October 31, 2011

A New "Martyr of the Cross" in Egypt

This is horrible.    A student murdered for wearing a crucifix.  And his classmates were egged on by their teacher.

Coptic Christian Student Murdered By Classmates for Wearing a Cross

Today the parents of the 17-year-old Christian student Ayman Nabil Labib, broke their silence, confirming that their son was murdered on October 16, in "cold blood because he refused to take off his crucifix as ordered by his Muslim teacher." Nabil Labib, the father, said in a taped video interview with Copts United NGO, that his son had a cross tattooed on his wrist as per Coptic tradition, as well as another cross which he wore under his clothes.

Both parents confirmed that Ayman's classmates, who were present during the assault and whom they met at the hospital and during the funeral, said that while Ayman was in the classroom he was told to cover up his tattooed wrist cross. He refused and defiantly got out the second cross which he wore under his shirt. "The teacher nearly chocked my son and some Muslim students joined in the beating," said his mother.

According to Ayman's father, eyewitnesses told him that his son was not beaten up in the school yard as per the official story, but in the classroom. "They beat my son so much in the classroom that he fled to the lavatory on the ground floor, but they followed him and continued their assault. When one of the supervisors took him to his room, Ayman was still breathing. The ambulance transported him from there dead, one hour later."

"I insist that the Arabic teacher, the headmaster, and the supervisors should be charged as well as the two students who committed the crime," said Nabil. "The Arabic language teacher incited the students to attack my son, the headmaster who would not go to the classroom to see what is going on there when alerted to the beatings, but rather said to be left alone and continued sipping his tea, and the supervisors who failed in their supervising duties."

After the funeral service for Ayman, over 5000 Christians marched along the streets of Mallawi, denouncing the killing of a student whom they described as "Martyr of the Cross," and the repeated killings of Copts in Egypt.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:59 PM | Permalink

October 30, 2011

Last words of Steve Jobs, "Oh wow. Oh wow. Oh wow."

Mona Simpson gave the eulogy for her late brother Steve Jobs at his memorial service on October 16.

Sister reveals how Steve Jobs spent the final hours and his last, enigmatic words

In a touching eulogy about her late brother at his memorial service on October 16, Mona Simpson described the Apple founder's last hours and the enigmatic words he uttered before he died.

She told the group of mourners at the Memorial Church of Stanford University that Steve Jobs looked at his wife and children, then beyond them, before uttering: 'OH WOW. OH WOW. OH WOW.'

 Steve Jobs Eulogy

Describing his death in the eulogy reprinted in the New York Times, she said: 'Steve’s final words were monosyllables, repeated three times.

'Before embarking, he’d looked at his sister Patty, then for a long time at his children, then at his life’s partner, Laurene, and then over their shoulders past them, before saying his final words.'
She described in the eulogy how she waited her whole life for a man she could love and would love her in return. She thought she would find this man in her father or future husband - in fact, she found it in her brother.

 Mona Simpson

The father-of-four was a man who lived for his family and lived for love, she said, describing him as 'girl-like' when it came to matters of the heart.
In the eulogy, she divided the Apple visionary's life into three chapters and spoke eloquently of the things she learned from him in those three distinct periods - his full life, his illness, his dying.
Even when her brother was sick, 'his taste, his discrimination and his judgment held' and he went through 67 nurses before finding 'kindred spirits' in three he put all of his trust in until the end, according to his sister.

She described the time he was in a standard ICU unit and asked for a notepad, saying just this one time, he would like to be treated a little special.

She said: 'He sketched devices to hold an iPad in a hospital bed. He designed new fluid monitors and X-ray equipment. He redrew that not-quite-special-enough hospital unit.

The New York Times has the full text of the eulogy and it's a wonderful one.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:29 PM | Permalink

October 29, 2011

Learning about her son's death on Facebook

I don't care how estranged you are from your ex, common decency requires that you ex-spouse that your child has died.

The mother who learned of her son's death at a football game on FACEBOOK hours after he died

The mother of a high school student who collapsed and died after a football game was only notified of her son's death via Facebook.

Jackie Barden wasn't told of her 16-year-old son Ridge's death at a high school football match because she was not listed as an emergency contact.

Her ex-husband, whom she is not on 'speaking terms' with and was the boy's emergency contact, also did not tell her.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:32 PM | Permalink

'Why must I suffer like this? It's tearing the flesh from my bones':

How Queen Victoria's obsessive love for her dead husband nearly destroyed the monarchy

At the age of 42, Victoria had enjoyed 20 years of happy marriage. Britain’s Queen adored her husband with a fierce devotion that no one dared criticise and nothing could dim. He was everything to her: surrogate father, best friend and teacher – King in all but name.No one who was at Windsor that year could have failed to be impressed by the conviviality of the British Royal Family at home. But for the Queen, it would prove to be the last truly happy Christmas she would see.

The detail of the unfolding tragedy to come, the astonishing national response and the depth of the crisis that followed can only be revealed here thanks to neglected and unseen correspondence from the time, much of it in diary form, including Queen Victoria’s moving – and unpublished – private account of her husband’s death.

 Queen Victoria Mourning

It was from this point on, more than a decade since the death of her  husband, that the Queen finally began to re-emerge. True, she continued to avoid Buckingham Palace at all costs. But now she understood how crucial her public popularity was.

The lost years had seen a hardening of her (mistaken) image as the dour, prudish, humourless and repressive Widow at Windsor. But out of so much darkness there finally emerged a Monarch with great virtues – lack of vanity, human sympathy, absolute honesty and sound  common sense.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:11 PM | Permalink

An American Hero

Kristoffer Domeij is an American Hero, killed on his 14rh deployment to Iraq.

  Domeij Kit

Domeij, an Army sergeant, was deployed an astounding 14 times before he was killed by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan on Saturday. He enlisted two months before Sept. 11, and he'd been in combat ever since.

Domeij left his family members with explicit instructions: "If I'm ever killed, I don't want you talking to the media, making a big deal out of it."

