Wild, Wild West | “Big Nose” George Parrot: the Outlaw Who Was Turned into Human Shoes & an Ashtray


“Big Nose” George Parrot | Shoes made from his skin | George Parrot’s skull and bones | First to Know

[In February 1879, ‘Big Nose’ George and his gang executed a risky daytime robbery on a very wealthy merchant named Morris Cahn. Cahn was traveling with a military convoy that included 15 soldiers, two officers and an ambulance. Wearing masks, the gang first surprised and then captured the first element of soldiers and the ambulance with Cahn and the officers. They waited and finally captured the rear element of soldiers with the wagon. They robbed Cahn of an exorbitant amount between $3,600 and $14,000 (different amounts were reported in different papers at the time).

It was July 1880 when Big Nose George was finally apprehended by police after he drunkenly boasted to people about the robbery. Parrot was sent back to Wyoming to face murder charges.

Parrott was sentenced to hang on April 2, 1881, following a trial, but he soon tried escaping from Rawlins, Wyoming prison. When news of the attempted escape reached the people, a 200-man lynch mob snatched George from the prison at gunpoint and strung him up from a telegraph pole. After two botched attempts, they successfully killed ‘Big Nose.’

But the story only gets stranger after his death.

Doctors Thomas Maghee and John Eugene Osborne took possession of Parrott’s body after his death, in order to study the outlaw’s brain for signs of criminality, something that was commonly done at the time. The top of Parrott’s skull was sawed off and the top portion was given to a then-15-year-old girl named Lilian Heath, who would later become the first female doctor in Wyoming. She used Parrott’s skull as an ashtray, pen holder and doorstop.

Skin from George’s thighs, chest and nipples were sent to a tannery in Denver, where the skin was made into a pair of shoes and a medical bag. The shoes were kept by Dr. John Eugene Osborne, who wore them at his inaugural ball after being elected as the first Democratic Governor of the State of Wyoming.]

‘Big Nose’ George Parrot: the Outlaw Who Was Turned into Human Shoes & an Ashtray


‘Big Nose’ George’s death mask and shoes made from his skin | Carbon County Museum, Rawlings, WY

Survivorship Bias | The Curious Story of the Applied Mathematics Panel

The Misconception: You should focus on the successful if you wish to become successful.

The Truth: When failure becomes invisible, the difference between failure and success may also become invisible.

[In New York City, in an apartment a dozen blocks west of Harlem, above trees reaching out over sidewalks and dogs pulling at leashes and conversations cut short to avoid parking tickets, a group of professional thinkers once gathered and completed equations that would both snuff and spare several hundred thousand human lives.

Carry The One POSTER

Illustration by Brad Clark at http://www.plus3video.com

People walking by the apartment at the time had no idea that four stories above them some of the most important work in applied mathematics was tilting the scales of a global conflict as secret agents of the United States armed forces, arithmetical soldiers, engaged in statistical combat. Nor could people today know as they open umbrellas and twist heels on cigarettes, that nearby, in an apartment overlooking Morningside Heights, one of those soldiers once effortlessly prevented the United States military from doing something incredibly stupid, something that could have changed the flags now flying in capitals around the world had he not caught it, something you do every day.

These masters of math moved their families across the country, some across an ocean, so they could work together. As they unpacked, the theaters in their new hometowns replaced posters for Citizen Kane with those for Casablanca, and the newspapers they unwrapped from photo frames and plates featured stories still unraveling the events at Pearl Harbor. Many still held positions at universities. Others left those sorts of jobs to think deeply in one of the many groups that worked for the armed forces, free of any other obligations aside from checking in on their families at night and feeding their brains during the day. All paused their careers and rushed to enlist so they could help crush Hitler, not with guns and brawn, but with integers and exponents.

The official name for the people inside the apartment was the Statistical Research Group, a cabal of geniuses assembled at the request of the White House and made up of people who would go on to compete for and win Nobel Prizes. The SRG was an extension of Columbia University, and they dealt mainly with statistical analysis. The Philadelphia Computing Section, another group made up entirely of women mathematicians, worked six days a week at the University of Pennsylvania on ballistics tables. Other groups with different specialties were tied to Harvard, Princeton, Brown and others, 11 in all, each a leaf at the end of a new branch of the government created to help defeat the Axis – the Department of War Math.

