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September 2007 Archives

A beneficial side-effect -
You may be hard-pressed to recall events after a night of binge drinking, but a new report suggests that low to moderate alcohol consumption may actually enhance memory.story
Of course, 'low to moderate' is all relative, but I am heartened by the statement that, "this may be approximately one to two drinks per day for some people or two to three for others, depending upon their size, metabolism or genetic background." I'm assuming 'genetic background' refers to those who have a genetic intolerance to alcohol, not to those of Irish or German descent.
In a second paradigm, rats were trained to expect a shock when they crossed from a white compartment to a black one inside a cage; a day after training, the rats were put back in the cage to see if they remembered that the black side was dangerous.
I for one can vouch for the effectiveness of a couple or more drinks per day. I usually remember not to cross over to the electrified portion of the room, and when I do, it's only in pursuit of another drink.

As an aside, the word 'paradigm' is so 1990. Don't these scientists know that in 2007, it's all about the archetype?
The story of the guy who kept his gamey leg in a smoker is all over the news today:
The mother, Peg Steele, explained her son had his leg amputated after a plane crash and kept the leg following the surgery "for religious reasons" she doesn't know much about.

"The rest of the family was very much against it," Steele said.story
I've always wondered how difficult it would be to convince the hospital to let you keep a body part after an amputation or removal. Personally I think it should be simple, it is, after all, something which you rightfully own. On the other hand, I can understand the reluctance of doctors, especially if the organ or limb is diseased or otherwise full of infection. It seems, however, as in most cases, that 'religious reasons' trump all.

I hope he gets the leg back. It will make a wicked table lamp.
The first appearance in print of images from Infernal Device are in this book written by Professor Jarosław Warylewski, Dean of Faculty of Law and Administration at Gdansk University.

Professor Warylewski kindly provided me with a copy of the textbook in exchange for use of some of the renderings. The verdict - the book is great, and it looks like it could have been a invaluable research tool. On the other hand, I've realized that Polish is not a language you can stumble through like German or Spanish. Consonant soup!

A major surprise are some of the other images in the book. The usual woodcuts that find their way into all books dealing with torture are here, but there are quite a few new pictures and images that I had not seen before, including a nice close-up photo of a Judas Cradle and an historical illustration of a Ducking Stool in use. There are also some photos of something that looks like a kind of medieval isolation chamber, perhaps a candidate for inclusion in the database.
The body of a 41-year-old man was found in a wooded area next to a guillotine he built and used to kill himself, police said.
The man, from the Detroit suburb of Melvindale, was discovered Monday by workers from a shopping center near his home.
I've been meaning to post this story, which I'm sure by now has been seen by just about everyone. It's an example of what can be accomplished by one person with just a little determination and creativity. Now the police describe the device as six feet tall, which is very short for a guillotine (although the Nazis kept some short ones busy. These guillotines compensated for the short drop with an overweight blade). It also describes a 'swing arm', which sounds more like a counter-balanced scythe bolted to the tree, but who is keeping score?

occasionalhell.com is being updated and redesigned in anticipation of the release of "Infernal Device." As such, some links may be broken and images may have been moved from their original location. Please be patient and check back from time to time - if you notice a glaring omission or problem, please email erik@occasionalhell.com.