Saturday, November 08, 2003

Make your own church sign

Right here. I stole it from Michele and have since seen applications at Acidman's and Radley Balko's sites.

It looks like my firewall settings are in my way, so I didn't make one. My suggestion was "Welcome Episcopals! We are into fundamentals, not fundaments".

Friday, November 07, 2003

Ban the Ban

A week ago I was stuck in traffic in NW DC with my windows rolled up when I smelled smoke. I looked around and saw that someone in a car on my passenger side was smoking with his window down. I noticed him that far away with my windows rolled up.

I'm not particularly sensitive - I don't have asthma and I grew up around cigarettes. But over the last decade or so my smoke exposure has been cut so much that I notice stuff like this now. And if I go to a bar and hang out with smokers I'll be able to pick out the clothes I wore there up to the day I get them washed.

And smokers have amazed me sometimes. I used to catch a guy in the main hallway of my apartment building smoking all the time. He hadn't been banished - he just didn't want the smoke in his apartment. All I could do was shake my head.

Even so, I don't like the way the antismoking goons do business. And in DC they're on the march again, trying to ban smoking in more places in DC. (it's a PDF). Hence we have a new blog called Ban the Ban.

One of the things that gripes me about it is that all of the penalties I saw were on the proprietor, not the smoker. The last time I saw logic like that was when the Nigerians were going to stone a woman for adultery after she'd been raped.

Let the sneaks who support this measure take on the smokers directly instead of setting proprietors against their customers. If it's more expensive to enforce that way, too bad - that should give them a clue that they shouldn't pass it.

But it was worth it

This (heh heh) is unprofessional (ha).

Whatever grounds there were for refusing to grant the motion, they did not involve adultery.

Blame Eugene Volokh for both.

Drug free association

You meet such wonderful people in college. Among my more memorable ones was an engineering student/ROTC candidate/drug dealer I'll call Floyd.

Floyd was into pot and the whole drug culture thing. And all it took was this cat story to remind me of the heroes of some of his favorite literature, the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers!

Here's Freewheelin' Franklin Freak and the rest with a classic quote.

I'm not sure where Floyd wound up. It's been 20 years at least since I've heard anything about him: he'd been busted and was in prison. I suppose he's been out for a while now. What with his technical background and criminal record, I'm guessing he's running a meth lab somewhere.

Thursday, November 06, 2003

The conspiracy theorists were right

Someone spills the beans here about that and forbidden secrets of Bar and Bat Mitzvahs.

Oh come on, we all already knew that they controlled everything, right?

Unless they didn't want us to...

Howard Dean, meet Earl Butz

"All them Southerners worry about is race, guns, God and gays!"

Yeah, but as anyone with the brains of James Watt can tell you, they're more diverse than that - they've got at least 2 Jews, lots of women and blacks, and any number of people crippled fighting to defend your sorry lefty behind.

Mr. Dean, go home and learn something about this country before you even fantasize about running it.

Happy third birthday, Little Missy

Actually she's a bit older than that - you might even need a zero after that three. But Melissa Schwartz, your guide to culture in DC, has been blogging for 3 years now.

White boys can't drink

Erin O'Connor shows us how diversity is even good for our health. Now it's being plugged as an answer to binge drinking:
...the findings show that greater diversity on campuses may serve as a risk-protective factor, even for those who were binge drinkers in high school. The study found that incoming white freshmen who did not binge drink in high school were less likely to start binge drinking as college students if their universities had higher proportions of African-American, Latino, Asian or older students. Incoming white freshmen who were binge drinking in high school were less likely to continue drinking in this way when attending schools with higher percentages of minority or older students.
But can you teach them how to dance?

Quick hits

Medpundit always has good stuff. I'm ripping her off for two things today, which don't really have much in common except that they might be ripe for political exploitation.

1. Does sitting with grandchildren cause heart disease? Hmm, can you think of any service industry that might plug this one?

2. Hazards of outsourcing medical records
A woman in Pakistan doing cut-rate clerical work for UCSF Medical Center threatened to post patients' confidential files on the Internet unless she was paid more money.To show she was serious, the woman sent UCSF an e-mail earlier this month with actual patients' records attached.

....She wrote: "Your patient records are out in the open to be exposed, so you better track that person and make him pay my dues or otherwise I will expose all the voice files and patient records of UCSF Parnassus and Mt. Zion campuses on the Internet."
You can pass US laws until doomsday and not have a chance of controlling this. It's not as if US citizens can't do it too, but they're easier to track and catch at least.

