Archive for Life and/or Death

Hands across the nation

Unlikely friendships may be the best kind: you’ve already overcome the presumed obstacles, probably without even thinking about them. Lisa knows how this goes:

I don’t think it was the Internet that opened up the doors to friendships between people who otherwise would never meet in real life. Ham radio operators used to have whole communities of “friends” out on the airwaves. Even before that, people had foreign pen pals with whom they shared years of correspondence without any expectation that they would ever shake hands in real life. Sometimes it was better that way. I remember a professor telling me a story about Henry James that may or may not be apocryphal. Among the many woman, James corresponded with regularly was one he had never met even through years of letters where they found themselves to be soul mates in matters of literature and philosophy. Finally, returning to America after a long stay in Europe, James decided to visit this woman in New York or Boston or wherever it was that she lived. According to the story, just before James walked up the drive to this woman’s home, a housemaid, distracted by something, dropped a basket of soiled linen on the front stoop. Henry, who we all know was a bit of a prig, saw this basket of unmentionables where no respectable home should allow it to be. He was so horrified at the indelicacy that he turned around and never wrote to the woman again. Who knows if the story’s true? But it might tell us that some friendships work best on other planes of existence.

Cue the voice of somebody’s mother, with just the slightest hint of condescension: “Are you talking to your little Internet friends again?”

Well, yes, we are. And some of them, we treasure as though we’d grown up beside them. Lisa knows about that sort of thing, which is why, after a season full of whirlwind activity, she’s taken keyboard in hand to pay tribute to a friend of hers, and mine, and likely one of yours too.

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Joan of Snark

There’s not much that can be said about the late Joan Rivers that isn’t said here:

Okay, maybe one more thing. In her 2012 book I Hate Everyone, Starting With Me, she addressed daughter Melissa:

“When I die (and yes, Melissa, that day will come; and yes, Melissa, everything’s in your name), I want my funeral to be a huge showbiz affair with lights, cameras, action. I want craft services, I want paparazzi and I want publicists making a scene! I want it to be Hollywood all the way. I don’t want some rabbi rambling on; I want Meryl Streep crying, in five different accents. I don’t want a eulogy; I want Bobby Vinton to pick up my head and sing ‘Mr. Lonely.’ I want to look gorgeous, better dead than I do alive. I want to be buried in a Valentino gown and I want Harry Winston to make me a toe tag. And I want a wind machine so that even in the casket my hair is blowing just like Beyoncé’s.”

It will indeed be a showbiz affair:

Joan Rivers is getting her final wish. The late legendary comedienne and E! Fashion Police host will have a red carpet at her funeral in NYC on Sunday, Sept. 7, an insider confirms exclusively to Us Weekly. The rug, which Rivers’ family and friends will walk upon outside Temple Emanu-El, will then be buried with the star.

Seems only fitting.

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Now entering the afterlife

Darn few songs mention the late Don Pardo, NBC announcer since 1944. You can actually hear a lot of him in this one, and besides, it’s great on its own merits:

He married Catherine Lyons in 1938, the year he got his first radio job in Providence; they stayed together until her death in 1995.

Thanks, Don. And you too, Al.

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In the interests of civilization

Meaningless factoid: Lauren Bacall was a first cousin to Israeli president Shimon Peres.

Lauren Bacall and friend

Above, Bacall’s influence on a well-trained critter. Below, Bacall’s influence on a somewhat less well-trained critter:

Bugs Bunny and Lauren Bacall in 'Slick Hare', 1947

Meaningless factoid: Lauren Bacall is the only Oscar winner to have been married to two other Oscar winners: Humphrey Bogart (of course) and Jason Robards.

Something to track down: the dubbed English version of Ernest et Célestine, a French-Belgian animated film based on Gabrielle Vincent’s books, in which Bacall is the voice of The Grey One, caretaker at a mouse orphanage. Released early this year, it was her last film credit.

Not at all meaningless, an exchange between Bogie and Bacall from The Big Sleep:

Philip Marlowe: You wanna tell me now?

Vivian Rutledge: Tell you what?

Philip: What it is you’re trying to find out. You know, it’s a funny thing. You’re trying to find out what your father hired me to find out, and I’m trying to find out why you want to find out.

Vivian: You could go on forever, couldn’t you? Anyway it’ll give us something to talk about next time we meet.

Philip: Among other things.

The world seems a bit less civilized now.

