Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Stiff by Mary Roach

The cover art for this book are feet tagged. I've seen enough Law and Order to know what that means. Side note, I had a friend in high school whose last name was Roach. Now she's married and has a different last name. 

This book is allllll about dead bodies/cadavers. What we do with them and the history of cadavers. I'm not sure if anyone else does this, but since my job is very rough right now, I have been playing this game more and more lately: Alternative careers to teaching. The idea of a mortician definitely entered my mind. I mean, humans have strong ties to funerals and people will always die. People are always going to need morticians and funeral directors. However, there is a website titled "Onet" for students in high school (and anyone really) that shows the skills, interests and outlooks for jobs. Mortician, apparently, and funeral directors, do not have a bright outlook for jobs in the future. That idea is trashed, not to mention that I'm quite sure biology, and lots of it is involved. I have went down the biological science route twice and ran the other way. I have to keep on dreaming... 

However, I remember reading an article about an ecological funeral and how either the ashes or the coffin transforms into a tree. That would be baller--a cemetery forrest. Tiny plaques with the person's name on it and it's a tree. Way better than the cemeteries we have now. 

So, Stiff.  This books makes you think a lot about death, and dying, and whether your body should be donated to science... and how could families just refuse organ donation. I would like to make an obligatory joke here about how one shouldn't donate my pancreas, but that would make any sense. If you're pancreas doesn't work, you just inject insulin. So even my autoimmune disease doesn't even lend itself to a good organ donation joke. 

Roach discusses how much it makes sense that automobile testers would use cadavers to crash test their cars and even an eye opening chapter on experiments of the religious nature on the Shroud of Turin. Say, whaaa? 

Would I purchase this book to read? Probably not. I found this book in the school book closet and I figured, why the heck not? Initially I thought this book is not in my normal repetoire but I have come to think that I just choose weird books to read. This book is also good to read right before going to bed, because I fought to stay awake while reading this book. Dawn by Octavia Butler however.... 

Roach's research takes her to interesting places and that includes cannibalism and the crucifixion. The cannibalism chapter is not what you think; she doesn't dive into Hannibal Lector wannabes. Crucifixion freaks me out, which I correlate directly to evangelical youth groups that not only harped on the idea that JESUS DIED FOR OUR SINS, but to also DESCRIBE AND WATCH THE HORRIBLENESS THAT IS CRUCIFIXION EVERY CHANCE THEY GOT. There is a scene on Vikings where a character is crucified. They even had a first person shot. Wigged. Me. Out. 

Finally, this book also made me super glad to have 21st century medical care. I would not want to be a person who is sick and goes to a doctor who wants to try new surgeries. Geez, anyone could have been a doctor back then. The thought is scary. However, in my game of "Alternative Careers to Teaching and If I lived in another Time Period," I would tots be a body snatcher. Apparently you get paid the big bucks. 

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