And they are following his wishes, but there is so much to say. Domeij was part of the group of Army rangers who rescued Jessica Lynch from her Iraqi captors in 2003.

"Those are my heroes," said Lynch of her rescuers. "Those are my true-fact heroes."

Domeij served four deployments in Iraq, then took part in an original airborne assault into Afghanistan. Amazingly, he would be deployed to Afghanistan nine times. In all, there were 14 deployments for this warrior hero -- more than any other Army ranger killed in action.  He received two bronze stars, and a third will be awarded posthumously.

"This was a ranger you wanted at your side when the chips were down. He is irreplaceable - in our formation and in our hearts," said his battalion commander, Lt. Col. David Hodne.

In all, Domeij had a combined total of 48 months of deployment in combat. And in that time, he may have been part of more than 5,000 combat missions.

Domeij was 29 years old. He lived in Lacey with his wife and two young daughters.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:49 PM | Permalink

October 28, 2011

First U.S. conviction for organ trafficking

NY organ trafficker admits buying kidneys in Israel for $10,000... and selling them in U.S. for $120,000

Lawyers for a man who pleaded guilty Thursday in the first ever federal conviction for illegal organ trafficking say he was performing life-saving services for severely ill people.

Levy Izhak Rosenbaum, from New York, admitted in a Trenton federal court to brokering three illegal kidney transplants for desperate New Jersey-based customers in exchange for payments of $120,000 or more. He also pleaded guilty to a conspiracy count for brokering an illegal kidney sale.
The 60-year-old was arrested two years ago following a huge investigation into corruption in New Jersey.

The probe led to 46 arrests, including several rabbis, the New York Daily News reports.

He was nabbed after an FBI informant who was pretending to be a businessman told him he was looking for a new kidney for a sick uncle

Rosenbaum was caught on tape boasting that he had brokered 'quite a lot' of illegal transplants.
He told the informant: 'I am what you call a matchmaker.'

'I bring a guy what I believe, he's suitable for your uncle ... I've never had a failure.'

Prosecutors said he bought the organs from vulnerable people in Israel for as little as $10,000, then sold them here for a minimum of $120,000.
New Jersey's U.S. Attorney Paul Fishman said: 'A black market in human organs is not only a grave threat to public health, it reserves lifesaving treatment for those who can best afford it at the expense of those who cannot. We will not tolerate such an affront to human dignity.'

Under 1984 federal law, it is illegal for anyone to knowingly buy or sell organs for transplant.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:51 AM | Permalink

October 25, 2011

Fear of Death Can Make Life Unliveable

Stephen Greenblatt is interviewed about the Greek poet and philosopher, Lucretius whose poem On the Nature of Things  written in the first century BC presents the basic philosophy of Epicureanism.

“ The book came to me at a moment when I was intensely receptive to it. It’s an experience that most of us have - a book seems to speak to you directly across a vast chasm of time and culture. It was as if Lucretius was speaking to me.”

The young Greenblatt didn’t fear his own death, but he was instilled with a deep fear of his mother’s death, thanks to his mother, who possessed “an absolute certainty that she was destined for an early grave”. Greenblatt writes: “My life was full of extended, operatic scenes of farewell...even when I simply left the house for school, she clung to me tightly, speaking of her fragility and of the distinct possibility that I would never see her again.”
Mrs Greenblatt's fears turned out to be unfounded - she lived until she was almost 90 - but Stephen was very struck by how the fear of death could make life unliveable. And this Lucretius knew and described well: “The poem crystallized things I’d been grappling with - the impatience that Lucretius gives voice to with excessive anxiety in the face of death. ‘Death is nothing to us’, he wrote. There’s a celebrated passage where he expresses quite powerfully how our endless complaints about death just get in the way of living:


Sometimes the phobia of death can grip a man so tight
He comes to loathe his very life and looking on the light,
And in his mournful heart resolves to die by his own hand,
Oblivious this fear’s the source of what he cannot stand.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:02 PM | Permalink

"I'll try anything now"

Diagnosed with esophageal cancer, and convinced beyond all reason that his announcement of this diagnosis to Mum had brought about her stroke, Dad simply unraveled. So, to a lesser extent, did those watching him.

All Dad's elaborate atheist religion, with its sacred texts, its martyrs, its church militant; all his ostentatious tough- mindedness; all his intellectual machinery; all these things turned to dust. Convinced for decades of his stoicism, he now unwittingly demonstrated the truth of Clive James's cruel remark: "we would like to think we are stoic...but would prefer a version that didn't hurt."

Already an alcoholic, he now made a regular practice of threatening violence to himself and others. In hospital he wept like a child (I had never before seen him weep). He denounced the nurses for their insufficient knowledge of Socrates and Descartes. From time to time he wandered around the ward naked, in the pit of confused despair. The last time I visited him I found him, to my complete amazement, reading a small bedside Gideon Bible. I voiced surprise at this. He fixed on me the largest, most protuberant, most frightened, and most frightening pair of eyes I have ever seen: "I'll try anything now."

Son of the late prominent atheist David Stove, R. J. Stove tells of his conversion to Catholicism.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:21 AM | Permalink

October 22, 2011

Chaotic end for a tyrant

The tyrant is dead.  If he weren't so murderous, he would be a laughable joke.

The Telegraph's obituary of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi

It was a suitably chaotic end for a man who could never be easily pigeonholed. Erratic, vain and utterly unpredictable, he always seemed to be enjoying a private joke which no one else could see. His image, plastered on walls all over Libya, seemed a parody of Sixties radical chic — the craggy features, longish hair, the eyes half-hidden behind retro blue-tone shades.

Gaddafi would arrive at summits of Arab leaders in a white limousine surrounded by a bodyguard of nubile Kalashnikov-toting brunettes. At one non-aligned summit in Belgrade, he turned up with two horses and six camels; the Yugoslavs allowed him to graze the camels in front of his hotel – where he pitched his tent and drank fresh camel milk – but refused to allow him to arrive at the conference on one of his white chargers. Several of the camels ended up in Belgrade zoo.

