Tag Archives | Death

CDC Predicts How You Will Die Based On Where You Live

OK, this is creepy: the US Centers for Disease Control has released a map that predicts how you’ll die based on which state you live in:

death map

The authors of the study, Francis P. Boscoe, PhD and Eva Pradhan, MPH, explain:

Background

Maps of the most distinctive or characteristic value of some variable at the state or country level became popular on social media in 2014. Among the most widely shared examples have been maps of state-level birth name preferences, music-listening preferences, and mortality from among the top 10 causes of death (1). This form of data presentation has a long history in economic geography, where the mapped values are known as location quotients (2). We use the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision (ICD-10), List of 113 Selected Causes of Death file published by the National Center for Health Statistics (3) to present a more nuanced view of mortality variation within the United States than what can be seen by using only the 10 most common causes of death.

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Oklahoma man pleads guilty in deadly ‘atomic wedgie’ case

Williana (CC BY 2.0)

Williana (CC BY 2.0)

A man from Oklahoma (not Florida!) has plead guilty to first-degree manslaughter for giving a deadly atomic wedgie to his stepfather.

via Reuters:

An Oklahoma man has pleaded guilty to first-degree manslaughter for asphyxiating his stepfather with the underwear he was wearing in a move police dubbed an “atomic wedgie,” court officials said on Tuesday.

Brad Davis, 34, who pleaded guilty on Monday, faces between four to 35 years in prison for the death of Denver St. Clair, 58, in December 2013 in McLoud, east of Oklahoma City. A mitigation hearing is set for Wednesday with sentencing scheduled for July.

Davis pulled St. Clair’s underwear over his head and around his neck, where the elastic band left ligature marks, police said.

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Project Elysium: VR to revive deceased loved ones

A development screenshot from Project Elysium.

A development screenshot from Project Elysium. Paranormal Games.

Mark Walton via Ars Technica:

How far is too far when it comes to pushing the boundaries of virtual reality? As VR devices grow ever more sophisticated—and the tools to create software for them ever more accessible—where do we draw the line between what’s ethically acceptable in the real world and what’s ethically acceptable in the virtual world?

One of the developers putting this question to the test is Australia-based Paranormal Games. Project Elysium, its entry into the upcoming Oculus VR Jam 2015, treads some shaky moral ground by promising to create a “personalized afterlife experience,” reuniting people with loved ones who have passed on. Exactly how the developer hopes to do this isn’t clear at this point (it will be required to showcase screenshots by April 27, followed by video footage the week after to be eligible for the jam’s grand prize), although a screenshot from Project Elysium’s development does show a friend of the studio being transformed into a 3D model.

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Death, Redesigned

How the hell do you redesign death? Jon Mooallem on how a legendary design firm, a corporate executive, and a Buddhist-hospice director take on the end of life in a very #longread at the California Sunday Magazine:

There’s an ugliness — an inelegance — to death that Paul Bennett gradually came to find unacceptable. It seems to offend him the way a clumsy, counterintuitive kitchen tool might, or a frumpy font. At first, that disgruntlement was just “a whisper in my mind,” Bennett explains. “But it’s gone from being a whisper to a roar.” The solution, when it finally occurred to him, felt obvious. “Oh,” he told himself. “You need to redesign death.”

Death

Photo: Sameer Vasta

Bennett is 51 — 30.7 years to go, if the demographic data is reliable — a blindingly energetic British man with unruly brown hair. He works as chief creative officer at Ideo, the global design firm that’s renowned for its intuitive, wizardly touch.

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What It’s Like to Die 36 Times in One Year

János Csongor Kerekes (CC BY-ND 2.0)

János Csongor Kerekes (CC BY-ND 2.0)

Sara Brautigam, a 21-year-old from England, suffers from a debilitating syndrome known as Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS).

According to Wikipedia, “People with POTS have problems maintaining homeostasis when changing position, e.g. moving from one chair to another or reaching above their heads. Many also experience symptoms when stationary or even while lying down.”

For Brautigam, however, the issue is even more serious: rapid palpitations cause her heart to stop completely. At this point, “her blood pressure to plummet[s] to what doctors record as clinically dead.”

