Thursday, March 31, 2005

Faithful to the last

A little further from home, but close to the heart, news of His Holiness in what could be his final illness. Wing tip to Mr. Bingley - with whom I agree; I also hope John Paul II pulls through it. But you can see why the Barking Spider calls him "Pope Rock and Roll" - he still appeared at the window overlooking St Peter's Square, and blessed the crowd, and tried to speak. He is running the good race, and keeping the faith.

In your and my lifetime he will be known as John Paul the Great, Doctor of the Church. God grant us another such champion soon; we are in sore need.

Death by kindness

Terri Schiavo died at about 9:00 am today.

It took about 1:45 for Dan Flynn to post on it; I was flattered that he borrowed my term for the process. It took an additional 70 minutes for one of my more disreputable bug relatives to spit on the poor woman's grave. (It's the second comment in the list.)

I should probably go away for a few hours and calm down, instead of posting the following bright red comments in reply:

sf - "I guess then when you're in the same position that Terri Schiavo was in then we can let you live the rest of your life as you wish with a feeding tube."

Really? Are you sure you wouldn't just assume otherwise and starve us to death too? Isn't it the whole point that we wanted to give her a chance?

"The hypocrisy of the right-wing is amazing. This isn't about a right-to-life as one is being made to believe."

Oh, horsefeathers.

"This issue is being used as a wedge issue by the right and its not doing well in terms of polls."

Because polls are all that you need to decide whether 'life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness' is, in fact, the animating principle of the US Constitution, and a worthy goal to continue to right for.

"Politicizing this issue and using it to promote a certain agenda is shameless."

Agreed. The way George Felos and Mike Schiavo's experts pushed this as a right-to-die issue, forwarding the forced-euthanasia agenda - sickening. And heck, we know that Jesse Jackson, Ralph Nader, and the Village Voice are just grandstanding by agreeing with conservatives and jumping in on Terri's side in this.

"Sure.. every citizen has a right-to-live ..."

Except for this one?

"... and I feel deep sorrow for the parents of Terri Schiavo yet the hypocrisy is mind-boggling. What about the right for health care for everyone or the right that no one should live in poverty or how about a states-right?"

Of these three, O Legal One, only 'states rights' is in the Constitution - it's the Tenth Amendment, long ignored by many of the same people crying States Rights Now! Even then, Andy McCarthy of NRO had the excellent point that the Left, in saying 'states' rights,' is really only supporting the right of the courts, since the Florida Legislature also passed laws to protect Terri but the courts struck them down.

"Even better is the fact that the judges involved weren't merely liberals but they were also conservatives acting in ways termed "judicial murder" or "judicial tyranny". This wasn't an abortion by any means and to label it that or call it an abortion is blasphemy."

Oh, by all means, we DARE NOT blaspheme the holy name of Abortion! Give me a break.

"This was nothing but a giant media circus about a woman who suffered dearly. We as citizens do not know what she was feeling or if she felt anything in the first place. We aren't the experts nor are we armed with the facts to prove otherwise."

What kind of an expert do you have to be not to want to starve to death? Only the elite legal and medical minds can determine a person's worth? And you can't claim that she suffered dearly while claiming that we couldn't know what she felt. Geez, make some sense, could you?

"President Bush says government should "err on the side of life"... Really??? Then what is that he said as governor of Texas... Oh yeah... That in the matters of life and death complexities he trusted the courts."

And here it comes...

"Hmm... did he say the courts? Now.. the courts aren't trusted because they don't err on the side of life yet err on the blueprint of the US constitution."

Sure - hearsay evidence and biased testimony are so trustworthy that dozens of affidavits and contrary evidence are ruled inadmissable; and advances in science that could prove or disprove the previous findings are not only not made, but actively forbidden. That sounds impartial and trustworthy?

"He made those comments when presiding over and personally reviewing death penalty cases. He trusted the courts judgements."

It's a lot harder to find someone guilty of murder and sentence him to death than it was for Judge Greer to do Michael Schiavo's bidding, and there is much more legal remedy available to the death row inmate than there was for Terri.

