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The British neurologist who uses William S. Burroughs’ ideas to treat Parkinson’s disease


 
Though he never met William S. Burroughs, the British neurologist A.J. Lees credits the author as an important teacher in his recent book, Mentored by a Madman: The William S. Burroughs Experiment.

The expert in Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases first encountered Burroughs on the cover of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. During the 1970s, after reading Naked Lunch, Lees began experimenting with apomorphine, the substance Burroughs advocated to cure junk addiction, as a treatment for symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

In 2013, again following Burroughs’ example, Lees traveled to the Amazon rainforest to take yagé, or ayahuasca. He told the Guardian that taking the drug “broke down certain rigid structures that were blocking innovations in Parkinson’s disease research.”

Lees has also used apomorphine and Brion Gysin and Burroughs’ Dreamachine to investigate visual hallucinations in Parkinson’s patients.

Below, in an interview at the Beat Hotel, Lees talks with Andrew Hussey about Mentored by a Madman. He’s also spoken about the book on Erik Davis’ Expanding Mind podcast and in a video for ACNR Journal
 

Posted by Oliver Hall
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06.14.2018
07:08 am
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Drugs, witchcraft & werewolves: The fantastic weirdness of paranormal magazine Fate


The cover of the January 1956 issue of Fate magazine. Read the entire cover story, ‘In The Magical Land Of Mescaline’ here.
 
Fate magazine published their first issue in 1948 featuring an illustration of gold flying saucers along with an accompanying article by Kenneth Arnold of his first-hand account of seeing UFOs while piloting his plane around Washington State. Arnold was more than a credible witness as far as the public was concerned. A professional pilot with approximately 9,000 hours of flying time to his credit, his story was a national sensation. Fate publisher and science fiction writer Raymond A. Palmer got together with Arnold to polish up his paranormal tale for publication in Fate’s first issue making it hugely popular.

Palmer’s love of the paranormal and science fiction started as a child, mostly to find solace as he was recovering from a horrific accident in which his spine was broken when he was hit by a truck at the age of seven. The injury would leave the young Palmer with a disfigured back (or humpback) as well as limiting his adult height to four feet. None of this stopped Palmer from writing, editing and publishing science fiction stories under various names during his long career which includes the notable distinction of publishing Isaac Asimov’s first professional piece, Marooned Off Vesta while he was an editor for Amazing Stories magazine. In 1948 he would turn his attention to Fate magazine (with partner Curtis Fuller, who eventually bought him out) which is still going and to date has put out over 700 issues full of supernatural tales, the afterlife, the occult, witchcraft, spiritualism, ESP, telepathy, cryptozoology and anything else residing on the fringe and beyond our plane of existence. Writer John Keel, he of the Mothman mythos, wrote regularly for Fate and even edited the magazine for a period.

Many of the stories published in Fate were submitted by readers from all walks of life sharing their far-out experiences such as one published in 1956 called In The Magic Land of Mescaline. In the piece written by Claude William Chamberlain, Ph.D., the good doctor recounts the time he allowed himself to be the subject of a scientific experiment where he dropped a half-gram of mescaline.

Here’s an excerpt from In The Magic Land of Mescaline from the January 1956 issue of Fate:

“I sat in the laboratory for an hour discussing current matters with my two friends—and nothing happened! A short time later, I closed my eyes for a moment and began to see “things.” I call them “things” because I have no words to describe them. Not living creatures, people or tangible objects but forms of light and color that slid and expanded and revolved in constantly changing pattern. Something like a blooming, bright red rose evolved into a scarlet dance of lights and shadowy contrasts. Golden spheres melted into azure and pink sunsets, becoming flat planes of intense beauty. A glorious aurora borealis flashed at an angle and became a series of rainbows that developed into showers of glittering raindrops of amazing splendor. Up to this point, there had been no untoward sounds, odors or other sensations. I didn’t have any feelings either pleasant or unpleasant. But, I was looking upon everything dispassionately, with cold objectivity. The warm friendship that existed between my two companions and me had not carried over into my new world. I felt nothing toward them. Except that I continued to talk to them, they might have been strangers a thousand miles removed from the scene. I realized who they were, well enough, but it left me unmoved. They were quite outside the new me. In my own case, I was far removed from the actualities of the workaday world, with highly increased perception and hypersensitivities to what ordinarily passes for unimpressive realities. It was a fantastic experience.”

