Chastity Belt

The chastity belt has appeared in everything from medieval texts to movie.

The idea of the chastity belt is thought to date back to medieval times when men would lock up their wives or daughters to ensure their virginity and fidelity.

References to chastity belts have been found in texts dating from as early as the first century. The first drawing of a belt was depicted in a book called Bellifortis, written in 1405 by a German military engineer named Konrad Kyeser. It wasn’t until the sixteenth century that references and depictions of chastity belts became commonplace.

Though they were referred to as “belts,” they resemble something closer to a pair of metal underwear, with small holes for waste excretion. Some of the belts had holes lined with sharp points that jutted out away from the woman’s body as a means to further deter any men who might get near. Other belts were less torturous looking, though likely still extremely uncomfortable.

An iron chastity belt. Documentation connected with this
object claims it may date from the 1500s.

Think You Don’t Need Sunscreen?

Think the sun won’t age you prematurely? Here’s an unintentional science experiment on the effects of sun exposure.  It’s like a before and after picture, except it’s the same face. 

A 69-year-old man showed a 25-year history of gradual, asymptomatic thickening and wrinkling of the skin on the left side of his face.

The circumstances were about three decades of truck driving where one side of his face got a lot more sun exposure. 

The physical examination findings were consistent with the Favre–Racouchot syndrome of photodamaged skin, known as dermatoheliosis. Ultraviolet A (UVA) rays came through window glass, penetrating the epidermis and upper layers of dermis

Truck driver’s startling one-sided sun damage (unilateral dermatoheliosis)

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Tongue Ecraseur

A tongue écraseur is used to remove part of the tongue affected by diseases such as cancer in an attempt to prevent its spread. Although the procedure would have been painful, surgeons believed this was the quickest and most effective method of removing the tongue. One of the consequences of the operation would almost certainly have been a permanent speech impediment.

The instrument was invented by William Harrison Cripps (1850-1923) during his career as a surgeon.

Pipe of Peace

Hiram Maxim (1840-1916) invented the machine gun. Also a patent inhaler (“Pipe of Peace”), which he devised to treat his bouts of bronchitis.

Maxim began suffering with Bronchitis in 1900 and spent many months consulting doctors and trying various therapies with little luck. He finally attented a clinic in France that used inhalation to aid breathing disorders.

Through experimentation Maxim found that the use of an inhaler that could be placed in the mouth, towards the back, that it had a better effect. He also designed his inhaler to be heated by the warmth of the user’s hand rather than by a flame.

The ‘Pipe of Peace’ is perhaps the most unusual and ironic invention from Hiram S. Maxim. In 1909 he filed a British patent for an inhaler and a mixture to be inhaled to ease the symptoms.

Maxim’s Pipe of Peace set included two inhalers, a smaller pocket menthol inhaler and a larger inhaler to be used with his water mixed with his ‘Dirigo’ mixture.

His friends worried that this invention could damage his reputation. As he said: “It is a very creditable thing to invent a killing machine, and nothing less than a disgrace to invent an apparatus to prevent human suffering.”

Shame on the Covidiots

This might be TLDR for some but I am going to rant anyway….

According to the news today, doctors say the new restrictions announced in many parts of Canada might not be enough at this stage in the pandemic – and even if they do work, we won’t know until two weeks from now. Maybe, just maybe, if EVERYONE had been wearing a mask from the get go we wouldn’t be in this dire position.

We knew this was going to get worse for months. We were told the basics of how to prevent mass contagion: wear masks, keep your distance, and don’t be inside with large groups of people. Too many people have a very poor attitude – a me first attitude. How freaking hard is it to wear a mask when you go out in public? How hard is for people to understand there is a worldwide pandemic happening?

The term “covidiot” was first uploaded to the online slang decoder Urban Dictionary on March 16th and was defined as: “Someone who ignores the warnings regarding public health or safety.” By March 22nd the word went viral across the internet.

Who deserves to be scorned for their negligence?

For starters: The government. The offense – not mandating a national mask law. The Federal Government passed it off to the Provincial Governments and they in turned passed it off to the Mayors. Seriously people, can you all not just think for yourselves and realise it’s up to each individual to do their part. I started wearing a mask before anyone I know, or didn’t know, was wearing one. Why? Because I knew what the word ‘pandemic’ meant. Never before has the phrase “better safe than sorry” been more meaningful.

The next group that needs to be scorned: the Indoor Diners. The offense – they’re eating in restaurants with no masks! Just this week someone I know very well went to eat a restaurant with their family. WTF!!! Numbers are rising, so are hospitalizations, and you just feel it necessary to eat in a restaurant, like you’re somehow immune?

