21 July 2010

From the comments

Regarding my post on blogging toxicity, Mark commented:

Replace "the Navy" with "emergency medicine".

In the common, natural course of events physicians, surgeons and apothecaries are faced with enormous demands for sympathy: they may come into immediate contact with half a dozen deeply distressing cases in a single day. Those who are not saints are in danger of running out of funds and becoming bankrupt, a state which deprives them of a great deal of their humanity. If the man is in private practice he is obliged to utter more or less appropriate words to preserve his connection, his living; and the mere adaption of a compassionate face as you have no doubt observed goes some little way towards producing at least the ghost of pity. But our patients cannot leave us. They have no alternative. We are not required to put on a conciliating expression, for our inhumanity in no way affects our livelihood. We have a monopoly; and I believe that many of us pay a very ugly price for it in the long run. You must already have met a number of callous idle self-important self-indulgent hard-hearted pragmatic brutes wherever the patients have no free choice: and if you remain in the Navy you will meet a great many more.

--Stephen Maturin, The Nutmeg of Consolation by Patrick O'Brian

Wonderful quote, and very apt.  It's that much better that it comes from one of my favorite literary series.  If you haven't checked out the Maturin/Aubrey series (the movie Master and Commander was based on them) you really should.


  1. Wow, so wonderful that while I am reading this via my RSS news reader, I have Treason's Harbour open on my knee at the same time.

    A glass of wine with you, sir.

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