Thursday, March 03, 2005

Re the reecnt death of popular bandleader Martin Denny, RIP, at least he got to "pop off", or what the Japanese call "pokkuri", in his sleep, peacefully, quietly. What a nice way to go. Long live the pokkuri exit! Rest in eternal peace, Denny!

NEWS ITEM: from www.boingboing.net
Martin Denny, (April 10, 1911 - March 2, 2005). Beloved exotica bandleader Martin Denny died last night. The good news was that he died peacefully in his sleep, in Hawaii, at the age of 94. Popping off like that, or ''pokkuri'', as the Japanese say, is not a bad way to shuck your mortal coil.

GOOGLE: the practice of visiting pokkuri-dera, or "sudden death temples" by Japanese
===================================
In Japan, prayers for a discreet death

news article from the AFP , GOOGLE for more details:

A heart attack or sudden natural ailment would be a dream come true for the pilgrims who flock to this Japanese town where an ancient temple is reputed to fulfill a modern wish: discreet death.

Winter is the quietest time for the Kichidenji Buddhist temple, but a group of four elderly people braved the cold weather to make their annual pilgrimage and pray they would not burden families in their final years.

"I want to 'pop off'. I think more and more people feel the same way," said one pilgrim.
=================================

pokkuri , to die quietly in sleep, discreet death, RIP, old age

彼は「愛してるよ」と言って、ぽっくりと死んだ in Japanese
[kare wa "aishite'ru yo" to itte, pokkuri to shinda] in romaji
He said "I love you," and dropped dead. (translation)
========================================
and here is a social commentary soon to be published in a major US newspaper oped section:

When my time comes, I hope I will just ''pop off''

[opied commentary by Name Witheld until Publication Day]

When you get ready to meet your maker, do you want to die a long slow, painful, costly death -- or do you just want to "pop off"?

I ask this question because there's a unique Buddhist temple in Japan where people go to pray that they will just "pop off" when they die and not be a burden on their families during their final days.

They ask the gods to let them "pop off" --"pokkuri" in Japanese -- and die a sudden death, preferably on a quiet night in their sleep, or via a sudden heart attack, without spending a long time in a sickbed at home or in a nursing home or hospital.

I read about this temple in the newspapers the other day and was immediately drawn to the subject. I want to ''pop off'', too, when I go. What about you?

An elderly Japanese housewife was quoted in the article as saying, "I want to pop off (''pokkuri''). I think more and more people feel the same way in a graying society."

She had gone to the temple to pray for a quick end when the time comes. And she knows, as we all do, that the time will come someday.

This Buddhist temple was set up over a thousand years ago in Japan by a monk whose mother had passed away peacefully after she wore clothes that he had prayed over. A tradition was born, and ever since then, pilgrims across Japan have been coming to the Kichi-denji Temple to pray for a discreet, quick, popping-off kind of death.

"Let me pokkuri," they say.

Maybe that's a good word we ought to borrow from the Japanese -- as we have done with sushi and sashimi and wasabi -- and make part of our postmodern American vocabulary.

"God, grant me a good life, a useful (and meaningful) life, and when it's time, let me 'pokkuri' in a dignified, discreet way. Amen."

That's my prayer. What's yours?

The Buddhist priest at this temple in Japan told a reporter that the pokkuri prayers offered there represent "a simple desire for people to hope to die a peaceful death."

"It's natural that children should wish that their parents have a long life," he said. "However, seeing aged parents anguishing in bed or too senile to recognize their own children makes many people, especially daughters here in Japan, come to hope that their parents will die quiet, quick, discreet deaths."

Well, I'm paraphrasing, since I can't read Japanese very well. But I think I know what that priest was getting at.

According to news reports, around 10,000 people come to this temple in northern Japan every year to pray the Pokkuri Prayer. They pray that they will not be a burden to their families when they meet their maker.

A 76-year-old woman interviewed for the news story said that her husband of 40 years died suddenly a few years ago from a heart attack, after repeating telling her that he wanted to "pop off" -- and pop off he did."

His prayer was answered," she said. "I want to follow suit some day."

I can relate to that.

Life's been good, I've had a great ride, and at 55, I still have a few more years to go, I hope. But like those pilgrims at the Kichi-denji Temple, I hope that when I go, I can just"pop off" in a quick, quiet way.

Give me pokkuri, O Lord, when you give me death, yes!

Nowadays, many Americans are debating such issues as assisted death and assisted suicide. Oregon's Death With Dignity Act has some people up in arms, and others quite satisfied.

Meanwhile, the US federal government's Controlled Substances Act has other people up in arms, and the debate about doctors using certain medications to help some patients die continues to heat up.