While Dr. Chamberlain’s story is not the first to be documented by a physician (proper credit likely belongs to Havelock Ellis and his self-experimentation with the drug in 1896), it does precede the well-documented travels taken by actor Cary Grant during his acid awakening period starting in 1958 and concluding in 1961 where Grant claimed to have dropped at least 100 tabs of acid ultimately declaring himself “reborn” thanks to his experience under the influence (explored in the 2017 documentary Becoming Cary Grant). I’ve posted some of the more intriguing covers of Fate below, including one done by Robert Crumb in 2000 featuring his wicked Yeti Woman Some are slightly NSFW.
 

March 1953.
 

May/June 1951.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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06.13.2018
08:59 am
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Locked-up in chastity: Men’s anti-masturbation devices from a century ago

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John Harvey Kellogg invented Corn Flakes as a means to stop masturbation. Kellogg believed a bowl of crispy morning goodness would stop youngsters from the evils of self-pollution, disease, and possible madness. Kellogg was a doctor, nutritionist, inventor, health freak, activist, and shrewd businessman. He wrote the treatise Plain Facts for Old and Young: Embracing the Natural History and Hygiene of Organic Life in which he cataloged a startling array of side-effects caused by the “doubly abominable” “crime” of onanism. His list included poor posture, stiffness of the joints, infirmity, bashfulness, and even an unhealthy predilection for spicy foods.

Kellogg believed diet played an enormous part in why so many youngsters wasted their lives in self-abuse. He, therefore, insisted on a diet of bland food, a cleansing of the bowels through regular use of enemas, and a daily bowl of his tasty Corn Flakes.

Masturbation was considered a very serious threat to the good health and clean-living of every young man and woman up as far up as the 1950s and even the 1960s. Some may recall Monty Python’s spoof advert in their Brand New Bok which displayed a naked Graham Chapman under the headline “Masturbation The Difficult One”:

Some people find it difficult to talk about. Others find it difficult to do.

The mock ad went on to explain how masturbation:

...does not make you blind
It does not make your hair fall out
It does not make you vote Conservative
It does not stunt your growth

 
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Mr. Chapman and that difficult one.
 
The writer, lawyer, and “champagne socialist” John Mortimer, probably best known for his fictional character Rumpole of the Bailey, recounted in his autobiography Clinging to the Wreckage a tale of one of his classmates, a boy called Tainton, caught masturbating by the school chaplain, the suitably-named Mr. Percy.

Mr. Percy was deeply shocked to discover Tainton playing with himself and admonished him by saying:

“Really my boy, you should save that up till you are married.”
“Oh, I’m doing that, sir,” Tainton answered with his rare smile, “I’ve already got several jam jars full.”

In a bid to stop such heinous behavior, various contraptions were invented to stop self-pollution. For young women, there was the chastity belt, and for men, well, a variety of painful devices including this one which was intended to lock the penis and testicles into a metal retainer to avoid any self-abuse.

This male chastity belt, or “surgical appliance,” was in use from the 1830s until the 1930s. The device may look like a novel fashion accessory or a variation on one of those “cock locks” favored by those into fetishism, cross-dressing, and a little S&M, but it was originally intended to put a stop to young men spilling their seed on stony ground, or rather in their hands or handkerchieves.
 
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A male antimasturbation apparatus ca 1871-1930. According to the Science Museum:

This metal device is one of a number of similar devices which were invented in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries to prevent masturbation. A leather strap which would have kept it in place is now missing. Until the early 1900s, many people regarded masturbation as harmful to a person’s health, and it was blamed for a variety of ailments, including insanity.

