HIGHTOWER: Virtually Dead And Buried

Let's travel again into the Far, Far, Far-out Frontiers of Free Enterprise.Today, Spaceship Hightower takes you waaaay out there ... and into The Great Beyond. Funerals have long been big business, as the Pyramids of Egyptian Pharaohs make abundantly clear, and now the entrepreneurs of the internet have figured out how to tap into the mortality market.Check out Lance Hardie's Web site at www.hardie-house.org/epitaph. The Wall Street Journal reports that Hardie is the creator of Plan Your Epitaph Day, which coincides annually with All Soul's Day, designated by the Catholics to remember the dearly departed. Hardie doesn't want you to depart unremembered or to be unprepared when your time comes, so he's a little pushy about you deciding now what you want inscribed on your tombstone. "Take control" Hardie barks at us, "It's your life, it's your death, it's your stoneÜYOU say something."If words fail you, not to worryÜHardie will create an epitaph for you. For a fee. One thousand bucks. Unless you're a prisoner on death row or a soldier in a combat zoneÜthen Hardie will write the words to take you into eternity for free. Hey, try to get a deal like that from Hallmark. Not a prayer.Hardie's web site also provides links to several "virtual cemeteries." These are cyberspace plots, where you can inter a deceased loved one (or at least the name of the deceased) in a "virtual grave" that will be maintained for a year. For a fee. The Journal notes that one such cyber-cemetary offers the Bronze Memorial for $39.95, or the more prestigious Platinum Memorial for $199.95.This is Jim Hightower saying ... For my tombstone, I think I'll borrow the line used by a gunslinger in an Arizona graveyard: "I was expecting this, but not so soon."

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