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Thomas Midgley Jr.

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Doctor Evil, stand aside.

Thomas Midgley Jr. managed to be the guy who populised lead in petrol and freon in fridges.

Only his timely demise left only agent orange, cluster bombs, spray on cheese and social media to be devised by other folk.

Who needs fictional supervillains?

NB gain kudos by finding the Starbuck cup.

not_morrison_rm, May 07 2019

Lead-Crime Hypothesis https://en.wikipedi...%93crime_hypothesis
[zen_tom, May 08 2019]

John Haigh https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Haigh
A man who devised a solution to his problems. [8th of 7, May 11 2019]

[link]






       Yes but, ironically, airborne lead is one of the few agents that can react with airborne CFCs, effectively taking both out of the equation. They neutralise each other.   

       The problem was not that there was too much lead in petrol, but that there weren't enough CFCs in the atmosphere.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2019
  

       Perhaps he could be canonized, as the Patron Saint of Unintended Consequences.
8th of 7, May 07 2019
  

       //Perhaps he could be canonized// I don't see how firing his remains out of any sort of artillery is going to help.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2019
  

       It will be entertaining (compared to, for example, the upcoming Eurovision Song Contest) and money can be made by taking side bets in how far the skull will go. Since both the powder charge and the elevation of the muzzle are controllable, and the mass and dimensions of the skull accurately estimated, an opportunity to "clean up" presents itself to the suitably unprincipled entrepreneur.
8th of 7, May 07 2019
  

       //accurately estimated// do you know you typed that out loud?
MaxwellBuchanan, May 07 2019
  

       We had a John J. Midgley who was President of my engineering alma mater for less than a year sometime after I graduated. The family resemblance from Google searches suggests a relationship.   

       Having saturated the market here, it wouldn't surprise me if Starbucks started showing up on fictional continents. The Night's Watch needs something to stay awake.
RayfordSteele, May 07 2019
  

       // do you know you typed that out loud? //   

       Do you need to re-read Chapter One, "How To Recognize Irony" ?
8th of 7, May 08 2019
  

       As the Romans increasingly used lead to deliver running water, the populace showed increasing signs of lead-induced lunacy, leading ultimately to the collapse of Empire.   

       Similarly, if you compare use of lead in petrol and records of violent/impulsive behaviours, you see a clear correlation that tails off at almost the exact same time as lead was phased out of petroleum in cars - apparently accounting for 56% of violent crime.
zen_tom, May 08 2019
  

       It certainly goes a long way towards explaining 1970's home decoration trends.
RayfordSteele, May 08 2019
  

       No, that's just all the drugs that people took in the 1960's.   

       // Romans ... used lead to deliver ... water, //   

       Lead water pipes are only a problem in soft water areas; elsewhere, a layer of passive, insoluble lead carbonate rapidly forms ofer new pipework, preventing lead going into solution. Even without the carbonate, if the water flows instead of being allowed to stand, the amount of lad in solution is very low.   

       A more likely culprit is the Roman technique of producing a wine syrup by boiling it in lead pans. Sour wine could be "improved" by the technique; acetic acid reacted with the lead to form lead acetate (known in earlier times as "suagr of lead") which is notably sweet, although of course very toxic.   

       The lead toxicity would disproportionately affect the wealthier classes who could afford to pay for this processed wine.   

       The effect would be similar to that of the "Somerset Palsy" which was caused by lead contamination of rough cider in Western England (q.v.).   

       While envronmental lead is an acknowledged problem, it's improtant to dicriminate between the various routes by which it enters the food chain.
8th of 7, May 08 2019
  

       My parents' house had lead plumbing. Then again, it also had lead-sheathed electric cables, which seems to me to be tempting fate.   

       And yes, before anyone else does, let me suggest that the lead pipes are probably responsible for my insanity.   

       Incidentally, if I may be so rude as to come back briefly to the original topic, Thomas Midgley developed polio in his later years, and devised an elaborate winch-and-pulley system to haul himself out of bed. It all went horribly wrong, and he was found entangled and strangled.   

       He was probably working on something like the use of dioxin to prevent tuberculosis in milk at the time.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2019
  

       // My parents' house had lead plumbing. //   

       Many older dwellings still do. We recall that in certain portions of Castle Buchanan, notably the guest rooms allocated to "less favoured" guests, plumbing of any sort - even the genuine lead sort - is notable by its absence.   

       Admittedly there is running water; when it rains, the water runs right through the holes in the roof. A bit of sheet lead there would do no harm. And there are en-suite "facilities", in the form of a genuine garderobe - a quaint novelty for less experienced visitors, and admittedly fairly hygenic (in the way that it very rapidly removes the waste products from the originator by means of the "long drop") but hardly the epitome of comfort, particularly in the winter.   

       // Then again, it also had lead-sheathed electric cables, which seems to me to be tempting fate. //   

       There is nothing wrong with properly constructed metal-sheathed cables. Mineral insulated cables such as Pyrotenax are widely used in fire-resistant applications, and steel-wire armoured cables are ubiquitous for underground installations.   

       There are obvious precautions to be observed; for example, when stripping insulation using teeth, do not perform that action on lead-covered cables, and more importantly in the short term, ensure the supply is isolated before commencing work.   

