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Journal of rafael (2125)

Monday June 14, 2004
05:59 AM

Steve Lacy dies

[ #19242 ]
A few days ago I was wondering whether there was an RSS feed for recent deaths. So far the wikipedia recent deaths page is what resembles the most; I imagine I could write a screen-scraper for it. When I have tuits.

Since then, some of the recent deaths have made unusual noise. Everyone blogs about the deaths of Reagan and/or of Ray Charles. Reagan, who was heavily criticized during his period of activity, is now almost a saint. Only a few voices dare recall how harmful his policies were. As Brassens used to sing, les morts sont tous des braves types. Maybe that's due to his illness, drawing compassion? Probably; the horrible disease he had is a sure way to destroy your personality and turn you into a pitiful puppet of the few reflexes that remain from the time you still were a person. It's difficult to imagine a more awful end. At least he didn't suffer, since there was no longer any "he".

And then Ray Charles dies. Great singer. Great musician. Yes. Not much else to say. Didn't made anything new the last twenty years. A star, but living on what he invented when he was young. Time had come for him.

Meanwhile, Steve Lacy dies. Steve Lacy, the guy who almost created the soprano saxophone in jazz. A major influence on John Coltrane himself, to whom he gave saxophone lessons. One of the very earliest pionieers of free jazz. One of the most breathtaking sounds that ever came out of a soprano sax. Someone who innovated until the last day of his existence. He stayed all his life in the shadows of giants; and he died, unfortunately, unnoticed, in the shadows of giants. RIP Mr Lacy. You won't be forgotten.

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  • How about http://www.dpsinfo.com/dps/deadpeopleserver.rss.xml ?
    • There is not much info in there compared to the wikipedia.

      OK, so here's a rough RSS feed generator. Maybe I'll host it when I have my internet back.

      use strict;
      use XML::RSS::SimpleGen;

      our $url = qq(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recent_deaths);

      rss_new($url, "Recent Deaths", "Recent Deaths, by the Wikipedia");
      rss_language("en");

      get_url($url);

      while (
          m{
              <li>
              <a\s+href="[^"]*"\s+title="([^"]*)">\d*</a> # date
         

  • that the popular are rarely the important or the ones doing the work. As the saying goes, it's the quiet ones you gotta watch out for. History tends to be even more dotty and forgetful than Reagan himself. Have you ever noticed, too, that celeb deaths always come in threes? :)
  • Only a few voices dare recall how harmful his policies were.

    And you must feel so special being one of those few enlightened people. How can you be so daring? Aren't you afraid something's going to happen to you? After all, apparently many people far more popular and powerful than you don't even dare to recall how harmful Reagan's policies were. Must be a really dangerous thing to say.

    --
    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
    • Well, it's probably because those who dare remember might be forced to think of the current policies by comparison. I knew one of Reagan's economic advisors who, when he'd get tipsy at department fuctions, would confirm most of our worst fears about the Reagan administration. Of course, having a controlling wife forcing her astrologer onto national policy makers or a president who was diagnosed with alzheimer's early in his presidency seems quaint by todays standards. Perhaps the future will be fucked up en
      • Was Reagan really diagnosed with alzheimer's early in his Presidency? Like, pre-1984?

        By a doctor, I mean.

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
          • If you can get me a source, I'll correct the Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org].

            --
            J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
            • Well, Murray Weidenbaum is a pretty reliable source, but it was in the papers even before the 84 election. He was a veg the past 10 years and alzheimers is a gradual disease...just do the math. They discovered it when he got his full medical examination very early in his first term. Of course, he's dead now, so history will likely forget this detail until 50 years from now someone does a full honest biography of his presidency.
              • Can't find it on a google search for Murray Weidenbaum Reagan alzheimer's. It's a shame those old papers aren't online.

                Do you have any documented proof at all that Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's before the 84 election? How do you know what you know about that medical examination?

                --
                J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
                • Uh, maybe you missed the part earlier where it included departmental function, i.e. a wine and cheese type thing since I worked in the department. He said these things to me, I didn't read it on line.
                  • Yeah, I think I did. So what, exactly did he say? That Reagan had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's in a medical exam early in his first term? Did they do an autopsy to confirm, or was it just a dementia diagnosis? When exactly was the dementia apparent?

