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Online Counter Lock, Stock, and History
Lock, Stock, and History

The Greatest Itching Powder Prank in History

During World War II British intelligence and Secret Services were probably the best at spying and clandestine warfare in all of history.  Almost every major Allied operation had a good amount of deception and trickery which made the Germans chase their own tails on a number of occasions.  Often, their operations depended on advanced technology, a complicated network of spies and double agents, and a great amount of luck.  However, some British spy operations seemed less like James Bond missions and more like childhood mischief.

During the war, the British SOE (Special Operations Executive) began a program to smuggle itching powder into the Third Reich.  The itching powder developed by SOE was no common joke shop itching powder, but a powder so potent that exposure could be excruciating, with some needing hospitalization if exposed.  The itching powder was smuggled into Germany from Switzerland in foot powder tins, where resistance groups working as laundresses and clothiers sprinkled the powder on military uniforms.  The hardest hit was the German Kriegsmarine (navy), when in October of 1943 25,000 U-Boat crew uniforms were contaminated with the itching powder.  What resulted was a massive epidemic of severe dermatitis that swept through the U-Boat fleet.  The epidemic was so bad that one U-Boat crew had to turn around and return to port for medical treatment. 

German uniforms were not the only target for itching powder attacks.  Other targets included bedding, underwear, and toilet paper.  When a sizable amount of itching powder was smuggled into Norway, the Norwegian resistance made especially effective use of it by sprinkling the powder in condoms.  As a result in Trondheim throughout the war numerous cases of German soldiers being hospitalized for extreme pain from their private parts were reported.

Regulating Reincarnation —- The State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No.5
In 2007 the People’s Republic of China instituted the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No.5, also known as “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas”
According to the law, those wishing to be reincarnated and reborn must submit an application and obtain a license with the Chinese Government.  Otherwise the reincarnation will be deemed “illegal and invalid.”  The law was created to regulate Tulkus, who are Tibetan Buddhist teachers who claim to be reincarnations of past teachers.
Reincarnation Applications have to be submitted to four governmental bodies for approval, specifically the religious affairs department of the provincial-level government, the provincial-level government, State Administration for Religious Affairs, and the State Council.

Regulating Reincarnation —- The State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No.5

In 2007 the People’s Republic of China instituted the State Religious Affairs Bureau Order No.5, also known as “Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas”

According to the law, those wishing to be reincarnated and reborn must submit an application and obtain a license with the Chinese Government.  Otherwise the reincarnation will be deemed “illegal and invalid.”  The law was created to regulate Tulkus, who are Tibetan Buddhist teachers who claim to be reincarnations of past teachers.

Reincarnation Applications have to be submitted to four governmental bodies for approval, specifically the religious affairs department of the provincial-level government, the provincial-level government, State Administration for Religious Affairs, and the State Council.

Ancient Greek/Roman marble relief panel depicting a winged penis, 1st century AD.

Ancient Greek/Roman marble relief panel depicting a winged penis, 1st century AD.

The Tale of Two Lovers —- An Erotic Novel of the Middle Ages

Aenus Slyvius Piccolimini was a popular Italian poet and novelist in the 15th century, around the the late Middle Ages and early Italian Renaissance.  In 1444 he wrote The Tale of Two Lovers, which became one of the most popular books in the 15th century.  However, The Tale of Two Lovers was not an ordinary novel, but an erotic novel that used vivid imagery combined with graphic sexual innuendo.  The Tale of Two Lovers was the story of a married woman and a servant, who after a while fall in love, write dirty letters to each other, and eventually shag up a number of times.  While today the writing of The Tale of Two Lovers is pretty mild compared to modern day pop culture, in the Middle Ages it was some raunchy stuff.  For example, 

When she saw her lover, she clasped him in her arms. There was embracing and kissing, and with full sail they followed their lusts andwearied Venus, now with Ceres, and now with Bacchus was refreshed.” 

