Monday, December 10, 2012

Ancient Dentistry - A Tooth Extraction

The drawing shows us an expert, sitting behind the patient lying, extracting a tooth and helped by two assistants. The man on the left pokes fire with bellows, and the other on the right, holds fire with a grip near the “dentist”.

Charaf-ed-Din (1404-1468) left us his famous Chirurgie of Ilkhani, an ancient dental manuscript, written and illustrated by him in 1465. This Turkish manuscript of ancient dentistry is preserved at the BNF (National Library of France).

Sunday, December 9, 2012

Babies on Exhibit — Come One, Come All! See the Tiny Babies!

 Many are still shocked to hear the story of how tens of thousands of people paid to see an exhibit of tiny babies in incubators in Long Island, New York at Coney Island in the early 19th century. But there was a very important reason for this, one that continues to save lives every day.
 Incubators, while now standard in any hospital, were once an untested technology. Their developers needed a way to prove their worth and get the word out. So Dr. Martin Arthur Couney did the only thing he could to show the world that this technology was indeed needed and could save many lives. And that is how premature babies were put on display at Coney Island, as the “Baby Incubator Exhibit”.
 The attraction resembled a normal hospital ward, with babies, nurses providing specialized care, and the doctor over-looking everything. The only difference was that they were on display as a paid exhibit. His medical staff consisted of five wet-nurses and fifteen highly trained medical technicians including his daughter Hildegarde, a nurse. By 1939, he had treated more than 8,000 babies and saved the lives of over 6,500. Dr. Couney never charged parents a fee for the care he gave their infants. His clinic was financed strictly through entrance fees.

The exhibit on Coney Island was a spectacular, and seemingly successful, affair. Outside of the attraction, carnival barkers, including a very young Cary Grant, pulled people into the exhibit. The sign over the entryway proclaimed, “All the World Loves a Baby.” Any child who was prematurely born in the city would be rushed over to Coney Island to be placed in the exhibit, including Couney’s own daughter, who spent three months there.
Over time, the ‘graduates,’ of the program came back to visit Couney and see the new crop of premature babies. In 1939 towards the end of the attraction’s run, an article in the New Yorker mentioned that a few of the male graduates became doctors themselves. By the time his Luna Park exhibit closed in 1943, incubators were being used in hospitals across the world.

Friday, November 30, 2012

L’Enfants Bizarre

Three preserved human fetuses, presented in an antique display cabinet. The first is an altogether healthy fetus, the second suffers Polymelia, six arms, and the final, suffers a rare infection of the Shope papilloma virus, which causes a series of horn like growths in the forehead. These three are part of a large collection of human specimens, afflicted with various genetic diseases.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Siberian Princess and her 2,500 Year-Old Tattoos

The remains of the immaculately dressed ‘Princess Ukok’, aged around 25 and preserved for several millennia in the Siberian permafrost, a natural freezer, were discovered in 1993 by Novosibirsk scientist Natalia Polosmak during an archeological expedition.

Buried around her were six horses, saddled and bridled, her spiritual escorts to the next world, and a symbol of her evident status, perhaps more likely a revered folk tale narrator, a healer or a holy woman than an ice princess.

There, too, was a meal of sheep and horse meat and ornaments made from felt, wood, bronze and gold.  And a small container of cannabis, say some accounts, along with a stone plate on which were the burned seeds of coriander. 
‘Compared to all tattoos found by archaeologists around the world, those on the mummies of the Pazyryk people are the most complicated, and the most beautiful,’ said Dr Polosmak.

The tattoos on the left shoulder of the ‘princess’  show a fantastical mythological animal: a deer with a griffon’s beak and a Capricorn’s antlers. The antlers are decorated with the heads of griffons. And the same griffon’s head is shown on the back of the animal.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

The Mystery of the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the “Dare Stones”

 The origins of one of the America’s oldest unsolved mysteries can be traced to August 1587, when a group of about 115 English settlers arrived on Roanoke Island, off the coast of what is now North Carolina. Later that year, it was decided that John White, governor of the new colony, would sail back to England in order to gather a fresh load of supplies. But just as he arrived, a major naval war broke out between England and Spain, and Queen Elizabeth I called on every available ship to confront the mighty Spanish Armada. In August 1590, White finally returned to Roanoke, where he had left his wife and daughter, his infant granddaughter (Virginia Dare, the first English child born in the Americas) and the other settlers three long years before. He found no trace of the colony or its inhabitants, and few clues to what might have happened, apart from a single word—“Croat”—carved into a wooden post.
The “Dare Stones