One of my neighbor's father is almost 90. He's in a good health, except that he doesn'treally know what he did yesterday, he's more or less blind, he can't hear too well and well, you know, he's getting ready to meet his maker. I pray that he will have a "pokkuri moment" and leave this Earth in a quick, quiet way -- preferably in his sleep, in a dreamstate, headed back to the stars.

And when my time comes, as come it must, I'd like to "pop off", too.

What about you? Do you want a long, drawn-out death or a pokkuri moment of release?



--------------------------------------------------------------------------

8 Comments:

At 7:03 PM, Blogger dan said...

When my time comes, I hope I will just ''pop off''

by Dan Bloom

[ op-ed commentary]

When you get ready to meet your maker, do you want to die a long slow,
painful, costly death -- or do you just want to "pop off"?

I ask this question because there's a unique Buddhist temple in Japan
where people go to pray that they will just "pop off" when they die
and not be a burden on their families during their final days. They
ask the gods to let them "pop off" --"pokkuri" in Japanese -- and die
a sudden death, preferably on a quiet night in their sleep, or via a
sudden heart attack, without spending a long time in a sickbed at home
or in a nursing home or hospital.

I read about this temple in the newspapers the other day and was
immediately drawn to the subject. I want to ''pop off'', too, when I
go. What about you?

An elderly Japanese housewife was quoted in the article as saying, "I
want to pop off (''pokkuri''). I think more and more people feel the
same way in a graying society."

She had gone to the temple to pray for a quick end when the time
comes. And she knows, as we all do, that the time will come someday.

This Buddhist temple was set up over a thousand years ago in Japan by
a monk whose mother had passed away peacefully after she wore clothes
that he had prayed over. A tradition was born, and ever since then,
pilgrims across Japan have been coming to the Kichi-denji Temple to
pray for a discreet, quick, popping-off kind of death.

"Let me pokkuri," they say. Maybe that's a good word we ought to
borrow from the Japanese -- as we have done with sushi and sashimi and
wasabi -- and make part of our postmodern American vocabulary.

"God, grant me a good life, a useful (and meaningful) life, and when
it's time, let me 'pokkuri' in a dignified, discreet way. Amen."

That's my prayer. What's yours?

The Buddhist priest at this temple in Japan told a reporter that the
pokkuri prayers offered there represent "a simple desire for people to
hope to die a peaceful death."

"It's natural that children should wish that their parents have a long
life," he said. "However, seeing aged parents anguishing in bed or too
senile to recognize their own children makes many people, especially
daughters here in Japan, come to hope that their parents will be die
quiet, quick, discreet deaths."

Well, I'm paraphrasing, since I can't read Japanese very well. But I
think I know what that priest was getting at. According to news
reports, around 10,000 people come to this temple in northern Japan
every year to pray the Pokkuri Prayer. They pray that they will not be
a burden to their families when they meet their maker.

A 76-year-old woman interviewed for the news story said that her
husband of 40 years died suddenly a few years ago from a heart attack,
after repeating telling her that he wanted to "pop off" -- and pop off
he did.

"His prayer was answered," she said. "I want to follow suit some day."

I can relate to that. Life's been good, I've had a great ride, and at
55, I still have a few more years to go, I hope. But like those
pilgrims at the Kichi-denji Temple, I hope that when I go, I can just
"pop off" in a quick, quiet way. Give me pokkuri, O Lord, when you
give me death, yes!

Nowadays, many Americans are debating such issues as assisted death
and assisted suicide. Oregon's Death With Dignity Act has some people
up in arms, and others quite satisfied. Meanwhile, the federal
government's Controlled Substances Act has other people up in arms,
and the debate about doctors using certain medications to help some
patients die continues to heat up.

One of my neighbors is a kind old Chinese man, almost 90. He's in a
good health, except that he doesn't
really know what he did yesterday, he's more or less blind, he can't
hear too well and well, you know, he's getting ready to meet his
maker. I pray that he will have a "pokkuri moment" and leave this
Earth in a quick, quiet way -- preferably in his sleep, in a dream
state, headed back to the stars.

And when my time comes, as come it must, I'd like to "pop off", too.

What about you? Do you want a long, drawn-out death or a pokkuri
moment of release?
--------------------------------------------------------------------------
NOTE: Dan Bloom, Tufts 1971, is a freelance writer in Asia. He can be reached
at danbloom@gmail.com

 
At 2:17 AM, Blogger dan said...

