Saturday, May 23, 2009


Shut off your computer and go outside. It's a beautiful day.

Friday, May 22, 2009

I'm Not Dead Yet



Safety coffins
"All I desire for my own burial is not to be buried alive".

Lord Chesterfield. Letter to his daughter-in-law, March 16, 1769.
"Have me decently buried, but do not let my body be put into a vault in less than two days after I am dead".

dying request of George Washington.
"The earth is suffocating .... Swear to make them cut me open, so that I won't be buried alive".

last words of composer, Frédéric Chopin.

Fear of premature burial was widespread in 18th and 19th century Europe, leading to the invention of the safety coffin. Over thirty different designs were patented in Germany in the second half of the 19th century. The common element was a mechanism for allowing the 'dead' to communicate with people above ground. Many designs included ropes which, when pulled, would ring the church bell, or a purpose-mounted bell. Others replaced the bell with a raiseable flag, a powerful fire cracker or a pyrotechnic rocket. Some included a shovel, a ladder and a supply of food and water. An essential element, which was overlooked in some designs, was a breathing tube to provide air and occasionally even sustenance.

In 1822, Dr Adolf Gutsmuth of Seehausen, Altmark, demonstrated his design by having himself buried alive, whereupon he "stayed underground for several hours and had a meal of soup, beer, and sausages served through the coffin's feeding tube"

Although several designs were built and sold, there is no indication that any dead person was ever buried in a safety coffin. Most models had sufficient design flaws to suggest that they would have been unlikely to have worked properly if they had actually been used.

For example the models that required ropes to be tied directly to the arms and legs, so that the alarm was raised upon any sign of movement of the deceased, would all have been triggered by the natural movements of the limbs that occur as the body putrefies and bloats. Safety coffins are still available today. As recently as 1995 an Italian Fabrizio Caselli invented a model that includes an emergency alarm, two-way microphone/speaker, a torch, oxygen tank, heartbeat sensor and heart stimulator.
Design for Safety Coffin
Design for Safety Coffin. Dr Johann Taberger Der Scheintod Hanover 1829.

Improved Burial Case
Improved Burial Case. Patent No. 81,437 Franz Vester, Newark, New Jersey. August 25, 1868.
USA Patents Office

The security coffin designed by Dr Johann Gottfried Taberger in 1829 alerted a cemetery night watchman by a bell which was activated by a rope connected to strings attached to the hands, feet and head of the 'corpse'. The bell housing prevented the alarm from sounding by wind or birds landing on it. The design of the tube prevented rain water from wetting the 'corpse', and contained mesh to stop nuisance insects. On the event of the bell sounding, a second tube was to be inserted at the foot of the coffin and air pumped through with a bellows.

The patent for another safety coffin the 'Vester Burial Case' states "The nature of this invention consists of placing on the lid of the coffin, and directly over the face of the body laid therein, a square tube, which extends from the coffin up through and over the surface of the grave, said tube containing a ladder and a cord, one end of said cord being placed in the hand of the person laid in the coffin, and the other being attached to a bell on the top of the square tube, so that, should a person be interred ere life is extinct, he can, on recovery to consciousness, ascend from the grave and the coffin by the ladder; or, if not able to ascend by said ladder, ring the bell, thereby giving an alarm, and thus save himself from premature burial and death; and, if on inspection, life is extinct, the tube is withdrawn, the sliding door closed, and the tube used for a similar purpose."
Further information

* Jan Bondeson. Buried Alive: The Terrifying History of Our Most Primal Fear. W.W. Norton & Company; 2001. ISBN: 039304906X


Thursday, May 21, 2009


Men are on the road to extinction as their genes shrink and slowly fade away, medical students heard today.

A researcher in human sex chromosomes said the male Y chromosome was dying and could run out within the next five million years.

But Professor Jennifer Graves said men may follow the path of a type of rodent which still manages to reproduce despite not having the vital genes that make up the Y chromosome.

She told medical students at the annual outreach public lecture at the Royal College of Surgeons (RCSI) a second species of human beings could even be born in the future.

“You need a Y chromosome to be male,” said Prof Graves.

“Three hundred million years ago the Y chromosome had about 1,400 genes on it, and now it’s only got 45 left, so at this rate we’re going to run out of genes on the Y chromosome in about five million years.

“The Y chromosome is dying and the big question is what happens then.”

The male Y chromosome has a gene (SRY) which switches on the development of testis and pumps out male hormones that determine maleness.

In her lecture, entitled The Decline and Fall of the Y Chromosome and the Future of Men, Prof Graves discussed the disappearance of the Y chromosome and the implications for humans.

She said it was not known what would happen once the Y chromosome disappeared.

