Archive for Life and/or Death

Murdered out

This did not give me a sugar rush:

A meme going around compares Syrian refugees to jelly beans:

“If i gave you a bag of 50000 jellybeans and told you 100 are poisonous, you wouldn’t accept them right? Then why would we accept 50000 refugees if some of them are bad?”

I like jelly beans and numbers so I did a back of the envelope calculation. In the US there are about 15,000 murders per year. Most murderers kill only one person. Even serial killers kill only 2.8 people on average. Thus, 15,000 is also approximately the number of murderers in a year.

A bit more number-juggling, and this is the conclusion:

The current US population is 322 million so there are .0023 murderers per capita or 2.33 murderers per 1000 or 116 murderers per 50,000 people in the United States. Put differently, about 116 American babies out of every 50,000 will grow up to murder someone… In contrast, only 100 of the 50000 jelly beans were poisonous.

It helps, perhaps, to know that neither murderous Americans nor poisonous jelly beans are what you’d call evenly distributed. However, someone doesn’t become a murderer until he actually commits a murder, and just how lethal are those jelly beans, anyway?

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Who would have guessed?

I mean, what are the chances?

Hartford Courant report on Do Not Resuscitate orders

Is DNR in some people’s DNA or something?

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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No country for (some) old men

The abstract is scary enough:

This paper documents a marked increase in the all-cause mortality of middle-aged white non-Hispanic men and women in the United States between 1999 and 2013. This change reversed decades of progress in mortality and was unique to the United States; no other rich country saw a similar turnaround. The midlife mortality reversal was confined to white non-Hispanics; black non-Hispanics and Hispanics at midlife, and those aged 65 and above in every racial and ethnic group, continued to see mortality rates fall. This increase for whites was largely accounted for by increasing death rates from drug and alcohol poisonings, suicide, and chronic liver diseases and cirrhosis. Although all education groups saw increases in mortality from suicide and poisonings, and an overall increase in external cause mortality, those with less education saw the most marked increases. Rising midlife mortality rates of white non-Hispanics were paralleled by increases in midlife morbidity. Self-reported declines in health, mental health, and ability to conduct activities of daily living, and increases in chronic pain and inability to work, as well as clinically measured deteriorations in liver function, all point to growing distress in this population. We comment on potential economic causes and consequences of this deterioration.

In a box labeled “Significance”:

Midlife increases in suicides and drug poisonings have been previously noted. However, that these upward trends were persistent and large enough to drive up all-cause midlife mortality has, to our knowledge, been overlooked. If the white mortality rate for ages 45−54 had held at their 1998 value, 96,000 deaths would have been avoided from 1999–2013, 7,000 in 2013 alone. If it had continued to decline at its previous (1979‒1998) rate, half a million deaths would have been avoided in the period 1999‒2013, comparable to lives lost in the US AIDS epidemic through mid-2015. Concurrent declines in self-reported health, mental health, and ability to work, increased reports of pain, and deteriorating measures of liver function all point to increasing midlife distress.

Jen X interprets it this way:

Those boys we went to high school with who didn’t go to college and couldn’t find jobs and joined the Army to have something to do. Paroled from broken homes, lackluster high schools and a shrinking military (after all, there were NO manufacturing jobs), they roamed aimless through an endless array of side gigs. They lived off women — their mothers and lovers and sisters and friends.

They died, America, because THEY DID NOT HAVE JOBS. They died because they’d lost all hope.

Yes, the plane has crashed. It was crashing back in 1977 when their parents divorced and they basically became FATHERLESS. It’s tragic and they never got over it. Jobless and hopeless, they turned to drugs and alcohol to anesthetize the pain. One epidemic wrought another and so it goes on down the line.

Hmmm. My mother died in 1977. (Dad remarried and hung around until 2006.) I have difficulty believing that this is why I’m still around and the number of “in memoriam” entries on the blogroll continues to increase.

