Nicaragua's Ortega says everything's fine while protestors continue to die in the street

Are you sitting down? After months of anti-government protests, over 300 civilian deaths and, more recently, the rounding up of protesters and intellectuals who were designated as terrorists or linked to risks to Nicaragua’s sovereignty, the country’s president-cum-dictator Daniel Ortega announced today that he refuses to step down from his post. On the bright side, Ortega told Fox News (the preferred network of dictators and kleptocrats, apparently) that he has fabulous news: the violence that's plagued his nation for months is over! Just like that!

Except, it isn’t.

From CBS News:

Thousands of people marched yesterday in Nicaragua to demand that President Daniel Ortega step down. The demonstrations over proposed benefit cuts, which began three months ago, are expected to continue today.

CBS News correspondent Manuel Bojorquez reports an eerie quiet during much of the day in the capital city of Managua, as people stay home and business owners close up shop for their own safety.

But after the calm, the sounds of protest pierce the air, and the fear of bloody confrontations returns.

Within minutes of arriving in the capital, Bojorquez encountered an anti-government protest and the sound of mortar fire.

It didn’t take long for Bojorquez to find the source of the mortar fire. He spoke with a group of young men who’d DIY’d their mortars, firing them off as a warning that government forces and para-militaries were drawing near. The mortar crews provide the warning with good reason: over the past few weeks, violent attacks against protestors by loyalist paramilitaries and Nicaraguan police have intensified. Read the rest

A build-your-own casket kit

Buying a casket from a funeral home can be damn expensive. The average one costs a little over $2000. And while selling your soul to get one cheaper from Walmart may be tempting, it's not as inexpensive (or as awesome) as making one from a kit sold from Northwoods Casket Company in Beaver Dam, Wisconsin. For $599 and some manual labor, you can make their simple pine box model with your own hands.

This casket kit comes complete with all wooden parts pre-cut. No cutting. No clamping. Kit includes Casket Kit Assembly Instructions, screws, glue, and a piece of sandpaper. The parts are smooth, but sanding is one of those tasks that is never finished. The kit assembles in 1-2 hours. Extra hands make for light work. Keep the blue-stained pine as is, or finish with oil, varnish, paint, or any creative method that inspires you.

Now, if $599 is out of your price range, perhaps you should consider cremation and putting the ashes in this Modest Urn?

All kidding aside, do check out the website for Northwoods Casket Company though. They've got all kinds of interesting things to look at.

(TIWIB) Read the rest

Pianist Henry Butler dead at 69

If you love New Orleans-style piano or simply subscribe to joy, the music of Henry Butler would be welcome in your home. Gospel, old school rhythm and blues, Caribbean-tinged jazz and, of course, that signature syncopated New Orleans sound made renowned by musical luminaries like Jellyroll Morton and Professor Longhair--Butler could play it all.

And he did.

His playing challenges the ears, turning well-known standards up on their ends to show listeners what's inside of them. Sadly, we're all given our time to go. There'll be no more Henry Butler for us to enjoy, save what has already been recorded. Butler died in a hospice facility this week, in Brooklyn. He was 69 years old.

From the New York Times:

Mr. Butler commanded the syncopated power and splashy filigree of boogie-woogie and gospel and the rolling polyrhythms of Afro-Caribbean music. He could also summon the elegant delicacy of classical piano or hurtle toward the dissonances and atonal clusters of modern jazz. He could play in convincing vintage styles and sustain multileveled counterpoint, then demolish it all in a whirlwind of genre-smashing virtuosity.

As The New York Times' obituary of Butler points out, Dr. John once called Butler “the pride of New Orleans and a visionistical down-home cat and a hellified piano plunker to boot.”

Knowing that his playing will inspire generations of musicians in the decades to come feels like cold comfort in the wake of the loss of such a talent.

