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Why Michael Jordans Bulls would have won title No. 7 if they brought the band back together – ClutchPoints

Michael Jordan revealed during the last episode of The Last Dance docuseries that he would have come back with the Chicago Bulls during the 1998-99 season if Phil Jackson was still the head coach.

After Chicago won the 1998 Finals over the Utah Jazz for the franchises sixth championship in eight years, Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf told Jackson he could return despite general manager Jerry Krauses statement that the famed head coach would not be back for the following season.

Jackson told Reinsdorf that it was time to retire, though. The Zen Master could sense that his relationship with Krause had reached its end and that it would put the late Bulls architect in an awkward position after what happened at the beginning of the 1997-98 campaign.

Krause famously told the Chicago media that the 1997-98 season was going to be Jacksons last year as head coach, even if the team went 82-0 and won the title. The Bulls replaced Jackson with Tim Floyd and the rest is history. Chicago hasnt been back to the Finals since the Jordan-Jackson era.

Meanwhile, Jackson won five more titles after moving on from the Bulls.

After hearing that Michael Jordan would have signed a one-year deal to chase title No. 7 in 1998-99, its only fair to wonder if His Airness could have led the Bulls to the championship during the 1998-99 season which only featured 50 games in the regular season because of a lockout.

If Michael Jordan could have convinced Scottie Pippen to stay one more year and the other key pieces on the team such as Steve Kerr, Dennis Rodman and Ron Harper remained, theres a good chance the Bulls do win No. 7. Of course, convincing Pippen to stay would have been difficult given his fat contract offer from the Houston Rockets, but the idea of ring No.7 and true basketball immortality would have certainly been enticing for Pippen since he was Jordans No. 2 guy.

The San Antonio Spurs wound up winning the title in 1999. They defeated the New York Knicks in five games, with Tim Duncan winning Finals MVP at the age of 22. Its safe to say Duncan wouldnt have averaged 27.4 points on 53.7 percent shooting from the field if he was going up against a defense led by Jordan, Pippen and Rodman.

You also have to factor in Luc Longley and his 7-foot-2 frame.

MJ was forced to retire because Phil wasnt the head coach of the Bulls anymore. Jerry Krause should have never publicly said that Jackson was going to be let go after 1997-98. Sure, it gave us The Last Dance, but Bulls fans missed out on a chance to watch Jordan and Co. capture ring No. 7.

Since it was the lockout year, Jordan would have been fairly fresh for the 1999 playoffs had he and Jackson decided to run it back. Its impossible to predict what would have happened, but we can only look at history one that has shown us that you really shouldnt doubt Michael Jordan.

The Last Dance docuseries provided ample examples of Jordan using little things as motivation to destroy his opponents. One can only imagine what Jordan would have done if he played in 1998-99 had pundits said the Bulls couldnt win No. 7.

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Why Michael Jordans Bulls would have won title No. 7 if they brought the band back together - ClutchPoints

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Hay on Wye book festival goes on line – and it’s free – Blackpool Gazette

Hay-on-Wye Festival is to book lovers and writers what Glastonbury is to pop and rock fans.

It has celebrity and kudos, glamour and gravitas as Hollywoods finest rubs shoulders with Booker Prize winners.

Literary heavyweights mix it with best-sellers - not that one means you cannot be the other - though a book snob may argue otherwise!

There is no need for despair, this year, as though the real Hay is cancelled, Hay Festival Digital is going online, free to access.

The main programme runs from Friday May 22 to Sunday May 31 and features free live broadcasts and interactive events from more than 100 award-winning writers, global policy makers, historians, pioneers and innovators, celebrating the best new fiction and non-fiction, and interrogating some of the biggest issues of our time.

It will be hosted on the crowdcast platform to enable questions and comments.

Donations totalling 350,000 have helped it go ahead in this digital format.

Director Peter Florence said: It looked alarming, but festival-goers are generous and imaginative in their response to crisis.

However the financial blow to the Powys town cannot be under-estimated. The festival brings an economic boost of about 28 million every year to an area made up mostly of smaller, independent businesses and traders.

This years programme is no less star-studded with Benedict Cumberbatch and Helena Bonham Carter all set to appear. Authors Hilary Mantel, Roddy Doyle, Ali Smith and Sandi Toksvig will be among the writers previewing their new work.

Mr Florence highlighted the most-extraordinary cast set to celebrate the life of William Wordsworth, including festival president Stephen Fry, Tom Hollander and Jonathan Pryce.

Hay usually sells 275,000 tickets and there have been more than 200,000 digital registrations for this years event so far.

Across Wales, Covid-19 has put paid to numerous live events, with the Welsh Government calculating the direct economic impact on those it supports at about 33 million.

That may mean digital alternatives will be here to stay. The model that we used to have, of flying in writers and thinkers and artists around the world, thats thats not going to come back anytime soon.

And we as producers, the artists as creators, and the audience as participants, will all adapt to whatever new reality is possible.

Wordsworth 250: A Night In With The WordsworthsFriday May 22, 6.30pm - 7.25pmSimon Armitage, Margaret Atwood, Benedict Cumberbatch, Monty Don, Lisa Dwan, Inua Ellams, Stephen Fry, Tom Hollander, Toby Jones, Helen McCrory, Jonathan Pryce and Vanessa RedgraveA gala performing of Williams poetry and Dorothys journals begins the 250th anniversary celebrations with a superstar cast reading work that will include Intimations of Immortality, Daffodils, lines composed both Upon Westminster Bridge and Above Tintern Abbey, The Prelude and We Are Seven.

Stephen Fry: TroyFriday May 22 at 9pmThe actor and author previews scenes from the third part of his Greek trilogy, which follows Mythos and Heroes. Q&A afterwards.

Maggie OFarrell talks to Peter Florence about her latest book Hamnet, Saturday May 23 from 1pm - 1.45pmShortlisted for the Womens Prize.On a summers day in 1596, a young girl in Stratford-upon-Avon takes to her bed with a fever. Her twin brother, Hamnet, searches everywhere for help. Why is nobody at home?

Ali Smith: The Beginning Of The And, A Hay Festival ExclusiveMonday May 25 at 6.30pmA meditation on continuance, by prize-winning novelist Ali Smith, filmwork by Sarah Wood.

Tori Amos talks to Dylan Jones: Resistance: A Songwriters Story Of Hope, Change And CourageMonday May 25 at 9pmSince the release of her first, career-defining solo album Little Earthquakes, Tori Amos has been one of the music industrys most enduring and ingenious artists.

Hannah Rothschild talks to Rosie Boycott: Fictions: House Of TrelawneyTuesday May 26 at 1pmThe new novel from the author of The Improbability of Love, winner of the Bollinger Everyman Wodehouse Prize for comic fiction, is a mischievous satire of English money and class.

Simon Schama: Return Of The Tribes. Nationalism In The Age Of Global DisasterWednesday May 27 at 4pmThe historian explores the isolations and protections of our current situation in a time of Coronavirus, and reflects on the clear and present dangers to society.Roddy Doyle talks to Peter Florence: Fictions: Love - A Preview

Wednesday May 27 at 7.30pmA festival special preview of the new novel published later this year by the Booker-winning author of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha and the Barrytown Trilogy.

