In 1851, Henry Mayhew published the four volume London Labour and the London Poor, an influential work of sociology/journalism that documented the life of working class Victorians. He wrote of "bone grubbers," basically dumpster divers seeking food and bits of household detritus, individuals who spent their days seeking cigar-ends for reselling, and scores of others with strange, sad, dirty, and curious jobs. One of the most interesting groups were the "toshers," sewer hunters who traveled the tunnels and sieved the waste for bones, metal, coins, cutlery, or other valuable goods, all the while avoiding the supernatural "Queen Rat" and "race of wild hogs" (predating NYC's alligators!) that roamed the shafts, according to other historians. Apparently, toshers could earn as much as six shillings (approximately $50 today) for their work. Drawing from Mayhew's work and others, Smithsonian offers a fascinating description of what they call "quite likely the worst job ever":
Even after the tunnels deteriorated and they became increasingly dangerous, though, what a tosher feared more than anything else was not death by suffocation or explosion, but attacks by rats. The bite of a sewer rat was a serious business, as another of Mayhew's informants, Jack Black - the "Rat and Mole Destroyer to Her Majesty" - explained.
"When the bite is a bad one," Black said, "it festers and forms a hard core in the ulcer, which throbs very much indeed. This core is as big as a boiled fish's eye, and as hard as stone. I generally cuts the bite out clean with a lancet and squeezes… I've been bitten nearly everywhere, even where I can't name to you, sir."
"Quite Likely the Worst Job Ever"
This gadget does exactly as promised: it looks like a thumbdrive (sort of) and fries the circuitry of any computer it’s plugged into. It’s made from camera flash parts, is charged with a standard AA battery, and delivers a 300V zap of DC destruction to the port for all your USB-murdering needs. Note that this […]
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 […]
Holiday shopping is in full swing, and the Striiv Touch is one of the best gift ideas I’ve landed on. Its simple design works for females and males, and its wide range of features makes it suitable for even the non-fitness enthusiasts in your life.Unlike traditional fitness trackers, the Striiv Touch also acts as a smartwatch. It […]
The Pocket Tripod PRO had massive Kickstarter success in 2013, raising almost $85,000 in a single month. But this isn’t just another case of pre-release product hype. This ingenious little device folds out from a credit-card-shaped plastic slab into a sturdy stand with a surprisingly wide range of motion. In portrait orientation, your phone slides […]
Loot Crate is a totally different kind of subscription service that mails subscribers monthly boxes filled with curated geek, pop culture, and gamer paraphernalia. Its cult following awaits a box every month filled with everything from bobble heads to T-shirts to special edition collectibles. But nothing gets Loot Crate fans as excited as the limited […]