In 1937, a twenty-one-pound quartz stone was found in a swamp 60 miles west of Roanoke. On one side was a cross and the instruction “Ananias Dare & Virginia went hence Unto Heaven 1591.” On the other were carvings that, when deciphered by faculty at Emory University, were a message from Eleanor Dare to her father, John White, that the colony had fled inland after an Indian attack.
The story told by the stones matched some of the details of Strachey’s account, and a number of academics believed them. During the next three years, nearly forty more stones were found in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia. Together, they told a story of the colonists’ journey through the southeast, ending in the death of Eleanor Dare in 1599.
The timing of the discovery, exactly 350 years after the English settlement of Roanoke, made the “Virginia Dare Stones” a perfect story, and the media jumped on it. In 1941, though, an article in The Saturday Evening Post revealed the “discoverers” of the stones to have staged an elaborate hoax.  The stones were quickly forgotten by most people, although there are others that state that the article in the Post was biased for “tourist” reasons. There are many scholars that still believe the first stone found to be authentic. But the other forty stones, conveniently “found” after the fact, are definitely suspect and most likely a hoax.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

The Mystery of "Nancy Drew" and the Author that Never Was

 The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, the Bobbsey Twins, and Tom Swift were all the product of one man, Edward Stratemeyer, a New Jersey author who wrote more than 1,300 books and eventually founded a syndicate of ghostwriters who pounded out juvenile mysteries based on his instructions. Thus book syndication was born. They were referred to as “book factories” and were extremely profitable.
Stratemeyer conceived the syndicate when his Rover Boys series proved so popular that he could not keep up with the demand for more books. He corralled a stable of hungry young writers, and in 1910 they were producing 10 new series annually. Each writer earned $50 to $250 for a manuscript he could produce in a month, working with characters and plot devised by Stratemeyer. He would review each completed manuscript for consistency and publish it under a pseudonym that he owned — Franklin W. Dixon, Carolyn Keene, Laura Lee Hope, Victor Appleton. Each book in a series mentioned the thrilling earlier volumes and foreshadowed the next book.

The formula worked so well that when Stratemeyer died in 1930 his daughter continued the business; when she died in 1982 the syndicate was selling more than 2 million books a year.

This sounds cynical, but it worked because Stratemeyer had a sympathetic understanding of what young readers wanted. “The trouble is that very few adults get next to the heart of a boy when choosing something for him to read,” Stratemeyer wrote to a publisher in 1901. “A wide awake lad has no patience with that which is namby-pamby, or with that which he puts down as a ‘study book’ in disguise. He demands real flesh and blood heroes who do something.”

The Restless Ghost

The pale apparition, accompanied by the music of Chopin, appeared frequently in the mansion. Her appearance at Heale House had always been a mystery until the discovery of a long-lost painting solved the ordeal.
Mr. Smith’s family had seen the apparition many times at the house near Bideford, Devon, before he was approached by the owner of a local junk shop who asked him, “Are you the master of Heales?” She told him that she had something that should be returned to its rightful home and showed him a painting. The face in the painting was eerily familiar to Mr. Smith and he quickly realized that it was the same woman who had been haunting their home.
Smith said her ghost “would walk along the corridors and in the bedrooms, usually around one o’clock in the morning. She was usually wreathed in a blue haze and just drifted around - you couldn’t see her legs. Sometimes she would even arrive at the bottom of my bed in the middle of the night. I thought there must be some kind of scientific explanation, but other people who visited the house were terrified and they now believe she’s been put to rest because she got her painting back.”
Smith was so fascinated he decided to investigate the history of the painting and uncovered a sad story behind the music loving ghost. He identified the woman as a Mrs. Bell, the wife of an Argentine beef rancher and one of the fifteen bedroom mansion’s previous occupants. She had been bankrupted and forced to sell all of her possessions, including her beloved portrait, shortly before her death in the early 1900’s.
When he took the painting of Mrs. Bell home and hung it in the parlor room, her ghostly appearances suddenly stopped. Smith even confessed that the family tried to communicate with her spirit using a Ouija board on several occasions, but they had no luck reaching her. Apparently, all her ghost wanted was to be recognized as a resident of the house. She is at peace…for now.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Kaikidan Ekotoba

The Kaikidan Ekotoba is a mysterious handscroll that profiles 33 legendary monsters and human oddities, mostly from the Kyushu region of Japan (with several from overseas). The cartoonish document, whose author is unknown, is believed to date from the mid-19th century. 

