Archive for Life and/or Death

Worst parent ever?

You know, if your objective is to avoid public shame, maybe you shouldn’t do shameful things:

Days after 17-year-old Zeenat Rafiq eloped with a man against her family’s wishes, her relatives asked her to return home so they could throw her a proper ceremony.

“Don’t let me go, they will kill me,” her husband Hassan Khan recalled her saying, according to the Associated Press.

She was Punjabi. He was Pashtun. Her family was furious that she ran away and got married without their permission.

An uncle eventually convinced her to return. On Wednesday, Zeenat was burned alive by her mother.

Police say the mother, Parveen, tied Zeenat to a cot and poured kerosene before setting her on fire, according to the Guardian. It’s the latest of several “honor killings,” a practice that kills hundreds of girls each year in Pakistan.

Outrage by American feminists was conspicuous by its absence.

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Driven to it

In the worst way, you may be sure:

A teenager who said she was raped by two men died by legal euthanasia in the Netherlands, it’s emerged.

Noa Pothoven made a “sad last post” to social media last week in which she announced she would “die within 10 days.”

The 17-year-old detailed her struggles with sexual assault, depression, and anorexia in her award-winning biography Winning or Learning.

She wrote in her book that she was first assaulted at the age of 11 and raped by two men when she was just 14 years old, facts she hid from her parents because she was ashamed.

In her last post on Instagram, the young girl wrote that she had stopped eating and drinking and that her suffering was “unbearable.”

She wrote that her decision was “final” and that she had not been alive for a while.

“I breathe but no longer live,” she wrote.

Just once, I want to see a story end with “The rapist was led to a remote compound, where he was eaten by wolverines.”

(Via Lauren Chen.)

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Things go deader with coke

This guy was apparently all warm and smuggly, until he wasn’t warm anymore:

A Japanese man has died on a flight from Mexico City after ingesting 246 bags of cocaine.

The flight, bound for Japan’s Narita International Airport, had to make an emergency landing in Mexico’s Sonora state after he began to have seizures.

Authorities said the man, identified as Udo N, died of a cerebral edema caused by a drug overdose.

The passenger transferred to the flight after starting his journey in the Colombian capital Bogotá.

According to a statement by Sonora’s attorney general, the bags — measuring 2.5cm long and 1cm wide — were found in his stomach and intestines during the autopsy.

And the 198 other passengers flew on across the Pacific.

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Florida man killed by non-Florida bird

As though there aren’t enough Florida creatures to kill you already:

It's a cassowary

A large, flightless bird native to Australia and New Guinea killed its Florida owner when it attacked him after he fell.

The Alachua County Fire Rescue Department told the Gainesville Sun that a cassowary killed the man Friday on his property near Gainesville, likely using its long claws. The victim’s name was not released.

Cassowaries are similar to emus and stand up to 6 feet (1.8 meters) tall and weigh up to 130 pounds (59 kilograms). The San Diego Zoo’s website calls them the world’s most dangerous bird with a four-inch (10-centimeter), dagger-like claw on each foot that can cut open people or predators.

“You can’t drive around with a tiger in your car,” said Roger Miller. Imagine what he might have said of the cassowary.

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i blame jet fuel

And, of course, the desire of government agencies to expand their reach:

The Oklahoma City-County Health Department is putting billboards across the city to remind Oklahoma residents that where you live could affect how long you live.

“It’s a shocking statistic,” said Oklahoma City-County Health Department executive director Gary Cox.

The gap is 18 years.

It’s the number that separates the average life expectancy age from the highest average zip code in Oklahoma City to the lowest.

“So what that really means is a child that’s born in one of those zip codes … could live up to 18 years average shorter life span than a child that perhaps may be born in a suburban or another part of our county,” said Cox.

At best, this is only half a surprise:

The lowest life expectancy age, almost 64, is zip code 73145.

Otherwise known as … Tinker Air Force Base.

Which Farker noticed this first? Why, the first one, of course.


We miss him already

I didn’t even know the guy, but I have to figure, if his obituary starts off like this, it would have been worth it and then some:

Tim Schrandt (Lynyrd) made his last inappropriate comment on March 29, 2019. If you are wondering if you may have ever met him, you didn’t — because you WOULD remember. For those of you that did meet him, we apologize, as we’re sure he probably offended you. He was world renowned for not holding back and telling it like it is.

