The tidbit about the caskets is not thoroughly researched. I didn’t want to know any more than I had to about the deterioration of remains than I already do. It’s a pretty generous approximation. A lot of factors come in to play when it comes to how long a corpse lasts. Based on what she knows about the land & circumstances Alex’s guess is probably accurate enough. Remains placed in wooden coffins, with no vault, return to the soil in about 50 years. Bones take the longest to decompose. After that time if anything remains it tend to crumble if it’s disturbed at all. If the soil is dry the time can be extended much farther.
I always used to wonder what the world would look like once we ran out of places to store corpses. With every bit of unclaimed land filled we’d probably do what we do with too many people, which is stack them. Once I got older I found out that this is what we already do with them when space is at a premium. Once the money runs dry, & there’s no one left to care, then we finally let whatever remains return to the earth.
The legality of human remains & what you can & can’t do with them is a pretty complex area unless you’re taking a superficial glance at it. In a lot of places once you plant a corpse nothing can move them apart from a lot of money. As with most things money reduces laws and ordinances to dust. Generally gravesites are considered public property, but are privately funded, with some money coming from taxes to keep care of graves no longer claimed by extended family. It varies from place to place, country to country, so pretty much anything you say is true someplace.
When I used to be in to paranormal stuff, before it got salted by logic, I used to think how odd it was that Native Americans buried their dead seemingly at random in places that made great locations for houses and stuff. I naively thought that someone actually researched the legends of “ancient indian burial grounds” instead of just making shit up because no one ever bothers to.
As far as remembering stuff goes you still can’t outdo paper when it comes to cost and longevity. When everything else vanishes in a puff of electromagnetic pulsing, paper remains, unharmed. I’ve often thought about what would happen to my work if an electrical disaster happened that wiped clean all electronics. Essentially only human memory, and a few printings of the first, like, 300 pages or so would remain. The culmination of everything I’ve ever done and been would be wiped from the earth. Of course, sooner or later, that’s going to happen regardless. So I decided not to worry about it too much and just see what happens.
cue “Dust in the Wind” references!
Even Socrates likes that song.
“I’m Bill, he’s Ted, and this is our friend, Soooh crates!” :)
I do know in places like South Korea, Singapore, & Hong Kong, you get a few years in the ground and then they have to be cremated to make room for the next one in queue. So their governments imply that it’s just better to cremate the bodies anyway. And with the price of coffins now, it’s just cheaper to cremate them here in the USA.
That still creates a moral dilemma regarding traditions and beliefs over how we want to bury our elder members of our family, especially if they are immigrants who strongly insist on the traditional burial. Yes, cremation is cheaper but are you willing to disrespect religious belief and last wishes of your mother and father if they want a traditional burial as their religion dictates just because it’s cheaper?
Well, in the case of these countries, it’s been in their cultural history to have a brief burial, then cremation because these countries tend to have problems with how much land they have. In fact, in many Asian countries that have larger territory, cremation is the tradition and not burial. I think Japan and China are where burial are more traditional than cremation.
As for eschewing family wishes because it’s cheaper to cremate someone, that’s what happened when my father passed away earlier this year. He wanted a burial, but that would have been like $15,000 total (cheapest casket: $2,000). But he knew once he was dead, there wasn’t going to be an executor or lawyer that would stand up for his wishes.
Between increasing difficulty in finding land to create cemetaries (a NIMBY problem), economic costs, environmental costs, I feel the future will be one where people are cremated and turned into tacky synthetic diamond, and only the so-called powerful and important will be buried or perpetually laid in state in a glass coffin.
Not to be farcical about this topic, but:
Andy Warhol once said, in jest, that- [after he’s gone, he’d like his ashes to be made into a ring, so that Elizabeth Taylor could wear [the ring] with her jewelry.]
Andy Warhol was an unusual guy.
For those who are interested- E. Taylor was the star of the 1963 film- “Cleopatra”.
Even so, in the past, some cultures changed/evolved their religious and moral beliefs when things became prohibitively expensive or limited.
