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Old 04-05-2012, 12:40 AM
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Cremation , Embalming, and even simple Burial are Unethical


Inspired by this thread

So we humans are on top of the food chain. I have no problems with eating other species. I don't see anything unethical about that.

But it occurs to me that if I accept nature and evolution to validate my right to eat other species, then I should allow other species to feed off me when I can no longer defend and preserve my life. To deny the scavengers and bugs to feast on my corpse and complete the circle of life is an afront to ecology.
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Old 04-05-2012, 12:49 AM
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i agree and have been setting up a living will to see to this upon my dispatch.

first, there's a fund set aside for renting portable bleachers to set up in a field i've set to rent on the first monday after my death.

second, i've made all my loved ones sign of on a living estate that has language in the fine print legally binding them to attend the makeshift stadium for said event.

finally, a local wildlife refuge has agreed to rent me his five largest wolves. my lawyer has a pre-written letter set to fire to him the day my death is confirmed (giving him time to be sure the wolves are hungry) along with funds in escrow that will secure the wolf-rentals.

my corpse will be lowered via pulley into the pit in the center of the bleachers and my family and loved ones will watch me be devoured by wolves.
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Old 04-05-2012, 01:01 AM
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My will is like jumpy's but additionally the person giving the eulogy is required to say: "And now we release Bryan's soul to the realm of the damned..... the damned good-looking!"
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Old 04-05-2012, 01:07 AM
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What's wrong with simple burial? Worms and bacteria got to eat, too.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:03 AM
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What's wrong with simple burial? Worms and bacteria got to eat, too.
Exactly. And cremation followed by burial or scattering returns your component parts to the environment as well, either in the form of flue gasses or calcium-rich ash. The main reason embalming is so popular is because it gives the family a few days to organize and gather for the funeral/viewing/wake. Many people aren't embalmed for religious or other reasons, but their loved ones only have a day or two from death to get them in the ground before they start stinking up the joint (Coughlin's Law). If you're cool with that there's nothing in the way of you becoming a worm buffet within a day.

Alternately, it sounds like sky burial would be right up your alley.
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:09 AM
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Technically speaking, the body is going to eventually decompose and get eaten. Embalming it makes the bacteria of today go hungry, but the bacteria of tomorrow turn out just fine. How are earlier bacteria any more deserving than later?
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Old 04-05-2012, 02:09 AM
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Old 04-05-2012, 04:54 AM
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Fire is a completely natural way of recycling.
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:48 AM
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Fire is a completely natural way of recycling.
But it's also a way of releasing sequestrated carbon. Far better to keep a lot of it locked up in other life forms.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:57 AM
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If I sequester any more carbon, my chair will break.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:05 AM
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But it occurs to me that if I accept nature and evolution to validate my right to eat other species, then I should allow other species to feed off me when I can no longer defend and preserve my life.
If that's the reasoning by which you validate your meat-eating, then fine. As others have pointed out though, almost all methods of processing the body will eventually result in the return of materials to the ecosystem.

But I'm not sure that most (or even many) people justify meat-eating in this way.
And of the methods of processing the body I find burial to be the most unethical, at least here in Britain. I don't want my stinky old corpse taking up valuable space which could be used for something.

Last edited by Mijin; 04-05-2012 at 08:07 AM.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:45 AM
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What's wrong with simple burial? Worms and bacteria got to eat, too.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Worms gotta eat, same as vultures. -- Josey Wales
I'll withdraw my objection to burial .

