Archive for January, 2013

The abstract of my dissertation using the #upgoerfive text editor

Things that change the type and number of flies that land on a body after it is dead:

After a person dies, flies often land on their body. This can happen very quickly, sometimes within minutes. If we know the type of fly that is present on a dead body, we can sometimes work out how long ago that person died.

Many things can change the time at which different types of fly land on a body. How hot it is can change the type of fly, and so can the place the body is left and what the body is like. Dead bodies wearing clothes will have different types of fly land on them than bodies with no clothes on, and the flies will arrive at different times. Some of these things are more important than others, but we don’t always know which.

It is important to study these things and work out how important each one of them is so that when a person’s dead body is found it can be decided how long ago they died.

In this study, five animal legs were put in a safe outside place. Each leg was made to be different from the others. One had nothing on it and was put in a place with sun. Three had things put on them (a shirt, shorts, and a bag) and were put in the place with sun. One had nothing on it and was put in a place with no sun.

More than ten types of flies landed on all the different legs during the study, which was tried two times. Lots more flies arrived during the first time than during the second, as the first time was much warmer. One type of fly arrived the most during both times. Other types of fly arrived a lot during the first time but not much during the second time, or the other way around.

During the first time, the leg in a shirt had the most flies of all land on it. The leg in shorts had fewer flies land on it, and the leg in a bag had the least flies of all. However, some types of flies landed on the leg in a bag but didn’t land on any of the other legs.

During the second time it was very cold. Flies don’t like the cold and so not many of them landed on the legs. Because there were not enough flies, it is too hard to work out which legs the flies liked best. However, it does show that how warm or cold it is can be very important to flies.

The study has shown many things that it would be good to look at another time. First, a longer study in the cold could show the things that change the number and type of flies than land on a body in the cold. Second, some types of flies that were found on the legs are not thought of as good for working out how long ago a body died. A study looking at those types of flies could work out whether or not they might be good to look at after all.


Discordia – Laurie Penny and Molly Crabapple

In all honesty, I started Discordia without having the faintest idea of what it was about. I read it because Laurie Penny tweeted that she was offering a free PDF of the book in exchange for a review. I like free things. I like PDFs. I like books. I like reviewing things (well, judging things. Same diff?). I figured I’d go for it.

I’m glad I did.

The full title is “Discordia: Six Nights in Crisis Athens”. Last summer, journalist Laurie Penny and illustrator Molly Crabapple took to the streets of Athens in order to document the experiences of those living there. The result is powerful, to say the least.

I power-read it this evening; partly because I felt a little obligated to, partly because it was fascinating. The writing style is easy to read and the subject matter is of huge importance. The illustrations paint a far more detailed picture than I’d expected them to, and below/around each one is a quotation translated straight from the graffitied walls of the city.

My one (mild) criticism is that at certain points the narrative seems to jump back and forwards a little. I wouldn’t make an issue of this, however, as the coherence of the book doesn’t suffer.

I’m not a whizz with this politics stuff, and so I don’t feel massively qualified to comment on any kind of wider context, but I’m pretty sure I got the gist. I actually learned quite a bit, which would have been enjoyable if what I was learning wasn’t so depressing.

The book can be bought here, and if you have even the remotest interest in the subject matter I would recommend it wholeheartedly. I’m not going to come out with some schmaltzy line about how I enjoyed it so much I’m going to buy it even though I don’t have to, but if I didn’t not have to and I knew how good it was I would buy it. If that makes sense.