Mummification stopped entirely during a plague in Egypt, regardless of the religious beliefs of the time. The reason being that it takes 6 to 7 months for the entire mummification process to be completed, and that includes drying out the body with a type of powder that was not only poisonous to the people stuffing it in bodies, but it became a very limited resource later on in Egypt. Since mummification had very strict requirements, even the slightest mistake could send the soul infinitely wandering the Duat, which was terrifying for the living.
Then a plague hit, and so many people died there was no way to mummify all of them. So Egyptian religion started allowing bodies to be burned (which was also terrifying for people back then), removing the belief that a soul without a preserved body wanders in limbo forever. That was one heck of a radical change that came about due to necessity.
I think if we ran out of room, the next morally acceptable adaptation would be cremation. If we didn’t, piles of corpses not properly buried would lead to an outbreak of disease and pests. In reality, since most of our burial rites were created out of a desire to profit from preserving the dead – at least in a Christian sense, since Hebrews would cremate or drop bodies in the sea as an acceptable bodily disposal (only the rich and/or priesthood gets a tomb).
And after that, our next evolution will be possibly ejecting people who die in space into suns. Since we’re all star dust anyway.
I remember an interesting tidbit from a Warhammer 40k novel that on the fortress world of Cadia that a corpse stayed in a grave until you can no longer read the headstone then it is exhumed & made way for more dead.
This link is for a [TED.Com] video (0:07:30):
…wherein the lady talks about what may well be a healthier way to deal with death.
As for the story here, I whole-heartedly endorse the transfer of, not the bodies, but the INFORMATION about the bodies, to the Boothe Family archives, while giving the graves themselves proper markers. By naming the nameless, you add yet another layer of Humanity to the local legend of this long-lost family. I look forward to seeing the finished tombstones.
If you want your work to survive an EMP, you could store your backups in a Faraday cage. I am not an expert on Faraday cages so I looked them up on the Internet. One of the Quora answers said that even aluminum foil could be used to protect gear… read for details: https://www.quora.com/Does-a-faraday-cage-protect-a-device-against-any-EMP
Also, I really doubt EMP would wipe CDs or DVDs.
I’m not sure about flash memory. Maybe the memory itself would be okay but the controller electronics would get fried so maybe that wouldn’t work.
Maybe wrap the DVDs in aluminum foil!
“Also, I really doubt EMP would wipe CDs or DVDs.”
Ignoring the continual reliability issues of writable optical disks and that tropical fungus that eats the glue holding them together…
What about the readers? CD is ANCIENT in computer terms, and is only still usable due to the back-compatible designs of DVD and Blu-Ray. But having an optical drive of any sort is becoming rarer every day.
If you had, say, a 5.25″ floppy disk to read? No one has made those drives for a couple of decades now. It is not yet impossible to find working drives, but it requires specialized knowledge to make sure you get the RIGHT KIND of drive and computer, and a unique interest to even know that there are different kinds of drives and computers.
Hell, even 3.5″. If your disk was made for the wrong kind of computer, it is completely unreadable in the drives currently available. And that hits stuff as mainstream as “1990 Macintosh”.
And that’s why NASA has guys whose dedicated job is to troll eBay and phone up junkyards to find the hardware they need to get data off old tapes, then restore it.
They’re constantly moving data from one retired format to one that’s going to be retired in a few years, and trying to recover the data that was missed in prior migrations.
Not that all the expertise in the world helps them when someone reused the wrong tape and, say, overwrote the only full-quality recording of the first man on the moon.
Yeah, true story. NASA accidentally recorded over Neil Armstrong.
And that is why microfilm is STILL the gold standard for archiving mass quantities of data in small physical volumes.
Paper, modern paper contains too many acids and is made from short fibers.
Ever seen an older paperback book? They yellow, the glue gets either brittle or turns to dust, eventually the paper disintegrates into flakes / dust.
Ancient and just older texts were made from either velum [animal skins] or papers made from longer, tougher fibers like cotton flax or hemp.
