Qui tangit frangatur.

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A round peg in a world of square holes...

Monday, April 30, 2007

Freeway collapses in San Francisco Bay Area

A fuel tanker traveling under Interstate 580 at the MacArthur Maze interchange in Oakland hit a guardrail and crashed into a pylon at 3:41 AM PST, igniting its load of 8600 gallons of gas (petrol). Flames rose to 200 ft, and the 2750 Fahrenheit (1510 Celsius) heat caused the steel frame of the I-580 overpass to buckle, and bolts to melt, resulting in its collapse.

Click on the image or here for more pictures.

Google Map of the crash site here.

The driver is suspected of speeding at the time of the incident. I am not surprised, the long curves at this part of the freeway make it really tempting (and fun) to speed. The lack of generous shoulders on either side of the roadway means that misjudgments are costly though.

Video by baconmonkey.

8600 gallons (32,680 liters), 2750 F, damn! And I thought you can only achieve that if you set Rosie O'Donnell on fire.

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Pretty Deadly

Lantana camara umbel. Canon Digital IXUS 70 (also known as Canon PowerShot SD1000).


Inferno Ed's post left me fuming:

Japanese Cardinal Stephen Fumio Hamao has rejected a call by Pope Benedict to learn Latin prayers and Gregorian chant as Euro-centric and "impossible for Asians"[ . . . ]

Sacramentum Caritatis (Sacrament of Love), the pope's new apostolic exhortation on the Eucharist. In that document, the pope speaks about Latin and suggests that Catholics learn some Latin prayers and Gregorian chants.

This is not a good idea, according to Cardinal Hamao, who taught Latin to the Emperor of Japan when he was crown prince. "It is impossible for Asians," he asserted. "Nobody knows Latin. Most priests don't study it, and they don't know it. That is European-centred. It is too much!"

Wow, all that from a sample size of one.
And the crown prince of Japan is representative of all Asians how?

We reportedly can't drive too, Your Eminence.
I mean, how can we see anything out of these slit-eyes?

Watch out when you are crossing the road, Your Eminence.

Ascendo tuum.*

[* = Up yours.]

Whale Sharks

LingtheMerciless posted two sobering posts about the plight of Whale Sharks (Rhincodon typus) in captivity. "Whaleshark Tragedy" concerns the death of a young captive Whale Shark, Ralph, from a perforated stomach. The other, "Whalesharks in fish tanks?" is self-explanatory.

The partial results of a necropsy, released Wednesday, indicate that Ralph succumbed Jan. 11 from peritonitis brought on by a perforated stomach. The 22-foot fish, which had recently lost its appetite and was being force-fed, simply stopped swimming and sank to the floor of the Ocean Voyager exhibit. Within hours, he was pronounced dead.

The clinical answer to his death has done little to quiet other questions.

Did force-feeding the leviathan — using a 5-foot-long PVC pipe, about an inch-and-a-half in diameter — possibly perforate his stomach? A shark expert in Florida believes the feeding tube may have irritated Ralph's gut but didn't cause a hole in it.

[ . . . ]

Robert Hueter, director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Fla., participated in the necropsy. In addition to the perforation, Ralph's stomach had abrasions, Hueter noted.

Could the force-feedings have caused those scrapes? "I will say only that there's a possibility that the tube contributed to the irritation in the stomach," Hueter said Thursday. The aquarium, Hueter said, was relying on common procedure when it began feeding Ralph and Norton through a tube. "The animals tolerate this very well," Hueter said.
         (Atlanta Journal Constitution  30 March 2007.)

More articles.

I am shocked to discover that force-feeding is a common procedure in aquariums around the world. Chalk another one up for foie gras.

Naomi Rose of the Human Society of the United States: "I can guarantee you, that they'll never be force-feeding whale sharks in the wild."

She earlier asserted,

What killed Ralph, and may yet kill the other whale sharks, are captivity, ignorance and arrogance. Little is known about whale sharks in the wild, which makes knowing how to keep them alive in captivity a bit of a hit-or-miss exercise, one that is academic for aquariums, but life or death for the sharks.
         (Atlanta Journal Constitution  17 Jan 2007.)

Marilee Menard, executive director of the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium, spins:

Watch the face of a child looking in wonder at a gracefully swimming beluga whale. It's a magical moment, not only for children but for adults, as well. Connecting people to live animals is a powerful, proven way to promote wildlife conservation. Thanks to the Georgia Aquarium, more than 4 million people understand and care more about marine animals, especially belugas and whale sharks.

