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-- September 18, 2017 --
Lost In Translation, Literally
In 1855, Portuguese writer Pedro Carolino thought to help many of his countrymen learn the English language by translating an 1853 PortugueseFrench phrase book, O novo guia da conversação em francês e português, written by José da Fonseca. The only problem was that Carolino didn't speak a word of English himself. He thought to fix that by using a French-English dictionary, and got to work translating the phrase book word by word.
The result, O
novo guia da conversação em portuguez e inglez, became one
of the earliest known examples of unintentional humor, as phrases such as "Quem
cala consente" (Silence is consent") became "That not says a
word, consent", and "Anda de gatinhas" ("He's crawling")
were turned into "He go to four feet".
In 1883, a Boston publishing house reprinted the book, under the title English As She Is Spoke, and included an introduction by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens), who wrote, "Nobody can add to the absurdity of this book, nobody can imitate it successfully, nobody can hope to produce its fellow; it is perfect."
The original helped spawn many other works of comedy, including L'Anglais tel qu'on le parle (French Without a Master), by playwright Tristan Bernard (Paul Bernard), and Eugène Ionesco's La Cantatrice Chauve (The Bald Soprano), which both use lines from the book, as well as Ingglish az she iz spelt in 1885, by Fritz Federheld (Frederick Atherton Fernald), and Paul Jennings' 1976 British travel guide Britain as she is visit.
You can read an abridged version of this slice of hilarity here, or - if you're lucky - check eBay for an original.
-- September 07, 2017 --
Can Milk Make Sour Grapes?
better to just ignore a troublemaker. A lot of the time, if you take one on,
you're just making bigger trouble for yourself.
Though mothers had known this for ages, the issue of breast-milk substitutes causing health risks for newborns was publicly brought to light by the International Baby Food Action Network, who encouraged the practice of nutrition through natural methods, and inspired a 1973 article in New Internationalist magazine.
In 1974, a British antipoverty charity, called War On Want, released a small booklet, titled The Baby Killer. The pamphlet attacked the Swiss food company Nestlé, and what WOW claimed was their "aggressive marketing" of breast milk substitutes in third-word countries.
Instead of letting
a handful of malcontents talk shit about them, and having the headache go away
in time, Nestlé decided to sue the group for libel. The case was brought
before Judge Jürg Sollberger, who only sided with Nestlé because
the company couldn't be held responsible for the death of infants "in terms
of criminal law", and fined the fund a mere 300 Swiss Francs (about $400
This caused a bit of a stir with the media, and the story began to gain traction. The boycott was soon picked up by Minneapolis, MN's Infant Formula Action Coalition, which helped spread the word in Canada, then Australia, and the rest of Europe. By 1978, the US Senate held a public hearing looking into the promotion of breast-milk substitutes, and wound up calling for a marketing code. The following year, the World Health Organization and UNICEF pushed for a marketing code in an international meeting, and the 34th World Health Assembly approved Resolution WHA34.22 which includes the International Code of Marketing of Breast-Milk Substitutes in 1981. In 1984, Nestlé finally gave in, and proved that there are times when the bigger guy should just take getting picked on by smaller folk.
If you'd like to read the now-infamous tract, The Baby Killer, click here.
-- August 21, 2017 --
Light Up the Sky
is on an astronomy kick because of the solar eclipse, I'd thought I'd tell you
about another great event that'll happen in our lifetime (supposing you don't
die in the next five years).
In 2022, a "new star" will not only be visible, but possibly be one of the brightest stars in the night sky. Well, for at least six months, anyway.
Back in our 3rd
Century, 1800 years ago, two stars in the Cygnus constellation (a binary system
named KIC9832227) crashed into one another forming a Red Nova. The light from
the two stars joining will reach us soon, and has been dubbed the Boom Star.
First discovered in 2013 by Professor Larry Molnar of Calvin College, who, using data dating back to 1999, noticed the orbital speed of the system decreasing as time went on. Though these types of explosions occur once every ten years in our galaxy, this one is close enough for us to see it with the naked eye. According to the work presented at the 2016 American Astronomy Association meeting in Texas, it should be one of the most visible stars for a minimum of six months.