Jules Hudson: Escape To The CountryThursday May 28 at 2.30pmFor more than a decade, the BBCs hit rural property series Escape to the Country has helped thousands of would-be country dwellers do just that. Now presenter Jules Hudson shares his experience of seeking out captivating country homes

Hilary Mantel talks to Peter Florence: The Mirror And The LightSaturday May 30 at 2.30pmThe novelist discusses the final volume of her Thomas Cromwell trilogy. Both Wolf Hall and Bring Up The Bodies won the Booker Prize.You can hear Hilary Mantel discuss Bring Up the Bodies at Hay 2012 on Hay Player.

Allie Esiri, Helena Bonham Carter and Dominic West: A Journey Through A Year Of Shakespeare (Or What You Will)Saturday May 30 at 5.30pmTake a journey through the year with Shakespeare, and join curator Allie Esiri and acclaimed actors for this illuminating celebration of the greatest writer in the English language

Anne Enright talks to Peter Florence: Fictions: ActressSunday May 31 at 1pmCapturing the glamour of post-war America and the shabbiness of 1970s Dublin, Actress is an intensely moving, disturbing novel by Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright about mothers and daughters and the men in their lives.

Sandi Toksvig talks to Lennie Goodings: Between the StopsSunday May 31 at 5.30pmThe View of My Life from the Top of the Number 12 Bus: the long-awaited memoir from the star of QI and The Great British Bake Off.

The events will remain on the crowdcast platform for 24 hours and will then be available on Hay Player.

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Hay on Wye book festival goes on line - and it's free - Blackpool Gazette

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Derek Jeter, the final walk-off and baseball immortality – ESPN

Editor's note: This story on Derek Jeter was originally published in the Sept. 26, 2014, issue of ESPN The Magazine. Watch Jeter's "Mr. November" game -- which started on Oct. 31, 2001, but ended just past midnight on Nov. 1 -- on Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN and the ESPN App.

START ANYWHERE. Take any moment from the Long Goodbye and it will stand for the whole. Take the other night, for example, a game in Baltimore. The Yankees, still technically in the mix for a postseason berth, the way the middle class still technically exists, sent their captain to the plate to get something started. Eighth inning, score tied -- this was his kind of moment, and everyone knew it, and the crowd stirred, and rose, and aimed their phones, hoping to capture one final spark of magic. The smattering of Yankees fans clapped and broke into that familiar chant, which has become his theme song, his war cry. Two descending musical notes, G-sharp, F, G-sharp, F, a downward sloping cadence that sounds almost like a playground taunt. DER-ek JE-ter! Nyah-nyah, nyah-nyah. But the chant, the excitement, it was all just muscle memory and frantic nostalgia and burned out tropes, because this wasn't the Jeter the crowd knew, the Jeter anyone knew -- this was the 40-year-old Jeter, the Jeter hitting 59 points below his lifetime average, the Jeter trapped in the nightmare of an 0-for-23, crawling on a surgically mended ankle toward retirement. After working the count in his favor, 2-0, he fouled off a pitch. Then looked at another strike, 2-2. Now he stepped out of the box and took a deep breath. He didn't look worried. On the contrary he seemed to be ... talking to himself. Or else humming. Some kind of song. The way his lips were moving, it looked something like, "Tum-tee, TUM-tee, TUM ...?"

"I wasn't humming a song," he says a few days later.

His tone, polite but firm, adds: Idiot.

Well, maybe not a song. ... His handsome face remains impassive, but some twitch of the eyebrow, some tremor of the cheek, says: Sorry, man. I don't hum.

OK, forget the humming. Point is, he just looked so relaxed.

He nods. "I try to relax as much as I can. Playing this game, I'm not afraid to fail. I don't like it, and after I do it I don't want to talk about it, but I'm not afraid of it, so every time I'm in a situation I try to think about times I've been successful and I try to relax."

He did not look relaxed after he stepped back into the box and swung through the next pitch. Strike 3. And he looked anything but relaxed as he walked back to the dugout. His face -- ovoid, smooth, immensely expressive while almost always wholly unrevealing -- showed real concern. There was sadness in the pale limeade eyes, and something more than sadness. Maybe grief?

Of course, if you were ever to bring it up to him, even if you showed him video evidence, he'd only tell you that you're wrong.

And you very well might be.

THE STORY OF every athlete, at heart, is the story of a betrayal. Sometimes, through lack of focus, or lack of commitment, or some moral lapse, the athlete betrays his gifts, or his team, or his game. More often it happens this way: The athlete is betrayed by his body. Our time is short, our playtime shorter. The weak flesh oppresses the willing spirit. That bleak scene in Act 3 of "The Pride of the Yankees," when Gary Cooper as Lou Gehrig opens and closes his trembling fist, staring in horror at its ebbing strength -- that's the norm. One day the body, which has always said yes, says not just no but hell no. Gehrig had a disease, yes, but every athlete has a disease, as does every human being. Time is the disease, and all the ice bucket challenges in the world won't cure it.

Derek Jeter knows this. He might have known it from the start, from the day he became the sixth pick in the first round of the 1992 draft, and yet you always felt he didn't know, not really, which was part of the joy of watching him play. His durable, willful boyishness was a form of rebellion, an F-you to the hourglass. Careful of his gifts, respectful of his game, devoted to his team, possessed of deep moral rectitude -- or else obsessive discretion and top-notch security people -- Jeter carried himself, presented himself, as if there would be some quid pro quo, as if that svelte body, which looks as if it could still fit easily into his rookie uni, might grant him time off for all the good behavior.

He sometimes said as much. Gene Michael, the shrewd executive who helped build Jeter's first championship clubs, once asked Jeter if there wasn't something else he wanted to do with his life. Nope, Jeter said: All I want to do is play baseball. With Michael, with close friends, Jeter spoke openly, blithely, of his intention -- not hope, intention -- to play into his 40s.

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His blitheness was understandable. Jeter's career has been ridiculously long, misleadingly long, four times longer than the average baseball player's. He made his major league debut in the previous century, three wars ago, before Jay Z released his first album, before there was an Internet per se -- so he can be forgiven if he came to regard himself as baseball's Benjamin Button, as some kind of Bronx Ponce de Leon. But when his youth fountain spluttered last year, then went bone-dry this year around the anniversary of Thurman Munson's death, it was a difficult thing to see, and doubly difficult to see him seeing it. After clubbing into yet another double play, he occasionally looked like Cooper qua Gehrig glaring at that useless fist. (How odd that this summer, of all summers, while the 11th captain in the 112-year history of the Yankees was coming to grips with his end, everyone was getting doused to "raise awareness" of the wasting malady that killed Captain Number Five.)

Maybe it's wrong to speak so much of death when considering the end of a baseball career. But it is a death, a little death, a petite mort, as the French say, though not the way they mean it, god knows. Even as we celebrate and commemorate Jeter, we understand and grieve what's happening to him. Jeter the businessman, the public figure, is a relatively young man with a bright future who plans to go into book publishing. (Talk about a throwback.) But Jeter the ballplayer is on life support. After his final game at Fenway Park we'll never see him again. From now until the sun burns out, like that little light above the oven that hasn't worked since you moved in and you can't find a replacement bulb anywhere -- never. RIP, Captain. Requiscat in pace, amen.

