The rain falls hard on a humdrum town, this town has dragged you down


Group 1 - Carcinogenic:

This is the group for which there is the most evidence of cancer risk. […]

• Arsenic and arsenic compounds


• Solar radiation
• Tamoxifen6
• Tobacco, smoking, second-hand smoke
• Ultraviolet radiation
• X-Radiation and gamma radiation
• Processed meat


Group 2A - Probably carcinogenic:

Limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. […]

• Shift work that disrupts sleep patterns
• Red meat


Group 2B - Possibly carcinogenic:

Limited evidence of carcinogenicity in humans, less than sufficient evidence of carcinogenicity in experimental animals. […]

• Magenta dyes
• Pickled vegetables

{ Washington Post | Continue reading }

‘I brush my teeth a lot, just, all the time, I’m in the car at the stop light man, just like, brushin’ my teeth.’ –McConaughey


Gelignite, or blasting gelatin, is a mixture of nitroglycerin, gun cotton, and a combustible substance like wood pulp. It resembles dynamite (also invented by Alfred Nobel) but can be conveniently molded into shape with the bare hands.

The October 6, 1904 issue of Russian Doctor contained a dispatch about a young woman who “found a cartridge containing this substance in her husband’s trunk and ate it, taking the cartridge for a piece of confectionery.” Despite her husband’s fears, she neither exploded nor expired from the effects of the poison, as summarized in the New York Medical Journal six weeks later.

{ Improbable | Continue reading }

art { Francis Bacon, Portrait of Isabel Rawsthorne, 1966 }

‘If I had an hour to solve a problem and my life depended on it, I would use the first 55 minutes determining the proper question to ask, for once I knew the proper question, I could solve the problem in less than five minutes.’ —Albert Einstein


It was only a few decades ago that incision and suction were recommended snakebite first aid. However, concerns arose about injuries and infections caused when laypersons made incisions across fang marks and applied mouth suction. Meanwhile, several snakebite suction devices (eg, Cutter’s Snakebite Kit, Venom Ex) were evaluated, and it was determined that they were neither safe nor effective. So, recommendations changed, and mechanical suction without incision was advocated instead. It seemed intuitive that suction alone would probably remove venom and should not cause harm. However, when the techniques were studied rigorously, quite the opposite was discovered.

One of the most popular suction devices, the Sawyer Extractor pump (Sawyer Products, Safety Harbor, FL), operates by applying approximately 1 atm of negative pressure directly over a fang puncture wound (or wounds) without making incisions. […] Although each of these 3 studies was done independently of each other and using different methodology, they arrive at the same conclusion: the Extractor does not work, and it could make things worse.

{ Annals of Emergency Medecine | PDF }

Karma karma karma karma chameleon, you come and go, you come and go


According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, honey bees pollinate 80% of our flowering crops, and are thus essential for the production of 1/3 of our food. […] But for more than 2 million Americans, bees are a dangerous threat. Somewhere between 1% and 7% of human beings are allergic to insect venoms, with their symptoms ranging from mild overreactions to full-blown anaphylactic shock. For those with bee allergies, even the slightest sting can lead to a fight for life. Even more troubling is that, in half of all fatal sting allergy cases, victims had no previous major reactions to venom. Nearly 100 Americans die every year from bee stings. […]

Allergies are defined as ‘hypersensitive immune responses’—or, in colloquial terms, odd moments when our immune systems flip out. Anaphylaxis is the whole-body manifestation of an allergy, which can range from something as minor as hives to sharp drops in blood pressure and even cardiac arrest. You don’t have an allergic reaction the first time you come in contact with an allergen; instead, like with viruses or other potential invaders, your body takes an immunological picture so it can remember the allergen later. This is what is known as the adaptive immune response, and it’s usually a good thing—when you get the chicken pox, for example, your adaptive immune system remembers what the disease looks like, and can find and kill it should you ever be re-exposed. But when it comes to allergies, the adaptive immune system goes too far. The next time it detects allergens, it sends out hordes of IgE antibodies to destroy them. These IgE antibodies wreak havoc in our bodies—through cascading immunological pathways, IgE antibodies cause the release of histamine and other inflammatory compounds and can lead to anaphylaxis.

