Saturday, February 16, 2019

CS Lewis Glasses

I have finally decided I am eligible to wear CS Lewis glasses.  I am not as smart, and nowhere near as learned, but I am older than he, and they finally fit my face - a bit. I have two pair now, a correct prescription pair and a drugstore pair that can be abused.  For reading only, as with Lewis himself, who did not even carry his glasses with him on walks.


Three decades ago I would have thought they looked too affected, but Harry Potter brought the general style back into play, so now they are just one variation of normal.

Dialect Quiz

This British-Irish Dialect Quiz correctly identified that I am not from Great Britain.  I wondered if it might show a particular region of the mother country reflected in my New England usages, either the East Anglian dialect of the New England Puritans or the Scots-Irish who settled the Merrimack Valley. As with everyone else's linguistic history, mine was likely changed because much of my Puritan background filtered through Nova Scotians who were glad to get free land, and hypersensitive Swedes of a century ago and more who wanted to be very American, very quickly.  Nothing like this showed up in my answers, and I took the long form.

The whole thing was amusing to learn what terms the British do use now. I chuckled at many of the choices offered.

Friday, February 15, 2019

What The Tribe Needs

On the very cold Saturday morning we were passing out food, the wind was up and the workers were miserable.  People just hunkered down, vowing to just get through it, get home and warm up.  There was one woman, Lisa, who I know from 1269 Cafe and from being on the other side of the line at Food For Children.  She is chronically homeless.  She is an untreated manic; not at all a mean person, but she wears on me very quickly. I hear her voice at a distance and try to anticipate where she will be next, so I can not be there.  She is happy in that forced, brittle way that is not insincere but one recognises is a result of her biology forcing her to it.

But his morning, everyone was unhappy, silent, clipped in speech, a few women tearing up from time to time it was so painful. Lisa was singing, softly and joyfully, singing praise songs one after another without repeat.

And...

It was just so nice to hear a pleasant voice.  It lifted the spirit, and you didn't give a damn if was artificial or forced or not.  It was a human voice being happy, ringing through the misery. I realised that sometimes the tribe needs this to survive. Lisa may be a burden and a cost 99% of the time, but that 1% is enough to inspire, to keep the whole tribe going that one extra hour. Over the course of a generation, a few of those may mean the difference between life and death, productivity or despair, for many people.

I felt ashamed at having thought ill of her, and still burn to think of it.

How To Spot A Hoax

Well, one kind of hoax, anyway. I'm not a general hoax expert.

When the story is just too perfect, when it fits the stereotype that the perpetrator wants to believe, that's a big clue. Lots of people wanted it to be true that high school boys wearing MAGA hats were saying racist things and even looking a little violent and out of control. So a Native American says "I thought they were going to lynch those black people." Really?  You thought those 16-year-olds were going to pull out some rope and wade into a group of black adults, and start dragging them out one-by-one, looking for a tree branch or a light pole?

But it would just be so cool if they were like that.  I'll be they would be like that if they only had the chance.  It's not too far-fetched that they could conceivably do that... 

The racist note written to a black student having difficulties at Air Force Prep turn out to be written by - the victim. Yet that doesn't matter so much as the idea that it could have been written by someone else, and weneedtohaveamonologueCONVERSATIONaboutracism, because all those awful people keep denying that racism and sexism exist, so we will have to proceed as if those lacorsse players could have raped that black girl, or Emma Sulkowitz was really assaulted, that Haven Monahan really exists.  There's a new one, some actor, Smollet?  Justy Smollett?  The first I heard of the story, red flags.  Too perfect.  Most anti-semitic events are vandalism, and have a poetic beauty about their violence and threats.

Real hate crimes are usually crude: some jerk shoves someone while insulting them. Those happen.  Those are real sexism, homophobia, racism, whatever. But they aren't really interesting enough to make the newspapers.  They are over in a minute.  They might involve a possibility of real violence, but they just don't have the sexiness that a real stereotype-fulfilling story does.  The public demands that a gay martyrdom be real, not just a drug deal gone bad with some other guys who worked for the same pimp.