WOW! That’s some really hot stuff right there!  Mothers covered their children’s ears, wives scolded their husband’s jealously, and almost every literate person in Medieval Europe had the book carefully stashed away.  Following the success of A Tale of Two Lovers, Piccolomini wrote other similar novels, becoming a household name among Late Medieval people’s comparable in fame to Ron Jeremy today.

While the notion of an erotic novel being written at a time when fornicators were burned at the stake, perhaps the most interesting aspect of the book was its author, Piccolimini.  As he grew older, Piccolimini became a more serious figure in Medieval Europe, serving in the courts of various kings and emperors, becoming an ambassador of the Pope, and becoming a key figure in Medieval European politics.  Then he was ordained a priest, and rose in ranks to become Bishop of Trieste and Sienna.  In 1458 he was elected Pope, and took the regnal name Pius II. Yes, that’s right, there was once a Pope who was a pornographer.  Although Pius II’s smut days were long over, it was something that held over his head by his critics and enemies until his death in 1464.  Editions of The Tale of Two Lovers continued to be printed during his reign and even after his death.  Today, modern translated versions had once again been introduced to the public.

Modern editions can be found at most online book vendors such as Amazon and Google.  A free version can be found on the website provided as a source.

Real life historical figures who would make excellent Bond villains.
Grigori Rasputin: Russian mystic, psychic, faith healer, and adviser to the Romanovs in the early 20th century up to World War I. Was supposedly almost impossible to kill when he was assassinated. 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Rasputin#Turn_to_religious_life

Real life historical figures who would make excellent Bond villains.

Grigori Rasputin: Russian mystic, psychic, faith healer, and adviser to the Romanovs in the early 20th century up to World War I. Was supposedly almost impossible to kill when he was assassinated. 

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grigori_Rasputin#Turn_to_religious_life

Koreashanity and the Concave Earth Theory,

The idea of the hollow earth was made popular by Jules Verne’s novel “Journey to the Center of the Earth”.  However, in 1869 a doctor in New York would propose an idea that took the hollow earth theory one step further.  Dr. Cyrus Teed was a physician who had a very unique view of the earth.  According to Teed the earth was hollow, however we were living inside of the concave hollow earth, with the sun, atmosphere, stars, and moon located in the center.  Needless to say, Dr. Teed was a very odd man, who also performed very odd experiments involving mysticism, alchemy, and subjecting himself to high voltage electrical shocks.

After subjecting himself to one such shock in 1869 Dr. Teed was visited by a divine spirit who revealed that Teed was a messiah, and salvation of humanity depended on his spreading of the “Concave Earth” theory. Dr. Cyrus Teed changed his name to “Koresh”, the Hebrew name for Cyrus, and founded a new religion called “Koreshanity”.  The core of Koreshanity revolved around belief in the Concave Earth, as well as  communal living, utopianism, celibacy (no sex), and reincarnation. Many people flocked to join his new religion, and communes were formed in New York, Chicago, and San Francisco. 

In 1894 Teed declared the creation of a “New Jerusalem” in Estero, Florida. 250 Koreshans built a prosperous town complete with a bakery, a general store, concrete works, power plant, and a Koreshanity College.  In 1905 they conducted a five month long experiment in which not only did they supposedly prove the Concave Earth theory, but measured its curvature at eight inches per mile.  The Koreshans even created their own political party, unsuccessfully running candidates for local government positions.  However, the growing influence and expansion of the Koreshanity movement led to suspicion and acts of violence between residents and the Koreshans.  In one incident, Teed himself was accosted and injured by a group of men from Fort Meyers.  Apparently the injury never healed, and Teed died two years later in 1908.  

Teed had always preached that he was immortal, and would be resurrected like Jesus after his death.  His body was laid and watched over day and night for over a week until the local health department ordered his burial.  Despite this set back Teed’s followers continued to faithfully practice his teachings.  However, the lack of procreation caused by his teachings in celibacy ultimately doomed the religion.  Few followers joined the religion after his death, seeing Teed as a nutcase and crackpot.  Slowly the sect died out, with only a handful of Koreshan’s living in Florida by the 1960’s.  Today the Koreshan settlement is owned by Florida and is protected as a state park.