To be honest, the Yankees invite this kind of death talk. The Yankees, more than the Egyptians of the Middle Kingdom, fetishize death and dynasties and exalt the afterlife in order to gild and contextualize the flying moment. The Yankees let a dead man announce Jeter every time he steps to the plate. They play a recording of their in-house Thurston Howell, the eternally patrician Bob Sheppard (Oct. 20, 1910-July 11, 2010), who sounds as if he's ordering a gin and tonic down at the club. Numbah Two-ah ... Derek JE-tah. The Yankees recite the same obsessive necrology -- Ruth Gehrig DiMaggio Mantle Maris -- like a graveside Mass whenever another boy king passes over into eternity. Call it "tradition," or "pride," but at times, when they hold another Old-Timers' Day or add another mummy to their Giza Plateau beyond center field, it can feel as ghoulish as a picnic with Marilyn Manson at Forest Lawn.

Sometimes the Yankees are so eager to celebrate the deceased, they embalm the living. Note the memorial patches on the players' sleeves and caps this season, in honor of Jeter. You have to remind yourself at times that Jeter is still ... with us.

Though not for long.

Even if the Yankees weren't a death cult, even if the Yankees didn't have a past, like the Rockies, or pretended they didn't have a past, like the Brewers, Jeter's Long Goodbye would still be a painful reminder of mortality, which baseball is supposed to make us forget. And his uncharacteristically average performance this season, his diminished physical condition, is a painful reminder that our talents, whatever they may be, though they form a key part of our personal identity, are on loan to us, a short-term lease, and when the Repo Man comes, he won't be swayed by our begging, Wait, please, wait, just a little more time. Heedless, he'll hoist them onto his flatbed and drive off. The way Jeter's baseball life is petering out, rather than Jetering out, the way it's ending not with a bang but an oh-fer, the way his team is missing the playoffs for just the third time in his career -- it's all an unwelcome reminder that everything falls apart, that the center cannot hold, that, as James Baldwin said, none of us is "outwitting oblivion," in a summer when we didn't need reminding. A summer of Ebola, Ferguson, ISIS, etc.

And just to make matters worse, the loss of Jeter comes at a time when we're running dangerously low on high-character guys and we're all stocked up on the low -- Ray Rice, Greg Hardy, Jameis Winston, Roger Goodell. (Are you there, God, it's me, America: Why are you making Derek Jeter retire before Roger Goodell?)

Of course, the Long Goodbye was at times joyful. The eight-month fade to black, or navy blue, has occasionally prompted a heart-swelling giddiness, and it inspired two TV spots (Nike, Gatorade) that will be first-ballot entries into the Gooseflesh Hall of Fame. But mostly it's been a downer. Again and again you could hear people, around the ballparks, on the streets, on social media, saying the same things.

Damn, can't believe he's retiring ...

Wow, just realized Number 2 ain't gonna be here no more ... SMH.

The problem is, along with his many other virtues, Jeter has been so companionable. He's always been so reassuringly there. On summer nights, and autumn nights, maybe especially autumn nights, it was a pleasure to turn on the TV and know he'd be at short, tugging the bill of his cap, doing that dancery thing he did every pitch, that half-step toward the hole or the plate just as the pitcher went into his windup. If you walked into any bar, from Midtown to Montauk, between, say, 7 p.m. and 11, Jeter would be above the bartender's head, stepping lithely into the batter's box, waggling his helmet, that dainty way he does, with the pointer finger in the ear hole, then holding his right palm to the ump, begging, Wait, please, wait, just a little more time. For 20 years, he's been more than a great player, he's been great company, and so he'll be missed, not like a limb, not like a friend -- but something like. And no one can truly gauge how much he'll be missed until he's gone, just as we didn't know how much we'd miss other things until they were gone, like peace, and privacy.

That's why this Long Goodbye is so damn sad.

PEOPLE LIKE TO say it isn't sad. People lie. People just don't want to admit it's sad, because that might sound disrespectful, and the theme, the meme, the leitmotif of the Long Goodbye is "Re2pect." But even one of Jeter's oldest friends says that Jeter, secretly, is crushed, that the last at-bat "is going to crush him."

Sometimes people allow that the Long Goodbye has been "bittersweet," an even more execrable lie. Everything these days gets tagged with that feeble cop-out, that consummate Orwellian doublespeak. We've become so linguistically craven, so emotionally addled, we fear making clean, hard distinctions between even basic binaries like happy and sad, so we call complex rites of passage -- breaking up, moving out, getting kicked off the island -- bittersweet, a word without conviction, a word without soul. Let the record show that, notwithstanding those signs at Yankee Stadium (Nothing is sweeter than Derek Jeter!), the Long Goodbye was not sweet. It was bitter. And now it's sad. Period.

You can just hear them, the haters, the anti-Jeterites, haw-hawing and pooh-poohing such talk as rank sentimentality. All this piety, they say, all this hoopla and blather, the legend thing, the icon thing, it's all just a function of Jeter playing in New York. Jeter is good, they say, not great, and the Long Goodbye has been too long by half, and it's frequently veered into kitsch.

Some days it's hard to argue. Like when you sit in Yankee Stadium and on the scoreboard comes a heartfelt farewell from those baseball giants ... Brian Williams and Kenny Chesney? Or when you read that a New Jersey farmer has shaved Jeter's face into his cornfield. (Bob VonThun, the farmer in question, says he won't be watching the last at-bat. He'll be too busy giving tours of Jeter's face.) Or when someone posts a video on YouTube of Jeter's career highlights re-enacted by OYO figures. Or when a Manhattan "gentlemen's club" offers free admission with every Jeter jersey. Somewhere between the Space Shuttle astronauts tipping their caps to Jeter in zero gravity and Gene Simmons making bromantic overtures to Jeter in a video that's just plain hard to watch ("You're a powerful and attractive man!"), there was a predictable outbreak of Jeter Fatigue, and by Labor Day it had become a pandemic. Jeter himself looked like Patient Zero. No one sounded more sick of talking about Derek Jeter than Derek Jeter. Then again, what else is new?

It doesn't help that his last at-bat in Boston represents the fourth, no, fifth goodbye of the Long Goodbye. There was the emotional retirement news conference, Feb. 19. Then the emotional Final All-Star Game, July 15. Then the hyperemotional Derek Jeter Day at the Stadium, Sept. 7. (White folding chairs on the infield, a Periclean eulogy, Jeter's grandmother being walked out by the manager -- it felt like four funerals and a wedding, plus a quinceaera.) Then the devastatingly emotional final home game, Sept. 25, when he, you know.

Not to mention the mini goodbyes at every American League ballpark, plus a few in the National. Every other week, in Houston or Seattle, Baltimore or St. Louis, etc., another team presented Jeter with another giant cardboard check for his Turn 2 Foundation and another gift -- bronze bat, cowboy boots, cuff links, crabs, stadium seats, paddleboard, kayak -- all of which will soon fill an air-conditioned storage locker somewhere in the Tampa-St. Petersburg area. (Jeter plans to spend his golden years down there; he's built a 31,000-square-foot mansion that someone brilliantly dubbed St. Jetersburg.)

The 10-part Michael Jordan documentary "The Last Dance" is here.