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And then he wasn’t

“Tiburon,” he said of his home in Marin County. “From the Spanish tiburoni, meaning to overcharge for no reason.”

When word came down the line that Robin Williams had died, seemingly everyone in my tweetstream posted a favorite comedy or dramatic bit — and in a full hour, there were no duplicates. I couldn’t pick one of them to, you should pardon the expression, save my life.

So I’ll quote Sheila O’Malley, perennially wise, who offered up this personal recollection:

Robin Williams talked at my school. He was otherworldly in person, on some other plane of listening/humor. Also very caring. Sad… He was like a master chess player, 14, 20 moves ahead of everyone else. He felt the joke 20 minutes out. And he made sure it landed … and this was just chatting with the students. He wasn’t performing for us. He was just talking. But he heard shit on a higher frequency.

This is the kind of thing that can drive you to madness if you’re not careful. And Robin Williams, damn his brilliant hide, was never, ever careful.

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Out of Dodge

Two months ago, Andrew Ian Dodge, “former US Senate Candidate Maine (Libertarian), former tea party coordinator, writer & rocker,” and keeper of the Best of Me Symphony and the Carnival of the Vanities, advised that there was a reason he wasn’t as prolific these days:

I have incurable cancer. We are trying to figure out the best course of action regarding chemo & my treatment. Kim Benson, my beloved wife, has been a rock throughout. We shall fight this with all our might.

He made it through this morning, and he had his Final Statement ready to go. He was forty-six years old, far too young to be dealing with cancer — especially since he’d beaten it once before.

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Quote of the week

Glenn Reynolds takes the long view on capital punishment:

I’m skeptical of the death penalty’s administration because the criminal justice system is a disaster. But, assuming guilt, I don’t really care much about the morality of killing people. The nation-state is all about killing people. Its sole reason for existing is that it’s better at killing people in large numbers than any other form of human organization. If you don’t like the idea of the state killing people, you don’t like the idea of the state. If you don’t realize this, it’s because your thinking is confused.

If this perturbs you, ask yourself the question Reynolds hints at: “At what other function can the nation-state be legitimately deemed superior?” No matter what you come up with, it will be based on the power of coercion — at the point of a gun.

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Of course you can eat that

One of a series of Public Lecture Podcasts from the University of Bath is titled “Say it with poison”:

In this lecture, Mr Russell Bowes, a freelance garden historian, will be sharing mysterious tales of how people have died in the garden, and how you can protect yourself against herbaceous murderers.

Of all things veddy, veddy British, this sounds like one of the veddiest.

(Via Finestkind Clinic and fish market.)

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Right in the ectoplasmic reticulum

Neil Kramer has temporarily turned the Citizen of the Month blog to the cause of flash fiction, shorter-than-short stories, in this case taking place in the city of New York, a place once said to have eight million stories.

Number twenty-two begins with a mind-bender:

If you want proof of the existence of ghosts, just look at logic. A person is more complex than a brick, but a building can last for thousands of years. This means that a human being, based on his innate superiority, must exist longer than a brick. And since we all know that death occurs for people, the only reasonable explanation is that the “person” or “entity” continues to live on as a ghost — at least for longer than the lifespan of a brick.

This may be the most salient thing said of bricks in fiction since Douglas Adams: “The ships hung in the sky in much the same way that bricks don’t.”

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The essence of sixty

British writer/critic AA Gill points out that contrary to popular sloganeering, sixty is not the new anything:

A contemporary of mine, after a number of marriages, found a girlfriend less than half his age of a transcendent pneumatic beauty who hung on his every word — and dumped her after a couple of months. Why, I asked — she was perfect! “Too many things we didn’t have in common,” he said sadly. Like what? “Well, the Eighties.”

There’s rue for you. And here’s some for me:

Last year, for the first time, a young girl, French, offered me her seat on a crowded bus. I was surprised at how deeply I resented her. Health looms over the elderly like a threatening monsoon. No ache is innocuous. No lump or discoloured, sagging patch of body is ignorable except our toenails, which become the most sordidly repellent things in all nature. We covertly examine ourselves and our effluvia for the premonition of the dark humour that will carry us away. There is no such thing as a routine checkup. They are all life-or-death appointments.

Doctors start all their sentences with “It’s only … ” But we’re not fooled. This generation is also the one that lingers longest over its departure. Death came to our grandparents with a clutched chest and a searing pain. For us it’s a slow, humiliating series of it’s onlys. What we worry about is dementia, a condition that did not exist in the popular lexicon when I was a child. Mind you, we also thought cancer was as shaming as divorce. Now Alzheimer’s is our abiding fear, the thing we can’t forget.

