Archive for Life and/or Death

112 is French for 911

Actually, 112 is the basic emergency number throughout the European Union, but not everyone seems to comprehend “emergency” as “Emergency!” For instance:

French authorities have opened an enquiry into the death of a young woman just hours after her distress call to emergency services was mocked by the operator, prompting a public outcry.

Naomi Musenga, 22, dialled France’s emergency dispatch number on December 29 last year complaining of strong stomach pains.

In a recording of the three-minute call obtained only recently by her family, Musenga’s voice can barely be heard as says “It hurts all over” and “I’m going to die …”

“You’re going to die, certainly, one day just like everyone else,” the female operator responds. She is also heard mocking Musenga’s complaints with a colleague, before telling the victim to call a doctor for a house visit.

Five hours later Musenga again calls the emergency services, which finally dispatch the ambulance that brings her to a hospital in Strasbourg, eastern France. But she died shortly after arriving from a heart attack.

Perhaps inevitably, this incident set off calls for More Money:

The circumstances surrounding Musenga’s death have reignited calls for increased funding and resources for France’s health system.

“In 1988, eight million people went to hospital emergency rooms each year. Today’s it’s 21 million,” Patrick Pelloux, head of the French association of emergency doctors (AMUF) told French daily Le Parisien.

“At the same time, calls to emergency services have tripled,” which have effectively reduced them to “call centres,” Pelloux said.

I don’t doubt your statistics, M. le Docteur, but tell me this: How much extra does it cost for an emergency operator not to act like an asshole?

(Via Lindsay Beyerstein.)

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We said your time was up

And $DEITYdamnit, we meant it:

Alfie Evans, a British toddler with a degenerative brain condition whose parents lost a legal battle to keep him on life support at a Vatican hospital, was mourned with balloons set free in the sky and prayers from the pope after he died Saturday weeks shy of his second birthday.

Much of the criticism of the National Health Service came from the United States; while Twitter would not permit the topic to be listed as “trending” because of course they wouldn’t, American tweeters were keen to point out that It Can’t Happen Here.

One might not want to be too sure about that:

Orwell would be proud: QALY (quality of life years) criteria are how the death panels the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) decides if you should live or die.

and with the growing “elderly” population (and fewer kids/immigrants to support them by their taxes) you can see how this cost control idea could rapidly expand to active killing of the old, senile, and those denied treatment.

But before you point fingers at the UK, maybe you should read about the “futile care” law in Texas that has gotten little publicity. From Wikipedia:

“The Texas Advance Directives Act (1999), also known as the Texas Futile Care Law, describes certain provisions that are now Chapter 166 of the Texas Health & Safety Code. Controversy over these provisions mainly centers on Section 166.046, Subsection (e), which allows a health care facility to discontinue life-sustaining treatment ten days after giving written notice if the continuation of life-sustaining treatment is considered futile care by the treating medical team.”

Unlike the UK, if the family wants to, they can move the patient and pay their bills.

Or they can ask the hospital “ethics committee” to decide. The problem being that most “bioethics” types already believe in the “QALY” mindset, so good luck to you fellah.

I assure you, my interest in this topic is not entirely academic; I am, after all, sixty-four years old.

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To save a life

You’re looking at Interstate 696 at Coolidge Highway, north of Detroit, early Tuesday morning:

Suicide prevention on a Michigan freeway

What you’re not seeing is the guy up on the overpass who had intended to jump to his death:

He had either climbed over or around the protective fence and was standing on the top of the bridge’s side barrier, above eastbound traffic, near the median.

There happens to be a Michigan State Police post just a half mile away, so response was both quick and massive. While negotiators from the MSP, Oak Park, and Huntington Woods PDs talked to the man, the state police began shutting down eastbound traffic on the interstate highway. Well, they didn’t shut down traffic entirely. While cars and light trucks were rerouted off the freeway, about a half dozen tractor-trailer rigs were let through to the overpass, where police directed them to line up closely, side-by-side, directly under the bridge. The idea was to shorten the fall if the man decided to go ahead and jump. The same was done on the westbound side of the overpass. A total of 14 truckers apparently volunteered to help save the man’s life, though only 13 fit under the bridge.