Tim was born to William (Bill) Schrandt and Mary (Schrandt) Manning on June 11, 1955 — 100 years too late. Given Tim’s demeanor he would have been the perfect weathered cowboy in the old west or rough and tough pioneer, or maybe he just should have been Amish.

Tim was the 4th of 8 kids, the bottom rung of the top tier (the big kids). Instead of taking his place on that rung, listening to the older kids and doing as he was told by his older siblings, he decided to anoint himself “king” of the 4 little kids. Tim spent his childhood and early adulthood ordering them around and in general, tormenting them. He was a great orator (not like Shakespeare, but more like Yogi Berra), as he always had something to say, and always had to get in the last word.

(Via Joy McCann.)


The 100th problem

From the “Did I miss something?” files: What year did Jay Z die???

No, really:

i’ve been looking on google and various sites but can’t seem to find an answer, it’s like his death doesn’t matter.

Um, admittedly Beyoncé came down hard on his ass, but let the record show that Jay Z is not dead.


What is Stage Four?

“The thing to note about Stage Four,” said Christopher Hitchens, “is that there is no Stage Five.”

Alex Trebek, host of Jeopardy! v2.0 since its debut in 1984 (Art Fleming did the 1.0 version through the 1960s and 1970s), isn’t going to let Stage Four get him down:

“Now, just like 50,000 other people in the United States each year, this week I was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer,” he said. “Now normally, the prognosis for this is not very encouraging, but I’m going to fight this, and I’m going to keep working.

“And with the love and support of my family and friends and with the help of your prayers, also, I plan to beat the low survival rate statistics for this disease,” he said.

He then joked that he has to keep working due to contractual obligations.

“Truth told, I have to! Because under the terms of my contract, I have to host Jeopardy! for three more years! So help me. Keep the faith and we’ll win. We’ll get it done.”

It’s hard to imagine Trebek not working. For that matter, it’s hard for Trebek to imagine Trebek not working:

In 2018, while being interviewed by Harvey Levin on Fox News, Trebek floated the idea of retirement, saying the odds of him leaving Jeopardy! in 2020 were 50/50 “and a little less”. He added that he might continue if he is “not making too many mistakes” but would make an “intelligent decision” as to when he should give up the emcee role. However, in October that year, he signed a new contract to continue as host through 2022.

He’d had a few health issues before, but heck, the man is 78 years old. In the meantime, I’m guessing he’ll take Thoughts and Prayers for $1000.

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Definition of a good night

It makes sense to me, anyway:

Or, as Churchill said, “Nothing in life is so exhilarating as to be shot at without result.”

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Here endeth the lesson

The last words he blogged:

If I were a bettin’ man I would say this was probably my last Thanksgiving — let’s be honest. But this one had everything I could ever ask for.

And he was right, perhaps on both counts. Steve Krodman, the man who was Elisson, he who was Lost in the Cheese Aisle, has now gone forward to a place where he can tell mostly-clean jokes to enraptured angelic passers-by. He might even play catch with Lou Gehrig, who died of the same terrible disease.

I can only hope that when my time approaches, as it must, I can bear up with even a third of his equanimity.

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Where no one has gone before

Agnes Milowka would have been thirty-seven tomorrow.

Born in Poland in 1981, she wound up with several university degrees, although the one perhaps most pertinent was her 2007 degree in Maritime Archaeology from Flinders University in South Australia. Underwater photography was a specialty, although she might have told you that getting there is more than half the fun. National Geographic once brought her to the Bahamas, where she served as an underwater grip and as a photographer.

Agnes Milowka overlooking a series of caves

Agnes Milowka at cliffside

Agnes Milowka on dry land

Here, she tackles a cave in north Florida:

James Cameron was the executive producer for Sanctum, which opened the first week of February 2011, and which contains this scene:

While exploring the entrance to the new system, Judes (Allison Cratchley) experiences a problem with her air tank hose. She loses use of her air mask forcing Frank (Richard Rosburgh) to buddy breathe. After a few exchanges, Judes panics and tries to keep the mask on, but Frank forces the mask off of her knowing he will not have enough air otherwise to make it back to the team.

