November 20, 2009


Hey everyone, my blog is moving!

It's the same blog, except now it's in a great new place with a lot more space, and fewer cobwebs under the stairs. Head over to and check it out.

Be sure to update your bookmarks and your feeds. 'Cause I aint posting here no mo'.

November 17, 2009

Trying to be a better person

Ok, so I thought I was going to have the new wordpress blog up today or tomorrow, but... I was wrong.

The details are boring -- they involve my dissatisfaction with the one-click wordpress installation my hosting service offers. It really shouldn't bother me. The installation is actually fantastic, and if I prioritized blogging above futzing around with mysql databases and css stylesheets, I'd have a beautiful new blog already. But it does bother me. I want more control over the files than I have under the one-click installation.

So now, I'll have to take time to learn how to do a manual installation, and probably do it wrong a few times, before you'll see my new wordpress blog. But I'll be a better human being for having figured out how to install everything myself. And in the meantime, this blog here is perfectly adequate.

November 15, 2009


Instead of posting, I spent all my blogging time today on getting the new wordpress blog up and running. It's fairly simple and should be ready in a day or two.

The rest of my time was devoted, unsurprisingly, to exercising my dog and studying for the emergency medicine boards. Did you know that an anterior lung abscess is more concerning for cancer than a posterior lung abscess? Neither did I.

November 14, 2009

To get started...

To start us off easy, I'll direct your attention to some provocative blog posts.

Via Deliberate Agrarian, this gem:

Currently, myself and many of my friends are on varying forms of state aid [...]

With this in mind, I've compiled a simple list of rules (or perhaps, "guidelines") to help minimize the embarrassment and discomfort of taking public assistance.

1. Don't be dirty. Present yourself in as hygenically-perfect a condition as possible. [...]
2. Don't be clean. But remember, you are poor. You shouldn't be able to afford things like shampoo, or fresh laundry, etc. [...]
3. Never engage in any luxury activity at all, ever. Remember, you are currently taking public aid, which means of course that you must never, ever, find any way to enjoy your life that costs any amount of money at all. [...]
3a. In addition to money-costing activities, also remember that free activities that you might enjoy are also forbidden. [...]
4. Never possess any item which could be construed as you spending money. [...]
4a. To maintain the personal moral indignation of the taxpayer to our situations, it is acceptable to on occasion breach rule #4 in limited fashion. This allows the taxpayer to continue with their prejudices, which is crucial for our status quo. [...]
5. Only purchase things deemed appropriate by the surrounding consumers. [...]
6. Maintain an acceptable number of children. [...]

Rick Saenz suggests that this reaction to the recipients of public assistance is due to the replacement of "community mechanisms which once ministered to people in need" by bureacratic public aid programs, and I agree. If we institutionalize our charity into public assistance programs, do we obscure the connection between giver and givee behind an overly abstracted system of taxation and government aid? And does this obscuring mean that we're too eager to demonize the recipients of government handouts at the same time that we feel less inclined to engage in personal, ad-hoc charitable activity because "there's welfare for those people"?

The right-wingers would agree with me, I think, but they would say that the solution is simply to cut taxes and end public aid, relying instead on private charity. I'm not a right winger because I think too many of us are like little Lloyd Blankfeins, convinced that whatever greedy and selfish habits they've adopted are entirely sufficient to discharge whatever obligations they may have to others. The virtue of public assistance programs is that it makes helping others a legal obligation, and not merely a moral one, which people find too easy to rationalize away.

Missed me?

Start the celebration, because I'm blogging again.

And oh, I have such big plans! This blog is going to be the best blog there ever was. Fame and fortune will be mine. I will demonstrate the awesome power of the internet to transform my solitary musings into brain candy for people from all walks of life who have the good fortune to read my posts.

Will you be one of these lucky people? All you have to lose is your time, perhaps five minutes a couple of times each week. It'll be worth it, though. Nothing in life is free.

Here's a few things that you can look forward to:

  • a new visual format, as I try to find out for myself why everyone seems to be using WordPress these days
  • more focused series of posts that surround a few obvious themes. I'd like to use this blog to support some other things I'm doing, and that means you'll get more sustained posting on a few issues that matter to me.
  • a commitment (admittedly sarcastic) to adhere to some of the popular blogging fads du jour, for example, including a bullet-pointed or numbered list in every post.
  • Friday catblogging, which is an honorable tradition and not a fad.