Wednesday, November 05, 2003

Who needs doctors when you have lawyers?

Really now. Why go to med school and suffer all the residency and other nonsense when all you need is a law degree? Then you can question doctors all you want or even tell them how to do their jobs.

And now judges want to get into the act:
A federal judge on Wednesday blocked a federal ban on certain late-term abortions from applying to four doctors in a ruling issued less than an hour after President Bush signed the ban into law...."While it is also true that Congress found that a health exception is not needed, it is, at the very least, problematic whether I should defer to such a conclusion when the Supreme Court has found otherwise," Kopf said.
So now the Supreme Court is a medical authority also. (No wonder it's hard to get cert.) Last time I looked none of the Supremes were doctors. At least Congress has a few, such as Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist.

Here's something from testimony before the House of Representatives that I found via Google but couldn't pull up, so I'm pointing to the cached version:
I must begin my statement by defining partial birth abortion as the feet first delivery of a living infant up to the level of its after coming head, before puncturing the base of its skull with a sharp instrument and sucking out the brain contents, thereby killing it and allowing the collapse of its skull and subsequent delivery. This description is based upon the technique of Dr. Haskell of Ohio, who has subsequently identified It as accurate. He has referred to his technique as "D & X" (Dilatation and Extraction), while Dr. McMahon of California refers to it as an "intact D & E." An ACOG ad hoc committee came up with the hybrid term "intact D & X". As you can see, many terms are used and are not clear in their description.

Partial birth abortion is mostly performed in the fifth and sixth months of pregnancy. However, these procedures have been performed up to the ninth month of pregnancy. The majority of patients undergoing this procedure do not have significant medical problems. In Dr. McMahon's series, less then ten percent were performed for maternal indications, and these included some ill-defined reasons such as depression, hyperemesis, drug exposed spouse, and youth. Many of the patients undergoing partial birth abortion are not even carrying babies with abnormalities. In Dr. McMahon's series, only about half of the babies were considered "flawed", and these included some easily correctable conditions like cleft lip and ventricular septal defect. Dr. Haskell claimed that eighty percent of his procedures were purely elective, and a group of New Jersey physicians claimed that only a minuscule amount of their procedures were done for genetic abnormalities or other defects. Most were performed on women of lower age, education, or socioeconomic status who either delayed or discovered late their unwanted pregnancies. It is also clear that this procedure occurs thousands of times a year, rather than a few hundred times a year, as claimed by pro-abortion advocates. This has been independently confirmed by the investigative work of The Washington Post, The New Jersey Bergen Record and the American Medical Association News.

One of the often ignored aspects of this procedure is that it requires three days to accomplish. Before performing the actual delivery, there is a two day period of cervical dilation that involves forcing up to twenty five dilators into the cervix at one time. This can cause great cramping and nausea for the women, who are then sent to their home or to a hotel room overnight while their cervix dilates. After returning to the clinic, their bag of water is broken, the baby is forced into a feet first position by grasping the legs and pulling it down through the cervix and into the vagina. This form of internal rotation, or version. is a technique largely abandoned in modern obstetrics because of the unacceptable risk associated with it. These techniques place the women at greater risk for both immediate (bleeding) and delayed (infection) complications. In fact, there may also be longer repercussions of cervical manipulation leading to an inherent weakness of the cervix and the inability to carry pregnancies to term. We have already seen women who have had trouble maintaining pregnancies after undergoing a partial birth abortion.

There is no record of these procedures in any medical text, journals, or on-line medical service. There is no known quality assurance, credentialling, or other standard assessment usually associated with newly-described surgical techniques. Neither the CDC nor the Alan Gultmacher Institute have any data on partial birth abortion, and certainly no basis upon which to state the claim that it is a safer or even a preferred procedure.

The bigger question then remains: Why ever do a partial birth abortion? There are and always have been safer techniques for partial birth abortion since it was first described by Dr. McMahon in 1989 and Dr. Haskell in 1992. The usual and customary (and previously studied) method of delivery at this gestation is the medical induction of labor using either intravaginal or intramuscular medications to cause contractions and expulsion of the baby. This takes about twelve hours on average, and may also include possible cervical preparation with the use of one to three cervical dilators (as opposed to the three-day partial birth abortion procedure, with up to 25 dilators in the cervix at one time). This also results in an intact baby for pathologic evaluation, without involving the other risk of internally turning the baby or forcing a large number of dilators into the cervix. The only possible "advantage" of partial birth abortion, if you can call it that, is that it guarantees a dead baby at time of delivery.

