Church of England refuses to allow foreign language on a gravestone, calling it a "political statement"

Margaret Keane was born in Westmeath, in the Republic of Ireland, and later moved to Coventry in the United Kingdom, where her and her husband raised six children. Throughout her life, Margaret remained active in the Gaelic Athletic Association, and after she passed away in 2018 at the age 73, her family wanted a gravestone that paid tribute to her proud Irish heritage.

Margaret belonged to the Church of England, and was to be buried at St. Giles Church in Exhall. But her family received some pushback when they proposed a plot with a Celtic cross, which the diocesan advisory committee denied for being too large. The committee suggested that the family simply add an inscription of a Celtic cross to the headstone.

The Keane family agreed to the compromise. But the Church of England pushed back again when they saw the planned inscription on the cross: "In ár gcroíthe go deo," which means, "In our hearts forever" in the Irish language. This didn't seem particularly radical, especially as there are already Welsh inscriptions in the same cemetery. But once again, the diocesan advisory committee denied the family's headstone proposal. "Given the passions and feelings connected with the use of Irish Gaelic," said a Church judge who is also a local government judge, "There is a sad risk that the phrase would be regarded as some form of slogan or that its inclusion without translation would of itself be seen as a political statement."

After yet another appeal, the judge agreed to allow the Irish words only if they're accompanied by an English translation. Read the rest

Macaques have colonized a city in Thailand and converted a movie theatre into a cemetery

The city of Lopburi om Thailand has allegedly been overrun by gangs of wild macaques, resulting in several "no-go zones" for humans. As one resident told The Guardian: "We live in a cage but the monkeys live outside."

The macaque population in Lopburi has doubled in just three years. The monkeys were frequently fed bananas by tourists, by after the coronavirus lockdowns began and tourism froze up, they were forced to seek alternative nutrition — typically junk food and fizzy drinks stolen from local stores or given them by frightened humans. All that sugar might be making them feistier, however, both for fighting and for fucking.

But my favorite most horrifying dystopian detail comes from France 24 (which is almost identical to the Guardian, except for this paragraph):

An abandoned cinema is the macaques' headquarters -- and cemetery. Dead monkeys are laid to rest by their peers in the projection room in the cinema's rear and any human who enters is attacked.

I can't find many other details about this but wow, what a time to be alive.

Local wildlife authorities plan to embark on a sterilization campaign to help control the population of wild horny sugar junky cinephile monkeys. According to news reports, they aim to fix 500 macaques by Friday, although I couldn't find any details on how they plan to execute this, or whether it involves an epic Boss-level-esque journey into the Great Macaque Movie Theatre Morgue.

Macaque attack: humans try to take back Thai city from monkeys [Agence France-Presse] Read the rest

"Forgotten" African-American cemetery discovered under Florida high school

At least 145 coffins have been discovered underneath King High School in Tampa, Florida. Apparently a citizen researching area cemeteries advised the school district that in the first half of the 20th century, there was an African-American graveyard on the site. So far, ground-penetrating radar revealed 145 coffins just a few feet below the surface. From Bay News 9:

The pattern of the findings matches historical records for a "potter's field," or pauper's field, called Ridgewood Cemetery, the district said.

"Hillsborough County Public Schools remains committed to respecting the individuals who are buried there, and their families," officials said.

This is just the latest of several "forgotten" African-American cemeteries found in Tampa in the past year.

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What happens when climate change ravages graveyards?

I spend more time than I probably should wondering when the luxury condo trend will finally come for the dead. Real estate is expensive, and there's lots of valuable land in urban areas that could be used for yet-another fancy steel-and-glass skyscraper used to hide foreign money—if it wasn't for the cemeteries that currently take up all that space. I even have a half-finished short story in a notebook somewhere riffing on the classic Stephen King scenario of towns built on Native American burial grounds, except it's just luxury condos built up on the corpses of, well, everyone.

But I was thinking too far ahead. Because I didn't stop to think about what happens to those graveyards now, as flooding and earthquakes and more extreme weather disturb the soil under which our loved ones have been laid to their eternal rests. As a recent article in Scientific American gruesomely details, coffins are already body-surfing through the streets of Louisiana during storms:

The caskets and their surface vaults are sealed airtight, so pressure builds inside them when a hurricane or flash flood covers them in water. Moisture weakens the vault seal, and eventually the water begins to bubble with dead air—the tell-tale sign a casket is ready to pop out of its grave, Hunter said.

“You hear the bubbles, you see the bubbles, and you know that seal is weakening because of that immense amount of pressure. And then the lid comes off,” he said.

The visual of bubbling coffins popping out of the ground is scary enough. Read the rest

Watch: Video about competitive gravedigging

"The Best Gravediggers in the World" is a short documentary about competitive gravedigging:

In the industrial town of Trenčín, Slovakia, a small family-run funeral home has taken their gravedigging contest international. Here, teams of gravediggers from throughout Europe descend with shovels and hoes to see who can create the best eternal resting places, in the least amount of time.

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Police fine man acting like ghost in a graveyard

Police fined a man for acting like a ghost (and generally being obnoxious) while playing ball in a Portsmouth, UK cemetery. “He was throwing himself backwards, waving his arms about and going ‘wooooooo," said the prosecutor.

“He has accepted that his behaviour, if it had been outside of a cemetery would not have been inappropriate, but inside a cemetery while people are grieving for their loved ones it might be," said his attorney. “He is apologetic as demonstrated by his early guilty plea.”

(The Scotsman) Read the rest