Philobiblon: Morning reading

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Morning reading

This first link must come with a health warning - some could find it distressing. Karen Armstong provides an account of her mother's horrific, slow, struggling death.

She found it increasingly difficult to speak, but the one thing she said frequently and with clarity was that she wanted to die. It was her last - indeed her only - wish. Thirteen years ago, when in good health, she had made a living will, which stated that, when the time came, she did not wish her life to be prolonged artificially.

Yet the hospital could not let her go... So often the story you hear. The only reassuring thought is that this is going to have to change, given the rapid advances in medical science that otherwise will see vast numbers of people in this situation. The hospice movement has shown the way, but it either has to rapidly expand (tough since it is still - scandalously - largely funded by donations) or else hospitals are going to have to come to terms with the fact that it is time for some people to die, and to let them go, peacefully.
Getting the bad news over together, there has been a rapid increase in the number of glacial earthquakes at both poles, suggesting the ice is melting and breaking up faster than has been predicted:

The annual number of glacial earthquakes recorded in Greenland between 1993 and 2002 was between six and 15. In 2003 seismologists recorded 20 glacial earthquakes. In 2004 they monitored 24 and for the first 10 months of 2005 they recorded 32.
The latest seismic study, published today in the journal Science, found that in a single area of north-western Greenland scientists recorded just one quake between 1993 and 1999. But they monitored more than two dozen quakes between 2000 and 2005.

But some good environmental news - showing what is possible. This is an oddly written story, but the basic message is that simple conservation measures have reduced Japan's water consumption by 10 per cent in just five years. Surely a model for what you could do also for electricity...
Finally, a preview of what is sure to be a good old historical row: Tristram Hunt's view of how the 200th anniversary of the abolition of slavery in Britain should be celebrated. John Prescott has been put in charge.


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