"How about the people denied adequate medical care or organ transplants and thus life under Medicaid which is under the knife constantly when it comes to the Bush budget. Even better lets address the genocide in Darfur? Where was Pres. Bush and our government then?"

I think they were fighting a rather important war, limiting our options for intervention. They haven't been utterly useless: you can try reading a little something. Or something else. And if they were, it doesn't let them off the hook elsewhere. While you're reading, why don't you also go over the Constitution to see where health care is guaranteed to every citizen by the federal government.

"That would've sided with a right-to-life policy yet the overwhelming evidence shows that hypocrisy prevails here and that this was an issue used to politicize a religious and moral ethic."

There's an old saying that hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue. I'd rather that somebody gets one thing right than everything wrong.

[sf quotes Dan Flynn]: But a life that makes us feel bad, that bothers us, that inconveniences us--that is a life that should be killed. Isn't that the message of this whole sad affair? [and then continues]: The message isn't simple and its more complicated.

Sure, you're just a big ball of nuance here, aren't you?

"I wished that Michael Schiavo had given up his rights to the parents a long time ago however the courts consistently ruled in the favor of the law and the laws of the land."

For some people wishing wasn't enough and they fought through legal means. And both Florida's legislature and the Congress passed laws that were promptly tossed by the courts in favor of what was already done.

"It is a sad affair when the battle is between legality and morality, which is what this is whole circus was about? Right?"

Sure is. Legal 1, Terri Schiavo 0. Hip hip frickin' hooray, Spitter.

"Now... Terri Schiavo may rest in peace like the rest of America would've rested had they been in that same position themselves."

This is so ridiculous, let me simply let you disprove yourself: "I guess then when you're in the same position that Terri Schiavo was in then we can let you live the rest of your life as you wish with a feeding tube."

Terri, God willing, does rest in peace. She got there through a two-week torture session mandated by a court, the ultimate in government intrusion.

Monday, March 28, 2005

What use is she?

This is not about Terri Schiavo. Please read it anyway. It's important to remember that there is more to life than your health, your cleverness, and your money.

(wing-tip to Dawn Eden for the link)

Update - And, here, again. This one is Lileks' Bleat from today. Three warnings - one, the graphic will surprise. Two - it says "Fri" but it's today's. Three - it will, of course, break your heart. And since my targets write forty times better than I...

Thursday, March 24, 2005

The reason the Hive buzzes

I don't want to omit my heartfelt thanks to everyone who have been visiting here from the beginning, and over the past few weeks in particular. I'm grateful to be read at all, but especially pleased that I'm spurring some interesting debate and argument, which is the whole point of having a blog. It's a conversation with the larger online community. I'm constantly impressed and informed by the good stuff people write and the usually-thoughtful replies, and it's great to see the same thing begin to happen here. (One friend of mine actually found the Hive after a google search about our dead hockey league, and replied not knowing whose blog it was.)

In no particular order: Jeff, Eryn, Mahdji, Mr. Bingley, Jorge, Dennis, Lyne, Therese, and my several Anonymous friends - merci beaucoup. (And don't be hurt if you've been around without getting mentioned - just yell at me below!)

PVS, or not PVS?

In the Hive and elsewhere, many are debating the propriety of letting Terri Schiavo starve to death. The latest to offer his position is a board-certified neurologist, Dr. William Cheshire Jr., in this affidavit.

This is not a gentleman given to wishful thinking:
There are many behaviors typical for patients in PVS that someone without neurological training could easily mistake as voluntary. The non-neurologist seldom has experience in obsreving how the brainstem and basal ganglia behave when deprived of input from the cerebral cortex where consciousness is believed to reside. It is quite common for dedicated and caring family members, hoping desperately for a sign from their loved one, to misinterpret these reflexes as evidence of communication. ... Some of the video clips of Terri Schiavo that have been presented in the media display such involuntary behaviors.

Yet he spends time going from there to ask some good questions:
It is my understanding that nearly three years have passed since Terri has had the benefit of neurologic consultation. How, then, are we to be certain about her current neurologic status?

