February 24th, 2007

krazy koati

I play my part and you play your game

I don't generally pay much attention to the small talk that the afternoon news anchors engage in to fill the gaps between stories or between the last story and the 6:00 news. But yesterday (Thursday, to be precise) I'd been listening a bit more alertly than usual because Dad had been watching very carefully the Anna Nicole Smith hearing to determine how to dispose of her corpse. I wouldn't have thought that particularly interesting either, but Dad was very enthusiastic about Judge Larry (I missed his last name), who was trying his best to out-quirk every arraignment judge ever on Law and Order combined. Never mind his weird crying jag when awarding the corpse to Britney Spears and saying he wanted it buried in the Bahamas. What about offering his credit card out to buy the diabetic lawyer some orange juice? Anyway, with strangeness like that going on I was admittedly primed to listen more carefully.

The last, human-interest, piece for the 5:00 news was about a guy, Greg, with no heart. He had rather urgently needed a heart transplant, and none was available, so they installed one of the newest model artificial hearts as a stopgap. The doctor was not unreasonably merry in showing off how his reasonably well patient had a perfectly flat electrocardiogram. And it answered one of my lingering little questions about artificial hearts: there is a sound to them, a ticking like an old alarm clock. I would have imagined perfect quiet coming from your chest to be very unsettling. But it's still only suitable for a short-term expedient so he still needs a donor heart. The news anchors after that story mentioned that they hoped Greg got his new heart soon.

I don't have anything against Greg, and I'm signed up as an organ donor myself, and certainly we all say things intended to be pleasant and hopeful without thinking out the implications fully. But: for Greg to get a new heart, someone else will have to die. It won't be at his direction except in a cop show world, but that is just how it works out. I know the sentiment they want to express, but there's still that unsavory implication at the end of it. The lesson, I suppose, is that I shouldn't pay close attention to the bread crumbs of news anchor interaction.

Trivia: Pope Gregory XIII signed the bull establishing the Gregorian Calendar on 24 February 1582, less than eight months before it would change the calendar for Roman Catholic nations. Source: The Calendar, David Ewing Duncan.

Currently Reading: 1215: The Year of Magna Carta, Danny Danziger, John Gillingham. When did it change from `Magna Charta' to `Magna Carta', anyway?