William The Coroner’s Forensic Files

Thursday, 5, June, 2008

Somewhere Between Gardening and Exasperation

Filed under: Garden — williamthecoroner @ 15:43
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I was talking to Lili the other day, and I mentioned how I liked her style of blogging.  I don’t care much for the arch and twee.  Now, in some cases, that’s a stylistic choice.  Both Lex and Lawdog refer to themselves as “Your Humble Scribe (or YHS).  Now, anyone who spends half a moment perusing their blogs will realize that unlike storytelling, modesty is not a large part of their skill set.  Of course, the concepts of “modesty” and “blogging” are antithecal to begin with, let alone a blog written by a fighter pilot.  Face it, you have to have nearly boundless self-confidence to do surgery or to fly off of an aircraft carrier, particularly with the expectation of sewing the patient up again (or landing on the same boat you flew off of)

Be that as it may, archness and cutesy pseudonyms get up my nose.  It is an interesting view into someone’s psyche, that their self-concept is that of a re-incarnated Julia Child, or Henry Kissenger (I know he’s not dead but his career is).  In some cases it makes it harder to get to the gist of what they’re saying.  It can be as distracting as the dancing hamsters.

However, as one of the better philosophers of the XX century pointed out, the best thing about freedom of speech is that it helps you figure out who the bozos are.  And having smart people out there with the ability to get their message out should have a bozopathic effect.  Expressing some exasperation is also amusing, particularly if it is done well.  I don’t know an educator who doesn’t in some form or another, and it helps keep people from blowing their teeth out.

I was thinking of this when I was out in the garden last night, working off some exasperation with one of my five mattocks like this one:
It had done wonderful work getting rid of the big prickly weed with a root that went halfway to China, and I had just dug the last hole for the hyacinths when the head flies off and lands on the driveway.

Well, at least the hole was finished, and I’ve got four more.

Friday, 23, May, 2008

Too Much Information

Filed under: Uncategorized — williamthecoroner @ 00:13
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My attorney reads my blog. He told me that he’s usually frightened when his clients blog, but he’s not concerned about mine. I was thinking about this when I read this article (hat tip, Becki). The author has obviously not grasped the concept of too much information, and still doesn’t get it. There are consequences for everything that you do.

I’m very careful about what I put on my blog, although it is semi-pseudonymous, I won’t put anything on the blog that I would not sign my name to or wouldn’t mind having put on the front page of the Plain Dealer. With Google cache and back-ups of back ups if it’s on the net it’s there forever. Besides, my old blog linked to my page at the University, with my name and photo and everything.

There is a time and a place for everything, there’s a time and a place for venting, and people have been telling “bad student stories” or the medical equivalent, annoying patient stories for years. Blogging and the internet have the opportunity for wider dissemination, however. I do like the snarky, insidious way the name Deborah Peel has become the standard pseudonym for patients on medical blogs-you can find the story here.

There is a temptation to vent; there is a temptation to do a data dump. I have acquaintances and experiences that would make tremendous blog fodder. Or, at least, I think so. I’m not sure how that would look in real life. It’s easy to caracature your friends, but if you do it too often, or in a mean spirited way, they will no longer be your friends. In the past, I’ve been tempted to say snarky things about a couple of annoying individuals on the blog. I don’t. It would not improve the situation, it would drag me down to their level, and I do not want to have a mean-spirited, nasty tone on my blog. Finally, just because I think something is of great importance doesn’t mean the rest of the world will care.

Finally, I remember a lecture by Steven B. Levine, in medical school.  At the time, he was the director of the Center for Human Sexuality, and he was talking to us about sexual history taking in Physical Diagnosis class.  Dr. Levine brought up the difference between the private and the secret. Material that is private is acknowledged, but it is not shared with the world at large.  Material that is secret is not acknowledged, and there is an overtone of shame about it.  Secrets are private by their very nature, and in some cases are even concealed from the self.  Material that is private is not necessarily secret or shameful, but is kept to oneself.

The author of the New York Times article has a problem distinguishing between the public and the private and the secret.  Boundaries are good things.  There are people you can invite into your house, people you can invite into your bedroom, and people you wouldn’t speak to at all.  It is important to learn the difference.  Some people encroach on boundaries.  Either they enjoy pushing them or they just don’t care.  I prefer to keep mine.  The pleasure of gossip is tremendous, and it is nice to have one’s own private soapbox to justify oneself to the world.  They are immature pleasures, however, and best foregone.

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