...she has not, to my knowledge, undergone functional imaging studies, such as positron emission tomography (PET) or functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).

New facts have come to light in the last few years that should be weighed in the neurologic assessment of Terri Schiavo. ...there is still a great deal we do not know about what previously-unsuspected cerebral cortex functions may yet be occurring in the minds of persons who have sustained profound brain damage and are no longer able to communicate outwardly...

He then gives six examples of already-existing behavior and incidents from her charts that "cast a reasonable doubt on the prior diagnosis of PVS." (His seventh example, which you can read for yourself, is admittedly non-scientific and speculative.) The fifth is especially damning, and seems to answer the question I asked just yesterday in debate over the topic.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005

A small reflection on suffering

Dawn Eden's blog has been added to the Pantheon of Links (which is now the Nonpareil Nine) - she has an excellent, quite recent post on Ms. Schiavo that reflects on Terri's sufferings in light of the Christian Holy Week.

A co-worker of mine mentioned this just today, and while puttering about I've been considering it. Even St. Paul said that in his own suffering he makes up what is lacking in Christ's suffering for us (Colossians 1:24). I've thought about what that could mean, and the only conclusion that makes any sense to me is this: when we suffer, we have a link to Christ through this shared pain; even our bodies are allowed a share in redemption, even as our minds and hearts cooperate with God through understanding and faith.

But even animals can feel pain; therefore the material order of creation sharing in the redemption extends through us and links us not only to Heaven but also Earth. (This is consistent with passages calling us the stewards of creation.) In a way, then, our suffering can also be thought of as on behalf of those placed under our care and protection, even as Christ's suffering is on our behalf before the Father.

Crappy New Jersey™, Schiavo edition

For the first time I can remember, 101.5-FM morning host Jim Gearhart has gone out of state and taken an hour of calls about Terri Schiavo. He hasn't been so bad, either; he admits that he hasn't done a lot to keep up with the case, since his job is "poking under all the rocks" locally. His callers have been a little bananas, however.

Gearhart at one point mentioned that Terri's parents, the Schindlers, have been denied permission to feed her by hand, for fear that Terri will choke to death. This struck him as silly, leading to this gem from a caller: "Choking to death is worse than starving to death." Gearhart instantly replied, "Have you ever choked to death?" "Twice!" the caller shot back, before correcting herself.

Another caller said, of Michael Schiavo, "This poor man has suffered enough." Yeah, you know, because his wife is starving to death and there's nothing he can do about it.

Nearly all the callers have repeated the "brain dead" line, as if the testimony of the nurses caring for Terri is as inadmissable to them as it has been to Judge Greer. The news crew on the radio have insisted on using the accurate "brain damaged" in their own reports, meaning the callers aren't even listening to the radio station they're calling.

The new news is that a federal judge, ruling as permitted under the new Congressional action, has denied a motion to replace Terri's feeding tube. (An interesting side note - the author of this AP article has written before about the Schiavo case, more than once.)

Monday, March 21, 2005

It must be the Patriot Act

How else can you explain the Florida courts, in the person of Judge George Greer, ordering a woman to starve to death?

Terri Schiavo is guilty of no crime - unfortunately for her. That has allowed the courts to successfully argue against a petition of habeas corpus, and permitted them to defy the Constitutional protections of due process and against cruel and unusual punishment - on the basis of hearsay evidence, solely supported by a man with huge conflicts of interest in the case (seeing as how he has already started a second family).

National Review has been all over it (such as this example), the blogs are all over it (Dawn Eden has an indispensible clearinghouse of updates). So naturally Michael Moore, NOW, and the rest of the diligent watchdogs of human rights are talking about this outrage. Right?

