Despite his best efforts to steer clear of public scrutiny, a good bit has been written about the quirks and foibles of one Robert Mercer of Owl’s Nest, Long Island. About the Renaissance Technologies co-CEO’s poker-playing, his toy trains, his collection of machine guns. His blind rages at finding dulled blades in his razor. His nuclear weapons of finance. And, of course, his politics, which can be described as slightly to the right of John Birch. Such is perhaps inevitable when one acquires a major-party U.S. presidential campaign, as is the endless fascination with one of his strangest pet projects: Turning piss into perpetuation.
Robert Mercer and his daughter have also funded a gigantic stockpile of human urine in Oregon.
The urine stockpile is the project of Arthur Robinson, a chemist and founder of the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine. Starting in 2005, the Mercer Family Foundation contributed at least $1.4 million to OISM, enabling Robinson to buy freezers to store his 14,000 samples of urine.
Robinson wants still more urine, as much as possible, and issues frequent appeals to the public to contribute. According to the OISM newsletter, Robinson is collecting it in order to “calibrate analytical procedures that can revolutionize the evaluation of personal chemistry — and thereby improve our health, our happiness and prosperity, and even the academic performance of our children in school.”
Now, before you just dismiss this as one very rich crank financing the lunatic ideas of a less-rich crank, or of the donations as a way of funneling money to a man whose political campaign to end public education and bring back the gold standard he backed and which ended in predictable failure, remember: Robert Mercer spent the better part of his 50s and 60s essentially working inside of an especially carcinogenic chimney, ensconced in the blue smoke emitting from his boss and predecessor at RenTech’s helm. So if there’s any chance that one of those 14,000 urine samples holds the key to immortality, what’s $1.4 million to a guy making $100 million-plus a year?