Boing Boing 

By His Things Will You Know Him (podcast)


(art by Daniel Martin Diaz)

Earlier today, we published my story "By His Things Will You Know Him," which is from the forthcoming Institute for the Future anthology "An Aura of Familiarity: Visions from the Coming Age of Networked Matter." I've read the story aloud for my podcast, if that's how you prefer your fiction.

MP3 Link

How many people have died in the Syrian civil war?

In the fog of war, it's not easy to figure out how many people die. Even in the cleanest combat, accurate records are not really a common military priority. Worse, there are often incentives for one side or the other to play up the death counts (or play them down), alter the picture of who is doing the killing and who is dying, and provide evidence that a conflict is getting better (or worse).

All of that creates a mess for outside observers who want to see accurate patterns in the chaos — patterns that can help us understand whether an evenly matched war has turned into a bloodbath, or a genocide. The Human Rights Data Analysis Group is an organization that takes the messy, often conflicting, information about deaths in a warzone and tries to make sense of it. Today, they released an updated version of a January report on documented killings in the Syrian civil war.

They say that there were 92,901 documented deaths between March 2011 and April 2013. That number is extremely high, and tragic. But the number alone is maybe not the most important thing the data is telling us.

Read the rest

Early American tombstone euphemisms for death


In 2008, Caitlin GD Hopkins collected 101 euphemisms for "died" from early American epitaphs. The epitaphs came from tombstones pre-1825, to qualify, the euphemism had to appear in the main text of the tombstone ("Here lies Fred; born 1801, laid himself to rest 1824"), not in the verse below it ("He was a nice guy"). It's quite a list:

Part 1: Died
Part 2: Departed This Life
Part 3: Deceased
Part 4: Entred Apon an Eternal Sabbath of Rest
Part 5: Fell a Victim to an Untimely Disease
Part 6: Departed This Transitory Life
Part 7: Killed by the Fall of a Tree
Part 8: Left Us
Part 9: Obit
Part 10: Slain by the Enemy
Part 11: Departed This Stage of Existence
Part 12: Went Rejoycing Out of This World
Part 13: Submiting Her Self to ye Will of God
Part 14: Fell Asleep
Part 15: Changed a Fleeting World for an Immortal Rest
Part 16: Fell Asleep in the Cradle of Death
Part 17: Fell Aslep in Jesus
Part 18: Was Still Born
Part 19: Innocently Retired
Part 20: Expired
Part 21: Perished in a Storm
Part 22: Departed from This in Hope of a Better Life
Part 23: Summoned to Appear Before His Judge
Part 24: Liv'd About 2 Hours
Part 25: Rose Upon the Horizon of Perfect Endless Day

All 101 of them are linked to photos of the headstones in the actual post:

101 Ways to Say "Died" (via Making Light)

Google adds a "dead-man's switch" -- uses cases from torture-resistance to digital wills

Google's rolled out an "Inactive Account Manager" -- a dead-man's switch for your Google accounts. If you set it, Google will watch your account for protracted inactivity. After a set period, you can tell it to either squawk ("Email Amnesty International and tell them I'm in jail," or "Email my kids and tell them I'm dead and give them instructions for probating my estate") and/or delete all your accounts. This has a lot of use-cases, from preventing your secrets from being tortured out of you (before you go to a protest, you could set your dead-man's switch to a couple hours -- if you end up in jail and out of contact, all your stuff would be deleted before you were even processed by the local law) to easing the transition of your digital "estate."

No one wants to think about their own death, but not thinking about it has a zero percent chance of preventing it. The Inactive Account Manager (great euphemism) can send your data from many Google services to your digital heirs, alert your contacts, delete the accounts, or do all or none of the above. It affects Blogger, Contacts/Circles (in Google+) Drive, Gmail, Google+ profiles, Pages and Streams, Picasa albums, Google Voice, and YouTube.

It also serves as a useful self-destruct button. Don’t want anyone watching your stupid YouTube videos after you’ve long forgotten that you had an account? Don’t want your kids to find your password notebook years after you’re gone and read your dirty chat sessions with their dad? You can have your account auto-destruct after trying to reach you using other e-mail addresses and by text message. You know, in case you just get tired of Gmail and wander off somewhere else.