Clay and stone tablets have a much loner expected lifespan but are bulky and most metals with degrade with time. Unfortunately those that don’t degrade get smelted for the metal value more times than not due to thieves being rather ignorant – example the Spanish and their gold and silver recovery efforts in central America. Pretty much all grave robbers.
Electronic storage degrades over a rather short time time and the data would need to be archived in a self repairing format like PAR. The longest lasting physical electronic storage medium I know of is Bubble Memory.
My solution – a cache of metal plates in a solar polar orbit.
The BBC also pulled the same blunder but on a massive scale and that’s how we lost the original Dr WHO recordings. That is why we need an FTL drive to send a receiver 50+ light years out to capture those broadcasts.
Yeah, sad-to-say, but the history of data-storage technology shows a strong trend towards recording larger amounts of data, at faster speeds, into smaller physical volumes, using progressively more fragile materials.
If I recall, wasn’t the BBC loss effectively INTENTIONAL?
They were in an argument with the British Film Institute over who was responsible for archiving it.
BFI was “Television isn’t film, it isn’t our problem” and the BBC was all “It sure is your problem, because it sure ain’t OUR problem!” and the BFI was all “We’re soooo not archiving this!” and the BBC was “FINE! I GUESS NO ONE IS!”.
So no one did. And now they sit there calling up international TV stations trying to see if anyone has a misplaced tape of The Tenth Planet they can borrow, because they’ve run out of places to look for their own misplaced tapes that weren’t thrown out or recycled.
(Pretty sure Who is far from the only show affected, just… the only show with a large modern following.)
Not *just* in aluminum foil — alternating layers of aluminum foil and polyethylene bag See http://www.futurescience.com/emp/emp-protection.html for details about how to do it.
Doesn’t it also depend on the soil and climate they are buried in, cows if the soil and climate is dry enough, the remains might have mummified instead of disappearing.
I said as much in the blog.
Then there are the locals with longer lasting exceptions. The very driest parts of the Sahara where desiccation results in mummification with next to no deterioration. The bogs of Europe where the dissolved tannin acidity and lack of oxygen act as a natural preservative. Not only have bodies centuries to millennia old been popping up but casks of preserved foodstuffs like 3000 year old butter as well.
Concerning your comics, it wouldn’t be wiped out for at least two reasons.
The first one is it has already been archived on the internet. You can look at all the archived versions on https://web.archive.org/web/20080415000000*/betweenfailures.com.
They have archived version spanning between 12th January 2008 up to more or less today.
It has also been archived by Google btw.
The second point is that your readers have the pages in their cache, or even in their hard drive if they saved them for this special purpose.
Look on the bright side, Jackie: nothing ever really goes away on the Internet.
Usually I say that in a cautionary way, but today I use it as attempted comfort for the first time. :)
Digital data can get erased, but in the same vein physical books can be burned. In both cases, it’s extremely unlikely for all of it in the world to be lost.
Nothing is truly as awesome as we remember it, but physical copies are awesome. Paper lasts a long time in the right conditions, but the same can be said about stone. I hold on to my memories for as long as I can.
PS. I am working on a colored version of Jacket Jess and didn’t know where to post it for your humble critique.
These are answers that I got from places, like the UK version of yahooanswers [R], so all of these answers maybe false, but a few amateurs said:
–[a body, without a coffin], just buried in the dirt, will last about 8-12 years in the ground. [Note- this answer didn’t say how long the bones would last in the ground].
–a wooden coffin, [that is varnished…to protect it from moist dirt, + the weather?], can last about 100 years.
— Someone said, on uk [dot] answers [dot] yahoo [dot] com, in 2010, that [most current graveyards, in the Western world?], require a cement vault to put the casket in…and this vault will protect the wooden coffin, and the remains in it, for even more years.
Also- a friend told me recently- in the US: a funeral, where someone is buried in a coffin, will cost about $11,000 [ in US dollars].
And after that cheerful story- goodnight, folks! :p
Just to clarify what I meant- a person said- that a [varnished?], wood coffin, will last 100 years, after being buried in the ground.
