Friday, May 15, 2009

Link Proliferation: "His complex mathematical proof indicates that the complete destruction of vampires would not be socially optimal."

Worst. Hangover. Ever.

Via the Mind Hacks blog, the Emergency Medicine Journal has a case study about a guy who rolled into a French hospital for alcohol poisoning. Normally, they take such cases, catheter them, hydrate them, give them a stern talking to, offer them access to an AA group, and send them off with a monster hangover.

In this case, the monster hangover wasn't going away. The reason is revealed in the case study's abstract:

Massive alcohol intake usually resolves in a banal headache. We report a case of a patient presenting with acute alcohol intoxication in which the ensuing “hangover” was due to a knife blade deeply retained in the brain parenchyma. This case underlines the unpredictability of retained foreign bodies without a high level of suspicion and a detailed description of the circumstances of admission.

Later in the study, we get this gem:

The foreign body was surgically withdrawn, and postoperative recovery was uneventful. After awakening from surgery, the patient could not remember involvement in an altercation, but witnesses retrospectively confirmed that he was attacked with a knife after drinking with his assailant.


Pics above. The magic of clicking makes things bigger.

"There is something implacably and sadly malign about this world."

Popmatters has a nicely discursive review of Ivan Vartanian and Tiffany Godoy's Japanese Gothic

With its distinctive looks, links to Japanese popular music, and intense marketability, it would be easy to consider Gothic Lolita another clothing trend. There’s no lack of websites devoted to explaining exactly how to dress in Gothic Lolita style, with Tokyopop’s quarterly magazine Gothic & Lolita Bible being one of the most definitive. Among its typical influences are Victorian, Edwardian and Rococo fashions (think Edward Gorey). Other common elements include knee-length skirts with petticoats; shirts and blouses edged in frills and lace; bonnets and parasols.

But don’t come to this book expecting instructions on how to dress. Japanese Goth doesn’t delve into the minutiae of proper ensembles and accessories. It also avoids getting into the Gothic Lolita subcultures such as “Elegant Gothic Lolita”, or “Sweet Gothic Lolita”. Readers interested in the latest variation on the theme probably have their own sources for finding out what’s new. As Takemoto [Japanese novelist and "bard of the Lolitas," Novala Takemoto - CRwM] writes in his introduction:

“Let’s say punk rock was described to you as ‘three chords of rock music played roughly.’ Would that be sufficient? If you looked up surrealism in the dictionary and it was described as a style of art that uses unrealistic depiction, would you understand? In Japan, even now, people ask me ‘What is Gothic Lolita fashion?’ I tell them I don’t know.”

Bloodsucker Population Dynamics, Revisited

Several months ago, I posted a link to a paper by two physicists claiming that geometric progression (a sequence of numbers where each term after the first is found by multiplying the previous one by a fixed non-zero number called the common ratio) proves that vampires could not exist.

The short form of the argument: Vamp feeding produces new vamps, so every time a vamp feeds there are more feeding vamps produced, which means the number of feeding vamps quickly passes the number of available humans. The way the number crunchers worked it out, it would take just two years to turn the whole human population into vampires.

On posting this, ANTSS regular and generally perspicacious fellow Screamin' Sassy noted that the eggheads made some pretty broad assumptions about vampires. Does everybody a vampire bites instantly become a vampire? How often do vampires really need to feed?

Turns out that Sassy wasn't alone. At io9, Mark Strauss, senior editor of Smithsonian magazine, takes a tour of alternative vampire population spread models.

From the article:

Here, Sejdinovic cites the pioneering research conducted by Austrian mathematicians Richard Hartl and Alexander Mehlmann, who published the landmark 1992 paper, "The Transylvanian Problem of Renewable Resources," later followed up by "Cycles of Fear: Periodic Bloodsucking Rates for Vampires" (Journal of Optimization Theory and Application, December 1992). Hartl and Mehlmann argue that vampires would never be stupid enough to deplete their entire food supply, and by applying the Hopf-Bifurcation Theorem (don't ask), they demonstrate how vampires can adopt an optimal "cyclical bloodsucking strategy."

However, there is a serious flaw in the Hartl and Mehlmann model: The assumption that human beings would be docile prey. Their research provoked an outraged response from economist Dennis Snower, who in his article "Macroeconomic Policy and the Optimal Destruction of Vampires" (The Journal of Political Economy, June 1982), declared:

"One wonders what conceivable interest the authors could have had in helping vampires solve their intertemporal consumption problem. The implicit assumption of the Invisible Hand (or Fang)-whereby vampires, in pursuing their own interests, pursue those of human beings as well-is of questionable validity. The study by Hartl and Mehlmann is not concerned with the macroeconomic implications of blood-sucking behavior modes. Nor does it consider the policy instruments whereby human beings can protect themselves from vampires. Instead, humans are modeled as passive receptacles of blood whose cultivation and harvest are left to vampire discretion."

The whole thing is silly fun for the geekier among the horror fancy.

Beach Reading Season Begins

The Pop Crunch mass-cult news site has released its 10 Most Disturbing Books of All Time list.

The selections are a little odd. The Turner Diaries makes it on the strength of its connection to the militia movement and its alleged role as an inspiration to Oklahoma City bomber Tim McVeigh, but Mein Kampf, with its connection to a considerably more destructive and widespread right-wing political movement, was not considered infamous enough to make the list.

Also, reading 120 Days of Sodom is about as emotionally involving as reading the phonebook. I have no doubt that the masochistic souls who trudge through the entire work put down de Sade's tome feeling drained – though it isn't the soul scourging emptiness one feels after you've stared into the abyss; it's the hollow tiredness one feels after an excruciatingly long ordeal at the DMV.

1 comment:

Sasquatchan said...

Gotta keep those pesky engineer types honest, ya know ?