It is an insult to the aquarium's professional staff, volunteers, members and the city of Atlanta for activist Naomi Rose of the Humane Society of the United States to suggest that it would have been better for Gasper the beluga whale and Ralph the whale shark to die rather than be rescued by the aquarium, where they received excellent care and inspired millions of visitors.
         (Atlanta Journal Constitution  19 Jan 2007.)

Watch this video of the Ocean Voyager tank (containing Whale Sharks) in Georgia Aquarium. Listen to the noise level and note the constant flashes from camera strobes. Whale Sharks grow up to 66 ft (20 m) long. Ralph, a juvenile, was 22 ft (6.7 m) long. They travel over 1250 miles (2000 km) every 100 days, and dive down to 2,500 ft (762 m).

This is the global range of the Whale Shark.

Now think how far removed the 263 ft (80 m) long, 126 ft (38.4 m) wide, 33 ft deep (10 m), Ocean Voyager tank, built to house Whale Sharks, is, from the animals' ocean environment. While a 6.2 million gallon (US) capacity might sound impressive, the 80 m x 38.4 m tank is really smaller than a soccer field.

To put it in human terms, the average height of an adult male in Singapore is 5' 7" (1.71 m), and 5' 9.4" (1.74 m) for USA. For simplicity, lets put it at 5' 7.7" (1.72 m). This is equivalent to confining a human male to a room 22.5 ft (6.85 m) long by 10 ft (3.3 m) wide and 2.8 ft (0.86 m) high for his entire lifetime. Now picture 3 humans in this room. That is the number of Whale Sharks in the tank before Ralph died.

Georgia Aquarium maintains that their Ocean Voyager tank is designed to comfortably hold SIX Whale Sharks.

Picture the living room of a Housing Development Board (HDB) flat / apartment with a ceiling 2.8 ft (0.86 m) high, housing 6 adult human male for their entire lifetime.


At the same time, there nags the question of, how then, do we raise public awareness of these gentle giants? How do we save them before they all disappear?

If the Georgia Aquarium did not take Ralph, he would have become seafood in Taiwan.

Whale Sharks are slow swimmers, and are often found swimming near the surface in search of plankton patches. This behavior makes them easy prey for fishermen.

Totally harmless to humans, Whale Sharks feed on plankton, small crustaceans, small fish, and squid. They suck in water through their enormous mouths and filter out food through gill rakers, sleeve-like structures on their gills.

Whale Shark meat is known in Taiwan as tofusa (Tofu Shark). Commanding prices of US$15 per kg (2.2 lbs), it is prized for its white, high water content flesh, which is said to resemble tofu. It is caught in Penang (Malaysia), Thailand, India, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and the Philippines.

Whale Shark meat is also very popular in Hong Kong.

Market demand is such that even juveniles are not spared.

The method of Whale Shark fishing is brutal.

Once a Whale Shark has been spotted, the fisherman jumps into the water, driving a big, tethered hook deep into the animal´s body. Then, the Whale Shark is stabbed with spears until it is so weak that the fishermen can begin to attach the animal to the underside of the boat without it struggling. A knife is then driven into the spinal cord to paralyze the animal, but not kill it, otherwise the heavy animal would sink. Next, the fishermen saw sink-sized holes through the animal´s jaws, to run ropes through, in order to lash it to the underside of the boat. When the boat reaches port or the shore, the Whale Shark is finally killed, cut into pieces, and sold.

Images of a Whale Shark hunt and slaughter in the Philippines.

The ultimate fate of the Whale Shark: stir-fried tofusa.

What do we do?
What shall we do?

Given a choice between the dinner table and an aquarium, the choice for Ralph is obvious (at least for the short term). But what about the larger context? Is it ethical to imprison a handful of Whale Sharks in aquariums around the world (and shortening their lives) if it will mean raising public awareness, and thus, saving the species from extinction? Or are we just kidding ourselves?

Ling ponders:

You just can't feel for the fish til you've come up close and personal. Should this experience be made available to the common man in the street for a fee? Or only a privilege only divers or snorkellers are members of?

While you ruminate over that, watch this award-winning, joint Wildaid/Merciless production, "Goodwill Hunting" (9 min 40 sec); filmed and edited by LingtheMerciless. Music by Leonard Ng and Nightsound. Diver, Davy Koh, on a KISS rebreather. Load the entire clip, then watch it.

