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Marks, Winston K. – “John’s Other Practice” (1954)


Opens by noting that John Cunningham, made the poor choice of becoming a gynecologist even though he was a good-looking “romanticist,” and so in short order was disgraced and divorced. Yikes.

Desperate to continue practicing medicine without actually interacting with any patients, Cunningham launches a company that places medical-advice vending machines into women’s restrooms, using mirrors to “draw the female attention” of ““little chirping bevies” of women, before dispensing humorous advice cards based on questions answered by means of “yes, no, or sort of” buttons.

Dr. Klinghammer, meanwhile, is a malpractice investigator out to uncover who is behind these machines that threaten to supplant human doctors. He runs into Cunningham’s lackey Dr. Sue Calicoo, who quickly seduces him, following which Cunningham and Calicoo show him a prototype “super-Symptometer” they are building, which they hope will reduce physician error to zero.

Klinghammer, knowing that the machines will embarrass the discipline and that trying to confiscate or destroy them will be a PR nightmare, proposes to the International Medical Association that they be used as triage/auto-examining machines that produce coded cards for doctors’ eyes only, eliminating the boring part of their job.

It then turns out that the super-Symptometer was a scam to get him to do exactly that. Somewhere along the way Calicoo had realized she legitimately loved Klinghammer, though, and so they live happily ever after. Looks like Kornbluth wasn’t the only one to realize that the mechanization of every industry and discipline was proceeding rapidly, although this was a silly way to have it play out.

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