Tagged: death

TSA agents to simply stand in place and remind passengers we all die someday

Following the release of a report indicating that the agency failed 95 percent of security tests, the Transportation Security Administration announced…that agents will now simply stand at airport checkpoints and remind all passengers that everybody will eventually die someday.

“As part of our new security protocol, TSA agents at every checkpoint will carefully inform each passenger that life is a temporary state and that no man can escape the fate that awaits us all,” said acting TSA administrator Mark Hatfield, adding that under the new guidelines, agents will ensure that passengers fully understand and accept the inevitability of death as they proceed through the boarding pass check, luggage screening, and body scanner machines.

“Signs posted throughout the queues will also state that death is unpredictable but guaranteed, and a series of looping PA messages will reiterate to passengers that, even if they survive this flight, they could still easily die in 10 years or even tomorrow.”

Hatfield went on to say that the TSA plans to add a precheck program that will expedite the process for passengers the agency deems comfortable with the ephemeral nature of life.

Har.

THE ONION is always a pleasure. Especially when they are this close to reality.

Stephen Hawking would consider assisted suicide

Stephen Hawking has said he would consider ending his own life if he became a burden to others or if he had “nothing more to contribute”.

But the physicist and cosmologist told a forthcoming BBC programme he knows he has much more scientific work to do, despite his advanced motor neurone disease.

“To keep someone alive against their wishes is the ultimate indignity,” Hawking, 73, told his interviewer, the comedian Dara O’Briain. “I would consider assisted suicide only if I were in great pain or felt I had nothing more to contribute but was just a burden to those around me.”…

It is not the first time Hawking has voiced support for assisted suicide – in 2014, he revealed in a BBC interview how he had attempted to die after a mid-1980s tracheostomy operation. “I briefly tried to commit suicide by not breathing,” he said. “However, the reflex to breathe was too strong.”

Hawking, who is the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology at the University of Cambridge, has said those who help their loved ones who want to die should be immune from prosecution.

But he has also said he believes safeguards should ensure a person genuinely wishes to die, pointing to a famous incident in his own life. In 1985, when suffering complications from pneumonia, his then-wife, Jane, refused to turn off his life support machine. Hawking recovered and went on to complete his critically and popularly acclaimed book A Brief History of Time…

Assisted suicide is still a crime in the UK and virtually the whole of the United States. Part of the foolishness of lawyers and politicians paying more attention to morality based on superstition rather than reality-based ethics.

Yes, if I ever fall into the category of wishing for, needing, assisted-suicide, I have friends in Oregon [you know who you are :) ] who would provide help and homespace for my wife and me. But, when you reach that kind of cul-de-sac mobility often becomes part of the equation.

It’s a question I’ve discussed with my doctor in philosophical terms – and here in New Mexico the questions are likely to be soon resolved by our State Supreme Court. Still, that all of this rigamarole exists is an affront to my personal liberty. We shouldn’t have to rely upon courts for civil liberties, civil rights, that our legislatures haven’t the courage to provide for.

Republicans now control the cemetery vote

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It turns out that one of the Grand Old Party’s biggest—and least discussed—challenges going into 2016 is lying in plain sight, written right into the party’s own nickname. The Republican Party voter is old—and getting older, and as the adage goes, there are two certainties in life: Death and taxes. Right now, both are enemies of the GOP and they might want to worry more about the former than the latter.

There’s been much written about how millennials are becoming a reliable voting bloc for Democrats, but there’s been much less attention paid to one of the biggest get-out-the-vote challenges for the Republican Party heading into the next presidential election: Hundreds of thousands of their traditional core supporters won’t be able to turn out to vote at all.

The party’s core is dying off by the day.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?…

By combining presidential election exit polls with mortality rates per age group from the U.S. Census Bureau, I calculated that, of the 61 million who voted for Mitt Romney in 2012, about 2.75 million will be dead by the 2016 election. President Barack Obama’s voters, of course, will have died too—about 2.3 million of the 66 million who voted for the president won’t make it to 2016 either. That leaves a big gap in between, a difference of roughly 453,000 in favor of the Democrats…

“I’ve never seen anyone doing any studies on how many dead people can’t vote,” laughs William Frey, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in demographic studies. “I’ve seen studies on how many dead people do vote. The old Daley Administration in Chicago was very good at that.”

RTFA for details and especially variables critical to both of the two parties if anyone is to take advantage of demographics.

One thing is certain. Dead people don’t vote, at least not as much as they did in Chicago in 1960. Core Republican voters not only oppose change, they fear progress. Core Democrats not only support change broadly, they welcome progress and equal opportunity.

Republicans hope for a narrow discussion of anything but the foolishness that actually guides their decision-making.

Thanks to my favorite recovering Republican

Mom who abandoned disabled son in woods facing attempted murder charge

A woman accused of dumping her quadriplegic son in the woods at a park so she could spend the week with her out-of-state boyfriend will face an attempted murder charge…

Nyia Parler has been hospitalized for undisclosed reasons in Maryland since hours after her 21-year-old son was found last Friday in a pile of wet leaves in Cobb Creek Park in Philadelphia next to his wheelchair and a Bible. Police said they believe Parler’s son had been in the woods all week and was exposed to the cold, rainy weather and to wild animals.

