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Earth Sun Microsystems News

A Geek Funeral 479

We've recently talked about a geek wedding, and now reader Sam_In_The_Hills writes in with news of his brother's geek funeral. "I've not seen this topic covered here before even though it's one that will concern us all at some time: what to do with our corporeal remains after we've left for that great data bank in the sky. For my recently departed brother (long illness, don't smoke!), I thought this nice SPARCstation would be a cool place to spend eternity. Yes, he's really in there (after cremation). I kept the floppy drive cover but for space reasons removed the floppy drive, hard drive, and most of the power supply. I left behind the motherboard and power switch and plugs to keep all openings covered. The case worked quite well at his memorial party. His friends and family were able to leave their final good-byes on post-notes. Anyone who wanted to keep their words private could just slip their note into the case through the floppy slot. All notes will be sealed in plastic and placed within the case. There has been one complication. His daughters like the look of it so much they aren't now sure if they want to bury him. One more thing: the words on the plaque really do capture one of the last things he ever said. Of course as kids we watched the show in its first run."
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A Geek Funeral

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  • by LoRdTAW ( 99712 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:21PM (#29587843)

    If he was a Sun admin, I would wager it wasn't the cigarettes.

    • Geek funeral? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Hojima ( 1228978 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:30PM (#29587929)

      Everybody knows that geeks want to be frozen until the day that they can be made into cyborgs

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Glad that was modded Informative because I do want that for me, I am dead serious!
        • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Cybrex ( 156654 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:38PM (#29588557)

          http://www.alcor.org/ [alcor.org] . My wife and I are both signed up for cryonic suspension. Even if the chances of success are low, they beat the pants off of the alternative!

          Also, if I may tout my own unofficial FAQ: http://datan0de.livejournal.com/144534.html [livejournal.com]

          • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

            signed up for cryonic suspension

            What about the ice crystals destroying all your cell walls?

          • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Interesting)

            by pherthyl ( 445706 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:21PM (#29588839)

            Sorry, your FAQ isn't very convincing. Firstly, you're screwing over any possible dependents by making Alcor your insurance beneficiary. Unless you want to pay for two life insurance policies, you're screwing over your kids/family/whomever on some hare-brained scheme for some infinitely small chance that you might "live" again in the future. Selfish at best, unless you are wealthy.

            Then there's your certainty that the company will survive for the hundreds or thousands of years it will take for technology to be at the point where they can revive you. That's incredibly unlikely, since no company in history has survived for that long (your arguments about financial stability are laughable, since there will almost certainly be several currency devaluations and government, society, and world upheavals in that period). I put the chances of you actually staying frozen for 1000 years at basically zero.

            And then you think that they would bother to revive you. That too is staggeringly unlikely. Sure, they would revive a few people just to prove that it can be done. But after that, why would they bother? There'll be tens or hundreds of billions of humans around, do you really think they'll need more? They got a couple hundred thousand dollars 1000 years ago to keep you frozen, do you really think they would go to the significant expense and effort to revive you, and then reverse your aging as well? Why would they bother? There's no more incentive for them to do that at all (altruism, don't make me laugh). Even if they've conquered aging by then, that's not at all the same as reversing the aging process, and will most likely not be trivial.

            Finally, what I don't understand is this certainty that being frozen and revived beats the pants off being dead. How could you possibly know that? No one knows. Maybe if you were properly dead you'd be in heaven (not that I believe in that). Instead you get to spend the next thousand years being really freaking cold. Or maybe death would be oblivion (more likely) and you couldn't form any opinion of it since you can't think, so it's not bad, or good, or anything really.

            • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by i_ate_god ( 899684 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:49PM (#29589033)

              The Hudson Bay Company lasted that long. 339 years and still going actually.

              But there are many other companies that have existed for much longer.

              http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kong%C5%8D_Gumi [wikipedia.org]

              That one survived for more than 1000 years. So yes, I think it's reasonable to assume that a company can survive, or at the very least, can ensure the safety of uhm... yourself. Just ensure that a legally binding contract ensures that you'll be kept for X amount of time. It's happened before. Guinness has a lease on its brewery for several thousand years. A contract like this can ensure that buyers of the company you originally signed up with will keep you going.

              However, I agree with most everything else you said. I'm just saying... your second point is invalid.

            • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Interesting)

              by iJusten ( 1198359 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @11:53PM (#29589071)

              Then there's your certainty that the company will survive for the hundreds or thousands of years it will take for technology to be at the point where they can revive you. That's incredibly unlikely, since no company in history has survived for that long (your arguments about financial stability are laughable, since there will almost certainly be several currency devaluations and government, society, and world upheavals in that period). I put the chances of you actually staying frozen for 1000 years at basically zero.

              The oldest company in the world reached well over 1400 years before it fell to hard times. Link [wikipedia.org]. Other old companies can be found here [wikipedia.org].

              And even if we were to accept your argument of losing money over long-term (which history has shown to be false, even during turbulent times such as these), the value of gold has stayed fairly same for most of the human existence.

              However, I'm not sure about the chances of getting resurrected, but that's a whole other subject right there.

            • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Cybrex ( 156654 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:54AM (#29589425)

              You're making quite a few presumptions here. I'll try to take your main points one at a time, and will ignore the ad hominems and obvious trolling:
              * I'm not screwing anybody over. I have no children and no plans to have any. My wife and I both established *plenty* of life insurance long before making any cryonics arrangements. If I go down tomorrow my wife is well taken care of, and vice versa. The separate policies that cover our cryosuspension are just that- separate. And no, we're not wealthy by any means- at least compared with the average non-student slashdotter. I suspect you're grossly overestimating the cost of cryonic suspension and the cost of an insurance policy for a healthy non-smoker in his early 30's.

              * You may find my assessment of the Patient Care Trust's financial stability "laughable", but I find the idea that it'll take 1000 years for us to obtain control over matter at the molecular level patently absurd. Eric Drexler estimates that it'll happen within our lifetimes (or at least my lifetime), and the trends in nanotech development point to him being not too far off. Even if he's wildly optimistic, I suspect that nothing short of a global cataclysm will keep us from reaching that goal in this century, and I'm willing to bet my life on that. (And as I mention in the FAQ, if a global cataclysm does happen then we're all SOL anyway.)

              * Why would they bother to revive us? Again, I covered this in the FAQ. The PCT is under contractual obligation, and one of the requirements to be on the board of directors is that you have to have a family member already in the tank, so they have a vested interest in their well-being. Why does anyone help anyone in a critical medical situation? You can call the question naive if you like, but the fact is that people do help each other. If nothing else, it's likely that anyone who does get revived will be highly motivated to rescue their fellow cryonauts. (I base this statement on my personal interactions with over 2 dozen Alcor members, every one of whom would take that position.)

              If you prefer to disregard basic human empathy entirely, and are looking for a completely economic/rational reason, as technology continues to improve and spread eventually the cost of reviving patients will be less than the cost of maintaining their stasis.

              * I'll disregard your conjecture about the future population levels in "1000 years", as well as your incorrect assessment of the cost of cryosuspension, but I will point out that defeating aging is far less of a challenge than reviving a vitrified person. Assuming that the revived person is instantiated in a "meat body" (which is not a given), undoing age-related damage will likely be a side effect of undoing suspension-related damage. In fact, I can scarcely imagine a scenario where that wouldn't be the case.

              * I don't know that being revived will be better than being dead, but a society that's a living hell is a society that won't be in a position to revive cryonics patients. And if nothing else, being revived gives me the ability to make that decision for myself. If I'm revived and for some reason prefer oblivion then I can simply find something large and fast moving to step in front of. If I rot in the ground then I rob myself of any control over my fate. (And for the record, I don't believe in Heaven either, so that argument is a waste of time.)

      • Speak for yourself, I want all my corporal remains* to be donated to medical science, anything that is left should be used as fertiliser. I really don't get the point of this cremation bullshit waste of good nutrients I say!

        *my brain patterns should be backed up to for future reference, I'll take a fully cybernetic body over your crappy hybrid any day!

      • Re:Geek funeral? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Beardo the Bearded ( 321478 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:52AM (#29589407)

        I want nothing left of my corpse.

        Give any useful organs away. Let a child see a sunset through my corneas; let my heart break again in the ribcage of a teenager; let my lungs have their breath taken away when holding a new infant.

        My skeleton can inspire and educate biology students. My brain can shed new light on diseases, either ones I don't know I have yet or as a control group.

        When I'm dead, I'm done with the meatsack. Anyone who wants it can have it.