Should they be shamed? YES. We’ve fracked up the restaurant part of this so, so badly. What we should have done is shut down every restaurant while simultaneously bailing them out. Instead, we waited until near every restaurant was bankrupt and then let them reopen (forced them, really — what other choice did owners have if they wanted to stay afloat?) with restrictions that were destined to be ignored.

So yeah, I reserve the right to be both disgusted and horrified when the mouth-breathers converge on The Keg (or insert restaurant of choice) to drink crappy beer and over priced wine and exhale all over one another. Get some takeout and tip generously instead. Covidiots.

There are other groups of people that need to be scorned, like the shoppers not wearing masks. The people having home get-togethers. Covidiots.

Covid does indeed discriminate. It infects those without care and without a plan. It infects those who are either dependent upon or too trusting of the irresponsible. It infects those who think this is a hoax or a panic or a danger worth blowing off just to eat at a fracking East Side Mario’s. It seeks out those without shame and quickly works its way into them, knowing it can thrive in such wanton obliviousness.

I am so repulsed with some people. The people that are just going on their merry way during this pandemic without a care in the world. This is a new virus that hasn’t even been in the population for a year yet. No one, and I mean NO ONE, knows what the long-term effects of being infected with covid-19 will do to the body.

Back at the start of this many people were saying, “if you’re so afraid, stay home.” I say NO!!! If you cannot conform to social standards during a pandemic by wearing a mask, then you stay home. I don’t want your germs, neither does anyone else.

Me wearing a mask

A Mysterious 300-year-old Skull

A mysterious 300-year-old carved Tibetan Skull. Discovered in an antique shop in Vienna in 2011, this intricately carved skull is believed to be a 300-year-old skull belonging to a Tibetan man, or so claims the man who sold it to an Austrian shopkeeper.

Supposedly the skull was once a man who gave medical help to Tibetan monks, although it’s unclear if this is just a good story of if it’s true. Researchers have investigated the skull and found that it’s covered in a script that’s called lant’sa or the 7th-century Indian script ranja, however without knowing for sure where the skull comes from it’s impossible to translate the letters.

Skull of a Roman Legionnaire

From 58 BC – 51 BC the Gallic wars were waged by Casaar and the Romans against the Gallic tribes throughout present day France and Belgium. The Gauls were certainly as strong as the Romans, but there was so much tension and infighting between them that the Romans were able to defeat them after a series of brutal campaigns. Over the course of the entire war both sides suffered major losses with the Romans losing more than 30,000 soldiers while the Celts lost an estimated 1,000,000 fighters in hand to hand combat and 800 towns were destroyed. 

The skull of a Roman legionnaire — with the spear still embedded in it — who was killed during the Gallic Wars in 52 BC.⁣

The Strait Jacket

The strait jacket, or strait waistcoat, was first described in 1772 in a textbook by David Macbride.

Invented in Paris in 1790, where it was referred to as the camisole de force, the straitjacket was considered a humane advance to the chains in use previously to restrain unruly and dangerous patients. The restraint seemed to apply little to no pressure to the body or limbs and did not cause skin abrasions. Moreover, straitjackets allowed some freedom of movement. Unlike patients anchored to a chair or bed by straps or handcuffs, those in straitjackets could walk. Some registered nurse specialists even recommended restrained individuals stroll outdoors, thereby reaping the benefits of both control and fresh air.

The straitjacket was used as a restraint as well as for treatment, its use gradually declined in the 19th century as reformers campaigned for a more sympathetic approach to mental illness.

Victorian Hypodermic Syringe

In 1844, Francis Rynd developed the first syringe with a hollow needle, although he did not publicize it until 1861 after a rival claimed to have invented the hypodermic syringe. Rynd used a cannula (a thin hollow tube) and a trocar (a sharp needle-like point). An incision is made by a lancet and the trocar inserted into the skin. The thin hollow tube, opened at both ends, is fitted over the top of the trocar. Once the cannula was inserted, the trocar was retracted and the medications or fluids placed into the cannula.

Hypodermic needles are hollow so treatments can be injected in the body under the skin. The needles are angled so that the sharp point easily penetrates the skin. This is from the Science Museum in London.

Below: Hypodermic Needle, c.1870.

Victorian hypodermic syringe in casket-like case.

Shrapnel Wound

Millions of soldiers who fought in World War I were permanently disfigured. The cause of many facial injuries was shrapnel. Unlike the straight-line wounds inflicted by bullets, the twisted metal shards produced from a shrapnel blast could rip a face off. Not only that, but the shrapnel’s shape would often drag clothing and dirt into the wound. Improved medical care meant that more injured soldiers could be kept alive, but urgently dealing with such devastating injuries was a new challenge.

