Friday, December 05, 2008

Link Proliferation: The dead stay with us.

The Body Part Bakery

Here's some video footage of The Body Part Bakery, a Thai bakery that specializes in making baked goods in the shape of human body parts. It's what the Texas Chain Saw Massacre would have looked like if it'd been an anti-gluten screed instead of metaphor for the horrors of factory slaughter.

The Scary Body Parts Bakery - More bloopers are a click away

The amazing tale of the Ovitz clan

At the fabu Human Marvels site, there's the amazing story of the Ovitz family, a clan of Transylvanian Jewish midgets who became the "research subjects" of the infamous Dr. Mengele.

From the article:

The Ovitz family were Transylvanian Jews. Their patriarch, Shimshon Isaac Ovitz, was a respected Rabbi and dwarf. The majority of his children, Elizabeth included, inherited his pseudoachondroplasia dwarfism and upon his sudden death his widow reasoned that the seven stunted Ovitz siblings could secure a financially sound career as a traveling music troupe. In relatively short order, the siblings formed the 'Jazz Band of Lilliput' and began touring Central Europe.

By 1942, despite the unstable status of Central Europe of the march of the Nazi army, the Ovitz family managed to continue touring by concealing their Jewish identities. Elizabeth was able to marry in May of that same year to a young theatre manager named Yoshko Moskovitz. The couple was forced to split just ten days after their marriage when Yoshko was drafted into a labour battalion. For another two years, the Ovitz family continued to tour, unfortunately they were in Hungary in March of 1944 when German troops occupied the country. On May 17 the Ovitz family was captured, loaded into a boxcar and sent off to Auschwitz.

There the family fell into the clutches of the infamous Nazi doctor.

Mengele had previously tortured, experimented upon and dissected dozens of twin siblings for no reason other than to document the similarities of their internal organs and in the Ovitz family Mengele saw the ultimate test subjects. In fact, Elizabeth quoted Mengele as enthusiastically declaring: 'Now I will have work for the next twenty years; now science will have an interesting subject to consider.'

At Auschwitz Elizabeth and her family were segregated and subjected to all manner of frenetic experimentation. As Elizabeth would write:

'The most frightful experiments of all were the gynaecological experiments. They tied us to the table and the systematic torture began. They injected things into our uterus, extracted blood, dug into us, pierced us and removed samples. It is impossible to put into words the intolerable pain that we suffered, which continued for many days after the experiments ceased.'

The gynaecological experimentation was so severe that even the doctors assisting the procedures eventually refused to continue out of pity, whilst citing the very real possibility that the family would not be able to survive further invasive procedure. Mengele relented as he did not want to risk the lives of his favourite lab rats. Instead, he concocted and implemented new sadistic experiments.

'They extracted fluid from our spine. The hair extraction began again and when we were ready to collapse, they began painful tests on the brain, nose, mouth, and hand region. All stages were fully documented with illustrations. It may be noted, ironically, that we were among the only ones in the world whose torture was premeditated and "scientifically" documented for the sake of future generations.'

Would that were true, Elizabeth.

When the death camp was liberated in 1945, Elizabeth and her family were freed. They continued to tour and perform for several years. Before the decade was out, Elizabeth immigrated to Israel, where she died in 1992. She outlived Mengele by nearly two decades: the Nazi butcher escaped to Brazil where he lived, free and un-prosecuted for his crimes, until 1979.

Crazy revenge wackiness, cubed

The fine folks over at Cubeecraft, mayhaps in protest over the proposed "not a" remake, have made an Oldboy cubee figure.

Park life

Here's Does It Offend You, Yeah's bizarre video for their tune "Weird Science." Though the special effects are pretty cheesy, there is a couple with a fused face and a decided non-surgical separation procedure which leads to a fair amount of blood. NSFW? You'll have to make the call. I refuse to play bad cop here. You're an adult and you can make these decisions on your own.

Another minute off the Countdown to Skynet Clock

Mad science marches on!

Scientific American has some footage of Israel's new intelligence-gathering, armament-capable robot soldier.

The thing actually has the Cobra-worthy name of Versatile Intelligent Portable Robot or VIPeR.

How our brains make ghosts

Those mad science experts as Scientific American are at it again. This time, an article in the mag discusses grief hallucinations: vivid multi-sensory hallucinations of the recently departed that are, apparently, not that uncommon.

From the article:

The dead stay with us, that much is clear. They remain in our hearts and minds, of course, but for many people they also linger in our senses—as sights, sounds, smells, touches or presences. Grief hallucinations are a normal reaction to bereavement but are rarely discussed, because people fear they might be considered insane or mentally destabilised by their loss. As a society we tend to associate hallucinations with things like drugs and mental illness, but we now know that hallucinations are common in sober healthy people and that they are more likely during times of stress.

Mourning seems to be a time when hallucinations are particularly common, to the point where feeling the presence of the deceased is the norm rather than the exception. One study, by the researcher Agneta Grimby at the University of Goteborg, found that over 80 percent of elderly people experience hallucinations associated with their dead partner one month after bereavement, as if their perception had yet to catch up with the knowledge of their beloved's passing. As a marker of how vivid such visions can seem, almost a third of the people reported that they spoke in response to their experiences. In other words, these weren't just peripheral illusions: they could evoke the very essence of the deceased.


Occasionally, these hallucinations are heart-rending. A 2002 case report by German researchers described how a middle aged woman, grieving her daughter’s death from a heroin overdose, regularly saw the young girl and sometimes heard her say "Mamma, Mamma!" and "It's so cold." Thankfully, these distressing experiences tend to be rare, and most people who experience hallucinations during bereavement find them comforting, as if they were re-connecting with something of the positive from the person’s life. Perhaps this reconnecting is reflected in the fact that the intensity of grief has been found to predict the number of pleasant hallucinations, as has the happiness of the marriage to the person who passed away.

There are hints that the type of grief hallucinations might also differ across cultures. Anthropologists have told us a great deal about how the ceremonies, beliefs and the social rituals of death differ greatly across the world, but we have few clues about how these different approaches affect how people experience the dead after they have gone. Carlos Sluzki, the owner of the shadow cat and a cross-cultural researcher at George Mason University, suggests that in cultures of non-European origin the distinction between "in here" and "out there" experiences is less strictly defined, and so grief hallucinations may not be considered so personally worrying. In a recent article, he discussed the case of an elderly Hispanic lady who was frequently "visited" by two of her children who died in adulthood and were a comforting and valued part of her social network.

(Admittedly vaguely related pic awesomeness is my favorite photo from Diane Arbus)

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