Latest updates, full schedule Lowe: The Bulls' toughest Game 7 MacMullan: The Michael Jordan I knew Big moments from Episodes 7 and 8

Finally, the appreciations. Oh lord, the appreciations. Writers, faced with a subject so vast, so done to death, a subject that felt at times like Lincoln, plus Shakespeare, with a side of Princess Di, have been gasping and stammering all summer, like Rain Man 15 minutes before Wapner, and a few have simply gone mad. Feel sad for the Jeter fans, but take pity on the writers. In desperation, some have chosen the New York journalist's version of seppuku, i.e., calling Jeter a "fraud," and "selfish," knocking him for refusing to bench himself when slumping. (They did the same to Gehrig.) A few have hauled out the moth-eaten Jeter j'accuse, "overrated." For the most part, however, they've just thrown in the sponge, warmed up the boilerplate platitudes, because ... Jeter. How else do you write an appreciation of a man almost everyone already appreciates, a man who won't let you appreciate him, won't tell you squat even if you get him to sit still for a 25-minute interview, and will somehow make you respect him for telling you squat? More, how do you sound smart doing it when science shows that human beings have a strong "negativity bias." Study after study proves that we favor someone who says negative things over someone positive, that we rate the negative person's IQ higher.

But have fun trying to be negative -- genuinely, accurately negative -- about Derek Sanderson Jeter. And so the writers covering the Long Goodbye have exhibited a kind of aphasia. Fans, when speechless in the face of Jeter, can at least fall back on their chant. DER-ek JE-ter. Writers simply babble the greatest hits.

October 2001. Division Series against the Athletics. Appearing from nowhere, 50 feet out of position, Jeter grabs an errant cutoff and laterals to Jorge Posada, catching the forever-not-sliding Jeremy Giambi, killing a rally and saving the series, and the season.

November 2001. Game 4 of the World Series. Jeter belts a 10th-inning homer off feckless and fragile Diamondbacks closer Byung-Hyun Kim, who at this moment is somewhere having a stiff drink and muttering the lineup of the 2001 Yankees. Jeter's homer ties the series at 2 and gives New Yorkers, reeling from 9/11, something to cheer. Also, because the at-bat begins in October and ends in November, a first in world history, it earns Jeter the best of his several sobriquets -- Mr. November.

July 2004. A critical regular-season game against the Red Sox. Jeter chases a fly ball up the line, dives into the stands like Michael Phelps starting the 100-meter butterfly, then disappears, then emerges with bloodied chin and bruised eye and woozy expression -- and the ball.

September 2008. The impromptu speech to close out the old Yankee Stadium. Jeter eloquently placates the evicted ghosts and the 50,000 dislocated fans, none of whom can understand the need for a new Stadium, because there was no need.

This is the form all writerly praise of Jeter must take -- anecdotal, strictly external. It doesn't touch the man's core, and we don't much care. Jeter isn't loved for what he's said as much as for what he's done, and above all for what he's not done. Two decades without scandal? It's a feat as impossible, as improbable, as DiMaggio's 56 games. And it wasn't accomplished by some misanthropic agoraphobe who never left his crib in Trump Tower. Jeter likes a good time. He likes people. He likes women. A career bachelor, with exquisite taste, he's put together a girlfriend rsum that's astonishingly diverse, and there's nary a shy librarian among them. Models, singers, actresses, party monsters -- Jeter has dated the kinds of women who are typically, fairly or unfairly, known for drama, and none has ever said a bad word about him in print.

Now consider a partial list of sins that have been connected to Jeter's teammates in the past two decades. Domestic abuse, check kiting, banned substances, drunken driving, assaulting a bartender, assaulting a security guard, perjury, probation violation, child sex abuse.

And that's a partial list. Just from his own locker room. Never mind the rest of the league.

The most salacious Jeter headlines in the morning tabs? The Jeffrey Maier interference, which unfairly gave Jeter a home run in the 1996 playoffs. The "revelation," from an unnamed source, that Jeter gives swag bags to women who overnight at his apartment. The contentious contract negotiations with the Yankees in 2010, after which Jeter proclaimed: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't angry."

Twenty years, that's it.

In many ways, Jeter recalls that famous equation by economist Herbert Simon: "A wealth of information creates a poverty of attention." With Jeter there's a wealth of information, a surfeit of attention, but a poverty of authentic knowledge. All that data -- anecdotes, highlights, numbers, photos, stats, quotes -- goes into the Media Trash Compactor and comes out as a blank slab, a creamy white wall that makes fans feel like Banksy on ephedrine. Onto Jeter the fan can paint or project whatever he wants, including things for which there's scant evidence. In our age of Total Noise, and White Noise, Jeter's grace and stoicism provide a healing, reparative quiet. Which we can then fill up with all our stuff.

THE MOST FAMILIAR emblem of the Yankees, more than the top hat on the bat, is that famous white facade around the vertiginous upper tier of the Stadium. (Any architect worth his T square will tell you it's not actually a facade but a frieze, but never mind, we're after metaphors, not accuracy.) The public Jeter, the Jeter of five rings and constant effort and consistent respectfulness, the Jeter hitting .309 lifetime (.308 in the postseason), is a facade. Maybe not a deliberate facade, or consciously deliberate, but a public face nonetheless, a polished front he wears as smartly as his cap. The facade doesn't simply hide or overshadow the inner Jeter, the pin-striped ego and the road-gray id, it renders them moot. We know nothing of Jeter's dark side, his demons and insecurities, whom he's wronged, whom he's slighted, who has wronged or slighted him, not merely because he doesn't want us to know but because at this point we don't want to know. As Elias Canetti wrote: "Don't tell me who you are. I want to worship you."

At some point Jeter realized this, figured it all out, whereas his fellow superstars never seem to. Count how many tweets we've received from LeBron James since The Decision. Then consider that Jeter, in five times that span, has never tweeted, never Instagrammed, and his few Facebook postings mainly concern children aided by his foundation. He did write a quasi memoir in 2000, though it seems aimed at tweens, and it contains zero revelations, and it's ghostwritten in a golly gee willikers tone that makes the Boy Scout Handbook sound like Charles Bukowski. Jeter gets knocked for being guarded, but he's not guarded, he's just not open. If you went to the store and it wasn't open, you'd move on without a thought. If you found a guard standing outside, you'd be suspicious. There's a difference.

So, for argument's sake, let's concede that Jeter is a cypher, and let's grant that the Long Goodbye has been overlong -- even so, good luck not watching the last at-bat. Good luck, if you're anywhere near a TV, looking away when they play and replay and re-replay Jeter making that last slow walk to the plate and the Fenway crowd roaring and showing him what can only be called ... love. Good luck not feeling sad at the sight and sound of such love, not thinking that things were better, the world righter, when Jeter was reviled in New England, when the jamokes outside Fenway were hawking T-shirts that read "Brokeback Jeter" and having trouble keeping XXLs in stock. If you're a Jeter fan, your heart will break at that surreal scene, but even if you're a Cubs fan, or a Mariners fan, prepare yourself for some myocardial dysfunction. If you're a baseball fan of any kind, Jeter's last at-bat will be a workout for the deep nodes in your brain that equate baseball with manhood and fatherhood and America and the quintessence of life; it will be like watching "Field of Dreams" and "The Natural," while wearing Ty Cobb's old jock, while munching a box of Cracker Jack hand-roasted by Abner Doubleday's mom and picking the kernels out of your teeth with a Mickey Mantle rookie card.

