May 11, 2010

The end of a (V)era

Category: Alzheimers — Biella @ 4:31 am

The end of (V)era

I did not think this day would come anytime soon. When the time came—when the time came for my mom to pass on—I thought I would be not only be accepting and ready but would welcome it with open arms. After a decade with Alzheimers, after two years bound in bed, and after months of barely able to sculpt even a word, I thought I was ready to see my mom breathe her last breath.

But when the end came, the surprise, shock, and sadness were unmistakably there and I was silently urging my mother to keep fighting to breathe. In the end, it was her lungs that took her from this life as most everything else was still running smoothly and strong. She smoked like a chimney, so when she got pneumonia in late April, her diminished lung capacity made it hard for her to breathe, to get the oxygen needed to be present. But I expected a full recovery as she had reacted almost immediately and positively to the antibiotic treatment. She was still physically strong as a horse, for example, during this hospital stay, three of us had to hold her down when we did various tests.

But one day to the next her blood pressure plummeted. Since I was unaware of this, I thought she was just (and finally) sleeping deeply after two days of barely doing so. After 8 hours of barely moving, the nurse let me know that in fact her vital signs were dim as were her chances of living. That evening, I crawled into bed with her for one last night together. Finally the next morning, as I was stroking her face, I witnessed her final breath.

This is what I read at her service.

May 10, 2010

Means and Ends Must Match (and it is already limited btw)

Category: Academic,Conferences,Gender — Biella @ 5:17 pm

Would you hit it? (by which I mean would you go to this conference?). The title is Limiting Knowledge in a Democracy and check out the list of speakers. Wait a minute, are there just 2 Women listed out of 27 (7.4%)?

The conference boldly states and asks:

There is no question that the free access to knowledge and information are the bedrock of all democratic societies, yet no democratic society can function without limits on what can be known, what ought to be kept confidential and what must remain secret. The tension among these competing ends is ever present and continuously raises questions about the legitimacy of limits. What limits are necessary to safe guard and protect a democratic polity? What limits undermine it?

An answer (in the form of action) is simple. Form must meet function, means must match ends or else these questions strike me as terribly hollow. Start at the start and then ask some questions.