Actually…no. They were never officially known by such a deliciously sexy title. They were instead called the Applied Mathematics Panel, but they operated as if they were a department of war math…….]

Read the full story:

Survivorship Bias

Medicine, LGBT Community, and The Hippocratic Oath | The Curious Case of Mississippi, Tennessee and Maybe Florida


A fragment of the Oath on the 3rd-century Papyrus Oxyrhynchus 2547

In the first week of April, Mississippi passed a new law making it expressly legal for doctors, psychologists, and counselors to opt out of any procedure or choose not to take on any patient if doing so would compromise their conscience. The law is specifically designed to protect medical professionals who object to gay marriage and non-marital sex.Tennessee’s general assembly just passed a similar law, which would only apply to counselors, and a now-dead Florida bill would have protected religious health-care organizations from having to “administer, recommend, or deliver a medical treatment or procedure that would be contrary to the religious or moral convictions or policies of the facility.”

Medical exemptions, though, deserve to be considered in a category of their own. Doctors and therapists interact with people at their most vulnerable, and their training and expertise gives them incredible power over patients. The advice they provide—or refuse to provide—to an LGBT patient could influence the treatment that person seeks. It could make that person less likely to seek primary care or identify themselves as LGBT to other doctors, which can lead to the “failure to screen, diagnose, or treat important medical problems,” according to the American Medical Association. The medical community has a problem: What should hospitals, private practices, and medical associations do about doctors and therapists who say it’s against their beliefs to provide care to LGBT patients?

Read the full article here | When Doctors Refuse to Treat LGBT Patients (The Atlantic)


The Hippocratic Oath (original -ancient Greek-), and modern version:

I swear by Apollo Physician, by Asclepius, by Health, by Panacea and by all the gods and goddesses, making them my witnesses, that I will carry out, according to my ability and judgment, this oath and this indenture. To hold my teacher in this art equal to my own parents; to make him partner in my livelihood; when he is in need of money to share mine with him; to consider his family as my own brothers, and to teach them this art, if they want to learn it, without fee or indenture; to impart precept, oral instruction, and all other instruction to my own sons, the sons of my teacher, and to indentured pupils who have taken the physician’s oath, but to nobody else. I will use treatment to help the sick according to my ability and judgment, but never with a view to injury and wrong-doing. Neither will I administer a poison to anybody when asked to do so, nor will I suggest such a course. Similarly I will not give to a woman a pessary to cause abortion. But I will keep pure and holy both my life and my art. I will not use the knife, not even, verily, on sufferers from stone, but I will give place to such as are craftsmen therein. Into whatsoever houses I enter, I will enter to help the sick, and I will abstain from all intentional wrong-doing and harm, especially from abusing the bodies of man or woman, bond or free. And whatsoever I shall see or hear in the course of my profession, as well as outside my profession in my intercourse with men, if it be what should not be published abroad, I will never divulge, holding such things to be holy secrets. Now if I carry out this oath, and break it not, may I gain for ever reputation among all men for my life and for my art; but if I transgress it and forswear myself, may the opposite befall me. [5]

Modern version

I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…

I will respect the hard-won scientific gains of those physicians in whose steps I walk, and gladly share such knowledge as is mine with those who are to follow.

I will apply, for the benefit of the sick, all measures which are required, avoiding those twin traps of overtreatment and therapeutic nihilism.

I will remember that there is art to medicine as well as science, and that warmth, sympathy, and understanding may outweigh the surgeon’s knife or the chemist’s drug.

I will not be ashamed to say “I know not,” nor will I fail to call in my colleagues when the skills of another are needed for a patient’s recovery.

I will respect the privacy of my patients, for their problems are not disclosed to me that the world may know. Most especially must I tread with care in matters of life and death. Above all, I must not play at God.

I will remember that I do not treat a fever chart, a cancerous growth, but a sick human being, whose illness may affect the person’s family and economic stability. My responsibility includes these related problems, if I am to care adequately for the sick.

I will prevent disease whenever I can, for prevention is preferable to cure.

I will remember that I remain a member of society, with special obligations to all my fellow human beings, those sound of mind and body as well as the infirm.

