August 30, 2008

Pre-mature obituaries

No news organization ever wants to do this.  It was a monumental embarrassment when Reuters  published the obituary of Steve Jobs who is still quite alive.

The stock obituary was published "momentarily" after a routine update by a reporter, and was "immediately deleted", Bloomberg said.

Jobs was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in 2003, but there is no suggestion that the news wire has recent news on his health. Most media organisations regularly update their pre-prepared obituaries of newsworthy figures.

The obituary contained blank spaces for Jobs’s age and cause of death to be inserted.

The opening sentence described Jobs as the man who “helped make personal computers as easy to use as telephones, changed the way animated films are made, persuaded consumers to tune into digital music and refashioned the mobile phone.”

As Mark Twain remarked when something similar happened to him, "The rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.?

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:35 PM | Permalink

August 27, 2008

'100 Things to Do Before You Die' Author Dead at 47

Dave Freeman, ad executive who co-wrote "100 Things to Do Before You Die," died at 47 after falling and hitting his head at home in Venice.

Published in 1999, "100 Things" was one of the first contemporary books to create a travel agenda based on 100 sites and then market it with a title that reminded mortal readers that time was limited.

The "100 Things" approach later swept the publishing industry, said Neil Teplica, who wrote the book with Freeman.

The title meant "you should live every day like it would be your last, and there's not that many people who do," Teplica told The Times. "It's a credit to Dave -- he didn't have enough days, but he lived them like he should have."

From the Associated Press

This life is a short journey,” the book says. “How can you make sure you fill it with the most fun and that you visit all the coolest places on earth before you pack those bags for the very last time?”

Mr. Freeman’s relatives said that he had visited about half the places on his list, and that either he or Mr. Teplica had been to nearly all of them.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:11 PM | Permalink

Michael C. Howard is not dead

What a headline!

Mark Twain once said, “Rumors of my demise of been greatly exaggerated,” but local attorney Michael C. Howard is living these words. And the emphasis must be placed on “living.”

A rumor that Howard died has been circulating throughout Columbia County — and beyond — for the past few days.

The Howard family was celebrating one of their three son’s 9th birthday with a party Saturday afternoon, so there were a lot of cars in the driveway, which certainly didn’t help matters.

“People thought it was an impromptu wake,” Howard said and stopped by to offer condolences to his family.

It’s one thing to get the phone calls, but “it’s a little freaky when they show up,” he said. When one person stopped by during the party and asked what they can do to help, he was told he could help by “flipping some burgers.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:16 AM | Permalink

August 25, 2008

James Hoyt, Liberator of Buchenwald, R.I. P.

He was one of the four soldiers first sent into the Buchenwald concentration camp in Germany, but when he returned to Iowa, he rarely spoke of it. 

Even 63 years after the liberation, Hoyt suffered from post-traumatic stress disorder and attended a weekly group therapy session at a Veterans Affairs facility.

"Seeing these things, it changes you. I was a kid," he said. "Des Moines had been the furthest I'd ever been from home. I still have horrific dreams. Usually someone needs help and I can't help them. I'm in a situation where I'm trapped and I can't get out."

James Hoyt , mail carrier, spelling bee champion and liberator of Buchenwald died at 83.

At Hoyt's graveside Thursday, a 12-veteran color guard gave him a traditional 21-gun salute. Hoyt's casket was draped with the American flag, and that flag was folded, as is tradition, 12 times.

Retired Gen. Robert Sentman gave the flag to Doris Hoyt. Sentman had earlier told mourners about the Buchenwald liberation.

"When the prisoners saw Jim, they picked him up and threw him in the air, that's how happy they were after seeing such horrors. Prisoners had been hung from hooks to die. He saw a lampshade made from a prisoner's tattoo. Jim carried those horrors with him forever. He never got what he had seen out of his mind. If you ever wondered about Jim, think about what he saw."

"When you were discharged, no one really gave a hoot about you. It was difficult for a compassionate person like Jim to forget what he saw. He was a hero.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:17 AM | Permalink

August 21, 2008

Solzhenitsyn's Great Legacy

I was away and offline when Alexander Solzhenitsyn died. which is the only reason why I didn't write any posts about him.

Some are still reflecting on his great legacy.  Theodore Dalrymple writes in Seer of Evil that Solzhenitsyn rendered illusion not just stupid, but wicked.

Solzhenitsyn’s achievement was to render such illusion about the Soviet Union impossible, even for its most die-hard defenders: he made illusion not merely stupid but wicked. With a mixture of literary talent, iron integrity, bravery, and determination of a kind very rarely encountered, he made it impossible to deny the world-historical scale of the Soviet evil.  After Solzhenitsyn, not to recognize Soviet Communism for what it was and what it had always been was to join those who denied that the earth was round or who believed in abduction by aliens.