Google Introduces Dead Man’s Switch For Your Accounts

Iain Banks: I'm dying of cancer, this book will be my last


Sad news: Iain M Banks, beloved author of brilliant science fiction novels and (to my taste), even better thrillers, has terminal gall bladder cancer that has spread to his liver, pancreas and lymph nodes, and is unlikely to live for more than a year (and he may live for less time). He posted the news early today, in a statement that's bravely and darkly humorous, as befits his work and his reputation:

As a result, I’ve withdrawn from all planned public engagements and I’ve asked my partner Adele if she will do me the honour of becoming my widow (sorry – but we find ghoulish humour helps). By the time this goes out we’ll be married and on a short honeymoon. We intend to spend however much quality time I have left seeing family. and relations and visiting places that have meant a lot to us. Meanwhile my heroic publishers are doing all they can to bring the publication date of my new novel forward by as much as four months, to give me a better chance of being around when it hits the shelves.

There is a possibility that it might be worth undergoing a course of chemotherapy to extend the amount of time available. However that is still something we’re balancing the pros and cons of, and is anyway out of the question until my jaundice has further, and significantly, reduced.

Lastly, I’d like to add that from my GP onwards, the professionalism of the medics involved – and the speed with which the resources of the NHS in Scotland have been deployed – has been exemplary, and the standard of care deeply impressive. We’re all just sorry the outcome hasn’t been more cheerful.

I've never (to my recollection) met Banks, but I am a huge fan of his works. As I wrote some years ago in Wired, his novel Dead Air is the first truly post-mobile-phone thriller I ever read, one where all the suspense comes from characters being in constant contact and knowing what the others are about, rather than the uncertainty of not being able to reach one another. There's a scene in that book, where someone is trapped in a closet when the killer comes home unexpectedly, and is texting to a confederate outside, that is nothing short of genius. Where the traditional mystery would have put the confederate through the stress of wondering what might be going on, in a position of total ignorance, Banks delivers a complete, minute-by-minute SMS set of updates to the confederate, and shows that knowing is infinitely more scary than ignorance, if handled by a master. Which he is.

Growing up, my whole circle of friends doted on his debut novel, The Wasp Factory, whose toe-curlingly, wonderfully macabre gross-out climax still makes me go a little sweaty-palmed when I think of it. And his novel Complicity was the book that set me on the path to giving up cigarettes.

I haven't even touched on his science fiction novels, the incredible Culture series, but they are worthy of your attention, too. In short, the field is losing one of its greats, and Scotland is losing one of its great champions for independence, and the world is losing one of its great campaigners for justice.

I wish Iain and his family a calm and loving and graceful time, and thank him sincerely for the hours of pleasure and the years of insight he's given to me and all of us.

Iain Banks diagnosed with gall bladder cancer

(Image: Iain (Menzies) Banks, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from kyz's photostream)

Honoring death by donating your body to science

i09's Annalee Newitz is donating her body to science when she dies. In a moving and fascinating article, she tells the story of her mother's death, how it led her to make this choice for herself, and what happens to bodies once they find their way into the hands of medical schools and scientists.

The scientific field with the best obituaries

Everybody dies. But naturalists — the people who study animals and plants in those species' natural environments — well, they die interestingly. Some recent causes of death in this scientific field include: Elephant charge, being eaten by caimans (assumed), and the plague.

How Doctors Die

Photo: patrick.ward04.

Ken Murray, Clinical Assistant Professor of Family Medicine at USC, writes about his experience of how his peers in medicine tend to handle end-of-life issues.

It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently.

Zócalo Public Square :: How Doctors Die.

Get Your Shit Together: improve your life by planning for your death

Jeff sez, "My friend Chanel Reynolds's husband Jose Hernando was killed while cycling in 2009. She's created the Get Your Shit Together website to help you prepare for the worst now so that your family doesn't have the experience that she faced. Get Your Shit Together is a straightforward web guide to the documents, questions and details you should prepare in advance to ease the trauma on your family if the worst happens."

