Archive for Life and/or Death

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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Pick a name and stick with it

You’ve run a blog for seemingly all your life. Now your life is changed, and not for the better. What to do with that blog?

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So shut up and die already

Few phenomena of which I’m aware are capable of instilling as much will to live as the existence of a government which seems to want you to die.

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This bill is killing me

Okay, it’s not killing me exactly, but this poor bird needs help, and fast:

Indian stork with stuck beak

Almost looks like someone shut this bird’s bill with a zip tie, doesn’t it?

Indian wildlife enthusiasts and forest officials have been trying to rescue a rare bird whose beak has been trapped shut by a plastic ring.

The black-necked stork was first spotted with the ring around its beak in a wetland outside the capital Delhi by a group of bird watchers on 7 June.

They believe the bird can drink water but say the ring is preventing it from opening its beak further to eat. Rescuers are hoping to catch it before it starves to death.

Source of that plastic ring? The cap from a beverage bottle, it’s suggested.

The species, Ephippiorhynchus asiaticus, is listed as “near-threatened”: there are several distinct populations, none of them large or breeding rapidly. And this particular bird is facing a dilemma:

“It has to be weak enough so that it doesn’t fly away but if it gets too weak it will die,” Pankaj Gupta, a bird watcher and member of the Delhi Bird Foundation, who has been involved with the rescue mission, told the BBC.

Efforts to catch the bird and free its beak have been thus far unsuccessful.

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Take my life. Please.

This started out as an attempt to be funny about suicide. Imagine how well that might have worked in the hands of someone with talent.

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Old times there are not forgiven

“Mom, how could you do that to us?”

Kathleen Schunk Dehmlow obituary

Says Bob Collins of Minnesota Public Radio:

Generally speaking, settling scores in an obituary rarely makes anyone look good. But, according to this obituary in the Redwood Falls Gazette, maybe Gina and Jay have been waiting a long time to exact their revenge. Maybe they feel better about things now.

But I doubt it.

The online version of the obit has been pulled. And the Star Tribune spoke to a Dehmlow relative:

Dwight Dehmlow, who lives in the Twin Cities, said, “The sad thing about this is there is no rebuttal. There is more to it than this. It’s not simple.”

Dehmlow, who declined to specify his relationship to Kathleen, said she had lived in a nursing home for the past year, and her sisters were there when she died.

“She made a mistake 60 years ago, but who hasn’t?” he said. “Has she regretted it over the years? Yes.”

We may never know what befell Jay and Gina, though I suspect it didn’t involve a parental gift of a Nissan Z.

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Save the squirrel

And the squirrel is in fact saved:

Why, no, it never occurred to me to give CPR to a squirrel. Why do you ask?

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Late last night

This needs no explanation:

Most of the tweets related to this incident have been scrubbed, though this item from last week now seems a whole lot more despairing:

We all know how she landed in the slammer, and it’s not something I’d consider the least bir praiseworthy. But I’ll be double damned and pickled in brine before I tell someone to jump off the ledge. I’ve been too close to that myself.

The book, at this writing, remains open.

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A tale told by a warrior

Something there is that doesn’t love a wall. But it is grievously mistaken in its disdain:

The warrior’s tale tells each generation that they stand on the wall against a hostile world. And that the wall is made not of stones, but of their virtues. Their courage, their integrity and their craft. Theirs is the wall and they are the wall — and if they should fail, then it will fail. And the land and the people will be swept away.

What happens to a people who forget the warrior’s tale and stop telling it around their campfires? Worse, what of a people who are taught to despise the figure of the warrior and what he represents? They will not lose their courage, not all of it. But they will lose the direction of that courage. It will become a sudden unexplained virtue that rises to them out of the depths of danger. And their wall will fail.

It is the warrior’s tale that makes walls. That says this is the land that we have fought for, and we will go on fighting for it. It is sacrifice that makes mere possession sacrosanct. It is blood that turns right to duty. It is the seal that is above law, deeper still to heritage. Anyone can hold a thing, but it is sacrifice that elevates it beyond possessiveness. And it is that tale which elevates a people from possessors of a land, to the people of the land.

Universalism discards the warrior’s tale as abomination. A division in the family of man. Their tale is of an unselfish world where there are no more divisions or distinctions. Where everyone is the same in their own way. But this tale is a myth, a religious idea perverted into totalitarian politics. It is a promise that cannot be kept and a poison disguised with dollops of sugar. It lures the people into tearing down their wall and driving out their warriors. And what follows is what always does when there is no wall. The invaders come, the women scream, the children are taken captive and the men sit with folded hands and drugged smiles dreaming of a better world.

“I dream things that never were,” said Bobby, “and ask why not.”

This is why not.

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Shooter now inactive

It started something like this:

Shortly thereafter:

Zach Nash of the city’s public-information office passed this around:

There is no longer an active threat following a shooting this evening near Lake Hefner. Avoid the area of Britton Road and the Lake Hefner Parkway.

A family reunification center has been opened at the Lighthouse Center, 3333 W Hefner Road.

The media will be briefed as soon as possible at a news conference to be held on the east side of the freeway near Britton Road.

The only confirmed fatality is the suspect. He was apparently shot to death by an armed citizen. Three citizens were injured, two of whom were shot. A large number of witnesses are detained.

Um, thank you, good guy with a gun. (Who, says a local news guy, had a concealed-carry permit.)

Update: CNN’s take on the story.

Updae again: They’re saying the two victims — there may be a third — were females, which somehow makes this look just a tad less random.

Further update: An Oklahoman reporter tweeted this Friday:

Sounds like some legislators in this state.

The Gayly interviewed Tilghman back in January. Guy was a total nutbag.

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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 (1)

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.


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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