Ashley Smith Is Not A Hero


By Brian Edward Scott Sr.
Mar. 25, 2005

First, I would like to correct the media in their persistent ignorance. If Ashley Smith is anything, she is a Heroine, not a Hero.

The "colic" graduates that write and report the stories of today are no more educated than my fellow grade-school mates when I was a child. I would like to say that I am glad in the way the situation turned out. I am glad that Ashley Smith was not harmed and that the Atlanta rampage ended peacefully. In addition, I am glad that Ashley Smith received the reward money; she is entitled to it. However, she did nothing to be given the title, "Hero", and the book that she read to Brian Nichols had nothing to do with his surrender. Brian Nichols would have surrendered if Ashley Smith had read; "Goldilocks and the Three Bears" to him. The man was extremely tired and hungry. He had no fight left in him. Whatever wire that crossed in Brian Nichols brain, apparently mended and he came to his senses. I am not defending Brian Nichols; I think that he did a terrible thing and should be prosecuted as the law warrants. As for Ashley Smith, media paints a picture of almost super-human feats by her. It is as if she single-handedly ripped the weapon from Brian Nichols hand, subdued him, led him to the window by the ear and made him wave the white flag. This is nothing further from the truth. After "spending his fuel" on the murders of four innocent lives, Brian Nichols probably could have been pushed over by a feather, twenty-four hours later.

 
At 9:17 PM, Blogger dan said...

News Sites Solicit Articles
Straight From Readers

By VAUHINI VARA
THE WALL STREET JOURNAL ONLINE
April 11, 2005 updated

The local newspaper in Greensboro, North Carolina, .is trying a new
approach to help its readers feel more connected to the newsroom: The
paper is asking readers to go out and write some articles themselves.

At the Greensboro News & Record's Web site, registered users can
submit their own stories by clicking on a link. An editor gathers
submissions, makes a few small edits, then publishes the articles
online -- sometimes within hours. Among recent stories written by
readers: an op-ed commentary from a reader named Dan Bloom in far away
Taiwan on "popping off" (pokkuri, in Japanese) when you die, a feature
by a local reader on an upcoming cotton-mill convention and a primer
on Social-Security reform.

The Northwest Voice, from the publisher of the Bakersfield Californian
newspaper, includes news articles and photographs submitted by
readers.

In the past year, a handful of small newspapers have launched
variations on that model. Newspaper publishers are eager to find new
ways to connect to readers -- daily newspaper circulation dropped 11%
between 1990 and 2003, according to Editor & Publisher magazine. Now,
as do-it-yourself Web publishing tools are making it easier for
laypeople to create blogs, newspapers are borrowing ideas from those
informal Web journals in an effort to make their own coverage more
accessible, and, they hope, attract more readers.

"If they didn't host these conversations, they would still occur
outside the confines of the news organization," says Al Tompkins, an
online-journalism professor at the Poynter Institute, a nonprofit
training center for journalists in St. Petersburg, Fla. "It's much
smarter for us to be somehow involved in this."

Secretary Turned Reporter

Readers don't get paid when they submit stories to the sites, but
those who contribute say they don't mind, as long as they get credit.
"It's what I've always wanted to do," says Caroline Reid, a
67-year-old in Bakersfield, Calif., who writes for Northwest Voice, a
reader-written Web siteand biweekly newspaper launched last year by
the publisher of the Bakersfield Californian newspaper.

Ms. Reid used to work as a secretary for an oil company executive. Now
retired, she writes about one article a month, on subjects like senior
citizens who are writing memoirs, a group of local teenagers on a
surfing trip and a pastor's wife who acts on the side -- recently, in
a local production of "The Vagina Monologues." (The story's headline:
"Not Your Mother's Pastor's Wife.")

In Greensboro, meanwhile, Dan Bloom, a native of Boston, wrote an
800-word op-ed piece on "popping off", a term he borrowed from the
Japanes custom of praying for pokkuri, or a sudden quick death in old
age. Bloom reads the News & Record online from an email cafe in
southern Taiwan, where he works as a freelance reporter and editor. He
said that as a result of publication in the News & Record online
edition, he has received email from around the world, including offers
by newspaper syndicates to syndicate future articles he writes.

In addition, the chief executive of a local retirement community wrote
a recent piece titled, "Understanding Social Security Reform." It
begins as a primer on Social Security and finishes like an opinion
column: "Americans cannot depend upon its lawmakers to do the right
thing tomorrow if they are unwilling to do it today. We need to do
something today. The program will not fix itself."

Despite the occasional controversial article, many of the
reader-written sites look more like church bulletin boards than, say,
the New York Times.

