LONGEVITY REPORT 77
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Tributes to Mae A Ettinger various authors
Sound Bites Robert Ettinger
Expert Opinion Robert Ettinger
As others see us Martin Grampound
Did Heart Disease Exist In The Good Old Days Doug Skrecky, Thomas Donaldson and Mike Darwin
Cryonics in the Russian mass-media Mikhail Soloviev
Project "Latmos" Mikhail Soloviev
Risks and Life Insurance Mike Darwin
Volume 13 no 77. First published May 2000. ISSN 0964-5659.
Mae A Ettinger, wife of Robert Ettinger, the founder of the cryonics movement, died on March 18 after a heart attack and stroke. I never met her, but knew her by correspondence first as Mae Junod, editor of The Immortalist which publishes my column Comments from Cornwall. Her editing was sometimes necessary, especially in the early editions where my views were as outlandish to the cryonics movement as that movement is to the rest of the world. Fortunately she persisted in allowing most of the column to proceed to print and guided it to the form it has today. My wife met her as Mae Ettinger at their home in Phoenix, as described in Longevity Report 66, July 1998.
The following was written on the inside back cover of her book Self Actualisation for Women (Impact Press, 1981, written as Mae Junod):
Ms. Junod is an inspiring example of a self-made woman. From a standing start: poor, middle aged, alone (divorced), stereotypically feminine, she made a place for herself in the professional world. She earned a Bachelor's Degree from Wayne State University; then went on to acquire two Master's Degrees while working as a teacher, first in the classroom, then as a librarian, in the Detroit School System. She is now (ie 1981) Head Librarian at a suburban high school in the Detroit Metropolitan Area.
How sorry I was to know that Mae has had to make her journey to Michigan. I have such good memories of the time I was able to shared with her and Bob. Getting to know them both has been a pleasure and privilege and meant a lot to me. Mae was a lovely lady and showed me such kindness and friendliness when we met.
I'm sure we can all share Bob's sense of loss. I hope it will help to know his friends and admirers are thinking of him. I am certain that everyone will want to offer support in whatever way we can.
I look forward to us all meeting again, someday in the future.
Chrissie de Rivaz. (Also known as Chrissie Loveday)
The following article by Mike Perry appeared in The Venturist 1st Quarter 2000 and is reproduced by permission:
The wife of cryonics founder Robert Ettinger and a longtime cryonics activist herself, Mae fell victim to a heart attack and stroke Mar. 18 and was promptly frozen by Cryonics Institute. She will be missed by those of us like myself who remember the Ettingers' warm hospitality over the years, as well as for the direct contributions she made to cryonics. Some information on her long and productive career comes from an interview of Nov. 27, 1987, when she was Mae Junod (Venturist Voice Fall 1987). Other information comes from scattered sources, including CryoNet, old newsletters (especially The Immortalist) and personal knowledge.
Born June 18, 1914 in Michigan, she lived in that state until moving to California at age 14, staying long enough there to reach adulthood and attend college for one year. She then returned to Michigan where she got married and raised her children, two daughters. Early occupations involved office work, including operating a comptometer --a calculator and forerunner of the computer. When her children got older she returned to school and earned two master's degrees, the first in English liberal arts, the second in library science, and worked as a librarian and a teacher. Then, retiring from teaching but finding life boring, she obtained a third master's degree, this time in counseling, and received a limited license as a psychologist. All her degrees were from Wayne State University in Highland Park, Michigan, where one of her instructors was Robert Ettinger.
Bob's field was physical science and, she recalled, when she first returned to school after raising her family, around 1960 or '61, Bob taught the first class of the day on her schedule. Besides teaching and the more usual preoccupations he had another, very passionate interest, involving the idea of freezing the newly deceased for a hopeful, eventual reanimation: what would later become known as cryonics. At some point he communicated the idea; in the interview she said, "I think there was a fair, automobile show, or something like that, and he had a booth there, on cryonics. I helped in the booth and my daughters helped."
This was before The Prospect of Immortality, Bob's famous book on the freezing idea, was completed. But as that time drew near, Mae found herself strapped for cash, "and he paid me to type his manuscript for him." On Jun. 5, 1964 The Prospect of Immortality was published by Doubleday, and the freezing idea soon had gained wide exposure.
Mae remained in Michigan and became a workhorse for the cryonics movement there. The Cryonics Society of Michigan (CSM), started in the mid-1960s, was patterned after the Cryonics Society of New York headed by Curtis Henderson, the first organization to publicly offer cryonic suspension. CSM eventually developed into Cryonics Institute (CI), which handles actual cryonic suspensions for members worldwide, and the Immortalist Society (IS, formerly Cryonics Association or CA) a sister organization involved in promotional work, including publishing a newsletter.
For a quarter-century with a few brief intermissions Mae edited this newsletter, which has been published under three titles during its long and eventful history. Starting in Jan. 1970 as Cryonics Society of Michigan Newsletter the title of the then-monthly publication was changed to The Outlook after only one more issue. There it remained until the present title, The Immortalist, was adopted in Mar. 1976. The Immortalist remained a monthly until finally going bimonthly with the May/June 1996 issue. Mae finally retired as editor (and more generally) at the end of 1996, at the age of 82. Her long editorial tenure is surely unique in the cryonics field (or perhaps is matched only by the considerable efforts over the years of her husband, whose writing is found throughout the newsletter). It is all the more remarkable because, as far as I know, it was all volunteer work, done not at all for salary but only from pure motives of dedication to a cause.
Bob and Mae were married in August 1988, following the suspension, the preceding November, of Elaine, Bob's wife of many years. They lived in Oak Park, Michigan until moving to Scottsdale, Arizona in October 1995. On the occasion of her retirement from editing in December 1996 Mae offered some remarks that seem appropriate now.
"In closing I want to thank the many contributors to the pages of The Immortalist, and too the loyal members of IS who have expressed so much appreciation to Robert and me for our efforts. We are still with you in spirit."
