The Ricin Thing

So, as you may or may not know, a vial of “100% pure ricin” was found in a residential motel here in Vegas last night.

I’ve been calling around trying to get information from Metro, the Feds, and even the CDC, but nobody’s gotten back to me yet.

The cops are saying they don’t think it’s a terrorist plot. But I wonder. I really wonder.

The story is this: on Valentine’s Day, a guy called for an ambulance from the Extended Stay America residential motel over on Valley View and Flamingo (Valley View, the I-15 freeway and the Las Vegas Strip all run parallel to one another). He’s got respiratory problems. They take him to the hospital, where he falls into a coma.

Then, last night, some guy — who may or may not be a relative of the first guy — comes into the motel office with a vial or something. (I’m not really clear on this, and neither are the news reports). Cops are called, the vial is found to be ricin, there’s castor beans (which ricin is made from) in the room, the maids and the on-scene cops are sent to the hospital, where they are reportedly found to be perfectly fine. Meanwhile, the motel is still, so far as I know, quarantined off.

So I have some questions I want answers to.

1) The news and authorities keep stressing that ricin can be used to treat cancer. Yeah, maybe, in small doses, but not a vial of it. (200 micrograms is enough to kill an average human. That much ricin will cover half of the head of a pin.) Also, they found castor beans in the room, which suggests that the dude was, in fact, making it himself, possibly actually in the room. I think we can rule out medical purposes here.

2) At the Metro press conference I saw a bit of on CNN, the deputy spokesperson said that the man was hospitalized on February 14th for “respiratory difficulty”. But the CDC’s ricin fact page says “Death from ricin poisoning could take place within 36 to 72 hours of exposure, depending on the route of exposure (inhalation, ingestion, or injection) and the dose received. If death has not occurred in 3 to 5 days, the victim usually recovers.” So this guy’s in a coma for (as of now) fifteen days, but he’s not dead and he’s not recovering?

3) According to the Center for Defense Information, ricin is considered the third most toxic substance after plutonium and botulism. The CDI page also points out that “Ricin’s potential as a powerful terrorist weapon is high, as it is relatively easy to produce and has no antidote. Indeed, it takes so little ricin to kill one human being that its use can be undetectable. It also offers a method to instigate panic and disorder as a ‘disabling agent’ if used to pollute water and food supplies.”

4) The CDC page referenced above also points out that “It would take a deliberate act to make ricin and use it to poison people. Accidental exposure to ricin is highly unlikely.” According to another site I found, which I’m not going to link to here, making ricin is a relatively simple process, but it requires lye and acetone. It’s not something you could accidentally do.

5) In a 2005 article for the Atlantic called “Ten Years Later” — a sort of speculative “what-if” piece — former national counterterrorism coordinator Richard A. Clarke suggests a fictional attack on Las Vegas. Vegas, as he points out, is “Sin City”, almost the very symbol of everything about Western culture that Islamic extremists most despise. And it’s a city where literally hundreds of thousands of people walk around, in and out of casinos, all day, every day, totally unchecked. An IED or biological attack on a casino floor could easily kill hundreds or potentially thousands of people. Which leads us to…

6) You’re telling me that the same federal law enforcement agencies that have been hysterically shrieking about terrorist plots for the last seven years are really just shrugging off the discovery of a relatively large quantity of a deadly toxin (that can be administered via air, liquid or food) in a city where at least two of the 9/11 terrorists hung out before the attacks — a city which is the symbol of Western decadence? I call absolute bullshit. I think they’re not talking, but somebody’s shitting their pants right now.

7) This is NASCAR weekend in Vegas. 300,000 people at the Speedway. NASCAR is as synonymous with America these days as apple pie and waterboarding. I’m just sayin’.

Look: if you read this blog you know that I think the hysteria over the boogeyman of “terrorism” is idiotic. I don’t see terrorist plots behind every corner. I’m dismissive of most of what Homeland Security does.

And I’m telling you that I think there’s something going on here that they’re not talking about.

I’m waiting to see if anybody gets back to me on this so I can cover it for CityLife. I doubt I’ll hear anything before the weekend. The likelihood is that if anything happens, you’ll know about it when I do. (Cue spooky music.) But if anybody has any more information on this — not speculation but information — please let me know.

[Update: I spoke to Metro, but they didn't really tell me anything new. They do say their investigation is just about to start.]


This Is Either A Complete Fabrication

…or the greatest news story ever. A pair of twins — who are also gay porn stars, apparently sometimes with each other, and one of them is also apparently some kind of drug-dealing ninja — are arrested for breaking into a hair salon and a wing joint…by hacking through the roof.

Turns out they’ve been doing this for a while. And one of them — the drug-dealing ninja — actually escaped from police custody in 2006 by smashing out the window of a cop car, diving into a lake while handcuffed, and swimming “like Flipper”. He turned himself in later, but, according to this story, he never returned the handcuffs to the cops.

Superbad. This guy Taleon is my new gay porn-star anarchist ninja hero.


links for 2008-02-29


"I hate the gooks" – John McCain – AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth

“I hate the gooks” – John McCain – AMERICAblog: A great nation deserves the truth

I’m of two minds on this. On one hand, it’s a hideous thing for McCain to have said. It’s something that I really don’t want to ever hear from someone who’s trying to be president.

