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Old 09-26-2018, 12:34 PM
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The guillotine: Not a bad way to go?

Quick and painless (?), No? Sure, it's horrifying to visualize but wouldn't being guillotined be about the most reliable and efficient method of ending one's life?
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:37 PM
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Well, that's what the French claimed. Seemed to work well for them.
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:45 PM
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Compared to what was otherwise available at the time (of the French Revolution)? Sure. It is almost assured that at T+30s you'll be done with the process.

It's been said that the most reliable and painless method of execution would be wrapping high explosives around the condemned's head and setting them off. But modern society requires a certain dignity to the process.
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:55 PM
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Wouldn't it depend on how long your head remains conscious afterward?
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:55 PM
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Guillotining was introduced as an alternative to having the head inexpertly hacked off with a sword or axe. There are controversial, grisly accounts implying that loss of consciousness may not be instant and there is a chance that the unfortunate victim may experience being a disembodied head for some seconds. There is no question that the method reliably induces death, though.
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Old 09-26-2018, 12:58 PM
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Interesting factoid:

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The guillotine remained France’s standard method of judicial execution until the abolition of capital punishment in 1981.[3] The last person to be executed in France was Hamida Djandoubi, who was guillotined on 10 September 1977.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guillotine
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:02 PM
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In previous conversations here, the general consensus was that suffocation with nitrogen would probably be the least painful method. But if the goal is simply reliability and efficiency, then the guillotine is a pretty good option.

Last edited by TroutMan; 09-26-2018 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:17 PM
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...wouldn't being guillotined be about the most reliable and efficient method of ending one's life?
If reliability is simply # of successes divided by # of attempts, it is indeed hard to beat a track record of 100%. But there are plenty of contenders that come close, while resulting in a less grisly spectacle.

As for "efficient" - what is meant by this term? Least hours of paid labor to achieve? Least energy? Least cost? Least time from start to finish? Something else?
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:19 PM
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Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers" goes into more detail than you may wish about the waning moments of guillotine subjects.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:21 PM
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Compared to what was otherwise available at the time (of the French Revolution)? Sure. It is almost assured that at T+30s you'll be done with the process.

It's been said that the most reliable and painless method of execution would be wrapping high explosives around the condemned's head and setting them off. But modern society requires a certain dignity to the process.


I call this "The C-4 Helmet" it is my preferred method of exit.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:22 PM
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Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers" goes into more detail than you may wish about the waning moments of guillotine subjects.
Well, they wouldn't be smacking themselves in the forehead, that's for sure.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:31 PM
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It's been said that the most reliable and painless method of execution would be wrapping high explosives around the condemned's head and setting them off. But modern society requires a certain dignity to the process.
There was an incident in which Saddam Hussein's regime executed a couple of guys with explosive charges placed in their shirts' breast pockets. You can find footage on LiveLeak; I'm pretty sure the shock wave from the detonation rendered them unconscious before any pain impulse reached their brain.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:42 PM
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Did the guillotine always sever the neck on the first drop?
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:46 PM
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There was an incident in which Saddam Hussein's regime executed a couple of guys with explosive charges placed in their shirts' breast pockets. You can find footage on LiveLeak; I'm pretty sure the shock wave from the detonation rendered them unconscious before any pain impulse reached their brain.


Didn't they also strap a dude to the muzzle a howitzer?
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:48 PM
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Did the guillotine always sever the neck on the first drop?
No.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:52 PM
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Didn't they also strap a dude to the muzzle a howitzer?
Don't recall whether the did that or not, but it's hardly original.
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Old 09-26-2018, 01:53 PM
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There is a grainy video of the last "public" execution in France in 1939 of Eugen Weidmann, on youtube if anyone cares to look it up. After this all later executions were done in private. Apparently actor Christopher Lee witnessed the execution.
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Old 09-26-2018, 03:16 PM
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I think the blood rushing out and spraying was one of the downfalls of the process. Not only was it gruesome, people had to actually clean up afterwards. I always thought that they should have used a heated blade and held the head in place after the cut in order to cauterize both ends and minimize the mess. I think technology wise we could come up with better decapitation method now.

