“Frightened citizens, sheltered in place, with no means to defend themselves or their families from whatever might come crashing through their door. How many Bostonians wished they had a gun two weeks ago?”
– The National Rifle Association’s Wayne LaPierre, quoted by the Huffington Post.
Mr. LaPierre’s characterization of non-gun owners is so IGNORANT that I wonder why the NRA lets him have a microphone. Trust me, folks who don’t have guns DO have baseball bats and crow bars, and they can tell if some kid is trying to break into their house.
The main thing I get from this is that Mr. LaPierre himself falls apart under stress, then hides somewhere snuggling his gun like a security blanket. Come ON, dude. Make popcorn, turn on the TV, take a FUCKING Ativan. LaPierre is totally wrong to assume that the rest of the world has the amount of fear that he does. And he is not typical of gun owners, who are as likely to own baseball bats and crowbars as everyone else.
More people choke to death on pens every year than the Boston bombers killed.
More people have died of tylenol overdoses than terrorists have killed in the US since (including) 9-11. I’m so sick of a traumatized country jumping at every sound.
“After a shooting spree, they always want to take the guns away from the people who didn’t do it. I sure as hell wouldn’t want to live in a society where the only people allowed guns are the police and the military.”
– William S. Burroughs
Patternicity is Shermer’s name for apophenia, the tendency to find meaning in noise. This is how we see constellations in the stars, faces on Mars, and Kaziklu Bey’s visage grinning evilly from a slice of cinnamon toast.
In its negative form, patternicity is behind many forms of self-deception, from superstition to conspiracy theory. This video goes into it in depth, with examples.
Perhaps you remember the Walt Disney classic “Old Yeller” in which a frontier family’s dog contracts “the hydrophobie” from fighting a rabid wolf. Who could forget the tear-jerker scene where, after telling his mama “He was my dog… I’ll do it,” young Travis ends Yeller’s suffering.
Although it is a vaccine-preventable disease, rabies still poses a significant public health problem in many countries in Asia and Africa where 95% of human deaths occur even though safe, effective vaccines for both human and veterinary use exist.
Nearly half of those bitten by suspect rabid animals are children under 15 years of age. Although the efficacy and safety of modern cell culture vaccines have been recognized, some countries still produce and use nervous tissue vaccines, which are less effective.
– World Health Organization » Health topics » Rabies
In many parts of the world, vaccination, testing and treatment are prohibitively expensive. In rural communities rabies isn’t reported. It’s deadly, why bother? is the logic. Keep the victim as comfortable as possible while you wait for the inevitable.
The very experimental Milwaukee Protocol is marginally effective. Patients come out of it with severe neurological damage and needing months of rehab.
Currently, if a human is bitten the doctors test the animal that bit them. The test – and this is gruesome – requires that the animal’s head be sent away for testing. The test is to look for lesions on the brain, and if there are no lesions, oh well.
They’ve come up with a new test that can diagnose human rabies from skin cells that I hope will someday replace decapitation as the diagnostic procedure of choice.
The number of human deaths due to rabies is currently underestimated to be 55,000 deaths per year. Biological diagnostic methods for confirmation of rabies remain limited, because testing on postmortem cerebral samples is the reference method, and in many countries, sampling brain tissue is rarely practiced. There is a need for a reliable method based on a simple collection of nonneural specimens.
Dacheux, Laurent et al. A Reliable Diagnosis of Human Rabies Based on Analysis of Skin Biopsy Specimens. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2008; 47:1410–7
/PLANTS/ … It is not known how poison ivy might respond to increasing concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO(2)), but previous work done in controlled growth chambers shows that other vines exhibit large growth enhancement from elevated CO(2). Rising CO(2) is potentially responsible for the increased vine abundance that is inhibiting forest regeneration and increasing tree mortality around the world. In this 6-year study at the Duke University Free-Air CO(2) Enrichment experiment, we show that elevated atmospheric CO(2) in an intact forest ecosystem increases photosynthesis, water use efficiency, growth, and population biomass of poison ivy. The CO(2) growth stimulation exceeds that of most other woody species. Furthermore, high-CO(2) plants produce a more allergenic form of urushiol. Our results indicate that Toxicodendron taxa will become more abundant and more “toxic” in the future, potentially affecting global forest dynamics and human health. [Mohan JE et al; Proc Natl Acad Sci USA 103 (24): 9086-9 (2006)] **PEER REVIEWED** PubMed Abstract
K: It just ocurred to me. A major flaw in the premise of the movie “Signs“.
Why would anyone go to a planet that contained such vast quantities of a substance so extremely toxic to them?
Me: USUALLY they don’t. In those cases the native species all die and there is no movie.
Yeah, it’s not like they could use us as food. No idea.
That, and the humidity in the air would burn whatever they use for lungs.
Of course, running around naked didn’t help. Didn’t they have space suits?
For that matter, why didn’t they have weapons? Never bring your own balls to a baseball bat fight.
And DAMN, did they not have doors where they came from? Locked in the *pantry*?
T: If today’s TV and movies were logical, most of them would last about 2 minutes. I tried watching “Alias” and the lead character is a CIA agent/grad student. She tells her fiance. He leaves a long phone message on her answering machine musing about this revelation. If it were at all realistic, both of them would be dead, not just the boyfriend – and Darwin would be proved right.
K: At the end of The War of the Worlds, the Martians died when they caught a cold. But why didn’t they bring any of their own viruses? They could have eradicated life on Earth by sending blankets infected with Mars-pox.
T: Ah, the good old days…when we didn’t know about small pox. And the only gals you saw in underwear were for Playtex.
Maidenform Matador dream ad.
I dreamed I was a world-famous matadoress in my maidenform bra!!! In the 60s they couldn’t show bra models in magazines. Somehow it was acceptable to show a bra model in a fantasy photo.
K: Remember in old westerns when they would show “Kind Hearted” women taking blankets to the poor cold indians despite the warnings. Then we didn’t understand why the “Barbaric Savages” would reject the gift and take the women prisoner? Now we know and realize we might have done the same.
Me: I don’t recall any movies with “kind-hearted womem” being exposed to smallpox-infected blankets.
When Mars-pox kills everyone, there will be no movie. There was a sci-fi story by Racoona Sheldon called “The Screwfly Solution” in which aliens used pheromones to wipe out the human race. It was told from the viewpoint of a woman who escaped the carnage by hiding in the mountains. The story appears in The Oxford Book of Science Fiction Stories.
OTOH, in the book Evolution from Space two highly-esteemed astronomers state that since the earth is constantly being bombarded by graphite, it’s practically a given that the building blocks of alien life are constantly raining down on us. Graphite can be the result of exposing organic material to UV radiation in a vacuum.
Viruses that evolved with us usually don’t kill everyone. To be a successful parasite you have to have to have hosts to infest. Hoyle and Wickramasinghe also associated some historical plagues with celestial events such as meteor showers and near-misses by comets.
Viruses can be used to inject genetic material into our cells. I would guess that a number of these plagues from space injected USEFUL materials, hence “Evolution from Space.”
DH: How could you not have read “Tale of Two Cities”? It has the most famous opening line ever… Me: “Call me Ishmael?” DH: Ok, the second most famous opening line ever.
As it happens, we read the same authors but different books. In grade school I slogged through Dickens’ “Great Expectations” but DH read “Tale Of Two Cities” and so on.
I found lists of the best books ever written, boiled it down to a reasonable number, then downloaded the .epubs from Project Gutenberg. If you like my ebook selection, please donate to Project Gutenberg! These ebooks are all Public Domain in the U.S., that is, legal to download and to share.