I kind of wrestled myself over commenting at all. I’ve read the comic for maybe two years now, I didn’t keep track of when I started, but it’s been every day since then. Back then it was an eerie but fun experience. Today it’s doubly the first and shakily the second, with an added sprinkle of inspirational.
I found it eerie because Thomas mirrored me in more ways than I could possibly describe. Foretold? Foretold might be better than ‘mirrored’. Predicted is good also. He spoke in ways startlingly similar to me, had similar stances on a number of points in life, and in general seemed a worryingly accurate little depiction of me.(Outside of physically- I’m a fat bastard and couldn’t pull sideburns for the life of me.)
When I began reading, I would have said that where we diverged greatly was that Thomas had faced a challenge I never would. We’d both, as it turned out, met an incredible woman who entirely changed our lives early in high school. We had both become deeply entwined with her, and our lives with her life. For me, I hadn’t met the girl until my second year- but it was more or less the same. She was my best friend and the strongest love I’d felt in my entire life. Really, the first. She was still with me when I found the comic.
With accuracy to shame Nostradamus, the comic foretold almost precisely my life’s course. She had plans for her life and more ambition than I did. Though her going off to a better college didn’t end our relationship, it was one turning point. Our breakup was almost less cataclysmic for me than Thomas’ was. ‘Almost’ is the key word there, sadly. In the moment of it I thought I had avoided the worst pain and even fooled myself into believing I had the chance to rebuild myself and earn her back, if I turned my life around.
I found out that the closest friend I had ever had besides her had jumped with his pants half-ways down within a week of our breakup. To put a number of things simply, he was a couple years older than me, from a few economic classes higher, and with a vastly brighter future. I realized about then that my best-case ‘turn your life around’ scenario was a catch-up to him, not surpassing. I hadn’t even considered my best prospects by comparison to his- I never thought there would be need for comparison. I trusted him implicitly.
Well, the end result was the loss of my two best friends and my entire extended circle of friends as a result. I couldn’t stand to be involved in anything that he was involved in, and he was involved in all of the things I had been. I spent the next… Half a year or so by today just wallowing. I still am. Wallowing, that is. I’ve had manic and depressive swings, come upon a day where I almost convince myself that turning my life around for my own sake is worth the effort, that I don’t need to continue to define my life by her’s.
It never really lasts. I don’t know how much this is worth to you, or if you’ll even see it. But I want you to know that your comic has directly been the cause of many of those high moments. You really have, even if only temporarily, brought me to believe that maybe I can turn what I’m in around and make my life into something worthwhile. Or at least that I might be able to enjoy what happens between my own failures.
So, thank you. For creepily predicting the course of my life and for periodically giving me this dim hope that I can make it into something healthier and happier for myself.
I didn’t so much predict your future so much as I lived a version of it myself, then wrote a fictionalized version of it down, and tried to show that there was hope after the disaster. I took all the negative emotions and channeled them into this creative venture. It’s the only useful thing I know to do with those kinds of feelings and I hope you can find a way to turn that energy to your advantage someday too. Thank you very much for sharing your story with me. Things like this always help me remember why I started this in the first place.
Paper and stone. Sounds kinda badass.
Digital stones, wrapped in paper to prevent chipping. The perfect storage media.
IMO- sculptures are also good, to preserve visual art, and stuff.
People have too many hang ups about corpses. They are simply the cast off meat husk that used to be a person. Shouldn’t waste space with them. Burn them, and recycle the ashes as what would undoubtedly be a spectacular fertilizer. If you want to be mystical about it, consider it life springing from life. The cycle continued.
My favorite solution was posited by Bobby Heinlein in “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.” The bodies of people who had died were composted. Usually the fertilizer was then used to grow food, but the family of the protagonist only used it to grow flowers as a memorial.
I wish that someone would make a film about a team of zombie soldiers, and name it:
The Marine Corpse.
I’m still waiting for my zombie story set in Soviet Russia titled “Better Red Than Undead”
Hee hee hee! :)