 
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More male anti-masturbation devices, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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04.12.2018
08:49 am
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A lonely planet full of isolated unhappy souls: One man’s potent takedown of ‘antisocial’ media
02.20.2018
11:05 am
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When Facebook switched on just over a decade ago, a friend described the shiny, newly minted social media platform as being like a great big cocktail party where one could drift in and out of conversations (drink in hand no doubt) meet new people, renew old acquaintances, and share ideas and information. It didn’t take too long before I started thinking Facebook was more like Sid Caesar’s writers’ room where the writers screamed out their material in the hope of getting picked every time the old comedy kingpin Caesar popped his head in the room to see what was cooking. The big difference being these writers’ scripts were gold, whereas Facebook was mainly filled with dross like the endless loops of viral videos featuring pandas sneezing, men with bulging eyes, and cats getting all surprised when they’re tickled. Even our means of responding to this “wonderful content” was limited to just a “Like” button. There were no laughing/crying faces or other emojis back then.

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s noble dream of meaningful interaction bringing people together was now but a cold caller’s White Pages. Then came Twitter which soon fell into a moronic inferno of abusive trolls who seemed to think the platform was solely invented to help them deal with ther anger management issues. Next was the empty hall of mirrors better known as Instagram and the utterly pointless connectivity of Linkedin which merely confirmed the deep nagging suspicion that being part of this group was like sending your resume to the mad cat lady down the road.

Now I’m sure for many many people social media’s a groove and a gas and has helped them successfully navigate their world and given them the belief they are somehow relevant to whatever it is that’s going on. Good. That’s fair. That’s really nice to hear. Still, let me hazard a guess that maybe for some—maybe just a disgruntled few—social media ain’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact, it’s very disappointing. And if all those reports that are always wheeled out every time some old school media outlet wants to score a point are true then social media platforms like Facebook, like Twitter, like whatever, haven’t made people happier, sunnier, calmer, more fun-loving peeps but more frustrated and lonely.

Now before y’all jump in and say but…but…but… etc. If one can see faults in Heaven then it ain’t perfect and maybe we can do something about it to make it better—but can that ever happen if we haven’t the means, the tools, to correct what is wrong?

But that’s just my two cents, you can keep the change.

Digital artist Mike Campau has also been wondering about our social media world and its effects. Campau is a highly respected and very successful digital artist who’s worked with a list of names more impressive than an award ceremony guest list. One of his recent projects is ANTISOCIAL which uses photography and CGI to ask questions about our social media world as he sez in his pitch:

Social Media is starting to get some pullback, and rightfully so. Each platform has its own problems, but all have had a large impact on society as a whole, both good and bad.  Each image takes place in an empty parking lot which is a symbol of our singularly isolated posts but placed in a location where it can be easily seen by many.

See more of ANTISOCIAL and Campau’s work here.
 
More lonely planet, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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02.20.2018
11:05 am
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The gorgeous sci-fi ladies of ‘UFO’
02.05.2018
09:20 am
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Actress Gabrielle Drake (sister of musician Nick Drake) in character as Lt. Gay Ellis from UK television show, ‘UFO.’
 
Television program UFO made its debut in 1970, in the UK and Canada. It came out a bit later in the U.S. The show was the creation of dynamic husband and wife duo, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson—who were best known for their pioneering kid-oriented “Supermarionation” shows such as Thunderbirds. The futuristic storyline for UFO takes place in the not-so-distant year of 1980, and it was honestly pretty gnarly for prime time viewing as it presents the scenario of a ragtag fleet of dying aliens coming to earth to harvest human organs in order to sustain their existence. No big deal. Among the members of the large ensemble cast were Gabrielle Drake (the sister of musician Nick Drake), Polish actor, Vladek Sheybal (who is likely best known for his portrayal of chess master Kronsteen in the 1963 James Bond film From Russia with Love), and model/actress Shakira Baksh who would wed actor Michael Caine in 1973. The show had much in common with 1969’s Doppelgänger (AKA Journey to the Far Side of the Sun, its better known title)—the Anderson’s’ first project to use human beings—including many of the same props, sets and even actors.

