I ate my wafer...


So...apparently you can transplant arms into non-arm places

So, I was poking around in the medical blogosphere yesterday and ran into a fascinating article over at Unbounded Medicine on Deferred Transitory Heterotopic Implant surgery. What exactly would that be? Well, apparently, the short version is that some poor guy had his arm amputated, then reattached surgically, then a couple of days later the surgeons had to operate to treat an infection on the surgical site. Apparently, since the arm had sat in a ditch for a while before reattachment, they needed to remove it completely, and graft it onto the man's groin for a couple weeks. Oddly (and somewhat hillariously), apparently when the man woke up from aneseia, the surgeons only told him that they had to attach the arm somewhere else on his body, and "After a couple of hours he realized that the arm was on his leg." (There's very little blood in the pictures, but they probably aren't for the squeamish.) First off, if I ever need a Deferred Transitory Heterotopic Implant, I'd just assume not play "where on my body did the surgeons hide it" while recovering from stupifying drugs.

I suppose to be fair, the possibilities for using this technique to add an extra arm shouldn't be underrated. Given the electronic control advances for parapelegics, it should be possible to control an extra arm, which has all sorts of possibilties for halloween, rewinding recoil starters, and last but not least, getting the damn rebound spring back into Astra revolvers.


Liability and ugly guns.

Some of my older friends might remember that I was once involved in a heated argument in Tort Law over the technical features of the Winchester Black Talon bullet. For those that don't remember, the refresher version is that a fellow law student who happens to be a former Marine (and current reserve officer) argued that the "prongs" on a Black Talon bullet could defeat soft body armor by "cutting like a saw".(1) In the heated argument, my opponent won by virtue of a technically weak audience and his military trump card, and the class moved on to discuss whether using such a vicious projectile would incur greater civil liability. Remember, at this point, the herd of baby-lawyers in the room honestly think that the Black Talon both had greater wounding ability AND could pierce body armor. The consensus, and the correct legal argument, is that it would not matter in a legitimate shooting.

Since that uncomfortable day in class, I've seen all sorts of arguments about the potential civil liability caused by using or not using various bullets, firearms and accessories. I'm not completely sure where the myth comes from, but at least as far as I know, the critical criminal or civil liability issue in a shooting, be it police or civilian is whether the shot was justified in the first place. I do know of a single civil court case involving 00 Buckshot over penetrating a felon and striking a civilian, and I know of piles of cases that involve bullets that completely miss their intended targets. Otherwise, at least as far as I can tell, the critical issue is whether the shooting was justified or not.

So why am I writing about it? Mostly in response to a current comment thread at hellinahandbasket, and in part due to the very current msnbc article about a hiker that shot an unarmed man with a 10mm pistol. Now, this particular tragedy is interesting in part because the prosecution did try to cast the 10mm pistol as a particularly powerful and evil weapon. (2) At least to my reading of the facts, and the juror interviews, the case was still decided on whether the shooting was necessary, and even if Mr. Fish had carried a .22LR Bearcat the jury would have reached the same verdict. I'm open to discussion on the topic, especially with references to actual cases where the firearm or ammunition choice changed criminal or civil liability, but for now, my position is that it doesn't really matter much what the gun is, only what you do with it.

1. Winchester pulled the black talon from the market, and has since developed an improved version, Ranger T, which is arguably very slightly more incapacitating than the talon-less competition. Although Winchester doesn't distribute the Ranger T ammunition for retail, due to the miracles of the internet it is readily available online, often for prices somewhat lower than competing designs.

2. The 10mm has somewhat hotter ballistics, in some loadings, than more common pistol calibers. It still is balistically puny compared to virtually any rifle or shotgun.

A couple of new updates to links, etc.

So, new updated links all around, hopefully in the anonymous format of the blog author's choice. In the newly returned bloggers, Adam is churning out excellent quality writing over at semiotheque. As if it wasn't already unfair that the man is a brilliant writer, he's in London for a semester of law school, which will provide endless material. With the return of Krupa, James, Dave, and Adam, my blog feed list is back up to normal in terms of quantity and quality. If I missed a link, or whatever, let me know


Signs of the end times: breakfast sausage and pancake on a stick

Is it just me, or is this the most disturbing prepackaged food ever?

Claustrophobia Part One

So, last weekend while I was eating lunch with my parents, I happened to glance out the window and see an early 1990's ford minivan slowing to a stop in the ditch with steam pouring out from under the hood. As it turned out, the van had suffered a split heater hose, and the extremely elderly couple driving were on their way home from the hospital. To make a long story short, despite amusing miscommunications caused by hearing loss, my Dad and I repaired the van, sending the couple home with instructions to call us via cell phone if they encountered more problems in the remainder of their 30 mile drive.

The interesting part is that the woman involved bore a striking resemblance to a former neighbor, Mrs. Irene Simpson, who I hadn't thought about in years. Mrs. Simpson lived nearby when I was young, and had virtually no family in the area. In her early 90's, she was quite frail, and lived in a small house completely filled with cats and old person spoor, such as stacks of newspapers and various knick-knacks. One winter, one of her hot water pipes froze, and somehow or other, my Dad and I were called in to fix the problem. Since her house was small, the entire house was heated by a single furnace that sat in her laundry room blasting hot air through the house without the more common ducts and vents. Being that Mrs. Simpson was quite old and frail, she preferred the entire house to be heated into the 80 degree range, so the area immediately surrounding the furnace certainly pushed 95 degrees or more.

Unfortunately, the trapdoor to her crawlspace was located immediately next to the furnace, in front of the hot air vent. As far as crawlspaces go, it was fairly roomy, abet completely filled with fog, with a muddy dirt floor due to the broken pipe. Obviously, the temperature in the crawlspace was below freezing, and the temperature transition was less than pleasant. Anyway, as it turned out, the broken plumbing fixture couldn't be completely shut off, and as I was twelve years old, making me both physically smaller and too young to drive, I got to spend 45 minutes holding my thumb over the offending crack while my father tracked down a replacement part. Unfortunately, the pipe was located such that my head was directly underneath the trapdoor opening, bathed in 90 degree air, while the rest of my body was in 25 degree mud. Approximately, 20 minutes into the experience, Mrs. Simpson shuffled her walker over to the trap door and leaned down. Smiling, she said, "hee hee, you're just like the little dutch boy aren't you, hee hee." She then shuffled back to whatever she was doing, leaving me to my own little claustrophobic, fog-filled, thermally-schizophrenic hell.

With the replacement part in hand, it was an easy repair, and I didn't really suffer any ill effects from the experience. Hilariously, Mrs. Simpson called my Dad eight hours later at 3AM, panicked that she couldn't find "Buddy", and was concerned that the errant cat had somehow slipped into the crawlspace. So, my dad, wearing Carhartt overalls over his PJ's had to go back over at 3:30 AM with a flashlight to check for the cat. The cat turned out to be sleeping the in the laundry piles, but my dad did have to crawl around in the crawlspace mud first.

Mrs. Simpson passed away years ago, I have no idea what happened to Buddy the cat, and the entire situation is mostly just funny in retrospect. Thinking about the situation, I definitely want to post about claustrophobia in general, and possibly the evolutionary development of phobias in general. In light of the lengthy nature of this post, I'm saving all of that for part two.