At an African Union summit in Durban in 2002, his entourage consisted of a personal jet, two Antonov transport aircraft, a container ship loaded with buses, goat carcases and prayer mats, a mobile hospital, jamming equipment that disrupted local networks, $6 million in petty cash, and 400 security guards with associated rocket launchers, armoured cars and other hardware, who nearly provoked a shoot-out with South Africa’s security forces.

Meanwhile, state-controlled media elevated him to the status of demi-God. “His teeth are naturally immune to stain, so that when he releases a full-blown smile, the naturally white teeth discharge a radiation pregnant with sweet joy and real happiness for those lucky ones who are fortunate to be around him,” fawned the Al Zahf Al Akhdar newspaper.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:27 PM | Permalink

October 20, 2011

Muslims Pelt Coptic Christian Funeral Procession with Stones

It is terrible what is happening to Christian in the Mideast.

In Egypt, the birthplace of the 'Arab Spring"  Muslims Pelt Coptic Christian Funeral Procession with Stones

The Coptic Orthodox Church in Egypt issued a statement on October 10, expressing horror at the events of yesterday in Maspero, where 24 Copts were killed and over 200 and wounded. The church stressed that the Christian faith rejects violence. The church blasted the government for failing to find solutions to "problems that occur repeatedly and go unpunished." The Church asked all Copts to fast continuously for three days starting tomorrow "in order to have peace in Egypt."

Some interpreted this demand, which the church has made only three times in its long history, as a way to implore "God's help for the Copts," commented Coptic activist and writer Nader Shoukry.

In Cairo, thousands of Copts marched to attend the funeral of the victims of what they termed the "October 9 Military Massacre." They congregated in front of the Coptic hospital where most of the dead and injured were transported, and which was attacked the night before by Muslims, who hurled bricks and Molotov Cocktails at the victims' families.

 Stmarkfunerals Coptic Victims

A funeral service presided by Pope Shenouda III was held for the Copts killed in Maspero, at 11 AM at St. Mark's Cathedral in Abbasiya, Cairo, and was attended by over 10,000 Copts. The funeral was for five Copts only, as the rest of the victims are awaiting for autopsies, on the advice of Coptic lawyers. "This is to safeguard the rights of the dead," said attorney Dr. Ehab Ramzy, "otherwise the families could lose their case. We need proof."

After the funeral, while still inside the Cathedral, the enraged Copts chanted "down with the junta rule and down with Tantawi."

According to priests and Coptic lawyers who were present at the Coptic Hospital, where the victims were brought, the death certificates issued by the authorities were misleading and did not reflect the true cause of death, which might let the assailants get away with the crime. Certificates showed the cause of death as being "stab wounds" and "cardiac arrest caused by fear."

The families insisted on having the autopsies done, which were carried out on 17 bodies lying in the Coptic hospital. Independent doctors observed those who came from the Public Morgue to carry out the autopsies.

Dr. Maged Lewis, a director at the Forensic Medicine Institute, commented that he had never seen corpses in this deplorable state before. "Bodies were mashed and bones were crushed; many had fractures and laceration of the intestines; while in others, death was caused by gun shots."

Eyewitnesses reported the army disposed of nine bodies by throwing them in the Nile. Two bodies remain unidentified, making the number of killed uncertain.

 Funeral Coptic Victims Egypt

After midnight today, friends and relatives of the dead carried the 17 caskets from the Coptic hospital to St. Mark's Cathedral for the second funeral service. Near Ghamra bridge, bricks were hurled at the cortege, but the procession carried on to the Cathedral.

The caskets were taken to St. Mary's Church in "October 6" district, where they laid beside the 12 Copts who died in Embaba, defending their Church against Salafist attacks on May 7, 2011 (AINA 5-8-2011).

On their way back after the burial the mourners were attacked by armed thugs who blocked the way and hurled Molotov cocktails at them; gun shots were heard. They sought shelter and called the army emergency phone line for help, they waited until the morning but no one came.

The Coptic Church considers people who lost their lives on account of being Christian as "martyrs" and they will be buried together in a collective grave.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 11:45 PM | Permalink

One flesh, One heart beating for two

The story of the couple who were married for 72 and died holding hands has gone around the world.
But, as usual, The Daily Mail has the best written account.

Extraordinary love story of couple married for 72 years who died holding hands just an hour apart - and how wife's heartbeat kept her dead husband's heart monitor going

After 72 years of marriage they had only an hour's separation between them in their passing, yet their locked hands never let go.

The family of the Iowa couple say their life together was a real-life love story, never separated, even after their tragic car accident which sent them both to the hospital.

'They believed in marriage,' Dennis Yeager, the youngest son of Gordon Yeager, 94, and wife Norma, 90, told MailOnline. 'They chose each other and once they had committed, that was it.'

 Gordon,Norma Yeager

The couple were both born in Iowa before Gordon Yeager moved to a farm a Minnesota with his family. After it was badly hit by the Depression, 16-year-old Gordon returned to work at the Chevrolet Garage in State Center, Iowa - a business which he would eventually go on to own.

It was once back in the town, he fell in love with Norma who was still studying at high school.
After his proposal, Gordon and Norma were married on the very day that she graduated, May 26, 1939.  It was a small wedding held at 8pm that evening in the home of Gordon's sister, the expense of which was covered by the young man's first pay cheque.
After celebrating the rare achievement of a 70th wedding anniversary, surrounded by family, Dennis said his parents loved to spend time watching sports, socialising and walking their little Yorkie dog Radar.

'They were not your typical 90-year-olds,' he added. Dennis said that his father would continuously say, 'I have to stick around. I can't go until she does because I have to stay here for her and she would say the same thing.'

Last Wednesday while making a trip into town, the car Gordon Yeager was driving mistakenly pulled out in front of another.  A police report said the oncoming driver tried to avoid the collision, but it wasn't able to stop in time.  Rushing to the hospital, Dennis said he found his parents sharing a unit in the intensive care unit. Never separated and holding hands they lay, though 'not really responsive,' he said.

