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.