Archive for Life and/or Death

Sorrow on four legs

This story dates back three years. It’s about a young buffalo and a mare at the end of her days:

During one of my husband’s cold but sweaty efforts to rouse Daphne, something incredible happened which I will never forget. As I stood against a young oak tree juggling phone calls with Shawndra and three vets’ offices (we were now in the slender space of time between office hours and emergency response times) Chunk-hi meandered over to our worried gathering. Constantly in my view, he lowered his behemoth head and started towards Daphne’s tail end. I feared some rough playfulness but was amazed by what he actually did.

Chunk stroked his massive bearded chin in long, slow motions against Daphne’s body. He traced every leg, sniffed her tail, kissed her neck with that long purple tongue, and paced delicately around her prone and weakening body for several minutes. Handsome and I both noticed this incredible behavior.

We witnessed what could have been the precursor to a goring, or at least a good head butt, turn into a truly affectionate and comforting gesture. From my position about four feet away I could see his big liquid black eyes watch everything we did. I could hear his amplified breath, investigating the scene, cataloging details. Daphne had always held a maternal veil over this little orphaned addition to our farm, and I have no doubt he felt her pain. In retrospect, we believe he was also saying goodbye.

After a ten or fifteen minute vigil, Chunk-hi suddenly inhaled sharply and started bobbing and wagging his shaggy head in big, dramatic circles. Usually a sure sign of aggression in male buffalo, this had no such feeling. He flung his head around but stood perfectly still then just gazed at her. He looked at me calmly, but not blankly, and I was devastated to have no words for him. This was a buffalo sobbing and crying.

And now he’s gone too:

After he left the farm this past February to live on a gorgeous, 300-acre ranch with his new ranching family, I continued to hear his voice. He had a deep, bellowy voice, a snorting baritone that sounded a lot like howling wind and also like Tibetan meditation bowls. Otherworldly sometimes. For weeks I heard him every morning when I fed the other animals, and a few times I also thought I saw him in a sand wallow, peeking around an oak tree. He was big, huge even by bison standards, but he had a talent for winding himself up small like a baby and tucking into the shadows, just chewing his cud.

We miss him so much. We have missed him every day of every week since he left the Lazy W, and we have been deeply conflicted about the decision to find him a new home. But our reasons were sound, and the family who took him on are wonderful ranchers, smart and loving.

Chunk was given the opportunity to roam almost free, just like a wild buff, and he also had a girlfriend named Molly. After a period of acclimation, they enjoyed a long honeymoon toward the close of summer, and for this we are so grateful.

One day recently his new caretakers discovered Chunk badly injured, his back broken, probably from a fight with another bull or from vigorous love making with Molly. We were shocked and heartbroken by the news but held onto hope that he might heal or that their vet might find a solution.

No solution was to be found. I’m no expert on back pain, despite recent lessons on the subject, but I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, two legs or four.

Comments




Kill me later

O Lord, grant me the sweet peace of death, but not now:

Last weekend Belgian Paralympian Marieke Vervoort said in Rio that she is considering euthanasia to escape a life of unbearable physical pain — only not quite yet.

Vervoort, who won silver in the 400m wheelchair race at the Paralympic Games, played down earlier reports that she planned to be euthanized after her return from Brazil.

“I have my (euthanasia) papers in my hand, but I’m still enjoying every little moment. When the moment comes when I have more bad days than good days, then I have my euthanasia papers, but the time is not there yet,” she told a news conference in Rio [de Janeiro], Brazil, where the Paralympic Games are taking place.

And if she has more good days than bad days? Is she screwed?

Comments




A surprisingly risky business

Peter “Bayou Renaissance Man” Green Grant, like me, put in some time in operations on an IBM System/370, but there’s something he remembers that I seem to have forgotten:

I recall banks of gas cylinders outside the computer room, designed to release fire-suppressing fumes into the data center whenever necessary. However, none of us ever considered the noise of the gas being released as a potential hazard to disk drives. The system was more likely to kill us! One of my not-so-fond memories of that computer room was when we had a fire security inspection. The inspector turned to the Operations Manager and asked whether he had replacement operators lined up and ready to go after a fire. Puzzled, the Ops Manager replied that he hadn’t — why did he ask? The inspector then pointed out that the “gas masks” provided for the operators were to prevent smoke inhalation only. They had no oxygen cylinder to provide fresh air — but the halon gas that the fire suppression system would inject would absorb all the oxygen in the air. The operators would be asphyxiated before they could get out.

