Amy Bishop indicted for 1986 shooting murder of brother

Was just checking the old SiteMeter stats before foraging for dinner and saw a surge in search hits for “Amy Bishop.”
Yup. Lo and behold she has been charged with murder – for the 1986 death of her brother.
From an article an hour ago by Donovan Slack and Shelley Murphy at the Boston Globe:

The slaying of Seth Bishop was declared an accident by Norfolk County authorities at the time. But questions were raised about the investigation after Bishop, a college professor, was charged in February in a shooting rampage at the University of Alabama Huntsville. Three of Bishops’ colleagues were fatally shot and three wounded in that case.
[District Attorney William R.] Keating said an indictment warrant has been lodged with Alabama authorities. He indicated that he would give the Alabama triple murder case priority. Asked whether Bishop would ever be tried in Massachusetts for murder, Keating said, “You never know.”
. . .Shortly after the Alabama shootings, Keating launched a review of the Braintree slaying and concluded that Bishop should have been charged at the time with assault with a dangerous weapon, unlawful possession of a firearm and illegal possession of ammunition.
Keating also found that police reports, along with crime scene photos, suggested Bishop may have intentionally shot her brother. One photo of her bedroom, where she had loaded the 12-gauge shotgun, showed a National Enquirer article chronicling actions similar to Bishop’s that day. The article reported that a teenager wielding a 12-gauge shotgun killed the parents of actor Patrick Duffy, who played Bobby Ewing on the television show, “Dallas,” and then commandeered a getaway car at gunpoint from an auto dealership.

Many a “what if?” reverberating across the Southland this evening.
The following list provides our previous posts on the gut-wrenching Amy Bishop murders at the University of Alabama – Huntsville:

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Another hydrogen sulfide (H2S) suicide, with altruism

A year ago we wrote about a death of a San Jose teenager from poisoning by hydrogen sulfide gas, or H2S. At the time, I had hypothesized that the death might have been from an attempt at synthesizing methamphetamine gone awry.
But while one can mistakenly generate hydrogen sulfide gas from improper meth synthesis, I soon learned that intentional suicides with H2S is an increasing US trend imported from Japan. One can easily mix commonly-available consumer products to generate the gas and high enough concentrations can cause death. The gas acts in a manner similar to cyanide by binding to the heme in cytochrome c oxidase and inhibiting electron transport and ATP production by oxidative phosphorylation in the mitochondria. (Interestingly, small amounts of H2S are made in the body and is being investigated as a neurotransmitter and biological modulator.)
So deadly is hydrogen sulfide that it is considered a major occupational safety hazard for workers in municipal sewage services, industrial manure management on factory farms, and the growing aquaculture industry – the US National Oceanographic and Atmospheric administration provides detailed background and training videos here.
Now we can add first-responders like EMTs to that list. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Deborah Blum alerted me to an article in The Tampa Tribune about hazards to emergency personnel responding to “detergent suicide” attempts. (By the way, Blum just released her new book, “The Poisoner’s Handbook: Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York,” and writes the beautifully-designed Speakeasy Science blog about culture and chemistry.)
This past Monday a 30-year-old Cary, NC, man committed suicide with hydrogen sulfide by mixing chemicals in a 5-gallon bucket inside his Toyota Camry. The gentleman was well-aware of the risk he posed to those who would find him there. As detailed in the WTVD-TV report embedded below, the man was found slumped over the wheel of his car in his apartment complex parking lot but had left warning signs on the dashboard and seats that read, “HAZMAT TEAM NEEDED” and “DO NOT OPEN!!! POISON GAS!!! Hydrogen sulfide.”

I went back and re-read The Tampa Tribune article and learned that the 23-year-old man who committed suicide similarly in St. Petersburg, FL, over Valentine’s Day weekend had also left similar warning notes in his car.
But in the event readers and emergency personnel see unconscious people inside parked vehicles without warning notes, be aware of the telltale smell of hydrogen sulfide: intense, rotten eggs. In the Cary case, authorities measure hydrogen sulfide gas in the car at three times the lethal concentration and a police officer responding in the St. Petersburg case had to be treated at the hospital after inhaling some of the gas.
I am deeply saddened by these stories because these people felt so badly about themselves so as to end their lives, yet they were compassionate enough to think about the welfare of those who would face risks finding them there.

