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the surgeon general atop his mighty horse

Had a humorous vision/realization this morning, and thought I would share, just for grins.

I was staring at the side of a cigarette pack and trying to picture who the surgeon general was. I realized I had very little idea of who this person is or what their job is, aside from a patently absurd picture in my head of the odd concept "Surgeon General". The first thing that comes to mind when I picture the Surgeon General, I realized, is a brave man with a beard sitting atop a horse, with a fancy general's outfit and feathers in his cap (or macaroni, as the yankees call it?), wearing surgical gloves and a facemask. The sole purpose of this brave surgeon general is to ride around on his horse yelling "For the love of God people, STOP SMOKING!! I'm warning you, it's KILLING YOU!!! Why is nobody taking me seriously??! Ahhh!!"

At realizing this was the picture I had in my head, I had to laugh out loud, and acknowledge that the real surgeon general is probably nothing like this, and probably actually has a job description outside of warning people not to smoke. But I do think somebody ought to draw a cartoon of it, or make an SNL-style skit out of it... could even be a recurring character? Stay tuned for the crazy surgeon general's latest address... the lulz keep on coming.

Upon writing up this post, I of course had to check and see what the actual surgeon general looks like. Apparently, I was wrong about the horse and the facemask, but to my exquisite delight he (or she!) actually DOES wear a general's uniform:
[UPDATE: I stand corrected... it's a naval Admiral's uniform, which of course makes so much more sense!]

Joycelyn Elders, surgeon general under Clinton:


Steven K. Galson, surgeon general under Obama:


So why is it that cigarette packs do quote the surgeon general on each pack? Wouldn't it make more sense to say "the best scientific evidence shows that smoking is bad for you" rather than "the surgeon general says smoking is bad for you"? Seriously, does the latter way of saying it carry more weight with smokers? And mightn't some smoker think to himself "sure... that's what the *current* surgeon general says, but what about the last ten surgeon generals... would they all agree? And what's the next surgeon general going to say?"

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mpnolan
Apr. 11th, 2009 08:36 pm (UTC)
That was awesome.

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