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Old 09-26-2018, 03:19 PM
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I always thought that they should have used a heated blade and held the head in place after the cut in order to cauterize both ends and minimize the mess. I think technology wise we could come up with better decapitation method now.
Sounds like a job for a lightsaber.
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Old 09-26-2018, 03:28 PM
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I always thought that they should have used a heated blade and held the head in place after the cut in order to cauterize both ends and minimize the mess. I think technology wise we could come up with better decapitation method now.
Well, considering the guillotine was really just a technological advance over a big guy with a sword, I suppose by now we could have come up with a multitude of technological advances focused on decapitation. But I fear there isn't really a market for it, alas.
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Old 09-26-2018, 03:40 PM
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But I fear there isn't really a market for it, alas.
This. The U.S. is effectively the only country in the Western Hemisphere still using capital punishment; while most other countries in the hemisphere still have it on the books, the last non-U.S. execution in the hemisphere was in Saint Kitts and Nevis in 2008. (And, of course, even in the U.S., while 31 states have the death penalty on the books, most executions are in a handful of southern states.)

As shown in this Wikipedia article, most of the countries which still employ capital punishment are in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia.
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Old 09-26-2018, 03:56 PM
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It's been said that the most reliable and painless method of execution would be wrapping high explosives around the condemned's head and setting them off. But modern society requires a certain dignity to the process.
If modern society wanted dignity to the process, it'd use nitrogen gas asphyxiation. Painless, mess free, and the most humane. But society doesn't want that. Never has. Society wants spectacle. Society wants the guilty to suffer. Makes people feel better about themselves.

I always was fond of the method voiced by Chief Gillespie in the episode of In the Heat of the Night where he witnessed an execution.
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:00 PM
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The massive and immediate loss of blood pressure would have to produce immediate unconsciousness. Death would have to follow in very short order.
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:21 PM
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I think I would rather have my still-beating heart ripped from my chest by a priest of the Temple of Doom. Probably a more painful way to go, but people would Never stop repeating the story.
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:37 PM
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In previous conversations here, the general consensus was that suffocation with nitrogen would probably be the least painful method. But if the goal is simply reliability and efficiency, then the guillotine is a pretty good option.
Not asking for myself (or anyone else), but why nitrogen? And not, say, helium?
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Old 09-26-2018, 04:52 PM
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Not asking for myself (or anyone else), but why nitrogen? And not, say, helium?
Helium is expensive and rare. And, I believe, has intoxicating effects in addition to the high pitched voice. Those things would be disturbing to observers even if the victim didn't mind.

Nitrogen is just regular air minus the oxygen. No buildup of CO2 in the lungs, so no panic, asphyxiation or drowning feeling. Smells and breathes just like air, only you go to sleep and never wake up. The victim never knows, doesn't scream and makes no mess. Also, it's both abundant and cheap.
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Old 09-26-2018, 05:58 PM
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Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers" goes into more detail than you may wish about the waning moments of guillotine subjects.
Go on……..
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:13 PM
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Note that Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin did not invent the execution machine that bears his name.
A similar device known as the Halifax Gibbet had been in use in that Yorkshire town since 1286 and continued until 1650. It was noticed by a Scotsman, James Douglas Earl of Morton, who had one built in Edinburgh in 1556, which became known as the Maiden and remained in use until 1710.
There is a credible recording of an execution by a similar machine in Milan in 1702, and there are paintings of a guillotine like machine used in Nuremberg in the mid 1500's.

http://www.capitalpunishmentuk.org/guillotine.html

The Nazis found it very efficient. "Between 1943 and 1945, the People's Courts sentenced around 7,000 people to death. In the first few months of 1945, some 800 people were executed, over 400 of them German citizens. Nazi executioners could guillotine a prisoner every three minutes if required, which it often was. It has been claimed that it took just 90 minutes to guillotine 75 prisoners at Breslau Prison. The Nazis created a number of Execution Centers to which persons were brought who had been sentenced in the areas surrounding the Centers. "
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:18 PM
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Helium is expensive and rare. And, I believe, has intoxicating effects in addition to the high pitched voice. Those things would be disturbing to observers even if the victim didn't mind.

Nitrogen is just regular air minus the oxygen. No buildup of CO2 in the lungs, so no panic, asphyxiation or drowning feeling. Smells and breathes just like air, only you go to sleep and never wake up. The victim never knows, doesn't scream and makes no mess. Also, it's both abundant and cheap.
Nitrogen Narcosis is a thing. Also, death is messy anyway: I think you get convulsions with oxygen depletion, and incontinence at death.