Death of Michael Jackson: How could Demerol (meperidine) cause cardiac arrest?

AOL’s celebrity gossip page was first yesterday to report Michael Jackson’s death, in part due to their direct line to one or more Jackson family members.
They appear to have had another scoop today in referencing a family member who reported that Mr Jackson had received an injection of the opioid analgesic, Demerol (meperidine), at 11:30 am yesterday. It is not clear whether this shot was administered by Dr Conrad Murray, the physician who was present when the 911 call was made to L.A. dispatchers. (Non-US readers may also refer to meperidine as pethidine or the trade name, Pethadol.)
[Note: See also this post from DrugMonkey that he put up while I was composing this one]
But how might Demerol/meperidine have caused cardiac arrest, the cause of death reported universally in the press?

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An Orac Classic: Chemotherapy vs. Death From Cancer

About four years ago, I started reading blogs. One of those, Respectful Insolence, was written by a surgical oncologist who writes under the name, Orac. This was before he was asked to be at ScienceBlogs and about a year before Terra Sig was. He has since become my friend and colleague.
Orac is one of the most consistently excellent medical bloggers in the sci/med blogosphere. But today’s post resonated exceptionally with me. In discussing the ongoing case of Daniel Hauser, a young man with Hodgkin’s lymphoma whose parents are fighting to withhold his chemotherapy, Orac writes a concise, moving, and revealing post on the unvarnished truth about cancer chemotherapy and what it is like to die of cancer gone untreated. A “healthy death” it is not.
I added a version of the following comment with my perspective on his essay:

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Thank you, readers: reflections on Dad’s belated eulogy

I am truly humbled by reader response to my Thursday post on the 12th anniversary of my father’s death. What began as a simple journaling exercise interspersed with some great photos provided by my sister has become one of my most highly-read and most-commented posts.
I don’t want to comment too much lest I take away what this post has meant to me and others. But for background, this is something that I had intended to write for the 10th anniversary of Dad’s passing. However, I had only been with ScienceBlogs for a few months and wasn’t yet in a position to write so frankly and personally. I thought about this around 10 days ago. But when NIAAA launched their “Rethinking Drinking” site on Monday, I took it as a sign that this was the anniversary for it.
I have to admit that, surprisingly, I didn’t cry once while writing it. I thought about it quietly, with almost workmanlike focus, piecing together over three days and nights several stories I had always wanted to tell. There were others and they will come out in the future. The impact of the piece was enhanced by the gift of my sister, the family archivist of my generation. After Dad died, she and her fellow artist husband (designers of the Terra Sig masthead) fashioned his SUV license plate into a photo album cover containing of images of me with my Dad throughout my life. Those are the ones which adorn the post.
Anyway, I didn’t fall apart until my Mom commented saying that my Dad, true to form, would’ve taken a printout of the post and shown it to all of his buddies at the check printing factory.
I was also touched by the comment from my mother’s second husband, now Opa to my daughter and my nephews. As with me and my mother’s stepfather, he is the only real grandfather they will ever know on our side of the family. Without having children of his own before, and not having to suffer through my upbringing, he is a warm and loving presence in their lives.
I was also taken aback by several of my old friends who knew my Dad and surfaced in the comments, on my Facebook page, and in my e-mail boxes. In addition, the many friends I have made online around the world, from Chapel Hill to Brazil to Germany to Australia to India, all seem to have shared some way in my story.
As the post developed, I increasingly intended to tell a more precise, specific story to which many could relate. As I noted in the ScienceBlogs frontpage teaser tag, mine is a story shared by 18 to 25 million people in the US alone – personal, yet universal. I have an accomplished musician friend, Jon Shain, who once gave me the counterintuitive advice of when writing songs, to be as specific as possible instead of trying to generalize. Each person, Jon said, will interpret their experiences in the context of your story.
As such, many of you have shared with me your own experiences triggered by the post. Some positive, some equally wistful, many not. Perhaps that was the best part – to give my valued readers a focus around which to relate their own stories and examine their own relationships.
Your comments have also helped me notice that when writing biographical posts here, I generally write about dead people. My top two biographical posts are this one about Dad and another about a high school classmate who perished in the World Trade Center during the coordinated 11 Sept 2001 attacks in DC, NYC, and PA. (For reference, the number one autobiographical post and the most highly-read, linked, and commented is the liveblogging of my vasectomy.).
Lest I run out of personal tragedies and outpatient surgical procedures, I’ll probably try more in the future to acknowledge those who are still with us. None of us are perfect and each of us has something to celebrate, something that is unique to each of us.
Remembering Dad has reminded me to look for the good in everyone, everyday.
Until they start pissing me off incessantly. Then I will redouble my efforts.
Thank you for the honor of sharing my story with you.