    • by palmerj3 ( 900866 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:11PM (#29588315) Homepage
      Truly epic misinterpretation of, "I'd like to be incinerated in the Sun".
  • Good way to go (Score:5, Insightful)

    by plover ( 150551 ) * on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:22PM (#29587855) Homepage Journal

    Remembered as in life, not as the struggle through the end.

    I'm sure your brother appreciates the sentiment.

  • Is it wrong that I am now hoping someone around me dies so I can do something similar?

    The ultimate case mod: is that the magic smoke I see coming out of your computer?
  • by nebaz ( 453974 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:32PM (#29587967)

    but I want a bunch of screaming Klingons at mine.

  • fitting (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Tim4444 ( 1122173 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:39PM (#29588027)
    He went like so many of the electronic devices we cherish. At the end of the device's life, when the smoke clears, all that's left is a non-functioning box to collect the dust and some damn good memories.

    Well done. My sentiments to those left in the away team. Live long and prosper :)
  • ... which IMHO is about the geekiest funeral there is. (Think "the intent of the pyramids" but with stainless steel dewars and liquid nitrogen condensation fog.)

    They can do what they want with the rest of my body once I'm done with it.

    And who knows - there's some slight chance they WILL figure out how to download the person from a frozen-head-saved-game into a new model body (or fix the cracks in the brain, implant it in a cloned corpus, and restart it) - and somebody will think it's worthwhile to try it w

    • Not everyone can afford to have a proper geek burial

      • by jamstar7 ( 694492 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:55PM (#29588177)
        Personally, I wanna be cremated and stored in a coffee can or something til the first day of spring. Then dig a hole, dump my ashes in it, and plant a tree on top of them in the yard of the house I spent my last days in.

        It's already in my will that way, changed from 'cremate me, mix my ashes with 6 oz of the best weed my estate can score, and smoke me in my fave bar' that I had in it in my 20's. Guess I'm getting old...

      • Not everyone can afford to have a proper geek burial

        It's not all that expensive - especially if you sign up young.

        For instance: ALCOR: You buy an insurance policy to cover the costs of the actual suspension and storage ($800ish/year for me - will depend on how old you are when you sign up) and pay your dues ($400/yr) and standby fee (your share of keeping the ambulance and such ready) ($120/year). $1400ish a year is not chump change. But it doesn't take a millionaire to do it either.

    • You really need to read "Rammer" [fantasticfiction.co.uk] by Larry Niven.

  • by 1 a bee ( 817783 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:45PM (#29588085)

    When we die our remains will be nothing more than a snapshot of the atoms we occupied right before we died. Had we lived a year longer, a good proportion of those atoms would have been replaced with new material we drank, ate and breathed in through the year. It is as if living is a type of standing wave through which matter flows.

    My point? I wouldn't care what happened to my remains. I was a wave, and all that remains of me are ripples left behind in a shared pool of memories.

    • by TheRealMindChild ( 743925 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:05PM (#29588247) Homepage Journal
      Far out man.

    • by pegasustonans ( 589396 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:06PM (#29588263)

      I wouldn't care what happened to my remains. I was a wave, and all that remains of me are ripples left behind in a shared pool of memories.

      Well, in most cases, my opinion is that treating remains in a certain way helps families say goodbye.

      So, of course you don't care what happens to your remains, but it's not *for* you. Whatever ceremony greets your departure from this earth is primarily for your family. So, you should at least care about your funeral for your family's sake. This is the main chance for them to say goodbye.

      • I wouldn't care what happened to my remains. I was a wave, and all that remains of me are ripples left behind in a shared pool of memories.

        Well, in most cases, my opinion is that treating remains in a certain way helps families say goodbye.

        When I go I would prefer not to be used to promote somebodies stupid religion, which is what happened to my wife's father.

        Having endured that funeral I reckon dying in the wild and having your body eaten by animals would be more dignified.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Tynin ( 634655 )
        I suppose that makes me selfish. I've given so much to and for my family, and will continue to do so, I hope they respect my wishes when my time comes. I know I'll be dead, and it won't really matter. However as my last request I would hope that someone would love me enough to send me off the way I want.

        Now as for how I'd like to be sent along... well, I figure I've ate so many animals and destroyed so many tree's and generally caused a hefty footprint on this world. My present thought on burial... (whic
    • Bull. There is only one appropriate way to go, Viking ship funeral pyre.

