Psychopaths (& Sociopaths)

ed-gein

Some criminals among us are like chameleons. They are experts at appearing normal at least at first glance. They can be charming, witty, highly intelligent, and attractive. They can be male or female. Most of us have heard of these types of criminals that we categorize as sociopaths and psychopaths. The psychopaths tend to be the more physically violent, but sociopaths can be very psychologically violent. Not all sociopaths and psychopaths end up in jail. Many remain at large in the general population affecting everyone they come in contact with. It is important to be aware of the warning signs.

First, let’s learn who the psychopaths and sociopaths are and how to spot them.

psycopath-vs-sociopath-infographic1

How to Spot a Sociopath

How to Spot a Psychopath

10-habits-of-highly-psychopathic-people

Some of the most heinous crimes are committed by psychopaths. We have touched on this category before in my posts on PredatorsBad Guys, and True Crime.

Next, let’s look at an example of a known psychopath.

I have mentioned Ed Gein before in the Bad Guys post. Ed Gein was a psychopath who lived in Plainfield, Wisconsin. He was truly the orignal “psycho.” I’ve mentioned the connection between Gein’s crimes and Hollywood movies. Now my library read through has brought me to Deviant: The Shocking True Story of Ed Gein, the Original “Psycho” by Harold Schechter.

De

Ed Gein was the child of an alcoholic father and a domineering, self righteous mother.  Ed had one sibling, a brother, who died under questionable circumstances. At the time of his brother’s death, Ed acted strangely. He claimed that he thought his brother was killed from a fire they were trying to put out. Ed claimed he didn’t know where his brother was and rounded up a search party. However, as soon as the search party started to look for the missing brother, Ed led them straight to the body. His brother’s body had mysterious bruising about the head area. There were no burn marks or singeing of his body or clothing. Foul play was briefly suspected. It was known that Ed had been upset when his brother implied a slight criticism of their mother, but even law enforcement could not believe that Ed would harm his brother. The death was ruled accidental. Since Ed’s father had died four years previously Ed now had his mother all to himself.

Ed seemed inappropriately connected to his mother. She was his life and his inspiration. His mother’s approval was all that ever mattered to him. Ed’s mother had isolated her family in the country to avoid having to interact with the town’s people of Plainfield, who she believed were all evil. No one was good enough and she encouraged both of her sons to never marry or even interact with anyone unless absolutely necessary. Trips to town were only made when absolutely necessary. When Ed was old enough to drive, his mother would send him to town for the occasional necessities. However, she would constantly warn him about individual people in the town. Anyone Ed may have happened to mention would be an evil person whose sins were known and recited by his mother. Ed never questioned his mother’s omniscience. To Ed, his mother was at least equal to God. Ed’s faith in his mother was slightly shaken when she said she was so ill that he would have to take her to the hospital. Ed had a hard time believing that his mother needed help from anyone. After she suffered a stroke, Ed kept vigil at his mother’s hospital bedside. After her release from the hospital, Ed had to carry his mother into their house and then he nursed her back to health. When she was back on her feet, Ed was elated though somewhat disgruntled because his mother never once thanked him for taking care of her even though she was completely reliant upon him. When Ed’s mother had a second stroke and then died, Ed was very distraught.

From all outside appearances, Ed Gein appeared to be a quiet middle aged man. He helped his neighbors with anything he could and would sometimes hire on for odd jobs. Ed also became a somewhat popular babysitter. He was considered a very good and reliable worker. However, because Ed was different he was the brunt of pranks and often bullied and teased. He retreated inside himself holding in a lot of resentments towards his neighbors who he believed mistreated him and cheated him out of his pay.

Ed’s mostly pornographic reading material was focused on such things as tortures in Nazi prison camps, grave robbing, head shrinking, cannibalism, and various ways that the human body could be used to make household items and even musical instruments.

Eddie Gein killed two women, both of whom reminded him of his mother. Other victims are suspected but it was never proven that he killed more than two people. It was also never proven that Gein never killed men. (He was suspected in a least two murders of men.) It was proven that he dug up the remains of some of his victims from local cemeteries and perpetrated atrocities on the corpses.

The remainder of the book goes on to explain Eddie’s journey through the court system and mental health hospitals, as well as how the town’s people of Plainfield, Wisconsin dealt with the aftermath of Eddie’s crimes. Since I don’t want to spoil the book for those who may want to read it, I won’t say anything about the findings of the courts or the mental health system.

I would recommend this book to those interested in this true crime story. The author does a fantastic job of following Eddie through his life from his birth to his death. Harold Schechter keeps his tone conversational while clearly explaining what drove Eddie to commit the heinous crimes he committed. He also does a great job of following up the aftermath of Eddie’s crime spree. The reader will come away with a deep understanding of exactly what happened and why. The book itself is not scary, but it does have some rather gross descriptions in it that are definitely not for the squeamish! To me, the story is more sad than scary.

Due to the length of this post, I won’t comment in depth about the next book I came to, which is also by Harold Schechter. Psycho U S A: Famous American Killers You Never Heard Of is a book which seeks to document psychopathic crime from almost the birth of the US.

