The Deranged Millionaire

A fellow resident physician in the NYC area was updating me about his jury duty stint. I mentioned that John Hodgman (who is an author, writer for the New York Times magazine, comics critic for the NYT Book Review, contributor to McSweeney's, correspondent for the Daily Show, and also, the "I'm a PC" guy) was recently blogging about his jury duty experience here in the city.

"I know," my friend said. "I saw him. While I was eating pho noodles during the lunch break, I saw him doing the same, two tables down."

I was thunderstruck, for John Hodgman seems like a tremendous person. I must reconsider pho noodles.

An interview (on, no less) pretty much proves why Hodgman is so worthy of idolatry. An excerpt is reprinted below (best appreciated if his responses are read in a mild-mannered, erudite tone):

CC: You once said, "Comedy always tells the truth. That's why it's funny." Can you elaborate on that?

JH: Not without sounding pompous and stupid, no. The fact is, no one has ever properly figured out why anything is funny. It just is, or is not. Does that evasive little koan suit you better? Because I've got a million of them.

Alas, his story about the Battlestar Galactica reception is too long and enlightening to reprint here. A more thorough CV of Hodgman is available on wikipedia.

Originally via Metafilter, which counts Hodgman among its earlier members.

May Be Unsuitable

It's almost July 1 -- a natural point for medical folk to take stock of things. The senior residents are working their final shifts with us, packing up for their new attending positions. The rising interns are getting trained in ACLS. And on the blogosphere, we're sizing up the new rankings.

This site, with its anemic posting frequency, and a layout that steadfastly proclaims its allegiance to 2003, was recently ranked in eDrugSearch's Top 100 healthcare blogs. Blogborygmi made the top 50, and Medgadget, for a brief period, was king of the hill.

Over on Medgadget, I wrote:

Let's just say we're not bowled over by the rigor of [eDrugSearch's] system -- too many important blogs are missing, some defunct blogs are included, and a closer look at individual numbers just makes us scratch our heads...

Nor do we think ranking blog influence is as useful or necessary as, say, ranking hospitals or colleges. The medical blogosphere is a growing community of vital, insightful voices. We have an opportunity to fundamentally change the way health information is communicated. Medical blogs should be surveyed, scrutinized, categorized... but not ranked.

But... If someone is going to rank them... We're glad we're at the top.

Shortly afterward, added to their list the incredible British EMS site, Random Acts of Reality, and we promptly became Number Two.

Alas. Perhaps more amusing than these rankings (which was ultimately a clever PR stunt for a site I initially suspected would install malware), was a movie-style ratings for blogs, that GruntDoc pointed out.

By counting certain keywords -- like 'pain' and 'sex' -- this service decides if you're PG-13 or rated R.

Blogborygmi, it turns out, is G-rated -- family fare. But I'm in good company: even HealthCareBS was rated G (and no, it doesn't stand for 'Bachelor of Science'). Mighty Medgadget, with our ongoing coverage of reproductive technology and plastic surgery, was only PG-13. If only we covered drugs (a ratings watchword) we'd be considered more adult: The pharmaceutical development blog, In the Pipeline, was slapped with an NC-17.

(An aside: It just occurred to me that Bachelors of Science would make a great blog name. But a quick search reveals, unfortunately, a band swept in and claimed it. Makes sense; almost all band names have been taken.)

Oh well. For years, other bloggers have set up hierarchies and categories based on traffic, links, votes, and other characteristics -- it's only natural, given the easily accessible technology, and our underlying touch of narcissism. Why should medical bloggers be any different? It's in our nature.

Free for all

Michael Moore's new documentary on the shortcomings of American healthcare, Sicko, has been pirated and is available on various P2P torrent networks. Last weekend, it appeared on Google Video as well.

When his film Fahrenheit 9/11 was pirated, Michael Moore said:

"I don't agree with the copyright laws and I don't have a problem with people downloading the movie and sharing it with people as long as they're not trying to make a profit off my labour. I would oppose that," Moore told the Scottish Sunday Herald. "I do well enough already and I made this film because I want the world to change. The more people who see it the better, so I'm happy this is happening."

Say what you will about the man, but Moore has put his money where his mouth is (between snacks, presumably). The film reveals Moore donated $12,000 to an anti-Moore site so the webmaster could keep it operational while taking care of his ailing wife (the webmaster thanked Moore).

For a guy who's advocating unfettered access to something as expensive and important as healthcare, it's nice to see Moore's not shy about making his work freely available, as well. Or, like his critics say, maybe the extra buzz is just good for ticket sales.