One hand clapping.

I really love my Daily Tao widget. I don’t go to church, but that doesn’t mean I’m a howling void of spiritual emptiness. I will admit how shallow and trendy it is to have your day’s sole religious moment when you’re checking the forecast and morning traffic, but hey — deal.

It can drive me insane, however. So many chapters seem to instruct us to lie there like a lump and lo, wisdom will descend like the gentle rain that droppeth from heaven. This is a difficult lesson for your average Type-A American to learn. Take today:

When the great Tao is forgotten,
goodness and piety appear.
When the body’s intelligence declines,
cleverness and knowledge step forth.
When there is no peace in the family,
filial piety begins.
When the country falls into chaos,
patriotism is born.

When I was in high school, all the cool kids were into “Kung Fu,” a show I found preposterous. My sole attempt to catch the magic included the wise master telling Keith Carradine, “When you can walk on the rice paper without ripping it, grasshopper, then you will have learned.” Duuuude.

Still, I like that last line. In today’s Tao, that is. When the country falls into chaos, patriotism is born. Dude. Word.

Today’s the last day of school. Obviously, I have mixed feelings. My life gets more complicated, Kate’s gets less. Her Indiana classmates were out two weeks ago, so I told her that by starting early in Indiana and ending late in Michigan, she had already stacked up two weeks of extra-credit learning karma, and that this is a good thing. But lately I don’t know. When I was a kid, we attended school for 170 days, which meant we started the day after Labor Day — the date God Himself intended children to return to school — and finished around the first week of June. When state legislatures became convinced 170 days wasn’t enough for the Three Rs, plus social studies, AIDS awareness and self-esteem calisthenics, school years lengthened to 180 days, pushing start dates into August and dismissals past the first week of June.

And what happens in those last weeks of school? Plenty, and nothing. I don’t think Kate’s done actual schoolwork since the heat wave started more than a week ago. It’s all parties and popsicles and picnics and farewell-to-the-fifth-graders assemblies. Several of her classmates have already left on family vacations, and I can hardly blame them for cutting this silliness short. When we left this morning, Kate reminded me this is the day they receive their “end-of-year gifts.”

“You get an end-of-year gift?” I’m still adjusting to the concept of a lavish end-of-year gift for the teacher. Yes, the kids get an end-of-year gift, too. The next time you see kindergarten graduations that steadily amp up into the lavish, weeks-long prom/high-school graduation festivities of recent years, you know where the idea came from.

Anyway, I have three hours remaining of freedom. I plan to spend it cleaning. Best get to the bloggage:

Terri Schiavo’s autopsy was released yesterday. Her husband could not have ordered a more complete vindication for his position, not that it matters to anyone from the nuttier end of the spectrum. This liar pushed the husband-abused-her-into-a-heart-attack line relentlessly, and if you click through and notice that he’s a Catholic-freakin’-priest, well, draw your own conclusions. He hasn’t reacted yet, but as the report’s release was approaching, this is what he had to say:

I am not terribly optimistic that the autopsy will provide evidence of either the cause of Terri’s cardiac arrest or any abuse. I think there was simply too much time between Terri’s injury(ies) and her death for any such evidence to still be detectable.

Note that reasoning — there won’t be evidence of abuse, because too much time passed “between Terri’s injury(ies) and her death.” Because of course there were injuries. Of which there is no evidence.

Thanks, Father. Keep doing the work of Christ!

As a glimpse into the heart of the right-to-life movement, you could hardly ask for a better case. If your brain has withered to half its normal size, if you’re blind, if you’re in no way conscious of anything in the greater world, as long as you’re still breathing and peeing, you need to be kept alive, even if you could reasonably be expected to live another 30 years.

Sorry, no, no, no, a thousand times no. I’m not interested in being anyone’s cross to bear. I don’t want Alan or Kate coming to visit me in a nursing home, keeping watch over my insensate body. I want them out in the world. Because I love them both, I want Alan shopping for another wife and mother for Kate. I’d want to be dead, all the way dead, cremated and up the chimney and my ashes scattered to the wind and waves. Because that’s what I’d be — dead.

