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WOSSNAME -- AUGUST 2009 -- PART 1 OF 5

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  • granny_tude
    WOSSNAME Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion AUGUST 2009 (Volume 12, Issue 8) *********************************************************************
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 25 4:02 PM
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      WOSSNAME
      Newsletter of the Klatchian Foreign Legion
      AUGUST 2009 (Volume 12, Issue 8)
      *********************************************************************
      WOSSNAME is a FREE publication for members of the worldwide
      Klatchian Foreign Legion and its affiliates, including the North
      American Discworld Society and other continental groups. Are you a
      member? Yes, if you sent in your name, country and e-mail address.
      Are there any dues? No! As a member of the Klatchian Foreign Legion,
      you'd only forget them...
      *********************************************************************
      Editor in Chief: Annie Mac
      Editor Emeritus (retd): Joseph Schaumburger
      News Editor: Fiona (not Bruce) Bruce
      Newshounds: Vera, Mogg, Sir J of Croydon Below, the Shadow
      Staff Writers: Asti Osborn, Paul Blake, Steven D'Aprano
      Convention Reporters: Mithtrethth Hania Ogg et al
      Staff Technomancer: Jason Parlevliet
      Book Reviews: Drusilla D'Afanguin
      Puzzle Editor: Tiff
      Bard in Residence: Weird Alice Lancrevic
      DW Horoscope: Lady Anaemia Asterisk, Fernando Magnifico
      Emergency Staff: Jason Parlevliet
      World Membership Director: Steven D'Aprano (in his copious spare
      time)
      Copyright 2009 by Klatchian Foreign Legion

      oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      ------------------------------------------------------------------------

      INDEX:

      ====Part 1 -- ALL THE NEWS THAT FITS

      1) QUOTE OF THE MONTH
      2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
      3) AUCTION OF BOUND UNSEEN ACADEMICALS PROOF
      4) PTERRY IN HIS OWN WORDS: DEATH AND DIGNITY

      ====Part 2 -- DEATH AND DIGNITY (CONTINUED), AND NEWS

      5) PRATCHETT ON DEATH AND DIGNITY, CONTINUED
      6) PTERRY INTERVIEWED AT THE DARWIN FESTIVAL

      ====Part 3 -- MORE NEWS, ODDS AND SODS, AND STUFF

      7) REMINDER: UNSEEN ACADEMICALS AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
      8) NATION AUDIOBOOK -- AND NOVEL -- PRAISED
      9) LORD VETINARI XXV PIN NOW AVAILABLE
      10) MORE MARVELLOUS DISCWORLD FIGURINES
      11) BICYCLING FOR ALZHEIMER'S RESEARCH
      12) PTERRY'S A RECYCLED BESTSELLER
      13) BOOK AWARDS 101: SOME LEADING LIGHTS
      14) THE FINE TRADITION OF BEING A "HACK WRITER"
      15) REVIEW: THIEF OF TIME
      16) IMAGE OF THE MONTH
      17) DISCWORLD INK'S A WINNER
      18) ...AND DEATH IS A BENCHMARK
      19) DISCWORLD PLAYS NEWS
      20) GAMES NEWS
      21) DUTCH DISCWORLD CONVENTION IN 2011

      ====Part 4 -- HOROSCOPE

      22) YOUR MONTHLY DISCWORLD HOROSCOPE

      ====Part 5 -- ...AND THE REST

      23) LATE BREAKING BITS
      24) CLOSE

      oooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      1) QUOTE OF THE MONTH

      "Let me make this very clear: I do not believe there is any such
      thing as a 'duty to die'; we should treasure great age as the
      tangible presence of the past, and honour it as such."

      -- Pterry in the Daily Mail, August 2009

      "Life is easy and cheap to make. But the things we add to it, such
      as pride, self-respect and human dignity, are worthy of
      preservation, too, and these can be lost in a fetish for life at any
      cost."

      -- ibid.

      %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

      2) LETTER FROM THE EDITOR

      This is a month of exciting times...even interesting times, one
      might say. As I type, a convocation of longtime Pratchett fans are
      packing to gather in an English field and a cadre of harassed,
      overworked NADWcon committee members are putting the final touches
      on the schedule for the very first official American Discworld
      convention. Not to mention The Author himself, who's up to his
      beard** in fighting for the right to die with dignity, preparing to
      attend NADWcon as Guest of Hono(u)r, getting ready for the onslaught
      of new interviews when Unseen Academicals comes out in a few weeks'
      time, and oh yes, presumably working on the next book...

