Why Do They Use Sterile Needles for Lethal Injections?

Sergey Dogadin/iStock via Getty Images
Sergey Dogadin/iStock via Getty Images

“Lethal injection” isn’t a marketing term or a cute nickname. The intent of the injection is to execute someone. So why bother with the alcohol swab and sterile needle? Are they really worried about the condemned getting an infection?

Well, yes.

We’ve all seen movies where someone is about to be executed, and then, at the last possible second, the governor calls and either delays or commutes the sentence. Things like that happen in real life, too.

Take the case of James Autry. One day in October 1983, the condemned murderer was strapped to a gurney in a Texas prison with a needle in his arm, waiting to be executed. Shortly before he was scheduled to die, he received a stay of execution. He was returned to his cell, the day went on as normal, and Autry was executed the following March.

Had the needle and Autry’s arm not been sterilized, he could have gotten an infection and died. The prison may have been open to a wrongful death lawsuit. Sure, he was supposed to die anyway, but he was sentenced to death by lethal injection, not dirty equipment.

Or, let’s say a condemned prisoner receives a stay of execution because the real killer has miraculously been found. If you don’t follow proper procedure and the now-cleared man gets sick or dies on you, you’ve really got a problem on your hands.

In addition to the safety of the prisoner, there’s also the safety of the prison staff to consider. If the condemned struggles while the needle is being inserted, the executioner risks being stuck and high risk of infected wounds is not something that really appeals to people when they’re weighing career options.

Finally, there’s a fringe benefit to swabbing the arm. Alcohol causes veins below the swabbed skin to swell stand out a little better and makes the skin more sensitive to touch, making a good vein easier to find and stick.

See Also: U.K. To Halt Shipments of Execution Drug to U.S. (WSJ)

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Keep Your Cat Busy With a Board Game That Doubles as a Scratch Pad

Cheerble
Cheerble

No matter how much you love playing with your cat, waving a feather toy in front of its face can get monotonous after a while (for the both of you). To shake up playtime, the Cheerble three-in-one board game looks to provide your feline housemate with hours of hands-free entertainment.

Cheerble's board game, which is currently raising money on Kickstarter, is designed to keep even the most restless cats stimulated. The first component of the game is the electronic Cheerble ball, which rolls on its own when your cat touches it with their paw or nose—no remote control required. And on days when your cat is especially energetic, you can adjust the ball's settings to roll and bounce in a way that matches their stamina.

Cheerable cat toy on Kickstarter.
Cheerble

The Cheerble balls are meant to pair with the Cheerble game board, which consists of a box that has plenty of room for balls to roll around. The board is also covered on one side with a platform that has holes big enough for your cat to fit their paws through, so they can hunt the balls like a game of Whack-a-Mole. And if your cat ever loses interest in chasing the ball, the board also includes a built-in scratch pad and fluffy wand toy to slap around. A simplified version of the board game includes the scratch pad without the wand or hole maze, so you can tailor your purchase for your cat's interests.

Cheerble cat board game.
Cheerble

Since launching its campaign on Kickstarter on April 23, Cheerble has raised over $128,000, already blowing past its initial goal of $6416. You can back the Kickstarter today to claim a Cheerble product, with $32 getting you a ball and $58 getting you the board game. You can make your pledge here, with shipping estimated for July 2020.

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Why Did Noon Used to Mean 3 p.m.?

3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
3 p.m. is basically noon for people who wake up at 12 p.m.
Mckyartstudio/iStock via Getty Images

If you’re a late sleeper, you might find yourself thinking 12 p.m. seems way too early to be considered midday, and the word noon would much better describe, say, 3 p.m. It turns out that ancient Romans would have agreed with you, if only for etymological reasons.

As Reader’s Digest explains, the days in ancient Rome were split into four periods of three hours each. The first hour was at sunrise around 6 a.m.—called prime, for first—followed by 9 a.m. (terce, denoting the third hour), 12 p.m. (sext, for sixth), and 3 p.m. (none, for ninth).

According to Merriam-Webster, Middle and Old English borrowed the time-keeping tradition, along with the Latin word for ninth, which was changed to nōn and eventually noon. Though we’re not sure exactly when or why noon started referring to 12 p.m. instead of 3 p.m., it could have something to do with Christian prayer traditions. In the Bible, Jesus’s crucifixion is said to have taken place at the ninth hour, and that’s when worshippers partook in their second of three daily prayers; the others were in the morning and evening. It’s possible that hungry monks were behind noon’s gradual shift from 3 p.m. to 12 p.m.—since their daily fast didn’t end until after the midday prayer, they had a built-in motive for moving it earlier.

While we didn’t exactly stay true to the original Latin meaning of noon, there’s another important remnant of ancient Rome hiding in the way we tell time today. Romans referred to 12 p.m. as meridiem, for midday, and so do we. A.M. is an abbreviation for ante meridiem, or before midday, and P.M. means post meridiem, or after midday.

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