We shouldn't take sides regarding who gets to eat us.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:52 AM
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A few months ago I read about an interesting method of body disposal that is attempting to spread in Europe. First, the body is freeze-dried. Next, vibration or sound waves are used to break the body up. Finally, the remaining material is composted and used to fertilize a memorial tree.
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:18 AM
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We shouldn't take sides regarding who gets to eat us.
Why not?
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:23 AM
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Why not?
+1
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Old 04-05-2012, 09:29 AM
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an afront to ecology.
An affront to ecology? A theoretical concept cannot really be affronted. And you're dead anyway, so why give a damn. In any case you put way too much in the basket of things that need to considered and acted upon in an ethical manner. It must be very difficult to be you, and have to go through life analyzing every little step of the way for whether it is ethical. Let loose a bit, and leave the ethical considerations for the big questions. More to the point is the questions of practicalities. And my guess is that it is probably not very practical to leave the corpses of a million+ city for the ravens and stray dogs to feast on. Would probably end up with a plague on your hands.
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Old 04-05-2012, 03:10 PM
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But it's also a way of releasing sequestrated carbon. Far better to keep a lot of it locked up in other life forms.
Compared with the pollution of an entire life, the effect of burning my dead body is negligible.
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Old 04-05-2012, 04:08 PM
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If I sequester any more carbon, my chair will break.


This is going up on my refrigerator as my new diet slogan!


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Old 04-05-2012, 04:38 PM
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Rotting corpses have this funny habit of, you know, being basically a mini biological weapon, used historically to some great effect I understand. I do like the idea overall, but for this problem. Where are we piling corpses for however long? Do we grind the bones afterward?---
"Bone meal: better than no meal at all." (GWAR song)
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:15 PM
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I'd suggest donating your earthly remains to science, particularly to The Body Farm. That way you're devoured quite naturally, but get to serve an additional purpose.
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:25 PM
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I'd suggest donating your earthly remains to science, particularly to The Body Farm. That way you're devoured quite naturally, but get to serve an additional purpose.
I'm with you. Incidentally, I took an anthropology class (Human Origins) taught by Dr. Bass (The Body Farm's creator) back when I was at UT. He was a brilliant educator, an excellent forensics scientist, and a very funny guy. His class was definitely one of the highlights of my college career.
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Old 04-05-2012, 05:26 PM
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I want to be used to contaminate some jerk's well.
  #23  
Old 04-05-2012, 06:04 PM
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What's wrong with simple burial? Worms and bacteria got to eat, too.
Worms don't eat buried corpses. I'm surprised how often this one gets a pass on the SDMB.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:28 PM
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We shouldn't take sides regarding who gets to eat us.
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Originally Posted by Marley23 View Post
Why not?
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Originally Posted by DearestDane View Post
+1
Withdrawn. Particularly in the case of canibalism.
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Old 04-05-2012, 06:34 PM
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. In any case you put way too much in the basket of things that need to considered and acted upon in an ethical manner. It must be very difficult to be you, and have to go through life analyzing every little step of the way for whether it is ethical. .
Please, what else have I put up for ethical consideration besides the right of other species in general to feast on my corpse? It must be very difficult for you to read.
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:28 PM
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Worms don't eat buried corpses. I'm surprised how often this one gets a pass on the SDMB.
Insect larvae and bacteria got to eat, too.
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Old 04-05-2012, 07:53 PM
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Burial at sea? Hagfish gotta eat, same as crabs.
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Old 04-05-2012, 08:16 PM
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Personally, I think it's more ethical for me to live forever, and thus no one would have to worry about the ethics of disposing of my body.

-XT
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Old 04-06-2012, 07:44 AM
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You could consider converting to Zoroastrianism (see), but they don't accept converts.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:05 AM
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When I'm within a week of dying, I want them to stop feeding Shamu at Sea World. Then once I'm gone, have him do a couple stunts and then feed on my corpse in a crowd-pleasing frenzy.
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Old 04-06-2012, 08:14 AM
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i agree and have been setting up a living will to see to this upon my dispatch.

first, there's a fund set aside for renting portable bleachers to set up in a field i've set to rent on the first monday after my death.

second, i've made all my loved ones sign of on a living estate that has language in the fine print legally binding them to attend the makeshift stadium for said event.

finally, a local wildlife refuge has agreed to rent me his five largest wolves. my lawyer has a pre-written letter set to fire to him the day my death is confirmed (giving him time to be sure the wolves are hungry) along with funds in escrow that will secure the wolf-rentals.

my corpse will be lowered via pulley into the pit in the center of the bleachers and my family and loved ones will watch me be devoured by wolves.
Can we raffle off some tickets? I'd be there in a heartbeat, so to speak.