It’s about a 30-foot drop from the ledge to the pavement, an almost guaranteed splat into the next world. A semi-trailer reduces that distance by about half, which would give the guy a fighting chance.

Police negotiators from the three departments talked to the man for hours, finally convincing him to accompany them to a hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. I-696 was reopened to traffic around 4:00 a.m.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is at 1-800-273-8255. Put it on speed dial if you ever think you have to.

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Sanctuary much

Phocoena sinus, better known as vaquita, is an endangered porpoise that lives in the north end of the Gulf of California. At least, we think it does; as of last year, it was estimated that only about thirty of them survive. How to bring the species back is not at all clear, but one of the first steps, you’d think, would be to stop killing them:

A protected area in the upper Gulf of California has been enlarged by 45% as the latest measure in efforts to protect the endangered vaquita porpoise.

Environment Secretary Rafael Pacchiano Alemán announced [Friday] the vaquita sanctuary now takes in an area of 1,841 square kilometers.

Alejandro Olivera, Mexican representative of the Center for Biological Diversity, applauded the move, while cautioning that it may be too late:

[T]o save the vaquita [said Olivera] it is necessary to eliminate all gillnet fishing in the area of its habitat and stop the trafficking in totoaba swim bladders, an expensive delicacy in Asia and a lucrative product for both fishermen and organized crime.

Perhaps ironically, the totoaba (Totoaba macdonaldi) is itself listed as “critically endangered” in the wild, though the Baja California government has authorized commercial farming of totoaba outside the upper Gulf.

Meanwhile:

While official estimates indicate that some 30 specimens remain in the wild, the environmental organization Elephant Action League (EAL) reported last month that it believed there were only about a dozen vaquitas left.

At this rate, they’ll be gone by next year.

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Bomb bursting in air

The Oklahoma City National Memorial is a place like no other; no one who has seen it — around 300,000 visitors a year — has been unchanged by it.

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The “Semper” part of it

The Grim Reaper, that scythe-wielding son of a bitch, may have met his match:

The shoulder straightened as the bony finger touched it. It and its companion squared, and they rotated as their owner turned, his own eyes shaded under bushy brows and boring into those same eyeless sockets that stilled dissent. Brows furrowed, a chin thrust forth like a weapon. Death hesitated, unaccountably faltering, but then asserted itself and raised its hand again, beckoning with its finger.

“Come with you?” the man said, and sneered. Sneered! At Death! “I don’t think so, Skinny. Now why don’t you drop that toothpick. And. Give. Me. 20!”

At first, I figured the Reaper might report this as a major malfunction, but on reflection, it occurred to me that silence might be the better choice.

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And at rest

Services for brother James were held today in a tiny storefront church in a strip mall next to Tractor Supply Co. It was the very antithesis of your baroquely decorated big-city cathedral, and yes, I figured, this was the sort of place he’d attend services: no budget to spend on distractions, maybe four actual pews, connected and disconnected chairs, even a sofa or two. And yes, this was his church home; the pastor knew him well. Turnout was satisfyingly high; it helped that he was back home among friends. Several stood up and passed along stories about him, boy and man, bad times and good. I chimed in with a few possibly unnoticed biographical details — if James was a II, as he was, well, who was “I”?

I might have predicted two of the three songs he selected for the service: Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’,” an old favorite, and Sinatra’s “My Way,” a declaration of independence. I would not, however, have guessed the one played in between: Johnny Cash’s reimaging of Trent Reznor’s “Hurt.” The pastor himself professed to be baffled by the choice, but offered his own explanation: on the off-chance that there had been a fence left unmended, this was James’ way of expressing regret, with the hope that he’d been forgiven. The pastor wasn’t looking at me when he said that, but he could have been.

All in all, it was a surprisingly satisfying service, an hour and a half of remembrance with the absolute minimum of remonstrance. This was no time to lecture. And I found it gratifying to see how many of his old friends, some going back as far as grade school, would come out to this unassuming little burg to say goodbye. I should be so lucky.

