|January 6, 2009|
|Facebook Rules Christmas Eve; Vultures Get Ready for Texas Feast|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|The United States is becoming a miserable nation of shut-ins. That could be a logical response to a CNET News report that Facebook enjoyed record traffic on Christmas Eve. |
Forget about caroling in the snow, attending Christmas Eve Mass, opening/wrapping gifts or sharing eggnog with a group of friends, Facebook enjoyed its busiest day ever Dec. 24. This blogger appreciates the community-building nature of social media. My teenage daughters surely spend most of their spare time interacting with friends on social sites. Research shows this electronic outreach actually improves social skills by expanding the loop of friends. Call me old-fashioned, but Christmas Eve should be about real face-to-face vs. Facebook chatter.
And then there is depressing news from the Golden State. The Wall Street Journal today reported that hard-up people are selling their burial plots to raise some cash. Talk about a long-range homeless problem. Baron Chu, who owns Plot Brokers, says business is running nine or ten times better than usual. Desperate sellers are not exactly making a financial killing on the deals. They are getting only a quarter of what they could have received six months ago when the world was worried about whether Olympic Torch runners were going to make it to Beijing, and whether Chinese police goons were going to smash anyone with the courage to protest against the regime. Things were much simpler back then.
One California sad-sack, who was just evicted, got $500 for a plot, a pittance from the $6,800 that the underground space is said to be worth. Things have gotten so bad, people are selling plots that have been in their families for years, which means there will be a bunch of strangers paying their respects on some Christmas Day down the road. Those visits, of course, will follow a festive night of Facebooking.
The WSJ, which is all over the grave beat, also reported that the “natural cemetery” movement has been dealt a sharp blow as a Macon-Bibb County (Georgia) commission killed a plan for a final resting place in Macon for bodies that are neither embalmed nor housed in coffins. It’s right back to Mother Earth for those greenies, old hippies and cheapskates at the 14 au naturel cemetaries in the U.S.
The Georgia site was going to hold 7,500 bodies. Pets were to be welcomed with open arms. Elizabeth Collins, a self-described “renaissance woman” who was defeated by the uptight Macon politicos, said she wanted to get into the natural cemetery biz because she is tired of smarmy funeral parlor owners ripping off people who just lost a loved one. Her hero is Jessica Mitford, author of “The American Way of Death,” which has been banned in funeral homes throughout the U.S.
The WSJ found some good “sort-of grave” news in Texas. A guy in The Lone Star State is raising money for a “tower of silence,” an elevated platform on which bodies -- like those of the Zoroastrian faith -- are left to decompose in the open. That decomposition is aided by cooperative vultures.
George Russell, the genius behind the terrible tower, invited a Zoroastrian priest from Mumbai to survey the site. The priest said local vultures have the same hankering for human flesh as their Indian compatriots do. That’s music to Russell’s ears, but a setback to the National Funeral Directors Assn., whose members are still trying to rebound from missing out on the cremation trend of a generation ago. Russell still hasn’t worked out how to ban ghoulish tourism to the tower. Perhaps, he shouldn’t. Those tours could bring in some needed dollars, and fund an silent tower expansion beyond Texas. Wonder if New York City pigeons like to munch on decaying humans?
Mayor Bloomberg should be all over the tower idea. There is plenty of potential tower space in the Wall Street area these days.
Happy New Year to all! Here’s to everybody holding on to their burial plots in '09.
But if things don’t work out, one can take some solace to know that lower cost burial options are in the works. Is this a great country, or what!
Return to Latest News