miércoles, 23 de abril de 2008

The Effort-Only culture and the Privatization of Medical Universities

Next year, four new Faculties of Medicine might open in Madrid, sponsored by the climate of Medical privatization that the Comunidad de Madrid is pushing for. Three of these will be private.

Even worst, teaching Hospital adscribed to public university will be handed over to private ones. Students will lose Hospitals to practice in.

Private university in Spain has, until now, been a low-quality minority option for rich kids who don't have the grades to go to public University. Until now, there were two private faculties of Medicine (and one of them, the University of Navarra, is ancient and has a reputation for excellence). I'm concerned about the quality of teaching. Many of these Universities are famous for taking cash first and teaching as an afterthought. Many of these "pass" kids depending on parental expenditure.

I'm also concerned about my own future. In the 80's, an insane number of doctors were unemployed. That's why Numerus Clausus was created: it was stupid for the State to spend tons on training doctors who then couldn't find jobs in the public health sector. Now there are more private hospitals, but even those need good doctors. I'd much rather we keep importing well-trained professionals from South America (or hell, even pay Spanish-trained doctors better, so they don't leave to work in England), than slap a degree on a couple foreheads and set them lose in hospitals.

A lot of people are arguing that Numerus Clausus was unfair. Requiring people to take an exam before entering University and limiting entrance by grade is deemed "too hard" on the poor kids who have "real vocation" to be doctors. I'm sure there are private tragedies that stem from Numerus Clausus. I'm sure a lot of the kids who don't make the cut would have been great physicians. But I've seen how people struggle through MedSchool. I've taken those exams myself. Dedication, vocation-- these are wonderful things, but sometimes they aren't enough.

I don't care whether you are brilliant or not, but if you can't muster the right combination of brains and study time to get into MedSchool the normal way, I doubt you'll make a good doctor. I know people who scrapped in and they've graduated with honours due to sheer willpower. All of us who made it struggled to keep up high grades through high school and we kept struggling for six years to learn stuff that we thought we might never use. I doubt anyone finds MedSchool easy. It's hard and it's hard for a reason. Not everyone can be a doctor.

I wonder how the private universities are going to manage to keep up the level with their less-than brilliant students. I'm assuming passing in the private universities will be a lot easier. I'm guessing grades will be higher. Since grades are important to take placement exams to specialize, this would be terribly unfair.

Some parents are all in favour of the private option. Their kids "study", they say. They "try hard". They have "medical vocation", they are "motivated and smart".

My question to these parents is: if that's the case, why can't they make it the regular way? Something is missing in their "motivated" kids, either brains or willpower. In my experience, most often, these very "motivated" people simply lack the willpower to apply their ass to a chair and concentrate for more than a couple of hours.

I'm sorry to be so harsh, but we aren't in kindergarten anymore. "Trying" isn't enough.

"Oh, so sorry, your father/mother/sibling/child died because I screwed up, but I tried"

Would you accept that?

viernes, 18 de abril de 2008

Last Short Story Project on "Clapping for the Fairies"

This is what girliejones had to say about "Clapping for the Fairies" published in Helix 8

This year I have promised myself not to fall behind in my blogging so I am going to blog my story recs as they come, and regardless of how many form a post.

So today? Just this one:

Clapping for the Fairies by Sara Genge, Helix 8

I'm becoming a bit of a fan of Sara Genge's work. I think she writes from left field which makes her work stand out in a crowd. And her style is very readable. Here, she is very playful with form and that really appealed to me. I liked this story and *I'll* clap for the fairy.

I'm developping something of a crush for the Last Short Story project. These guys read hundreds of stories a year and bother to post about them. I can't help but think of them as uber-literate as far as short stories are concerned and when they like one of mine it's a huge ego-boost.

sábado, 12 de abril de 2008

Spanish Politics

The links are in Spanish since I couldn't find good coverage in English. Sorry about that.

Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero has formed his government for the next four years.

For the first time, there are more women Ministers than men (9 to 8). For the first time, a woman, Carme Chacon, is head of Defense. Oh, and yes, she's pregnant. Very pregnant.

This is going to be fun to watch.


I assembled an anthology at Anthology Builder for my Mom's birthday/Christmas present (yes, I'm late, but I was studying for the Big Exam and I didn't get around to get anyone gifts. And yes, I do plan on giving her something else soon; one book for two gift-giving days is cheap even for me). The anthology arrived last week and I have to say I was impressed. For one, the cover is glossy and pretty (my fault, since I chose it). Second, the book is a trade paperback with a glossy pro look, nice typeset and quality paper. Third, it's big. I guess I hadn't translated "350 pages" into volume in my head. I certainly hadn't translated 14.99$ into stories. There were maybe 15-20 stories in there, most of them longer than a couple pages. That's very good value for money, specially with the dollar so low.

Sue Burke gave me my contributor copy of Desolate Places, edited by Eric T. Reynolds. Sue Burke and I are both in the TOC and since postal service to my house isn't reliable, Eric agreed to mail both copies to Sue. This book looks a lot like the antho builder one: big, sturdy, and with a lot of stories. I haven't had a chance to read any of them yet, but I can't wait.

miércoles, 9 de abril de 2008

Writerly Powers Of Persuasion

I'm getting some wacky feedback from people who've read "Clapping for the Fairies" saying that they actually clapped in the end. This makes me feel all tingly inside and strokes my writer god-complex, but I wonder if I haven't passed up a wonderful opportunity to get readers to do something more productive.

What would have happened if I had applied my writerly powers of persuasion to get readers to send me a buck?

You, the white dude with tired eyes, paypal me 20$. You, the harried exec with a heavy check-book, send me dough. You, yes, I do mean you (your shirt is horrible, by the way, Hawaiian is so 80s) get a girlfriend and support Helix while you're at it.

Hmmm... For some reason the money isn't raining in. Maybe it only works when there's a story behind it and a powerful emotional trigger.

Oh, I have an idea... Story-evangelism, here I come!

martes, 1 de abril de 2008

"Clapping for the Fairies" in Helix #8

Helix #8 is up and my story "Clapping For The Fairies" is in it. This is my second story in Helix, coming exactly a year after "Pretty Little Thing". was published.

I'm a bad self-pimp, but I'll say this: it's a weird little story, told from a weird perspective. If you like the idea of a second person, choose-your-own-adventure, lesbian horrortale, this might just be the thing for you.

Incidentally, I've been contacted about translating "Pretty Little Thing" into Spanish. This will give my non-English speaking friends an opportunity to find out what that writing thing is all about and, possibly, defriend me.