October 2005 Archives

When I Go I Want To Be Freeze Dried

I've never been a great fan of being buried. I basically felt it was a bit of a waste of space. It takes up a rather large volume for rather a long time for no real benefit to anyone.

But in completely contradictory way, I do like gravestones. Even before I started researching my family history I always liked reading the memorial stones in graveyards.

Of course, you can have a memorial stone without being buried, by being cremated and interring your ashes. But cremation, whilst space efficient, doesn't seem very ecological, expecially in these times of concern about greenhouse gases. Releasing trapped heavy metals (from your fillings, for example) isn't brilliant either. And it does seem a bit of a waste of potential nutrient value in the body.

So I was fascinated to read about promession. Basically, they freeze dry your body and then dip it in liquid nitrogen. You are then so brittle that it is very easy to disassemble you into a fine powder, a bit like these shattered roses. As usual, chemical and biological processes work a lot quicker on finely divided materials, so all the messy business is done in 6-12 months. I'm a great fan of composting.

Carbon Asset Units

I was reading my friend Paul's comment on open plan cube farms and discussing it with another friend.

We felt that perhaps the division of the space into cubes and offices was reinforcing the feeling that cube occupants were "human capital". Certainly a large scale cube farm can have the feel of the stockyard about it (although many people will never have seen one due to the death of local markets).

The original usage of "capital" (orig. Latin capitalis "of the head") was as shorthand to refer to the amount of farm animals that were owned, since these were counted by the head (as in "heads of cattle").

I have never much cared for the various euphemisms for "employees" that have gained favour in recent times: "human resources", "human capital" etc. I'm sure they were introduced in an attempt to persuade stockholders and investors that employees were a good thing. But internally they end up dehumanising. What's wrong with "personnel" ? Presumably it doesn't allow the mental trick of considering all employees equivalent "resources" to be swapped around at will, rather than as persons with unique abilities, knowledge, attitudes and concerns ?

My friend then coined the term "Carbon Asset Unit", or CAU for short, to refer to cube occupants. It is, of course, pronounced "cow".

Playing With Lost Cousins (tm)

I've just been playing with Lost Cousins, another website/service dedicated to helping genealogical research. What is unique about Lost Cousins is that they match up names entered by subscribers based on more than the name, they use the detailed page reference from the 1881 census to disambiguate the surnames. This is really great, much increasing the chances of real matches, assuming that people correctly identify their ancestors in the 1881 census in the first place.

The Government's Shell Game with ID cards

Oh come on now, how dumb do you think we are ? The cost of the ID card will be capped at £30 ?

Bollocks, the *price* might be capped at £30 but the cost will remain far higher, what with £10 *billion* of infrastructure to provide. Not even counting the inevitable doubling of the cost like every other government IT project. And of course this money just floats down from the money tree farm doesn't it.

This is just a shell game, the rest of the money will have to come from general taxation. So that's several £billions that could have gone to providing real security, or schools, or hospitals. Say No2ID.

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