Escape Artists

News:

News

ATTENTION: NEW FORUM THEME Please see here for details: http://forum.escapeartists.net/index.php?topic=13188.0

Author Topic: EP481: Temporary Friends  (Read 8560 times)

eytanz

  • Moderator
  • *****
  • Posts: 6109
on: February 17, 2015, 12:35:42 AM
EP481: Temporary Friends

By Caroline M. Yoachim

Read by Caitlin Buckley

---

The second week of kindergarten, Mimi came home with a rabbit. Despite numerous mentions of the Temporary Friends project in the parent newsletter, I wasn’t prepared to see my five-year-old girl cuddling a honey-colored fluffball that was genetically engineered to have fatally high cholesterol and die of a heart attack later in the school year.

“I named him Mr. Flufferbottom.” Mimi told me. I glared at Great-Grandpa John, who’d been watching her while I finished up my shift at the clinic. He shrugged. My gruff maternal grandfather wasn’t my first choice of babysitter, but he needed a place to stay and I needed someone to watch Mimi after school.

“Are you sure it’s a good idea to name him, honey?” I knelt down and put my hand on Mimi’s shoulder. “He’s a completely biological rabbit, and this kind doesn’t tend to live very long.”

“Teacher said to pick good names for our rabbits,” Mimi said. “Besides, you put new parts on people, so if Mr. Flufferbottom breaks you can fix him.”

Replacement pet parts were readily available online, and the self-installing models could be put in by anyone who could afford the hefty price tag and follow simple instructions. But replacement parts defeated the purpose of the lesson — research showed that children needed to experience death in order to achieve normal emotional development. Aside from the occasional suicide or tragic accident, there weren’t many occasions to deal with loss. Schools were required to incorporate Temporary Friends into their kindergarten curriculum in order to get government funding.

The school couldn’t control what parents did, of course, but the parent newsletter strongly discouraged tampering with the damned death pets in any way.

“Mimi, sweetie, that’s not how it works this time — I know we get a lot of extra parts for Graycat, but your Temporary Friend is only until…” I tried to remember from the newsletter how long the rabbits were engineered to live. Six months? “Only until March, and then we’ll say goodbye.”

I expected Mimi to put up a big fuss, but she didn’t. She took Mr. Flufferbottom to the cage we’d set up in her room and got him some food and water.


Listen to this week’s Escape Pod!



DB

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 1
Reply #1 on: February 17, 2015, 03:24:05 AM
This story left me thinking about our essential nature as living beings and the potential questions raised by extensive prosthesis.

The question of whether we are still essentially the same person when half our brain is artificial. Can we still perceive the same world with artificial eyes. And ultimately, would it still be a life we would judge as worth living; especially if we managed to live to such an era when many of those we loved did not.

I felt myself thinking back to a previous episode, The Mercy of Theseus, which raised many of the same questions for me, despite the tenor and situation being so different.

Anyone else thinking along these lines?



The_Hol-Man

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 8
    • The Hol Story
Reply #2 on: February 17, 2015, 04:01:37 PM
I found that this story raised a lot of good questions and explored an interesting scenario.  Would we be so different, emotionally, if we never had to face death?  I appreciated that Mimi's mom, for whom death is really only an intellectual truth, has such a different outlook about the "lesson" than Great-Grandpa John, who's actually mourned losses, does.  The narrator seems to have grown up during this time of easy life-extension, but I don't remember whether or not the story specifies if she, as a child, had had a temporary friend.

About your point, DB, the story definitely did make me think about the Ship of Theseus Paradox, rather explicitly in the discussion of Graycat.  But the grandfather's reference of having half a real brain still made me wonder how much of a person really does get replaced in this world.  Do they have a way of replacing an entire brain?  Though the story brings all this up as a discussion point, it doesn't delve into them too deeply.  I don't think that's a huge flaw, necessarily, especially when we look at it from the narrator's point of view -- she's an overworked single parent who's really trying to do what's best for her kid in a difficult circumstance, so I can see why she might turn away from excessively philosophizing about it.  I might have enjoyed a more thorough exploration of those ideas, but I also think it works this way too as something to get us thinking about it.

