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Hello, my name is Judas Gutenberg and this is my blaag (pronounced as you would the vomit noise "hyroop-bleuach").


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   organ-donating doubts
Wednesday, May 21 2003
I just read an interesting thing about the fifteen billion dollars earmarked for the global fight against AIDS, as promised by President George W. Bush during his State of the Union address (wherein he also specified the many weapons of mass destruction supposedly warehoused in Iraq). A third of that fifteen billion is supposed to be used exclusively for "abstinence-only" sex education. I'm having trouble wrapping my head around the idea that American Christians are horrified by the idea of poor people in distant countries using condoms. But even more incomprehensible is the idea that those with such oddly absolutist morality are the ones writing our foreign policy. No wonder Christian evangelicals have a way of getting their heads cut off whenever they venture too far from the comfort of suburbia.

Gretchen came back from Massachusetts this evening, having spent over a day comforting the family of a victim of acute meningococcaemia. It sounded like a pretty disturbing experience; the victim lies in a coma covered with blistering purple sores. The only reason he isn't dead is the incredible good state of his health before the disease struck. It came as a bolt from the blue, a reminder to all of us that we are as fragile as Red Rose figurine armies. Perhaps he got the disease on the subway (always wash your hands after touching a subway pole!) or maybe he got it overseas.
Gretchen was exhausted after all this time being helpful and supportive, so now it was my turn. She ordered up a polenta pie stuffed with beans and quorn, handing me the Moosewood Cookbook so I'd know how to make it.
Before bed, Gretchen and I had an interesting conversation about organ donation, of all things. Suddenly Gretchen isn't so sure she wants to donate her organs in the event of her death. She fears they might end up inside an oafish meat eater or somebody with horrible politics. Indeed, in this country, the chances of Gretchen's donated organs ending up inside a vegetarian with an appropriately lefty worldview is probably somewhat less than the chance of them supporting the health and well being of a flag-waving anti-abortion dog-kicking Klansman. She'd rather they were donated to science or chucked in the clay. "Here lies Gretchen, all of her, because she couldn't be sure some asshole wouldn't get her organs." It surprised me to hear her expressing such misanthropy. If this was her argument, why bother leaving tips for waiters - since they'll probably just use the money to go buy ham sandwiches. Indeed, why bother waking up in the morning - the Sun will go supernova in a couple billion years and all our accomplishments will have been for nothing. Still, I had to recognize a certain logical consistency to Gretchen's organ-donating doubts. The irony, of course, is that superficially it's me who comes across as the bigger misanthrope (I wasn't the one spending the past 24 hours comforting a sick man's family), yet my attitude about organ donation is "Hell, I'm not using 'em anymore, ladle 'em into whoever the hell needs 'em. And lots of luck with that liver!"

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