Effect Measure

A note tacked to the door

The lights are out at Effect Measure. It is closed and locked. No one is there any more. So consider this a note tacked on the door. I had always intended to leave it as a way to connect you with The Pump Handle and that’s still its purpose. But now I feel compelled to add a thank you note as well.

Shortly after publishing the final post I went off to my university’s commencement. Of all the duties of a university faculty member, this is one of the nicest and happiest, the moment where we send our intellectual offspring into the world to do good on their own. The students who receive their PhDs (an achievement that takes years of arduous and often frustrating effort) have their academic hoods placed on them by their thesis advisor. It is a wonderful moment for both parties. This year one of them was a young woman whose thesis advisor herself had a thesis advisor for whose thesis I was the advisor. She was, in essence, my intellectual great grandchild. The world keeps spinning. When I got home, I was stunned by the nice things and good wishes people wrote in the comment thread to our Farewell post. I literally blushed. I have a multitude of defects and one is that I don’t handle praise easily. My first impulse is to think of all the reasons why it isn’t true. But the fact is I am also a fairly normal person and it would be both a lie and ungenerous not to admit I was gratified. Who wouldn’t be? So thank you. It meant much, even if I can’t quite fathom it.

Now to my original plan, a note about The Pump Handle. If you aren’t familiar with it, it is a public health catchphrase for disease prevention. Its origin is a famous episode that occurred during a cholera outbreak in London’s Soho district in 1854. You can read a detailed account in Steven Johnson’s book, The Ghost Map, or hear Johnson talk about it at a TED talk which we posted a while back here. A London surgeon, Dr. John Snow, traced the source of the cholera to a well in Golden Square and convinced the local selectmen to “take the handle off the pump,” thereby stopping the outbreak. John Snow is now considered the Father of Epidemiology (there is a more complicated historical background here, including a bit of mythology, but I’m not blogging any more so you’ll have to ferret it out on your own). When some of my friends and colleagues decided to start another public health blog a few years ago I suggested the name The Pump Handle and so it is.

The Pump Handle blog has, as of today, moved to Scienceblogs.com and will hold down the public health blog position that Effect Measure occupied. There are other blogs at Scienceblogs that also do public health, notably Tara Smith’s fine Aetiology, and many of the other medical and biological sites discuss public health issues regularly. Now TPH will be here as well and make public health its sole subject. Public health blogs aren’t very common. There are many medical blogs and blogs devoted to microbiology but not too many devoted to public health in general. So the very existence of TPH is important.

But beyond just the blog’s existence, the contributors there are public health heavy hitters. The bloggers at TPH have a wealth of knowledge and experience in environmental and occupational health and that will no doubt continue to be a major topic. But I hope to blog there on occasion on other matters (my business is the same as theirs I prefer not to blog about what I do professionally) and they plan to attract other contributors to broaden the scope. Make no mistake, though. These folks are real experts in their subject area. Jordan Barab’s Confined Space blog got folded into TPH when he gave up his site and he is now Deputy Director of OSHA. The blog master at TPH is Liz Borkowski who blogged originally at unbossed and works in policy at Georgetown. Celeste Monforton also blogs at TPH. She is a PhD in policy who has advised the Governor of WV on both the Sago Mine Disaster and now Upper Big Branch. A former contributor to TPH was David Michaels, who now is Obama’s OSHA Director and another TPH contributor is Susan Wood, a professor of health policy and environmental and occupational health at Georgetown and the Executive Director of the Jacobs Institute of Women’s Health there. The folks are recognized authorities in the world of public health and readers will learn from them — and as I have good cause to know, they will learn from you. I hope they develop the kind of loyal, critical, feisty, knowledgeable and influential readership we were privileged to have at Effect Measure. They couldn’t do better than that.

So that’s the note. We don’t live here any more. Further inquiries at The Pump Handle.


  1. #1 ecologist
    May 17, 2010

    happy trails, best wishes, and add my thanks to those of many others for the fine job you have done.

  2. #2 Mark
    May 17, 2010

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and expertise on such important matters. I shall miss reading the blog each morning. All the best to all of you and thanks for your efforts to make the world a better place for the next generation and their children.

  3. #3 flulearner
    May 17, 2010

    Thank you for all you did. Although it is sad that you left without solving a big epidemiological mystery of 2009 influenza pandemic why it has claimed more lives in the US than any other countries including Mexico (where it all started), we learned all preventive measures including the hand-washing techniques, anti-flu drugs, staying home when sick, and modern heath care could not prevent the US (with about 300 million people) from suffering the most of this modern day pandemic (at least 50 million people presumed to have been infected and at least 12,000 lives lost). With about 100 million people in Mexico, it has only reported an estimated 1208 deaths and Canada with about 33 million people has only reported an estimated 428 fatal cases due to pH1N1. So added to your door note: Are you satisfied with the only explanation given by WHO that the number of pH1N1 related deaths in all countries is “an under representation of the actual numbers”?

  4. #4 gribley
    May 18, 2010

    flulearner, let it go! Surely the time for more questions on this particular blog has drawn to a close.

    Reveres, my best to all of you. We’re all your intellectual debtors, and some of us are proud to be your intellectual grandchildren as well.

