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- 05/23/16--14:50: _Cliven Bundy's Lawy...
- 05/23/16--15:06: _Good God, What Was ...
- 05/23/16--08:40: _Today's Best Deals:...
- 05/23/16--16:44: _North Korean Ambass...
- 05/23/16--17:13: _Facebook Announces ...
- 05/23/16--19:45: _TSA Asks Head of Se...
- 05/23/16--21:13: _Thousands of Studen...
- 05/23/16--21:55: _Christian Trump Sur...
- 05/24/16--04:15: _168 Days and a Wake Up
- 05/24/16--04:58: _Report: Official Sa...
- 05/24/16--05:20: _Jalopnik The Insane...
- 05/24/16--06:20: _FDNY/NYPD Football ...
- 05/24/16--08:02: _Shomrim Patrolman P...
- 05/24/16--08:25: _David Brooks Writes...
- 05/24/16--08:55: _Bearded Chechen Str...
- 05/24/16--09:26: _Bill Cosby, Defendant
- 05/24/16--09:40: _“I stared at the ma...
- 05/24/16--10:20: _Bill Cosby Will Sta...
- 05/24/16--10:30: _Is Donald Trump’s H...
- 05/24/16--11:40: _John Harvey Kellogg...
- 05/23/16--08:40: Today's Best Deals: SONOS, Summer Games, Sebago Shoes
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- 05/23/16--17:13: Facebook Announces Sweeping Changes to Trending Section
- 05/23/16--19:45: TSA Asks Head of Security to Turn in His Badge and Glove
- 05/24/16--04:15: 168 Days and a Wake Up
- 05/24/16--06:20: FDNY/NYPD Football Game Devolves Into Fisticuffs
- 05/24/16--09:26: Bill Cosby, Defendant
- 05/24/16--09:40: “I stared at the man on the other side of the glass doors.
- 05/24/16--10:20: Bill Cosby Will Stand Trial in 2004 Pennsylvania Sexual Assault Case
- 05/24/16--10:30: Is Donald Trump’s Hair a $60,000 Weave? A Gawker Investigation
- Spinal derangement
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Oregon Public Broadcasting has obtained an email from Cliven Bundy’s lawyer to a Utah state representative with known ties to the Koch brothers, asking whether the notorious libertarian billionaires would be willing to fund the Bundys’ legal fees.
The federal government owns most of the land in the American West, where people like Rep. Ken Ivory, R-Utah, believe that control of federal lands should be transferred to the states. (States are more likely to sell their land to private businesses, especially as Republican-controlled legislatures gut their budgets.) Until recently, Ivory was also the president of the American Lands Council, which was funded, in part, by the Koch brothers.
“I cannot represent Cliven for free. I’m not independently wealthy,” Bundy’s lawyer Joel Hansen wrote in an email to Ivory. “I understand from news articles that the Koch brothers are helping to fund Cliven’s efforts to return our lands to the states. I would like to speak with someone about helping to fund the legal fees associated with this case.”
Bundy, his sons, and a swathe of associates have been arrested and charged in connection with the 2014 standoff at the Bundy ranch and the occupation of the Malheur wildlife refuge earlier this year. “The case will be huge, with 19 defendants, and so it will be long and complicated and so legal fees will not be insignificant,” Hansen wrote.
It does not appear that Ivory responded to Hansen’s request. Ivory did not immediately respond to a request for comment, although his voice mail message does remind callers that, “This is a wonderful time to be alive.”
Late on Monday afternoon, Variety co-editor-in-chief Andrew Wallenstein sent a tweet out into the world. This wouldn’t be a particularly noteworthy action, except that it included an image of what appears to be Variety’s upcoming cover, depicting Marissa Mayer as a Christ-like figure carrying a Y-shaped cross. What? Indeed.
Mayer is hanging out in what looks like some kind of desert environment, carrying a Y-shaped wooden cross on her back, her face etched with pain, embarrassment, or both. (Probably both.)
It’s unclear what, exactly, Variety is going for here, beyond an exercise in poor taste. Mayer died for our sins? Is her red suit supposed to symbolize the blood she’s spilled while at Yahoo? Does the skull on the ground represent the poor Yahoo shareholders screwed over by bad management and poor decisions
It’s been about 20 minutes now, and I still can’t really figure out what’s going on, but if you have a better idea, feel free to leave it in the comments. It’s either that, or I’m going to get stoned and start throwing out some alternative interpretations.
We’ve reached out to Variety and Yahoo for comment, and we’ll update if we hear back.
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Last week, Donald Trump told Reuters he would have “no problem” speaking with Kim Jong-Un, the fellow follicular innovator he once praised as
Asked about a potential meeting between the two on Monday, a North Korean envoy dismissed the presumptive Republican nominee’s statement as “useless,” “nonsense” and “a kind of a propaganda or advertisement.”
“It’s for utilization of the presidential election, that’s all,” So Se Pyong, North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, told Reuters. “There is no meaning, no sincerity.”
To be fair, So has a point about the storytelling contests North Korea’s regime has effectively banned. In 2007, Barack Obama was famously criticized for agreeing to meet with leaders of states like North Korea without preconditions. Nine years later, the ambassador notes, the two parties have yet to hang.
