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March 12th, 2008

signs of the times

Our town clerk, if I understood this correctly, sez there are 55 tax liens in town. This is a town of 5000. R. claims there are 1000 houses. I wonder about that; I suspect that's a low-ball number. But still. That's got to be more than 1% of the houses. Don't know what normal is.

We saw an increase in "no transports" for ambulance service calls. One wonders if this is serving as basic medical care for people who can't afford to go to the ER.

L. and I both lost in the Trustees contest, but it was a relatively close race.

mentioned on Colbert

In the context of learning not to hate McCain.

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200803/single-marry

Again, I'm reasonably certain this person is completely serious, which just goes to show how monumentally silly a certain category of middle-aged professional white women engaged in writing/publishing can be. I wish people would leave the feminist angle out, or at _least_ not deny reality as experienced by other women. My mother told me something very similar ("your biological clock will start ticking") when I said I wasn't sure I ever wanted to have children. (What I said was more complicated and is almost invariably misunderstood.)

I do sort of wonder about people who decide to go down the single-parent path right from the beginning. I considered it, pretty seriously, and talked to some other people about it, read some stuff, and paid attention. I concluded that you can't really do it by yourself; you'll have to hire someone else to help out, or establish a partnership, if not a romantic one, at least a partnership in raising the kid(s).

The real issue isn't one of "settling", or feminism or anything like that. The real problem is the ridiculous ideal our culture perpetrates on people by encouraging them to expect some form of madness to descend upon them resulting in an unbreakable attachment to another person, continuing through marriage and producing children. Yeah, _that_ is a _great_ plan.

Come on. Figure out what you want to do. Find someone you like to do it with you. Arrange the legal and social constraints to make the program likely to succeed. Proceed. This would be a huge _duh_ and calling it "settling" is just like all that crap people say about "following your dream" without mentioning things like, "oh, by the way, most people with journalism degrees don't get to write for newspapers and the ones who do aren't paid very well". Never mind the whole music/art thing.

_Better_, Atul Gawande

I enjoyed Gawande's _Complications_ a few years ago, but I think I got it at the library and my opinion can be sensitive to how much I spent on a book. Also, I read some of these columns as they were published along the way (the pro-c-section article, which annoyed the hell out of me, and the cystic fibrosis article, which was interesting).

Gawande has a couple of themes. One is "making a difference", and he has some specific ideas about how to do this (pay attention, measure things, don't complain, be diligent and what that means). The other reflects a fairly narrow vision of what purpose doctors should serve, and this comes through quite clearly in the chapter on medical professionals in the context of executions. I thought his series of stories led quite clearly to an endorsement of medical professionals being present at and very limited participation in the sense that this is another area where doctors can ameliorate end-of-life. Yet the conclusion he came to was quite different and, I felt, asinine: better to have everyone boycott and hope that as a result, capital punishment would be ended as cruel and unusual punishment. I understand that capital punishment is a complex issue and people can land on a variety of sides of it. But I don't like to see the medical community opting out of ameliorating end-of-life ever. That kind of crap leads to people who refuse recommended treatment being refused any care at all.

He's intelligent. He's thoughtful. He's way too optimistic about what medicine can accomplish and should attempt. He's insufficiently skeptical about innovations in medicine. And he just seems to have a lot of trouble following the "don't just do something, stand there", which leads him to, at this late date, endorse regular mammograms without blinking.

YMMV, but I'd skip it. I'll donate it to the local library, in case someone here wants to give it a try. It wasn't worth the < $9.