Outside of a Whale

If, I’ll pretend for a moment, you were swallowed, it would happen like this: You would first be chewed.  Sperm whales’ teeth are 8 inches long – longer than most blades in your knife drawer. Then you would be gulped to the fauces, the back of the mouth, and forced down. Here is where Bartley apparently touched the quivering sides of the throat. You would also touch the throat, perhaps claw at the sides of the throat like you would sliding down an icy slope. There would be no air, and you’d suffocate in acid and water, but, we’re saying, you somehow survive. Imagine a black and mucous-smothered tube sock slipping over you. …

via Swallowed by a whale — a true tale? – Salon.com.

> On Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 12:29 PM, John wrote:
>> Where does [being eaten by a sperm whale] rate on the list of Ways Sam Does
>>Not Want to Die??

On Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 4:11 PM, Samantha wrote:
> See, now it feels like you have some rooting interest in my demise. (At
> least you’re not mocking me … (That said, I don’t care for this at all,
> but there’s no way anyone makes it past the eight-inch teeth. I rank this
> slightly ahead of the overgrown, radioactive sea snails simply because the
> odds of death by whale, while still minuscule, are, I’m certain, greater
> than those of the snail.

On Fri, Jan 20, 2012 at 4:12 PM PM, John wrote:
Nice answer. I will have to make sure I update the blog!


Another Way Sam Does Not Want to Die

…At our facility, well before things like OSHA were around to keep everyone safe, an individual fell into a furnace three feet deep, full of molten aluminum (roughly 760°C). He was blown back out of the furnace, and actually died from the impact of that as opposed to anything else.

[Erik]: I think the key limitation here is how that steam would escape — remember, all that water is conveniently kept in a sack of skin, so first you’d have to get that steam out of that sack. I think I’ll leave it at that. However, Bob’s story does seem to lend credence to the idea that the steam could pop you right back off the lava.

via Can You Walk on Lava? Falling into Lava Revisited | Wired Science | Wired.com.

9:39 PM Samantha — I will like to make an amendment to all things death and dying related: trapped under sunken cruise ship would also be a horrific way to go.

9:40 PM John — What about falling into molten lava. It seems that you don’t actually burn; it is more of a vaporizing-type thing.

9:40 PM Samantha — Hmm, is that true? I’ll need more information on this.

9:41 PM John — More information? Does that mean you want to try it? Or do you just want to watch someone dropping into a pool of lava?

9:43 PM Samantha — I want some data on how fast a death it is; pain factors, etc. Drowning is supposed to be extremely painful, and not very quick. I want fast and painless — and then I want to be able to haunt you in the untimely event I go first. I don’t think that is too much to ask. …And, no I don’t want to “try it”

9:43 PM John — O.K. O.K. Just checking. I don’t want there to be any misunderstandings.

This Was My* Idea, I Swear!

The Case For Performance-Enhancing Drugs In Sports – Matthew Herper — The Medicine Show – Forbes: “To me, the most obvious solution has always been to legalize those drugs that work, and to experimentally monitor new entrants, including dietary supplements, for both efficacy and safety. Biological improvement would be treated much as athletic equipment like baseball bats and running shoes.”

PROPOSED: An unlimited class for selected sports distinct from traditional leagues or divisions, wherein participants are free to use drugs, surgery or any other legal** means to gain a competitive advantage.

  1. All participants of said unlimited class would have to register their performance-enhancing techniques with a central administration.
  2. Participants would further have to submit to a regular suite of medical testing, designed in part to monitor their well-being but also to measure the efficacy of their methods.
  3. No other limits would be placed on their behavior.

From a practical standpoint, the unlimited class would be employed like an additional division within a competition, e.g. another weight class in weight lifting. Because unlimited-class athletes would be competing only against others in their unlimited class, events would technically have two winners: one in the unlimited class and one in the traditional class of competition. This might be the source of confusion at first, but over time, as unlimited-class performances diverge from traditional ones, it would likely become the subject of intense interest.


This system answers many of the typical objections to the legalization of drugs in sports, namely concerns about fairness and the mistrust of the public. By labeling athletes as, for instance, drug users from the beginning, you encode performances before they happen. Fans won’t have to wonder who is taking steroids because television announcers will be able to tell them — and which drugs they take.


It falls short, admittedly, of answering others. For one thing, it would potentially encourage athletes, especially young ones, to take avoidable health risks. For another, creating a flight of drug-using athletes obviously does nothing to prevent others from cheating. But what a medically-supervised unlimited class would do is build a growing, comprehensive database of performance-enhancing techniques, which arguably would lead not only to better antidoping protocols in traditional competitions, but also to a clearer view of which techniques are helpful and which are harmful. It would, in effect, be a continuous field trial for the myriad methods in use. And some of these could be developed for use in traditional competitions, to improve performance, speed up healing and ameliorate the deleterious health effects of a long-term sports career.


The idea of an unlimited class regrettably is a bold step away from the perceived principled foundations of sport that some say are corroded by the influence of, among other things, performance-enhancing drugs. But this is not a perception that should be encouraged. Indeed, very little done today by world sports governing bodies appears to be moving in a different direction. There are allegations of corruption, on and off the field, in every sport; the news media tends to emphasize the bad behaviors of athletes, but such antics are clearly not improving over time; and antidoping efforts seem at best to merely keep pace with the maneuvers of illegal users.


The concept of an unlimited class may seem like a cynical stroke, but what is more cynical than sports in the first place? If it’s possible, why not leverage that cynicism — and the deliciously ghoulish possibility of three-legged sprinters — to improve sports science. Test the depths of what is safe while clearing the way for what can be achieved.


* It isn’t “my” idea, but I did, in fact, have this as an “idea.” Though, not really even this idea.
** Legal for ordinary people in everyday circumstances. Human growth hormone, for instance, is legal in the United States with a prescription, but its use is proscribed by various sports governing bodies.