I have often wondered if I am “prolific,” as they say, as the inevitable consequence of a desire to maximize my output before the time comes when I cannot put out anything.

(Via Kathy Shaidle.)

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On the edge of the abyss

What can you say about a sixteen-year-old kid who may be dying? And what, as a 60-year-old in tolerable health, can I possibly say?

Update, 9 June: It appears that the kid’s lease on life is a lot less tenuous than he said it was.

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A thousand winds that blow

I was gingerly stepping through the minefield — but it’s a cute minefield! — that is J-pop, when I stumbled across something that isn’t J-pop at all, but which was staggeringly popular in the Land of the Rising Sun:

“Sen no kaze ni natte” is a translation, by Japanese singer/songwriter Man Arai, of Mary Frye’s 1932 poem “Do Not Stand at My Grave and Weep”; the title translates as “a thousand winds,” after the third line of the poem. That poem carries considerable weight in Japan; it was read at the funeral of singer Kyu Sakamoto, killed in the 1985 crash of Japan Airlines Flight 123, by Rokusuke Ei, who wrote the lyrics to Sakamoto’s biggest international hit, which for some reason is called “Sukiyaki” in the rest of the world.

In 2006, tenor Masafumi Akikawa, seen above, recorded a version of “Sen no kaze ni natte,” which became Japan’s largest-selling single for that year; a Korean version by tenor Lim Hyung-joo was reissued this spring to honor the victims of the April capsizing of a Korean ferry.

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Actuarially speaking

A new task for Britain’s Pensions Minister:

Steve Webb, the Pensions Minister, said retirees need to gain a sense of how long they might live to help make such financial decisions.

He said many people underestimate how long they will live. “If you are thinking about this, what do you do? For best guidance you probably think about how long your grandparents lived. But that is two generations out of date.”

The minister is asking pension providers to give people an estimate as part of guidance which will be rolled out in April next year.

Some estimates have already appeared:

Glasgow City has the worst life expectancy, 72.9 years, compared to Kensington and Chelsea in London on 82.4.

Report co-author Professor Danny Dorling said he could not be certain what had caused the increase, but it was most likely to be poverty.

He said: “As with all these things it is hard to explain why it is happening, but we know that income inequalities have increased and it seems this has been mirrored by health inequalities.

“If that is true, we might see a narrowing of the gap as the latest income figures show that has narrowed recently.”

I, of course, am taking no bets as to the date of my Ultimate Demise.

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Eternity isn’t what it used to be

I was looking at the Wikipedia page for April 15, and this line turned up in the midst of Births:

Birth and death of Kim Il-sung

Turns out the DPRK is serious:

As of 2014 there is no President of North Korea, as the office was left vacant from the death of Kim Il-sung in 1994, and was abolished with the 1998 constitutional changes. Instead, the functions and powers previously belonging to the President were divided between three officials: the head of government, the Premier of North Korea; the speaker of the legislature, the Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly; and the head of the military, the Chairman of the National Defence Commission and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army, currently held by Kim Il-sung’s grandson, Kim Jong-Un. The latter Kim is also the First Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea, and is reckoned as “Supreme Leader” with absolute control over the country.

I always figured it would take three people to replace me, not that you could find three people to work that cheap.

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Songs for a hole in the ground

Something called Dark Asylum Radio is asking:

Today is your funeral - what song is playing as they lower your body?

Given my modest but solid military record, I’m pretty sure that the local detachment of something or other will dispatch a bugler to send me off with “Taps.”

During the ceremony — perhaps as a recessional — I have requested the playing of this. The kids, I think, will honor this request.

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Freddie’s still dead

Last week’s QOTW speculated that Fred Phelps might have had something of a change of heart before shuffling off this mortal coil.

In possible support of this premise:

Last week, Fred Phelps’ son posted on Facebook that his father, the longtime head of the notoriously venomous Westboro Baptist Church — famous for protesting military and other high-profile funerals and events with neon “God Hates Fags” signs — was “now on the edge of death at Midland Hospice house in Topeka.” Despite Drain’s attempts to downplay the severity of Phelps’s condition, it was reported Tuesday that the 84-year-old Phelps had passed away.

Most intriguing about Nate Phelps’s Facebook post was not the news that an octogenarian’s health was failing, but that Fred Phelps Sr., who founded the hatemongering church in 1955 and turned his progeny into some of the loudest and most despised people in America, had been excommunicated last summer.

