Yesterday’s post was about how a few idiots had met their demise, or failed to, when they attempted to kill themselves. Today the theme is continued with another curious case, but one of the accidental variety.
I must say this was a new one to me. Just when you think you’ve heard of everything something new and unexpected turns up. This time it turned up in Thailand.
“The government must crack down on this disgusting craze of ‘Pumping'”, a spokesman for the Nakhon Ratchasima hospital told reporters. “If this perversion catches on, it will destroy the cream of Thailand’s manhood.”
He was speaking after the remains of 13 year-old Charnchai Puanmuangpak had been rushed into the hospital’s emergency room.
“Most ‘Pumpers’ use a standard bicycle pump,” he explained, “inserting the nozzle far up their rectum, giving themselves a rush of air, creating a momentary high. This act is a sin against God.”
It appears that the young Charnchai took it further still.
He started using a two-cylinder foot pump, but even that wasn’t exciting enough for him, so he boasted to friends that he was going to try the compressed air hose at a nearby gasoline station.
They dared him to do it, so, under cover of darkness, he snuck in.
Not realizing how powerful the machine was, he inserted the tube deep into his rectum, and placed a coin in the slot (of the machine, I think).
As a result, he died virtually instantly, leaving passers-by still in shock.
One woman thought she was watching a twilight fireworks display, and started clapping.
“We still haven’t located all of him”, say the police authorities. “When that quantity of air interacted with the gas in his system, he nearly exploded. It was like an atom bomb went off or something.”
“Pumping is the devil’s pastime, and we must all say no to Satan,” Ratchasima concluded. “Inflate your tires by all means, but then hide your bicycle pump where it cannot tempt you.”
A lot of idiots kill themselves accidently. I’ve highlighted a few examples on this blog of people whose stupidity led to their demise.
But some do it on purpose.
If they are really dumb, however, they don’t quite manage to do it the way they had planned.
Here are some examples.
1. Objective Attained – Method Unexpected
Frenchman Jacques LeFevrier left nothing to chance when he decided to commit suicide.
He stood at the top of a tall cliff and tied a noose around his neck.
He tied the other end of the rope to a large rock.
He then drank some poison.
Then he set fire to his clothes.
He even tried to shoot himself at the last moment.
The plan seemed foolproof. Alas it was not.
As he jumped he fired the pistol.
However, the bullet missed him completely and instead cut through the rope above him.
Free of the threat of hanging, he plunged into the sea.
The sudden dunking extinguished the flames and the salty water he ingested made him vomit the poison.
He was dragged out of the water by a kind fisherman and was taken to a hospital, where he subsequently died of hypothermia.
There must have been an easier way.
2. Strike another one Elvita!
One Sunday while on a visit to the Empire State Building in New York City, Elvita Adams clambered over an 8 foot high iron fence surrounding the observation deck at about 8.25pm.
She jumped off the building and plummeted earthwards.
But only for a few feet.
A strong gust of wind, possibly as high as 30mph, pushed her back towards the building and she landed on a balcony on the 85th floor, with nothing more than a broken leg.
Asked why she had wanted to commit suicide she said it was because she had been a failure at everything she tried.
Strike another one Elvita!
3. She Fell For Him Big Time
Back in France again, suicides at the Eiffel Tower are apparently quite common. In fact France has one of the highest suicide rates at 17.5 suicides per 1000 people!
Killing yourself with the 1,063 foot “Iron Lady” is the third most popular French suicide method behind poisoning and hanging (both of which the guy in the first incident tried unsuccessfully).
A few times, people have attempted to kill themselves but failed to do so. One man was blown onto a rafter by the wind and he was spared. But the most curious case was one in which a woman who jumped, landed on the roof of a car and later married the man who owned it!
Boy did she fall for him!!!
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, a woman threw herself off the 23rd floor balcony of the Hotel Crown Plaza Panamericano in an apparent suicide bid. However her attempt failed when a taxi caught in traffic below cushioned her fall.
Although the impact of her landing on the car shattered its windscreen and made a huge dent in its roof, the impact was not hard enough to end her life.
Instead, the 30-year-old woman was left with broken hips, ribs and significant internal bleeding.
The driver of the taxi, Miguel Cajal, told a local TV station that he noticed policemen stopping traffic and were looking upward. This made him instinctively jump out of his car.
“I got out of the car a second before. If I had not got out, I would have been killed,” the BBC quoted him as saying. The impact, he added, “made a terrible noise.”
Throughout history opposing factions, whether in politics, racial campaigns, sports competitions or even wars, have used cartoons as a medium to promote their side and to denigrate the opposition.
Nowhere was this better seen than during WWII when both sides used thousands of derogatory cartoons to depict the ‘enemy’.