Robert (Bob), now 81, continues his active work in cryonics, including contributing to The Immortalist. In announcing the suspension over CryoNet recently he said, "She was a good woman, a good wife, and a good friend. I miss her terribly, but retain hope for all our present and future patients." He also extends thanks "to the kind friends who have given their support and their condolences."
Credit: quote from Mae on retirement is from The Immortalist Nov.-Dec. 1996 p. 2.
What follows are messages received on the Cryonet email list, reproduced here by permission of their authors. Many private emails were also sent to Robert Ettinger.
Message #13418 From: Robert Ettinger, Date: Thu, 23 Mar 2000
My wife, Mae A. Ettinger, died on March 18 after a heart attack and stroke. She died at home under hospice care. In attendance were her daughter Bonnie, my son David, and myself, assisted by hospice personnel.
The delay between clinical death and initiation of our procedures was not more than a minute or two. Washout and perfusion were done by a local mortuary that had had previous training and experience - two training sessions plus one previous actual patient. She is now one of our patients at our Michigan facility.
Further details will appear in The Immortalist and on our web site.
She was a good woman, a good wife, and a good friend. I miss her terribly, but retain hope for all our present and future patients.
Thanks to the kind friends who have given their support and their condolences.
Robert Ettinger, Cryonics Institute,Immortalist Society,
Message #13424 From: Mike Perry
My condolences to Bob Ettinger over the "passing" of his wife, Mae, with the hope we share as cryonicists, that it will not be permanent.
Message #13419 From: john grigg
I just want to publicly offer my condolences to you after the loss of Mae. This must be a very hard time and my heart goes out to you. I remember reading the account of a foreign visitor to your facility who was very touched by the reception he received at the hands of your wife. She went out of her way to help him anyway she could.
I am very glad to hear that the suspension procedure was done in a timely and effective manner. In time I suppose I will hear of your passing and how you too were suspended. Then it will be the two of you embarking on this gamble, this great adventure known as cryonics. You will then be the first person I have ever known(though only by email) to have been suspended.
I wish to express my sadness and also my hope that Mae will be among us again someday. Now you take good care of yourself.
sincerely, John Grigg
Message #13428 From: David S Greenstein
Dear Dr. Ettinger,
Although I have never met you or Mae in person, you have both been very special people to me. I am very sorry to hear of the loss of Mae. Even as we all hope that it is only temporary, it must be difficult to be without her after all the years together.
I hope that you can find strength and hope from all the friends that you have as well as from the conviction that we share that Cryonics may really work some day. I look forward to meeting her some beautiful day in the future.
Message #13429 From: Peter Christiansen
I never actually met Mae Ettinger but I corresponded with her many times over many years and feel I have lost a dear friend. We can console ourselves with the knowledge that our loss, though great, will be but brief and temporary.
She accomplished much in her first life and against great odds, and she did a super job as editor of The Immortalist.
Message #13434 From: gary tripp
I extend my heart felt condolences over your wife's departure. We hope that this is only a temporary situation. On such occasions as this our appreciation of all your efforts in cryonics is greatly magnified for, as the founder of cryonics, you have given all us hope.
Message #13438 From: Yvan Bozzonetti.
After some days off line, I find that sad information. First, all my condolences to Robert Ettinger and Mae's family. I live 6000 mil. away and have never meet Robert or Mae, so at first I am not concerned. On the other hand, there are so few people interested in cryonics that any death in that small group is a loss for everyone.
We can hope this is only temporary, because Cryonet messages are archived, may be some day Mae will see that one and many other. May be we will be then near to meet more directly... Any religion would promise that, the difference is in what we do. We know that will not happen if we do nothing, may be we will not complete the trip ourselves, but at least we must start with the first steps. Present day cryonics is the very first step, now I think we must start to work on "how to get back"... Simpler said that done, I know.
Reversible cryopreservation is a solution for future users but what about current cryopreserved patients? Nanotech, sorry to said that, seems more as a religious faith than anything else. May be it will work someday, but there must be more "down to Earth" solutions. I hope to write more on that, but it is not really the good time.
Message #13441 From: Rudi Hoffman
Dear Mr. Ettinger,
Having also been offline for a while, I was saddened by the news of your partner "dying".
I join my voice with the others who have expressed here their sympathy and support.
More to the point, I also join in the sentiments expressed that reanimation with a reasonable sense of self intact is a realistic and scientific possibility.
While you remain controversial, you are the undisputed founder of the cryonics movement. We all must be indebted to you and Mae for all you have done and continue to do to support the preservation of individual lives.
May we all scientifically and rationally believe that Mae will be one of these individuals.
Warmly, Rudi Hoffman, Daytona, FL
Message #13443 From: Raphael T. Haftka
I had the privilege of meeting Mae Ettinger on a couple of visits to Detroit, and I am looking forward to meeting her again when we are all reanimated. I offer my condolences to Robert Ettinger. I am sure that getting along without her will be sad and difficult. However, your untiring work for the advancement of cryonics may hasten the day of successful reanimation.
Sincerely, Raphael (Rafi)
Message #13448 From: Scott Badger
I also want to extend my condolences to Robert and all those who loved Mae Ettinger.
So often, the threads of discussion on this list are very abstract. Mae's deanimation brings concrete reality crashing back in on all of us. Death is always waiting. Thank goodness she received a timely suspension. I hope this sad event serves to re-energize each individual's determination to make successful reanimation a reality. What is more precious than a human life? What other goal in human history has been as glorious as ours? What a debt of gratitude we owe Robert and Mae for their pioneering efforts. I regret never having met Mae Ettinger, but I look forward to the day when we do meet. It will give me the chance to thank her from the bottom of my heart for her contributions to Cryonics.
If you are not signed up yet, do it now.
My slogan is: "Cryonics .. The alternative is unacceptable."