Which, if nothing else, shows you how highly ops personnel are regarded, compared to everyone else in the department.

Comments (2)




Out here at the margin

Emily Dickinson anticipated this years ago:

The Loneliness One dare not sound—
And would as soon surmise
As in its Grave go plumbing
To ascertain the size—

The Loneliness whose worst alarm
Is lest itself should see—
And perish from before itself
For just a scrutiny—

The Horror not to be surveyed—
But skirted in the Dark—
With Consciousness suspended—
And Being under Lock—

I fear me this—is Loneliness—
The Maker of the soul
Its Caverns and its Corridors
Illuminate—or seal—

(Suggested by Instapundit.)

Comments




Lethal hickey

This is decidedly dispiriting:

A teenage boy has died after getting a love bite from his girlfriend.

Julio Macias Gonzalez, 17, began convulsing at the dinner table with his family in Mexico City after spending time with his 24-year-old lover, The Sun reports.

It is thought the woman gave him a hickey earlier that evening which caused a blood clot that travelled to the teen’s brain, triggering a stroke.

Paramedics were called to the scene but Julio could not be saved.

I expect this will show up in the appendices to all those Thou Shalt Not books that nobody actually buys.

(Via Interested-Participant.)

Comments




Snuff ’em

This is a scary followup to yesterday’s “Time for you to move on”:

Chester Siniawski, the man who survived a forced-euthanasia attempt on his life at the Joliet Area Community Hospice, continues to regain strength after his son, Chet, managed to free him from the JACH and move him into a hospital (where medical professionals actually work, not ghouls who try to kill people who want to keep living). Chester’s being fed three times a day now and is making huge steps in his recovery. A man who was cruelly denied food and starved for over two months is being given as much to eat as he wants and is loving it! He’s regained the use of his left side and, every day that he’s receiving proper nourishment and physical therapy, he gets closer to being the person he used to be, before his stroke in April.

The reason I care so much about this man is because of how horrific what was done to him truly is: he had a non-terminal stroke that he could recover from … but his own wife (who appears to have some kind of mental illness) wanted him to die and never recover, because she didn’t want to be bothered with having a husband in a wheelchair. Being a widow sounded more fun and a better time for her than having to care for a man who needed rehabilitation to regain use of his body after a stroke. That whole “in sickness and in health” part of the wedding vows didn’t seem to register with this woman. That right there is terrible enough … but on top of it there is actually a place in Illinois where someone this despicable can take her husband and staff will go along with a plot to withhold food and water from the man in order to euthanize him against his will. Just because his wife already has a black dress picked out and wants to put the “fun” back in funeral.

And the following is here mostly for my benefit:

I just come back to the fact that life is such a precious gift. Every day, each of us ages. We’ll never be who we were at 18 or 25 or 30 or whatever. Our health deteriorates. We lose abilities. In time, we become ghosts of our former selves. As an American, I just don’t like the idea of ever giving up … and so I won’t ever give up. That’s my choice. I want to keep fighting and living for as long as I can. I hope that the people I love want that too for themselves. And if they do want to fight and keep living but staff at a facility and other actors try to kill them, you better believe I will do whatever I can to keep them alive. How sad it is that our elected officials and trusted public servants don’t feel the same way and operate under the kind of “death is better” mentality that the Soviet Union would have subscribed to.

“We’re going to take things away from you on behalf of the common good.”

Hillary, you should know, was actually talking about tax rates at the time, but I trust absolutely no contemporary politician to comprehend, let alone define, any concept like “the common good.” This is why we have death panels “end-of-life counseling.”

Comments (3)




No alternative

This is why voting should never, ever be mandatory:

Obituary of Mary Anne Noland of Richmond, who died rather than vote for Clinton or Trump

(Via Peter Bromberg.)

Comments (3)




Time for you to move on

I found this in a thread started by a Facebook friend:

When I lived in Massachusetts, and my health was collapsing, and I couldn’t afford to wrangle the problem, strangers would often recommend that I kill myself. It got to where I would not mention my problems with my health in public places — someone sitting nearby would always come over and angrily aggressively insist I kill myself, to cease being a burden on society. They honestly believed that’s how the system works and should work.

