Saturday, February 25, 2017


Lately science reports have been making me grumpy, in between click-bait headlines and replication problems.

As long as I'm gloomy, maybe I should try a different topic.

The Malaysians say Kim Jong Nam was murdered with VX. Given that the lethal dose is supposed to be about 30mg for inhalation or 10mg for skin absorption, I wonder how in the world they were able to detect that. And how they did the autopsy... "Doctor, we have someone who apparently was poisoned by a minuscule dose of unknown poison that we think might be nerve gas. Would you like to do the honors?"

I suppose they had help figuring out what it was.

Ordinarily I'd think that VX was overkill--why not just have one of the ladies poison his drink? Or somebody could have caught him alone and killed him quietly. They have the resources.

But Kim Jong Un seems to have a taste for grotesque and dramatic killing: anti-aircraft guns, mortars... (the starving dogs story may be from a satire). So as a dramatic murder and a dramatic statement about the capabilities of "Sea of Fire" Kim, it kind of fits.

I gather one of the two ladies headed off to wash her hands right away, and became quite ill. If it was administered as a binary, the second assailant was in considerable danger. I'm told even the composite chemicals are pretty toxic, so maybe both were. The risk of losing the assassins before they have a chance to strike would seem to rule out using VX straight.

If the toxicology report is correct, I think this is a warning shot: "Our nukes may be squibs but we have other WMDs and means to use them." Duly noted, Mr. Un.

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