Sunday, November 30, 2008

Silver Lined

"And everyday I wake,
I tell myself a little harmless lie,
The whole wide world is mine."

Rites of Spring (2008) by Angels And Airwaves

I can't sleep. I think I caught something sometime yesterday while watching Bolt with Shaki, Inn Shan and co and it kicked off with a sore throat - one which I attributed to the large cup of Coke I inadvisably downed during the movie but hey, it made sense at the time. Right after dinner, the sore throat turned into a raging classic spectrum of symptoms of an upper respiratory tract infection; fever, headache, sinus tenderness, nasal congestion and an uncommon hatred of one's miserable self. By 11:00 pm, my head was trying to explode and I had to fly the white flag. I pride myself on being able to weather most simple illnesses, eschewing any kind of medical consultation or medication for the past 4 years - excepting one memorable occasion when I self-medicated using opium for a bad case of headache and sore throat (warning: opium is not FDA approved for treating the flu). I have always favoured outliving any damn virus using sheer grit and determination. You know it has to be pretty serious when I abandon my standard operating procedure.

I downed a cocktail of paracetamol (with a bit of codeine mixed in), loratadine and pseudoephedrine sulphate before I went to bed - the last of which, a decongestant, has the unfortunate side-effects of insomnia. It figures, since pseudoephedrine related to methamphetamine (or Speeeeed - say it this way, kids) and it had been used in the illicit drug trade to cook the latter. I was so wired that I've been tossing and turning the entire night before finally deciding to get my ass up at 5:00 am to blog. Anyway, one of the reason I started this journal was to deal with my insomnia back when I was in India. Maybe that's why I am posting so much less these days; I'm sleeping too well.

I've started walking to and from campus recently, after my car had a breakdown of sorts. It's just 5 minutes of footwork from where I live, and it's one of the prime reasons I chose MMMC over IMU, aside the whole get-to-go-India angle of it. I drive there most of the time though to avoid sweating up my shirt, but the weather is pretty genial these days (with the odd rain or two).

Last Thursday, on my usual route, I saw a cat in the distance heading my way and as I got closer to it, it didn't veer off or try to hide out of the usual instinctive cowardice of its kind. A housecat, I thought, or almost one. Quite unabashed, it trotted past me - looking up at me as it did in what I can only call that feline expression. Locke Lamora, the anti-hero of Scott Lynch's Red Seas Under Red Skies said it best when he was shocked into awakening from sleep by a kitten sleeping on the back of his neck,

'Mew' the kitten retorted, locking gazes with him. It had the expression common to all kittens, that of a tyrant in the becoming. I was comfortable, and you dared to move, those jade eyes said. For that you must die.

As I looked back at it, the cat stopped walking. When I held a hand out, it turned right around and started homing in on me, eager for the prospect of a little petting,

"I feel joo, brotha."

I spent teatime with it, sitting outside a vacant house and playing with the cat for the next half an hour. It's very therapeutic, I think, to have a cat rubbing itself all around your legs and purring as you scratch behind its ears and neck. On some basic level, I believe people need to physically connect with someone else on a regular basis, if only to reaffirm that there's still some sort of bond existing between them and the living world at large. If you have kissed or hugged someone, or held someone's hand, or pet a dog or stroked a cat, you'd understand what I mean. It says to you, "I'm here. I'm alive. I feel."

I like that little myth about how animals can tell good people from bad. It makes me feel good about myself every time I win a stray's confidence - to make some creature trust me not to hurt or harm it. Have you experienced slowly lowering your hand onto a dog which is suspicious of you - which is shrinking reflexively in fear even as you reach out - but uncertain enough not to bolt and run away? It's like every doggy sense inside its little doggy mind is telling it to scamper - save one. It's that one doggy sense which tells it to stay put in hope of a friendly, loving touch from you. And then, there's that moment when you finally rest your hand on its head. Every fear and suspicion, every last shred of mistrust and uncertainty simply melts away. The tenseness of its every muscle evaporated right that very instance of contact, and its tail comes out from between its legs and starts to wag. All from a simple touch. Magic.

It feels kind of like when you kiss someone new, really.

That day, I went home feeling like my day turned around. It wasn't a bad day to begin with but it had been rather flat and grey - no real highs or lows. It would have been just "last thursday" for about a week before my mind finally consign it to utter oblivion, another lost day in immemorium. But something almost trivial happened, and it became different. I guess this is what people talking about when they say that something made their day. That cat was certainly something. I'm sure that all the other things that happened to me that day - going to class, attending my clinical posting, trying to get by in med school - are much more important than meeting and playing with a stray cat. I'm sure everyone will think the same.