UFO was an instant hit, due much in part to the special effects created by the talented Derek Meddings which took approximately a year to develop. Meddings would go on to do special effects for several James Bond films and the pyrotechnics for every live Pink Floyd show in 1975 during their Wish You Were Here tour. Another element of any successful TV show is the development and visual appeal of its cast of characters, and as I mentioned earlier, UFO‘s actors did not disappoint. Here, we are going to focus on the lovely ladies who were a part of SHADO (the acronym for Supreme Headquarters, Alien Defence Organisation) who always looked cool even in the face of an alien invasion. The most memorable characters got to wear badass purple-hued wigs and silver catsuits which made them look like go-go dancers from the future. There was also some risky looking fishnet worn by members of the cast during “underwater” sequences—a far cry from the basic turtlenecks, jumpsuits, and clerical-style jackets worn by the members of SHADO.

The show ran until 1973 and inspired a line of collectible toys and model kits based on the far-out vehicles and spaceships featured in the series, many still coveted by collectors to this day. If you had either forgotten about this television gem (which was a precursor to the Anderson’s last collaboration, Space 1999 starring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain) or were unfamiliar with it until now, you are going to love the groovy images of the fictional female members of SHADO posted below. 
 

One of the lovely ladies of SHADO.
 

Actress/model Shakira Baksh/Caine.
 

Fishnet shirts are futuristic.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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02.05.2018
09:20 am
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Strange Illustrations of Robots, Devils, Fire-Breathing Witches, and Weapons of War from 1420
01.25.2018
10:00 am
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The Devil and all his internal works.
 
There’s an episode of South Park where Stan, Kyle, Cartman, and Kenny try out different routines only to find “The Simpson’s Already Did It.” Looking at the illustrations of technological inventions by fifteenth-century Venetian physician, engineer, and alleged “magus,” Johannes de Fontana, (ca. 1395-1455), aka Giovanni Fontana, it’s more than apparent that whatever invention we think is new someone (probably not The Simpsons...) has already imagined it.

In his technological or mechanical treatise, Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris (ca. 1420), Fontana imagined or rather devised a whole series of machines for use in war, traveling, entertaining children, flying, robots, rocket-powered craft, timepieces, fountains, and even a means of projecting images like a magic lantern. Unlike most other inventors at this time, Fontana showed the workings of his inventions—the pulleys and weights (sand, water) by which his mechanical devices worked. Most inventors illustrated their proposals “in action” as if functioning in real time, therefore, keeping internal mechanisms of cogs and wheels and what-have-yous hidden, thus to ensure they might be paid for developing such contraptions. Fontana presented his work with see-thru interiors, allowing the viewer to witness or rather imagine just exactly how this devil could fly or that vehicle move. This all well-and-good until one realizes many of these wonderful designs are utterly unworkable as they “do not conform to the principles of mechanics.”

Many of the ideas contained in Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris focus on weapons of war like exploding missiles, mechanical battering rams and alike. However, Fontana did also include a number of designs for children’s toys and several drawings that scorched myths about the supernatural and the occult by explaining how devils and witches were most probably just robotic automata used to terrorize his fellow citizens.

A copy of Johannes de Fontana’s Bellicorum instrumentorum liber cum figuris can be viewed here.
 
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A mechanical toy.
 
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More toy/entertainment for kids.
 
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A robot witch showing how it would move on rails, have wings that flapped and arms that moved, and an ability to blow fire or air.
 
More mechanical illustrations, after the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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01.25.2018
10:00 am
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The vivid sci-fi visions of American artist Barclay Shaw


A painting by artist Barclay Shaw that appeared on the cover of the 1986 book, ‘The Cunningham Equations.’
 
