The very driven Maggie Mahar has a sweet takedown of little old me over at her Healthbeat blog. Please go check it out pronto. I've read through it a couple times, in addition to the attached comments, and I must say I honestly feel thoroughly Tressel-ized. I learned quite a few interesting facts about myself of which I was heretofore previously unaware. According to Ms Mahar I am pretty much an asshole who manifests a "macho" attitude toward patient care. I exhibit paternalistic and faintly misogynistic chracteristics. I have no compassion, in fact I have "contempt", for the poor and uneducated patients of America. I'm also not very eloquent, an assertion I wouldn't ordinarily object to, but it certainly isn't because I haven't been "a regular contributor to the New Yorker". Adam Gopnik is horrible. And I can't stand Hilton Als and Sasha Frere-Jones. Tom Junod at Esquire writes circles around everyone at the New Yorker. But anyway.
The bottom line is this. I agree with Atul Gawande on some things and disagree (vehemently) on others. We can have a back and forth debate like gentlemen. But that wasn't the point of my previous blogpost. The point was to draw attention to the fact that the commencement address was lame and uninspiring and completely inappropriate, given the context. I mean, this was a medical school graduation speech! The graduating students had just spent the past 12 years grinding through a very rigorous and exhausting phase in their lives. And now they are to embark upon a life of selfless labor, dedicated to the well being of their future patients. To use that moment as an opportunity to give a wonkish health care policy speech is entirely self-serving and, well, boring.
In fact, Dr Gawande was in the area last weekend when my little sister got married. I saved the transciption of his wedding toast:
"Jen and Brandon, congratulations on your recent betrothal. I know it's exciting and all but please beware of indulging your romantic fantasies too much. The truth is, we Americans don't do so well at the institution of marriage. Over half will end in divorce. Domestic violence is on the rise. Children can be emotionally scarred by the fallout from broken homes. I would advise you to throw away your Shelley and Lord Byron, your Shakespearean sonnets, your anachronistic Valentine's Day traditions. Such mindlessness is old school and inappropriate in the modern age of love and marriage. Instead, I would encourage you two to engage one another in more actionable displays of a solid married life. Instead of random weekend getaways, consider a more robust, algorithmic approach to love. Those warm fuzzy feelings you get from time to time are completely unpredictable. Do not trust them. It is a cowboy mentality to lose yourself in a sappy loving brain goo. You have to collaborate in a pro-active, value added fashion. My wedding gift to you is a special Love Checklist that I have released to you, free of charge, prior to its intended publication date in the fall. Please review it and implement its tenets and re-purpose its structure for your own needs. Thank you. Again, my heartfelt congratulations."
/cue electric slide.