The UK's Royal Astronomical Society's Dr. Robert Massey said, "Nobody has ever managed to predict the birth of a star before, so this is really unprecedented, and I think there will be a race among amateur astronomers, and members of the public to spot it first."
-- August 11, 2017 --
When Bones Tell A Tale
Abel Folgar, over at New Times, asked me a few questions concerning my recent 10" release for an online feature.
Click here to check it out, and enjoy the read!
-- July 28, 2017 --
Massacre of the Innocent
I'm a huge animal
lover, and this is one of those stories that really got to me.
I understand depression, and that many can't control their actions when they suffer from it, but sometimes those actions boggle even my mind. Take the case of Terry Thompson. Terry was a veteran of the Vietnam War, but - more importantly - one of Ohio's best known exotic animal collectors. In 2008, he appeared on The Rachael Ray Show, and also supplied animals for photo shoots, but, in 2010, Thompson was arrested on federal gun charges, and was sent to prison. Soon, he was in debt, and then his wife had left him. Afterward, he decided to cut this mortal coil.
On October 18th of 2011, Terry decided to commit suicide by shooting himself in the head, but, before doing so, he set free all the animals at his Zanesville, OH private zoo, Muskingum County Animal Farm. He released 56 animals, including eighteen tigers, seventeen lions, eight bears, three cougars, two wolves, and a baboon. A neighbor, Sam Kopchak, noticed his horse freaking out, and then a lion creeping up to it. He ran for a phone, and called Terry to let him know one of his animals was loose. After no answer, he dialed 911, and the police visited Thompson's property, only to find all the cages empty. Springing into action, the cops put out warnings for the locals, and went on the hunt. 49 of those beautiful creatures were shot, and killed. Of those not gunned down by the pigs: one wolf was hit by a car, and six others (three leopards, a grizzly and two monkeys) made their way into Terry's home, where they were tranquilized, and later brought to the Columbus Zoo.
In the days after,
Ohio governor, John Kasich, signed a temporary moratorium on the sale of exotic
animals, and it is now illegal to own one in that state.
As I normally state after posts like these: if you ever find yourself in desperate times, and are in need of someone to talk to, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
-- July 11, 2017 --
The World's Most Dangerous Book
In 1874, S. George & Company released a book by a doctor from Michigan, Robert Clark Kedzie, titled Shadows from the Walls of Death.
to Michigan from his service in the Civil War in 1863, he was offered a chair
in the Michigan Agricultural College's chemistry department. There he he experimented
with beet sugars, and is now remembered as the "Father of the Michigan
Beet Sugar Industry". During his tenure, he found high arsenic levels to
be a major issue in the local soil, and was later (1873) asked to head a Board
of Health committee on "Poisons, Special Sources of Danger to Life and
Health". The following year he released a paper titled, "Poisonous
Papers", and got the idea to release a book on the wallpaper industry's
use of arsenic.
His book, Shadows from the Walls of Death, contained 86 pages, but only six of those - a preface - contained words. What followed Dr. Kedzie's introduction were 22 x 30" (56 x 76 cm) wallpaper samples. The reason for the book, which was released in a very limited quantity, was to showcase the ever-growing use of wallpaper dyed using arsenic pigments, and it contained actual pieces of the poisonous wallpapers.
Currently, there are only two known copies, both of which are housed at Michigan State University's Special Collections Library. Strangely enough, contemporary interest in the book spawned a 178-page reprint (minus the arsenic, of course), in 2014.
-- July 07, 2017 --
I have returned
to the world of long-haul trucking. While I couldn't be happier, I was struggling
for a bit to find the time to update this blog, and that kind of depressed me.
Well, I've settled in, and feel I can now devote some energy back here. You'll start seeing new posts before next month.
On a side note, I am no longer writing for No Echo, but you can still find an archive of over 30 of my articles on the site (click here).
Check back soon for new posts!
