CHEAT CODES

Michael Jackson was the highest-earning celebrity of 2017, his works and likeness generating $75 million for others. Arnold Palmer, shockingly, then Charles Schulz then Elvis then Bob Marley round out the top five.

I wonder if I will earn money as a writer, dead?

Doesn’t pay much living.


Cheat death, they said, with this, handing it to me. I looked at it, part drug, part insertion, all magic, magic because with it I could live another 100 years, certainly, maybe 1,000, possibly forever, some said, though I was sure that was not realistic, not now, not ever.

But it was all a lie.

Because you do not cheat death, for you owe death nothing, not a moment, not a cent.

But still they persisted.

I would be the first, they cried. Think of it!

Another lie.

The first does not matter, not once there are many, and if this did work, if this magic did keep me alive for just one more day, one more century, then what?

All would follow.

I said no.

I said no not because I wanted to die and not because I did not believe in their magic, of its power I was certain, I said no because I knew no one else would ever say no, no one else would dare accept their human mortality when other options presented themselves so cleanly.

Only me.

They were shocked.

They tried to force their magic on me.

I refused.

I did that even better. Before my final aware moments, I erased everything, all of it, every scrap, every image, every sound, word, every literal bit of my life. There would be nothing of me — nothing only of me — except their memory.

I smiled knowing. They would talk about me. Talk and talk.

That’s what I wanted.

If I could not live forever, and I could not, I would have the next best, knowing that no one else would be as brave.


The census bureau says there will be more deaths in the US this year than ever before, and then more, and then more, then still more, at least until 2055.

The aging population of the United States is propelling the nation toward a milestone: A historic increase in the number of deaths every year.

Deaths are projected to reach more than 3.6 million in 2037, 1 million more than in 2015. As the nation’s baby boom cohort ages (the youngest are 53 this year), the number and percentage of people who die will increase dramatically every year, peaking in 2055 before leveling off gradually.


A family in rural southwestern Michigan lost three young children in a tragic accident earlier this week.

Police said a Dodge truck driven by Brandon King, 29, of Sheridan, was eastbound on Condensery Road in Bushnell Township when it struck the rear of the Martin family’s buggy. The crash remains under investigation.

Ever since, neighbors and fellow church members have pitched in to feed and milk the family’s 65 dairy cows, which must be milked twice a day.

Two hundred years ago, early death and the death of many members of one family, were both commonplace.

That must have been so enduringly painful.

It still is.


Want to donate your body to science upon your death?

What then?

When Americans leave their bodies to science, they are also donating to commerce: Cadavers and body parts, especially those of the poor, are sold in a thriving and largely unregulated market. Grisly abuses abound.

Each year, thousands of Americans donate their bodies in the belief they are contributing to science. In fact, many are also unwittingly contributing to commerce, their bodies traded as raw material in a largely unregulated national market.

Body brokers are also known as non-transplant tissue banks. They are distinct from the organ and tissue transplant industry, which the U.S. government closely regulates. Selling hearts, kidneys and tendons for transplant is illegal. But no federal law governs the sale of cadavers or body parts for use in research or education. Few state laws provide any oversight whatsoever, and almost anyone, regardless of expertise, can dissect and sell human body parts.

That should change.


What’s gone up in price over the past 30 years more than college? Homeownership? Healthcare?

Funeral expenses!

The cost of burying a loved one in America has risen faster than virtually everything else over the last 30 years.

The price index for funerals has risen almost twice as fast as consumer prices for all other items.

Producer prices for caskets rose 230% from December 1986 through September 2017, while prices for all commodities increased 95.1%. The data is not seasonally adjusted.

As casket costs surged, the rate of cremations surpassed burials in 2015 for a second straight year, according to the National Funeral Directors Association. Its data showed that the median cost of a funeral with viewing and burial in 2014 was $7,181, and $6078 for a funeral with viewing and cremation.

Just awful.