Best wishes. Scott Badger
by Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute, Immortalist Society http://www.cryonics.org Ettinger@aol.com
The interminable strategy discussions-including optimism vs. pessimism, research vs. recruitment, psychology of public relations, etc.--often hold (usually recycled) germs of truth, but also often obscure more than they reveal. In particular, they often push a single viewpoint as "the" key to life.
Psychology is not yet an exact science, and nobody is consistently good at creating or predicting markets. If you could do that, you would be a trillionaire before Bill Gates. Nobody even knows (consistently) which books will sell, or which actors will succeed, or which fashions will flourish.
We all know the chestnut that a butterfly, flapping its wings in Zimbabwe, might cause a hurricane in Vietnam. I don't believe that, but I do know that a simple rumour, or a remark of an often-wrong "analyst," can send a stock price, or a whole sector, or even the major indices on a wild round trip in a single day, even though nothing at all of real economic consequence has happened. And this in the face of the fact (or maybe because of the fact) that large numbers of extremely smart people are trying to impose order and behave rationally.
Does all this mean that strategizing is hopeless? Of course not. But it means you have to pay attention to details and at the same time keep the big picture in view.
In the markets, and in most areas of life, there are many approaches. Most of them succeed--sometimes. Most of them fail--sometimes. If YOU want to succeed, you must choose not the "best" strategy, but the best one that you are capable of implementing. Additionally, of course, you must gamble on guessing your capabilities correctly.
At the same time, some will succeed through no merit, just luck. (If we of this generation make it, it will just be the luck of being born not quite too late, Omega Point aside.) Some will fail despite merit, or through having not quite the right kind of merit. But we can say some relevant things with considerable confidence: ----- If you don't try, you are less likely to succeed.
If you are pessimistic, you are less likely to try.
If you are buried, you are less likely to survive.
It usually helps to have more friends and fewer antagonists.
For the optimists to be right, only one approach need work. For the pessimists to be right, every approach must fail.
In the sweep of history, the can-do surprises have overwhelmed the can't-do surprises.
The universe has neither malice nor mercy; a miss is as good as a mile; one day too late and you could be gone forever.
by Robert Ettinger
Cryonics Institute, Immortalist Society, http://www.cryonics.org Ettinger@aol.com
We keep hearing that we should pay attention to the gloomsters who understand the details-the nature and degree of freezing and other damage to cryonics patients, and the obstacles to repairing that damage.
Pay attention, yes. But accept their conclusions? Once more-enough is never enough in this area-we remind all concerned about the frequent failures of the best and brightest in their deprecatory roles. (Borrowed from Michael Murphy.)
In 1943 someone said, "I think there is a world market for maybe five computers." Guess who it was? Some ignoramus? It was Thomas Watson, Chairman of IBM.
In 1949 someone said, "We have reached the limits of what is possible with computers." Guess who? John von Neumann, one of the greatest mathematicians of the century.
In 1981 someone said, "640,000 bytes of memory ought to be enough for anybody." Guess who. Bill Gates, no less.
Don't let any majority vote you into the grave. And if any "experts" avow as how freezing is a waste of money and effort, get another opinion. Yours.
As others see us
New Hope International Review - http ://www.nhi.clara.net/online.htm
NHI Review, 20 Werneth Avenue, Gee Cross, Hyde, Cheshire SK14 5NL
Longevity Report #75
Michael Darwin's opening piece in this issue has to be read in the context of an email debate. The gist seems to be that, given the stance that humans, like wolfs, are pack animals, then, for an outsider, their only chance, once they become older and wiser, is to aim, not for acceptance or fame, but Power
Chrissie Loveday in an article about image writes "Maybe I'm getting to the age when peculiarities are considered to be mild eccentricities." ... and good for her, I say.
The editor comments on reviews here, that we reviewers can be misled when we've only read a single issue. Hence I won't comment on the more technical articles in this journal. One that does need following up is a piece about the possible harmful effects of soy products, the staple alternative to meat for vegetarians. Maybe you can't win whatever you do!
reviewer: Martin Grampound.
Did Heart Disease Exist
In The Good Old Days?
It is often believed that many of the dread diseases that people suffer with today are sometimes some from of punishment for the way we live, whether from God or the natural order of things. (is there a difference?) This discussion which originally appeared on Cryonet produced some useful and interesting ideas.
From: Doug Skrecky
You may suspect that cardiovascular disease is a modern phenomena. If that is the case, I would like to confirm that your suspicion is probably correct. The most primitive peoples appear to have a zero incidence of both ischemic heart disease, and stroke. I'm currently researching up this interesting fact, and will report on it further. Sugar is not the villain, but it is not entirely clear what is. The case for the usual suspects (like animal fat) is surprisingly weak, but several overlooked micronutrients look like they may be able to explain the lack of cardiovascular disease in primitives.
From: Thomas Donaldson
One reason so few people died of heart disease:
About the lack of heart disease in primitive peoples: it is important here to look at the ages at which they died, and their reasons for death.
It is only quite recently that most people started living to ages more than 50 or so. Yes, a few people did live for much longer, but they hardly made any effect on either the population or the statistics of that population.
Basically I strongly suspect that Skrecky will find out a very simple reason why heart disease has not been prominent among primitive peoples: they all died some time before they could normally develop heart disease in the first place. It's important, in any case, that if we go around looking at the reasons for death of people (say) 100 or 200 years ago, we also look at their AGES of death --- normally much less than the ages we see people dying now.
From: Doug Skrecky
I considered the possibility of primitive people dying earlier than they could be expected to get heart disease, and rejected it. Today's primitive people do have shorter average lifespans, but some still do live beyond 90 years of age. Cardiovascular disease risk either remains at zero or is very rare at all ages.
From Thomas Donaldson
I note Doug Skrecky's answer to my comment.
One major reason that primitive peoples living today do not match those living (say) 200 years ago is that even primitive peoples now often receive some medical attention. When I spent 3 months in New Guinea it was very clear that the people got some actual help from doctors: someone would come by about once per month.
