I fell down a rabbit hole into the weird history of ouija boards and ended up at the insanely comprehensive online Museum of Talking Boards. There, I learned about a variation of the classical ouija, called "dial plate" talking boards. From the Museum:
Today, we might consider a kitchen table a peculiar piece of equipment to use to speak with spirits. For the spiritualist mediums of the 1850's, it seemed quite natural. A table was an available and commonplace piece of household furniture and a natural gathering place for family members. It also provided an ideal contact surface for those performing a séance. It worked very simply: the sitters placed their hands palms down on the tabletop and asked questions of the spirits. The spirits responded by tilting the table and rapping a leg against the floor. One knock meant, "no," two knocks meant, "doubtful," and three knocks meant, "yes." For complicated messages, spiritualists either called out the alphabet and let the spirits knock at the appropriate letter, or they employed an alphabet pasteboard. A member of the group held up the pasteboard with one hand, and with the fingers of the other, passed them slowly over the letters. The spirits knocked when the fingers touched the desired letter. Although somewhat time consuming, it was a simple and effective way to spell out messages from the "Dearly Departed."
Some mediums believed that there might be better methods of interpreting messages than using tables and alphabet boards. Modeling their equipment after the new dial plate telegraphs of the period, the logic was plain: if you could contact the living using the telegraph, then why not the non-living? In 1853, a Thompsonville, Connecticut spiritualist, Isaac T. Pease, called his invention, suitably enough, the "Spiritual Telegraph Dial." Just a dial with letters arranged around the circumference and a message needle to point to them were necessary. There was no need for messy wires or electricity.
The Cobham catalog, exposed by The Intercept, features countless pages of surveillance gadgets sold to U.S. police to spy on American citizens: tiny black boxes with a big interest in you. In the creepily bland feature lists and nerdy product names is a whisper of a dark future; perhaps darker than anyone can imagine.
This image depicts the most commonly-found stylesheet colors on the web’s top sites—Paul Hebert did an amazing amount of analysis and this is just one of the intriguing visualizations he came up with. Most of these are obvious staples, especially HTML red and blue, though it’s interesting how far the blue “cluster” is from the […]
With the cacophony of an election year ablaze with unparalleled drama being fought on the front lines of Twitter, we find ourselves slowing down and staring at it like a bad accident. The need for escapist relief is perhaps more dire than usual right now. This fall, if it’s drama you crave, but the Hillary […]
TV antennas are making a comeback, and the Ghost Indoor HDTV antenna is a great example of why. Unlike the old bunny ear-style antennas, this compact antenna is barely noticeable and picks up channels easily. Plus with the addition of streaming services like Netflix, we find ourselves with plenty to watch without a pricey monthly cable bill. The Ghost […]
I’ve never really felt the need to purchase a smartwatch because a lot of them aren’t very functional, but at just shy of $30, the Martian Notifier Smartwatch was worth checking out. For that low of a price, it actually does feature an impressive amount of functionality, and comes in handy when you don’t want to be carrying around your […]
Geek Fuel is a subscription delivery service that caters to those of us that love comics, gaming, and general geek culture. Every month, Geek Fuel will assemble a box of goodies with a value of $50 or over. The specific items are a mystery, but you’ll always get an exclusive t-shirt not found anywhere else, a full […]