And yet, I have this nagging feeling that we are all missing the point about Life somewhere.

P.S. Now, I don't want anyone to start abusing pseudoephedrine to study for exam or anything. Wait, I didn't just give you the idea, did I?

Had an awesome last Thursday,
k0k s3n w4i

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Malaccans Drive Nice Unlike Everyone Else

"Patience is something you admire in the driver behind you and scorn in the one ahead."

Mac McCleary

Firstly, I have not abandoned my blog. There’s a whole syndrome of reasons why I have not written here lately and chief of them is that my broadband connection has been erratic. It’s been disengaging from the net unpredictably for the entire past week, delaying my downloads and hacking my MSN conversations short. Two days ago, I was completely cut off – the "Remote Computer" refuses to answer my calls at all – and I’m pretty sure it’s not my modem being an arse here. However, I can still surf on dial-up, which I am doing at the moment. Note to self: sic my Dad on the problem.

Secondly, my attention was held captive recently by China Miéville’s The Scar – a speculative fiction masterpiece (it is!) in the "New Weird" sub-genre – and I have been investing every spare moment in it. Miéville is one of those authors who write what folks in the reading circle like me refer to as "bricks" or "doorstoppers". I pride myself on being able to read pretty quickly but the book is so rich that I simply cannot gorge myself too much in every sitting (people who don’t like words a whole lot; stand back and stay away). Anyway, expect a review of Miéville’s Bas-Lag books from me soon, right after I finish the third book in the canon.

And thirdly, my psychiatry posting – in spite of its leisurely nature – is proving to be a big drain on me. I personally enjoy the subject (and I am seriously thinking of specialising in it) but I can’t deny that the posting’s hours are a bit trying.

So, hello people (whoever are still here anyway)! I’m back for today – and today, I want to talk about… driving. And drivers. Oh, and the sort of people who drives.

You know back in high school and driving school, they always talked about this vague human value called "courtesy on the road"? If you’re a non-Muslim Malaysian student, I bet you’ve had it repeated ad nauseam to you in the ridiculous compulsory subject of Moral Education (what? Non-muslims’ religions don’t teach morality?). Well, "courtesy on the road" is a vast code of unspoken ethics for drivers which basically and summarily says "don’t be an asshole while driving" – I’ll illustrate my point later – and before I truck on, let me first say that Malaccan drivers are amongst the most courteous motorists in the country. Yeah, it’s a shout-out; let’s hear some whoops here!

Not Malaccans.

Every time a car stops too closely behind me, jumps a queue or bullishly tries to insinuate itself into a line when it does not have the right of way, that car always carries an outstation number plate – usually starting with W (KL), B (Selangor), or J (Johor Bahru). INVARIABLY. In fact, it’s such a constant that in every single instance of such assholery, I’d say "That’s definitely a KL or Johor car," to whoever’s riding with me without even looking at the number plate. I was right EVERY TIME. My colleagues from other states agreed with me on this, by the way. And to any dissenters here – you can’t cause accidents by driving slowly (anyone who says otherwise fails logic forever). Accidents are generally caused by people getting impatient with people driving slowly. "Slow" is sometimes known as "careful", by the way.

I get it that some breaches of etiquette are simply survival tactics for driving in their own states, and I become pretty assertive myself in the times I drove in KL as well (though I have always stopped short of being a jerk). The prevailing attitude on that city’s roads is one of selfishness – it’s every man for himself there, all cars clawing for every inch they can steal. I’ve seen drivers switching lane in a deadlock jam, trying to score a few seconds of advantage. I’ve seen other drivers stopping less than a foot away from the car in front to prevent anyone from trying to wedge in into the place in front of them. Why can’t everyone just work the fuck together, and only make moves that are absolutely necessary? I’m convinced that traffic would run so much more smoothly there if everyone can be just a little bit more patient and accommodating - but nooooo, everyone has to be an asshole.

I think one of the reasons why people can be so rude when they are driving is because of the relative anonymity of hiding in a car. It’s just like on the internet. Just read any message boards, online fora or the comment boxes in popular blogs – you hardly see people talk or act that way at all in real life. Everyone thinks that being anonymous means that they are not culpable for their breach of societal politesse.