“Humans can’t become parthenogenetic, like some lizards, because several vital genes must come from the male,” she continued.

“But the good news is that certain rodent species – the mole voles of Eastern Europe and the country rats of Japan – have no Y chromosome and no SRY gene.

“Yet there are still plenty of healthy male mole voles and country rats running around. Some other gene must have taken over the job and we’d like to know what that gene is.”

The scientist said there were several candidate genes which could take over from SRY, adding whichever one did take over was sheer chance.

“It is even possible that two or more different sex-determination systems based on different genes could arise in different populations,” she added.

“These could no longer reproduce with each other, leading to two different species of humans.”

The work of Prof Graves, of the Australian National University, Canberra, on the past evolution of sex determination has paved the way for developments in diagnosis of gender disorders and gender-related disease in humans.

Professor Brian Harvey, director of research at RCSI, said he was delighted to have a scientist of Prof Graves’ calibre speaking at this year’s lecture.

“Not only is Professor Graves a world-renowned scientist, but she also has the ability to convert difficult scientific concepts into language non-scientists can grasp and help bring science to life,” he added.

Read more: "Men on road to extinction |" -

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Hooray for Hollywood


BTW Dan Akroyd confirmed that coming soon... Ghostbusters 3..... just saying

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Le Singe Monte Une Bicyclette

A man rode his rusty Schwinn down the tree lined, suburban street, early in the morning. It was cloudy and cool. He was naked. It was a banana seat bike. He always said he rode this way because he like to feel the wind against his shins. I reminded him shorts would do the trick, even spants, but he just scoffed and pulled a wheelie. The neighbors didn't mind. Only the paper boy was up that early, anyway. It's actually quite sight to see a man riding a banana seat bicycle, while reading the paper. On odd numbered days he would smoke his pipe during the morning ride. Unless of course it was a leap year, then it was a cigarette and a unicycle. All of this was done without the modern convenience of clothes. Now, believe me when I say, he was far from a nudist or a naturist. In fact, if you were to ask him his views on such folks, he'd spew a string of expletives that would make a sailor blush. Our cyclist believed in the usual higher powers, journalism, and pastries. However, like most well informed citizens was distrustful of cats, shopping carts, and left socks, accusing them of attempting to pass for the right. This is turn confusing his shoes, so forth and so on. 

For so many years had this man been riding his bicycle in the morning that he could do it with his eyes shut, had it been possible to read the daily news in such a fashion. His pipe, this being the 3rd of the April year of our lord 2006, was letting off puffs of sweet smelling tobacco from behind the paper, giving him the look of a locomotive. When on this dreary morning, it began to drizzle.

"It's like all the angels of heaven are spitting on all the cats of this world, good riddance" he grumbled.

Quick as a whip the old man folded up his newspaper into a pointed captain's hat and placed it on his head. 

"Wouldn't want to catch a cold, would we Sammy?" he proclaimed.

Now, I'm not sure if the man's name is Sam, or if the bike's name is Sam, or if my name is Sam, but he has a point, none the less.

The old man wheelied through the puddles singing a song that began like happy birthday and ended like The Who’s "Baba O’Riely” and he was without a care in the world. As he rounded the corner onto his street, already being 2 minutes late for toast, he was struck by a lime green Volkswagen minibus, and sent sprawling onto the lawn.

The paper hat was in the gladiolas, the pipe was in the mailbox, and somehow the banana seat made it to the roof of the car port. The old man was on his back, looking at the rain falling straight down. The paper boy rushed over.

"You alright, mate?"


"Sir? You alright? If you die, they'll sure as fuck fire me."


"Hello? Aw Christmas and crackers, I killed the naked bastard-"

The old man muttered something that sounded like "Bears fly kites."

"I beg your pardon?" asked the paperboy.

"Where is my pipe?" repeated the old man.

The paper boy ran about looking for the old man's pipe grumbling about his job, a girlfriend's birthday, and seeing the old man's shame. He looked in the gladiolas, he looked up to the roof, and as he was about to shove the remaining papers in the mailbox and bugger off, he found the pipe and returned it to Sammy, or whoever was still on the grass, motionless. The old man great fully accepted the pipe and pulled out a bag of tobacco, packed the pipe and began smoking.
 "Where did you get that?" asked the paperboy in shock, referring to the bag of tobacco that seemed to appear out of thin air.

"From the tobacconist" said the old man.

"Right, right. Well then, if you're all set, I'll be off."

"Out here in the fields. I fought for my meals. I get my back into my living
I don't need to fight. To prove I'm right. I don't need to be foooorgiven!" sang the old man as the paperboy hopped in the rectangular limey looking vehicle and sped off.
The old man was left smoking and singing in the rain.

