Even though we want more life, living to 90 isn’t a bad innings

Wednesday, 14 August, 2013

Even though advances in medical science may allow us to live healthy, active, lives up to age 120, most US adults see living to age 90, and not much longer, as being ideal:

Given the option, most Americans would choose to live longer than the current average. Fully 69% of American adults would like to live to be 79 to 100 years old. About 14% say they would want a life span of 78 years or less, while just 9% would choose to live more than 100 years. The median ideal life span is 90 years.

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Possible, but by no means easy, faking your death and starting over

Thursday, 30 May, 2013

Should faking your own death, and starting a new life, be your thing, there are more than a few points to bear in mind:

It’s best to avoid credit cards, loans, driver’s licenses, and anything else that would require generating a false identity in your new life. While vanishing and starting over isn’t technically a crime, fraud definitely is. Buying a social security number is also fraught with risk: You don’t know who that number used to belong to. It’s still possible to live a completely cash-based life. If you insist on maintaining a legal identity, experienced skip tracer Frank Ahearn recommends establishing a corporation to attenuate the link between your business dealings and yourself.

Perfectly straightforward, as you can see.

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What it’s like to die, a personal account

Tuesday, 26 March, 2013

Sasha MacKinnon, who at age 21, was clinically dead for four and a half minutes, after going into cardiac arrest, describes the life, death, and life, experience.

The stories you hear about people dying usually end with tunnels, lights, flashbacks, God, and big epiphanies. That isn’t what happened to me. After finally regaining enough consciousness to understand my situation, I sat for hours staring at the hospital walls. I didn’t have any life changing realizations. I wasn’t regretful. In fact, I couldn’t think of anything in my life I wanted to change at all. Being trapped alone in that sterile room with wires hanging off my chest only made me think about everything in my life I wanted back.

Late Australian media baron, Kerry Packer who died in 2005, had a near death experience in 1990, also as a result of a heart attack, and spent six minutes in a clinically dead state. He too reported seeing nothing in the way of tunnels, lights, and what have you, declaring that there was nothing out there, or words to that effect.

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No longer will it be final words, but rather the last tweet

Tuesday, 19 March, 2013

Morbidly fascinating, a collection of the last tweets made by relatively well known Twitter account holders, shortly before they died.

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To die for, a formula that calculates lifespan according to size

Wednesday, 30 January, 2013

An intriguing idea advanced by British theoretical physicist Geoffrey West – that, by the way, is hotly disputed by some scientists – suggesting the lifespan of all living creatures can be determined by their size:

Everything alive will eventually die, we know that, but now we can read the pattern and see death coming. We have recently learned its logic, which “You can put into mathematics,” says physicist Geoffrey West. It shows up with “extraordinary regularity,” not just in plants, but in all animals, from slugs to giraffes. Death, it seems, is intimately related to size.

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No sorry, suicide is far from painless

Wednesday, 30 January, 2013

Six, likely uncomfortable, steps those contemplating suicide go through. Maybe being familiar with them will help you spot someone who is struggling.

There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person. According to Baumeister, there are six primary steps in the escape theory, culminating in a probable suicide when all criteria are met. I do hope that having knowledge about the what-it-feels-like phenomenology of “being” suicidal helps people to recognize their own possible symptoms of suicidal ideation and – if indeed this is what’s happening – enables them to somehow derail themselves before it’s too late.

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If you could set your requiem to music how would it sound?

Monday, 6 August, 2012

You may not know of US new age musician David Young, despite the fact he has an extensive back catalogue, though it is very possible you have heard his music before… especially at a funeral or memorial service.

So how does music “relaxing” enough for grief sound? Songs on Young’s CDs vary between “downtempo,” “upbeat,” and “spiritual.” They bring to mind waiting for customer service. There are lots of wind chimes and bird sounds. There are no large leaps in volume or changes in meter, no unpredictable or complex chord progressions. This is music as single-issue sloganeering, a made-for-TV movie of sound. Young’s oeuvre is one of distillation, melding classical, opera, pop, and folk. It always sounds familiar, even when you hear it for the first time.

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If I had my time over again I’d do everything that I’d said I did

Tuesday, 24 July, 2012

I’ve seen this story swirling about the web but finally took some time to read it. Before his death a couple of weeks ago, late Salt Lake City resident Val Patterson wrote his own obituary, perhaps as a way of putting his affairs in order, but more I would say out of a desire to set the record straight in regards to certain aspects of his life:

Now that I have gone to my reward, I have confessions and things I should now say. As it turns out, I AM the guy who stole the safe from the Motor View Drive Inn back in June, 1971. I could have left that unsaid, but I wanted to get it off my chest. Also, I really am NOT a PhD. What happened was that the day I went to pay off my college student loan at the U of U, the girl working there put my receipt into the wrong stack, and two weeks later, a PhD diploma came in the mail. I didn’t even graduate, I only had about 3 years of college credit. In fact, I never did even learn what the letters “PhD” even stood for.

What can I say? If you’re worried you are living a lie you’re certainly not the only one.

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Charting changes in the causes of death over the last century

Wednesday, 27 June, 2012

A chart published by The New England Journal of Medicine that compares the ways people died in 2010 with causes of death in 1900.

While the mortality rate has almost halved, and instances of diseases such as tuberculosis and influenza, which were big killers at the beginning of last century, have been greatly reduced, heart disease and cancer rates are well up on what they were one hundred years ago.

While I really know nothing about such matters, I’d venture to guess that this is because we are now living longer than people did a century ago, and succumbing more to heart disease and cancer in old age, something most people then wouldn’t have lived long enough to encounter.

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Artists and their final artworks

Thursday, 3 May, 2012

No title, by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

End Piece is a collection of the final artworks created by well known artists before their death, such as the above piece by late Cuban artist Félix González-Torres.

Possibly a morbid interest, but it’s something I look out for at exhibitions – the Picasso show at AGNSW being a recent example – of the work of artists who are no longer with us.

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