The older I get, the stranger it feels to watch as the musicians who inspire me fall to the ravages of time. Read the rest

Why Portugal's decriminalization of all drugs has saved so many lives

In less than two decades, Portugal went from suffering an epidemic of heroin use, drug-related crimes and deaths to enjoying one of the lowest rates of drug-related deaths in the world. This excellent, short video from Bloomberg explores why this is the case. Read the rest

Mystery man found dead in wall of women's washroom

The Core Shopping Center caters to the needs of Calgary, Canada's downtown office workers. Wandering its multiple floors over a series of city blocks, you'll find a mid-ranged food court, travel agencies, cell phone stores and stores flogging business attire – pretty standard stuff. Its white walls and polished floors give it an institutional feel that shouts "shop and bugger off." It's a mall! You could mistake it for any number of other shopping centers around North America, except for one thing: the Core has, or rather, had, a dead fella in the wall of one of its women's washrooms.

I spend six months of the year in and around Calgary and worked for a number of years managing mall cops. Lemme set the scene.

Instead of forcing maintenance personnel to rip a hole in a wall to access plumbing every time that there's a problem, a lot of mall bathrooms are designed to include small, lockable doors that provide access to the pipes. The wall that this door is baked into is often referred to as a "pony wall." Pony walls aren't designed for load bearing. They're there, primarily, to hide plumbing, HVAC and electrical conduits from folks using the building. It looks nice. In between a pony wall and the wall that lies beyond it, there's usually a small chunk of space – maybe one and a half feet feet deep – to allow workers to get parts of themselves and their tools into to make repairs. The access hatch for a pony wall can be locked and unlocked from the outside. Read the rest

Harry Anderson, TV's 'Night Court' star, has died at 65 in Asheville, N.C.

Actor Harry Anderson, best known for presiding over NBC's 'Night Court,' has died. He was 65. Read the rest

Beautiful art made from ashes of euthanized shelter animals

For her Stardust and Ashes project, Shannon Johnstone wanted to memorialize local shelter animals "with nobody to mourn their passing," so she used their ashes to make cosmic cyanotypes. Read the rest

China sets up anonymous snitch-line to report strippers at funerals

The Chinese Minister of Culture has launched a campaign in Henan, Anhui, Jiangsu and Hebei provinces to end the practice of hiring strippers to draw crowds to funerals -- these crowds are seen as a mark of respect and status for the departed that epitomizes the virtue of "filial piety," regardless of how they are brought in. Read the rest

Venezuelans with transplanted organs are dying due to a lack of drugs

Venezuela is in crisis. The South American country has been a sore festered with political turmoil and socioeconomic woes for years now. Unemployment is a pandemic in the country and, thanks to the devaluation of their currency, what little food can be had there, is largely unaffordable by the nation's people. As a result of these conditions, crime has become rampant, countless businesses in the country have shuttered and shortages of the staples we take for granted have become commonplace. Reuters reports that the shortages have begun to effect an unexpected, exclusive group of Venezuelans: organ transplant recipients.

According to Reuters, there are around 3,500 organ transplant recipients living in Venezuela today. Thanks to modern medicine, theses recipients have been able to lead largely normal lives. But as the country's ability to afford medicines made in other countries, make their own drugs or pay medical personnel diminishes, the lives of its organ transplant recipients are being put at risk. The drugs needed to keep their new organs from being rejected by their bodies have run out. So far, at least seven of the country's citizens have died as a result, with 35 additional transplant recipients reporting that their new organs are now being rejected by their bodies.

The suck doesn't stop there: thanks to the fact that only around half of Venezuela's dialysis machines are operating, tens of thousands of people waiting for lifesaving surgeries are at risk of dying as their blood can't be cleaned of toxins. The doctors who are still working to keep people alive in the country are exhausted and frustrated by the conditions they're now forced to work in:

"It's incredibly stressful.

Read the rest

Supermarket chickens have a "superbug" problem

If you enjoyed British supermarkets' bleach-dipped rotten turkeys, perhaps you like to try their antibiotic-resistant superbug-infested chickens.

The FSA has also noted that the proportion of campylobacter-infected chickens which showed resistance to key antibiotics, in this case ciprofloxacin, “has increased significantly” compared with a previous survey of chickens sold at retail 10 years ago. More than 4,000 samples were tested, then samples of smaller numbers exhibiting campylobacter infections retested to detect whether they carried bacteria resistant to the key antibiotics. Ciprofloxacin resistance was identified in more than half of the samples of one form of campylobacter tested, 237 out of 437 tests on Campylobacter jejuni, and in nearly half (52 out of 108) of another strain, Campylobacter coli.

