Information designer Jess Bachman created Wikipedia Remembers 2012, an interactive feature about the top 100 public figures who died in 2012 as ranked by the number of words in their Wikipedia entries. There are probably more accurate ways to measure the value of a person's life, but hey, that's a matter for another debate. Jess explains:
I think its a great way to explore and remember the lesser known heroes and is an interesting measure of ones life. Phyllis Diller and Michael Clarke Duncan were 101 and 102 so they didn't make the list, while others like #4, Tale Ognenovski is a lessor known Macedonian clarinetist, but for some reason has a incredibly documented wiki page! So many interesting people here.
It should be noted that I did remove notorious people and those who were solely involved in news events, so there is some editorial by me here. The number one person was actually Treyvon Martin, and there were plenty of serial killers, terrorists, and other folk I didn't think were worth remembering.
George Harrison of the Beatles, studying sitar with Pandit Ravi Shankar.
In the clip above, the late Indian music legend Pandit Ravi Shankar (web, Wikipedia, Amazon) performs on the Dick Cavett show, in an episode where his friend George Harrison of the Beatles introduces him to the viewing audience.
His family and his foundation have released a statement on the day of his death (PDF), with an obituary by Oliver Craske, a writer and editor who worked on Raviji's autobiography, ‘Raga Mala.’ Snip:
It is with heavy hearts we write to inform you that Pandit Ravi Shankar, husband, father, and musical soul,
passed away today, December 11th, 2012.
As you all know, his health has been fragile for the past several years and on Thursday he underwent a surgery
that could have potentially given him a new lease of life. Unfortunately, despite the best efforts of the surgeons
and doctors taking care of him, his body was not able to withstand the strain of the surgery. We were at his side
when he passed away.
Read the rest here at the Shankar Foundation website. He had upper-respiratory and heart problems, and underwent
heart-valve replacement surgery last week. The surgery was successful, but recovery was too much for the 92-year-old musician. His last performance was with his daughter, sitarist Anoushka Shankar, on November 4 in Long Beach, California. It was a celebration
of his tenth decade of creating music.
I interviewed him in 2003 at his home north of San Diego for Grammy Magazine. The article is no longer online, but I'll try to dig it up from the old print copy. His home was set up a little like an Indian villa, and I remember feeling like I was back in India as I sat on the floor in the room where he received guests and visiting reporters. He was very patient and attentive; very sweet to this starstruck and stuttering reporter.
The decision to market obituaries to pet owners in tiny Singapore, one of the world's richest countries in terms of per capita income, comes as wealthy Asians have fewer kids and shower more attention on pets. Though dogs and cats once roamed free around neighborhoods in Singapore, pet owners today are extremely protective of their pets. In addition, the 80 percent of the population that lives in government-run flats is restricted to just one dog, of a small breed.
If you would like to just read a nice pet obituary this morning, Google suggests Sadie, a golden retriever who died at 12 last week. Her adventures led her as far afield as Iceland and England, and while she had no desire to learn a repertoire of tricks, she could flip a dog treat off her nose with the best of them.
Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon or any other world beyond Earth, died today. The former test pilot and NASA astronaut recently celebrated his 82nd birthday, and underwent heart surgery just weeks ago.
He commanded the Apollo 11 spacecraft that landed on the moon on July 20, 1969, and radioed back to Earth the historic line, "That's one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind." He walked on the moon for nearly 3 hours with fellow astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin.
He died today of complications following his cardiac surgery.
There is so much to say about what a beautiful soul Aileen was, what a cruel and ugly and brutal disease breast cancer is, how torturous treatment is, how enraging it is that science and medicine have nothing better to offer us yet, how unjust the financial devastation a diagnosis brings to so many women is—and, most of all, what it means to those of us with cancer to have the kind of support in our lives that men like Miles provide, selflessly and heroically and with unconditional love.
But for now, I just want the world to see, respect, and remember this photograph Miles took of his sister this morning, shortly before her life ended. He brought her dog Jethro from her home to the hospice house so Jethro could also say goodbye.
Gone but still loved by all. RIP Aileen Crimmings O'Brien Graef - 10/30/64-8/21/2012
She is survived by two beautiful daughters, Katie and Aileen, whom she loved very much.
And, their dog Jethro.
Update: Miles and her daughters suggest that donations in honor of Aileen be sent to Visiting Nurses Association of the Treasure Coast (@vnatc), 1110 35th Lane. Vero Beach, FL 32960. This is the hospice center that cared for Aileen in her final days. Services at Strunk Funeral Home, 916 17th Street, Vero Beach, FL 32960. If you wish to send cards or flowers, this is the best address.
The Economist has a great piece out today on the life and legacy of Lender's Bagels founder Murray Lender, who died one month ago at age 81. He is credited with making the bagel a mainstream breakfast staple throughout America. Without him, memes like the one above, and possibly bagels like the one above, would not exist in our pop culture mindspace—or in our tummies. (pic via @nopattern)