{ Discover | Continue reading }

With juice of cursed hebenon in a vial, and in the porches of my ears did pour, the leperous distilment


“Tell me what kinds of toxins are in your body, and I’ll tell you how much you’re worth,” could be the new motto of doctors everywhere. In a finding that surprised even the researchers conducting the study, it turns out that both rich and poor Americans are walking toxic waste dumps for chemicals like mercury, arsenic, lead, cadmium and bisphenol A, which could be a cause of infertility. And while a buildup of environmental toxins in the body afflicts rich and poor alike, the type of toxin varies by wealth.

People who can afford sushi and other sources of aquatic lean protein appear to be paying the price with a buildup of heavy metals in their bodies, found Jessica Tyrrell and colleagues from the University of Exeter.

{ Quartz | Continue reading }

Flavor-Flav on a hype tip


Baerg was challenged by a Cornell colleague to investigate whether black widows were harmless or poisonous. […] He made extensive observations of black widow behavior and its venom’s effects on rats. Baerg used himself as an experimental subject to test the effects of the venom on humans. He induced a black widow to bite the third finger of his left hand, but the bite was apparently superficial, and he suffered no symptoms besides a “slight, sharp pain.” Baerg repeated the test the following day, this time allowing the spider’s fangs to remain inserted for five seconds. During the next three days, Baerg recorded his symptoms and reactions, creating the first account of the effects of the black widow spider bite on humans; it was published in the March 1923 edition of The Journal of Parasitology (vol. 9, no. 3). Baerg observed the swelling and pain that followed the spider’s bite, noting that, as the symptoms spread to his shoulder, chest, and hips, he had problems with breathing and speech. He also noted that the “doctor advises that I go to bed.” He recalled the experience later, saying that the pain was severe and different from anything he had ever experienced. Baerg induced numbers of arachnids to bite or sting him over the successive years and recorded the resulting effects.

{ Encyclopedia of Arkansas | Continue reading }

art { Joan Miró, Painting (Head and Spider), 1925 }

The instantaneous deaths of many powerful enemies, graziers, members of parliament, members of standing committees, are reported


Nanoparticles carrying a toxin found in bee venom can destroy human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) while leaving surrounding cells unharmed.

The finding is an important step toward developing a vaginal gel that may prevent the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

{ Washington University in St. Louis | Continue reading }

photo { Dan Winters, Dead Bees, Oakdale, California, March 11-15, 2006 }

Some drinkables in the shape of a milk and soda or a mineral. But how to get there was the rub.


China’s demand for foreign milk powder surged after a 2008 milk powder scandal, in which at least six children died and more than 300,000 got sick from milk laced with melamine. Hong Kong’s wide range of foreign milk powder brands is considered more trustworthy than even the foreign imports available in Chinese supermarkets. […]

Middle-class parents choosing to feed their child foreign milk powder might spend anywhere from 25-40% of their monthly salary. […]

Comprehensive statistics are impossible to gauge, but it is very common to encounter Chinese people overseas who have been asked to send back milk powder to a friend or relative, or who know others that engage in this activity to make money. 

{ Tea Leaf Nation | Continue reading }

‘So you gotta look at OJ’s situation. He’s paying $25,000 a month in alimony, got another man driving around in his car and fucking his wife in a house he’s still paying the mortgage on. Now I’m not saying he should have killed her… but I understand.’ –Chris Rock

The exchange of gifts at a wedding is customary in cultures all around the world. To my knowledge, however, there are no cultures in which bride and groom traditionally trade poisonous presents. (…)

If we were worried the bride might be brutally devoured on her way to the reception (by her new in-laws, perhaps), a gift of this kind might be precisely what she needs to stay alive.

An unlikely dilemma? For humans, perhaps so — but not for insects. And there are indeed certain species of insects whose mating rituals feature precisely this kind of gift, generally one given by the groom to the bride. His intentions in so doing are strictly honorable, of course, for females who receive such presents are better-equipped to deter predators.