-- February 25, 2017 --
Yep. I'm hitting the road again for a bit: traveling up to Green Bay, WI, and Atlanta, GA, for about a month. Though I plan to keep up this blog when I return, I'll have no new projects out for some time (except the upcoming 156 Good-Bye, Bed-Stuy, Ten Times cassette / booklet, due out this summer). I'll also be working on, and wrapping up, my newest issue of Exscind, but that won't be out until almost next winter. Still, I wrote some great music pieces for No Echo, which they will post throughout the next two-three months, so check them out until I return to regular posting here. Cheers!
-- February 17, 2017 --
Well Heil Be Damned
Christian socialist and novelist Francis Julius Bellamy (1855 - 1931) is best known for penning the most recent version of the U.S. "Pledge of Allegiance" in 1892. Immediately after writing the Pledge, he recalled a salute created by James B. Upham, which Bellamy found in the children's magazine The Youth's Companion, and thought it would fit perfectly. He called it the "flag salute", and it was demonstrated for the first time on October 12, 1892 for the National School Celebration of Columbus Day. It originally had an open palm facing up, but many found it uncomfortable, and it was soon switched to holding the palm down.
The salute was picked up by Italian Fascists in the 1920s (calling it the Roman salute), and it was later adopted by the Germans (known as the Sieg Heil). Once the Unites States got involved in World War II, Congress amended the Flag Code in 1942, replacing what became known as the "Bellamy salute" with the simple gesture of holding one's hand over their heart for civilians performing the "Pledge of Allegiance".
-- February 06, 2017 --
No Such Thing As Bad Publicity
In 1874, author
Mark Twain (born Samuel Clemens, 1835 - 1910) got to watch a typewriter demonstration
in Boston, and immediately bought a Remington Typewriter. Even though the entire
globe was suffering from an economic depression, Twain spent $125 on his newfound
contraption - what would be about three grand today. A few days later, he typed
his first letter to his brother on December 9th, complaining that his daughter
was using it more than he was. By 1875, he had given it away twice, and it was
returned to him both times. The following year, after publishing The Adventures
of Tom Sawyer, he claimed it was the first novel to be written using a typewriter,
but this was not true, and Twain probably made the statement only to be first
The company who made his typewriter, Remington Typewriter Company, got wind of this, and asked him to help promote the machine, to which he replied:
Please do not use my name in any way. Please do not even divulge the fact that I own a machine. I have entirely stopped using the Type-Writer, for the reason that I never could write a letter with it to anybody without receiving a request by return mail that I would not only describe the machine but state what progress I had made in the use of it, etc., etc. I don't like to write letters, and so I don't want people to know that I own this curiosity-breeding little joker.
Saml. L. Clemens
By the turn of
the century, Mark changed his tune, and wrote in his 1904 autobiography, the
"early machine was full of caprices, full of defects - devilish ones. It
had as many immoralities as the machine of today has virtues."
The Remington company got wind of those lines from then-unpublished autobiography (from an article in The North American Review), and used the previous letter, and a section of the book, in a full-page advertisement in Harper's Magazine in 1905.
click on image for larger view
All press is good press, I guess.
-- February 01, 2017 --
A Bone Shaking Good Time
Wednesday, February 8th, 156 will play a rare show at the 13th annual International Noise Conference in Miami, FL, @ Churchill's Pub (5501 NE 2nd Ave). The doors open at 9pm, but there are dozens of bands that night, so please turn up early to support all the artists. Others playing include Drowning the Virgin Silence, Erratix, Pain Appendix, Sloth, City Medicine, and Destructive Bodies.
click on image for larger view
It's been three years since the last 156 show, and - yes - this set will be based off the Memento Mori sessions. I will be using only human bones, hooked up to electronics manipulated by Brett Slutski of Destructive Bodies / Acid Casualty.
-- January 23, 2017 --
Put On Your Aluminium Foil Hats
Did you know there
was a time when aluminium was more expensive than gold?
In fact, Napoleon III let most of his banquet guests use gold tableware, but he saved the aluminium cutlery for his most cherished visitors. Pure aluminium was so rare - even though it makes up 8% of Earth's crust - that whole bars were on heavily guarded display in most houses of European royalty. It even crowned the top of the Washington Monument in 1884 (a 6 lbs / 2.7 kg pyramid), because it was then the most expensive metal around.