The convulsions may be the reason C02 is included in the mix for humane killing of animals. I don't know what the reason is, but (1) we've had some statements from people involved with research animals here, and (2) there was a problem for those European slaughterhouses using this method earlier this year when there was a supply shortage.
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:21 PM
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Note that Dr. Joseph Ignace Guillotin did not invent the execution machine that bears his name.
A similar device known as the Halifax Gibbet had been in use in that Yorkshire town since 1286 and continued until 1650. It was noticed by a Scotsman, James Douglas Earl of Morton, who had one built in Edinburgh in 1556, which became known as the Maiden and remained in use until 1710.
There is a credible recording of an execution by a similar machine in Milan in 1702, and there are paintings of a guillotine like machine used in Nuremberg in the mid 1500's.
AIR, Guillotin's contribution was the angled blade. The one's he'd seen in use had a horizontal blade, and were more likely to jam or fail to complete..
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Old 09-26-2018, 06:51 PM
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Not asking for myself (or anyone else), but why nitrogen? And not, say, helium?
Imagine what the screams would sound like. Not at all a dignified way to go.
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Old 09-26-2018, 07:15 PM
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Imagine what the screams would sound like. Not at all a dignified way to go.
*golf clap*
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Old 09-26-2018, 09:28 PM
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Imagine what the screams would sound like. Not at all a dignified way to go.
I'm hearing that scene from The Fly in the spider web: "Help me! Heellp mee!"
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Old 09-26-2018, 10:30 PM
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Mary Roach's book "Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers" goes into more detail than you may wish about the waning moments of guillotine subjects.
All of Mary Roach's books go into way more detail than most people would wish about all kinds of things we would rather not think about. (why, yes, I have read them)
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:47 AM
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Nitrogen Narcosis is a thing. Also, death is messy anyway: I think you get convulsions with oxygen depletion, and incontinence at death.
You have to breathe air at 2-4 atm pressure to notice any signs of nitrogen narcosis. So no way to suffer from it at 1 atm of pressure. And it's not unpleasant anyway - I've had some mild symptoms on a 100 ft dive, and I felt fine - I only knew because I did some mental exercises during the the dive to test it.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:48 AM
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Nitrogen Narcosis is a thing. Also, death is messy anyway: I think you get convulsions with oxygen depletion, and incontinence at death.
According to this chart, nitrogen narcosis doesn't start to be an issue until you're breathing atmosphere at 2 bars absolute pressure. That means breathing nitrogen at 1.8 bars partial pressure. If you're breathing pure N2 at 1 bar, you won't get narc'd.

Moreover, nitrogen narcosis takes some time to set in. If you're inhaling pure N2, hypoxic unconsciousness will occur within a few seconds.

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Helium is expensive and rare. And, I believe, has intoxicating effects in addition to the high pitched voice.
According to this chart, helium has a very low narcotic potency compared to nitrogen. And, as mentioned above, hypoxic unconsciousness arrives pretty quickly. If helium is cheap enough for party balloons, then it's cheap enough for executions - although I expect nitrogen is even cheaper.

ninja'd by muldoonthief...
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:09 AM
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No.
Can you elaborate on this? I know that an axe-wielding headsman could take multiple blows to sever a head -- the human body is tougher than you expect, and there's a lot to cut there. The guillotine was invented* precisely to avoid the problem of multiple blows. Considering that the blade is positioned to fall in a good spot, that it's a sharp, angled blade with a considerable weight behind it, it's hard to believe that a properly-functioning guillotine would fail to do its one and only job. One of the "selling points" of the device was its humane (compared to an incompetent axeman) execution.

Do you know of any cases where the guillotine failed to do its job?






*Dr. Guillotin wasn't the inventor of the execution device, as the Wikipedia makes clear, although he did construct a prototype that was variant on existing devices. And he was, of course, a staunch advocate. But he didn't like that his name got stuck on the machine.
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Old 09-27-2018, 09:36 AM
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Can you elaborate on this?
The guillotine worked very well as long as it was properly built, properly maintained, had a heavy enough blade, and the person being executed was not exceptionally fat. There were a few cases where not all of these were true.

When Louis XVI was executed, the first blow did not completely sever his head. To be fair, the first blow might have killed him. All I know is that the head did not come off, and the blade had to be raised a second time to completely remove the head from the body. It should also be noted that witness accounts of the event vary.

