Browsing Tag: didn’t know

    Could You Really Legally Kill Someone with a “Wanted Dead or Alive” Bounty on Their Head?
    Articles, Blog

    Could You Really Legally Kill Someone with a “Wanted Dead or Alive” Bounty on Their Head?

    November 18, 2019


    A classic Hollywood trope is the idea of a
    poster with the photo of a given criminal along with very large print text that would
    say something like “Wanted- Dead or Alive”. But did these actually ever exist and could
    you actually kill someone legally when such a poster was issued by the authorities? To answer the first question- yes, there are
    many known instances of such “Dead or Alive” posters being put up by the state and other
    entities, but that doesn’t actually tell the whole story. Just because a poster stated something like
    “Dead or Alive” it did not grant any individual the right to kill the person without legal
    consequences. For example, consider the infamous murder
    of Jesse James at the hands of his outlaw buddies Charley and Robert Ford. Missouri governor Thomas Crittenden negotiated
    with various rail companies to offer a $5,000 ($131,000 today) reward each for the capture
    of Jesse James or his brother Frank. The subsequent posters noted “Wanted Dead
    or Alive Jesse or Frank James”. Ultimately the Ford brothers arranged with
    the governor in secret to bring their buddy Jesse in. Deal struck, on the morning of April 3, 1882,
    the brothers had breakfast with James. After eating, the trio walked into the living
    room. When James turned his back on the brothers,
    reportedly to clean a dusty photo, Robert Ford shot him in the back of the head. Unfortunately for Charley and Robert, when
    they went to collect the reward, they instead found themselves promptly arrested for murder
    and soon after were sentenced to hang. You see, James was unarmed at the time of
    his death, and just as importantly was not in any way resisting arrest or attempting
    to flee. He seemingly didn’t even know the Ford brothers
    were there to arrest him that day. To get away with killing such a person you
    were attempting to collect a bounty on the person needed to be resisting in some way,
    particularly in a way that threatened your own life. Thus, you could only kill them if it was self
    defense, which wouldn’t have been any different than if someone attacked you outside of any
    bounty scenario, with one caveat. For quite some time in U.S. history it was
    legal to use deadly force against a fleeing felon, even if your own life wasn’t immediately
    threatened. The logic behind this was seemingly that chasing
    down a fleeing person could be dangerous in unforeseen ways. It also incentivized criminals to not try
    to flee in the first place upon discovery. Granted, if no one was around to witness,
    whose to say the dangerous criminal you killed didn’t actively threaten your life in an
    imminent way to cause you to defend yourself? And given that bringing such a criminal in
    across long distances used to be an extremely dangerous affair in many cases, anecdotally
    it seems like it wasn’t uncommon to simply rid the world of the alleged criminal first
    and then lie about what happened after. A body is so much safer to transport and people
    were quick to believe a dangerous criminal would fight tooth and nail to escape because,
    after all, in many cases they probably did if they knew being brought in was going to
    likely result in a hanging. They really had nothing to lose. On that note, Teddy Roosevelt was once thanked
    by boat thief Michael Finnigan for not killing him in this sort of scenario, despite the
    extreme risk to Roosevelt at the time. In a nutshell a couple guys stole a boat from
    Roosevelt in the dead of winter. Rather than let it go, Roosevelt dropped everything
    and built a new boat, tracked them down and captured the thieves. The whole affair ended up being a few hundred
    mile trek, which had to be partially on foot because ice made the river unnavigable at
    a certain point. Near the end, Roosevelt had to stay awake
    40 hours straight to guard the prisoners as they walked and rested. You see, he was escorting them alone at that
    point and it was so bitterly cold that he worried the criminals would get frost bite
    if he bound them in any way, so he didn’t. In the end, Roosevelt didn’t even press
    charges against one of the men, noting he didn’t “have enough sense to do anything
    good or bad.” As for the aforementioned Finnigan, while
    he did find himself behind bars, he thanked Roosevelt for not killing him as most lawmen
    would have done in the same set of circumstances. You can learn much more about this fascinating
    saga on one of our favorite series of our BrainFood Show podcast titled The Bull Moose. Though perhaps a better title for that series
    would have been: In Which Teddy Roosevelt Makes Men Everywhere Feel a Little Less Manly. In any event, going back to the Ford brothers,
    they did end up getting off as the governor went ahead and pardoned them, something that
    was met with mixed reaction by the general public. The speed at which the trial and pardon happened
    had some accusing the governor of actually knowing before hand that James would be killed
    and that the pardon had likewise all been pre-planned. Although this seems to strain credibility
    because if Robert Ford had known it would be illegal to kill James in the way he did,
    he could have killed him in the exact same way and just made up a story that James had
    tried to attack him or flee. No one would have been the wiser in that case