Facebook is enacting a number of changes to its trending news module following a two-week internal investigation. The company’s announcement comes in response to a letter of inquiry
Facebook will no longer rely on external news websites or RSS feeds to “identify, validate, or assess the importance of trending topics” according to a statement from the company. Former news curators who spoke to Gizmodo on the condition of anonymity said that these websites and RSS feeds were sometimes used to insert trending topics into the section that were not organically trending on the site. And Facebook later stated that a select group of 10 publications, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and Buzzfeed, were used to determine whether a story was important enough to be included in the trending section.
Facebook is also renaming some of the tools its curators use to moderate the trending news section, in order to “better reflect the real nature of the action[s].” Most notably, the “blacklisting” tool—used to block naturally trending topics from inclusion in the trending section—will be renamed “revisit.” The “injection” tool, used to insert trending topics or combine several topics into one, is also being reframed as a “topic correction” tool.
The company’s 12-page report also details the results of its internal investigation, which sought to determine whether any bias had impacted its trending news section. Facebook states that this investigation found no evidence of “systematic bias,” and that conservative and liberal topics were approved for the trending section in equal frequencies. As Gizmodo originally reported, several former news curators said they’d never been instructed to systematically suppress conservative news, but one former curator kept a running list of topics the curator felt were inappropriately blacklisted or disregarded by colleagues.
Facebook said in its report that prior to July 2015, topics could have been prevented from the trending module if they weren’t covered by major news organizations:
The investigation did reveal that—prior to July 2015—reviewers followed guidance that did not permit the acceptance of a topic if one of the first 12 posts (the “feed”) associated with that topic did not include a post from a news organization, a primary source, or a verified profile or page. This guidance may have in some instances prior to that date prevented or delayed acceptance of topics that were not covered by major news organizations.
The timeframe that Facebook investigated is vague in the company’s report. The trending news section launched in January, 2014. It appears that Facebook was only able to access data dating back to December of that year. “We could not reconstruct reliable data logs from before December 2014, so were unable to examine each of the reviewer decisions from that period,” the report says.
The report says “rates of ‘boosting,’ ‘blacklisting,’ and accepting topics have been virtually identical for liberal and conservative topics” but the report notes that the analysis only spanned the last 90 days. The former curators Gizmodo interviewed worked for Facebook from mid-2014 to December 2015.
“Despite the findings of our investigation, it is impossible to fully exclude the possibility that, over the years of the feature’s existence, a specific reviewer took isolated actions with an improper motive,” the report says.
Senator John Thune, chairman of the Senate Committee that requested information from Facebook, said in a statement that he appreciated Facebook’s efforts to seriously address the allegations. “Facebook’s description of the methodology it uses for determining the trending content it highlights for users is far different from and more detailed than what it offered prior to our questions,” Thune said.
“We now know the system relied on human judgement, and not just an automated process, more than previously acknowledged. Facebook has recognized the limitations of efforts to keep information systems fully free from potential bias, which lets credibility to its findings.”
Facebook’s General Counsel Colin Stretch said: “This process has helped us to identify valuable improvements to our service. These improvements and safeguards are designed not only to ensure that Facebook remains a platform that is open and welcoming to all groups and individuals, but also to restore any loss of trust in the Trending Topics feature.”
Following accusations of departmental mismanagement, Kelly Hoggan, the Transportation Security Administration’s head of security, was removed from his position on Monday, CNN reports.
Earlier this month, Hoggan became the target of an ongoing congressional inquiry after the House Oversight Committee learned he received $90,000 in bonuses while airport security failed to improve.
According to TSA Administrator Peter Neffenger, Hoggan will be reassigned to “new duties” while Darby LaJoye takes over his role. From NBC News:
The appointment is part of a series of moves, some of them not revealed until Monday, that Neffenger has taken since hundreds of passengers were stranded in security lines as their planes took off at Chicago’s O’Hare International Airport this month.
Neffenger and his boss, Homeland Security Jeh Johnson, promised that more than 300 extra TSA officers would be assigned to Chicago’s airports by mid-August — 58 of them within the next three weeks — and that 100 more part-time workers in Chicago would be promoted to full time.
In addition to replacing Hoggan and hiring more officers, Neffenger announced the creation of a National Incident Command Center to better allocate department resources on the fly.
“These adjustments will enable more focused leadership and screening operations at critical airports,” wrote Neffenger. Given how well the TSA currently operates, it might even be true.
Dozens of schools in the United States and Britain were evacuated on Monday after receiving a wave of apparently coordinated threatening phone calls, USA Today reports. None of the threats were found to be legitimate.
According to NBC News, the calls targeted elementary, middle and high schools in Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Illinois, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Maryland, New York, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming. The Daily Mail reports 26 schools in the United Kingdom were closed as well. From NBC News:
Many American schools said they recorded calls from an electronically disguised voice reporting a bomb, multiple police agencies told NBC News. Many said the calls came in around 2 to 2:30 p.m. ET.
In Britain, several schools received a 90-second recorded call from a voice with an American accent promising that “shrapnel” would “take children’s the heads off,” according to multiple news reports. Many of those schools reported that the calls also came in about the same time, in this case about 10 a.m. local time.
In a statement, the FBI said they’re aware of the bomb threats and will provide assistance to local authorities as needed.
