Archive | History

FOUND: 300-year-old Pyx

Another interesting discovery this week.

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An example of a pyx. © BrokenSphere / Wikimedia Commons.

 

via Reuters:

A Florida family scavenging for sunken treasure on a shipwreck has found the missing piece of a 300-year-old gold filigree necklace sacred to Spanish priests, officials said on Tuesday.

Eric Schmitt, a professional salvager, was scavenging with his parents when he found the crumpled, square-shaped ornament on a leisure trip to hunt for artifacts in the wreckage of a convoy of 11 ships that sank in 1715 during a hurricane off central Florida’s east coast.

After the discovery last month, a team of Spanish historians realized the piece fit together with another artifact recovered 25 years ago. It formed an accessory called a pyx, worn on a chain around a high priest’s neck to carry the communion host. The dollar value is uncertain.

“It’s priceless, unique, one of a kind,” said Brent Brisben, operations manager for 1715 Fleet – Queens Jewels, which owns rights to the wreckage, located in 15-foot (4.5-meter) deep Atlantic Ocean waters.

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Dr. Beringer and The Hoax of the Lying Stones

So-called Würzburger Lügensteine, fake fossils produced in the 18th century in order to deceive Professor Adam Beringer, by seeming to confirm his theories about fossil-formation. These are displayed at the Teylers Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands.

I can’t help but pity Dr. Beringer.

via The Museum of Hoaxes:

Dr. Johann Bartholomew Adam Beringer (1667-1740) was a Senior Professor and Dean of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Würzburg in Germany. Like many physicians of the time, he cultivated an interest in natural history. In particular, he was intrigued by what was called the study of oryctics, or “things dug from the earth.” Today we would call this the study of fossils, or paleontology.

Beringer kept a collection of interesting fossils he had acquired over the years. Until 1725 his collection was quite ordinary, but then, on May 31, 1725, some remarkable new pieces came into his possession. They were delivered to him by three local boys he had paid to explore nearby Mount Eivelstadt and bring him any interesting objects they might find.

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13 Last Meals Requested by Executed Texas Prisoners

Disinfo was doing the whole “listicle” thing before it became the norm. Here’s an excerpt from our Book of Lists, which was published in 2004:

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Taken verbatim from a now-deleted page on the Texas Department of Criminal Justice website.

13. Delbert Teague Jr.

Executed September 9, 1998. The Texas Department of Criminal Justice notes: “Last minute he decided to eat a hamburger at his Mother’s request.”

12. Juan Soria

Executed July 26, 2000. “Chicken, three pieces of fish, burgers, pizza, fruit (grapes, plums, peaches, apples, tangerines), doughnuts, walnuts, chocolate candy bar, plain potato chips, picante sauce, hot sauce, salad with ranch dressing, Coke, and Sprite.”

11. Miguel Richardson

Executed June 26, 2001. “Chocolate birthday cake with ’2/23/90′ written on top, seven pink candles, one coconut, kiwi fruit juice, pineapple juice, one mango, grapes, lettuce, cottage cheese, peaches, one banana, one delicious apple, chef salad without meat and with thousand island dressing, fruit salad, cheese, and tomato slices.”

10.

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The Downfall of Domino’s Mascot: The Noid

The bizarre and tragic story of Domino’s successful (unsuccessful?) marketing campaign in the 1980′s.

The Noid

The Noid

via Priceonomics:

During this period of rapid growth, Domino’s Pizza set an industry precedent that would prove critical to their success: they guaranteed that if a customer didn’t receive his pizza within 30 minutes of placing the order, it’d be free. Domino’s executives hired an external marketing firm, Group 243, to promote this new promise. The result? The “Noid.”

A troll-like creature, the Noid was outfitted in a skin-tight red onesie with rabbit-like ears and buck-teeth. Will Vinton, whose studio animated the creature, described it as a “physical manifestation of all the challenges inherent in getting a pizza delivered in 30 minutes or less.” Its name, a play on “annoyed,” was an indication of its nature: many considered the Noid to be one of the most obnoxious mascots of all time. Throughout the late 80s, Domino’s ran a series of commercials in which the Noid set about attempting to make life an utter hell for pizza consumers:

Then, right at the height of his popularity, the Noid endured perhaps the worst mascot PR in history.

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Oldest Medical Report of Near-Death Experience Discovered

What an amazing thrift store find.

Cover of the book "Anecdotes de Médecine," by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766) Credit: Archive.org - Book contributor: Fisher - University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

Cover of the book “Anecdotes de Médecine,” by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux (1733-1766)
Credit: Archive.org – Book contributor: Fisher – University of Toronto. Digitizing sponsored by University of Ottawa

via Live Science:

Reports of people having “near-death” experiences go back to antiquity, but the oldest medical description of the phenomenon may come from a French physician around 1740, a researcher has found.

