Did you know that since a will is considered a court document, anyone, regardless of connection to the deceased, can request a copy of it and for a fee, become privy to that person’s most intimate and final decisions regarding legacy and heirs? An article in the Times of Jan 30th reveals the full names of David Bowie’s beneficiaries including his widow, children, personal assistant, children’s nanny, business manager, lawyer and executor. It includes the exact amounts of these bequests so if any criminals scan the obituary pages for new marks, The Times will have facilitated their search. It further specifies the location of some of the real estate bequeathed to heirs. If the legatees had won the lottery, they would be entitled to withhold their own identities and remain private citizens in matters that concern no one but themselves. But the thoughtful act of responsibly providing for our loved ones before dying comes with the penalty of stripping us of our fundamental right to privacy.
An ISIS video instructs Muslims to kill infidels wherever they are, all over the world, using any device at hand from can openers to cars. Sheikh Muhammad Salah in the Gaza Strip holds up his knife and exhorts his followers to stab the Jews and cut them into body parts. He extends his fatwa to the Americans, allies of the Jews, infidels of the Great Satan who stand as a rebuke to Allah’s will. Since then, incidents have happened throughout Europe, some thwarted heroically, some ending in tragic massacres. In Israel, the knife intifada has taken the lives of almost thirty people, including too many young women.
It was still dark in San Francisco on the predawn morning of April 19, 1906, when the ground began shaking. For nearly a minute, the tremors intensified, streets cracked and buildings began sliding down landfills. Deadly fires broke out, caused by toppled street lanterns and exposed gas lines. With the city’s major water mains severed, firemen were virtually helpless as they confronted a three-day conflagration larger than the 1871 Chicago Fire.
I turned off “Billions” a minute after its opening scene of a bound, chained and muffled Paul Giamatti engaged in some S & M sex. My beef is not with what consenting adults do to each other in the game of arousal - it’s that since I don’t consider victimless perversions any of my business, I similarly choose not to watch or be implicated in them. I subsequently heard that the episode which involved burning and urination turned out to be between husband and wife. Instead of softening my reaction, this reinforced my resistance to being a voyeur of other people’s masochistic fantasies. Though the creators of Billions beg the issue of pushing boundaries between porn and regular tv by making the participants a happily married couple, the viewer is the one being exploited. This belief was sustained after watching the second episode of Billions in which all the characters - male and female - sprinkle their dialogue with heavy doses of language similar to the gangsters on The Sopranos.
The premier rule governing those who practice medicine is apparently not applicable to reporters for the New York Times. Sharon Otterman has the byline for an article detailing the arrest of David H. Newman, distinguished Mt. Sinai physician and author, on charges of sexually abusing two patients in the emergency room at different times.(”Colleagues Express Disbelief Over Arrest of Doctor with Picture-Perfect Life,” NYT 1/21) The reporter goes on to give the dates and circumstances of each patient’s story, one having occurred on Jan 12 and one elicited by a patient after hearing news of that event; her experience occurred the previous Sept. The Times article differs from all other coverage of this story in that Ms. Otterman felt it necessary to mention the full name of Dr. Newman’s wife, a practicing physician herself. She also felt the need to describe the house where the two live with their children as well as the town where it is located.
In a revealing scene from the current movie Concussion, former Pittsburgh Steeler team physician Dr. Julian Bailes (Alec Baldwin) and county coroner Dr. Cyril Wecht ( Albert Brooks) examine pathology slides of the brain of a retired player who died presumably due to repeated head trauma.
Have you ever wondered how, with billions of cell phone transmissions floating around in the air, why you only hear the call that came for you? Why you aren’t constantly interrupted with pieces and bits of other people’s conversations made on separate calls? After all, many of them are being made on the same “cell” that you are using.
During the course of last fall’s semester, swastikas were found at the posh Fieldston School in Riverdale and a sixth grade student drew one in art class, seemingly unaware of its significance. Additionally, a notebook appeared with the cover exclamation “Hitler Rocks.” In response to the protests of Jewish parents, the school convened a special meeting for the sixth grade to discuss these events but apparently stressed the original use of the swastika as a symbol of peace, stating it could also be a symbol of hate but failing to even mention the word Holocaust. To make a second round of amends after this egregious “oversight,” the school made arrangements for the Simon Wiesenthal Center to send its regional director, along with a Holocaust survivor to tell her story to the entire middle school.
Hillary Clinton has roundly condemned North Korea’s claimed successful testing of a hydrogen bomb–the most powerful kind of nuclear weapon. In her statement she said that North Korea “…must have no doubt that we will take whatever steps are necessary to defend ourselves and our treaty allies.”
If you thought 2015 was an unpredictable political year, wait until you see what 2016 has in store. The political dynamic that has brought us to this point has been unprecedented, which means the coming months will continue to deliver wildly unforeseen outcomes.