Archive for the ‘death’ tag
A neat little visual tour of the history of the various causes of death of Americans today. Nothing mind-blowing, and I recommend it as much for its cool technology as its novel insights, but worth a look.
I recognize talking about death makes some squeamish, but I really enjoyed this thoughtful essay from Jacob M. Appel about what it means that so few people die suddenly and unexpectedly today:
Rather, my disquiet is principally for lost human dignity. Canadian right-to-die activist Gloria Taylor, who suffers from Lou Gehrig’s disease, recently wrote: “I can accept death because I recognize it as a part of life. What I fear is a death that negates, as opposed to concludes, my life.” Sudden death is a conclusion. Too often, I fear, the long goodbye devolves into a negation.
(via The Browser)
I count Carl Sagan on my list of “Greats” — which I’ve never formalized but should — but it’s for reasons like this. As his daughter writes in a great little essay on the event of the new version of Sagan’s seminal Cosmos television series, she was told quite young that:
My parents taught me that even though it’s not forever — because it’s not forever — being alive is a profoundly beautiful thing for which each of us should feel deeply grateful. If we lived forever it would not be so amazing.
An interesting idea that leads to some really compelling photographs:
“I have something to tell you.”
It is with this loaded phrase that self-taught photographer Adrain Chesser sets his scene, creating a series of intimate, surprising portraits as a means of telling friends and family that he has been diagnosed with AIDS.
An interesting view into the real but hard-to-quantify spirituality of Japan:
It took a catastrophe for me to understand how misleading this self-assessment is. It is true that the organised religions, Buddhism and Shinto, have little influence on private or national life. But over the centuries both have been pressed into the service of the true faith of Japan: the cult of the ancestors.
A rather compelling read.
This is another one of those stories I saw a few times before I paid attention to. My excuse is that it’s poorly titled, it’s more about the broken American system of end of life care than it is about strictly “how doctors die.” (A problem whose most visible manifestations was all the hubbub about “death panels” some years ago.)
If you’re really interested in that topic, PBS’s Frontline’s Facing Death (from about a year ago) was another worthwhile treatment of the problem.
I enjoyed this trip to the end of a life.
As ever shouldering his responsibility to tackle moral gray areas, William Saletan offers an enlightening (if unsettling) look into the battle over our organs.
How can we get more organs? By redefining death. First we coined “brain death,” which let us take organs from people on ventilators. Then we proposed to allow organ retrieval even if nonconscious brain functions persisted. That goal has now been realized through “donation after cardiac death,” the rule applied in Denver, which permits harvesting based on heart, rather than brain, stoppage.
Stoppage is complicated. There’s no “moment” of death. Some transplant surgeons wait five minutes after the last heartbeat. Others wait two. The Denver team waited 75 seconds, reasoning that no heart is known to have self-restarted after 60 seconds.
(via MeFi, where the early comments are uniformly bitter)