Jellyfish tell up from down through calcium sulfate crystals that ring the bottom edge of their mushroom-like bodies. The crystals are housed in little pockets lined with hair cells, and when the jellyfish moves, the crystals roll around, signaling to the brain which way is up by stimulating those hair cells. The pockets seemed to develop normally in space, but the astro-jellies later had trouble figuring out how to swim around in normal gravity. They had abnormal pulsing and movement when returned to Earth compared to non-astronaut jellyfish.

Humans sense gravity and acceleration using otoliths, calcium crystals in the inner ear (similar to those jellyfish have) which move sensitive hair cells to tell the brain which way gravity is pulling. So if the jellyfish had trouble developing their gravity senses in space, it’s likely human space babies would get major vertigo too.

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it’s just a job: GS-12 at that

WaterboardedAssassination is a term thought to be derived from “Hashish,” a drug similar to marijuana, said to have been used by Hasan-Dan-Sabah to induce motivation in his followers, who were assigned to carry out political and other murders, usually at the cost of their lives.

It is here used to describe the planned killing of a person who is not under the legal jurisdiction of the killer, who has been selected by an organization for death, and whose death provides positive advantages to that organization…

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[interior door opens swiftly as Agent 2 pushes through]

Agent 1: So – what’s the word?’ [though he doesn’t look up from his reading]

Agent 2: They’re going to call in a bit. [he brushes a golden leaf from his shoulder] Start packing.

Agent 1: I thought you…

Agent 2: I want to be ready; if they decide to shut it down, we won’t have much time, a day at the most.

“Murder is not morally justifiable. Self-defense may be argued if the victim has knowledge which may destroy the resistance organization if divulged. Assassination of persons responsible for atrocities or reprisals may be regarded as just punishment. Killing a political leader whose burgeoning career is a clear and present danger to the cause of freedom may be held necessary.”

“But assassination can seldom be employed with a clear conscience. Persons who are morally squeamish should not attempt it.”

“The techniques employed will vary according to whether the subject is unaware of his danger, aware but unguarded, or guarded. They will also be affected by whether or not the assassin is to be killed with the subject. Hereafter, assassinations in which the subject is unaware will be termed “simple”; those where the subject is aware but unguarded will be termed “chase”; those where the victim is guarded will be termed “guarded.”

Agent 2: What are you reading?

Agent 1: The Manual.

Agent 2: Has he stirred at all?

Agent 1: Some: he’s definitely coming around.

Agent 1: Huh. Too bad…I have a feeling it’s it bit late in the day.

“The essential point of assassination is the death of the subject. A human being may be killed in many ways but sureness is often overlooked by those who may be emotionally unstrung by the seriousness of this act they intend to commit. The specific technique employed will depend upon a large number of variables, but should be constant in one point: Death must be absolutely certain.”

Techniques may be considered as follows:

1. Manual
It is possible to kill a man with bare hands, but very few are skillful enough to do it well. Even a highly trained Judo expert will hesitate to risk killing by hand unless he has absolutely no alternative. However, the simplest local tools are often much the most efficient means of assassination. A hammer, axe, wrench, screw driver, fire poker, kitchen knife, lamp stand, or anything hard, heavy and handy will suffice…

2. Accidents
For secret assassination, either simple or chase, the contrived accident is the most effective technique. When successfully executed, it causes little excitement and is only casually investigated

“The most efficient accident, in simple assassination, is a fall of 75 feet or more onto a hard surface. Elevator shafts, stair wells, unscreened windows and bridges will serve. Bridge falls into water are not reliable. In simple cases a private meeting with the subject may be arranged at a properly-cased location. The act may be executed by sudden, vigorous [excised] of the ankles, tipping the subject over the edge. If the assassin immediately sets up an outcry, playing the “horrified witness”, no alibi or surreptitious withdrawal is necessary. In chase cases it will usually be necessary to stun or drug the subject before dropping him. Care is required to insure that no wound or condition not attributable to the fall is discernible after death…”

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The phone rings. Agent 1 doesn’t look up from his reading. Agent 2 turns toward the phone, takes another drag off his cigarette, pauses to expel the smoke then walks toward the instrument, picks it up and listens. He listens for quite a while. Eventually he place the handset back in the cradle.

Agent 1: Well?

Agent 2: It’s over. We have 12 hours from right now before it all goes dark.

Agent 1: Okay – let me finish this section and I’ll go drag him outside.

Agent 2: (shrugs; finishes cigarette and grinds into concrete floor) Sure.

In all types of assassination except terroristic, drugs can be very effective. An overdose of morphine administered as a sedative will cause death without disturbance and is difficult to detect. The size of the dose will depend upon whether the subject has been using narcotics regularly. If not, two grains will suffice. 1
“If the subject drinks heavily, morphine or a similar narcotic can be injected at the passing out stage, and the cause of death will often be held to be acute alcoholism…

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Show 1 footnote

  1. Or, as shown last year, simply use a polonium filled pirozhkis; tea is far too trite.

post trauma

The perfect cosmo...* remember…


“You better take a drink.”

