Benjamin Franklin, Poor Richard’s Almanack


“The booklet had many names. I Modi or “The Fashion,” is the most popular. It’s also known as Aretino’s Postures, The Sixteen Pleasures, and De Omnibus Veneris Schematibus in Latin. Whatever it was called, people loved it. With the help of the printing press, the triumvirate (or trinity) of Romano, Raimondi, and Aretino had created the first printed porn blockbuster. Their work was first widely disseminated, then widely pirated, and finally widely imitated.

People all over Europe paid for the scandalous little book, but I Modi did more than just make money. It was one of those rare works of pornography that jumped from niche to popular culture. Like Fifty Shades of Grey or Deep Throat, it became something which could be discussed, if only as a joke, in polite society. Some believe that Shakespeare snuck a reference to I Modi into A Winter’s Tale, when he talks about “that rare Italian master, Julio Romano.” There was even a 16th century Italian phrasebook aimed at English tourists that allowed them to ask for the “works of Aretino” at Italian booksellers, according to Eric Berkowitz, who hunted down a copy for his book, Sex and Punishment: 4000 Years of Judging Desire.”

The complete Sixteen Postures can be found here.


“As I tried to make out what the blurry green tattoos on Leo’s forearms might have once depicted, I thought about how hippophagy—the eating of horses, denounced by the church as a symbol of Celtic and Teutonic paganism—was outlawed by Pope Gregory III in the year 723. A “filthy and abominable practice,” he called it, though some historians maintain the real motive was the church’s desire to to keep horses alive for use on the battlefield.


Despite Papal objections, horses are still commonly eaten around the world. One can find horse meat bresaola in Italy, a traditionally Catholic country. It is made into satay in Indonesia, sausages in Kazakhstan, and eaten raw in Japan. Horse meat can be found on restaurant menus in Belgium and France, and a traditional Rhineland sauerbraten is made not with beef, but horse meat.

Still, horses have never been bred for the quality of their meat, but for their physical abilities. And since horses are not raised specifically for eating in all but a few countries, aligning supply with demand means slaughtering lame, sick, or old animals that have outlived their usefulness to their owners.

Prices charged by trendy restaurateurs notwithstanding, old thoroughbreds can go for as little as $100 to so-called “kill buyers,” who hang out at racetrack auctions and bid on horses past their prime.” (Via)


The real meat (pardon the pun) of this story is embedded in a link from the above quote that leads to: The Vatican versus the Vikings – The Roots Of The American Horse-eating Taboo. An in-depth look at how hippophagy fell from grace.


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We talk about this being the age of information, but this is not the age of information. This is the age of misinformation. And the thing that we have to remember is that misinformation tends to be simpler and more stable than information, kind of like an intellectual Parkinson’s law where bad money drives out good. Misinformation tends to drive out information because of the relative simplicity and the stability of misinformation.

Samuel Delaney (Via)


“The young man was having sex with his dog. In fact, he’d lost his virginity to it. Their relationship was still very good; the dog didn’t seem to mind at all. But the man’s conscience was eating at him. Was he acting immorally?

In search of sage counsel, he sent an email to David Pizarro, who teaches a class on moral psychology at Cornell University in New York. ‘I thought he was just pulling my leg,’ said Pizarro. He sent the man a link to an article about bestiality, and thought that would be the end of it. But the man responded with more questions. ‘I realised this kid was pretty serious.’

Although Pizarro is a leader in his field, he struggled to craft an answer. ‘What I ended up responding was: “I might not say this is a moral violation. But in our society you’re going to have to deal with all manner of people believing that your behaviour is odd, because it is odd. It’s not something anybody likes to hear about.” And I said: “Would you want your daughter to date someone who has been having sex with their dog? And the answer is no. And this is critical: you don’t have animals writing essays about how they’ve been mistreated because of their love of human beings. I would get help for this.”’

In essence, Pizarro was saying that the man’s behaviour was weird, concerning and distressing, but he wasn’t willing to condemn it. If that doesn’t sit well with you, you’re probably sickened by the very image of someone having sex with a dog. But was the man acting immorally? At least by the man’s own account, the dog wasn’t being harmed.

If you’re struggling to put your finger on why exactly the man’s behaviour seems wrong, psychologists have a term for your confused state of mind. You’re morally dumbfounded.

A ballooning body of research by Pizarro and others shows that moral judgments are not always the product of careful deliberation. Sometimes we feel an action is wrong even if we can’t point to an injured party. We make snap decisions and then – in the words of Jonathan Haidt, a social psychologist at New York University – ‘construct post-hoc justifications for those feelings’. This intuition, converging lines of research reveal, is informed by disgust, an emotion that most scientists believe evolved to keep us safe from parasites.” (Via)

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Madness, mayhem, erotic vandalism, devastation of innumerable souls – while we scream and perish, History licks a finger and turns the page.

Thomas Ligotti
from The Conspiracy Against the Human Race: A Contrivance of Horror, 2010. (Via)


“For the next five years, Mingus was sunk in gloom. The young people who’d followed him at the Five Spot had moved on to the wilder shores of free jazz and rock, and he felt abandoned. He stopped recording and hardly touched his bass. He became a photographer, wandering around the Village on a bicycle with a dozen cameras strapped to his chest. The amphetamines and diet pills he relied on to keep his spirits up and his weight down didn’t seem to work anymore: he grew fatter and more depressed. He kept tear-gas bombs and shotguns in his studio, fired holes into the ceiling, and spoke of plots against him by the government and the mob. He pissed into juice bottles rather than the toilet, in case the authorities were investigating his urine for signs of drug use. The owner of his flat, which was an illegal sublet, tried to evict him. When Mingus withheld his rent in protest, the police came to kick him out. “I hope the Communists blow you people up,” he said as they took him away, his eyes welling with tears.”