Psycho U S A

Schechter identifies time periods from 1782 through 1961 when such crimes were not so widely publicized. Time frames and categories covered in this interesting book are:

  1. Fiends of the Early Republic 1782-1826
  2. Antebellum Maniacs 1840-1860
  3. Post Civil War Monsters 1866-1880
  4. Turn of the Century Psychos 1892-1896
  5. A Year of Horror 1927
  6. Demons of the Depression (Exact dates not given. Approximate dates 1928-1940)
  7. Soldier, Sailor, Serial Killer 1941-1961

There are very interesting articles in this book describing how certain stories have entered into American folklore. This book is worth the reader’s time.

Have you seen any of the movies based on Eddie Gein? Have you ever met someone with a diagnosis of Antisocial Personality Disorder?

 

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Famous Historical Crimes

Famous Crimes

Some crimes are historically famous. Here are a few examples all from the 1930’s.

Famous Criminals

Although the above examples are all from the 1930’s, every decade seems to have its notorious criminals. I have perused books in the Fulton County Public Library about all of the criminals mentioned above – and many, many more.

Since time and one blog post will not allow me to comment on all notorious criminals, I’ve decided to comment on just one very famous case; Jack the Ripper. Although the Ripper’s crimes were committed in London, this case has world wide recognition and following. Many Americans have shown great interest in the case since the 1880’s when the crimes occurred. Jack the Ripper has been the subject of fiction and nonfiction books, movies, radio and television shows, stage plays, newspapers, magazines, photographs, and works of art. The Ripper’s story is on the world wide web and in the files of many police officers and detectives. There are even tours to learn about the Ripper’s crime spree (Scroll down the linked page to the second video to watch a 2 minute video about a very popular tour). This crime is retold in every medium imaginable.

One of the reasons I chose to write about this case is because it covers most of the areas of Criminology I’ve already written about. It is an obvious True Crime story. There have been many people accused of this heinous crime spree as well as many false confessions, making it a Falsie. The case was an Unsolved Crime for approximately 130 years which made it a famous historical crime.

JTR Ghastly Murder

The Ripper was active in the “East-End” of London in an area known as Whitechapel. He would strike at night. His targets were always female prostitutes who roamed the poverty stricken areas of London’s east side. The Ripper usually cut the throats of his victims and then performed horrid mutilations of his victims. Some of the victims had organs removed.  This is how the killer got his nickname. There are actual photographs but they are much too graphic to be shown in this post.  Because of the mutilations and a knowledge of anatomy, many believed that Jack the Ripper had medical training.

George Lusk, who was part of the Whitechapel Vigilance Committee, received a letter containing part of a preserved human kidney. The letter has become known as the “From Hell” letter. The image below is of a photograph taken of the letter before evidence went missing. The letter was postmarked “15 October 1888.”

220px-FromHellLetter

The letter reads:

“From hell

Mr Lusk
Sor
I send you half the Kidne I took from one women prasarved it for you tother pirce I fried and ate it was very nise I may send you the bloody knif that took it out if you only wate a whil longer.

signed Catch me when

you Can

Mishter Lusk.”

Jack the Ripper had 5 known victims, but some believe these were not his only victims and that the true number may have been 11 or higher. The 5 known victims are now referred to as the “Canonical Five.”

canoniacal five

Later, Johnny Depp  and Heather Graham would star in the movie From Hell which took it’s title from the Ripper’s letter. From Hell is, of course, the story of Jack the Ripper and his five known victims.

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Here are some of the books I checked out:

JTR Uncensored Facts
The Complete JTR A to ZJTR Secret Confession

Naming Jack the Ripper

In Naming Jack the Ripper Russell Edwards claims to have discovered the identity of Jack the Ripper by using a shawl of one of the Ripper victims, Catherine Eddowes. Catherine was the Ripper’s fourth victim. The author of this book explains how he traced a shawl belonging to Catherine, bought it at an auction, and was able to have blood on it tested for DNA. Modern technology has helped to unmask Jack the Ripper. This is a very interesting story which not only tells the story of Jack the Ripper in an engaging way, but which also follows the investigative process of the shawl itself to reveal the identity of the killer.

Spoiler Alert: If interested in learning more about the shawl you can follow my link, however the killer is also revealed. If you would prefer to follow the story and then find out, I suggest the above book. Shawl and Identity of the Killer.  There are also some interesting docudramas about the Ripper  (not scary) on this site. There is some criticism of the Russell Edwards findings, but the DNA evidence seems pretty strong.

Were you aware that Jack the Ripper had been named? Is this a story you have followed? Are you more curious now about Jack the Ripper?

 

Unsolved Crimes

Unsolved

Unsolved crimes may remain open cases for years before being solved. If this happens they may also be referred to as cold cases.  These crimes may be really old (decades or centuries) or they may be contemporary to our time period. One such contemporary case is the unsolved murder of a little six year old girl named JonBenet Ramsey.

