Sunday, August 19, 2007

Worth the Price of Admission

Last night my wife and I went to see James Taylor at the Verizon. What a great show! The man is an incredible performer, and as I said, it is worth the price of admission. I was so impressed and had a really good time - not only is he an incredible musician, but he is really quite funny as well. I have seen him before, but this by far is the best show I've seen of his yet. It is billed as the "One Man Band" tour, and while it's really truly not (he has an incredible keyboardist with him as well as a programmable drum machine that is a true drum set set on a platform with programming done to it), he does put on an excellent show.

He performed "The Frozen Man" during the first set. In all the years I've been a JT fan, I can honestly say that there is no other song that I either like or identify with (for some strange reason) as much. The lyrics are below:

Last thing I remember is the freezing cold
Water reaching up just to swallow me whole
Ice in the rigging and howling wind
Shock to my body as we tumbled in

Then my brothers and the others are lost at sea
I alone am returned to tell thee
Hidden in ice for a century
To walk the world again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

Next words that were spoken to me
Nurse asked me what my name might be
She was all in white at the foot of my bed
I said "Angel of mercy am I alive or am I dead?

My name is William James McPhee
I was born in 1843
Raised in Liverpool by the sea
But that ain't who I am..."
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

It took a lot of money to start my heart
To peg my leg and to buy my eye
The newspapers call me the state of the art
And the children, when they see me, cry

I thought it would be nice just to visit my grave
See what kind of tombstone I might have
I saw my wife and my daughter and it seemed so strange
Both of them dead and gone from extreme old age

See here, when I die make sure I'm gone
Don't leave 'em nothing to work on
You can raise your arm, you can wiggle your hand
And you can wave goodbye to the frozen man

I know what it means to freeze to death
To lose a little life with every breath
To say goodbye to life on earth
To come around again
Lord have mercy on the frozen man

Could you imagine if that were ever to happen? A man brought back to life after being in ice for over 100 years? It would be an incredible feat. That said, just as the story in the song, the poor guy would be ostracized by society because of the way he'd likely look and sound. And that is sad. On the other hand, what about potential advances in technology to, for a lack of a better word, "resurrect" people who were frozen? What does that say about our future as a society? Say, for example, someone you know and love was diagnosed with an incurable disease, but research were underway to find a cure, and that cure could potentially available 20, 30, or 50 years in the future. Say that technology existed to freeze someone with the ability of bringing them out of that freeze in the future. If you were that person, would you submit to freezing so that you could be cured in the future?

I know that there is some serious science fiction in that scenario. However, it could happen. And there are ethical dilemmas that go along with this whole situation if you were to go beyond the scenario itself. I know that there are people and organizations out there who offer cryogenic storage for a situation somewhat like what I have just outlined. And from what I've read, it is expensive. Although I don't know what the real dollar figures are, lets just say that costs in the tens of thousands of dollars are not out of the question. But would it be worth it?

There - that was the thought-provoking question of the day.

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