The only way we can guess what happened to people more than 100 years ago is to look at historical data. In this case the data is pretty strong: death at much younger ages than occurs now, with various bacterial diseases forming the most prominent form of death.
I also note that Skrecky admits that these people died earlier. At this point it would help if he would give some figures. It is the figures, here, that become most pertinent. I have no problems believing that a very small minority of people might live to age 60 200 years ago. The real issue is whether their number was great enough to mean anything to the figures for the population at large.
From: M G Darwin
Thomas Donaldson argues that most primitive peoples do not live long enough to develop atherosclerosis and Doug rebuts him.
Well, regardless of whether I wanted to or not, I've become an expert on the subject. (If you define expert as being invited to speak all around the world at legitimate medical conferences to intensivists(?? intensivists are physicians who specialize in intensive care medicine and are typically Board Certified in this specialty which is relative new in medicine: ~15 years), anaesthesiologists and cardiologists...)
The simplest answer is that the process is mulifactorial and NOT uniform. In even the highest risk populations there are subsets of people with very high HDL/LDL levels who age blissfully into their 90's (or die of something else first) and do not have a trace of atheroma. Apropos of centenarians, I've seen a couple of their autopsies and their aortas, even at the areas of maximal turbulence (= mamimal inimal(the intima is the lining of arteries??) injury = most likely site for atheromas) are clean, as are their carotids and smaller caliber vessels.
Animal fat (saturated fat) DOES play a very significant role in atherosclerosis. The open question is to what extent oxidized versus unoxidized fats contribute, as well as co-factors.
As to ancient cultures not having atherosclerosis this is not correct. A few months ago I spent quite some time face to face with Ramses II, the Egyptian Pharaoh whose massive egocentric building campaign lead Percy Bysse Shelley to write his famous poem King Ozymandias (the ~36 meter high solid-block pink granite colossus of Ramses at the Ramasseum which was Shelley's specific inspiration was toppled in the great earthquake of 27 BCE).
What was interesting was to look at the radiographs of his entire body; he died somewhere between his mid 80's and late 90's: probably from sepsis secondary to a dental abscess that perforated his braincase. So extensive is his atherosclerotic disease that his entire coronary tree is visible as a calcified artifact. Ditto his femoral vessels! I could even clearly delineate his popliteal(the popliteal arteries branch off the femoral and supply the lower legs and feet with blood??) arteries bilaterally. His descending aorta looks like a section of clay pipe. Both carotids and their external branches are also visible due to calcification.
Sugar cane is a major internal crop in Egypt today; it was introduced about 25 years ago. The only source of "sugar" Ramses and his similarly atherosclerotic cohorts had was honey (mostly fructose) and fermented sugar residues in wine. What they *did* have in abundance was meat, lots of surplus calories, and probably rancid polyunsaturates in their diets. Not to mention a sedentary lifestyle.
Atherosclerosis is observed frequently in primitive populations such as those at the Bahariya Oasis. Of the thousands of well preserved Graeco-Roman mummies there, only 105 have been examined so far (the archeologists are doing it VERY carefully and very thoughtfully). The community of 30,000 or so people at Bahariya had periods of severe malnutrition as indicated by interruption in bone growth, so a constant surfeit of calories was not their lot. They were agricultural people who lived largely in peace near the end of the Roman empire. They have a ratio of atherosclerosis in the population that survived past age 50 of about 45%. This is very close to what it is in developed Western countries today.
It should also be noted that the Chinese noblewoman Madame Li, preserved so well for nearly 2 thousand years in a mercurial liquid *died* of an acute MI following a meal during which she consumed watermelon (some very well preserved watermelon seeds were recovered from her stomach contents). There was no refined sugar around in any of these places.
Similarly, some native subsaharan hunter-gatherer populations also develop atherosclerosis, albeit at a much decreased rate from that of affluent nations.
So, what is the cause? The short answer is that we don't fully know. Deaths from atherosclerotic disease began to decline sharply in the United States well before dietary changes to reduce fat intake or public education campaigns began. In fact, the best correlate is the introduction of the synthetic antioxidant food preservatives (BHA and BHT) into foodstuffs which, within a few years of approval, correlates with a sharp downward trend in cardiovascular mortality which continues to this day.
By contrast, in India, where the diet has always been rich, heart disease has reached astronomical levels with the mean age for sudden cardiac death having dropped to between 36 and 38 years of age. The average age of a bypass (CABG) patient in Bombay is around 44 years! Most good hospitals do 8, 10, even 20 CABGs a day, not including angioplasties and stents! It is interesting to note that NO synthetic preservatives areused in the Indian diet, and ghee (clarified butter) is a rich source of oxidized cholesterol. Similarly, per capita calorie intake has skyrocketed, and exercise has decreased dramatically.
Here are some factors which likely come into play in causing atherosclerosis, not in any order of importance:
1) Heredity (bad HDL/LDL ratios, poorly understood autoimmune factors, juvenile onset diabetes).
2) Excess calorie consumption leading to elevated triglyceride (modest effect).
3) Agriculture: this means starches and high glycemic index foods and GUM DISEASE. Periodontal disease is a major cause of C-reactive protein release, which definitely drives atherosclerosis.
4) Multiple bacterial and viral infections associated with crowded city (agriculture-mediated) conditions. CMV and chlamydia have both been implicated in atheromatous plaque formation, particularly in people with low total cholesterols and good HDL/LDL ratios who would seem to otherwise be at low risk of sudden cardiac death.
5) While sugar has a bad reputation, many foods, like potatoes, cause much larger swings in blood glucose and contribute to glycation of arterial vessel proteins. Glycation of intimal vessel proteins is a major driver of atherosclerosis in diabetics and probably in normal people too.
6) Agriculture means less protective micronutrients in the food eaten, since the people are locked-into their immediate area and tend to deplete the soil of critical trace elements with sustained agriculture.