That afternoon at 3:38pm, Gordon passed away, with his wife and family beside him. The anomaly began though for the family, when Gordon's heart monitor kept beeping.  'It was really strange. They were holding hands, and dad stopped breathing but I couldn't figure out what was going on because the heart monitor was still going,' Dennis recalled.

'But we were like, he isn't breathing. How does he still have a heart beat?'

Dennis asked a nurse who checked, pointing out the couple's hands which were still locked together.
'Her heart was beating through him and picking it up,' Dennis said the nurse explained.
Exactly one hour later though, at 4:48pm, Norma died too.

'Neither one of them would've wanted to be without each other. I couldn't figure out how it was going to work,' said daughter Donna Sheets on what life would have been like for the other if only one had survived. 'We were very blessed, honestly, that they went this way.'

The couple held hands at their funeral Tuesday, sharing the same casket. Their family says after they are cremated, their ashes will be mixed together.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:51 PM | Permalink

Neurosurgeon speaks about his own near death experience

Near-Death Experiences: 30 Years of Research - Part 5
A neurosurgeon’s perspective

Eben Alexander was your typical neurosurgeon. A firm believer of scientific reductionism, he thought that all thoughts originate from the brain. But this changed in 2008 when he encountered a case of near-death experience (NDE).

Having contracted acute bacterial meningitis, which damages the neocortex—the part of the brain that is thought to involve complex cognitive functions like conscious thought—Alexander went into a coma and spent six days on a ventilator. The chance of survival was very slim, and less so was the possibility of recovering fully.

The normal glucose levels in a human’s cerebrospinal fluid are between 60 and 80 mg/dl (milligram per one-tenth of a liter), and the meningitis infection is considered severe when the level drops to 20 mg/dl. But the glucose level of Alexander’s cerebrospinal fluid was at 1 mg/dl, making it impossible for his brain to function.

However, during the time when he was in coma, Alexander encountered vivid experiences involving multiple senses, such as vision, hearing, and smell. He said that he couldn’t describe how amazing it was.

“What happened deep in coma was absolutely stunning,” Alexander said during an interview.

The whole situation seems to be much more real than our earthly life, and the sensory modalities were very strange because they were, you know, when I was remembering all this and trying to write it down, a lot of the kind of auditory and visual things that we would normally think of as things that we see or hear, were all kind of blended together.”

For example, he “saw” a beautiful melody appearing as colors in front of him, and he remembered gold and silver arcs of lights as transparent arcs of energy that he perceived as sounds.

“To compare it with sitting here and talking on the phone or working on my computer, it was much, much more real, very rich, and as if I were truly being alive for the first time,” Alexander said. “It was really amazing.”

“My brain right now—I think it recovered pretty well—could not do anything close to what my brain was doing deep in coma,” Alexander said in this year’s International Association for Near-Death Studies (IANDS) conference.

“How does a dying brain end up getting far, far more powerful and able to handle these tremendous loads of information instantaneously and put it altogether?”

“The standard neuroscientific explanation […] absolutely does not address the real powerful elements of the experience,” he said.

“My conclusion is that the experience was very real and had to happen outside of my brain, and it had to happen outside of this physical universe. […] There is an element of our consciousness that is not dependent on the brain and that is what was set free, for me, and went on that journey.”
Posted by Jill Fallon at 10:08 PM | Permalink

"A good life deserves a good death"

A Catholic priest on the counter-cultural role hospice can play,  Hospice in a Death-Denying Society.

"A good life deserves a good death"
Death in times past was not necessarily less tragic to those who lost loved ones, but death was more prevalent, more public, more visible, and more a natural part of life than it is today. Our society is truly death-denying. Fitness centers, alternative medicines, an endless supply of diets are the order of the day. Consumers want the fountain of youth. You may object, of course, that death is all around us. The news and the movies are filled with death. But I suggest that this phenomenon itself is a further sign of a death-denying society. Death has become so commonplace as to be unreal. We can ignore death because it happens to others and not to us, or it is simply pretend. We can gloss over real fear with pretend fear. This is why people ride roller-coasters and go to horror shows.
Both of my grandmothers died at home. .... How touching these deaths seem now when death in one’s own home is increasingly rare. What has changed over the span of the past half-century?

First, of course, the vastly increased mobility of society allows for fewer and fewer extended families. Second, people are living longer and often have multiple complex ailments in their final years. Elderly spouses are not strong enough to care for their dying mates, often needing extensive care themselves And the cost of end-of-life care is growing faster than the rate of medical care generally. The expense of round-the-clock nursing at home is one that only the wealthiest can now afford.
One of my most unsettling hospital visits, even after some 20 years as a priest, was one of the first I made after becoming rector of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Freeport, Texas. Ed was the husband of one of my parishioners. He had suffered a massive heart attack and was in the coronary intensive care unit. Ed was splayed on a table with more tubes than I could count protruding from his almost naked body. When he turned to look at me, though he could not speak, his face shouted volumes of anger. He died several days later. Were his last days truly ‘better’ than those of my elderly family members because of the immense medical firepower brought to bear to keep his heart beating? Had Ed had become a problem to be solved; a chance to display all the exotic sorcery of modern science? Had he, in some sense, been diminished as a human being at the end of his life?
Life unquestionably needs positive affirmation. But in a death-denying society, someone must also be speaking out. Someone must declare the truth that no one can avoid death. We will all die, and it is harmful to all of us to try to hide death as if it is a loathsome disease or an unnatural act. If hospice will not make this statement, then who will?
Posted by Jill Fallon at 9:46 PM | Permalink

Suicide as revenge

Suicide is a totally selfish act with rippling effects, in this case a killing field in Ohio.  Revenge is often
the motive. 