Still, a man of Solzhenitsyn’s enormous stature deserves to be remembered for his greatest achievements. His efforts to memorize, and memorialize, what he had experienced in the harshest circumstances are sufficient on their own to render the rest of us humble. No writer of the second half of the twentieth century has had so profound an effect on history, and that effect was overwhelmingly beneficial. And when he reminded us that the line dividing good from evil passes through every human heart, he said something that no human being should ever forget.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:59 PM | Permalink

The Business of Death

Who gets final say over a funeral - the funeral director or a parish priest?

The blog getreligion reports in The Business of Death on a story in the Louisville Courier-Journal

A Nelson County funeral home director is suing the Archdiocese of Louisville and a Roman Catholic priest, whom he accuses of undercutting his business by implementing new rules on conducting funerals at his parish.

The Rev. Jeffrey Leger, pastor of St. Catherine Church in New Haven, put a new policy into effect last month, stipulating that funeral directors can no longer solely plan funerals. Instead, they must now plan them with Leger, who has final say.

Says Mollie, author of the blog post

It’s the dirty little secret of church life that some funeral directors are responsible for exerting a great deal of power over funeral services. Sometimes that’s a net blessing for the parties involved. Grieving family members don’t always make the best decisions about funerals. But for churches, such as mine, that approach funerals as worship services in which the Word of God is proclaimed in order to comfort those who grieve with hope in the resurrected Christ — meddling from non-members can wreak havoc. I say all this as a descendant of successful funeral home directors on one side of the family and the daughter of a pastor on the other side of the family. I really like the way Smith just laid the facts out in order to quickly get into the meat of the story:

Posted by Jill Fallon at 2:49 PM | Permalink

August 19, 2008

Corpse Kept Standing for Three Days

Puerto Rico corpse kept upright for 3-day wake. 

 Standing Corpse

A Puerto Rican man has been granted his wish to remain standing — even in death.

A funeral home used a special embalming treatment to keep the corpse of 24-year-old Angel Pantoja Medina standing upright for his three-day wake.

Dressed in a Yankees baseball cap and sunglasses, Pantoja was mourned by relatives while propped upright in his mother's living room.

His brother Carlos told the El Nuevo Dia newspaper the victim had long said he wanted to be upright for his own wake: "He wanted to be happy, standing."

The owner of the Marin Funeral Home, Damaris Marin, told The Associated Press the mother asked him to fulfill her dead son's last wish.

Pantoja was found dead Friday underneath a bridge in San Juan and buried Monday. Police are investigating.

via Jammie Wearing Fool

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:53 PM | Permalink

He Burnt his Daughter Alive for Changing Religion

Burnt Alive for Changing Religion 

The sentence could not be appealed: guilty for converting to Christianity, a young Saudi woman was set alight by her father, who first had cut her tongue.

Not an ordinary father, but a member of the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Against Vice [the Muttawa], a sort of police watching over the moral behaviour of the citizens of Saudi Arabia and the full compliance with the rules of the rigid Wahabi doctrine, by using whiplashes on the legs for too high heels and arresting men and women not linked by marriage or family bonds for meetings in restaurants.

To the injury of the conversion, the woman had added also the insult of the written word, by writing articles with Christian-religious content on blogs and regional websites. The brutal news reported by the United Arab Emirates (UAE)’s daily Gulf News reflects the reality of Saudi Arabia, a conservative and intransigent country, and throws ice-cold water on the image of an oil kingdom which says to be ready to open up partially to other religions, an image painted by the recent gestures of the king Abdallah Bin Abdelaziz.

May this unknown girl, an unwilling martyr, rest in peace.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:14 PM | Permalink

Catholic Priest Martyred in India

Carmelite priest massacred in Andhar Pradesh

“Father Thomas is a martyr: he sacrificed his life for the poor and marginalised.  But he did not die in vain, because his body and his blood enrich the Church in India, particularly the Church in Andhra Pradesh”. Those are the words of Msgr. Marampudi Joji, archbishop of Hyderabad and secretary of the bishops’ conference of Andhra Pradesh (a state in South East India), commenting the barbarous killing of the Carmelite priest Thomas Pandippallyil, 38, assassinated on the night of August 16th in Mosalikunta, on the road between Lingampet and Yellareddy, 90 km from the regional capital.

On the night of August 16th his body was found on the roadside by a group of people, not far from the village of Balampilly; the body of the Carmelite of Mary Immaculate carried wounds to the face while the hands and legs had been crushed and the eyes gouged out.  His motorbike was found one kilometre on from the body.  According to witnesses, Saturday afternoon Fr. Thomas celebrated mass in Burgida, before setting out for another village in the district where he was to have celebrated Sunday mass. The last people to have seen him alive were religious sisters from Lingapetta convent, where the priest had stopped for supper before continuing his journey.

