An environmentally friendly method of burying the dead is offering stiff competition to traditional funerals, transforming corpses into organic compost and giving people the chance to come back as flowers. \nSix-feet-under burials and cremations hurt the environment by polluting air and water, and upset the ecology of the sea, prompting Swedish biologist Susanne Wiigh to come up with an alternative. \n"Nature's original plan was for dead bodies to fall on the earth, be torn apart by animals, and become soil," Wiigh said in Lyr, a small romantic island off Sweden's southwestern coast, where she lives with her family and runs her company, Promessa AB. \nWiigh, who also manages the island's only shop well-stocked with organic food next to an impressive greenhouse, acknowledges that "we clearly can't go back to that," but claims that her method is as close to nature as modern ethics will allow. \nThe method is chilling: It consists of taking the corpse's temperature to minus 1960 C in a liquid nitrogen bath and breaking the brittle body down into a rough powder through mechanical vibrations. \nThe remains are then dehydrated and cleared of any metal, reducing a body weighing 75kg in life to 25kg of pink-beige powder, plus the remains of the coffin. \nThe whole process takes place in a facility resembling a crematorium and lasts for about two hours. \nA corpse buried in a coffin will take several years to decompose completely. \nWiigh says compost has always been her passion. "For me it's really romantic. It smells good, it feels like gold," she said. \nAnd like all compost, human remains should be used to feed plants and shrubs, planted by a dead person's family, and would disappear completely into the plant within a few years, she believes. \n"The plant becomes the perfect way to remember the person. When a father dies, we can say: the same molecules that built Daddy also built this plant" said Wiigh, whose dead cat, Tussan, currently nourishes a rhododendron bush in her front garden. \nWiigh herself, a quiet-spoken woman with an easy smile who dedicates 60 hours a week to Promessa, would herself also like to turn into a rhododendron, of the white variety. \nWhat may look like no more than an ecologist's dream vision may well have serious business potential, breathing new life into an innovation-shy industry, which seems almost as inanimate as its customers. \nIndustrial gases company AGA Gas, part of Germany's Linde group, has invested in the idea, taking a controlling stake of 53 percent in Promessa, alongside Wiigh's 42 percent and 5 percent which is held by the Church of Sweden. \n"The commercial potential could be quite large," said AGA spokesman Olof Kaellgren, whose company contributes expertise of the nitrogen cooling process. \nBut he stressed that AGA considers the new method to be "a complement to already existing methods and therefore giving a new opportunity to make a choice that for many people feels better than today's alternative." \nThe city of Joenkoeping, in southwestern Sweden, has already decided that it will not replace its outdated crematorium, instead becoming the first customer of Promessa. \nThe installation, which will be cheaper than the 2 million euro (US$2.4 million) price tag for a new crematorium, is to be ready next year. \nPromessa has applied for patents in 35 countries. Its immediate foreign markets are in ecology-conscious Northern Europe and include Scandinavia, Britain, Germany and the Netherlands, where the next installation is likely to be built. \nBut queries have come from as far away as South Africa, where the soil often lacks the depth needed for ordinary burials. \nThere may also be sales potential in countries where religion makes cremation difficult or impossible, such as Muslim countries. \nAnd Swedish designers have been stirred into action by the new method, focusing their attention on making containers which are smaller than traditional coffins, but larger than ash urns, and biodegradable. \nStockholm design graduate Linda Jaerned has made two prototypes for those who would like their freeze-dried remains to be buried in a container, rather than just mixed with soil. \nOne is a soft tube made of felt, resembling a paper dragon in a Chinese New Year parade, while the other is a more traditional-looking box made of plywood and linen. \n"I think this is the future. We don't have so much space for the dead. The living will take more and more space," said Jaerned.
It has been 26 years since Nicholas Gould hosted his last Issues and Opinions radio show for ICRT a recording studio on Roosevelt Road. He remembers the familiar ‘whoosh’ as the door to the soundproof room closes and recognizes the carpet, but the recording equipment is gone, with half of the space being used for storage. Gould is filled with nostalgia as he greets his guests, two financial writers who are here to discuss Taiwan’s post-COVID-19 economy for his new podcast, Taiwan Matters. Gould had been thinking of revisiting his old career for a while, but being allowed access to
The 22nd Taipei Arts Festival (臺北藝術節) opens tonight with three productions, a slightly scaled-down pandemic version that seeks to keep its tradition of big ideas, challenging programs and international connections alive and moving forward in an increasingly uncertain world. The theme of this year’s festival is “Super@#S%?” — as good a term as any when descriptives and superlatives seem not only inadequate, but somewhat irrelevant in a world where so many people cannot imagine being able to return to theaters, either as performers or audience members — they are too worried about having a job and their health. Technically, however, it is
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Wild Sparrow (野雀之詩) is simple and extremely slow paced, told through the eyes of Han (Kao Yu-hsia, 高於夏), an introspective, shy grade schooler who lives with his great-grandmother in the verdant countryside. Han has a fascination with sparrows, which are either flying high in the sky or trapped in cages and nets, providing a constant metaphor throughout the film. In the most ironic scene, a man catches the birds just to charge people to set them free again, taking advantage of Buddhists who engage in the ritual of “releasing” animals from captivity. Han takes a badly injured sparrow home and