[Five Deadly Everythings]

Anatomy of a stoning

Posted in 8 million ways, design, human rights, mob deep by Jef on December 1, 2010

One twin is dead, but which one and why?

Posted in 8 million ways, news stories by Jef on November 16, 2010

Considering my thing with twins and doppelgangers, you can see why this gets me:

Two twin sisters go to a shooting range. They spend over an hour firing small caliber guns. Both of them get shot. One goes to the hospital, the other goes to the morgue. The surviving twin sister was shot in the head and can’t be questioned. The police have no idea which twin is which and can’t contact the family. They aren’t searching for a suspect, or even launching a homicide investigation. All seems to suggest that the sisters shot each other.

Which, even if the answer, still leaves mystery in the air.

Doug Hamilton, the owner of the range, says the women were using small caliber guns and they were shot nearly simultaneously.

He believes the women were recreational shooters, and said the shooting was not an accident.

“It was a deliberate shooting,” Hamilton said.

When asked why, he said, “From what I know of the things I cannot tell you.”

(via)

What does it feel like to want to die?

Posted in 8 million ways, FML - fix my life, Healthiest Everythings by Jef on October 29, 2010

Mental health is kind of a cause of mine. Though you maybe couldn’t tell if you knew me, depression is something I’ve struggled on-and-off with over the years. Kicking it and picking it back up like a bad smoking habit. (Had that too.) I’ve never, however, harboured any strong suicidal thoughts. I feel there’s an important difference between wanting to die or wishing to not exist anymore and wanting to kill yourself. I remember this confusing a counsellor I visited back in my university days — one of the many questions she asked during our first session was, “Do you ever think about killing yourself?” And when I answered with full confidence, “F-ck no,” her response was a smile and a “Good!”

Which it was. Good.

I respect the struggles of suicidal persons enough that I would never claim to be one, no matter how deflated or angry or boxed-in I feel on any of those hardest of days. But she also seemed to take that to mean that I couldn’t actually be depressed. Not for real. I disagreed, of course — I also see a distinction between just having the blues and being actually depressed (I can handle the blues), but I guess I’m always a bit nitpicky with my words.

We parted ways soon after.

So what was I missing, and what was she looking for in me? Scientific American’s Jesse Bering has a great column entry up called “Being Suicidal: What it feels like to want to kill yourself.” It’s an important piece, written very well, and I encourage you to check it out — for your sake, someone else’s sake, everyone’s sake.

From Bering’s intro:

…I do hope that having knowledge about the what-it-feels-like phenomenology of ‘being’ suicidal helps people to recognize their own possible symptoms of suicidal ideation and—if indeed this is what’s happening—enables them to somehow derail themselves before it’s too late. Note that it is not at all apparent that those at risk of suicide are always aware that they are in fact suicidal, at least in the earliest cognitive manifestations of suicidal ideation. And if such thinking proceeds unimpeded, then keeping a suicidal person from completing the act may be as futile as encouraging someone at the very peak of sexual excitement to please kindly refrain from having an orgasm, which is itself sometimes referred to as la petite mort (“the little death”)…

That’s the good writing part, where I’m all I see what you did there. What follows is a list of six steps, a little academic for a topic dealing with emotions, but very on-point. I’ll link it again here in case you’re a scroller.

Bueller?

Posted in 8 million ways, design by Jef on July 28, 2010

(via)

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In which Wax gets bitten by a snake and we learn we’ve run out of antivenom

Posted in 8 million ways, beware of (blank), hip-hop, this is why you're dying by Jef on July 12, 2010

Leave it to Wax to record something this innovative when tagged in a Youtube rap cypher. Just sit in a chair and rap a written to his webcam? Heck no:

In related news (check out this segue, mom), Popular Mechanics reports on how the coral snake’s relatively inefficient method of poisoning its victims and calmer demeanor (than, say, pit vipers like the rattlesnake that bit Wax), has led to low profits for the sale of its antivenom. Subsequently, the antivenom’s manufacturers, like good capitalists, have gotten the hell out of the racket:

Unfortunately, after Oct. 31 of this year, there may be no commercially available antivenom (antivenin) left. That’s the expiration date on existing vials of Micrurus fulvius, the only antivenom approved by the Food and Drug Administration for coral snake bites. Produced by Wyeth, now owned by Pfizer, the antivenom was approved for sale in 1967, in a time of less stringent regulation.

