X-Message-Number: 31776
From: "sbharris1" <>
References: <>
Subject: Celebs: Too Cool to be Cryo-Preserved
Date: Sun, 28 Jun 2009 21:40:18 -0700

On June 25, 2009, came news that Farrah Fawcett and Michael Jackson were
pronounced dead-- two people so famous that even the news of their passing
threatened to clog the internet.

And also, on the same day, a relatively unknown 82 year-old guy named Curtis
Henderson, who helped to invent the modern practice of cryonics.

Fawcett and Jackson were wealthy, but death is not much of a respecter of
persons, if you don't know how to bribe him in the right way. Michael
Jackson in particular had talked about cryonics, but all he'd done is

Henderson was not rich. But he was cryo-preserved, and Fawcett and Jackson
won't be. The paths of glory lead but the grave, as Thomas Gray said in his
elegy. But sometimes the paths of ordinariness, or at last lack of
notoriety, lead in other odd directions.

In May, 1988, I was involved in cryopreserving an ordinary retired TV
repairman, at Alcor, then in Riverside. While we were preparing to move him
into the dewar for
cooling to -321 C, we heard the news that on the same day, the great science
fiction author Robert Heinlein had died.

We were shocked. Heinlein was one of the great visionaries of the future,
and (by his own estimate, at any rate) one of the brilliant and intelligent
men of the age. A futurist. An engineer. A problem-solver. We'd been trying
to convince him to sign up for years, but it turns out that Mr. Rational
also had a mean superstitious streak, and so did his wife, and they were
afraid that when the "roll is called up-yonder, I *won't* be there."  Maybe
being unable to get out of a capsule. Go figure, but Heinlein's
god-conceptions always had a perverse streak, and that's just the kind of
thing Heinlein's god would have allowed to happen to Heinlein.

By contrast, our modest TV repairman had written no bestselling novels about
the future, and wasn't famous for his brain. He simply figured that the body
was a like a busted TV, and that if technology improved, a saved busted TV
might be repaired and made to work again. Silly man.

But that's how the universe is. It doesn't care about your reputation or
your brainpower, but whether or not you have the right metaphor. In some
cases, if you're famous enough, your society will actually actively prevent
you from being cryopreserved, because they'd rather have you as a memory,
which is not in danger of revision.

When it comes to cryonics, blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the

Steven B. Harris

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