Or maybe it’s just that I never had all that much hope to begin with, and therefore losing some of it wasn’t that much of a change.

Study details:
doi: 10.1073/pnas.1518393112

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Protecting all the things you own

If you’ve lived here long enough, you know the phone number already:

Paul Meade died Saturday night at seventy-eight.

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So totally not cool

Except, of course, for … oh, never mind, this is getting complicated:

Like an episode of Bones but way freakier because it’s real, a 24-year-old Las Vegas woman was found dead inside a cryotherapy chamber Tuesday. Medical examiners suggest she was literally flash-frozen, dying within “seconds.”

According to the Washington Post, esthetician Chelsea Ake-Salvacion was alone in the medical spa she managed when she entered one of the -240-degree chambers, which allegedly reduce inflammation, boost immunity and metabolism, and improve skin tone, among other health and aesthetic benefits. Results from the autopsy are still pending, but investigators initially ruled “operator error,” a charge her family denies.

Hmmm. Alone in the spa, but it wasn’t operator error. Surely she wasn’t trying to freeze herself to death, was she?

And there’s some question of how therapeutic this technique really is:

“Although [whole-body cryotherapy] produces a large temperature gradient for tissue cooling, the relatively poor thermal conductivity of air prevents significant subcutaneous and core body cooling,” an article in the journal Sports Medicine explained last year. “There is weak evidence from controlled studies that WBC enhances antioxidant capacity and parasympathetic reactivation, and alters inflammatory pathways relevant to sports recovery. A series of small randomized studies found WBC offers improvements in subjective recovery and muscle soreness following metabolic or mechanical overload, but little benefit towards functional recovery.”

Then again, I am not one to complain about subjective recovery.

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Dying harder

If we’re going to have capital punishment at all — and the way things are going, I suspect that eventually the time may come when we won’t — state government is going to have to step up its game, or at least quit screwing around with it.

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So many years later

We know that Celestia and Luna are over a thousand years old: Luna spent a thousand years in exile, and she’s the younger sibling. What canon doesn’t say is how long they can live; fanfic writers generally work from the premise that there is no upper limit, but tend to shy away from the word “immortal.” Then again, some try to subvert the trope:

“Well, I was wondering. Just how immortal, if that’s the word, are you and your sister anyway?”

Celestia shook her mane, and he imagined he saw a map of the sky just beyond her head. “Having reached physical maturity, Luna and I do not age in the usual sense. But we know that there are forces in the Universe capable of taking us down.”

He nodded, remembering an incident at a previous Canterlot wedding.

“Which is why we shy away from the word ‘immortal’; it implies that we can survive anything, an implication that has some basis in reality, but one I would not like to put to the test.”

At the end of the third season, Twilight Sparkle ascended to alicornhood: she may not have the sheer size of the sisters, but she is presumed to have the same physical attributes, to include, though canon doesn’t say so, that indefinite lease on life.

Which creates a problem: what happens when she inevitably outlives all her friends?

I tucked a link to this in an earlier post, but inasmuch as this scenario is still haunting me, I’m going full Captain Obvious here:

I wept for rather a long time.

Eventually I did regain my composure. I sought out, and purchased, the two musical selections, both composed by Thomas J. Bergersen, before I realized that owning copies of these tracks meant I get to remind myself of this story, to relive my sorrow, that much more often.

In some ways, this is the most “me” thing I’ve ever done.

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Your moment of Zen

The New York Times comes up with exactly the headline you’d want for a send-off for Yogi Berra:

Well played all around.

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An enterprising young ghoul

Anyone who has more than a smidgen of archives — well, anyone who has more than a smidgen of archives and is goofy enough to disclose an email address — gets the occasional letter from someone more than happy to point out a broken link and suggest a replacement. Sometimes the replacement is relevant. Then there’s this earnest letter from one “Marlene” in Britain:

Good afternoon, I have found a broken resource on your site, I have listed all the details below so that you can find it and fix it easily. I have also included a link to an article that I wrote and as you will be fixing the broken link anyway, I thought you may like to add a link to my article about “The definitive guide to funeral flowers”.