I guess now I’m a card-carrying member of the Culture of Death. Well, sing hallelujah and pass the nightshade, because living like Terri is no way to live at all. And people know this. Which is why this issue is going to be a net loser for Wingnuttia.

Diane Sawyer, Katie Couric et al really get on my nerves. Wolcott’s, too: This morning Sawyer was interviewing the mother of missing teen Natalee Holloway, last seen in Aruba on May 30th. Interviewing isn’t the right word. The questions were more like opportunities for Sawyer to become the golden chalice into which the mother — Beth — poured her hopes and memories as Sawyer nodded with an understanding too deep for words, though she kept using them.

What JC Burns would be doing if he’d been born 30 years later, seen here. OK, let’s amend that to what he would have been doing in junior-high school. Still, amusing.

Better go run that vacuum. In two (!!!) hours I become a full-timer again.

Posted at 9:32 am in Uncategorized |

12 responses to “One hand clapping.”

  1. Dan said on June 16, 2005 at 10:40 am

    Ummm… David, not Keith Carradine, but otherwise a lovely entry. 🙂

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  2. jcburns said on June 16, 2005 at 10:49 am

    I only WISH I would be that clever, creative, nationally-organized. And here I thought this was going to be a link to Kate’s newspaper!

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  3. Nance said on June 16, 2005 at 11:25 am

    Oooh, ouch. Thanks, Dan. At least now you know I wasn’t secretly watching the show while scorning it publicly.

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  4. brian stouder said on June 16, 2005 at 12:17 pm

    Regarding the autopsy ‘vindication’ – the autopsy vindicates that she was never going to get better.

    It also contradicts the story that she initially fell into this coma because of bulemia.

    Jeff Feiger, who championed the cause of Dr Kervorkian back in the day, captures the issue when he asks what sense it makes to starve/dehydrate a person to death when we could give them a lethal injection and reach the same ultimate end much more quickly and humanely. But some people are too cowardly to address that – they’d rather thump thier chest about how “right” they were, and sneer at people who hesitated to embrace the process wherein a defenseless woman was slowly starved and dehyrdrated, until she died.

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  5. Claire said on June 16, 2005 at 1:14 pm

    Speaking of Tao, you reminded me of a delightful movie that I found both funny and inspiring in a romantic-kind-of-way:

    The Tao of Steve

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  6. Mindy said on June 16, 2005 at 2:00 pm

    I admire your determination and focus. Spending a fine day such as this shaking hands with a vaccuum cleaner makes you a better man than me, and I salute you.

    As for me, I’m heading for the deck with my current read, Stella Gibbons’ Cold Comfort Farm, and something with a straw.

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  7. Mike said on June 16, 2005 at 5:00 pm

    Actually, Keith Carradine was in Kung Fu, playing a younger version of Caine. I’m not sure if it was David or Keith in that scene.

    My older son is going through the 5th grade to middle school transition also. They have a ceremony, but they call it “culmination” rather than graduation. I don’t care much for the term, since it sort of implies they’ve reached the peak of their lives.

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  8. Nance said on June 16, 2005 at 6:01 pm

    Brian, if I can be forgiven for adding a few more words to the mountain of b.s. that’s piled up around this poor, dead woman, here’s this: If nothing else, I think the autopsy underlined that while modern medicine considers “brain death” the cessation of independent breathing, there can indeed be another form, and if this doesn’t qualify, nothing does.

    And yes, Mike, “culmination?” Ick.

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  9. brian stouder said on June 16, 2005 at 8:06 pm

    “If nothing else, I think the autopsy underlined that while modern medicine considers “brain death” the cessation of independent breathing, there can indeed be another form, and if this doesn’t qualify, nothing does.”


    for the record, my complaint against post-autopsy “chest thumpers” doesn’t include you. The political forum where I waste the most time had the predictable food fight (pardon the pun) in the time leading up to her demise, and then the predictable (chest thumping) denouement after the autopsy.