The above image tells a tale of a man with massive testicles who reportedly made a living as a sideshow attraction at Mt. Satta, on the old Tokaido Road near the city of Shizuoka. His scrotum is said to have measured about a meter across.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

The Grisly Story of Burke and Hare and the Mystery of the Miniature Coffins

Eight years after the “Anatomy Murderers” Burke and Hare were apprehended in Edinburgh, Scotland, two boys discovered sixteen tiny dolls, each nested into a miniature coffin hidden away in a rocky niche on the north-eastern slopes of Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh in June 1836.

At first, theories on the dolls significance ranged from witchcraft to child’s toys, but eventually it began to seem that the sixteen tiny figures were most likely effigies for the sixteen murder victims of Burke and Hare made by Burke himself.
 From January through October 1828, William Burke and William Hare had lured in and murdered their lodgers in a scheme to provide fresh bodies to the local anatomy school for money. They killed a total of sixteen people: twelve women, three men and one child. Dr. Robert Knox, a brilliant and well known local anatomy lecturer purchased the bodies, and most likely knew what was going on but was not arrested for the murders due to insufficient evidence.

 The crimes were exposed when another lodger discovered the body of a previous tenant, and reported it to the police. Burke and Hare were apprehended along with Burke’s mistress, Helen McDougal, and Hare’s wife, Margaret. Despite finding the body of the last lodger in Knox’s classroom, ready for dissection, the evidence was not truly damning until Hare gave a full confession.
William and Margaret Hare turned King’s witnesses, that is, witnesses for the prosecution, in return for immunity. Burke and McDougal were tried for the murders. McDougal was acquitted while Burke was convicted and sentenced to death. He was executed on January 28, 1829 by hanging.
His body was handed over for dissection, and his skeleton and a book bound from his skin (pictured above) remain in the collection of the Royal College of Surgeons, Edinburgh.
The miniature dolls and coffins were in the hands of a private collector until 1901, when eight of them were handed over to the National Museums Scotland. Although it is generally agreed that the mysterious little dolls are associated with the crimes of Burke & Hare, no one is certain who among the killers created them. DNA studies conducted in 2005, using DNA extracted from Burke’s skeleton, attempted to prove that he had created them to assuage his guilty conscience, but the tests proved inconclusive.

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The Haunted Ghost Town of Bodie

The old mining settlement at Bodie in California is America’s best preserved ghost town. Dating back to 1859, Bodie is frozen in a state of “arrested decay”, looked after as a historic park but not restored to its original condition.

This makes the town both authentic and mysterious, with original fixtures, furniture, and personal items in the buildings left untouched since their occupants deserted them.
 Bodie abounds with legends of the paranormal, but none more famous than the haunted Cain residence. Jim Cain was a local businessman who prospered from bringing lumber to Bodie.

Buildings were constructed from and heated by wood, and the mills burned vast amounts of it in their steam-driven engines, fattening Mr Cain’s wallet.

 Rumors spread that Cain and his maid were having an affair, and the maid was promptly fired by Cain’s wife. Publicly disgraced, the unfortunate maid was unable to find work and took her own life. It’s reported that the maid’s ghost haunts the Cain house.


Over the years, the house has provided accommodation for park rangers and has also been open to the public. People have reported ghostly apparitions in an upstairs bedroom, while others have heard music coming from the same room.

Staying in the house, the wife of a park ranger was lying in her bed and felt a strong pressure on her and was unable to move. Another ranger who had lived there had the same experience combined with the door flying open by itself and feeling of suffocation in the same room.

The Curse of Bodie

One of the most bizarre stories associated with Bodie is a mysterious curse that has been cast on multiple visitors to the town. Allegedly, the ghosts of the residents serve as guardians of the town’s property, bringing bad luck and misfortune to souvenir hunters who take anything with them when they leave.

Each month, park rangers receive objects and letters in the mail from people who admit to taking items from the town and beg the rangers to put them back. The letters also tell tales of horrible incidents such as mysterious illnesses, car accidents, and even death. 

