Althouse | category: death | (page 2 of 169)



an endless succession of beans and nuts.

"Sitting around in my own mess, pissed off at the world, disdainful of the people in it, and thinking my contempt for things somehow amounted to something..."

"... had some kind of nobility, hating this thing here, and that thing there, and that other thing over there, and making sure that everybody around me knew it, not just knew, but felt it too, contemptuous of beauty, contemptuous of joy, contemptuous of happiness in others, well, this whole attitude just felt, I don’t know, in the end, sort of dumb."

Writes Nick Cave, responding to a fan who asked "When did you become a Hallmark card hippie? Joy, love, peace. Puke! Where’s the rage, anger, hatred? Reading these lately is like listening to an old preacher drone on and on at Sunday mass" — at The Red Hand Files. 

After his younger son Arthur, aged 15, fell off a cliff and died, Cave thought about "the precarious and vulnerable position of the world" and felt he ought to try to help the world, "instead of merely vilifying it, and sitting in judgement of it."

In 2022, his older son Jethro died, aged 31.

"What’s with all this whingeing about the raising of the retirement age? Ye gods, what a bunch of..."

"... lazy, workshy, good-for-nothing, stay-at-home, Deliveroo-scoffing, unproductive, couch potato cry-babies we have become. Well, you have become. I’m fine. Work is good! Work is fun! Work is what you were made for! What the hell else do you think you’re supposed to be doing with your time: surfing the internet for good deals on comfy tracksuits, posting your lunchtime sarnie on TikTok and nipping up to Scotland every three months to flip genders on a whim?... What do you want to do when you’re old, anyway? Work is the only thing. You want to play golf or bridge or mahjong all day or go on some awful cruise? Or sit alone in the pub staring into the bottom of one of the three pints you can afford, that you have to make last all afternoon?...  Come off it. We all know what happens when you retire: you die. Because the cessation of work famously accelerates the decline of physical and cognitive functioning...."

If someone dies and I see fit to blog about it and you might be the first commenter, don't just write something showing you don't know or care much at all...

... about this person. That's really rude. I just deleted a comment but I wanted to state the general principle on the front page so everyone can see it. Stop doing this please. You don't have to comment. Plus, there's always a link to something you can read. This is a special subcategory of my general rule for the first comment — or first few comments — on a post. Here's how I word it to myself: Don't shit on the post.

"'Died Suddenly'? More Than 1-in-4 Think Someone They Know Died From COVID-19 Vaccines."

Rasmussen reports.

The documentary Died Suddenly has been criticized as promoting “debunked” anti-vaccine conspiracy theories but has been seen by some 15 million people.

Forty-eight percent (48%) of Americans believe there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines, while 37% think people who worry about vaccine safety are spreading conspiracy theories. Another 15% are not sure.

The political breakdown is interesting:

More Democrats (85%) than Republicans (63%) or those not affiliated with either major party (64%) have been vaccinated against COVID-19. More Republicans (60%) than Democrats (44%) or the unaffiliated (43%) think there are legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccines. However, there is less political difference in the number who suspect someone they know might have died from vaccine side effects – 33% of Democrats and 26% of both Republicans and the unaffiliated. 

Rasmussen downplayed the most significant discrepancy — there are 27% more Democrats who say they know someone who "might have died from vaccine side effects." That's a lot of political difference, especially since the difference seems to go in the opposite direction from the support for the vaccine, with Republicans much more likely to be worried about vaccine safety and to have resisted getting the vaccination. 

Now, maybe it's that Democrats tend to know more people who've taken the vaccine or to know more people who've died recently. Maybe Democrats simply know more people. Maybe Democrats have more of a tendency to interpret the question differently.

When people you know die, do you know why they died? There may be cultural differences about conveying the cause of death. When do you just absorb the news of the death and figure it must be from one of those things that kill people — old age, drugs, suicide, heart trouble? If you do that, then if someone asks you do you think it could have been a side effect of the vaccine, you might easily and without thinking much, say, sure. It might not mean you're particularly concerned about the vaccine. 

Another way to look at this is that supporters of the vaccine may think of course some people are going to die from it but, overall, more lives will be saved, so what's important is for everyone to do their part and contribute to the general good by getting the vaccine as prescribed. Yes, you might be one of the unlucky ones who dies because of the vaccine, but you'll never know if you would have been one of the unlucky ones who dies because you did not get the vaccine, so please just cooperate and accept the vaccine.

I would guess that Democrats are more likely to have that attitude, and that might mean that even when they hear of deaths that they think could be traced to the vaccine they tend to continue to think that there are no "legitimate reasons to be concerned about the safety of COVID-19 vaccine."

Pope Benedict and Barbara Walters join the Pelé death triad.