I really like this. I've lived through a couple sudden, unexpected deaths of friends in the past year, and it's got me thinking about how I can arrange my own affairs to ensure that things go smoothly as possible if I get hit by a bus or similar. The more I think about it, the more I realize that the things you do when you plan for your death and incapacity are really just about getting your shit together -- putting your life, your data, your commitments, and your finances in resilient and well-organized shape. If your life is pulled-together enough such that your family could run it if you disappeared, it will also be pulled-together enough that it contains as few unpleasant surprises for you lurking in its depths and snares.

Doing your will is a hassle, collecting passwords is a pain in the ass. I know, I get it. But so is going to the dentist, changing the oil in your car, and getting an annual mammogram. And, we manage to do that stuff anyway.

So, Get Your Shit Together was born. Out of scribbles in notebooks, hours and hours making phone calls and tracking stuff down. There was an unbelievable amount of help from friends. Not to mention numerous messy late nights, some very dark thoughts, and more than a handful of moments too unbearable to repeat. I (mostly) have my shit together. Now it’s your turn. I want to help.

Get Your Shit Together | Life and Death Planning: Low effort, high reward. (Thanks, Jeff!)

Awesomely weird tales of sex-ghosts


This interview with "author, photographer, and ossuary expert" Paul Koudounaris is a trove of weird stories about the things people get up to with their local mummies, haunted skulls, and other "miracle-performing" remains:

They’re not all like that. One of the more outlandish stories is about a guy who got to be called “pene grande,” which means “big dick.” He was a mummy famed in life for having a big penis. People would go down to the Palermo Catacombs and treat him as the patron saint of big cocks. Finally a newlywed woman came to see him because she was married to a guy who was not well-endowed. She took a cloth and rubbed it on the mummy’s dick, and then rubbed it on her husband’s dick. The next time she had sex with her husband, his penis seemed larger and fuller and she was about to orgasm except that at that moment she looked up and saw it was actually the ghost on top of her. Everyone thought she was crazy, but then it happened again the next time she had sex. They had to set up an exorcism for this ghost.

...They had a blacksmith make a tight-fitting sheath made of metal, and once the husband got erect the ghost came out and got caught in the codpiece. They threw holy water at him.

...That expelled the ghost from the guy’s body. So forever he had a small penis, but he was free of the ghost. As for the ghost, he gained a great following among older ladies, and eventually so many were coming to see him that they had to lock the mummy in a back room, which is where he remains to this day.

...There is an old and very weird story about a ghost of a guy who had lived in the monastery there — apparently the "devil got into him" and he masturbated and had a heart attack at the moment of ejaculation. That's why, they claim, he has that look on his face. Anyway, people said his ghost would visit boys who masturbated and scare them into stopping. One boy didn't really believe this, though, and dared the ghost to appear while he was masturbating. When the ghost showed up, he apparently grabbed the boy by the cock and squeezed him so hard that the boy passed out, and while he wasn't exactly castrated, he was rendered sterile for life.

...There’s a really bizarre story from the 20th century, about a guy who had severe diarrhea and chronic flatulence. He stole a skull and started saying prayers to St. Roch and St. Sebastian, the patron saints of plague and suffering, and also shitting on the skull daily. He had a theory that by crapping on the skull he could switch intestines with the body the skull had been attached to. The ghost kept warning him, quit shitting on my skull. But he kept at it and he succeeded in transferring his intestinal problems to the ghost. The problem was that the ghost had died of testicular cancer, and in return he gave that to the guy. That’s how he died. One of the dangers of necromancy is you don’t really know who’s on the other side or what they’re going to give you in return.

Bones, Ghosts, and Paul Koudounaris [Molly Langmuir/The Hairpin] (via JWZ)

Talking to children about death

From the always-great Order of the Good Death's "Ask a Mortician" video series, "Talking to Your Children About Death."

