Archives for obituaries



Legacy of a Jerk

Season 3, Episode 5

Since the beginning of civilization, human waste has been considered worthless at best and quite often dangerous. What if it turns out we were wrong? In this episode of Freakonomics Radio, host Stephen Dubner explores the power of poop, focusing on an experimental procedure called a fecal transplant (some call it a “transpoosion”), which may offer promising results not only for intestinal problems but also obesity and neurological disorders.  We’ll talk to two doctors at the vanguard of this procedure and a patient who says it changed his life. Read More »



A Parting Shot, Reconsidered

Yesterday we blogged about Mark Bittman’s acrid comment about the death of a Chick-fil-A executive. (It would make a good postscript to our “Legacy of a Jerk” podcast.) Bittman has now apologized and removed the offending language from the original article.



Speaking Ill of the Dead Apparently Okay if the Dead Worked for Chick-fil-A

We recently put out a podcast called “Legacy of a Jerk,” which deals in large part with the ancient injunction against speaking ill of the dead. For the most part, this injunction is still widely obeyed. So I was quite surprised to see what Mark Bittman recently wrote on his N.Y. Times blog:

Sysco is the latest food giant—it’s the largest food distributor in the country—to come out against gestation crate confinement of pigs. The National Pork Producers Council’s communications director was quoted in the National Journal saying: “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets…I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.” Really.

Speaking of pigs, the VP of PR for Chick-fil-A dropped dead of a heart attack the week after the chain’s latest homophobia/anti-gay marriage scandal. Here’s an obit, and here’s more about him. Meanwhile, Chick-fil-A had record-breaking profits after its President, Dan Cathy, drew a line in the sand over same-sex marriage.

I read that “speaking of pigs” line three or four times to make sure I understood. At first I thought that Bittman was speaking metaphorically — that no one had in fact died. (But he did: the man’s name was Don Perry.) Then I thought maybe the Times page had been hacked, but that doesn’t seem to be the case either. FWIW, here’s a screenshot: Read More »



Legacy of a Jerk: A New Freakonomics Radio Podcast

Our latest podcast is called “Legacy of a Jerk.” You can download/subscribe at iTunes, get the RSS feed, listen via the media player above, or read the transcript here.

The gist: what happens to your reputation when you’re no longer around to defend it?

You’ll hear a variety of stories, and theories, about legacy in general and the legacy of jerks in particular. We discuss “strategic jerkitude”; the ancient injunction against speaking ill of the dead; and the fascinating, complicated legacy of Steve Jobs.

Among the highlights:

The death of a Pennsylvania woman named Carole “Fritzi” Miller Roberson and how lives like hers live on at Legacy.com, where roughly 5,000 new obituaries are posted every day. Read More »