There was a great one last year, about a black doctor who had struggled under difficult conditions working for the poor all day, then some white bigot called him a racial epithet and squealed histirtes getting away in the parking garage, laughing.  My cousin posted it.  You know I am not tactful, but I worked really hard at gradually revealing that this was actually fiction.  I didn't use the words "fake news."  Not even at the end when my cousin insisted rather angrily (and another cousin unfriended me over the exchange) that even if it wasn't technically true it was true and important, because real black peopl go through things like this every day. Except, well, I actually do know a fair number of black doctors, and they all shook their heads and rolled their eyes when I relayed the story over the next tow weeks. It should be true, therefore its falseness is irrelevant.

Yesterday I had a beauty: a woman who claimed that she had encountered a Trump protestor in a MAGA hat and a red, white, & blue top that barely covered her torso - oh, there's a nice touch. Not that no Trump supporter ever dressed that way, but it was very obliging of the woman to be something unsavory as well as stupid in just the right way, isn't it? - who said "But he's our ruler.  We have to do what he says."

Uh, Trump supporters have the opposite problem.  They might say a lot of silly or obnoxious things, but I think we can fairly rule out the docile followers idea.  I've been in many arguments with them online, including here at my own site, and let me assure you, that is not their problem. What you will find are people who say they will refuse to do X, whether the government or even their favorite president says so, and you have to pull them quietly aside and say "Uh, Phil?  You actually do have to do that.  It's the law.  Just sayin'." But it would have been so cool if some trollop actually had said "He's our ruler. We have to do what he says." Those people are so easily led and certainly capable of it. So some woman somewhere - and probably a lot like that woman it the skimpy top who said something completely unrelated that doesn't fit my current narrative, but was really annoying - likely said that.  So we can call it true-ish.  True, really. Give me a break.  She's lying. No one said that.

I am going to guess at the motives or (ahem) reasoning, but I don't insist on these. We don't know others' motives all that well - we seldom even know all of even our own motives - and motives are mixed. Projection is likely. But I think there is this idea that A) they are right-wing, and therefore Justlikenazis not very far below the surface, and we know that real nazis acted like that in another country and completely different cultural context, so...you know... Okay, sure, when you start insisting on things like evidence in 20thC Europe, it was actually the communists who blindly followed leaders, yes.  Franco's Spain and Mussolini's Italy were actually highly factionalised countries just barely held together, okay.  But it just feels  like German nazis are the best comparison here, doesn't it?  Because it would be so cool if Trump's supporters turned out to be just like that. It would vindicate us.

Let me throw in a parenting reassurance for free, because there is a parallel.  When the school calls and says your kid is getting detention and is in trouble for X, you usually know immediately if this is off-the-wall.  All five of my sons were capable of earning a detention, but a few times, there would be this accusation and you would go - hmmm. Not my kid. There is something missing from this story. The school doesn't want to hear your protest, because they deal with parents who are clueless about their kid's misbehavior all the time.  Your protest that "This is not my kid's style of misbehavior" will fall on deaf ears.  But for good parents, you know.  My could could easily do A, or C, or G. But you are telling me he did E, and there's something wrong here.  Hold on.

Wait, this example is much fairer in reverse.  My children could have been told a story that "Your dad got in trouble for saying X to a ref." For some values of X, that would be quite possible.  Yet for others, my children would shake their head.  Nope.  Not my dad.  Not that one.  someone is making that up.

Once you know to look for poetic perfection as a disproof, the news becomes easier. Bush splitting from the Air National Guard?  Too perfect.  John Kerry getting hat from a CIA guys?  Too perfect.

