That Diamond Just Might Be Your Best Friend

If you're like most people, you try to live your life well. You're kind to animals, you feel like your job makes the world a better place in which to live, and you do volunteer work to help your fellow humans. So why is it that once we're dead we just don't give a damn anymore? We put our body in the ground where it fertilizes the grass above it, which wouldn't even be there were it not for the bodies beneath it. Or else we're cremated and spend eternity in an urn on the mantle, or even stranger, buried in a cemetery which defeats the purpose. Either way, that's it. The end. Finito. It's this type of short-sighted, egocentric, lack of concern for our fellow man attitude that leads people to embarrass themselves, their friends, and their family by appearing on 30 Seconds to Fame. Not to mention spending the time after death being useless. Luckily some people are trying to change this.

Take "Steady Ed" Headrick, for example. He's the man who invented the Pro Model Frisbee and was the father of disc golf, a game in which the goal is to throw a Frisbee into a metal basket. It's a hybrid sport that combines the best of golf, basketball, and hanging around the parking lot waiting for a Phish concert. After Headrick's recent death, his family disclosed that he wanted his ashes to be mixed in with the plastic of a special edition Frisbee. And why not? Who among us hasn't had the urge to play with a loved one long after they died?

He's certainly not the first person to want the living to enjoy him after he's gone. People have had their cremains stuffed into firework shells so they and their loved ones can have one final blast together. Others have had theirs incorporated into artificial reefs, allowing the family to remember Dad hanging around a different kind of dive. And in 1997 a special edition of the comic book Squadron Supreme was printed using ink which contained the ashes of Marvel Comics artist Mark Gruenwald, creating quite an ethical dilemma for his family when they had to decide if it was proper to wash the ink off their hands after they read it.

But what about those of us who want to be more private about it, yet still want our loved ones to continue bringing us daily joy? It's simple: have them turned into a diamond. Yes, thanks to a Chicago area company, Grandma can now be the choker Mom said she was when she was growing up, men will be able to have their wives wrapped around their little finger--literally--which is something they could only dream about during all those years of marriage, and women will be able to have hubby mounted on an earring so he can finally be the stud she always wished he'd been while he was alive.

The idea for LifeGem arose after its creators realized that everyone on the Internet had already been contacted by a Nigerian citizen trying to get them to hand over their bank account in return for money some forgetful oil company supposedly left in the bank. This meant they'd have to dream up something new. They figured that since diamonds are made of carbon, and people are made of carbon, why not make diamonds out of people? It's a good thing they swore off drugs at that point or their logic would have taken them to the next step: People are full of crap, toilets are full of crap, therefore we should make toilets out of people's cremains. I don't know about you, but I just wouldn't feel comfortable knowing I was sitting on Aunt Jean every day with my pants down around my ankles.

They start by taking the cremated ashes and heating them to 5,400 degrees, which is roughly the temperature the average male gets when thinking about making a home video with Pamela Anderson. This burns off the impurities and converts the carbon to graphite. At this point you can take the cheap approach and turn your loved one into the center of a No. 2 pencil or use them to make locks turn more easily. Just kidding. Actually WD-40 does a much better job. And it's cheaper. But as long as you've come this far you might as well let them ship the pile of Graphite Formerly Known As Dad to one of their affiliate labs in Russia and Germany. Then, as long as FedEx doesn't lose the package, they'll pack the graphite around a tiny piece of diamond which acts as a starter, much like sourdough, and subject it to high temperature and extreme pressure--about 80,000 times that of the atmosphere--for seven to 10 days. The result is a beautiful blue cubic zirconium loved one. Just kidding. Actually it's a blue gem-quality diamond which you can then mount on a piece of jewelry or have embedded in your front tooth.

The cost for this is between $8,000 and $17,000, depending on whether you want two one-quarter-carat diamonds or a single ostentatious three-quarter-carat one. This is pretty pricey when you compare it to the cost of a diamond on the Home Shopping Network, but LifeGem guarantees that Uncle Jack will rank high in the Four Cs of diamond quality: cut, clarity, color, and cremains. Of course it would be pretty tough if you lost it. Not only would you be out a nice diamond and all the money you paid for it, you'd be losing your loved one for a second time. This is the kind of trauma deep-seated emotional problems spring from.

So while it's true you can't take it with you, nobody ever said anything about not being able to leave yourself behind. And remember, a diamond is forever, especially when it's not just Mom's, but is Mom.

More Mad Dog can be found online at: His compilation of humorous travel columns, "If It's Such a Small World Then Why Have I Been Sitting on This Airplane For Twelve Hours?" is available from Xlibris Corporation. Email:

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Imagine you've forgotten once again the difference between a gorilla and a chimpanzee, so you do a quick Google image search of “gorilla." But instead of finding images of adorable animals, photos of a Black couple pop up.

Is this just a glitch in the algorithm? Or, is Google an ad company, not an information company, that's replicating the discrimination of the world it operates in? How can this discrimination be addressed and who is accountable for it?

“These platforms are encoded with racism," says UCLA professor and best-selling author of Algorithms of Oppression, Dr. Safiya Noble. “The logic is racist and sexist because it would allow for these kinds of false, misleading, kinds of results to come to the fore…There are unfortunately thousands of examples now of harm that comes from algorithmic discrimination."

On At Liberty this week, Dr. Noble joined us to discuss what she calls “algorithmic oppression," and what needs to be done to end this kind of bias and dismantle systemic racism in software, predictive analytics, search platforms, surveillance systems, and other technologies.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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