He kissed me… but only in my dreams


The risk of waking from a general anaesthetic while under the surgeon’s knife is extremely small - about one in 15,000 - research reveals.

Out of nearly 3 million operations in 2011 there were 153 reported cases. […] A third - 46 in total - were conscious throughout the operation.

{ BBC | Continue reading }

The incidence of accidental awareness during general anaesthesia (AAGA) is reported by several studies to be surprisingly high, in the range of 1–2 per 1000 general anaesthetics administered. These studies employ a direct patient questionnaire (usually repeated three times over a period of up to 30 days postoperatively) known as the ‘Brice protocol.’ It is also reported that a high proportion of patients experiencing AAGA suffer psychological problems including posttraumatic stress disorder. There are in fact very few studies reporting an incidence of AAGA much lower than this, an exception being that of Pollard et al., who found an incidence of 1:14 500. However, their methods might be criticised as they administered the questionnaire only twice over a 48-h period, which might only detect two thirds of cases . Anecdotally, anaesthetists do not perceive the incidence of AAGA to be so high. A small Japanese study found that only 21 of 172 practitioners had known of an incident of AAGA under their care, with an overall incidence of just 1:3500. In a larger UK survey of over 2000 consultants, Lau et al. reported that anaesthetists estimated the incidence to be approximately 1:5000, similar to the estimated incidence reported previously by 220 Australian anaesthetists of between 1:5000 and 1:10 000.

{ Anaesthesia/Wiley | Continue reading }

Mmm, maybe I misjudged Stromberg

Brooklyn man furious his roommate wanted to move out allegedly murdered her fish


“They were my babies! I can’t have children, so my pets are like my kids,” Brenda Alvarez said yesterday. “They were beautiful fish and cost about $25 each.” […]

Alvarez, 45, said she wanted to move out of the Nostrand Avenue apartment because of growing tension between the longtime friends. […]

Santiago allegedly roughed up Alvarez before turning on the fish. He killed them in front of her, she said. […]

Santiago, 47, was arrested and charged with animal cruelty and assault.

{ NY Post | Continue reading }

The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth


This January, a 21-year-old Canadian tourist named Elisa Lam disappeared while visiting Los Angeles. Lam was last seen at the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles, where she had been staying. Tuesday, her body was found at the bottom of one of the hotel’s rooftop water tanks. […]

The hotel’s guests were horrified at the news. […] But anyone familiar with Los Angeles’s history couldn’t have been too surprised. Downtown LA has long been seedy, and somewhat dangerous; the Cecil Hotel, for its part, has a long and sordid criminal history [Austrian serial killer Jack Unterweger stayed at the Cecil Hotel for five weeks in 1991 while murdering prositutes].

{ Slate }

related/video { Surveillance video of Elisa Lam shows bizarre behavior }



On the evening of August 13, 1967, two women were attacked and killed by grizzly bears (Ursus arctos horribilis) in separate incidents within Glacier National Park (GNP). Following these incidents, there was speculation that due to odors associated with menstruation, women may be more prone to attack by bears than are men (Rogers et al. 1991).

In a study designed to test the hypothesis that bears are attracted to the odors of menstruation, Cushing (1983) reported that when presented with a series of different odors (including seal scents, other food scents, non menstrual human blood, and used tampons), four captive polar bears elicited a strong behavioral response only to seal scents and menstrual odors (used tampons).

Herrero (1985) analyzed the circumstances of hundreds of grizzly bear attacks on humans, including the attacks on the two women in GNP, and concluded that there was no evidence linking menstruation to any of the attacks. The responses of grizzly bears to menstrual odors has not been studied experimentally.


Menstrual odors were essentially ignored by black bears of all sex and age classes.

{ Bearman’s | Continue reading | Thanks Tim! }

C’est la vie, say the old folks, it goes to show you never can tell


The Tunguska event was an enormously powerful explosion that occurred near (and later struck) the Podkamennaya Tunguska River in what is now Krasnoyarsk Krai, Russia, on June 30, 1908. The explosion is believed to have been caused by the air burst of a large meteoroid or comet fragment at an altitude of 5–10 kilometres (3–6 mi) above the Earth’s surface.

Although the meteoroid or comet appears to have burst in the air rather than hitting the surface, this event still is referred to as an impact. Estimates of the energy of the blast range from 5 to as high as 30 megatons of TNT, with 10–15 megatons of TNT the most likely—about 1,000 times more powerful than the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Japan.

The Tunguska explosion knocked an estimated 80 million trees down over an area covering 2,150 square kilometres (830 sq mi) (i.e. circular area of 52km in diameter). It is estimated that the shock wave from the blast would have measured 5.0 on the Richter scale.

{ Wikipedia | Continue reading }

Pyramids in sand. Built on bread and onions.


Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to use $400 million in federal funding to buy beachfront homes as he seeks to reshape the New York coastline so the state is better prepared for storms like Hurricane Sandy.

The cash would come from the $51 billion Congress approved last month to help the region recover from the Oct. 29 storm.

The governor would use the money to pay owners the pre-storm value of their homes. More than 300,000 houses in New York were damaged by Sandy.

Once sold, the houses would be razed and the land would remain vacant.

{ Bloomberg | Continue reading }

Victor! On va planter du soja. Là, là et là.


{ Walter Bond, NIO’s “Director of Militant Direct Action,” is serving a federal sentence for torching a restaurant that served foie gras. He’s written that the world would be better off if “non-Vegans were disposed of.” | Gawker | full story }

Travels beyond the sea and marry money


{ Cleaning lady stole a train in Sweden, crashed into house }

‘Empty crypts awaiting internment should just be rented out as short-stay Goth hotels.’ –Tim Geoghegan


In 1870, German chemist Erich von Wolf analyzed the iron content of green vegetables and accidentally misplaced a decimal point when transcribing data from his notebook. As a result, spinach was reported to contain a tremendous amount of iron—35 milligrams per serving, not 3.5 milligrams (the true measured value). While the error was eventually corrected in 1937, the legend of spinach’s nutritional power had already taken hold, one reason that studio executives chose it as the source of Popeye’s vaunted strength.

The point, according to Samuel Arbesman, an applied mathematician and the author of the delightfully nerdy “The Half-Life of Facts,” is that knowledge—the collection of “accepted facts”—is far less fixed than we assume. In every discipline, facts change in predictable, quantifiable ways, Mr. Arbesman contends, and understanding these changes isn’t just interesting but also useful. For Mr. Arbesman, Wolf’s copying mistake says less about spinach than about the way scientific knowledge propagates.

Copying errors, it turns out, aren’t uncommon and fall into characteristic patterns, such as deletions and duplications—exactly the sorts of mistakes that geneticists have identified in DNA. Using approaches adapted from genetics, paleographers—scientists who study ancient writing—use these accumulated errors to trace the age and origins of a document, much in the same way biologists use the accumulation of genetic mutations to assess how similar two species are to each other. For example, by analyzing the oddities and duplicated errors in the 58 surviving versions of “The Wife of Bath’s Prologue” from Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales,” researchers deduced the content of the original version.

Mr. Arbesman’s interest in the spread of knowledge also leads him to the story of Brontosaurus, the lovable, distinct herbivore we all grew up with—only it never existed. Originally described in 1879 by Othniel Marsh, the Brontosaurus was soon determined to be a type of dinosaur that Marsh had already discovered in 1877, the Apatosaurus. But since the original Apatosaurus was just “a tiny collection of bones,” while the Brontosaurus that Marsh named “went on to be supplemented with a complete skeleton, beautiful to behold,” the second discovery captured the public’s imagination and the name “Brontosaurus” stuck for nearly a century. Only recently has the name “Apatosaurus” started to gain traction.

{ WSJ | Continue reading }

Raw silk shirts and a New York leather look


For nearly a decade, scientists have told city and state officials that New York faces certain peril: rising sea levels, more frequent flooding and extreme weather patterns. The alarm bells grew louder after Tropical Storm Irene last year, when the city shut down its subway system and water rushed into the Rockaways and Lower Manhattan.

On Tuesday, as New Yorkers woke up to submerged neighborhoods and water-soaked electrical equipment, officials took their first tentative steps toward considering major infrastructure changes that could protect the city’s fragile shores and eight million residents from repeated disastrous damage. […]

“The construction of this city did not anticipate these kinds of situations. We are only a few feet above sea level,” Mr. Cuomo said during a radio interview. “As soon as you breach the sides of Manhattan, you now have a whole infrastructure under the city that fills — the subway system, the foundations for buildings,” and the World Trade Center site. […]

After rising roughly an inch per decade in the last century, coastal waters in New York are expected to climb as fast as six inches per decade, or two feet by midcentury, according to a city-appointed scientific panel. That much more water means the city’s flood risk zones could expand in size. […]

What scientists, who have devoted years of research to the subject, now fear most is that, as soon as the cleanup from this storm is over, the public will move on.

{ NY Times | Continue reading }

related { What Will Happen to the NYC Subway Rats? }

Introducing the Timmovations Hurricane Helmet™


related { Shark swimming in flooded street in NJ. True? }

update { Trump has taken decisive action in the wake of last night’s disaster }

Two years later, explaining the In-Between structure of existence, the platonic metaxy


{ A deeply religious pizza parlor worker is suing the archdiocese that presides over the Church of St. Patrick in Newburgh, because he says this 600-pound crucifix fell on him, crushing one of his legs, which had to be amputated. The man believed his devotion to a crucifix was responsible for his wife being cured of cancer. | CBS | full story | Thanks Glenn }

One step at a time


A new computer algorithm can analyze the footwear marks left at a crime scene according to clusters of footwear types, makes and tread patterns even if the imprint recorded by crime scene investigators is distorted or only a partial print.