The rangers have been on television specials about Bodie, speaking of the accounts, and assuring the senders that the objects are always returned to their original places as requested.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Traditional Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Art

 Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852 - 1913) was Mexico’s most famous graphic artist. He illustrated books, novels, and the famous broadsides (news sheets) that were distributed throughout the country. Many of his drawings could be considered to be political cartoons. Known especially for his engravings of the “calaveras” or skeletons that cavort, eat and drink, ride bicycles and horses, are revolutionaries, street vendors, and everyday people.
His art is traditional for All Souls’ Day, the Day of the Dead or “Dia de los Muertos”.  The Day of the Dead actually consists of two days: November 1st for the remembrance of deceased infants and children and November 2nd for deceased adults.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Curious History: Devastated Parents Keep Their Dead Son in an Ice Chest

This is one of those rare stories that’s both creepy and heartbreaking at the same time. Tian Xueming lost both his children in just one decade, and decided to store his son’s remains in an ice chest inside the house for the last six years, so he could see and talk to him whenever the massive loss became to hard to cope with. Their son remains in the ice chest in their home to this day and they have no intention of burying him.
60-year old Tian Xueming, a carpenter from Huangling Village, China’s Chongqing province, got married in 1979, and took his wife to live in a modest home made of mud. At the time they were living with six other relatives, so to provide better living conditions for his family, Tian went to work in the city. In 1982 they had a daughter, and in 1987, his wife Yang Hongying gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. In order to spend more time with his family, Tian decided to quit his job and return to his native village as a stay-at-home dad. He describes those days as the happiest of his entire life. Only the new-found happiness didn’t last long…
It was a hot day when they lost their daughter, Yingying. The 15-year-old had gone to town to buy some vegetables, but when she returned half and hour later she looked pale and tired. An hour later, they found her collapsed in the yard, barely breathing. By the time the doctor arrived, it was too late for Yingying. Just when time was starting to heal the wounds left by this terrible loss, disaster struck again. Nine years after Yingying had passed away, their son, Qinyuan, was diagnosed with leukemia in the final stage. In March of 2006 he received a phone call and was told his son had had a fever for almost a month. He and his wife were by Qinyuan’s bedside in the hospital, praying he would somehow miraculously survive. He died in July, 2006, aged 18.
Qinyuan’s loss tore the Tian’s world apart and they just didn’t know what to do to cope with the unbearable pain. They decided to conceal the circumstances of their son’s death, and somehow keep him around. ”I told his mother that we should not bury him, but rather keep our son around us. She agreed,” Xueming told Chinese media, and that night they emptied the icebox, dressed his body and placed him inside. They kept their son’s burial place a secret for six years, during which time they would pull up chairs around the ice box, lift the lid and talk to him as if he had never left them. Tian says he and his wife know it wasn’t the most normal thing to do, but it was the only way to deal with the pain.
He knows both his relatives and his neighbors mean well when they press him to bury Qinyuan’s body, but he just cannot bring himself to do it. ”I know I was wrong. My decision has had a bad influence on my neighbors’ lives as well, but I have lost both of my children! No one could ever understand my suffering,” Tian Xueming said as he gazed at the freezer in the corner of his house. ”Anyway, I can see my son whenever I miss him.”

Curious History: Extremely Disturbing Taxidermy

 Enrique Gomez De Molina is an artist from Miami who creates bizarre sculptures with the stuffed parts of dead animals. While taxidermy itself isn’t something new, what De Molina does is he mixes up parts from different animals to create a new one, a new species all together. The result is what some might call art, and others may find plain disturbing.

 For instance, one of the strangest beings created by De Molina is a combination of a squirrel and a crab. The head of a squirrel and the body of the crab. Another one has the heads of two swans placed on the body of a goat. 
Another one has the heads of two swans placed on the body of a goat.
  Another one has the heads of two swans placed on the body of a goat. The art is all fine, but the artist himself is facing the possibility of landing in jail for no less than 5 years. He may also have to pay $250,000 in fines. The reason – he illegally imported the body parts of endangered species, a crime that he has pleaded guilty to. He was arrested in November, 2011.
According to the police, De Molina did not obtain the permit required to import animal parts, skins and other remains. He apparently was aware that his actions were illegal. However, he went ahead and smuggled in the remains of animals from all over the world.