As it turns out, most contributing readers prefer to leave the city
council meetings and school board elections to reporters at the local
papers. Instead, they tend to focus on news the paper would likely
overlook -- like photos of a young gymnastics champion in Bakersfield,
Calif., courtesy of his mother. She makes the case that he should be
the next Northwest Voice youth athlete of the month.

Lex Alexander, who holds the newly created position of
citizen-journalism coordinator at the News & Record, says it is too
early to tell whether the reader-generated content has boosted Web
traffic. A spokeswoman for Northwest Voice declined to reveal traffic
numbers for the Web site.

Local newspapers have long accepted submissions from readers, but they
typically come in the form of letters to the opinion page or society
columns about goings-on about town. The sites are betting the new
approach will help them uncover feature stories that residents find
interesting, but that their staff reporters are unlikely to write
about.

"A newspaper staff has no monopoly on knowledge," says blogger Dan
Gillmor, a former San Jose Mercury News columnist who has been a vocal
advocate for what he calls grassroots journalism. "In fact, every
reporter should realize that, collectively, the readers know more than
they do about what they write about."

James C. Currow, executive vice president of newspapers at Augusta,
Ga.'s Morris Publishing Group LLC, is an unlikely proponent of that
idea. This week, his company pulled the plug on the Carolina Morning
News, a 10-year-old daily newspaper in Bluffton, S.C., with a
circulation of 6,000 and replaced it with a flashy Web site and
matching newspaper called Bluffton Today.

As part of the launch, Bluffton Today's staff passed out digital
cameras to the community's best gossips -- "the unofficial cruise
directors," Currow calls them -- and told them to snap away, then
upload their photos to BlufftonToday.com. The site also hosts blogs by
local residents and readers overseas in Taiwan, such as the
above-mentioned Mr. Bloom, and Currow says he'd like to solicit
articles written by readers in the future.

Barbershop Gossip

For newspapers to acknowledge that readers might make good reporters
is an unusual -- and risky -- move. After all, editors often say their
unbiased writing and professionally trained staff set them apart from
blogs.

Poynter's Mr. Tompkins compares reader-generated Web sites with
barbershop conversations, but says it is more difficult to decide
whether to trust a person through the Internet than when he's getting
his hair cut in the next chair. "It's much harder to assess the
answers to these questions: What's their motivation, how reliable are
they, and what's their past track record?" he says.

The reader submissions raise legal concerns for publishers, lawyers
say, particularly since they are reviewed before they are posted
online. "It's not like a blog or a bulletin board where people just
throw things up and the publisher has no control," says Marc Gorelnik,
an attorney at Townsend and Townsend and Crew LLP in San Francisco.
"They're editing it, and they're choosing to place it there, so
there's potential for liability."

Gary Bostwick, an attorney with Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton in
Los Angeles who defends media companies against libel claims is more
blunt: "It seems to me that it's fraught with dangers," he says.

All of the sites that accept reader submissions clearly mark the
source of such content, and keep it separate from their own reporters'
work. At the Northwest Voice, stories are given a basic scan for
grammar, spelling and obvious factual errors, a spokeswoman says. The
site tacks a disclaimer to each story that reads, "The opinions and
accuracy of information in this article are the responsibility of the
contributor." The News & Record tucks user-submitted articles into a
separate arts-and-entertainment Web site tied to the newspaper, and
doesn't publish them in print. Editors at the paper plan to integrate
reader-submitted stories more closely with the main site, and they
plan on printing some of the stories in the paper in the future.

A few larger news organizations have experimented with giving readers
a greater say in what gets published. Boston.com, the Boston Globe's
Web site owned by New York Times Co., invites readers to submit
content like wedding photos and restaurant reviews, but stops short of
letting them write news articles. MSNBC.com, a joint venture of
General Electric Co.'s NBC News and Microsoft Corp., is going further
with its new Citizen Journalists page, which recently posted
first-person accounts of encounters with Pope John Paul II, but says
it carefully checks each submission's accuracy through independent
reporting or by following up with the person who sent it.

"It's a real concern," says MSNBC.com Executive Editor Tom Brew of the
difficulty of confirming facts. "We don't want people trying to pull a
hoax on us."

But Ms. Reid, the Northwest Voice contributor, playfully rejects the
suggestion that readers can't produce the kind of work that
professional journalists turn out. "I don't think there's a reporter
at the Californian that has any better skills or writing than I do,"
she says. The daily newspaper, she says, is riddled with "misspelled
words, poor grammar and unflattering pictures of people."

 
At 10:23 PM, Blogger dan said...