“As always, we encourage the public to remain vigilant and to promptly report suspicious activities which could represent a threat to public safety,” said the FBI.
Speaking to Bloomberg for an article on Trump’s efforts to recruit Christian donors, televangelist Mark Burns offered that surprising argument as evidence of the candidate’s otherwise imperceptible humility:
At one recent meeting with Trump, evangelical leaders noted how he often flashes a signature hand gesture, with a thumb out and a finger point to the sky, as he enters and exits rallies.
“You see athletes do it all the time and it’s their chance to point to the sky, to thank God for their success,” said Pastor Mark Burns, CEO of a Christian television network based in South Carolina. “Trump does this all of the time, too. He’s giving reverence to the man upstairs.”
“Even with Mr. Trump’s billions of dollars, he too still submits himself to God,” said Burns. “We should all chip in to help him out. You know, even a billionaire needs some cash flow.”
Speaking on the condition of anonymity, a senior Egyptian forensics official told the Associated Press that human remains recovered from the wreckage of EgyptAir Flight 804 suggest that there had been an explosion on board the plane: “The logical explanation is that an explosion brought it down.”
All 66 people on board the flight last Thursday from Paris to Cairo were killed; some of their remains were brought to Cairo for inspection. The remains recovered thus far are “no larger than the size of a hand,” the official said. From the AP:
All 80 pieces that have been brought to Cairo so far are small. “There isn’t even a whole body part, like an arm or a head,” said the official, adding that one piece was the left part of a head.
“But I cannot say what caused the blast,” he said. He did not say whether traces of explosives were found on the human remains retrieved so far.
The expert’s comments mark a new dramatic twist surrounding last week’s crash, which still remains a mystery. The plane’s black boxes have yet to be found and photographs of retrieved debris published by the Egyptian military over the weekend were not charred and appear to show no signs of fire.
According to the Washington Post, French investigators have said that automated messages sent from the plane just before the crash indicated that smoke had been detected on board, near the nose of the plane and in one of the bathrooms.
Jalopnik The Insanely Confusing World of Japanese Addresses
Members of the NYPD and FDNY football teams were supposed to line up and shake hands after playing in the “Fun City Bowl” (a charity game) this weekend. Instead, because everyone involved is very big and tough, there was a shoving match and some punches thrown and a lot of yelling.
“I think one of the FDNY guys exchanged words with the NYPD player and then from there, I couldn’t see what was happening, I just saw the crowds come around the player,” Angel Zayas, a freelance photographer who captured some of the fighting on video, told NBC New York. “I heard it happening before I saw it happening.”
In one of Zayas’ videos, uploaded to Vimeo, a firefighter with a torn jersey and bloodied face is seen emerging from the scrum. “He was pulled out of the crowd, the FDNY guy,” he told NBC. “It was trickling out the side, you could see the blood on the side of his head.”
That man was 33-year-old Bronx firefighter Tom Slane, a 6-foot-3, 285-pound tight end. “I don’t want to talk about it,” Slane told the New York Post.
“They hit our quarterback out of bounds, and that’s how things started,” FDNY coach Steve Orr said. “There were a lot of hotheads there.”
The sides skirmished for several minutes, with players tussling and screaming curses at each other before separating.
But the yelling continued, and a second fight broke out in the middle of the field.
The firefighters returned to their side as the announcer reminded the players that they were taking part in a charity event, and officials let the clock run out without resuming the game.
Police Commissioner William Bratton was reportedly in attendance, but left before the fighting broke out.
This isn’t the first time friendly competition between cops and firefighters has devolved into fisticuffs: In 2014, a hockey game between the departments was overshadowed by a bench-clearing brawl
The NYPD issued a statement on Monday: “Football is a competitive sport, whether it is the NFL Super Bowl or the annual NYPD-FDNY challenge. It is part of the spirit of the sport, but it all ends on the field.” That’s easy for them to say, though: The NYPD won 29-13.
Last month, a member of a Hasidic volunteer safety patrol known as the Shomrim was arrested
In Manhattan federal court yesterday, Shaya “Alex” Lichtenstein pleaded not guilty to the bribery charge. Lichtenstein, who volunteers with the Shomrim in Borough Park, Brooklyn, is accused of attempting to purchase $900,000 worth of permits—enough for 150 guns at six grand each—which he would use to arm the security group.
The Shomrim patrol Brooklyn’s Hasidic enclaves, responding to residents’ distress calls and making citizens’ arrests of petty criminals. They have also been criticized for withholding information about child sex abusers and other evidence of crimes from police. Shomrim officers are ostensibly unarmed, and after Lichtenstein’s arrest, the city government froze its various contracts with and grants to the group.
Three officers in the NYPD’s License Division, which handles the permits, have been transferred in relation to the investigation, the New York Daily News reports.
Buckle up, buddies: our dreaded Laramie is back in the fucking game.