What was fun about this was the nature of the rotted link: it connected to an old story about disgraced forensic chemist Joyce Gilchrist, who passed away earlier this year. Some of Gilchrist’s more dubious findings resulted in having to obtain funeral flowers, but somehow jamming Marlene’s article into the piece seemed just a hair inappropriate.

That said, however, it’s a very nice article, so should you be interested in funeral flowers — keep in mind, I am very old — this is the piece she offered. Meanwhile, I replaced the old Gilchrist link with a new Gilchrist link.

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Not that I’m aware of

Is it somehow pertinent to the matter at hand?

Insurance. It’s gotta be. Who else would care?

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Haunted, dead or alive

The problem with sticking to a format:

I guess it’s important to know that Sir Christopher died in real time.

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Really getting up there

My grandfather on my mother’s side was born in 1899; he earned his three score and ten, and then moved on to whatever was next. Incredibly, to me anyway, there are three people born in 1899 who are still alive today:

Recently crowned as the oldest person in the world, Michigan resident Jeralean Talley turned 116 years old on Saturday.

Talley is one of three living members of the 19th century club, having been born on May 23, 1899 in Montrose, Ga. In 1935, she moved to Michigan, where she married her husband, Alfred, who died at the age of 95 in 1988.

The other two:

Georgia resident Susannah Mushatt Jones (born July 6, 1899), and Italian citizen Emma Morano-Martinuzzi (born Nov. 29, 1899).

All women, of course. (The oldest man still around is Sakari Momoi, of Japan, who’s 112.)

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As the years go by

The clock keeps ticking, until such time as it stops altogether:

How getting old sucks is perfectly obvious: your body starts to fall off. And sometimes, and therefore, your mind too. And it’s simultaneously happening to all your friends. Nature is through with you and starts looking for a way to kill you. And it is perfectly clear to you that it is not a matter of if, but when, and how, and how bad. From now on you’ll be occupied with tossing parts of yourself you can live without to Captain Hook’s crocodile to postpone the inevitable; then, you’ll be smashing the crocodile in the snout with your rifle butt as its bad breath engulfs you. It’s the price of life. And it’s amazing to arrive at the threshold of old age and discover how very little of a dent the triumphs of science have made in it. Okay, more of us now make it to our three score and ten. And then, if not before, the shit starts hitting the fan, right on schedule. Knees are replaced, stents put in, breasts and bladders turn cancerous …

I’m not particularly concerned with efforts to kill me, except to the extent that I’m aware that one of them will eventually succeed. The skies have been taking potshots at me pretty much this entire damn month.

Still, one contemplates matters other than one’s eventual demise:

What’s more amazing to discover, though, is that it isn’t all loss and fear. If you have your mind. If you have your mind, it becomes like a study glowing with burnishing lamplight, with a deep, comfortable chair, with shelves of books on all sides receding into the darkness of the infinite. As you sit in that chair you have a magical arm that can reach out past Alpha Cygni in a languid gesture and pluck just the right apple from the farthest twig of the great tree.

Those who don’t have their minds, of course, will eventually have to retire from political office.

I remember coming back from the Monday grocery run — delayed from Saturday due to inclement weather — and thinking: Remember how Rainbow Dash memorizes what’s on the ground while she’s flying? I need some way to learn where all the new potholes are.

Obviously I’m not completely insane. Yet. The morning’s panic attack, however, makes me wonder if I’ve started on the downhill slope.


And the cycle repeats

I do not, generally, endorse the notion of reincarnation. (Nor did I when I was here last time.) One of the problems I find with the concept is that its most fervent believers tend to assert that they were someone notable in a previous life; scarcely anyone claims to have been a serf who perished at twenty-two of some hitherto unnoticed disease.

