Terry Pratchett: Shaking Hands With Death


10 thoughts on “Terry Pratchett: Shaking Hands With Death

  1. Don’t know whether you’ve posted this yet. My comments are in square brackets on this sections are in brackets.

    Source: http://www.seesharppress.com/20reasons.html

    4. Christianity is extremely egocentric.[They think everything that exists revolves around them.] The deep egocentrism of Christianity is intimately tied to its reliance on fear. In addition to the fears of the devil and hell, Christianity plays on another of humankind’s most basic fears: death, the dissolution of the individual ego. Perhaps Christianity’s strongest appeal is its promise of eternal life. [The Jews don’t believe this, and neither do I.] While there is absolutely no evidence to support this claim, most people are so terrified of death that they cling to this treacly promise insisting, like frightened children, that it must be true. Nietzsche put the matter well: “salvation of the soul—in plain words, the world revolves around me.” [Yup] It’s difficult to see anything spiritual in this desperate grasping at straws—this desperate grasping at the illusion of personal immortality.

    Another manifestation of the extreme egotism of Christianity is the belief that God is intimately concerned with picayune aspects of, and directly intervenes in, the lives of individuals. If God, the creator and controller of the universe, is vitally concerned with your sex life, you must be pretty damned important. Many Christians take this particular form of egotism much further and actually imagine that God has a plan for them, or that God directly talks to, directs, or even does favors for them.(1) If one ignored the frequent and glaring contradictions in this supposed divine guidance, and the dead bodies sometimes left in its wake, one could almost believe that the individuals making such claims are guided by God. But one can’t ignore the contradictions in and the oftentimes horrible results of following such “divine guidance.” As “Agent Mulder” put it (perhaps paraphrasing Thomas Szasz) in a 1998 X-Files episode, “When you talk to God it’s prayer, but when God talks to you it’s schizophrenia. . . . God may have his reasons, but he sure seems to employ a lot of psychotics to carry out his job orders.”

    In less extreme cases, the insistence that one is receiving divine guidance or special treatment from God is usually the attempt of those who feel worthless—or helpless, adrift in an uncaring universe—to feel important or cared for. [You could have a setback in your life that you turn to your advantage by using your grey cells and by trusting in and acting on your own abilities. The fundie will tell you that it’s not YOU who has turned the situation around, implying that you’re just as big a loser as they are. ] This less sinister form of egotism is commonly found in the expressions of disaster survivors that “God must have had a reason for saving me” (in contrast to their less-worthy-of-life fellow disaster victims, whom God—who controls all things—killed). Again, it’s very difficult to see anything spiritual in such egocentricity.


  2. From same source as para 4 above. Fundies are miserable sacks of shit. There’s not much happening with my sex life right now, but that doesn’t prevent four fundie neighbours – it’s now two houses to my right with binoculars at the windows – from trying to find out whether that could change. If they wait long enough, something will happen here nookie wise, they reason. They have more confidence in my prospects than I do.

    13. Christianity depreciates the natural world. In addition to its morbid preoccupation with sex, Christianity creates social myopia through its emphasis on the supposed afterlife—encouraging Christians not to be concerned with “the things of this world” (except, of course, their neighbors’ sexual practices). In the conventional Christian view, life in this “vale of tears” is not important—what matters is preparing for the next life. (Of course it follows from this that the “vale of tears” itself is quite unimportant—it’s merely the backdrop to the testing of the faithful.)

    The Christian belief in the unimportance of happiness and well-being in this world is well illustrated by a statement by St. Alphonsus:

    It would be a great advantage to suffer during all our lives all the torments of the martyrs in exchange for one moment of heaven. Sufferings in this world are a sign that God loves us and intends to save us.
    This focus on the afterlife often leads to a distinct lack of concern for the natural world, and sometimes to outright anti-ecological attitudes. Ronald Reagan’s fundamentalist Secretary of the Interior, James Watt, went so far as to actively encourage the strip mining and clear cutting of the American West, reasoning that ecological damage didn’t matter because the “rapture” was at hand.