Shades of The Cold Equations! But that’s not Cratchley you see drowning: that’s Agnes Milowka, hired by the production company as a stunt diver. Some scenes were filmed near Mount Gambier, in South Australia, and one of the caves along the coast proved to be her undoing:

Agnes Milowka, 29, from Melbourne, failed to return from a dive in Tank Cave, near Mount Gambier, on 27 February.

According to Australian press reports, Milowka entered the 8km-long cave system, one of Australia’s largest and most complex, with a buddy.

She got into difficulty after parting company to explore a tight constriction which necessitated going solo, a common practice amongst cave divers.

Searching divers located her body the next day, in a small space some 600m into the cave system.

“There is no greater feeling in the world,” she had said, “than finding a passage that no one ever in the history of the world has seen before.”

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You can quit peeling the onions now

Caption pretty much says it all: “Cat sees his owner who died years ago and can’t hold it in when he sees the video.” Clumsy wording, perhaps, but the emotion is pure:

All I need now is for someone to tell me it’s a fake.

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This is why your algorithm sucks

Gillian Brockell holds the position of Video Editor at the Washington Post, which published this heartbreaker of a tale:

Dear Tech Companies:

I know you knew I was pregnant. It’s my fault, I just couldn’t resist those Instagram hashtags — #30weekspregnant, #babybump. And, silly me! I even clicked once or twice on the maternity-wear ads Facebook served up. What can I say, I am your ideal “engaged” user.

You surely saw my heartfelt thank-you post to all the girl friends who came to my baby shower, and the sister-in-law who flew in from Arizona for said shower tagging me in her photos. You probably saw me googling “holiday dress maternity plaid” and “babysafe crib paint.” And I bet Amazon even told you my due date, January 24th, when I created that Prime registry.

But didn’t you also see me googling “braxton hicks vs. preterm labor” and “baby not moving”? Did you not see my three days of social media silence, uncommon for a high-frequency user like me? And then the announcement post with keywords like “heartbroken” and “problem” and “stillborn” and the 200 teardrop emoticons from my friends? Is that not something you could track?

You see, there are 24,000 stillbirths in the United States every year, and millions more among your worldwide users. And let me tell you what social media is like when you finally come home from the hospital with the emptiest arms in the world, after you and your husband have spent days sobbing in bed, and you pick up your phone for a few minutes of distraction before the next wail. It’s exactly, crushingly, the same as it was when your baby was still alive. A Pea in the Pod. Motherhood Maternity. Latched Mama. Every damn Etsy tchotchke I was considering for the nursery.

You can imagine the rest.

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The Law of Conservation of Evil

One way or another, this baby was going to get whacked:

An Indiana high school football player told investigators that he killed a 17-year-old schoolmate because he was angry that she waited so long to tell him she was pregnant with his child that it was too late to get an abortion, authorities said Monday.

Aaron Trejo, 16, was charged as an adult with murder in the Sunday killing of Breana Rouhselang and the fetus. He was arrested Sunday, scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday and had no attorney on record.

In a court filing supporting the charges, prosecutors say Trejo told police that he stabbed Rouhselang during a fight over her pregnancy and that he put her body in a restaurant dumpster in their hometown of Mishawaka.

Now there’s an actual example of toxic masculinity, though it’s less that Trejo had XY chromosomes and more that Trejo was a murderous asshole.

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Claims must be filed in person

I don’t mind telling you, I don’t want to be there to see it happen:

Lifetime warranty on caskets

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

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Rules of thumb

This seems pretty indisputable:

I still giggle at the memory of my sister’s midwifery training at Groote Schuur hospital in Cape Town, many decades ago. At one point there was a spate of “blue babies”, infants who were not breathing, or not breathing properly, at birth. To jolt her trainee midwives into being more aware of the problem, the matron in charge of that class put up a notice in the break room. In large capital letters, it warned:


It didn’t take long before someone added, in equally bold print:


For the time in between, you take your chances.

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I hope the place is packed

Too many old soldiers just fade away in the distance, forgotten by the rest of the world.

Funeral announcement for the late Stanley Stoltz

Rest well, sir.

(With thanks to Laura Ledford.)

