February 12, 2007

baby you're so obscure

Francis Guy, Winter Scene in Brooklyn, circa 1817–20.

* Top ten conservative idiots. excerpt:

5. George H. W. Bush

"Last week Poppy Bush went to Los Angeles to receive the 2007 Ronald Reagan Freedom Award (whatever that is), and while in town, had lunch with 'Desperate Housewives' star Teri Hatcher. Apparently George Sr. thought that Teri really was desperate, because he ended their lunch date by giving her a couple of slaps on the ass."

* What happens when we die? excerpt:

"In the process of caring for the more than 650 patients that have received care at the centre since it opened in 2003, Dellar said the centre's 25 nurses have listened and learned and now want to share some of their observations.

"An estimated 98 per cent of patients accurately predict when they will die - often within a day or two, but sometimes even to the exact hour.

"In the final 72 hours, the dying person often experiences a burst of energy and mental clarity that they used to declare their love, say goodbyes and right past wrongs.

"Patients report having dreams that revolve around travel - a sleigh filled with relatives, filling a car up with gas, a train leaving a station or a bus stopping and starting.

"Many people report seeing a warm and welcoming light.

"Visions of deceased loved ones are common. The dying reach for them, talk to them. 'When will we be leaving?' one man asked. 'Monday,' was the accurate response.

"'To keep these stories to ourselves would be unfair,' said Rose De Angelis, the centre's nursing director. 'We experience these things - if not daily - certainly weekly.'

"In some cases, Dellar said, there are plausible medical explanations.

"Pain medications and other drugs used in palliative care can induce hallucinations. Dwindling supplies of oxygen to the brain could also be responsible for bringing on delirium. But, Dellar said, the inexplicable events are too numerous to be totally discounted as drug-induced.

"De Angelis said nurses at the palliative care centre are ideally positioned to collect the kind of intimate details that can open a dialogue, help families respond appropriately and, more broadly, educate society about death.

"'We ask patients about their dreams and their visions,' she said. 'That's not going to happen in a 40-bed surgical unit in a hospital.'

"'It's often very personal stuff.'

"Palliative care nurses are trained to know when to probe, when to listen and what to watch for.

"Their observations are not necessarily the kind you find in 'peer-reviewed journals,' De Angelis conceded. But at the same time, she said, neither should they be fodder for the kind of hokey stories often seen published in supermarket tabloids."

"'Just because it is unexplainable does not mean it is without value,' she said."

* "Any orator with a minimum of experience knew by Aristotle's time that if statements made under torture supported his cause he must stress them to the utmost by insisting that there was no surer way of finding out the truth, while in the opposite case he must harp on the notorious unreliability of such statements, pointing out that unfortunate people will say anything in order to put an end to their agonies (though again on other occasions it must be emphasized that some keep up their lies even under torture)." --Friedrich Solmsen


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