Overall, great story!

 -Andy



InfiniteMonkey

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 483
  • Clearly, I need more typewriters....
Reply #3 on: February 17, 2015, 10:42:12 PM
Dear lord, what a heartbreaking, gut-wrenching story!!! I'm with GreatPa, this is a HORRIBLE way to teach children about loss and death. It's horrible for the parent as well - "here, mom and/or dad, let's do something to break your little kid's heart, and you aren't supposed to do anything about it!" "It" being a completely avoidable heartbreak. Right down to the designed-to-die-soon bunny.

I'm trying to imagine the planning meeting for the design of this exercise in pathos:

"Ok, so, we make each kid bond with a pet who'll die soon!"

"What if they don't die soon enough?"

"hmmmm well, we'll just have to build that in, I guess. What'll kill ... oh, say, a bunny, on schedule?"



Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #4 on: February 17, 2015, 11:29:58 PM
I am curious about this society in which people don't have to face the death of their loved ones. People don't only die of diseases, they also die in wars, or are murdered, or are killed in accidents. This hypothetical safe, peaceful, crime free society where med tech can extend your life indefinitely seems as if it needs more explanation than we got. The author seems to take the position that if you add the med tech, all death goes away, which simply isn't so.

This idea of children having to face death, and therefore we give them something to love and then kill it, is something that could only have been dreamed up by a government committee. Parallels exist today: I have children who all lived to adulthood. A century ago, that was something of a rarity. Am I less of a person, or less developed, because I haven't gone through the experience of the death of a young child? Maybe, but it isn't an answer to have me adopt a child who will then die under my care, while the government refuses health care to the child in order to teach me a lesson.

In reality, Loss will come no matter what medical and social advances occur. In this story, no mention is made of Mimi's father. Whether he left before or after Mimi was born is sort of irrelevant, since the important thing is that he isn't there now (and never knowing about her existence because the mother decided to have a child alone counts as leaving beforehand in this case). Parents, Friends and neighbors will leave, even if they don't die, and that will generate various senses of loss while growing up, depending on how close the child is to the various people.

But to give a child a pet specifically made to die, and telling them to let it, is just monstrous.



LatitudeLotus

  • Extern
  • *
  • Posts: 2
Reply #5 on: February 19, 2015, 05:51:50 AM
But to give a child a pet specifically made to die, and telling them to let it, is just monstrous.

How so?  I can understand this society's choice, since it seems as though death would be entirely alien to young people otherwise.

I'm not disregarding the absurdity of what is, essentially, setting a child up to feel pain, and I certainly wish all children today could somehow dodge the experience of losing a beloved pet, let alone a family member.  But I want to push back on what seems like an instinctive desire for us to call this bad without explaining why or thinking about why a society might consider teaching this lesson to be necessary.



Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #6 on: February 19, 2015, 11:26:46 AM
But to give a child a pet specifically made to die, and telling them to let it, is just monstrous.

How so?  I can understand this society's choice, since it seems as though death would be entirely alien to young people otherwise.

I'm not disregarding the absurdity of what is, essentially, setting a child up to feel pain, and I certainly wish all children today could somehow dodge the experience of losing a beloved pet, let alone a family member.  But I want to push back on what seems like an instinctive desire for us to call this bad without explaining why or thinking about why a society might consider teaching this lesson to be necessary.

In the Song Of Ice And Fire series, they train a group of boys at least partially by having them adopt a puppy and care for it, and then later in their training, are required to kill it. The practice in this story is a milder form of the same thing.

To deal with loss and death of loved ones is one thing, to deliberately cause a death for the purpose of experiencing it is a step on the way to death worship.



SpareInch

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1388
  • Will there be sugar after the rebellion?
Reply #7 on: February 19, 2015, 01:59:29 PM
Yeah... I'm really not sure where I stand on the basic idea that kids will grow up to be better people if you force them to watch their favourite pets die. You might end up teaching them that dying is what pets are for.