      O readers, please spare a hopeful thought for Joe Schaumburger,
      founder and former editor-in-chief of WOSSNAME, who is currently
      battling to recover from yet another severe heart attack. If you'd
      like to send him your well-wishes, his email address is still the
      same: jschaum111@...

      Right, on with the show!

      -- Annie Mac, Editor


      ** And a very impressive beard it is too, these days...

      %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

      3) FOR THE FAN WHO HAS EVERYTHING...

      PJSM Prints are currently auctioning a "rare UK bound proof" of
      Unseen Academicals. The proof, which is of the UK version, is one of
      only 120 copies worldwide, and the winning bidder will have their
      prize signed *and* dedicated by the Author himself.

      For all the old jokes about unsigned Pratchetts having the greater
      value, this is as special as a special thing because due to health
      reasons Sir Pterry can no longer offer dedicated signings even at
      his ever rarer signing sessions.

      To view the auction, go to:

      http://cgi.ebay.co.uk/ws/eBayISAPI.dll?ViewItem&item=200375994424

      To view the original page, which includes a lovely photo of the
      Author displaying the Unseen Academicals proof, go to:

      http://www.pjsmprints.com/news/


      [Editor's note: The PJSM Prints page also claims that what's being
      auctioned is a "bound prood". A mere slip of the keypad, or is this
      something to do with the secret of slood?]

      %%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%

      4) THOUGHTS ABOUT DEATH, FROM A MAN WHO KNOWS HIM WELL

      A long and thought-provoking letter, as published recently in the
      Daily Mail under the headline "Terry Pratchett's deeply personal
      plea":

      We are being stupid. We have been so successful in the past century
      at the art of living longer and staying alive that we have forgotten
      how to die. Too often we learn the hard way. As soon as the baby
      boomers pass pensionable age, their lesson will be harsher still. At
      least, that is what I thought until last week.

      Now, however, I live in hope -- hope that before the disease in my
      brain finally wipes it clean, I can jump before I am pushed and drag
      my evil Nemesis to its doom, like Sherlock Holmes and Moriarty
      locked in combat as they go over the waterfall.

      In any case, such thinking bestows a wonderful feeling of power; the
      enemy might win but it won't triumph.

      Last week a poll revealed that more than three-quarters of people in
      Britain approve of assisted suicide for the terminally ill.

      On Thursday, the Law Lords delivered the landmark judgment in a case
      brought by multiple sclerosis sufferer Debbie Purdy, who feared her
      husband would be prosecuted if he accompanied her to die abroad.

      She wanted the law on assisted dying to be clarified and the Law
      Lords have now ordered the Director of Public Prosecutions to draw
      up policy spelling out when prosecutions would and would not be
      pursued.

      It looks as though the baby boomers have spoken and some of them, at
      least, hope they die before they get old -- well, too old. Some have
      seen what happened to their parents or grandparents, and they don't
      like it. Every day I remember my own father's death. The nurses were
      kind, but there was something very wrong about it.

      The poll result arrived at about the same time as the Royal College
      of Nursing announced that it was ending its opposition to assisted
      dying. Other signs indicate that the medical profession as a whole
      is at least prepared to face the issue.

      I hate the term 'assisted suicide'. I have witnessed the aftermath
      of two suicides, and as a journalist I attended far too many
      coroners' inquests, where I was amazed and appalled at the many ways
      that desperate people find to end their lives.

      Suicide is fear, shame, despair and grief. It is madness.

      Those brave souls lately seeking death abroad seem to me, on the
      other hand, to be gifted with a furious sanity. They have seen their
      future, and they don't want to be part of it.

      But for me, the scandal has not been solely that innocent people
      have had the threat of murder hanging over their heads for
      committing a clear act of mercy. It is that people are having to go
      to another country to die; it should be possible to die with benign
      assistance here.

      You do not have to read much social history, or move in medical
      circles, to reach the conclusion that the profession has long seen
      it as part of its remit to help the dying die more comfortably.

      Victorians expected to die at home, undoubtedly assisted by the
      medical profession.

      In those days there was no such thing as drug control -- just as
      there was no gun control. Laudanum and opiates were widespread and
      everyone knew you could get your hands on them. Sherlock Holmes was
      one of them!

      As a young journalist I once listened in awe as a 90-year-old former
      nurse told me how she helped a dying cancer patient into the great
      beyond with the help of a pillow.