13 on the Periodic Table, is never found in its pure metallic form, and is normally
mixed with oxygen in rocks or clay. In the 1780s, many scientists thought alum
salts contained an unknown metal, but it wasn't extracted until 1825, when Danish
chemist Hans Christian Oersted developed a procedure to extract extremely small
amounts of it. By 1845, German Friedrich Wöhler (using his own method)
was able to produce larger samples. This still kept aluminium at around $1200
a kilo (current value would be at over $26,000). Wöhler's method was then
improved in 1854 by Frenchman Henri Sainte-Claire Deville, which made its value
drop to about $40 per kg ($900 today).
In 1886, American chemist Charles Martin Hall, and yet another French chemist, Paul Héroult, independently invented new processes (using electric batteries) to cheaply obtain aluminium oxide from bauxite ore. Karl Joseph Bayer, an Austrian chemist, further developed the practice in 1888, which is still the method we use today. Charles Hall established the Pittsburgh Reduction Company, producing 25 kilograms per day, but by 1909 the amount reached 41,000 per day, and this caused the price to fall to 60 cents per kilogram (just $10 in our modern economy).
On an interesting side note: the reason we Americans say, and write, "aluminum" is in part thanks to a small mistake. When Hall advertised his product, the "i" was erroneously dropped, and he thought that made it sound very similar to valuable platinum. While all his patents show the element as "aluminium", his company was soon named Aluminum Company of America, and it stuck in the States.
-- January 11, 2017 --
Active Again... Almost Radioactive
I'm back from my
vacation, and although I have yet to find a place to settle down, I do have
a story for you.
Remember a little over a year ago, a 14-year-old boy named Ahmed Mohamed was charged with a hoax bomb when bringing a homemade clock project to school? That scene has nothing on the case known as The Radioactive Boy Scout.
In 1994, 17-year-old
David Hahn was in love with chemistry so much, that he decided to build a breeder
reactor in his mom's backyard shed in Commerce Township, Michigan. Inspired
by 1960 book The Golden Book of Chemistry Experiments (by Kurt Saxon
and Robert Brent), David had soon outgrown simple exercises, and began attempting
dangerous procedures. For most chemists, these ventures were treacherous enough,
but Hahn - being a poor student in school - was rather inept in this field.
He once showed up to a Boy Scout meeting glowing orange, after creating a fake
tanner that exploded in his face. Another time, he almost blew off his hand
when he stupidly tried to stir a vat of pure potassium with a metal screwdriver.
One thing he was good at was subterfuge. In 1993, after receiving a merit badge in Atomic Energy (yep, it's real), he began to write to government officials as "Professor Hahn", saying he wanted to know of some atomic exercises his students could perform in class. Even though the letters contained several misspellings, and mistakes, many offered information that helped David begin to building a nuclear reactor. Hahn collected radioactive material from household products (radium from clocks, tritium from gunsights, and thorium from camping lanterns), as well as purchasing $1000 worth of batteries, to extract the lithium in helping to purify thorium ash using a Bunsen burner. If you're wondering where a minor could get that type of cash, I guess the children of divorced parents tend to get special treatment. So much in fact, that his mom and stepdad were hardly suspicious of why, every time David exited the shed, he would throw out his clothes and shoes.
It seems that Hahn was - even though wearing a dentist's lead apron - getting a bit nauseous, and decided to scrap his atomic trials a little before his home reactor reached critical mass. As he was dumping the goods, a passing officer thought the trash was a possible discarded drug lab, and called for backup. Once realizing they were out of their element, the fuzz called the FBI, who in turn turned to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, which found over 1000x the normal level of background radiation. The Environmental Protection Agency designated the Hahn home a hazardous materials cleanup site, and later buried the shed in a Utah radioactive dump.
As you'd expect, things didn't go well for David after all this. Possibly due to the stress of the scandal, his mother committed suicide the following year. Hahn enrolled in community college, but soon dropped out. He followed it up with a stint in the Navy, and later the Marines, but was then diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic with bipolar disorder. In 2007, DH was arrested for larceny, after being found with a large amount of smoke detectors from the apartment building were he lived. Due to his face being covered in sores, it was believed he was again exposed to a large dose of radiation from collecting the detector's americium.