The report was written by Pierre-Jean du Monchaux, a military physician from northern France, who described a case of near-death experience in his book “Anecdotes de Médecine.” Monchaux speculated that too much blood flow to the brain could explain the mystical feelings people report after coming back to consciousness.

The description was recently found by Dr. Phillippe Charlier, a medical doctor and archeologist, who is well known in France for his forensic work on the remains of historical figures. Charlier unexpectedly discovered the medical description in a book he had bought for 1 euro (a little more than $1) in an antique shop.

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Columbus-ing Around: Columbus, The Borg, and the Great White Devil

The BorgA challenging new post over at Modern Mythology asks what we are actually talking about, when we talk about race:

History is portrayed as a science. And yet popular history remains as much subject to emotion as reason. History may be consciously rewritten; much more often, it simply evolves. … The present is a consequence of the past. But the past is an invention of the present. (Empires Apart.)

This concept of whiteness as function rather than people or culture is presented surprisingly clearly in the character of the Borg in Star Trek: The Next Generation. They are a perfect metaphor for whiteness not as race but as force of hegemonic appropriation, as you can see in the first episode they appear in, “Q-Who?”

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The Myth of the Perpetual Motion Machine

A diagram showing Redheffer's machine.

A diagram showing Redheffer’s machine.

History is rife with intriguing stories of conmen and their ploys. The pathetic, but interesting, story of Charles Redheffer is a testament to the fact that smart men will always expose the dumb man (especially when they are as arrogant as Charles Redheffer).

In 1812, Mr. Redheffer arrived in Philadelphia claiming that he had invented a “perpetual motion machine.” He claimed that it required nothing to run. Quickly Redheffer became something of a celebrity in Philadelphia, where he charged the locals to witness his fantastical machine at work.

Redheffer’s downfall in Philadelphia began after he brazenly asked the city to help fund a larger version of the machine. City officials arrived to inspect the machine, but were only allowed to view “through a barred window, as Redheffer was concerned anyone going near the machine might damage it” or, you know, they might discover his fraudulent claims. One of the inspectors’ sons was skeptical of Redheffer’s machine and “noticed that the gears of the perpetual motion machine were worn in the wrong direction if it was really powering the other device.… Read the rest

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“The Thing” – Storyboard to Film Comparison

If you haven’t figured it out through previous posts of mine, I’m fascinated by the ingenuity and brilliance of film directors and the people they work with. I’m biased, but I do think that film is by far the most challenging and rewarding of the arts. It’s one of the only art forms that can easily transcend societal barriers. The only other art I’d consider to have such an effect is music, but what’s unique about cinema is that it’s inclusive of all art forms. You will find that the fine arts, music, photography, and writing all play an integral role in the creation of a quality film.

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Still from the The Thing (1982)

Take for example, The Thing (John Carpenter, 1982). Artist Michael Ploog crafted two of the most visually stunning scenes via beautifully drawn storyboards. In the video below (thanks to Vashi Visuals), you can see the comparison between Ploog’s highly impressive drawings and the brilliant special effects and cinematography of the actual film.… Read the rest

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You (Had) The Right to Resist Unlawful Arrest

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Seal of the United States Supreme Court.

1893 – ‘If in the course of arresting it becomes necessary for the citizen to take the life of the officer, the charge against the citizen shall not exceed manslaughter.’ Plummer v. State, 136 Ind. 306.

1900 – In the historic ruling of John Bad Elk v. U.S., the Supreme Court stated:

“Where the officer is killed in the course of the disorder which naturally accompanies an attempted arrest that is resisted, the law looks with very different eyes upon the transaction, when the officer had the right to make the arrest, from what it does if the officer had no right. What may be murder in the first case might be nothing more than manslaughter in the other, or the facts might show that no offense had been committed.”

Although the precedent of this ruling has since been overturned, it was actually stated by the Supreme Court in the year 1900.  What are the chances these days you would be indicted of manslaughter if you took the life of an unlawful-law-officer?  Maybe you need to have the middle name “Bad.”  And the last name “Elk.”

Read more about “Your Right of Defense Against Unlawful Arrest” here.… Read the rest

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World War I Propaganda 100 Years On

100 years ago this month, hostilities broke out in the most hellish war the world had seen at the time.  Naively, we thought that this was the “War to End All Wars,” as though the memory of atrocity and suffering were the best safeguard against it!  Here is some World War I propaganda various nations used to incite people to participate in throwing away lives for no reason. What will the propaganda inciting people to participate in throwing away lives for no reason look like in our next war?

See more propaganda on a previous post here.

Head over to WW1 Propaganda.com for the entire collection.

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