Wyeth kept up production of coral snake antivenom for almost 40 years. But given the rarity of coral snake bites, it was hardly a profit center, and the company shut down the factory that made the antivenom in 2003. Wyeth worked with the FDA to produce a five-year supply of the medicine to provide a stopgap while other options were pursued. After that period, the FDA extended the expiration date on existing stock from 2008 to 2009, and then again from 2009 to 2010. But as of press time, no new manufacturer has stepped forward.

That’s right, no more antivenom, and even if you’ve got some, chances are it’s expired. Stay away from corals, kids.

Pillow fight!

Posted in *dead*, 8 million ways by Jef on July 8, 2010

Cyanide and Happiness, a daily webcomic
Cyanide & Happiness @ Explosm.net

Cage fighter rips out friend’s heart during bad shroom trip

Posted in 8 million ways, news stories by Jef on May 31, 2010

Above: Not amused

Today’s example of Why You Should Only Do Shrooms with Cool-Headed People You Deeply Trust (i.e. Never With Cage Fighters, OK? Not Even the Soft-Spoken Good Hygiene Types like GSP): Jarrod Wyatt, a 26-year-old mixed martial artist with a 1-0 record, drank some shroom-laced tea with a couple of his buddies, began “acting strangely,” then cut open his friend’s chest and took his heart out.

According to the coroner’s report, Taylor Powell was alive at the time his heart was removed. Wyatt’s other friend, Justin Davis, left the scene to alert police to Wyatt’s odd behaviour and did not witness the event.

From the Daily Mail:

Justin Davis told police he returned to the flat to find Wyatt naked and covered from head to toe in blood.

He noticed an eyeball lying in the middle of the floor and saw Powell’s mutilated body.

A lawyer representing Wyatt has claimed the wild mushrooms caused him to act in such a violent way and had not (sic) control over his actions.

‘My client was trying to silence the devil,’ said James Fallman.

So yeah, whatever your “bad trip” story is, I think it’s fair to say you’re being a tad dramatic about it.

Sidenote, autopsies are funny:

According to an autopsy Powell, 21, bled to death after his heart was ripped out.

I can see how that makes sense technically, but the quest to be technical about everything can be a slippery slope. Can someone bleed to death if they don’t have a heart to pump blood? Whatever the technical reason for death was, I say we chalk this up to HAVING YOUR HEART RIPPED OUT and call it a day.

South African youth want rapper accused in killings dead

Posted in 8 million ways, mob deep, news stories by Jef on March 20, 2010

Some 2000 young South Africans, many in school uniform, protested outside a Soweto courthouse on Wednesday against the bail of hip-hop artist Jub Jub, according to Associated Press. Jub Jub, real name Molemo Maarohanye, is accused of killing four kids while drag-racing (alongside co-defendant Themba Tshabalala) with cocaine and morphine in his system.

To disperse the crowd, police did their usual same-old/same-old with rubber bullets, tear gas and water cannons.

Some threatened to use mob justice if the hip-hop artist is granted bail.

Rioters hurled bricks and stones at police and chanted calls to kill the musician and Tshabalala because “they killed our friends.”

An update from South African source IOL says Jub Jub is taking the threats very seriously and has hired private security.