      In the absence of any better medication in that time and place, and
      with his wife in hysterics at the pain he was forced to endure,
      death was going to be a friend; it was life, life gone wild, that
      was killing him.

      'We called it "pointing them to Heaven",' she told me.

      Decades later, I mentioned this to another, younger nurse, who gave
      me a blank look, and then said: 'We used to call it "showing them
      the way".'

      Then she walked off quickly, aware that she had left a hostage to
      fortune.

      I have been told that doctors do not like patients to worry that,
      theoretically, their GP has the expertise to kill them. Really?

      I suspect that even my dentist has the means to kill me. It does not
      worry me in the slightest, and I imagine that, like many other
      people, I would be very happy for the medical profession to help me
      over the step.

      I have written a living will to that effect, and indeed this article
      in The Mail on Sunday will be evidence of my determination in this
      matter. I cannot make the laws but you have no idea how much I hope
      those in a position to do so will listen.

      In the course of the past few years, I have met some delightful
      people who say they have a passion for caring and I have no reason
      whatsoever to doubt them. Can they accept, however, that there are
      some people who have a burning passion not to need to be cared for?

      It appears to be an item of faith with many people I have spoken to
      that both doctors and nurses, at least in hospital, still have
      'things they can do' when the patient is in extremis.

      I certainly hope this is true, but I wish we could blow away the
      clouds obscuring the issue and embrace the idea of ending, at their
      request, the life of a terminally ill person at a time and, if
      possible, a place of their choosing.

      I write this as someone who has, regrettably, become famous for
      having Alzheimer's. Although being famous is all the rage these
      days, it's fame I could do without.

      I know enough to realise there will not be a cure within my lifetime
      and I know the later stages of the disease can be very unpleasant.
      Indeed, it's the most feared disease among the over-65s.

      Naturally, I turn my attention to the future. There used to be a
      term known as 'mercy killing'. I cannot believe it ever had any
      force in law but it did, and still does, persist in the public
      consciousness, and in general the public consciousness gets it
      right.

      We would not walk away from a man being attacked by a monster, and
      if we couldn't get the ravening beast off him we might well conclude
      that some instant means of less painful death would be preferable
      before the monster ate him alive.

      And certainly we wouldn't tuck it up in bed with him and try to
      carry on the fight from there, which is a pretty good metaphor for
      what we do now, particularly with 'old-timers' disease.

      (My speech-to-text programme persists in transcribing Alzheimer's as
      'old-timers'. In fact, I've heard many people absent-mindedly doing
      the same thing, and as a writer, I cannot help wondering if the
      perception of the disease might be a little kinder without that
      sharp, Germanic intonation.)

      My father was a man well tuned to the public consciousness. The day
      before he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer he told me: 'If you
      ever see me in a hospital bed with tubes and pipes all over me, then
      tell them to turn me off.'

      There was no chance of that a year later, when medicine's defences
      had been used up and he was becoming a battleground between the
      cancer and the morphine.

      I have no idea what might have been going through his head, but why
      did we have to go through with this? He had been told he had a year
      to live, the year was up, and he was a practical man; he knew why he
      had been taken to the hospice.

      Why could we not have had the Victorian finale, perhaps just a week
      or so earlier, with time for words of love and good advice, and
      tears just before the end?

      It would have made something human and understandable out of what
      instead became surreal. It was not the fault of the staff; they
      were, like us, prisoners of a system.

      At least my father's problem was pain, and pain can be controlled
      right until the end.

      But I do not know how you control a sense of loss and the slow
      slipping of the mind away from the living body - the kind that old-
      timer's disease causes.

      I know my father was the sort of man who didn't make a fuss, and
      perhaps I would not, either, if pain were the only issue for me. But
      it isn't.

      I am enjoying my life to the full, and hope to continue for quite
      some time. But I also intend, before the endgame looms, to die
      sitting in a chair in my own garden with a glass of brandy in my
      hand and Thomas Tallis on the iPod -- the latter because Thomas's
      music could lift even an atheist a little bit closer to Heaven --
      and perhaps a second brandy if there is time.

      Oh, and since this is England I had better add: 'If wet, in the
      library.'

      Who could say that is bad? Where is the evil here?

      [Note: the text of this letter continues in part 2]

      ooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo

      -------------------------------------------------------------------------
      End of Part 1, continued on Part 2 of 5.
      If you did not get all five parts, write: interact@...
      -------------------------------------------------------------------------
      Copyright (c) 2009 by Klatchian Foreign Legion
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