Category Archives: ephemera

Jabir ibn Hayyan

Abu Mūsā Jābir ibn Hayyān was a prominent polymath: a chemist and alchemist, astronomer and astrologer, engineer, geographer, philosopher, physicist, and pharmacist and physician.

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Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors

Hit Man: A Technical Manual for Independent Contractors is a book written under the pseudonym Rex Feral and published by Paladin Press in 1983.

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Bust of Gabriele Fonseca

The Bust of Gabriele Fonseca is a sculptural portrait by the Italian artist Gian Lorenzo Bernini.

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Starlite

Live demonstrations on Tomorrow’s World and BBC Radio 4 showed that Starlite could keep an egg (coated in the material) raw, and cold enough to be picked up with a bare hand, even after five minutes of blowtorch attack.

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Dr. Young’s Ideal Rectal Dilators

An 1893 Medical News editorial noted that “Dr. Young” himself praised rectal dilation as a cure for insanity, claiming that at least “three-fourths of all the howling maniacs of the world” were curable “in a few weeks’ time by the application of orificial methods”.

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The Perfect American

 

He asks the nurse to make sure he is cryonised when he dies: “Put me in the mirror or congèle me in liquid nitrogen.” He hopes to conquer death to become a messiah for those who fear it.

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Jaekelopterus

Jaekelopterus is an extinct genus of sea scorpion. At an estimated length of 2.5 metres (8.2 ft), it is the largest known arthropod ever discovered.

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Spite House

A spite house is a building constructed or substantially modified to irritate neighbors.

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Ōoka Tadasuke

 

One of the most famous stories is called The Case of the Stolen Smell where he heard the case of a paranoid innkeeper who accused a poor student of literally stealing the fumes of his cooking by eating when the innkeeper was cooking to flavour his dull food.

Although his colleagues advised Ōoka to throw the case out as ridiculous, he decided to hear the case. The judge resolved the matter by ordering the student to pass the money he had in one hand to his other and ruling that the price of the smell of food is the sound of money.

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Bel and the Dragon

The narrative of Bel and the Dragon is incorporated as chapter 14 of the extended Book of Daniel.

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Asteroseismology

Asteroseismology is the study of oscillations in stars. Because a star’s different oscillation modes are sensitive to different parts of the star, they inform astronomers about the internal structure of the star, which is otherwise not directly possible from overall properties like brightness and surface temperature.

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Champawat Tiger

The Champawat Tiger was a female Bengal tiger responsible for an estimated 436 deaths in Nepal and the Kumaon area of India.

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Antikythera Mechanism

The Antikythera mechanism is an ancient analogue computer used to predict astronomical positions and eclipses for calendrical and astrological purposes, as well as the cycles of the ancient Olympic Games.

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Potentially Dangerous Taxpayer

Potentially Dangerous Taxpayer (PDT) is a government designation assigned by the Internal Revenue Service to taxpayers of the United States of America whom IRS officials claim have demonstrated a capacity for violence.

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Schmidt Sting Pain Index

The Schmidt sting pain index is a pain scale rating the relative pain caused by different hymenopteran stings.

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Propinquity

The propinquity effect is the tendency for people to form friendships or romantic relationships with those whom they encounter often, forming a bond between subject and friend.

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Ganesha

He is popularly worshipped as a remover of obstacles, though traditionally he also places obstacles in the path of those who need to be checked.

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Kiss Up, Kick Down

 

Kiss up, kick down is a neologism used to describe the situation where middle level employees in an organization are polite and flattering to superiors but abusive to subordinates.

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Infinite Monkey Theorem

In 2003, lecturers and students from the University of Plymouth MediaLab Arts course used a £2,000 grant from the Arts Council to study the literary output of real monkeys.  Not only did the monkeys produce nothing but five total pages largely consisting of the letter S, the lead male began by bashing the keyboard with a stone, and the monkeys continued by urinating and defecating on it.

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The Sleeping Girl of Turville

In 1871, aged eleven, she purportedly fell asleep and did not wake for nine years.

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