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October 29, 2007

The "Problematic Dead"

Couple of Halloween links. Cracked explores five reasons a Zombie apocalypse may be possible (my favorite parasite clocks in at number 5); and an archeologist recalls the execution/exorcism of a Transylvanian "strigoi" (more or less a vampire) in 2004:

Petre Toma died just before Christmas 2003. Often there are reasons to believe that a man, and less often a woman, is in danger of becoming a strigoi. As a child, they may have cut their upper teeth before the lower ones; or a cat may have leapt over, or a bat flown over the newly dead corpse as it was left out, under vigil, in the family kitchen. In Toma's case there were no prior signs, though neighbours' and family accounts of his life vary: a good family man, but also (hardly unusual in the rural depths) a heavy drinker with a temper. After his death, his niece suffered nightmares and appeared seriously ill. She claimed that her uncle was visiting her at night and feeding from her heart; that he was a strigoi. Toma's brother determined to act. The sequence of events was normal for Marotinu de Sus [the village where this happned] but, through a constellation of circumstances to do with urbanisation and Romania's imminent acceptance into the EU, became rapidly notorious.

...

I asked [my guide] why many of the graves had little hearths in front of them, with the remains of cooked food and sometimes a wine glass. "Well," he replied, "this is where the village women light fires on the three nights from Maundy Thursday – it's to give the dead some light. The dead are cold and afraid of the dark, and they are often hungry and thirsty." The dead of this cemetery are diligently cared for during the first seven years. After that, the skeleton is washed in wine and returned to become increasingly disarticulated; the soul is presumed to be in heaven, nourished by prayer.

Even more critical than the first seven years are the first 40 days. During this period, a corpse may be an unquiet strigoi, moving in its grave and travelling at night in a not quite re-embodied form, to feed off the blood of the living. After 40 days it will morph into moroi – the actual, incarnate, walking dead, able to appear during the day and mount vicious attacks.

...

After the niece became ill, he said, Petre's brother had had to wait, because he could not act within the 12 days of Christmas. On 8 January, the corpse was checked and deemed to be a strigoi. At midnight the next day, six men disinterred it and cut open the chest. I asked Niculae what they used for this and he looked at me as if I was mad, before brandishing his scythe again. Apparently, the chest was cut crosswise with a scythe tip, and the heart removed through the ribcage. Again, I asked what tools had been used. This time we needed help to interpret the words and gestures. It was with a growing image of James Whale's 1931 classic Frankenstein that I understood Fifor to say, as neutrally as possible, "He says it was with a pitchfork. Yes." The subsequent description failed utterly to dispel my horror-film image. The men took the heart, spiked aloft, to the crossroads outside the village. There they roasted it over a brazier and, as far as I could understand, stuffed glowing coals into the ventricles. Held up in the night sky, the heart shed charred flakes that were caught in a tea towel. These were taken to the niece's house, ground up and mixed in a glass of water. "The niece drank it," Fifor confirmed, "and in the morning she said she felt better... in this way she was cured."

So there you go.

Thanks to sidhe and Entropy.

And For Mad Scientists... this old post on Ways To Destroy The Earth.

Swallowed up as the Sun enters red giant stage

You will need: patience

Method: Simply wait for roughly 5,000,000,000 years. During its natural progress along the Main Sequence, the Sun will exhaust its initial reserves of hydrogen fuel and expand into a red giant star - swallowing up Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars in the process.

Earth's final resting place: Boiling red iron in the heart of the Sun.

Feasibility rating: 8/10. The problem here is that current scientific theories predict the Earth will probably survive. The increasing solar wind combined with the Sun's decreasing mass will result in the Earth gradually moving out to a wider, cooler, safer orbit.

Thanks to kratatoa for the last one.


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posted by Ace at 03:05 PM

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