Death of a Little PrincessWho Killed JonBenet Ramsey

Both of the books shown above chronicle the details of JonBenet’s death and the subsequent police investigation. JonBenet Ramsey was found dead in the basement of her family’s home in Boulder, Colorado on Christmas night in 1996. JonBenet had been strangled. JonBenet’s body had been moved twice before investigators got to it, potentially destroying information and evidence. Initially investigators focused on family members. Police suspected Patsy Ramsey, JonBenet’s mother and Burke Ramsey, JonBenet’s 9 year old brother even though police said that Burke was not a suspect.

From the very beginning there were many conflicting pieces of evidence in the investigation of JonBenet’s murder. For instance there was a ransom note found as one might expect in a kidnapping case, but JonBenet wasn’t taken from the home. The note referred to John Ramsey’s business dealings and the note was written in the house with materials found inside of the home. The note suggested possible disgruntled business associates, but it had information in it that only the Ramsey’s should have known. Kidnappers who leave notes generally already have their notes prepared and won’t risk getting caught writing a note in the home of their victim. The evening of JonBenet’s murder the only known people in the home were the Ramsey’s themselves.

Two basic theories evolved:

  1. The Ramseys killed JonBenet. Police suspected that John and Patsy Ramsey worked together to try to cover up the murder. Were they protecting their other child, Burke? Did Patsy Ramsey kill JonBenet in a fit of rage and then John Ramsey tried to protect Patsy? Some evidence seemed to suggest one of these two scenarios may be true.
  2. An intruder killed JonBenet. Other evidence at the scene may have indicated an intruder. There was a broken window with a suitcase below it where an intruder may have entered (or exited) the home. A ransom note was left. JonBenet was somewhat of a public figure due to the beauty contests her mother entered her in and it was theorized that a pedophile may have been obsessed with JonBenet.

Although in the beginning of the investigation police focused almost exclusively on John and Patsy Ramsey, by 1997 there were over 1,600 suspects. In 2016 with improved DNA testing, the original DNA sample indicated that there were genetic markers for two people other than the victim.  At least one of the genetic markers indicates an unknown male. There are 437 items of evidence pointing away from the Ramsey’s yet police investigators at the time continued to believe the Ramsey’s were guilty. They seemed to ignore evidence of an intruder choosing to believe that the Ramsey’s staged evidence to suggest an intruder and cover up their crime.

Regardless of which theory one ascribes to, the murder of JonBenet Ramsey remains frustratingly unsolved. The murder investigation was reopened in 2010 and in 2016 the Boulder police department reported that the murder of JonBenet continues to be an active homicide case.

Patsy Ramsey died of ovarian cancer in 2006 still not knowing who killed her daughter. Patsy was buried next to JonBenet.

There are many other unsolved mysteries and/or crimes. I read about several in the following books:

Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries

More of Hollywood's Unsolved Mysteries

There is compelling evidence linking some of Hollywood’s most famous deaths to people like the Kennedy’s and organizations like the CIA. In many of these cases there seems to be a common thread about people who knew too much and threatened to reveal what they knew. There are far more stories than I can cover in one post but if you like to try to solve mysteries yourself, you may want to check out unsolved crimes and become an amateur sleuth!

Do you have an opinion about  the JonBenet Ramsey case? Do you believe Elvis Presley is still alive? Have you heard of the connection between Marilyn Monroe’s death and the Kennedy’s?

Falsies

False Confession

Crime fighters and the criminal justice system sometimes have to contend with false confessions and false convictions. Prisons are full of people claiming that they are innocent. Could some of them be telling the truth? Before DNA evidence it was impossible to find out and as we later learned many were wrongfully convicted. As DNA evidence became available it has helped to set many innocent people free. We have learned in hind sight why it is so important not to rely solely on circumstantial evidence for a conviction.

One case that involved both a false confession and false convictions was the West Memphis Three case. This is one of those true stories that no one could possibly make up. Stevie Branch, Michael Moore, and Christopher Byers were 8 year old boys who were murdered in a wooded area not far from a major highway.

victims

Three area teenagers who were considered misfits were later charged and convicted of the crime. DNA testing was not widely available at the time of the arrests and convictions.

west-memphis-three-peter-jackson-2011-movie-curt-johnson (1)

Jason Baldwin, Damien Echols, and Jessie Misskelley were all questioned and assumed guilty. Jessie Misskelley is a special needs individual with an IQ of 72 who did not fully understand what was happening. He was questioned without a parent and was worn out by interrogation tactics. He was told he could go home if he confessed so he confessed and also said that Baldwin and Echols were involved just so he could leave the police station.  He was asked leading questions and had his answers directed by the person doing the questioning. Jason Baldwin and Damien Echols were similarly interrogated but neither of them would confess to any wrong doing concerning any of the murdered children. There appears to have been some dabbling in occult practices, especially by Damien Echols. The police claimed that the young boys had been murdered as part of an occultic sacrifice. None of the accused teens could afford adequate legal council.