On the other hand, Mimi did seem to get a greater appreciation of the family's immortal cat.

And that's another thing... The cat still slows down and becomes a sleepy old cat, even with all the prosthetic parts, so does longer life necessarily mean better quality of life? I had this conversation with my mother when she was under treatment for cancer. She was downright scornful of some of the other patients at the clinic who had had several recurrences of the disease and had decided to refuse further treatment. She simply couldn't understand that it might be better to live a few months of good life, then die in pain, rather than several years feeling like shit on Chemo, having no good times at all, and still dying in pain at the end of it all.

Still. If you can get a whole new you, I'd be up for it. Who wouldn't?

PS-- What sort of auto-spell checker changes immortal to mortal? I despair sometimes, I really do!
« Last Edit: February 19, 2015, 02:06:22 PM by SpareInch »

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


InfiniteMonkey

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 483
  • Clearly, I need more typewriters....
Reply #8 on: February 20, 2015, 04:52:49 AM
I'm not disregarding the absurdity of what is, essentially, setting a child up to feel pain, and I certainly wish all children today could somehow dodge the experience of losing a beloved pet, let alone a family member.  But I want to push back on what seems like an instinctive desire for us to call this bad without explaining why or thinking about why a society might consider teaching this lesson to be necessary.

OK, how about this: To teach our kids how to deal with physical pain, the teacher is *required* to slap these little five year olds hard at least once a year.

Would that be a good thing? After all, we do all eventually have to deal with physical pain. And plenty of educational systems though out the ages have intentionally been harsh precisely to toughen kids up. The problem is that you often end up with kids whose first answer to a problem it to make a fist. Not always, certainly, and not every regime of toughening produces that.

But here my real problem with this dead bunny system is not that kids shouldn't confront loss, but that here they are forced to confront it using a system that they can see all around them can be avoided. It's enforced grief. And while our little girl in the story reacts by appreciating what she has more, I can imagine some of the other *negative* ways kids might react. Lifelong fear of pet ownership being only one. How about lifelong fear of any sort of emotional commitment.

The bottom line is: what good really comes from putting a kid through this?

Oh, and let's not forget the morality of creating a life for the sole purpose of watching it die -after someone bonds with it. At least in livestock ranching, you know someone benefits from the meat. This is just an exercise in emotional sadism from the rabbit's point of view.



Father Beast

  • Lochage
  • *****
  • Posts: 516
Reply #9 on: February 20, 2015, 11:31:50 AM
If I understand it right, Great-pa John is the main character's grandfather, and Mimi's great-grandfather. So, there's already a loss of the main character's parents, who aren't mentioned. They might be traveling the world or something, but there is still a loss.

Also, I am somewhat at a loss to understand a woman who has the fortitude to take on single parenting, and yet swallows whole the garbage of an official position by the school without question.



SpareInch

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1388
  • Will there be sugar after the rebellion?
Reply #10 on: February 23, 2015, 08:41:08 AM
OK, how about this: To teach our kids how to deal with physical pain, the teacher is *required* to slap these little five year olds hard at least once a year.

Would that be a good thing? After all, we do all eventually have to deal with physical pain. And plenty of educational systems though out the ages have intentionally been harsh precisely to toughen kids up. The problem is that you often end up with kids whose first answer to a problem it to make a fist. Not always, certainly, and not every regime of toughening produces that.

Hey! We had corporal punishment at my old primary school.

And if one more person says it just taught me to be aggressive and quick with my fists, I'll kick the crap out of them!

THEN we'll see who learned to use violence as a means of conflict resolution! ;) :D

Fresh slush - Shot this morning in the Vale of COW


Chairman Goodchild

  • Peltast
  • ***
  • Posts: 159
Reply #11 on: February 23, 2015, 02:42:53 PM
Two weeks into women's month and we're already doing stories about fluffy bunnies?

But no, seriously, I really liked this one.  Small-picture stories like these are important to the genre, and I am a big fan of hard science fiction, which this definitely was. 

