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Curtis Sliwa’s Survival Tips

Question: If someone threatens you with a gun, what should you do?

Curtis Sliwa:  Well let’s face it.  If you have physical abilities I say fight because there is a good chance you’re going to get clocked anyway.  There is a good chance that you’re going to get capped for whatever reason.  Oftentimes they don’t just rob you, but they humiliate you.  They degrade you.  It’s almost as if you were on fire in the middle of the street and they won’t even urinate on you to put out the flames.  They just want you to be completely emasculated and then they shoot you anyway after you give up all your valuables.

So I say if you’re capable, if there is any window of opportunity you crash their party.  You make the hunter become the hunted.  Now if average everyday regular schlubs and putzes and schmucks and people who let’s face it, they don’t have control of their mental faculties, never mind their physical faculties: put your hands up in the air and give up everything like you just don’t care and follow the instructions, so it’s really based on your ability and your street smarts ability.

Question:
What are some tactics that people could use if they find themselves in that situation?


Curtis Sliwa:  The first, the most important move to master is run-foo.  That means if you have a slither of an opportunity to get the hell out of there.  Feet don’t fail me now, get your rear in gear, scrape the barnacles off your backside and fly, just keep running, running, running because that is what you really have to do.  Second is distraction.  Distraction is always an ounce of prevention.  Keep talking, yell, shout, pick up an object, throw it in their direction, anything to sort of take their eye off you the prize because you’re the ATM machine and they got your pin numbers right on their knuckle and they want to yoke you and hit you so hard your mother feels the vibration so that you will accede to their will. But I got to tell you even if you just reach in your pocket and toss some change at them these guys would rather go for the change, believe it or not, it’s almost like a Three Stooges episode, than actually grab for you at that moment.  It might give you that moment of opportunity to escape and then naturally the other is you’re like in a mixed martial arts match.  You got to go yoke for yoke.  You got to literally go blow for blow and try to battle your way out of their as if you were rock ‘em sock ‘em robots.  So you really got three options at that point.

Recorded July 8, 2010

Interviewed by Max Miller

If you’re attacked, the best thing to do is "make the hunter become the hunted," says Sliwa.

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A "very massive star" in the Kinman Dwarf galaxy caught the attention of astronomers in the early years of the 2000s: It seemed to be reaching a late-ish chapter in its life story and offered a rare chance to observe the death of a large star in a region low in metallicity. However, by the time scientists had the chance to turn the European Southern Observatory's (ESO) Very Large Telescope (VLT) in Paranal, Chile back around to it in 2019 — it's not a slow-turner, just an in-demand device — it was utterly gone without a trace. But how?

The two leading theories about what happened are that either it's still there, still erupting its way through its death throes, with less luminosity and perhaps obscured by dust, or it just up and collapsed into a black hole without going through a supernova stage. "If true, this would be the first direct detection of such a monster star ending its life in this manner," says Andrew Allan of Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, leader of the observation team whose study is published in Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society.

So, em...

Between astronomers' last look in 2011 and 2019 is a large enough interval of time for something to happen. Not that 2001 (when it was first observed) or 2019 have much meaning, since we're always watching the past out there and the Kinman Dwarf Galaxy is 75 million light years away. We often think of cosmic events as slow-moving phenomena because so often their follow-on effects are massive and unfold to us over time. But things happen just as fast big as small. The number of things that happened in the first 10 millionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang, for example, is insane.

In any event, the Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is far way, too far for astronomers to directly observe its stars. Their presence can be inferred from spectroscopic signatures — specifically, PHL 293B between 2001 and 2011 consistently featured strong signatures of hydrogen that indicated the presence of a massive "luminous blue variable" (LBV) star about 2.5 times more brilliant than our Sun. Astronomers suspect that some very large stars may spend their final years as LBVs.

Though LBVs are known to experience radical shifts in spectra and brightness, they reliably leave specific traces that help confirm their ongoing presence. In 2019 the hydrogen signatures, and such traces, were gone. Allan says, "It would be highly unusual for such a massive star to disappear without producing a bright supernova explosion."

The Kinsman Dwarf Galaxy, or PHL 293B, is one of the most metal-poor galaxies known. Explosive, massive, Wolf-Rayet stars are seldom seen in such environments — NASA refers to such stars as those that "live fast, die hard." Red supergiants are also rare to low Z environments. The now-missing star was looked to as a rare opportunity to observe a massive star's late stages in such an environment.

Celestial sleuthing

In August 2019, the team pointed the four eight-meter telescopes of ESO's ESPRESSO array simultaneously toward the LBV's former location: nothing. They also gave the VLT's X-shooter instrument a shot a few months later: also nothing.

Still pursuing the missing star, the scientists acquired access to older data for comparison to what they already felt they knew. "The ESO Science Archive Facility enabled us to find and use data of the same object obtained in 2002 and 2009," says Andrea Mehner, an ESO staff member who worked on the study. "The comparison of the 2002 high-resolution UVES spectra with our observations obtained in 2019 with ESO's newest high-resolution spectrograph ESPRESSO was especially revealing, from both an astronomical and an instrumentation point of view."

Examination of this data suggested that the LBV may have indeed been winding up to a grand final sometime after 2011.

Team member Jose Groh, also of Trinity College, says "We may have detected one of the most massive stars of the local Universe going gently into the night. Our discovery would not have been made without using the powerful ESO 8-meter telescopes, their unique instrumentation, and the prompt access to those capabilities following the recent agreement of Ireland to join ESO."

Combining the 2019 data with contemporaneous Hubble Space Telescope (HST) imagery leaves the authors of the reports with the sense that "the LBV was in an eruptive state at least between 2001 and 2011, which then ended, and may have been followed by a collapse into a massive BH without the production of an SN. This scenario is consistent with the available HST and ground-based photometry."

Or...

A star collapsing into a black hole without a supernova would be a rare event, and that argues against the idea. The paper also notes that we may simply have missed the star's supernova during the eight-year observation gap.

LBVs are known to be highly unstable, so the star dropping to a state of less luminosity or producing a dust cover would be much more in the realm of expected behavior.

Says the paper: "A combination of a slightly reduced luminosity and a thick dusty shell could result in the star being obscured. While the lack of variability between the 2009 and 2019 near-infrared continuum from our X-shooter spectra eliminates the possibility of formation of hot dust (⪆1500 K), mid-infrared observations are necessary to rule out a slowly expanding cooler dust shell."

The authors of the report are pretty confident the star experienced a dramatic eruption after 2011. Beyond that, though:

"Based on our observations and models, we suggest that PHL 293B hosted an LBV with an eruption that ended sometime after 2011. This could have been followed by
(1) a surviving star or
(2) a collapse of the LBV to a BH [black hole] without the production of a bright SN, but possibly with a weak transient."

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