It matters not to me whether their belief is “honest” or not. Who died and left them in charge of logistics? Exactly. The lot of them can go straight to hell, do not pass Go, do not collect $200.

Comments (5)




You’re not dying fast enough

And this sort of thing matters to insurance providers and similar types:

When someone is receiving hospice care, it usually means they’re very close to the end of their life. But what happens if that person simply refuses to die?

A woman who’s outlived her prognosis has lost hospice care for that very reason, CBS New York reports. She wasn’t supposed to still be alive, after doctors gave her less than six months to live … two years ago. But despite battling stage 4 lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, she’s hanging in there.

Because, you know, rules:

Medicare rules define hospice care as for the actively dying only, and “terminal” means you have less than six months to live. Now that her hospice provider has done what’s called “graduating” the woman from hospice care, she’ll have to go back to her private doctor and supplemental insurance.

I’m going to ponder that phrase “actively dying” for a while.

And while I do, I’ll think about my dad, who back in 1999 was told he had maybe six months to live.

He made it just past Christmas 2006. Then again, he was a right ornery cuss.

Comments (2)




The last dose

This seems like a legitimate problem to me:

[T]hen there is the “problem” with people accidentally committing suicide by taking too much of a prescription pain killer. If it’s a prescription painkiller, we know how much of the drug is in there. We aren’t talking about street corner heroin which have anywhere from zero to 100% active ingredients. If people are dying from taking too much Oxycodone, it’s either because they want to die, or they don’t know what a fatal dose is. And why is that? I’ll bet it’s because “nobody needs to know” that kind of information.

A lethal dose will probably vary from person to person. There is an FDA Black Box warning on Vicodin, but probably not the one you expect:

Acetaminophen has been associated with cases of acute liver failure, at times resulting in liver transplant and death. Most of the cases of liver injury are associated with the use of acetaminophen at doses that exceed 4000 milligrams per day, and often involve more than one acetaminophen-containing product.

They could slap that on Tylenol, and probably do.

Comments




Done with it

What can you say to someone who’s already decided she wants to die? “Don’t do that” seems somehow inadequate.

Comments (1)




I suspect I’m drowning in it

And I never, ever even knew:

An international collaboration of research scientists in Australia, the United States and Sweden has identified a molecule in the blood that holds the key to identifying the cause of suicide.

“We have known for a long time that people who attempt suicide have markers of chronic inflammation in their blood and spinal fluid. Commonly used antidepressants have only limited effect because they target serotonin — the branch of tryptophan associated with happiness — rather than quinolinic acid which is the other branch of tryptophan associated with inflammation,” said Professor of Neuroscience Gilles Guillemin from the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

“Our latest research provides further evidence of the role of inflammation in a person’s mental state. It shows that suicidal patients have reduced activity of an enzyme called ACMSD which results in lower production of picolinic acid, an important molecule for brain protection. We now have a much clearer indication of the biological mechanics behind suicidal tendency.”

Because you want to know:

Brundin, L., Sellgren, CM., Lim, CK., Grit, J., Palsson, E., Landen, M., Samuelsson, M., Lundgren, C., Brundin, P., Fuchs, D., Postolache, TT., Träskman-Bendz, L., Guillemin, GJ., Erhardt, S. An enzyme in the kynurenine pathway that governs vulnerability to suicidal behavior by regulating excitotoxicity and neuroinflammation. Translational Psychiatry, 2 August 2016, doi: 10.1038 / TP.2016.133.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (1)




Perhaps it just seems longer

Spurning steak and sausage and Spam might add some time to your lifespan:

[A] new study just out — Association of Animal and Plant Protein Intake With All-Cause and Cause-Specific Mortality by Song et al. — also tells us that vegetarians live longer. Their data was from two high quality U.S. databases but they appear not to have bothered at all with controls.

And you can understand why. Vegetarians will mostly be health conscious people with strong will-power and such people will undoubtedly engage in a range of safer behaviors — smoking less, avoiding dangerous drugs, exercising more, driving more slowly, climbing fewer mountains etc, etc. And all those things could contribute to a longer lifespan. Vegetarianism may be only the indicator, not the cause.