The results were taken by experts to show that the use of antibiotics to treat farm animals is giving rise to the spread of resistant bacteria, which can have major effects on human health because one of the main methods of transmission to many strains of resistant bacteria is through contact with livestock in the food chain. While proper hygiene practices and thorough cooking can kill the bugs, any lapses can result in serious infection.

The paper: "A Microbiological survey of campylobacter contamination in fresh whole UK produced chilled chickens at retail sale".

Post-Trump/Brexit omni-deregulation shall be a splendid affair.

Photo: Bertie Charman Read the rest

Doctors diagnose the bad guys' injuries in 'Home Alone'

Remember how the bad guys got battered on by little Kevin's (Macaulay Culkin) booby traps in the Home Alone series?

Well, in these videos from 2015, a group of real-life doctors watched clips from both early 1990s holiday flicks and gave their professional opinion on what life-altering injuries the movie's burglars, Marv (Daniel Stern) and Harry (Joe Pesci), would have sustained. It ain't pretty.

(Tastefully Offensive) Read the rest

Watch: Video about competitive gravedigging

"The Best Gravediggers in the World" is a short documentary about competitive gravedigging:

In the industrial town of Trenčín, Slovakia, a small family-run funeral home has taken their gravedigging contest international. Here, teams of gravediggers from throughout Europe descend with shovels and hoes to see who can create the best eternal resting places, in the least amount of time.

Read the rest

Nurses suspended for admiring dead man's genitals

Denver Health Medical Center suspended five nurses who apparently opened a body bag to admire a dead man's genitals.

"Multiple staff members viewed the victim while he was incapacitated, including after he was deceased," according to a Denver Police report.

Four of the nurses have returned to work after their three week suspension while a fifth is no longer employed by the hospital for reasons unrelated to the penis-gazing incident.

(CBS News) Read the rest

Day of the Dead nesting dolls

I've had my eye on the nesting-doll fad, but none of the merch-tastic options caught my attention. I impulse-bought these as soon as I saw them, though, in hopes the print quality lives up to the promise. The largest is 5½ inches tall, the smallest just 1½. Tag yourself!

Day Of The Dead Nesting Dolls [Amazon]

P.S. It so turns out there are many hand-painted options on Etsy; blank nesting dolls are easy to find.

Previously

Black-on-black Day of the Dead playing cards

Mexican Day of the Dead antique prints Read the rest

Life, Death, Ego and Eternity

 

This week on HOME: Stories From L.A.

The original Forest Lawn Memorial Park, in the hills above Glendale, may be best known outside California for inspiring the sledgehammer satire of the 1965 cult comedy "The Loved One." For tourists and curiosity-seekers, it's the gonzo life's work of Hubert Eaton, who memorialized himself as The Builder in the park's every corner. For the families of the people interred there, though, it's something more, and harder to joke away: A place of their own, green and quiet, and eternity-adjacent. 

This is the second episode of Season 5. You can catch up on the whole series at the iTunes Store. While you're there, please take a second to leave the show a rating and review. And you can subscribe right here:  

iTunes | Android | Email | Google Play | Stitcher | TuneIn | RSS Read the rest

Brain activity recorded as much as 10 minutes after death

University of Western Ontario researchers examined the electrical activity in several patients before and after their life support was turned off and they were declared clinically dead, when the heart had stopped beating. In one patient, brain waves, in the form of single delta wave bursts, continued for minutes after death.

"It is difficult to posit a physiological basis for this EEG activity given that it occurs after a prolonged loss of circulation," the researchers write in their scientific paper. "These waveform bursts could, therefore, be artefactual in nature, although an artefactual source could not be identified."

This kind of research in the niche field of necroneuroscience is relevant to ethical discussions around organ donation and how the moment of death is defined.

(Neuroskeptic via Daily Grail)

Read the rest

Your cremated loved one's ashes can be pressed into a vinyl record

That's not dust on the stylus, that's Uncle Fred!

Andvinyly presses cremated remains into a vinyl record.

Read the rest

More posts