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Category Archives: Cool & Odd-Mostly Odd

Medicine Is Strange: Stone Man Syndrome

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Medicine has a lot of very strange disorders in its catalog of maladies.

Fibrodysplasia Ossificans Progressiva (FOP or Stone Man Syndrome) is one of them.

http://thechirurgeonsapprentice.com/2014/12/17/disturbing-disorders-fop-stone-man-syndrome/

 

Murder Solved By Clever DNA Testing of an Old Stamp

DNA PROFILE

DNA PROFILE

Here is an amazing and convoluted story that involves good police work and clever DNA testing, including the use of old and very small samples and familial DNA techniques (instrumental in identifying the serial killer known as the Grim Sleeper). More proof that criminals can run but they can’t hide. Not for long anyway.

 

Want To See Something Very Small? DNA Replication Visualized

This is cool. You probably remember from high school biology that DNA copies itself as the first step in cell division. This is how we grow and how we replace lost or damages cells.

 

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The replication process begins when the two strands of our double-stranded DNA “unzip.” That is, they split form one another. Then each stand rebuilds its complementary strand in a complex biological process. This yields two identical strands of double-stranded DNA, each of which becomes the nuclear material for the two identical cells when the division process is completed.

Current DNA analysis mirrors this natural phenomenon. State of the art DNA profiling employs the combination of the Polymerase Chain Reaction and Short Tandem Repeat analysis (PCR-STR). It’s the PCR portion that utilizes this natural process of replication, which is also called “amplification.”

Now it seems someone has used electron microscopy to visualize this process.

Amazing.

DNA Replication RCN.com: http://users.rcn.com/jkimball.ma.ultranet/BiologyPages/D/DNAReplication.html

You Tube: DNA Replication Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=27TxKoFU2Nw

How Stuff Works: DNA Replication: http://science.howstuffworks.com/life/cellular-microscopic/dna3.htm

DNA Forensics: From RFLP to PCR-STR and Beyond: http://www.forensicmag.com/articles/2004/09/dna-forensics-rflp-pcr-str-and-beyond

 

 

Wild Pigs Are Taking Over

FERAL HOGS--DO NOT MESS WITH THESE GUYS

FERAL HOGS–DO NOT MESS WITH THESE GUYS

 

Pigs are often depicted as cute little curly-tailed pets or as cartoon characters. Harmless and all-around pleasant. The truth is another matter.

Feral pigs are dangerous and destructive. They are omnivores, meaning they will eat virtually anything. They are strong, fast, aggressive, and intelligent. Intelligent on the level of dogs and horses. Remember Animal Farm? The pigs ended up in charge.

Pigs often escape from farms and head into the woods, where they are uniquely equipped to not only survive but thrive. Food materials are everywhere for the escapees and they have few enemies. But they do have friends. Other escaped pigs.

When these feral creatures form into packs they become destructive and dangerous. They can decimate crops, literally uprooting everything. They can destroy a chicken coop, by barging in and consuming literally hundreds of chickens. They can kill lambs and calves and small deer. Even humans in rare cases.

Growing up in the South, I remember several times where feral packs began to wreak havoc with local farmers. When such situations became intolerable, the local farmers would “form a pack” of there own and hunt down and kill as many of the problem pigs as possible.

According to a recent Scientific American article, the problem still exists, is indeed growing, and is no longer confined to the South.

I used this phenomenon in one of my Dub Walker thrillers HOT LIGHTS, COLD STEEL. Feral pigs can dig and scratch and claw and will eat anything—-even a buried body.

 

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From Hot Lights, Cold Steel:

They reached a clearing where three other uniforms stood near a rectangle of gouged away earth. The first thing T-Tommy saw was the gnawed remains of a shoulder, bone and gristle exposed, flesh shredded. It was framed by torn plastic sheeting. As he moved closer, he saw a leg protruding through another rip in the plastic. Like the shoulder, large chunks of flesh were missing, the bones clearly visible. Attached to the damaged leg was a bare foot, nails painted purple, not the bright red polish he had seen minutes earlier. Two bodies or a fashion statement? 

The decay odor was weak, and though flies buzzed around the shredded flesh, he saw no maggots. The corpse hadn’t been dead long. He backed away and watched as the evidence team went to work.