But one of the most humorous incidents occurred much earlier, during the Napoleonic war between France and England.
It allegedly took place in the little town of Hartlepool on the north-east coast of England.
As part of the propaganda campaign in England during this war the enemy, the French, had been portrayed as short and hairy, sort of monkey-like. The cartoon below will give you the idea.
Also, during the Napoleonic Wars there was great fear that the French had plans to invade Britain and therefore much public concern about the possibility of French infiltrators and spies.
As a consequence the fishermen of Hartlepool kept a close watch on French vessels sailing near the English coast.
One day, as they watched, a French vessel was seen struggling against a storm. It took a severe battering in the rough seas and eventually sunk.
The Hartlepool fishermen then turned their attention to the wreckage washed ashore.
Among the wreckage lay one wet and sorrowful looking survivor. It was the ship’s pet monkey and, to amuse the sailors, it had been dressed in a military style uniform.
Stupid individuals are one thing, annoying but they can be handled. Group stupidity on the other hand is extremely dangerous. The stupidity level seems to increase by at least ten times the number of morons gathered together. I’m sure there’s a mathematical formula for this, there should be.
So, severely intellectually challenged, and thinking they had captured the enemy, the Hartlepool fishermen apparently questioned the monkey and held a beach-based trial.
Unfamiliar with what a Frenchman looked like, and unable to understand what he (the monkey) was saying (presumably “ooh ooh aah”, as opposed to “oh la la”), they came to the conclusion that this poor primate was a French spy.
They quickly sentenced the French spy (monkey) to death and the unfortunate creature was hanged, with the mast of a fishing boat (a coble) providing a convenient gallows.
Launched at the ridiculous price of $38 a share, or about 100 times the company’s earnings, the price momentarily made it to $45, but then quickly plummeted to $34.
In my post in May I suggested that the shares were worth more like $18 a share rather than $38. As of yesterday (August 16th) the price had fallen below $20.
I’m not saying this by way of blowing my trumpet, because I now think that my $18 peg may have been rather optimistic too. Investors have by and large turned against Facebook.
Apart from the odd blip, the stock has been on a downward trend pressured by disappointing earnings and by the fact that from today the so-called “lockups” that have prevented some early Facebook backers from unloading their stakes begin to expire. This simply means they will be able to sell shares into the market and with around two billion shares eligible for a sell off between now and May 2013, with a big one coming in November, the signs for a price recovery are ominous.
In fact further falls are more than likely.
Those who can are shorting the stock like crazy. (Shorting is where your broker borrows shares which you sell immediately in the hope that you can buy them back later at a lower price.)
The number of Facebook shares on loan to short sellers has risen from 63 million a month ago to more than 93 million.
So is it a good buy now at $18? I think not. Not for a while anyhow, until these locked shares find their way into the market and the price stabilizes and that will probably be well into 2013.
In the short term the status quo is probably down down deeper and down.
Forget Facebook and enjoy some music from the 70s instead.
Fasab disclaimer: this blog post does not constitute professional advice as regards investments on the stock exchange, such advice would only be given and indicated thus if an outrageous fee were being charged and this blog is being given to you for free. Also any investor should always be aware that shares can fall as well as plummet and should act accordingly by not investing any money they can not afford to lose.
Unfortunately stupidity seems to have always been with us. There are countless examples of stupid people making monumentally stupid decisions throughout history.
However it was not until 1976 that the definitive essay on the subject was written. The author was an Italian economist named Professor Carlo M Cipolla and he called his pioneering work “The Basic Laws of Human Stupidity”. If fasab had a hall of fame, he’d be in it.
Professor Cipolla taught at several universities in Italy, and for many years at the University of California, Berkeley. He also wrote books and studies about clocks, guns, depressions, faith, reason, monetary policy, and money. In fact I first heard of him at University where some of his books appeared on our reading lists. Sadly his “Basic Laws Of Human Stupidity” was not on our lists, I would have enjoyed it even then!
His essay about stupidity encompasses all those other topics, and perhaps all of human experience.
Professor Cipolla wrote out the laws in plain language. They are akin to laws of nature – a seemingly basic characteristic of the universe.
Here they are:
It has been said that Professor Cipolla’s “Basic Laws of Human Stupidity” give an X-ray view of what distinguishes countries on the rise from those that are falling, or failing.
Countries moving uphill have an inevitable percentage of stupid people, yes. But they enjoy “an unusually high fraction of intelligent people” who collectively over compensate for the dumbos.
Declining nations, on the other hand, have instead, an “alarming proliferation” of non-stupid people whose behavior “inevitably strengthens the destructive power” of their persistently stupid fellow citizens. There are two distinct, unhelpful groups: “bandits” who take positions of power which they use for their own gain; and people out of power who sigh through life as if they are helpless.