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And then there were none

Well, if I’d had any vestigial sibling rivalry tormenting me, it’s got to be gone now, along with all those siblings I used to have.

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This close

Through the middle of March, it looked like he might actually pull out of this, if the stars lined up properly. On the 20th he recorded a message: “You can have it all — as long as you don’t want it all.”

There was a time when I thought he wanted it all. Not so. What he wanted was enough to get by without having to ask for help. It’s a situation I grew to appreciate too late.

James Herschael Hill II
21 January 1967 — 6 April 2018

Peace be with your soul, brother.

(How the hell is it that neither of my brothers made it much past 50, and my sisters never made it even that far?)

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No explanations needed

Rebecca Black gives good red carpet:

Rebecca Black at the premiere of My Dead Ex 2018

And it shouldn’t take much to figure out the premise of this Web series:

RB and AwesomenessTV go back a while: she was one of the three leads in one season of Royal Crush, and she still does their series Give Good Text. In a weird interplay of timing, the current episode of GGT is about, um, ghosting.

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And then there were two, but…

Bad news from Kenya:

Says the BBC:

Sudan, who was 45, lived at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya. He was put to sleep on Monday after age-related complications worsened significantly.

His death leaves only two females — his daughter and granddaughter — of the subspecies alive in the world.

Hope for preserving the northern white rhino now lies in developing in vitro fertilisation (IVF) techniques.

About twenty thousand southern white rhinos carry on (they’re considered “near threatened”), but the northern is down to those two.

(Via Stephen Green.)

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Apocalypse soon

Francis W. Porretto confers with a friend on the unpleasant prospects of the end of the world as we know it:

A dear friend has often speculated about “what will happen after the crash.” He’s convinced that an event of some sort will strip us of all the technology we’ve developed over the past century or so: what we have and our ability to make more of it. Though those technologies have become self-sustaining, they were bootstrapped from far more basic knowledge, skills, and tools: pencils, slide rules, soldering irons, and extensive knowledge of the sciences. Many of those who were part of the bootstrapping are gone now; the rest will disappear in a generation or two. Should our progeny lose what we’ve bequeathed them after we’ve vanished, would the kiddies be able to recreate it?

My friend is of the opinion that they won’t — that there will come a long Dark Age during which our posterity will have to clamber slowly up from the mud, much as the Cro-Magnons did. He has a good case for it. By indulging our children in the “right” to be ignorant of anything except how to use their smartphones and Google, we’ve denied them the bootstrapping competences that were required to produced our current technologies. Never mind that it was with the kiddies’ willing cooperation; the effect will be no less crippling for that.

A substantial number of alleged “grown-ups” involved in this conspiracy, or collusion, or whatever, did so because they valued their present-day comforts above all else. This describes a number of people you know, rather a lot of people you’ve seen on television, and pretty much everyone elected to Congress in the last decade or so. The sheer mass of their madness makes it a lot easier to tip the scales the wrong way.

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Surplus population

Don’t laugh. At some point this could be you:

BabyTrudeau’s courts have not only allowed a broad range of killing of patients, but they will prosecute docs if they refuse to cooperate, meaning that their law is more radical than other countries.

expect to see lots of sob stories about couples offing themselves so they could die together, or about senile old ladies who are being denied euthanasia. The propaganda will persuade a lot of depressed people they are doing a good deed to kill themselves and no longer burden their kids who don’t want to care for them.

and think of all the money you will save!

once this idea becomes common, you will see medical personnel offing people they think are better off dead. I know of two cases where outside (non IHS) docs tried to persuade families to starve their elderly to death because they had strokes. In both cases, the doctors were told off by locals: We don’t do things like that here: we Indians care for our elders.

which is why our people often refused to sign living wills or DNR orders … and “bioethicists” lament this is a problem in the African American community too, and the article wonders why (I can explain why in one word: Tuskegee).

“W-where are you taking me?”

One of the shadowy figures held up some sort of computing device. “Says here you’re an organ donor.”

“But I’m not even sick!”

“Doesn’t matter. The governor’s mistress needs a liver, and you’ve got one.”