From the conclusion:

Although higher intake of animal protein was associated with higher mortality and higher intake of plant protein was associated with lower mortality, these associations were confined to participants with at least 1 lifestyle risk factor.

You know anyone with no “lifestyle risk factors?”

(Source: doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2016.4182)

Comments (4)




Let us not speak of honor

Say hello — and then say goodbye — to Qandeel Baloch, twenty-six:

Qandeel Baloch

Qandeel Baloch

And in motion:

Now the bad news:

Qandeel Baloch, a Pakistani social media star, was strangled to death by her brother in Multan, Pakistan, on Friday. The fashion model garnered fame and notoriety with her unconventional and scandalous — by Pakistani standards — public persona, and she had recently caused a stir by posting selfies with a prominent Muslim cleric, Mufti Qawi, during Ramadan. Baloch, whose real name was Fauzia Azeem, had a huge social media fanbase, with 40,000 Twitter followers and more than 700,000 on her official Facebook page.

She wrote on Facebook on the 14th:

As a women we must stand up for ourselves..As a women we must stand up for each other… As a women we must stand up for justice

I believe I am a modern day feminist. I believe in equality. I need not to choose what type of women should be. I don’t think there is any need to label ourselves just for sake of society. I am just a women with free thoughts free mindset and I LOVE THE WAY I AM. :)

#QandeelBaloch #I_Am_The_Best #Stubborn_For_My_Dreams #One_Women_Army #High_Targets #DestinationBollywood #Will_Do_Things_My_Own_Way #Just_Watch_Me

As for the perp:

On 15 July 2016, Baloch was asphyxiated by her brother Waseem while she was asleep in her parents’ house in Multan. Her death was reported by her father Azeem. It was first reported as a shooting, but an autopsy report confirmed that Baloch was murdered by asphyxiation while she was asleep, on the night of 15–16 July around 11:15p.m. to 11:30p.m.; by the time her body was found she had already been dead for fifteen to thirty-six hours. Marks on Baloch’s body revealed that her mouth and nose were pinned shut to asphyxiate her. Police called the murder an honor killing.

Real honorable of you there, Waseem.

Comments (6)




This is spinal tapping

Comments (9)




Private sedentary

In which I consider the possibility of spending the rest of my days in a seated position. Not that I want to or anything, you may be sure.

Comments (6)




As the sand flows

Funny thing about that hourglass: if someone inverted it before the sand ran out, you’d never really know, would you?

I mean, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t.

Comments (1)




Beat the weevils

This AP story keeps a straight face for the most part:

Digging their way to the top, 18 two-man teams of Hungarian gravediggers displayed their skills Friday for a place in a regional championship to be held in Slovakia later this year.

Participants in the contest held in plot 37A of the public cemetery of the eastern Hungarian city of Debrecen were being judged on their speed but also getting points for style [for] the look of the finished grave mounds.

Janos Jonas, 63, who teamed with his son, Csaba, saw the competition run by the Hungarian Association of Cemetery Maintainers and Operators as a sort of last hurrah as he was just a few weeks from retirement.

“We didn’t have to prepare in any special way because we do this every day,” said Jonas, from the nearby village of Hosszupalyi. “This is good earth, quite soft and humid, just right for the event.”

There are, of course, drawbacks to such a competition:

“The hardest part of the job is to deal with the mourners,” said Debrecen gravedigger Laszlo Toth. “But it’s a good job, with good colleagues and a good environment.”

Toth, who won the event with teammate Janos Racz, will compete in a regional race planned to be held in November in Trencin, Slovakia.

This is not the same Laszlo Toth who took a hammer to Michelangelo’s Pietà in 1972 and was subsequently deported to Australia.

Comments




A consummation he will surely miss

Gary Welsh at Advance Indiana calls the state Republican primary for Donald Trump:

If I’m not around to see the vote results, my prediction is that Trump wins Indiana with just shy of 50% of the vote, but he will carry every single congressional district and sweep the delegate race — assuming the party-chosen delegates honor their rules-bound commitment to support the winner on the first ballot. Most of those delegates favored John Kasich at the time they were chosen. Only two of the delegates named by state party officials publicly declared their support for Trump, although some have indicated they would feel obligated to support the voters’ wishes.