New Video: Talking to Your Children About Death

Internet of the Dead: the net's collision course with death

My latest Locus magazine column is "The Internet of the Dead," which discusses the collision course the Internet is on with death. It was inspired by my work to preserve the personal data of my old friend Erik "Possum Man" Stewart, who died unexpectedly and tragically in June:

It was while I sat in Possum’s room that I began to think about his computer. It was a homemade Franken-PC that sat under his desk, its wheezy fan making a racket like an ancient refrigerator. After I’d left Possum’s house and headed back to the airport, I got to thinking about that computer. I strongly suspected that Possum would have copied over all the data of his life – all the e-mails and lists and photos and movies and programs and essays and stories and, well, *everything* – onto each new machine, keeping it all live and handy. After all, hard-drives are cheap – especially if you’re building your own tower PC with lots of full-height drive bays – and their capacity increases exponentially, year on year. It’s been a long time since it made sense to keep your archives in a shoebox full of Zip cartridges or floppy drives. If you buy a PC every couple of years, your new machine will almost certainly have more than twice the hard-drive space of your old one. Keeping your data on your live, spinning platter means that it will get saved every time you do your regular backup (assuming you perform this essential ritual!), and if the drive starts to fail, you’ll know about it right away. It’s not like dragging an old floppy out of a dusty box and praying that it hasn’t succumbed to bitrot since it was put away.

Possum never uploaded his consciousness to a computer, but he approximated such a transfer, one keystroke at a time, year after year, filling those noisy, full-height drives with all his secrets, all his creative outpourings, all his minutiae and mundane trivialities and extraordinary profundities. It’s a transfer we’re all effecting, but Possum got a head start on most of us, kicking off the project in the 1980s. That homely, rackety tower under Possum’s desk was him, in some important sense – in the same sense that my laptop holds a good deal of what it means to be me.

Cory Doctorow: The Internet of the Dead

The circadian rhythms of death

This is possibly one of the weirdest things I have read this year.

You (yes, you) are more likely to die around 11:00 am than any other time. That is, provided your death is the sort that happens in old age, as opposed to, say, being hit by a bus.

That's because of circadian rhythms — the biological processes that, among other things, regulate when we get tired and when we wake up. For most of our lives, we consistently manipulate these cycles — setting alarms, enforcing bedtimes, getting just tipsy enough that we don't notice it's 1:00 in the morning. But for the elderly and the very sick, those socially mandated sub-routines no longer apply. Over time, your body starts slipping into patterns that are governed internally, rather than externally.

And, it turns out, the majority of humans have an internal cycle that makes them more likely to die at 11:00 am. At The Atlantic, Megan Garber explains:

Because, just as circadian rhythms regulate things like preferred sleep periods and the time of peak cognitive performance, they also regulate the times during which we're most likely to experience an acute medical event like a stroke or heart attack. As study co-author Clifford Saper -- who is also the James Jackson Putnam Professor of Neurology and Neuroscience at Harvard Medical School, and also the chairman of the Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Department of Neurology -- explained to me over email: There is a "biological clock ticking in each of us."

In an interview with the lead author on the paper this information comes from, Garber gets into a much-more-detailed explanation — including the genetic variants that seem to control this timing. While the majority of us are most likely to die at 11, a minority is most likely to die around 6:00 pm.

Not-exactly-near-death experiences

In 1990, researchers investigated the stories of 58 people who had had a near-death experience during surgery. Turns out, 30 of those people were never actually near-death, at all. They just thought they were.

Doktor A's immortality helmet


Doktor A's beautiful immortality helmet was produced on commission and looks like a spectacular way to extend your lifespan:

1. Remove strap and leads from the storage drawer.
2. Place electrodes against forehead and tighten strap.
3. Attach bulldog clips to terminals in the jaw.
4. Set over-ride timer to desired duration.
5. Crank the main handle to build electrical charge.
6. Close the main switch to engage the electrical flow.
7. Increase the electrical voltage using dial.
8. Wait until your Asphyx manifests within the tube.
9. Shut off charge to electrodes using the main switch.
10. Transfer the Asphyx to a long term containment device.
11. Congratulations you have gained immortality.

Congratulations you have gained immortality. (via Super Punch)

Cosmically speaking, we are over the hill

This entire universe is nearing the point where it's time to throw it a party full of black balloons and cheap Grim Reaper decorations, according to recent research by an international team of astronomers. They studied the rate at which stars are born and found that that rate is declining. In fact, most of the stars that will ever exist already do. We're only likely to increase the total by about 5% between now and the end of everything. So, you know. Have a great rest of your day.