I got the sense that the society inflicting this on children was doing it because authority figures themselves were forgetting the impact of death, even to the point where they thought that giving kindergartners bunnies that would drop dead of chronic health conditions was a really good idea.  So this becomes a case of children becoming victims of psychological projections of adults.

I especially liked Great-grandpa John.  I love the idea that he's the only one that really knew death on a personal level, and he's the most outraged over this.  And there was a small part towards the end that I really liked.  The bunny's already dead, but Great-grandpa John tries to put in the replacement liver anyway. And he did that when he knew that the replacement liver wasn't going to work.  There were two reasons for that, I believe.  The first is that Mimi is five years old, and doesn't know that a replacement liver wouldn't cure death, and she'd possibly blame herself.  "If only the grownups had used the liver part!  Then Mr. Flufferbottom would be okay!"   And I think that's important for a five year-old to see that with her own eyes.  And second, John is showing her not to give up, not to give in, and to try everything they can.   Now that is a running theme thruout the story, but this is the best example of that. 



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #12 on: February 24, 2015, 05:10:19 PM
Wow.  As ever, Caroline Yoachim is one of my favorite authors.  She knows how to take a story, give it a strong emotional core, some bizarre and interesting speculation (most especially the self-inserting liver), and using that speculative element to explore aspects of real humanity .

I can see where the reasoning behind this one went.  Our minds are much more plastic when we're very young, certain things are harder to learn and incorporate as we grow older, so the fear is that adults will be unable to cope with death if they first experience this as adults.  I can see where the reasoning comes from, but I don't think there's reasonable evidence to the contrary--there are certainly people in our day and age who grow to adulthood without experiencing death of close family member until they're grown up, and while the impact of sudden grief with no experience may hit them harder I don't think these people are in general unable to cope because of their lack of experience. 

And I'm with Greatpa John here, that no matter what lesson is trying to be taught here, children are going to learn the wrong lesson.  Much of that stems from the fact that the children can very clearly see the manipulation.  It's one thing to lose a family member and have to come to the realization that death is an inevitable event by seeing it happen inevitably as a pet or family member ages.  But it's another thing entirely to be able to see very very clearly that your parents could've done something about it, but refused to, not because they couldn't afford treatment, not because the animal was in pain and that allowing it to die was a mercy, but because your school told your parents to inflict this pain on you and your parents decided to obey even though  there is no actual enforcement of the no-treatment rule.  That doesn't teach that death is natural and inevitable.  It teaches that it's okay to inflict grief on others and to take no responsibility for those you have agreed to have responsibility for. 

The norm of letting the bunnies die reminds me of people in our world who have pets that they don't take to the vet even when there are obvious ailments, not because they can't afford it but because they just don't want to, so they let the pet die for no better reason that diagnosis and treatment was an inconvenience.

I think that the story turned out about as well as it could've, given the setting.  I think that with Greatpa's help she learned about grief without following the administration's orders to just sit back and watch.  I fear that her relationship with her mother might suffer from the memory of this, but I think at least this taught the actual intended lesson.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #13 on: February 24, 2015, 07:41:43 PM
I have... really mixed feelings about this story.

To the left, as a teacher, I kind of resent stories that play up the whole "those silly teachers, they don't really know what's best for our children" angle. When it comes to education, I do know better than you because I went to freaking school for it for two years, not to mention six years of classroom experience, and I don't give a damn about your twelve years of parenting experience anyway because we have totally different goals, damn it! You might know your kid better, but I know how to teach.

Sorry. Hot-button topic.

So, anyway, it kind of annoyed me that the story's drama came from creating tension with a stupid, sort of straw-man-ish education policy. I don't think the author was actually trying to be critical of teachers or education - I think she just picked them as a plot element to create tension, and it happened to hit a nerve with me.

