Skip

How to bury your dead
February 16, 2006 6:19 AM   Subscribe

File this handy Reuters article for future use: How to bury your dead.
posted by spock (46 comments total)

 
There's a case to be made for bypassing the whole usurious funeral home business and burying your loved ones privately. In most states it's perfectly legal. For starters, see the Straight Dope.
posted by intermod at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2006


See also?
posted by dsword at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2006


Damnit, dsword, you beat me.
posted by Plutor at 6:36 AM on February 16, 2006


"In case you're wondering, it's $20 apiece for high-quality body bags. In New Orleans (after Hurricane Katrina) they had to double-bag bodies."

Make sure to buy the good ones. Cheap ones rip at the seams, especially when the body weighs more than 175 pounds. Also, make friends with at least six health adults...pallbearers will be at a premium.
posted by ColdChef at 6:37 AM on February 16, 2006


Also, who really believes this?:
The shift may be due to President George W. Bush reading John Barry's "The Great Influenza,"
posted by ColdChef at 6:39 AM on February 16, 2006


At first I thought that said "How to bury your lead."
posted by aparrish at 6:42 AM on February 16, 2006


Here in Stockholm there is a massive refrigerated morgue under Södersjukhuset where large numbers of bodies would be stored following a major incident. But considering that the entire country is a refrigerator for most of the year, it's probably overkill...
posted by three blind mice at 6:47 AM on February 16, 2006


George W Bush doesn't read. He doesn't even *claim* to read.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:47 AM on February 16, 2006


Isn't suggesting that Tamiflu will help (as the article seems to) adding a little bit to the overall misinformation stack? Most of what I've read/heard here and elsewhere indicates that Tamiflu will do fuck-all in the event the virus mutates. Any docs out there than can opine on this?
posted by psmealey at 6:50 AM on February 16, 2006


It is my understanding that Tamiflu is not formulated for any particular flu strain, but that it helps in alleviating flu symptoms in general. There was a report of a Tamiflu-resistant H5N1 in SE Asia a while back, but I'm not sure what that means. But yeah, you're right - having Tamiflu doesn't mean your golden.
posted by spock at 6:56 AM on February 16, 2006


I think he even claims *not* to read or care about history.
posted by stbalbach at 6:57 AM on February 16, 2006


By the way, if it becomes human-to-human transmissible, H5N1 may have found a shortcut to the U.S.: Iraq.

I love how this article has the headline: "U.S. troops taking precautions after Iraq bird flu death" and then the lead paragraph says "The Pentagon says U.S. troops in Iraq won't be taking additional health precautions in light of that country's first case of bird flu."
posted by spock at 7:00 AM on February 16, 2006


Err... that would be this article.
posted by spock at 7:04 AM on February 16, 2006


If you (legally) buried a body in your back yard, wouldn't you be obligated to inform any future owner of the property? That might effect property values.

Beautiful suburban home, Westchester
4BR, 2 1/2 bath, pool, FRPL, eat-in kitch, dead bodies in yard, nearby shopping, excellent school district, a must-see!!!
posted by Afroblanco at 7:08 AM on February 16, 2006


"Bart, I feel like I'm gonna die!"
"We're all gonna die, Lis."
"I meant soon!"
"So did I."
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:09 AM on February 16, 2006


Yes, the great and scary bird flu. OooooOOooooooh.

When its killed more people than pnuemonia or staff infection, then I'll be concerned.
posted by Atreides at 7:14 AM on February 16, 2006


Staff infection? Sound painful, and gross.

Oh, did you mean staph infection?
posted by psmealey at 7:15 AM on February 16, 2006



When its killed more people than pnuemonia or staff infection, then I'll be concerned.


Atreides, sounds like you work in U.S. government? FEMA maybe?
posted by spock at 7:19 AM on February 16, 2006


Bird flu terrifies me. I'll admit it.
posted by grabbingsand at 7:23 AM on February 16, 2006


Keep a few months worth of dry lentils and the like around, and whatever else may be needed to keep you in the house and socially isolated may be my strategy. I live a block from work so commutes aren't an issue.

The dilemma for producers of syringes and the like is that increasing factory capacity for a one-time sale for a pandemic is bad business practice.

They're talking like syringes are perishable. Isn't an absent customer base due to death "bad business practice?"
posted by sourwookie at 7:33 AM on February 16, 2006


From an individual perspective, I agree grabbingsand, me too. I just can't help but be reminded of the old George Carlin bit about "saving the planet". His retort was that the planet was doing fine; we're the ones who are fucked. Don't mean to be a gloomy Gus or anything, but with all the human driven evil in the world, the resource over-consumption, the despoilment of the environment, the indifference of the wealthy toward famine and genocide that affects others, I have a sinking feeling that we're due for some type of comeuppance. I suppose it was ever thus, just things seem strangely tenuous right now, like we're on the verge of something totally different. Waterworld, maybe.

