracy of their reporting. Phone up and complain and the last thing either will do is admit liability. And nowadays when people are treated shabbily they turn to the internet. Or me.

What surprises me is the number of emails and comments that come my way from diners who’ve returned home from some of Australia’s top restaurants only to fall ill. I have become, you might say, shit-central - and vomit-central - of the blog world.

The truth is for what I see is there is a good chance you may become ill eating out although not always is it the restaurant’s fault.

Apart from the food authorities in NSW, the food inspection Stasi can’t really be bothered to help diners.


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  • Alok says:

    09:30pm | 07/02/12

    Hi! I’m new to your blog, I plan on doing a lot of back renaidg today   I have a question that I cannot seem to find an answer to so maybe during your down time today (ha) you could help me: is there a particular label or term for… Read more »

  • Elliot Rubinstein says:

    11:28pm | 10/07/09

    Name and shame by all means but let’s not be too precious. I spent years crawling around the floor sticking anything within reach in my mouth and so did you. Bacterial and viral contamination is EVERYWHERE. Our personal hygiene is very important nut you can’t protect from an occasional virulent… Read more »


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