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The phone call came on Saturday saying that Fred had died. He was the oldest of the six Neuhaus boys and I the youngest. He died at home in Thousand Oaks, California. It was cancer and, after the usual treatments, the last month was devoted simply to making him as comfortable as possible. He is the first of the eight children to die, although twelve years ago it was thought I would have that dubious distinction. (I have written about my ordeal with cancer and my near-life experiences in a little book, As I Lay Dying .)

Fred retired from the Los Angeles police force about twenty-five years ago. After Delores, his first wife, died, he married Nadine, also a nurse, who lovingly sustained him through thick and thin.

Fred was a Goldwater Republican before many people had heard of Goldwater. In those days I was thought to be very much a man of the left, deeply engaged in the civil rights battles and opposition to the Vietnam War. He was a talented and relentless arguer, and we would go at it into the small hours of the morning. But blood is thicker than politics. In later years we became the friends that we were not as children. (Anyone who comes from a large family knows how siblings divide into two or more families.) It was easier after I was forced to admit that I had been wrong about some things¯most importantly, that Communism could in no way be construed as “liberalism in a hurry” with which the free world could easily coexist.

The relationship of the last decades was mainly a matter of telephone conversations every week or two in which we more or less agreeably surveyed the state of the Church and the world, but mainly of the world. Fred had by that time become a conservative Presbyterian, although his congregation belonged, I think, to the more liberal Presbyterian Church USA. Prior to his time with the LAPD, he had served a hitch in the Air Force.

Fred never went to college, but I suspect he was the smartest of the Neuhaus boys. He read FIRST THINGS avidly and was frustrated when he could not find a typo or grammatical error in an issue. I assume he was a good cop. I know he was a fine husband, father, and brother. Rest in peace, Fred.

The following item is not entirely original. You may have seen other versions, but this reworking sent by a friend is, I think, nicely done:


Introducing the new Bio-Optic Organized Knowledge device¯trade-named: BOOK.

BOOK is a revolutionary breakthrough in technology: no wires, no electric circuits, no batteries, nothing to be connected or switched on. It’s so easy to use, even a child can operate it.

Compact and portable, it can be used anywhere¯even sitting in an armchair by the fire¯yet it is powerful enough to hold as much information as a CD-ROM.

Here’s how it works: BOOK is constructed of sequentially numbered sheets of recyclable paper, each capable of holding thousands of bits of information. The pages are locked together with a custom-fit device called a binder which keeps the sheets in their correct sequence.

Opaque Paper Technology (OPT) allows manufacturers to use both sides of the sheet, doubling the information density and cutting costs. Experts are divided on the prospects for further increases in information density; for now, BOOKS with more information simply use more pages. Each sheet is scanned optically, registering information directly into your brain. A flick of the finger takes you to the next sheet.

BOOK may be taken up at any time and used merely by opening it.

BOOK never crashes or requires rebooting, though, like other devices, it can become damaged if coffee is spilled on it and it becomes unusable if dropped too many times on a hard surface. The “browse” feature allows you to move instantly to any sheet, and move forward or backward as you wish. Many come with an “index” feature, which pin-points the exact location of any selected information for instant retrieval.

An optional “BOOKmark” accessory allows you to open BOOK to the exact place you left it in a previous session¯even if the BOOK has been closed. BOOKmarks fit universal design standards; thus, a single BOOKmark can be used in BOOKs by various manufacturers. Conversely, numerous BOOK markers can be used in a single BOOK if the user wants to store numerous views at once. The number is limited only by the number of pages in the BOOK. You can also make personal notes next to BOOK text entries with optional programming tools, Portable Erasable Nib Cryptic Intercommunication Language Styli (PENCILS).

Portable, durable, and affordable, BOOK is being hailed as a precursor of a new entertainment wave. BOOK’s appeal seems so certain that thousands of content creators have committed to the platform and investors are reportedly flocking to invest. Look for a flood of new titles soon.

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