In 1999 two psychologists at Cornell University wrote a study with the fabulous title, “Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Leads to Inflated Self-Assessments”. Without mentioning any form of the word “stupidity”, it serves as an enlightening and dismaying supplement to the basic laws.
Unfortunately Professor Cipolla died in 2000. But thankfully there are others to take up the mantle.
You could be one of them. Like I say almost every day, “Fight Against Stupidity And Bureaucracy”.
Did you ever wonder where some of the every day terms we use actually came from? Well, even if you haven’t, I have and I’ve put this post together to highlight some of the most interesting and unusual.
One of the most peculiar categories are units of measurement. For example, with regard to ‘time’ we often say things like “I’ll be back in a jiffy,” or, “Just a moment.”
Here’s the list.
Although used frequently by many people to denote a short but unspecified period of time, a jiffy is actually a real unit of time measurement. It is 0.10 seconds.
Another fairly commonly used term, again for an unspecified period of time, for example, “I’ll be with you in two shakes”, a shake is also a real specific measurement, namely, 10 nanoseconds.
Both Shakes and Jiffies are used for convenience in nuclear engineering and computing respectively.
How long is a moment? It is 90 seconds long.
A beard-second is a unit of length inspired by the light-year, but used for extremely short distances such as those in nuclear physics. The beard-second is defined as the length an average beard grows in one second, which apparently is exactly 100 angstroms (or 10 nanometers). However, the Google calculator uses the beard-second for unit conversions of the value of 5 nanometers. It would be splitting hairs to say who is right and who is wrong.
Barn, shed, outhouse
A barn is a serious unit of area used by nuclear physicists to quantify the scattering or absorption cross-section of very small particles, such as atomic nuclei.It is one of the very few units which are accepted to be used with SI units, and one of the most recent units to have been established. One barn is equal to 1.0×10−28 m2. The name derives from the folk expression “Couldn’t hit the broad side of a barn”, and is used by CERN-type particle accelerator physicists to refer to the difficulty of achieving a collision between particles.
An outhouse is 1.0×10−6 barns and a shed 1.0×10−24 barns.
This unit is similar in concept to the attoparsec, combining very large and small scales. When a barn is multiplied by a megaparsec (Mpc) – a very large unit of length used for measuring the distances between galaxies – the result is a human-scaled unit of volume approximately equal to 2⁄3 of a teaspoon (about 3 ml).
Similar to the Barn-megaparsec, the Hubble-barn uses the Barn mentioned above with Hubble Length, which is the length of the visible Universe as derived by using the Hubble Constant and the Speed of Light. This amounts to around 3.45 Gallons (13.1 L).
Everyone is familiar with the term “horsepower” particular with regard to vehicle engines. Donkeypower is a facetious engineering unit is defined as 250 watts, or about a third of a horsepower.
Earthquake intensity is normally measured on the Richter scale. However, a guy named Tom Weller has suggested a humorous alternative, the Rictus scale, which is a measure of earyhquake intensity linked to later media coverage of the event.
Rictus Scale #1 (Richter Scale Equivalent 0-3) Media Coverage Small articles in local papers
Rictus Scale #2 (Richter Scale Equivalent 3-5) Media Coverage Lead story on local news; mentioned on network news
Rictus Scale #3 (Richter Scale Equivalent 5-6.5) Media Coverage Lead story on network news; wire-service photos appear in newspapers nationally; governor visits scene
Rictus Scale #4 (Richter Scale Equivalent 6.5-7.5) Media Coverage Network correspondents sent to scene; president visits area; commemorative T-shirts appear papers
Rictus Scale #5 (Richter Scale Equivalent 7.5+) Media Coverage Small Covers of weekly news magazines; network specials; “instant books” appear.
First used by author Isaac Asimov, Helen is now a measurement. It is named after Helen of Troy who apparently had a face so beautiful that a thousand ships were launched to rescue her.
Thus 1 Helen is equal to this number.
A face that could only launch one ship would therefore be a milliHelen.
A face that would sink ships would have a value of -1 milliHelen!
The MegaFonzie is a fictional unit of measurement of an object’s coolness.
It was invented by Professor Farnsworth in the Futurama episode, “Bender Should Not Be Allowed On TV”. A ‘Fonzie’ is about the amount of coolness inherent in the Happy Days character Fonzie.
The celebrity Wil Wheaton is a keen user of Twitter, and when he attained half a million followers this number was deemed to be ‘1 Wheaton’. As few Twitter users have millions of followers, the milliwheaton (500 followers) and microWheaton are more commonly used.
A ‘Mickey’, named after Walt Disney’s Mickey Mouse, is the smallest computer mouse movement that a computer can detect, less than 0.1mm.
