X-Message-Number: 255
From att!CompuServe.COM!71450.1773 Fri Nov 30 03:02:36 1990
Return-Path: <att!CompuServe.COM!71450.1773>
Date: 30 Nov 90 00:40:51 EST
From: "Steven B. Harris" <>
To: <>
Subject: Cheap Freeze Proposal
Message-Id: <"901130054050 71450.1773 EHB46-2"@CompuServe.COM>

Re:  CHEAP FREEZE Proposal

   "Just `the power failed at the morgue- whew'" you say. JUST? 
It's not like this happens very often.  How many times do you
recall reading about corpses decaying at somebody's morgue
because someone failed to take care of them?  Never?  Well,
there's a good reason for that:  morgues and morticians know that
if they screw up on taking care of their responsibilities they
are going to be out a lot of money and perhaps out of business. 
Thus, it doesn't happen very often, and if it did, the public
would require even more stringent safeguards than the ones now in

   What safeguards are in place?  Glad you asked.  Mortuaries,
cemeteries, funeral directors and the like are all licenced and
bonded to care for human remains.  The REASON for this is that
the State has a direct interest in not having a lot of decaying
corpses around to clean up.  The RESULT of this is that there is
no such thing as "private" ownership of (uncremated) remains. 
The State requires disposition of all human remains within a
certain time to either a cemetery, crematorium, or research
institution.  Having uncle Charlie out back in a can of liquid
nitrogen is ABSOLUTELY OUT OF THE QUESTION legally.  

   I'm here to tell you that this last is not a small thing
subject to easy change, either.  Even having uncle Charlie at a
cryonics firm was (according to the State of California) illegal
until just last month, when a Superior Court Judge ruled against
the California Health Department, and declared that the Alcor
Life Extension Foundation, a Riverside, California cryonics firm
and laboratory which does extensive research, qualifies as a
"research institution" under the Uniform Anatomical Gift Act. 
The State of California had argued that it was not, and therefore
had no right to store human remains.  That decision cost Alcor
(which was lucky to get it) several hundred thousand dollars in
legal bills, and is even so being appealed by the State.  The
idea that one could somehow get the courts to extend this
reasoning to private individuals (chuckle), or get the legisla-
ture to change the law, for anything less than many millions of
dollars, is a blue-sky pipedream.  Given that the subject of this
exchange is "cheap freeze" I suggest that we not even consider it.

   Yes, there are problems with institutions, but advantages too. 
Cryonics institutions, as "nonprofit" enterprises, are 501C3 tax
exempt, which gives them a big edge in investment.   With an
institution you get some hundreds of people who are absolutely
committed to cryonics to care for you.  With your family you get
a handful of people who probably think you are a nut, or at the
very least, wasting your money (tell us about YOUR family, Rich). 
When you die, that changes to wasting THEIR money.  Good luck.  
Institutions also have an advantage of singleness of purpose
which families rarely possess across the generations.  How many
years does the average marriage last?  Also, do you know any
families that haven't moved for the last century, or if they
have, have carted around with them anything as delicate or
dangerous as a giant dewar full of liquid nitrogen?  What things
do you own that have been in YOUR family for a century or more? 
How big are they?  How durable?  Do you begin to see the problem?

   Finally, a word or two about money.  It's usually a red
herring in that (in my experience) the people who usually raise
the objections about money are those who can afford any cryonics
option they really want; the problem is that they really want
none of them.  Alcor and other cryonics companies have been
criticized for "commingling funds" (as they are compelled to by
law) by Pearson and Shaw, for instance.  Does this mean that
Pearson and Shaw, who can well afford it, have arranged for
cryonic suspension in their back yard, paid for with funds from a
perpetual account in Liechtenstein?  Don't bet on it.  People who
don't WANT to be frozen or don't want to take concrete steps
towards it will find any excuse they need to not to do it, and
the issues of money usually just represents the easiest one.

                                      Steve Harris

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