This new toy by Slate will not change that tendency. What it does is take your birthdate, find someone in Wikipedia — someone notable by definition, right? — who died just before your arrival, and then run the cycle as many times as they have entries. In my specific case, they dug up Sir Philip Wigham Richardson:

Richardson competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics and 1912 Summer Olympics. In the 1908 Olympics he won a silver medal in the team military rifle event. Four years later he was 65th in the 300 metre military rifle, three positions event and 33rd in the 600 metre free rifle event.

Richardson was elected as Member of Parliament for Chertsey at a by-election in March 1922, and held the seat until he retired from the House of Commons at the 1931 general election. In 1929 he was created a Baronet, of Weybridge in the County of Surrey.

Not that I’d be surprised to have been a Tory, particularly. Sir Philip, apparently, had served a previous lifetime as British entomologist William Sharp Macleay. The line, says Slate, goes back to Louis the German (c. 810-876), grandson of Charlemagne and designated King of Bavaria while still a child, though Louis apparently did not actively participate in ruling Bavaria until adolescence. His youngest son, Charles the Fat, was the last Carolingian to rule over a united empire. Now if Slate had put him in my timeline, I might have believed some of this.

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N₂ darkness

Attorney General Scott Pruitt remains convinced that midazolam is the sedative of choice for executions:

Pruitt’s office will argue to the Supreme Court justices on Wednesday that the drugs Oklahoma used in Clayton Lockett’s execution in April 2014 met the test established when the high court upheld Kentucky’s lethal injection method in 2008.

There is not, the state contends, an “objectively intolerable risk of harm” when midazolam is used as a sedative, even though the drug does not have the same properties as the barbiturates that have been administered previously.

And, Pruitt said, inmates challenging the state’s use of midazolam must show there is a “widely available alternative” that would pose less risk of harm.

Speaking for myself, I’ve had exactly one dose of midazolam, and I’d say it was a pretty darn good sedative, but that’s just a single data point, and besides, they weren’t putting me to death, or at least they said they weren’t.

Then again: “widely available”? How about “all over the place”?

Before the first Shuttle launch, some ground crew died in the engine compartment of the orbiter, because they were in there during a nitrogen purge. They apparently never knew they had a problem, but simply passed out. If there’s a CO₂ buildup, the body knows it’s asphyxiating, and tries to do something about it, but no such warning mechanism has ever developed for a pure nitrogen atmosphere, because no animal would have ever encountered such an environment in nature.

So why not simply bring back the gas chamber, but instead of a toxin, simply remove the air and replace it with nitrogen? I’m sure there are other examples, but I fail to understand why this is such a difficult problem.

Governor Fallin has signed a bill to do essentially that as the state’s official backup execution protocol. I suspect the only reason it’s not moved to the head of the list is the fear of legal challenges — as though there weren’t legal challenges by the score already.

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It wasn’t part of the plan

The IMDb page for actor Gregory Walcott lists over a hundred credits, but there’s only one everyone seems to remember: Jeff Trent, the pilot in Plan 9 from Outer Space, the glorious mess created by Edward D. Wood, Jr. Even Walcott’s Wikipedia page has a picture of him as Jeff Trent.

From The Hollywood Reporter’s article on Walcott’s death last Friday at eighty-seven:

“I read the script, and it was gibberish. It made no sense, but I saw Ed Reynolds [J. Edward Reynolds, nominal head of the production company] as a naive, sweet man. I had done some pretty good things prior to that, so I thought I had a little credibility in Hollywood. I thought maybe my name would give the show some credibility… The film was made surreptitiously. My agent didn’t even know I did it.”

For years, Walcott sought to distance himself from Plan 9. But eventually he came to terms with Jeff Trent: he appeared in a brief role in Tim Burton’s Ed Wood, playing a character not unlike Ed Reynolds. And he later conceded: “It’s better to be remembered for something than for nothing, don’t you think?”