What’s surprising here is that opening phrase: “If I’m not around to see the vote results.” Because he won’t be:

Prominent Indianapolis blogger Gary Welsh has died, according to Indianapolis police, who say they are investigating the death as a “tragic suicide.”

Welsh, 53, wrote the widely followed conservative blog Advance Indiana, which he launched more than a decade ago. He also was a practicing attorney.

The Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department’s incident report says officers were dispatched to the Lockerbie Glove Factory Lofts, 430 N. Park Ave., before 8 a.m. Sunday after receiving a report of a person found shot in the stairwell of the building. The witnesses who called 911 reported that a gun was next to the body.

That last post went up just after noon on Friday. I didn’t see anything in the preceding week’s worth of posts to suggest that this was coming.

(Via Aaron M. Renn.)

Comments




The stars should never die

Eleanor Tiernan thinks that celebrities always deserve one more day. What does she say?

Ah, look at all the wacky people.

Comments (3)




And then you die

The suicide rate has gone off the scale among members of a Canadian First Nation:

The chief and council for the Attawapiskat First Nation on remote James Bay have declared a state of emergency, saying they’re overwhelmed by the number of attempted suicides in the community.

On Saturday night alone, 11 people attempted to take their own lives, Chief Bruce Shisheesh said.

Shisheesh and the council met Saturday night and unanimously voted to declare the state of emergency. That compels such agencies as the Weeneebayko Health Authority in Moose Factory, Ont., and Health Canada to bring in additional resources.

Including Saturday’s spate of suicide attempts, a total of 101 people of all ages have tried to kill themselves since September, Shisheesh said, with one person dying. The youngest was 11, the oldest 71.

On the upside, that’s a 99-percent failure rate among those attempting suicide, which must be considered a Good Thing. A 13-year-old girl was apparently the only one who died:

[Jackie] Hookimaw’s great-niece Sheridan took her own life in October. She was 13 years old. Hookimaw said Sheridan had a big heart, but she was plagued with multiple health conditions and was bullied at school.

More recently, Hookimaw said, she was at the community’s hospital where she saw a number of teenage girls being treated after purposely overdosing on drugs. As she was leaving, a man came in for treatment. Later, she would learn that he, too, had tried to take his own life.

Saddest of all, perhaps, is that this really isn’t anything new:

Overall, First Nations individuals have some of the highest rates of suicide globally. Suicide rates are more than twice the sex-specific rate and also three times the age-specific rates of non-Aboriginal Canadians. Residential Aboriginals between ages 10 and 29 show an elevated suicide risk as compared to non-residential Aboriginals by 5-6 times.

One theory for the increased incidences of suicide within Aboriginal populations as compared to the general Canadian population is called acculturation stress which results from the intersection of multiple cultures within one’s life. This leads to differing expectations and cultural clashes within the community, the family and the individual. At the community level, a general economic disadvantage is seen, exacerbated by unemployment and low education levels, leading to poverty, political disempowerment and community disorganization. The family suffers through a loss of tradition as they attempt to assimilate into Canadian culture. These lead to low self-esteem in the individual as First Nations culture and tradition are marginalized affecting one’s sense of self-identity. These factors combine to create a world where First Nations individuals feel they cannot identify completely as Aboriginal, nor can they fully identify as mainstream Canadians. When that balance cannot be found, many (particularly youths) turn to suicide as a way out.

The nearest major employer is De Beers, which operates a diamond mine about 90 km from the settlement of Attawapiskat. De Beers pours some money into the community, but generally they employ only about 100 members of the First Nation, which is not exactly overrun with experienced miners.

Comments




Please don’t kill our bomber

There exists on change.org a petition to spare the life of Boston bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, largely referencing the usual “Capital punishment is yucky” suspects. Most of it is fairly predictable — it’s not like we haven’t seen anything like this before — but this one paragraph toward the end is, well, striking:

Depriving Mr. Tsarnaev of his essential rights as a human being in response to his own disregard for human life is a senseless and counterproductive way of addressing the issues at hand.

Um, what issues might those be? Whether bombers should have their selfies on the cover of the Rolling Stone?

Last I looked, 34 people had their names affixed to this appeal.