While these sculptures might look disturbing and even seem like cruelty against animals, De Molina says that his aim is to raise awareness regarding the dangers faced by a range of species. He wanted to depict the dangers of genetic engineering and human intervention. Meanwhile, he offers his pieces for sale on the Internet and through exhibitions. The prices go up to $80,000. His work was recently displayed at the Scope Art Fair in Miami. Two pieces were sold for a total of $100,000.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Curious History: Healing Demon Ghost Crystal

John Dee (1527-1609) was an English mathematician and astrologer interested in divination using crystals and mirrors. This purple crystal was used for curing disease and predicting the future by looking for symbols or the ‘ghosts’ of people in the stone. Dee claimed that this crystal was given to him by the angel Uriel in November 1582, and that Uriel had instructed Dee and his assistant Edward Kelley (1555-1597/8) on how to make the Philosopher’s Stone – one of the goals of alchemy. The crystal was entrusted to Dee’s son, Arthur (1597-1651) who passed it on to Nicholas Culpeper (1616-1654) as a reward for curing his liver complaints. Culpeper was a physician and alchemist who used the crystal to try and cure illness, until 1651, when he believed a demonic ghost burst out from it.

Curious History: The Most Haunted Graveyard in the US - Bachelors Grove Cemetery

Possibly one of the most haunted places in the world is a one acre graveyard stuck far off the beaten path called Bachelors Grove Cemetery. Located in an isolated section of the Rubio Woods Forest Preserve in Chicago, Illinois, this one acre plot of land holds an unbelievable amount of unexplained phenomena. It is also the location of one of the world’s most recognizable ghost photos that captures a woman in white sitting on a tombstone (pictured above).

The cemetery was founded in the 1820’s and for years, was considered a peaceful, serene resting place for the departed. But by the 1960’s, it was increasingly isolated and abandoned and was often the site for wild parties, vandalism and possible satanic rituals. The chaos at the graveyard was so great that many bodies were moved to other cemeteries to avoid being desecrated and a large number of tombstones have been either stolen or knocked over.

This cemetery has reports of every type of paranormal activity. Many strange lights are seen in and around the tiny cemetery. A flashing blue light, similar to a police car’s light, was spotted many times flitting noiselessly amongst the tombstones. Orbs, bright lights, ectoplasm, unexplained mist, cold spots, and apparitions are frequently encountered in and around the cemetery.

But the oddest repeated sighting is that of a “phantom farm house”. What makes these reports so credible is that they come from people who had no idea that the house doesn’t actually exist. Each person who has seen the house describes an old, two-story farm house that is white washed, a large front porch with post to either side of the porch entrance, a porch swing and a light that cheerily burns in the front window.  As people approach the old house, it is reported that it seems to shrink until it finally just fades away. Local legend says that if a person does enter the house they will never return.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Curious History: The Life of Millie and Christine McKay

Millie and Christine McKoy were born, joined at the base of the spine, on July 11, 1851, the eighth and ninth child of Monimia and Jacob McKay, slaves owned by a blacksmith in the small town of Welches Creek, North Carolina. At only ten months old, they were sold along with their mother to a showman, who in turn sold them on to two more men in the same trade, looking to make a quick buck. It seems to have been around this time that their last name was changed to McKoy.
While still very young, the McKoy twins were kidnapped at an exhibition in New Orleans by yet another showman, who exhibited them another year, including at Barnum’s American Museum. Sold yet again in 1855, this time to a professor, they ended up in Canada, and then Europe, where former owner Joseph Smith reunited them with their mother and brought them back to the United States.
Joseph Smith and his wife educated the McKoy twins, focusing on music and languages. The girls had a gift for singing and could soon also speak in four or five different tongues. Yet, while to some extent it is true that the sisters enjoyed a successful career in museums and the circus, it should not be forgotten that they were also exploited since they were young girls – and, as female slaves, more so even than the other conjoined twins listed here. Indeed, they are held to have been overworked, beaten, raped and sexually abused – including, it’s suggested, during the numerous medical ‘examinations’ they had to endure.
Free at last following the Emancipation Proclamation, in the 1880s the McKoy sisters retired from show business and went back to their hometown in North Carolina, where they bought a small farm. However, after a fire that weakened their health, the twins’ lives were claimed by tuberculosis, contracted by Millie, and died on October 8, 1912. They lived until the ripe old age of 61, the oldest female conjoined twins to date.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Curious History: Moneygami

Origami, obviously one of the coolest paper craft techniques, was recently taken to another level by Japanese graphic designer and origami expert Yosuke Hasegawa. Yosuke is representing a new art form called “moneygami” by taking different money bills from all around the world and folding them in the manner of origami, he has created an incredible collection of world leaders donning various hats.
Here you can see Abe Lincoln and Gandhi with baseball caps, Queen Elizabeth with turban and even Hussein with sombrero all made of a single dollar bill. According to the artist, he wanted “to make people happy with spending money” and has even created a free Moneygami app that teaches how to make Kid Lincoln out of a five dollar bill.