In 2012, for instance, Brautigam died and was brought back to life 36 times. When she loses consciousness, paramedics do their best to inflict pain to shock Brautigam’s heart into beating.

Brautigam told BT.com:

“When it happens paramedics try and do anything to inflict pain to try and shock me into coming back to life.

“A lot of the time I’ll wake up with big bruises.

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How human composting will change death in the city

joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

joiseyshowaa (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Katie Herzog via Grist:

What we do with our dead can seem bizarre to outsiders. In a Tibetan tradition called sky burial, the deceased are cut into small pieces by a man known as therogyapa, or “breaker of bodies,” and laid atop mountains to be picked apart by vultures. Later, the bones are collected and pulverized with flour and yak butter and fed to crows and hawks. Feeding your loved ones to the same birds who eat roadkill may seem morbid to those of us in the West, but in Tibet, it’s both sacrosanct (these birds are sacred in Buddhism) and practical (ever tried to dig a grave in frozen ground?).

Tibet isn’t the only place with seemingly odd customs: In Madagascar, the bodies of the deceased are exhumed and sprayed with wine and perfume every few years. In Ghana, people are buried in coffins that represent their lives, so a fisherman might spend eternity in a box shaped like a carp and a farmer may spend it in a six-foot cob of corn.

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“A Death” By Stephen King

wazimu0 (CC BY 2.0)

wazimu0 (CC BY 2.0)

Stephen King’s short story, “A Death” (originally titled “The Man in the Black Suit”) is released in this month’s edition of the The New Yorker:

Jim Trusdale had a shack on the west side of his father’s gone-to-seed ranch, and that was where he was when Sheriff Barclay and half a dozen deputized townsmen found him, sitting in the one chair by the cold stove, wearing a dirty barn coat and reading an old issue of the Black Hills Pioneer by lantern light. Looking at it, anyway.

Sheriff Barclay stood in the doorway, almost filling it up. He was holding his own lantern. “Come out of there, Jim, and do it with your hands up. I ain’t drawn my pistol and don’t want to.”

Trusdale came out. He still had the newspaper in one of his raised hands. He stood there looking at the sheriff with his flat gray eyes.

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Take Me to the Death Cafe

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

hans van den berg (CC BY 2.0)

Sophie Elmhirst writing at Prospect Magazine:

In the middle of the graveyard in Vissoie, a small town in the Swiss mountain valley of Anniviers, stands a grey stone cross. For years, the cross was the focus of a local competition among the town’s teenagers. The brief was simple: turn up at midnight, sit by the cross, and whoever lasts the longest wins. By day, the task doesn’t seem too onerous. The graveyard is absurdly picturesque, perched on the side of a hill next to the church, the valley dropping away to a river, mountains on the far side rising up against a faultless blue sky. Even the graves are palatable: there’s no ornate Victoriana here, no ghoulishness or mawkish angels, no sentimental inscriptions; just a few rows of simple wooden crosses planted in the ground. (A rule was declared in the town that the dead should all be commemorated identically, to prevent wealth-displaying one-upmanship.)

Not long ago, Bernard Crettaz, an eminent Swiss sociologist who was born and raised in Vissoie, sat on a stone wall by the shared grave of his parents—Pierre and Genevieve—and recalled his year of competition.

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The Oddly Reassuring Quality of Surrealistic Art

Giorgio de Chirico's 'The Red Tower,' 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Giorgio de Chirico’s ‘The Red Tower,’ 1913. (Photo: Public Domain)

Tom Jacobs writes at Pacific Standard:

A person’s taste in art is generally thought to be unchanging. A lover of Renaissance frescoes, for instance, isn’t likely to suddenly become entranced by the abstract paintings of Jackson Pollock.

But recently published research suggests one specific, uncomfortable circumstance can inspire us to appreciate a wider range of work. It finds people are more likely to forge a positive emotional connection with surrealistic art if they have just been reminded of their own mortality.

It has long been argued that, in the face of existential threats, art can evoke a comforting aura of collective meaning and transcendence. That’s a fairly obvious dynamic with sacred works, but it can also be true of secular images that serve as poignant reminders of the beliefs that give one’s life meaning.

Somewhat counter-intuitively, a research team led by psychologist Verena Graupmann of DePaul University reports surrealistic art can serve this same purpose.

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