I won't go on about it here - enough has been said elsewhere, far better than I could. But if you haven't heard it all, visit some of these links. You may be tempted to say, "Boy, they sound like they have an axe to grind," and dismiss them as biased sources. I urge you to look at WHY everyone is so strenuous about the grave injustice being done to Terri. Consider that the plaintiff's suit is based on testimony that would be utterly inadmissable in most other legal proceedings. Consider that the medical diagnosis of Terri being unrecoverably vegetative is highly disputed, and that its chief proponent is an advocate for the right to die movement, rendering his judgement (and his selection for expert testimony) gravely suspect. Remember that the plaintiff, Terri's husband, has refused even recommended attempts at rehabilitation, thus making that suspect diagnosis impossible to disprove. Think about the presupposition we as a public are asked to assume - that food and water are now considered medical treatment by Judge Greer, establishing a dangerous precedent for any profoundly injured patient.

The whole thing is sickening and horrific. Any further comment on my part would require four-letter English, so let me spare you.

UPDATED - an email from the Barking Spider linked to this fantastic statement from Patricia Heaton. Thanks, Jeff (and Patricia).

Friday, March 18, 2005

Into the sunset...

You may have guessed from the name "Nightfly" that I am not a creature of the morning. Today, however, the radio morning show got me up early with some startling news: George Taber is retiring.

Mr. Taber is the man behind the New Jersey Business Report (20 minutes to the hour all morning) and driving force behind
NJ Biz, but all across New Jersey he is most famous for his unique rendering of the radio's call sign: "New Jersey, one-oh-one....POINT...fiiiiiive!"

There's a twist - this icon of the business community is going to Rhode Island because he can't afford to STAY in New Jersey. His property taxes alone are $17,000 a year, as compared to $4,000 where he's going.

You already know
how I feel about the government of Crappy New Jersey™. For now I want to join the many people calling in with tributes to Mr. Taber. You know the tune - click the link on the bottom of this page.
Here he comes!
Here comes George Taber
He's an expert on deals
He's the expert so you'd better be listening each morning
The Biz Report is on, you'd better look alive
It's only on NJ 101 POINT fiiiive!
And when you want to know about the world of work
You'll bet your life George Taber will see you through
Go! George Taber
Go! George Taber
Go! George Taber, go!
The savvy business folks tune in to get the inside track
On mergers, layoffs, acquisitions, and the fiscal facts
Success is waiting just ahead!
Go! George Taber
Go! George Taber
Go! George Taber, go!

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Steve Dallas Theory

Via Dan Flynn, the news of the inevitable lawsuit for failing to issue warnings about the tsunami. Note that the plaintiffs don't seek damages, but only want evidence to be preserved, in case there's damages to be had later. And they have the sense to sue the Thai government and a bunch of other people, not just the NOAA.

Would that some others have similar sense. Tim Blair's got the scoop on Rachel Corrie's folks, who have decided that her misguided attempt to tackle a bulldozer was, in fact, the fault of the company that built it. Unlike the island of Sri Lanka, Ms. Corrie could have gotten out of the way, but that makes no odds.

Famed lawyer Steve Dallas had this sort of thinking pegged back in '86, when Sean Penn broke his back. Whom Should I Sue? The answer - NOT Penn (because he'd break more of Steve), not Opus ... but the CAMERA COMPANY! "A faceless corporation with gobs of liquid cash, clearly negligent for failing to place warning stickers on its products: 'Do Not Use on Psychopathic Drunken Celebrities.'"

Caterpillar gots the dough, so they gets the subpoena. Personal Responsilibity? No money in that.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Department Store Nostalgia Department

A nice remembrance today from Catherine Seipp on NRO.

This Jersey guy remembers, as a Long Island boy, the fabulous enterprise of going to TSS on Montauk Highway circa 1978. Probably already gone to seed by earlier standards, but that doesn't compute to a child. And they had everything - each new department was like a separate store. It felt like you could just keep walking until you wound up like that kid in the woods in the Far Side cartoon. First day of school? No problem - shoes and clothes in front with Mom while Dad went for the hardware: stationary, knapsack, and cartoon-tie in lunch box. Then I got a haircut in the salon in back, while Dad visited the nearby tobacconist section. If I behaved, I got a hot pretzel from the front lunch counter on the way out.