He hands Nick one of the cocktails.

As they start to drink, a commotion is heard off-scene…little girls screaming…men’s voices raised in protestation…and a woman’s voice above it all. It is Nora, Nick’s wife.

Nora’s Voice: (off screen)
“Asta! Asta Jr! Stop right this instant, both of you! Where are you going? Astas!”

Nick and Andrew look off toward the commotion.


ENTRANCE OF THE BAR FROM THE CLOAK ROOM OR CORRIDOR. Nora is coming through. She is a woman of about thirty-three, a tremendously vital person, interested in everybody and everything, in contrast to Nick’s apparent indifference to anything except when he is going to get his next drink. There is a warm, understanding relationship between them. They are crazy about each other, but undemonstrative and humorous in their companionship. Except when Nora occasionally punches Nick. They are tolerant, easy-going, taking drink for drink, and making their way together with a dry humor.

Just now Nora has been shopping. Her arms are full of small packages. Her hat is askew. She is pulled along bodily by two small girls attached to leashes. Not around their throats, for neither Nick nor Nora are cruel, but around and through the belt loops on their outer coats. A doorman and a hat-check clerk are following her, protesting at her bringing the toddlers into the upstairs bar of the Intercontinental. The girls are excitedly yelling.

“Madame, you can’t bring those little girls in here!”

“I’m not bringing them. They’re bringing me!” (then to the children) “Asta! Asta Jr!”

But the girls pay her no attention. They pull her like a streak out of the scene toward the bar. Nora’s packages are left in a trail behind her as she stumbles after them. The attendants follow after her, picking up the parcels and protesting vehemently.

Attendant: “But Madame,children aren’t allowed; it isn’t only your girls, but if we started….Madame, you dropped your package!”

As Asta & Asta Jr rush in, still with Nora on the other end of the leashes. The girls make a bee-line for Nick and leap clear up into his arms, squealing with delight. Asta Jr is particularly demonstrative, so much so that Nick is not aware that Asta is pinching his wallet from under his suit coat. Nora, more disheveled than ever and breathless, enters, panting.

Nora: “So it’s you they were after!”

Nick: “Hello, baby.”

Nora: (indicating the girls) “They’ve dragged me into every gin mill on the block!’

Nick: (in explanation) “Well, we do have our route.”

Nora: “I thought so. The even tried to drag me into…”

Nick: (stopping her to introduce Andrew) “Oh, this is Andy…”

Nora and Andy smile at each other.

Nora: “How’re you, Andy?” (hastening to add) “I don’t usually look this way, but I’ve been Chaka Khan shopping…”

One of the attendants who followed Nora comes up. He hands Nora several of her packages.

Nick: (at Andy’s puzzled look) “She means Hanukkah.”

Attendant: “Madame, I’m afraid you’ll have to…”

Andrew: “Ah…”

Nick: (interrupting) “It’s all right, Joe. They’re my girls… (and as an afterthought, waving his hand at Nora)….and my wife.”

Nora: “You might have mentioned me first.”

Nick: (to Joe) “They’re well-trained. They’ll behave themselves.” (with a stern look at the girls)

Joe: “They might lift a wallet from someone who minds.” (hands Nick back his wallet he retrieved from Asta. Asta sticks her tongue out at Joe)

Nick: “They’re all right.” (He lets the girls slide down and stand on the floor, bends over to speak to Asta Jr while secretly cuffing Asta on the back of her head) “Now sit in that chair.” (Asta Jr looks up at him, smiling, but making no move to obey him. Nick speaks with more authority) “Sit down!” (still Asta Jr looks fondly up at him, without obeying) “Well then, stand up!” (then triumphantly to Joe) “See?”

Joe laughs and moves off.

Dorothy comes toward them from the telephone booth. Andrew watches her anxiously.

Andrew: “Any luck?”

Dorothy: “He’s just around the corner.”

Nick: “Your father?”

Dorothy: “No. My dealer…I’m going to see him.”

Nick realizes that Dorothy and his wife have not met. He makes the introduction very casually, waving his hand to indicate Nora.

Nick: “Oh, my wife…Dorothy.”

The two women smile in acknowledgment. Nora looks at Dorothy with warm interest.

Dorothy: “How do you do? I’m sorry we have to rush.”

Nick: “We’re at the Intercontinental for a couple of weeks. Why don’t you drop around?”

Dorothy: “Thanks. We will. Goodbye.”

Andrew: “Goodbye.”

The two go quickly off. Nora looks after them.

Nora: “Pretty girl.”

Nick: “If you like the type – strung out on horse like that…”

Nora: (grinning at him) “You got types?”

Nick: “Only you, darling: lanky brunettes with wicked jaws.”

Nora: “Who is she?”

Nick: “I was hoping I wouldn’t have to tell you. Dorothy is really my…’niece’. I’m looking after her for an old friend. We were all like that on my father’s side…

Nora: “By the way, how is your father’s side?”

Nick: “Sober, dammit.”

Nora: “How many drinks have you had?”

