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April 04, 2005

Odds at Ends

I'm having salad for breakfast. Mmmm, gorgonzola cheeeeese.

Anyway, a few random things. The next book I buy will be Stephen Potter's Lifemanship, which was described by the New York Times thusly:

"Lifemanship," which has just been reissued by Moyer Bell, wryly mocked Dale Carnegie's "How to Win Friends and Influence People," and other self-help manuals of its day. Potter's books do not focus on friendship or success, but on less exalted goals: "winning without actually cheating" ("Gamesmanship"); "creative intimidation" ("One-Upmanship"); and making "the other man feel that something has gone wrong, however slightly" ("Lifemanship").

Potter, a onetime writer for the BBC, styled his writing as the research findings of the nonexistent Lifemanship Correspondence College, on topics like "How to Make People Feel Awkward." "Lifemanship" offers laboratory-tested techniques for excelling in cocktail party talk, no matter how uninformed you are. One tactic is "languaging up," which Potter defines as "to confuse, irritate and depress by the use of foreign words, fictitious or otherwise."


In the wake of the whole Terri Schiavo mess, the need for information on advanced health care directives has become obvious. Don't rely on just telling your family what you want; put it in writing. The National Hospice and Palliative Care Association's website has specific forms for each state available.

A recent issue of Newsweek included two columns on Terri Schiavo that I thought were very good – Jonathan Alter's "Take a Look In the Mirror" and Anna Quindlen's "The Culture of Each Life."

From Quindlen's column:

One measure of how topsy-turvy this story became was the constant suggestion that Terri's husband should simply accede to the desires of his in-laws, as though that would be a good thing instead of a gutless betrayal. My own husband knows that I never want artificial means to keep me alive. What an insult to my memory and our marriage it would be if he opted out when the going got rough and permitted others to salve their heartbreak by maintaining a shadow of my self.

And from Alter's:

When he was governor of Texas, George W. Bush presided over 152 executions, more than took place in the rest of the country combined. In at least a few of these cases, reasonable doubts about the guilt of the condemned were raised. But Bush cut his personal review time for each case from a half hour to a mere 15 minutes (most other governors spend many hours reviewing each capital case to assure themselves that there's no doubt of guilt). His explanation was that he trusted the courts to sort through the life-and-death complexities. That's right: the courts.

I bring up that story because it's just one of several ironies that have arisen in connection with the Terri Schiavo saga, in which the president said that the government "ought to err on the side of life." Fine, but whose life? The inmate who might not be guilty? The poor people across the country denied organ transplants (and thus life) because Medicaid—increasingly under the Bush budget knife—won't cover them? The poor people across the world starving to death because we won't go along with Tony Blair when it comes to addressing global poverty?

Posted by Highwaygirl on April 4, 2005 06:58 AM to the category Randomness
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