Hahn died one year and 13 days after the Ahmed Mohamed clock incident, at only 39 years of age. It is believed his life was shortened due to his wild experiments with radioactive materials.
-- December 05, 2016 --
On Vacation, Sorta
I've decided to
hit the road for a bit.
Packed up what little belongings I haven't got rid of yet, and am looking for a new home base. Brooklyn has been kind to me, and my seven years here have been filled with amazing days, and fun-filled nights, as well as nurturing one of the most creative times in my music and art career. I may return to the area, but may settle somewhere completely different, so I'm going to use this time to figure that out.
Orders are being filled by a few friends; if there is anything of mine you'd like to order, please feel free, and don't hesitate.
I hope to be back online a little after the New Year, so here's to posting again in 2017!
Until then, Razorcake's website should post the last collection of my "backpatch pics" pretty soon, plus music website No Echo has a few music articles of mine that should hold you over.
Otherwise, from here on down: read slowly.
-- November 23, 2016 --
Hijacked High Jinks
Allen Funt was once the host and producer of a tv prank show called Candid Camera. Predating Punk'd by half a century, the show actually began on the radio as The Candid Microphone in 1947 on ABC Radio. The show ran for three months, until Funt decided to film segments for theaters to screen before a movie, and their popularity led to a tv series on ABC Television. Still called The Candid Microphone, the prank show changed its name to Candid Camera when it was bought by NBC Studios in '49. After a three-year run, the show was canceled, but later became a segment on Jack Paar's The Tonight Show (NBC, 1958), and later on The Garry Moore Show (CBS, 1959). The idea for a tv show resurfaced, and new episodes began airing in 1960, and ran until 1967 on CBS. Even though off the air, the show's popularity supported Funt to produce a movie, What Do You Say to a Naked Lady?, in 1969.
of the film (February 1969), Allen and his family scheduled a trip on Eastern
Airlines from Newark, NJ, to Miami, FL. In the middle of the flight, the captain
announced the plane would land in Havana, Cuba instead. It turned out they were
being hijacked by terrorists, but many on the plane didn't believe it, thinking
it was all part of some tv stunt. Four different passengers approached him throughout
the flight to commend him on this new work.
Writing of his experience the next day for an Associated Press article, Funt said, "Looking back at the experience, the unbelievable thing is the way everybody took it as one big joke. We saw the knife, but everybody was cool and calm, just a little annoyed at the delay. It is strange how you can be so close to danger, and not feel it. The biggest joke for me was how much the whole thing looked like a bad movie. Nobody looked the part. The hijackers were ridiculous in their business suits. The captain with super calm announced that we were going to Havana because two gentlemen seemed to want to go there."
In the end, no one was hurt, and all those aboard the plane were treated as guests upon arrival. For their eleven-hour stay, everyone was fed, and even given a guided bus tour of Havana. After racking up $5000 worth of expenses, the passengers were returned to the plane, and the flight continued back to Florida with no one laughing.
-- November 13, 2016 --
There's an island out there, that exists in time, but not space, yet it's nowhere near the Bermuda Triangle. On maps, Null Island is located where the equator crosses the prime meridian, at coordinates 0°N, 0°E, in Africa's Gulf of Guinea. While described as a one square-meter island, on the physical plane, nothing is there, but a floating weather buoy (named Station 13010, also known as "Soul", an observatory for the Prediction and Research Moored Array in the Atlantic data system).
Null Island has
been used on maps for only the last half of the 20th Century, but didn't gain
wide acceptance until 2011, when it was entered into the Natural Earth public
domain map dataset (with support from the North American Cartographic Information
Society). The plot of "land" at those coordinates in the digital dataset
was intended to assist analysts in finding errors in geo-coding. If using a
coordinate / map projection besides the Global Positioning System (GPS) - being
different frameworks to convert spheres, ellipsoids, and planes for mapping
- the position of "0,0" could land you in one of thousands of places
around the world, so it's a necessary nonexistent land.
Sorry if I spooked you.
