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Author Topic: Ingesting Gunpowder
PaulUnwin
The Red and the Green Stamps


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My girlfriend is Chinese and told me that her mother told HER that some of the military personnel involved in stopping the Tienamen Square protests were given doses of gunpowder in their food. The purpose of this was to increase their irritability and shorten their ... ahem, fuses. The upshot is that they would then deal more harshly with the students.

a) Does eating gunpowder really make people angry?
b) Who might have been in charge of such a plan
c) Did it really happen?


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Silas Sparkhammer
I Saw V-Chips Come Sailing In


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quote:
Originally posted by PaulUnwin:
My girlfriend is Chinese and told me that her mother told HER that some of the military personnel involved in stopping the Tienamen Square protests were given doses of gunpowder in their food. The purpose of this was to increase their irritability and shorten their ... ahem, fuses. The upshot is that they would then deal more harshly with the students.

a) Does eating gunpowder really make people angry?
b) Who might have been in charge of such a plan
c) Did it really happen?


Wasn't saltpeter given to adolescent boys to prevent -- um -- sexual self-gratification? In my opinion, gunpowder tastes so vile, all it would do to me is induce nausea and lethargy. I believe that sulphur is mildly toxic when concentrated, and saltpeter is a (mild) poison. Charcoal is mostly inert, but absorptive (which is why they give it to poisoning victims.) By and large, I'd think it would be about as effective as sand or sawdust.

Silas ("I *like* sand and sawdust") Sparkhammer



Posts: 16801 | From: San Diego, CA | Registered: Sep 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
DHartung
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Well, I did find this reference to child soldiers being fed "cocaine and gunpowder":
http://sun.menloschool.org/~sportman/westernstudies/second/challenges/2000/child/cond.html

So at least the idea is out there that eating gunpowder increases aggression, which makes it more likely that people do it or make soldiers do it. I also found references to gunpowder being given to torture victims and to fighting dogs for aggression.

Gunpowder itself is typically charcoal, sulfur, and potassium nitrate, none of which is necessarily toxic unless in large quantities. KNO-3 is aka saltpeter, which was once used to keep prisoners passive. Both nitrates and sulfurs occur naturally in food. I coudln't find anything linking either medically to aggression.

The "in charge" part could probably be answered by a close examination of the new book The Tiananmen Papers, which are allegedly meeting transcripts and memos from the highest Chinese leadership at the time collected by a skeptical insider.

I don't think any of us is qualified to answer c)


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huginn
The Red and the Green Stamps


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Sounds to me like a metaphor that someone took too literally at some point, and it made its way into superstition.
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KingDavid8
Markdown, the Herald Angels Sing


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A friend of mine told me an interesting story (not the most honest guy in the world, so I have some doubts that this is true).

He said that he was working at a place and he only had a half-hour for lunch, which wasn't enough time for him to go out and get anything, so he brought food with him to eat at work, which he'd stick in the refrigerator. However, somebody kept stealing his lunches and eating them before lunch time. He got fed up with this, and one day he brought some Japanese food to eat at lunch, only he poured in some gunpowder. Later in the day, one of his co-workers suddenly became violently ill, running to the bathroom to throw up. My friend followed the guy in and said, "Yeah, Japanese food will do that to you." He never had his lunch stolen again.

David


Posts: 2530 | From: Lansing, MI | Registered: Feb 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
LizzyJingleBells
Ding Dong! Merrily on High Definition TV


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Here's a joke that goes along with this subject. (See, that proves my theory that most UL's evolve into jokes, or the other way around!)


A man once counseled his son that if he wanted to live a long life, the secret was to sprinkle a little gunpowder on his cornflakes every morning. The son did this religiously, and he lived to the age of 93. When he died, he left 14 children, 28 grandchildren, 35 great-grandchildren, and a 15-foot hole in the wall of the crematorium.

Lizzy "love a good joke" M

------------------
Life is a grindstone; whether itgrinds you down or polishes you up depends on what you're made of.
- Jacob M. Braude


Posts: 7725 | From: Columbus, Ohio | Registered: Nov 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a moderator
   

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