The Curse of the Charles Haskell: Strange Attractors, Creep Factors, and the Advantages of Asymmetry


Life is a shipwreck, but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats – Voltaire

This seems like a safer way to fish. This seems like a safer way to fish.

Life is uncertain, or in the vernacular, “Shit Happens”.  As this is not a particularly robust philosophy of existence, we tend to putter through life with a distinctly asymmetrical notion of probability.  That is, we confidently attribute repeated successes to our good looks, charm, and wit, but strings of tragedies to bad luck, jinxes, and curses.  Psychologist Thomas Gilovich, in his How We Know What Isn’t So pointed out, “If a person has experienced such a large number of positive outcomes that it is worthy of comment, an additional success is not, by itself, terribly noteworthy.  A subsequent failure on the other hand, violates the typical pattern of success and thus stands out in the person’s experience.  Examples of earlier jinxes are therefore…

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Frederick Marryat and the Brown Lady of Raynham Hall


“We’re all of us haunted and haunting” ― Chuck Palahniuk

lady_dorthy Brown Lady of Raynham Hall – Captain Hubert C. Provand – Country Life, 1936

Captain Frederick Marryat (1792-1848) was a British Royal Navy officer, who after distinguished service retired to a literary life, regaling Victorians with nautical narratives that would serve as the prototypes for later popular maritime novelists such as C.S. Forester (the Horatio Hornblower series) and Patrick O’Brian (The Aubrey-Maturin series e.g. Master and Commander), known for his evocative descriptions of life at sea in the 19th Century based on his own experiences.

One has to have a measure of courage to willingly crew a wooden ship likely to endure numerous canon fusillades.  I mean, it’s not high on my list of ways to live a long and healthy life.  Then again, joining the 19th Century British Navy is not for the meek in most…

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Slumlord to a Ghost: The Case of Giles Bolacre vs. Pierre Piquet


“If a man harbors any sort of fear, it percolates through all his thinking, damages his personality, makes him landlord to a ghost” ― Henry Ward Beecher

ghost_slumlord Hope you don’t mind your new neighbors

As of 2013, in the United Kingdom, it is estimated that 3.3 million “ghost tenants” are occupying privately rented homes, that is occupants of rented homes that are not listed on the tenancy agreement, from live-in-lovers to friends who have nowhere else to stay.  I suspect most landlords are willing to look the other way, given the state of the worldwide economy, and with the assurance that the rent gets paid on time.  Landlords are simple people.  Money-grubbing parasites, but simple people nonetheless.  While I happen to live in Los Angeles these days (the “City of Angels”, marked by the conspicuous absence of anything reasonably termed “angelic”), I still own my first home of many years…

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Beware Ghosts Bearing Gifts: Ezekiel Grosse and the Curse of the Rosewarne Gold


“Lawyers Are: A learned gentleman who rescues your estate from your enemies and keeps it himself” – Henry Brougham

cornwall They really need to do something about this coffin shortage.

Rosewarne Wollas (“Lower” in Cornish) was a manor house in rugged, coastal Cornwall built in 1225, and housed many generations of the aristocratic De Rosewarne family, until the reign of James I (1566-1625), right about the time of the unification of the Scottish and English crowns. As it turns out, the final De Rosewarne to own the estate was a bit of a financial screw-up.  The last lord of the manor was tangled in financial difficulties as he was busy “endeavouring, without sufficient means, to support the dignity of his family” (Hartland, 1890, p224).  Across the generations, I hear you, brother.

It didn’t particularly help De Rosewarne that his attorney and financial advisor was a certain Ezekiel Grosse, who turned out…

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Be Nice to Dead People: Professor Junker and the Reanimated Corpse


“The companionship of dead writers is a wonderful form of live friendship” ― Julian Barnes

dead_dude Sometimes they come back.

Life as a 18th Century anatomy professor could be tough. It was one of those career choices that while relatively prestigious, required a certain talent for procuring corpses. While you might get invited to all the cool mortician parties, most folks shy away from life choices that encourage a lot of contact with the recently deceased. And although the average post-mortem chap suffers from a lack of hygiene (not their fault, being dead with the inevitable deterioration of grooming standards), they do have the virtue of not being especially talkative. Occasionally, you’ll get a ghost whining about the unfairness of it all, but in large part corpses remain thankfully uncommunicative. Except for one particular dead fellow that wound up at the doorstep of Professor Junker of Halle, Germany.