Then again, when I was in high school in the 80s, I was certain that I would die in a nuclear inferno, so my instincts are probably dead wrong.
posted by psmealey at 7:35 AM on February 16, 2006


Bah, staph. Thanks for the catch, Psmealey.

Spock, actually, I'm a liberal leaning grad student. Its not so much negligence and apathy, but cynicism at the media's chosen "terror of the year." Shall we go back and examine the past great predicted pandemics of the last few years?
Frankly, I feel I have a greater chance being attacked by a shark, than dying from the bird flu.

< knock door>

< voice from behind door "Candygram."

Rut roh.
posted by Atreides at 7:38 AM on February 16, 2006


I'm all for thinning of the herds, just so long as it doesn't happen here in the Western White world or slow economic growth.
posted by sourwookie at 7:50 AM on February 16, 2006


Its not so much negligence and apathy, but cynicism at the media's chosen "terror of the year."

Sure. It isn't like it is actually spreading or going through changes or anything, right? It's all media hysteria. For all your "liberal leaning" you've taken a page out of the conservative playbook. Blame the media. If anything, this was under-reported for a long time. Look, I'm the poster boy for Adults with Attention Deficit Disorder, but even I know that a slow moving car is still going to run you over if you don't get out of the middle of the road.

You do realize that the role of the WHO is to be the watchdog to hopefully prevent pandemics from happening, right? People who think that because they've done a decent job of it, up to this point (or been lucky that a viral strain hasn't jumped through all of the necessary hoops to be a killer pandemic) doesn't mean that one should stop listening to them until one does start killing thousands of people.

People who think that way probably should also have snooze buttons on their smoke alarms.

For the record, I'm also hopeful that it doesn't happen. The Spanish Flu killed 1 out of every 5 people that got it and it spread over the whole world in an age that didn't have fast and easy transcontinental transportation. If it goes pandemic, people I care about will probably die - maybe even me. So it really pisses me off when people with short attention spans or news fatigue think that their short attention span or news fatigue is going to somehow magically prevent something from happening.

The apathy is a part of the problem, because we do have foreknowledge and resources not available in 1918 that could prevent a big disaster. But not using that foreknowledge is no different from not having it in the first place - except that it is stupid/inexcusable.
posted by spock at 8:05 AM on February 16, 2006


While this is interesting, I still feel the take away lesson of Katrina isn't so much that you have enough body bags in the house, but more that you have enough guns.
posted by illovich at 8:25 AM on February 16, 2006


I'm not quite sure where I said we should ban all monitoring, funding for organizations like the WHO, etc. I said I wasn't worried about it and thought the media over hyped it. Remember the West Nile virus? Or what about last year's bird flu? Yes, a pathogen can mutate at any moment, but I'm more worried about the new antibiotic strain of TB. Then there are the countless needless deaths that occur in hospitals due to the simple lack of staff not following simple procedures from elevating the body or washing their hands with soap before seeing patients. There's so much more, your slow car included, that is more threatening to my life, that I really am not impressed by a virus that may or may not mutate enough to bring about the death of millions.

As for the Spanish flu, the upper estimates are that 680,000 died from it in the United States. Thats out of a population that at 1910 was 92.2 million individuals. If my rough calculations are correct, thats just over .0073 percent of the population. (Note: the 1920 population was 106 million) Yes, about 28% of the country was infected, but on the whole, percentage wise, it wasn't an end of civilization plague.

If we had the same number of people die this year as in 1918, the percentage of the population (Based at 300 million), would fall down to .0022 %.

A lot of people dying, yes, bad, terrible, frightful. Something to live my life around worrying? Nah.
Now if you want to cut a few years off of your life due to stressful thinking, be my guest.
posted by Atreides at 8:30 AM on February 16, 2006


Remember what 3,000 deaths in 2001 did to our economy, culture, and civil liberties?

Though not exactly apocalyptic, I shudder to think of what 680,000 deaths would do to those things in our mollycoddled entitlement culture today.
posted by sourwookie at 8:37 AM on February 16, 2006


when I was in high school in the 80s, I was certain that I would die in a nuclear inferno, so my instincts are probably dead wrong.

Are you *sure* you were mistaken?
posted by washburn at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2006


Ah -Choo, damn, sorry.
posted by Gungho at 8:40 AM on February 16, 2006


*shits himself*
posted by PenguinBukkake at 8:49 AM on February 16, 2006


I realized I should have provided the same percentage from 1918 to today, so here's that figure:

2,219,000. A frightfully high number, agreed, but not civilization ending.

As for the 1918 figures again, 28% of the population was infected:

Thats 25.8 million individuals. Of that number, 680,000 died.
Thats just over two and a half percent of the people who were infected.