This photo shows a soldier whose face was torn apart during the war. It is so extreme that it’s a miracle he even survived. I assure you this photo is not a fake as Getty own the image rights, and the photo has been used on credible sites such as the British Library.

Thanksgiving: A Day to Reflect & be Thankful

“Reflect upon your present blessings—of which every man has many—not on your past misfortunes, of which all men have some.” ~Charles Dickens

We can get so caught up in our own bubbles and concerned with our own problems that we forget to think about and appreciate the things that our fellow human beings do for us and the sacrifices they make for us on a daily basis. We all have moments of ungratefulness. It’s just human nature.

However, some people never seem to be happy or content with the way their life is or the people who are in it? Some people seem to neglect the positive aspects of life and focus on every misfortune. They seem to spend everyday of their lives in their own personal pity party.

Being around someone who’s not grateful for the things they have and what others do for them, can be a very negative influence in your life.

When life gets you down, when your hurt or angry or confused or frustrated, that is when it’s most important to take a moment to stop, close your eyes, and find things to be thankful for. Your health, your family, the roof over your head, the fact that you’ll have a next meal, the beauty of the world around you, the good people in your life. Whatever you can think of, be thankful and realize that all is not bad in this world, and be happy for that.

It’s about focusing on what’s good in our lives and being thankful for the things we have, take the time to think about the small things we encounter in life. The things that should fill our lives with joy and happiness on a daily basis.

Life is made up of moments and life is so much more rewarding when you focus on all the little ways life is good instead of becoming miserable by focusing on the negative.

Today is Canadian Thanksgiving and I thought I’d reflect on a few things I am thankful for, in no particular order…

My children: I love each of them dearly

My parents: they gave me the best childhood they could

Seasons: Is there anything that says autumn more than the changing foliage? The vibrant colours, the woodsy smell, the nip in the air, and the crunch of the leaves under feet, they combine to delight all your senses.

Sleep: I appreciate falling into a deep slumber under a fluffy, warm comforter in a soft bed. Cool air, warm body, and a perfect night’s sleep.

Life: I’m alive! And that’s always something to be grateful for.

Marriage: I am thankful for my husband who is a little difficult but I love him anyway.

Choices: I love that every day I can choose to be happy.

Organization: It might seem boring to some, but I’m really glad I’m organized.

Smiles: I love giving them and getting them.

Change: It scares the shit out of me sometimes, but it can be a wonderful thing.

Comfort: Comfort food, comfy sweatpants, a comfortable relationship…comfort rocks!

Hope: Sometimes it’s hard to find, but it’s always there.

Surprises: As long as they’re good, I love them.

Dreams: Both the daytime or nighttime variety are pretty cool.

Positivity: Look for the good in everything and you will find it.

Kindness: Even the smallest act or word can change a day around

Water: Having access to clean, drinkable water. After living in Mexico, I will never take water for granted again.

Food: Not being hungry and having an abundance of food.

Modern conveniences: the ones that weren’t available even a century ago (electricity, indoor plumbing, air conditioning, the internet).

Senses: the smell right before and after a thunderstorm; seeing a rainbow; the feel of an embrace; the sound of my cat purring; the taste of salted caramel ice cream.

Happy Thanksgiving

Cephalotribe

If you’re having a relaxing Sunday, then avert your eyes as I am about to ruin it.

This vicious three-pronged instrument is called a cephalotribe, and dates to 1750. It was used by obstetric physicians to aid in the delivery of stillborn babies in cases of obstructed labor by compressing the skull. It was done as a last resort to save the mother’s life after it was determined that the baby was dead. As awful as this instrument was, it helped save lives in the past.

Using instruments to intervene in delivering a live child was still quite rare in the 1700s, though the forceps were becoming more popular with the rise of male midwifery in this period. Traditionally, the birthing chamber was a female domain, unless the life of the baby, mother, or both were at risk – at which point a male doctor would be called in to assist.

The term “gossip” referred to a woman who attended her daughter’s or sister’s or friend’s delivery. The word was a corruption of “god-sib” or “god-sibling,” meaning “sister in the Lord.

Ancient Vampire-slaying Ritual

Female skeleton, 16th century, Venice. An archaeological dig near Venice has unearthed the 16th-century remains of a woman with a brick stuck between her jaws — evidence, experts say, that she was believed to be a vampire.

The unusual burial is thought to be the result of an ancient vampire-slaying ritual. It suggests the legend of the mythical bloodsucking creatures was tied to medieval ignorance of how diseases spread and what happens to bodies after death.