I was in a colleague’s car just the other day when another car tried to overtake us. My colleague, who came from KL, instantly accelerated and the other car, failing to overtake, drove back in line. I was completely flabbergasted. "Why the fuck did you do that for?" I blurted "We’re not in a rush to go anywhere – you could have maintained your speed and let the other car pass! You lose nothing!" My colleague seemed stunned for a moment, as if what I just said simply never occurred to him before.

"It was a kneejerk reaction. I did it without thinking," he replied sheepishly. I wanted to point out that the jerk part was right, but I thought better of it.

That was an instance of road rudeness which serves no practical purpose at all. It’s acts like these which makes me think that humans are inherently rotten inside.

A couple of days ago, I was returning from supper in my own car. From quite a distant away, I could see that the traffic light at a certain junction just turned red and I simply took my foot off the accelerator, to allow my momentum to run out on its own. I like easing to a standstill that way because I don’t see the point in racing to the line when I have to stop and wait anyhow (a senseless waste of petrol, in my opinion). I was nearly there when suddenly, a grey car overtook me from behind at the very last moment just so it can come to hard stop in front of me. What the fuck? Why the fuck?

Sure enough, it was a W plate. I would have been surprised if it wasn’t,

Not Malaccan (and I always stop this far behind any car, by the way).

The road was practically empty. In fact, the lane beside me was completely unoccupied. Also, if you remember, the damn light was RED. Is it because he can’t bear watching me go so slowly and wanted to show me how to drive like him – how to screech to halt in front of a red light?
If I am an asshole like him, I’d probably be incensed enough to try to overtake him when the light turns green, to beat him to the next intersection. But I wasn’t, so I let him zoomed away while I just continued driving at my own languid speed. The grey car soon sped out of sight, overtaking a few more cars as he did.

And as I eased to a halt at the next junction, I stopped right behind…

"Didn’t make such good time after all eh, asshole?"

So he did a completely pointless act of overtaking a few feet before a red light and pointlessly wasted a lot of petrol for absolutely nothing. Gosh, I’m sure glad that I have the foresight and temperance to avoid performing completely useless actions like that.

What I want to say is; we Malaccans have a stronger sense of propriety on the road than all you other idiots from elsewhere. I believe I’m speaking for all my hometownies when I say that we simply do not welcome your type of drivers flooding into our nice, peaceful city in the weekends and holidays, causing unnecessary jams and being jerks to us on our own turf (outstation cars seem to outnumber Malaccan ones these days, for some reason). If you want to drive in Malacca, be courteous and patient. If you’re on vacation here, there’s even less reason for you to be rushing about. Also, while I’m at it, doing things like taking advantage of an empty lane beside a long line of cars just to cut the queue always disgusts us. Do you do that when you’re queuing in person at a ticket counter or supermarket checkout? It’s just as awful. Stop doing that, fucktards. Get the fuck out of town if you can’t play by our rules.

P.S. The next (or the next next) post will be somewhat related to this one (car and driver related), about how selfish some medical students are in my college. I meant to write about it as a second-parter of this piece but I suddenly felt an urge to go out to a café to read and have a cup of coffee. So next time then.

Malaccan driver,
k0k s3n w4i

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Tranny at the Checkout and the Phone in the Pool

"Don’t do drugs because if you do drugs you’ll go to prison, and drugs are really expensive in prison."

John Hardwick

Last month, I realised that I'm sitting on a big pile of tea leaves I bought from India and I have yet to start drinking any of them. One reason was that I did not own a proper mug big enough for my appetite, and brewing teensy cuppas are not at all labour effective (and I consider any labour from my part to be too valuable to squander so unproductively). I needed one of those big ass bowl mugs that people sometimes eat instant noodles from. D-cups, at the very least.

So, to cut pointless story short, there I was at the checkout counter in the Parkson Grand in Mahkota paying for this nice bowl glazed-ceramic mug I chose and there was this short Malay girl behind the till (who is not the titular tranny, be patient). After handing me my change, she wrapped up my mug with some paper. And then, just as she was reaching for a plastic bag, I remembered just in time to stop her.

"Tak nak plastik," I said. No plastic, please. That's me; responsible citizen of Planet Earth who gives a fuck enough to say three words. Plus, I think I could definitely handle a bit of ceramic walking between the checkout and my car.

She instantly glazed over, and stared confusedly back at me. It's like she's on the verge of spouting some computerised error message; "Does not compute, critical system failure." Shit, I thought I was going to be the first guy ever to get a Microsoft Blue Screen of Death out of a human being.

