Like a horrendous car wreck ...

I don't know if anyone has seen the strange details emerging from the investigation of the death of wrestler Chris Benoit and his family, but, ummm, whoa... effing crazy shit doesn't even come close...

A couple of things don't add up to me:

1. The text messages (Posted at - All were sent within a span of five to ten minutes from both his and his wife's cell phone. Current speculation suggests that he wanted to indicate the location of the bodies before hanging himself. But a)if you're going to be dead anyway, what does it matter when they find the corpses? and b)reports indicate that he had just moved, but why would you text your friends and co-workers with a full street address instead of something like "home"? For that matter why text at all, why not just call?

Also, the text says the dogs are contained in the enclosed pool area, but authorities apparently had toruble entering the house because of the dogs, were they contained and then let loose by Benoit or someone else prior to the police arrival?

2. Placement of the bodies and timeline - If the Forensic Psychiatrist's speculation is anywhere near correct, why not place all the bodies together in one room? Why wait that long between killing the wife and the son and yourself? If the "roid rage" theory has any merit... how long could that last? 36 hours seems like a stretch to me.

This doesn't of course mean he didn't do it. The police are still processing lots of the evidence from the scene. I suppose when the tox reports come back they'll know more. The events just seem inexplicable, of course I guess that is part of why we say deranged people do deranged things. Whatever the case, I feel awful for his other two kids and his remaining family.

A Mighty Heart

There is no way that the story of Daniel Pearl could have been more difficult for us to watch unfold than the way it is captured in the new docudrama A Mighty Heart. This is a good thing. The movie made you think not just about Pearl and his family and friends, but about the many people all over the world who get caught in the middle of conflicts they have little to do with.

It's also, surprisingly, a thinking person's movie about gun control, yes, gun control. I won't elaborate here except to say that some of the sequences where the police seize people from their homes and gunfire erupts reinforces the image of the gun as a tool of lawlessness as opposed to the decidely American portrayal of guns as enforcers of justice.

I must confess that while I am not an Angelina Jolie fan I felt she did a fantastic job in the lead role. The writing was fantastic and the hand held camera movement was definitely the appropriate choice for portions of the film.
Pooh - Oh Dear!

Wishing on a wishing star

An interesting article about one of my favorite flowers:

High on Hydrangeas

I have two lovely mophead hydrangeas, which are only now dying back. I have high hopes that they will be back next summer, so I went looking for some info...


1. White hydrangeas can NOT be changed to pink or blue by the grower. (The Almighty sometimes adds pink and red to blooms as they age).

2. If you live in a hot climate, it is unlikely you will ever see a "true red" hydrangea. No matter how convincing those pictures in the catalogs are or how much lime is added to the soil, one can only achieve a very deep or dark pink, but not a true red (at least here in the South. I'd love to hear from you if you have a different experience).

3. One can rarely change the intensity of a color (how strong or pale the color is). The intensity develops for a number of reasons: the heredity of a particular hydrangea variety, weather conditions (hot or cold, humid or dry), health of the plant, and possibly other natural factors. Fertilizing hydrangeas once or twice a year may result in a little more saturated color simply because the health of the plant may be improved.

4. A few varieties of hydrangeas tend more toward the pink or the blue range of colors, but will not retain even this color if soil conditions are not right.

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On a less satisfactory note, an article from Slate, which leaves me feeling a little ill and agreeing with Professor Robert Weisberg of Stanford Law School:

If we've learned anything from the dreary wars over politically correct language in America, it's that purging ugly words from the lexicon hardly makes the ugly ideas they represent go away.

To put it another way: If the complaining witness in a rape trial has to describe herself as having had "intercourse" with the defendant, should the complaining witness in a mugging be forced to testify that he was merely giving his attacker a loan?

Sure., the above is a bit of snarky hyperbole, but it seems to me that we do eal damage to the process not to mention the complainent in these cases if we replace the word "rape" with "sex".

Whacked Fact of the day:

Holy Cow!
In 1970, households spent 34 percent of their food budget on dining out, compared to almost 50 percent today.

And since I have been in an internet rut of late, a few new (to me) sites:

Little yellow guy - Not sure what this is about, but I particularly love the "chill out" one!
Subway Life - Ahhh if only I were talented, this is the very sort of thing I would have created!
DailyLit - Yay for reading!

Alas, I just caved and bought an iPod shuffle in that green apple color...

Today's menagerie of useless information

Earliest Gunshot Victim in New World Is Reported

Forensic experts at the University of New Haven, in Connecticut, confirmed the violent nature of the deaths. Albert B. Harper, executive director of the Henry C. Lee Institute of Forensic Science at the university, said, “We tried to rule out all kinds of causes of the hole — a rock from a slingshot, spear, sledgehammer.”

An examination of the skull with a scanning electron microscope detected the otherwise invisible iron traces, Dr. Harper said, sealing the verdict of death by a musket ball fired from a range of perhaps 100 feet.

I know a colleague of the Forensics expert that they mention and he is coming this year to give a talk at our summer workshop. This will be a neat thing to talk to him about.

Also interesting in the world of science:

If you think sex is kinky, wait till you see the alternatives.

Still, the process hadn't been proved in sharks or mammals. And there seemed to be a good reason why. An egg that fertilizes itself makes two identical sets of chromosomes, including sex chromosomes. In birds, snakes, and most lizards, two identical sex chromosomes make a male. That allows parthenogenesis to function as a DNA survival mechanism, since an isolated female—close your ears, kids—can produce a son and mate with him. But in sharks or mammals, this wouldn't work, since two identical sex chromosomes—XX—make a female.


For explaining everyday life—babies, puppies, puberty—the mommy-daddy story of procreation works fine. But at life's edges, conventional biology, like conventional physics, breaks down. As you approach the speed of light, time slows and distances shrink. And as you approach extinction, genes find new ways to pass themselves on. Scientists call it "reproductive plasticity." A Komodo dragon manufactures a mate. A shark's got to do what a shark's got to do.
Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday!

Happy Birthday to alphapythia among others.

I think 29 will be a very hard year... there are so many things I want to accomplish before I am thirty and I am so behind.

I have lots going on today, a meeting, an exam, a birhtday lunch, coffee with an old friend, dinner and Ocean's Thirteen with the other half... you get the idea.

Oh! I have just discovered the real usefulness of the Google calendar for sharing events and stuff. It's awesome.