Sunday, November 14, 2010

While I'm in London...

I'm going on holiday in London for about a week, from tomorrow to the 23rd. I'm quite excited about it, because I don't know quite what I'm going to do. Oh, I know that in the first hour of my trip, after customs, after dropping my luggage off at my flat, I'll get on the Underground (Bakerloo line, I believe), get off at Trafalgar Square, walk to the National Gallery and go up a flight of stairs to the room with two Turner paintings, and stare at them, allowing the matrix of what those paintings mean to me to come to my mind. That's a whole other post, what I see when I look at certain art, because I like to think of a piece of art from the point of where it is in history - what was occurring in the era in which it was painted, does it reference anything in that era, etc. One of Turner's paintings, Rain, Steam and Speed, is particularly evocative to me because of its historical context, Industrial Revolution era Britain. But again, a post for another time.

No doubt I'll go to some other museums while in London, such as the V&A. I'll try to go to a play, concert or the opera too. And I'll be running outside a lot too - I bought some Vibram Five Fingers specifically for the purpose. I'll also be enjoying coffee shops too - I found this insight about coffee houses to be rather delightful, so while I will probably not notice it (and how applicable would it be to Britain?), I thought it would be fun to attempt it:

In the cafes where men meet, are they older men, retired? Or are they young men? Are the cafes crowded with men in their forties drinking tea or coffee, going nowhere? Are they laughing and talking or sitting quietly as if they have nothing left to say? Official figures on unemployment can be off a number of ways. But when large numbers of 40-year-old men have nothing to do, then the black economy — the one that pays no taxes and isn’t counted by the government but is always there and important — isn’t pulling the train. (George Friedman, Stratfor, A Geopolitical Journey, Part 1: The Traveler).

I'll also write a decent amount if I am bored or having such a good time thinking and debating that I simply must write down my thoughts. For example I had a brilliant debate with my sister regarding the merits of consumer choice in the area of obstretics, specifically the delivery method. (I have some sensitive readers, I think, otherwise I would write like I would talk at a party about this.) I was of the notion that if the patient is informed of the risks, and wants to go with the surgical method even though it is riskier and an invasive abnominal surgery, rather than waiting and waiting, then damn the torpedos. The patient's choice should be respected. The doctor has fulfilled his/her ethical obligation to inform the patient of the risks, and now the doctor, in my mind, has an ethical obligation to fulfill the patient's choice or direct the patient to a doctor who will. (I realize I must have made some lawyer happy with those words too.)

My sister was of the other opinion, that if the patient is told the risks but wants the surgery anyway versus waiting (if after a week you're still waiting, surgery is appropriate, apparently, but not before then), the patient is making ill-judged decision and the doctor ethically should refuse to provide the surgery. (She also was offended by my comment then that the patient would then shop around for a doctor who would respect her choice.) If the doctor decides to not be a supplier then, fine by me, but to say that the patient should not make that choice for surgery unless nature has been given time and is too tardy is to fundamentally ignore the fact that the patient is a consumer and making a choice. (Of course, if the system is not a free market, consumer choice driven system, but a nationalized single payer system, then such bias that are anti-consumer while purporting to serve the consumer are incorporated into the system, usually for the worse in my opinion. We're adults, thank you very much.) A choice that is informed by the risks.

I was coming at the argument from one mental model, that of economics and choice, and my sister was coming at it with another. I shall be quite amused to see if I can understand her mental model and then see if her point of view is the right one. I don't quite think it is. But nevertheless, I shall enjoy stretching my mind with a different mental model of my sister's. After all, if I bemoan the fact that people do not utilize the mental models that economics offers, then I should take the opportunity to understand a non-economics mental model and incorporate it into my referential frameworks to use in conjunction with my other mental models as necessary.

Whoever thought that vacation would be so taxing on the mind? :)

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