Archive for April 1st, 2013

Opening Day!

April 1, 2013

So to answer my own question, if the days are gods then what is Opening Day? Nothing less than the perennial first day of creation, the primordial dawn we’ve been waiting for. It happens every Spring.

Every year at about this time, we baseball fans are united in that familiar fleeting feeling of giddy irrational exuberance. Our team is still in first. It won’t last, for most of us. We’ll get fooled again, and we’ll turn around and do it next year too. But that seasonal feeling of renewed great expectations is, as the commercial says, priceless.

CBS ran an Emersonian little feature yesterday on baseball as a road to god, prominently highlighting the “miracle” comebacks my team pulled off in the postseason year before last. Well, I’ve not trodden that path myself (I’m a Humean on miracles) but those were some pretty special days. Especially godly days.

And this ought to be a national holiday but it’s not, so it’s back to cases in Bioethics. 

We may want to linger over some of the cases we didn’t get to last time, thanks to the captivating report dialogue on the moral standing of hypothetically-sentient AIs. Brian Goldman’s very affecting TEDx talk on the fallibility of physicians and our need to create a culture in which they will feel free to admit they’re human, will never “bat 1.000” and will make mistakes is worth pondering. Why the myth of medical superheroes? It’s stupid and it costs lives.

Leading off today, it’s WebMD,, et al. [Koop’s obit,] “A little [web] information is a dangerous thing,” especially when it’s embedded in pay-per-click Big Pharma-sponsored ads and when it emboldens spottily-informed know-it-all consumers to shop for bargains abroad. It’s not easy in that venue to tell the difference between endorsements, ads, and “sponsored articles.” The decline of journalistic ethics  here takes a biomedical toll.

Then, organ donation. What’s wrong with soliciting needed vitals via social media? Tweet for a lung, link-in for a liver…

“Reality TV” has actually turned sufferers’ medical desperation into prime time entertainment with Miracle Workers and the like.  I don’t watch those shows and had no idea there were people competing for ratings for their lives. Nor had I considered the damage a show like House could do, glamorizing expensive tests and cases while dissing the most important (but least telegenic) day-to-day work of health care providers. Not to mention peddling “phony” hope for ordinary medical consumers. (“Don’t all docs do that?”)

Redefining retirement sounds good to me, I’m no good at shuffleboard and there are still collegians to fund in my family. But McGee’s right, for those ready to rock back retirement should be “a special time” to give back some “wisdom, experience, and accumulated skills.” We’re just not geared that way yet, nor do we appear about to be. Anyway, many of us aging Americans need to stay in the workforce as much as it needs us, to continue paying for schools and hospitals and urban upkeep. So, a solid ethical conclusion: retirement is wrong. (I presume no one will argue that it’s wrong to provide biotechnological “treatments for just about everything that kills us.” Well, Bill McKibben maybe?  “Enough!” But that’s still the patient’s call.)

“Dying Well” is a standard topic in bioethics, and I’m glad Glenn’s backed away from his earlier criticism of “advance directives” and “living wills.” I do love that he’s worked Woody Allen’s Sleeper into the discussion…

…not to mention Timothy Leary, Darth Vader, and George Jetson.

And Alistair Cooke, being attacked not by a duck [at 2’01”] but by bone-thieves.

And that traveling museum exhibit of interestingly-arranged naked corpses, that I saw in St. Louis (trying to recall its name… Body Worlds)… surely that can’t be ethically blameless? [A Bioethicist takes a peek]

And I guess a Bioethics class has to talk about Terri Schiavo sooner or later, just as we had to talk abortion the other day. Alright, let’s get it over with.