Bonus extra credit.  Some autobiographies fit the mold.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

Insults

A: Trump supporters are stupid, uneducated, racist, and probably violent.
B: Your accusation is an unsupported generalisation, prejudicial, and divisive. You are merely reciting your tribal preferences.
A: Hey! Hey! You're making it personal here. I'm reporting you for violation of the terms of service!

If you think I am exaggerating, go on Quora. I keep hearing it's like that on Twitter as well, but I don't have personal evidence of it.

Violence

Grim linked to this interesting article about the development of institutional over personal violence. I think it is better to keep the discussion all in one place, so let's have it over at his site.

But just to get the controversy started, it bears a strong resemblance at first glance to the difference between Africa and China over the last thousand years or more, with the Middle East and Europe more like China, and New World populations along a wide range in the middle.  Raiding, as opposed to pitched battles, overlaps this discussion.

Once Northern Europe, especially Scandinavians, had only warfare, not raiding to fear, they became more like bonobos.  Which in that narrow range of centuries from the 17th to the 20th, made eminent sense. Life is safe.  Food is becoming plentiful.  Life is good.  Warfare was intermittent and involved armies more than the general populace.  That blew up in their faces in the 20th C, but one sees the point.  In the 21st C the difference is now the internal population, not all of whom are bonobos anymore. That's one change.

And there's still the threat of war from the east, from Eursia, too. Even though culture persists, there is also constant change in the world, and the skills needed for survival change as well.

Counties

Apropos of a conversation about throwing out old photos from high school and college, I mentioned to my wife a measure of how geography-obsessed I am.  If I cannot remember what town someone in college is from, it is a strong indicator I did not know them well, and this goes double for females. Yet there was a cultural difference it took a year or more to adjust to - the difference between defining by town and defining by county. A girl might be listed as from some interesting-sounding town, but if one struck up a conversation about it, she might look puzzled.  "I'm from Nelson County." I learned that this is more common across the south, and I think parts of the midwest.

In New Hampshire, people go all through school and graduate without knowing what county they live in. Houses of Correction, probate (now circuit) courts, sheriffs, and public nursing homes are county items, and what you use to get people to identify their county. Fill in the blank with the first thing that comes to mind: _______House of Correction.  That's actually a fair bit of government, but no one thinks that way in NH, except maybe the police and lawyers.

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

American Trilogy

It was Mickey Newbury who first put together the arrangement in 1970 and recorded in 1971.  He said he did it for his own healing one night, then thought it should go to an audience.


Underneath the video at youtube is the following.
Mickey Newbury is a songwriter most famous for a song he arranged, but did not write. One night in Los Angeles, at a time of national distress over war and race issues in the U.S.A., Newbury spontaneously combined a southern anthem (written by a northerner, D.D. Emmett), a northern anthem (written by a southerner, William Steffe), and a third song that was originally a Jamaican slave song (All My Sorrows). In the audience that night were many celebrities, Odetta, Kristofferson and Streisand among them. The trio of songs brought tears to Odetta's eyes. It came to be called An American Trilogy, and would be adopted by Elvis Presley as the centerpiece of his later concerts. This clip is an extra from LIVE AT THE HERMITAGE, the new Mickey Newbury DVD, and features Marie Rhines on violin. The clip is uploaded with the permission of the Newbury family, and the DVD is available in the cd store at www.mickeynewbury.com

More can be found about it here.

Gay Values

Remember when Jerry Falwell thought he discerned gay propaganda in the Teletubbies, and everyone thought he was crazy?  The counter kept getting buried and reburied, and re-re-buried that he had gotten the idea from repeated references in gay culture, who were saying exactly that. Yet that didn't stop the sneers. "But they haven't even reached puberty yet," laughed the Washington Post. It stuck with Falwell's reputation the rest of his life and was mentioned in every mass-media obituary.