Nearly FIFTY exotic animals running wild in Ohio shot dead after reserve owner set them free then killed himself

 Killingfield Wildanimals

Sheriff's deputies shot nearly 50 wild animals - including 18 rare Bengal tigers and 17 lions - in a big-game hunt across the state's countryside on Wednesday after the owner of an exotic-animal park threw their cages open and committed suicide in what may have been one last act of spite against his neighbors and police.

As homeowners nervously hid indoors, officers armed with high-powered rifles and shoot-to-kill orders fanned out through fields and woods to hunt down 56 animals that had been turned loose from the Muskingum County Animal Farm by owner Terry Thompson before he shot himself to death on Tuesday.

After an all-night hunt that extended into yesterday afternoon, 48 animals were killed. Six others - three leopards, a grizzly bear and two monkeys - were captured and taken to the Columbus Zoo. A wolf was later found dead. Another monkey that was carrying the dangerous Herpes B virus, is believed to be dead after being eaten by one of the other animals.

The sheriff would not speculate why Thompson killed himself and why he left open the cages and fences at his 73-acre preserve, dooming the animals he seemed to love so much.

Mr Thompson, 62, had had repeated run-ins with the law and his neighbours. Lutz said that the sheriff's office had received numerous complaints since 2004 about animals escaping onto neighbours' property. The sheriff's office also said that Thompson had been charged over the years with animal cruelty, animal neglect and allowing animals to roam.

He had gotten out of federal prison just last month after serving a year for possessing unregistered guns.

John Ellenberger, a neighbor, speculated that Thompson freed the animals to get back at neighbors and police. 'Nobody much cared for him,' Mr Ellenberger said.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:46 PM | Permalink

October 19, 2011

"It was the perfect moment"

We all recognize and admire extraordinary sacrifice for another when we see it.  The ultimate sacrifice is the best thing a human being can do. 

Woman dies of cancer after refusing treatment in order to save unborn child.

An Oklahoma woman died of cancer last month after refusing chemotherapy that would have threatened the life of her unborn child, newsok.com reports.

Stacie Crimm was 41, single, and unexpectedly pregnant, when she was diagnosed with head and neck cancer this past July. Faced with the agonizing decision of whether to expose her unborn child to a potentially fatal course of chemotherapy, Crimm decided to put her own life on the line instead.

Her daughter, Dottie Mae, was born August 16th by emergency C-section after Crimm collapsed in her home.

Doctors managed to save the 2-pound baby and resuscitate the mother, placing both in intensive care units in separate buildings. While Crimm seemed to be improving at first, her condition soon deteriorated until three weeks later she stopped breathing and had to be resuscitated again. Her family was told that she was dying.

In a recent interview, Crimm’s brother Ray Phillips told newsok.com about Crimm’s first meeting with her baby, which happened just before she died.

According to Phillips, doctors had initially told the family that it would be impossible for Crimm to hold her child. However, two nurses intervened, and found a way to safely move the baby, who was still in an incubator in the hospital’s Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.

“They laid Dottie Mae right on her chest and they just looked at each other. Nobody really said anything. It just got real quiet,” Phillips related. “It was the perfect moment. That’s what I always call it.”

Phillips and his wife, Jennifer, who have four children of their own, are now Dottie Mae’s guardians.

Reading this story about Stacie and her baby will bring a tear to your eye.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:06 PM | Permalink

They buried the lede in an article about snow

Claire Berlinski reads the Guardian carefully.  Otherwise, how would she know that nine paragraphs into an article about snow removal in Moscow comes this:

... According to police, the 54-year-old chef at the unnamed restaurant, well-known for its chebureki, or big meat-filled pastries, killed his 82-year-old father-in-law during a drunken brawl. Police refused to confirm or deny a report by tabloid Life News that the chef then ran his father-in-law's body through a meat grinder in order to fill his chebureki – and serve them to customers for three days before being caught and sent to a psychiatric institution.

These tales would fill most readers with horror, but in Russia they are so commonplace as to as to barely inspire a raised eyebrow. What's more, the system is such that whistle-blowers are actively discouraged from speaking out.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:21 PM | Permalink

October 14, 2011

Weird things to do with your ashes

From Neatorama, the 10 Weirdest Things You Can Do with Your Ashes.

1. Incorporate them into bullets
2. Press them into your favorite record.
3. Tattoo them into someone's skin
4. Melt them into a diamond
5. Create art with them
6. Melt and cut them into stained glass designs
7. Shoot them into space
8. Bury them in a Pringles can
9. Incorporate them into a Frisbee
10. Use them in comic book ink

Go to the link for all the fascinating and gory details.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 7:54 AM | Permalink

October 13, 2011

Pot brownies at funerals a no-no

I'm beginning a new category of funeral etiquette because there are so many people who have no idea how to comport themselves.

One never serves marijuana brownies at funerals, wakes or memorial services.

Lest attendees eat them unaware, fall sick, and have to be hospitalized like these three old people in Newport Beach, California.

The three old people, who all live in Huntington Beach and Newport Beach, complained of nausea, dizziness and an inability to stand without assistance.

Huntington Beach Police said the tray of brownies was put out without any announcement about what was in them.

They were served a a tribute to the man who had died, who ate marijuana brownies.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:27 PM | Permalink

Death by Hair Dye at 17

Seventeen-year-old girl collapses and dies in agony after suffering extreme reaction while dyeing her hair with friend

 Tabatha Mccourt Dead By Hairdye 17

Tabatha McCourt, 17, was watching the X Factor on TV when she ran screaming from the bathroom of the family home in Airdrie, Lanarkshire, pulling on her hair and vomiting before she finally collapsed.

Friends told how Tabatha's eyes started to roll and she began having such a violent fit that it took two people to hold her down.

Tabatha's best friend Heather Goodhall called 999 but paramedics who came to the house, were unable to save her.

Heather said: 'Tabatha was always dyeing her hair different colours.

'The dye had only been in around 20 minutes when she got up and went to the bathroom.

'She came back a couple of minutes later, sat down on the seat, and then began frantically pulling the foils from her hair.

'She started shouting, "no, no" and my mum's boyfriend held her and tried to calm her down. 

