O-Bits: Death Stars Edition

Nathan Chetcuti, a 19-year-old snake handler and YouTube star, is fighting for his life after being bitten by his pet inland taipan, one of the deadliest snakes in existence. The New York Post, which carried the story from his sister network News.au, does not say how the bite occurred, but snake hunter Judy Martin calls it “a placid snake… it takes a lot to aggravate them to bite.” A good thing too, since its venom is fatal if not treated in 45 minutes. According  to toxicologist Geoff Isbister, “it causes blood not to clot, but its most important effect is it causes neurotoxicity. So if it’s not treated early, it can cause paralysis.” The young man was treated in time and is recovering Redcliffe Hospital in Queensland.  No word  if he’ll ever handle a snake again.

From a bite in the dust to refusing to bite the dust, we come to a story of what some are calling a “zombie star,” a supernova that has lasted more than ten times what scientists expect. The star, officially known as iPTF14hls, but we imagine would prefer to be called Bob, was once a big star—100 times larger than the sun, scientists estimate. But, like Norma Desmond, its time passed, and in 1954, it exploded in what was expected to be its one last blast of glory. But, unlike Norma Desmond, it had a comeback, when in 2014,  astronomers noticed it growing brighter. The conjecture is that is was so large, the initial explosion only affected the outer layers, leaving the core intact, and is repeating the entire process. We’d like to remind Bob that’s it’s still big; it’s only the pictures that got small.

And finally, we have a family that got an unwanted second look at their deceased loved one. A Texas cemetery is being sued over the treatment of a WWII veteran’s body. The mausoleum the family bought wasn’t ready at the time of Robert McMinn’s death, so his casket was placed in a temporary niche. Two months later, when his final resting place was completed and the family attempted to transfer the casket, they claim he was “dripping out of his casket.”  KTRK-TV in Houston reached out to the National Funeral Director’s Association, and was told that while rare, bodies have been known to liquify in mausoleums. It’s usually caused by poor embalming, they explained, but other factors, including the cause of death, might be involved.

Steven Mirkin

Steven Mirkin’s diverse career has taken him from politics to pop culture to high art, offering him a front row seat to some of the most fascinating events and personalities of our time: writing speeches, fundraising appeals and campaign materials for Ed Koch, John Heinz and independent presidential candidate John B. Anderson; chronicling the punk/new wave scenes in New York and London; interviewing musicians such as Elton John, John Lydon and Buck Owens; profiling modern masters Julian Schnabel, Paul Schrader and Jonathan Safran Foer; and writing for TV shows including 21, The Chamber, Let's Make A Deal, and Rock Star: INXS.

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