Years later, even Slate magainse admitted that Falwell was, uh, right. The gay commenity had been claiming Tinky Winky as a camp idol for years.  One of those Murphy Brown; or most-of-the-mainstream-press-votes-and-contributes-Democratic; or yeah, Bill Clinton does lie a lot moments that liberals own up to once they think it can't damage current candidates. Some people can say a thing, others can't.

So here we are again.  The NYTimes is seeing gay messages in the children's books by gay authors. Male characters who are friends, such as Frog and Toad?  That's quietly applauding gay affection.  Because, what else could it be, really? The author was gay, so...well, you know. They must be too. I mean, why else would these boy/men argue and then get along?  Why else a tenderness and worry that they would be lonely? Men are never like that unless...

I'm thinking those soldiers with wounded or dying comrades, or teammates hugging at the championship, or lifelong friends clapping each other on the back might object that the view is a touch narrow. I don't call it completely untrue - half-truths have more strength than lies - but it all seems rather convenient.  Gay authors may gravitate more to depicting positive male affection. But taking credit for all warmth and love seems a bit much. Anything nice that men do?  Oh hey, that's completely us. That's our trademark

There are next all those books with tomboys, or even girls in the latency stage when they find boys icky, who are now revealed to have lesbian sympathies. The authors were writing in code, you see. That attitude was condemned in discussing girls who liked sports or climbing trees or fishing as far back as I can remember, but now, well, wink wink, nod nod...YOU know. I'm thinking some tomboys or hunters might weigh in on that unpleasantly.  Women who didn't really have much against lesbians or think about them much - until this minute when you are sorta pissing them off.

I give the authors much more credit than that.  If a woman felt a little ostracised for being too boyish she might well broaden that in a way that included many females.  Tomie dePaola may have had a personal reason for writing something encouraging about a boy considered a sissy and defending him, but the book is about that broader category of criticised boys. Not everyone is a cultural advocate every waking moment. Except at the Times, I suppose.

It's an extended series of heads-I-win/tails-you-lose arguments by the author. Additionally, the article wanders and is unfocused.  Jesse Green makes sure he works his best factoids about children's lit in there, even when they don't fit.

Let It Go

Usually you can get the whole joke at Babylon Bee from just the headline. Not this time, not quite.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Atonal Music

Yes, yes, it is possible to keep going further down the rabbit hole on youTube.

Shoop, Shoop

Bad advice. Not a bad song, but spectacularly bad advice.



Not only is it wrong - hey, anyone can be wrong about romance - but it is wrong in precisely the most damaging direction, the direction a young girl has talked herself into, despite no known evidence. However, not to worry. Romantic love in general, and the ability of some males to hack the reproductive advantage system in specific, may be an unhealthy thing.  But this song isn't the driver of that culture.  The record couldn't get cut if that pathology wasn't already firmly embedded.

So now that I've ruined that for you, enjoy.  It's a good song.

Mourning Doves

This past weekend was the Audubon bird count, which my wife always participates in. This year there was a surprising group of 14 mourning doves both mornings. (Clearly the same birds.  They don't get counted twice.) Because we had not seen them the previous week, I wondered aloud how much range each individual birds feeds on in our region. Is it just our neighborhood (about 0.25 sq miles), or do they feed over a square mile, or even more?  It is hard to find an answer to that question, as searching under "range" usually brings up a map of North America and where they are found in what seasons. "Individual range" brings up the same.

What caught her attention was the claim that it is the most frequently hunted species in North America.  This seemed completely impossible to me.  I have never heard of anyone hunting for mourning dove at all, much less saying "I got my dove this year." Yet it is true. The New England states are among the few places it is not hunted, and hunting them with shot is a very big deal in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, and Georgia. Apparently it is usually a community affair, and despite their small size and the amount of labor it takes to get meat off them, it's an important source of food for some folks.  Huge, dense, flocks will do that. Across history, poor people have got time to dress down reliable food, and rich people sometimes like the nostalgia of what they ate when they were poor.

Dove recipes. They look interesting.  Do they taste like other game birds, such as grouse?

