October 20, 2014
"And it’s as if there’s an inertia from a more benevolent time, memories of a different ethic – something that keeps us naive about the impact that the business·i·fi·ca·tion of medicine has had on our lives and our healthcare. And speaking of evidence, the bottom graph is one of the many that make the same indictment – it hasn’t been worth it."

Dr. Nardo at 1 Borring Old Man. «evidenced-based medicine» some evidience…

October 20, 2014
"It’s no wonder that empathy gets trounced in the actual world of clinical medicine. Empathy gets in the way of what doctors need to survive."

Danielle Ofri quoted in an article by Meghan O’Rourke in The Atlantic. Doctors Tell All—and It’s Bad

A crop of books by disillusioned physicians reveals a corrosive doctor-patient relationship at the heart of our health-care crisis.  

October 19, 2014
Tell Me How Does It Feel

This past week I came to the dawning realization that I’m thinking about Ebola in ways far different from most of the folks I know, and most of my fellow Americans.

My diagnosis: “You People” don’t have enough empathy. I hate when that diagnosis comes up—it’s something of an old chestnut for me—because then I have to try to empathize with people who are thinking differently.

Here are a few links that I’ve used to try to wrap my head around the differences:

Scott Alexander in Slate Star Codex. FIVE CASE STUDIES ON POLITICIZATION
Sam Richards at TEDXPSU. A radical experiment in empathy
Larry Schwartz at Alternet. 8 Mistakes We’re Making About Ebola That We Also Made When AIDS Appeared
Denver Nicks at TIME. America Needs More Crazy Debates Like In Vermont

Well, those are the tabs I have open, and they don’t really fit together too well. But that lack of fit feels significant. Empathy is hard to get right. We’re all so complicated and sensitive in our own ways.

My mental juke box kicked in and Ray Charles singing You Don’t Know Me started playing in my head. The song was on Ray Charles’s 1962 album, Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music. Old as I am, it’s hard to explain how significant this record is. The arrangements sound so dated now. Part of it has to do with Top 40 radio and most people only hearing music at home or on AM radio then. “You Don’t Know Me” was written by Eddy Arnold, who was really famous at the time.

It’s not just that Ray Charles made the songs on this record his own. And to point to the obvious: Ray Charles was a black man, seems pointless, but it is key to understanding how this record played. To hear Ray Charles sing “You Don’t Know Me” in the imaginations of many white Americans meant that his unrequited love was a white woman. 

What’s striking is how this song creates a sense of empathy across a chasm that seemed impossible to cross.

Before Modern Sounds in Country and Western Music, Charles might have be best known by little white boys like me was What’d I Say. The 1959 album of same name has a track written by  the great Percy Mayfield, Tell Me How Do You Feel. This song accomplishes something like “You Don’t Know Me;” it produces empathy even while showing how impossible it is to really know and understand.

October 19, 2014
"Western Christianity has long fancied itself free from sex, looking down on “pagan” traditions where faith and sexuality intersect, but in fact penis worshiping has a rather robust tradition in Europe"

Stassa Edwards in The New Inquiry. Venerated Members

October 19, 2014
"Politics isn’t, first and foremost, a matter of making allegations and raising awareness; there is no one straw that breaks the camel’s back, and what’s bad can be tolerated indefinitely. Instead, it is a sort of shedding of the skin, by which we become sensitive to this or allergic to that. Nor has it much to do with convincing (discourse), or seducing (marketing), but rather with opening all sorts of spaces to experience another way of living, another definition of reality, another vision of the world."

Amador Fernández-Savater translated by Stacco Troncoso at Guerrilla Translation! Strength and Power Reimagining Revolution

October 19, 2014
"An ethical imagination is an embedded and embedding imagination: it weaves connections, forges alliances, risks new forms of world-making and world-building, treasures existing ethical forms of world-building and world-making. It sees beyond self-interest, beyond the arrogance of patriarchy’s claims to unethical genius, and through the violence of lazy and uncreative toxicity that attempts to lay claim to “creative freedom.”"

Keguro at Gukira. banning kenya

October 18, 2014
How White People Got Made

October 18, 2014

Why Ebola Needs a Community Response

Open Society Foundations 

Paul Farmer makes the case in this short video, and you can read more, Looking Past Quarantine to Community Health, that empathy guides reason.

On a different issue, Syria, Aron Lund makes the case for empathy too, Let Them Eat Bombs: The Cost of Ignoring Syria’s Humanitarian Crisis.

It is critically important for all the world to focus on halting the Ebola outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone. 

A wonderful article by Ed Yong from earlier this year, How malaria defeats our drugs, is really helpful for understanding that disease is a global, not local issue. But the keys for securing global health are sometimes in specific locales.

To abandon empathy, to be “hard nosed,” contrary to the stereotype, will not lead the world towards better outcomes. Our common humanity is a relevant fact, and it is monstrous stupidity to exclude it when trying to figure what to do. 

October 18, 2014

Ever since I can remember, there has been music made by the African diaspora that addressed social, economic and conceptual issues in ways that are funky, radical, surprising and joyous. Some of these are deeply sober and serious while others reorient our minds while we dance.

This approach to effecting social and mental change targets the mind through the body. Once the body surrenders, the mind has little option but to go along. Maybe the UN and other bodies should take a look at this approach? Certainly it’s preferable to brute force…and probably more convincing than most verbal arguments as well.



October 18, 2014
"For decades we have been told that there are only two choices for the management of scarce resources: corporate self-seeking or the bureaucracy of the state. But there is another way. Commons management has worked for centuries and is still working today. It can be adapted to the most pressing global problems, such as climate change."

Jonathan Rowe in 2008 State of the World: Innovations for a Sustainable Economy (Chapter 10-PDF)

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