Police said they have added attempted murder to an initial slate of charges listed in an arrest warrant Saturday. Those charges include aggravated assault, kidnapping and neglect of a care-dependent person.

Police said they did not expect to arrest the 41-year-old Parler until she was cleared for release from the hospital and charged in Maryland as a fugitive. They would then seek to have her extradited…

Parler’s son, who has cerebral palsy, was found around the corner from his home by a man who saw the wheelchair and went to investigate.

If the man hadn’t done that, Philadelphia police Lt. John Walker said, “this kid would have died a miserable death.”

The son was hospitalized in stable condition Monday after being treated for dehydration, malnutrition and abrasions…

The man who discovered the woman’s son was in the woods trying to take pictures of deer for his grandchildren. We are all glad he is a thoughtful grandfather.

Yes, I still wonder how inhuman we can be to our own – much less strangers.

Who can sort out your online world after you shuffle off this mortal coil?

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Facebook…has finally decided how to handle the photos and friend requests of its deceased users. In Facebook’s settings, people can now appoint a friend or family member to be in charge of their legacy. The person gets to make one last public post, download all their loved one’s Facebook photos, and respond to friend requests.

The decision was applauded by estate planners—especially because it gets around the issue of needing a password to get into people’s accounts. Yet it doesn’t solve all the problems around online information after death.

For example, what happens if a user dies, and family members want to see private messages to get clues about whether it was a suicide? Using their password to get into the account, which is banned by Facebook’s terms of service, would violate federal privacy laws, says James Lamm, a principal at a Minnesota firm in charge of estate planning. Appointing a legacy account handler on Facebook also isn’t legally binding and doesn’t transfer any of the intellectual property on videos or poetry the person may have posted, he said.

For attorneys such as Lamm…the infrastructure of the digital world has created countless barriers for clients seeking to access bank accounts, find answers surrounding a death, or simply collect all the memories they can about the person they lost. Passwords, terms of service, encryption, and cloud storage all complicate the search for information required after a death.

Inconsistency – therefore uncertaincy – remains through the breadth of online providers. The article goes on to note a few and makes suggestions. My own unqualified advice is to sort out reponsibility, administrative rights, by assigning someone the rights to your intellectual property just as you would with real property.

It’s a new world; so, a new set of questions has to be answered. As usual in our society, the questions become pointed when dealing with something of value.

Smoking is bigger cause of mortality than previously accepted

Deaths due to smoking increased by 17% with the inclusion of multiple diseases that do not have established relationships with cigarette smoking, data from five large cohort studies showed.

The analysis of almost 1 million adults showed that smoking increased the risk of dying of one of the diseases by 30% (breast cancer) to 500% (intestinal ischemia) as compared with nonsmokers. Researchers found that 17% of excess deaths attributable to smoking resulted from the additional smoking-associated diseases…

The newly associated diseases included cancers, infections, pulmonary diseases, and cardiovascular diseases…”These associations should be investigated further and, when appropriate, taken into account when the mortality burden of smoking is investigated,” Brian Carter’s group concluded.

What’s unique about this study is the data,” the American Lung Association’s Norman Edelman told MedPage Today. “They have large populations and very large numbers, which provide the statistical power to identify small, but statistically significant effects that couldn’t be seen in smaller studies. Most of these [diseases] have been suspected, and now we know that there are many other things related to smoking other than the dozen or so that have already been proven.”

“When you run the numbers and add up all the deaths attributable to smoking, you come up with an astonishing increase,” he added.

RTFA for methodology, analysis and a caution or two.

Boy, am I glad I quit smoking 57 years ago. :)

Do you care about the level of violence in your kid’s cartoons?

Principal cartoon characters are more than twice as likely to be killed off as their counterparts in films for adults released in the same year, reveals research from the University of Ottawa and University College London, published in the Christmas issue of The British Medical Journal.

The findings prompt the authors to describe children’s cartoons as “rife with death and destruction,” with content akin to the “rampant horrors” of popular films for adults given restrictive age ratings.

“Rather than being innocuous and gentler alternatives to typical horror or drama films, children’s animated films are, in fact, hotbeds or murder and mayhem” say the study leaders Dr Ian Colman and Dr James Kirkbride…

On-screen death and violence can be particularly traumatic for young children, and the impact can be intense and long lasting. Because of this many parents will not let their children see the “endemic gore and carnage” typical of films aimed at adult audiences, say the Canadian and UK researchers.

In a bid to assess the amount of violence young children might be exposed to, they analysed the length of time it takes for key characters to die in the 45 top-grossing children’s cartoons, released between 1937 (Snow White) and 2013 (Frozen), and rated either as suitable for a general audience (G) or with parental guidance suggested (PG).

They also looked at whether the first on-screen death was a murder or involved a main character’s parent.

The study found that two thirds of the cartoons depicted the death of an important character compared with half of the adult films.

After taking account of total run-time and years since release, children’s main cartoon characters were 2.5 times as likely to die as their counterparts in films for adults, and almost three times as likely to be murdered.

