Poison, History, Health

I’ve collected a fair few items about history, and I never seem to really have a good place for them anymore, now that Reprint is done.

  • Everybody’s heard of Florence Nightingale, but there was another very famous nurse operating at the time, during the same war (the Crimean War)–Mary Seacole. At one point Nightingale accused her of operating a brothel, apparently.
  • Ever heard of Devon colic? No? That’s because it no longer exists. The ailment was oddly localized, and turned out to be yet another incidence of lead poisoning. Incidentally, lead acetate has a nice sweet taste and used to be used as a sugar substitute. Unfortunately, it’s toxic.
  • BoingBoing drew my attention to this marvellous article about islands of exile–you know, such as St. Helena, where Napoleon was imprisoned. My immediate thought was: What about Pandataria? It was the high-profile island prison of its day, and housed at least five very high-profile Roman noblewomen, including the daughter of Augustus, who was exiled there for adultery.
  • Photoshop makes all sorts of photo trickery easy, but people have been editing pictures for an awfully long time. Witness the picture of John Calhoun with President Lincoln’s head attached, and many more! (via BoingBoing)
  • Icepick lobotomies, deliberately giving people syphilis and then not treating it and poisoning fishermen with radiation — science has had many, many dark and horrible experiments in its history. Columnist John Horgan lines up a few of the ghastliest, although he’s not touching on Mengele’s “science” (most of which was probably just thinly-disguised sadism rather than any attempt to learn at anything, I gather).
  • Doping athletes also has a long history, although for a very long time it was apparently not considered cheating. I had no idea.
  • Finally, Dixie cups were touted as a measure to stop the spread of disease. And they are pretty cool. (via BoingBoing)