Monday, February 11, 2019

Pastor Judy

There was a controversy in the Evangelical Covenant Church last year, when two pastors each performed a marriage for a gay couple. One was a retired pastor who performed the service for his son; the second was the chaplain at North Park University in Chicago, the denominational college, much beloved (I hear) and a frequent speaker at retreats and conferences. There was a disciplinary action and she was relieved of duties for a year.  She is now back and has put out a statement.

Update: The denomination's response is here.

Sunday, February 10, 2019

I'm Gonna Buy Me A Dog

I not only know the song, I knew every joke as it came along, right on cue.  A mind like an attic.




I knew every place the laugh track came in on this one, too.



In a few years I will no longer be able to hold a coherent conversation on euthanasia or assisted suicide - right when I might need it, too - but I will sing these from my balcony. If they let me have a balcony. Which I doubt.

Saturday, February 09, 2019

Cold

I was outside for over two hours this morning, working with others, mostly strangers. The winds were high, and the overall wind-chill below zero. We were on pavement and not moving intensely, only transferring packages of food from racks to tables outdoors.

Cold makes people stupid.  You can not only watch it happening in others, you can feel it happening in yourself.

The Ledge in Manchester

I went to a lecture about the Amoskeag Ledge this morning at the Millyard Museum.The photo is from the 20s, of a group called the Brownies which used to swim there year-round and put on well-attended diving shows, from great heights and holes cut in the ice. Their divers held the world record in those years, first at 108', then 132'.  Very dangerous. They are on ice in this picture.  The photographer may or may not be, as that is just about where the shore to this quarry pond was.  The top of McIntyre Ski Area is straight back over that cliff face about 40 yards.  This is all fenced off now, because of the danger.

I swam there as a boy, starting from when I moved to the neighborhood at age 13. My house would have been about 100-150 yards of left of where that man with the bullhorn is standing. There was an extended cliff face at right angles to the cliffs in the background just out of sight on the left of the picture. The place looked different in the 70s, but quite recognisable. The smooth cliff face on the left is the highest place one could jump from in my era, 55'. The cliff faces out of site had graduate jumping off points, mostly referred to by their heights.  I could draw them today, including the routes required to climb to them. 14, 18, 21, 24, 30, 32, 36. The families of my friends up the street, whose yards were the preferred cut-throughs, still live there. There was graffiti, especially on the smooth face, including a giant hand with middle finger.  A dentist down the street painted over that cleverly by turning it into three gymnasts on each others' shoulders and knees. I understand it is tagged now.

It was officially illegal to go there, but the police only bothered people for fighting, noise at night, or public drunkenness.  I jumped (never dove) from 55 beginning my first year, and did it over and over again that summer.  In subsequent years I would do it a few times a year. I was petrified of heights - still am, but not over water. Once I got to the edge it was easy.  It was navigating the steep rocky areas down to the jump-points that scared the cookies out of me.

There were legends we told each other about the place, none of them true, as it turns out.  A few people did die there over the hundred years it was open after water started seeping in around 1882, but none in the ways described to me.

My one good story: my stepfather had cut down a large tree, quite straight, with a trunk about 18".  I remember it as more like 24" but am sure that much weight would have been beyond us to move.  My brother and I recruited boys from the neighborhood and we dragged a 10' section up the hill to the cliffs on the left. Our hope was to use it as a float to hang onto or do logrolling* with. It took over two hours to go 75 yards (my stepfather's time and distance estimate), but it was very satisfying to push it over 32 and watch it splash.  We stood waiting for it to float back to the surface.

It didn't float back to the surface, not in the next hour, not by next morning, not that whole summer. My stepfather sort of smiled and said he thought that might happen, because it was still so green. So either he was lying and only thought of that later, reasoning it out, or he did think of it and didn't suggest to us that we let it sit a year.  Either way, a complete bastard.