Friday, April 27, 2007

A lifetime in a day

By Frederic Larson.

         6 AM, Crissy Field, San Francisco.

         7 AM, Hawk Hill, Marin.

         7 PM, Drakes Beach, Point Reyes.

All I can say is, you had to be there.

Cho Seung-Hui

An English major writes a few (very bad) plays, goes off the deep end, shoots a bunch of people, and suddenly, everyone who can read is a literary critic.

Latte art

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Earth 2.0

On Tuesday, a team of European astronomers announced that they had not only found a new planet circling a comparatively nearby star in the constellation Libra, but that that planet is unexpectedly Earth-like. Like Earth, it orbits a comfortable distance from its sun; like Earth, it maintains a surface temperature somewhere between 32 and 104 degrees Fahrenheit [0 and 40 degrees Centigrade]. Most importantly, like Earth, it could easily harbor surface water. In the biological arithmetic we know best, warmth and water often equal life.

For all its terrestrial feel, the new planet — unpoetically dubbed Gliese 581c — has a decidedly extraterrestrial look. It is probably more than 1.5 times the diameter of Earth and five times heavier. But unlike our world, which orbits a comfortable 92.9 million miles from the flames of the sun, 581c hovers just 7 million miles from its home star. What prevents it from being incinerated like a match head is that its star is a red dwarf, only about one one-hundredth as bright as the sun. The dim light coupled with the planet's close proximity places it in what astronomers call the habitable zone: the spot at which temperatures remain comfortable and water can remain liquid. All this has led to a fair amount of astronomical hyperventilating. "On the treasure map of the universe, one would be tempted to mark this planet with an X," said Xavier Delfosse, an astronomer with Grenoble University in France and one of the planet's co-discoverers. Dmitri Sasselov of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, went further, enthusing to The New York Times, "It's 20 light-years [away]. We can go there." (Sasselov did not make it clear just how we'd make that 120 trillion mile trip when it still takes us eight months to cover the 35 million miles to Mars.)

("Life on the New Planet?", Time)

Although the planet’s parent star is among the 100 closest to the Sun, humankind’s chances of visiting it, let alone escaping there in the event of environmental disaster on Earth, is vanishingly small. Even with the fastest manned spacecraft to be built, it would take astronauts 554,000 years to get there.

("Found, a planet like earth — but 554,000 years away," The Times)

The Fishchaser:  we should tell the Japanese we found a planet full of giant tentacle monsters and their females are somehow little schoolgirls

The Fishchaser:  we'll be going faster than the speed of light in a week

I second that :-P

Headline of the month

No, I am not thinking "Suffer the Little Children," but this:

         Catapult boy is eaten after taunting crocodile in pen.

         Crocodile 1, Catapult Boy 0.

Anyone nominated young Master Liu for a Darwin Award yet?
At 9-years-old, he might even qualify for a special door prize.

Cute comments

This is one side of Steve Irwin's Legacy that we don't hear about often.
No doubt these youngsters were recording this act on their mobile phones...
john, Slough

Boys will be boys, and crocs will be crocs!
john swankie, Dubai, UAE

I'm all out.
Come back tomorrow.

Alternative title: "Tastes like Chicken."

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Why MTB babes rock

(Photo credits: RickR)

I like the way the photographer captured her moment of realization that she's in for a rough landing.

Did I mention rough landing? Damn! It even left a mark on the ground!

Up for more even though the impact left her unable to raise her left arm over her head. Atta girl!

(Photo credits: Wherewolf)

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Settling. Settle. To Settle.

A cherished passage from The Man,

what was. . . noticeable. . . was [the] lack of beauty. . .. the new dairyman was an ugly man. His wife was also ugly. And there was a pathos about their ugliness. Ugliness had come to ugliness for mutual support; but there has been little comfort as a result.

A line I wrote 7 years ago: "One blanket. Two worlds."

Friday, April 20, 2007

Happy Birthday!

Yesterday was the 20th birthday of The Simpsons.

I can't believe 20 years have passed since the pilot episode. Despite watching Bart escape from angry mobs on his skateboard countless times all these years, I never got the hang of it myself :-D

Spotlight: Homer's Odyssey

'Chanced upon this entry on Homer, an 18-month-old Basset Hound. Isn't he the cutest?