Excellent condition engraved and mother of pearl mounted Chicago Firearms Palm Protector pistol, circa 1893.

Sold at Auction; $2,250

A marriet style 18 shot percussion pepperbox revolver crafted by Auguste Francotte of Liege, Belgium.  Early to mid 19th century.

Fun History Fact,

King Farouk of Egypt (reign 28 April 1936 – 26 July 1952) was an avid motorist and car lover, owning a fleet of 100 vehicles.  One of his favorite past times was to drive around Cairo while shooting out the tires of other motorists with a pistol.  An ambulance followed him to pick up any casualties.

The Madness of the Zhengde Emperor,
When the Hongzhi Emperor died in 1505, it was expected that his eldest son, Zhu Houzhou would continue his legacy of peace, prosperity, and good governance.  However the newly crowned Zhengde Emperor quickly became a mad despot who was drunk with power and alcohol.  As his empire decayed around him, the Zhengde Emperor cared little for matters of state, spending most of his time dining on fine foods, enjoying the company of various women, and living a life of resplendent luxury at the cost of the Empire.  Throughout Beijing he order built numerous “bao fang” or special palaces filled with exotic animals and of course, women. One palace he accidentally burned down while playing with gunpowder. It wasn’t long before the coffers of China were empty due to the Zhengde Emperor’s excesses. 
In 1519 a noble and imperial family member named Zhu Chenhao revolted against the Empire in Jiangxi Province, kicking off a short lived rebellion called the Prince of Ning Rebellion.  The Zhengde Emperor raised a mighty army which he intended to personally lead against the rebels.  However, his dreams of battlefield glory and grandeur were cut short when he arrived to discover that a local administrator had already put down the rebellion with local forces.  Frustrated, he ordered Zhu Chenhao and the rebels rearmed and released, so that the Zhenghe Emperor could quash the rebellion again with his army.  He then ordered the leaders of the rebellion executed by slicing.  Zhu Chenhao committed suicide to avoid such a fate.
Perhaps one of the Zhengde Emperor’s most odd acts was to pretend that he wasn’t an emperor at all.  It was not uncommon for him to dress as a commoner and attend the various brothels of Beijing.  One of his oddest behaviors was to order the construction of a massive palace, the insides of which recreated the market and residential districts of Beijing.  He ordered his ministers, eunuchs, guards, and servants to pretend to be merchants and ordinary people while he strolled the streets, also dressed as a non-assuming average Joe.  Those who refused to play along were punished, removed from their posts, or even executed.
In 1521 the Zhengde Emperor was out on a drunken boating excursion on the Grand Canal when he fell in and almost drowned.  He contract an illness from the waters of canal and died shortly afterwards.  His legacy of neglect, childish behavior, and excess would become a standard for future Ming Dynasty rulers, which ultimately led to the dynasty’s collapse in 1644.

The Madness of the Zhengde Emperor,

When the Hongzhi Emperor died in 1505, it was expected that his eldest son, Zhu Houzhou would continue his legacy of peace, prosperity, and good governance.  However the newly crowned Zhengde Emperor quickly became a mad despot who was drunk with power and alcohol.  As his empire decayed around him, the Zhengde Emperor cared little for matters of state, spending most of his time dining on fine foods, enjoying the company of various women, and living a life of resplendent luxury at the cost of the Empire.  Throughout Beijing he order built numerous “bao fang” or special palaces filled with exotic animals and of course, women. One palace he accidentally burned down while playing with gunpowder. It wasn’t long before the coffers of China were empty due to the Zhengde Emperor’s excesses. 

In 1519 a noble and imperial family member named Zhu Chenhao revolted against the Empire in Jiangxi Province, kicking off a short lived rebellion called the Prince of Ning Rebellion.  The Zhengde Emperor raised a mighty army which he intended to personally lead against the rebels.  However, his dreams of battlefield glory and grandeur were cut short when he arrived to discover that a local administrator had already put down the rebellion with local forces.  Frustrated, he ordered Zhu Chenhao and the rebels rearmed and released, so that the Zhenghe Emperor could quash the rebellion again with his army.  He then ordered the leaders of the rebellion executed by slicing.  Zhu Chenhao committed suicide to avoid such a fate.