I'm lucky enough to have seen a lot of those holdouts: local savings banks (with passbooks filled with typewritten entries), Howard Johnson’s (31 Flavors under one Orange Roof!), that TSS (I still own the baseball glove I got there at age 14), and an A & W Root Beer stand. (These guys have it backwards on the list - NOW it's a Taco Bell.) Twenty years on, I’d give a lot to have a Teenburger again. (Surprisingly, there's an impressive list of still-operating stores, including a few I could reach by car. There are only nine remaining HoJo's, however.)

And what happened to Times Square Stores? The last one held out until 1990. (The store I'm remembering is the Babylon location mentioned in the article.) It was the same all over, as demonstrated by a quick scan of the headlines here. Our family had been gone to Jersey nearly four years by then (but we were still bennies). And before the advent of the digital camera, such things were harder to chronicle, especially for the impending web age. Perhaps it's better that way. Sears, for example, hasn't aged well for me. But TSS will always seem to be its own little city, pearl of a bygone year. If you didn't see what you liked right away, there was another neighborhood along past the checkout clerk, and on the way, something really neat was sure to surprise you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Post, thy name is Legion

1.... Behold New Jersey in March: on Monday we had 65-degree weather; on Tuesday we had 25-degree weather with heavy winds. Snow, too. The DOT didn't have any salt trucks out, which was curious. Perhaps with all the snow lately (four different storms in three weeks) they'd run out of salt? In any case it looked more like they'd rented out Zambonis instead - many roads bore a pristine inch-thick sheet of ice.

2.... As the NCAA basketball tournament approaches, I begin to get mildly interested, if for no other reason than to sacrifice five bucks to Big Al in our yearly office pool. One team I hear talked up a lot is Indiana. Lots of tough losses, they say. Only 15-12 overall, but 10 wins in the conference, and nobody's ever been left out of the bracket with that many. Without knowing a heck of a lot about basketball, I can categorically say that a national championship of any kind isn't about tough losses - it's about tough wins. If the Hoosiers hadn't spit the bit against Missouri (15-15) or Northwestern (14-15), and had been a smidge better in just one of those close defeats, they'd be 17-10 and we wouldn't need these conversations.

3.... Tim Blair quotes Michael Moore. Then he notes that the quote has been stuffed down Mike's ample memory hole - totally gone from his site's archives. "Michael Moore is vanishing!" he concludes. One can only imagine the headlines.

4.... Mr. Bingley has decided on the surest method to put the Coalition of the Swilling over the top for a link in the Permanent Pantheon: the way to a man's heart is through his ego. Make it so! And do run over and read his fisking of Tuh-RAY-zuh's Seattle speech. Some highlights (original in Red, fisking in Black):

...I guess in Seattle they're so Blue State and advanced that they're post-intelligence.

"Two brothers own 80 percent of the [voting] machines used in the United States," Heinz Kerry said. She identified both as "hard-right" Republicans. She argued that it is "very easy to hack into the mother machines."
...One wacked-out hag owns 80% of the ketchup used in the US. Makes me think that it would be very easy for her to slip something into our condiments...

"We in the United States are not a banana republic," added Heinz Kerry. She argued that Democrats should insist on "accountability and transparency" in how votes are tabulated.
...Yes, and I would also like the Democrats to insist on "accountability and transparency" in how people are registered to vote. [She probably couldn't say this in Seattle, given Dem. Christine Gregiore's 'vote early, vote often, vote dead' strategy in her quest for governor of Washington State. -NF]

Heinz Kerry won't stand in the way of a second presidential bid by her husband. ...Teresa dear, I'm not sure how to break this to you, but you've never stood in the way of his running; but you are a hell of a speed bump on the road to him winning.

There's more. Go read. I'll wait.

5.... "Rime of the Ancient Monitor" - yesterday my 10-year old CRT gave a sad little whiff of ozone and went to Doorstop Heaven. It ws pre-deceased by my hockey league, as you've heard below. My printer works, but no ink comes out, despite my putting in new cartridges and cleaning the print heads four times. Tough week here in the Hive. But now a ray of hope - my league will be relocated for playoffs to the Inman Sports Club. In the meantime I've gotten my mitts on the Hubert Farnsworth of monitors ("Even older!"), which I hope will tide me until I go flat-panel at long last.