Born in Bronxville, New York in 1949, Barclay Shaw‘s career in art began rather modestly in the fields of sculpture and woodworking. In 1978 at the age of 29 and after spending time at the New England School of Art and Design, he branched out into painting obtaining work as a freelance artist. A year later his work was selected to appear on two covers of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. It wouldn’t be long before Shaw was busy painting covers for science fiction and fantasy books for authors such as Hugo Award-winning author Harlan Ellison (sixteen in all), Isaac Asimov, and Philip K. Dick.

It is somewhat mind-boggling how prolific Shaw has been over the last four decades—and the artist’s bibliography posted on the ISFDB (the Internet Speculative Fiction Database thank you very much) made me dizzy just trying to scroll through its list of entries. In 1995, Shaw finally got around to publishing a book containing his luminous artwork, Electric Dreams: The Art of Barclay Shaw which would win him a Hugo Award for Best Nonfiction Book in 1996. The introduction for Shaw’s first and only book was written by a man who gave him his big break, Harlan Ellison.

Images of Shaw’s remarkable work below—some is slightly NSFW.
 

Shaw’s artwork for the cover of Harlan Ellison’s 1975 book, ‘No Doors, No Windows.’
 

 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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12.20.2017
02:38 pm
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Tibetan Buddhist robots and Pauline Anna Strom’s space music star in ‘Ether Antenna,’ a DM premiere


 
Pauline Anna Strom is a San Francisco composer. Blind since infancy, Strom says she felt like “a loner and a heretic” growing up Catholic in the South. During the Seventies, she moved to San Francisco, where she heard Tangerine Dream, Eno and company on FM radio and was inspired to experiment with synthesizers and a TASCAM four-track. (DM is reliably informed that, despite all the other changes to the city, she still resides in SF with her long-lived iguana, Little Solstice.)

Strom’s music is not for the disco. At once soothing and disorienting, it’s her means of sailing in the timestream, conjuring up the frozen past and the (apparently) populous future. Her first release, 1982’s Trans-Millenia [sic] Consort, took its name from Strom’s time-traveling alter ego, according to the press materials for the new retrospective of her recording career (such is its futurity, it comes out tomorrow):

She believed that humanity was confined by its inability to access the people of the future, therefore suffering in a kind of group solipsism. Designing a world of music that rooted itself in all times but the present, Strom’s alter ego, the Trans-Millenia Consort, became a musical activist for triggering this state of heightened consciousness.

 

Pauline Anna Strom (photographer unknown, used with permission of Archie Patterson’s Eurock Archives)
 
Strom’s first LP has inspired a new film that also mixes the familiar unsettling and the unsettling familiar: Ether Antenna, set in Nepal. There are no human actors, only robots portraying incidents from the lives of Avalokiteśvara and Shakyamuni Buddha. A five-minute excerpt from Ether Antenna, set to music by Pauline Anna Strom, appears at the bottom of this post, and the director, Michael Candy, kindly agreed to answer a few questions by email.

It strikes me that the prayer wheel that appears at the beginning and end of Ether Antenna is a kind of robot, and that Tibetan prayer flags are automata, too. Why do we find machines in a 1,200-year-old religious tradition?

The idea of automata originates in the mythologies of many cultures around the world. It’s almost an obvious outcome of a technology-enabled civilization; as digital automation continues to penetrate our daily life, it’s easy to overlook the analogue counterparts and machines that have made modern living possible.

A few years prior to my residency, I traveled to Ladakh and spent a few weeks exploring the Indian Himalayas. One of the most striking things as a (foreign) engineer was to find ancient mechanical infrastructure still functioning and valid in society. It’s like, none of those complex folding walls, trap doors or snake pits Hollywood seems so fond of would ever function without a good amount of oil and snake food. But here, in this ancient mountain range, you can find and touch a several-hundred-year-old spinning drum embossed with text and with the flick of a finger have it praying for you; some even use water, wind or solar to complete their eternal journey clockwise.

Nowadays you can’t catch a taxi in Kathmandu without a plastic solar powered prayer wheel whirling away on the dash. For me, these are simple machines doing man’s spiritual bidding—to pray; ether machines keeping you connected to the cloud, from a time when people actually knew where the cloud was.

