Category Archives: General

Biting the Hand that Treats You. Unwarranted Assaults on Healthcare Advice

Anyone who has been paying attention to the developing COVID-19 crisis in the United States will have noticed a puzzling and damaging paradox. While political leaders claim to be taking action against the pandemic based on the best scientific advice available, when this advice conflicts with what they perceive to be in their own best political interests, they reject it. Worse, they denounce the advice being given as bad science and the advisers as being bad scientists. The attacks seem to become additionally virulent when a scientific advisor changes his or her mind.

Continue reading Biting the Hand that Treats You. Unwarranted Assaults on Healthcare Advice

The Whistle—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Some of the most famous lines in cinema history were uttered by Lauren Bacall to Humphry Bogart in the 1944 Film “To Have and To Have Not.” The scene has Bogart’s character Harry “Steve” Morgan, a fishing captain in Nazi-occupied France refusing to smuggle members of the resistance on to his boat. Bacall, playing Marie “Slim” Browning, flirtatiously tries to change his mind. Just before exiting the scene, she passionately kisses him and says, “You don’t have to act with me, Steve. You don’t have to say anything and you don’t have to do anything. Not a thing. Oh, maybe just whistle. You know how to whistle, don’t you Steve? You just put your lips together, and blow.”

Continue reading The Whistle—Extraordinary Ordinary Things

Soap: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

I remember as a child my parents always insisted I wash my hands with soap before sitting down to eat. I have never forgotten this, and sometimes get odd looks because of it.

In a restaurant, I always go wash my hands before the food is delivered even though no one else at the table does. Worse, when I visit friends in their homes, I do the same thing. I imagine they must think I have some kind of mania about cleanliness on a par with Lady Macbeth: “Out, out, damned spot!” While the good lady does not explicitly mention soap, there is a Lady Macbeth soap on the market anyhow. I don’t have a cleanliness mania. But I do have due consideration for the advice I received from my parents—and continue to receive from the medical community.

Continue reading Soap: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

The Natural: Extraordinary Ordinary Things

“It’s only natural.” This common expression is often used by modest people to minimize the perception of their contribution to an important task, and it contains a hidden danger. Suggesting that some things are “natural” implies that some things are “unnatural.” However, the natural and the unnatural are fuzzy concepts that may lead to illogical and contemptuous discourse.

Continue reading The Natural: Extraordinary Ordinary Things