An Education

The Worst Father in the World, here played by Alfred Molina, prefers wedding off his smart and ambitious underaged daughter (Sally Sparrow, 24 going on 16) to a 30-something con artist of means (a smirking Skarsgard), rather than financing her studying English at Oxford. It is the 1960s—why waste money on tuition if her only reason for attending university is to find a good husband?

She likes his opera-champaign-trips-to-Paris lifestyle, he likes that she speaks French and looks at him like a God, so it looks like a win-win-win as she abandons high school for an engagement ring. But if you hang around scammers you will get scammed, and soon she learns he has a wife, a son, and countless past jeunes femmes like her, some of whom ended up with child. A deus ex machina in the form of an English teacher does help her get into Oxford, and she lives long and well enough to be able to write the memoire that Nick Hornby turned into this screenplay.

Not a masterpiece, but serviceable as educational material for preteens. I hope Dora will grow up not to be as impressionable to sleazeballs.

Directed by Lone Scherfig, 2009

more ...

The Three Body Problem

Written by an engineer, and reads like it. It uses a broad brush—with not much description or characterization—to explore such trivialities as life, reality, human perception, and humanity’s place in the universe.

Much of it has a sense of odd turning into familiar: the bloodshed of the Chinese Cultural Revolution projected onto the book’s pro-alien human factions and real world’s opposed-yet-alike movements; virtual realities inside a nesting doll of x-dimensional spaces that may themselves be virtual; environmental dangers, imagined and real.

Einstein supposedly pictured himself chasing a beam of light before developing his theories of relativity. Liu imagined standing on the surface of a planet quite unlike Earth to come to this book and its two siblings. Based on the first installment, I can tell that investing some time in the trilogy will be worth it.

Written by Cixin Liu, 2012

more ...

Children of Men

Children of Men has aged well. Too well. Between Brexit, Zika, islamist fundamentalists, and police brutality, 2017 is much closer to the version of 2027 the movie portrays than what Cuaron could possibly have imagined while writing and directing it.

Brilliant long tracking shots include Juliane Moore’s bloody demise in a post-apocalyptic British mini-car, and Clive Owen’s race through a desolate seaside town-slash-rebellious refugee camp to find the only baby alive on Earth. A lot of the movie could now be described as a Twitch video, though back then first-person shooters were decidedly less realistic.

If this were Interstellar, Owen would have lived through the end and be reunited with a resurrected Moore. Fortunately, it is not.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, 2006

more ...

The culture that is Nortwest Washington DC

I have cut my commute down to 40 minutes door-door (from ~2 hours), 25 of which are walking, and we only have to pay 1.69 times the rent. Yay?

Some observations about our new neighborhood from a Serbian/European/Baltimorean transplant.

Dogs are everywhere.

Runners and cyclists too.

And a couple of homeless people. One seems to have staked out a bench I pass by every day.

Very few children. Assuming all the little Audreys and Maddisons are attending their ballet lessons, or whatnot.

Restaurants with street seating. It’s like I’m back in Belgrade. Alas, most of them serve nothing but greasy American classics, only they call it Southern-style and put even more grease.

Are people who eat at these places the same ones doing all the running?

Why do two different streets in the same neighborhood have the exact same name? If you put a super-block that cuts a road in half, does it not make sense to rename one of them?

Safeway is a dump.

The title may remind you of Marginal revolution. That’s on purpose. Go read it.

more ...


→ Annals of internal medicine: Curiosity

Old (1999), but still good.

When I was a house officer and installing one of the first right-heart catheters, the machine that showed intrapulmonic arterial pressures was enormous and was equipped with strain gauges rather than computer chips. Making it work was difficult. After the line was in, the attending, the nurse, and I tried desperately to adjust the machine to show the pulmonary arterial pressure waves. We could not get them. The line on the screen remained flat. We manipulated toggle switches and strain gauges for about 15 minutes. Nothing. Finally, I glanced at the patient: He was dead.

The story that follows is even better.

more ...

Na ivici

NYT: Rak i klimatske promene

→ Esquire: Kada vam je kraj ljudske civilizacije svakodnevni posao

→ Guardian: Nivo mora raste najbržom stopom u poslednjih 2,800 godina zbog globalnog zagrevanja, pokazuju studije 

U engleskoj verziji ovog teksta nisam imao komentara. Na srpskom imam par.

Neće doći do holivudske katastrofe u kojoj za par dana planeta ostaje pod vodom. Čorba koju smo zakuvali sporo se greje, a homo sapiens je prilagodljiva vrsta (mi smo u toj priči žabe, ako analogija nije bila dovoljno jasna).