Continues after the jump…

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Posted by Oliver Hall
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11.09.2017
08:11 am
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Totally creepy synthetic people and frightening faux human organs used to train surgeons
10.31.2017
08:30 am
Topics:
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A synthetic version of a human gallbladder made by SynDaver Labs.
 
According to the “About” tab on Florida-based SynDaver Labs‘s website, they take credit for creating the world’s most “sophisticated” synthetic human tissues and body parts. SnyDaver’s synthetic human cadavers even bleed and breathe just like you and me when they are being used by doctors and surgeons in training. In fact, SynDaver Labs claims to own and maintain the largest database of live tissue which they rely on to create their synthetic humans and body parts that act and react just like the real things.

SynDaver was originally formed by like minded academics of the University of Florida in 1993, and the first synthetic model they came up with was a trachea. The goal was to hopefully help reduce—and perhaps someday replace—the use of live animals in medical testing. Eleven years later SynDaver Labs was founded and since that time the company has been producing uncanny-looking body parts and fake humans. I feel obligated to warn you that if you are at all squeamish or don’t feel like seeing a life-like version of Slim Goodbody with his entirely too authentic-looking internal organs exposed, then perhaps the images that I’ve posted below might be a bit much for you. However, if you are a person with a morbid sense of curiosity, then the photos of SynDaver’s synthetic models and assorted internal organs will not disappoint you one bit. That said, everything that follows is pretty much NSFW, depending on where you work.
 

A synthetic kidney made by SnyDaver Labs.
 

Large intestine.
 

Small intestine.
 
More after the jump…

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Posted by Cherrybomb
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10.31.2017
08:30 am
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The original guide to identifying criminals from 1909
10.12.2017
09:46 am
Topics:
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About three years ago, defenders of civil liberties were understandably angsty over the news the F.B.I. had launched its Next Generation Identification system—a billion dollar operation intended to replace the old fingerprint system with “the world’s largest and most efficient electronic repository of biometric and criminal history information.” This meant investigators could identify perps from stored information like DNA, voice recognition, latent prints, personal history, and iris and face recognition technology culled from mugshots, surveillance camera footage, and even selfies taken from social media.

A lot of people were blaming the government, Big Brother, fascism, communism, and all the usual suspects for this monumental change to detective work and our privacy. But personally, I blame Alphonse Bertillon, coz he was the dude that started the whole thing off in the 19th-century.

Alphonse Bertillon (1853-1914) was a French detective. He believed everything had its place and that the world had an order. Bertillon had an unremarkable early career first as a soldier then as a lowly clerk with the Prefecture of Police in Paris. It was while working as a police copyist that Bertillon first recognized the random way in which cops investigated crimes. There was no proper system for identifying criminals and no code by which detectives could investigate crime scenes. Sure, there were crime scene photographs and artists sketches, but these were all rather ad hoc.

To solve these issues, Bertillon came up with the mugshot as a means of identifying criminals and codified a precise photographic process for documenting crime scenes in the 1880s—both of which are still in use today.

He also gave investigators a biometric system for identifying criminals. This involved measuring their height, the length of their arms and legs, the size of their heads, the shape of eyes, ears, nose, and mouth, and any other identifying characteristics like wrinkles, scars, birthmarks, etc. This system of breaking down criminals into identifiable component parts was known as Bertillonage. It included an early form of facial recognition, which gave cops a “cheat sheet” for getting their man.

Bertillon’s Tableau synoptic des traits physionomiques (Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits) helped the cops identify criminals and criminal types. It was rather like identikit pictures. It was used as a tool of capturing ne’er-do-wells right up to the turn of the last century when it was quickly superseded by fingerprints.
 
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See more of Bertillon’s ‘Synoptic Table of Physiognomic Traits,’ after the the jump…
 

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Posted by Paul Gallagher
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10.12.2017
09:46 am
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