Farewell. The Flying Pig Has Left The Building.

Steve Hynd, August 16, 2012

After four years on the Typepad site, eight years total blogging, Newshoggers is closing it's doors today. We've been coasting the last year or so, with many of us moving on to bigger projects (Hey, Eric!) or simply running out of blogging enthusiasm, and it's time to give the old flying pig a rest.

We've done okay over those eight years, although never being quite PC enough to gain wider acceptance from the partisan "party right or wrong" crowds. We like to think we moved political conversations a little, on the ever-present wish to rush to war with Iran, on the need for a real Left that isn't licking corporatist Dem boots every cycle, on America's foreign misadventures in Afghanistan and Iraq. We like to think we made a small difference while writing under that flying pig banner. We did pretty good for a bunch with no ties to big-party apparatuses or think tanks.

Those eight years of blogging will still exist. Because we're ending this typepad account, we've been archiving the typepad blog here. And the original blogger archive is still here. There will still be new content from the old 'hoggers crew too. Ron writes for The Moderate Voice, I post at The Agonist and Eric Martin's lucid foreign policy thoughts can be read at Democracy Arsenal.

I'd like to thank all our regular commenters, readers and the other bloggers who regularly linked to our posts over the years to agree or disagree. You all made writing for 'hoggers an amazingly fun and stimulating experience.

Thank you very much.

Note: This is an archive copy of Newshoggers. Most of the pictures are gone but the words are all here. There may be some occasional new content, John may do some posts and Ron will cross post some of his contributions to The Moderate Voice so check back.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

HCR -- Getting Prepared for Death

By John Ballard

In the sad aftermath of the death of Whitney Houston I would be remiss in my mission of raising awareness of health care reform if I failed to post something about death and dying. Without making a big deal about it,  here are two items that have come across my monitor in the last few hours. 

?How to get ready for death by Rob A. Ruff

Go to the link to read the whole post, but here is the Readers Digest version.

  1. Start early. Begin preparing when you�re young and healthy and death is, presumably, a long way off. Don�t wait until you�re old and sick and death is just around the corner. Then it may be too late.

  2. Think about death � your own death, I mean � for a moment or two each day. Ponder for those brief moments the possibility that this day might be your last. Ask yourself: �Is there anything I need to say or do if today is my final day?� Thinking about death like this isn�t morbid, as some believe. The point isn�t to dwell on death but to take its reality seriously in order to live more fully. Pondering your own inevitable death is an age-old practice, called �memento mori� (�remember that you will die�) that has helped people embrace life through the realization that they do not have all the time in the world. 

  3. Remember that death is a part of life � a normal, natural, expected part of life. It is life�s �change agent�, in the words of Steve Jobs, which �clears out the old to make way for the new�. There is, according to the ancient Biblical wisdom, recast for modern generations by Pete Seger and the Byrds, a time and season for everything under heaven � for birth and eventually also for death. 

  4. Reject the superstitious belief, common in American culture, that thinking or talking about death makes it happen. It doesn�t work that way. We don�t open the door and let death in just by speaking its name. Take comfort in the words of Fred Rogers (TV�s �Mr Rodgers�) who said, of talking to children about difficult subjects like death, �Whatever is mentionable is manageable.� Yes. Whatever we can talk about, we can deal with.

  5. Make a �bucket list� (what did we call it before that movie?) of things you want to do, places you want to go, experiences you want to have in the time you have left. Work at checking things off the list. Enjoy yourself along the way. Realize that having a �bucket list� and working to get items checked off provides a subtle reminder that one day, maybe sooner, maybe later, yours will be kicked. 

  6. If you are a praying person, use prayer, especially your bedtime prayers, as a way of preparing for death. This too is an age-old practice that was once taught to children, as in the classic bedtime prayer: Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my soul to keep. If I should die before I wake, I pray the Lord my soul to take.� You will be more adept at relaxing into the arms of the God to whom you pray as death approaches if you�ve practiced doing so each evening as you drift off to sleep. John Henry Newman�s well-loved prayer is used by many for this purpose: O Lord, support us all the day long, until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over, and our work done. Then, in your mercy, grant us safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last. Amen.

  7. Read a little poetry. Poets have a unique and insightful way of helping us embrace the not-easily-embraceable truth that death will come, without fail, for each of us.  [...]...we can approach death�s door bravely, trusting that �where so much greatness and gentleness have been already, you should be glad to follow.�

  8. Prepare an Advance Medical Directive. This is a form designating someone to make medical care and treatment decisions on your behalf if you are ever too sick to speak for yourself. You can also describe in this document the sort of medical care you want and do not want, especially as you come to the end of life. A form like this helps your loved ones and caregivers know your wishes, preferences and values. An Advance Medical Directive helps insure you get the care you particularly want. Discuss your wishes with the person you designate as your health care agent. File a copy of the completed form with your primary physician. Every one of us should have an advance directive.

  9. Say the most important things to the most important people in your life. In his book, The Four Things That Matter Most, palliative care physician Ira Byock writes of how he learned from dying patients that the most important things to say to our loved ones before it�s too late 

    • Please forgive me

    • I forgive you

    • Thank you

    • I love you


Short Documentary - Aokigahara Suicide Forest

The darkest side of death and dying regards suicide. Among military personnel, both veterans and those on active duty, suicide is at an all-time high.  I read somewhere that a month or two ago more of those serving in uniform committed suicide than were killed in combat. And no one who has been paying attention to the news can be unaware of a rash of suicides among young people being bullied. The main targets are those with sexual identity issues, but they are by no means the only victims. 

This twenty minute video about a forest area in Japan is not preachy, but in a powerful way underscores the issues that lead many to suicide and gently plants reminders how the problems leading them to that tragic decision might be faced more constructively. 


  1. About 30 years ago I had what is referred to in medical parlance as a "near death experience." I will not go into great detail, but it involved drowning, CPR, and watching the ER medical crew frantically working to restore vital signs from somewhere outside of myself and thinking that their urgency and haste was unjustified, because I was enjoying an immeasurable sense of peace.
    That has profoundly changed my perception of death and, as is reported by the vast majority of people having such experience, I have no fear of death as I did before the experience. I say that merely becuase it is such a common phenomenom, and I find it intriging.
    My bucket list is done, although I add things to it from time to time and check them off, and I have accomplished (or have ongoing) all of the other eight items on the list. It is a profoundly worthy list, and I don't think I see anything missing from it.

  2. Bill, it sounds to me like you're in excellent psychological health. And from what I've read that's one of the important variables in longevity.