The less common situation of partial birth abortion involves, an abnormal baby. These conditions do not threaten a woman over and above a normal pregnancy, and do not require the killing of the baby to preserve her health or future fertility. I have taken care of many such women with the some diagnoses as the women who provided testimony on this issue in the past. Each of these women stated that they needed to have a partial birth abortion performed in order to protect their health or future fertility. In these cases of trisomy (extra chromosomal material), hydrocephaly (water on the brain), polyhydramnios (too much amniotic fluid) and arthrogryposis (stiffened baby), there are alternatives to partial birth abortion that do not threaten a woman's ability to bear children in the future. I have personally cared for many cases of all of these disorders, and have never required any technique like partial birth abortion in order to accomplish delivery. Additionally, I have never had a colleague that I have known to have used the technique of partial birth abortion in order to accomplish delivery in this same group of patients. Moreover, there are high profile providers of third trimester abortions who likewise do not use the technique of partial birth abortion.

In the even rarer case of a severe maternal medical condition requiring early delivery, partial birth abortion is not preferred, and medical induction suffices without threatening future fertility. Again, the killing of the fetus is not required, only separation from the mother.
There is much more. The short answer is that it's never necessary or even desirable, despite the claims of the opponents of the ban. This goes beyond a mere difference of opinion.

And this medical authority can tell you what happens to people who lie.

This judge needs a recall, for legal malpractice. And he should be sentenced to use only lawyers for his health care needs for the rest of his days.

Rush to return November 17

John Hogan, chief executive officer of Clear Channel Radio, said there hasn't been much of a financial fallout since Limbaugh has been away. No stations have left the fold and no advertisers have dropped either, Hogan said.

"During his absence, we have maintained 100 percent of our affiliate base, and we have maintained our advertiser base," Hogan said. "This is an unfortunate turn of events for Rush, but our advertisers and our affiliate base have remained firmly behind him and we look forward to his return in the near future."
Stolen from The Corner.


Mac Thomason's politics are a little fishy, and now I know why. Look here and learn more about our piscine pals than you might have wanted to.

Perhaps this doesn't call for so much thought, but I'm guessing that this is why fish go belly-up when they die - their gut is below their center of gravity, so if they don't cut loose once in a while they won't be able to keep themselves righted. Likewise the gas might be fore or aft of center, causing the fish to pitch upward or downward if in distress.

I have no word on whether fish can burp or vomit, or what would happen if you fed them an Alka-Seltzer or put them in a tank full of carbonated water. But if the govt wants to cut me a check for a couple hundred thousand bucks I'll be happy to research it all.

Did "Atrios" win?

Much was blogged about Donald Luskin's attorney's letter to "Atrios". Now let's see what everyone writes about the "joint statement" here. Yes, "Atrios" posted it too - Glenn Reynolds linked to it.

The posts I saw presented Donald Luskin as the bad guy, for dragging lawyers in. And at the Atrios site commenters presented the joint statement as a unilateral capitulation by Luskin, gracefully handled by "Atrios".

Sorry, but that one doesn't pass the giggle test. It doesn't even pass the ROTFLMAO test.

I don't have any inside information - I don't know either of the two. But IMO "Atrios" was faced with being outed and thus associated with what he posts, and he didn't like it, so he ran like a scalded dog.

Why no missing links?

From the time of its creation by Charles Darwin, the theory of evolution has been about more than mere science. Nonbelievers have always seized upon it as a weapon against the religious and their creation explanations. And because they needed it for nonscientific reasons, they didn't much care if science could defend their claims.

Whether you're religious or not, if you believe in the scientific method, you insist that your theories should be supported by evidence. That no one else has come up with a theory that you think is "better" does not serve to prove your own. Yet the abusers of evolution science insist on stretching a thin layer of knowledge to cover a vast area of ignorance to this day.

This article gives a good example:
Matt Ridley, the science writer, kindly explained the lack of fossils before the Cambrian explosion: ‘Easy. There were no hard body parts before then. Why? Probably because there were few mobile predators, and so few jaws and few eyes. There are in fact lots of Precambrian fossils, but they are mostly microbial fossils, which are microscopic and boring.’
Tough luck pal. No evidence, no theory, no excuses. You may be 100% correct, but the theory must forever contain holes if you are. And this should be acknowledged openly by anyone practicing honest science.

