Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Epinal images

In my blog banner, the man and a woman walking on their hands symbolize, of course, the antipodean theme of an upside-down world. This engraving was created by a celebrated French printer named Jean Charles Pellerin [1756-1836] in the city of Epinal, in the Vosges mountains. Since then, brightly-colored drawings of this simple style are referred to as Epinal images. Besides, this expression is often used metaphorically to designate an over-simplified, almost childish, vision of a complex situation.

Why am I talking of Epinal and its simplistic but charming images? Well, a modern hospital in that city is equipped with radiation therapy equipment for treating cancer patients. And it has just been revealed that, in 2004 and 2005, two dozen patients received excessive doses of radiation. Four have died, and ten have grave sequels. The explanation for these catastrophic errors is almost unbelievable. The operator manual for the radiation equipment was written in English only, and the medical staff at Epinal were apparently unable to understand it correctly!

As the saying goes, a picture is worth a thousand words. In my blog banner, you don't need any words to understand that those antipodean people are walking with their legs in the air. What a pity that the operator manual for the radiation therapy equipment wasn't packed with easily-understandable Epinal images.

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