'It was really scary. Her eyes started going all funny and then she just started being sick. 'It was really frightening. She looked just like a rag doll, limp, just lying there.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 5:14 PM | Permalink

October 12, 2011

Death by birthday gift

It seemed as if Claudette Porter always to skydive.  and for her 75th birthday that's what she did in Nevada with a veteran, experienced instructor by her side, a flying Elvis impersonator. 

Both parachutes failed to open and they fell to their deaths.

The grandmother who died with Honeymoon in Vegas star skydiver during tandem jump that was her 75th birthday present

Mr Jessey said Mr Fonnesbeck had successfully jumped with other customers Sunday before going up with Claudette Porter.

'It just baffles me that it could happen to him,' Jessey said. 'I mean, the one thing we all said about him was, `You know, he won't die skydiving.' Well, somehow it happened, and I have no idea how.'

Mr Jessey noted Mr Fonnesbeck was among the team of skydiving Elvis impersonators in the 1992 film 'Honeymoon in Vegas,' starring Nicolas Cage and Sarah Jessica Parker. The movie shows Cage and members of the 'Flying Elvises' skydiving at night onto the Las Vegas Strip.
During the jump, the main parachute attached to Mr Fonnesbeck and Mrs Porter did not fully deploy, and a backup chute became entangled with the main chute when the instructor deployed it, Mesquite police spokesman Jeffrey Smith said.

The backup chute had only partially opened before Mr Fonnesbeck and Mrs Porter hit the runway at Mesquite's airport, Smith said. Mr Fonnesbeck died at the scene, while Mrs Porter died at a hospital.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 8:51 AM | Permalink

October 8, 2011

"I wanted my kids to know me"

No public service is planned for Steve Jobs.  A small private one was held Friday.

According to this article Steve Jobs's secret legacy: plans for four years of new products.

Also coming is an authorized biography by Walter Isaacson, due out Oct 24    Why did this famously private man decide to cooperate with Mr. Isaacson?

Isaacson reported in a posthumous tribute to be published in Time this week

"I wanted my kids to know me," Mr Isaacson recalled Mr Jobs saying, in a posthumous tribute the biographer wrote for Time magazine. "I wasn't always there for them, and I wanted them to know why and to understand what I did."


Isaacson said he visited Jobs for the last time a few weeks ago and found him curled up in some pain in a downstairs bedroom. Jobs had moved there because he was too weak to go up and down stairs, “but his mind was still sharp and his humor vibrant,”

Steve Jobs' final wish: to get to know his children before it was too late

Mr Jobs, who was 56, is survived by his wife, Laurene Powell Jobs, their three children, Eve, Erin and Reed and his sisters Patti Jobs and Mona Simpson. He also has a 33-year-old daughter, Lisa Brennan-Jobs, whose mother was a high-school girlfriend, Chris-Ann Brennan.
Friends say that he spent recent weeks at home in Palo Alto, California, with his immediate family, who will now oversee the fate of his $6.5 billion fortune. Though many potential visitors were rebuffed, he found time to say farewell to a handful of close friends.

One of his final outings was to Jin Sho, a favourite sushi restaurant, where he dined with Dean Omish, a physician and friend. "He was aware that his time on earth was limited. He wanted control of what he did with the choices that were left," Mr Omish told the New York Times.

"He was very human. He was so much more of a real person than most people know. That's what made him so great," he added. "Steve made choices. I asked him if he was glad that he had kids, and he said, 'It's 10,000 times better than anything I've ever done'."
Mr Jobs died from pancreatic cancer. He had recently started a new drug regime and told friends that there was some cause for hope. But his sister, Mona Simpson, said he was resigned to his fate, adding: "His tone was tenderly apologetic at the end. He felt terrible that he would have to leave us."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:17 PM | Permalink

October 7, 2011

Steve Jobs on Death

In the commencement address Steve Jobs gave in 2005 at Stanford University, he told three stories, the first about connecting the dots, the second about love and loss  and the third about death.

“When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: ‘If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you'll most certainly be right.’ It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything—all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure—these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.

No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don't want to die to get there. And yet death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life's change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. Sorry to be so dramatic, but it is quite true.”

His difficulty in getting a liver transplant in California because of the long waiting lists  - his transplanted liver came from Tennessee - led Jobs to lobby Maria Shriver over a dinner attended and then the Governor.  Steve Jobs' Forgotten Life-Saving Legacy

In October 2010, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law a bill that made California the first state in the nation to create a live donor registry for kidney transplants. The bill also required California drivers to decide whether they want to be organ donors when they renew their driver licenses. According to one supporter, this second measure alone should double the number of organ transplants available in California.  Neither of these life-saving changes to California law would ever have happened without the help of Jobs.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:35 PM | Permalink

October 6, 2011

Steve Jobs, We shall not see his like again


The co-founder and, until last August, CEO of Apple Inc was the most celebrated person in technology and business on the planet. No one will take issue with the official Apple statement that “The world is immeasurably better because of Steve.”
No one wants to die, even people who want to go to Heaven don’t want to die to get there,” he told the Stanford graduates. “And yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it. And that is as it should be, because death is very likely the single best invention of life. It’s life’s change agent; it clears out the old to make way for the new … Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.”
It seemed Jobs had come to terms with his fate. He would spend time with his family and do what he could at Apple.

 Steve Applepic


Apple has lost a visionary and creative genius, and the world has lost an amazing human being.  Those of us who have been fortunate enough to know and work with Steve have lost a dear friend and an inspiring mentor.  Steve leaves behind a company that only he could have built and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple.

The Anchoress

What a piece of work is a man! How noble in
Reason! how infinite in faculties! in form and moving
how express and admirable! In action how like an Angel!
in apprehension how like a god! the beauty of the
world! the paragon of animals! and yet to me, what is
this quintessence of dust? — Hamlet, Act II, Scene II

Well, we are stardust, finally. And what a force has passed, like a comet, through our era!