    and there would have been no need to trust the governor to grant a pardon. Whatever the case, going back to the Wanted
    Dead or Alive posters, there are a few more caveats to consider as well. First, while depictions in movies and games
    often show clear photographs, in reality many historical examples were simple sketches,
    and often even got the descriptions of the person wrong. Further, in the vast majority of cases, it
    was lawmen themselves who would take it upon themselves to go hunt down the criminal and
    collect the reward, not someone in the general public. Naturally, while finding criminals was sort
    of their job anyway, criminals that had bounties on their heads tended to get much higher priority
    and a lot more effort. A caveat to that was that it was occasionally
    the case that a member of the general public would be deputized specifically to go capture
    someone. This brings us around to who pays. In most cases, as you might have guessed from
    our former mentioned instance of Missouri Governor Thomas Crittenden getting railroad
    companies to put up the reward money, this usually wasn’t actually the state itself,
    but rather private companies or individuals who had particular interest in seeing someone
    brought to justice and wanted to incentivize law enforcement to actually do something about
    it. It was also these private entities that were
    more likely to have something like “Dead or Alive” put in the poster if they were
    involved. The legality of killing the person wasn’t
    really relevant here- only what the stipulations were for getting the reward. And if the company or person just wanted the
    alleged criminal out of the way, regardless of how it happened, they might state that
    they were happy to pay even if the person was killed. This would incentivize more people to try
    to capture the person as the risk would be less than if it was required that the person
    be brought in alive no matter what. If the wanted poster and reward were coming
    from the state alone, it was far more likely that the poster would say something more benign,
    and more likely that a bounty would only be paid if the person was brought in alive and
    in some cases even requiring the person be convicted. Again, all of this had more to do with the
    stipulations surrounding how one could get paid, rather than the legality of anything
    suggested in the poster. It should also be noted that if a private
    citizen aided a lawmen in tracking down or bringing in alleged criminals, from accounts
    we reviewed it would seem not uncommon at all for the lawmen to go ahead and make sure
    they themselves got the lion’s share of the reward, in a few instances even when the
    lawmen did little but recover the body after the private citizen had done their part. For example, in the aforementioned case of
    the Ford brothers who killed Jesse James, for all their trouble, they ended up only
    getting a small percentage of the bounty, with the rest going to Marshal Henry H. Craig
    and Sheriff James Timberlake. But to sum up- yes Wanted Dead or Alive posters
    were indeed a thing, though this did not technically allow people to legally kill someone if they
    found them, as is often portrayed in movies. Doing so flagrantly might just see the killer
    wind up on their own Wanted poster. England’s history, bail was not in the form
    of money, but rather in the form of a person who would stand trial and potentially be sentenced
    in your place if you skipped town. As you might imagine from this, bounties on
    those who’d skipped town were most definitely a thing going back at least as far as the
    13th century in England as those who had pledged themselves as bail, but had the person skip
    town, were highly incentivized to get the person back. Using money, rather than a person, as bail
    finally changed in the 17th century thanks to the Habeas Corpus Act. While you’ll often read that these 13th
    century instances were the first known instances of bounty hunters, this isn’t correct at
    all. It seems more likely that this has been going
    on since as long as civilized humans have been humaning. As for one example drastically predating 13th
    century England, at some unknown point in the history of Pompeii (definitely preceding
    79AD for obvious reasons), someone wrote on a wall: “A copper pot went missing from
    my shop. Anyone who returns it to me will be given
    65 bronze coins. 20 more will be given for information leading
    to the capture of the thief.” Moving over to China in the 3rd century BC,
    Emperor Qin Shi Huang is known to have used bounties for various purposes. If you’re wondering if Wanted Dead or Alive
    posters are still a thing, not really. While Wanted posters are still around, and
    the FBI, for example, currently uses over 5,000 digital billboards at various times
    for this purpose, the Dead or Alive variety went the way of the Dodo around the early
    20th century. That said, we did find one instance occurring
    in 2018. In this case, in California an unnamed homeowner
    who was robbed put up Wanted Dead or Alive posters with the image of the person who had
    robbed him. As you might imagine, local law enforcement
    did not take kindly to this, though the person in question refused to stop posting the Dead
    or Alive bounty, citing freedom of speech. The police did not do anything about it, and
    they eventually captured the theif. However, they did note that had something
    happened to the thief as a result of the posters, there very likely would have been legal ramifications
    for the homeowner.

    Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore?
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    Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore?

    November 6, 2019


    Why Don’t Trains Have Cabooses Anymore? For well over a century, cabooses, the cute
    quintessentially red cars at the rear of trains in years past, served an integral function
    in train operations. Carrying a brakeman and a flagman back when
    brakes were set by hand, when it was time to slow the train, the engineer would blow
    the whistle. This signaled to the brakemen, and one would
    emerge from the caboose and work his way toward the engine, while another would leave the
    engine and work his way back toward the caboose. At each car, the brakemen would stop and turn
    its brakewheel with a club. Once the train stopped, the flagman would
    leave the caboose with a flag, lantern or other visual display and walk back down the
    track to warn any approaching trains. The caboose was also an office for the conductor,
    who was responsible for managing the paperwork that accompanied each freight car. Often assigned to a particular man, the interiors
    of cabooses would be equipped as temporary living quarters, and even decorated with personal
    items like photos and curtains. Considered a home away from home, crews would
    sometimes sleep in the cabooses, and many conductors even prepared meals in them. Legend has it, the cupola on top of the caboose
    was invented by a conductor who used to stack boxes up, sit on them, and look through a
    hole in the roof of his car. Regardless of its true origins, after about
    1863, the cupola became a fixture on cabooses, and was used by all of the men to observe
    the train and look for signs of trouble (like overheated hotboxes). Also called a doghouse, bone breaker, hack,
    hearse, monkey cage, crumm, and snake wagon, the caboose, like the brakemen and flagmen
    who used them, became unnecessary as technology was developed that performed their jobs just
    as well, and for less money. Air brakes were developed in the 1880s, thus
    eliminating the need to turn a wheel. Electric-powered signals, triggered by track
    circuits, made signaling other trains automatic, and improvements in bearings made the problem
    of overheating a thing of the past. In addition, trains grew longer and the cars
    became so tall that viewing much of the train from a caboose became impossible. On top of that, computers eventually took
    over the paper-handling duties, so there was no need to store any such paperwork on board. Rather than a cheerful red car, today’s
    trains have small boxes that fit over their rear couplers to monitor operations. Tied into the train’s air brake line, these
    End of Train devices (EOTs) transmit brake pressure information to the engineer, who
    can also adjust the air brakes with the device. This is helpful for emergencies, since even
    if the train breaks in two, the brakes of the rear part
    can be activated.

    Top 10 Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Train (This Doesn’t Mean They are Stupid.)
    Articles, Blog

    Top 10 Most Difficult Dog Breeds to Train (This Doesn’t Mean They are Stupid.)