7) Hunter-gatherers don't STORE food. Granaries are an artifact of civilization. And with granaries come oxidized polyunsaturated fats. Similarly, storage of "aged" rotten meat ("tenderized" for those of a delicate disposition) is only possible with agriculture. Indeed, today's best cuts of beef are "aged" in just this way and are sold in fancy restaurants at high prices!
8) Increased iron intake! Once you have heavy-duty access to meat and milk you have a huge increase in iron. Approximately 15% to 20% of the population has iron storage disease (hemochromatosis), most in subclinical form (this is a genetic "defect")! In fact, the ONLY protective effect of estrogen on heart disease now appears to be that women menstruate when they make endogenous estrogen and have far lower serum ferritin levels from the resulting blood loss!. Indeed, men who regularly give blood have heart disease risks almost identical to those of pre- and immediately post-menopausal women. Supplemental estrogen in post-menopausal women appears to confer little if any protective effect against atherosclerosis and it increases the risk of cancer. It used to be argued it helped with osteoporosis, but far better and safer drugs are now available to build bone or stop its loss in post menopausal women and in elderly men too!
9) Salt and hypertension. Hunter-gatherers are marginal on salt intake. Civilized peoples prize salt and uniformly use it to vast excess. A subfraction of these people develop sodium-mediated hypertension which definitely contributes to atherosclerosis.
10) Last but not least is SMOKING. Smoking is a huge cause of atherosclerotic disease both as an initiator and as a promoter. Smoking of tobacco is also largely an artifact of agriculture.
It has been argued by Jared Diamond and others that agriculture was, statistically speaking, a massive disaster in terms of human health. It permitted overpopulation, epidemic and chronic communicable disease, and a host of other human ills both physical and social.
I could go on and on, but the point is, this is a multifactorial disease. The good news is that the Statin drugs dramatically reduce mortality, morbidity and even the occurrence of atherosclerosis. The statin drugs have resulted in a big transient dip in the US overall death rate which has adversely impacted the business well-being of mortuary conglomerates (stocks dropped big time when the projected death rate fell!). The Statins are squaring the curve along, no doubt, with supplementation of vitamin E, folic acid (lower homocysteine levels) and selenium in the United States.
Mevacor (a prototypical statin) was even shown to reduce cardiovascular death in people not at known risk for it! More recently, the statins have been shown to have a multiplicity of unexpected effects, including up-regulating endogenous nitric oxide in arterial endothelial cells and down-regulating inducible nitric oxide (NO) in ischemic tissue. That means more circulation to atherosclerotic tissues, less NO mediated free radicals, and, if a heart attack or stroke does occur, the infarct size is smaller in both the heart and brain (BTW estrogen DOES decrease brain infarct size in stroke even when given to male animals within ~2 hours of the stroke).
My best advice to people with a family history of atherosclerosis is to start on a statin drug. The newer ones work in very small quantities and are cheaper, but no one has done the extensive epidemiological studies that have been done with Mevacor and the earlier statins.
And if there is one thing a cryonicist DOES NOT want to die of it is sudden cardiac death (half of all first heart attacks are fatal) or worst of all, a stroke. Especially not a stroke where you survive a few days and your brain macrophages are gobbling up the injured neurons by the gram.
Cryonics in the Russian mass-media
by Mikhail Soloviev Msoloviev@mail.ru
[This article, reprinted by kind permission of the author, is a version (slightly edited) of the article published in The Immortalist, Jan.-Feb. 2000.]
For some years my attempts to attract attention of the Russian mass-media to cryonics had moderate success. In 1997 my article Nanotechnology -- A Key for Immortality and Freedom was published in a popular computer weekly Computerra. The article was followed by a discussion about the use of immortality -- of course, the dominant opinion was: it is useless.
In 1998 cryonics was featured in my article Technocrats' Hopes published in a national weekly Common Newspaper. On the same page academician (geneticist) Yuri Altukhov argued that immortality is impossible. It is worth mention, however, that in a recent article published in a very popular national daily newspaper News (Izvestia) another academician (biochemist) Vladimir Skulachev (both these academicians are among the most known and influential scientists in Russia) said that immortality is possible, desirable, and inevitable (he meant anti-aging gene engineering, not cryonics).
In the end of 1998 I resumed my attempts to convince a known St. Petersburg journalist Arkady Sosnov (whom I knew since 1996) to write an article on the subject. He needed several months to produce it, but its publication in the main academician weekly Search (April 1999) had a real effect -- the Russian journalists noticed the existence of cryonics. Soon I was contacted by the editor of the scientific department of the top national newspaper for businessmen Commersant and asked to write an article on cryonics. It was published in July in the form of an interview with me (illustrated by 2 photos from Alcor's web site). Almost all aspects of cryonics were mentioned there: the nature of freezing damage, the need for nanotechnology to repair the damaged cells, who and why of wanting to be immortal, how to get your money back after reanimation, current research on vitrification, etc. Later this big and detailed article was reprinted in some regional newspapers. In October other very popular national newspaper The Komsomol Truth (Komsomol is translated as Young Communists' League -- this newspaper kept its name from Soviet times, but now it has no connections with the Soviet type of communism) produced its own article on cryonics based on my publication in Commersant and other materials from my web site Immortality Through Freezing -- Cryonics in Russia (http://cryonics.euro.ru). In this year two interviews with me (The Freezers and Our Children will be Immortal) appeared in January in a national trade-union newspaper Labor (this and most other Russian nation-wide newspapers have circulation between 1 and 2 million). All these articles were not accompanied by anti-cryonics comments, the style of comments was rather neutral, or a little bit ironic.
The latest publication were in English -- it was written by a journalist from The Moscow Times (English-language newspaper) and printed in Business Review (a kind of monthly application to The Moscow Times for foreign businessmen working in Russia). I got the permission to reprint it in The Immortalist and post it to the Cryonet (I'll do it later). Before the publication in Commersant only our local St. Petersburg TV channels featured cryonics (3 of them showed interviews with me). But in September the leading Russian TV channel ORT (The 1st Channel or Public Russian Television) invited some Russian cryonicists to participate in the daily noon 40-minutes show Good Day, where we (medical computer scientists Igor Artyuhov, rock-musician and writer Vladimir Rekshan, businessman Dmitry Sannikov, and me) argued that cryonics is a real option.