Devil’s Knot: The True Story of the Memphis Three by Mara Leveritt explores not only the wrongful arrests and convictions of three local teens but many mistakes made by investigators. There were other suspects which were never followed up. The night of the murders the police received a phone call reporting a man covered in blood who had entered a local restaurant to use the restroom to clean himself up. This unknown suspect is now referred to as “Mr. Bojangles.” Police failed to respond quickly and physical evidence was literally washed away. There were other persons of interest in the local area and clues pointing away from the teen boys that were totally ignored. Despite the fact that dental impressions were given by both Baldwin and Echols which did not match bite marks found on the victims, this evidence was ignored.  Many more examples like these can be found in the Devil’s Knot book.

 Devil's_Knot_-_The_True_Story_of_the_West_Memphis_Three

After their trials, all three teens were convicted based upon Misskelley’s confession and circumstantial evidence. Baldwin and Misskelley were sentenced to life in prison. Echols, who was 18, was sentenced to death.

Years later,  DNA evidence came to light and exonerated all three men.

Not Guilty

Mara Leveritt (with Jason Baldwin) wrote a sequel to the Devil’s Knot book called Dark Spell: Surviving the Sentence. This book goes on to describe what prison had been like for all three men, with the emphasis on Baldwin’s experience.

Dark Spell

With the exoneration of Baldwin, Echols, and Misskelley West Memphis police were forced to reopen the investigation into the murder of the three 2nd grade boys. Unbelievably, police once again ignored evidence and concentrated on the wrong man.  In his book Untying the Knot by Greg Day (with John Mark Byers) the second murder investigation focuses on John Mark Byers, the father of one of the murdered boys. Mr. Byers is the first to admit that he is no angel but there is substantial evidence that Byers is, again, the wrong suspect. There is convincing evidence that points to other suspects which the police seemed to have ignored again in the murder of the three little boys.

Untying the Knot

Meanwhile, Damien Echols wrote about his time in prison and what happened when he got out of prison in his book, Life After Death. Echols had to go through numerous appeals to get off of death row. This took quite a toll on him as you might imagine and then he was actually proven innocent by DNA.

Life After Death

Not only is this a story of overcoming impossible odds, but it is also a very moving love story. During his time in prison, Echols met and married Lorri Davis. Davis was instrumental in helping Echols through the entire appeals process. It’s because of her efforts that Echols was saved from death row.

After his release Echols co-authored Yours for Eternity which chronicled the love story with his wife, Lorri Davis, and how they worked together for his release.

Damien Echols and Lorri Davis Photo and Book 06022014

All four of these men’s lives are intertwined and it may be difficult to keep up with all the many details of the case. However there is a docudrama trilogy called The Paradise Lost Trilogy that presents all of the major facts which anyone interested in this story would find helpful and informative.

Paradise Lost Trilogy

Originally, I had planned to relate stories of other falsies like imposters, fakes, and forgeries. However, since this post is quite lengthy already, I will just ask you to follow a link to my post on Identity Theft where you will learn about a famous forger by the name of Frank Abagnale who was one of the best falsies of all time.

Other books that I checked out but don’t have time to comment on are:

False Confessions
False Arrest

Imposters

Were you familiar with the West Memphis Three murder case? Have you ever seen The Paradise Lost Trilogy?

 

 

True Crime

True Crime

Criminology is such a huge and important topic that an entire genre of true crime has sprung up around it. You can find true crime stories in all formats (books, movies, documentaries, TV shows, websites, live plays, radio programs, games, etc). The topic is horrifying, entertaining, and comical all at once. It can leave you gasping for breath and then have you rolling on the floor laughing.

Many people enjoy a good scare – such as when you watch a scary movie or ride a scary ride. People know that they aren’t actually in danger, but they still get the adrenaline rush. When people read about true crime, it’s as close as they can get to the danger–without actually endangering themselves. At the same time they are usually learning (hopefully) what mistakes not to make should they ever encounter a similar real life situation. It is thrilling and educational at the same time.

The Fulton County Public Library usually does a true crime display around Halloween (a time when many delight in being scared).

True Crime 002

One of the most famous true crime writers is Ann Rule.

Ann-Rule

Ann Rule was a police woman turned true crime writer and lecturer. She led an interesting life which you can read about on her bio page: Ann Rule Bio.  Rule wrote 36 books and multiple magazine articles. I’ve come across many Ann Rule books in my library read through.

In my opinion, Ann Rule’s most chilling book is The Stranger Beside Me.

The Stranger Beside Me

The reason I believe this book is the most haunting of all of the Rule books is because it is personal to Ann Rule. Ted Bundy (yes, the serial killer) and Ann Rule worked together at a Seattle crisis prevention center. Ann considered Ted Bundy a personal friend and spent many hours with him, even entertaining him in her home. Of course, at the time Ann had no idea what Ted was capable of doing. After all, their job at the crisis center was to save lives. Ann and Ted were friends for 18 years. I also find it rather chilling to think that Bundy was a trusted coworker. How well do we know our coworkers? I feel sure that Ann Rule had many occasions in which she thought about how close she (or her daughter) was to being a Bundy victim.