Jub Jub (translation: Marshmallow) was already a controversial figure in South African pop culture, but his infamy was a little less dire: moonlighting from rapping, he was a contestant on the country’s version of Survivor and famously left the show claiming he had contracted some sort of genital infection. From The Citizen:

Jub Jub said at the time that he feared the infection would get worse and that his penis might fall off as a result. He told reporters that he would rather quit the contest than become a “rotten cabbage”.

He might have dodged the rotten cabbage fate, but it sounds like small potatoes compared to the stew he’s currently in. The video for Jub Jub’s 2009 kwaito single “Fresh Air” opens with him speeding through the streets in a sleek black ride, both hands off the wheel, the buildings morphing psychedelically around him. Maybe he regrets that now, among other things.

(image via)

Bad parents kill kids, v2.0

Posted in 8 million ways, news stories, tech by Jef on March 19, 2010

Recently there was a popular story about a baby girl who starved to death while her parents were off at a cyber-cafe playing a video game. A video game in which users raise a virtual baby.

It’s not surprising that a story so equally horrifying as it is ironic generated some discussion. Slate‘s William Saletan‘s two cents win the prize for Loudest Alarm Bells:

Maybe this is just a weird story about a sick couple on the other side of the planet. But look in the mirror. Every time you answer your cell phone in traffic, squander your work day on YouTube, text a colleague during dinner, or turn on the TV to escape your kids, you’re leaving this world. You’re neglecting the people around you, sometimes at the risk of killing them.

Further:

That’s the real horror behind the Korean story: The balance of power between the worlds is shifting. Here and there, virtual reality is gaining the upper hand. The clearest evidence is death. When people consumed by the digital world begin to die and kill in the physical world, flesh is losing its grip.

The truth of the matter though, after both the horror and the novelty wears off, is that many people play “Farmville” but don’t eat enough vegetables let alone garden, and that never causes us to herald a war between the corporeal and the Matrix. For a more sober take, the Guardian notes that in a study, “a small proportion of internet users were classed as internet addicts and that people in this group were more likely to be depressed than non-addicted users.” i.e. This story is more about mental health than it is about the robot apocalypse, which I agree with.

Not that Saletan’s panic doesn’t drive him to some genuinely useful life suggestions:

So get the hell out of here. Go kiss your spouse, hug your kids, or walk down the hall and say hello to your colleagues. There’s a beautiful world out there. Live in it.

Not bad ideas. But maybe he could have included something about feeding your kid?

A wolf in coyote’s clothing

Posted in 8 million ways, beware of (blank) by Jef on March 18, 2010

“IN THE FALL OF 2009, Taylor Mitchell, a 19-year-old folksinger from To­ron­to, was touring the Maritime Provinces of eastern Canada in support of her critically acclaimed first album, For Your Consideration. With a free afternoon between gigs in Nova Scotia on October 27, she pulled into Cape Breton Highlands National Park and set out along the heavily visited Skyline Trail. The temperature was in the high thirties; birch and maple leaves would have crunched beneath her feet.”

Long story short, Mitchell was attacked on the trail by “eastern coyotes.” A pair of horrified  hikers successfully shooed the animals away but Mitchell died of her injuries.

What exactly are eastern coyotes and what makes them so ferocious, you ask? They are the little beasts that happen when, fascinatingly, wait for it, COYOTES AND WOLVES MATE, answers Outside magazine (photo via). And why are these hybrids referred to as coyotes instead of wolves, even though they seem to run in packs and hunt with wolfish flair? Public relations, it seems:

Quann uses the word pack warily, preferring the wonkier “cohesive family social group.” That’s because pack is associated with wolves, and wolves, as we know, can bring out the worst in people. But, yes, Quann says with a reluctant sigh, “it’s pretty well accepted these coyotes are wolf hybrids.”

I find it strange that the print version of this story features some awesome coyote photographs, whereas the only photo found in the online version is this outdoors troubadour shot of Mitchell, made more creepy by the fact that “within minutes of the shutter click,” the deadly wolf-yote attack ensued.