New York Times obituary by John Markoff

In his early years at Apple, his meddling in tiny details maddened colleagues, and his criticism could be caustic and even humiliating. But he grew to elicit extraordinary loyalty.

“He was the most passionate leader one could hope for, a motivating force without parallel,” wrote Steven Levy
Great products, he said, were a triumph of taste, of “trying to expose yourself to the best things humans have done and then trying to bring those things into what you are doing.”
Mr. Jobs’s genius lay in his ability to simplify complex, highly engineered products, “to strip away the excess layers of business, design and innovation until only the simple, elegant reality remained.”
Mr. Jobs’s own research and intuition, not focus groups, were his guide. When asked what market research went into the iPad, Mr. Jobs replied: “None. It’s not the consumers’ job to know what they want.”
In a commencement address given at Stanford in 2005, he said he had decided to leave college because it was consuming all of his parents’ savings.  Leaving school, however, also freed his curiosity to follow his interests.
If he had a motto, it may have come from “The Whole Earth Catalog,” which he said had deeply influenced him as a young man. The book, he said in his commencement address at Stanford in 2005, ends with the admonition Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.”

“I have always wished that for myself,” he said.

Best round-up in The Daily Mail The man who changed the world: Apple founder Steve Jobs, 56, dies weeks after quitting as boss of firm he started in his garage

To see his legacy, look around you

Everywhere you look, you can see people playing games and talking on their iPhones, reading books on their iPads, and browsing the web on their MacBooks. But Jobs didn't want to make devices that were only fit for consuming content, he wanted to help people make it. What we can't see are the countless books, artworks, movies, websites, apps, and songs that were made on Apple products and have enriched the world.

 Thankyou Steve

How he met his wife Laurene

Steve first met Laurene after noticing her in the front row at one of his speeches at Stanford University. He asked her out to dinner that night.

"I was in the parking lot with the key in the car, and I thought to myself, 'If this is my last night on earth, would I rather spend it at a business meeting or with this woman?' I ran across the parking lot, asked her if she'd have dinner with me. She said yes, we walked into town and we've been together ever since."

His family's statement

Steve died peacefully today surrounded by his family.

'In his public life, Steve was known as a visionary; in his private life, he cherished his family. We are thankful to the many people who have shared their wishes and prayers during the last year of Steve's illness; a website will be provided for those who wish to offer tributes and memories.

'We are grateful for the support and kindness of those who share our feelings for Steve. We know many of you will mourn with us, and we ask that you respect our privacy during our time of grief.'


May he rest in peace and perpetual light shine upon him.

Posted by Jill Fallon at 3:42 PM | Permalink

October 5, 2011

The Great Legacy of Lee Davenport

MIT News obituary

Lee L. Davenport, who worked at MIT’s Radiation Laboratory during World War II and has been credited with helping to bring an end to the war, died of cancer on Sept. 30 at the Nathaniel Witherell Nursing Center. He was 95.

After the war, Davenport received his doctorate for his design for remote controling a missile over a radar beam without being taken over by an enemy, which was effectively the first guided missile and precursor of today's drones.
 Lee Davenport

Lee Davenport obituary in The Boston Globe

Lee Davenport, a physicist who developed a radar device that helped bring Allied victories on major World War II battlefronts in Europe and the Pacific, died Friday of cancer in Greenwich, Conn.  He was 95.

Dr. Davenport was working toward his PhD in physics at the University of Pittsburgh when he joined the secret Radiation Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in February 1941.  Bringing together leading scientists and financed by the federal government, the Rad Lab, as it came to be known, forged technology for America’s anticipated entry into the war.
He oversaw the day-to-day work and the testing that created the SCR-584 (for Signal Corps Radio), a microwave radar device with a sophisticated scanning technique to track an enemy plane and a computer to adjust automatically the angle of antiaircraft guns to shoot it down.

 Obit Davenport 605

Lee Davenport leaning against his invention an SCR-584

Dr. Davenport, meanwhile, had gone to England, where he waterproofed SCR-584 units for the D-day invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Soon after the landings, he went to France to oversee use of the SCR-584 there.

“They issued papers for me to be known as a captain in the Signal Corps,’’ he told The Greenwich Citizen, a weekly newspaper, last year. “I had all the dog tags and identification.’’ He said that if the Germans had captured him and known he was a civilian, he would have been “shot as a spy.’’

In mid-June 1944, the Germans began using pilotless aircraft known as buzz bombs, which crashed and exploded in London and surrounding areas.

Dr. Davenport returned to England to put his radar units into action against the barrage, only to find that some gun crews had not learned how to operate them.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:44 PM | Permalink

October 3, 2011

"Our artists are content to give us hell"

When I first visited the new ICA museum in Boston, there was an exhibit by new British painters, one of whom had as part of a painting, a sign saying, "Down with Beauty", that stopped me in my tracks.  I was stunned that any artist could say that and then filled with pity for the artist who did say that.    No doubt it was meant to be challenging.

Christopher Haley has  this to say about The Challenge of Art

when I asked her why on earth I should pay good money to go and have my views challenged by a playwright—well, she hadn’t thought of that. And people wonder why the arts are suffering.
The notion that the artist’s role is to challenge the audience is offensive to the audience. It is arrogant and condescending. Learning how to paint, sculpt, write, or compose, does not make one a moral authority on art or anything else. There is no moral value in being transgressive for the sake of transgressiveness.
The real challenge of art is something immeasurably greater. The challenge of art is beauty. And the challenge of beauty is truth. Truth is challenging. But it is also inviting. It is also glorious and liberating. Truth is wondrous, not scandalous.
in great art, when Dante gives us Hell, he also leads us through Purgatory and into Paradise. It is precisely this which is lacking in art today. Our artists are content to give us hell.