Kick off your weekend with cinema's 100 most emotion-filled death scenes!

While the video is, sadly, unembeddable, it is worth the extra click if you are in serious need of depressing yourself into oblivion. The Movie Miscellany has compiled a tear-soaked supercut of 100 of cinema's most gut-wrenching death scenes -- the ones that have made you sad, the ones that made you curl up into a fetal position and weep, the ones that mad you have to call your mom... they're all there! The full list of deaths is on the site, in case you accidentally missed (or spared yourself from) some of the scenes. Actually, the extra click over to the video page is good. You'll have time to grab tissues or call a friend for support. Oh, and don't bother looking for any of Sean Bean's many screen deaths. He has his own supercut. (via io9)

BBC radio documentary on same-sex couple coping with cancer and mortality

BB reader Jane Lowers sends along this beautiful BBC Radio documentary about two men in California who have been together for decades, now facing one's terminal pancreatic cancer diagnosis. "I know both of them; Eric was a columnist at a radiology magazine I used to work for," says Jane. "Their house is every inch as insane as described. But the story -- trying to decide how to deal with a diagnosis, how to use the time you have, and how it can affect relationships -- was very well-described, I thought."

Hey, little deathlings: it gets better

Caitlin Doughty, host of AskAMortician has a message to the "little deathlings" out there who face social disapprobation due to their fascination with death and dying: it gets better. Life as a mortician, coroner, or affiliated professional is good and rewarding. PS: I just discovered AskAMortician and I am as happy as a pig in liquefying corpses!

It Gets Better, Morbid Kids! (via The Mary Sue)

Matt Fisher: Progressive Insurance is lying, they did too defend my sister's killer

Yesterday, Mark posted Progressive Insurance's denial that it had represented the driver who killed one of its policy holders, in an effort to getting out of paying a claim. Now, Matt Fisher, the brother of the dead woman, has posted a scathing rebuttal, which begins by noting:

At the beginning of the trial on Monday, August 6th, an attorney identified himself as Jeffrey R. Moffat and stated that he worked for Progressive Advanced Insurance Company. He then sat next to the defendant. During the trial, both in and out of the courtroom, he conferred with the defendant. He gave an opening statement to the jury, in which he proposed the idea that the defendant should not be found negligent in the case. He cross-examined the plaintiff’s witnesses. On direct examination, he questioned all of the defense’s witnesses. He made objections on behalf of the defendant, and he was a party to the argument of all of the objections heard in the case. After all of the witnesses had been called, he stood before the jury and gave a closing argument, in which he argued that my sister was responsible for the accident that killed her, and that the jury should not decide that the defendant was negligent.

PREMIUM FISHER | Today, in response to my blog post... (via Wil Wheaton)

Volcano killed thousands of British people in the 13th century

In the 1990s, archaeologists found a mass grave in London, filled with more than 10,000 skeletons. There have been plenty of things over the centuries that could wipe out tons of Londoners en-masse—the Black Death, famine, fires, you name it. But this grave has turned out to be filled with victims of a far more unlikely natural disaster. Scientists now think those people were killed by a volcano.

Not a volcano in England, of course. But a massive eruption thousands of miles away.

Scientific evidence – including radiocarbon dating of the bones and geological data from across the globe – shows for the first time that mass fatalities in the 13th century were caused by one of the largest volcanic eruptions of the past 10,000 years.

Such was the size of the eruption that its sulphurous gases would have released a stratospheric aerosol veil or dry fog that blocked out sunlight, altered atmospheric circulation patterns and cooled the Earth's surface. It caused crops to wither, bringing famine, pestilence and death.

Mass deaths required capacious burial pits, as recorded in contemporary accounts. In 1258, a monk reported: "The north wind prevailed for several months… scarcely a small rare flower or shooting germ appeared, whence the hope of harvest was uncertain... Innumerable multitudes of poor people died, and their bodies were found lying all about swollen from want… Nor did those who had homes dare to harbour the sick and dying, for fear of infection… The pestilence was immense – insufferable; it attacked the poor particularly. In London alone 15,000 of the poor perished; in England and elsewhere thousands died."

The really interesting bit: Nobody is sure yet where that volcanic eruption actually happened.