Still, still, leave baseball out of it. If you care anything about the culture, this is important, riveting theater. Years will pass, perhaps a generation or two, before we witness someone with this much street cred, and stat cred, and history and equity built up with such a diverse cross section of the population. America is polarized? Throughout the Long Goodbye, Jeter has received standing ovations in the Deep South, the Mid-Atlantic, the Pacific Northwest, the Great Plains. In Baltimore, a 50-something woman, 24 hours after receiving a dire diagnosis from her doctor, waited in her wheelchair outside the visitors' exit, hoping to get Jeter's autograph, because Jeter is her inspiration -- her medicine. "He never gave up," she said simply. In Tampa, a snow-haired granny draped herself over the top of the visitors' dugout, virtually stopping the game until Jeter posed for a selfie.

Throw in the anomaly of Jeter's 20 years with one organization, plus his 3,463 hits, more than all but five men in history, plus his 200 postseason hits, more than anyone ever, and this last at-bat comes into razor-sharp ultra-HD. Even if you're in a medically induced coma, wake up. This is fricking big.

ALEXES BERNIER will be watching. The 17-year-old captain of the City Divas, a girls fast-pitch softball team in the Bronx, plays shortstop, wears No. 2 and strives in all things to be like her hero. So total is her adulation of Jeter, so complete is her mimicry of his mannerisms, friends and family don't call her Alexes anymore. They just call her Cap'n.

Bernier has never known a day on this planet when Jeter wasn't the Yankees' starting shortstop, when his picture didn't paper her bedroom walls, when she didn't spend hours practicing his stance before a mirror -- butt out, toes in, bat high above her head, twirling like a straw in a dust devil. Jeter's departure posits a new kind of void for Bernier, an initiation into the adult Unknown, so she wanted, needed, to join the Long Goodbye, to bid Jeter farewell in person. During one of the last homestands -- in fact, the first day of her senior year -- Bernier and a group of teammates finagled their way onto the field before the game.

There are usually 50 or so kids on the field an hour or two before the first pitch. The Yankees keep them in a corral, cordoned off by fat navy blue straps, and their anguish can be a gruesome sight. Imagine a petting zoo where the kids aren't allowed to pet anything. Kept far away from the foci of their fascination, the kids make oohing and aahing noises and do not blink. The four long rows of Bernier's lashes might not have touched once while Jeter took his cuts in the batting cage, and only when he was done, only when he was busy talking to teammates, was she able to divert her attention long enough to explain, or rather confess, that her nature isn't really like Jeter's. She wishes it were. Oh, Mister, how she wishes. Instead she tends to get nervous at Big Moments. Her coaches even tease her about it. They call her Derek Jitters. "She'll be a hot mess," says her mother, Suheil Fontanez, "and not be able to breathe." But then she'll think of Jete and find her center. "He's really changed her life."

In fact, Jeter may ultimately be the reason Bernier gets to go to college. Her best hope of getting into a good school, a Division I school, and receiving desperately needed financial aid, may be softball, so patterning herself after the Captain may yield benefits for years to come.

Finally, on his way to the dugout, Jeter stopped and signed every ball and scrap of paper thrust toward him by the kids. Bernier gently held her ticket aloft. Only once before had she gotten this close to Jeter, when she was 10, and she'd been so dumbstruck she couldn't form words. Couldn't move. She just stood there and Jeter stood there and then she burst into tears and he moved on. This time she held it together, got his signature, then fell backward into her girlfriends as if they were a mosh pit. It seemed the EMTs might need to be called. Days later, when the ticket was in its rightful place, at the foot of her bed, like the golden chalice on an altar, she told her mother, "That was the best day of my life." Yes. Alexes will be watching.

As will Gay Talese. Forty-eight years ago the legendary journalist and author wrote a probing, lyric, classic portrait of Joe DiMaggio, who may be the closest spiritual link to Jeter in the Yankees pantheon. Both men are praised for their elegance, and both are often called "aloof." (Jeter, who once met DiMaggio but was too intimidated to speak to him, la Bernier, makes a habit before every home game of touching a sign painted with a DiMaggio quote: "I want to thank the Good Lord for making me a Yankee.") Two years ago, while reporting a profile of Yankees manager Joe Girardi, Talese interviewed Jeter, sat with him in the dugout and observed the same distance, the same distrust he'd once observed in the Yankee Clipper. "It was like there was a glass case around him. He was like in a museum and there's a glass case and someone is saying, 'Keep your distance.'"

If Jeter harbors a deep distrust of sports writers, Talese says, who could blame him? "The most untrustworthy people in journalism are sports writers! I wouldn't trust a sports writer -- ever. You know what wrecks they are. Terrible! Exploitive!"

You can see that attitude best when you see Jeter in the locker room, his sanctum, which you can tell, from his body language, from his vibe, he's not thrilled to share with these lumpy, notebook-toting buffoons in their acid-washed jeans and bad shoes. When you see the writers standing in a pack near Jeter, but not too near, pretending they're not watching him, constantly cutting sidelong glances in his direction, like scavenger birds watching a feeding lion on the savanna, you get some idea of his life. Occasionally they drift over, ask for a minute, and almost always Jeter tells them, with unfailing politeness, 'Not right now, I can't, sorry, another time.' Then you see him turn to his locker, turn his back to them, drop his pants, and his shorts, and you have to laugh, because, sure, it's a locker room, the man has to get dressed, but no one else is doing this at the moment, and there does seem to be something pointed, something meaningful, something unmistakably clear about the one and only part of Jeter that he's willing to reveal to sports writers.

Talese believes the two keys to Jeter -- to his nature, his reserve, his success, everything -- are his parents, Charles and Dorothy. They will probably be watching the last at-bat from a suite at Fenway, though it's no sure thing. When Jeter made his official big league debut as the declared starting shortstop of the Yankees, in Cleveland, in April 1996, only his mother was on hand. His father was back home in Kalamazoo, Michigan, watching Jeter's only sibling, younger sister Sharlee, play softball. It was typical of the Jeters' parenting style, people say. Never putting one child above the other, never losing sight of what really matters.

Both Jeter's mother and father were sergeants in the U.S. Army. (They met while stationed in Frankfurt.) Though they come from vastly different backgrounds -- Dad, African-American, grew up in Montgomery, Alabama; Mom, Irish Catholic, grew up in suburban Jersey -- they apparently saw eye-to-eye on the art of child-rearing. The Jeter household was run like a barracks, with many rules, strictly enforced. In fact, when Jeter was in grade school his parents made him sign a contract, pledging to do his chores and homework, to obey a strict curfew, to show respect to elders and peers and strive to be an all-around exemplary citizen.

At the same time Jeter was inking a long-term deal with his parents, he was making a lifelong pact with himself. He vowed to be a ballplayer. More, to be a Yankee. To this day he's never said why. Maybe it was because he was born (June 26, 1974) just miles from the Stadium. Maybe it was because he spent summers with his grandparents in Jersey and his grandmother was a diehard fan. Maybe it was destiny. Whatever the reason, as a boy Jeter wore Yankees boxer shorts to bed, wore Yankees pinstripes around the house, nailed a Yankees uniform to his wall, told teachers, friends, anyone who would listen, that he hoped -- no, intended -- to play shortstop for the Bombers one day. Destiny, or audacity, it seems to have been in his blood.

Speaking of his blood. Henry Louis Gates Jr. will likely be watching the last at-bat. The eminent Harvard professor recently oversaw a chemical analysis of Jeter's DNA, plus an extensive pruning of the Jeter family tree, as part of a segment on the PBS show "Finding Your Roots." Gates says Jeter "identifies as an African-American," but when they first met for the show Jeter knew very little of his racial makeup or family history. Like most Jeter fans, Jeter wanted to know more.