There is also a movie The Stranger Beside Me which is based on the book by the same name. It was a made for TV movie in 2003, so it’s not too scary for most people to watch.

Other books written by Ann Rule are about true crimes that she investigated beyond the newspaper headlines. Ann Rule was always interested in trying to figure out the “whys” behind the criminal act.

While Ann Rule’s books deal with very serious crimes, the next book America’s Dumbest Criminals  by Daniel Butler, Leland Gregory, and Alan Ray deals with the more ridiculous and rather comical stories of crime.

America's Dumbest Criminals

This book contains several very short stories of true but seriously dull witted criminals. This book is a quick, entertaining, and humorous read. There was a TV show by the same name which is now available on YouTube which can be quite hilarious.

Are you a True Crime Reader? Do you prefer the more serious stories or do you enjoy the humorous ones?

 

 

 

 

Bad Guys

bad guy

The library read through of the Fulton County Public Library is still ongoing in the 360’s (Social Problems & Social Services).  I have officially reached the 364’s (Criminology). Criminals, unfortunately, are a major social problem. We can learn a lot by studying the criminal mind set and behaviors. Hopefully the knowledge gained through Criminology will help us to predict and prevent bad events from happening. (For more information on how to protect yourself from criminals, read my post about Predators.)

In The Giant Book of Bad Guys: The World’s Worst Crooks, Gangsters, Murderers, Despots, and Desperadoes by Ian Shott the topics of dictators, serial killers, robbers, and gangsters are explored through real life stories.

The Giant Book of Bad Guys

I’m quite interested in the true crime genre. As pointed out in my post Lying, crime sells. It’s a huge money maker in multiple formats. I’ve seen many documentaries, movies,  TV shows, and have read many different types of books and magazine articles about criminals. Bad Guys is the first time I’ve encountered a category called “The High IQ” killer. Of course I have read about the typical very smart sociopaths and psychopaths, but didn’t realize that “High IQ” is an actual category.  I found this to be quite interesting in the book as well as some of the historical information.

The next book about bad guys that I read was Villiains, Scoundrels, and Rogues: Incredible True Tales of Mischief and Mayhem by Paul Martin. This book is exactly what it sounds like.

Villians, Scoundrels, and Rogues

Because I don’t think I could write it any better I have shamelessly copied below the descriptive summary out of the Fulton County Public Library catalog, which in turn was a quote from the publisher.

“Everyone loves a good villain! From the back pages of history, vivid, entertaining portraits of little-known scoundrels whose misdeeds range from the simply inept to the truly horrifying. Even if you’re an avid history buff, you’ve probably never heard of this disreputable cast of characters: A drunken, ne’er-do-well cop who abandoned his post at Ford’s Theatre, giving assassin John Wilkes Booth unchallenged access to President Lincoln; a notorious Kansas quack who made millions by implanting billy goat testicles in gullible male patients; and America’s worst female serial killer ever. These are three of the memorable but little-known rogues profiled in this eye-opening and entertaining book. Dividing his profiles into three categories–villains, scoundrels, and rogues–author and former National Geographic editor Paul Martin serves up concise, colorful biographies of thirty of America’s most outrageous characters. Whether readers choose to be horrified by the story of Ed Gein, Alfred Hitchcock’s hideous inspiration for Psycho, or marvel at the clever duplicity of the con artist who originated the phony bookie operation portrayed in The Sting, there’s something here for everyone. Brimming with audacious, unforgettable characters often overlooked by standard history books, this page-turner is a must for anyone with an interest in the varieties of human misbehavior”– Provided by publisher.

From this book, I learned that Ed Gein was the ultimate “psycho.” His behavior was so disturbing that the details of his killing spree  (which took place in 1952) couldn’t be put together all in one movie. Because of Gein’s crimes, Robert Bloch wrote the book Psycho in 1959 which Alfred Hitchcock later turned into the movie Psycho in 1960. The Norman Bates character was based on Ed Gein. It was because of Ed Gein that Hollywood began to develop the ghastly characters of  many horror movies. It wasn’t until 1974 that another movie, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, was produced and was also based on Ed Gein’s crime spree. The leather masked killer and cannibal was inspired by Gein. Later in 1991 another movie, The Silence of the Lambs, was in theaters. In The Silence of the Lambs, character Buffalo Bill was a demented transsexual who slaughtered women and used their skins to make various clothing articles for himself so he could dress up in them to turn himself into a woman. This repulsive behavior was based on true details of Ed Gein’s insane behavior. If Ed Gein had not gone on his murderous crime spree in 1952, the movie horror genre might not exist as we know it.

Ed Gein was also somewhat inspirational in the realm of music. You may have heard the children’s song whose lyrics include:

Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight

come out tonight

come out tonight

Buffalo Bill won’t you come out tonight and

Dance by the light of the moon

which likely refers, at least in part, to Ed Gein who would dress up in his “woman suit” and go outside and dance in the full moon. (There is also a creepy dance scene in The Silence of the Lambs which is based on Gein’s dancing.)