    October 10, 2019


    Top 10 Least Intelligent Dogs 10. Basset Hound At the top of the list is the Basset Hound.
    You can find this breed sporting droopy eyes and long ears that drag on the floor when
    it walks. These dogs have a very keen sense of smell and can pick up odors most dogs can’t.
    Though this breed of dog lacks intelligence, they are very gentle dogs and are devoted
    to their owners. Basset Hounds aren’t the brightest dog in the bunch, but they have
    great tempers and are great around people. Even though you might be stuck repeating “sit,
    speak” or other commands to a Basset Hound, this breed of dog is perfect for an owner
    who is looking for a dog that is well behaved. 9. Beagle Another breed of dog that has been proven
    very challenging to train is the Beagle. Though these dogs are very cute and cuddly, they
    can easily drive you up the wall, especially when you are trying to train them to do certain
    things. Beagles can’t be necessarily considered stupid dogs, but they are very independent,
    which makes training much harder than it is with many other breeds of dog. This breed
    is always sure to provide its owner love and attention, especially after the long day of
    learning how to heel. Beagles are generally small to medium sized dogs and are great with
    children and other breeds of dogs, just not cats. 8. Mastiff Does bigger breed always mean bigger brain?
    Not in this case. The Mastiff is one of the biggest dog breeds available, but they have
    proven to be extremely stubborn. The Mastiff can weigh up to 130lbs. It’s like you have
    another person living in your home with you! Though they have always been great guard dogs,
    training a Mastiff to do certain things is most definitely a task at hand. If you plan
    to train a Mastiff, you want to have previous dog training experience. You also want to
    be sure that you speak in a kind, soft voice since these big-bodied dogs are a little on
    the sensitive side. When training a Mastiff, it is important that the sessions are short
    and sweet. 7. Pekingese What a name, huh? The Pekingese has proven
    to be a very difficult dog to train. You might be able to blame it on the fact that these
    breed of dog has so much hair everywhere. Maybe it’s so hard to train because it can’t
    see or hear properly because of all of the fur! Though this would be a great excuse for
    the Pekingese, this breed of dog is simply very independent and dominating. Training
    a Pekingese can be like training a very stubborn child. In order to successfully train this
    breed of dog, you have to be firm and you have to be consistent. This is the perfect
    example of a small dog with a big heart. Though ranging from a small to medium sized dog,
    the Pekingese has always been a great breed to have as a watch dog. They are extremely
    loyal to their owners, but stubborn at the same time. And with such tiny legs they need
    a ramp just to get into your vehicle. 6. Bloodhound This may come as a surprise. The Bloodhound
    is #6 on the list. If you’ve heard anything about this breed of dog, you have probably
    heard about how great of a nose it has. Though not the most intelligent dog, I think it’s
    safe to say that the keen sense of smell this breed of dog has is enough to reconsider its
    “low” intelligence. The Bloodhound can track any scent that is needs to. Amazingly, these
    dogs are able to trace and follow a scent trail that is hundreds of hours old. Could
    your dog’s nose do that? Probably not! When it comes to training the Bloodhound, you need
    to be firm and be extremely patient. They are independent and determined dogs, so they
    kind of follow their nose more than they follow your training commands. 5. Borzoi (Russian Wolfhound) If you have ever had a pet cat, you can relate
    to owning a Borzoi. This breed of dog is extremely cat-like, especially when it comes to the
    independent and free-thinking nature of the dog. Though not an extremely popular dog,
    many people enjoy this breed because of the affection they bring. The Borzoi can be seen
    as one of those “stuck-up” dogs. As silly as it sounds, these dogs are generally more
    concerned about themselves than they are their masters. You can probably find a Borzoi cleaning
    itself. If you are willing to spend hours upon hours training this type of dog, good
    luck! Again, this dog, despite its hardships when it comes to learning training commands,
    is a very loyal dog that is extremely affectionate. 4. Chow Chow No we’re not talking about food. This is another
    breed of dog that has a personality that is very similar to a cat. The Chow Chow demands
    attention, especially when there is a new visitor at the home. They are a very jealous
    breed of dog and like to be at the center of everything. Any owner who has a Chow Chow
    must be firm and strong-willed. This breed of dog is very dominant and can easily take
    charge of its owner if the owner isn’t firm enough. Again, this dog isn’t stupid, it has
    proven to be very hard to train because of the nature and personality of the dog. Remember,
    stubborn doesn’t mean stupid. In any case, the Chow Chow is a great dog to have around
    the house to snuggle with. 3. Bulldogs Despite the name, Bulldogs are one of the
    most gentle and affectionate breed of dog that you will ever come into contact with.
    The Bulldog is a very courageous dog that sometimes seems to have a mind of its own.
    Don’t let the name fool you. Yes a Bulldog can guard, control, and bait a bull, but it
    takes time and patience in order to train a Bulldog to do so. These dogs are very dependable,
    but it’s getting past the training part that becomes a hassle. Bulldogs are extremely great
    dogs when it comes to guarding the home. If you’ve ever seen a Bulldog, you’ve probably
    noticed that its face isn’t the prettiest one around. Who would want to mess with a
    dog with such a mean face? Bulldogs are very affectionate and time consuming, especially
    with training. 2. Basenji Another not-so-popular dog, but let’s bring
    it to the spotlight. The Basenji is known for its bark. It is so unique in the fact
    that it sometimes can sound like a human being either laughing or crying. If you’ve ever
    been around a Basenji, you’ve probably looked around for a baby or a chuckling human. This
    breed of dog is just another breed that has cat-like characteristics. These dogs can spend
    hours grooming themselves, much like cats. After grooming, you can probably find a Basenji
    looking out the window, watching everything outside. These dogs have proven to be very
    temperamental as well as independent. This is what makes the Basenji a hard breed of
    dog to train. 1. Afghan Hound The Afghan Hound is one of the oldest breeds
    of dogs known today. They were around during ancient times and their personalities haven’t
    changed much. They are affectionate and love being around their owners. They are also extremely
    sensitive and don’t have a high dominance level. Though these dogs aren’t looking to
    rule above you, they have an extremely low obedience level. You may need to call for
    your Afghan Hound a few times before it comes back inside of the house. Many say that the
    personality of the breed makes up for its lack of intelligence. The Afghan Hound has
    also been said to be cat-like and prefers to be on its own instead of listening to an
    owner.