The moral of the story is make sure you put your socks on the right feet, be on time for toast, and the falling rain won't hurt you, it only exists to piss off cats.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Egypt slaughtered 300,00 plus pigs even though they have had no reported cases of swine flu NOR is the disease spread by pigs. So what that the majority of the population doesn't eat pork and the pig farmers are the religious minority.

Meanwhile Notre Dame treats Obama like the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad... The news would have you believe that legislation to improve health care, equal rights for all Americans, the environment, and workers will turn us all into card carrying pinko commie hippies, pink triangles on our sleeves, letting the king of England steal your guns.

So between the pandemics, the threat of nuclear war, the moral disintegration, and the second red scare who has time to worry about the fact that American culture is now defined by Beyonce Knowles in a feature length cat fight, or the real house wives of new jersey. I am in mourning for art, culture, and mass taste. I cry for the ignorance of Americans who want to deny monogamous relationships to committed couples who could bring sanctity back to marriage.

Tell me what to fear and keep it manageable. Wear your masks, throw your hot dogs into the bon fire, say your prayers, and eat your vegetables.

Speaking of fear....
This article from the BBC should get you thinking that maybe its normal to want to scream from the windows "I'm mad as hell, and I'm not gonna take it anymore!"

Are we all capable of violence?

By Diene Petterle

It was one of the thorniest questions of the 20th Century and it remains a conundrum today. Are all "ordinary" people potentially violent?

The human race is both appalled and fascinated by violence. Man's aggression spans the globe - from terrorist attacks to guerrilla wars to gang-related crime.

It is everywhere, and it binds all nations and races together. But where does it begin? Do we learn it or is it something instinctive?

Most of us think of ourselves as calm and peaceful people.

We're brought up to try and resolve all conflict peaceably and tend to think that violence is something that "other" people commit, not ourselves. But is it?

Is it possible that you, or your mother or daughter or son, could ever be driven to commit a dreadful crime? Do we have that level of violence in ourselves?

The answer is yes.

Contrary to popular belief, we are born violent. Until the age of three, our impulses run riot. There is no stopping the urges which come from the emotional centre in our brains.

But as we grow up, we start to develop the part of the brain that allows us to control our aggression - the pre-frontal cortex. Yet crucially, how well this control mechanism works depends on our experiences.

Festival of violence

Being taught to share and take turns rather than resolve conflict with violence actually changes the physical structure of the brain and therefore makes us less aggressive.

But trying to resolve conflict peaceably is not something all cultures subscribe to. In the Bolivian Andes, one tribe settles disputes which arise over the year in an annual festival of violence, known as the Tinku.

Nazi death squad executes Ukrainian Jews
The way people with no history of violence committed atrocities during World War II has provoked much discussion

Their warrior tradition dictates that men, women and even children should learn to fight and deaths are not unheard of.

Neuroscientist Maria Couppis argues that their brains are different from the norm because they were socialised to resolve conflicts this way.

This suggests that although we are all born with a violent potential, our upbringing and the environment play a key part in creating violence controls in our brain.

Not only are we born violent, we are also chemically programmed to love it. Inside the brain a pleasure-inducing chemical called dopamine is released when we fight.

Dopamine informs the brain that we're having a good time. But the problem doesn't stop there - the rush we get from dopamine can get us physically addicted to violence. The more we have it, the more we want it.

Primeval pleasure

Danny Brown, a former hooligan, knows better than most just how far one can go to get this "hit". He was sent to prison for stabbing a rival fan but even that didn't stop him. The rush of hooliganism was too strong to resist.

"I was never into drinking or drugs. Fighting was my heroin."

It's only when your violent impulses are triggered that you realise you are out of control
Prof Charles Golden

Fighting is a primeval pleasure controlled by the frontal part of the brain. But how easy is it for us to lose control? Crimes of passion are an everyday occurrence and perpetrators often don't know what came over them. How is this explained? What is it that drives them to lose it?

Neuro-psychology expert Prof Charles Golden says we can all easily lose control and commit an extreme act of violence. All we need is for there to be a breakdown in the pre-frontal cortex and that can be triggered by anything from a car accident or repeated blows to the head in a game of rugby.

In fact, physical injury is not the only way to cause the cortex to shut down. Depression, alcohol abuse, drugs, lack of sleep and even the natural ageing process can all injure our violence controls.

Control mechanisms

"One of my patients is a priest," says Prof Golden. "He spent all his life helping people and one day he had a car accident. In the hospital, the doctors sent him home saying he was completely fine.

"For a month he didn't notice anything was wrong. But then he had a fight with his wife and completely lost it. He very nearly killed her. So much so that she left him straight away.