On the other hand…from a strictly human perspective…I mean, homebody was in a POW camp being tortured by the Vietnamese for five years. Every Vietnamese person he saw (except for that one dude he talks about in speeches who loosened his chains, which may or may not be bullshit) was physically torturing him. I don’t really expect his view to be fair and balanced, you know?

And I think the author’s statement that “a lot of people have personal trauma in their lives doled out to them by bad guys of every stripe, be they white or black or gay or Jewish or female” is a bit of a non sequitur. Yes, bad shit happens to people. For most people, that bad shit does not consist of being bayoneted through the testicles, locked in a hole in the ground and tortured for half a decade — tortured so badly that, for the rest of your life, you can’t actually raise your arms above shoulder height. That tends to warp someone’s perspective.

I’m not saying McCain is right here. He’s not. Judging an entire ethnic group based on the actions of a few is wrong. And he should have been able to deal with his hatred over the last, what, forty years?

I’m just saying that his situation and experience is rather unique, and that I personally don’t feel as if I can judge him as a human being for his views. He went through a hell that most members of modern civilization — even most military personnel — cannot understand.

Doesn’t mean I’ll vote for him, of course.


I KNEW it looked familiar…

Damnit, Warren, you could have at least tried to be original….


Awesome comic reimaginings by MightyGodKing comics blogs.


The most awesome thing ever seen by humans.

The Leningrad Cowboys and the Soviet Red Army Choir doing “Sweet Home Alabama”. Nothing has ever been cooler than this, ever.


links for 2008-02-28


On The Phone Again

I broke down and got a new phone account. Luckily, the security deposit was a helluva lot less than I thought it would be — only $150 — so I now have an AT&T account. I opted for the 900 minute, 200 texts, unlimited data plan, because having push e-mail access on the Nokia futurephone Joe gave me when he upgraded to a BlackBerry is incredibly useful to me. So is the ability to do 3G tethering for my laptop.

But Christ, I wish it was cheaper. After a year of not paying for cell service, I’m feeling the bite.

So if you call my GrandCentral number, you can actually reach me. And if you need my direct number, email me and I’ll send it to you.


zenmixtape, vol. 1

So here’s my first little podcast/mixtape thingy. It will be up for a week, and will be taken down immediately upon request by a copyright holder. (My thinking is that this is all back-catalog stuff, and hopefully I can help it find a new audience, who will buy it via the links below.)

zenmixtape, vol. 1: Fuck Or Kill (49:26, 128kpbs MP3)

I’ve decided to make these mixtapes according to specific moods: this one is “Fuck Or Kill”. These are songs for when you’re feeling those two sassiest of the deadly sins: Wrath and Lust. You’re irritated, you hate the world, and all you want to do is get fucked. A feeling I know intimately. The songs vary as to their mix of anger and desire, but all of them are things I listen to in this mood.

None of these are very new songs, and the selections aren’t particularly obscure or controversial. This is my Fuck Or Kill mix. You may have some or all of these songs in your own collection…but if so (maybe especially if so), download this and listen to them presented together in this order.

Again, I’ll be removing this file one week from today, and I’ll be checking my download stats. If enough people download this and seem to like it, I’ll do another one soon, based on another emotion — probably “Irrational Happiness”.

Enjoy. (And please don’t sue me.)

zenmixtape track list

  1. Nick Cave And The Bad Seeds, “Loverman” Our opening track is a bit of howling swagger from Australia’s own Man in Black. Favorite bit: when he’s explaining what the letters L-O-V-E-R-M-A-N stand for. “V is for virtue, I ain’t gonna hurt you / E is for even if you want me to”. Brilliant.
  2. Jam & Spoon feat. Tricky, “Bianche Le Mie Mani” One of the two tracks featuring Tricky here, this is a bit of trip-hop I heard a couple of years ago on some MP3 blog. Groovy.
  3. American Music Club, “What Godzilla Said To God When His Name Wasn’t Found In The Book Of Life” Yeah, I know, irritating title. But a great song. I really like the rhythms on this one, and I love Mark Eitzel’s voice here.
  4. Underworld, “River Of Bass” This is my favorite song on Underworld’s classic Dubnobasswithmyheadman album, topping even “Cowgirl”. This is awesome late-night driving music…or late night fucking music.
  5. Treat Her Right, “I Think She Likes Me” Treat Her Right was a short-lived band fronted by the late Mark Sandman before he formed Morphine. It sounds like Morphine, but with guitar, which is a good thing. This is a great swamp-blues track. You’ll be paying a bit for this, as it’s way out of print.
  6. Nine Inch Nails, “The Only Time” The first NIN song I ever heard, and still probably ranks as the song I’ve had more sex to than any other. “Lay my hands on Heaven and the sun and the moon and the stars / While the devil wants to fuck me in the back of his car…”
  7. Tricky, “Christiansands” My favorite Tricky track. Features the lovely and talented Miss Martina Topley-Bird on vocals while Tricky rasps underneath. Great funk riff.
  8. PJ Harvey, “To Bring You My Love” No explanation required. Just listen.
  9. Bigod 20, “Wild At Heart” From the Sliver soundtrack, which was far better than the movie. Nice industrial sex throb music.
  10. Concrete Blonde, “Bloodletting (The Vampire Song)” I had such a crush on Johnette Napolitano in high school, and this song was why. Inspired (I assume) by Anne Rice, this is good goth booty music. 80s L.A. death rock is so hot right now.


links for 2008-02-27