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Try not to get sick

The following article contains one palpable untruth:

Dying has been banned on the island since 1950 because bodies simply freeze.

Um, no. (And what would be the penalty? Surely not a life sentence.)

But this is the truth of the cold-as-you-name-it town of Longyearbyen, on the Norwegian island of Svalbard, north latitude 78.2°:

[In 1950] it was discovered that bodies in the local cemetery were not decomposing because of the chilly temperatures.

The island’s climate is so arctic …

How … arctic … is it?

… that in the 2000’s, scientists, morbidly fascinated by the discovery, tested corpses buried there who succumbed to the 1917 influenza virus — and to their amazement, retrieved live samples of the virus.

Residents had been living among the deadly virus for decades, without even realising it.

The graveyard no longer takes any new inhabitants because of fears disease will spread throughout the island, meaning that even those who have lived their whole life on the island, cannot be buried there.

That particular strain of the virus killed one of every twenty people on the planet.

In a bleak prospect, those who are terminally ill are shipped off the island and flown hundreds of miles to the mainland of Oslo, where they will spend the remainder of their days until death.

This is only one of several unusual laws that prevail in this town of 2,000:

Notable examples of such laws include a ban on cats, a restriction on how much alcohol an individual can purchase on a monthly basis, and a requirement that any individuals venturing outside carry a rifle for protection against polar bears.

The deal on cats:

Svalbard is home to abundant Arctic bird populations and cats pose a problem for the bird life. So Svalbard has prohibited them.

A hard life, perhaps, but one adapts, I guess.

(Via Fark.)

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You plan better when you’re alive

But for many of us, perhaps not that much better:

[M]y big, selfish fear: what if everyone you care about and who cares about you dies or moves away, and you’re all alone? This is what happens when you let yourself get fond of people. I have a hard time making in-person friends and so “just find new people to care about” is not easy for me.

This doesn’t describe me so well, if only because I have one foot — well, six inches anyway — in the grave.

However:

And yeah, also selfishly: holy cow, if I were to die suddenly? Nothing in my life is in order. I have a very minimal will; my important paperwork (do your heirs need your social security card and the like?) is kind of scattered … and my house is a mess. (I hate the new concept being foisted on us from Scandinavia of “death cleaning” even as I can see its value: if I were to get hit by a bus, what would people do with all my books and all my fabric and all my My Little Ponies? But at the same time, I cannot see myself living in an empty white box with almost no possessions, waiting for my own death…)

As the young folks say, “It me.” I should point out that the one person I know who actually does engage in this “death cleaning” isn’t, so far as I can tell, doing it for the sake of the estate; she’s just a committed ascetic.

That said, if it’s clear my number is up, I doubt that I’ll spend much time worrying about what little estate planning I did; I’ll have more immediate thoughts to torment me.

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More orphan than not?

Some jerkwads still seem to idolize the Menendez brothers:

A 22-year-old man has been tricked by police into thinking that a hitman he hired had killed his family so that he could inherit their wealth.

Detectives discovered a plot to kill his mother, father and 10-year-old sister in Sochi, Russia.

He detailed how and where his family should be murdered, drawing up a floor plan that showed where the cameras were placed and how to avoid guard dogs.

But the hitman he was giving all the details to and agreed a fee with was actually an undercover police officer.

His parents were said to be devastated by their son’s plan but took part in a police mock-up using fake blood with blood coming out of “fatal” knife wounds.

And apparently the guy was already thinking Big Spender thoughts:

After seeing the pictures, the man expressed “delight” and agreed to pay the promised £38,000 fee to the man he believed was a contract killer as soon as he had collected his inheritance.

Instead the son — who has not been named — was immediately detained by armed police as a police video shows.

The ungrateful child faces a 15-year time-out.

If you’ve forgotten Lyle and Erik Menendez, well, I don’t blame you.

(Via Fark.)

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It’s hard to feel lower than this

Unfortunately, I know this neighborhood:

Burdened by mounting health, job and family troubles, a Florida woman took to the road and headed north from her Cocoa Beach home, police say.

