Well, it's not the Iron Maiden or the Brazen Bull, but the treadmill of today's fitness centers does have a "tortuous history" as Dan Kopell writes at Wirecutter
Inventor William Cubitt subscribed to the “no pain, no gain” philosophy. His “Tread-Wheel,” which was described in the 1822 edition of Rules for the Government of Gaols, Houses of Correction, and Penitentiaries (published by the British Society for the Improvement of Prison Discipline and for the Reformation of Juvenile Offenders), was presented as a way for prisoners to put in an honest day’s labor. Prisoners used treadmills in groups, with up to two dozen convicts working a single machine, usually grinding grain or pumping water, sometimes for as long as eight hours at a stretch. They’d do so “by means of steps … the gang of prisoners ascend[ing] at one end … their combined weight acting upon every successive stepping board, precisely as a stream upon the float-boards of a water wheel.”...
This was considered to be more humane, at least compared with earlier methods of punishment, which centered on hanging or exile to British colonies. Hard labor on a treadmill for a fixed term, the theory went, could rehabilitate an offender, who could then return to society and family. Never mind that the prisoner was often left shattered by the experience. Oscar Wilde spent two years on the treadmill as punishment for “gross indecency with certain male persons.” In a poem about his incarceration, he wrote: “We banged the tins, and bawled the hymns, /And sweated on the mill: /But in the heart of every man /Terror was lying still.”
"The Torturous History of the Treadmill" (Wirecutter)
More word from the ongoing attempt to bring the people responsible for years of CIA torture to justice: one of the three waterboarding specialists at Guantanamo was called "The Preacher" because while he was drowning suspects to the point of near death, he "would at random times put one hand on the forehead of a […]
Last month, Propublica published a characteristically blockbuster piece on the use of "quiet rooms" in Illinois schools, especially in special ed programs: these are a euphemism for solitary confinement, and their use is so cruel and grotesque that Propublica's reporting prompted state level action to ban quiet rooms in schools and reform the policy on […]
Back in 2016, it looked like the private prison industry would finally die, thanks to an Obama memo directing the DoJ to reduce their use for federal prisoners, but the sector retrenched, doubling down on the slave-labor camps it maintained for US immigration authorities, and aggressively lobbying states to jail their citizens in private prisons.
Software apps are a dime a dozen. Well, if you’re going by their actual monetary cost, maybe not really. But considering how useless some poorly conceived, poorly executed apps are at doing the job you actually downloaded them to accomplish, it isn’t a stretch to think that many apps aren’t even worth a free download. […]
With everything happening in the last few months, we all but guarantee no one has been thinking about their taxes. That’s understandable — because, beyond all of our current concerns, nobody enjoys the whole tax filing process during even the best of times. Unfortunately, Benjamin Franklin was right — taxes truly are as inescapable as […]
Most parents know that giving their kids educational toys and other projects will expand their minds. But what many might not realize is that physical play is actually building their mental abilities as well. Studies are still in beginning stages, but some early research supports the theory that kids who get the chance to get […]