"Huh," she finally managed.

"Tak nak beg plastik," I repeated and gestured for my paper-wrapped mug. Gimme. I want it to go. I'll eat it while I walk. Chop chop, lady. Ain't got all day.

"Tak boleh!" She was clearly horrified at the thought of me walking out of the store holding my mug in my hand. I don't know - was it one of the signs of Apocalypse? People walking out of stores taking their purchases without their plastic bags? "Store policy," she added triumphantly, as if she just threw a glassful of holy water in my face. She seemed almost disappointed that I did not turn into a screaming cloud of evil and brimstone.

With the air of someone who would not negotiate with terrorists, she dropped my mug into a plastic bag and thrust it at my nose. I gave in, of course. What can a mere customer like me do against the holy commandments of "store policy".

Oh wait, I can stop shopping at the Parkson Grand store - which I did. Suck on my policy, evil corporate entity.

Just yesterday, after realising that soggy tea leaves don't in fact taste very good, I dropped by the Carrefour hypermarket in Pahlawan Megamall for some sort of strainer thingy which I can use to brew tea I can drink without getting mouthfuls tasseographical portents with every sip. In spite being such a big fan of tea, I never have had much hands on experience making the stuff myself so I haven't the slightest idea what I was going to buy. A mini-sieve? A specialised tea funnel with some of those filter paper we use in Chem labs? Empty teabags? Gosh, everyday's an adventure to me!

What I found was this device called a teaball,

"A teaball, you say? Tell me more."

Cutting to the chase, I found myself at a different checkout counter this time which was manned either by two guys, one-and-a-half guys, or just one guy depending on your definition of the word 'guy'. Okay, there were two cashiers at the counter and one of them is a tranny. I wanted to say "tranny who wasn't in character" but I just remembered that the Carrefour crew uniform is unisex. He was, however, wearing more makeup than a Chinese opera trouper at the time. Surprisingly, I do not dislike trannies at all in spite of how much girly lala boys disgust me. Maybe I just don't like half-assed effort.

So as I was saying, the tranny person was doing the bagging while instructing the unambiguously-male cashier on the operation of the cash register. Before I cound even tell, er, her to skip the bagging bit, she actually asked me that on her own volition. Wow, full of surprises in so many ways.

"Nak plastik?" She looked straight at me, waiting for my answer. I admit I was a little taken back - that was the first time any cashier or bagger in Malaysia asked me that. Then again, maybe it was just the intensity of her "don't judge me" stare - or at least, what I imagined to be a "don't judge me stare." If I'm a tranny, that's probably how I'll look at everyone. With poisonous daggers of hurt from a lifetime of prosecution out of my eyeballs, yo.

"Tak nak," I answered, and she handed me my tea ball, my packet of Ricola and my receipt. I walked away feeling cheerful for some reason. I mean, I don't know whether she was really thinking for the environment or merely has a dislike of wastage (I'm not discounting the possibility of an enlightened store policy here), but it made me feel good thinking that there is at least one cashier out there who would regularly give customers a chance to reject the use of plastic bags. Our society is horribly backwards when it comes to environmental issues. I had a friend who was behind me at a checkout line once in the Jusco supermarket who praised me for my initiative in rejecting plastic usage, but accepted a plastic bag regardless when his turn came (he only bought like some candies, by the way). We need all the training wheels we can get.

Oh, and regarding the other half of the title of this post,

I went swimming with Sanjeev last week at my college's pool (yes, we got a pool - and a sauna too!) and I dove right into the water with my cellphone still in the pocket of my shorts. Also, I swam an entire lap before realising it. Who da man? I da man!

Right before I start my second lap, my gut instinct kicked in. Quite calmly, as if this has happened to me a million times before, I reached into my pocket and pulled my phone out of the water. The LCD screen light was flickering and a spluttering static noise was clearly audible. I deftly popped the back and snapped the battery out onto the poolside. Then, I disassembled the whole thing and left the pieces there to dry - but to be honest, my heart wasn't really in it. It wasn't like a dunk and pull, you know. I swam a fucking lap with it. RIP, phone. It's been swell and all.

I did bring the bits back with me though. Sanjeev told me to try airing it with a hairdryer but again, I didn't think it was worth the bother - false hopes, disappointments and whatnot. I left it on my dresser and went to bed.

And the next morning, my cellphone came back to life - with absolutely no loss of function or memory to boot!

