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Friday, April 01, 2005

Living will is the best revenge

By ROBERT FRIEDMAN, Perspective Editor
St. Petersburg Times
Published March 27, 2005

Like many of you, I have been compelled by recent events to prepare a more detailed advance directive dealing with end-of-life issues. Here's what mine says:

* In the event I lapse into a persistent vegetative state, I want medical authorities to resort to extraordinary means to prolong my hellish semiexistence. Fifteen years wouldn't be long enough for me.

* I want my wife and my parents to compound their misery by engaging in a bitter and protracted feud that depletes their emotions and their bank accounts.

* I want my wife to ruin the rest of her life by maintaining an interminable vigil at my bedside. I'd be really jealous if she waited less than a decade to start dating again or otherwise rebuilding a semblance of a normal life.

* I want my case to be turned into a circus by losers and crackpots from around the country who hope to bring meaning to their empty lives by investing the same transient emotion in me that they once reserved for Laci Peterson, Chandra Levy and that little girl who got stuck in a well.

* I want those crackpots to spread vicious lies about my wife.

* I want to be placed in a hospice where protesters can gather to bring further grief and disruption to the lives of dozens of dying patients and families whose stories are sadder than my own.

* I want the people who attach themselves to my case because of their deep devotion to the sanctity of life to make death threats against any judges, elected officials or health care professionals who disagree with them.

* I want the medical geniuses and philosopher kings who populate the Florida Legislature to ignore me for more than a decade and then turn my case into a forum for weeks of politically calculated bloviation.

* I want total strangers - oily politicians, maudlin news anchors, ersatz friars and all other hangers-on - to start calling me "Bobby," as if they had known me since childhood.

* I'm not insisting on this as part of my directive, but it would be nice if Congress passed a "Bobby's Law" that applied only to me and ignored the medical needs of tens of millions of other Americans without adequate health coverage.

* Even if the "Bobby's Law" idea doesn't work out, I want Congress - especially all those self-described conservatives who claim to believe in "less government and more freedom" - to trample on the decisions of doctors, judges and other experts who actually know something about my case. And I want members of Congress to launch into an extended debate that gives them another excuse to avoid pesky issues such as national security and the economy.

* In particular, I want House Majority Leader Tom DeLay to use my case as an opportunity to divert the country's attention from the mounting political and legal troubles stemming from his slimy misbehavior.

* And I want Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist to make a mockery of his Harvard medical degree by misrepresenting the details of my case in ways that might give a boost to his 2008 presidential campaign.

* I want Frist and the rest of the world to judge my medical condition on the basis of a snippet of dated and demeaning videotape that should have remained private.

* Because I think I would retain my sense of humor even in a persistent vegetative state, I'd want President Bush - the same guy who publicly mocked Karla Faye Tucker when signing off on her death warrant as governor of Texas - to claim he was intervening in my case because it is always best "to err on the side of life."

* I want the state Department of Children and Families to step in at the last moment to take responsibility for my well-being, because nothing bad could ever happen to anyone under DCF's care.

* And because Gov. Jeb Bush is the smartest and most righteous human being on the face of the Earth, I want any and all of the aforementioned directives to be disregarded if the governor happens to disagree with them. If he says he knows what's best for me, I won't be in any position to argue.

Robert Friedman is editor of Perspective. He can be reached at friedman@sptimes.com

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Turn this ahead, pally...

Spring ahead, fall back.

Oh, enough already.

It wasn't that bad when the only clocks you had to change were the one on the mantel in the front room and the Big Ben alarm clock on the nightstand. I just walked through the kitchen and living room and counted 21 devices with timekeeping functions that will require resetting tomorrow night.

I suggested this back in '99, and no one listened to me. Perhaps with the bully pulpit of the Internet, the word will spread:

Instead of all this switching back and forth, I propose that next April 1, we just turn all the clocks ahead one half-hour and be done with it.

Let's call it Universal Inconvenient Time. It will go into effect everywhere, except Indiana, of course, which will turn its clocks ahead 17 minutes, just so they can continue to piss off everyone in neighboring states.

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Thursday, March 31, 2005

The world is an unpleasant place...

...but it does have a few bright spots. Not quite two years old, and the hair is still red. Being a grandfather makes lots of stuff more tolerable.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Oh, shut up.

Look, if you're not bright enough to figure out for yourself that a sandwich consisting of two fried eggs, a sausage patty, three pieces of bacon and a hoagie bun is probably not a prime example of nutritional balance, then you deserve clogged arteries.

Don't these idiots realize they're providing Burger King with millions of dollars of free publicity? And for that matter, keep your nose out of my life, will you?

"You can live to be a hundred if you give up all the things that make you want to."-Woody Allen

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Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Wow.

This just left me speechless. (From Tom Heald on the ABC World News Now discussion list.)

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Classic, and pathetic, America...

(From the New York Times):

List of Schiavo Donors Will Be Sold by Direct-Marketing Firm

WASHINGTON, March 28 - The parents of Terri Schiavo have authorized a conservative direct-mailing firm to sell a list of their financial supporters, making it likely that thousands of strangers moved by her plight will receive a steady stream of solicitations from anti-abortion and conservative groups.

"These compassionate pro-lifers donated toward Bob Schindler's legal battle to keep Terri's estranged husband from removing the feeding tube from Terri," says a description of the list on the Web site of the firm, Response Unlimited, which is asking $150 a month for 6,000 names and $500 a month for 4,000 e-mail addresses of people who responded last month to an e-mail plea from Ms. Schiavo's father. "These individuals are passionate about the way they value human life, adamantly oppose euthanasia and are pro-life in every sense of the word!"

Privacy experts said the sale of the list was legal and even predictable, if ghoulish.