       // And yes, before anyone else does, let me suggest that the lead pipes are probably responsible for my insanity. //   

       Chewing your lead soldiers is a more likely cause.   

       // Incidentally, if I may be so rude as to come back briefly to the original topic, //   

       Typical boorish behaviour ...   

       // Thomas Midgley developed polio in his later years, //   

       Was he working in biological weapons development too ? Truly, a profligate inventor ... so why isn't it called Midgley's Disease ?   

       // and devised an elaborate winch-and-pulley system to haul himself out of bed. It all went horribly wrong, and he was found entangled and strangled. //   

       Horribly wrong for him; probably mercifully right for the rest of your species, before he invented something even more dangerous.   

       // He was probably working on something like the use of dioxin to prevent tuberculosis in milk at the time. //   

       <Gratuitous and unnecessary pedantry>   

       "Dioxin", the simple aryl di-ether, is present in all milk and indeed in a great many biological systems; it is an essential component of many molecules and life as you know it would probably not be possible without it.   

       We suspect you intend to refer to 2,3- 7,8 -Tetra chloro dibenzyl dioxin, the pyrolysis product of the phenyl chloracetic acids, such as 2,4 - D and 2,4,5 - T, as used and approved in Agent Orange and its related compounds.   

       But then, you knew that, didn't you ?   

       </Gratuitous and unnecessary pedantry>
8th of 7, May 08 2019
  

       //</Gratuitous and unnecessary pedantry>// That's three correct statements in four words - very good.   

       // the guest rooms allocated to "less favoured" guests// Ah yes; sorry about that, but the oubliette was already taken and Sturton had fallen asleep in the rattery. If you'd given us more notice of your arrival...
MaxwellBuchanan, May 08 2019
  

       HB had bit of a wobble according to uptime monitor...(starts blowing dust off the 25p and curlywurly)
not_morrison_rm, May 10 2019
  

       Did you pull the cartridge out and blow on it?
RayfordSteele, May 11 2019
  

       I have never dissolved a lad.
pocmloc, May 11 2019
  

       Then you've missed out.   

       "Don't be vague - ask for Haigh !"   

       <link>
8th of 7, May 11 2019
  

       Not Duggie Haigh?
not_morrison_rm, May 11 2019
  

       If you mean Douglas, the Earl Haig, no.   

       It's easy to tell them apart; John Haigh caused the death of about nine people, so they hanged him. Douglas Haig caused the death if hundreds of thousands of people, so they gave him a pension and an Earldom.   

       It's all a matter of scale, though it does help if you're in an army, where killing thousands of people is considered a Good Thing. If those people can be enemies, that's even better - but not essential.
8th of 7, May 11 2019
  

       Thomas Midgley's career has strong parallels to that of Nathaniel Oben, who achieved a quite remarkable list of catastrophes, albeit on a more local scale.   

       Working in a village in Portuguese Mozambique as a missionary, his first action was to improve the local plumbing system by installing buried sewers and out-houses to deal with human waste. This, he decided, would be much better than the practice of defaecating outside and merely burying the waste.   

       Two months after he had completed this miracle of civil engineering under trying conditions, the village had its first ever cholera epidemic, killing a fifth of the population. The problem was traced to the fact that his main sewage pipe discharged into the local river, fifty yards upstream of where villagers went to collect drinking water.   

       Undaunted, he decided that the solution was to arrange for a better, purer source of drinking water, and so he arranged for a well to be sunk. He had to go down about 30 metres before reaching the local water table, and it took far longer to raise water from the well than it had hitherto taken to go and get water from the now-polluted river.   

       Worse yet, the rock at the bottom of the well was insufficiently permeable, so that only a few litres of water could be collected every hour. Oben reasoned that fracturing the rock at the bottom of the well would solve this problem, and he deployed a truly enthusiastic amount of dynamite to achieve this. Some dozen villagers peered into the well in order to watch what they were assured would be a spectacular show, and most were killed when the explosion hurled superheated rock fragments upward as if from a cannon. Nevertheless, when the dust had settled, the well was found to yield a much improved flow of water.   

       All was well for another few weeks, until most of the village became seriously ill from an unidentified illness, and about a third died. Investigation of the well revealed the decomposing body of one of the people killed by the explosion.   

       The well was eventually declared fit for use again, and this time it was some nine or ten months before more villagers became ill and died, this time because the fractured bedrock was rich in arsenic and had been slowly and cumulatively poisoning them.   

       In a final triumph of enthusiasm, Oben decided that the solution was to sink the well even deeper, below the arsenic-rich seam. This he did with a series of further dynamitings and excavations (during which another three villagers died from various accidents). The last of these broke through, at a depth of about 45m, into a vast underground cavern. Over the next six months, the cave-in enlarged, and the ground surrounding the well began to subside. Eventually, almost the entire village fell into the man-made sinkhole, either gradually and annoyingly, or quickly and fatally. Oben himself, alas, was not among the sinkhole's victims, and eventually returned Portugal, presumably to the relief of the surviving villagers.
MaxwellBuchanan, May 16 2019
  
      
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