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The alpha male brings his own particles

We may yet see a scheme like this:

A long time ago, one of Reason magazine’s writers suggested that Israel could secure its borders against the more common sort of invaders and terrorists by making them radioactive, such that anyone who attempts an unauthorized entry would be fried as he did so. At the time there were practical problems that made such a project dubious of completion, but the fundamental idea — make the border automatically hostile to life — remains attractive.

Today it could be done rather easily, and at a modest cost compared to the complete militarization of the border. Indeed, it could be incorporated into President Trump’s proposed wall. Don’t bother climbing over or tunneling under it; either way you’ll get a lethal dose of neutrons. Anyone who did manage to cross would be easy to detect by his, ah, glowing personality.

Of course, if you’re a traditionalist, you may prefer the Hungarian approach.

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Mummy’s on holiday

Well, sort of:

Passport of Ramesses II

This passport was issued in compliance with Egyptian law at the time of the journey, which was deemed an emergency:

On an autumn day in 1976, a French Air Force plane touched down at Le Bourget airport just outside Paris. The plane was carrying one of the world’s great statesmen, a famous war leader in need of urgent medical treatment. Ramesses II may have been dead for more than 3000 years but his mummified body was welcomed with as much ceremony as any living head of state.

He had been the most magnificent of all the pharaohs, but his mummy was in poor shape. Early on, he was roughed up by tomb robbers, prompting priests to move him to a secret location. In 1881, that too was discovered and from then on the king’s corpse was moved from place to place, partly unwrapped, even exhibited standing up, all of which took a heavy toll. Now, battered and cracked, he was under attack from bacteria, fungi and insects. Ancient Egyptians embalmed their dead to ensure the body stayed intact for eternity, otherwise the soul wouldn’t have the use of it in the afterlife. If Ramesses’s soul was to endure, his mummy needed urgent attention to stop the rot.

His occupation was listed as “King (deceased).” Which, after all, he was, as of 1213 BC.

(Via Never Yet Melted.)

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Olympia closes Death Row

It’s been eight years since Washington state executed anyone, and they swear never to do it again:

Washington has become the 20th US state to ban the death penalty, after its Supreme Court ruled the punishment was applied in an “arbitrary and racially biased manner.”

The eight people currently on death row in the northwestern state immediately had their sentences commuted to life.

The court’s 9-0 decision was fine with the governor:

Justices of the Washington court are chosen by popular vote.

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Hurry up with that kidney

Someone actually worth saving is on the queue:

Years ago, when I selected Organ Donor as the default on my driver’s license, my father told me not to do it. He said there would come a time, when the rich and influential would kill people just to take their organs.

I agreed to think about it, but, secretly, I laughed about his paranoia. How ridiculous! No one would ever do that.

No one? Here are three who would:

Canadians Ian Ball and Robert Sibbald from Western University, along with Robert Truog from Harvard, recently published an article in the New England Journal of Medicine calling for organ donation from euthanasia victims.

They went so far as suggesting pulling the organs from the still-alive “donor” such that removing the organs would cause the donor’s euthanasia itself. The fresher the better. The transplant surgeons thus become both the one who sustains life for one, and the dealer of death for the other. All it takes, according to the authors, is a few simple tweaks to legislation.

The only proper response to this, I contend, is “You first.”

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Prediction is hard

Especially about the future, and even more so if you don’t actually have one:

“Yay … not going to die any time soon!!!” Richard Cota of Bonanza appears to have written those words on his Facebook page moments before fatally colliding head-on into another driver on a rural Oregon highway early Thursday evening. Cota’s wife, Amanda, was also in the car at the time of the crash.

Now both Amanda Cota and Klamath Falls resident Frederick French are being treated for injuries at two different Southern Oregon hospitals, and Richard Cota is dead. He was 37 years old.

The crash reportedly occurred along Highway 140, near milepost 14, about 22 miles east of Medford. Oregon State troopers were dispatched to the two-vehicle crash around 5 p.m. Oct. 4. According to OSP crash investigators, the Cotas were traveling east toward Klamath Falls and their hometown of Bonanza in a Dodge Neon. Richard, the driver, was reportedly passing other eastbound vehicles at a high rate of speed while in the westbound lane — and while in a no-passing zone.

Fark reported this with the DUMBASS tag, and justifiably so.