"Noli me tangere."

How's that for a ringing endorsement for Nokia? They built these babies like rocks. I dropped this one nonchalantly like all the time and every single time I did, people around me gasped in horror. Then, I'd hear regretful mutterings from them like "Gone" or "Finish" from them. It's like a gavel rap of a confirmed death sentence or something. It's broken for good. Kaput. Kerplunk. But each time, I'd just pick up my phone and put it back in my pocket without even bothering to check if it's still working. I never felt the need to because it's always still working no matter how many times I dropped it.

Of course, this just shows how flimsy everyone else's phones really are.

Considering how confident I am about the sturdiness of Nokia phones, it's amazing that mine can still surprise me. I still remember when I bought it in India,

"Give me the cheapest, most durable Nokia you got," I said.

The dealer put this pathetic, toy-like phone on the counter.

"Okay, give me something slightly more expensive."

The dealer took out something less tacky.

"Now, a little bit more expensive..."

The dealer then took out this baby and I bought it on the spot, without even bothering to check what functions it has. What? Don't everyone buy phones this way?

I'm not crazy about those hybrid phones that has a high end digital camera, an MP3 player, GPS and a lightsaber beam emitter built into them. To me, hybrids are like these pampered quasi-adults who keep changing college, totally unsure of what they want to do in life - trying a bit of everything without being really good at any of them. What I need is a cellphone, and I need my cellphone to be really good at being one - none of that namby-pamby bullshit about malfunctioning after just one drop, especially when I really need to make a call.

And when I first saw the Apple iPhone, the first thing which came to my mind was
"One-drop-insta-kill". Plus, I wouldn't know what to do with a touchscreen. I can see myself compulsively wiping it every second, and agonising over every hairline scratch. That's not for me - I don't want to be my phone's bitch. I want my phone to be my bitch, just like how God intends.

I shall henceforth call my phone 'Lazarus', y'know, to commemorate its ressurection. It's not my first pick, but I think people might just get a wee bit touchy if I call it 'Jesus'. Can you imagine me going, "Wait, Jesus is ringing!" or "Whoops, I dropped Jesus down the stairs!" No sirree, I'll stick to Lazarus.

"I put Lazarus on snooze, LOL."

P.S. Hey, hey, what's in a name, eh? Like half the blokes in Mexico are named Jesus anyway.

Owner of Lazarus,
k0k s3n w4i

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

These Books, By Their Covers

"It is only when the mind and character slumber that the dress can be seen."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

Let me just say first that this post is in fact a reactionary one of a fellow blogger's - one about the hypocrisy of a health professional who indulges in the habit of smoking, and her abhorrence of the practice. I will address this (and by association, the issue of drinking as well), and broadly, on the human practice of giving values to things which are intrinsically worthless.

We humans are pattern-seeking creatures, constantly trying to make sense of this world and to decode the causality laws which govern our society - or as I often call it, the illusion of causality laws. And let's face it; we have been horrible at it. There was a time when we thought epileptics were recipients of divine possession (and we still do the same thing with the people who are essentially pretending to be epileptics i.e people who allegedly spoke in tongues).There was a time when mishaps and calamities in a close community was associated with the presence of a witch (which many villages in India still do, by the way). There was a time when we have tortured and put to death innocent women who were thought to be the witches perpetrating those mishaps and calamities through black magic. In the same way these days, though in a more low-key and politer fashion, we draw such erroneous conclusions from the behaviour and personal life of doctors; a class of people as mystical and unfathomable as epileptics and witches in the eye of modern society.

So, you may claim that a physician who smokes and drinks are in no moral position to advise a patient to stay away from the same vices. You can draw general arguments from idioms about leading from example or practicing what one preaches. All words, all philosophy. Not that I have anything against philosophy (which I have a pedestrian interest in by the way), but I'd prefer a more realistic approach to the question. And I will in turn deal with that with these questions of my own; what is a doctor, and how stupid are people, really?