*Logrolling was one of those things you always saw once a year on Wide World of Sports.

Friday, February 08, 2019

Euthansia and Assisted Suicide

Hold this thought from the article:

“There’s not an atom in my body that is in sympathy with what you are describing,” he replied. “This isn’t about money … it’s about empathy, ethics, compassion.”

Death on Demand: Has Euthanasia gone too far? was sent to me, and my first thought was "Oh, The Guardian," but it was reasonably good and I changed my thought to "Even The Guardian..."
 
I will take a few paragraphs to note my own opinions going in, so that you can see where my prejudices lie.

Suffering is a bad thing. I have seen suffering, and understood why people wanted to be relieved of it, or why they wanted loved ones to be relieved of it.  I have thought for myself that because I do not fear death, telling my family to have a very short rope in keeping me alive is sensible.  I have a horror of being a burden. On the other hand, the Christian church, and Judaism before it, has long had a very high tradition of preserving life in the face of difficulty. Theory melts away, either way. The heat turns up to an even higher melting point when I consider my wife.  She is likely, as we currently see things, to hang on to life with greater tenacity than I would.  She has a very high view of preserving life in general, including her own.  I know that about her and that is part of my deciding for her if a time comes when she cannot decide for herself.  On the other hand...watching my wife suffer, not just for a short season, but for a length of time...

Well, we call them principles when we intend to stick by them, and theory when we don't. We don't need to tell big lies to ourselves when small ones get us over the hump. And which is the lie?  We might exalt ourselves by calling something a principle when we are simply being stubborn and not willing to think very hard; or soothe ourselves by calling it a theory when we are unwilling to face up to hard truth. We learned early in a Bible study exercise about planning our own funerals decades before they were likely, that it is one thing to say "Oh, I don't care what you do with my body!  Throw it in a bin and pay no more attention to it," and another to think "How dare you treat the body of my loved one with anything but the highest respect?"

Dementia destroys memory and - who is David Wyman without memory?  Memory comes very close to defining who I am. I very much hurt to even think that others might have to do without because my care is expensive when I am no longer me. Yet I shrug such things off with contempt, as if the person speaking has no understanding what it means to be a human being, when considering the same questions about my wife. Side note: considering the suffering of your children looms large when they are still under your care, but recedes in stages, first when they become adults and second when they marry and you are no longer the main person affected.

The article describes the added complication of psychiatric illness, and I think I understand both sides of that as well.  There is something quite terrible about letting a person who has a treatable illness, or a temporary exacerbation of symptoms, decide quickly that it is all not worth it and bring this life to an end. If we are worried about slippery slopes when contemplating suffering, how quickly will that slope take us away in an avalanche if we regard suffering as the ultimate evil that must be relieved if at all possible?  At what point on that downhill course do we cease to have any commonality with all of our ancestors before us and what they understood to be the meaning of life? On the other hand, what if the illness is not all that treatable, and the last ten years of treatment that is only partly effective suggest decades more of the same? We might encourage others not to despair, but can we pretend not to understand them?


Now to the article:
I also see the desire for autonomy, the repeated horrified statement that “no doctor is going to control when I die.” This is theoretically clear for assisted suicide – the patient is the driver.  Yet not only is it murkier when we are discussing euthanasia and the patient’s previous versus current wishes, it is similarly murkier what we are even discussing in many situations, euthanasia or assisted suicide. Assisted suicide advocates can point to situations they call good outcomes.  They have been much less successful drawing lines to avoid bad ones. It matters. Our imaginings must include both.

If 25% of the deaths in the Netherlands are euthanasia or assisted suicides, then some of them are mistakes, just because neither humans nor their systems are perfect.  One of the strongest arguments against the death penalty is that there have been errors, and there will continue to be errors.

Twenty-five percent.  On a slippery slope.