The fragments from Discovery Channel's documentary Immortality on Ice was shown to demonstrate the cryonics practice and feasibility of nanotechnological repair of damaged cells (these fragments were selected and translated by me). There were 2 other participants in this show -- physicians who never heard of cryonics before and they mainly spoke about their own problems (they work in the reanimation- related fields of medicine). One of the spectators, who called to the studio during this broadcast, offered to use her body for freezing experiments. We also answered many other questions, though many of them were rather stupid.
In November I was contacted by a very popular reporter from other national TV channel (NTV) Elena Masyuk (once she and her team were captured by the Chechen terrorists and were freed for several millions dollars). She was influenced by the article in The Komsomol Truth and decided to make a documentary on cryonics. Her team visited Robert Ettinger, the Cryonics Institute, and Trans Time. In January they interviewed me and Yuri Pichugin. I explained my project Cryofarm and some scenarios for nanotechnological repair, my wife had a long and expressive speech in support of cryonics, our daughter (11 years old) took the position of social Darwinism (surprisingly to me) and reasoned about the possible bad sides of the future. Unfortunately only few my words were included in the final broadcast (40 minutes, shown on a Friday evening), the speeches of my wife and daughter were excluded, and besides me only our cat was shown as a prospective cryonics patient. Yuri was also shown very shortly. Instead much time was devoted to an old (of the 60s) Soviet film The Escape of Mr. McKinly, where the idea of immortality (through the conservation in colloid gas) was interpreted as an extremely stupid thing. The only good feature of this broadcast was the interview with Robert Ettinger, who explained simple, but still very actual things (as they are poorly understood by many people) -- that life is good, and death is bad. Of course, many interesting technical details of cryonics procedure were demonstrated, but because of the lack of scientific background the cryonicists looked like naive believers. I think such accent of the broadcast could be explained by the personal attitude of Elena, who told me she didn't like the idea of cryonics and was very surprised by my love to all people.
I don't wait an immediate response to be resulted from this interest of mass-media and clearly understand that the possible effect is rather cumulative. Anyway I think that the Russian immortalists could have a chance for immortality even at our present resources -- we could start by organizing a kind of social network to provide the brain embalming after deanimation. Later, if our resources grow, such social network evolves into a "full-blooded" cryonics organization (this idea is described in my project Latmos, which follows).
by Mikhail Soloviev Msoloviev@mail.ru
Latmos is the ancient name of a mountain in the south-west of Asia Minor (now it is a part of Turkey, but in the ancient time it was populated by the Greeks). According to the Greek myths Endymion (he belonged to one of the first generations of human beings and could be regarded as a prince or king) lays in one of the Latmos caves. He was plunged into eternal sleep by Zeus, who was asked to do it by Selena (a goddess of moon and hunting, her Roman name is Diana). She loved Endymion and wanted to keep him forever young (in 1817 John Keats wrote a brilliant poem on the subject). Thus this story is one of the first examples of the suspended animation idea.
The essence of the project "Latmos" is the organization of a small colony (commune, settlement, village) of the (retired) Russian (European) immortalists. They would form a kind of social network to enable preservation of the body of a colony member as soon as possible after his/her deanimation. Our present resources don't allow us to use cryopreservation, but we could use embalming first (and I plan to carry out a small research to develop the best embalming method). The well-fixed (e.g. by resin) embalmed brain could be stored in a grave together with the body (embalmed or not). Thus in the simplest variant we would not even need a storage facility. Later if our resources grow we could organize cryopreservation (in the form of "Cryofarm", or in another way) -- for example, create a cryonics society and a firm to provide cryonics service (here it could interpreted as the burial at low temperature).
A good place for the Latmos colony is Crimea, a peninsula in the Black Sea in the south of the Ukraine. The Crimean nature (sea, mountains, warm winters) and history (there were many Greek colonies) have many associations with the original Latmos region. Now it is possible to buy a small house here for $500 to $3000. Last year I did it. Another Russian cryonicist, Igor Artyuhov (who was born in Crimea), also intends to buy a house there. Of course, we need more prospective colony members, but we have time (where is the wood?) and I hope in a few years the Latmos colony will become a reality. Editorial Comment
The idea of cryonics "colonies" all over the planet seems to be to be a good one. Although the cryonics community represents less than 1,000 people worldwide, to concentrate all these people into any one area is very dangerous for the concept as a whole. The removal of frozen bodies from one country to another represents horrendous problems, especially if undertaken under threat from an opposing movement or profession. Nevertheless having a safe haven in different jurisdictions could be a life line in some instances.
The USSR had a unique interest in embalming, namely that of Vladimir Lenin, one of the principal architects of communism. See The Idea of Immortality and the Embalming of Lenin in Longevity Report 65. Therefore once modern Russia has reached political stability and solved its crime problem, it could find itself to be the country with the largest number of people willing to consider cryopreservation at the modest costs mentioned. Economies of scale could eventually result in Russia, not America, being the first choice for European cryonicists within the next ten to twenty years.
Risks and Life Insurance
by Mike Darwin firstname.lastname@example.org
Someone brought to my attention that John Grigg had asked on Cryonet for my experience (and Fred Chamberlain's) on delaying buying life insurance. I have a reputation for always looking at the "worst possible side of things." As one of my dialysis patients once said of me: "Mike's the kind of guy that, if you show him a beautiful rose, he'll immediately tell you about a guy who got pricked by a thorn from the rose his girlfriend gave him on their wedding day, got a horrible infection, had his arm amputated, lingered in the ICU for weeks, and finally died leaving his whole family impoverished."
