xenith: (Default)
Today I came across this odd story in a copy of the Examiner (28 October 1899) and not having an H entry, I thought I'd share it.



Many men have made their homes in strange places; but perhaps the strangest habitation of them all is the rusty, battered furnace-boiler in the Erie Basin, Brooklyn, in which "Old Moore, " as he was commonly called, spent 40 years of lonely life, and in which he recently died.

"Old Moore's" history is strangely pathetic. In early manhood he was captain of a large merchant ship plying between Brooklyn and the East Indies. On his last voyage he married a native girl, of rare beauty, and was proudly bringing his bride to America, when his vessel was caught in a hurricane and dashed to pieces, every life but his own being lost.

He never recovered from the shock of losing his young wife; and day after day for 40 years he would row out to sea in the hope that he might at last find her body. Among the piled-up wreckage in the Erie Basin, hulls of abandoned coal-boats, old machinery, anchors, furnaces, and the debris of neighbouring factories, he found on old furnace-boiler, part of which was lined with abestos, and in these narrow, but warm, quarters, only 7ft. long, 4ft. wide, and 6ft. high, he made his home. He converted a broken steam shovel into a stove, and on it he cooked the few fish he caught. He never spoke a word to any soul except an occasional greeting to the watchman; and steadily declined all offers of sympathy and help.

In a home still smaller, and almost equally strange, a Tennessee man and his wife have lived for a generation, and brought up a stalwart family of 11 children. The home consists of a hollow tree, 7ft. in diameter, perched high on the side of an East Tennessee mountain. The floor is made of rough slabs, split from smaller tree trunks, dry leaves form comfortable beds, and the skins of animals a sufficient covering, while the entire furniture consists of an axe, a rifle, and a hunting knife, an iron pot, a water pail, two or three large gourds, a bread tray, and a meal bag.

In Wisconsin a party of hunters recently discovered a wild man living in a cave in the side of a huge bluff, partly covered with undergrowth. The man, who was apparently about 60 years old, had nearly lost all human likeness. His matted hair and beard almost enveloped him; his clothing consisted of a single sack wrapped around his body; and he had lived so long in the pine forest that he had lost all knowledge of human speech, and could only jabber incoherently.

His arms and legs were so enormously strong that he could lift a weight of half a ton as easily as a strong man could lift a hundredweight, and the soles of his feet were literally as hard as iron.

At Funfkirchen, in Hungary, a former landowner of great wealth has for many years led a similar savage life, roaming the woods by day in search of food, and spending the nights in caves or trees.

In the wildest part of the Alleghanies a party of hunters discovered a cabin nestling among the rocks on a barren hill-side. The occupant of this cabin--probably the most solitary in the world--was a middle-aged woman, of education and refinement, who retired to it from the world ten years ago.

It would be difficult, however, to find a more remarkable home than that which a fisherman has made for himself in an island off the coast of Labrador. 'This ingenious man has converted the skeleton of a whale, the carcase of which had drifted ashore, into a snug residence, which defies wind and weather; and here he leads, rent free, the life of a Jonah--only with a longer lease of the whale.

(The same article turns up in a NZ paper so I assume it originally appeared in an American publication. Beyond that, I've no idea of the source of the tales, and I don't care :)
xenith: (Default)
I didn't feel like writing something for G, so some themed photos.

PA - 1

Penitentiary, Port Arthur

Read more... )
xenith: (M&C Fiddle)
Cascade Female Factory, although I'm not going to talk about the background to the site or factories in general because I have before and there are better places to read it. So, if you have no idea what I'm about, check the links. If you do, or don't care, stay here and look at pretty pictures.

First entrance

The first time I came here was about 1999, and the site was just this yard, with a fudge factory next door who did tours of the site once a week. It has changed considerably since then, reflecting the increased interest in researching female convicts, which combines two areas of history that were once neglected but are now quite popular.

I didn't think it'd been that long since my last visit here, but there are obvious developments. Some of which are noticeable from the street.

Read more... )
xenith: (Three ships with a seal)
This one has taken me a while to get to. I had to edit the photos, work out which I wanted to use and then upload them (click, click, click for each one). Still too many photos for one post, so I'm doing two.


Second post will be some photos I think are interesting along with some observations on how information is passed around in groups.

