Friday, March 26, 2010

Technology - the 21st Century Idol

From the Charging Cradle to the Grave

Posted: 2010-03-23 11:35:11
More and more people are deciding they can't live -- or die -- without technology, according to the online magazine Obit. Spokesperson Noelle Berman from the Hollywood Forever Cemetery in Los Angeles notes that as we become more attached to gadgets like BlackBerrys, iPhones and even video game consoles in life, we become less likely to part ways with them in the afterlife.

Going into the ground with favorite items from our lives is not a new ritual. Ann Brownlee, curator in charge of the Mediterranean wing at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology states that the only way we can truly see into the lives of the unburied dead centuries later is by examining the company they kept in their caskets. She reports that the third floor of the Penn museum houses artifacts from ancient Greece that seem to have been created just for burial. Archaeologists have found small pseudo-coins between the teeth of the dead; and children's tombs in ancient Greece were filled with miniature vases, dolls and other toys.

In recent decades, funeral directors admit to granting an array of libational and indulgent requests for clients, burying them with cases of beer, bottles of Jack Daniels, favorite cigars, golf clubs (especially putters), musical instruments, homemade wine, cookies, hot peppers. Philadelphia funeral director Bill O'Leary confirms that in recent years more requests are being made by clients to be interred alongside technology that connected them to the world. He says the "hottest thing" is to be buried with a TV remote.

If the bedfellows we keep in our eternal resting places are evidence to future generations of who we were in life, what will graves full of tech gadgets and toys communicate to archaeologists centuries in the future? According to associate curator of Historical Archaeology at the Penn museum, Robert Schuyler, he sees the things we bury as evidence of a shift in culture towards the secular. He is currently studying elements of the past 500 years, and he notes movement away from religious burials. He says that the modern gravestone is typically far more personalized than before and often has jokes or pictures of material possessions, such as cars engraved. As far as burial with mobile phones or video games, he says that of course certain religious sects such as Puritans and Quakers would not take technology with them, but that these items have turned up in the ground in increasing numbers in the past decade.

The reality is, once we die, we can't really control or know what is being buried with us; and inside casket jokes happen often. Obit speculates that because accepting the death of loved ones and truly letting go can be difficult, many left behind will bury something personal to carry on a conversation. An international luxury fair in Verona unveiled a particularly posh way for the deceased to stay in touch in February. A velvet-lined, touchscreen-cell-phone-equipped golden coffin was available for $381,000.

Funerals that honor an individual's love for technology, gadgets or other elements that would be considered the stuff of science fiction mere decades ago are becoming more commonplace, but are not necessarily new ideas. Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry requested his remains be shot into space; when he died in 1991, his wife Majel Barrett Roddenberry commissioned "memorial spaceflight" company Celestis to launch his remains as well as digitized tributes from fans into space for eternity. When she passed away in 2008, plans were made for both of them to be sent into their own deep space "Final Frontier" in 2010.

In a lower-profile case, a Star Trek and computer-themed geek funeral was held for a tech lover, whose ashes were encased in a SPARCstation computer. As his brother explained, it was "a cool place to spend eternity ... after we've left for that great data bank in the sky." Loved ones got to pay their respects through Post-It notes placed on the computer.

Brownlee of the Penn museum finds it "kind of terrifying" to think about how whatever we choose to put in our graves could be the contents of future museums and possibly all people know about us. Serious thoughts about the legacy we will leave behind if we decide we really have to get in that last text message may be reason enough to get selective about what we simply can't die without.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Government NOT of the People, Nor BY the People

This was written to a High School friend on Facebook that invited me to join a group he started......"I bet we can find 32,000,000+ people who APPROVE of the Health Care Bill,". The following is my response and I must tell you that I was deeply saddened by this.

At first I thought you were kidding about "finding" 32,000,000 people who support the health care bill.....
I'm sadden to see that you are serious and very angry at those who voice opposition to your point of view.....and no, I don't agree with everything the so-called conservatives say......there's plenty of blame to go around. Starting with our generation....we are the first to turn over this country to the next generation worse than it was before.
By the way, you are only asking for 11% of the country and the last time I looked that is not a majority.......but that doesn't count anymore because the majority is not heard anyway.
I would just like to have someone show me where in the Constitution that it says that the government should be involved in business......after all, insurances of all kinds are big business......
Yes, there should be insurance allowing you to buy medical insurance across state lines.
Government has the most abysmal track record for running business.....our founding fathers knew this and deliberately crafted Article 1 Section 8 to limit government. People so often misquote the Declaration of Independence, specifically the "Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness" statement. They don't include "That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed,-......." and they weren't worried about such things as insurance.....they were upset about a lack of representation and over taxes for one thing.
This has been coming for a long time and it is primarily the result of our not remembering (being taught) about our founding fathers and the discussions leading to one of man's greatest documents and to the only successful revolution this world has ever seen.
This bill that you seem to support has atrocious things in it. Besides the lies that it will decrease the deficit....after all, estimates are that it will create 150 new offices to administer it......did you know that the average government worker annual salary is $77,000 and the annual salary for the average citizen is $44,000?......there is the matter of abortion.......
We have murdered over 50,000,000 potential workers in this country. Talk about being stupid.....even if you take God out of it......just the economic angle alone is enough to tick one off. You and I and the rest of our high school classmates will be the largest 70 year old population ever....yes, ever,...... and we've killed off those who would contribute to our social security retirement know, the one our GOVERNMENT promised never to touch.......
You can't do that and not expect God to punish this nation........murder is all the polls, 76% of the people claim to believe in God and Jesus Christ as their can that be when we allow abortion.....and now our "Congress and President" have found a way to null and void the Hyde Amendment that for 30+years kept my tax dollars from funding abortion........yes, I know the President signed an executive order to not fund abortions, but guess what? soon as it is politically feasible, he will rescind it quietly and no one will report it in the "MSN"
We now have a government that is hell bent on bankrupting our nation....
"I sincerely believe... that the principle of spending money to be paid by posterity under the name of funding is but swindling futurity on a large scale." --Thomas Jefferson to John Taylor, 1816. ME 15:23

Loading up the nation with debt and leaving it for the following generations to pay is morally irresponsible. Excessive debt is a means by which governments oppress the people and waste their substance. No nation has a right to contract debt for periods longer than the majority contracting it can expect to live.

"Then I say, the earth belongs to each of these generations during its course, fully and in its own right. The second generation receives it clear of the debts and incumbrances of the first, the third of the second, and so on. For if the first could charge it with a debt, then the earth would belong to the dead and not to the living generation. Then, no generation can contract debts greater than may be paid during the course of its own existence." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:455, Papers 15:393

"The conclusion then, is, that neither the representatives of a nation, nor the whole nation itself assembled, can validly engage debts beyond what they may pay in their own time." --Thomas Jefferson to James Madison, 1789. ME 7:457, Papers 15:398n

etc., etc......forgotten wisdom of our founding fathers.....

We are a generation of ingrates that raised more and louder ingrates.......a generation that has forgotten that freedom doesn't mean bigger means smaller government......a generation who has the sorry notion of entitlement that we mistakenly call rights......a generation that thinks nothing of letting the government take our money and use it for things that the majority do not want...........

I ask forgiveness from any that I may have insulted....these are simply my opinions