Quote:
Originally Posted by jjimm View Post
But it's also a way of releasing sequestrated carbon. Far better to keep a lot of it locked up in other life forms.
If we're going to go this way, I'd suggest deep water burial to sequester the carbon for longer. If we dumped the corpse in the right spot, the carbon might stay out of the atmosphere for ages. On the minus side, getting to that spot would require a lot of fuel, so it's gonna be a tough math problem to find the a way to do this.
  #32  
Old 04-06-2012, 10:39 AM
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Even black holes radiate away their mass eventually. As others said, no matter what we do to our dead, they eventually return to the environment.

But I think there's a gap in logic in the OP. Consuming other lifeforms is part of how the ecosystem works, and that we consume just like them doesn't put us on the same level. Afterall, people don't assign the same rights to animals that they assign to humans, and even for the few people that do, they don't apply them to all of them all animals, muchless plants, fungi, bacteria, etc. So I don't think it necessarily follows that because we consume other lifeforms that ethically we must be consumed by them. I think a better case would be made by simply arguing that it is important to return our resources to maintain the biosphere because otherwise we'll eventually run out of the resources we consume.

I'm also not sure what methodology the OP proposes. How does even burial not return us to the ecosystem? Sure, it might take longer than just throwing a corpse in a field to be devoured by scavengers and decompose, but you introduce a hose of other problems that way. How do we rid ourselves of the corpses of the deceased in highly populated areas? Do we just make a huge compost heap of corpses? How do we manage the pests that corpses would attract or the pollution or the diseases or even the smell? In nature, corpses would be spread out where they die so it's not a big deal, but not so much for cities. What about the needs of individuals to grieve or any beliefs or rites they need to perform for their loved ones?

It seems to me that cremation and burial not only return the resources to the environment, but they also manage a host of other problems. The only downside is that it takes a bit longer for those resources to return, but since people are constantly dying, and have been since man started rites of death, they're getting returned at a steady rate already. So that seems like a negligible point.
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Old 04-06-2012, 11:06 AM
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Worms don't eat buried corpses. I'm surprised how often this one gets a pass on the SDMB.
When my Grandmother was buried. they put her casket inside in a sealed metal box. The only thing that would get to eat her would be anaerobic bacteria.

Which seems so much grosser to me than being eaten by worms or scavenging animals.

I think we should do away with caskets and embalming altogether.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:41 PM
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If we're going to go this way, I'd suggest deep water burial to sequester the carbon for longer. If we dumped the corpse in the right spot, the carbon might stay out of the atmosphere for ages. On the minus side, getting to that spot would require a lot of fuel, so it's gonna be a tough math problem to find the a way to do this.
Sailboat. Problem solved.
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Old 04-06-2012, 02:58 PM
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Wooden caskets decompose more gradually and more, less, well, "disgustingly" than any metal safes some people seem to want.

I THINK in some states embalming is required, but I could be wrong. I do believe that caskets are required, for public health reasons. But even with embalming it's not forever, so you're still worm* food anyways.










*Yes, I know we don't get eaten by worms. It's just an expression.
  #36  
Old 04-06-2012, 04:13 PM
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Sailboat. Problem solved.
I vote we christen it the Charon.
  #37  
Old 04-06-2012, 08:28 PM
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If we're going to go this way, I'd suggest deep water burial to sequester the carbon for longer. If we dumped the corpse in the right spot, the carbon might stay out of the atmosphere for ages. On the minus side, getting to that spot would require a lot of fuel, so it's gonna be a tough math problem to find the a way to do this.
Death elevator.

Build a tube that extends from the surface down to some very deep, secluded spot in the sea. Have UPS or FedEx ship the corpses to the coast where they are loaded onto barges which deliver them to the floating 'vestibule'. Say a few rites, tie a rock to the 'participant' and *plop*. A few hours later they come out the other end of the tube at the bottom of the deep blue sea.



And then there is always the Hunter S. Thompson/Timothy Leary method of shooting (some of) your remains into space. Now there is some carbon that isn't coming back!
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Old 04-06-2012, 09:42 PM
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Death elevator.