                    And how, exactly, did Reagan survive approximately 22 years with a disease that takes 10? As it is, since his official diagnosis was in 1992, he managed to beat the average and last 12.

                    --
                    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
                    • Well, to be honest, I wasn't really interested at the time as I recall since I was homing in on the free food, but he said that Ronnie was dotty, took lots and lots of naps and was diagnosed with Alzheimer's early in his first term. That, and a few unkind words towards the real executive in chief with a fondness for short red skirts and astrology.

                      And for a disease which you seem to willing to believe only takes 10 years to come to full form, you accept the idea that it isn't diagnosable a bit too easily.

                    • In the "alzheimer's organization" (http://www.alz.org/Resources/FactSheets.asp [alz.org]) and there the "Alzheimer's Disease (PR617Z)" (http://www.alz.org/Resources/FactSheets/FSADfacts.pdf [alz.org]) says "People with Alzheimer’s die an average of eight years after first experiencing symptoms, but the duration of the disease can vary from three to 20 years."
              • He was a veg the past 10 years and alzheimers is a gradual disease...just do the math.

                All right ... from Wikipedia [wikipedia.org]:

                Average duration is approximately 10 years.

                So are you saying Reagan beat the odds and battled Alzheimer's for twenty years? Or are you saying Wikipedia is wrong? I could search the history and see if there's been an edit war over the average term of the disease.

                Incidentally, Alzheimer's can't be truly diagnosed until an autopsy is performed. Until then, it is indistinguishable fr

                --
                J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
                • Yeah, and I've got a few dozen about believing everything you read online or on Wikipedia. Alzheimer's can be diagnosed, since they can guage the dopamine levels and do a cat scan of the areas of the brain, e.g. substantia nigra, that indicate the onset of the disease. They were teaching that in med schools by the time he entered office.
                  • That's interesting, because the doctor my father-in-law is taking my wife's grandmother to seems to be unaware of this and cites the "can't diagnose Alzheimer's without an autopsy" as well. He must be really out of date. I was aware of this before I saw it on Wikipedia; I really went there just to check the term of the disease.

                    I might make some comments about believing everything you hear at wine and cheese functions. I'm not sure exactly how this "he told me at a party" stuff is supposed to be more re

                    --
                    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
                  • Elaine, I can't even find a conspiracy-wacko site that states Reagan was diagnosed with Alzheimer's or even dementia while in office, and with the number of Reagan haters out there, I find that surprising.

                    --
                    J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
                    • Well, be realistic, there are plenty of other things to bash Ronnie on and who really wants to think that the man with the launch codes was dotty enough to launch, snack on a few jelly bellies, take a nap and completely forget about the whole thing? He's dead, just wait for the biography.
                    • In France, hiding the truth about the president's health is a national sport. Just google for "Mitterrand Gubler".
    • Well, dare might not be the right word (non-native speaker here). When someone dies, esp. after a long and painful agony, people tend to remember only the positive things about him; that's very natural. In the case of Reagan, that means that people focus on the non-political side of his biography, since he was such a catastrophic president (although Bush raised the standards recently). This amusing cartoon [typepad.com] (found via Dave Cross) summarizes the current situation.
      • non-native speaker here

        Sorry; I forgot that. ;) From an American liberal, I would have taken that as a grossly exaggerated statement that people are scared to speak negatively about Reagan right now. And I've actually heard several American liberals (and one American libertarian) say just that. Of course, it doesn't really mesh with reality; lots of people are speaking negatively about Reagan right now.

        --
        J. David works really hard, has a passion for writing good software, and knows many of the world's best Perl programmers
      • The problem is, Reagan's policies weren't particularly harmful. Sure, they weren't perfect, but on balance our country did far better under his policies than any President since FDR. His policies led us to a dramatic economic turnaround and victory in the Cold War. The number of people in poverty didn't decrease significantly, but didn't increase either.

        Also, you say "was heavily criticized during his period of activity," but he was far more praised than criticized. He won 48 of the 50 states [presidentelect.org] for reele