Thursday, January 29, 2004

I know I'm wasting time today..
Since it took me far too long to walk home yesterday (through the snow and standstill traffic), I thought I would stay at home today and read something useful. But whilst looking for something useful I came across something a little disturbing, which, I feel I should assure you, does not happen anymore and probably has not happened in the UK for the past ten years. Not routinely anyway. One always hears bizarre rumours on the grapevine about old school consultants. This is more realistic.

But then he always has nice photos

Speaking of snow, Sasha has a nice photo if some icicles that frankly, put my icicles to shame.

When is it round 4?
Finally, it is true that the final page and a half of Who Killed Daniel Pearl? is marginally less hostile to Islam than the rest of the book, and that in it BHL visits a mosque where for "the first time I enter a religious space in Karachi without feeling the wind of imprecation, of hatred." BHL says that this brought to mind good Muslim acquaintances such as the late President Izetbegovich of Bosnia and the Afghan Mujahideen leader Ahmed Shah Massoud. Coming, however, after over four hundred pages of invective against Pakistan and ordinary Pakistanis, this coda reads suspiciously like the traditional disclaimer, "Of course some of my best friends....

Kitabkhana has some (NYRB) links on this mini-feud between William Dalrymple and Bernard Henri-Levy author of Who Killed Daniel Pearl?

The importance of anonymity...
We have reasons for keeping our name secret. Reasons relating to job security. You know those ten, eleven posts that you see on this site every day? They happen during working hours. We don’t stay anonymous because we're famous or important, and we don't stay anonymous to draw extra attention to ourselves (and, really, when we started this thing we were naïve enough to think that it would actually help deflect curiosity; little did we know what naturally inquisitive types (READ: nosy fucking bloodsuckers) media folk are): We stay anonymous because we like those meager checks that they deposit into our account (Chase, if you haven't nailed down that one yet) every other Thursday. We understand that we've taken a few shots at people in the industry, and we'll cheerfully acknowledge that we're fair game, but, really, we don't want to make a choice between doing this and doing work: As our ample bellies will attest, food is the first thing, blogging follows on.

If TMFTML has important reasons for secrecy, I ought to be a little more careful too. Of course I can blog from wherever I want but some of the material might come close to the breech of confidentiality thing. As responsible as I am, taking care to anonomise my patients, keeping the truly hilarious to myself (and much more besides), one small mistake is all it takes. Why look at Andrew Gilligan!

Tuesday, January 27, 2004

To be or not to be
As much as I hate Powerpoint, it does have the distinct advantage that the older non-microsoft doctors think we work so hard to produce some of the cut and paste crap we churn out for them. Oh and people like Radosh can amuse us with this Power Point Anthology of Literature, via zickzackly.

My chin feels like sand paper

I looked at each character on the ward round and it slowly dawned on me that my stubble was the longest. In fact it was pretty obvious that I was the only one not to have shaved within the last 24 hours. (And since this blog is relatively* anonymous I can reveal that I actually last shaved on Saturday, a noteworthy 72 hours ago.) My widely acknowledged slow stubble growth, combined with a spate of rushed mornings (banana-on-the-bus breakfast etc), must have caused me to reach this sorry, hairy state. Could this be the reason why so many gynae patients refused to have me in the clinic with them? One South Indian lady was particularly vehement (or was it just the accent?), "NO, VE DON'T VONT E-STUDENT!" Which annoyed the registrar somewhat, "I don't know how you're supposed to learn with patients like this.." But maybe, I thought to myself, she simply couldn't take the androgen.

Monday, January 26, 2004

I did this instead of presenting pelvic grips
Just so that you could add comments. Tell me it was worthwhile.
Or teach me pelvic grips I suppose.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Keeps happening!
A Moroccan writer awarded his country's top literary prize has rejected it, on the grounds that only a tiny few of his fellow citizens may get to read it.
Ahmed Bouzfour pointed out that his collection of short stories, Qounqous, had had a print run of only 1,000 in a nation of some 30 million.
"The very low literacy rate in Morocco is the main cause of my decision," he said, adding that he was ashamed.
Link via Moorishgirl.


When reviewers try to describe what is special about Philip Roth's late fiction they try to say something about the style. Everyone refers to the passion, the urgency, the vehemence of the prose. These are the right words, but they make the writing sound like an outpouring of feeling.
John Mullan in this weeks Guardian book review analyses The Human Stain, by Philip Roth.

The traditional name for Roth's favourite rhetorical device is "amplification". You say something, and then you say it again in a different way. And again. You make a sentence, then you make another with the same beginning but a different ending. And another. Expressiveness comes with repetition, with the sheer accumulation of words. He follows the advice of the Renaissance rhetoric manual. "Sentences gathered and heaped together commend muche the matter."

