November 5th, 2007

Torture without physical pain

Yuletide done, so now it's time for NaNo.  Why can't they have a writing event in, oh, say, April?

The question:  I'm looking for little known torture techniques that don't cause physical pain (little known, because research has been helpful so far in providing the big ones).  Alternate universe that's nearly identical to current universe technology-wise; modern times.

Limitations: the character needs to be in acceptable physical and mental health after he's broken so that he can be used by the government.  He's a serious self-mutilator (which is why the bad guys aren't even attempting physical pain torture -- anything strong enough to overcome his current pain tolerance would probably cause permanent injury), underweight (so starvation is out), deaf, highly isolated (so shunning is out), and has no known phobias.  The techniques I've already found involve rape, sleep deprivation, and sensory deprivation.  Is there anything else ya'll can think of?

(Note: I have considered Chinese water torture, but that seems a little crude for modern torture.  Unless it's really effective, in which case I can shiny it up.)

ETA: I've got what I need (I could torture *twenty* people with all my new knowledge:)  Thanks!


Dog and other pet statistics, Romania, 1900

What pets and working animals (not so interested in livestock) would be common in Romania, or similar parts of Europe, around the turn of the 20th century?

What I need is a rough idea of what kind of animals are kept (dogs, cats, other pets - preferably some idea of the proportions), any general info about attitudes, conditions and general care if possible, but importantly, an idea of the most likely breeds of dog, and possibly cat. I realise it's probably mongrels, but still need an idea of terrier/courser/retriever etc.

This is set in an analogue of a Carpathian sort of region, rural hilly or mountainous river valley. I'm basing science and tech very roughly around the 1900 mark, but it's very definitely AU because there's magic. And vampires. Naturally there are vampires. So in fact I have plenty of leeway here, but I'm curious nonetheless.

The situation is a crazy pet-poisoner, and I'm trying to work out what types of arsenic-laced meat/food he would leave lying around as well as what kind of dead bodies I should describe in the aftermath. (He's very much not bothered about collateral damage, by the way.)

I've Googled variants on "pet ownership statistics Romania", with and without "1900s" etc. Found a few modern charities, but couldn't even turn up any modern figures. Perhaps I'm missing something obvious. I have found a few sites with info about wildlife.

Alcoholism in a Teen

Okay, so I'm writing a story (obviously) that contains a kid (named Deimos) who is 16/17, 5'4", about 130-140lb. Deimos is an alcoholic. (His early teens were not a happy time, and we'll leave it at that for now, or it'll spawn a billion other questions that I need answered sometime soon.)

If my boy Deimos starts drinking at, say, age 13 or 14, goes binging about every month, maybe every two weeks. At 17, he quits booze completely for about six months before reverting back to it ( but just having about a bottle of beer every few days rather than binging as badly as before) until he turns 21, when he goes cold turkey again.  Would this be anywhere near accurate, or would his body get messed up much sooner than that? How much of this could his liver really take before his it just gives out? How would his brain fare through all of this?

EDIT: Alright, so, apparently I've had an epic fail on my part here. I came home today to 33 comments mainly consisting of "That's not alcoholic behavior!" and "What? Drinking that much is perfectly normal!" Whoops. I'm not criticizing those of you who said things along those lines-- Thank you for enlightening me, in fact. I seem to be awfully in the dark about alcohol and how popular it is, as I've never touched it in my life and don't spend much time partying-- so I'd like to clear up a few things about my character Deimos here and ask everyone to please stop telling me that "this is not alcoholic behavior". I'm really getting tired of hearing that "Being alcoholic does not depend on how much you drink; it's about whether you need to drink to get through the day." Thank you. I already know. I never even once contradicted this or said anything to the contrary. Honestly, upon saying that he is an alcoholic in my opening, I was inferring that he needs a drink to get through the day because I already know that's what it means to be alcoholic. Any more comments that do not pertain to my original question will be either deleted or screened. In short: This horse is dead. Stop beating it, because you're driving me up the wall.

ALRIGHT, so, I feel terribly stupid now, I really should have explained more about Deimos. He is not a normal teenager; for reasons that I won't go into because I know none of you will want to hear about it, some mind-altering traumatic events in his early life caused him to not be going to school and to have a job as (for all intents and purposes) a police officer at the age of 14/15, and he starts drinking shortly before that. Based on the comments and suggestions from this thread, he goes binge drinking two or three times a week and has a drink in the morning/after work/as he goes to bed. At 17, due to the pleadings of a friend (whose father was a violent alcoholic), Deimos quits drinking. Withdrawal? Yes. About a year or so later, he (without going into details) 'gets a new job' and has another mind-altering traumatic experience, and so he no longer gives a rat's ass about his friend's advice and goes back to drinking, though, as I said, not as heavily as before, and continues to drink for the next four years or so. A few epic chase scenes later, the effects of all the mind-altering traumatic events has (mostly) gone away, and he wants to stop drinking again, this time for good. By this point, would his body be messed up badly enough for it to kill him? is really my main question. He's going to die at 22 one way or another, I'm just wondering if liver failure would add into the equation at all.

Throat slitting


I've tried Google and Wikipedia with no success.

My question concerns throat slitting. In my story, a guy runs up to someone and slits the guy's throat with a knife. So, my questions are...

If it's full across, practically ear-to-ear, what would the bloodflow be like (provided arteries were severed)? I had a friend who sliced an artery in his wrist during a ski accident and claimed his blood was hitting the lodge ceiling. Is this true at all?

If my character did not want as much of a bloodbath, would there be a way to kill without drawing quite as much blood? What about sawing through the trachea but avoiding the arteries?

If the guy didn't see it coming, would he have time to scream?

What does a person typically do with a slit throat? Collapse immediatly? Totter?

Thank you!