Yes, I know the automatic excuse of most “moral” censorship is that “we have to protect the children”. I don’t think these researchers are engaged so much in protecting children as trying to understand how we educate children.

I think it probably is useful to teach kids that a violent death isn’t necessarily the solution of choice for life’s problems. Even if one of those problem is Rumpelstiltskin.

Death from malaria has been diminished by half

Global efforts have halved the number of people dying from malaria – a tremendous achievement, the World Health Organization says…It says between 2001 and 2013, 4.3 million deaths were averted, 3.9 million of which were children under the age of five in sub-Saharan Africa.

Each year, more people are being reached with life-saving malaria interventions, the WHO says.

In 2004, 3% of those at risk had access to mosquito nets, but now 50% do.

There has been a scaling up of diagnostic testing, and more people now are able to receive medicines to treat the parasitic infection, which is spread by the bites of infected mosquitoes.

An increasing number of countries are moving towards malaria elimination.

In 2013, two countries – Azerbaijan and Sri Lanka – reported zero indigenous cases for the first time, and 11 others (Argentina, Armenia, Egypt, Georgia, Iraq, Kyrgyzstan, Morocco, Oman, Paraguay, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan) succeeded in maintaining zero cases.

In Africa, where 90% of all malaria deaths occur, infections have decreased significantly.

Here, the number of people infected has fallen by a quarter – from 173 million in 2000 to 128 million in 2013. This is despite a 43% increase in the African population living in malaria transmission areas.

WHO director general Dr Margaret Chan said: “These tremendous achievements are the result of improved tools, increased political commitment, the burgeoning of regional initiatives, and a major increase in international and domestic financing.”

But she added: “We must not be complacent. Most malaria-endemic countries are still far from achieving universal coverage with life-saving malaria interventions.”

Based on current trends, 64 countries are on track to meet the Millennium Development Goal target of reversing the incidence of malaria by the end of this year.

One portion of my personal efforts to get Americans to think beyond their family, their community, is the larger community that is our world. Just as we are affected by the loss of young people who may have grown up in the poverty and illness afflicting life that we see around us – there is an even larger community outside the comparative wealth of this nation that fights the same negatives to stay alive – times 10 or 100.

As a species we all lose every time we suffer a young death from disease or war. Someone who might have grown up to discover a way to a better, longer life for us all – never had a chance to achieve any contribution to humanity. We’re all moved to a new place of potential achievement by the simple opportunity of life extended to those who would have missed that chance a decade ago, a century ago.

We have to realize the human family really is a global family.

There’s only one source for the plastic in our oceans — us!

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There are at least 268,000 tonnes of plastic floating around in the oceans, according to new research by a global team of scientists.

The world generates 288m tonnes of plastic worldwide each year, just a little more than the annual vegetable crop, yet using current methods only 0.1% of it is found at sea. The new research illustrates as much as anything, how little we know about the fate of plastic waste in the ocean once we have thrown it “away”.

Most obviously, this discarded plastic exists as the unsightly debris we see washed ashore on our beaches.

These large chunks of plastic are bad news for sea creatures which aren’t used to them. Turtles, for instance, consume plastic bags, mistaking them for jellyfish. In Hawaii’s outer islands the Laysan albatross feeds material skimmed from the sea surface to its chicks. Although adults can regurgitate ingested plastic, their chicks cannot. Young albatrosses are often found dead with stomachs full of bottle tops, lighters and other plastic debris, having starved to death.

But these big, visible impacts may just be the tip of the iceberg. Smaller plastic chunks less than 2.5mm across – broken down bits of larger debris – are ubiquitous in zooplankton samples from the eastern Pacific. In some regions of the central Pacific there is now six times as much plankton-sized plastic are there is plankton. Plankton-eating birds, fish and whales have a tough time telling the two apart, often mistaking this plastic – especially tan coloured particles – for krill.

However, even this doesn’t quite tell the whole story. For technical reasons Marcus Eriksen and his team weren’t able to consider the very smallest particles – but these may be the most harmful of all.

We’re talking here about tiny lumps of 0.5mm across or considerably less, usually invisible to the naked eye, which often originate in cosmetics or drugs containing nanoparticles or microbeads. Such nanoparticles matter as they are similar size to the smallest forms of plankton (pico and nano plankton) which are the most abundant plankton group and biggest contributors in terms of biomass and contribution to primary production…

Plastic pollution of the marine environment is the Cinderella of global issues, garnering less attention than its ugly sisters climate change, acidification, fisheries, invasive species or food waste but it has links to them all and merits greater attention by the scientific community.

I’ve mentioned many times how – growing up in a southern New England factory town – my family relied on subsistence fishing to get by. That meant we ate fish at least 5 days a week, whatever was running at the time. My poor mom was an inventive workingclass cook; but, there’s a limit to how many ways you can make bluefish appetizing.

If we continue to destroy the greatest natural source of food for our species – and many others – we’re in deep trouble. So deep we may not recover to live long enough to witness all the other disasters those who profit the most from our industrial revolution continue to visit upon the planet.

RTFA. Read the research. Get on board.