      • Or to make it more of a /. thing, a pyre with holograms of you and two of your already deceased mentors floating above it.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by lobiusmoop ( 305328 )

      Dude, I read that as:

      and all that remains of me are nipples left behind

      I was left wondering what kind of weird donor card you must be carrying.

      Got to get some sleep...

  • RIP (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cjzlducls ( 1643807 )
  • I am truly sorry for your loss, and I'm glad that you found such a creative way to honor him. I am sure he would be truly pleased.

    As to the assholes who posted below me, SHAME ON YOU! You should be respectful to people in such an important time. Seriously, do you feel that a few good laughs is worth this embarrassment? Grow up.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:48PM (#29588119)

    Would that count as a zombie botnet?



  • Other Geek options (Score:5, Informative)

    by RKThoadan ( 89437 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @09:50PM (#29588137)

    There are several more traditional geek options. You can donate your brain to the Harvard Brain Tissue Resource Center [mclean.org] and get their cool "I'm going to Harvard!" card. Plastination is a pretty interesting option as well. There's also the more generic "donate to science" option, which usually means you get to help train the next doctors going through Gross Anatomy. I have to recommend the book "Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers" for more information. It's really a hilarious read and very educational.

    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by PPH ( 736903 )

      I'm donating my organs. They can give my brain to some motorcycle rider.

    • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @04:13AM (#29590391)

      My great aunt, who was at a certain point the oldest women in the world, was the ueber geek. She decided when she was 85 that her body would go to science. She became 85. Her motivation? The young kids could learn from it and there would be no hassle with funerals for anybody.

      The doctor who examined her made his findings public. Some morons wanted to sue that doctor for privacy invasion or something like that. Those idiots where no family, relatives or whatsoever. Thus they had no idea that my great aunt wanted EVERYBODY to learn from whatever they found.

      So in a sense, she open sourced her remains.

  • by wernst ( 536414 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:01PM (#29588225) Homepage
    I have a small-but-nice vintage arcade game collection in my living room, and it occurred to me a few years back that these old upright cabinets would make for a pretty good coffin, especially my beloved Sinistar [wikipedia.org].

    Then genius struck: remove the monitor (and I guess the boards too - let another collector use 'em), slap my lifeless remains in there so my face is right behind the glass, and BOOM, we have the makings of a great open-casket for what will surely be a somber wake.

    Extra points for the nerdy friend who manages to get the game's synthesized voice to occasionally cry out BEWARE! I live! [whoopis.com].
  • No Subject (Score:2, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Dude, you're getting a Dell!

  • My plan? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Ralph Spoilsport ( 673134 ) on Tuesday September 29, 2009 @10:20PM (#29588405) Journal
    Cremation. Then mix me with concrete and make a large cinder block out of me. While it's wet, scrawl my name and dates on it.

    Last words? Hmmmmmmm....

    Lay low and look nifty.


    Don't be cruel.

    Yeah. An Elvis quote. Just cuz I roll like that.


  • Reminds me of a similar geek funeral.

    Albeit for a dog but...

    http://www.videogameobsession.com/personal/bo_neogeo/index.htm [videogameobsession.com]

    I guess a NeoGeo home cartridge is better than a silly urn. More useful than the fatal fury guts that was in there in the first place.

    (IF it was RB FF, FF2, FF3, RB FF2 or RB Special, sure, blasphemy. But it's FF*1*)

  • Of course there's a Silicon Heaven! Where would all the calculators go?
  • Does he run Linux?

  • As an alternative... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Genda ( 560240 ) <mariet@nOSpAM.got.net> on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @12:16AM (#29589159) Journal

    Powder his ashes into an ultrafine dust, mix with iron pigment, and print ASCII art with him on acid free paper. Once he's done being printed, anyone who loved or respected him could take a piece of him with them, mount, frame, and proudly display in their respective data centers... could a bit basher ask for any possible better fate?

  • by cje ( 33931 ) on Wednesday September 30, 2009 @02:15AM (#29589819) Homepage

    .. but what you did here was really awesome.

    Funerals and memorials should be about celebrating a person's life, not mourning a person's death. It appears that you and your brother both had a whimsical sense of humor, and that you were able to harness that and put together a very unique tribute that captured the essence of what he loved in life. I don't know how or when I'm going to go (nor do I want to) but when that time comes, I'd love to think that my family will be as creative and thoughtful as you were here.

To do two things at once is to do neither. -- Publilius Syrus