If I do not violate this oath, may I enjoy life and art, respected while I live and remembered with affection thereafter. May I always act so as to preserve the finest traditions of my calling and may I long experience the joy of healing those who seek my help.

As Orlando Menes Once Wrote, “idyllic memories are a jeweled noose.” | The Holocaust Memorial Museum’s Detrimental Kitsch

Visitors to the United States Holocaust Museum, which is about to celebrate its’ 20th anniversary, pass beneath a cast taken from the original entrance to the Auschwitz death camp, inscribed with the phrase Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes One Free), on April, 17, 2013 in Washington, DC.
(Photo by Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

[…. the Cuban exile community in the United States to which Menes belongs provides a textbook case of the way nostalgia and self-absorption (the other cardinal vice of the exiled and the scorned), however understandable a community’s resorting to them may be, also often serve as a prophylactic against common sense, political or otherwise.

But Cuban Americans are hardly alone in their self- imposed predicament; at various points in their history, the Irish, the Armenians, and the Tamils have been equally trapped in their own particular versions of what the writer Svetlana Boym has called “the dictatorship of nostalgia.” And Washington’s Holocaust Memorial Museum testifies that American Jews are no less immune to nostalgia’s temptations.]


The historian Tony Judt once recalled that during a visit to Berlin’s Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe, he saw “bored schoolchildren on an obligatory outing [playing] hide-and-seek among the stones.” He argued, “When we ransack the past for political profit — selecting the bits that can serve our purposes and recruiting history to teach opportunistic moral lessons — we get bad morality and bad history.” To which one should add: We also get kitsch.

Even when done well, commemoration almost always skates precariously close to kitsch. One might wish that the Holocaust were an exception in this regard, and that it will always, in Leon Wieseltier’s phrase, “press upon the souls of all who learn of it.” But it is not, much as we might wish otherwise.

This is a distinct problem, not to be confused with the fact that since 1945 the Shoah has regularly been employed to serve political agendas, the most obvious, as Judt emphasized, being to justify more or less any policy of the State of Israel with regard to its neighbors or to its Arab minority. But even when the remembrance of the Shoah is innocent of such subtexts, it has still been smothered in kitsch as Milan Kundera once defined it: all answers being “given in advance and [precluding] any questions.” Again, it is understandable to hope that people will be moved by an act of collective remembrance. And it is often, though not always, right to insist that they have a moral duty to remember. Where such acts become kitsch is when people take the fact that they are moved as a reason to think better of themselves.

It is unfortunate that a prime example of the instauration of this kind of kitsch remembrance is the U.S. National Holocaust Museum itself — the largest and best-known memorial to the Shoah in the world other than the Yad Vashem Memorial Museum and Center in Israel. To be sure, much of what is in the museum is as heartbreakingly far from kitsch as it is possible to get — above all, what Wieseltier called “the objects, the stuff, the things of the persecutions and the murders,” when he rightly described the Holocaust Museum as “a kind of reliquary.”

But these exhibits and films, photographs, and documents are bracketed by two extraordinarily kitschy pieces of set dressing.

As one first enters the museum and before one has seen a single image or artifact of either Nazi atrocity or Jewish martyrdom, one must first walk by the serried battle flags of the U.S. Army divisions that liberated some of the concentration camps (there are no British or Russian standards, even though a great many of the museum’s exhibits concern Bergen-Belsen, liberated by the British, and Auschwitz, liberated by the Soviets). And as one leaves the last room of the museum, the final exhibit one sees contains a series of images of David Ben-Gurion proclaiming the independence of the State of Israel, and, beyond them at the exit, a column of tan sandstone that is simply identified as having come from Jerusalem.

One can only hope that in addition to the American triumphalism and what even by the most generous of interpretations is a highly partisan pro-Israeli view of the creation of the state as the existential remediation of the Nazis’ war of extermination against the Jews, the intention here was to palliate what, apart from the part of the exhibit devoted to the Danes’ rescue of most of their country’s Jewish population, is the pure horror of what the museum contains by beginning and ending on an uplifting note.

The impulse is an understandable one. But it is also both a historical and a moral solecism that perfectly illustrates Judt’s admonition that the result is both bad history and bad morality.