His owner, Susan Lammers, warns,

[H]ere's a picture of Homer. Innocent enough eh? Well, don't let those droopy eyes fool you.

When Susan went on a trip, the housesitter had her hands full with Homer:

[O]ur housesitter ask[ed] me if Homer ever runs away from home. I said no and she reported that he was missing and no where to be found. I gave her some suggestions of where to look and hoped for the best, but as the saying goes, Bassetts have a big nose and a small brain so they're not too good at watching out for cars or other big moving objects in their scent's way. I prayed he wasn't hit...

Homer was found, but he got out again. After a frantic search, the following details emerged:

So it turns out... Homer made his way from our house  up the hill several blocks to The Ephiphany School where he entered the second grade classroom at lunchtime. There he found twenty little kids lunches and he began eating his way through the sandwiches and chips when the kids all returned from the playground to find Homer having a feast at their expense. Homer and the kids all played together and the teacher looked on in fun and then called Jeanne the office manager and dog lover to come please collect the dog. She tied up Homer on the playground and their the kids continued  playing with their new mascot. Homer soaked up the love he was missing so dearly.

*Collective "Awww!"*

Thursday, April 19, 2007


A new study from Iraq’s health ministry has found close to seventy percent of Baghdad school children are showing symptoms of trauma-related stress. The symptoms include stuttering and bed-wetting. The International Committee of the Red Cross reported last week many Iraqi children are forced to pass dead bodies on the street as they walk to school.


AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE — "Oh God, why all that!" sobbed one man, scanning frozen corpses stacked up in the giant morgue at the Imam Ali hospital in Sadr City after a night-time curfew was lifted.
       Around 200 anguished relatives choked back tears and anger as they swarmed past him, frantically trying to distinguish loved ones in a grotesque pile of charred bodies, many burnt beyond recognition.
       For many, a ring, tattered remains of clothes ripped to shreds in the blast or their teeth was all there was to pick out their loved ones.

Which Star Wars Character are You?

From crufty:

I am Darth Vader.

That would explain me carbonizing the cat for stealing my mouse.

         Bad kitty!

You may address me as "Lord Vader."

Animal Classifieds

Props to crufty for this:

         For Sale: One Useless Cat

Maybe this cat is Garfield's cousin, twice removed?

         Yikes! No! Not that mouse!
         OK, no more blogging for tonight.
         I'll go riding then :-P


With regards to the tragedy at Virginia Tech, it is nauseating observing how supercilious journalists, who frequently denounce bloggers as parasites hitching a ride on traditional news media, make fools of themselves spamming VT student blogs for news leads. Read the comments on icantread01's post, "Madness on Campus."

Kerry Purcell's message from the Boston Herald takes the trophy for the most moronic post:

Hi, I hope that you and Kate are doing okay. I would love to chat with you about this horrific event. I understand that phones are not working well but maybe you can shoot me an email. I was wondering if blogging, MySpace, Facebook and Friendster are the best way to communicate while the phones are tangled.

Stay safe and I hope Kate recovers quickly.

Take care,
Kerry Purcell

"shoot me an email."
Nice choice of words, Ms. Purcell.

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic Online (rightly) cautions against fixating on Cho's violent writings:

But how many other college students have written things so creepy their teachers were worried about their sanity?  Say it's two per sizeable college in the United States; that's thousands of students who wrote really disturbing stuff, and didn't shoot anyone.  I recall my college creative writing classes, in which my most notable short story prompted several students and a very well-meaning teacher to approach me with offers of sympathy and help for my tortured issues about class, my father, and the Catholic Church.  I was almost unable to bring myself to tell all those lovely, helpful people, that I had no such issues; in the grand traditions of fiction writers everywhere, I had made it all up

All right, I confess; I did allow one particularly cute specimen to console me with a few drinks at the New Deck Tavern.  But that's a story for another day, and probably, another blog.

The point is that even if all mass-murderers did write scary prose, or make sweeping apocalyptic statements, or otherwise give some signal of their impending meltdown, the signal wouldn't do us any good, because mass murderers are really, really rare.  You'll have a thousand false positives for one false negative.  In hindsight, we can always pick out some clue to what was about to happen.  That doesn't mean that we can, or should, see those things beforehand.