Footwear marks are found at crime scenes much more commonly than fingerprints. […] They point out that while footprints are common they are often left unused by forensic scientists because marks may be distorted, only a partial print may be left and because of the vast number of shoe shapes and sizes. However, matching a footprint at a crime scene can quickly narrow the number of suspects and can tie different crime scenes to the same perpetrator even if other evidence is lacking.

{ EurekAlert | Continue reading }

images { 1 | 2 }

The smaller the attendance the bigger the history

Paul Ehrlich gave a talk at Stanford titled “Can a Collapse be Avoided”? Ehrlich is a biologist but his interests spread to Economics and Technology as well. The “collapse” of his talk is the catastrophe that, according to most climate scientists, is rapidly approaching. He listed eight major environmental problems and briefly discussed each. Some of them need no introduction (extinction of species, climate change, pollution) but others are no less catastrophic even though less advertised.

For example, global toxification: we filled the planet with toxis substances, and therefore the odds that some of them interact/combine in some deadly chemical experiment never tried before are increasing exponentially every year. There is no known way to fix something like that. We know how to fix pollution and carbon emissions and so forth (if we wanted to), but science would not know how to deal with a chemical reaction triggered by the combination of toxic substances in the soil. The highlight of the talk for me was the emphasis on “non-linearity”. Many scientists point out the various ways in which humans are hurting our ecosystem, but few single out the fact that some of these ways may combine and become something that is more lethal than the sum of its parts.

Another interesting point that is not widely recognized is that the next addition of one billion people to the population of the planet will have a much bigger impact on the planet than the previous one billion. The reason is that human civilizations already used up all the cheap, rich and ubiquitous resources. Naturally enough, humans started with the cheap, rich and ubiquitous ones, whether forests or oil wells. A huge amount of resources is still left, but those will be much more difficult to harness. For example, oil wells have to be much deeper than they used to. Therefore one liter of gasoline today does not equal one liter of gasoline a century from now: a century from now they will have to do a lot more work to get that liter of gasoline. That was the second key point that struck me: it is not only that some resources are being depleted, but even the resources that will be left are, by definition, those that are difficult to extract and use (a classic case of diminishing margin of return).

The bottom line of these arguments is that the collapse is not only coming, but the combination of the eight factors plus the internal combinations in each of them make it likely that it is coming even sooner than pessimists predict.

{ Piero Scaruffi | Continue reading }

The night that hides things from us


In the summer of 2008, police arrived at a caravan in the seaside town of Aberporth, west Wales, to arrest Brian Thomas for the murder of his wife. The night before, in a vivid nightmare, Thomas believed he was fighting off an intruder in the caravan – perhaps one of the kids who had been disturbing his sleep by revving motorbikes outside. Instead, he was gradually strangling his wife to death. When he awoke, he made a 999 call, telling the operator he was stunned and horrified by what had happened, and unaware of having committed murder.

Crimes committed by sleeping individuals are mercifully rare. Yet they provide striking examples of the unnerving potential of the human unconscious. In turn, they illuminate how an emerging science of consciousness is poised to have a deep impact upon concepts of responsibility that are central to today’s legal system.

After a short trial, the prosecution withdrew the case against Thomas. Expert witnesses agreed that he suffered from a sleep disorder known as pavor nocturnus, or night terrors, which affects around one per cent of adults and six per cent of children.


It is commonplace to drive a car for long periods without paying much attention to steering or changing gear. According to Jonathan Schooler, professor of psychology at the University of California, Santa Barbara, ‘we are often startled by the discovery that our minds have wandered away from the situation at hand’. But if I am unconscious of my actions when I zone out, to what degree is it really ‘me’ doing the driving?

This question takes on a more urgent note when the lives of others are at stake. […] The driver appeared in Worcester Crown Court on charges of causing death by reckless driving. For the defence, a psychologist described to the court that ‘driving without awareness’ might occur following long, monotonous periods at the wheel. The jury was sufficiently convinced of his lack of conscious control to acquit on the basis of automatism.

The argument for a lack of consciousness here is much less straightforward than for someone who is asleep. In fact, the Court of Appeal said that the defence of automatism should not have been on the table in the first place, because a driver without ‘awareness’ still retains some control of the car. None the less, the grey area between being in control and aware on the one hand, and in control and unaware on the other, is clearly crucial for a legal notion of voluntary action.

If we accept automatism then we reduce the conscious individual to an unconscious machine. However, we should remember that all acts, whether consciously thought-out or reflexive and automatic, are the product of neural mechanisms.