Physician Friedrich Christian…

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Dead Men Tell No Tales and Corpses are Rotten Witnesses


“Treason doth never prosper, what’s the reason? For if it prosper, none dare call it Treason” – John Harington

creepy_jury A jury of one’s peers?

Us living folks have always had an ambivalent attitude towards the dead. We certainly don’t want them wandering around making all sorts of unreasonable demands or feasting on our brains.  Although, you do have to make room for all manner of fetishes.  One must not be exclusionary.  Such leads to an “airy” of exclusion.  The one area in which we generally eschew the standard cultural taboos when it comes to screwing with the recently, or not so recently, deceased is in the courtroom. So what you’re dead?  You still owe taxes.  Your crimes in life still echo in eternity.  And if you are perceived as having committed that most heinous of acts – treason – against the powers that be, are, or will be, well let’s…

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Exiles from Fairyland: Finding Your Phynnodderee on the Isle of Man


“Exile is more than a geographical concept. You can be an exile in your homeland, in your own house, in a room” – Mahmoud Darwish

Condemned to exile from fairyland. Condemned to exile from fairyland.

Postmodernity’s cry for the primacy of the narrative, a narrative that inescapably traps us in meanings we never intended has guaranteed that we are all exiles.  Exiles from paradise.  Exiles from our society.  Exiles from ourselves.  We are creatures running from the ideal, pressing against our cultural bounds, and desperately trying to engage patterns of thought that exist outside of us.  But like all exiles, we construct elaborate fantasies of a triumphant escape from estrangement and a re-establishment of an empire at which we are the center, not in the egotistical Napoleonic sense, rather in attempt to feel that our ideas and actions have import for the cosmos.  As Salman Rushdie observed, “Exile is a dream of glorious return. Exile…

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The Moon in Your Eyes: The Tragic and Forgotten History of the Azgen


“An optimist expects his dreams to come true; a pessimist expects his nightmares to.” – Dr. Laurence J. Peters

We keep the whole moon-eyed people thing quiet. We keep the whole moon-eyed people thing quiet.

Historians, even those of anomalistic tendencies, spend a lot of time fussing over whether the first non-native inhabitants of North America were Vikings, Celts, Templars, Chinese, or whether the question is pure ethnocentricism and thus moot, since the true discoverers of the Americas are the Siberian migrants who crossed the Bering Strait land bridge some 10,000 years ago.  This is all irrelevant, as even Native Americans (who undeniably were around before Europeans got an inkling that the world wasn’t flat and started claiming everything in the name of Queen and Country) seem to indicate that the original inhabitants of the Americas were nocturnal monsters, creatures of the night variously referred to as the Azgen or the “Moon-Eyed” People.  Recently, theories that Welsh Prince…

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Rome, The Capuchin Crypt


Museo dei Frati Minori Cappuccini e Cripta Ossario
Via Vittorio Veneto 27 Rome
06 88803695
open daily 9:00 to 6:00

A visit to the Capuchin Crypt is eye opening and bone rattling.

Ah, la Dolce Vita! Anita Ekberg, Marcello Mastroianni, the very essence of Italian glam! Only in Italy could La Dolce Vita have existed; only in Italy’s Eternal City could it have existed cheek to jowl with La Cripta dei Cappucchini, one of the world’s top ossuaries.

Sometimes it seems that wherever there is spendid Italian style there is also some seriously ghoulish substance nearby and Via Veneto is no exception. Long before Federico Fellini was filming nightlife along Via Veneto, the Marquis de Sade, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Mark Twain were all moved to write about the scary sight they had seen there by day: the Capuchin Crypt.

Capuchins wear hooded brown habits belted with rope and sandals on their feet. They…

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Let the Restoration Begin

The American Eagle Service

by Dahni

© Copyright 2/08/10

all rights reserved

HOWcan WEthe People regain control of OUR right to“life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?WEhave delved into what won’t work in order to find what will work.

Last time I asked for your help (the 8 Re’s from the last post). The title of the list “Redux” and every item on the list used the same two letters, ‘R’ & ‘e’ or ‘Re’. Restoration uses the same first two letters, also. ‘Re’ is an important prefix and quite simply means to repeat, do something over or do something again. Like the word – ‘rejoice,’ for example. In order to rejoice, WE first needed to have joy. The point here is that these things are available and we just want to re-do or re-peat these over…

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