Ribbon ribbin’

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“A soldier will fight long and hard for a bit of colored ribbon.”

—Napoleon Bonaparte

Napoleon knew this well. He asked many of his countrymen to fight and earn little bits of ribbon during his tenure. You already know where this is going. You all are so smart.

One of my favorite things about the RSNA, ASNR, ARRS, and every other fill-in-the-blank meeting is walking through the hallways and catching sight of the people with dazzling ribbon counts. You know, those little ribbons that hang off your name badge, indicating that you are, indeed, someone of importance. You are not to be trifled with. Please, please, step out of the way and allow moi to pass.

My favorites are the below-the-belt ribbon displays. You absolutely KNOW those have to be a bitch to deal with in the bathroom. If you’re a man, those lower ribbons are at risk for getting wet down. If you are a woman, they are also at risk and could face immersion. That’s why I don’t touch people’s ribbon displays—you just don’t know where they’ve been. I can’t imagine they eat with them on.

Sometimes you see people out away from the venue and they still have their ribbons on. Get real. No one in Chicago cares that you’re a moderator and a subcommittee member.

A very good friend and one of the best H&N radiologists on the planet went online and purchased a package of faux ribbons of the highest order. They say things like “Rock Star” and “Genius” and “Ask Me if I Care.” We have been known to place one or two of these on our name badges. You get some unusual looks at the ribbon that says “Grand Prize Winner” or “Former Beatle.”

We know why everyone wears the display. It’s the human peacock thing. If I’m brightly festooned, I must be sought after and of the highest value.

Modest suggestion: Let’s declare a ribbon moratorium. No one—and I mean NO ONE—can wear more than two. You have to choose which ones you want to display. More than two must be worn on your forehead.


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Phillips CD.  Ribbon ribbin’.  Appl Radiol.  2016;45(11):56.

By C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR| November 02, 2016

About the Author

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

C. Douglas Phillips, MD, FACR

Dr. Phillips is a Professor of Radiology, Director of Head and Neck Imaging, at Weill Cornell Medical College, NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital, New York, NY. He is a member of the Applied Radiology Editorial Advisory Board.

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