In movies or books do you ever identify with the bad guys? If you were an actor, would you want to play the good guys or the bad guys?

 

High Tech Waste and Recycling

burningwire

Have you ever had a digital device that died? Even if you were responsible and took it to a recycling center, have you ever wondered what the recycling center does with dead digital devices? Sometimes devices such as phones, computers, laptops, tablets, plasma TVs, etc are just no longer wanted because their owners have upgraded. There are the options of selling and gifting your unwanted devices, but eventually those devices will either die or no longer be wanted by their new owners. Sooner or later all of these devices end up in trash heaps awaiting recycling. Most people think that by taking an unwanted or dead device to a recycling center that the recycling center actually recycles it by reworking it and then reselling it. This is true to an extent but what normally happens is the middle men, women, children, and country.

child in tech trash

To put it rather simplistically, the recycling centers in the US (as well as other developed countries) collect all of the unwanted or broken high tech devices. Then they are loaded onto ships and exported to third world countries where the devices are disassembled and end up in supposedly temporary trash heaps.

keyboard and mouse

digital gizmosPile of Waste - Electronic Waste Documentation (China: 2007)

Americans own over 2 billion pieces of high tech equipment and discard 5-7 million tons of electronic equipment each year. Add in the E-waste of other developed countries to all of this and this becomes a huge global issue.

Once this high tech trash reaches it’s destination it is sorted into like piles, disassembled, and then the recycling process begins–almost all  picked apart by hand (another reason all of your personal information should be wiped from any electronic device before it is discarded. Learn more about how to protect yourself by reading my post about Identity Theft).

cell-phone-landfills

In the majority of situations no safety equipment or precautions are used. Wires are stripped down by burning off the protective insulation.

ewasteland.burning.IMG_1121.360gpexport

Once the stripping of  electronics and burning processes begin, there are threats to human health and the environment because workers (who do not usually wear gloves or masks) are exposed to toxic chemicals such as lead, mercury, cadmium, and various plastics to mention just a few. Not only is there danger of absorption through the skin, open wounds, cuts, etc but by burning off the wires, some of the toxins are airborne and may affect residents and animals in the area by forcing them to breathe in toxic fumes.

section_03_burning

Once the component parts are broken down and items like copper and other metals are harvested then they can be sold to high tech companies who then will use the materials to make more electronic devices and are thus recycled.

Elizabeth Grossman does a great job of describing this issue in depth in her book High Tech Trash: Digital Devices, Hidden Toxics, and Human Health.

High Tech Trash

It seems that all of our electronic equipment such as computers, cell phones, smart devices, etc is safe for human use as long as these devices remain intact. The toxins, health threats, and environmental threats do not occur until the e-waste recycling process begins.

Europe is light years ahead of the US in terms of understanding the significant threats created through the recycling process of high tech devices. Europe regulates which materials are used in high tech devices to begin with and also monitors e-waste recycling. The US has not officially recognized the ongoing threats to human health and the environmental effects of toxins in high tech devices and takes no active involvement in the recycling process.

Another book I checked out was Recycling by Rebecca Stefoff.

recycling

This book (as you can see) is usually now cataloged as a children’s book, but when first cataloged in 1993 by the Fulton County Public Library, it was put into the adult nonfiction section. Recycling was really just beginning to be widely practiced during the 90’s so this book was quite topical for it’s time. Because it’s now at least 24 years old, I will only mention it briefly as part of my read through of the Fulton County Public Library.  I believe that the majority of Dewey Hop readers are familiar with the basic concept of recycling.

Do you think the US should in any way regulate the recycling of high tech devices? Were you aware of threats to the environment or human health during the recycling process of electronics?

 

The Mystery Blogger Award

The mystery bloggers award

Dewey Hop is once again honored to receive another award. This time it’s The Mystery Blogger Award. Many thanks to Melinda at purpleslobinrecovery for nominating Dewey Hop.

Okoto Enigma created this award as a means of helping bloggers connect and discover amazing blogs. This is what she says the The Mystery Blogger Award is for:

“Mystery Blogger Award” is an award for amazing bloggers with ingenious posts. Their blog not only captivates; it inspires and motivates. They are one of the best out there, and they deserve any of the recognition they get. This award is also for bloggers who find fun and inspiration in blogging; and they do it with so much love and passion.

Here are the rules for accepting/nominating for this award:

  1. Post the award/ image on your blog .
  2. Thank whoever nominated you and give a link back to their blog.
  3. Mention the creator of the award and give a link back to her blog.
  4. Nominate some deserving bloggers and notify your nominees by commenting on their blogs.
  5. Ask your nominees 5 questions of your choice; including one weird or funny question.

So without further ado, here are the answers to the questions I received:

  1. If you could change one thing about our country, what would it be and why?

I would make abortion illegal. I believe in the sanctity of human life. Also, I consider killing an unborn child to be murder.

    2. Which super hero powers would you like to have, if given a chance? Why ?

Super speed like Super Man! I would like to have super speed because I could rush through annoying chores/house keeping, etc and then slow down for more enjoyable activities. I would be able to accomplish so much more each day!