While you’re waiting, revisit Alice’s post on the Montreal Massacre and other suggested reading

I have something like ten posts already started and none of them done due to that silly work thing. I don’t know how the other people around ScienceBlogs actually get posts up with such frequency.
In the meantime, I had a thought while conversing with Alice Pawley and Suzanne Franks about their session at the upcoming ScienceOnline’09 unconference on gender issues in science where I, brave one that I am, will represent all men and discuss how we all think we boys can be allies.
In the meantime, please re-read Alice’s post on the recent anniversary of the Montreal Massacre:

On December 6, 1989, an armed gunman named Marc Lepine entered an engineering classroom at Ecole Polytechnique in Montreal, Quebec. He demanded all 48 men in the class leave the room, lined up all 9 women against a wall, and, shouting “You are all a bunch of [expletive] feminists!”, proceeded to shoot them. He went into the hall and shot 18 more people, mostly at random. He finally shot himself.
He had killed 14 women all together, and injured 9 more women and 4 men.
The women who died could have been anyone. They could have been your friends, your mothers, your sisters, your lovers, your daughters, your neighbors, your students, your teachers, maybe even you.

This was yet another event, including the fall of the Berlin Wall, that occurred in the fog between my dissertation defense and Christmas 1989 of which I would’ve forgotten even if I’d heard of it at the time.

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Dr Ernest Ludwig Eliel (1921 – 2008)

Dr Ernest Eliel, a past-president of the American Chemical Society, passed away in Chapel Hill, NC, on Thursday evening. Dr Eliel was 86.
eliel.jpgHis obituary notes:

Born December 28, 1921, in Cologne, Germany, Dr. Eliel was the son of the late Oskar and Luise Tietz Eliel. He moved to the United States in 1946, and received a Ph.D degree from the University of IL at Urbana-Champaign in 1948. Dr. Eliel lived in South Bend, IN, where he taught at the University of Notre Dame from 1948 until 1972, at which time he moved to Chapel Hill, where he was the W.R. Kenan, Jr. Professor of Chemistry at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He received the North Carolina Award in Science in 1986, and received an Honorary Doctor of Science degree from Duke University in 1983 and from Notre Dame in 1990.
He is survived by his wife, Eva Schwarz Eliel; his daughters, Ruth Eliel and Carol Eliel both of Los Angeles, CA; and his grandsons, Ben and Sam Muller.

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If I were fortunate enough to be so remembered

Tom Levenson at The Inverse Square blog recently lost his uncle and godfather, Daniel D Levenson.
I’ve been lucky enough to meet Tom once and yet he still answers my e-mails. Beyond his current position as a prof in the MIT Program in Writing and Humanistic Studies, Tom is a prolific author and award-winning producer of several science documentaries.
This is what you get when a professional writer lovingly remembers a wonderful and influential man whose suffering has finally ended.
Tom asks that Uncle Dan be remembered by a memorial donation to Mazon.

George Carlin 1937-2008

John Lynch let us know last evening about Carlin’s passing on Sunday. I think you’ll find many people sharing their favorite George Carlin moments today. I found him to be remarkably observant on how language is used to deal with social and political issues (“shell shock” became “battle fatigue” which then became “post-traumatic stress disorder’).
The man also clearly had some interests in pharmacology, particularly natural products – from the AP report:

Despite his reputation as unapologetically irreverent, Carlin was a television staple through the decades, serving as host of the “Saturday Night Live” debut in 1975 — noting on his Web site that he was “loaded on cocaine all week long” — and appearing some 130 times on “The Tonight Show.”

So, 71 is pretty decent for a guy with that kind of mileage.

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