By the time she hit Stafford County on Interstate 95 in Virginia, she was down to her last $14 and had reached her limit: Soon she would pick up a handgun and plead to die at the hands of officers.

The 57-year-old pulled her Kia sedan into a Walmart parking lot just before dawn Dec. 8, triggering a four-hour standoff as she repeatedly waved a silver revolver, cursing Stafford County sheriff’s deputies as she demanded that they shoot her.

“She kept talking to herself, yelling profanities and enticing us to shoot her, over and over and over again,” said Capt. Ben Worcester, a member of the Stafford County Sheriff’s Office.

It took a couple of drones and a vehicle resembling a tank, but they subdued her without actually having to kill her:

At 9:15 a.m., police in the armored vehicle rolled over to the car and fired pepper spray into the Kia’s open window before four officers rushed the car and pulled the woman out and handcuffed her.

Stafford authorities charged Donna Lynn Barnes with reckless handling of a firearm and brandishing a firearm, both misdemeanors, police officials said.

Online court documents show that a hearing in her case is scheduled for Feb. 22.

It could have been worse: some police departments seem all too happy to oblige someone who wants to die, or even someone who doesn’t.

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And you thought your roads were bad

Even if I could walk, I wouldn’t dream of walking over this:

What you’re seeing:

Located in Siberia, the Vitim River Bridge is one of the most spectacular bridges in the world. It’s an old train bridge crossing the Vitim River which leaves drivers precariously navigating a tiny six-foot-wide path. Its old metal structure is covered with rotting wooden planks, which can be slippery due to frequent ice in the area.

The Vitim River is a major tributary of the Lena River. This terrifying bridge is a mere six feet wide and teeters precariously over the river. It’s a really old structure without railings, truly narrow even for a standard car. To cross the dilapidated Kuandinsky Bridge in the Trans-Baikal Region drivers must navigate a tiny six-foot-wide path — with no railing or safety features to save them from toppling into the frozen water below. To make matters worse, the old metal structure is covered with wooden planks, which can be slippery due to the frequent snow and ice.

Pro: It was built to hold the weight of a train, so you’re not likely to crash through the surface in your Jeep Grand Cherokee.

Con: Just about everything else.

The bridge is in dreadful condition and requires strong nerves to negotiate it. The route demands 100% concentration. Take a tip from the tortoise: slow and steady wins the race. It’s certainly breathtaking and it has a fearsome reputation. It still remains an adrenaline-pumping journey and is definitely not for the faint of lungs, heart, or legs. Words can’t describe the road and pictures don’t do it justice. There are no railings or fences. Railway slippers are simply placed over the metal base and they are not connected with each other. Strong wind blows over the river. In order not to rock the car, one has to open the car windows to reduce windage.

Now imagine an actual train going over it.

The bridge is 0.57 km long, about 1800 feet. And there’s a Facebook page for survivors. It’s not very busy, for obvious reasons.

(Via Miss Cellania.)

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The rest is silence

Our local BBS community ranged in age from twelve to me to a few years beyond that, which was a good thing, especially since none of us had any reason to pull rank on anyone else.

We lost a member this morning. The triple whammy — first epilepsy, then Parkinson’s, then cancer — took its toll. Even those of us who saw it coming didn’t quite believe it.

More than this, I cannot say, at least for now.

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Live at the 38th

The Z Man considers the fate of North Korea:

One thing that is known is that North Korea knows they cannot win a war against the South. The proof of that is how they have organized their military. Those artillery pieces on the border are a one-shot threat. They get about 72 hours to inflict as much damage as possible, until US air power takes them out. If they play this card, they forgo their opportunity to send their infantry and armor south. Instead, the North will have to wage a defensive war, hoping the South elects a negotiated end rather than an invasion.

This means their best card to play in this game just about guarantees their destruction, either from a land invasion or an extended air campaign. It would certainly end the Kim family dynasty. That makes the threat significantly less credible. The US can pressure China or make a deal with China, to get help putting the screws to the Kim regime, knowing that the Koreans only have a doomsday card to play. In other words, the doomsday card prevents a US invasion, but does not prevent economic war.

