Minnesota Man?

Wait, wait, wait — we all know what to expect in a headline beginning “Florida Man”. It’s going to be a story about someone doing something incredibly, unbelievably stupid. It’s a trope.

So what do expect from Minnesota Man?

Apparently it’s grisly murder. Bonus points for stories combining Minnesota man and woodchipper. It’s not fair — the wood chipper murderer was in Connecticut.

OK, this one has no woodchipper, but it does have dismemberment and attempts to hide the body in Lake Superior. Good plan, after all, since

The legend lives on from the Chippewa on down
Of the big lake they called Gitche Gumee
The lake, it is said, never gives up her dead
When the skies of November turn gloomy

Unfortunately, Minnesota Man miscalculated and dumped the body in June, rather than November, and Gitch Gumee gladly up-chucked evidence of the crime.

On July 15, the fisherman met with agents from the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and helped them find the area where he saw West drop the buckets. Authorities found one of the buckets and a tote, according to the complaint.

In the tote, agents discovered a male human torso that appeared to have suffered a bullet wound. Also in the bag was a pair of pants and a casino player’s card belonging to Balsimo.

I just want you to know that Minnesota Man stories are not typical of the residents of this fine state, most of whom have not committed multiple murders with mutilation of the bodies.

Florida Man stories, though, are totally representative.

If they use guns, it’s not terrorism

One or a few people shot up a Mothers’ Day Parade in New Orleans — nobody was killed, but 17 were injured.

It’s strangely quiet out there. The news has been non-stop “Boston terrorism!”, “Lone wolf terrorism!”, “Oh, woe, what shall we do about terrorism?” for the last few weeks, but guns blasting a parade, and…hush. I don’t know whether they’re waiting to see if the gunmen were foreigners (in which case it will be more non-stop wailing), or whether they’d rather not tag raging use of guns for their designed purpose, lest someone criticize home-grown gun culture again.

Did a bat land on you at the Kelso Depot in the Mojave Desert?

Boosting signal on this, because it’s potentially very urgent and the person at risk could be anywhere in the world at this point.

A week ago, on April 30, a visitor to the Kelso Depot in the Mojave National Preserve had a bat land on his neck. The bat — a Myotis lucifugus a.k.a. little brown bat — has since tested positive for rabies, and now San Bernardino County officials are trying to find the man. They don’t know if he was bitten or scratched: it wouldn’t take much of a bite to transmit the disease, and if that happened he’s got to get vaxxed.

Details on the incident and public health contact info are here. The guy doesn’t have a lot of slack before getting to the doctor at this point: onset of symptoms can start mere days after a bite. (Or years, which has caused people to falsely assume they’ve dodged a bullet.) Before symptoms start prevention is straightforward and no longer arduous. I’ve had rabies shots and they weren’t the worst injections I had that year. (Individual mileage varies there, but they’re way better than they were back in the day. Mine were a breeze.)

And it’s a good opportunity to remind people in bat and rabies country that while transmission of rabies from bats to humans is quite rare, bats exhibiting unusual behavior (like not being shy or nocturnal) should be given a wide berth and reported to local authorities.

Christian de Duve has died

Christian de Duve won the Nobel prize in 1974 (along with Claude and Palade) for his work on the biochemistry of the cell. He also wrote several books on the origin and evolution of life. Here he is speaking at the Lindau meetings a few years ago.

Christian de Duve is now dead at 95, by euthanasia.

“It would be an exaggeration to say I’m not afraid of death, but I’m not afraid of what comes after because I’m not a believer. When I disappear I will disappear, there’ll be nothing left,” he told the Belgian daily Le Soir just a month ago.

De Duve had decided to commit euthanasia after suffering a fall in his home but was awaiting the arrival of his son from the United States in early May in order to die surrounded by family.

“He left us serenely and refused to take anti-anxiety pills before the final injection. He left with a smile and a good-bye,” his daughter Francoise told Le Soir.

What a dignified and honorable way to go!

I know almost nothing about Jackiesue

I only just learned she even exists a few minutes ago. She calls herself “a pagan and a left wing democrat” in the tagline of her blog “Yellowdog Granny,” where she also says “I got older but I never grew up.” She’s a friend of someone I’ve known online for a few years. She’s in her late 60s.  She lives in Texas.

Oh, and I know that she works a day or two a month in the West Rest Haven, a nursing home in her town. And I also know how she spent her Wednesday evening, as recounted in her blog:

[S]he told me the fertilizer plant had blown up and that the nursing home had been damaged I said I’m going. She said not to go that the other one could blow at any time. I said “I’m going.” I drove straight down Reagan Street and passed a house on fire and then on the right I could see the Jr. High School was on fire and then I could see the apts which are directly across the street from the nursing home and it was almost a shell. I parked in my usual place and got my flashlight and leaving my keys in truck and purse too and went inside. I along with a bunch of other people were taking residents out in wheel chairs… water every where, the ceiling had falling, beeping alarms, insulation knee deep in places. I was soaked from head to toe. water leaking from the sprinklers and plaster all over the place. Each room with windows caved in, furniture upside down, beds turned over. The dining room was a jumble of chairs and tables. One of the nurses said the building just imploded. the roof went up and then came down and the windows blew in at the same time.…

The amount of immediate help was wonderful to see. They got all the residents to the senior center for emergency help. We went through the building about 4-5 times to make sure we got everyone.

I know I’m not the only person who’s commented on the people who’ve run towards the horror to see what they can do to help in the last few days.

But it’s been the kind of week where the more stories I hear about people trying to make the world better right now, the better I can make it through the rest of the week. Maybe you’re feeling that way too.

Like I said, I don’t really know much about Jackiesue. Except that I know yesterday she ran toward the horror to help people she cared about. That makes my world a little better right now.


Worrisome news from China:

A person who had close contact with a dead H7N9 bird flu patient in Shanghai has been under treatment in quarantine after developing symptoms of fever, running nose and throat itching, local authorities said late Thursday.

So far, China has confirmed 14 H7N9 cases — six in Shanghai, four in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui, in the first known human infections of the lesser-known strain. Of all, four died in Shanghai and one died in Zhejiang.

That first paragraph is the really scary one: it suggests that there may (emphasis on the possibility, it has not been demonstrated) have been human-to-human transmission, rather than just bird-to-human. The latter case is slightly more manageable — avoid ducks. The former case would require avoiding people — not so easy.

The H5N1 bird flu virus, different than this one, had about a 60% mortality rate, but 36% mortality for H7N9 so far is not good. Also, H5N1 was lethal to birds, too — this one seems to be relatively harmless to the bird carriers, while being relatively deadly to infected humans.

Awesome cool scary horrible frightening!

A meteor exploded over Russia, injuring hundreds of people. At last report, no one had been killed, fortunately. Most of the injuries were caused by flying debris from the shock wave, but official police reports are describing the impact site and showing small fragments — it really went kablooiee.

There are also lots of videos of this event, because apparently everyone in Russia drives with a dashboard cam.

Russian drivers are probably scarier than rocks from space (usually), but it’s still got to give you pause— the universe really doesn’t care about us at all, and there is scary stuff whizzing about overhead.