Another place to go when you’re gone

May 22, 2019

While our species has never lacked for places they imagine themselves after life (1), these days the options for where one physically goes when they have shuffled off the mortal coil boil down to roughly “buried” or “burned” (2). Thanks to the collective efforts of The Urban Death Project (now “Recompose”), lawmakers in Washington, and quite a few more, we now have a new way to be disposed of legally: “recomposition”. 

Death by a thousand clicks? Death to a thousand clicks!

April 5, 2019

The internet has not made everything better. While not a controversial opinion, it tends to bin one in with the Luddites and seems to keep the technocrats (those most needing to hear it) from hearing it. Very rarely in life is an app the answer. Rarely is it even an answer. Digitization does not mean progress. More data does not equal more better.

C. C. Little and the American Eugenics Society

March 21, 2019

Across the street from the Lurie Biomedical Engineering building (which houses my academic Department) is the Bentley Historical Library. Within its hallowed walls (or nearby) are lots and lots and lots of University archives. Included in those archives are Clarence Cook Little’s (“C. C. Little’s”) correspondence. By dipping our toe into that correspondence, we can see some of the passions and pursuits that occupied the mind of the man at the top (he was the 6th President of the University of Michigan, from 1925-1929).

A tragedy in Guatemala

February 16, 2019

Considering but one of the outcomes of a fire at a government-run group home for at-risk teenagers which killed 41 girls behind locked doors outside of which police stood, the survival of fifteen girls, we must face the true horror of some of the gods’ earthily experiments. Prior to their “place[ment] there for their own protection”, the girls were already “survivors of sexual abuse, violence or abandonment — often at the hands of their own families”. Prior to their housemates’ deaths, several had reached out to others to report abuse including but not limited to preventable health-related complications, rape, and “taking a few of the girls out at midnight, bathing them and dressing them and forcing them to sleep with strangers”. As a consequence of an en masse escape attempt by one hundred youth at the facility and after hours of girls being incarcerated in a small room without access to a bathroom, “someone lit a match, thinking a fire might force the police to let them out.” The key hung from the belt of a police supervisor ten feet from doors it could unlock. Surviving it all thus far, one girl whose eyelids, lips, and nose were burned off in the fire is said to hardly go out anymore “to avoid the stares and teasing from other children.”

What you might not otherwise be told today

December 7, 2018

Of the now 471 confirmed cases of Ebola in the war torn Democratic Republic of Congo, 27 have been children under the age of one. Of those only half a dozen are still alive. Nine were less than one month old. It is thought that children under the age of 14 (fully one-quarter of the infected population) were possibly infected in clinics when being brought in for malaria treatment.

Death be not proud

Novemberish, 2018

…The surgery is performed and after four hours in recovery, Annie wakes up. She coughs up some blood. A nurse says that this is normal. Her surgeon has written in her medical record that her carotid artery is abnormally close to the pharynx, increasing the risk of hemorrhage. The next day, Annie continues to cough up blood so severely that her oxygen saturation level falls to dangerous levels. Complications ensue, and though at the time you are told your daughter’s condition has “stabilized,” a day later she is on a ventilator. Two days after that, she is declared brain dead…

Chromosome testing

October 28, 2018

In 1968 the International Olympic Committee introduced chromosome testing to its Summer Olympics. It tested for the Y-chromosome to suss out “males” from “females”. Some, rightly, found it humiliating.1 

How ephemeral even recent history is

October 25, 2018

I was researching countries’ contemporary practices of corporeal punishment, when I came across the following reference

The reference used for this fact, the single execution for espionage in China from the Death Penalty Database. The link used, however, is dead. 

A historical moment, soon to be footnote, to notice

October 15, 2018

As the aspirations of those politically inclined once again seek to ride emergent currents of popular thought to positions of power, let us for a moment, take a look at a single parenthetical sentence in a single obscure document in a single side story to several larger dramas of culture, climate, politics, gender, privilege, heritage, ancestry, and identity. Let us consider the following.

Medical device history right before our eyes

September 24, 2018

A constant refrain in my classes is the fact that much of the history we are living through goes unwritten. That though it is important and significant and causal and the thing to which we will one day refer, the actual happenings of history often go unremarked upon. And I think there’s something to be said about that.

Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3, Item 7 

September 7, 2018

As no doubt countless people who visit this website know, the last three sentences of the 2018 National Football League Rulebook Rule 5, Section 4, Article 3, Item 7 read as follows