Monday, March 07, 2005

Ahead of the Curve

A few days ago, Mr. Bingley of Coalition of the Swilling sparked a debate about Ms. Emma Perez. She celebrated replacing the disgraced Ward Churchill with a curious rant.

Your humble bug posted the following waaaay down there in the commments section:

Ms. Perez should be thanking the VRWC. Having enforcable standards means that even the pompous blowhards have to have some credentials as scholars and teachers. My question is, why isn't she in favor of such standards? Is it ideology? If so, I think her entire article is a long, boring exercise in projecting her faults onto others.

If there really was a cabal against CU, it would go after
the president of the university, who has failed to sack Gary Barnett for perfidy within the football program, to say nothing of the ongoing scandal regarding Katie Hnida.

The entire University is a little... troubled.

Five days later, what to my wondering eyes should appear in the Rocky Mountain News? Yup, Ms. Hoffman has shown herself the exit. Another pelt on the wall, baby...

In a related development, this time courtesy of the Tree-Hugging Sister:

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Boeing Co. Monday said it fired Chief Executive Harry Stonecipher, after a probe into a personal relationship he had with a female executive that it said ``reflected poorly'' on the No. 1 U.S. aircraft maker.

So let's recap - it takes MONTHS for a disgraced college president to accept responsibility for her school's rogue football program. (The head coach, by contrast, is STILL THERE.) So is this the the fault of the eeeeeevil Uncles Moneybag who run the Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy?. Would these be the same Plutocrat Pantloads who just canned one of their own for the same behavior?

Mr. Stonecipher, however, has the requisite odd surname and attitude towards women; I hereby nominate him to replace Kofi Annan in the UN.

By the way... if this keeps up, the Coalition is a lock for a permanent link.

Saturday, March 05, 2005

Gary Bettman Must Be Stopped

The NHL hasn't dropped a puck since June 7, 2004 - although they have collectively dropped the ball. People are so desperate that two Boston companies offered to buy the entire league.

I have a counter-proposal: they can buy our deck hockey league instead.

About 45 minutes ago, my captain called to inform me that the owners of our rink,
RexPlex, have closed their doors. We've been locked out. (It explains why the web page hasn't been updated in three weeks.) All you have to do is call our commissioner at 1-877-739-7539. Dial extension 238. Here it is, in print:

You've reached RexPlex. Today is Friday, March 4. I've just been informed by the owners that we have been evicted from the property, and the place is closing down. Obviously, it screws up a lot of stuff that's going on. I'm going to try to figure out a way to finish out the season, maybe at another facility somewhere. ... I will get in touch with everyone in every sport I'm involved with... Thank you.
It's not just the four different hockey leagues that are royally hosed. There were indoor soccer leagues, flag football (on a 2/3-sixed outdoor field), two skate parks, and basketball. They hosted concerts and paintball.

I can't even think rationally right now. This sucks out loud. I have the glassy eyes and giggly laugh of a man about to cross the midwest on a killing spree. I can't watch hockey, I can't play hockey - I can't even SIMULATE hockey because my PC corrupted the save files on my NHL 2004. Must... cross-check... landlord...

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Now playing on ABC

...the series finale of NYPD Blue. Some observations:
  1. This has always been a great show, despite Dennis Franz' tuchus.
  2. Clich├ęs? Nah. I just reached out to the guy, you know, maybe do him a solid, and he jammed me up!
  3. Again, I ask... have the New Orleans Saints fired Detective Medavoy yet?
  4. Odds that Sipowitz dies in the finale - 5 to 1.
  5. Odds that he sees someone else die - 3 to 2.
  6. Odds that he chews out/gets chewed out - 2 to 1.
  7. Odds that the station house blows up - 7 to 1.
  8. Odds that a skell lawyers up - 1 to 5.

It's not a show I've been able to follow start to close. I was a Jimmy Smits guy, mostly; I catch reruns of everything else when I can. When it's on top of its game, it's as well-written as anything I've seen on TV.