What is new in all this? Though people may reject the Bible as inspiration, its writers clearly understood suffering as well as we do, and likely a good deal better, not being sheltered from it by hospitals, senior apartments, specialized residences, and nursing homes. Not to mention that we’ve got way better palliative care now, better than even a few years ago. Modern humans are not facing anything that has not long been known. In the places of the world and the era that has reduced suffering the most in all of human history we have the loudest insistence that the remaining suffering is intolerable. This paradox is not surprising, it is exactly what we see humans insisting about wealth, food, justice, education, housing, freedom of action, and all good things.  As Screwtape advised Wormwood “'Whatever men expect they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury."  The societies with the most comfortable lives are the surest that the existence of evil disproves the idea of God.  It is the subject of whole books, such as Gregg Easterbrook’s The Progress Paradox: How Life Gets Better While People Feel Worse. The more you give people, the less grateful they…uh, WE - are.

We can effect death with less mess, that is true, and as the article points out, the fact that someone has to discover the old-fashioned suicide’s body is indeed a trauma.  So that’s new. That’s better.  We can also keep people alive longer, sometimes beyond what their lifespans would “naturally” have been, if we had any idea what we meant by that.  We can keep many systems going as we age, but they are not all preserved equally well. Though that argument of artificially-extended life has been advanced for many years, and in individual cases it certainly looks to be so, I am not sure that is actually new. It might seem to our eyes that hunter-gatherers abandon their old very quickly, but within the context of their survival they bring food, warmth, and protection to those who can no longer get it for themselves.  That’s not any different from what we do, or the Dutch. Extending life is not new, it is human.

“Live Free or Die. Death is not the worst of evils,” General Stark said.  But he meant that dishonor and subjugation were worse – he wasn’t talking about suffering.  We might say in the same spirit that suffering is not the worst of evils either. Apparently that is considered much less true now. The idea is growing that suffering makes life not worth living. Whatever else happens, our culture is going to change very quickly, in unpredictable ways, when the number gets up to one-fourth of all deaths being terminated.  Is it a road to The Giver (book, not movie)? "...death will eventually “get a different meaning, be appreciated differently”.Yes, it will, and we know not how. This is precisely the sort of philosophical idea influenced by facts on the ground that seem "just obvious" in retrospect - because we share the assumptions of the New Society so thoroughly that we cannot even imagine how people could think otherwise.  (CS Lewis, as usual, has the definitive commentary on the phenomenon in is introduction to Athanasius's On The Incarnation.) Yet it is telling, brutally telling, that late in the article the Guardian notes: "Rather than drink the poison or open the drip, 95% of applicants for active life termination in the Netherlands ask a doctor to kill them. In a society that vaunts its rejection of established figures of authority, when it comes to death, everyone asks for Mummy."

And also from the essay and brutally telling, because the advocates do not engage the argument It was also carried out without regard to her relatedness to other human beings. In this case, the woman's son. I am reminded of my friend Dale Kuehne's book Sex and the iWorld, about the isolation of the individuals' decisions from their communities (also pertinent in transgender and abortion issues)

And now, back to the quote at the very top of this essay again.  This is what scares me, not only the moral certitude, which is suspicious enough, but the complete confidence the advocates have that they have no ill motives.  Even the best of us at the best of times have some ill motive. I spoke to a patient this morning who asserted it was obvious he has no illness.  I told him I didn’t know him, but from the little I had read and seen, it was certainly not obvious.  He insisted that he was 100% fine.  I cautioned that this was a bad sign – none of us is 100% fine.  I asked if he was using a figure of speech or if he was making an actual declaration.  He insisted, this time angrily, that he is "150% fine." I told him that is an even worse sign.

It is a worse sign. I extracted the most damning quote from the article, but that attitude runs through the statements of the advocates.  Also, it is clear that they do not quite understand the objections raised against them.  They think they do, but they get them wrong. It is always disquieting to me to read the moral arguments of people who have crested over into that iron obliviousness to the goodwill of at least some others.