{ aeon | Continue reading }

previously { Sometime after 2 A.M. one Sunday morning in May 1987, Kenneth James Parks drove 23 kilometers to the apartment of his wife’s parents. }

photo { Claudine Doury }

uʍop ǝpısdn


Over time, we have grown increasingly vulnerable to natural disasters. Each decade economic losses from such disasters more than double as people continue to build homes, businesses, and other physical infrastructure in hazardous places. Yet public policy has thus far failed to address the unique problems posed by natural disasters. […]

Drawing from philosophy, cognitive psychology, history, anthropology, and political science, this Article identifies and analyzes three categories of obstacles to disaster policy — symbolic obstacles, cognitive obstacles, and structural obstacles. The way we talk about natural disaster, the way we think about the risks of building in hazardous places, and structural aspects of American political institutions all favor development over restraint. Indeed, these forces have such strength that in most circumstances society automatically and thoughtlessly responds to natural disasters by beginning to rebuild as soon as a disaster has occurred.

{ SSRN | Continue reading }

photo { Ann James }

The poor man starves while they are grassing their royal mountain stags or shooting peasants and phartridges in their purblind pomp of pelf and power


Taphophobia means “fear of graves” (taphos = tomb, and phobia = fear of), but its common use is “fear of being buried alive.” Premature burial is not an urban legend, incidents have been documented in nearly every society. […]

Many cultures built time delays into their death rites to make sure someone was truly dead. Greeks washed the dead… and some would wake up. In more difficult cases, they would cut off fingers or dunk the bodies in warm baths. The custom of the Irish wake began with the Celts watching the body for signs of life. But mistakes were made, often in times of epidemic. The hopes of preventing the spread of infection often lead to burying the dead before they were quite dead. […]

In her 1996 book, The Corpse: A History, Christine Quigley documents many instances of premature burial and near-premature burial. Skeletons were outside their coffins, sitting up in the corner of their vault after being opened years later. Others were found turned over in their caskets, with tufts of their own hair in their hands.

How might this happen? What conditions might make it look so much like you were dead that even your loved ones would let them plant you in the ground? The list is long and varied, but here are some of the more common things that can make you look dead:

Asphyxiation […]

Catalepsy […]

Coma […]


{ As Many Exceptions As Rules | Continue reading }

Other important films include Bike Boy, My Hustler, and Lonesome Cowboys


It seems as if stealing bikes shouldn’t be a lucrative form of criminal activity. Used bikes aren’t particularly liquid or in demand compared to other things one could steal (phones, electronics, drugs). And yet, bikes continue to get stolen so they must be generating sufficient income for thieves. What happens to these stolen bikes and how to they get turned into criminal income?

{ Priceonomics | Continue reading }

Let’s talk about the distractions goin’ on elsewhere


Finding rats in the town dump is hardly cause for comment in most of the world. Rattus norvergicus (the Norway rat) has spread to all but a few bits of the planet, giving rise to the urban myth that city dwellers are never more than six feet away from a rodent.

However, the western Canadian province of Alberta has prided itself on being one of those rat-free bits for more than half a century. So when an infestation was discovered in early August outside Medicine Hat, a city of 72,000 people, it was headline news.

Pest-control officers installed high-definition cameras to track the rats, set up poisoned traps to catch them and released two bull snakes to kill those too wary to be trapped. The snakes, which look like rattlesnakes but are non-venomous constrictors, had been caught after citizens complained. They are normally released in a wilderness area when found in town, but in this case they were deployed to the dump.

Pictures of dead rats (those not disposed of by the snakes) seemed to signal early success. But as the corpses continued to pile up—there were 103 by August 27th—and rats were sighted in residential areas, the city opened a new front in the war: Operation Haystack. This involved stacking bales of hay stuffed with poison at 15 locations. Alison Redford, the provincial premier, promised the extermination effort would be “unrelenting.”

{ Business Insider | Continue reading }

‘They should rule who are able to rule best.’ –Aristotle


Although legalization would re-channel importation and sales and make addiction, overdoses and side effects a public health problem instead of strictly a law-enforcement concern, drug-related crimes would continue to exist, just as alcohol-related crimes continued to make headlines and fill jails after the repeal of Prohibition. […]

Nor would legalization magically resolve the economic issues that gave rise to the complex business of drug exportation and use, and it would have to occur in both Mexico and the United States to be effective. Restricting or controlling the financing of drug operations would not be possible without breaking up the distribution and investment chains that involve not only the two governments, but also entrepreneurs and legalized businesses. But it can hardly be denied that legalization is a necessary first step toward any decent, or even tolerable, outcome.

{ Arts & Opinions | Continue reading }

relation { Fake pot industry generating novel, untested drugs }