     3. What motivates you to blog (write) ?

As far as the Dewey Hop blog, I blog because it’s part of my job at the Fulton County Public Library. I love reading the library books and getting to share what I’ve read about. Not only is this aspect of my job enjoyable, I’m learning a lot too! I also enjoy all the interaction with fellow bloggers.

As far as writing which isn’t my job–like the book I’m writing–I have several reasons. The main reason for the book is to keep a promise to my oldest tadpole. (For more info read Suicide and Survival.) It’s also a healing experience for me. I am hoping to help many others through very difficult circumstances of life because we’re all in this together!

     4. What is something you like to collect, if anything?  

I collect country angels. I will post a picture of a few of them.

 

Angels 041

Angels 027

Angels 028

All of these angels are on the top of my desk at home. I will spare you all the rest! Just take my word for it-there are a lot of them! The ones I collect are all hand crafted (although I didn’t make any of them).  I do have a few that were mass manufactured (none pictured in this post), but they look like hand crafted ones and mostly those are some that other people have given me but that fit in with my collection.

     5. If given the chance to rename any fast food restaurant, which would it be?                  What would it’s new name be?

I am not a big fan of fast food as most of it is unhealthy (although that is beginning to change with some menu choices). If I had to rename any fast food joints, it probably wouldn’t be nice names so, “If you can’t say anything nice don’t say anything at all” seems to apply here!

I am happy with the questions that were asked of me, so if my nominees would like to participate, please just use the same questions.

Should they choose to accept The Myster Blogger Award and participate, here are my nominations:

  1. Tierney – Tierney is truly a blogger who inspires and motivates! She is a versatile blogger as well. Not only does Tierney inspire and motivate in creative endeavers she’s also very thought provoking in sharing her thoughts about the audiobooks she loves to listen to. She also sometimes shares her hiking adventures, life with her dogs, and life with the other human in her household Terry the Quilting Husband (TTQH).  I always look forward to her posts and adventures.
  2. Camie-Camie is a “new to me” blogger that I’ve only just discovered and she’s already an inspiration to me! She has a way of making events come to life through her writing. I enjoy all of the pictures she shares in describing her life events and adventures.
  3. Cale-Cale is a fun blogger who blogs about his life experiences through organizations, family, home, and work. He is very inspirational because he is always involved in different projects. He is pretty handy around his house and always has multiple projects going on on the homefront. He’s helping to build a cabin get away with his family. His energy level is always high and he’s “real” in writing about his experiences. In addition to all of the above, he also does movie reviews which are always interesting.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Drinking Water

driking water

Have you ever wondered what’s actually in your drinking water?

Typical Tap Water Content:
  • Chlorine.
  • Fluorine compounds.
  • Trihalomethanes (THMs)
  • Salts of: arsenic. radium. aluminium. copper. lead. mercury. cadmium. barium.
  • Hormones.
  • Nitrates.
  • Pesticides.

Tap Water Content – chemicals and contaminants in water

freshlysqueezedwater.org.uk/waterarticle_watercontent.php

The US used to have a pretty safe drinking water supply but with more and more chemicals being used in things like farming, landscaping, pest control (to only mention a few situations) our water supply is in jeopardy and already contaminated in many areas. To try to keep our drinking water free of bacteria and other harmful substances additives are sometimes used to kill bacteria and to assist in filtering out harmful substances.  Unfortunately many of the things being added to our water with the intent of helping us are the very things that may be creating some serious health problems.

Well water which isn’t exposed to air before entering your home may present problems with radon.  When exposed to air, radon evaporates quickly, so the problem with radon in water isn’t drinking it, but inhaling it. If your primary source of water is from a well, you will need to take special precautions when cooking, showering, filling your washing machine and filling your bathtub.

The Drinking Water Book

The Drinking Water Book: How to Eliminate Harmful Toxins from your Water by Colin Ingram explores these problems and many more.

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates at least twenty thousand cases of cancer in the United States each year are caused by radon inhalation. p. 13

Additionally people may improperly dispose of all sorts of medications by flushing them down toilets or rinsing them down sinks along with household toxins found in cleaning supplies–all of which get into our water supply and may or may not get filtered back out of our water.

drugs in water

If you live in a city, you may want to request a copy of your utility’s test report. This report should tell you if there are any pollutants above government limits. (Be leery of any pollutants listed whether above government limits or not.) If the utility’s report shows any type of volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) have your water tested for their presence. Even if radon isn’t listed on the utility report, you should inquire at your local health department to find out if high concentrations of radon have been detected in your area. If so, have your home tested for airborne radon. It’s possible that you may have other types of pollutants in your tap water in amounts too low to test or because the tests performed didn’t cover those pollutants. If you choose to test your water, it can either be done professionally or by an inexpensive self testing kit.

If your water source is from a well or a spring, it’s recommended that you get a test for bacteria at least once a year and preferably during the rainy season. Test for pollutants at least every two years and consider using a whole house water purification system if  your test is positive for any type of volatile organic chemicals. Just like city folks, you should find out about any reports in your area of high concentrations of radon and if there are these areas around you, you too should test your home for airborne radon.

