What we’re reading – 26 February 2010

blogsIn the BMJ editorial office, we often come across interesting articles, blogs, and web pages. We thought we would share these with you. Some are medical, some techie, and some just general.


David Payne, editor bmj.com:
I have just two days to get through Jonathan Kaplan’s http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/reviews/contact-wounds-a-war-surgeons-education-by-jonathan-kaplan-525892.html The Dressing Station as it’s being discussed at my monthly book group, attended also by fellow BMJ colleagues Trevor Jackson and Rebecca Coombes.

Although I’ve got 350 pages still to read, I’m completely hooked, so I may mange to finish it in time as I have two weekend train journeys to make. Kaplan describes his time as a surgeon working in apartheid South Africa and other places, including London.  Chapter 2 begins with a fascinating description of the abdomen wall cleaving under the line of the knife, the “creamy fat” and milky blue membrane of the peritoneum, loops of pulsating “neatly layered bowel.”

I’m also reading http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2009/sep/13/my-paper-chase-harold-evans
My Paper Chase, the autobiography of Harold Evans, former editor of The Times and Sunday Times. The chapter on the thalidomide scandal in the early 1960s is fascinating. It describes his battle with the then health minister Enoch Powell, who was reluctant to devote Parliamentary time to discussing compensation because it was sub judice as some parents had launched legal action against the drug’s manufacturer, Distillers http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Distillers_Company_Limited.

I’ve read lots of J D Salinger obituaries following his recent death. It’s made me want to re-read Catcher in the Rye http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Catcher_in_the_Rye  (the last time was in 1977, when I was 11) for next month’s book club.

Lucy Banham, deputy managing editor:
An American professor of physics says that Hollywood filmmakers should pay more attention to the laws of science. Would his guidelines help to enrich plots with logic, or be a geeky indulgence that hampers the imagination?

Birte Twisselmann, deputy editor bmj.com:
Googled: The End of the World as We Know It by Ken Auletta http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/2010/feb/21/googled-ken-auletta

My bright idea: Jaron Lanier http://www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2010/feb/21/my-bright-idea-jaron-lanier

“You Are Not a Gadget” — Why Open Culture and Technocentric Philosophies Are Ruining Our Lives

Nick Hornby, Juliet, Naked. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Juliet-Naked-Nick-Hornby/dp/0141020644/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1267179771&sr=8-1

Kohnen, T; Baumeister, M; Kook, D; Klaproth, O K; Ohrloff, C. Cataract Surgery With Implantation of an Artificial Lens. Dtsch Arztebl Int 2009; 106(43): 695-702. http://www.aerzteblatt.de/int/article.asp?src=search&id=66463&p=kohnen+cataract

Val McDermid, Fever of the bone. Featuring a voice-technology activated social networking site—scary!

Edward Davies, editor BMJ Careers:
I’ve been following the response to the guidelines on assisted dying. Most newspapers have written editorials or commissioned columns on it. Here’s a selection:


Interestingly most of the editorials have taken a fairly neutral line doing a lengthy job of saying very little. The columns, however, commissioned by the Times and Guardian, are more pro change in the law. I’ve also not noticed a single comment yet from the medical world and given that this is a patient safety issue at heart, I find that slightly alarming.

Juliet Walker, assistant web editor:
An interesting blog on the Guardian’s book blog about a Berlin literary scandal http://www.guardian.co.uk/books/booksblog/2010/feb/15/plagiarism-germany-helene-hegemann

David Isaacson, doc2doc community manager:
How to disappear from facebook and twitter – web 2.0 suicide