    The Remarkable Tale of Phineas Gage
    Articles, Blog

    The Remarkable Tale of Phineas Gage

    August 24, 2019


    On September 13, 1848, Gage was helping excavate
    rocks to make way for a railroad track on the Rutland and Burlington Railroad near Cavendish
    in Vermont. Just prior to the accident, Gage was preparing
    for an explosion by compacting a bore with explosive powder using a tamping iron. A spark created from the tamping iron ignited
    the powder, driving the iron straight through Gage’s skull. It entered under the left cheek bone and exited
    completely through the top of the head, and was later recovered some 30 yards away, smeared
    with blood and brain matter. To have an idea of extent of damage this iron
    would have caused, you need to realize its size. The tamping iron was 3 ft 8 in. (1.11 m) in length and 1.25 inches (3.18 cm)
    in diameter at one end and tapered over a distance of about 1 ft., to 0.25 inches (0.6
    cm) in diameter, weighing approximately 13 pounds (6 kg). After the rod passed through his head, it
    is not known whether or not Gage ever lost consciousness, but within minutes of his injury,
    at the astonishment of the men on his crew, he was walking and talking and he sat upright
    in an oxcart for the 3/4 mile ride to his house where he was attended to by Dr. Edward
    H. Williams, who describes the situation when he first saw Gage: When I drove up he said, ‘Doctor, here is
    business enough for you.’ I first noticed the wound upon the head before
    I alighted from my carriage, the pulsations of the brain being very distinct. The top of the head appeared somewhat like
    an inverted funnel … as if some wedge-shaped body had passed from below upward. Mr. Gage, during the time I was examining
    this wound, was relating the manner in which he was injured to the bystanders. I did not believe Mr. Gage’s statement at
    that time, but thought he was deceived. Mr. Gage persisted in saying that the bar
    went through his head …. Mr. G. got up and vomited; the effort of vomiting pressed out
    about half a teacupful of the brain, which fell upon the floor. By evening, Dr. John Martyn Harlow had taken
    over the case and it was his notes of observations about Phineas’ injury, subsequent recovery
    and personality changes that provided evidence that the frontal cortex is involved in one’s
    personality. The initial treatment of Phineas’ physical
    injuries included cleaning the wound by removing small fragments of bone and replacing some
    of the larger fragments that were still attached but displaced. The large wound at the top of his head was
    closed with adhesive straps and covered with a wet compress, to allow the wound to drain
    into the dressings. Within days, his exposed brain became infected
    and he fell into a semi-comatose state. To his family’s relief and surprise, he
    recovered. Not long after that, Dr. Harlow had to release
    8 fluid ounces of pus from an abscess under George’s scalp. Despite all this, only three and a half months
    after the accident, Phineas Gage was leading a seemingly normal life, contrary to many
    outlandish accounts that soon popped up, most of which have been dismissed as myth, due
    to complete lack of evidence. However, those closest to him did notice slight
    changes in his personality and behavior. In 1868, in a report published in the Bulletin
    of the Massachusetts Medical Society , Dr. Harlow wrote, His contractors, who regarded him as the most
    efficient and capable foreman in their employ previous to his injury, considered the change
    in his mind so marked that they could not give him his place again. He is fitful, irreverent, indulging at times
    in the grossest profanity (which was not previously his custom), manifesting but little deference
    for his fellows, impatient of restraint of advice when it conflicts with his desires,
    at times pertinaciously obstinent, yet capricious and vacillating, devising many plans of future
    operation, which are no sooner arranged than they are abandoned in turn for others appearing
    more feasible. In this regard, his mind was radically changed,
    so decidedly that his friends and acquaintances said he was ‘no longer Gage’. Not the same man he used to be and denied
    employment by the railroad company who used to see him as an efficient and capable foreman,
    he worked for a short time at a livery stable in New Hampshire, among other odd jobs. He then spent seven years as a stagecoach
    driver in Chile until his health began to deteriorate. Evidence uncovered very recently, in 2008,
    seems to indicate that before his demise while working in Chile, Gage had recovered most,
    if not all, of his former social skills and was otherwise a pretty normal guy at this
    point. Once his health declined, he moved to San
    Francisco with his mother where, after suffering a series of epileptic seizures he died on
    May 20, 1860 at the age of 36 – almost 12 years after his accident. It wasn’t until 1866 that Dr. Harlow, who
    had thought he would never hear from Phineas again, learned of his death. At his request to the family, Phineas’ skull
    was removed from his grave and sent, along with the tamping iron that had pierced Phineas’
    skull, to Dr. Harlow in Massachusetts. Today, both can be seen at the Harvard University
    School of Medicine in the Warren Anatomical Museum.