I also know of one case where the guillotine was sabotaged. After a couple of failed attempts, the crowd grew unruly, and the executioners grabbed a gun and shot the condemned man in the back of the head.
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Old 09-27-2018, 10:44 AM
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What is the last thing that the severed head sees for 30 seconds before it expires? The bloody matted hair on the head of the guy who was killed before you? Sounds terrible.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:27 AM
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Not asking for myself (or anyone else), but why nitrogen? And not, say, helium?
Plus if you execute someone with helium when they scream 'Ill see you in hell' right before passing out it'll take some of the seriousness out of the execution.

Personally I'd rather be shot in the back of the head. That is quick and painless if done properly.

But getting loaded on xanax, opiates, MDMA and LSD, then doing nitrogen asphyxiation doesn't sound bad.
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Old 09-27-2018, 11:33 AM
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What is the last thing that the severed head sees for 30 seconds before it expires? The bloody matted hair on the head of the guy who was killed before you? Sounds terrible.
I thought they held the head up to show it to the crowd. So maybe you had 5-10 seconds to admire the view.

Punchline to the crucifixion joke - "Hey, Peter, I can see your house from up here!"

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Old 09-27-2018, 11:55 AM
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What is the last thing that the severed head sees for 30 seconds before it expires? The bloody matted hair on the head of the guy who was killed before you? Sounds terrible.
I'm pretty sure they take a few seconds to take the last guy's head out the basket. They've got to take the rest of him off the table to make room for you anyway.

Personally I'd opt for having a small catapult placed under my chin so when the head comes off I get a last flight.
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Old 09-27-2018, 01:41 PM
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Back when we were still test-detonating nuclear devices, I would have suggested a seat at ground zero as the most painless way possible. Just save up the death row convicts until the next test.
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Old 09-27-2018, 07:59 PM
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Plus if you execute someone with helium when they scream 'Ill see you in hell' right before passing out it'll take some of the seriousness out of the execution.

Personally I'd rather be shot in the back of the head. That is quick and painless if done properly.

But getting loaded on xanax, opiates, MDMA and LSD, then doing nitrogen asphyxiation doesn't sound bad.
The thing about Nitrogen/Helium/Low Oxygen atmosphere is that it's a reversible process. And lots of people have come back to report what the experience was like. Getting shot in the back of the head -- no so many reports that it was painless

"Ventricular fibrillation" is another one that sounds OK. According to www.mayoclinic.org, "Loss of consciousness is the most common sign of ventricular fibrillation.", and I think it could be easily induced with a little care.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:07 PM
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Regarding the guillotine: nobody does that to animals, because it's not regarded as humane. Humane methods are (1) Shot in the head (optionally, with captive bolt). (2) Low-oxygen asphyxiation (3) Cutting the throat while holding the head back, so that (i) the animal bleeds out and dies quickly (as with the guillotine), but (ii) the cut is held open, because apparently it's painful if you do it any other way.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:11 PM
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Nitrogen asphyxiation for me, thank you very much.
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Old 09-27-2018, 08:30 PM
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Go on……..
It's also available as an audiobook, if you need something to fall asleep to.
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Old 09-28-2018, 05:28 PM
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...

Personally I'd opt for having a small catapult placed under my chin so when the head comes off I get a last flight.
Don't tell the airlines. That'll be the new cheap seat in coach.
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Old 09-28-2018, 10:25 PM
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Regarding the guillotine: nobody does that to animals, because it's not regarded as humane. Humane methods are (1) Shot in the head (optionally, with captive bolt). (2) Low-oxygen asphyxiation (3) Cutting the throat while holding the head back, so that (i) the animal bleeds out and dies quickly (as with the guillotine), but (ii) the cut is held open, because apparently it's painful if you do it any other way.
As I understand it a captive bolt shot to the head is considered a stun, not a kill, at least in regard to cattle slaughter. Death comes when bled.
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Old 09-29-2018, 04:49 AM
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The thing about Nitrogen/Helium/Low Oxygen atmosphere is that it's a reversible process. And lots of people have come back to report what the experience was like. Getting shot in the back of the head -- no so many reports that it was painless

"Ventricular fibrillation" is another one that sounds OK. According to www.mayoclinic.org, "Loss of consciousness is the most common sign of ventricular fibrillation.", and I think it could be easily induced with a little care.
I thought that what electric shock did anyway?
What, Old Sparky is reliable in inducing it?
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