Noble Laureate Christian de Duve, Chooses Euthanasia

Belgian scientist Christian René, viscount de Duve who won the Nobel prize for Medicine together with Albert Claude and George Palade in 1974 for their work on subcellular biology, passed away on 04 May this weekend.

de Duve who was 95 years old, chose to end his life through euthanasia after suffering a fall. Here he provides some thoughts on what he terms “ultimate reality.”


Recently he was quoted by the Belgian daily newspaper Le Soir as saying,

It would be an exaggeration to say I’m not afraid of death, but I’m not afraid of what comes after because I’m not a believer. When I disappear I will disappear, there’ll be nothing left.

His daughter Francoise confirmed that he refused to take any anti-anxiety pills before administering the lethal injection, and died with a smile.

A noble Nobel Laureate indeed…

Kim Jong-il (1941/42 – 2011)

English: Kim Jong-il Русский: Ким Чен Ир 日本語: ...

Image via Wikipedia

What are the chances? Kim Jong-il dying at about the same time as Christopher Hitchens who absolutely despised the North Korean dictator. Some coincidence, yes?

While Hitchens’ death was mostly lamented and regretted, Kim’s death was mourned openly, as evidenced by this YouTube video, to a degree that is quite bewildering. Now that is deeply disturbing.

Either the North Korean people genuinely loved the degenerate old tosser, or the show of grief is a put-on by a fearful populace. I’m going with the latter.

The passing of this evil tyrant will be mostly welcomed by all people in the world who have their heads screwed on right, but it also leaves everyone a bit jittery about what’s going to happen to the country which has nuclear capability. Kim’s successor, his own son Kim Jong-un appears to be just as evil, if not more so, just judging by this picture embedded after fact number 14 of this article in The Telegraph.

Off course there are a few sub-humans in the world who are at this moment bemoaning the death of Kim Jong-il and the decimation of the Despots Club; most notably one Robert Gabriel Mugabe of Zimbabwe. And it’s only a matter of time until some dingbat in South Africa’s own dictatorship-in-the-making, the ANC, will come out publicly to sing the praises of Dear Leader.

Now if only Mad Bob would croak before the end of the year in less than two weeks; it would be a bumper year indeed for the obliteration of tyrannical pieces of fecal matter. Come on Santa, make it happen!

How about a Remembrance Day for the victims of collateral damage?

Perhaps I’m the only person who thinks it highly pretentious when the world goes gaga over remembering the soldiers who perished in the various wars, civil, political and religious. And perhaps these people would be justified in labelling me an insensitive ingrate.

But hold your horses!

There’s the ubiquitous Remembrance Day, and then there’s the variations on a theme:

Wreaths of artificial poppies used as a symbol...

Armistice Day, Day of National Mourning, Poppy Day, Memorial Day, Anzac Day, Veterans Day, etc. But apart from Yom HaShoah which remembers the Jews who died in the Holocaust, I can’t seem to find any other day that significantly commemorates the lives lost by the innocent victims of warmongering, the so-called collateral damage.

Why should just the pawns of warmonger’s be remembered? Are their lives any more special than the lives of the innocent townsfolk who get caught in the cross-fire.

You’re probably wondering why I’m venting over this particular bee in my bonnet?

On Saturday, I was accused by a privileged prat from the first-world country, of being disrespectful towards fallen soldiers who supposedly “gave me my freedoms,” when  I tried to point out in my own inimitable style that soldiers fall to protect the interests of politicians and clerics. At the same time I was thinking how facetious it is for first world countries to always imagine that they have the soldiers who give their lives for the freedoms of their fellow citizens, while those from supposedly bad-ass countries, who have had their asses kicked and also perished, do not.

Every time a soldier falls, he does it not for his country, a grandiose cause or his religion, as he is led to believe; he falls for the dogmatic beliefs of his political, religious, cultural or clan masters. No man or women will pick up a gun of his own accord and decide to kill someone of an opposing belief system, unless he’s a pathological killer or just plain insane. It takes leaders of the political and religious persuasions to plant the seeds of hatred and fear in the minds of soldiers to convince them to risk the “fall.”

