- The value of a life
- “If you have money and want to save lives, you had better put a price on life… But don’t mix up the price of a life with the value of a life. I see this happen all too frequently. To correct this mistake, I’m going to tell a little story.”
(tags: economics life value cost money charity death)
- Oliver Sacks on Learning He Has Terminal Cancer – NYTimes.com
- Oliver Sacks has terminal cancer. He reflects on his life.
(tags: death cancer oliver-sacks david-hume)
- How Corpses Helped Shape the London Underground
- Gruesome but interesting.
(tags: underground history death burial corpses tube)
- Why we need to sleep in total darkness
- Blue light at night is bad. Any light is probably a bit bad. Time to get some blackout curtains (although I think they make it harder to wake up).
(tags: health light sleep blue melatonin)
- Reading Genesis 1 “Literally” | Scribalishess
- Susan Pigott, a professor specialising in the Old Testament, gives her literal reading of Genesis 1, and shows how it both borrows from and reacts against other cosmologies which were around at the time. Via Unreasonable Faith.
(tags: genesis creation old-testament hebrew cosmology)
- The Course of Their Lives – JSOnline
- A fascinating series of articles on the experiences of medical students dissecting a body during their training, interspersed with the reflections of someone leaving her body to the medical school. Via Mefi.
(tags: body anatomy death medical-school dissection medicine)
- What Can We Learn About Human Psychology from Christian Apologetics? – Less Wrong
- Chris Hallquist tries to work out what’s going on with apologetics. It’s Less Wrong, so *do* read the comments.
(tags: religion christianity less-wrong psychology apologetics chris-hallquist)
- DanceSport DJ Ice
- This chap has made ballroom remixes of various popular tunes. Epic (or something).
(tags: music dancing remix ballroom)
- Joe Pass & Ella Fitzgerald – Duets in Hannover 1975 – YouTube
- Great stuff. Via Mefi. Ella’s on about half an hour in.
(tags: singing jazz duet joe-pass ella-fitzgerald video)
- Solitude and Leadership – William Deresiewicz
- William Deresiewicz on the necessity for those who would lead to find time alone to concentrate their thoughts.
(tags: army leadership solitude william-deresiewicz)
- Swing Dance Frame as Non-Newtonian Fluid | Jason Sager
- Neat analogy for the way some moves work by resisting impulses (so that they are transferred and provide a net impetus to the follower) but not resisting smooth movement.
(tags: lindy frame fluid lindyhop dance)
- A quine (program that produces its own source code as output) which passes through 50 programming languages along the way. Utterly barking, in a good way. Via andrewducker.
(tags: quine programming)
- Who By Very Slow Decay | Slate Star Codex
- More excellent, harrowing stuff on the standard of end of life care and relatives who won’t let go.
(tags: death poetry medicine intensive-care aging)
- Changing my mind on nuclear disarmament – Charlie’s Diary
- Charles Stross argues against renewing Trident.
(tags: trident nuclear disarmament charles-stross war)
- Coding, Fast and Slow: Developers and the Psychology of Overconfidence
- "I’m going to talk today about what goes on in inside developers’ heads when they make estimates, why that’s so hard to fix, and how I personally figured out how to live and write software (for very happy business owners) even though my estimates are just as brutally unreliable as ever." via Andrew Ducker
(tags: software programming scrum estimation daniel-kahneman)
- What Martial Arts Have to Do With Atheism – Graeme Wood – The Atlantic
- Sam Harris on martial arts, meditation and atheism: "No one’s ever accused me of being an optimist, but I think reason and intellectual honesty will win. They’re just too useful."
(tags: religion atheism martial-arts meditation sam-harris)
- How Not to Die – Jonathan Rauch – The Atlantic
- Many doctors aren’t good at having "the Conversation". A doctor uses film to illustrate patients’ options at the end of their lives.
(tags: film ethics death health medicine intensive-care)
I know it is coming, and I do not fear it, because I believe there is nothing on the other side of death to fear. I hope to be spared as much pain as possible on the approach path. I was perfectly content before I was born, and I think of death as the same state. I am grateful for the gifts of intelligence, love, wonder and laughter. You can’t say it wasn’t interesting. My lifetime’s memories are what I have brought home from the trip. I will require them for eternity no more than that little souvenir of the Eiffel Tower I brought home from Paris. – Roger Ebert
The devout can’t abide such sentiments: in the comments on Ebert’s article (republished by Salon following his death), some of them have chimed in, and kept digging (sorry, I couldn’t resist giving that latter one a well deserved kick). Ebert didn’t call himself an atheist, of course, but clearly saw no reason to believe in an afterlife.
This reminded me of Boswell’s visit to Hume as Hume was dying. Boswell writes:
I asked him if the thought of annihilation never gave him any uneasiness. He said not the least; no more than the thought that he had not been, as Lucretius observes. ‘Well,’ said I, ‘Mr Hume, I hope to triumph over you when I meet you in a future state; and remember you are not to pretend that you was joking with all this infidelity.’ ‘No, no,’ said he. ‘But I shall have been so long there before you come that it will be nothing new.’ In this style of good humour and levity did I conduct the conversation. Perhaps it was wrong on so awful a subject. But as nobody was present, I thought it could have no bad effect. I however felt a degree of horror, mixed with a sort of wild, strange, hurrying recollection of my excellent mother’s pious instructions, of Dr. Johnson’s noble lessons, and of my religious sentiments and affections during the course of my life. I was like a man in sudden danger eagerly seeking his defensive arms; and I could not but be assailed by momentary doubts while I had actually before me a man of such strong abilities and extensive inquiry dying in the persuasion of being annihilated. But I maintained my faith. I told him that I believed the Christian religion as I believed history.
It seems Boswell suffered DOUBT (as the archivist at the National Library of Scotland has it) as a chronic sinus sufferer. Visiting an apparently contented unbeliever on their deathbed can’t be good for your sinuses: you’ll get a worldview defence reaction from all those thoughts about death.
None’s consigned to the pit, to patch-black Tartarus, below –
Future generations need material to grow.
And they, when life is through, shall follow you into the grave,
As those that came before, no less than you, wave after wave.
Thus one thing arises from another – it will never cease.
No one is given life to own; we all hold but a lease.
Look back again – how the endless ages of time come to pass
Before our birth are nothing to us. This is a looking glass
Nature holds up for us in which we see the time to come
After we finally die. What is it there that looks so fearsome?
What’s so tragic? Isn’t it more peaceful than any sleep?
The death panel: Nagel
The Skepticon atheist Death Panel weren’t quite convinced by an argument that nothing has been lost: Julia Galef quotes Nagel (at around 28:22), who points out that we feel that someone who is reduced to the state of a newborn infant by a brain injury has lost something, even though that person was a newborn infant in the past. So I agree with Nagel (and Yudkowsky, who turns out to be a pretty funny speaker) that death is bad. But Lucretius is also concerned with the people who don’t want their corpse to be cremated because they think it might hurt, or who fear a Hell or somehow experiencing oblivion as being entombed forever: as he and Hume and Ebert knew, such fears have no foundation.
- Peter Saul: Let’s talk about dying | Video on TED.com
- “We can’t control if we’ll die, but we can “occupy death,” in the words of Dr. Peter Saul. He calls on us to make clear our preferences for end of life care — and suggests two questions for starting the conversation.”
(tags: intensive-care ted medicine death)