Srbija nema izlaz na more. Ono što ima su: sa jedne strane razvijene zemlje koje već imaju ili prave planove za odbranu od poplava i na dovoljnom su nivou razvoja da prežive, a sa druge milioni ugroženih koji će želeti da promene mesto prebivališta. To neće biti problem danas, pa ni u sledećih 10-20 godina, ali verovatno hoće za životnog veka moje generacije.

Pošto se ništa strašno neće desiti tokom mandata bilo koje sada zamislive vlade, srpski političari uvek mogu da slegnu ramenima—biračko pamćenje doseže par meseci unazad, a budućnost se proteže do sledeće plate. Sve i da neko postavi to pitanje, ovo je jedna od retkih situacija u kojoj najveći deo krivice može da se prebaci na nekog drugog—Amerika i Kina su najveći zagađivači, Rusija i Zapadna Evropa ne zaostaju. Pošto pređašnje iskustvo govori da se u kriznim situacijama mediji u Srbiji—a preko njih i javnost—više bave odgovornošću nego rešenjima, problem klimatskih promena će zauvek biti među poslednjima na političkoj listi prioriteta.

Što je šteta, jer će one dokrajčiti Srbiju pre bilo koje bele kuge, tropskih virusa, Velike Albanije, i širenja NATO-a.

more ...


Blic je kao saobraćajna nesreća

Znaš da ne bi trebalo da buljiš u krš na putu, ali te nešto vuče.

Ili sam ja samo mazohista.

Današnji primer vrhunskog novinarstva: iskopiraj Njujork Tajms, bez navođenja izvora.

NYTExplaining Apple’s Fight With the F.B.I.:

What is the government asking for?

The Federal Bureau of Investigation wants to examine the iPhone used by Syed Farook to determine whether he and his wife, Tashfeen Malik, had planned the shooting directly with the Islamic State. The iPhone, a 5c version of the smartphone that was released in 2013, is locked by a passcode, which the F.B.I. wants Apple to circumvent. Apple would have to build a new version of its iOS smartphone software that allows the F.B.I. to bypass certain restrictions. Apple claims this software can give someone “the potential to unlock any iPhone in someone’s physical possession.”

Blic— Najmoćnija kompanija sveta i najmoćnija država sveta su U RATU:

 Šta američka vlada zahteva od “Epla”?

FBI želi da ispita “ajfon” koji je koristio napadač Sajid Faruk, kako bi se utvrdilo da li su on i njegova supruga Tašfin Malik napad u San Bernandinu planirali zajedno sa glavešinama Islamske države. Telefon “ajfon 5C” zaključan je šifrom od nekoliko cifara, a FBI zahteva od “Epla” da otključa telefon kako bi organi vlasti mogi da ga ispitaju. Štaviše, FBI zahteva da “Epl” razvije novi softver koji bi dozvoljavao organima vlasti da otključavaju telefone onih osoba koje smatraju sumnjivim, što kompanija kategorički odbija da uradi.

Ostatak je u istom stilu: mešavina doslovnog prevoda i slobodnog tumačenja, koje u najvećem broju slučajeva ili umanjuje količinu podataka, ili daje poluistine i nagađanja.

Doprinos Blicovih autora? Osim KRIMINALNO LOŠEG naslova, ubacili su tvitove koji vode ka tekstovima sličnog Pitanje/Odgovor formata. Naravno, nema linka ka plagiranom tekstu.

Nije sramota kopirati od boljeg, ali je sramota to kriti.

Oni kojima je do ovakvih stvari stalo već znaju da je ovo modus operandi većine srpskih medija. Ali, da li od takvih medija očekujemo da objektivno i sa razumevanjem izveštavaju o drugim plagijatima i plagijatorima?

more ...

Level up

The next time someone asks me about books to read before residency, I will direct them here. You don’t have to be a medical trainee to benefit from these, but that period of anxious anticipation between match day and orientation is perfect for buffing your attributes.

How to read a book, by Mortimer J. Adler

What better way to start learning about learning than by reading a book about reading books?

The Farnam Street blog has a nice outline of the book’s main ideas. The same establishment is now hocking a $200 course on the same topic. It’s probably good, but at $10 the source material is slightly more affordable.

Getting things done, by David Allen

The first few months you will be neck-deep in scut work no matter what you do. After that, though, you will have to juggle patient care, research, didactics, fellowship/career planning, and piles of administrative drek—and that’s just inside the hospital. At the very least, this book will help you make time for laundry (and maybe some reading).

Thinking, fast and slow, by Daniel Kahneman

Superficially, similar knowledge to what is in these 400+ pages can be found in a few Wikipedia entries. But you would miss out on the how and why cognitive biases and heuristics are so important. Medicine and research are bias-driven endeavors, and not understanding them is not knowing real-world medicine.


Only three? Yes. If anything, the two and a half months between mid-March and July 1st won’t be enough to read them all with the attention they deserve. But you should try.

more ...