Still with computers, a Nibble is half a Byte.
NASA is well acquainted with a problem called ‘space adaption syndrome’, more commonly called space sickness. It is the result of some astronauts finding it difficult to acclimatize to unusual gravities or pressures. One astronaut who was particularly prone to this type of sickness was named Jake Garn, who apparently vomited ‘explosively’ on an orbital flight. 1 Garn means a person as sick as Mr Garn was, with a corresponding scale for those less afflicted.
A ‘Warhol’ is a unit of fame or hype, that is derived from Andy Warhol’s famous pronouncement that “everyone will be world-famous for fifteen minutes”. Thus
1 kilowarhol — famous for 15,000 minutes, or 10.42 days. A sort of metric “nine-day wonder”.
1 megawarhol — famous for 15 million minutes, or 28.5 years.
A ‘Jolie’ is unit that denotes the amount of international aid a country receives when it becomes the cause celebre of a prominent celebrity. In 2005, International Rescue Committee calculated that Darfur received $300 per capita in aid, while DRC received $11 per capita. Hence, a Jolie can be thought of as a 27x increase in aid receipt.
The ‘Kardashian’ is the amount of global attention Kim Kardashian commands across all media over the space of a day.
Horses are used to measure distances in horse racing – a horse length (shortened to merely a length when the context makes it obvious) equals roughly 8 feet or 2.4 metres. Shorter distances are measured in fractions of a horse length; also common are measurements of a full or fraction of a head, a neck, or a nose.
A ‘Nanocentury’ is a unit of time measurement sometimes used in computing. The term is believed to have been coined by IBM in 1969 from the design objective “never to let the user wait more than a few nanocenturies for a response”.A nanocentury is approximately 3.155 seconds although Tom Duff is frequently cited as saying that, to within half a percent, a nanocentury is pi seconds.
A ‘Dog Year’ is a unit of measurement equal to one seventh of a year, or approximately 52 days. It is primarily used to approximate the equivalent age of dogs and other animals with similar life spans. It is based upon a popular myth regarding the aging of dogs that states that a dog ages seven years in the time it takes a human to age one year. (In fact, the aging of a dog varies by breed; dogs also develop faster and have longer adulthoods relative to their total life span than humans.)
The Stoddard is a measurement used by political campaigns to determine the density of a canvassing area. It is measured in doors per acre.
Mac Index: purchasing power parity
The Economist’s ‘Big Mac Index’compares the purchasing power parity of countries in terms of the cost of a Big Mac hamburger.This was felt to bea good measure of the prices of a basket of commodities in the local economy including labour, rent, meat, bread, cardboard, advertising, lettuce, etc.
A similar system used in the UK is the ‘Mars Bar’ (US readers think ‘Milky Way’). Tables of prices in Mars Bars have intermittently appeared in newspapers over the last 20 years, usually to illustrate changes in wages or prices over time without the confusion caused by inflation.
On 1st April 2001, in New York, a literary agent, named Frank, found himself dazed and patting out flames shortly after arriving at a two-alarm house fire equipped with a sandwich, a bullhorn, whiskey and a lawnchair.
The trouble started when Frank climbed on to the roof of a nearby house, perched on his lawnchair, and proceeded to lecture the startled emergency crew while enjoying his drink.
Three firemen had just finished clearing the house, locating the residents’ young golden retriever in the process, when they heard Frank’s imperious command.
“Drop the dog and open the hydrant this instant!”
They turned in surprise and in fact did drop the unfortunate yelping puppy, which fell through the burning timbers and burst into flames.
Outraged onlookers then mobbed the base of heckler Frank’s house and threw cans and shrubbery at the obstreperous critic, who batted the projectiles aside with his bullhorn while continuing to drink whiskey and issue commands, including…
“The north side is engaged!”
“Position the hose along the azalea bushes!”
“Stop picking your nose!”
Sorely provoked, the senior fireman, currently on administrative leave, picked up the dead (but still burning) dog and flung it onto the roof where Frank was barking out his commands.
The flaming animal landed in Frank’s lap, igniting his spilled whiskey and severely burning his man-part area.
Frank heaved the dog off himself, but neglected to brace his feet on the slanted roof. He and the lawnchair toppled and fell from the house, miraculously avoiding onlookers, who watched aghast while the prostrate man suffered further injuries from falling embers and his own roof-top accoutrements.
The house fire was eventually subdued, and paramedics transported the injured man and his loudspeaker to the hospital. Although he is recovering from his injuries, the prognosis is that he will never again be able to procreate with quite the same gusto, which is probably a blessing for the rest of humanity.
Neighbors have set up a Memorial Fund for the golden retriever. Apparently photographs of the man-shaped depression in the lawn are available upon request.