  5. #5 gsgs
    May 18, 2010

    you can still post and discuss here:

    but registration is required

  6. #6 slovenia
    May 18, 2010

    Dear Reveres,

    I just got back to my computer after a few days and found the note tacked to the door. My first reaction was tears (we MSers are noted for our excessive emotional response).I found EM when bird flu caught my attention and through EM have found many indespensibles like crofs blog and The Pump handle. The information you have imparted is available elsewhere. Your marvelous, kind, tough, ironic, warm personality is not. How I’ll miss it! I wish you the very, very best. And please tell Mrs R that she ought to look up the author Loren D. Estleman and his Amos Walker series. Thank you. Goodbye.

  7. #7 thelastdemocrat
    May 18, 2010

    An awesome blog. Ending it is a big loss. I can understand the time demands and choices. Thx for the ESVM poem. –A bit more on the medical, clinical side, but still with PH relevance and great discussions, is the blog, “science-basedmedicine.” (I have nothing to do with it – not a plug – just a suggestion for EM readers.)

  8. #8 geodoc
    May 18, 2010

    Typical! Find a decent PH blog and within a few months of the discovery it closes down on me. Sorry to see you go. Thanks for all the thoughtful comment and discussion- will be checking out TPH.

  9. #9 glock
    May 18, 2010


    I haven’t visited in a while as my job hunting has been ALL consuming, with travel and such.
    I’m very sad to see you go, but totally in support of the decision.
    Being one with ADD, I’ve never been able to figure out how you were able to do so much, so well, so consistently. But I was a HUGE benefactor of those (seemingly effortless) efforts.

    I will miss being the smartest person in friendly get together’s where I deftly steer the conversation to topics I’ve perused here. ESPECIALLY during flu season.

    Being an educator you may be comforted to know that having had you as a “teacher” has motivated me to doggedly research subjects on my own that I didn’t fully understand and in so doing, have REALLY exercised my brain, keeping it in much better shape than it would have otherwise have been in.
    I am in a totally unrelated field (creative) and EM has been a welcome much needed get away for my way too restless brain.

    You will be sorely missed, and I’m so thankful I got here before the moving truck pulled away.

    Thanks for all you’ve done for all of us, you’ve been very generous role model.

    Have a GREAT life,


  10. #10 ken mareld
    May 26, 2010

    Good Luck, I will miss you. I am a new nurse, and you’re blog was always of greater value than any of my classes. It was a great ride. Good Luck Forever.


  11. #11 ghostmap
    May 30, 2010

    I really enjoy the blog sorry to see it ending. Good luck on everything that you do in the future. Thanks againg for providing all the great reading material in the past

  12. #12 Judy
    June 2, 2010

    Thank you, you will be missed.

  13. #13 Magpie
    June 3, 2010

    The awesome? It was here.

    …where am I going to get my awesome now?


  14. #14 Marcie Hascall Clark
    June 5, 2010

    Thank you for answering so many questions from this floundering novice over the years.
    Peace Out !

  15. #15 Kashif
    June 26, 2010

    Really enjoy the blog, why its ending?

    i can only say thanks for what you did.


  16. #16 cicely
    July 13, 2010

    Just to let you guys know….I like The Pump Handle, but I miss your “voice”.

  17. #17 ranggaw0636
    July 19, 2010

    it’s a shame you not continuing here ;_:

  18. #18 Olivia Reeves
    August 23, 2010

    Really it feels great when the students whom you have taught write something good for you.. this is amazing… that feeling is beyond the comprehension of words…

  19. #19 Miki
    September 4, 2010

    So the guy (oh, excuse me, the contributorS, wink wink) has some fatal disease? What’s with all the morbid references (the time left to me, the death poem, etc.) towards the end. That’s the only explanation for the blog’s sudden death that makes sense.

  20. #20 Revere
    September 5, 2010

    Miki: no, not the case. Blogging took hours out of the day and at our age we wanted to devote those hours to science.

  21. #21 Don in VA
    September 7, 2010

    Well that’s a relief. Seriously. Possibly my imagination but there seemed to be a level of melancholy in some of the posts that wasn’t there previously. I was, and am sad at the loss of the daily dose of EM and the reveres, but my grief is certainly tempered by your assurance that all is well with you.

    Like someone else here said: Peace Out!

    For a long time to come!

  22. #22 izmir
    April 18, 2011

    Alison – Thank you SO MUCH for making me aware izmir of this need in putting a DVD together. You are absolutely right; we need to make sure that we make the program accessible to everyone izmir . I truly appreciate your feedback. – Katie

  23. #23 oreganol
    April 25, 2011

    I found this blog too late. Well, mabe not because I can still browse through your archives. I’m particularly interested in flu because I have just started reading the book Viral Immunity by Dr JE Williams. It’s got me thinking.

  24. #24 Franchises
    October 6, 2011

    If you are gonna start a public campaign then you are not alone.We are with you.All the best.

  25. #25 maca
    January 5, 2012

    It’s a shame this blog has closed for go, as it has many interesting articles. Is there any way it can be taken over by someone else who could continue to run it?

  26. #26 Aileen
    Portland, OR
    May 4, 2013

    Thank you, Revere. Thank you for your sharing your brilliance and compassion and candor. Thank you for your willingness to explain complicated matters. Thank you to Mrs. R also. It’s graduation time again. I hope you are enjoying it.

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