I am in that autumnal season in which I choose my two areas of study for the academic term. My pursuits have been wide ranging over the years but the recent PBS series on Shakespeare’s tetrology history saga made up my mind. I have now plunged headlong into Richard II, the two parts of Henry IV and Henry V, with even more zeal than I did as a youth studying under the legendary G.B. Harrison.

I decry the death of civil decorum and protocol. We are in the midst of a war on decency, responsibility and proper human discourse. Those who know me will concur that I am not a prude. In fact, far from it. I advocate no thought police, fashion police or official adjudication of language or manners. After all, we’re not the French (sacrebleu!).

altThere is no universal definition of a weed. Look it up. It’s really that plant that we don’t want growing in our garden; a subjective point of view in which personal taste trumps botanical knowledge. But just as the quintessential garden elements are a matter of opinion, so are the important events of our history. Time is the only dimension we are all forced to march along with at exactly the same rate, and it allows us to look back at events and have perspective.

altThis column is a nested narrative, but lest you think I am fulfilling the path of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein or Ovid’s Metamorphosis, be assured that medicine is still the medium. The time frame is the last ten days of my life, during which I testified in a jury trial in defense of an emergency physician and lectured to 300 physicians in New York City.

altLicking old wounds is what you do at my age. This issue of EP Monthly explores the question of workforce, like it was a “terra incognita”. We have discovered a new problem! Eureka! This is like Christopher Columbus claiming he discovered America.

altLast month I was given the distinct honor of giving the opening address to the Swedish Society of Emergency Medicine as our specialty became officially recognized as a board certified entity in Sweden. The Swedes have watched with growing envy over the years as emergency medicine in America has gone from a rag-tag army of the restless and bold to one of the most sought after medical training programs in existence.

altThis month I present a potpourri of concepts and Quixotic explorations of ideas mostly brought on by travel, cocktail parties and my obsessive study of obscure topics. Hold onto your hats. My first topic is the current struggle which the country seems to be having over marriage.

altAs I sit here listening to the endless debates on why the sequester will destroy/help us and whose fault it is and why things are so bad, I am forced to contemplate fundamental changes in the American culture which got us to this point. It is not simply a red state/ blue state thing. It is not just the rich being demonized by the poor. There is a fundamental shift – a splintering – taking place in both culture and tradition in the once united America.

altIf government is the answer, just imagine how stupid the question is. George Orwell was correct when he commented: “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” Disinformation – or non-information – is everywhere. Most 24-hour news is 24 hours of crap.

altWhen last I put pen to paper, we discussed the vexing problems of the complex code breaking we are obligated to teach our young colleagues. These codes of statistical mathematics, definitional precision, and societal interaction are still the core of what we give to residents, and are lessons that stay with them long after data about antibiotics and SSRIs have been forgotten. But there are also the specific truths (lest I say aphorisms) of the practice of emergency medicine they must also master if they are to long survive this most grueling of careers.

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