April 15, 2005

from TV news guy TOM SNYDER

ITS APRIL 15TH ALREADY--BUT IN MY LIFE THERE IS A LOT MORE GOING ON THAN TAXES!



So I think I mentioned last time I was facing a bunch of tests to find out what was going on with me. I don't eat that much but I have gained weight--about fifty pounds since I quit smoking more than five years ago. Almost uncontrollable sweating in the middle of the night. Bloat like my gut is gonna explode. And just a general lack of stamina as the day wears on. Wellsir, I had a colonoscopy and everything is fine there. But a cat scan turned up some interesting stuff. My spleen is enlarged, which the doctors say might be crowding my stomach in my abdomen, thereby causing some of the bloating I am experiencing. And judging by my white cell count and a variety of other factors including what was shown on the cat scan, I have been diagnosed with something called chronic lymphocytic leukemia. Jesus H. Christ! When I was a kid leukemia was a death sentence. Now, my doctors say its treatable! With pills or chemotherapy or a combination of both. Lemme pause here on this word treatable. Four years ago they stuck a defibrillator/pacemaker in my chest because my heart disease was treatable! A year and a half ago a nearly torn tendon in my left leg was diagnosed as treatable. Then I came down with atrial fibrillation, but was told not to worry about that because it is treatable! I don't know how much more room I have in my aging carcass for this treatable shit! Anyway, my doctors assure me this is nothing to worry about, and I have to accept that, I guess. They say this kind of leukemia is not fatal, that people can live with it for thirty years. Notice, they don't say people will live thirty years. But they "can" live up to thirty years. Considering I will be sixty nine years old next month I ain't looking for thirty years, but fifteen more would be nice! I looked up chronic lymphocytic leukemia on the Internet and found a source that predicted people who are diagnosed early can live up to twelve years. Those who are not diagnosed early--and the website does not define "early"-- have a survival rate of about two years. I don't know if my diagnosis was early or late. My doctors say this disease (which I'll refer to as CLL from now on) has a very slow rate of progression. I had more blood work done today to make certain this diagnosis is correct. The doctors will have the results of this in a week or so and then we will see what treatment they recommend. I am going to Northern California for about two weeks and I am not taking my leukemia with me. The doctors say that's okay with them. The next visit to the medicos is scheduled for May 4th.

I think I mentioned last week that my young brother was facing a health issue. I can tell you now what it is. CLL! We both have the same thing, or so we have been told. I mentioned this to my doctors and they all said, "Isn't that something!" There's a reason doctors call what they do a practice! Brother John and I share some symptoms and not others. But as we both know, human beings are not like Fords. Every Ford engine responds to repair or treatment the same way. We mortal beings are all different. What may work for me may not work for my brother. And vice versa. But I have made one decision today: I am now actively spending my heir's inheritence!

Am I the only one who noticed the opulence and wealth on display at the Pope's funeral? Am I the only one who was bothered by the Pope's body being hauled around the Vatican (I think displaying the body after death is barbaric)? As I watched the Cardinals in their red robes and sashes and the pomp and majesty of the ceremonies I kept thinking: we certainly have come a long way from the stable where Christ was born!

Some quick thoughts. Despite what George W. says, the Social Security system is not in trouble and does not need fixing and the people are onto him. Tom Delay is a jerk. Hilary Clinton is already running for the Presidency for 2008. The Red Sox-Yankee rivalry is on the verge of getting out of hand. There was more fan interference at Fenway last night that nearly wound up in a brawl or a riot. Early morning network television is not news anymore--its a joke. I miss Dan Rather. And Tom Brokaw. And I pray in my own stupid way for Peter Jennings to get well soon. David Letterman's son is a very cute kid. But I'd like Dave to introduce us to his Mom. "Saturday Night Live" is not funny. HBO exists because people must have a place to say "fuck" on television as many times as they can. GM and Ford have lost the way when it comes to designing and building sexy cars that make us wanna buy them. There is no Iraqi oil money to pay for reconstruction. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rice don't have a clue as to what is going on there. The worst Italian reastaurant in New York (if there is such a thing) is better than the best Italian restaurant in most other American cities. Books by celebrities about themselves bore me to tears. Its time for Emeril to pack it in. And Dr. Joyce Brothers. And Maury. And Regis. And Paul Harvey. Donald Trump spends a lot of time telling people how to get rich. But I haven't heard him mention how helpful it is to have a father who kicks in 45 million as seed money!

As my brother and I were finishing our conversation today about whose CLL was worse, he mentioned that he was seeking another opinion. I told him he was funny looking!

Back soon, same time. Same station. 'Night all!

 
At 8:58 AM, Blogger dan said...

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