“Drain” is Steve Drain, who may have orchestrated that excommunication and installed himself in Westboro’s seat of power.

Still, this might be the single most salient thing said about the demise of Mr Phelps:

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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There’s been a murder

You may even have seen one:

In a Time Magazine article titled “The Mystery of Animal Grief” by Jeffrey Kluger, scientists explain that animals do grieve — and that they honor and mourn their dead with an intensity some people don’t even display.

For instance, researchers have observed how crows will gather around a departed crow and call and call until hundreds of flock mates arrive. They will then stand surrounding the dead crow and maintain total silence, broken only by occasional approaches to offer odds and ends to the corpse — for instance, pebbles or short sticks. After a period of time, they will depart, never to return.

More turnout than I could ever dare to expect, even allowing for the people who were just wanting to make sure I was dead.

(Plucked from Georganna Hancock’s writing research.)

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Simulated existence

Yours truly in Vent #318, 25 November 2002:

Some day, more likely some night, that “finite number of breaths” will be reached, everything will come to an end, and no one will know until two or three days later because some mundane task wasn’t performed on time, some phone call wasn’t returned, or, most absurdly, because this goddamn Web site wasn’t updated.

Glenn Reynolds, last night:

YEAH, SCHEDULED BLOG POSTS WOULD DO THE SAME FOR ME: Woman’s auto-payments hid her death for six years. But not for six years.

If there should prove to be a way to blog from beyond the grave, I’m in. Or I will be in, anyway.

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Starkness all around

This was arguably the most frightening thing I saw online all last week:

A medical volunteer who’d gone to Kiev, she’d just been shot.

I am delighted to note that she’s alive and (almost) well.

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Human nature in action

Thirty-four distraught Michael Jackson fans demanded compensation:

The fans brought their suit against Jackson’s doctor, Conrad Murray, who served a two-year prison sentence for his role administering the singer what turned out to be a lethal dose of the anaesthetic propofol. The plaintiffs claimed in court they had suffered “emotional damage” from Jackson’s death at the hands of Murray.

Were the plaintiffs told to beat it? Not all of them:

On Tuesday, five of those fans actually claimed victory, albeit a symbolic one, in French court, which ruled that they had successfully proven they had endured emotional suffering as the result of the King of Pop’s death and were awarded damages — of one euro each (about $1.36).

Then again, they apparently weren’t after actual money:

[Their lawyer told Agence France-Presse] the distraught fans weren’t planning on seeking payment from Conrad Murray, but “they hoped their status as recognised victims would help them gain access to Jackson’s gravesite in Los Angeles, which is closed to the public.”

A decidedly off-the-wall idea, if you ask me.

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Slopelessness

Jack Baruth considers the current state of F1 racer Michael Schumacher:

I’ve wondered what would have happened if someone had appeared in front of Michael that morning. “I’m from the future,” the someone would say, “and I’m here to tell you that you’re facing massive risk this morning, you shouldn’t go skiing, you should lay off for the day. I don’t have any proof of this, but trust me.” I know a fair number of people who could be dissuaded from just about anything were someone to appear in front of them with a story like that. Even if they didn’t actually believe the whole time-travel thing, their jimmies would be sufficiently rustled by bringing up an exact accounting of their actual risk on a given day in a given activity. Michael Schumacher was not one of them, I’d suspect.

I have no way of knowing for sure, but I suspect I can be counted among the dissuadable: more than once I’ve seen something that I couldn’t possibly have seen before — and yet somehow I had, which tells me that bomb bursts seemingly from the future carry more credibility with me than perhaps they should.

Schumacher, most likely, would have none of that:

He’d likely have responded with something like: I know the risk, I’m aware of it, used to it, I’ve taken all precautions, kindly step out of the way, I have some skiing to do. The response of a competitor, a champion. Make no mistake. He was never just going to “switch off” that discipline, that courage, that determination, any more than the man on the street can “switch off” laziness, addiction, envy, underachievement. He was always going to be someone to push the boundaries a little bit. He may never return, but who among us will accomplish what he’s done, given twice the lifetime or more?

I tend to minimize my own accomplishments, to the extent that I admit to having accomplishments at all; I have always suspected myself of being an underachiever the easy way, by allowing people to overestimate my capacity for — adequacy? (I tried “greatness” in that spot, but it looked ridiculous.) Just yesterday, someone I need to know better suggested I might have brass balls sufficiently massive to cause an audible clink when I walk; I didn’t demur, exactly, but it occurred to me that with regard to the incident in question, I didn’t do anything a kid a quarter my age couldn’t do, though odds are the kid wouldn’t dare.