David Brooks, the New York Times bloviator whose confounding inability to see the essence of things grows exponentially more magnificent as the subject in question begins
A screenshot of the top:
First of all, I’d argue that Clinton earned her unpopularity in an even more old-fashioned way than Trump did, a way so old-fashioned it is part of the Biblical creation myth—i.e. she was born a woman, natural servant and helpmeet to man, in a country where the vestiges of couverture existed until the ’60s, a woman’s right to regulate her own reproductive process is consistently endangered, and the very existence of an all-female movie remake still makes men angrily poop their pants
In other words, it’s hard to imagine why you would look, as David Brooks does here, at the comparable approval ratings of Hillary Clinton (who is imperfect and corruptible but a competent and experienced center-left public servant) and Donald Trump (who is a monstrously bigoted political dilettante with a history of bankruptcy, no platform to speak of, and a success record hinged entirely on his tactic of stoking fear, anger, and violence in the heart of this country) and then throw Occam’s razor straight into my eyeball to conclude that Clinton, who has for her entire life in politics been criticized for being the wrong kind of woman, faces Trump-like approval ratings because of a reason that is mysterious and unknown.
Nonetheless, that is what he does.
There are two paradoxes to her unpopularity. First, she was popular not long ago. As secretary of state she had a 66 percent approval rating. Even as recently as March 2015 her approval rating was at 50 and her disapproval rating was at 39.
It’s only since she launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to impress the American people that she has made herself so strongly disliked.
In the truly beautiful mind of David Brooks, it is “paradoxical” that Hillary Clinton was popular at one point (when she was demonstrating her competence in a position subordinate to a popular male chief executive) and that she is not as popular anymore (when she is trying to snag that 100 percent historically male chief executive position for herself).
The second paradox is that, agree with her or not, she’s dedicated herself to public service. From advocate for children to senator, she has pursued her vocation tirelessly. It’s not the “what” that explains her unpopularity, it’s the “how” — the manner in which she has done it.
But what exactly do so many have against her?
Yeah, if it’s not her tireless work ethic or long record of public service or anything about her political record that David Brooks finds necessary to bring up here, but rather, it’s something powerfully subjective about this whole situation—WHAT COULD THAT THING BE?
I would begin my explanation with this question: Can you tell me what Hillary Clinton does for fun? We know what Obama does for fun — golf, basketball, etc. We know, unfortunately, what Trump does for fun.
“That hoe needs some golf clubs, a basketball, etc,” yawned the blindfolded demon that lives inside David Brooks.
But when people talk about Clinton, they tend to talk of her exclusively in professional terms. For example, on Nov. 16, 2015, Peter D. Hart conducted a focus group on Clinton. Nearly every assessment had to do with on-the-job performance. She was “multitask-oriented” or “organized” or “deceptive.”
Brooks then spends the next five paragraphs talking about how Clinton is too professional: that people who know her call her “warm and caring,” but people who don’t know her—confusingly—do not. She is a workaholic, and her professional role “encroaches on the normal intimacies of the soul.” He says it again: she seems “exclusively professional,” which is bad.
Phenomenally, the conclusion David Brooks draws even from this ninth-grade-level critical assessment is not that Clinton’s professional demeanor is off-putting to people because we have been conditioned for centuries to expect warm and familial subservience from women. (As this column itself also does not contain the words “sexism” or “sexist” and points out that Clinton’s personal appeal points have been limited to “a few grandma references,” we would, I guess, not expect David Brooks to be able to recognize his own mistakes.) Rather he concludes that Clinton’s professional demeanor is off-putting to a wide swath of Americans because of the era of social media, which is personalist (OK, MAN) and vulnerable.
That is literally the best idea he’s got.
There’s a larger lesson here, especially for people who have found a career and vocation that feels fulfilling. Even a socially good vocation can swallow you up and make you lose a sense of your own voice. Maybe it’s doubly important that people with fulfilling vocations develop, and be seen to develop, sanctuaries outside them: in play, solitude, family, faith, hobbies and leisure.
“Even successful lives need these sanctuaries—in order to be a real person instead of just a productive one,” Brooks writes. A sanctuary like a garden, or maybe a kitchen. It’s a good reminder for all women: there is no amount of power that will keep a man from listening to his dumbest and most deeply ingrained instincts and asking you to, in so many words, open up.
Images via AP
Then, over the weekend, John Oliver spent five minutes mocking Kadyrov on Last Week Tonight, provoking a feud.
Noting Kadyrov’s history of human rights’ abuses—an associate of Kadyrov’s is the prime suspect in the brazen assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov just steps from the Kremlin last year—and his fondness for wearing t-shirts being his political sponsor’s visage, Oliver encouraged his viewers to send photographs of cats to the Chechen strongman via social media, asking whether they were his missing cat.
Kadyrov did not find this funny.
“Recently my ‘tiger cat’ has left the house,” Kadyrov wrote in a follow-up post.(His cat is a domestic Bengal cat.) “It happens in spring from time to time. He also needs to meet with friends, mingle and share news. By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him.”
“I receive lots of photos. Some people say that they saw the cat in Vladivostok, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and even in the Oval Office of the White House!” Kadyrov wrote in response. “I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat.”