Both city and country dwellers should us an alternative to drinking straight tap water. Here are a few alternatives to drinking straight tap water:

  1. Bottled Water– Bottled water is fairly inexpensive but not without it’s own set of problems. For instance, there aren’t  a lot of laws about bottled water and just because it’s bottled doesn’t mean it has been filtered. For example, I once bought a bottle of water and then read the side of it. It said it was from “The Municipality of …” If you ever see that, on a bottle of water, it’s probably just bottled tap water from another city. This would be the worst type of bottled water. If the water has actually been filtered it is a better alternative to straight tap water. Also, the plastic bottle itself can contribute to health issues unless it says it’s “BPA free.” All plastics (dishes, reusable water bottles, etc) should be BPA free for maximum protection of your health. Disposable plastics never degrade and therefore contribute to the pollution of the planet.
  2. Carbon Filters– are a good choice for filtering tap water that you intend to drink or cook with. This filtration systems can be attached directly to your sink or faucet easily and fairly inexpensively. Using a filtering pitcher such as a Brita is also a good thing. (Check to make sure it’s now available in BPA free.) Carbon filtering is one of the oldest and most reliable ways to filter water.
  3. Distilled Water– the practice of drinking only distilled water is hotly debated. Advocates claim that by drinking distilled water you will purify your body and be in glowing health. Opponents of this practice claim that by drinking only distilled water you deny your body essential minerals. If you choose to use this method be sure to eat many different types of organic fruits and vegetables. You will need the minerals and vitamins found in natural foods.
  4. Boiled Water– Boil water in a stainless steel, glass, or porcelin pot for about 10 minutes for maximum safety.  There has been a link made between naturally occurring aluminum in water with Alzheimer’s. Many people prefer to avoid using aluminum pots and pans due to the possible link with Alzheimer’s. The best think to do is boil water in a nonaluminum pot. If you will be storing water for drinking or cooking, you should store it in a glass container.

Don’t Drink the Water (Without Reading This Book): The Essential Guide to Our Contaminated Drinking Water and What You Can Do About It by Lono Kahuna Kupua A’O is another excellent book which explores all of the above issues and more.

Don't Drink the Water

In this book Kahuna Kupua A’O also explores drinking water from a health perspective and from a spiritual perspective. In particular I was impressed with his comments about dehydration which is a huge contributor to various ailments and diseases. Humans instinctively do not like the smell and taste of water that has been altered by chlorination and chemicals and often won’t drink it. This may or may not be a conscious decision. People may learn to avoid drinking water due to this instinct to avoid contaminated water and may only drink it if they are thirsty and can’t find an alternative drink. People who do this are usually already dehydrated–a process that begins from the inside out. Some health problems that can develop from chronic dehydration are: heart disease, asthma, ulcers, gastro-intestinal illnesses, high blood pressure, and arthritis. He goes on to say that he believes many other diagnosis that patients receive are actually misdiagnosed cases of dehydration.

We all must have water to survive and I hope this post has given you information to drink water more safely.

Do you filter your tap water? What do you do to help ensure your water supply is safe? Did you know about all the additives in our drinking water?

 

 

 

 

Versatile Blogger Award

versatile-blogger-award-konacna

The Dewey Hop blog has once again been honored with an award! I would like to thank Cale at Diaries of a Scatterbrain for nominating Dewey Hop and for his constant support. Cale described Dewey Hop as “versatile, informative, fun, and original.”

In order accept this award, I must list the rules (slightly altered since I never could follow directions! 😉 ) :

THE RULES:

  • You have to thank the person who nominated you and provide a link to their blog!
  • Nominate bloggers of your choice.
  • Link the nominees and inform them about their nomination.
  • Share some facts about yourself.

NOMINEES:

I  (like Cale) will do my best to nominate people who really are versatile, informative, fun, and original. Bloggers, please don’t feel that you have to participate if you don’t want to, but you do deserve this honor whether you participate or not.

Tiereny – tierenycreates

Prepper -Prepper 365

The 20 Something Existential Crisis

Elizabeth – The Comfortable Coop

Brad – Under Western Skies

Kelley – kelleysdiy

Dolly – Kool Kosher Kitchen

FACTS:

  1. I recently lost 8.8 lbs.
  2. I am currently painting my living room. (I’m a wanna be interior designer.)
  3. The Mister and I will soon be touring MMS Aviation near Canton, Ohio. The Mister has been in negotiations with this missionary organization about doing an internship with them. The Mister would be fixing planes and helicopters for other missionaries as well as occassionally deploying to other countries to fix planes and helicopters for missionaries already in the field. Additionally, he would also be teaching students who are learning to fix aircraft.
  4. My RH factor is negative. I’ve recently been told that only about 15% of the US population is negative.
  5. I’ve recently learned to Marco Polo on my phone.

Thanks again to Cale at Diaries of a Scatterbrain for nominating Dewey Hop.