And what of those Other Players, anyway?

Of course, it’s possible that the math has changed for the Chinese. Right now is peak China economically and demographically. Now is the best chance they will have to resolve their Korean problem. A decade from now, when China has an aging population and the North Koreans have the ability to strike Beijing, the Americans may not be interested in helping with this problem. The best time to address tough problems is when you have the resources to address them. There is no better time than now for China.

There’s also the Trump factor. Previous presidents have been willing to accept the options presented to them by the foreign policy establishment. Trump is psychologically incapable of accepting the options presented to him for anything. Everyone who has done deals with him says the same thing. Trump thrives under pressure, so he puts everyone under pressure. He’s sure he can wheel and deal with anyone under pressure, so that’s how he changes the negotiating table. He creates uncertainty and puts everyone under the gun.

That seems to be what he is trying to do with Asia. On the one hand, he is encouraging Japan to build out their military and take a more active role in policing the region. This puts enormous pressure on China. He’s helping the South Koreans get ready for war, which puts pressure on the North and on their relationship with China. All of a sudden, the US is doing things very different in Asia. Trump’s willingness to change course on a dime adds an air of unpredictability to him, which always makes Asian leaders nervous.

Maybe “under the gun” wasn’t the best possible choice of words. But that’s Trump’s M.O., and always has been.

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The next step in Media Hatred

Last week:

Walmart has pulled a T-shirt which encouraged the lynching of journalists.

The $18.99 T-shirt bearing the message “Rope. Tree. Journalist. SOME ASSEMBLY REQUIRED” was listed on Walmart.com through third-party seller Teespring.

Walmart removed it after a journalist advocacy group told the retailer it found the shirt threatening.

This week:

A co-owner of the Today’s News-Herald was poisoned with what could have been lethal doses of thallium and other chemicals, according to leading toxicology and medical experts.

After experiencing prolonged, unexplained illness with severe symptoms earlier this year, Joseph Soldwedel sought medical treatment and forensic laboratory testing. Soldwedel is president of Prescott Valley-based Western News & Info.

“The test findings are highly suggestive, but not confirmatory, of an intentional poisoning with an intent to kill,” said Dr. Ernest P. Chiodo, one of the nation’s leading experts in forensic toxicology who reviewed Soldwedel’s test results.

Environmental factors? Not likely:

Doctors concluded that Soldwedel, 65, takes no medications that contain these heavy metals or other toxins, and had no known environmental or occupational exposures to thallium. Water tests conducted at Soldwedel’s places of residence showed no trace of toxic chemicals.

Mr Soldwedel said “he has a good idea” about the identity of the poisoner, but is not ready to go public until law enforcement has a better handle on things. The perp, I suggest, should be hanged by a person wearing a T-shirt.

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Cooler than cremation

This has been out for a while, but I hadn’t seen much of anything about it until now:

The newest comer on the eco-burial stage is a process called Promession, or put more plainly, freeze-drying. Invented by Swedish marine biologist Susanne Wiigh-Mäsak, the process involves immersing the corpse in liquid nitrogen, which makes it very brittle. Vibrations shake the body apart and the water is evaporated away in a special vacuum chamber. Next, a separator filters out any mercury fillings or surgical implants, and the powdered remains are laid to rest in a shallow grave.

With a shallow burial, oxygen and water can mix with the powdered remains, turning them into compost.

Promessa, the firm founded by Wiigh-Mäsak to promote the technology, has a Web site.

(Suggested by our own Holly H.)

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Yellow and porous

Clearly this explains the absorbent little fellow’s enduring popularity:

Didn’t take too long to find this one:

Whelk Attack: He and the rest of Bikini Bottomites are eaten by infected whelks.