Perhaps one of the Zhengde Emperor’s most odd acts was to pretend that he wasn’t an emperor at all.  It was not uncommon for him to dress as a commoner and attend the various brothels of Beijing.  One of his oddest behaviors was to order the construction of a massive palace, the insides of which recreated the market and residential districts of Beijing.  He ordered his ministers, eunuchs, guards, and servants to pretend to be merchants and ordinary people while he strolled the streets, also dressed as a non-assuming average Joe.  Those who refused to play along were punished, removed from their posts, or even executed.

In 1521 the Zhengde Emperor was out on a drunken boating excursion on the Grand Canal when he fell in and almost drowned.  He contract an illness from the waters of canal and died shortly afterwards.  His legacy of neglect, childish behavior, and excess would become a standard for future Ming Dynasty rulers, which ultimately led to the dynasty’s collapse in 1644.

The Woman Who Gave Birth to Rabbits —- The Mary Toft Hoax

In 1726 a bit of odd news swept Britain, apparently in Surrey a woman named Mary Toft was giving birth to rabbits.  According to Toft, one day when working in a field she was startled by a rabbit.  Since then she had been continuously giving birth to still born rabbits and rabbit parts.  News of such an anomaly became sensational, attracting the attention of some of the most popular and learned physicians of the day.  

Under observation by a number of physicians for several weeks, it was noted that Mary Toft gave birth to nine whole baby rabbits (all of which were dead at birth) as well as various assorted bunny parts.  Over time Toft’s case became even more sensational as she gave birth to parts of other animals such as cats and eels.  Incredibly, a number of physicians examined her, all of whom declared the phenomenon to be genuine and natural.  Many traveled hundreds of miles from other countries, and were considered to be the most learned and educated men in all of Europe.

In December of 1726, Thomas Onslow, the Earl of Onslow investigated the matter and discovered that Toft’s husband, Joshua Toft, had been purchasing rabbits for the past several months.  On December 3rd he caught Joshua in the act of smuggling the rabbits into Mary’s room.  Mary Toft was threatened with a painful exploratory surgery to uncover the truth of the matter, at which point she confessed to the hoax.

As it turns out, over the past several months Toft had been appearing to give birth to rabbits by inserting small rabbits and rabbit parts into her nether regions up where the sun don’t shine.  While weird and disgusting, the hoax created a continent wide scandal that rocked the medical community.  People all over Britain and Europe were shocked that supposedly the best physicians and scientists in the world could be so foolishly misled.  Those who had been duped by the hoax saw their reputation and careers instantly ruined, among them the noted physician Dr. Nathaniel St. Adre, personal surgeon to King George I.  

As for Mary Toft, the rabbit birthing woman was charged with fraud, but acquitted upon intervention of the medical community, who didn’t want the trial to continue leading to further embarrassment.  Toft was later arrested and imprisoned for receiving stolen goods.  She died in 1763.

Rare Jarre Harmonica pistol, France, mid 19th century.

Estimated Value: $7,500 - $12,000

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Dr. Walter Freeman and the Ice Pick Lobotomy,

During the late 19th and early 20th century many doctors began to experiment with psycho-surgery, the use of brain surgery to treat mental illness.  In 1935 a Portuguese scientist named Antonio Egas Moniz introduced the lobotomy, a procedure that won him the Nobel Prize in 1948. Moniz believed that by severing the connections between the frontal lobe and grey matter of the brain, he could calm a patient’s wild emotions and stabilize personality.  In the world of psycho-surgery the lobotomy was a groundbreaking procedure that revolutionized treatment of the mentally ill. Eventually the lobotomy became a cure-all for almost any mental illness or developmental disorder.  40,000 were conducted in the US, another 17,000 in the UK.  Tens of thousands more were conducted in mainland Europe, the Soviet Union, Japan, and the Commonwealth Nations.  