"I think it's amusing," said Robert Gellman, a privacy and information policy consultant. "I think it's absolutely classic America. Everything is for sale in America, every type of personal information."

Executives of Response Unlimited declined to comment. Gary McCullough, director of the Christian Communication Network and a spokesman for Ms. Schiavo's parents, confirmed that Mr. Schindler had agreed to let Response Unlimited rent out the list as part of a deal for the firm to send an e-mail solicitation raising money on the family's behalf.

The Schindlers have waged a lengthy legal battle against their son-in-law Michael Schiavo to prevent the removal of the feeding tube from their daughter, who doctors say is in a persistent vegetative state.

Mr. McCullough said he was present when Mr. Schindler agreed to the arrangement in a conversation with Phil Sheldon, the co-founder of a conservative online marketing organization, RightMarch.com, who acted as a broker for Response Unlimited.

"So the Schindlers do know the details," Mr. McCullough said on Monday. How much attention they paid to the matter is hard to assess, he added. "The Schindlers right now know that their daughter is starving to death, and if I ask about anything else, they say, 'I don't want to hear about it.' "

Direct mail and mass e-mailings are ubiquitous fund-raising tools of interest groups on the left as well as the right, and others in the direct-mail business defended the sale of lists like the roster of donors to the Schindlers as a useful way for potential donors to learn of causes that might appeal to them.

Pamela Hennessy, an unpaid spokeswoman for the Schindlers, said she was initially appalled when she learned of the list's existence.

"It is possibly the most distasteful thing I have ever seen, " Ms. Hennessy said. "Everybody is making a buck off of her."

Ms. Hennessy, who operates the Schindlers' Web site, www.terrisfight.org, said the family had not released any of the names or e-mail addresses gathered there. "Obviously these people are enterprising, and they are taking advantage of this very desperate father," she said.

On Sunday, as the Schindlers gave up on their legal battle and their daughter passed her 10th day without food, others continued to rally supporters and solicit money in an effort to restore the feeding tube.

"This time, we have a real chance to break through the 'roadblocks' that the enemies of life have been putting up in front of us," said a mass e-mailing from RightMarch.com, asking supporters to urge Gov. Jeb Bush to intervene somehow.

The message added: "We're asking you to give a donation to help with our activism efforts to save Terri's life. Battles cost money; resources cost money; media costs money; we could go on, but you get the picture."

Mr. Sheldon - whose father, the Rev. Lou Sheldon, founder of the Traditional Values Coalition, has also sent appeals urging support for Ms. Schiavo - apparently played a dual role as a partner in RightMarch.com, which is working with the anti-abortion activist Randall Terry, and as a broker for Response Unlimited. Mr. Sheldon did not respond to phone calls yesterday.

"I think it sounds a little unusual right now because of the situation where she is in the process of dying," said Richard Viguerie, another major conservative direct-mail operator. "If you came across this information six months or a year from now, I don't think you would give it too much thought."

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Monday, March 28, 2005

Oaf

(Based on Rudyard Kipling's IF)

If you can give them head when it's required,
And kiss an arse and never hold your nose;
If you can jump in shit and rise unmired,
And always come up smelling like a rose;

If you can tell a lie and be convincing,
If you know what is meant by "casual dress,"
If you can fire people without wincing,
And hire them again, and pay them less;

If you can make one heap of all your millions,
And risk it all upon one pitch-and-toss,
And lose it all, and go on to lose billions,
Yet still get someone else to pay the loss;

If people think you have a sense of humor
When you insult them to their very face;
If you can stab a back and spread a rumor,
And do them both with elegance and grace;

If you can be a taker, not a giver;
And be a slug, and yet stay free from slime;
If you can promise more than you deliver,
And have them still believe you every time;

If you can work with doers and achievers,
And get their triumphs credited to you;
If you can keep your bosses your believers,
And never let them know you have no clue;

If you can kill the dull and dragging hour,
With sixty minutes worth of waste and dross
Then yours will be the money and the power,
And, what is more, you'll be somebody's boss.

-Ruddier Clipwing

(from "Ed-The Catskill Eagle" on alt.quotations.)

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Sunday, March 27, 2005

The Covert Comic Quote of the Week

People ask if it's possible to find love after age 40. The answer is yes; you just have to reach your hand down a little lower.
The Covert Comic

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Violators will be prosecuted.
So there.  
The kgb@kgb.com e-mail address is now something other than kgb@kgb.com saga.
kgbreport.com used to be kgb.com until December, 2007 when the domain name broker Trout Zimmer made an offer I couldn't refuse. Giving up kgb.com and adopting kgbreport.com created a significant problem, however. I had acquired the kgb.com domain name in 1993, and had since that time used kgb@kgb.com as my sole e-mail address. How to let people know that kgb@kgb.com was no longer kgb@kgb.com but rather kgbarkes@gmail.com which is longer than kgb@kgb.com and more letters to type than kgb@kgb.com and somehow less aesthetically pleasing than kgb@kgb.com but actually just as functional as kgb@kgb.com? I sent e-mails from the kgb@kgb.com address to just about everybody I knew who had used kgb@kgb.com in the past decade and a half but noticed that some people just didn't seem to get the word about the kgb@kgb.com change. So it occurred to me that if I were generate some literate, valid text in which kgb@kgb.com was repeated numerous times and posted it on a bunch of different pages- say, a blog indexed by Google- that someone looking for kgb@kgb.com would notice this paragraph repeated in hundreds of locations, would read it, and figure out that kgb@kgb.com no longer is the kgb@kgb.com they thought it was. That's the theory, anyway. kgb@kgb.com. Ok, I'm done. Move along. Nothing to see here...

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