The archbishop forcefully denied accusations of proselytism and forced conversion and pointed out that there were only five Catholic families in the parish.
“Priests and nuns – continues the archbishop of Hyderabad – have for decades been at the service of the least fortunate in India, and this makes them targets of forces of evil who do not want the marginalized and impoverished to become empowered”.

Father Thomas Pandippallyil  was ordained a priest in 2002. He was the rector for the Chanda mission province of the CMI, and also worked as hospital administrator, school manager and mission centre director.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:29 AM | Permalink

August 18, 2008

Gorilla Grief

 Gorilla Grief

Eleven-year-old gorilla Gana was holding her three-month-old baby in her arms on Saturday in her compound at the zoo in Munster, northern Germany, when it suddenly died.
Initially puzzled, Gana stared at the body, bewildered by its lifelessness.

For hours the distraught mother gently shook and stroked the child, vainly seeking to restore movement to his lolling head and limp arms. Visitors to the zoo openly wept as they witnessed her actions.

Hours passed, during which Gana continually prodded and caressed the dead child, to no effect.

More Miss Marple than 007: The True Face of British Espionage.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:42 PM | Permalink

Toxic Photo Soup

A recipe for Toxic Photo Soup: Layer 1,000 photos in a large, watertight plastic storage tub. Place high on basement shelving unit. Fail to notice small, leaky basement window nearby. Marinate, unattended, three to four years. Open and serve.

Yield: 1,000 blank sheets of sopping photo paper and four gallons of black, stinky, toxic rainwater-chemical soup.

Yes, it's time to digitize your photos.  David Pogue has advice on various services to scan your photos in Your Photos, Off the Shelf at Last.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:42 AM | Permalink

Removing Memories

I Was There.  Just Ask Photoshop

REMOVING her ex-husband from more than a decade of memories may take a lifetime for Laura Horn, a police emergency dispatcher in Rochester. But removing him from a dozen years of vacation photographs took only hours, with some deft mouse work from a willing friend who was proficient in Photoshop, the popular digital-image editing program.

In an age of digital manipulation, many people believe that snapshots and family photos need no longer stand as a definitive record of what was, but instead, of what they wish it was.
“What we’re doing,” Mr. Johnson said, “is fulfilling the wish that all of us have to make reality to our liking.”
Alan D. Entin, a clinical psychologist in Richmond, Va., uses patients’ family photographs as raw material to inspire discussion and analysis of their roles and relationships within their family.

“They’re a record,” he said. “They have existed over time and space. They are important documents.”

To alter them is to invite self-deception, he said. “The value to accepting a photograph of yourself as you are is that you’re accepting the reality of who you are, and how you look, and accepting yourself that way, warts and all. I think the pictures you hate say as much about you as pictures you love.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:14 AM | Permalink

"We Are Animals"

To see how low Wrangler has gone with a new ad campaign, "We Are Animals", you have to click over to Wizbang to see corpses being used to sell jeans.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:09 AM | Permalink

Zoo bears

If you're drunk, don't go to the zoo to take photos of the bears

Man torn apart by zoo bears

THREE bears at a Ukrainian zoo tore a man "limb from limb" after he fell into their enclosure, local media reports.

The 22-year-old man was drunk and trying to take close-up shots of the Siberian Brown bears at Mykolaev city zoo when he lost his footing, witnesses said, acording to Channel 5 television.

The three bears charged the man immediately, tearing him "limb from limb" as he tried to escape, according to the station, quoted by the Deutsche Presse-Agentur news agency.

The man was dead before keepers could separate the animals from their victim.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:57 AM | Permalink

Deadly Leak

A TOURIST in desperate need of a toilet break at a train station was killed when he urinated on an electrified railway track which was carrying 750 volts.

The victim was electrocuted after he crept into a recess to relieve himself. It is thought his urine splashed on the line and he died instantly when the charge leaped up at him.

Deadly leak on railway line

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:52 AM | Permalink

August 15, 2008

Days with My Father

This photographic journal of an artist's last days with his father is both beautiful and moving, if a bit bewildering in its navigation.

 Days With My  Father

Philip Toledano's Days with My Father,

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:41 AM | Permalink

Thieves in cemeteries

Sculptures stolen from cemeteries

Thieves have looted several sculptures, including the work of a famed South End artist, from the Forest Hills Cemetery, possibly to sell as scrap metal, in a sign that the theft of bronze and copper has spread to the serenity of cemeteries.