    All I’m sure of is: Rule of Law = a good thing; Petty Political Grandstanding = a bad thing; The Real Issues Raised by This Woman’s Fate = unaddressed

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  10. humble reader said on June 16, 2005 at 8:27 pm

    On Monday, May 30th my family received a call from the acute care unit at St. Joseph hospital in Ft. Wayne. My father died in the middle of the night.

    He was aged with a disability, but otherwise functioning and enjoying life. (Slow-developing Parkinson’s cramped his style but wasn’t going to kill him. Given his genetic history and lifestyle he could expect to live well into his 90’s.)

    July 2003 he had elective surgury at Parkview Hospital to implant a deep brain stimulator. He drove to the hospital, was able to walk, laugh and talk. After surgery, he looked like a survivor of one of Hitler’s death camps. He told us repeatedly that something went wrong, that the surgeon, physicians and health care professionals knew it, covered it up, and were abusive to him. The hospital and physicians collected every penny they could squeeze out of Medicare and supplemental insurance. They left him for dead and said his inability to recover was due to his “mental attitude.” His family was left to rehabiliate him. The final blow came this spring when he couldn’t recover from the flu. Our family was torn about what to do. His children who didn’t want his illness and impending death to interfere with their vacation plans advocated putting him down. Other children took unpaid leave of absences, put their plans on hold, follwed his wishes and cared for him.

    At the end, a neurologist confirmed that the surgery caused a stroke. Had we known that two years ago, he could have received appropriate treatment. My father’s death was unnecessary, cruel and expensive.

    We passed on the autopsy because it was meaningless. The death certificate states apsiration pneumonia and complications from Parkinson’s. The truth was far more complicated.

    What happened to my father colors how I view what happened to Terri Schiavo. Her death has broader and long lasting implications than we will ever know. I’m not a far-right nut case. Nor is Ralph Nadar. Nor is Diane Coleman or Senator Tom Harkin. Nor is Joan Didion or Jesse Jackson. There is something very evil and very wrong here.

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  11. Nance said on June 16, 2005 at 8:57 pm

    Well, my heart goes out to you. My own mixed feelings on this case are related to my own mother’s experience with Parkinson’s. I got one — one! — doctor to give me the plain-English version of what the endgame would be, and it amounted to this: At some point the muscle failure would include those that allowed her to swallow, and at that point we’d have to make the feeding-tube decision. It’s one thing to say “pull the plug,” but when there’s no plug, when you’re talking about denying nutrition, that’s another thing entirely. We never decided on a course of action.

    We were quote lucky unquote; my mom got pancreatic cancer and died of that before she couldn’t swallow.

    But this case — whew. We’re talking about a woman who was in this condition for 15 years. This wasn’t an old person at the end of a long life. This was a woman who was fine one day, collapsed and never came back. Fifteen years! And she was barely middle-aged. Is the life she had a life at all? What was she, with a brain that weighed less than an end-stage Alzheimer’s patient? A profoundly disabled person? Or something else entirely?

    Something else the honest doc told me: There is only one party capable of making this decision, and that’s the immediate family, the ones who knew her best. Terri’s husband made a decision. Her parents disagreed, and fought a truly desperate battle: See, she’s aware! Anyway, she needs therapy. Anyway, she wants to live — she tried to say so. Anyway, it doesn’t matter.

    Something was definitely wrong here, but it wasn’t her husband’s wishes. It was people like that daft twit Peggy Noonan, saying, “She looks like one of those people who wake up and ask for a cheeseburger!” It was Bill Frist, a MEDICAL DOCTOR, willing to make a diagnosis based on an edited videotape. It was all the people willing to rattle this poor woman’s bones for their own ends.

    I don’t think I’d have made the decision Michael Schiavo made. But I respect his right to make it. And I don’t think, in the end, what Terri endured on her way to death was any worse than what she endured between 1990 and 2005.

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  12. brian stouder said on June 16, 2005 at 10:24 pm

    “I don’t think I’d have made the decision Michael Schiavo made. But I respect his right to make it. And I don’t think, in the end, what Terri endured on her way to death was any worse than what she endured between 1990 and 2005.”

    Fair enough, and understood

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