A doctor is basically a fixer-upper you see whenever you are sick and needs fixing up. In the same way, you'd see a mechanic if your car's acting up and you'd call a plumber if your pipes are leaking. A doctor is service provider just like them. The big difference is, you respect and trust a doctor more than you trust the others because you are actually putting your life into his or her hand. Whether doctors, mechanics or plumbers smoke or drink, it does not in any way affect their ability to do their jobs (I'm not talking about drinking and being drunk at work here, of course - I'm merely referring to the habit). It was never in a doctor's job description to be the model of perfect health. Doctors are just human too like the rest of us. They can fall sick. They can get cancer. And they sure as heck can enjoy a good fag and nice cocktail if they want to in their free time after spending a whole day attending to your needs. Do you mistrust an oncologist who was diagnosed with cancer to effectively treat yours? Are the medications prescribed to you by a physician for your sore throat ineffective just because he or she had a sore throat before? Yes? No? No. Now tell me, why on earth a doctor who smokes or drinks can't advise you to quit the habits if it's in your best interest? Are you so stupid that you can't see a good advice when it's given, regardless of whether the person who gave it practices it or not? What if a murderer advices you not to commit murder?

Maybe, just maybe, people stupid enough to be confused by a good advice and a bad example should be allowed to do whatever they want to shorten their own lifespans. Their removal from the human gene pool cannot come fast enough, and will benefit our species in the long run.

I believe that the general public are not quite retarded enough to be misled into disregarding a medical advice just because the doctor who gave that advice does not adhere to it. It might be that the doctor in question aren't suffering from any underlying conditions which precludes his indulgence of cigarettes or alcohol. It might be because he just don't give a fuck. Patients are allowed the same freedom and autonomy over their own bodies - they can put whatever shit they feel like into themselves so long as they aren't breaking any laws. And just because a doctor doesn't smoke or drink is no guarantee that a patient will sheepfully follow suit. Likewise, when a patient has a mind to stick to his vices, he doesn't need a doctor who smokes and drinks - but who gave him the advice to quit them - to enable him. Substance addiction needs no excuses beyond itself.

"Well, so long he's not Cthulhu."

If I am undergoing a surgery of some sort, I might even prefer my surgeon to take a puff from a cigarette before he or she starts cutting into me. It's a widely-known medical fact that smoking increases a person's ability to concentrate. Heck, a doctor might even give better diagnoses after taking a drag from a fag, being able to focus better. If it can be conclusively and statistically proven that smoking doctors are better than non-smoking doctors, everyone will only want to be treated by doctors who smoke - role model and exemplary behaviour bullshit be damned.

Also, (I'm just speaking broadly here) a doctor who smokes and drinks would probably have better insight into the psyche of a patient who indulges in the same.

There are doctors and medical students sitting on their moral high horses who condemn other members of their fraternity for smoking and drinking, as though they are in some way better or that they have, through much difficulty, avoided or kicked the habits themselves. Balderdash. I'd wager that most, if not all of the people in this camp, have no personal inclination to smoke or drink to begin with. They are essentially denying other people what they themselves do not want. This is true hypocrisy. Being a doctor who smokes or drinks isn't.

I think that I have made my point pretty clear; the conjecture that a smoking, drinking doctor being a bad example to patients is utterly bogus. It's just something some people feel to be proper - much like how people feel that little girls should wear pink, chopsticks should be held on the right hand and Long Island Ice Tea should be served in a highball glass. That's right. It's simply a misplaced sense of propriety, and anyone deigning to impose a groundless practice of so-called medical etiquette grown from certain people's subjective opinion - mere feeling - about how doctors shouldn't smoke or drink onto others is a fascist. Don't be fascists, people. We medical students and doctors should practice more of that famous empathy we often boast so proudly about (not to mention that you'd be left feeling pret-ty stupid if a colleague of yours who smokes and drinks turns out to be a much better doctor than you'll ever be).

Before I conclude this, I just want to say that I personally abstain from smoking and think that no one should smoke either. And I seriously detest people who smokes in front of people who don't and gassing everyone with their second hand smoke - though I am too polite to point that out to some of my friends who did that. I do drink on occasion but never nearly enough to get intoxicated - I have a penchant for cocktails because I only drink for the taste, not for the high. I agree that doctors and medical students ought to know better than to smoke or overindulge in alcohol (the keyword here is "overindulge"; I researched a little bit into the health benefits of drinking moderately for a debate I participated in in a Community Medicine posting) but it's not our place to question their personal choices if those choices do not affect their ability to perform their duties. In fact, since doctors know best the myriad of diseases they are exposing themselves to by smoking or drinking, we should respect their decision to do so anyway, even if we cannot respect their judgment.

After all, they are making an informed decision, unlike everyone else.

P.S. And wearing a necktie won't make a doctor better at doing his job either. Like I said, we're too fond of giving values to things which are intrinsically worthless.

Knows what really matters,
k0k s3n w4i