  3. Striking that we have gone back in compassion despite medical advances. You need a whole team of lawyers and doctors to support an assisted death, and the decision would take so long to make that the patient would have already died in agony.


  4. Terry Pratchett says we are not fallen angels but rising apes, an allusion to creationism versus Darwinism. But the argument here is not that religion is so much against assisted suicide as is institutionalised medicine which is fearful of legal prosecution. Religion, other than Islam, has become irrelevant in the UK as it has in most of northern Europe. You still see religious abuses in third world countries where the people are poor and gullible. Fundamentalism itself came from the backward bible belt in the US. South Africans still stick to Calvinism, which results in white guys feeling they have the right to kill “their” women if they disobey them. If post-apartheid society does not agree with that point of view, they flee to some backward South American country that does not have extradition treaties with South Africa. So we have a much bigger problem with religion in this country than the UK does.


  5. Can’t be soon enough for me as I am starting to misread words. Maybe that’s because I try to read too fast. Nope, it’s because I’m 64.

    Cure for Alzheimer’s closer
    by JAMES CHAPMAN, Daily Mail

    A treatment to reverse Alzheimer’s Disease could be available in five years, it has been revealed. Experiments on mice have indicated that a new vaccine not only halts the advance of the disease, but repairs damage already done.

    It could also be given to patients whose families have a history of Alzheimer’s, to prevent them developing the disease.

    The research by British, American and Canadian scientists, was being hailed last night as the most significant breakthrough yet. Harry Cayton, chief executive of the Alzheimer’s Society, said: ‘This really does make us optimistic.’

    A growing number of elderly and even middle-aged people are being struck down by the degenerative brain disease, which has some 500,000 sufferers in Britain alone. It causes untold misery to families who are left to care for loved ones who may no longer recognise them.

    The vaccine attacks the build-up of a protein called beta-amyloid, which forms a damaging waxy plaque on brain cells. The latest research, reported today in the scienctific journal Nature, suggests the drug not only removes the proteins but can restore mental functions.

    Clinical trials of the vaccine, which is called Betabloc and made by Dublin-based Elan Pharmaceuticals, are already under way in the UK.
    Preliminary results appear to show it is safe and has no side-effects. About 80 patients with mild to moderate forms of Alzheimer’s are taking part in a second set of safety trials, which are close to completion.

    The breakthrough came as researchers worked with mice genetically engineered to develop a disease similar to Alzheimer’s.
    Scientists already knew that the vaccine could reduce plaques, but they used a new test, devised by experts at Edinburgh University, to evaluate whether it could also improve memory and cognition.

    Professor Richard Morris, of Edinburgh’s department of neuroscience, said past attempts to find a cure for Alzheimer’s had been hampered because there was no way of testing short-term memory in animals given experimental treatments.

    He said: ‘Patients in the early stage of Alzheimer’s disease are often good at remembering events from early in their lives, but keeping track of more recent times is a real problem.

    ‘It is easy enough to distinguish a human’s short-term memory, but until now we could not test the same function in rodents.’

    The new test involves monitoring the mice in an elaborate ‘water maze’ where the way out to dry areas is changed frequently.

    Researchers in both Toronto and Florida found dramatic improvements in the memories of mice given the drug over several months.

    Dr Peter St George-Hyslop of the University of Toronto said: ‘Not only were we able to clean up the brain tissue, but we also prevented the behavioural consequences of Alzheimer’s.’

    The scientists believe their work provides final proof of exactly how Alzheimer’s is initiated by chemical changes in the brain, although other factors play a role in its development.

    Professor Morris said: ‘We know that Alzheimer’s sufferers express an abnormal amount of beta-amyloid, which collects in the brain and forms plaques.

    ‘It seems a person’s ability to learn and remember things declines as these plaques grow, and we know this is true for both humans and mice.’

    The experts stressed that the vaccine could not become generally available until it has been through large-scale clinical trials.

    But Mr Cayton, who described the research as ‘extremely exciting’, said: ‘It would not be unrealistic to say that we might see a treatment within five years.’

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10539/Cure-Alzheimers-closer.html#ixzz2dX63ohlZ
    Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook


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