1. Charles Mingus painted by Debra Hurd.
2. Text from An Argument With Instruments: On Charles Mingus.
3. Thomas Reichman’s 1968 documentary Mingus. A close up portrait of the jazz legend during those dark years mentioned above.


“It was in 1816 that Swiss physician André Matthey identified and defined “klopemanie,” describing it as an impulse to steal things one didn’t need. Researchers who built on his work characterized it as a form of moral insanity, and many of them believed it was a condition that only affected women. For this reason, there were attempts to link its apparent prevalence among women to their biological nature. By the time [Mary] Ramsbotham appeared in court, tried for theft, her legal defense was able to successfully argue that she was suffering from a bout of menopause-induced kleptomania.

Ramsbotham symbolized an emerging anxiety among the middle class in England and France over female deviance exemplifed by thievery. Images of this archetypal woman began to proliferate shortly after the establishment of the first department stores in early 19th-century London. In a 1989 journal article titled “The Invention of Kleptomania,” Elaine Abelson, an assistant professor of history at The New School for Social Research, writes that women in the 19th century experienced a freedom of mobility within department stores that they had not experienced elsewhere in the public sphere. Shopping was women’s work; therefore, the majority of shoplifters were women. And not just any women—middle- and upper-class women who stuffed silk ribbons and gloves into their pockets without paying for them. These were respectable women, and to label them criminals would undo a social order the elite establishment held precious to its survival. So they were labeled “sick” instead.


Psychologists and physicians at the time misunderstood why women shoplifted because they misunderstood women’s experiences, according to historian Tammy Whitlock. In an article published in a 1999 edition of Albion, Whitlock conveys the details of the Ramsbotham case and explains that survival in class-obsessed societies necessitated the acquisition of social symbols like ribbons and gloves. “Such ‘fripperies’ had real significance in day-to-day life in maintaining or increasing status,” she writes. “Indirectly these women were stealing status.”

~ We R Cute Shoplifters: Inside the hidden teenage world of Tumblr’s pro-Bernie, anti-capitalist Bling Ring (Photo: Areesha Khuwaja)



“The bomb appeared early one morning in an upstairs office of Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino near Lake Tahoe, an enigmatic box covered in a bewildering array of switches. A neatly typed letter explained that the box contained 1,000 pounds of dynamite. It was the largest improvised explosive device in American history—and its creator promised to explain how to remove it safely if the casino delivered $3 million by helicopter to a remote landing site in the mountains. “Do not try to move, disarm, or enter the bomb,” the letter warned. “It will explode.”

The bomb maker was one Janos “Big John” Birges, a Hungarian political refugee who had worked his way up from nothing to become a successful entrepreneur in Fresno, California—only to see his life unraveled in middle age by divorce, cancer, and gambling debts. By 1980, he owed hundreds of thousands of dollars to Harvey’s. And he had roped his two teenage sons—who were as eager to please their father as they were terrified of him—into a plot to get the money back.

But the bomb he planted in the casino that August wasn’t just an extortion scheme. It was a brilliant feat of engineering—an intricate and deadly puzzle that Birges hoped would prove once and for all just how badly the world had underestimated him.”

A great engaging read about the bombing of Harvey’s Wagon Wheel Casino.


“In 1964, a San Francisco cable car rolled partway down a hill before it came to an abrupt stop, causing a passenger, Gloria Sykes, to bang her head against a pole. Six years later, Sykes sued the railway, claiming that the accident had caused her to develop an “insatiable and uncontrollable desire for promiscuous sex.” In other words, she had become a nymphomaniac.

The lawsuit is remembered to this day as one of the most bizarre cases in San Francisco’s history.”

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“A monk who chose to perform self-mummification, or sokushinbutsu, began by abstaining from grains and cereals, eating only fruits and nuts for one thousand days. He spent this nearly three years meditating and continuing to perform service to the temple and community. Then for the next thousand days the monk ate only pine needles and bark. By the end of the two thousand days of fasting, the monk’s body had wasted away through starvation and dehydration. While this satisfied the requirement for suffering, it also started the process of mummification by removing excess fat and water, which would otherwise attract bacteria and insects after death. Some of the monks drank tea made from the bark of the urushi tree during their fast. Also known as the Japanese Varnish Tree, its sap is normally used to make a lacquer varnish, and it contains the same abrasive chemical that makes poison ivy so unpleasant. Urushi is so toxic that even its vapor can cause a rash, and it remains in the body after death. Drinking urushi tea served to hasten the monk towards death as well as make his body even less hospitable to insects.

Finally, the monk would enter a cramped, specially built tomb and sit in meditation as his acolytes sealed him in, leaving a small tube to allow air to enter. He spent his last days in sitting in meditation, ringing a bell occasionally to signal to those outside that he was still alive. When the bell stopped, the acolytes removed the breathing tube and sealed the tomb completely. After a thousand days, his followers opened the tomb and examined the body. If there was no sign of decay, the monk had achieved sokushinbutsu and was placed in a temple and worshipped as a Living Buddha. If not, he was reburied with great honor for the attempt.”

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“The worst thing one can do with words is to surrender to them.”

George Orwell