And I believe Schumacher will come out of this. I’d feel better, though, if I’d seen it in a dream.

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Are you kidneying me?

There are times when I fear for the sanity of the 149 members of the legislature, some more than others:

Ordinarily, if one wants a dumb legislative idea regarding crime and punishment in my fair state, one must rely on the Grand Old Party. They’ve got a flap-brained contingent that’s always willing to take a look at doing something to criminals that makes Theodoric of York, medieval judge, say, “Dial it down a bit, eh?”

But we are bi-partisan in our silliness, and comes now the latest proof, state representative Joe Dorman of Rush Springs, home of the Rush Springs Watermelon Festival. Rep. Dorman, one of the few Democrats surviving in state government these days, wants to introduce legislation that will allow death row inmates to donate their organs when their sentences are carried out.

Well, actually, this depends on what the meaning of the word “when” is:

[C]urrent acceptable methods of execution wreck several of the body’s major organs at once and degrade their viability for transfer. That’s where Rep. Dorman borrows from [Larry] Niven, as instead of being killed by lethal injection an inmate being executed would instead be anesthetized and the needed pieces removed before brain death occurred. So technically, Rep. Dorman, you’re suggesting organs be harvested from living people. That sound you heard was Christian Szell saying, “Ew.”

I’d suggest harvesting organs from legislators, but that brain-death issue would still be a factor.

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Quote of the week

Africa need not be a pestiferous hellhole — except that folks of the David Attenborough stripe seem to prefer it that way:

The dirty little secret of Africa is that if you got rid of the TseTse fly and allowed irrigation, that Africa could become another Kansas (an area that was once called the “great American desert”, and where there was once a severe famine … now with irrigation, and modern variations of wheat developed in the Ukraine, it can feed the world).

Of course, David wouldn’t like that: it would mean prosperous farmers where his beloved animals now live.

As for all those starving children: David has an opinion about them too: “And we are blinding ourselves. We say, get the United Nations to send them bags of flour. That’s barmy.”

yeah. It was similar British Malthusian thinking that led to the millions of dead Irish in the potato famines of the 1840’s, where grain was exported and locals starved to death or died trying to migrate to other lands on “coffin ships”.

Of course, mankind is a blight upon the landscape — well, some of mankind, anyway. And it’s always amusing to see people trying to explain how it is that they, personally, are not.

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Fark blurb of the week

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The last ride

And when I die, and when I’m gone, there’ll be no chance that anyone will actually think of this:

It’s not that I don’t like funeral processions, it’s I don’t like the inconvenience to everyone else that’s not part of the procession, the danger of traffic and the fact there are people with crummy attitudes, bad vision and distracted that are driving without paying attention to traffic lights. Even with a cop, it’s still dangerous; especially for the cop.

So, lets have them at 3:00 am. Traffic is light, most of the drunks have gone home and there’s not a great need for a special escort.

The person putatively being honored certainly wouldn’t care one way or another. And I know the sight of a funeral procession has a dispiriting effect on me as a driver: all that there-but-for-the-grace-of-God stuff, plus the fact that I’m suddenly ten minutes late for wherever I was going.

At least it’s better than the usual political motorcade, where you know that you’re being inconvenienced for the sake of pomp and/or circumstance.

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Can we get that paneling in tortoise-shell?

Sure, if it’s death paneling:

Federal funds are running out at the Desert Tortoise Conservation Center and officials plan to close the site and euthanize hundreds of the tortoises they’ve been caring for since the animals were added to the endangered species list in 1990.

“It’s the lesser of two evils, but it’s still evil,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service desert tortoise recovery coordinator Roy Averill-Murray during a visit to the soon-to-be-shuttered reserve at the southern edge of the Las Vegas Valley last week.

Not evil enough to get him to refuse to take part in this charade, obviously.

And you have to figure, the Feds historically are a lot more concerned with endangered species than they are with the likes of you and me, so when our time is deemed to have come — well, let’s just say that it gets hot out there in the middle of noplace.

(Via the still-alive Brian J. Noggle.)

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At least it gets your attention

Still, if death is a mere warning, what ultra-dire consequences must be in the offing?

Death may be a warning

This is the online version, with a wordier but maybe less alarming alarm.

