THE CASE OF THE CABLE CAR NYMPHOMANIAC»

“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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SOKUSHINBUTSU: THE JAPANESE ART OF SELF-PRESERVATION»

“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


OPTOGRAPHY: HOW TO DEVELOP A PICTURE FROM A CORPSE’S EYE»

“The morning of November 16, 1880, Wilhelm Friedrich Kühne (1837–1900), a professor of physiology at the University of Heidelberg, dissected the head of an executed murderer in his dark room within minutes of the man’s death. Kühne worked around the contracting muscles in the left eye socket to remove the eye and develop an image from the retina of the last thing this man saw.”

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“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”

George Bernard Shaw


THE FALSE PROMISE OF DNA TESTING»

“Modern forensic science is in the midst of a great reckoning. Since a series of high-profile legal challenges in the 1990s increased scrutiny of forensic evidence, a range of long-standing crime-lab methods have been deflated or outright debunked. Bite-mark analysis—a kind of dental fingerprinting that dates back to the Salem witch trials—is now widely considered unreliable; the “uniqueness and reproducibility” of ballistics testing has been called into question by the National Research Council. In 2004, the FBI was forced to issue an apology after it incorrectly connected an Oregon attorney named Brandon Mayfield to that spring’s train bombings in Madrid, on the basis of a “100 percent” match to partial fingerprints found on plastic bags containing detonator devices. Last year, the bureau admitted that it had reviewed testimony by its microscopic-hair-comparison analysts and found errors in at least 90 percent of the cases. A thorough investigation is now under way.

[…]

Contamination is an obvious hazard when it comes to DNA analysis. But at least contamination can be prevented with care and proper technique. DNA transfer—the migration of cells from person to person, and between people and objects—is inevitable when we touch, speak, do the laundry. A 1996 study showed that sperm cells from a single stain on one item of clothing made their way onto every other item of clothing in the washer. And because we all shed different amounts of cells, the strongest DNA profile on an object doesn’t always correspond to the person who most recently touched it. I could pick up a knife at 10 in the morning, but an analyst testing the handle that day might find a stronger and more complete DNA profile from my wife, who was using it four nights earlier. Or the analyst might find a profile of someone who never touched the knife at all. One recent study asked participants to shake hands with a partner for two minutes and then hold a knife; when the DNA on the knives was analyzed, the partner was identified as a contributor in 85 percent of cases, and in 20 percent as the main or sole contributor.”

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“All the stores will open if you say the magic words. The magic words are: Up against the wall mother fucker, this is a stick up!”

~ Everett LeRoi Jones (aka Amiri Baraka) | Black People ~


THIS IS WHAT IT’S LIKE TO HAVE SEX FOR MONEY WHEN YOU’RE SICK FROM HEROIN WITHDRAWAL»

“The junkie-in-withdrawal is the distillation of all the worst stereotypes of heroin users. Think of movie depictions of the whining, sniveling dopefiend in duress, willing to do anything and fuck over anyone to get well. Though these are images that come from people driven to desperation by the economic and legal constraints of an unjust drug war, they’ve still come to represent us in many people’s minds. And the position of the detoxing, opioid-using sex worker in particular lays the capitalist transaction of sex work bare: The dopesick whore isn’t with you because she truly likes you, with the money you give her simply serving as a pleasant afterthought, to pay for her cab fare, perhaps. No: She needs your cash, now.

So it’s no wonder many sex workers hide their withdrawal from clients in order to keep up the middle-class pretense of prostitution, the emotional labor for which many men are truly paying.”

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crumb

“I got married to the first overweight woman passing by, this deeply neurotic, insecure woman. I was living the life of a wage slave in Cleveland and then one day in January, 1967, I just hitched a ride to San Francisco without telling her, and left my job in the greeting card business. The hippie culture of Haight-Ashbury, where it all started for me, was full of men doing nothing all day and expecting women to bring them food. The ‘chick’ had to provide a home for them, cook meals for them, even pay the rent. It was still very much ingrained from the earlier patriarchal mentality of our fathers, except that our fathers, generally, were providers. Free love meant free sex and food for men. Sure, women enjoyed it, too, and had a lot of sex, but then they served men. Even among left-wing political groups, women were always relegated to secretarial, menial jobs. We were all on LSD, so it took a few years for the smoke to dissipate and for women to realize what a raw deal they were getting with the ne’er-do-well hippie male. Men who acquired preeminence at the time were all frauds, fake gurus who were paying lip service to peace and love, charismatic cons who just wanted to fuck all their adoring disciples. Timothy Leary was like that. A big phony.”

~ Robert Crumb from Robert Crumb Hates You ~

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WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE CHEMICALLY CASTRATED»

“Surgical castration has a long and ugly history — from ancient Athenian man-slaves and 18th-century Italian castrati to 19th-century America, when a man named Dr. Harry Sharp castrated nearly 200 inmates, aiming to reduce the likelihood that they would offend again. But it wasn’t until the 1940s that the use of hormone therapy surfaced as a way of lowering testosterone and reducing “pathological” sexual behavior in men. (The death of British code-breaker and computer pioneer Alan Turing was famously attributed to suicide over the female hormone treatment mandated by a court after he had been caught having sex with men and convicted of “gross indecency,” although this has since been disputed by Turing’s biographer.)

These days, the treatment is associated with sex offenders or people with troubling sexual fantasies they fear they will act on. In 2000, doctors started using a drug designed to treat prostate cancer to lower men’s sexual urges. The drug Lupron tricks the hormone in the brain that tells the pituitary gland to produce testosterone.”

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“Bella’s dealer has branded loyalty cards, much like the ones you get at coffee shops. For every pick-up, she gets a stamp. She texts the amount, he drives to meet her wherever she is, and five stamps equal a free gram of cocaine; it’s an audacious but effective method of marketing.”

MY SECRET LIFE AS A HIGH-FUNCTIONING DRUG USER


HART ISLAND: UNEARTHING THE SECRETS OF NEW YORK’S MASS GRAVES»

“Twice a week or so, loaded with bodies boxed in pine, a New York City morgue truck passes through a tall chain-link gate and onto a ferry that has no paying passengers. Its destination is Hart Island, an uninhabited strip of land off the coast of the Bronx in Long Island Sound, where overgrown 19th-century ruins give way to mass graves gouged out by bulldozers and the only pallbearers are jail inmates paid 50 cents an hour. There, divergent life stories come to the same anonymous end.”

Previously:
A Certain Kind Of Death

ALLEN GINSBERG – “HOWL”
Allen Ginsberg reads his classic poem Howl.

FUCK THE MOON: MANIFESTO OF THE COMMITTEE TO ABOLISH OUTER SPACE»

“It’s a truism that capitalism never solves its problems but only moves them around. Finally it’s running out of space. The conditions necessary not only for social but biological life are being eroded. It’s running out of minerals; it’s running out of value (the amount of debt on the planet now exceeds the total value of everything on Earth). And all this is accompanied by ghastly mocking nebulae and the idea that the greatest possible course of action for humanity is for us to go about exploring the galaxy, turning void into value, giving capital an infinite field in which to work its sinister magic.

We should be very afraid. In outer space there is no relation to nature, only antagonism. We think the world is being treated carelessly now; we haven’t seen anything yet. “

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“…the blackhat scene is always riddled with informants. The only thing a Darknet guy likes better than darknetting is ratting somebody else out. All hackers aspire to an upgrade to spook. Hackers have no shut-your-mouth “omerta,” so whenever they get arrested they’ll brag to the authorities for 72 hours straight. They’ll even draw helpful little flowcharts for the cops.”

BRUCE STERLING: CRITIQUING THE FUTURE