Today's post is an overview of the ship as you'd encounter it on a visit. If you do get a chance to visit her and you haven't, it's worth it. I think a lot of people, at least in Hobart--judging by the number of visitors who didn't put enough money in the parking meter--don't realise what they'll be getting to see. She's a floating museum. I think something like $17 million was put into her over six years (and during a recession). The attention to detail is incredible: clothing & blanket are hand sewn, hand woven, from the original places where possible; letters are on handmade paper, hand copied from originals; all the ship's measurements are as accurate as they could make them. She might be a secondary source, at best, but a fascinating source.

Once onboard, there are about ten positions (depending on how many guides are available) each with a guide who'll tell you something about that part of the ship. If it's very busy, each group should only be at each position for 2 minutes. At quieter times "they should be through in an hour, unless they want to stay longer and talk".

More, really )
xenith: (Bookshelf)
Dressed for the Voyage was a fashion exhibition I walked past on the Hobart waterfront, so I went back the next day (which was its final day) to see if it was worth checking out. It was only a gold coin donation to get in.


I asked the lady at the desk if I could take photos. She wasn't keen--she'd had bad experiences with people posting photos of her dresses under their own names & trying to sell them--but she agreed I could. So don't pinch copies of these and post them elsewhere, OK?

See more )
xenith: (Bookshelf)
At least not until 40-50 years ago. Sort of. The Port Arthur site was developed in the 1970s, so I guess that contributed. It's a bit hard to ignore something when it's your state's premier tourist attraction, but the place has been a tourist destination since the site was closed a century earlier. And we were obviously taught about things in school because when I started doing family history it was different (school history: transportation didn't work because most of the men came from the cities & didn't know anything about farming; family history: shepherds, ploughmen, farm labourers) and of course the oft repeated line about them all being poor unfortunates who were picked up for stealing a loaf of bread or an apple.

So when I say not talked about, you know what I really mean. But it was something that happened out on the edges, in remote place Port Arthur, Maria Island and Macquarie Harbour. There are people who even today will tell you that. Like the lady at Somercotes who told us ticket of leave were given to men who had left Port Arthur, and I've seen similar comments in general history books and of course on various places on the Internet. (Reality, which of course I don't need to tell anyone reading this, is the men were sent out to work in the community, which is what makes the era so interesting. What sort of society do you have when more or less half of your population is prisoners under sentence? When the bulk of your labour force-- farm workers, clerk, mailmen, police--is prisoners of the crown?)

And that's the men. Women were even less talked about. Even as recently as the turn of this century, it doesn't seem to have been common knowledge. Comments on mailing lists, for example (Women?! Yes, and children!). The first time I came across a mention of the female factory at Cascades, in a bookshop in Hobart, late in the 1990s.

I don't know how widely known such things are now. In the circles I move in, such topics and women in particular have become very popular. For good reason, there's a lot not known, a lot that's been lost and so a lot to (re)discover.

Flicking through that chapter in the book of readings for one of my history units, I notice some changing perspectives. An extract from one book presents the women sent to NSW as being young, skilled as housemaids, cooks etc, and generally literate; rather than a wide range of ages and a larger percentage of factory workers that you'd expect if you took a true cross section of working class women. Similarly with the men, young, fit and with useful skills (allowing for the fact that occupation as given was not what they were necessarily occupied in prior to departure). Selected migrants rather than a random dumping gives a slightly different picture to that usually presented.

Interesting things going on, although I don't know how much of that makes it out to the mainstream. I haven't as yet come across any comments about female workers at Port Arthur :)

(OK there were some, house servants and wives of the civillians & military officers, but you know what I mean.)
xenith: (Bookshelf)
I'm interested in how the Australian bushranger "legend" draws on earlier influences. There's a few things going on here. First the, well I don't want to call it a code because that suggests something formal, but the idea that keeps coming up from the earliest years that there's a form of appropriate behaviour that includes avoiding unnecessary violence, treating woman appropriately and then dying game. And then the whole romanticisation thing. Easy to assume that happens after someone dies, because that's the way things work but if you did so, you'd be wrong.

Anyway, I read Dick Turpin: The Myth of the English Highwayman by James Sharpe. His argument is the highwayman as a romantic figure is primarily due to the book Rookwood by William Harrison Ainsworth, published in 1834, which features Dick Turpin as a gallant highwayman (who does the ride to York on his valiant black mare). This was followed by more books playing on that theme, by Ainsworth and others; toys by opportunistic toymakers and so on right through the century and beyond. He makes some good points, and it's easy enough to make up that influence coming through in the Australian scene, especially with the popularity of stories about bushrangers towards the end of the 19th century. But I think Sharpe's focus is too narrow, and he disregards influences prior to Ainsworth too easily. I shall read Graham Seal's book next, and then grumble about that being too broad :)

Anyway, it might be interesting to see the changing perceptions within the colonies, especially in the early decades. Give the above and tendency of people to embroider stories are they pass them on, it's important to pay attention to publication dates, and of course, there aren't a lot of sources from the period I'm interested.