Comments (3)




In the narrowest sense

Well, it’s life, Jim, but not as we know it. For one thing, it’s exceedingly uncomplicated compared to everything else alive:

The new life is born with a jolt: A fresh genome, built from scratch with human hands, is pushed into a host cell using an electric current. One cell quickly becomes a billion, and a completely unique living organism is born.

It’s not science fiction — or even a recent breakthrough. Scientists created the first synthetic bacterium back in 2010 using this method. But in a new study published Thursday in Science, they’ve taken this proof of concept a step further. Their latest single-cell creation has what they’re calling a “minimal genome.” They’ve created an organism that has just 473 genes, the smallest known genome of any living organism. With fewer, it wouldn’t be able to sustain itself. Their hope is that bringing a genome down to its minimum components will help scientists figure out the most basic building blocks of life.

Which is not to say that they understand the functions of all those genes, even at this minimal level:

[T]heir pared-down synthetic cell — dubbed JCVI-syn3.0 — has a whopping one-third of its genes totally unaccounted for.

“There were 149 genes of unknown function. We expected maybe 5 or 10 percent. I don’t think anyone would have imagined getting down to a minimal cell with 32 percent,” [J. Craig] Venter said. Even with a cell that can barely support itself, it seems, the task of hunting out gene function will still be daunting.

The closer we get, the more mysterious things seem.

Comments (2)




Bury amusing

Pat Sajak, host of Wheel of Fortune, is a smidgen (okay, seven whole years) older than I am. It’s not too surprising to see him expressing the occasional dark(ish) thought:

I mean, that’s worse than BANKRUPT.

Comments




Formerly freewheeling

When the news came down, I was even more startled than I might have expected to be, mostly because I’ve visualized this scene so many times it seems like part of the background now: pretty much any time the phrase “bridge abutment” occurs on this site, there’s a thought of crashing into one for some reason.

And really, if your destiny lies in the concrete on the underside of an overpass, that might well be the one you’d pick: genuinely sturdy — the Turner Turnpike sits on top — and far enough out in the sticks that you wouldn’t be noticed quickly. We’re talking Midwest Boulevard between 122nd and Memorial Road, from which Aubrey McClendon’s crushed Chevy Tahoe was extracted earlier today. Was this deliberate? For what it’s worth, he wasn’t buckled in.

Then again, “restraint” wasn’t in McClendon’s vocabulary; the man built a remarkable empire on a perfectly ordinary commodity. More than once he ran afoul of protocol. When Clay Bennett’s syndicate, of whom McClendon was a member, purchased the Seattle SuperSonics, it was McClendon who let slip the destination of the team, which everyone knew but which everyone was bound to deny. (The NBA fined him a quarter of a million dollars, which would be like fining you or me a Quarter Pounder with cheese.) In Michigan, McClendon tangled with conservationists, and did not prevail. In 2013, his own board of directors sent him packing. Undaunted, he set up a rival firm just down the street from the Chesapeake campus where he’d once ruled. That campus, incidentally, was another bit of McClendon willfulness: while other oil barons went vertical downtown, he built horizontally out towards the ‘burbs.

And the day before yesterday, a little incident from his Chesapeake days came back to haunt him, in the form of an indictment: during the acquisition of new oil and gas leases, said the Feds, he’d engaged in a sneaky form of bid-rigging. Whatever he’d been doing, it must have worked; at one point, Chesapeake was the largest natural-gas producer in the nation.

But those days are gone, natural gas is selling for a comparative pittance, and McClendon burned up a few BTUs of it this morning to get to the last place he’d ever get to. The unraveling will fill several books: if there’s anything to that indictment, perhaps several sets of books. One should be written, I insist, about how Aubrey McClendon left his brand all over this town, and how we’re a better place for it.

Comments (2)




Multiple death syndrome

I’ve been wanting to know this myself: Why is Leslie Nielsen STILL dead?

This week there have been waves of online sympathy over the passing of actor Leslie Nielsen prompting many to quote their favourite and most memorable lines from films such as Airplane! and The Naked Gun.

The only trouble is Nielsen actually died in November 2010 aged 84.

That didn’t stop thousands of online users sharing this BBC story without checking the date and so it appeared that Nielsen had just died.

As a result the article popped up in the “Most Read” section which resulted in even more people sharing it. And the snowball rolled on gathering weight. Many people shared their own personal tributes on Twitter and then felt foolish when they discovered the truth.