To the right, I thought this was a great example of classic sci-fi, exploring how mankind would react culturally to a rather reasonable extrapolation of real-life technology; in this case, the dramatic lengthening of life caused by safe and simple organ transplant technology. It was an interesting take on the age old "oh noes, the technologies!" phenomenon, with one generation insisting that a younger generation had to learn this valuable lesson... even though that lesson maybe isn't really important anymore, in a world where pets - and, the story seemed to imply, possibly eventually even people - don't have to die.

Overall, I thought the story was interesting. I found the great grandfather's position much more attractive, because I've always been in the "mankind strives to overcome all obstacles and rule the universe" camp. Death is dumb, and we should transcend it. The mother was an effective POV character, though I wasn't entirely clear what her position on this issue was supposed to be - perhaps that was the point.

What annoyed me most was the cat. I'm sure that Greycat's apathy was meant to provide a counterargument, that by not dying we would doom ourselves to fade away into apathy. The story presented it as a position, but didn't really back it up. Why was Greycat apathetic? What about being an immortal cat would do that to you? Why wouldn't he just keep on running around... catting? Great grandpa was at least as old in human years, and he was anything but apathetic.

So, overall, I would say that this was a very good story, though not a perfect one. The point seemed a little... murky. Not unclear because it's complicated, but unclear because the presentation was a little opaque. However, it was certainly fun and thought-provoking, so I can call it a success!

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #14 on: February 24, 2015, 08:01:38 PM
To the left, as a teacher, I kind of resent stories that play up the whole "those silly teachers, they don't really know what's best for our children" angle. When it comes to education, I do know better than you because I went to freaking school for it for two years, not to mention six years of classroom experience, and I don't give a damn about your twelve years of parenting experience anyway because we have totally different goals, damn it! You might know your kid better, but I know how to teach.

I guess I didn't take at as a "silly teacher" thing, but more of a "teachers being forced to act according to decisions made by people with no understanding of education".  Kind of like No Child Left Behind thing--I have an aunt who's a grade school teacher and despite half her class every year being newly immigrated kids who don't speak a word of English, her students and her class are tested and judged as though language is irrelevant--who cares if they don't speak English, as long as they can pass the tests that are written in English...  Every year she'd be judged poorly because the system didn't really account for the huge challenge of first teaching them more English before they could learn lessons in English and be tested in English.  So even though she's a teacher and has to operate within the system mandated, she hates it.

I got the impression that's what was happening here too--someone in the government mandated the temporary friends program and the teachers have got to run the program no matter what their personal feelings are.  At least, they do if they want to keep their jobs.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #15 on: February 24, 2015, 08:06:22 PM
To the left, as a teacher, I kind of resent stories that play up the whole "those silly teachers, they don't really know what's best for our children" angle. When it comes to education, I do know better than you because I went to freaking school for it for two years, not to mention six years of classroom experience, and I don't give a damn about your twelve years of parenting experience anyway because we have totally different goals, damn it! You might know your kid better, but I know how to teach.

I guess I didn't take at as a "silly teacher" thing, but more of a "teachers being forced to act according to decisions made by people with no understanding of education".  Kind of like No Child Left Behind thing--I have an aunt who's a grade school teacher and despite half her class every year being newly immigrated kids who don't speak a word of English, her students and her class are tested and judged as though language is irrelevant--who cares if they don't speak English, as long as they can pass the tests that are written in English...  Every year she'd be judged poorly because the system didn't really account for the huge challenge of first teaching them more English before they could learn lessons in English and be tested in English.  So even though she's a teacher and has to operate within the system mandated, she hates it.

I got the impression that's what was happening here too--someone in the government mandated the temporary friends program and the teachers have got to run the program no matter what their personal feelings are.  At least, they do if they want to keep their jobs.

That's fair. I suppose in a situation like that I would have expected the teacher to be less of a passive character. I mean, there are some pretty inane limitations on what I can teach my students in, say, sex ed (they make us science teachers handle it), but we all know how to walk that line and do the most good without getting in (too much) trouble.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


albionmoonlight

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 213
Reply #16 on: February 25, 2015, 07:06:08 PM
This story illustrates a contemporary parenting problem quite well.  In the old days, kids suffered because we didn't really have a choice in the matter.  And we told ourselves that such suffering was good because it would toughen them up.  And if the suffering scarred them, then that was their fault for not being tough enough to handle the process of being made tough.  Or something.