Child soldier in Congo
Many are forced into violent action and desensitised

"The scary thing is that in your everyday life you just don't notice there's anything wrong. It's only when your violent impulses are triggered that you realise you are out of control. But by then it's probably too late."

It's hard to accept that we're born violent, that we enjoy it, and that all our control mechanisms can easily be broken.

But if we think about why most people get killed, it isn't because of a crime of passion or a sudden rush of violence - it is because of war and genocide. It is because someone deliberately decided to kill another person.

Emmanuel Jal, a former child soldier in the Sudan, has personal experience of how a traumatic experience can lead you to deliberately want to kill another human being.

He had a healthy and happy childhood until one day war tore his hopes for a normal life. His mother disappeared, his village was burnt down and he lost everything he had.

Justified aggression

He became convinced that the people who did this to him deserved to die, and joined the rebel army. With them, he killed and tortured many people.

He is now trying to re-build his life and share with the world the idea that violence only creates more violence.

Emmanuel Jal's experience is extreme. But how extreme does a situation need to be for you or I to be convinced that violence is justified against another person?

Drunk man being arrested
Sometimes violence is explained by alcohol consumption or other factors

Most of us can imagine that if someone harmed our children or loved ones, we might engage in violence. But could we ever harm someone who hasn't caused us any harm, merely because of an idea or ideology?

The much-cited Milgram experiment of 1961 suggests the answer might be yes. Members of the public were asked to give a shock to a "volunteer" every time they got an answer from a multiple questions test wrong. The shocks were to be increased incrementally, up until the lethal 450v shock.

What the participants didn't know was that the "volunteer" was acting and hadn't been receiving shocks. But still two-thirds were prepared to deliver the "fatal" 450v shock because of the supervision of a white-coated authority figure.

The experiment has often been used as the proof that we are all capable of violence within a certain framework. We struggle to accept this, but the science seems to suggest we are wrong.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This is what we do those who threaten our power

This article was first published on at 17.33 GMT on Monday 9 March 2009. It was last updated at 15.20 BST on Wednesday 15 April 2009.

Santino, a 31-year-old male at Furuvik zoo, may be the first animal to exhibit an unambiguous ability to plan for the future, a behaviour many scientists argue is unique to humans. Forward planning takes considerable cognitive skills, because it requires an animal to envisage future events it will have to deal with.

Santino would get agitated when the first groups of visitors arrived at his enclosure in the morning, and would start hurling stones at the spectators. When the zookeepers investigated, they found that, while the zoo was closed, Santino had been busy making piles of ammunition, and returned to them to resupply.

To catch the chimp in action, one zookeeper hid in a room overlooking the enclosure and observed the ape's behaviour before the zoo gates opened each morning. She saw Santino dragging stones from a protective moat that surrounded his island home, before placing them in piles. Further covert surveillance of the ape revealed he spent some time tapping areas of concrete floor with his fist. Occasionally, the animal would thump harder, releasing chunks of concrete that he broke into rough discs.

A survey of the enclosure showed that Santino made piles of ammunition only on the quarter of the island's shore that faced the visiting crowds.

Since becoming aware of the issue, zookeepers have removed hundreds of caches of stones from the island and have observed Santino gathering stones and putting them in piles at least 50 times. Santino's attempts to fashion concrete discs has been recorded 18 times, according to a report in Current Biology.

Staff at the zoo coped with Santino's antics by warning visitors when he was getting agitated, and erected a fence to try to contain the projectiles. Cognitive scientist Mathias Osvath, the author of the study, believes that such complex forward planning suggests Santino can anticipate future events and is able to devise ways of dealing with them. In this situation, he is trying to get the crowds to move on.

"Forward planning like this is supposed to be uniquely human; it implies a consciousness that is very special, that you can close your eyes you can see this inner world," he said. "Many apes throw objects, but the novelty with Santino is that he makes caches of these missiles while he is fully calm and only throws them much later on.

"We are not alone in the world within. There are other creatures who have this special consciousness that is said to be uniquely human."

Osvath interviewed zookeepers at Furuvik and examined records of the chimp's behaviour. He found that Santino only gathered rocks and made concrete missiles when the zoo was closed. He gave up the behaviour completely when the zoo was shut over the winter.

The zookeepers recently decided that an operation was the best way of controlling Santino's behaviour.

"They have castrated the poor guy. They hope that his hormone levels will decrease and that will make him less prone to throw stones. He's already getting fatter and he likes to play much more now than before. Being agitated isn't good for him," said Osvath.

So much for evolution. Turns out Bob Barker was just interested in keeping the animals from rising up against us.


" "The difference between a madman and a professional is that a pro does as well as he can within what he has set out to do and a madman does exceptionally well at what he can't help doing.” ― Charles Bukowski