This, however, is something to savor:

Jellyfishing: A jellyfish stings Squidward while he is riding his bike, causing him to lose control and ride off a cliff, with an unusual and unexplained nuclear explosion as he hits the ground. The incident leaves Squidward in an electric wheelchair with a full body cast that prevents him from any body movement. And during the welcome party SpongeBob and Patrick had thrown, Patrick blows piping hot soup in his face. Then during when SpongeBob, Patrick and Squidward are at Jellyfish Fields for jellyfishing. Patrick stabs a jellyfish net through his casted hand and when Squidward got a jellyfish he got zapped by a giant jellyfish. This leaves Squidward in an even fuller body cast on an electric bed and at the end of the episode the giant jellyfish returns and zaps Squidward again breaking his body cast.

Littlest Pet Shop, it isn’t.

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It has come to this

The hardest of hard luck befalls some of us:

Melody was in a car accident. It was a hit and run. This is where she had to get a rod in her leg. When that failed, she had her leg amputated. With all the medical bills, she was left homeless. From here she got a flesh eating bacteria virus. She made it though, but after that she had to start getting dialysis every week. Her ports continued to get clogged, so she was always going through alot of surgeries and complications. She passed away from a massive heart attack. At this time we are unsure of the cause of this.

Any help would be great. Thank you.

Melody was a cousin of mine; her mom was my Aunt Nena. She was fifty years old, and that’s too early to say goodbye.

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Pretty much petered out

Merely being dead doesn’t make you immune to peepers and gawkers:

A Denver nursing staff obsessed with another staff got suspended after they opened a dead man’s body bag to look at his staff one last time.

Five nurses at Denver Health Medical Center (who apparently are charter members of Necrophilia, Inc.) were vitally interested in the size of a man’s genitals, and not only uncovered him while he was incapacitated but even opened his body bag after he was dead to take another look.

The nurses’ actions, conducted between March 31 and April 3, were reported on May 8 after another nurse who was not part of the peeping group heard one of them make a comment about what had occurred. The nurse then reported the remark to hospital staff.

That prompted the group of nurses to be suspended for three weeks, according to Denver Health Medical Center spokesman Josh Rasmussen. He added that the nurses received discipline considered “serious,” but four nurses later returned to work. The discipline would be recorded in the nurses’ personal files, he said.

The late Milton Berle was not available for comment.

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Ferret out (almost)

The black-footed ferret was declared extinct in 1979; two years later, their condition was upgraded to Not Quite Extinct when Lucille Hogg’s dog brought a dead black-footed ferret to her door in Meeteetse, Wyoming.

The road back has been long, with many a winding turn, but progress has been made:

The black-footed ferret population near Meeteetse, Wyo. is getting a boost. Last July, 35 black-footed ferrets were released on the Lazy BV and Pitchfork ranches. Now biologists have found wild born kits at the site.

McG remembers those ferretless days:

[Wyoming] Game and Fish biologists were having to release captive-born ferrets to bolster the numbers of the wild population, but ferrets kinda know how to make more ferrets on their own, so it was only a matter of time before they stopped needing the fold-out couch in dad’s basement.

All this material should be considered NSFPD: Not Safe for Prairie Dogs.

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Meanwhile on the Gulf

Several Facebook friends with Houston connections posted this. I’m not sure of the original source.

Things non-Houstonians need to understand:

1. The streets and many of the public parks here are designed to flood. We sit just 35 feet above sea level, and most of the city is as flat as a pool table. We average about 50 inches of rain a year. The streets and parks serve as temporary retention ponds, accommodating slow, steady drainage through our bayous.

2. We average about 50 inches of rain a year, but in the last 48 hours, many areas of greater Houston received 25 to 30 inches of rain. That’s six to nine months’ worth of rain, in two days. The drainage system, which works well in normal conditions, was overwhelmed. Officials are calling this an “800 year flood”: that means there was a one in 800 chance of its occurrence. Even with advance notice, there was little means of preparing for this.

3. It is impossible to evacuate a city the size of Houston. Harris County is 1700+ square miles, with a population of 6.5 million people. How do you evacuate 6.5 million people? During the hours leading to Hurricane Rita’s landfall, tens of thousands of Houstonians attempted evacuation. The traffic jams lasted for days. One hundred people died. So far, six Houstonians have died in Hurricane Harvey, all of them (as far as I have heard) drowned in their automobiles. For more than a decade, the local mantra has been “shelter in place and hunker down.” That’s hard, but it’s the right approach.

