(Roughly) Daily

Posts Tagged ‘obituary

“There will be sleeping enough in the grave”*…

After a busy year, morticians let loose at their annual gathering in Nashville…

The theme of the National Funeral Directors Association’s 2021 convention and expo was “Together Again!” That may sound like an oddly upbeat slogan following a global pandemic, but morticians like to party as much as anyone — especially after a big year for business. So this October, roughly 5,000 funeral service providers from around the country descended on Nashville, trading in their mortuary makeup and three-piece suits for cowboy hats and boots.

On a surprisingly chilly morning, I joined them at Music City Center, the city’s sprawling convention facility and, for the next few days, the beating heart of the American funeral industry. The enormous hallways were clogged with reunions, as former students chatted with their mentors, funeral home owners met their favorite vendors in the flesh, and fans introduced themselves to niche podcasters and social media stars. “Funeral directors, we’re not the most popular kids at the party,” Glenda Stansbury, a licensed funeral director and embalmer in Oklahoma, told me, with her signature raspy laugh. But in the riverside city, with its total lack of COVID restrictions, the pandemic’s last responders could finally let loose…

Eleanor Cummins (@elliepses) reports: “‘I feel like a survivor’: Inside the funeral industry’s 2021 national convention,” from @mic.

* Benjamin Franklin, The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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As we undertake to understand undertakers, we might recall that it was on this date in 1896 that the Nobel Prizes were established. In 1888, Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, read his own obituary– entited “The merchant of death is dead”– in a French newspaper. (It was actually meant to be the obit of his brother, Ludvig.) Chastened, Alfred redrew his will with an eye to creating a more positive– and popular– legacy.

On this date in 1896, Nobel actually died. His estate established a series of prizes for those who confer the “greatest benefit on mankind” in physics, chemistry, physiology or medicine, literature, and peace (economics was added later). The first Prizes were awarded in 1901.

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

December 10, 2021 at 1:00 am

“Enter RUMOUR, painted full of tongues”*…

 

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FOIA The Dead is a long-term transparency project that uses the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to request information from the FBI about the recently deceased.

That law requires certain government agencies to produce records upon a request from the public. One significant exception to that requirement is that, to protect the privacy of individuals, federal agencies may not release information about living people. But after their death, their privacy concerns are diminished, and those records can become available.

FOIA The Dead was founded to address that transition. When somebody’s obituary appears in the New York Times, FOIA The Dead sends an automated request to the FBI for their (newly-available) records. In many cases, the FBI responds that it has no files on the individual. But in some cases it does, and can now release those files upon request. When FOIA The Dead receives it, the file gets published for the world to see…

A project of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, written and maintained by Parker Higgins, FOIA the Dead is here.

* Shakespeare (stage direction:  Henry IV, Part 2)

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As we look to our legacies, we might recall that it was on this date in 2010 that the largest hailstone in (recorded) U.S. history fell in Vivian, South Dakota.  Weighing 1 lb 15 oz, it was 8.0 inches in diameter (18.6 inches in circumference. It broke the former U.S. record set on 3 Sep 1970 in Coffeyville, Kansas by a stone weighing 1 lb 11 oz that had a 5.7 inch diameter.

A larger hailstone– 2 lb 4 oz– is said to have fallen in Bangladesh on April 14, 1986 in a hailstorm that killed 92 people.

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The Vivian hailstone

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Written by (Roughly) Daily

July 23, 2018 at 1:01 am

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