Nick: “Six Cosmopolitans.”

Cosmopolitan Martini Recipe

4 parts Citron Vodka
2 parts Cointreau or Triple Sec
2 parts Cranberry Juice
1 part Lime Fresh Juice

Nora: (to the waiter) “Six Cosmopolitans.” (to Nick) “You’re not going to have anything on me.” (As she hugs the bar, her foot on the rail, in imitation of Nick) “Girls, sit there and behave. Joe? Please bring the Astas something to eat. (turning back to Nick) Now, what happened?”

Nick: “Didn’t you get my phone message?”

Nora: “What message?”

Nick: “The one I left telling you Karl Rove had kidnapped me. Worse, he had me water-boarded. Or I’m still being water-boarded. I’m not sure; it’s all very confusing…”

Nora: “Nicky, I listen to that message every night, though why you insist on leaving the same message over and over again on our phone…”

Nick: (frustration showing) “Dammit it, Nora. This time is different! Karl spiked my drink with something and when I woke we were headed up to Darwin. Then he and Shrub dumped me in the middle of a desert. Well, technically not in the middle, more like a few miles from the entrance gate to one of the national parks outside of Darwin, but still…it’s the idea of it.”

Nora: (emits an unladylike-like snort and almost slips off her stool. She is on her third Cosmopolitan) “Nicky, we’re sailing to Borneo even as we speak.”

Nick: “But we can’t. I have to find Karl again and get back my Treo.”

Nora: “Oh, pooh – you and that toy. And it’s not even a new toy. And you can’t go running off on another one of your adventures and leave me alone with the Astas – it’s just not fair!”

Nick: “I keep telling you, I didn’t run off.”

Nora: “Well, you’re not going to not run off again.” (Indicating her 5th cosmopolitan) “Keep up, bud.”

Nick: “Oh no you don’t. I drank mine and they were enough. Be a peach and let’s retire to our rooms. Asta! Asta Jr! Let us away, girls.”

Nora: “NOT gonna run off again…” (slides off the stool into Nick’s waiting arms. Nick wraps one of Nora’s arm around his shoulder and half-walks half-carries Nora out of the bar, trailed by the Astas who are whipping patrons with the end of their leashes as they pass by)

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Agent 1: So what’s the word?

Agent 2: We sit a couple more days. The head shrink thinks the guy’s on his way back from wherever…

Agent 2: Any more word on OIG?

Agent 1: Yeah.

Agent 2: You gonna tell me?

Agent 1: They’ll be here tomorrow, the next day.

Agent 2: Shit.

Agent 1: Yep.

Agent 1: What are we gonna tell them?

Agent 2: Nothing.

Agent 1: Shit.

Agent 2: Yep.

* Remember… 1

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Show 1 footnote

  1. With respect and all due apologies to Hammett, Hackett and Goodrich.

what you don\’t know

…i rise, cross to the bed and lie beside her. roll easily onto her bare form, pinning her with my weight; slipping in only so much, no more: slow, softly insistent strokes leading to the familiar abyss.

impatient, she arches tautly up from the bed, seeks to grasp me. i smile into her eyes. my hands -hard edged from years of labor – rough her flesh, twist her stiffened points, slap her flanks until she loses the rhythm, pain and pleasure commingling into something else…and then start again with the short strokes. what were we drinking anyway? tuaca i believe…wait: were?

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Agent 1: Bloody hell, I wish he’d twitch or something. He just lies there. I mean, it’s been a week.

Agent 2: The Puzzle Palace said he may not make it back – the headshrinker over there says that a lot of people only get through torture…er, water-boarding by disassociating themselves.

Agent 1: Shit (followed up by a lugie hawked across the room). Disassociate from what – the Elks? (and laughs at his great humor.)

Agent 2: No, you imbecile, from themselves. They go someplace in their head where the torture…water-boarding isn’t happening. Maybe he went back to a time as a child where he visited his favorite grandmother for Christmas and she gave him a puppy. I don’t know. What I DO know is the Doc says some of them don’t ever come back. Or do, but not all the way.

Agent 1: Crap. I thought he was talking to you while I was putting the equipment in the van – what happened?

Agent 2: I don’t know. One moment he was cussing me out and the next, he just fell out, his eyes rooled back and he collapsed on the bed. Weirdest thing I ever saw.

Agent 1: So, what – we wait until he comes around? What if he doesn’t?

Agent 2: We just wait.

Agent 1: How long?

Agent 2: Until they tell us not to.

Agent 1: Fuck.

Agent 2: Yeah. Like that.

They listen to a train whistle, not at all lonesome. Kind of cheery, in fact. The form on the cot doesn’t move.

Agent 1: I hear OIG is sniffing around.

Agent 2: Someone’s ass if so.

They think about that.

Agent 1: How many years you got?

Agent 12 Twenty five – I go next January.

Agent 1: Lucky bastard.

Agent 1: Maybe so. Some spades?

Agent 1: Yeah – let me find the cards.

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tuaca? or maybe it was just apple jack. so hard to…remember…