Now, the pendulum has swung far in the other direction.  A lot of parenting advice focuses on avoiding trauma and suffering and possible scarring the child.  We have the ability to protect our children from all manner of evils, so we, naturally, do that.  And you are branded as a BAD PARENT if you put your child in a position to be emotionally damaged by avoidable harm.

Which leads to the tension in this story.  Contemporary American culture asks us parents to focus on the long-term mental and emotional health of our children.  Really, to obsess over it.  I have seen fellow parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT if they see their kid about to drink out of a BPA-containing plastic cup.  Like it is coated with rat poison or something.  Right now, we think that emotional trauma is bad for the long-term mental health of children, so we move heaven and earth to shield them from it.  If, however, reports started to show that some level of emotional trauma is beneficial, then I think that this story nails what would happen.  We would, as a culture, start to artificially manufacture just the right amount of trauma to help our kids develop perfectly.



Unblinking

  • Sir Postsalot
  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 8729
    • Diabolical Plots
Reply #17 on: February 25, 2015, 07:57:36 PM
I guess I didn't take at as a "silly teacher" thing, but more of a "teachers being forced to act according to decisions made by people with no understanding of education".  Kind of like No Child Left Behind thing--I have an aunt who's a grade school teacher and despite half her class every year being newly immigrated kids who don't speak a word of English, her students and her class are tested and judged as though language is irrelevant--who cares if they don't speak English, as long as they can pass the tests that are written in English...  Every year she'd be judged poorly because the system didn't really account for the huge challenge of first teaching them more English before they could learn lessons in English and be tested in English.  So even though she's a teacher and has to operate within the system mandated, she hates it.

I got the impression that's what was happening here too--someone in the government mandated the temporary friends program and the teachers have got to run the program no matter what their personal feelings are.  At least, they do if they want to keep their jobs.

That's fair. I suppose in a situation like that I would have expected the teacher to be less of a passive character. I mean, there are some pretty inane limitations on what I can teach my students in, say, sex ed (they make us science teachers handle it), but we all know how to walk that line and do the most good without getting in (too much) trouble.
[/quote]


I'm thinking the teacher may not actually be that passive.  I don't think teacher is ever onscreen, right?  But it's not a story about the teacher.  That could be a great story too, might even work as a companion story to this one.



Fenrix

  • Curmudgeonly Co-Editor of PseudoPod
  • Editor
  • *****
  • Posts: 3925
  • I always lock the door when I creep by daylight.
Reply #18 on: February 26, 2015, 08:43:44 PM

This story illustrates a contemporary parenting problem quite well.  In the old days, kids suffered because we didn't really have a choice in the matter.  And we told ourselves that such suffering was good because it would toughen them up.  And if the suffering scarred them, then that was their fault for not being tough enough to handle the process of being made tough.  Or something.

Now, the pendulum has swung far in the other direction.  A lot of parenting advice focuses on avoiding trauma and suffering and possible scarring the child.  We have the ability to protect our children from all manner of evils, so we, naturally, do that.  And you are branded as a BAD PARENT if you put your child in a position to be emotionally damaged by avoidable harm.

Which leads to the tension in this story.  Contemporary American culture asks us parents to focus on the long-term mental and emotional health of our children.  Really, to obsess over it.  I have seen fellow parents FREAK THE FUCK OUT if they see their kid about to drink out of a BPA-containing plastic cup.  Like it is coated with rat poison or something.  Right now, we think that emotional trauma is bad for the long-term mental health of children, so we move heaven and earth to shield them from it.  If, however, reports started to show that some level of emotional trauma is beneficial, then I think that this story nails what would happen.  We would, as a culture, start to artificially manufacture just the right amount of trauma to help our kids develop perfectly.