This is one of the greatest death triads I have ever seen. Perhaps the greatest.

Goodbye to 3 greats, in 3 different fields — religion, journalism, and sports. All 3 died after a long, productive life — Pelé, a little young, at 82, Walters at 93, and the Pope at 95.

"She had no map, compass, or matches. No flashlight or headlamp, though her parents said she used her phone as a light...."

"[S]he had granola bars, a banana and water that likely froze very early on.... She wore long underwear but only light pants and a jacket. She had heated gloves and a neck warmer but no hat. Her shoes were for trail running.... She had planned to hike alone for three days, have her mother join her on the Wednesday and celebrate [climbing all 48 peaks] with a dinner at the grand Mount Washington Hotel. She told her mom she had checked the weather, as did her mother, but only saw the forecast for where they were staying in Franconia. 'It was cold, but ... I didn't know anything about the mountains or anything else. It did not look bad,' [the mother] said. The pair shopped for food that afternoon, and Emily did some school work before setting an alarm for 4am. The following morning her mother dropped her off at a trailhead at 4:30am, with plans to pick her up eight hours later....."

From the Daily Mail article, "Grieving doctor couple's daughter, 19, died on winter hike through snowy New Hampshire after setting out in thin clothing and sneakers with just granola bars and water for sustenance/Emily Sotelo, 19, was found dead on a New Hampshire mountain trail on what would have been her 20th birthday... Her goal was to summit all 48 peaks over 4,000 feet by her 20th birthday...."

"In a well-covered incident at the tournament, Wahl was detained by Qatari security guards at a stadium when he arrived to a game wearing a rainbow soccer ball T-shirt."

"Homosexuality is illegal in Qatar. Wahl, on his Substack, wrote that security guards refused to let him in, held him for 25 minutes and demanded he remove his shirt."

From "U.S. soccer journalist Grant Wahl dies after collapsing at World Cup match" (WaPo). 

Wahl, 48, had written about some of his health issues in Qatar in the days leading up to his passing. Earlier this week, he wrote: “My body finally broke down on me. Three weeks of little sleep, high stress and lots of work can do that to you.”

He said he had a cold turn into something more serious on the night the United States played the Netherlands. “I could feel my upper chest take on a new level of pressure and discomfort,” he wrote.

ADDED: The Daily Mail puts it far more luridly: "Grant Wahl complained of 'death rattle' cough day before his shock death at World Cup and received 20 minutes of frantic CPR before dying in hospital: Gay brother suggests he was murdered."

"Human composting — or, as it’s sometimes referred to, natural organic reduction — fulfills many people’s desire to nurture the earth after dying."

"It owes much of its present form to Katrina Spade, a Washington-based designer and entrepreneur who told me that her goal is to see 'composting overtake cremation as the default American deathcare in the next couple of decades.' In 2015, as an architecture student, Ms. Spade launched a nonprofit called the Urban Death Project, envisioning strolling past the brownstones of Brooklyn and coming upon a municipal human composting facility. Here, passersby would reflect on mortality and the cycle of life, feeling a sense of connection to the earth, past and future — the way urban cemeteries like Green-Wood were designed to make repose in death a harmonious part of city life..."

From "If You Want to Give Something Back to Nature, Give Your Body" by Caitlin Doughty (NYT).

But we're told the New York State Catholic Conference has said this process “is more appropriate for vegetable trimmings and eggshells than for human bodies.”  

What's the process? It's described in detail and with graphics (and it strikes me as unnecessarily above-ground and complicated). There's "a cylindrical vessel" (which the author likens to a Japanese capsule hotel!). The body, wrapped in a shroud, is put in there with wood chips, sawdust, and alfalfa, and "other meaningful organic materials" as people see fit. Flowers, presumably, but what else? Favorite foods? Dead pets? It's sealed up for 6 to 8 weeks and everything but the bones breaks down. The bones are ground up in a cremulator and mixed back into "the soil," which is left to dry out. Finally, you have something like one cubic yard of soil. I looked it up, and I think that might be one ton of soil. 

Now you somehow give this back to nature. Where?! How??!

Just do a green burial. It's the same idea of letting the body decompose, but you bury the shrouded body at the beginning and you never dig it up and never grind the bones. You never have the "Japanese capsule hotel" phase.

Yes, you are sacrificing the in-town building that induces passersby to "reflect on mortality and the cycle of life," but, come on, the city is already perfectly suited to making you think about dying often enough. It's sufficiently evocative of death already — the cars always seem ready to run you down, you descend into the subway and necessarily think of the lunatics who push people onto subway tracks, and so forth. I know, it doesn't quite stir up a romanticized feeling of "a sense of connection to the earth." But does the Japanese Capsule Hotel of Death?

