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Kissing rattlesnakes

A medical research article on unusual rattlesnake bites described several bizarre human-snake interactions, including an intoxicated 45 year old man who was “bitten on the tongue after placing his pet rattlesnake's head in his mouth in an attempt to calm the snake”. The authors note that “although human beings are not rattlesnake prey, envenomations (commonly) follow intentional encounters with snakes”. Bill Geissert found this information in “Rattlesnake envenomation: unusual case presentations”, by D A Tanen et al (


“Like some fries with that?”

It was meant to develop leadership skills but the fire walking exercise for 30 managers of the KFC fast food chicken restaurant chain was too hot to bear. Eleven ambulances responded to an emergency call, seven people received burns requiring treatment at hospital, 13 were treated at a clinic, and 10 were treated at the scene for minor blisters. The mass burning took place on the last day of a management development conference for 180 KFC managers. Inquiries by the company and by the government agency WorkCover are under way (The Age (Melbourne), February 2002).

New Year fireworks death

The China news agency Xinhua reports that nine were killed and 60 injured in a firework factory blast in the south east Province of Jiangxi in December. An initial explosion in a warehouse set off a series of blasts that destroyed 10 of the 11 separate buildings within the factory complex, in Huangmao town of Wanzai district. Only the building containing the factory's offices was left standing. Shockwaves from the blasts could be felt 60 kilometres away in the regional capital, according to a resident quoted by the Yangcheng Evening News from Guangzhou.

At least 270 Peruvians are reported dead in a firework blaze on New Year's Eve. The fire engulfed four blocks in the historic Mesa Redonda shopping area of Lima. More than 130 were injured in the blaze, doctors said many of those hurt had suffered first, second and third degree burns, but others were in a coma or had suffered severe mental trauma. According to witnesses, the fire began late Saturday in a store selling fireworks for New Year's celebrations, after vendors tested firecrackers for some clients. Fireworks are widely used for Christmas and New Year celebrations in Peru and Lima officials said huge quantities of fireworks were stockpiled in downtown shops, as well as private attics and basements.