So, far from being insensitive or disrespectful, I would be just plain immoral to honour fallen soldiers without attempting to rationalise why they fell in the first instance, and then not make an effort to expose and address those causes.

Remembrance Day should honour not only the soldiers who have fallen, but those who perished for no reason whatsoever in the idiotic fight over dogmatic beliefs sown by the political and religious villains of the world.

Some thoughts on the death of my father

Its been just over a week since my father passed away after a protracted illness. Now that the business of laying him to rest, and the memorial service has been concluded, I finally have a chance to pen some thoughts about the experience, which I admit does not make for particularly pleasant reading.

During my years at school, I read a wonderful quip by someone, which goes something like “Death is a dreary, dull affair, and my advice to you is to have nothing whatsoever to do with it.” Brilliant, isn’t it? Until it comes calling at your door, off course! And now it was my turn to deal with it.

My father had been quite ill for many years. In the last year or so, his dialysis sessions were increased to three times a week, but his condition steadily declined. His death was not unexpected; however it was delayed by his tenacious will to live, quite evidently through a lot of pain. The painful expression that was almost permanently etched on his face, still dog my mind. Amazingly however, he insisted on functioning normally and doing the things that were of quintessence right to the end.

This situation posed a few questions which I tried to analyze for a time, even just prior to his death, but I could come to no real conclusions. The natural evolutionary tendency for humans is to try to survive, even if the body is in revolt. But is it desirable for a person to endure pain and suffering , especially when afflicted with a terminal illness, as in the case of my father? And while its natural for family and friends to hope for someone who is ill, to hang on for as long as possible, is it not somewhat selfish in the case of terminal illness. Is it not possible that our wish for longevity, could place pressure on terminally ill people to force themselves to live a little longer, usually under tremendous pain? And off course, watching someone waste away in pain, is extremely distressing for family and friends; not to mention the burden that care-giving places on them. A vicious cycle indeed!

I received news of him being admitted to hospital about a week before his actual passing on. With the above thoughts playing out in my mind, I delayed traveling down to Durban from Johannesburg, secretly, irrationally hoping that he would pull out of this latest setback, like he had done so many times before. On the advice from my brother that the prognosis did not look very good this time, I finally decided to make the 600 kilometer trip. Again, with irrational hope, I packed just a few jeans and t-shirts, thinking that somehow he would surprise us once again, and I would be happily back on my way to Johannesburg in a few days.

I didn’t get to see him alive one last time. He passed away while I was in transit…

I remember arriving in Durban to the smell of fireworks, and receiving the news from my tearful mother. Strangely I felt no immediate grief. I was actually relieved. Is that wrong? Does being relieved when death ends pain and suffering, constitute immoral behaviour? I should certainly think not. Yes, I’m sad, but I’m happy too, for the end of my father’s pain, and just as importantly, the end of the anguish endured by his family.

The funeral did pose a moral dilemma for me, being the eldest child. I agonized for a little while over participating in the elaborate Hindu funeral rituals, but realized that supporting the family in a time of bereavement was more important than my secular principles. Although I did not participate fully in all the prayer rituals, I did ensure that I gave them my full support and was present throughout. And, the arrival of my father’s only surviving brother from Canada, did relieve some of pressure off me. At times my rational self did get the better of me when I questioned the logic of some of the religious practices, but I relented soon enough.

I volunteered to pay tribute to my father at a memorial service held yesterday, and I managed to write down a few thoughts, but quickly had to scupper that when my sister, suspecting that I would use the opportunity to speak about my religious and political beliefs, asked me politely to refrain from turning the eulogy into a lecture. I had to resort to winging it, and I suppose I did a fairly decent job, since no one in the largely conservative, religious audience, had a heart attack.

For me, life goes on. I just hope that the rest of the family can put this tragic episode behind them fairly quickly and live their lives normally again.