Read the full story here: The United States Museum of Holocaust Kitsch

Freedom, the State, and Selective Sensitivities


Women to Remember: Chipeta

Chipeta 2

Chipeta and Ute Chief Ouray | Denver Public Librady Digital Collections

(Denver Public Library)

When Chipeta was first called Queen of the Utes, the term was meant in a derogatory way by a Rocky Mountain News reporter who described her presiding over Ute “vermin” in her buckskin. But then Denver poet Eugene Field wrote a poem dedicated to Chipeta and her role in saving white hostages from Utes after the Meeker Massacre, and an adoring public embraced her for her wisdom, beauty and grace. She became as famous as Ouray. Today, there are streets, places and organizations all over Colorado and Utah named after Chipeta.

When Chipeta was a baby, a band of Tabeguache Utes found her crawling in the ruins of a Kiowa Apache village, the only survivor of a savage attack. The Utes adopted her and raised her as their own. She became a caretaker for Ouray’s son after Ouray’s first wife died. The two became close and married. Ouray and Chipeta were inseparable. It was rare for Ute women to travel with their men, but the two traveled together as Ouray negotiated with whites and other Ute leaders for Ute lands. Ouray received a salary for his role as an interpreter and hunter for the Los Pinos Agency. Other Utes became suspicious and assumed that the money he received was in return for selling off Ute lands. But while Ouray was no longer welcome with certain Ute bands, Chipeta was accepted with open arms by everyone. The council she kept with other Utes became invaluable to Ouray. Soon, Chipeta was giving council to visiting chiefs, tribal headmen and U.S. functionaries. She continued in this role for the rest of her life. It was Chipeta who stayed up all night with Ouray as the White River Utes fought with the U.S. Cavalry up North, convincing him not to ride to their aid and thus, preserving what peace the Utes had left. After Ouray died and the Utes were stripped of their remaining Colorado lands, she continued to advocate for her people and for peace.


Denver Public Librady Digital Collections

Chipeta dined with Kit Carson’s family and in the lavish homes of Indian affairs agents. She was eulogized in Washington D.C. newspapers and was well-loved. But after being banished to Utah, she was forgotten. On the Uintah Reservation, the Utes faced a harsh climate far different than their ancestral homelands in Colorado. They were told to farm, but most of the land wasn’t arable. The government allowed miners and others to trick the Utes and steal land from them. Chipeta survived on government commodities. Then the government subdivided the reservation and took more land away. Yet Chipeta’s spirit wasn’t broken and she still spoke for many Utes. In 1897, her brother McCook represented her opinions in Washington D.C.

Chipeta 3

Denver Public Library Digital Collections

Chipeta 4

Denver Public Library Digital Collections

Around the time of her death, the public began to notice her again. People sent her gifts. She was invited to Colorado to visit Montrose and the Uncompahgre Plateau. President Taft insisted she ride with him on his train to watch the opening of the Gunnison Tunnel. She was once again Queen of the Utes. When she died, the city of Montrose insisted she be exhumed from her humble grave in Utah and buried in Montrose in an elaborate ceremony. Her brother McCook agreed and today, she rests there in her ancestral homeland.

Chipeta 6

Denver Public Library Digital Collections

Other links on Chipeta:

Chipeta: Wife of Ute Chief Ouray

Chipeta: Admired and Respected Indian Leader

The “Dog” was Alive

Today an Israeli soldier executed a wounded Palestinian man on the ground in the Tel Rumeida area of Hebron’s old city in the occupied West Bank.

In a B’Tselem video (above, viewers should be warned of graphic video) capturing the killing, the man can be seen semi-conscious on the ground, when a soldier cocks his rifle and fires, blowing his brains out.

Before the shooting, voices can be heard asking in Hebrew, “Is the dog alive?”

Israeli forces killed a second Palestinian in the same incident. The men are alleged to have carried out a stabbing attack on a soldier.

In another video, an Israeli soldier can be seen kicking over the body of one of the Palestinian men.

The two Palestinian men have been identified as Ramzi Aziz al-Qasrawi, 21, and Abed al-Fattah Yusri al-Sharif, 21.

The Tel Rumeida neighborhood has faced severe restrictions and been declared a closed military by the Israeli military since November 1, 2015.

Since October, 2015, 203 Palestinians and 30 Israelis have been killed, according to Ma’an News Agency.  

Israeli soldier filmed executing wounded Palestinian man