Here is the caption to Kadyrov’s post in full:
Recently my “tiger cat” has left the house. It happens in spring from time to time. He also needs to meet with friends, mingle and share news. By cat rumors he has in our district a familiar she-cat with which he’s going to start a family. I’m sure that after spring affairs, the cat will return to native walls. Perhaps, he’ll bring his sweet love with him. I got used to share with my friends in Instagram with all news, including cat issues. And this time I didn’t want to leave as a secret the cat’s adventures. I receive lots of photos. Some people say that they saw the cat in Vladivostok, Japan, Iceland, New Zealand, and even in the Oval Office of the White House! I am grateful to all, but this is NOT my cat. It became known that even the American TV channel “HBO” joined to search. The anchorman comedian - John Oliver asks millions of viewers to look for a cat. I knew long ago that in the USA unevenly breathe to my younger friends. One day horses aren’t allowed to jump, the other - a cat is a real star of a show. Oliver laments a fact that we put on t-shirts with a photo of the President of Russia - Vladimir Putin. Yes, millions of people rejoice t-shirts with the image of the national leader. For this purpose, there is a good motivation. Vladimir Vladimirovich is a wise, courageous, resolute Head, who managed to withstand unfriendly campaign, which is conducted by the USA and its assistants. Thanks to Putin, we have crushed terrorists among whom there were also citizens of the USA, and European citizens. The country directed by Obama under the guise of peacekeeping operations spark new wars and bloody internal conflicts, in which die millions of people. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria... That’s why there is nothing surprising that Oliver also got a wish to appear publicly in a T-shirt with an image of Putin, but not Obama. #Kadyrov #Russia #Chechnya #USA #HBO#Oliver #findkadyrovscat#Ihavenotseenyourcat#IHAVESEENYOURCAT
That’s some sophisticated pop culture criticism coming from a guy wearing a pinky ring.
Pretrial hearings in the criminal assault case against Bill Cosby began this morning in Pennsylvania, where a judge will decide whether the case will continue to trial. But let us not forget that Cosby—who has been accused of similar crimes by almost 60 women—gave a deposition in the case
Cosby is currently facing three counts of felony indecent assault
At last count, 58 women have accused Cosby of sexual assault, though most, if not all, of their claims fall outside their state’s statute of limitations.
The parties are currently arguing whether the prosecution has presented enough evidence for the case to proceed to trial. If it does, Cosby could face up to ten years in prison.
“I stared at the man on the other side of the glass doors. Along with the rest of the world, I had now seen his penis.” After the wonderful
A Pennsylvania judge has ruled that Bill Cosby must stand trial in the felony indecent assault case
Cosby and his accuser in this case, Andrea Costand, reached a civil settlement in 2005, but the case was reopened after a deposition Cosby gave was unsealed last summer. In that deposition, Cosby freely admits to giving women Quaaludes in order to sexually assault them.
The judge’s order came at a pretrial hearing this morning. From the Los Angeles Times:
District Judge Elizabeth McHugh found probable cause he was involved in a crime. The judge heard portions of accuser Andrea Constand’s police statement read in court.
The Montgomery County case is the only criminal charge facing Cosby, though he is also battling defamation, sex-assault and insurance lawsuits in other states.
His arraignment is set for July 20. If convicted, he faces up to ten years in prison.
Presumptive GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump has generated an unceasing torrent of press attention that some estimate to be worth roughly $2 billion. Yet the central mystery at the very core of his persona—his inscrutable hairdo—has somehow, impossibly, remained unsolved. Until, perhaps, now.
A tipster who claimed knowledge of Trump’s hair recently came to Gawker with a potential solution to the enigma: Trump’s hair is not his own, costs tens of thousands of dollars for installation and upkeep, and comes from a man as mysterious as Trump is bombastic.
This solution that Trump, our tipster says, sought for his hair woes is a little-known, patented hair restoration treatment called a “microcylinder intervention.” It’s only performed by one clinic that we know of—Ivari International—where our source once sought treatment, and where he says he learned of Trump’s apparent patronage. What’s more, Ivari’s New York location was inside Trump Tower—on the private floor reserved for Donald Trump’s own office.
Gawker was unable to independently confirm Trump’s connection to Ivari; both Trump and Ivari did not respond to multiple and persistent requests for comment. But after extensive research into Ivari’s history, Ivari’s treatments, and the photographic record of Donald Trump’s hair, this is a potential answer—perhaps the first plausible one—to the riddle of Donald Trump’s hair.
Allow me to explain.
What we know about the hair
In a 2011 profile in Rolling Stone, Trump actually revealed the supposed secret behind the hair that’s mystified America for years:
OK, what I do is, wash it with Head and Shoulders. I don’t dry it, though. I let it dry by itself. It takes about an hour. Then I read papers and things.
...I then comb my hair. Yes, I do use a comb. ...Do I comb it forward? No, I don’t comb it forward. I actually don’t have a bad hairline. When you think about it, it’s not bad. I mean, I get a lot of credit for comb-overs. But it’s not really a comb-over. It’s sort of a little bit forward and back. I’ve combed it the same way for years. Same thing, every time.
Ignoring the fact that an hour seems like an excessive amount of time for Trump’s thin, relatively short strands to dry post-shower, this all sounds believable enough.
Still, it doesn’t fully explain the cotton candy hairspray labyrinth that has fascinated so many Americans. In the picture below, for instance, you’ll notice a sporadically arranged hairline that seems to be hanging on for dear life. And then there’s that flap.
How is that section of hair so thick compared to the hair around it? And where, exactly, does the hairline start?