Oh well

Titles by Martina Cole, Sarah Waters, Nick Hornby, Iain Sinclair and Zadie Smith are among the 12 selected to front the Get London Reading campaign, which the mayor of London, Ken Livingstone, will launch next month. Birmingham doesn't need such gimmicks. Did anyone notice the book festival? It could certainly have done with better coverage.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Stuff I will never get time to read
Some of it anyway. Forget Magazine's Unsolicited Blurbs for Previous Winners of The Booker Prize.

You know when you listen to music and you inhabit it and music seems to inhere in the world? It's almost a kind of synaesthesia - you start kind of hearing the chair, just as the doorbell is green, the coloratura of music. I've lost that. I hear music as a sound absolutely. It's a source of sadness to me.
Will Self's new book is called Dr Mukti and Other Tales of Woe and he's interviewed here. He was on Start the week with Andrew Marr too.

Child's Pay
won the Bush in 30 seconds thing. They're all pretty impressive though.

Superb acting
Bill Murray (The Royal Tenenbaums, Charlie's Angels), in what I have to suspect is his most personal performance ever, carries Bob's fame like an albatross, his cross to bear, the real man he is buried under a construct that's wheeled far out of his control, creating expectations that separate him from almost everyone around him. The weariness with which Bob disentangles himself from a couple of enthusiastic fans in a bar is terribly sad in all that it wordlessly says... from flickfilosopher. The whole play on funny little yellow people gets tiresome, but where I watched it nobody was laughing.
Go see it. Especially if you liked About Schmidt.

Tuesday, January 20, 2004

Crap day
Ante-natal care clinic was the unlikely stage for my ritual humiliation today. I was interrrogated by the consultant for 2 hours on all manner of obstetric issues. Out of perhaps 30 direct questions I knew 2 answers and guessed a few more. With the rest I just looked at him hoping I could find a clue within his eyebrow. 'Why don't you go home and read a f***ing book?' he wanted to tell me. But he was far too polite. I should be grateful it took place behind closed doors and not in front of any patients. Tommorrow I'm going to make a change and start reading this and not this.

But I don't need debriefing
Clinical trials of individual psychological debriefings versus no intervention after a major trauma, such as a fire or a motor-vehicle accident, have had discouraging results. Some researchers have claimed that debriefing can actually impede recovery. One study of burn victims, for example, found that patients who received debriefing were much more likely to report P.T.S.D. symptoms than patients in a control group. It may be that debriefing, by encouraging patients to open their wounds at a vulnerable moment, augments distress rather than lessens it.
Read more. Counselling may do more harm than good.

Monday, January 19, 2004

Ethnic myths
"Germans - think with your blood!" Bismarck's exhortation goes far to explain why liberal thinkers have often had difficulties with nationalism....
...Nationalists, of course, always held that nations (in particular their own) were primal, natural communities that needed only to be awakened to full consciousness of their historic destiny. Social scientists, on the other hand, realised that the emergence of nationalism met a vital social need in the 19th century.

Chosen Peoples: Sacred Sources of National Identity
reviewed in the FT.

In the streets of Londonistan
This weeks LRB has an in-depth article by John Upton on anti-terror legislation in he UK.
Informants are the life-blood of secret police work. The unique selling point of the branch is its knowledge of local communities and its ability to infiltrate them in a way MI5 can't, using its closeness to conventional policing as cover.
My own feeling is that over reliance on such informant networks will inevitably lead to a Shin Bet style operation where good intelligence is impossible to seperate from bad. Just look at what happened in Tyre.

'Meanwhile Kilroy - that eminent Brummie orientalist...'
It's probably obvious by now that I have no worthy stories from the wards. This is mainly due to my excessive skiving which has now come to an abrupt end. Rest assured I will be at the ward round tomorrow at 8am.
In the meantime, William Dalrymple has his take on the Kilroy affair in the New Statesman here.

Wednesday, January 14, 2004

Obstetrics is pretty cool
This is one of those experiences that I most definitely underestimated before I did it. I delivered my first baby in the morning. The following upshots are worthy of mention:
1) The baby was normal, no HIV or drug problems as is quite often the case in this part of the city.
2) I only had to be there for 2 hours or so to witness minimum agony. (note to colleagues: ask permission to enter the room only once she's fully dilated.)
3) I spotted the baby poking its head out just as the Spr was about to get the ventouse. 'Thank God for the medical student!' Which made it the first time in ages that I haven't felt like a useless extra or worse still, an intruder.
4) I realised how lucky one is not to have a uterus.

But Gynae is definately crap (which isn't to say I don't sympathise)
The one stop menopause clinic was the source of much teeth grinding this afternoon. Now, I admit that HRT makes women feel pretty good and prevents too much chaos in the mood / hot flush department but what I saw today was weird and definately not wonderful.
One poor thing had been pumped so full of oestrogen that she appeared (to my eyes at least) a little high. She didn't so much speak as skwawk about how 'crazy' she was and how her husband thought her 'peculiar.''What's wrong with me? What's wrong with me?' Grinning away the whole time. She kept looking to me for approval but she certainly didn't need it, as by then I had reached that late stage of 'This was a positive learning experience but I want to leave this clinic now.'

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