Read the rest of the story in The Guardian

Via Cort Sims

Image: Eruption, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from tjt195's photostream

Data after a death?

Open question: when a friend dies, what should her loved ones do with the data on her hard-drives? Assume that she has been using the Internet for more than a decade and has archived email, personal files, etc, on her machine(s), and has not expressed any particular wishes about this data. Assume also that the drives themselves are unencrypted.

TSA dumps Grandpa's cremains all over airport, laughs at distraught relative as he picks bone fragments off the floor

John Gross of Indianapolis claims that a TSA operative at the Orlando airport opened up the tightly sealed jar, labelled HUMAN REMAINS, which bore his grandfather's ashes, and then proceeded to butterfinger Grandad all over the terminal. Then the TSA person laughed at him, while he got on his hands and knees and started picking up bone fragments. Most of his grandad ended up in the carpet. From RTV6:

"They opened up my bag, and I told them, 'Please, be careful. These are my grandpa's ashes,'" he told the station. "She picked up the jar. She opened it up. I was told later on that she had no right to even open it, that they could have used other devices, like an X-ray machine. So she opened it up. She used her finger and was sifting through it. And then she accidentally spilled it."

Confrontation With TSA Agent Leaves Grandpa's Ashes On Floor (via Consumerist)

Hypothetical murder/suicide conundrum

The story of Ronald Opus started out life as a hypothetical problem raised in a dinner speech at a meeting the American Academy of Forensic Sciences by its then-president President Don Harper Mills. However, the (amazing) resurfaced on the Internet seven years later as an urban legend, and became a particularly virulent example of the form. The Ronald Opus story is now a feature in some law-schools, in which students are asked to evaluate the culpability of the various parties. Below is the whole story, collected by Snopes from a 1996 email (split for length). I'd love to see your thoughts on liability and culpability in the comments.

For those of you who were unable to attend the awards dinner during the annual [American Academy of Forensic Sciences] meeting in San Diego, you missed a tall tale on complex forensics presented by AAFS President Don Harper Mills in his opening remarks. The following is a recount of Dr. Mills' story:

On March 23 the medical examiner viewed the body of Ronald Opus and concluded that he died from a gunshot wound of the head caused by a shotgun. Investigation to that point had revealed that the decedent had jumped from the top of a ten story building with the intent to commit suicide. (He left a note indicating his despondency.) As he passed the 9th floor on the way down, his life was interrupted by a shotgun blast through a window, killing him instantly. Neither the shooter nor the decedent was aware that a safety net had been erected at the 8th floor level to protect some window washers, and that the decedent would not have been able to complete his intent to commit suicide because of this.

Ordinarily, a person who starts into motion the events with a suicide intent ultimately commits suicide even though the mechanism might be not what he intended. That he was shot on the way to certain death nine stories below probably would not change his mode of death from suicide to homicide, but the fact that his suicide intent would not have been achieved under any circumstance caused the medical examiner to feel that he had homicide on his hands.

Further investigation led to the discovery that the room on the 9th floor from whence the shotgun blast emanated was occupied by an elderly man and his wife. He was threatening her with the shotgun because of an interspousal spat and became so upset that he could not hold the shotgun straight. Therefore, when he pulled the trigger, he completely missed his wife, and the pellets went through the window, striking the decedent.

Read the rest

A new tradition in China: honoring the dead with paper iPads, iPhones


Paper replicas of iPads and iPhones with other gadgets for sale for the Chinese Qingming festival at a prayer supplies shop near Kuala Lumpur. Chinese people go to cemeteries during the festival to honor the dead with prayers, food, tea, wine and paper replicas of flashy cars, Louis Vuitton bags, and other bling for the ancestors to enjoy in the afterlife. Reuters/2011.

April 4 in China marks Tomb Sweeping Day (Qingming Festival), an ancient cultural tradition in which families honor their ancestors by visiting their tombs and leaving offerings of food. Not unlike Día de Los Muertos, really.

Brian Ashcraft writes at Kotaku:

Paper replicas depict items that can be used in the afterlife, such as clothing, money, and cars, are burned. Over the years, this tradition has evolved with the times as evident by a recent must-have paper replica: the iPad.