This is basically what I was thinking. We don't allow children to feel the trauma of scoring fewer points than the other team and everyone gets a trophy. What is the scientifically accurate level of trauma people should experience, and in what dosage and when?

All cat stories start with this statement: “My mother, who was the first cat, told me this...”


Dwango

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 165
Reply #19 on: February 27, 2015, 07:24:04 PM
In the story, humanity is on an epoch of change where people are barely dealing with what is the most profound truth, that we are going to die.  It's an inept, heavy handed way to deal with it, forcing an animal to die so the child can understand what losing someone important to us is like.  But I can understand why they are trying this, they are trying to find some way to hold on to humanity.  The fact that they are willing to do this ironically shows that they already are losing their humanity.  They are willing to allow this to happen, while grandpa, who has been there and suffered serious loss, is trying to stop it.

I recall a previous Escape Pod episode where people crashed on a planet and could not die due to the technology of their body.  They were practically monsters with very little left of humanity.  Death is intrinsically a part of life in that we all know it is a part of it.  Would we retain humanity if we could not die, and would life lose meaning without it?  I think of Anne Rice's "The Vampire Chronicles" and how the ever living vampires were constantly having to find meaning in their everlasting lives or they would eventually go into a near death state.  How many mice can that cat chase before it seems meaningless.  What is the point of reproduction if there is no room for the children in the world.

I don't think accepting death is a part of "death culture".  It is a part of living fully to know we are only granted so much time here.  It makes life that much more precious and valuable.  Remove that from the equation and I don't know how human we really would be.



ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #20 on: February 27, 2015, 07:26:43 PM
I don't think accepting death is a part of "death culture".  It is a part of living fully to know we are only granted so much time here.  It makes life that much more precious and valuable.  Remove that from the equation and I don't know how human we really would be.

Pfft. Down with death. Mankind must live, and live forever. I've had to reinvent myself many times over the course of my life, and I'm not afraid to keep doing it until the stars turn into cinders.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


hardware

  • Matross
  • ****
  • Posts: 192
Reply #21 on: March 03, 2015, 12:19:37 PM
Interesting and well balanced story. As has been pointed out, this taps into the trend of 'engineering' our childrens life rather than letting them happen. It is easy to sympathize with the grandpa (after all, he is more or less in our position), but I can not help but really feel for really sympathizing with the mothers attempts of finding a path to protect her child in the long and short term.



Jhite

  • Palmer
  • **
  • Posts: 47
    • Great Hites
Reply #22 on: March 04, 2015, 10:06:28 PM
Oh my goodness could this story have had a bigger message sledge hammer.  It was horrible.  From the opening paragraphs all it was, was here is my message. You will hear it and obey.

This was not a story this was a message sledge hammer wrapped in tissue paper with words printed on it.

I was very disappointed.  Yelled at my iPod the rest of my commute, like it was its fault.   


Captain James T. Kirk
I'm sorry I can't here you over the sound of how awesome I am
http://GreatHites.blogspot.com


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #23 on: March 04, 2015, 10:37:43 PM
I was very disappointed.  Yelled at my iPod the rest of my commute, like it was its fault.   

Well, it was. Your iPod should have known better.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.


ElectricPaladin

  • Hipparch
  • ******
  • Posts: 1005
  • Holy Robot
    • Burning Zeppelin Experience
Reply #24 on: March 05, 2015, 12:35:16 AM
So, this issue was tragically relevant to my life today. My beloved bearded dragon, Jabberwock, died at the not-quite-as-ripe-as-I'd-hoped age of 5, which is about 50 in lizard years. I'm going to miss the little bastard. He was my first lizard, my first pet as an adult, and honestly a part of my family, despite being a chronically grumpy little reptile. I'm going to miss him judging me silently from his perch at the front of his tank. I'm going to miss watching him stalk beetles and grubs, watching him swim around on the bathtub, or taking him out and letting him crawl around on me. He was fun.

And I don't really think that losing him added a damn thing to my life.

Captain of the Burning Zeppelin Experience.

Help my kids get the educational supplies they need at my Donor's Choose page.