"The idea that human rights encompass a right to self-destruction, the conceit that people in a state of terrible suffering and vulnerability are really 'free'..."

"... to make a choice that ends all choices, the idea that a healing profession should include death in its battery of treatments — these are inherently destructive ideas. Left unchecked, they will forge a cruel brave new world, a dehumanizing final chapter for the liberal story."

Writes Ross Douthat in "What Euthanasia Has Done to Canada" (NYT). 

I'll put the next sentence after the jump because it's a surprising change in topic (but I bet you can predict it if you know how these things go these days):

For anyone on the right opposed to Donald Trump and the foulness around him (most recently at his Mar-a-Lago dinner table), the last six years have forced hard questions about when it makes sense to identify with conservatism, to care about its direction and survival.

Donald Trump! What does he have to do with Euthanasia in Canada? 

Euthanasia in Canada... it made me think of "Trout Fishing in America," and I felt wistful about the old days when everyone loved books by Richard Brautigan. 

I searched his name in the New York Times and came up with his obituary, from 1984, which has a funny/sad mis-scanned headline: "RICHARD BRAUTIGAN, NOVELIST, A LITERARY IDOL OF THE 1060'S." 

Richard Brautigan, a literary idol of the 1960's who eventually fell out of fashion, was found dead Thursday at his secluded house in Bolinas, Calif. The Marin County coroner's office reported that the author of ''Trout Fishing in America'' and ''So the Wind Won't Blow It All Away'' apparently died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound four or five weeks ago. He was 49 years old.

''He told everybody he was going away on a hunting trip''....

[T]he sincerity and the disconnected, elliptical style that so charmed critics and readers... eventually began to pall. For example, reviewing ''The Tokyo-Montana Express,'' a Brautigan novel published in 1980, Barry Yourgrau, a poet, wrote in The Times Book Review, ''He is now a longhair in his mid-40's, and across his habitually wistful good humor there now creep shadows of ennui and dullness, and too easily aroused sadness.''

Fishing, hunting, killing yourself.

Here's the memoir written by his daughter, Ianthe Brautigan: "You Can't Catch Death."

Must I get back to Douthat and his linkage of Canadian euthanasia and American Trumpism? It's become a joke the way everything gets connected to Trump, but euthanasia?! Have we reached peak Trump Derangement Syndrome yet? Or... I guess peak Trump Derangement Syndrome would have you relocating to Canada... relocating to Canada and embracing the Canadian freedom of offing yourself medically. Medically, not with a gun, guns being so... so... right wing.

I think Douthat's point is that Americans need conservatism — real conservatism, his kind of conservatism — to fend off Canadian-style freedom to abscond from life itself.

"[Kirk] Hammett, who is Buddhist, will talk at length about consciousness, God, enlightenment, resonance, Nirvana."

"He believes that the work he does with Metallica is an extension of some sublime and omnipotent creative force. 'I put myself in this space where I take in all the creativity around me and I channel it to create more,' he said. His hope is that Metallica facilitates a healing sort of fellowship. 'We are so nondenominational,' he said, laughing. 'Come to the Church of Metallica. You’ll become a member and rejoice! You don’t have to direct anything at us. You can direct it at the experience that you’re having.'"

Writes Amanda Petrusich, in "The Enduring Metal Genius of Metallica/On the road with the band in its forty-first year" (The New Yorker).

Metallica’s music is rooted in feelings of marginalization, and the band, despite its achievements, has found a way to maintain that point of view for more than forty years. It makes sense that people are drawn to Metallica’s music, because they’re ill at ease in a culture that relentlessly valorizes things (money, love, straight teeth) that are very easy to be born without....

[James Hetfield's] parents were devout Christian Scientists, and had met in church, where Virgil helped lead a weekly service. But Hetfield never connected with the religion.... Hetfield recalled being embarrassed when he wasn’t allowed to attend health class, or receive a physical to play football. “I still carry shame about that,” he said. “How different we were to people.”

When Hetfield was thirteen, his father left. “I went off to church camp, and I came back and he was gone,” he recalled. Two years later, his mother developed cancer, but refused medical treatment on religious grounds. “We watched her wither to nothing,” he said. “She had religion around her, inside her. She had practitioners coming over. But the cancer was stronger.”...

“I thought she cared more about religion than she did her kids,” he said. “It wasn’t talked about, either—if you’re talking about it, you’re giving it power, and you want to take power away from it. So admitting that you’re sick, that’s a no-no. We just saw it happening.”...

Much, much more at the link. I just cherry-picked some things about religion.

"The idea that human rights encompass a right to self-destruction, the conceit that people in a state of terrible suffering and vulnerability are really 'free'..."

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