So why am I blogging again? One, I miss it. Two, I'm starting to feel constrained by the limited amount of text I can put up at one time on Facebook. Three, I'm very suspicious of Twitter as a low-yield time-sucking black hole of Internet dependency. And four, I want to write something every day, even if it's inane and unhelpful to anyone else (but posting this writing online magically makes it significantly helpful for someone).

So subscribe to my blog with your Google Reader, or whatever service you use, and let's see what happens.

July 02, 2009

Done with residency!

Hey everyone, I'm done!

It was a fun, exhausting, entirely worthwhile three years. But I'm glad it's over. When I tell you that I would gladly do it again, I don't mean "do it twice."

So I think I'll move myself and my cat and my dog out to Seattle, set myself up with a new internet provider, and start blogging again. But it may be a few weeks, 'cause I've got an extended vacation in Colorado to take care of first.

See you soon.

December 13, 2008

On the other hand...

Former Senator Fritz Hollings has a very interesting argument that bailing out the auto companies might be defended as part of a return to a sane policy of industrial protectionism.

Protectionism? Yeah, it's an interesting piece:

Of course, the economists for the global financial institutions and the big multinational corporations know this, but because their loyalties are more to their institutions and less to our nation, they continue their calls for ever more "free trade" and for continuing U.S. trade and current account deficits.

The irony is that economists learn in their very first class in school that it was a trade war which brought us our initial freedom as a country, and that semi-protectionism later helped build the United States. England started a "trade war" with the Colonies by adopting the Navigation Act of 1651 that required all trade be carried in British vessels. Manufacturing was forbidden in the Colonies, even the printing of the Bible, and then the Townsend Acts drafted by Adam Smith placed heavy import duties on a wide range of items. All of this precipitated the Boston Tea Party that started the Revolution.

While we obtained our freedom in 1776, it wasn't until 1787 that we empowered Congress, in Article I, Section 8, of the Constitution, to regulate commerce, both domestic and foreign. President George Washington's first message to the first Congress in 1789 warned that, "A free people should promote manufactories to render them independent of essential, particularly military, supplies." Thereafter, the United States was financed and built for 100 years with semi-protectionism, and we didn't even pass the income tax until 1913. At the advent of the Transcontinental Railroad, it was suggested that the needed steel be obtained from England - but President Abraham Lincoln strongly objected and required the steel to be produced in the United States. And Edmund Morris, in his remarkable book "Theodore Rex" about President Teddy Roosevelt, has TR exclaiming at the time the United States won the trade war with England, "Thank God I am not a free trader."

Under the new phenomenon called "globalization", the so-called "comparative advantage" which underpinned the early centuries is no longer God-given or determined by the weather, as was the case, two centuries ago, with David Ricardo's English woolens and Portuguese wine. Now commercial success is largely created, or not, by government policies, and the United States government refuses to compete for such success, even though, as The Economist magazine reported recently, "Business these days is all about competing with everyone from everywhere for everything."

Winter blahs

The winter blahs are a particularly bad problem when you're living in Chicago. Victims report wanting only to sleep, eat, and kill time on the internet. I've heard it called "hibernating," which is a good way to describe it.

There are only two ways to cure my own winter blahs. One: take a long vacation to someplace less blah-y. Arizona and Colorado come to mind.

Two: exercise. Even though it's only 12 degrees out and already dark by 4:30, get those wooly clothes on and go shuffle around outside until you think your face is about to fall off. Then come back home and have a big hot chocolate.

It worked for me in Ann Arbor, and it's working for me now in Chicago.

Short term

Re the auto bailout:

I wonder if the Big Three's pitiful performance can be blamed in any way on the American system of corporate governance? Were the incentives to maximize short-term profits to blame for Detroit's ills?

I'm thinking of how GM and Chrysler (and Ford to a lesser extent) were so eager to give up on the small car market in favor of big SUVs. They had to know that low gas prices were unsustainable. SUVs were profitable, but didn't anyone worry about long-term profitability if gas prices rose and SUVs became less attractive?

About me

I'm a recent graduate of the University of Michigan Law School and the University of Chicago Emergency Medicine Residency.

This is a personal blog. All opinions here are mine alone.

I do not give medical or legal advice. If you want medical advice, see your doctor. If you want legal advice, see your lawyer.

Email: glorfindel-at-cuivienen-dot-org