"Dear Artists, You Are the Custodians of Beauty" proclaimed Pope Benedict XVI in the Sistine Chapel as he addressed representatives of all the arts: painters, sculptors, architects, novelists, poets, musicians, singers, men of the cinema, theater, dance, photography 

At this gathering I wish to express and renew the Church’s friendship with the world of art, a friendship that has been strengthened over time; indeed Christianity from its earliest days has recognized the value of the arts and has made wise use of their varied language to express her unvarying message of salvation.
an essential function of genuine beauty, as emphasized by Plato, is that it gives man a healthy "shock", it draws him out of himself, wrenches him away from resignation and from being content with the humdrum – it even makes him suffer, piercing him like a dart, but in so doing it "reawakens" him, opening afresh the eyes of his heart and mind, giving him wings, carrying him aloft. Dostoevsky’s words that I am about to quote are bold and paradoxical, but they invite reflection. He says this: "Man can live without science, he can live without bread, but without beauty he could no longer live, because there would no longer be anything to do to the world. The whole secret is here, the whole of history is here."
Too often, though, the beauty that is thrust upon us is illusory and deceitful, superficial and blinding, leaving the onlooker dazed; instead of bringing him out of himself and opening him up to horizons of true freedom as it draws him aloft, it imprisons him within himself and further enslaves him, depriving him of hope and joy. It is a seductive but hypocritical beauty that rekindles desire, the will to power, to possess, and to dominate others, it is a beauty which soon turns into its opposite, taking on the guise of indecency, transgression or gratuitous provocation.
You are the custodians of beauty: thanks to your talent, you have the opportunity to speak to the heart of humanity, to touch individual and collective sensibilities, to call forth dreams and hopes, to broaden the horizons of knowledge and of human engagement. Be grateful, then, for the gifts you have received and be fully conscious of your great responsibility to communicate beauty, to communicate in and through beauty! Through your art, you yourselves are to be heralds and witnesses of hope for humanity!
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:23 PM | Permalink

The man obsessed with the Queen

He was obsessed with the Queen and sent her hundreds of 'strange and offensive' packages to her over 15  years, including obscene photographs.  No doubt, Robert Moore, an American loner, was mentally ill.

But no one suspected that just 100 yards from Buckingham Palace,  his body would lie undetected on a park island for THREE YEARS.

A skull and bones belonging to Mr Moore were discovered on a rotting yellow cushion in thick undergrowth on March 15 by a tree surgeon working for the Royal Parks, newspaper West End Extra reported.

Nearby lay vodka bottles, and several forms of identification, including a 'degraded' U.S. passport, were found in his clothes.
Posted by Jill Fallon at 1:13 PM | Permalink

Euthanasia hides behind a false mask of compassion

Wesley Smith writes Legal Assisted Suicide Would Make Elder Abuse Epidemic Worse.

He points to the US Senate Special Committee on Aging and testimony relating to Ending Elder Abuse, Neglect and Financial Exploitation by Marie-These Connolly, a senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.  What she had to say is truly horrifying.  People with dementia suffer staggering rates of mistreatment.  A 2010 study in California found that 47% of people with dementia being cared for at home by family members were mistreated.

Then he points to a specific case of man who posed as a dedicated husband willing to risk jail to help his beloved wife who was suffering from progressive multiple sclerosis kill herself.

The Myrna Lebov assisted suicide–facilitated by her husband, George Delury to put her out of his misery– serves as an apt example of how easy it is to hide abuse behind a false mask of “compassion.”

Turns out his computer records show how he destroyed her will by making her feel worthless and a burden who kept him from living the life he wanted.  In the end he gave his wife enough drugs for overdose, but, anxious the drugs might not worked,  he murdered her by suffocating her with a plastic bag.

 Old Man's Hands Crutch

The Netherlands continues to be at the deadly edge of killing old people.  At least in Niger and Afghanistan, doctors are supposed to save lives, not take them. Not so in the Netherlands.

Could there be a worse place in the world to be a doctor than the Netherlands? Not because of the standard of its health care; it has one of the highest life expectancies in the world and one of the lowest infant mortality rates. But because the professional association of Dutch physicians has decreed that euthanasia is an integral part of a doctor’s job.
Ten years after legalisation in the Netherlands, euthanasia for the terminally ill has become commonplace. Some elderly people are so afraid of being killed by doctors that they carry please-do-not-euthanse-me  cards. About 2,400 people officially die through euthanasia every year -- although the real number may be significantly higher because doctors often fail to do all the paperwork required by the government.

Now public debate has moved on to euthanasia for those who are weary of life but not ill and euthanasia for people with dementia and psychiatric conditions....If this is not a repudiation of all that doctors stand for, what is?

Living wills for people who want to live

BioEdge recently reported that nervous Nellies in the Netherlands were carrying “please DO resuscitate me” cards instead of “do not resuscitate” cards. Apparently they are worried about the possibility of involuntary euthanasia.

Dr. Bernard Nathanson, In the Hand of God

Dr. Bernard Nathanson described himself as a man who "helped usher in this barbaric age" of abortion-on-demand, "the most atrocious holocaust in the history of the United States."  As one of the founders of the National Association for the Repeal of Abortion Laws (now called NARAL), who admitted fabricating the numbers of illegal abortions and women killed from botched abortions, he paved the way for Roe v. Wade.
Ultrasound helped him see what pro-lifers knew -- the human being in the womb.  He committed his last abortion in 1979..... Science, reason, and human dignity changed his mind on abortion.  Love transformed his heart toward God.
He wrote of his two conversions in his autobiography, "The Hand of God."
[H]e feared a culture that endorses abortion would lead to industrial euthanasia.  "Drawing largely from my experience with a similar brand of pagan excess,
I predict that entrepreneurs will set up multiple small, discreet infirmaries for those who wish, have been talked into, coerced into, or medically deceived into death. ...

But that will only be the first phase.  As the thanatoria flourish and expand into chains and franchised operations, the accountants will eventually assume command, slashing expenses and overheads as competition grows.  The final streamlined, efficient, and economically flawless version of the thanatorium will resemble nothing so much as the assembly line factories that abortion clinics have become and - farther on down the slope - the ovens of Auschwitz."
Posted by Jill Fallon at 12:57 AM | Permalink