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And then there were (almost) none

The last herd really was the last herd:

An iconic Pacific Northwest species’ declining numbers has resulted in its quiet withdrawal from its last remaining historical habitat in the United States.

According to researchers, the Selkirk herd of woodland caribou, which lingered as one of the most threatened species in the U.S. for decades, has all but disbanded. After a harsh winter that disrupted a last-ditch recovery effort, just three female caribou remain.

The last remaining herd of woodland caribou in the U.S. ranged from north-eastern portions of Colville National Forest in Washington State and lower British Columbia. The herd struggled for years, challenged by everything from habitat loss and freeway development to predators and even snowmobiles in its south.

There remain some members of the species, all north of the 49th parallel:

The mountain-dwelling woodland caribou is not extinct. But the numbers don’t look good. A few dozen more herds exist, all in Canada. They too are in rapid decline; their total number is estimated at fewer than 1,400, down from 1,900 just ten years earlier.

Overhunting, a problem last century, isn’t the issue anymore; continuing encroachment on habitat is.

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They say it’s painless

A brave man once requested me
To answer questions that are key
Is it to be or not to be
And I replied, “Oh why ask me?”

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Questions possibly answered

    1.  About ten-thirty last night.

    2.  Knives. At least there was a chance that they’d been maintained well.

    3.  I rang the hotline at 11:15.

    4.  It took the guy well over an hour to talk me out of it.

    5.  The urge has not gone away.

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A reason to go on

Can anyone suggest one? Because I’m having a terrible time trying to come up with one.

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Perhaps self-fulfilling

Opioids, we are told, are killing people. This, though, is the first example I know of in which government is using the stuff for that very purpose:

Nebraska has become the first US state to use the opioid fentanyl to carry out the death penalty.

Convicted criminal Carey Dean Moore, 60, who killed two cab drivers in 1979, was executed in the state’s first lethal injection and first execution in 21 years. Amid two lawsuits from drug companies to stay the execution, Moore had told his lawyers he wanted to be executed.

Fentanyl is a powerful narcotic drug at the heart of the US opioid crisis. According to the Omaha World-Herald newspaper, the state used an untried drug cocktail of diazepam, fentanyl, cisatracurium and potassium chloride to execute Moore.

Good old diazepam. “Valium would have helped that bash,” declared Lou Reed.

It’s a hell of a combo: a tranq, a painkiller, a muscle relaxant, and KCl to stop the heart. Moore was pronounced dead after 23 minutes. Oklahoma, meanwhile, can’t seem to figure out how to work this thing.

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A definite C word

The Local Malcontent minces no words:

I got some sobering news from my various Cancer doctors this morning:

My PSA number has more than doubled since my last Lab work in March, 2018, from 3.61 on March 21, to 7.33 on July 6th.

I had been trying to get the recent results for 4 days, to compare and to chart my PSA’s rate of change. And this news is indeed very disturbing.

It’s not the number itself that’s high, apparently; it’s the rate of increase.

Rather a lot of people on the old blogroll have slid into the Next Life, some of them without much warning. I hate that. Nothing much I can do about it, except appeal to the Almighty, but I’m pretty emphatic about hating it.

(Seen first by McG.)

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Playing it by ear

“There is no script or instructions. Instructions are institutional and temporary. FCA is a culture of leaders and employees that were born out of adversity and who operate without sheet music.”

— Sergio Marchionne (1952-2018), chairman and chief executive officer of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles through last Friday; after a high-risk treatment for sarcoma in one shoulder, he lapsed into a coma, and died yesterday. Mike Manley, who had headed FCA’s two cash cows, Jeep and Ram, took over on Saturday.

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Gravity never fails

It was 6:10 this morning. I know this because the digits on the old Timex alarm clock are entirely too bright, but the sun rose around 6:24, which meant that keeping the washcloth in front of the clock face was no longer necessary. I rolled over to get within reach of it.

And kept rolling.

And kept rolling.

And finally, I found myself on the floor: as the old broad said in that infamous commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Scraping along the floor, I managed to get to the phone and summon 911. (Lucky me, the fire department is only three blocks away.) One of them remembered me from the last time I’d hit the floor this hard.

At least now I know how I die: I pitch forward (or backwards, it hardly matters) out of reach of anything, and can’t propel myself at all. It will be a day or two, or more, before anyone even notices.

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