Curious History: The World’s Longest and Shortest Named Cities

The second longest geographical name that is accepted in the world is “Taumatawhakatangihangak oauauotamateaturipukaka pikimaungahoronukupokaiwhe nua kitanatahu” (85 letters) which is a hill in New Zealand – it is a maori phrase which translates to “place where Tamatea, the man with the big knees, who slid, climbed and swallowed mountains, known as land-eater, played his flute to his loved one”. It was the longest until recently (though the Guinness Book of Records still regards it as the longest).
A city in Thailand is called Krung thep maha nakorn amorn ratana kosin­mahintar ayutthay amaha dilok phop noppa ratrajathani burirom udom rajaniwes­mahasat harn amorn phimarn avatarn sathit sakkattiya visanukamprasit (163 letters). This translates to “The land of angels, the great city of immortality, of devine gems, the great angelic land unconquerable land of nine nobel gems, the royal city, a pleasant capital place of the Royal Palace, eternal land of angels and reincarnated spirits predestined and created by the highest Devas.”
The shortest named city is simply “Å” it is located in both Sweden and Norway. In Scandinavian languages, “Å” means “river”. The image above is one of the newly replaced road signs for the area – they are frequently stolen for their novelty value.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Curious History: The Origins and History of All Hallow’s Eve (Halloween)

Halloween’s origins date back more than 2,000 years. On what we consider November 1, Europe’s Celtic peoples celebrated their New Year’s Day, called Samhain (SAH-win). According to Irish mythology, Samhain was a time when the ‘door’ to the Otherworld opened enough for fairies and the dead to communicate with us; Samhain was essentially a festival for the dead.
On Samhain eve—what we know as Halloween—spirits were thought to walk the Earth as they traveled to the afterlife. Fairies, demons, and other creatures were also said to be abroad. It is still the custom in some areas to set a place at the Samhain feast for the souls of dead kinfolk and to tell tales of one’s forebears. However, the souls of thankful kin could return to bestow blessings just as easily as that of a murdered person could return to wreak revenge. Fairies were also thought to steal humans on Samhain and fairy mounds were to be avoided.
People stayed near to home or, if forced to walk in the darkness, turned their clothing inside-out or carried iron or salt to keep the fairies at bay. The Gaelic custom of wearing costumes and masks was a bid to befuddle the harmful spirits or ward them off. In Scotland, young men would dress in white with masked, veiled or blackened faces. They were known as ‘guisers’ and the practice was common in the 16th century in the Scottish countryside. Candle lanterns, carved from turnips, were part of the traditional festival. Large turnips were hollowed out, carved with faces and set on windowsills to ward off evil spirits.
Samhain was later transformed as Christian leaders co-opted pagan holidays. In the seventh century Pope Boniface IV decreed November 1 All Saints’ Day, or All Hallows’ Day. The night before Samhain continued to be observed with bonfires, costumes, and parades, though under a new name: All Hallows’ Eve—later “Halloween.”
Children going door to door ‘guising’ or ‘galoshin’ in costumes and masks, carrying turnip lanterns, offering entertainment of in return for food or coins, was traditional in the 19th century and continued well into the 20th century. At the time of mass transatlantic Irish and Scottish immigration, the custom of Halloween in North America began.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Curious History: Vintage Halloween Greeting, 1800s

Curious History: The Newest Japanese Fashion Trend - Mood-Sensing Cat Tails

A Japanese company is making it just a little easier for humans to act like cats. But instead of offering nine lives, Japan’s Neurowear has introduced a wearable cat tail that wags when a user’s mood changes.

Called Shippo - Japanese for “tail”- the device debuted at Saturday’s Tokyo Games Show and comes as the latest in a new line of products that read users’ brain waves. Adding a new twist, Shippo uses a headset, a clip-on heart monitor, and a neural smart phone app to read the wearer’s brain waves and sense his or her mood. Once that fluffy tail is wagging, the device tags the wearer’s mood to a location online, which can be shared with other users.

As a company, Neurowear has released more than just cat tails. The company has also released a line of wag-able cat ears which also read human brain waves and wiggle with mood.