4. Some outsiders are treating this disaster with schadenfreude: Texans helped elect an anti-big government president, and now we’re going to need big government help. Houston is one of the bluest spots in Texas, and voted Clinton in 2016. Suggesting this is karmic payback for backing Trump is as inaccurate (and offensive) as Pat Robertson’s suggestion that Hurricane Katrina was God smiting sinners. We really aren’t thinking Red or Blue right now. We are taking a royal beating, all of us. Disasters don’t care about ideology.

5. You are going to feel this. Gasoline and other oil-refined products (everything from PVC pipe to dry cleaning fluid) will rise in price. The stock market will take a hit. New Orleans is a fantastic city, but it’s not a major economic force. Houston is the center of the nation’s energy industry. It’s home to dozens of Fortune 500 companies. And 85% of it is under water. It may be this way for weeks.

And in the meantime, there’s baseball, somewhere:

I checked this with a sports guy at Fox 26 Houston:

Sheesh.

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Plenty of longevity

It took a while for this to sink in:

The Civil War may have ended 152 years ago, but for Irene Triplett, it still continues in a way far more tangible than recent fights over Confederate monuments.

For Triplett, 87, the Civil War means a monthly check for $73.13 from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Triplett is the sole surviving person receiving a Civil War pension from the VA.

Her father Moses Triplett (1846-1938) served in the Confederate army, but deserted right before Gettysburg. His first wife died in the early 1920s, and he remarried in 1924, at the age of 76; his new bride, Elida Hall, wasn’t yet out of her twenties. They had one child: Irene.

According to the VA, 84 surviving spouses and children receive benefits tied to the Spanish-American War, which was fought in 1898.

Still, this is nearly as weird as the revelation that John Tyler (1790-1862), 10th President of the United States, has two grandsons still living.

(Via Fark.)

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N-word, indeed

I remember reading this when I was younger:

The line following that one got Dick Gregory hired by the Playboy Club in Chicago by Hugh Hefner himself, circa 1961:

Then these three white boys came up to me and said, “Boy, we’re giving you fair warning. Anything you do to that chicken, we’re gonna do to you.” So I put down my knife and fork, I picked up that chicken and I kissed it. Then I said, “Line up, boys!”

At least once in the retelling, he specified where he kissed that chicken.

And then there was this:

The first time I was called “nigger” was in a little town called Mishawaka, Indiana, which just sounds like something’s going to happen. Guy yelled, “Get off the stage, nigger!” And I said, “Wow, did you hear that? He just called me the Lone Ranger’s horse, Trigger. That got a big laugh and then people were comfortable. I put it into my contract: Every time you say that I make another $50,000.

Trigger was actually Roy Rogers’ horse, but no matter. There was no one quite like Dick Gregory, and he kept doing live shows right up until the end. (Alas, he’ll never make it to his scheduled fall date at Oklahoma City’s Tower Theater.)

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Goodbye, Charlie

File this under “She told you so”:

Remember when Mrs. Palin said she didn’t want some death panel deciding whether her son lives or dies? (Trig was born with a genetic condition as well … who gets to decide whether his quality of life is sufficient to fight for?) she was derided and laughed at. Oh, that dumb hick! (how non-judgmental and tolerant!). The words “death panel” do not appear anywhere in the document! Ha ha! Ho ho! (Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon … where did I read that? Hmmm.)

That would never happen, they said. You’re just fear-mongering. LIES!

So in one of their most vaunted examples of Medical Utopia™, exactly what Mrs. Palin was talking about actually happens, the response is “Stop talking about it.” “Shut Up!”

As Mr. Klavan pointed out years ago, “Shut Up” is typically the central thesis of their argument when anyone argues back.

It’s all they have. And they know it.

And through it all, it was almost lost that what they’re really exposing here — when you read between the lines — is not so much that they thought Mrs. Palin was wrong. No.

It’s that they were OK with the death panels from the beginning.

Of course they were. Were it One Of Them, the outcry would be loud and furious. But Those Other People? Screw ’em. One more carbon footprint erased.

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