And then there’s this.
How can one possibly comb natural, human hair so that it lies comfortably in such a shape? Hair that grows naturally from a head will not—cannot—form the web we see laid bare in the thinning section of scalp curtain above.
Adding to the question of the provenance of Trump’s hair is its motion, or lack thereof. Natural hair, even when heavily doused in product, does not move as if it exists apart from the scalp itself. And yet, that is precisely what we see with Trump’s candy-colored head rug. Notice how it flaps as one in the breeze.
Now take a look at what happened last August when Time interviewed Donald Trump as part of its Person of the Year lineup. Naturally, Time decided to present Trump with a bald eagle named Uncle Sam. But in an act of performance art that was, truthfully, a bit too on-the-nose for my tastes, the living symbol of American pride attacked the angry orange candidate. And as Uncle Sam’s wings flapped frantically, Trump’s hair piece migrated. It was ever so slight and ever so brief, but migrate it did. And in one impossibly solid piece.
Let’s see that one more time.
You’ll notice that as it’s being sideswiped by the powerful wing of Uncle Sam, Trump’s meticulously arranged pile of hair moves as though it were a single entity. Or, perhaps, as though it were woven together.
Which brings us to the patented microcylinder technique of Mr. Edward Ivari.
What we know about the method
An archived copy of Ivari International’s website shows that in 2000, when our tipster was told that Donald Trump used Ivari International’s non-surgical brand of hair treatment, Ivari only advertised two hair restoration options. Only one of those options was surgery free. So if Trump did indeed seek treatment here, and he picked the less-invasive, nonsurgical method, he was likely laying down tens of thousands of dollars for Ivari’s patented “microcylinder intervention.”
Ivari’s own website explains:
This meticulous procedure is undertaken according to the needs of each client. Hair can be thickened, short hair may be lengthened, and balding areas can be recovered. Through the use of Microcylinders, additional hair is added to your own hair recreating the natural look of your hair to its original and full-body shape.
...This extraordinary procedure has proven successful regardless of the lack of volume or degree of hairloss.
In other words, even with Trump’s presumably thinning hair, Ivari’s microcylinder attachments should offer both additional thickness and length, and make Trump more than capable of swirling and situating his artificially extended locks in whatever unholy position he sees fit.
According to a brochure sent by Ivari to its new patients:
The Microcylinder Technique is just one of the patented inventions available at Ivari centers. Through these tiny cylinders, additional strands of natural hair are added until the desired effect is reached (without surgery). The final result leaves you free to swim, shower, and brush as often as you wish without concern. The Ivari Techniques are suitable for both men and women regardless of hair loss or the amount of hair desired. Your privacy and confidentiality requirements are protected with all Ivari services and correspondence.
All that secrecy isn’t guaranteed for nothing—the treatment is wildly expensive. In 2007, the cost of the initial process for at least one patient
In all its promotional materials, Ivari emphasizes the fact that its microcylinder attachments can take just as much as much tugging as any head of human-grown hair, something Donald Trump takes pains to point out is also true of his mop.
As the patents were originally filed in France, they are full of questionable translations and are otherwise difficult to parse. But thanks to a lawsuit filed against Ivari by Alicia Roach in 2001, we have a decent breakdown of what a microcylinder treatment actually entails:
The intervention involves the use of skeins of natural donor hair. Each skein consists of a line of hairs attached to a thread about one inch in length. The threads are then attached end-to-end in concentric circles over the client’s head. The circles of thread are then anchored to each other by separate threads, which radiate from the center so that the underside of the resulting hairpiece resembles a spider’s web. The client’s natural hair is attached to the hairpiece by forty to sixty separate threads. Each of those threads is attached at one end to the web and at the other end to a tiny metal clamp around a few strands of natural hair at the scalp. Every few weeks, as the natural hair grows out from the scalp, the hairpiece loosens on the head. This places increased tension on the natural hair to which the microcylinders are attached and can cause hair breakage. A maintenance procedure (maintenance) is necessary wherein the clamps must be removed and replaced closer to the scalp. A maintenance tightens the hairpiece on the client’s head.
Maintenance apparently has to be done every six to eight weeks. And while Ivari claims that its methods produce hair indistinguishable from that which you’ve grown naturally, the ruling court was notably less kind.
The judge’s decision states, “Ivari, Inc. is in the business of installing exorbitantly-priced hairpieces on the heads of people with thinning hair. These hairpieces are the functional equivalent of wigs and might be expected to look and feel like wigs after attachment.”
While images of the actual process of Ivari’s microcylinder treatment remain elusive, the Ivari website is more than happy to share a few before and after photos.
Each man’s head is unquestionably full. Though just like a certain confoundingly coiffed candidate for president, where exactly all that hair is coming from (not to mention the direction in which it grows) is far more difficult to pin down.
While we couldn’t track down any visuals on the microcylinder process itself, this nonsurgical “micro link” method from a hair restoration clinic in Canada appears to be fairly similar:
Most notably, what’s going on at the near-root level bears a striking resemblance to what seems to be happening beneath Donald Trump’s hair, as demonstrated by its reaction to an unexpected gust of wind.