Read the rest

Memorial reefs: cast your loved ones' cremains into concrete marine habitats

Eternal Reefs is a company that will turn your cremains into concrete artificial coral reef and marine habitat. Families are allowed to attend the casting of the reef-component, put their handprints in it, view the finished item, and accompany the reef to the drop-site.

Mariner Memorial Reef
(large) 4' high by 6' wide
3800 - 4000 lbs.
$6,995
The largest of our reefs, the Mariner Memorial Reef stands out as a pinnacle of the reef and attracts the larger species of sea life. The Mariner can accommodate up to four sets of remains and is frequently used for spouses or partners to be together.

Prices include:
* The handling of the cremated remains once we receive them
* The incorporation of the remains into the concrete
* The casting of the Memorial Reef
* The transportation of the Memorial Reef to the project site
* The final placement and dedication
* A GPS survey to record the specific longitude and latitude of the Memorial Reef
* Bronze Plaque with inscription
* Two Memorial Certificates
Please note: When more than one set of remains is included in an individual Memorial Reef there is an additional charge of $250 for each set of remains other than the first set.

Eternal Reefs, A Cremation Memorial Option (via Super Punch)

Turning artificial joints into scrap metal at the crematorium

Combine the spike in commodity metal prices with advances in geriatric medicine and the increased trend to cremation and what do you get? A thriving trade in artificial joint harvesting and recycling. A Dutch company called OrthoMetals recycles 250 tons of scrap from cremated bodies -- cofounder Ruud Verberne notes that it takes five hips to make one kilo of metal, which fetches €12 on the scrap market.

Clark Boyd and Rob Hugh-Jones from PRI write on the BBC:

The company works by collecting the metal implants for nothing, sorting them and then selling them - taking care to see that they are melted down, rather than reused.

After deducting costs, 70-75% of the proceeds are returned to the crematoria, for spending on charitable projects.

"In the UK for example," he says. "We ask for letters from charities that have received money from the organisation we work with in the UK and we see that the amount we transferred to them has been given to charity. This is a kind of controlling system that we have..."

...Mr Verberne has no metal implants himself, but he points out his business partner's wife, who is helping sort out bits of metal at the recycling plant. "She has two titanium hips", he says. "And she was once asked: "Isn't it strange that you know that one day your hips will run along this conveyor belt?'"

"She said, 'No, it's just a part of life. You're going to die, and I know that reusing metals is a very good thing, so it is no problem at all.'" She added "'My mother's hip was on here too!'"

Melting down hips and knees: The afterlife of implants

Kim Jong-Il is dead

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il has died, CNN reports. And with him dies a great novelty Tumblog.

I think I just heard every venture capital firm fire up their private jets.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Il dead, state TV reports - CNN

Watch starfish flee an icy finger of death

This clip from the BBC's Frozen Planet is one of the most amazing things you will ever see.

"Brinicle" is a clever portmanteau for an icy finger of death that forms naturally in the very cold seawater one finds around Earth's poles. A crust of sea ice can form on top of this water, and that's the first step to making a brinicle. Here's how polar oceanographer Mark Brandon explained the process in an article on the BBC website:

In winter, the air temperature above the sea ice can be below -20C, whereas the sea water is only about -1.9C. Heat flows from the warmer sea up to the very cold air, forming new ice from the bottom. The salt in this newly formed ice is concentrated and pushed into the brine channels. And because it is very cold and salty, it is denser than the water beneath.

The result is the brine sinks in a descending plume. But as this extremely cold brine leaves the sea ice, it freezes the relatively fresh seawater it comes in contact with. This forms a fragile tube of ice around the descending plume, which grows into what has been called a brinicle.

Check out that BBC website link for more information on how the Frozen Planet videographers captured this footage. That's also where you should go to watch the video when this YouTube version is inevitably taken down.

Thank you, Brittany. Truly freaking amazing.

Video Link

Mona Simpson's eulogy for her brother, Steve Jobs

Make some time for yourself, and maybe someone you love, to read all the way to the end. "A Sister’s Eulogy for Steve Jobs," delivered on Oct. 16 at his memorial service at the Memorial Church of Stanford University, and reprinted this weekend in the NYT.