Samuel Beckett, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1969, similarly wrote disturbing imagery. In Molloy, he had the namesake narrator knock, and later, repeatedly pound with his fist, on his aged mother's skull to obtain money from her. The acclaimed Asian-American writer and Professor of English at Boston University, Ha Jin, penned such violent short short stories in his postgraduate creative writing course that classmates were creeped out. Contemporary Indian-American author, Jhumpa Lahiri was a classmate of Ha Jin; she recalled how his tales of rape and murder often enraged or frightened female students. The lyrics of the album, "Murder Ballads," Nick Cave's parody of the violence in rap music, make even the most hardcore gangster rap fan blanch. Did any of these luminaries turn out to be serial killers?

Note: I am not trying to defend the artistic merit of Cho Seung-Hui's two plays, "Mr. Brownstone" and "Richard McBeef"; I can't — they are appallingly bad.

And then, there are these revolting leeches who latch on to this tragedy as a means to further their private agendas. Virginia Governor, Tim Kaine, decried,

People who want to take this within 24 hours of the event and make it their political hobby horse to ride, I've got nothing but loathing for them.

This comment is also relevant to many of the EuroWankers across the pond, with their snooty, "I told you so." An excerpt from "Europe, Please Stop Moralizing":

"Those Europeans are so evolved," writes John Wolfington of Philadelphia. "Why should we listen to people who joyously embraced totalitarianism and waged two world wars? After all that, there are still people in Europe who, to this day, cannot summon up the testicular fortitude necessary to effectively intervene and stop genocide in Bosnia in their own backyard.

         Like flies to shit.

I have heard many such things: miserable comforters are ye all  (Job 16: 2).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007



Terrorism Update

Reports indicate that the English are feeling the pinch in relation to recent terrorist threats and have raised their security level from "Miffed" to "Peeved." Soon though, security levels may be raised yet again to "Irritated" or even "A Bit Cross." Londoners have not been "A Bit Cross" since "the Blitz" in 1940 when tea supplies all but ran out. Terrorists have been re-categorized from "Tiresome" to a "Bloody Nuisance." The last time the British issued a "Bloody Nuisance" warning level was during the Great Fire of 1666.

Also, the French government announced yesterday that it has raised its terror alert level from "Run" to "Hide." The only two higher levels in France are "Surrender" and "Collaborate." The rise was precipitated by a recent fire that destroyed France's white flag factory, effectively paralyzing the country's military capability.

It's not only the English and French who are on a heightened level of alert, Italy has increased the alert level from "Shout Loudly and Excitedly" to "Elaborate Military Posturing." Two more levels remain: "Ineffective Combat Operations" and "Change Sides."

The Germans also increased their alert state from "Disdainful Arrogance" to "Dress in Uniform and Sing Marching Songs." They also have two higher levels: "Invade Neighbors" and "Lose."

Belgians, on the other hand, are all on holiday as usual, and the only threat they are worried about is No Action, Talk Only (NATO) pulling out of Brussels.

The Spanish are all excited to see their new submarines ready to deploy. These beautifully-designed subs have glass bottoms so the new Spanish navy can get a really good look at the old Spanish navy.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Felicem diem natalem

It's Pope Benedict XVI's 80th birthday today.
Click on either image to send birthday wishes to the Holy Father :-)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Hermitage exit, 5 PM

V. Khomenko, Canon SD800.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Twin Tail Babe

         for the twin tail babe...

       Less yawning, more running!


Thursday, April 12, 2007

Spin Doctors, Inc.

Muhammad Saeed al-Sahhaf, better known as Baghdad Bob, must be the latest Foreign Talent headhunted by Singapore.

Check out the latest spin:

       The Economic Times: Singapore economy slowed.

       Bloomberg: Singapore economy slowed.

       The Wall Street Journal: Singapore economy slowed.

       The Straits Times: Singapore economy ROBUST!

More at MENinWHITE.

Don't piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining.

"No" to being a hangar queen II

Follow up to "No" to being a hangar queen:

Potential organ donor was wrongly declared brain-dead.
The error raises concerns about the medical care of those who have promised their organs for transplants.

By Charles Ornstein and Tracy Weber, Los Angeles Times
April 12, 2007

A man whose family agreed to donate his organs for transplant upon his death was wrongly declared brain-dead by two doctors at a Fresno hospital, records and interviews show.

Only after the man's 26-year-old daughter and a nurse became suspicious was a third doctor, a neurosurgeon, brought in. He determined that John Foster, 47, was not brain-dead, a condition that would have cleared the way for his organs to be removed, records of the Feb. 21 incident show.

