Check out how people kill themselves – while taking selfies!


Say cheese—and watch out for that jagged cliff behind you!

❝ A group of health researchers in India have tried to tally the death toll from selfie taking, counting 259 deaths worldwide from October 2011 to November 2017. In doing so, they also caught a blurry glimpse of the leading ways in which people perish during dicey photo ops. The top three were drowning, transportation related (mostly being hit by trains), and falling off of things, such as cliff edges…

The resulting grim picture shows a developing public health threat, the researchers argue. Yet, the numbers are likely “just the tip of iceberg,” they add. Selfies are never recorded as an official cause of death, media reports don’t report every death, and the search was limited to English-language news reports…

❝ Still, the researchers were able to catch a reasonable peek into the perilous photo trends…Risk-taking men accounted for 72.5 percent of the fatalities with gender data. Of those with age data, the mean age was about 23 years old. The majority of deaths were of those aged 10 to 29.

Har. Death by misadventure would be the usual cause listed, I imagine.

Be warned – spiders can hear you

❝ While jumping spiders are known to have great vision, a new Cornell University study proves for the first time that spiders can hear at a distance.

The discovery runs counter to standard textbook wisdom that claimed spiders could only detect nearby sounds.

❝ A study describes how researchers used metal microelectrodes in a jumping spider’s poppy-seed-sized brain to show that auditory neurons can sense far-field sounds, at distances up to 3 meters, or about 600 spider body lengths.

In further tests, researchers stimulated sensitive long hairs on the spider’s legs and body – previously known to pick up near-field airflow and vibrations – which generated a response in the same neurons that fired after hearing distant sounds, providing evidence the hairs are likely detecting nanoscale air particles that become excited from a sound wave…

❝ The techniques open up studies that link neurology with behavior in all spiders, Ron Hoy said. Gil Menda has since found evidence of hearing in five different spider species: jumping spiders, fishing spiders, wolf spiders, netcasting spiders and house spiders.

Future work by Hoy’s lab will investigate audio perception from lyriform organs and will better investigate audio neurons in the brain. The findings could have applications for using hairlike structures for extremely sensitive microphones, such as in hearing aids.

I wonder if they’ll investigate Google spiders? Har.

Meanwhile, RTFA. A delightful tale of accidental discoveries and cross-discipline cooperation.

Child suspected in white supremacist death – his daddy!

RIVERSIDE, CA – A white supremacist who ran for a Riverside water board last year was shot to death inside his home early Sunday, and his young son is suspected of the killing, police said.

Officers responded to a call of shots fired in the 5400 block of Lauder Court at 4:04 a.m., a Riverside police news release stated. They found Jeff Hall, 32, inside the home with a single gunshot wound. Police did not say where the bullet struck him…

Police were investigating whether the shooting was intentional or accidental, said Lt. Ed Blevins, manager of the Investigations Bureau. He said two handguns were recovered from the home.

Hall had been identified as the regional director for the National Socialist Movement, which promotes white separatism on its website.

Hall’s wife and five children were in the home at the time of the shooting, Blevins said by phone Sunday evening. He did not release any information about the child suspected in the shooting. Child Protective Services were called, he said, but he wasn’t sure if they had taken the other young children.

Police said they were not looking for additional suspects

Several residents in the neighborhood overlooking UC Riverside said they were still shaken from the early-morning shooting. Some refused to talk about it, while others weren’t sure how to react after months of what they described as intimidation by Hall and other National Socialist Movement members who often visited.

“Honestly, I feel like it’s over,” said Juan Trejo, who lives across the street from Hall’s home. “It was scary here. Hopefully we’ll never see any of them again.”

Trejo described a Halloween party at the home last year, when Hall flew a swastika flag from the home and guests wore KKK hoods…Trejo said in the two years they lived there, he had never spoken to Hall, his wife, or several children, whom he described as all younger than about 12.

“I never tried to even say hello because they are racist,” he said.

Isn’t there something about acorns not falling very far from the tree?