The business of death.

Driving in this morning, I heard that there was an individual that managed to catch the taser death of Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver International Airport on video. The video is now in the custody of the RCMP, but the thing that caught my attention, was the suggestion that there were plans to sell the video once the taper got it back. Worse still, are the mother’s explicit desires wishes(?) to not have the video of death of her son in a situation where there would be public viewing. I tell you – the things people do for money… (Editors note Nov14/2007 – note that the video was release today with blessing of mother)

Anyway, related to the business of death, here is a neat little video released by Good magazine (a neat little magazine, whose subscription fees are donated in their entirety to a non-profit that you can choose from).

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David (@ng_dave) is Faculty at the Michael Smith Labs. His writing has appeared in places such as McSweeney's, The Walrus, and He plans on using Terry as another place to highlight the mostly science-y links he appreciates. In fact, if you liked this one, you might also like his main site generally - this can be found at

9 Responses to “The business of death.”

  1. Rick

    Looks like you’ve got all the facts wrong; so far the mother did not share “explicit desires” (unless she called you personally this morning), and the owner of the video already stated that he would abide by the wishes of the mother.

    Maybe time to change the radio station?

  2. Gordon

    Eh.. I want my 2 minutes back. I gotta admit, if we can’t stop driving our metal coffins (my car included) then I am not really worried about the ecological effects of my burial.

    Personally, I want to be shot into space and I won’t care about the emissions because I’ll be dead! BUHAHAHA.. No seriously. I get the point that it is an issue but we have bigger fish to fry don’t we?

  3. David Ng

    Thanks for the update. This is just stuff I heard on the morning edition on CBC. It was mentioned right after an interviewed with the Airport Authority.

  4. jenjen

    $12,500 to be shot into space!

    Anyway, the “bigger fish to fry” comment kind of bugs me a little bit : )

    True, worrying about something like emissions from automobiles and production is perhaps more worthy of our attention, but I’d argue that it’s also the collection of little fish that can be important.

    That collection after all speaks to a cultural shift where people like us try to do their best in these matters, whether it relates to transportation, the food we eat, or (in this case), how we choose to dispose of ourselves.

  5. Dave Semeniuk

    I thought about the bigger fish to fry comment, and made a simple calculation:

    Assuming 1.8 people die per second, that turns into 155,520 people per day. Assuming also that the average weight of that person is 70kg, and that 18.5% of them is made up of carbon [Source: , that turns into 2.01 million kg of once living, now dead organic carbon – or 735 million kg carbon per year. Now, assuming 100% of this would be released into the atmosphere upon cremation (which is very unlikely, as some of it would no doubt turn into more refractory organic carbon – as evidenced by ash), and assuming wikipedia is currently correct in telling me there are 750 Gt of carbon in the atmosphere – that is the equivalent of 0.098% of the total atmospheric carbon.

    Mind you, if every human being kicked the bucket tomorrow, and 100% of their carbon were released into the atmosphere, that would equate to roughly 78GT of carbon, and increase of 10%.

    To put this in perspective, the atmospheric CO2 concentration has nearly doubled in 200 years – or, the equivalent 29 billion cremated corpses.

    It seems we’re worse for the atmosphere alive than dead.

  6. Anan Omis

    Why in holy hell didn’t rcmp try to handcuff this man, he got startled by the sight of the handcuffs and took a few steps away from them.
    Those weren’t rcmp officers, those were demons straight out of the pits of hell who decided to ignore protocol and instead punish this man for damaging Canadian property and for walking away from handcuffs.
    It’s obvious they were up to no good, they squeezed in another taser shot milliseconds before the poor man hit the floor.
    If it wasn’t the taser shots that killed him or the physical and psychological torture, then it was his spirit that was murdered.

  7. Churmy Fan

    I like the idea of recycling our bodies. I would LOVE to fertilize a tree. However, turning ashes into pencils and diamonds is a little disturbing.
    I do have a question though. If not all bodies are cremated, wouldn’t the number of bodies accumulate? How do we fit them all in?

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