-- November 04, 2016 --
156 Record Release Party
On Saturday, November 12th in Manhattan's West Village, my experimental industrial outfit 156 will celebrate the release of our new 10" vinyl EP with a party at SoHo Psychoanalytic (30 Charlton Street, Suite #1), hosted by psychiatrist Vanessa Sinclair, PsyD. As well as a listening party, I will hold a talk on the recording of the EP, with special guest poet and publisher Katy Bohinc presenting a brief lecture on the anatomy of the universe in comparison to the human skeletal system.
Copies will be
available for purchase. Otherwise, feel free to drop by the 156
Bandcamp page for mailorder or digital.
A track off Memento Mori premiered on episode #225 ("Take the Information" - October 29th) of the :zoviet*france: radio show, A Duck In A Tree. Click here to listen.
Lastly, a new music video was made for the first track off Memento Mori's side two, "Me-Olam, Ad-Olam".
Hope to see you Saturday!
-- October 26, 2016 --
The Kooky World of Cult Music
I wrote a two-part piece for No Echo on music made, and released, by cult organizations such as the Nation of Yahweh, Church of Satan, Branch Davidians, Werewolf Order, and more.
Check out my earlier part one here, and part two was just posted here. Enjoy!
-- October 17, 2016 --
The Man, the Myth, the Monster
So you think
the Dylan nomination for a Nobel Prize is an odd one? Then let me tell you a
Ever since reading a stack of Robert Anton Wilson books back in the early 90s, I have been obsessed with the criminal mastermind Licio Gelli.
was born in 1919, though little is known about his early personal or family
life. A Fascist through and through, and as a member of Mussolini's Blackshirts,
he went to Spain in support of the Falangists in the Spanish Civil War. It is
believed Licio became a spy for both Nazi Germany and the US's CIA, playing
each off the other. After WWII, he helped establish the Italian Social Republic
with Giorgio Almirante, and then became involved in business as a textile manufacturer.
was also a member of a secret Masonic lodge called Propaganda Due (aka
Propaganda Two), which, under his Mastership, morphed into an ultraright think
tank. In 1970,
he was a key figure in the Golpe Borghese coup d'état, where he
was to arrest Italian President Giuseppe Saragat. After the failed coup, he
was exiled to Argentina for several years, even initiating dictator Juan Perón
into Freemasonry there. During this time, the Masonic Master set up oil and
arms deals between Libya, Italy and Argentina through the Agency for Economic
In 1981, banker Roberto Calvi was discovered hanged under a bridge, and was found to have been laundering money for the Italian mob, and Propaganda Due, through Banco Ambrosiano, then known as "the Vatican bank". Further investigation led the Italian government to almost 1000 names of military and civil servants on the P2 membership list, which was illegal under Article 18 of the Italian Constitution (future Italian prime minister Silvio Berlusconi was on that list), as well as many of the Catholic Church's Italian hierarchy. Arrested, Licio escaped, and fled to Switzerland. Gelli surrendered in 1987, and was charged with the 1982 collapse of Banco Ambrosiano, and in connection with the 1980 Bologna railway station bombing, that killed 85 people. He was sentenced to 12 years in '88, but again fled. Captured in Cannes, France, he sat under house arrest until an indictment was handed down, along with former Mafia boss Giuseppe Calò, for the murder of Roberto Calvi, and politician Aldo Moro. He was acquitted for lack of evidence.
I've only recently learned that, in 1996, in a move that defied any logic, the Swedish Academy nominated Licio Gelli for a Nobel Prize in Literature, a choice supported by both Mother Teresa and Naguib Mahfouz. In 2003, he claimed a "democratic rebirth plan" was being implemented by Silvio Berlusconi, and that "...all is becoming a reality little by little, piece by piece. To be truthful, I should have had the copyright to it. Justice, TV, public order."
On December 15th of 2015, Licio died in Tuscany, at the age of 96, a calm and happy man, caring little for the lives he played like pawns, while the shadows of those he helped put in power cast darkness throughout the world.
-- October 09, 2016 --
Classic Cuts From Cults
I wrote a two-part piece for No Echo on music made, and released, by cult organizations such as Scientology, The Process Church, Nation of Islam, Jews for Jesus, and more.
Check out part one here. Part two will be posted soon, so check back often.
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