While many patients did benefit from the lobotomy, many more suffered terrible effects of the surgery.  It was not uncommon for patients symptoms to worsen.  Others suffered permanent brain damage, emotional and psychological instability, memory problems, and decreased cognition.  About 5% of all lobotomy patients died from the procedure.  One notorious case of a botched lobotomy was that of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of President John F. Kennedy.

image

Rosemary Kennedy had many learning disabilities during her childhood, but regardless was a very intelligent and sociable young woman.  In her late teens and early 20’s she suffered from occasional wild moods swings which psychologist would now diagnose as manic depression.  An embarrassment to the Kennedy family, she was coerced into undergoing a lobotomy.  In 1941, at the age of 23 she underwent a lobotomy at the hands of Dr. James Watts and Dr. Walter Freeman.  The results of the lobotomy caused permanent brain damage that reduced her intelligence to that of a 2 year old.  She had to be hand fed, bathed, diapered due to incontinence, and institutionalized until her death in 2005.

Regardless of it’s negative consequences, physicians only focused on successful cases and continued practicing lobotomies.  Originally the lobotomy was a complex procedure.  Then in 1945 Dr. Walter Freeman, the same man who helped perform Rosemary Kennedy’s procedure, invented the transorbital lobotomy.  Also called the “icepick” lobotomy, the procedure was very simple and crude.  After administering an anesthetic, the surgeon placed an orbitoclast (essentially an icepick with depth increment markings) above the eye but below the upper margin of the eye socket.  The surgeon would then tap the orbitoclast with a mallet to puncture the thin plate of the sphenoid bone located behind the eyes.  The orbitoclast was then inserted 5 cm into the brain and rotated to sever the connections in the frontal cortex.  The procedure was then repeated through the other eye.

The icepick lobotomy was so simple that surgeons were not even required to perform the procedure.  As a result the icepick lobotomy was a common procedure in mental asylums, then terrible hell holes run by people who had little or no credentials.  Dr. Freeman himself performed icepick lobotomies on an outpatient basis from his office.  It even became common for parents to have their children lobotomized for minor problems such as minor depression or even misbehavior.  

Eventually, health care professionals began to realize the negative effects of the lobotomy, with the procedure being recognized as dangerous pseudoscience by newer physicians.  By the 1960’s lobotomy procedures began to decline in prevalence as it was replaced with new treatments such as therapy and administration of medications.  By the 1970’s the lobotomy died out all together, and was banned in many countries.

Dr. James Weir and the rise of the Viragints,

Dr. James Weir Jr. was a naturalist and evolutionary scientist in the 19th century who followed the work of Charles Darwin.  After studying animals and the origins of the human race, Dr. Weir quickly applied his evolutionary theories to modern society.  According to Weir, civilized culture was de-evolving, breaking down and regressing ever closer to savagery and barbarism.  To support his theory, he used as evidence the many workers strikes that were occurring around the turn of the century, which was common during the industrial revolution.  According to his beliefs, such strikes were an example of the downfall of civilization because those of the lower class, who he considered less evolved and less intelligent, where seeking to overthrow the upper classes, those he considered more evolved and more intelligent.

Expounding further in his theories, Dr. Weir also cited the Women’s Suffrage (right to vote) movement as another example of humanity’s de-evolution.  According to Weir in an essay penned in 1894, Women who were strong, independent, and self sufficient were a class of mentally disturbed and physically deformed women called “viragints”.  Unlike “normal” women who knew their place in society, were subordinate to men, and lived a humble feminine lifestyle, viragints were a class of women who had de-evolved and regressed to a savage state.  According to Weir, granting women the right to vote would only encourage more empowerment for women, thus regressing them further “ backward toward the state of her barbarian ancestors.”

Dr. Weir went even further writing that women’s rights, and most especially the right to vote would create whole generations of viragints, which would eventually lead to the collapse of civilization.  Despite Dr. Weirs warnings, the 19th Amendment was passed in 1920, making it illegal to deny the right to vote based on gender.