Century Marks

Century Marks

Courage to be

Bonnie Ware has long worked in palliative care, spending time with the dying during the final weeks of their lives. Over the years she's heard the same regrets from the dying. They wish they had had the courage to be themselves, rather than trying to meet expectations. They say they should not have worked so hard—a lament heard especially from the older generation of males. They regret not having had the courage to express their feelings, even if doing so would have caused others pain. They say they should have stayed in touch with their friends and given more time to nurturing friendships (Activist Post, November 30).

A hitch in the review

Christopher Hitchens thought ethics was a matter of action, not intention. To illustrate his point he told how he had had a chance to review a book by an author who had given one of Hitchen's own works a bad review. It was a wonderful opportunity for revenge, but Hitchens realized the book he was reviewing was brilliant and he had to say so. His only obligation was to the truth. Hitchens, author of God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, died last month at age 62 of esophageal cancer (Chicago Tribune, December 17).

On deck

A well-read Amish man told David McConnell, a professor at the College of Wooster, about his warm-up routine for reading a book: he first skims the table of contents, then he pages through the index. "It's like being in the on-deck circle," the man said. "You rub your hands, you spit, you watch the pitcher and then you have some idea of what's coming" (Men­nonite Quarterly Review, October).

Epistolary art

Students at Amherst College were encouraged to revive the traditional practice of letter writing using manual typewriters or paper with quill pens. Organized by the student activities office as a social event, the project attracted more than 300 students—about twice the number expected. Sealing wax was used to close the envelopes. A leader admitted that she needed to teach herself how to use one of the typewriters, which were purchased online. Some students vowed to continue the letter writing, and it was rumored that one student went to a typewriter store—there still is one in Amherst, Massachusetts—to inquire about renting a manual typewriter.