Horrible, tragic, but build yourself a bunker and hope for the best? Nah.
posted by Atreides at 8:50 AM on February 16, 2006


2,219,000. A frightfully high number, agreed, but not civilization ending.

Of course 2 million dead won't have any effect on things like the stock market, oil prices, economy in general...
posted by c13 at 8:52 AM on February 16, 2006


Yes, the crash of the stockmarket, the collapse of the economy, which has never happened before will result in mutants emerging from the sewers and rampant cannibalism. I, for one, welcome our mutant...
posted by Atreides at 8:56 AM on February 16, 2006


I wonder how many freedoms we'll lose to BushCo's "War On Virus"?
posted by sourwookie at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2006


You've got me there. H5N1 probably will not bring about the end of civilization. As you were.
posted by spock at 9:26 AM on February 16, 2006


Brigadier General Montgomery C. Meigs founded Arlington National Cemetary in Robert E. Lee's front yard so Lee wouldn't ever be able to use the house again.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:03 AM on February 16, 2006


Atreides,

If my rough calculations are correct, thats just over .0073 percent of the population.

Check your decimal points. You're off by a factor of 100.

Almost one percent of the population killed by an epidemic would be a very big deal.
posted by Opposite George at 10:31 AM on February 16, 2006


But what do you do if the body you're burying isn't quite dead yet?
posted by Astro Zombie at 11:03 AM on February 16, 2006


I was up all night burying the cat.

Up all night?

Well, it kept struggling.
posted by spock at 11:09 AM on February 16, 2006


Bird flu? That was so last month's irrational fear. Now I'm scared of getting shot by Cheney.
posted by tublecain at 11:20 AM on February 16, 2006


Check your decimal points. You're off by a factor of 100.

Thanks, George. Its what happens when a history student does math when not quite awake.

Though, I guess I view epidemics from a historical sense of centuries. One person out of a hundred dying, while very much terrible and tragic, doesn't make me fear for the end of the world.

And to reassure the fearful, I support the practice of taking precautions, etc...etc. I'm just not personally frightened.

For an interesting, fictional, take on what happens when a civilization ending plague breaks out, I suggest the reading of Kim Stanley Robinsons Years of Rice and Salt. For non-fiction, there's William H. McNeill's Plagues and Peoples.
posted by Atreides at 12:07 PM on February 16, 2006


You gotta shoot them in the head first though right?
posted by Smedleyman at 12:14 PM on February 16, 2006


Though, I guess I view epidemics from a historical sense of centuries. One person out of a hundred dying, while very much terrible and tragic, doesn't make me fear for the end of the world.

I'm with you there -- it probably wouldn't be the end of the world (heck, apart from students of history few people remembered the 1918 epidemic until the recent book came out). Anyway, I have my doubts that things could reach 1918 levels, if, indeed, there is to be an epidemic at all.

Still, if it were to happen my opinion (and it's just that) is there'd be quite a bit of disorder and panic as it occurred and for quite a bit afterwards. I don't know how long the 1918 epidemic lasted but to make the math easy let's say it played out over a year (if it happened quicker, the annualized rates here will get worse.)

If the U.S. saw an increase of 0.73% in its annual death rate that'd mean an almost-doubling of the current(?) rate of about 870 per 100,000 (1996 figures)* That'd put quite a load on current medical and funeral facilities which have evolved to deal with normal levels. And a lot of those deaths would occur in children, who, apart from infants, have death rates far below the general population's. No doubt this would tax existing religious and social resources having to deal with grieving parents.

For comparison purposes, the WTC collapse increased the NYC metro area death rate by about 18 per 100,000 (granted, all at one time.) For NYC to suffer an epidemic death rate at 1918 levels would correspond to a 9/11-level incident taking place almost weekly. Now add deaths at proportionate levels throughout the nation and it's clear, at least to me, that our social fabric would be tested.

Humanity would survive 1918-level mortality rates, but I don't want to be around if it happens.

*Yes, I'm ignoring folks who would have died of something else, but we're doing some real wild-assed guessing here anyway.
posted by Opposite George at 2:00 PM on February 16, 2006


Brigadier General Montgomery C. Meigs founded Arlington National Cemetary in Robert E. Lee's front yard so Lee wouldn't ever be able to use the house again.
posted by kirkaracha at 12:03 PM CST on February 16 [!]


Awesome. MetaFilter teaches me something new every day.
posted by ColdChef at 2:26 PM on February 16, 2006


Coincidentally, I watched the episode (8) of Ken Burns' Civil War series the discussed that, just last night.
posted by spock at 3:52 PM on February 16, 2006


I recommend everyone visit Arlington at least once in their lives, and once again if possible after that. Not enough time to see everything in one visit. Oh, and Lee's house isn't too shabby either, though smaller than expected.
posted by Atreides at 9:02 PM on February 16, 2006


« Older Another Mac OS X Trojan   |   Lespwa has returned Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments



Post