The writer of the piece bemoans that "71 percent of adult Americans think that the evidence against Darwin should be taught in schools". Well, if we insist on teaching Darwinism in schools, why not? What's so special about Darwinism that it cannot be permitted to be challenged in schools? Why do high-school science classes have to address origins at all? - would the lack of it somehow reduce graduates' ability to be responsible citizens?

I'm guessing Richard Dawkins would say it does:
‘Imagine,’ he wrote, ‘that there is a well-organised and well-financed group of nutters, implacably convinced that the Roman Empire never existed. Hadrian’s Wall, Verulamium, Pompeii — Rome itself — are all planted fakes. The Latin language, for all its rich literature and its Romance language grandchildren, is a Victorian fabrication. The Rome deniers are, no doubt, harmless wingnuts, more harmless than the Holocaust deniers whom they resemble. Smile and be tolerant, just as we smile at the Flat Earth Society. But your tolerance might wear thin if you happen to be a lifelong scholar and teacher of Roman history, language or literature. You suddenly find yourself obliged to interrupt your magnum opus on the Odes of Horace in order to devote time and effort to rebutting a well-financed propaganda campaign claiming that the entire classical world that you love never existed.’
That's one whopper of a straw man - you can question Darwinism without claiming anything analogous what Dawkins suggests above. Either he's not too bright or he thinks we aren't.

And at least we can visit those ruins and read those texts. We can't see Dawkins' missing links. We insist on physical evidence for any other theory, why should we accept it for Darwinism?

You don't have to be religious to insist that science not be corrupted by ideology.

Maggot therapy

If you read the book Susanna cited on Halloween you've probably heard enough about maggots for a while. But if you haven't, read this and see how much good they can do for the living.

Slowing evaporation in reservoirs

Experiments have shown that adding a very thin layer of certain compounds to reservoirs slows evaporation significantly, thus conserving water for consumption and power. It would be terrific if it also suppressed mosquitoes too - the article made no claims, but covering the water with a thin layer of certain compounds can suffocate mosquitoes in their larval ("wiggler") stage.

Downside? Evaporation cools the reservoirs so they'll run a bit hotter. No doubt other phenomena remain to be discovered. But it will be interesting to see where this goes.

Where you stand depends on where you sleep

More genius from our ex-President:
OSLO, Norway (Reuters) - Former U.S. President Bill Clinton said Tuesday AIDS should be considered a security issue, with the disease affecting more people in the world than terrorism.
"We should continue to fight terror, but we have to realize that the AIDS issue is also a security issue," Clinton told reporters after talks with Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik in Oslo. "It's a humanitarian issue, but it's a security issue," he said, warning AIDS fueled poverty and desperation.
AIDS is a security issue? The people who get it nowadays (if they're kids or heterosexuals, anyway) typically get it because they can't get clean hypodermic needles - the health professionals are forced to reuse them over there, so people with AIDS, Ebola, hepatatis and other blood-borne illnesses can share their blood with others without any other contact.

But no, we can't send needles. Liberal doctrine is that AIDS is spread by non-anal sex just as easily as by other means, lest we single out gays. So they insist that we send short-shelf-life condoms, which have high failure rates when used as intended, to be used by unsophisticated people - this offers limited effectiveness in fighting an uncommon means of spreading AIDS while diverting attention from the easiest way for kids and straights to get it. I guess libs figure it's better to kill some of those colored furriners than their deeply held beliefs.

So tell me Slick - of AIDS and terrorism, which can all but fetuses defend themselves against solely by their own efforts? Well, maybe he has a scintilla of a smithereen of a clue:
Asked whether AIDS was a bigger threat to the world than terrorism, Clinton said: "Right now (AIDS) affects more people, but I wouldn't say that. What I think is that we can't think about one to the exclusion of the other."
Was anyone doing that?

Monday, November 03, 2003

The Shellie Awards!

John Leo presents this year's Sheldon Awards to the most spineless college administrators here.

"Don't attack during Ramadan!"

Remember that? Heavens, we had to respect the Iraqi's holidays, or else....well, something!

