Disposal Economics


When Public Executions
Were the Crowd’s Delight

Immortality is one of those dreams that would turn into a nightmare if it’d ever become reality. Even without the proverbial zombies roaming the earth, we still need desperately to die on a regular basis.
Not pretty, for sure, but a vow of support to all blessed forms of natural death, the economics of crime and punishment, and the ecology of making sure we dispose properly of the bodies of those who passed on.
According to the Annals of Improbable Research, modern forms of execution went through considerable changes until reaching the efficiency and swiftness of contemporary death rows. Or so that was the plan. Such evolution also reflects changes in our footprint on the planet.
Thus, if ancient Hebrews, living in barren lands, executed people by stoning, Arabs in nearby deserts used a sword to decapitate them. Impaling was an ancient and popular method, and the Romanian Prince Vlad III, likely to have inspired the myth of the Dracula, was an avid adopter. Turks preferred metal spears, but in most of Asia and the Tropics, bamboo was the preferred method to exact justice. To each its own horror theater.

DEATH METHODS & CROWD FAVORITES
Arguably, few could beat crucifixion as a public spectacle, though. It was the Roman way, and Jesus, its cèlebre poster boy. It even had an opening act where the condemned had to drag his own wooden crossbar to the site of the execution to the crowds’ delight. Romans could be cruel but not free of ecological concerns, though.
They saw how wasteful the method was – not of blood and guts, which there were plenty to go around – but of trees. And soon, an alternative was devised. They’d bend and tie with ropes two trees, and have the arms and legs of the doomed attached on each of them. Then the ropes would be cut, for a clean, quick end, with no waste of timber.
In Medieval Europe, the auto-de-fé, i.e., to burn alive at the stake, was the sanctioned method of execution. It killed Joana D’Arca and countless others, accused of heresy, witchcraft, and other peccadillos.

HEADS ROLLED, FIRING SQUADS SHOT
In the 18th century, a new method made people literally lose their heads over it, and became forever associated with the French Revolution: the guillotine. It replaced the sword executioner and it killed thousands but it could not slay two popular beliefs: it was not invented by Joseph Guillotin and it did not kill him either.
It never caught on in North America, where hanging was the preferred way. Still, forest depletion was a constant concern, so with the Civil War, death by firing squad was a more economical alternative.
With the added convenience of serving to execute more than one person at a time. As we mentioned before, (more)
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Read Also:
* Last Call
* Last Supper
* Out to Get You

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Dead Can Dance

The Hotel for the Departed, a City of
Mausoleums & a Coffin-Making Class

In the age of transcontinental traveling, it’s not easy to be buried in your hometown. Unless you choose to live where you plan to die.
But for your grieving loved ones, nothing like a hotel to send you off in style. Better yet, why not learn how to build your own coffin?
Of course, there’s nothing new under the sun. In fact, we bet that our earliest ancestors had similar concerns, and thousands of years after, we still anguish over what to do with the deceased.
This week’s scenes of staged grief by professional North Korean criers notwithstanding, we tend to mourn those who go before us in ways we wouldn’t find out of place, if it were our own time to go.
We build crypts, we enact rituals and we find ways to memorialize the lives that were, so to transcend the simple natural fact that once we’re born, we’re ever closer to that final moment.
So now that we creeped you out, let’s visit an old mountaintop, in Continue reading

Disposal Economics

Ecology of Death Penalty or
Being Buried in a Watery Grave

Immortality is one of those dreams that would turn into a nightmare if it’d ever become reality. Even without the proverbial zombies roaming the earth, we still need desperately to die on a regular basis.
Not a pretty picture, to be sure, but a point of support to all blessed forms of natural death, the economics of crime and punishment, and the ecology of making sure we dispose properly the bodies of those who passed away.
According to the Annals of Improbably Research, modern forms of execution went through considerable changes until reaching Continue reading

Ashes & Dirt

Think Life Is Getting Hard?
Just Wait Till You Cross Over

Death is a booming business, as my great-grandpa said before joining the rank-and-file for good. Or so whoever came up with the expression liked to proclaim. Unfortunately, such person too met an untimely end and we’re left to fend for ourselves.
That’s because we are running out of room to drop dead. New York has already sounded the alert and started enforcing an old provision of the law: no person may be buried in pet cemeteries. Yes, folks, that’s how low we’ve got.
It turned out that some pet owners had already made arrangements to rest for eternity next to their most beloved companions, some of them still fetching balls in apartments and parks throughout this great state of ours.
No longer, said Albany. Behind its decision, there’s the not so playful reality that both people and pet populations are growing faster than Continue reading