Friday, August 13, 2010

Mors Ex Machina

Statistically speaking, vending machines, with their intrinstic instability, are more deadly than sharks. But the danger is more than acquiring atherosclerosis from the fizzy drinks, or getting crushed by a steel box filled with fizzy delights.

I have been researching for my toxicology report on Paraquat, a readily available toxin to bring quick and clean death to pesky plants and, painfully slow death to animals including humans. Paraquat is a potent quaternary ammounium viologen that induces reactive oxygen species in cells and cause havoc in any living organism; two teaspoons p.o. is more than enough to kill an adult. If any of my readers happens to ingest some (hopefully through an accident) I would recommed that you take another gulp after leaving a concise will. Assuming survival after the first 24 hours, lung fibrosis develops, and the major organs all gradually shut down over a period up to 30 days. The toxin does not harm the central nervous system in anyway, and there is no antidote as yet.

Coming back to vending machines,its relevance in this post is one incident in 1984, when 12 people of different backgrounds died from soft drinks lacked with paraquat from inside vending machines. None of the 12 survived; some died in a few days while others lingered on in agony for weeks.

The modus operandi successfully applied several principles of perfect crime:
  1. Acts are against innocent people with no obvious motive, therefore no suspects could be narrowed down.
  2. Similarly, all vending machines involved are in places of high traffic volume with no surveillance.
  3. Instead of leaving bottles of popular drinks in the open, placing them inside the vending machine make people ASSUME it had came FROM the machine. (hey somebody left their purchase here/two drinks came out when I ordered one, the vending god must be smiling today!) Particularly for the last female victim, who took a poisoned drink from a vending machine that had a notice posted warning consumers against suspicious "free drinks". 
  4. Like successful rat poisons, paraquat is guaranteed to kill with a slow onset of symptoms, hence most victims are already beyond rescue before they reach out for help. 
One unintended fallout is a sharp rise in paraquat suicides due to the extensive coverage. This is consistent with anecdotal evidence that suicide rates tend to surge following the publicity of other high-profile cases.

Other relevant development included the demise of screw-top bottles in Japan because they are much easier to tamper with than cans. Well, maybe we should view the recent re-introduction of classic coke bottle as a mixed blessing.


(Below is a post i tried to finish before the soccer world cup but never had the interest to go back to it. I'd rather post it now than leaving it forgotten for years. Who knows, I might complete it one day.)

Yes, the soccer world cup is ON! Argentina is set to play against Nigeria later and I don't have Sky TV...

A short cosmopolitan list of various sports teams I support with inconclusive reasons:

Men's Soccer - Argentina, they have not been very good recently, but still has my unwavered support.Oh and they have the best fans!

Women's Soccer - Sweden, as long as L8 is on their national team.

Rugby Union - South Africa, yeah, a shameless bokke here in Kiwiland, so what, they are good, i mean very good despite their lackluster coach.

I wish there is for for the AB

Baseball - Japan, unlike most other time-limited sports, baseball (cricket as well) has a very different gameplay, where the losing team could turn the table in a brief moment. The USA probably has most of the top players, but in Japan, baseball has become a part of the national psyche. The annual High School Baseball tournament to Japan, is what the Super Bowl is to the US.

Women's Curling - Germany, I have images to prove this



In the spirit of a previous post, I present the Polandball World

A higher-res version can be found here

Starting from the top right corner:

The Americas

Alaska: Igloos, period
Canada: Bloody ice hockey nation
Iceland: Autonomous Danish territory, still hunting seals
Quebec: Business as usual, wine/aids
USA: World Police, modeled after Gen. MacArthur
The little ball with the hat: Republic of Texas
Mexico: Lazy latino, duh.
Central American isthmus: Nobody knows about them, just never assume Belize is a province of Guatemala or Lord Ashcroft's fury will descend upon thee; also, note the divided Panama.
The Bahamas: Oil-sucking tourist island.
Bermuda: Obvious allusion, the other triangle is probably Singapore or Nepal.
Turks and Caico: Not unlike the Bahamas, with Canadians running most of the offshore financial services.
Cuba: Socialist
Hispaniola: Dominican Republic and, er, Haiti
Puerto Rico: De facto 51st state of the USA
Jamaica: Rastafarian
Antilles: Not much going on, the 8-shaped Siamese twin is Dutch Antilles and French St. Martin. BTW, Grenada only produce 20% of the world's nutmeg, the rest most likely originates in Indonesia. A, B and C are Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao respectively.
Colombia: Meth lab Vassal of the USA.
Venezuela: Can afford to diss the US and pretend to be socialist because they've got the oil.
Guyana and Suriname: Majority of population have ancestry in Uttar Pradesh.
French Guiana: 90% wasteland and the rest comprises of the French space facilities.
Ecuador: I am really surprised by the lack of Banana jokes.
Peru: Meh
Bolivia: 150 years later, still missing its shores.
Paraguay: No idea
Uruguay: I am trying to find out what is he drinking
Argentina: Still desperate to get the Falklands
Chile: Gone fishin'


Iceland: Sulfide and Ash generator, I mean Eyjafjallajökull, pronounce it, it's fun. Whale riderkiller.
Ireland: Still drunk on EU aid money
Nothern Ireland:  Raging UDFIRA
Scotland: Nationalistic since WWII, obvious allusion to a certain Mel Gibson movie
Wales: with a sheep...?!
England: Bloated and troubled, note that when the UK is represented as Britainball, it always dons a top hat and a monocle.
Channel Islands: Half french, half British
Portugal: is a towel
Spain: Rather unconcerned about the breakaway Catalanball and Basqueball.
France: Funny cap, baguettes.
Bengium: No, Belgiumball does not exist, you have rivalling Flandernball, Walloniaball and tiny tiny Brusselsball.