Gates obliged. He discovered that Jeter, on his father's side, descends from Green Jeter, an Alabama slave, born May 1844. Upon being set free after the Civil War, Gates says, Green "thrived," became a minister, founded his own church. "We wanted to find out who owned him," Gates says, "and the most incredible thing, we found the will of an Alabama slave owner, James W. Jeter, a white man who died in 1861." The will mentioned Green by name, and also his mother, Charity. "It's very rare to find a former slave mentioned in an owner's will," Gates says. Then another telling clue popped up: The 1870 census lists Green as "mulatto." "So if it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck ..." Gates says. In the end, Jeter's DNA analysis removed all doubt. "James W. Jeter was Green's father," Gates says.

Thus Jeter descends not just from slaves but slave owners, a revelation that kicked open the door to other discoveries, including the identity of a distant Jeter who fought in the Revolutionary War. Further, a grandfather on Jeter's mother's side immigrated to America from Germany in the 1860s and opened a tavern where the Holland Tunnel now stands. In other words, for at least 150 years, New Yorkers have enjoyed guzzling beer while watching a Jeter kin.

It's an irresistible temptation to say that some elemental quality in Jeter's genes impelled him to become a New Yorker, a New York Yankee, a New York hero, a transcendent figure who floats above or synthesizes or denies America's racial anxieties. No one ever calls him the second black captain of the New York Yankees, the first lone black captain. (Willie Randolph was co-captain.) But he is. If race seems to have played little role in his rise, it's an illusion. For example, shortly after being drafted, after getting his first big bonus check, Jeter bought himself a flashy red Mitsubishi, which quickly attracted the attention of Kalamazoo's yahoos. One day a group of thumb heads drove by and shouted: "Take that car back to your daddy, you n-----!"

It's a memory that probably doesn't recur during the Long Goodbye. Or else recurs constantly. No one knows, and the last person who's likely to say is Jeter.

CHAD MOTTOLA will be watching the last at-bat.

In the 1992 baseball draft, Mottola, a power-hitting outfielder from Fort Lauderdale, was picked fifth by Cincinnati, even though the Reds' Michigan scout begged the front office: Take Jeter. Mottola went on to have a dazzlingly short career, appearing in only 59 games, roughly 2,700 fewer than Jeter. Now the minor league hitting coordinator for Tampa Bay, Mottola says he's endured 20 years of ribbing, not always good-natured. But last year, when he was with Toronto, he and Jeter had a moment. They shook hands, shared a laugh about how their fates are entwined. Mottola then sent two baseballs into the Yankees' clubhouse, with a modest request. He wanted Jeter to sign them for his kids, 9 and 6. "I wanted him to write: Your dad was supposed to be better than me -- haha."

Somehow the baseballs got lost. Mottola never got them back. Oh well, he says. Another time.

The man who chose Mottola over Jeter will also be watching. "I probably will," says Julian Mock, former scouting director of the Reds.

Mock vividly recalls the scout telling him that Jeter was the real deal, and Mock had no reason to doubt the scout. "But we already had a Hall of Famer at short -- Barry Larkin!" So Mock chose Mottola and let Jeter slip to the shocked and jubilant Yankees. Now retired and living in Georgia, Mock doesn't go back, late at night, when he can't sleep, and replay his decision. Really. He doesn't. "I'm glad I didn't get him," he says. "The way our system was? When he made all those errors the first two years in the minor leagues -- he'd have been gone."

It's true. When Jeter first joined the Rookie League Gulf Coast Yankees, he was so error-prone that some within the organization started to have buyer's remorse. Some talked about moving him to center field, and Jeter heard them talking. He panicked. He sank into a depression.

It was the darkest time of his life. Eighteen, homesick, having his first real taste of failure, he wept every night for months. Then things got worse. The following year, though his hitting improved, he committed 56 errors, a league record. There was growing concern within the Yankees, and some said openly that Jeter might be a bust, and so the team sent out an urgent distress call to Brian Butterfield, a well-respected fielding guru. Come fix this kid.

Butterfield hustled to Tampa and put Jeter through an intensive boot camp, 35 straight days of breaking him down, teaching him how to field a grounder.

What was Jeter doing wrong?

"You name it," Butterfield says, laughing. "His feet didn't have a purpose. His glove didn't have a purpose." While Butterfield was installing purpose in Jeter's extremities, he noticed that the rest of Jeter was wholly purpose-driven. No matter how many grounders Jeter muffed, he went after the next one with confidence and determination. "He didn't get down on himself," Butterfield says. "He was the antithesis of me."

Now a coach for Boston, Butterfield will have no choice but to watch Jeter's last at-bat. He'll be a ground ball away. And he expects the moment to be unbearably poignant. He predicts tears. "He has impacted my life far more than I ever could've done for him," Butterfield says.

ONE JETER FAN who won't be watching is R.D. Long, who played with Jeter in Tampa and Greensboro. Unlike Jeter, Long was no bonus baby. Drafted in the 38th round, he managed to eke out a few years in pro ball before giving up, right around the time Jeter was achieving superstardom.

Long recalls the exact moment he realized that his friend, with whom he'd shared bad motel rooms and greasy road food, had become a god. The Yankees were in Toronto, and Long was in nearby Rochester, and he swung by the ballpark to say hello. Standing shyly near the players' exit, near the buses, Long suddenly saw them all come out. Pettitte, Clemens, Rivera, Posada, a row of giants, and then Jeter, who seemed to be leading them from behind, "with this jacket-coat that looked like the wind; a fan was blowing, his coat is flying behind him, like he's some kind of superhero. It seemed so surreal that it was like -- it looked slow motion, like the smoke with the wind blowing Michael Jackson's shirt in that video? Like that.

"This was the boy king in the making, right in front of me. It happened that quickly."

So why won't Long be watching? "Certain things happened," he says. "The A-Rod scenario ... "

Long soured on the Yankees, he says, when the team acquired Rodriguez in a 2004 trade. Rodriguez was "all the talk -- while idly by you're ignoring one of the greatest ever -- Jete."

And yet ... Alex Rodriguez will be watching.

From his office in Miami, where he's serving a one-year banishment from baseball, Rodriguez says he's watched nearly every game of Jeter's Long Goodbye, and he'll surely be watching the last at-bat, and probably feeling nostalgic about the early days of their friendship. He often finds himself thinking of those halcyon days when he and Jeter were two teenagers loaded with talent, the world at their cleats. In particular he thinks of the night they first met. Rodriguez was a high school senior, trying to decide between attending the University of Miami and going pro, and he sought advice from Jeter, who'd just chosen the Yankees over the University of Michigan. Through Jeter's agent, they arranged to meet at a Miami-Michigan baseball game, and Jeter spent the entire game counseling Rodriguez. "We sat there for nine innings, talking shop," Rodriguez says. "I'm very inquisitive, I asked everything under the moon -- and what he told me that day, that night, had a huge influence."

Another glowing memory comes right behind that one, a heady night not long after Rodriguez and Jeter had both broken into the majors. MTV flew them both, first-class, to Los Angeles, to film a TV show called "Rock N' Jock."

Rodriguez says they were beyond thrilled about flying first-class, and about the chance to see Hollywood. After filming ended, they went out on the town, and in the early-morning hours, in a cab back to their hotel, they talked unguardedly about the future. Both agreed that if they could just manage to stay in the game for a few years, long enough to earn "one million dollars," that would be unthinkable. More than anyone could dare hope for.