This not withstanding I would make the following points based on a real but skewed experience in this area:
1) Mike Perry notes the odds:
How slim? Have you checked it out? I looked on the Web just now and found a 1997 mortality table (or "life table" as it's called. If you're interested, the URL was <http://www.cd.gov/nds/data/lewk3_97.pdf>; I believe it pertains to the US only--a good enough start however). Starting with 100,000 people at birth (age 0), there were 96,330 surviving to age 39, and 93,712 surviving to age 49. The fraction dying thus is (96,330-93,712)/96,330 or 2.72% or about one in 37. "Small" maybe, but not what I'd call "very, very small." If I had to attend a lecture that 36 others were attending, and knew a terrorist would shoot one of us but only one, at random, I think I'd wear a bulletproof vest. There are other reasons for signing up too. Strengthening the organization of your choice, strengthening the cryonics movement overall, setting an example for others, putting yourself mentally in a firmer state of opposition to death, contributing to a very worthy cause--all are reasons enough, and others could be found. (end)
These are the odds for death for a 39 year old cohort. These are not numbers I'd be happy with: not 1 in 36!
2) These are not the odds for people who become uninsurable at or before age 39. The number of people who are, for all practical ($$) purposes uninsurable by age 39 has to be much higher. In fact, I know it is and the College of life Insurance in NYC can probably give you the precise numbers.
Leaving really obvious cases of uninsurability aside, there are all sorts of things that can really make it very unpleasant and costly to get insurance: a history of depression (depression has about the same mortality as heart disease over a 5-year time course). Prozac isn't the big negative in getting insurance that it used to be, but if you innocently tell them (or they find out in checking your medical records) that you have been on 3 or 4 different antidepressants you are in deep shit with a lot of the best companies. Incidentally, FYI, it is not at all uncommon for people to have to try half a dozen or more antidepressants or combinations before they find one that works for them. I know people who Prozac works miracles for, but others it turns into "zombies." By contrast, the same class of medications (SSRIs) like Paxil or Zoloft may be perfect for some, and useless or even detrimental for others as individual drugs. If you look at the number of depressed people in the US, it is staggering. This will cause many companies to decline you coverage (especially if something weird like cryonics is in the equation) or to "rate you" (charge more).
3) There are lots of diseases like diabetes, arthritis, in fact, too many to mention here, that are disasters in terms of coverage and costs. These can hit at any time, but the older you get the greater your risk. By the time you are 40, judging from my chart of % of initial function left in various organ systems versus age (From the work of Benjamin Shock) hanging on the wall next to my desk, your risk of having a serious pathology that could interfere with purchase of insurance is probably rising very fast: maybe exponentially.
4) Life insurance as we know it is doomed IMHO. The development of "gene chips" and soon to come CD-ROMS with thousands of possible antigens, genes, biomarkers, serum enzymes, metabolites, gene products, etc. which can be tested for on one CD-ROM.
This latter technology will allow a physician to test for literally several thousand things with a very small sample of blood using a standard CD reader at a very low cost. Even as it is, insurance companies are using increasingly sophisticated assays to assess risk. People buying life insurance in the past, and to a great extent today, are either overpaying or underpaying for their risk. This averaging is "fair" as long as as you can't quantify risk very well. But that is about to change. And, already, people with bad HDL/LDL ratios, high homocysteine levels, certain drugs in their blood, etc,. are going to find they are quietly declined coverage or quoted a very high rate.
Now, having done lifespan studies with "genetically identical" animals I can speak from experience that they do not die all at once, or even in a tight "squared-curve" cluster. They die all over the place and from an amazing array of things. It is certainly true that they die more "clustered" and of more of the same pathologies (say a large number of lymphomas for one strain versus renal failure for another) than do genetically heterogenous animals. But, the stunning fact is that only about 50% of their mortality is obviously gene-linked. The other 50% is chance and "that which is not seen:" extragenetic environmental influences.
Examples of chance are getting hit with a cosmic ray at just the right spot on your DNA to cause cancer, or eating a peanut with an alflatoxin molecule that just happens to kinetically react with your DNA at just the right time and place and cause a primary hepatoma (liver cancer). Extragenetic influences are things like womb conditions (access to placental nutrition, etc.), competition for food after birth, whether you are on the top of the cage rack close to the flourescent lights in the ceiling and the UV they emit, or lower down and farther away frm the UV. Mice and rats at the top of the rack get cataracts and skin cancers (ears, nose) at a far higher rate than animals at the bottom of the rack. Thus, a GOOD lifespan researcher rotates cage positions on a tight schedule to avoid these effects.
I bring this up to point out that genes are NOT everything, and that foolish people who do know they are doing self-damaging things like smoke or drink excessively, will often say things like: "Both my parents smoked 3 packs a day since they were kids and they are still alive and well at age 75." This used to be my colleague Jerry Leaf's standard line to me: Jerry is now pushing up bubbles in LN2 in Phoenix, AZ, having had an MI at age 50 which resulted in sudden cardiac death (no standby and transport and lots of ischemia). It's OK to smoke if you want to, but be realistic about the risks and above all realize mom and dad ain't you! And neither are your cousins or your uncles or you aunts..."
So, I guess, on purely calculable bases, the odds of becoming "uninsurable" are really bad compared to dying at a given age.
5) First hand-experiences: lots in the cryonics business. It's hard to say if this a skewed population or not since people who decide to sign up may have a clue "something isn't right." Or, more directly, they may have had next of kin who died unusually early, sensitizing them to their own mortality; this again might well be a marker for increased risk of death for THEM, thus skewing the numbers. I can tell you that if I were to guess, about 1 person in 15 who tried to sign up (age ~30) were either uninsurable or had MAJOR problems finding insurance or paying for it.
