July 2011

America once was about freedom and space. Most of that space was in the West, and still is. But that space is being seriously eroded. The kids of ex-Californians who fled to places like Utah (not too many of places like that anymore), now ride their all terrain vehicles vehicles across dunes that have not been traversed by humans for years, decades. The last scouts before the domestic hordes move in.

The writing is on the wall. Human beings are the ultimate protected species, and we are infringing on the last preserves in the once Wild West. When that is gone, then the last sunset dream cloud of the West will die with it, and with that, a buffalo-sized chunk of the American Dream.

Personally, I say the wolf belongs and the beef cattle do not. If we choose burgers over wolves, then we deserve marbled fat in our veins and bankruptcies from all that bypass surgery. We deserve the low standard of life of poor diet, diminished horizons, and an ever-more crowded country. Did I mention defending the border?

I once stared at a wolf across a narrow stream in the Northwest Territories, in summer. I was barely moving with the current; the wolf was standing still on the bank. I stowed my paddle and stared; and the wolf stood and stared, head down low, intent, ready to flee if necessary. Though unarmed, I felt no fear of the animal, whatsoever. Possibly, it never seen a human being before.

It was a silent, magical wilderness moment, which I treasure. It ended well, that encounter, for both wolf and human.

Comment posted to “Endangered Species: The Environmental Issue for 2012 by Nicole Allan,” The Atlantic, 6-28-11. By Hudson Owen


I can easily remember kindly Dr. Bender, the stereotypical Marcus Welby physician who came to our house, in a Green Acres burb, and paid a visit to me in bed when I had a fever or some childhood ailment. I remember his stethoscope and black bag.

Sometimes he wrote out a prescription on his Rx pad which was filled by the friendly local pharmacist, who had a tiny lending library in the back. I think my parents paid via Blue Cross Blue Shield, and that was the end of it–not once was I required to stay in the hospital overnight.

That was a very different world back then, postwar America. The population was about half what it is today. It was a more cohesive, coherent, optimistic world. Kids didn’t ride tricycles wearing a helmet and doctors didn’t expect to be sued over a broken toenail. People didn’t expect to be victims when they walked out their front door.

That world is gone. You can’t bring it back though you might replicate it in small communities. Perhaps one of the reasons for the emergence of Big Pharma (no one called the local drugstore that back them), is that pills are a common language in medicine, crossing all boundaries and disciplines (counting health supplements). They are easy to dispense and easy to take. They are the star of medicine on an industrial scale. They do wonders in many cases, do damage in others, and are not the end-all of personal health. In the limits of Big Pharma, physicians like yourself are exploring new boundaries, on the one hand (sometimes new old disciplines), and going back to the basics, on the other. We certainly live in a time of change.

Comment posted on the article “The Family Physician of the Future”, by Reid Blackwelder, M.D., The Atlantic – 6-24-11. By Hudson Owen