The well-preserved skeleton was found in 2006 on the Lazzaretto Nuovo island, north of the lagoon city, amid other corpses buried in a mass grave during an epidemic of plague that hit Venice in 1576.

During epidemics, mass graves were often reopened to bury fresh corpses and diggers would chance upon older bodies that were bloated, with blood seeping out of their mouth and with an inexplicable hole in the shroud used to cover their face.

These characteristics are all tied to the decomposition of bodies, but they saw a fat, dead person, full of blood and with a hole in the shroud, so they would say: ‘This guy is alive, he’s drinking blood and eating his shroud.’

Modern forensic science shows the bloating is caused by a buildup of gases, while fluid seeping from the mouth is pushed up by decomposing organs. The shroud would have been consumed by bacteria found in the mouth area.

At the time however, what passed for scientific texts taught that “shroud-eaters” were vampires who fed on the cloth and cast a spell that would spread the plague in order to increase their ranks.

To kill the undead creatures, the stake-in-the-heart method popularized by later literature was not enough: A stone or brick had to be forced into the vampire’s mouth so that it would starve to death.

That’s what is believed to have happened to the woman found on the Lazzaretto island, which was used as a quarantine zone by Venice. Aged around 60, she died of the plague during the epidemic that also claimed the life of the painter Titian.

Photo: Matteo Borrini from the University of Florence/Reuters.

X-ray Dermatitis

X-ray technician’s hand showing damage from radiation exposure, c.1900. This photograph from the Royal London Hospital demonstrates just how damaging the effects of radiation exposure can be. X-rays were first discovered in 1895 by Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, but their dangers were not yet understood.

“The fingers show signs of chronic X-ray dermatitis, otherwise known as ‘Röntgen hands,’” says Kirsten Riley for an article on the Wellcome Collection’s “Top Ten Creepiest Objects.” Early radiologists would calibrate their X-ray machines in a way that exposed their hands to dangerous radiation by sliding a hand slowly through the beam in thirty second intervals. Many technicians would eventually have to have their fingers amputated due to cancer.

Leather Restraint from a Victorian Insane Asylum

Leather Restraint from a Victorian Insane Asylum. Such garments restricted the movements of mentally ill patients who were considered violent. They were universally used until the end of the 18th century. More humane methods of management were introduced throughout the 1800s, though some asylums continued to use “traditional” methods.

This leather restraint harness was found in a chest in 1930 at the Hanwell Asylum in Middlesex, which is now West London Mental Health NHS Trust at St Bernard’s Hospital. It’s housed at the Science Museum in London.

Old Croghan Man

Close-up of the hand from a bog body that is over 2,000 years old. Old Croghan Man is the name given to this well-preserved Iron Age bog body found in an Irish bog in June 2003. The remains are named after Croghan Hill, north of Daingean, County Offaly, near where the body was found.

The man is calculated (based on his arm span) to have stood 6’6” tall: which is considered to be fairly rare for the period when he lived. The man’s apparently manicured nails led to speculation that he was not someone who engaged in manual labour, and possibly therefore of high status.

A bog body is a human cadaver that has been naturally mummified in a peat bog. Unlike most ancient human remains, bog bodies have retained their skin and internal organs due to the unusual conditions of the surrounding area. These conditions include highly acidic water, low temperature, and a lack of oxygen, and combine to preserve but severely tan their skin. While the skin is well-preserved, the bones are generally not, due to the acid in the peat having dissolved the calcium phosphate of bone.

Old Croghan Man is on display in the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.

Three Spiders to be Mindful of in Mexico

Last night I was surprised by a tarantula strolling down the walkway. Ugh, there are so big and very startling to see. Hollywood is squarely to blame for these spiders’ toxic-to-humans reputation. In reality, the venom of these largest-of-all-spiders generally has very low toxicity to humans. It can use its fangs to inflict a bite, or it can use its urticating (barbed and mildly venomous) abdominal hairs to cause soft tissue or eye irritation. Fortunately, while painful and aggravating, the tarantula’s fangs or or hairs appear to cause no long term damage in most cases.

However there are some spiders in Mexico that are cause for concern,

The Black Widow: The venom from male Widow spiders is rarely harmful to humans, but the females’ toxin can be harmful: a bite can cause severe muscle pain, abdominal cramps, heavy sweating, heart palpitations, and muscle spasms.

The Brown Recluse: potentially-deadly hematologic venom has no antidote; effects of bites vary widely and fatalities associated with the bite are usually among the infirm, very young, or old.

The Hobo Spider: bites can cause a range of uncomfortable side-effects including severe headaches, and in rare cases an allergic reaction to the bite can be fatal.

Check out the original article. It has descriptions and habitats of the above mentioned spiders as well as some great tips Here