There might have been something to it:
His face half-scabbed by a recent burn - the result of a mishap with some TNT - Adnan al-Doleme suggested: "Stay with us, and we'll show you another attack. Ramadan has been Allah's gift to us. The streets are empty then, so we can attack the Americans without the possibility of killing our people."
If true, that could cut both ways though. Then nobody ought to complain about a curfew during Ramadan, and thus anybody about is a "fly".

Sunday, November 02, 2003

Online dating

Two views - Gene Expression looks at it sociobiologically, and TJ's Weblog looks at it as a business.

A modest proposal

What would you say to an immediate military takeover of the US govt by our military? There might be some complications, but then maybe we can get a flat tax of 15% like the Iraqis.
Bremer's new economic policy for Iraq will slash Saddam Hussein's top tax rate for individuals and businesses from 45 to 15 percent. Of course, since Hussein's government, like others in the Middle East, almost never enforced tax collection, there is no real history of paying taxes in the country.
So they'll need their own IRS. At least now we know what to do with all the former Ba'ath party officials...

Nothing to get political about

Drudge links to this report about a girl from the West Coast who died after an abortion induced by the hastily-approved abortion pill RU-486.
The 18-year-old was given the abortion pill a week earlier by a Planned Parenthood Clinic in Hayward, where she sought it without the knowledge of her father.
Nope, can't let daddy know. Make sure that the only counsel she gets is from an organization that profits from abortion and, like any other organization, will strive to cover its ass. No, it's worse - they have an entire worldview to protect which to them is worth infinitely more than the safety of any drug or the life of any girl.
When she fell ill Sept. 14, her boyfriend rushed her to Valley Care Medical Center, where she reportedly was told that her pain and bleeding were normal, and she was sent home with painkillers.

She returned to the hospital three days later, on Sept. 17, and died.
Does this prove that RU-486 is dangerous to more than just who it's intended to kill? No, of course not. And any pregnancy that does not result in a birth will affect the health of the mother.

But if the drug is not safe, and does not meet ordinary FDA standards for safety, then someone ought to be accountable.

Wouldn't it be ironic if one of these days women figure out that to the pro-abortionists, their lives are expendable for The Greater Cause. And thus learned not to listen to them.

The Man Who Ate Central Park

Right here. Search for the string "Wildman Steve Brill" unless you want to wade through some ecobabble.

Between football games today I stumbled upon a PBS program about NYC that included an eating tour of Central Park, starring some middle-aged man and the young woman who was hosting the show. He reached down and grabbed a plant that looked like a dandelion to me - he called it "poor man's pepper". They shared a bite of it and said it tasted spicy, like arugula.

Then it was off to the cattails. The man picked one, stripped off some of the fibrous outside until he got to a white core which he shared with the woman. This part allegedly tasted like cucumbers.

I think I'll pass.

Does Paul Krugman want the economy to go bad?

Yes. Godless explains.

Misspent youth

It looks like I've been to some of the same dives as Velociman. If he's new to you, well, I'd file him somewhere between Lileks, Acidman and the Possum. Not that that does him justice - take a look around.

Aside to KC - it was*6* weeks ago.

Send a jihadi to Iraq today

Drudge points to this in the NY Times about jihadis leaving Europe to fight in the Middle East.

Of course I don't want to endanger our troops, Iraqis or for that matter the sane Muslims. But Iraq is where we're best prepared to deal with them, and the sooner these creeps get stuck on the "flypaper" the better.

Howard Dean had a clue

Dean said "I still want to be the candidate for guys with Confederate flags in their pickup trucks," the former Vermont governor was quoted as saying in Saturday's Des Moines Register. "We can't beat George Bush unless we appeal to a broad cross-section of Democrats."

Finally someone used the Confederate flag as a symbol of what it represents better than anything else - poor Southern whites.

Who provided most of the manpower for the South? Poor southern whites. Whose bodies covered the battlefields? Poor southern whites. It's little wonder that they found the Confederate flag a symbol of pride and solidarity.

Now let some years pass. What group was the most threatened *economically* by civil rights? Poor southern whites. A group that was already struggling to get by suddenly had a whole new class of people to compete with them for jobs, often at lower rates.

What followed was only to be expected. Just as labor interests in South Africa pushed for and got apartheid, poor southern whites voted for the Democrats and their Jim Crow policies. Just as we see today with union violence (hmm - more Democrat supporters), we saw intimidation of new labor sources. It's not just, but history shows it's 100% human.