{ Puff the Mutant Dragon | Continue reading }

‘I’m not trying to make art, I’m trying to make lies, because the truth hurts.’ –Dm Simons


The Gulf Oil Spill Disaster

First, let’s begin with the “good” news. The ecological destruction that was first feared is not going to be as bad as once thought, for a variety of reasons. It is not good, but it is not the unmitigated disaster it could have been.

Edward Overton, PhD, Professor Emeritus, Dept. of Environmental Sciences, LSU, is an expert on oil spills. He was at the Exxon Valdez. The Exxon Valdez (EV) was a big, black, thick tide of oil. The Deepwater Horizon is a much bigger spill: every ten days the amount of the EV spill spewed into the Gulf, from April 20 to July 15. Professor Overton spoke mostly for the record. He is very much a concerned environmentalist, and he is also a very serious scientist.

He reminded us that the Louisiana wetlands are a very important part of the ecological system of the Gulf of Mexico. Oversimplifying, they are the nutrient source for the small animal world which feeds the larger. Without the wetlands much of the Gulf ecosystem dies. If they were destroyed, they would not come back very easily, as without their very root system the land would erode away. Bluntly, oil kills wetlands if it gets into it.

There are only three ways to get rid of an oil spill. You can mechanically remove it, chemically remove it, or burn it. They used all three methods. But not fast enough. The Obama administration dithered while Rome burned. (This is not from Overton.) (…)

What should have been a no-brainer decision to use the Dutch ships was delayed for whatever reason. What should have been a no-brainer decision to waive the water purity rules was delayed beyond reason. My personal opinion. Whoever participated in that decision should be allowed to return to the private sector. They only made the problem of the spill worse. They should not be allowed near the decision-making process again.

Please note, this is no defense of British Petroleum. As noted below, they were extremely negligent, and deserve the costs and more. We just don’t need to compound stupid, incompetent, irresponsible (choose several more adjectives, some with color) corporate acts with dumb government ones.

There is a chemical called Corexit that is a product line of solvents primarily used as dispersants for breaking up oil slicks. It is produced by Nalco Holding Company. Corexit was the most-used dispersant in the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, with COREXIT 9527 having been replaced by COREXIT 9500 after the former was deemed too toxic. Oil that would normally rise to the surface of the water is broken up by the dispersant into small globules that can then remain suspended in the water.

In hindsight, Overton thinks the use of Corexit was the correct thing to do. It probably saved the wetlands. But it is not without its own bad effects.

When you put Corexit on an oil slick, the surface oil disperses but also drops into the ocean about 15 feet. While Corexit (basically a type of soap) itself is not toxic (an admittedly controversial claim), the resulting dispersed oil is quite toxic. Fish swimming through it can be and are harmed. Marine mammals like porpoises are seriously harmed when they rise to breathe through an oil slick.

But here is the good news. It turns out that there are about the equivalent of two Exxon Valdezes a year from natural oil seepage from the floor of the oceans. The Gulf has an ecosystem of bacteria that eat that oil, which are then eaten again by plankton. To those bacteria, dispersed oil is filet mignon. They thrive and grow rapidly, turning that toxic waste into nutrients, which are absorbed by the plankton. The bacteria keep on growing until they lose their source of nutrition (the toxic oil) and then die out over time. Note: once absorbed by the bacteria, the oil is no longer toxic. There are no toxic minerals like mercury introduced into the ecosystem.

{ John Mauldin | Continue reading | PDF }


Queen: Dip the apple in the brew. Let the Sleeping Death seep through. [the poison on the apple forms a skull]


Australia’s vile and poisonous plague of cane toads may finally have met its match — and it comes in a tin of cat food.

After years spent trying to batter, gas, run over and even freeze the toxic toads out of existence, scientists say just a dollop of Whiskas could stop the warty horde.

The cat food attracts Australia’s carnivorous meat ants, which swarm over and munch on baby toads killing 70 percent of them.

{ AFP/Physorg | Continue reading }

The most poisonous animal substance is batrachotoxin, produced by the poison arrow frog of South America. As little as the weight of two grains of table salt will turn your lights out for good.

{ What’s the fastest-acting, most lethal poison? | The Straight Dope | Continue reading }