As you can see, in this microcylinder stand-in, the distressingly long growth folds back to hide the wispy scalp hairs from which it spurts:
Just as Trump’s own distended follicles apparently belie a nearly barren scalp below:
At the very least, microcylinders would certainly explain how a 69-year-old man could grow hair with the capacity to effectively wrap itself around the circumference of his head several times over. Without having direct access to Donald Trump’s head, of course, it’s difficult to say for sure exactly how these attachments would function. Are they simply a web of additional hair as described in the Roach lawsuit? Do the microcylinders include what the Ivari brochure dubs “microextensions,” ensuring extraordinary length?
Or is it a combination of both? Perhaps some questions are better left unanswered.
What we know about Edward Ivari
If Edward Ivari really is the man behind Donald Trump’s mane, we couldn’t have invented a better match.
According to at least one lawsuit
But just because Ivari isn’t well-known among the professionals in the field doesn’t mean he’s totally off-the-grid, at least where New York’s wealthy socialites are concerned. In 1999, the New York Post ran an article about plastic surgery-loving Jocelyn Wildenstein’s then-boyfriend, Ken Godt, who had been “flying to Los Angeles, California, via first class every six weeks to have his hair woven at Ivari International.” According to the Post, the initial procedure had cost him $40,000 while “the adjustments cost $3,000 every six weeks.”
Ivari International is just one of the many names under which Edward Ivari (otherwise known as Mohammad Ali Ivari) has conducted business, according to the lawsuit
Ivari International Centers was incorporated in California in 1989, but according to the California Secretary of State, its business license was suspended in October of 2015 for failure to meet tax requirements. This was the fourth time that Ivari has had its license suspended in California for tax-related reasons.
Still, the address for the Los Angeles location remains on the Ivari website (which doesn’t seem to have been updated since 2005). The provided phone number is dead. Should you decide to stop by for a visit, instead of this...
...you’ll find this.
The New York center, though, is where things get interesting as far as Donald Trump is concerned. Currently, the Ivari website lists only an unresponsive email address under the contact info for its New York location, along with the message that it’s “in the process of changing the address.”
Before this most recent message appeared, though, an archived copy of the website from April of 1997 shows that Ivari had previously listed itself as located on the 25th floor of none other than Trump Tower.
Now, how exactly would an “available private entrance for our prominent clients” work with an office on the 25th floor of a high rise? You’d likely need to have access to whatever it was that took up space on either side of your business’s walls. As luck would have it, Donald Trump’s office was—and as far as we can tell, still is—also located on the 25th floor.
According to our tipster’s theory, Donald Trump first started seeking treatment at Ivari at some point prior to the year 2000. However, Ivari International had advertised its services in New York Magazine periodically between 1995 and 1997, as seen below. So Donald Trump could have easily caught wind of the treatment then.
It wasn’t until November in 2005 that Ivari stopped listing the New York location as being on the 25th floor of Trump Tower. It has claimed to be “in the process of changing the address” ever since.
Did Ivari simply shutter the doors to its New York office not long after removing the address from its website? According to records from the New York Department of State, Ivari didn’t become inactive as a business (in all its forms) until 2010. (This information is voluntarily reported and isn’t definitive evidence that a business was “active” up until the point it was listed as dissolved; nor does it necessarily mean that Ivari has ceased doing business in New York since 2010.)
We were unable to try to track down Ivari’s former New York location because, as someone with knowledge of Trump Tower’s inner workings explained, since at least 2011 it’s been impossible to get to the 25th floor without a security escort. Nothing, we are told, remains there but the Trump family business.
If Dennis Graff’s 2009 lawsuit
Whether there’s any credence to these claims remains unknown, as Graff ultimately chose to settle out of court and did not respond to multiple requests for comment. Judging by Ivari’s own website, the company’s activities do seem to fall outside of the norm. How many high-end hair restoration clinics also have a department for financing “personal or professional projects” on the side?
Ivari doesn’t just dole out loans, he apparently solicits them, too—or at least, Edward Ivari allegedly did so while treating Dennis Graff. According to Graff’s initial complaint (the majority of which Ivari denied
Furthermore, Graff claims that Ivari was suddenly and mysteriously booked solid, meaning that he was stuck with the mess on his head for the two months Ivari claimed it would take to squeeze him in. When the appointment to finish Graff’s treatment finally did roll around, Ivari allegedly hit him up for money again—this time for $500,000 at an 18 percent interest rate.
When Graff declined to loan Ivari the money yet again, Ivari supposedly said he was suddenly unable to finish the treatment that day. He would, however, be happy to see Graff at his next available appointment date—one whole month from then. That’s when things really started to get fun. From Graff’s initial complaint:
In July of 2007, Graff appeared for his appointment at Ivari, Inc. to have the hair replacement done. Edward Ivari advised Graff he lost millions of dollars in a Saudi Arabia deal, had actually been held in prison there for a year, and desperately needed to borrow $1,000,000 at 18% to be repaid in 6 months. When Graff declined to loan the money to him, Edward Ivari advised him he could not complete the work until September 2007.
A few weeks later, an employee at Ivari called Graff, according to court documents
According to the complaint, from the date of his initial appointment to October when he finally had it removed, Graff’s friends described the hairpiece as a “ground hog,” a “cheap piece of carpet,” and “an unmade bed.”
