All Equal in the Presence of Death
The news Monday was devoted to exploring the lives of four fallen icons, but population analysts say these deaths are merely scratching the surface of a wider, more insidious truth.
"It's certainly a shock to wake up and learn that the Iron Lady is now rusting in peace, or that God just gave Roger Ebert two thumbs down, or that we won't see you real soon, Annette; but imagine that these people represented only an infinitesimal fraction of how many others died the same day," said Dr. Lury Brackish, a senior anthropologist with San Narciso College who specializes in population data analysis for the U.S. Census Bureau.
"The figures I'm looking at right now are horrifying, and I believe the media are suppressing the truth to avoid widespread panic," he added.
Brackish admitted that the world lost four influential celebrities, but emphasized that countless scores of nameless victims died as well.
"I'll probably lose my job for sharing this information, but I can't stay silent any longer. According to our global database, we know that at least 151,650 people die every day in the world," Dr. Brackish told reporters in hushed and nervous tones.
"Yesterday over 150,000 people you've never heard of kicked the bucket. And tomorrow another 150,000 men, women and children will meet their makers too. Do you understand the magnitude of this? It never ends. Somewhere between 150,000 and 200,000 deaths occur every 24 hours in the world. The causes are always different. Famine, disease, murder, war, suicide, accidents -- you name it. There's no way of isolating a single cause and -- sadly -- no way our brightest minds can figure out how to stop it. If newspapers started printing obituaries of all these people, if Elton John had to write 150,000 versions of 'Candle in the Wind' every day, we'd lose our minds. But the truth needs to be told."
And that truth, according to Dr. Brackish, is that not just the famous die.
"We are, all of us, susceptible," he explained. "No one is immune, no one is safe. Perhaps if more people understood the real dangers facing them -- not just celebrities -- they'd take issues of health and safety more seriously. They'd pay more attention to their loved ones, their neighbors, people they know and interact with -- not strangers they see on TV. That is my sincerest hope in releasing this information. I hope my confession does not go in vain."
Those More Equal in the Presence of Death
Pulitzer Prize-winning film critic Roger Ebert passed away on April 4 at the age of 70. He died from complications related to thyroid cancer. Ebert was among the nation's most influential, formidable and well-loved critics. According to Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Ebert did not merely "dominate his profession, he defined it." The 40-year newspaper veteran was a prolific writer whose work embraced equal passion for the cinema and social justice. In his final blog post, two days before his death, Ebert wrote: "So on this day of reflection I say again, thank you for going on this journey with me. I'll see you at the movies."
Les Blank, 77, was an unconventional chronicler of the American periphery, whose sensual films focused on the culinary, geographical and cultural niches of unique subsets of U.S. society, which earned him a reputation as both ethnomusicologist and anthropologist. Blank's works offered viewers rare glimpses into non-standard documentary fare. He received lifetime achievement awards from the American Film Institute and the International Documentary Association for his intimate portrayals of life on the fringes of Americana.
Disney darling Annette Funicello passed on at the age of 70 after a long battle with multiple sclerosis. Adored by millions of Baby Boomers in the 1950s, she was the first crush of an entire generation of teen boys and an ideal to be embodied by teenage girls. Funicello was a favorite of Walt Disney, who personally picked her for the Mouseketeers after watching her perform in a children's rendition of the ballet "Swan Lake." Her success and charm continued through the 1960s with a stream of fun-in-the-sun romps and beach-themed musicals.
The political world also lost a heavyweight this morning as the Iron Lady, Baroness Margaret Thatcher, succumbed to a fatal stroke. She was 87.
Britain's first and only female prime minister, she was a permanent political fixture and powerhouse during the 1980s. She is best remembered as a tough leader who sought to restore the grandeur of England's Victorian period. She succeeded in bringing the nostalgic charm and quaint class values of the Dickensian era back to modern day Britain.
She will best be remembered for the decisive actions she took during her 11-year term, which continue to affect the United Kingdom today: deregulating banks to cause the still problematic credit crunch, doubling inflation, destroying trade unions, eliminating free milk in schools for underprivileged children, creating a gaping disparity between the country's rich and poor, driving unemployment to historically high levels, destroying the coal industry, and implementing the egalitarian poll tax, which ensured that those living near poverty in Middle England would pay the same taxes as millionaires nearby.
Thatcher will also be celebrated for her uncanny prowess in foreign policy, particularly with her brave decision to use the superior might of the British military to wage war against Argentina over an island full of sheep.
She further led the charge for Great Britain by labelling Nelson Mandela a "terrorist," supporting underdog government factions such as the Khmer Rouge and embattled Chilean dictator Pinochet, and for tirelessly fighting to keep the ignorant rabble of Northern Ireland under the yoke of England to protect them from themselves.
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