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Archive for January, 2011

A Florida woman was strangled to death by her electric neck massager:

A Jackson Memorial Hospital radiologist was strangled to death in her Parkland home on Christmas Eve by an electronic massager that became ensnared with a necklace she was wearing, according to the Broward Sheriff’s Office.

Michelle Ferrari-Gegerson, 37, had spent the evening wrapping gifts and preparing to go to work, and had used the massager to relieve neck pain, said a report released Wednesday by BSO.

Ferrari-Gegerson was discovered unconscious on her bedroom floor by her husband, Dr. Kenneth Gegerson, a dentist, at about 9 p.m. Friday in the couple’s home in Pinetree Estates.

Gegerson, who could not be reached for comment this week, dialed 911. When police and paramedics arrived, they found an electronic massager on the floor near Ferrari-Gegerson, according to the BSO report.

Police are temporarily withholding the brand and other details of the electronic massager as the investigation continues.

The article then recounts other incidents in which electric neck massagers have turned into instruments of death.

Guess what’s not on my Christmas list next year…

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When pulp science fiction meets reality, courtesy of MIT:

Liane Young and colleagues applied transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to disrupt neural activity in an area of the brain known to process information about beliefs and then asked twenty subjects to rate actions on a scale from one (morally forbidden) to seven (morally permissible). The researchers report that study participants judged actions in which a person believes he or she will cause harm to another person-but fails to do so-were more morally permissible during TMS application to the brain region responsible for processing beliefs, compared to when TMS was not applied, or applied to other brain regions.

At last, with the power of magnets at my disposal, I and my army of mind-controlled slaves will conquer the world*!

*After a nap.

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For research purposes only. Really.

Many neat discoveries are made by accident: teflon, plastic, and penicillin, for example. So we shouldn’t be too surprised when a group of Japanese scientists inadvertently discovered how to greatly improve superconductors… while drunk:

Yoshihiko Takano and other researchers at the National Institute for Materials Science in Japan were in the process of creating a certain kind of superconductor by putting a compound in hot water and soaking it for hours. They also soaked the compound in a mixture of water and ethanol. It appears the process was going well, because the scientists decided to have a little party. The party included sake, whisky, various wines, shochu, and beer. At a certain point, the researchers decided to try soaking the compound in the many, many liquors they had on hand and seeing how they compared to the more conventional soaking liquids.

When they tested the resulting materials for superconductivity, they found that the ones soaked in commercial booze came out ahead. About 15 percent of the material became a superconductor for the water mixed with ethanol, and less for the pure water. By comparison, Shochu jacked up conductivity by 23 percent and red wine managed to supercharge over 62 percent of the material. The scientists were pleased, if bemused with their results.

Again, some of the best discoveries are made by serendipity, though perhaps we should be grateful that they weren’t into nuclear weapons research…

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Awww… nuts! You mean I bought an auto-shotgun, chainsaw, and flamethrower for nothing? Dude!

Here’s one reason:

#6: They Can’t Take the Heat

It’s generally accepted by zombie experts that they’re going to continue to rot, even as they shamble around the streets. What the movies fail to convey, however, is the gruesome yet strangely hilarious effect the hot sun has on a rotting corpse.

The first concern is putrefaction. Thanks to the plethora of bacteria we use in our colon for digesting plant matter, called gut flora, our bodies are ripe for decay the second our heart stops. Since heat speeds the growth of bacteria (which are plenty happy to start feasting on you once your immune system is no longer a concern) the zombie’s got a looming expiration date the very second it turns.

Dead bodies bloat because of the gases created by the bacteria, meaning that in warmer areas even Abercrombie Zombies are going to start getting fat in the first few days. After a few weeks of this, the nasty, bloated zombie army is going to start doing something that is simultaneously the most awesome and disturbing thing a zombie can do: they will start exploding (CAUTION! Pictures!). The warm, moist conditions in the tropical and subtropical parts of the world (or even just summer in the temperate parts) speeds this condition, meaning a July zombie outbreak pretty much anywhere would be over in a few weeks just by virtue of the rampaging monsters bursting like rancid meat balloons.

Ew!!

Of course, in a world in which the dead rise and act  like Democrats, who says they have to obey the laws of physics and biology?