When the cab pulled up to the hotel they discovered that they didn't have enough to pay the fare. They pooled their crumpled bills and coins and came up with $17, Rodriguez recalls, which they handed, with profuse apologies, to the driver. Rodriguez laughs at the memory: their big dreams, their innocence.

Rodriguez and Jeter have had an up-and-down relationship through the years, he concedes. Friends, enemies, frenemies -- but right now he says they're in a good place. He's beyond proud of his friend, he says, filled with unrestrained admiration. "Derek's been a leader from day one. He's been the head of his class in every way, both on the field and in terms of character. ... That's hard to do. Being undefeated for 20 years? In New York City? That's remarkable."

Via satellite, Rodriguez soaked up every bit of Derek Jeter Day, including Jeter's moving, funny, "presidential" news conference afterward. "When you realize, an hour before the game, 50,000 people are in their seats, ready to go, excited, energetic. When you see Michael Jordan and Cal Ripken, two of the biggest icons of my lifetime -- I thought it was a great day. I'm sorry I wasn't there."

Rodriguez thought about texting Jeter that day. But he held off, he says, because he didn't want to be a distraction. "I've made it a point to stay in the penalty box."

Some days later, he says: "I opted to reach out to Derek in a private moment."

ABOVE ALL, Derek Jeter will not be watching the last at-bat of Derek Jeter. He won't step outside himself, he won't be thinking about any of this -- the cosmic importance, the social relevance, the emotions, the history. Nothing.

Sitting in a bare office in the bowels of Tropicana Field, wearing jeans, a gray T-shirt and a red beaded necklace, Jeter says softly that he'll reflect on the moment, briefly, before it comes, maybe, maybe. But in the moment, while it's actually happening? No. "Probably be thinking, 'Man, I need to get a hit right here.' But I think that every time."

Every game, before, during, after, he thinks the same things, does the same things, so he's not about to change now, he says, just because it's the end. He'll approach the 11,000-somethingth at-bat just like the first. "I'm a creature of habit," he says. "My biggest fear in life, in anything, is being unprepared. It throws me off. So I feel as though, when I do my routine, I'm prepared to play. When I don't, it throws me off."

That's why, for instance, he's used the same model of bat since he was 18. It's the bat that comes closest in shape to the aluminum bat he used in high school. "I've never changed," he says, beaming with pride. "I've used one bat my entire career -- P72. I'm the only person I know that's never changed. I've never had another at-bat with another one."

Not even in batting practice? Not even when he's slumping? "Its not the bat," he says, laughing. "Some people blame the bat ... ?"

He leaves open the possibility that he'll be nervous for the last at-bat. "Everybody gets nervous," he says. "It's just how you hide it. How you deal with it." But most likely he'll sleep like a baby. He only has trouble sleeping "when we have a day game after a night game."

If others are sad about the last at-bat, or about what comes after, he shows no signs of sharing their sadness. He sounds like someone looking forward to the next chapter, someone at peace with the timing of his decision. "I think you can play as long as you want, as long as you can work hard at it. I got to the point where this was my last year. I felt as though it was my last year. Not saying I don't think I could play longer."

Really?

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Derek Jeter, the final walk-off and baseball immortality - ESPN

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Ramdesivir, hailed as cure for COVID-19: is history repeating itself? – National Herald

In June 2002, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) approved Oseltamivir for prophylaxis and treatment of influenza. In 2005 SE Asia witnessed another corona virus (H5N1) outbreak avian or bird flu. Panic mongers went on an overdrive and projected up to 200 million deaths. Governments across the globe stockpiled the drug worth billions of dollars in a bid to prepare to meet the pandemic. It turned out to be unnecessary and ended in an anti-climax. Deaths due to the bird flu epidemic did not exceed a few hundred.

In 2009 we had another outbreak of coronavirus, this time the Swine Flu(H1N1). In no time, the WHO declared the A/H1N1 influenza a pandemic. The National Institute for Health and Care Exellence (NICE), the CDC, the WHO, and the ECDC were also quick to recommend the use of Oseltamivir both for treatment as well as prophylaxis. WHO included the drug in the list of essential medicine.

A red flag was raised in 2009 itself by Keiji Hayashi, a Japanese physician. He pointed out that the key piece of evidence for the conclusion--that Tamiflu reduced the risk of secondary complications such as pneumonia--was based on a manufacture-authored, pooled analysis of 10 manufacturer-funded trials, 8 of which were unpublished.

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Ramdesivir, hailed as cure for COVID-19: is history repeating itself? - National Herald

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How to become immortal – stopthefud

Like all animals, we humans wear out. We get osteoarthritis, we lose our hearing, our eyesight goes up the pictures, we go deaf, we cant taste or smell much any more. Our muscle strength waves goodbye, our lungs clog, a sense of balance is a well remembered thing of the past.

The problem is we no longer heal as we used to. When youre a child, fall over running in the playground, skin your knee down to the bone, two days later its as if it never happened. When youre clocking on a bit, a minor paper cut takes weeks to heal.

Hence for just about as long as mortals have been around, people have sought the secret of immortality. I can think of two routes worthy of investigation. One is to stay a teenager. Every teenager who isnt an Emo knows he or she is immortal. I certainly was. And when you know youre immortal, you get into all sorts of bad habits and behaviours, many of which ironically have the potential to shorten your lifespan, something you as a teen know but dont believe applies to you.

Freezing time is anyway a no-no, so we need to adopt a more scientific approach, and heres what I suggest. We need to find a way of being made up only of liver cells. The liver is a damned fine organ. It spends 24 hours a day being roughed up by the world, mugged by many and varied chemical toxins both natural and artificial, and within extremely elastic limits it just gets up, dusts itself down, and asks you if thats your best shot. You have to kick a liver around really badly before it says, OK, you win.

I mention this because I found out something surprising this week. Surprising? Remarkable more like. My liver function tests reveal it to be in tiptop condition, as bright eyed and bushy tailed as can be. Considering the amount of metabolic abuse I have meted out to it over the past half century plus, its a testament to natures resilience and engineering skills. Bravo liver. So you can see the point of my contention. Livers are pretty well indestructible, and if we were composed of liver cells wed be on the way to immortality.

Personally, the idea doesnt appeal. Unless you happen to be Bowerick Wowbagger with an urge and an infinite amount of time to insult every being in the Universe, youre going to get bored. Weve all had days where the space/time continuum is distorted, and five minutes become hours of unremitting tedium. Imagine that going on for centuries, millennia, geological ages, eons.

No thanks.

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Living in the Shade of Heaven – Greater Kashmir

We dont understand that life is a paradise [at present], for we have only to wish to understand this and it will immediately appear before us in all its beauty. Father Zossima in The Brothers Karamazarov.

Whitehead has referred to basic insights or initial intuitions or feelings of mankind calling for explanations or justifications. Our desire for immortality is one of these initial intuitions, or persistent dreams, or impulses. If we begin with this fundamental impulse of the human spirit, the question is not disputing their truth on this or that so-called scientific ground or explaining it away but how to express it. Believers and non-believers neednt dispute the matter taking all or none position but may better have a dialogue regarding how far we have succeeded in defining or understanding it correctly.