"It kind of blew my mind," said the daughter, Melanie Sanchez, "like they were waiting like vultures, waiting for someone to die so they could scoop them up."

Foster, who had suffered a brain hemorrhage, died 11 days later at Community Regional Medical Center in Fresno. By then, Sanchez said, his organs were not viable for donation.

The apparent close call is the second in recent months to raise questions about whether, amid a national organ shortage, doctors might be compromising the care of prospective donors. Law enforcement authorities in San Luis Obispo County are investigating whether a transplant surgeon tried to hasten the death of a 26-year-old patient last year by ordering high volumes of pain medication.

Contacted Wednesday, Community Medical Center's spokesman John Zelezny characterized Foster's case as "unusual" and said it "wouldn't surprise me" if the medical staff launched an internal review.

"This hasn't fully played out yet," he said. National experts said they believe that it is uncommon for a patient to be declared brain-dead incorrectly. But the ramifications are great, they said, both for the potential donors and for the integrity of the organ donation process.

"It is one of those things that is pretty spooky when it happens," said Dr. Michael A. Williams, chairman of the ethics committee of the American Academy of Neurology. "It's a rare, but high-stakes, error."

Said Dr. David J. Powner, a professor of neurosurgery and internal medicine at the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston: "It only takes one or two of those situations to really sour the public and sour those upon whom we depend so much for donation."

Brain death means that a person has suffered a total and irreversible loss of brain function. The patient is comatose, cannot breathe without support and lacks reflexes. It often is determined by a mixture of physical examination and clinical tests, and meets the legal standard for death.

There are no national criteria for declaring brain death, but California law requires that two physicians independently verify the condition and that those physicians not have any role in procuring the patient's organs. Organs cannot be retrieved until a patient is declared legally dead.

Foster, an auto mechanic, collapsed Feb. 18 and was diagnosed with an inoperable Pontine bleed, a catastrophic hemorrhage in his brain stem with almost no hope of recovery.

Hours later, hospital personnel alerted the California Transplant Donor Network — the organ procurement group for much of Central and Northern California — that he was a potential candidate for organ donation. Such notification is routine.

After Sanchez agreed to donate, she said, she got calls "at least twice a day" from the organ group, saying: "We have to get the body parts in a certain time. Your dad can be a life-saver to someone else. How is he doing today? Did he go up or down?"

In the afternoon of Feb. 21, it seemed the end had arrived for Foster. First, one doctor declared him brain-dead, according to confidential internal records kept by the organ group and reviewed by The Times.

Then, a couple hours later, a second doctor, an emergency physician, shined a light on his pupils and agreed. With two such declarations, Foster was legally dead under California law.

Sanchez said she was concerned because the second doctor seemed in a rush.

3rd opinion sought

After the exam, Sanchez recalled, "he just came in and threw the paper on my dad's legs and said, 'We got two signatures. We're pulling the plug,' He said, 'That's hospital policy.' "

She said she demanded a third opinion.

About the same time, a nursing supervisor asked the family to leave the room and did her own examination, the organ group's records show. Foster displayed a strong gag and cough reflex and slightly moved his head, all inconsistent with brain death. She shared her concerns with physicians.

The third doctor, neurosurgeon Mukesh Misra, determined that Foster was not brain-dead and supported Sanchez's decision not to remove her father from life support, records show.

Misra declined to comment on his colleagues' actions, but said, "I know what I did was right."

Dr. Robert Grazier, the second physician who declared Foster brain-dead, acknowledged that he performed a brief examination. "I examined the patient and I confirmed the first doctor's findings that were recorded. That was about it," Grazier said.

"My involvement in it was pretty minimal," he said.

The Fresno hospital's policy does not specify how long a physician must spend examining a patient nor what tests the doctor should order. It only says that the doctor must write his findings in the patient's chart.

Williams, the ethics expert, said he sets aside 30 to 45 minutes to perform a brain-death examination or confirmation exam. Told of notes in Foster's record, he said, "If the documentation is correct, they should never ever have considered the possibility of brain death for that patient…. It's not even close."

Phyllis Weber, executive director of the California Transplant Donor Network, said the donation would not have proceeded anyway because her organ procurement staff also had concerns about whether the patient was brain-dead.

"They do a careful examination, and if there's any questions, the process gets halted then until their questions are resolved," Weber said. "The public should be really grateful that that happens."

