Archive for April, 2007

If this car’s a-strayin’, you better start prayin’

Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

I was driving home tonight. It was late-ish, and there wasn’t much activity here in downtown Crackton. As I pulled up to the intersection between my place and my parking spot, I realized there was a car sitting smack dab in the middle of the intersection. And it was empty. Odd, but whatever. But then I turned the corner and noticed a car sitting in the road in the same direction. I guess it was supposed to be in the parking lane, but the road’s kind of narrow, so it was mostly in the driving lane. So here were two cars, not twenty feet apart, apparently abandoned in the middle of traffic. Naturally, I assumed that the Rapture had just occurred. Now that the squares were out of the way, we could have some fun, right? But then I realized that it was pretty implausible that two devout people would be that close together in this part of town, so the Rapture scenario wasn’t very likely. Oh well, still waiting….

What Next for the Lacrosse Players?

Monday, April 16th, 2007

Via DBR, here’s a letter to the editor of the Raleigh News & Observer, which is running a multi-part series on the aftermath of the Duke lacrosse case. An excerpt:

If the young men from Duke are innocent [as the state attorney general now has said that they are], they should take their outrage and fight for justice. I hope they will use their outstanding educations and affluence to become outspoken lawyers for the ACLU or another similar organization. Surely they won’t just become stockbrokers?

I’m assuming the bracketed phrase was inserted by the paper.

First of all, what’s wrong with being a stockbroker? (In fact, “60 Minutes” reported this week that Dave Evans has accepted a Wall Street job.) Second, who says that these guys should want to be lawyers at all? There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. But why is it that becoming ACLU lawyers is the only way they can “fight for justice”?

Earlier in that letter to the editor, the reader says that, “Injustices happen every day, every moment. I don’t know how many times a day a young black man is falsely accused of doing something wrong. Or how many times a week a Spanish-speaking person is suspected of being uneducated and illegal. It seldom makes the front page.” Even accepting that tremendous generalization, I would argue that having a living, breathing example that pretty much anyone can be falsely accused working in the corridors of power would be as helpful in the “fight for justice” as allowing Wall Street types to marginalize him as a bleeding heart true believer. Saying that only ACLU lawyers can care about justice makes it easy to let ACLU lawyers be the only ones who do care about justice. (Obviously I’m quoting the letter here, but using “ACLU lawyers” to refer more to a type — not a type that works on Wall Street.)

I hope Dave Evans (and Collin Finnerty and Reade Seligmann when they graduate) will continue to care about justice, and use their opportunities and resources to implement the lessons they say they’ve learned. But I just don’t think they have become “ACLU lawyers” to do that.

What’s the best nation on earth? Donation!

Tuesday, April 10th, 2007

I mentioned organ donation a few posts back in regard to the death of UNC mascot Jason Ray. Then I saw (via Slate) this story in the Post about a new model anatomical gift law. (For the nonlawyers, model uniform laws like this are promulgated from time to time by a panel of experts, in order to foster uniformity among state laws. Click that last link for more.) Several states have passed the Revised Uniform Anatomical Gift Act or are working on it.

There are a couple of interesting, and potentially controversial, aspects of the law. Basically, the organ donation decision — often made in haste in the driver’s license line — trumps in most cases. For one thing, the donor’s decision trumps the wishes of family members who might not want to donate a loved one’s organs. For another, it might trump the donor’s decision not to be placed on life support if doctors need to keep the donor alive long enough to get the organs ready for harvesting. Some people are also worrying that it might make doctors more reluctant to administer palliative care if they worry it might damage the organs.

These are the kind of concerns you could spend a semester in a Bioethics class discussing. But I’m cautiously in favor of the revisions. First, the donor’s intent should trump the desires of third parties, but of course it’s desirable for donors to discuss their intent with their families. Second, the living will conflict can be handled with better notice at both ends — perhaps a pamphlet from the DMV when you check the box, and a paragraph on the living will form or something.

Over time, and through experience, I’m sure this new protocol will become the norm. Hospitals will have to get used to it, and while there will surely be glitches, I think overall it will streamline the process and lead to more donations. I think the life support provision might cause some fuss, given the existing controversies over when to declare a patient dead and harvest the organs. But it’s not as if they’d want to keep someone alive Schiavo-style, for years, because that would degrade the organs. At most, I’d think, we’re talking about a few hours or days until the harvesting and donation apparatuses can be put in place.

I think most people who go to the trouble of declaring an intent to donate organs and also execute a living will are going to have some idea that this overlap exists, and will probably be okay with a limited amount of preservation. A little play in the joints, if you will. I know that’s the position I’ll take. So if anyone out there reading this knows me and is around when my end-of-life decisions come into force, I want to donate my organs, and although I don’t want extended life support measures (especially if I’m in a PVS), I’m okay with limited life support until they can harvest me of all the good parts. After that, Dandy Don can take it away: “Turn out the lights, the party’s over….”

(The subject of this post is a line a bum used on me once in New York City.)

I Got Pig Iron, I Got Pig Iron, I Got Allll Pig Iron

Monday, April 2nd, 2007

A sudden engagement required my presence outside the city limits recently, so I’ve been unable to write anything here. But that may be a good thing, since the things I were going to post about, I’d think I’d rather not now. Most of those topics were about sex, as it happens. Part of the reason I don’t want to write about that stuff now is that it’s just stale: I’ve lost my motivation and everything worth saying has probably already been said better elsewhere. (What’s the blogger’s rule when talking about “issues” or the blogosphere topic du jour? Be faster than the ones who are better, and better than the ones who are faster. At this point, either one is impossible for me.) And the other reason is that I just don’t want to dive into controversies for no good reason.

Anyway, the point of this post, beyond telling you I don’t have anything to post about, is to let you know I’m still around, and looking for topics. So no replays of the April 1 post from two years ago that wasn’t really an April Fool’s joke but turned out not to be permanent, either. April Fool’s reminded me of the great song “Rock Island Line,” made famous by Johnny Cash, and particularly the line “I fooled you, I fooled you, I got pig iron, I got pig iron, I got allll pig iron.” So I hope I didn’t fool you into thinking I was quitting, but right now all my potential blog posts are about as high-quality as pig iron. Thanks for staying tuned.