It needs just a moments reflection to see that the issue of Heaven is neither an obsession of old schoolmen nor a subject for idle dreamers or escapists but concerns every man by virtue of being human. On it hinges the fate of people, believers and non-believers alike as it involves the question of meaning of life. Violence in domestic or political arena is a reaction to failure to finding love/being loved and agitation of spirit that fails to find repose in absence of the object it craves for by its very nature. All divorcees and criminals have failed to find love/attention. The recent history of violence has much to do with the history of decline of understanding of Heaven in modern consciousness.

One can transpose to Islam and arguably to all transcendence centric traditions that posit our real home in the yonderland of Spirit, Kreefts description of the medieval Christendom: It was the world beyond the world that made all the difference in the world to this world. The Heaven beyond the sun made the earth under the sun something more than vanity of vanities. Earth was Heavens womb, Heavens nursery, Heavens dress rehearsal. Heaven was the meaning of the earth.. Indeed deep down, everywhere, man refuses to believe his mortality. If both the desire and somewhat intuitive conviction and over a dozen rational arguments that cumulatively do mean a lot if not individually so compelling are corroborated by countless experiences men traditionally have had and even modern do have occasionally one can go to YouTube and see hundreds of videos by not only gullible believers but former sceptics that seem to imply some sort of survival and good news from the yonderland one has, as a rational being, reason to believe essential immortality of intelligence that asks the question about its own mortality and thus seems to presuppose its own transcendental status as outside spatio-temporal frameworks. There is no harm in hoping for the best while preparing for the worst in any case. None of us can easily grant that love whose very mention evokes supernatural or eternal aspect can die, that beauty is merely natural phenomenon, that intelligence or that consciousness isnt somehow primordial.

It is not difficult to see that corresponding ideas to Heaven as Home idea inform every tradition that is wedded to the project of self-realization/enlightenment/Nirvana/Paradise of Essence/Illumination/Beatific vision. Again Kreefts words find resonance across traditions. Homethats what heaven is. It wont appear strange and faraway and supernatural, but utterly natural. Heaven is what we were designed for. All our epics seek it: It is the home of Odysseus, of Aeneas, of Frodo, of E.T. Heaven is not escapist. Worldliness is escapist. Heaven is home. Kreeft answers the familiar charges that one would feel bored in heaven or seek to escape from it or it constitutes escapism from the world. People think heaven is escapist because they fear that thinking about heaven will distract us from living well here and now. It is exactly the opposite, and the lives of the saints and our Lord himself prove it. Those who truly love heaven will do the most for earth. Its easy to see why. Those who love the homeland best work the hardest in the colonies to make them resemble the homeland. Thy kingdom come. .. on earth as it is in heaven. He explains why consciousness of Heaven is required to illumine our odyssey on earth. if we see life as a road to heaven, some of heavens own glory will reflect back onto that road, if only by anticipation: the world is charged with the grandeur of God and every event smells of eternity.

Man may be defined as transcendence oriented or perpetually restless Heaven seeking animal. It is something evoking or invoking (or parasitic on) Eternity/Heaven or semblance of it in ordinary experiences such as sunshine and women and beaches and friends and music and wine that secular writers propose for our earthly salvation. All that takes us out of body, makes us dance in ecstasy, or swoon in serenity and weep tears of love and gratitude or even just talking to friends, sipping tea in silence, making love with spouse or kissing ones child constitute our (as believers and nonbelievers alike) share of life in Heaven or mortals claim to immortality. Modern drug culture and alcoholism is ultimately linked to squeezing of spaces for cultivating safer and tested methods for tasting Heaven or securing our seat there. So the question of immortality is of great practical significance for governments and police is better equipped if it knows it. Daredevil driving that kills thousands annually is seeking shortcut to heaven here.

We have heard the good news but we have not paid heed. There is a great news broadcast in all scriptures, in the writings of saints, symbolized in great art works, hinted in virgin nature, dreamt in dreams or seen in visions, lived by children and simple minded, tasted by lovers, that is the Good News of Heaven. Heaven has been promised by God, witnessed by prophets and attested by saints. We havent just heard of it we have lived under its shade it or seen it albeit dimly or through a veil. It is thanks to Heavens ecstasies that we continue to cherish life, sex, music, beauty.

Peter Kreeft explains why we cant afford to miss heaven even if our ideologies deny it, The big, blazing, terrible truth about man is that he has a heaven-sized hole in his heart, and nothing else can fill it And Talk about heaven and youll get sneers. But talk about a mysterious dissatisfaction with life even when things go wellespeciallywhen things go welland youll get a hearing from mans heart, even if his lips will not agree. And explains that we arent really interested in houris Iqbal also remarked that houris complain about believers little interest in them. No one longs for fluffy clouds and sexless cherubs, buteveryonelongs for heaven. No one longs for any of the heavens that we have ever imagined, but everyone longs for something no eye has seen, no ear has heard, something that has not entered into the imagination of man, something God has prepared for those who love him.

A clarification regarding the view of not desiring heaven attributed to Imams and Sufis is due. Reza Shah Kazmi explains:

It is, of course, true that the highest degree of spirituality transcends the desire for Paradise and the fear of Hell, and the moral conduct proportioned thereto. But this means that when such higher degrees of realization have been attained, the state of the soul is one that can properly be characterized as paradisal, that is, as being already so utterly content with the beatific presence of God that it can desire nothing more. This state of soul is called in the Qurn al-nafs al-mumainna (89: 27), the soul at peace in absolute certainty.

The mere thought of Paradise is itself a purification of the mind and heart, a means of averting from the soul the ever-present temptation to seek its ultimate happiness and well-being in this world alone.

Building on the Quranic verse And give good tidings to those who believe and perform virtuous deeds, that for them are Gardens underneath which rivers flow. Every time they are given to eat from the fruits thereof, they say: This is what we were given to eat before. And they were given the like thereof (2: 25), Reza Shah Kazmi writes about Imam Alis (RA) teachings, The fruits of the paradisal gardens are thus experienced already in the herebelow, in the form of all goodness, beauty and truth, and the diverse modes of happiness flowing therefrom. All such experiences are so many foretastes of the ultimate beatitude in Paradise. On the ethical plane, the performance of good deeds, and even more directly, the realization of intrinsic virtue, isn, is thus not simply a prerequisite for posthumous salvation, but is already a kind of deliverance, here and now. It is a deliverance from the imprisonment of sin, on the outward plane, and from the bondage of egocentricity, on the inward plane. This theme of salvation here and now, grounded in unshakeable certitude, is fundamental to the spirit of the Imams teachings.

All joy felt here on earth is loaned from Heaven. Simone Weil, with the world fraternity of sages, noted that joy (embodied quintessentially in heaven) is contact with reality and sorrow distance from it. As such mans adventure to embrace the Real or more correctly Gods search for man, as Heschel would put it, cant fail to fructify and in fact its successes constitute all the triumphs of human spirit in diverse sciences or departments of human life. Man is made for the Absolute, to die in It and thus to eternally live. Certainty is the requirement of intelligence and man is not absurdity. If man fails to access the most certain, the indubitable, the absolutely safe in Wittgensteins terms, he has failed as a man. God is the greatest certainty the greatest and most palpable of the present facts in Whiteheads words and a philosophy or epistemology that doesnt account for this does not deserve to be called a philosophy. It is failure and betrayal of philosophy and of man and his intelligence if the real is not knowable.

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Living in the Shade of Heaven - Greater Kashmir

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