It sounds like poor southern whites are a natural Dem constituency. But race hustlers can't permit that. So poor southern whites are the only group left that you can insult with impunity, despite their very well known poverty and other social problems. They can't even keep their symbol, the Confederate flag.

(and before some jackass says that hoods and burning crosses were their symbols too, I recommend a look at US history, which will show that the KKK was nationwide and politically potent in large numbers as late as the 1920's. The Yankees, lacking blacks in most places, mostly chose to pick on Catholics, Jews and recent immigrants instead.)

His opponents immediately chose the low road, with even nominally sane Lieberman getting his licks in. Kerry informed us that he'd rather be the candidate of the NAACP than the NRA, showing that's he's definitely the candidate of the non-sequitur (how does he think blacks defended themselves against the KKK, or Schindler's Jews defended themselves against the Nazis?).

Even though he said something defensible and did bug some of the right people, Dean couldn't keep it up for long:
In response to the criticism, Dean released a statement saying: "I want people with Confederate flags on their trucks to put down those flags and vote Democratic - because the need for quality health care, jobs and a good education knows no racial boundaries.
I guess a guy whose supporters supposedly are lily-white has to run from this undeservedly demonized symbol. But I hope his supporters remember that when he had a chance to show some stones and stand for something, he ran.

Plot twists

I heard this little story on the radio commuting into DC on Friday. I have no reason to doubt it, and I was amused, so here it comes.

Some kids got in trouble on a school bus for abuse of one of the other riders with a foreign object. Boo!

The foreign object? A chicken leg. Oh, what a wimp!

They HIT him with it, right? No? Then what did - you don't mean - Ewww!

Yep you're right, they did. Well, those little perverts!

Not so fast. The victim was mooning them at the time.

IMO justice was served. (I don't know if the chicken leg was or not).

And now you know The Rest Of The Story. Good day!

"When is this bitch going to die?"

I don't have a link handy and I'm too lazy to hunt for one right now, but I've read about some tragic errors in anesthesiology. It seems that often drugs must be used in tandem, with one to paralyze the patient and another to knock them out.

And some times the knock out drug wears off first. Then the patient is treated the exquisite hell of being cut, sutured or otherwise painfully manipulated without any way to communicate it or avoid it. But they can hear, and they've been known to recite operation-time conversations back to physicians.

Unfortunately this isn't the only way a patient can be rendered helpless but aware. Consider this story of a patient who wasn't dying as expected, and whose attempts to get attention were treated as if they were seizures to be countered with sedatives. In a situation right out of Edgar Allan Poe, she got to listen to the doctors discussing pulling her life support:
I then started spelling the same word in the air, "Don't! Don't! Don't!...."

The doctors decided that the letters I was spelling in the air were repetitive seizure activity and just happened to occur most often when they were in my room discussing killing me...I even took to writing them backwards to make it easy for them to read...

And their response was to sedate me even more....

But, the nursing staff began to believe I was really and truly with them.

One, in particular, starting bringing in a clip board and a broken pen when she talked to me. She would put ink on my fingers, the clip board under my right hand and then ask me yes and no questions in the beginning.

With her I secretly progressed to answering in sentence fragments. However, by doctor's orders she was not allowed to document in my file what she was doing and that I was giving meaningful responses.

But...she did save my inky answer sheets and recorded the questions she asked. She got into a lot of trouble for that.
Look, I understand that this isn't easy. You can cite cases of hundreds of thousands or more being spent on patient with essentially zero quality of life or life expectancy, or even cases where huge sums are spent keeping convicts alive until their execution dates. It doesn't make sense to burden the living with someone who is dead in all but the most technical sense of the term.

And I have relatives who nursed a daughter for 20+ years as she very slowly died from metachromatic leukodystrophy, devolving from a thriving two-year-old to a thin, twisted, helpless, hopeless adult with no sight, hearing, touch or motor control. A 90+ year old relative could die any day now, which might assuage his fear of outliving his money. And at least one slightly younger relative wants the plug pulled if things get to that point. So I know about this stuff firsthand.

And I've concluded that we owe the living the benefit of the doubt, and the burden of proof ought to be on those who would declare them dead.

Yes, this was prompted by the Terry Schiavo situation - the title of the post was spoken by her husband. For much more, see Patterico's Pontifications here and in several other places down the page - this was the source of the blockquote link.