6) Insurance sucks as any kind of reasonable investment. You'd do lots better with the NYSE listing of stocks and a dartboard to make your investment selections. However, insurance DOES have these unique advantages:
a) It is almost never successfully contested (It can be contested, but rarely is because the odds of success are terrible, at least now, and in the historical past).
b) It is immune from asset seizure for debts and is not part of your estate, with one important exception: the IRS or federal government can take your life insurance for tax liabilities or for certain drug-related penalties (i.e., they can argue you used money made from selling illegal drugs to pay the premiums and take your insurance benefits under the seizure laws).
c) It is a quick and complication free ( in the US) way of conveying assets after death, and since it was created to protect family values (money for the widow and the semi-orphans) it enjoys speciality status in this regard.
7) There is another tremendous advantage to life insurance which is sadly overlooked by all to many people. Let's say you "win" and the life insurance company stands to lose. Bad news, right? Well, yes, generally. But, with viatical settlements you now have options. Unless you are Jim Neighbors or Larry Hagman and you get end-stage liver disease it is going to cost you $250K (US) for a liver transplant and follow up care. You will note that BOTH these guys had liver transplants years ago and both are alive and doing well. They HAD the $250K. Most of us don't. Life insurance companies will cash in your policy or others will buy it for a good fraction of its face value IF you are terminal (usually up to 80% of face value). I know a LOT of guys who were on death's door from AIDS, cashed out $500K of term and whole life (work and private coverage), travelled all over, bought gobs of "toys" (cars, luxury condo, etc.) and then along came HART therapy. They are now pumping iron (literally), have normal T cell counts, undetectable viral loads, money left to pay for the meds (which are not cheap), and in a few cases, money enough to invest so that they don't even have to work anymore!
In any event, the ability to use life insurance for viatical purposes means expanded treatment options, money to pay for up-end cryonics services like remote standby, relocate to a good hospice facility, or get better end-of-life medical care. Skilled registry nurses who can pronounce death cost $30.00 an hour on the cheap-side. If you don't die on schedule you could rack up $5, $10, or even $15K in nursing bills in a few days! The alternative is to wait till the hospice nurse drives out (after you are dead) and pronounces you: I've had this range from 30 minutes to over an hour. In the meantime you sit there with no ice, no meds, no nothing.
Finally, you don't have to cash out the whole policy, and life matters now, at least to most people. You may want to cash out $5K to take that dream trip to Sri Lanka, Hawaii, or wherever. Both Mary Naples (New York Life Ins. agent) and I have see friends fulfill one of their greatest dreams, like taking that dream trip they never quite got around to taking when they were well.
I was lucky; I've always wanted to go to Egypt, preferably in style and for awhile! In other words, really see it all and do it all, and not from a tourist bus. I took the time and money to do it while I still had my health. For many people that is not an option. I'm grateful that for me it was! It was a life-transforming experience that was worth every penny of my hard come by savings. I spent the first morning of the "third millennium CE" floating in a hot air balloon over the Ramasseum and the Valley of the Kings in Luxor as the sun came up across the Nile. I landed to a sumptuous breakfast, crossed the Nile by felucca from the West bank (the side of death) to the East bank (the side of life and the rising sun), and spent the rest of that wonderful day listening to the soundtrack from 2001: A Space Odyssey on an in-ear CD-player (immersed in the sound) and viewing some of the most magnificent Egyptian sculpture still in existence which is housed in the seemingly modest and cooly-darkened, windowless Luxor Museum.
Cryonics aside, these are some of the other options that help make life insurance a reasonable buy despite its lousy capital return rate. There's more to life (and death) than price to earnings ratios....
Some of the legal points raised about life insurance many not apply in the UK or anywhere outside the US. If you are contemplating life insurance, always ask whether the options you are considering using are available under the jurisdiction in which you live.
Of course anyone choosing investments instead of life insurance would have much more money available to "cash in" for the options suggested. As the first year or two's premiums of life policies (less life cover costs) go to the selling agent (or life company if bought direct) life policies only build value after decades, whereas all the money in successful investment is yours whenever you want it. It is the first years of a regular saving plan that are the most important, and the front slicing of the investment portion of life policies has a very serious effect on the investment value at maturity.
Also in the UK and probably in the US as well you can now buy critical illness insurance that pays out money if you are diagnosed with terminal but not immediately fatal diseases such as cancer.
Although there are pitfalls with life insurance - nothing in the world is totally safe - anyone who is unsure of technology growth or indeed general stock market growth will have a much more predictable outcome with a life policy. They will know it won't do as well as investment, but if investment does badly, then the investment side of life insurance won't do quite as badly either. Of course if the stock market completely collapses so will the life company and your policy will be worthless anyway. But a collapse of this magnitude is unlikely.
Cryonicists by their very nature have an optimistic view of technology growth, and this needs to be factored in to the choice of insurance or direct investment.
I think the best way of looking at life insurance (or fixed interest investment) is as a luxury for those with the earning capacity (and employment security) or capital wealth that is sufficient to maintain their lifestyle without the work and worry contingent upon making their savings earn for them at maximum pressure all the time.
Last Word from Mike Darwin:
Catastrophic health policies are available in the US but only for medical treatment, not as discretionary cash!
Also, in the US anything other than life insurance is subject to postmortem legal attack: inter vivos trust, will, etc. No other mechanism seems to be as secure. This is the major reason to use it for cryonics in the US as virtually everything else tried has had a high failure rate.
In the US we have only partial socialized medicine. This means that in order to get government medical care (nursing home care etc,) once your private insurance is exhausted you must "spend down" to no more than $2,000 in total assets. If you have given or transferred money or other assets prior to two years before the spend down point is reached, those assets can be seized. Prepaying for a cryonics would count as an asset, just like owning a house, a car, ore prepaying for mortuary services. Only if you gave the money or irrevocably paid for the service in advance prior to 2 years before you reach your $2K spend down limit would your assets be exempt from seizure by the government. Most people end up using Medicare/Medicaid to cover the cost of extended terminal or nursing home care and many are now getting nailed by the Feds for asset transfers to relatives, friends, charities, etc. which occurred after the two year limit.
Life Insurance, by special law, is immune from this. Big $$$ companies with BIG political influence.
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