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Astonishment for the doctor of this house

by netsky / October 30, 2004 11:51 PM PDT

Calling the Resident Physician (and no one else)

After my final posting in the small hours of this morning I wanted a diversion to lead me to sleep, somehthing other than speakeasy.

From a shelf was drawn a small favorite of an old book, the 1941 "The Reader'Digest 20th Anniversary Anthology".

I read "The Death Detail".

On page 43 under the end of the story text is a space filler, such as RD always stylistically employed like an after dinner mint or swig to cleanse the palate.

HERE, verbatim, is what my eyes read, then said: i must show this to the doctor of the Speakeasy.

These self-presenting ironies stalk me. Can I be sure of anything? Only that i make nothing up.


Dr. William Osler, having been invited to inspect a famous london hospital, was proudly shown about by several physicians and surgeons.

Finally the charts wree reached, and he looked them over carefully, observing the system of abbreviations: SF fro scarlet fever, TB for tuberculosis, D for diptheria, and so on.

All diseases seemed to be pretty well under control except one indicated by the symbol GOK.

"I observe," said the famous doctor, "that you have a sweeeping epidemic of GOK on your hands. This is a symbol not in common use in American medical circles; just what is GOK?"

"OH!" one of his hosts lightly replied, "when -we- can't diagnose, God Only Knows."

-Quoted by Walter Neale in 'life of Ambrose Bierce'


me again. i have just done a google by typing in 'neale Life of Ambrose Bierce' because i have never heard of either man before. The first hit brings up this:


Neale?s Ambrose Bierce
According to Neale, who knew Bierce personally, Bierce felt inferior his entire life, at least in terms of education and strove his entire life to transcend into a gentleman. However, in an attempt to become a gentleman Bierce usually ended up making a fool of himself because he talked as if he was an expert when he was not (Neale 41). Bierce grew up in Ohio on a farm, though his parents were "cultured," but moved away at the age of seventeen in his attempt to become a gentleman. Neale states that Bierce went to Elkhart, Indiana to further his education. In Indiana he signed up with the Indian volunteers and "labored as a lackey, mopping up vomit, cleaning out spittoons, [and] wiping off platters with a dirty apron (Neale 39). He did not become a gentleman in the saloon. At the outbreak of the Civil War Bierce joined the Union army and acted as a topographical engineer. When "the war ended, Bierce had neither the instincts nor the manners of a gentleman," so he moved to London, England (Neale 39). In London Bierce associated with "brutal, uncouth, immoral" men (Neale 39). A few years later Bierce, who still had not become a gentleman in his own eyes, moved to Washington, DC where he attempted to further his education. After many years of moving around, Neale states that Bierce possessed the best kind of education and the only kind: the kind that is self-acquired (48). This "self-acquired" education led Ambrose Bierce to become one of the best American authors.


look at that, readers- this Bierce was a writer of short stories. he dealt for his life with an inferiority complex. he was most definitely a homosexual.


Now who was this OTHER Dr. William Osler who wrapped somehow into Neale's telling of Bierce's in a biography of 1929?

He was a "famous doctor", said Neale. That is all i know. And so i will not Google or search for more than that at this moment. Perhaps he is a relation to our Dr. Osler.

Irony that i should meet another Osler in the first book i have cracked in weeks.

This world is so full irony and of a number of other things less wonderful

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the best in the world
by netsky's remains / October 31, 2004 1:58 AM PDT



Sir William Osler (1849-1919 )
best-known physician in the English-speaking world at the turn of the century, called the "most influential physician in history"
born on July 12,1849 at Bond Head, Canada West (now Ontario)
died on Dec 29, 1919, Oxford, England
raised in Dundas, Canada West
trained in medicine at the Univeristy of Toronto and McGill
obtained an MD at McGill in1872
postgraduate training in England and Europe began teaching medicine and pathology at McGill
in 1889 he became the first professor of medicine at Johns Hopkins University
expert in diagnosis of diseases of the heart, lungs and blood
wrote the textbook The Principles and Practice of Medicine in 1892 (and frequently revised); it was considered authoritative for more than 30 years
combined physiological and psychological treatment of patients
emphasized the importance of the patients state of mind in acheiving a cure
called the father of psychosomatic medicine
helped create the system of postgraduate training for physicians that is followed to this day
emphasized the need for medical students to spend time with patients
published extensively and built international reputation as an astute and humane clinician
made contributions to knowledge in a wide spectrum of clinical fields
stimulated students who later became leaders of the medical profession
his description of the inadequacy of treatment methods for most disorders was a major factor leading to the creation of the Rockefeller Institute for Medical Research in New York
moved to England in 1905 to take up the Regius Chair of Medicine, which he held until his death
was made a baronet in 1911.
for more information see:
info from the Medical Library Association
The Canadian Encyclopedia (1988) article by Charles G. Roland
for more information see Canada firsts (1992) by Ralph Nader, Nadia Milleron, and Duff Conacher

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You mean Dr. Bill is dead??
by Steven Haninger / October 31, 2004 2:35 AM PST

He can still vote, can't he? Happy

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THAT Dr. Bill cannot vote and why?
by netsky's remains / October 31, 2004 3:33 AM PST

Even if he were alive today his vote could not be registered by any of the usual ways.

-Bill Osler the original, was Canadian, and finished his life in England-


Now it occurs to me there are only THREE possibles for the coincidence of our two mutually named doctors:

1- our Bill is a descendant of the father of modern medicine

2- it is ironic coincidence of names alone. Osler is probably one of those one-in-100,000 of surnames. And William is what? One of every twenty Christian names?

3- YOU guess, dear readers. You take a turn. Logic tells me that possibility #3 is more statistically likely than the other two.

Give it a whirl. Train your Sherlockian powers! What is the third reason by which that doctor and our doctor might have the same name?

my answer later and yours in the meanwhile or I WON'T come back to this thread, and why?

GOK me

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the answer.....
by MarciaB / October 31, 2004 3:46 AM PST
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Re: the answer.....yes yes yes!
by netsky's remains / October 31, 2004 4:02 AM PST
In reply to: the answer.....

Even if you had not given the link nor the answer, it was only three hours after mh astonisment post that it dawned on me- that by all rights of chance and logic, "bill osler" is a screen name honorarium to a personal hero.

And so you win the prize:

My thanks plus

shutting up
shutting down
on this thread.

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My wife and I were driving a few miles north of Toronto when
by Ziks511 / October 31, 2004 4:39 AM PST

we came upon a blue and gold sign saying Birthplace of Sir William Osler. My wife wanted to visit because she had done a residency at John's Hopkins and William Osler had been a major figure in the improvenent and ultimately national reputation of the hospital. We made the turn and drove through the village of Bond Head with its nearby lake; it's a cute little Ontario town with a fairly traditional main street, and a bit of sprawl because it's close to Toronto and is becoming a bedroom community for commuters. William Osler was all of 5ft tall, and has a life-sized portrait at The Toronto Hospital, though he never practised there.

I quite enjoy the fact that Dr. Bill has used such a revered name. He is a credit to it.

Rob Boyter

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