Better hang on to at least the shotgun…

h/t The Jawa Report

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I was sorely tempted these last few weeks to buy myself a Kindle as a Christmas present. Being a fan of screen space, I gravitated toward the 9.7″ Kindle DX. But… I decided it was too pricey for now*, so I passed.

I was sad. đŸ˜¦

However, the gods at Amazon decided to take pity on me and ran a one-day sale yesterday on the 28-disc, boxed set of The Twilight Zone: The Complete Definitive Collection. How much of a sale, you ask? The MSRP is $299.99 and Amazon’s normal price is $243.49.

I snagged it for $93.99 — a 69% discount.

I call that an adequate consolation prize. đŸ˜€

*No promises about next week, though. I really, really, want a Kindle.

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Bet that ruined his day.

The Battle of Towton in 1461 may well have been the largest battle ever fought in the British Isles. Without a doubt, it was a crucial encounter in the War of the Roses. Now archeological excavations of the battlefield are showing just how vicious the fight was, and how much damage a medieval weapon could do:

The soldier now known as Towton 25 had survived battle before. A healed skull fracture points to previous engagements. He was old enough—somewhere between 36 and 45 when he died—to have gained plenty of experience of fighting. But on March 29th 1461, his luck ran out.

Towton 25 suffered eight wounds to his head that day. The precise order can be worked out from the direction of fractures on his skull: when bone breaks, the cracks veer towards existing areas of weakness. The first five blows were delivered by a bladed weapon to the left-hand side of his head, presumably by a right-handed opponent standing in front of him. None is likely to have been lethal.

The next one almost certainly was. From behind him someone swung a blade towards his skull, carving a down-to-up trajectory through the air. The blow opened a huge horizontal gash into the back of his head—picture a slit you could post an envelope through. Fractures raced down to the base of his skull and around the sides of his head. Fragments of bone were forced in to Towton 25’s brain, felling him.

His enemies were not done yet. Another small blow to the right and back of the head may have been enough to turn him over onto his back. Finally another blade arced towards him. This one bisected his face, opening a crevice that ran from his left eye to his right jaw (see picture). It cut deep: the edge of the blade reached to the back of his throat.

None of this movie-like “one thrust and you fall down” stuff. Nope. Not only were they going to kill this poor schmuck*, but they were going to hack him into bits, too. And, from the evidence, this occurred all over the killing field.

It reminds me of what I once read about the death of King Harold at the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The sanitized account is that he was killed when an arrow struck him in the eye. Bad enough. But the truth is that he was only sorely wounded by the arrow; while (probably) screaming in agony and trying to get the shaft out of his eye, he was surrounded by mounted Norman knights who hacked at him with sword and axe until he finally died. Talk about an undignified end** for a man who, by most accounts, was a decent king.

Back to Towton and archeology, be sure to read the article. It’s quite fascinating.

*Who, I’m sure, was trying to do the same thing to the other guys.

**Though not as undignified as the death of King George II: on the toilet of an aortic dissection while straining against constipation.

h/t Greyhawk Grognard

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It’s not unusual at all for a woman to learn her man is fooling around with another woman. And, sadly, it’s not unusual these days to hear of legally adult women sleeping with underage males*. It is a bit unusual** to learn of two different adult women having relations with the same legally underage male, apparently unbeknownst to each other.

And it is downright weird when the two women are mother and daughter:

County Supervisor Fulton Brock’s daughter has been arrested and accused of molesting the same boy her mother is charged with sexually abusing over a three-year period.

Rachel Katherine Brock, 21, daughter of Fulton and Susan Brock, faces three counts of sexual conduct with a minor and one of furnishing obscene materials to a minor. The charges are related to incidents that began when the boy was 14 and she was 18, according to court papers.

Susan Brock, 48, faces 15 child-abuse counts for allegedly abusing the same boy starting when he was 13 years old and she was 45, the court documents report.

Mother and daughter are both being held without bond.

An article about the mother’s initial arrest is here.

And while I have deep sympathy for the cuckolded husband/father in this mess, this story is so… bizarre that I can’t help but laugh. Perhaps from shock.

And, oh yes, “ew!!”

*Something I suspect has always happened, but is simply being reported more and more.

**As in “almost unheard of.”

h/t The Jawa Report

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