Besides, as we learned from Mystery Science Theater 3000, there are plenty of films out there that made Plan 9 look like Citizen Kane.


The Vulcan passes to a higher sphere

The last tweet of Leonard Nimoy (1931-2015), aka Mr Spock:

The last cluster of letters, of course, means “Live Long and Prosper.” And thank you, Jenny Boylan, for remembering these lines:

You just know that was the kind of man he was.

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The worst unlaid plans

It’s like, how much more blue could this guy’s nads be? And the answer is none. None more blue:

You all probably have a lot of questions and in an ideal world I would be able to answer them all. However the risks involved in providing a “Q&A session” before death is clearly too high as the medical profession always values “quantity of life” over “quality of life.” It appears that the prevailing ethos is to keep individuals in a state of continual suffering rather than allow an individual choose to die. Hence the huge resistance to euthanasia.

The reason for my death is simple. I have concluded that in the realm of dating and relationships the primary characteristics required for men are as follows.

  • Height: above 5ft10
  • Race: huge bias towards caucasian and black
  • Wealth: or other manifestation of power

From my observations and research it appears that you need two of the three criteria for success with very few exceptions. What does this mean it means that it’s “game over” for me. By choosing to depart early, all I am doing is to accelerate the process of natural selection whilst saving myself a great deal of long term pain in the process.

A single evolutionary dead end does not constitute an acceleration of natural selection.

Still, I’m a quarter-century older than this chap is was, I manage two of the three criteria with relative ease — and by now we all know how amazingly successful I am with the babes.

After reading some of his, um, research, I am forced to conclude that most of his problems stemmed from being totally full of crap, which in my experience is not often a selling point.

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Late at nitrogen

You might remember this observation from last spring:

[T]echnically, the firing squad is still authorized in Oklahoma — if both lethal injection and the electric chair should be found to be Constitutionally impermissible. This was a semi-clever maneuver by the legislature to make sure they had something to fall back on if the courts took issue with the drug cocktail.

Add to these two options the possibility of a third:

With no debate, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 9-0 Tuesday to authorize “nitrogen hypoxia,” which depletes oxygen supply in the blood to cause death.

The bill’s author, Moore Republican Sen. Anthony Sykes, says it’s likely the bill will be amended before the session is over.

Three lethal injections remain on hold in Oklahoma while the U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Oklahoma’s three-drug method is constitutional.

At least they wouldn’t have to sweat supplies: half the tire shops in town have nitrogen-generating devices.

Last I looked, the title of SB 749 had been stricken, which requires some explanation:

Strike the Title: to change the title of a bill to a few words which are briefly descriptive but constitutionally unacceptable. The major intent of this action is to ensure that the bill will go to a conference committee. The same effect may be achieved by striking the enacting clause. Any Senate legislation being reported out of a Senate committee, with the exception of an appropriation bill, must have an enacting clause or resolving clause and a Senate and House author.

The opponents you might expect are, as expected, opposing:

Ryan Kiesel, Executive Director of the American Civil Liberties Union argues there is no humane way to kill someone and a bigger question needs to be discussed.

“These types of bills really miss the point. They miss the opportunity for Oklahoma to have a much broader and deeper conversation about if we should be in the business of executing people at all,” Kiesel said.

Say “gas chamber” to me, and the first thing I think of is Susan Hayward as Barbara Graham.

That’s “gas chamber.” With an S:

You may track the bill here.

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A Trident through the chest

This poor girl never knew what hit her:

A western Pennsylvania university student and basketball player likely inhaled chewing gum into her lungs while asleep before being found dead in her dormitory over the weekend.

The Washington County coroner’s office said 21-year-old Shanice Clark of Toronto was found unresponsive at about 3 a.m. Sunday at California University of Pennsylvania.

And this, Junior, is why you can’t have any Juicy Fruit.

(Via Dawn Summers.)