If her staff had concerns, however, they were not reflected in the confidential case notes kept by the donor network.

She said she was sorry to hear that Sanchez felt pressured. Other family members told The Times that they did not feel coerced, although the ultimate decision was Sanchez's.

"It's certainly not ever our position to pressure families to make this decision," Weber said. "We have people who are very trained, have a great deal of experience, and we give families a lot of time."



According to the family members of the late Mr. Sim Tee Hua, they were not allowed to transfer him to another hospital for a different medical opinion.

Et tu, Brutè?

Additional Information:
Death Certificate of Mr. Sim Tee Hua
Medical Report of Mr. Sim Tee Hua

Costco — Your one-stop shopping center for truly everything

OMG, and I thought it was an urban legend. This is too awesome. I remember the first time I stepped into Costco: 5-gallon tubs of soy sauce, mayonnaise; OJ comes in 8 liters; milk in 4 gallons; sausages in 10 lbs. It is a Mormon temple to consumption and excess. Beautiful.

This is how they get you, as you leave the Costco, your senses numbed from the huge banks of fluorescent lights and the enormous boxes of batteries and lard and meat stacked three stories high, a weird and detached state that, somehow, lets you easily see death as a commodity and not the slightest bit profound or transitive or interesting. Ain't that America.

Oh yes. Pink roses, giant glossy mauve caskets, shiny metal handles, crepe lining, the works. Because why have your last gesture on the planet resemble something tasteful and humble?

A nice gray casket with lion's head handles and maybe a built-in iPod adapter (just in case you can take it with you), and then, a new set of 205 PR13s for the Lexus. Why the hell not?

While shopping at Costco, they and the Universal Casket Company work in careful tandem to happily remove your need -- and even your ability -- to emote. Hey, it's right there on the sign.

Your Shiny Happy Discount Death
Amongst the bulk cheese and the plasma TVs, a slew of coffins, now at Costco. Bargain!

By Mark Morford, San Francisco Chronicle
April 11, 2007

Walk the massive air-conditioned aisles and ogle the giant slabs of meat and the enormous bins of imported Guatemalan fruit and the economy packs of adult diapers and the two-gallon bottles of vodka, much of it generally aimed at the happy retirement crowd that lives here six months out of the year.

And then notice, as you leave, your cart crammed with drums of olive oil and 10-foot plasma TVs and 80-packs of frozen cream puffs, that strange display you apparently didn't notice when you came in, the one right by the front door next to the tires and the lawn furniture and the hot-dog stand, the one you seem to have blocked out because it was just too weird and your mind couldn't really get around it.

Yes, they are coffins. They are enormous, shiny caskets for sale, at Costco. Would that I were making this up.

This is what you see: A seemingly innocuous, nondescript display featuring corner sample pieces of giant kitschy caskets (alas, there are no full-sized models to climb into to test for comfort/fit/sex/morbid humor), all made by something called the Universal Casket Company, and they apparently come in all manner of glossy finish and silky crepe linings and fake gothic handles and pink rose filigree and all available for immediate overnight delivery because, well, you just never know.

Yes, you can now buy a coffin at Costco. Six, actually, different styles and qualities and color schemes to match your lifestyle and your sofa and your love of mauve and fake lion's-head handles and it is, all at once, funny and disturbing and creepy and yet, somehow, entirely appropriate. You want shameless target marketing? You want life and death and commerce and capitalism and convenience all rolled into a little ball of gloomy consumer joy? Here is your nirvana.

Look a little closer. Around the display are a number of modest signs featuring handsome black-and-white stock photos of healthy-looking, middle-age people apparently discussing why the hell they'd want to buy a huge shiny $1,000 casket at Costco, why you'd want to consider such a thing right after you just spent two hours on a sunny Saturday dumping 300 bucks on bulk cheese and massive platters of frozen chicken wings and maybe a 29-person camping tent.

Each sign has its own simple sales-pitch phrase above the photo, such as "Affordable" or "Non-Threatening" or (my personal favorite) "Non-Emotional," which I take to mean that Costco believes it's much gentler on your nerves and easier on your deepest fears to consider casket acquisition on a benign, shopping-crammed weekend than to wait until, say, you're sitting in a bleak funeral home and you can't choose a shade of taupe for the deceased's pillow through all the teary, soul-crushing Muzak. After all, why feel death? Why not let Costco help you send grandma off with ease, without those pesky feelings? Mmm, numbness.