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Small-head thinking

“Mental illness,” said Hugo Schwyzer, “is a bitch.” Which is, I think, indisputably true. And to demonstrate it:

Hugo Schwyzer, the social sciences academic at Pasadena City College best known as the “porn professor,” tried to commit suicide [Thursday] night, he told the [L. A.] Weekly.

He was visiting his mother in the Monterey area, where he grew up, when it happened about 10 p.m., he said. He was placed on a 72-hour psychiatric hold at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula, the professor said:

“I took an entire bottle of Klonopin,” he said. That’s a muscle relaxant and anti-anxiety drug.

Schwyzer said he’s physically OK but reiterated how the social media fallout from a sexting relationship with a sometime porn star and multiple affairs with women made his marriage “over” and sunk him into a deep depression.

The sexting relationship and the multiple affairs didn’t destroy his marriage, but Twitter did? Maybe I’ve been taking tweeting too lightly all these years.

The prof says Twitter and article comments roasting him as a woman hater and regurgitating a 15-year-old suicide attempt and attempted murder of a girlfriend have taken their toll.

Maybe it’s just me, but actually trying to kill a woman — well, I’m sorry, but that sounds like the very definition of hate to me. Sucks if that’s interfering with your love life, Prof.

And I’m with Tim Blair on this one: “Instead of Klonopin, he should try KFC. It seems to cheer up other Hugos.”

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Quote of the week

To set this up, here’s a WaPo headline: “Baby boomers are killing themselves at an alarming rate, raising question: Why?”

Now if you look at that URL, you’ll discover that in place of “raising” is the word “begging,” which is not what’s being done here, although “begging the question” is seriously misunderstood as a concept of late. As to “Why,” though, I can quote you the opinion of Vox Day:

The generation that has had to put up with the vagaries of the Baby Boomers for literally its entire existence knows very well why they are killing themselves at an unusually high rate. It is because Baby Boomers are disproportionately inclined to be narcissistic, selfish, short-sighted, superficial bastards who don’t give a damn about anything except themselves, and they are psychologically incapable of grasping the basic concepts of mortality or graceful old age… The realization that 65 is not, in fact, the new 18, and they really and truly are not cool anymore, is simply proving too much for them to bear.

Having never been cool, I’m having less trouble with the concepts of mortality and/or graceful old age.

Still, there’s an upside, according to Day:

Now, I wouldn’t want anyone to think Generation X is actually inclined to celebrate these rampant Boomer suicides. It doesn’t fill us with glee to know they are offing themselves en masse, merely a modicum of appreciation for the first positive and non-selfish consequences their generation’s actions have ever produced. Say what you will about them, but at least they are saving us an amount of effort.

Although I have to look at this in connection with a popular whine among Boomer kids, many years ago: “I didn’t ask to be born!”

The proper response, of course, is “If you had, the answer would have been No.” Day, I think, could appreciate that.

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Curtains drawn

A harrowing, yet sort of happy, tale of being thirteen and confronted with “Someone Saved My Life Tonight”:

I didn’t even know what despair was at that age. It was just a feeling I had no words for, a weighing down of my soul that kept me from being truly happy. And here was Elton, so obviously unhappy with things in his life. Was he fleeing from the thing that made him unhappy or was he fleeing from his unhappiness in general? I dug deep into the words, trying to decipher them. The thought of him walking head on into the deep end of the river filled me with dread yet at the same time I thought about how freeing that would be, to just slip into the water and let it take me.

It’s facile to say that there’s no existential dread like teenage existential dread. Which doesn’t make it any less true.

And really, who was expecting something like this so soon after “The Bitch Is Back” or “Philadelphia Freedom”? Yeah, there was “I Think I’m Going To Kill Myself” way back on Honky Château, but we all knew this was just temporary discomfort; at worst, he had a busted wing and a hornet sting.

Still, the river would not be claiming her:

I knew I’d never have the guts to kill myself. But I also knew my first time thinking about it would not be my last. And there was some small comfort in the fact that this musician I idolized shared what felt like a sacred moment with me; that moment when you think maybe enough is enough. I thought about how many other people in the world have felt like ending it all and how many actually did it. It was a sobering thought and I pushed myself into thinking that it could get better, it would get better. After all, Elton John walked away from that river and freed himself from his unhappiness. If he could do it, so could I.

From a point closer to the end than to the beginning, let me assure you: this isn’t a sentiment you have to be an adolescent to appreciate.

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