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Give a little whistle

In case you were wondering, Irish funerals aren’t all “Danny Boy” these days:

Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” has been replaced by Monty Python’s “Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life” as the most popular song played at funerals, new research has found.

A study by The Co-operative Funeralcare showed that traditional hymns, football anthems and classic pop songs top the list of the “funeral music chart.”

As funeral music goes, the BBC’s theme from “Match of the Day” is pretty, um, perky. Then again, it is a legitimate football anthem, though I admit I’m waiting for someone to go out to the accompaniment of “Weird Al” Yankovic’s “Sports Song.”

David Collingwood, operations director of The Co-operative Funeralcare, said: “We think we may be seeing a generational shift in attitudes towards funerals, and the choice of music being requested.

“Music plays such an important part in people’s lives that it now acts as the theme tune to their passing. Modern funerals are very much about personal choice, which can be reflected in the choice of music, dress, coffin, flowers, hearses or memorials.”

Which may explain why my brother departed to the strains of “Let It Be” — and why I won’t.

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The first thousand years are the hardest

And by “thousand,” I think I mean “eighty”:

Charles Paul Brown wasn’t supposed to die.

He was supposed to live forever, along with disciples in a half-dozen countries all over the world who embraced his philosophy of physical immortality.

But Brown died in October of complications from Parkinson’s and heart disease, according to the website for People Unlimited, the group he began in Scottsdale more than 30 years ago. He was 79.

The community of immortals he founded is left without its figurehead — and with an apparent contradiction to reconcile. Yet its leaders continue to conduct business as usual, collecting thousands of dollars per year in fees for monthly meetings, retreats and coaching that they say lead to the secret to unlimited life.

The secret, of course, is not dying. If you can pull that off — but that’s not happening. If you can stretch out your days, fine; I keep hearing that massive increases in human lifespan are imminent, and I’m betting that some of them actually show up the day after I’m gone. But unless the laws of physics are somehow screwed, entropy bats last.

Perhaps needless to say, the late Mr. Brown’s group isn’t the only one with an interest in the topic.

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Like hell

Francis W. Porretto contemplates the distance from right this minute to the end of time:

We have been told very little authoritatively about Heaven, but its nature surely includes release from bondage to Time. Nothing else would be consistent with a state of eternal bliss. Indeed, an immortal sentenced to temporal eternity would find it to be the most extreme imaginable torment. Time is the medium of desire, effort, fulfillment, failure, and mortality; to compel an immortal, unalterable creature to endure it would utterly destroy any delight he might be offered within its folds.

At the very least, said creature might well be bored out of his skull. Several MLP:FiM fanfics have envisioned Celestia, having outlived everypony in Equestria other than her sister, trying to conjure up a way to bring on her own death and get it over with already; canon does not state that the diarchs are in fact immortal, but they do seem to hang around for an awfully long time. (When the series opens, said sister has been banished for the past thousand years, which more than meets my definition of “awfully long time.”)

And I find myself asking: does it become easier to accept the eventual end of your temporal existence when you know it can’t be far away? Should I be able to deal with it better at 61 than I was at 21? Because so far, I’m not.

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Early checkout

This is possibly the most disturbing tweet I’ve ever seen, and as a result it’s going below the jump.

Read the rest of this entry »

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A fate marginally worse than death

Still, worse:

Being dead is bad enough, but being dead and having to pay a $200 fine? Geez.

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Shaken and bestirred

The little City News insert that comes with Oklahoma City’s water bill this month has a section this month that five years ago would have been inconceivable. Topic: “What you should do in a large earthquake,” and this is the suggested routine:

Drop, Cover and Hold On! It is the safest action to take during ground shaking. There are three steps:

1. DROP to the ground,

2. Take COVER by getting under a sturdy desk or table,

3. HOLD ON to it until the shaking stops.

This will probably not work (1) with something other than a desk or table (2) in a tornado.

Quakiest earthquake ever recorded in this state was 5.6, and yes, I noticed it.

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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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