Build a tube that extends from the surface down to some very deep, secluded spot in the sea. Have UPS or FedEx ship the corpses to the coast where they are loaded onto barges which deliver them to the floating 'vestibule'. Say a few rites, tie a rock to the 'participant' and *plop*.!
Why a tube? Sharks gotta eat too, and since we are over fishing their food resources thus jeopardizing their existence into extinction , we just might be obligated to feed them a bone or two.
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Old 04-07-2012, 04:47 AM
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Why a tube? Sharks gotta eat too, and since we are over fishing their food resources thus jeopardizing their existence into extinction , we just might be obligated to feed them a bone or two.
We're trying to sequester the carbon. The shark eats the corpse and uses the meat for energy, releasing CO2 into the shallow water. We want it to stay in the deep water, where it won't enter the atmosphere for a long time.

Clearly, this is only an intellectual exercise, as there is no obvious way building a death elevator(1) will be a net gain in the carbon cycle.


(1) Incidentally, band name.
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:22 AM
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Now there is some carbon that isn't coming back!
Shame about all the rocket fuel though
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Old 04-07-2012, 07:32 AM
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Couldn't we just take the bodies to the quarry and throw them in?

d&r
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Old 04-07-2012, 11:29 AM
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Inspired by this thread

So we humans are on top of the food chain. I have no problems with eating other species. I don't see anything unethical about that.

But it occurs to me that if I accept nature and evolution to validate my right to eat other species, then I should allow other species to feed off me when I can no longer defend and preserve my life. To deny the scavengers and bugs to feast on my corpse and complete the circle of life is an afront to ecology.
your use of the word "right" makes no sense in the context of an argument. The only way we can survive is to eat other living things. You might as well argue over the right to breath.
  #43  
Old 04-07-2012, 12:35 PM
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The only way we can survive is to eat other living things.
Given the context, it appears the OP was making a naturalistic argument for eating animals - which we explicitly don't need to eat in order to survive.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:24 AM
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Wooden caskets decompose more gradually and more, less, well, "disgustingly" than any metal safes some people seem to want.

I THINK in some states embalming is required, but I could be wrong. I do believe that caskets are required, for public health reasons. But even with embalming it's not forever, so you're still worm* food anyways.
The small town cemetery my grandparents are buried in required a vault, in addition to the casket. It is to prevent the graved caving in as the casket rots away. Personally, I'd rather skip the vault and put that money into a fund that will pay some guy with a shovel to come toss more dirt on top of my grave. Grave diggers have to eat too.
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Old 04-08-2012, 02:49 AM
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The only way we can survive is to eat other living things.
I'm not sure if that's technically true. It might, however, take a significant amount of effort to replicate all of the molecules that we require as nourishment, artificially, from inorganic compounds.
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:14 AM
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Worms gotta eat, same as vultures. -- Josey Wales
Ahem. Your version lacks the poetry of the original.

"Buzzards gotta eat, same as worms."

Cite - http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0075029/quotes
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Old 04-12-2012, 03:49 PM
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Combine some of the most promisng suggestons: Viking burial. Sailboat with corpse, set afloat, start on fire. Ok, it's not carbon-neutral, but it's got style.

Last edited by Toxgoddess; 04-12-2012 at 03:50 PM.
  #48  
Old 04-21-2012, 11:18 AM
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With today's mandatory burial vaults and the popularization of sealed metal coffins, it's going to be a VERY long time before any worms get to nosh on your remains.

I figure cremation at least would make me take up less real estate, leaving more land to be left for the antelope (etc.) to roam.
  #49  
Old 04-21-2012, 11:28 AM
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I think the better question is whether or not a human has the right to tie up a 6' x 4' plot of ground for eternity?
  #50  
Old 04-21-2012, 01:42 PM
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I think the better question is whether or not a human has the right to tie up a 6' x 4' plot of ground for eternity?
I thought I read somewhere (here?) that in some countries, you DON'T get it for eternity - but for 40 years or so, then your heirs have to move you, or pay more money, or something.
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