    Has Anyone Ever Actually Tied a Damsel in Distress to a Railroad Track?
    Articles, Blog

    Has Anyone Ever Actually Tied a Damsel in Distress to a Railroad Track?

    August 12, 2019


    A manly hero coming to the rescue of a beautiful
    damsel in distress has been a common trope since literally the earliest days of theater,
    going all the way back to the Ancient Greeks. As the centuries passed, mythical creatures
    were replaced by more mundane dangers- notable to the topic at hand is the common trope of
    top hat clad, magnificently mustachioed villains tying buxom damsels to railway tracks while
    a dashing hero rushes in to save the day. So where exactly did this railway trope actually
    come from and are there any known cases of someone actually doing this in real life? To begin with, while your first instinct might
    be to assume that this trope originated during the era of silent films, this isn’t quite
    correct, though it is true you can find isolated examples of this in a few surviving films. For example, the 1913 film Barney Oldfield’s
    Race for a Life is commonly touted as the first film to feature the “chained to a
    railway” scene, including a mustachioed villain wearing a fetching hat, a beguiling
    beauty tied to the railway tracks and a daring, last-minute rescue by a handsome hero. The thing is, this was a comedy specifically
    created to lampoon the trope. In another similar example, we have the 1917
    film Teddy at the Throttle in which the fair maiden, played by Gloria Swanson, humorously
    rescues herself from peril because the “dashing” hero arrives too late. To find the true origin of the trope, at least
    in terms of what popularized it, we have to go back to stage plays, with it commonly stated
    that Augustin Daly’s 1867 play, Under the Gaslight by American was first. This does indeed contain such a scene, in
    this case where a character named Snorkey is tied to the rails by a man named Byke. As he’s doing this, Byke exclaims, I’m going to put you to bed. You won’t toss much. In less than ten minutes you’ll be sound
    asleep. There, how do you like it ? You’ll get down
    to the Branch before me, will you? You dog me and play the eavesdropper, eh I
    Now do it if you can. When you hear the thunder under your head
    and see the lights dancing in your eyes, and feel the iron wheels a foot from your neck,
    remember Byke! Thankfully for Snorkey, in a sort of reversal
    of the gender roles in the scene, a damsel named Laura manages to come to his rescue
    and free him just before the train arrives. While, as noted, Daly is commonly given credit
    for coming up with the idea, it turns out this isn’t correct at all; it was simply
    his play that popularized it. For example, sticking with theater, if you
    dig a little deeper, a similar scene also appeared in a previous play called The Engineer
    released in 1863 in Britain. Nevertheless the effect the scene in Daly’s
    play had on the audience was so good that rival playwrights quickly began including
    “railroad scenes” in their own melodramas, much to Daly’s chagrin. To try to protect the concept he felt he’d
    come up with, he decided to sue those who used it in their own plays. Despite instances like a short story, Captain
    Tom’s Fright, released before Daly’s play featuring an extremely similar scene being
    used by the defense, the courts weren’t persuaded and the case became a landmark one
    in the history of copyright law in the United States. It was specifically ruled that copying the
    essence of a scene closely in other plays did indeed infringe on intellectual property
    rights, even if no words were copied and it wasn’t literally the exact same scene. Nevertheless, theatre promoters heroically
    ignored this ruling, continuing to rip Daly off anyway, presumably dually under the assumption
    that Daly wouldn’t get around to suing everyone and that if enough modifications were made
