A horrible way to kill fruitflies

Redditor Ergas has a disgusting way to lure fruit flies to a very personal fiery death. Read the rest

T-Mobile: your dead dad's active phone will let you stay in touch

Robert, a Consumerist reader, called up T-Mobile to close his dead father's cellular account; the rep suggested that he should keep paying for it so he could listen to his dad's voice on the voicemail message whenever he wanted. Read the rest

Jay Lake, on blogging your own death

Simon Owens writes, "I got a chance to interview Jay Lake extensively not long before his death and wrote a long profile on him and his cancer blogging that explores the impact he's had, both on the cancer and science fiction communities. He spoke extensively on what he hoped his legacy would be and how he'd be remembered after he died." Read the rest

Taxidermied teacup tauntaun made from antique ram's head

Rogue taxidermist Lupa writes, "This is my latest altered taxidermy piece: an antique Corsican ram taxidermy mount turned into the fluffier, cuddlier--and smaller--cousin of the Common Tauntaun, complete with information booklet ('The Tragic Treatise of the Teacup Tauntaun'). It's a piece I made for a Star Wars themed group show this May at an art gallery here in Portland." Read the rest

Haunted Mansion castmembers built a shrine to "Grandma Joyce," whose urn was found in the gardens

It's an open secret that Disneyland (along with many other semi-public places) is a dumping ground for the ashes of people who loved it in life, and, of course, the Haunted Mansion is a frequent recipient of these remains. In a Disneyland Guru post, we are told of a set of ashes that were accompanied by an urn bearing a plaque reading "Rest in Peace our Dearest Grandma Joyce." The Haunted Mansion castmembers supposedly discovered the urn beneath the sod in the Mansion queue's spooky gardens, and installed it with its own shrine in one of the backstage catwalks that run through the upper reaches of the Mansion.

I've done some dungeon-crawling through the bowels and lofts of the Mansion's show-building and have never seen this shrine, but there's a lot of space in that building (and the shrine might have been gone by the time I got my tour). Read the rest

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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Dead man who wasn't now is

Remember Walter Williams, the 78-year old who last month was pronounced dead and then found to be alive and kicking, literally, inside a body bag? He died on Thursday. (The Clarion-Ledger) Read the rest

Devotees froze dead guru

After Indian guru Ashutosh Maharaj of the Divya Jyoti Jagrati Sansthan (Divine Light Awakening Mission) died in January of a suspected heart attack, his followers let his body sit a week before finally putting him in a freezer. Spiritual cryonics!

"He is not dead," spokesman Swami Vishalanand told the BBC. "Medical science does not understand things like yogic science. We will wait and watch. We are confident that he will come back." Read the rest

Yoshitoshi Kanemaki's memento morae

Japanese sculptor Yoshitoshi Kanemak chisels strange, life-sized twins from blocks of wood. This bony conjoined brother is the least of the horrors. Born in Chiba Prefecture in 1972, he graduated from Tama Art University in 1999. His current exhibit, featuring these works, is "mementomori", at the Elsa Art Gallery in Taipei, Taiwan. Read the rest

Dead man wasn't

Walter Williams, 87, of Lexington, Mississippi was pronounced dead on Wednesday night. The coroner came to his home, did the paperwork, put him in a body bag, and transferred him to a funeral home. But then...

“We got him into the embalming room and we noticed his legs beginning to move, like kicking,” (coroner Dexter) Howard said. “He also began to do a little breathing.”

One possibility is that Williams's defibrillator fired up his heart after it had stopped. In any case, Williams is currently awake and talking in his hospital bed.

‘Dead man’ kicks his way out of body bag at funeral home Read the rest

Custom gravestone "wraps"

French firm Funeral Concept creates custom crypts wrapped in glossy art of your design. My immediate thought is that marketers may be interested in these monuments as a new form of advertising! After all, I'm sure people will be dying for them. (via Vice) Read the rest

A moving long read about a medical school dissection class

Mark Johnson of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has put together an amazing four-part story about medical students entering a human dissection lab for the first time. Interweaving the stories of the students, their teachers, and people who have chosen to donate their bodies to science, the series really gives you a sense of how emotionally intense the experience can be for students, and how it brings together all these different lives. Powerful stuff. Read the rest

Poor white women and a public health mystery

Over the past 18 years the life expectancy for white women who didn't finish high school has dropped precipitously. Today, those women can expect to die five years earlier than their counterparts a generation ago. It's one of the biggest magnitude losses in life expectancy ever recorded, and nobody knows what's causing it. At the American Prospect, Monica Potts reports on scientists efforts to untangle the knot of correlations at the heart of this public health mystery and tells the story of one woman, Crystal Wilson, whose life and death mirrors the statistics. Read the rest

Are you dead yet? Letter sent to pensioners to confirm existence

From the BBC: "A letter sent to about 4,000 retired people in Jersey asking if they still exist has been described as offensive by some of those who received it. ... The department said it wanted to make sure money was not paid into the accounts of people who had died." [via Arbroath] Read the rest

A moving account of how hospitals negotiate complicated cases of patient rights

Yesterday, a story about human experimentation spurred an interesting discussion in the comments about patient rights — can somebody who is dying make the informed decision to accept a treatment that could lead to them dying sooner? At Scientific American today, an HIV doctor has written a moving account of dealing with a very similar question, as one of his patients made the choice to refuse food, and her family and doctors were faced with the task of deciding whether or not to feed her through a stomach tube. Read the rest

Anonymous funeral director explains the big con behind the industry, coffins, and embalming

An anonymous commenter who identifies her/himself as a funeral director has posted a magnificent rant to a Reddit thread, explaining all the ways that funeral directors con bereaved families into paying for things they don't need, like $5000 painted plywood boxes and "barbaric," environmentally degrading "mutilation" (embalming), which are often described as legal requirements (they aren't). The post is full of great intel and advice, including mention of the FTC funeral rule, which sets out your rights in clear, simple language. I didn't know that US law requires funeral directors to accept your own coffin, which you can get at your local big-box discount store or have delivered from a variety of sellers through Amazon. Read the rest

Death masks of famous scientists

This is Isaac Newton's face, frozen in plaster and wax. It's one of two death masks owned by the Royal Society. (The other preserves the face of mathematician, physicist, and early-20th-century science communicator James Hopwood Jeans.) Why take plaster casts of the faces of the dead? The tradition dates back to the pre-photography era where, if you wanted to see what a person actually looked like, a cast (whether of their face in life, or death) was the most accurate way to do it.

The Royal Society has more on the history of death masks, and pictures of the two they own. Read the rest

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