Forty-five minutes later, Sidau and his crime lab crew had photographed the site, completed a grid walk of the immediate area for other evidence, and collected what they could find. The coroner’s techs then excavated the grave, finding two nude bodies. Young girls. Early twenties, give or take. Each had been wrapped in plastic. They removed them from the grave and sliced open the wrapping, careful to keep each corpse cupped within its sheeting, preserving any trace evidence. One of the bodies belonged to the arm, the other to the leg.

“Pigs,” the tech said.

“You sure?” T-Tommy asked.

He nodded. “Seen it before. Drummond and Cooksey can tell us more, but that’s what it’ll be.”

“There was a pack near here a couple of months ago,” Stone said. “Wiped out a chicken coop and killed a few calves. The local farmers put together a hunting party. Killed six of them. Must have been more.”

“How’d you know that?”

“My uncle was one of the hunters.”

 
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Posted by on December 4, 2014 in Cool & Odd-Mostly Odd, Writing

 

Life Imitating Art? Murder or Accident?

It’s been said that art imitates life and that often life imitates art? Is the death of “spy” Gareth Williams a murder or a tragic case of autoerotic asphyxia? Is it a true mystery anticipated by an author’s question?

 

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The Story:

http://bigstory.ap.org/article/police-spy-bag-probably-died-accident

The Question:

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2011/09/18/q-and-a-can-a-murder-be-staged-to-look-like-an-accidental-death-from-autoerotic-asphyxia/

Two other posts on autoerotic asphyxia:

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/02/autoerotic-asphyxia-a-very-bizarre-case/

https://writersforensicsblog.wordpress.com/2009/06/05/autoerotic-asphyxia-redux-david-carradine/

 

 

Surgery For Criminal Tendencies

The belief that altering the brain and its function can either lead to or ameliorate criminal tendencies has been around for a long time. It might date back thousands of years to when trepanning was used. Skulls found in Central America tend to point to the use of this technique by the Mayans and the Aztecs and some have postulated that it might’ve been done to treat madness or other behavioral abnormalities. Of course it could have been part of religious ritual also or even used for medical treatment after head injury. We just don’t know for sure.

 

Trepanning involves the drilling of holes through the skull

Trepanning involves the drilling of holes through the skull

 

In the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) in February, 1913, the case of a criminal who underwent surgery to correct his behavior was reported. It seems that a young man who was incarcerated for his criminal activity had been a normal child until approximately age 14 when he suffered a head injury. After that he became “morose, sullen and a thief.” Examination revealed that he had a “thickening underneath the scalp at the point where he had been injured.” Surgery was then performed to remove this section of bone and apparently his behavior immediately changed. It changed so much that the governor offered him parole and he was released.

Unfortunately, recidivism being what it is, he returned to his criminal ways and was again arrested. The article goes on to point out that during the Civil War there were many soldiers who suffered penetrating head wounds and yet only rarely did they suffer from “perversions of character.”

Indeed there have been cases where individuals have had brain tumors and their personality has changed dramatically, even to the point of violent acting out. In such circumstances removal of the brain tumor has often resulted in a resolution of the personality change. But the search for a surgical solution to social traffic behavior remains elusive and indeed there is no evidence that any procedure makes much difference. At least as far as we know in 2013. Who knows what the future will hold.

 

One-Flew-Over-The-Cuckoos-Nest

 

Perhaps the most famous use of a surgical technique to alter behavior comes from the fictional world. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, the movie as well as the excellent book by Ken Kesey, is the story of McMurphy (Jack Nicholson), a man who fights the system and is determined to be a threat to society, or at least the inner workings of the mental hospital where he is housed, and is ultimately subjected to a personality altering frontal lobotomy. The fact that this type of surgery was also going on in the real world is well-documented.

 

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Prosopagnosia: I See You But Who Are You?

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Heather Sellers doesn’t know who she is. I mean she knows, but she can’t recognize her own reflection in the mirror. Or the faces of others. She suffers from Prosopagnosia, or face blindness. It’s not as uncommon as you might think, but most often it is mild and only slightly aggravating.

Acquired prosopagnosia often results from head trauma, stroke, or developmental prosopagnosia (as Heather Sellers has) seems to genetically determined and begins at a young age, before the development of normal facial recognition abilities. How do these folks recognize family and friends? And themselves? Usually by some combination of voice, clothing, hair style, mannerisms, walking gate, body language, or some combination of these and other cues.

Here is an interesting video of someone who has this malady.

 
 
 
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