    to the scene they’d probably get away with it either way. Similarly back in the UK, the trope also spread
    like wildfire with one Nicholas Daly noting in his paper, Blood on the Tracks: Sensation
    Drama, the Railway, and the Dark Face of Modernity, “In October 1868 the railroad scene could
    be witnessed in five different plays at five different London theaters.” So that’s how the trope was popularized,
    but has anyone ever actually been tied to a railroad track in that way? It turns out, while it’s rare- yes. There are several known instances of this
    happening. For example, according to the August 31, 1874
    issue of the New York Times, a Frenchman identified by the paper as simply “Gardner” was killed
    in this exact manner after being robbed and left tied to a railway track. However, in this specific case the unfortunate
    Frenchman was able to partially free himself, with the result being only the lower half
    of his left leg being severed. Gardner survived long enough to offer a description
    of his attackers to the authorities before succumbing to his injuries. It’s noteworthy that this and several other
    known cases in the following decades came after the ubiquity of the trope in theater,
    despite that trains had been around long since. Thus, much like the idea of mobsters putting
    “concrete shoes” on people to send them to sleep with the fishes, it would seem this
    was first thought up by entertainers only to be copied in various isolated instances
    by real life people. As for a more modern example of the train
    trope, and one which actually includes a damsel, this involves another Frenchman, Guillaume
    Grémy, in 2017. Unfortunately for all involved, not only was
    Guillaume not sporting a magnificent moustache and top hat at the time of his crime, he also
    completely took the fun out of the thing. You see, Guillaume was suffering from severe
    depression at the time. When efforts to get back together with his
    estranged wife, Émilie Hallouin, failed, he decided on her 34th birthday to bind her
    to a high-speed railway track using, to quote a police spokesman, “strong adhesive tape”,
    and then stood over her as the train approached. Sadly, real life being real life, there was
    no dashing hero to save the day here and tragically for the couple, their toddler child and other
    respective children, the pair were killed instantly when the train hit them at a reported
    200 MPH… So, yes, indeed there have been several known
    cases of people being murdered via being placed on railroad tracks, but sadly, as far as we
    can tell, rescue after the villain places the victim on the tracks seems to be something
    only found in fiction. It has long been rumored that as part of its notoriously brutal selection
    process the SAS will tie prospective recruits to a railway track whilst blindfolded to teach
    them how to stay calm under pressure. The SAS trainers will then feign panic and
    pretend that something has gone wrong all while the sound of an oncoming train can be
    heard. In reality, the recruit is tied to an adjacent
    piece of track and trainers will observe what, if anything, the recruit does during their
    predicament. Beyond tying the living to tracks, there are
    also known cases of people putting the dead on tracks to try to get away with murder by
    making it look like an accident. Perhaps the most well-known example of this
    is the 1993 case of two year old James Bulger. We’ll spare you the truly horrific details
    of the murder itself at the hands of two young boys, but suffice it to say that in an attempt
    to make the death look an accident, the two kids placed the already mangled tiny body
    onto a railway track. It was subsequently run over, but this did
    little to hide the preexisting injuries and the police soon enough tracked down the two
    young perpetrators.