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Category Archives: Scientific progress

Check out this demented 1908 ad for some dude’s skull-reading academy. He hasn’t left a whole lot for your collage-happy Euro-surrealist crowd to do. The guy himself was quite a visual feast, as this second broadside reveals:

Chicago Tribune, January 19, 1919. As we all know from Charles Bronson movies, shrinks and their natural allies, liberal judges, are soft on crime and that’s why the whole world has gone to hell in a gay, socialist, heroin-addicted handbasket. It wasn’t always thus, however: Here’s one tough-minded clinician who had the moral courage to advocate the wholesale execution of the violently insane. Okay, he wasn’t exactly advocating it so much as running it up the flagpole to see who saluted. Read more.

Daily Inter Ocean, July 15, 1879. What’s poignant about this story is that this paranormally gifted young woman was born 60 years too early to partake in superhero culture. Imagine how different–indeed, how much more interesting–Canadian history could have been had she been able to fulfill her potential as Galvanic Gal, Electro Babe, or the Conductress. Read More »

Georgia Weekly Telegraph, April 16, 1880. The level of detail here proposes sort of a PSA agenda: Robbing graves isn’t cool, kids, plus it can liquefy your eyes. This item would make for a swell high school instructional film, or an equally fine E.C. horror comic.

By the by, my most recent post on Oom the Omnipotent generated a handsome uptick in traffic to the Hope Chest after someone posted a link to it at the MC Forum, which a message board for folks who write and share handcrafted stories about “erotic mind control”–hypnosis porn, if you will. Hello and welcome, sexy mind control aficionados! Feel free to drop by any time, and please do keep us posted should anybody post any Oom-themed slash fiction. I’m dead serious: I wanna read that.

New York Times, April 26, 1871. This is kind of cool: an editorial devoted to the subject of journalistic coverage of wild man stories nationwide. That’s pretty much the same theme I was working when I gave my talk on stage the other night, except I was focusing on wild women exclusively. But it’s time to acknowledge that wilding was numerically a male-dominated field of endeavor. Read More »

Grand Forks Herald, May 8, 1910. The Edwardian era had its garden variety libertines and seducers, but Oom the Omnipotent was operating on an entirely separate plane. Though it was also a pretty crowded plane, according to this reportage. Read more.

Dallas Morning News, October 14, 1922. I’ve been invited to appear on This American Life again (yay!), this time to talk about the great Gland Larceny Panic that gripped Chicago and squeezed in 1922. While refreshing my acquaintance with the story, it struck me that I could have done a better job organizing and analyzing the available material, plus I never cross-posted any ‘nad theft stuff from the BNFTP annex at the Chicago Reader‘s site. Anyway, I’m going to give it another go. Read More »

Charlotte Observer, June 1, 1891. Read more.

Kansas City Star, December 5, 1905. “Flashlight camera” was the original term for a camera equipped with a flash. The light was generated by the explosion of an exposed quantity of magnesium powder. It was a loud, smoky and dangerous technology. Photographers were known to set themselves on fire, or start fires when shooting indoors. But flash photography itself was widely seen as an intolerable invasion of privacy. Read more.

Chicago Tribune, October 14, 1877. “Inoculation” here = infection. Seems weird to me that tattooing should require explanation as “body marking.” Also seems dubious that vermilion ink was the sole fomitic agent here–presumably Mr. the Bum was using the same dirty implements no matter what the pigment. Ick. The standard therapy for syphilis was mercury at this time. It’s not clear whether it had any effect on the disease, which has periods of dormancy and sometimes resolves itself spontaneously. But mercury itself is not specifically too good for the human organism.

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