One possible explanation:

[I]f a person’s celebrity is below a certain level some of their fans may have missed news of their original death. And if they randomly search to find out whatever happened to a star, they may discover a report of their hero’s death, but not notice the date stamp. And so another snowball starts rolling downhill.

It’s chaos theory making its presence known via social media. An entirely innocent variation of the Butterfly Effect.

Fortunately, it’s easy to check up on Abe Vigoda.

(Via Fark.)

Comments (10)




Program exit

I’m hoping this man had an orderly shutdown:

William Ralph “Bill” Fink, 46, of Belleville, Ill., born July 28, 1969, in Belleville, Ill., encountered an unhandled exception in his core operating system, which prematurely triggered a critical “STOP” condition on Wednesday, Dec. 16, 2015.

Bill was an avid technophile, program developer, and educator, whose master functions were harnessed by Microsoft Corp. as a technical evangelist. Some of Bill’s most impactful component subroutines centered around video games, coaching youth sports, building elaborate displays for Halloween, and spending time with family.

And because you need to know these things:

Diagnostics indicated multiple cascading hardware failures as the root problem. Though his hardware has been decommissioned, Bill’s application has been migrated to the Cloud and has been repurposed to run in a virtual machine on an infinite loop.

(Via Matt Prichard.)

Comments




Now imagine something hitting it

Electric fans in South Korea, photo by Na-Rae Han

This picture from Wikipedia bears the following caption:

Electric fans sold in South Korea are equipped with a “timer knob” switch that turns them off after a set number of minutes. This is perceived as a life-saving function, particularly essential for bedtime use.

The reason for this? Electric fans are dangerous:

[F]ears about electric fans date almost to their introduction to Korea, with stories dating to the 1920s and 1930s warning of the risks of nausea, asphyxiation, and facial paralysis from the new technology.

One conspiracy theory is that the South Korean government created or perpetuated the myth as propaganda to curb the energy consumption of South Korean households during the 1970s energy crisis, but Slate.com reports that the myth is much older than that — dating almost as far back as the introduction of electric fans in Korea, and cites a 1927 article about “Strange Harm from Electric Fans.”

The Korean Consumer Protection Board has promoted this belief:

If bodies are exposed to electric fans or air conditioners for too long, it causes bodies to lose water and hypothermia. If directly in contact with a fan, this could lead to death from increase of carbon dioxide saturation concentration and decrease of oxygen concentration. The risks are higher for the elderly and patients with respiratory problems.

From 2003-2005, a total of 20 cases were reported through the CISS involving asphyxiations caused by leaving electric fans and air conditioners on while sleeping. To prevent asphyxiation, timers should be set, wind direction should be rotated and doors should be left open.

I suspect this belief to be less prevalent in North Korea, where there are only eight electric fans and they all belong to Kim Jong-un. Then again, possessing one under those circumstances might be hazardous to your health should the Dear Leader find out.

(Via @SwiftOnSecurity.)

Comments




Murdered out

This did not give me a sugar rush:

A meme going around compares Syrian refugees to jelly beans:

“If i gave you a bag of 50000 jellybeans and told you 100 are poisonous, you wouldn’t accept them right? Then why would we accept 50000 refugees if some of them are bad?”

I like jelly beans and numbers so I did a back of the envelope calculation. In the US there are about 15,000 murders per year. Most murderers kill only one person. Even serial killers kill only 2.8 people on average. Thus, 15,000 is also approximately the number of murderers in a year.

A bit more number-juggling, and this is the conclusion:

The current US population is 322 million so there are .0023 murderers per capita or 2.33 murderers per 1000 or 116 murderers per 50,000 people in the United States. Put differently, about 116 American babies out of every 50,000 will grow up to murder someone… In contrast, only 100 of the 50000 jelly beans were poisonous.

It helps, perhaps, to know that neither murderous Americans nor poisonous jelly beans are what you’d call evenly distributed. However, someone doesn’t become a murderer until he actually commits a murder, and just how lethal are those jelly beans, anyway?

Comments (6)




Who would have guessed?

I mean, what are the chances?

Hartford Courant report on Do Not Resuscitate orders

Is DNR in some people’s DNA or something?

(From Bad Newspaper via Miss Cellania.)

Comments (1)