Thursday, July 10, 2003

Virtual Book Tour: Sites for Sore Eyes II

This is hard for me, because what I really want to be doing this morning is reading Autopsy Report. The hardest thing about writing Stiff was the constant distractions in the form of peculiar and wonderful Web sites I came across. Here are some of them. Now you, too, can become distracted and nonproductive.

The Web archive of Frederick T. Zugibe's Pierre Barbet Revisited offers photographic proof that the cadaver hoisted upon a homemade cross in Dr. Barbet's lab in 1931 does indeed, as I say in the book, look like Spalding Gray. Barbet was attempting to use his anatomical savvy to prove the authenticity of the blood stains on the Shroud of Turin. The site contains a paper by medical examiner and contemporary Shroud researcher Frederick Zugibe, refuting Barbet's theory. Zugibe puts volunteers up on a cross of his own (using straps, not nails), which is housed in his garage in upstate New York.

This document is the official report of the Medical/Forensic Group that examined the bodies of the victims of TWA Flight 800. To solve the mystery of why the plane went down (missile? bomb?), the government brought in injury analyst Dennis Shanahan, who makes his living examining the bodies of crash victims to try to figure out what happened during a crash and why. The cadavers, contrary to the conspiracy theorists, say a fuel tank exploded. Warning: The report is quite detailed ("Code Red = loss of 3 or more extremities or complete transection of body" etc.).

Then there's the official Web site of the Swedish human composting movement, which I talk about in chapter 11 of Stiff. Human remains -- but not cremains -- make excellent fertilizer. The plants to be fertilized would be memorial trees or shrubs, not pole beans or a crop of corn. The movement's founder has the King of Sweden and the Church of Sweden on board. Rest in pieces.

That's it for now. More soon.

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