Just to finish off, part of a letter by Donald McLeod, was published in the Colonial Times, 9 July 1830. Because of the length, I'll skip the middle paragraphs that detail the attack.


The strong degree of feeling that has been excited in favour of the five Bush-rangers, Morton, Cowden, Sainter, Laughton, and Stuart, who are erroneously stated to have absconded from my service, and the prejudice endeavoured to be excited against me and my family, on their account, induce me to offer to the Public the following statement of facts, as it cannot now be supposed lo have any influence either one way or other on their sentence, which must have been decided upon by His Excellency before this can be published.

(snippity snip)

I should like to know in what consists the great merit of these men as bush-rangers. Moles, Ashton, and their party, were much more humane when they robbed my house in June, 1828. Are they to be praised because the interference of a merciful Providence saved my family from their shot -for it is evident from the direction of the balls, that they intended to hurt us - or is the merit theirs, that the determined resistance we made prevented them getting into the house and committing robbery or murder as they chose?

Let those humane people who interest themselves so much about such characters place themselves in my situation, and(if they value their families) judge how they would feel disposed towards men acting as those men did to me.

- I am, Sir, your most obedient servant
5th July, 1830.
xenith: (M&C Fiddle)
of we're all quite of, so no need to read this. Which is why, when I was trying to get a diagnosis I had a lot of conversations that went:


With friends, with the GP I went to for a referral, with the psychologist he referred me to the first time. I went back with the name of a specific psychologist, and she agreed with what I'd worked out for myself.

Which was good, because once I had a label, I could find out more about what was going on in my head and find works to work with it.

And it bad because, with all the doctors and psychologists and counsellors and teachers I've dealt with over the years, WHY THE FUCKING HELL DID I HAVE TO WORK THIS OUT FOR MYSELF? If I'd known twenty years ago, things would have been different for me :(

Once of the things that finally made me realise I was on the right track was an article that said autism spectrum disorders are often misdiagnosed as depression or anxiety. Not to mention schizophrenia, OCD and probably a host of other stuff. Why does it matter? You can't deal really deal with something unless you know why it's happening. For me, the anxiety comes from a lifetime of being I'm doing things wrong, wrong, wrong, when I'm really just doing them differently.

So, in the past couple of years I've obviously been doing a lot of reading, and I have learnt lots of things. Like health professionals, like most other people, don't know much about ASDs at all. They certainly don't associate it with people like me who chatter and make eye contact (and very well, I was told the other day. Yay. It's only taken a few years to learn.) and don't do whatever they assume I should do/not do.

If you spend any time reading about autism, you'll come across the idea of "faking NT". NT=Neurotypical=ordinary people, so faking is pretending to be ordinary or trying to fit in with the everyday stupid world that can't handle anything a bit different. It's actually a bit of a controversial topic because it often comes with the assumption that NT=better or non-NT means "broken". And then there's the reverse idea that NT=disadvantaged.

Along those lines, have a look at this: The Discovery of "Aspie" Criteria (it's a PDF).

Figure 1: Discovery criteria for aspie

A. A qualitative advantage in social interaction, as manifested by a majority of the following:

1. peer relationships characterized by absolute loyalty and impeccable dependability
2. free of sexist, "age-ist", or culturalist biases; ability to regard others at "face value"
3. speaking one’s mind irrespective of social context or adherence to personal beliefs
4. ability to pursue personal theory or perspective despite conflicting evidence

and so on. A different, positive approach.

On the subject of Tony Attwood, if you haven't already, I really recommend his conversation on Radio National. I wish there was a transcript so I could underlines things. The focus is girls & Aspergers, but his approach is positive (see above link) and he talks about why girls are missed, the schizophrenia thing & imaginary friend, that it's not a "lack of empathy" but an inability to realise empathy is needed, and other things that make a lot of more sense to me than many "experts" do.

A to Z

Apr. 7th, 2012 04:15 pm
xenith: (Bookshelf)
Earlier was thinking about the things I want to write LJ posts and realised the handful of topics I have could fit into an ABC format, at least up to G. By the time I get there, I might have others.

(Except I have nothing for D. Help?)

(Also tempted to offer a bookmark to anyone who can guess the A to G topics.)


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