The work of Kahlil Gibran, "Seated Ceres," and two sculptures by other artists were taken over the past week from the Contemporary Sculpture Path, a nationally renowned walking trail of more than 30 works, cemetery officials said.
Milley, who is also president of the Massachusetts Cemetery Association, said cemeteries throughout the state have reported thefts of copper or bronze materials, but he has never heard of renowned artwork being taken.

Miller said that the Forest Hills Cemetery was unique in that it risked displaying artwork that was fitting for a museum. She said the cemetery will have to decide whether to keep bronze as part of the display.

"One of the wonderful things about this environment was that people normally treated it with respect because it is a cemetery," she said. "It just seems particularly terrible that thieves would violate that space and destroy something that has much larger value."

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:56 AM | Permalink

August 14, 2008

Desert Burial in Green Sahara

 Desert Burial

The National Geographic announced the discovery of an ancient cemetery in the once-green Sahara

A tiny woman and two children were laid to rest on a bed of flowers 5,000 years ago in what is now the barren Sahara Desert.

The slender arms of the youngsters were still extended to the woman in perpetual embrace when researchers discovered their skeletons in a remarkable cemetery that is providing clues to two civilizations who lived there, a thousand years apart, when the region was moist and green.

Paul Sereno of the University of Chicago and colleagues were searching for the remains of dinosaurs in the African country of Niger when they came across the startling find, detailed at a news conference Thursday at the National Geographic Society.

"Part of discovery is finding things that you least expect," he said. "When you come across something like that in the middle of the desert it sends a tingle down your spine."

Some 200 graves of humans were found during fieldwork at the site in 2005 and 2006, as well as remains of animals, large fish and crocodiles.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:47 PM | Permalink

Plastic Flowers Too Dangerous

Even though my personal preference is for real flowers and long-living plants, this is ridiculous.

Plastic flowers banned from cemetery for posing a 'health and safety risk'

'We also have heath-and-safety reasons to consider: if the flowers get caught up in the lawnmower the bits of plastic flying around could be very dangerous.'

In June Croydon Council banned plastic flowers from an elderly accommodation block because they were also deemed to be a health-and-safety risk.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 AM | Permalink

August 13, 2008

Meanwhile in Macedonia

Michael Totten visits Macedonia and is shocked to see
A huge number of people in Tetovo, though, looked like they had been airlifted in from the Middle East,
It seems the Wahhabis have successfully transformed this portion of Macedonia into what former Soviet dissident Natan Sharansky calls a fear society.
“How long have you had problems with the Wahhabis here?” I said.

“Serious trouble started three years ago when they broke gravestones,” he said. “They didn’t respect our saints. They also broke pictures of Imam Ali on the walls, and of the world head of the Bektashis. They cut the pictures with knives. They think we are too close to Christianity, in part because of the pictures and candles.” The Wahhabis hate candles. “Then the Sunnis came in and occupied the tekke. They said This is Muslim territory.”

  Michael Totten Sufi Graves

All Bektashis believe in the same graves. We keep them and pray to them. We believe that if we damage a grave God will punish us, so we are very afraid to do this, we would never do this. We keep the saint graves. The Muslims know this, they are trying to provoke us and claim that we have done it to ourselves. But no, really they did it. Plus, I see these Wahhabis around. Usually at night the Wahhabis are coming, sometimes in trousers, sometimes in their clothes, sometimes with the things on their heads and with beards.”

Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:24 PM | Permalink

August 1, 2008

Wedding-funeral for female suicide bomber ends in brawl

The "wedding-funeral" of the first-ever female suicide bomber turns into sectarian brawl.

Excerpts from a report on a Lebanese celebration of the "wedding-funeral" of the first ever female suicide bomber, Sana Mehaidli, known as "The Bride of the South," who detonated a car bomb near an Israeli military convoy in southern Lebanon in 1985. The report aired on Al-Jadid/New TV on July 26, 2008.
In Maghdouche, the town of the martyr Milad Saliba, Sana was wedded in a great ceremony. The band was playing in her honor, and the crowd was dancing. A bride, in her wedding dress, raised her gun above her head. The procession was showered with rice and roses, and sprayed with rose water. The church bells chimed in her honor.

In 'Anqoun, there was a crowded reception from balconies, from the rooftops, in the streets, and in cars. The Shiite seminary was packed when Sana arrived. The party chairman could not complete his address, because somebody decided to raise a flag of the Amal party from the podium, and a group of vandals began to destroy the place, leading some fo the participants to leave the premises. SSNP members protected Sana's coffin and the guests, whlie gunfire could be heard outside the seminary. After things calmed down, the SSNP members accompanied their heroic martyr to the village cemetery, where she was buried, amid continuous disturbances by the village youth, who were the only ones who did not appreciate the honor that Sana bestowed upon the village from which she came.

via Solomonia

Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:04 AM | Permalink