Finally, on October 8, 2007, Graff allegedly
It didn’t work. According to court documents, the system fell further into disarray, and Ivari continued to refuse to fix the hairpiece properly until finally, in May of 2009, Ivari allegedly told Graff that Graff would have to sue them to get what he wanted. In July, Graff did just that. In April of 2010, Graff and Ivari settled the case out of court.
According to filings from the French Trade Registry, Ivari’s Paris office—its sole remaining public location—was, until March of this year, in the building pictured below at 26 Place Vendome. It has since moved to a new spot that appears to be Ivari’s home address.
The Paris treatment center’s web site, however, continues to list as its place of business 26 Place Vendome, which is where a Gawker stringer recently went to make an appointment for a consultation. She found herself unable to enter the building, so our correspondent called the Paris phone number, only to be told that the next available consultation wasn’t for another ten days. She was never told about the apparent change in location.
Let’s say, hypothetically
Here’s a fun little thought exercise. Let us pretend for a minute that perhaps Ivari was never really “in the process of changing the address” in New York. That would mean that, for at least the five additional years the business continued to function in New York state (if not longer), Ivari International sat squarely in the direct vicinity of Donald Trump’s office.
Considering the lack of advertising and refusal to share its actual location, new clients would have surely been rare, if not nonexistent. This would mean, then, that Ivari would need some steady source of income from some sort of mega-client. Some mega-client that, perhaps, has built an identity around his objectively terrible hair choices but refuses to concede that his hair is anything but his own. In which case, this bombastic, mega-client would of course demand the utmost privacy.
Wouldn’t it be convenient, then, if Ivari’s New York office was right next door to its number one—and perhaps only—client’s own office? And wouldn’t having other clients become unnecessary if this one hyper-wealthy regular required constant attention?
Might this secret mega-client singlehandedly sustaining Ivari International’s New York office with constant treatments be none other than presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump himself?
Summary video by Mandy Mandelstein, supercut video by Nicholas Stango.
John Harvey Kellogg was arguably the most famous physician of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. He introduced the concept of eating clean foods, exercise, and other healthful innovations. He was also the guy who invented cornflakes. And, in my opinion, he was a very bad man. The worst kind of bad, in fact: the kind that sleeps easy at night, believing his horrible work was the will of God.
Nothing is more dangerous than a monster with a clear conscience.
The Good Doctor
John Harvey Kellogg became famous because of the decades he spent running the famous Battle Creek Sanitarium for the newly minted Seventh-Day Adventist Church. It was not like most “sanatoriums”—convalescent hospitals or quarantines for people with tuberculosis. Battle Creek was America’s premiere health spa. You went there to be fed food that most people at the time considered fit only for farm animals, to use baffling machines
And he did invent cornflakes, along with his brother Will. They were intended to keep both the bowels and sexual organs of Sanitarium guests free of congestion. Eventually, Will decided to add sugar to the recipe and mass market the cereal. John did not support this, which is why it is actually Will’s name you read on the front of your cereal boxes today.
People loved “The San” and they loved Kellogg. In peak years, over 1,600 people made pilgrimages to live on The San’s ever growing campus. That, combined with the thousands of words of medical advice the doctor published, made him a powerful person to those seeking healing.
No doubt that Kellogg did good for many people. But he wasn’t a good doctor, and perhaps not a good person. Nowhere was this more apparent than in his obsession with the destructive power of masturbation.
Whatever It Is, You Have It Because You Masturbated
Guess, if you dare, what miserable vice causes the following conditions:
They are all caused, according to Dr. Kellogg, by the practice of female masturbation.
Things That Stimulate the Sin-Switch
Masturbation could begin, in the most tragic of cases, at a young age. Kellogg reported that he had seen children as young as two years of age place their hands upon their own genitalia. In these cases the child, already deficient in morals, was most likely suffering from the sins her parents committed before she was even born. Having excessive sexual relations during pregnancy, or being the offspring of a masturbator, could warp the values of a fetus in utero.
Kellogg did not believe any natural inclination would draw a child’s hand to their private parts. These manipulations came from dark and foul sources, such as constipation, hemorrhoids, bladder infections, anal fissures, and uncleanliness of the organs. Other foul temptations were to be found in choice of bedding. Said Dr. Kellogg:
“Soft beds and pillows must be carefully avoided...the floor, with a single folded blanket beneath the sleeper, would be preferable. A hair mattress, or a bed of corn husks —covered with two or three blankets or a quilted cotton mattress makes a very healthy and comfortable bed.”
And as you make your child comfortable on their bed of dried cornhusk or smashed brick (whatever you have available), Kellogg recommended children sleep on their sides, curled in upon their genitals. If you child is obstinate and keeps rolling over during sleep, tie a knotted sheet or rope to their backs. The discomfort will urge them back on their sides, where their genitals are less likely to be stimulated.
Speaking of stimulation, avoid consumption of sexually aggressive food such as tea, candy, cinnamon and peppermint. Said Kellogg, “Tea and coffee have led thousands to perdition in this way. Candies, spices, cinnamon, cloves, peppermint, and all strong essences, powerfully excite the genital organs and lead to the same result.”
Please also be aware of uncontrolled dreaming. REM sleep is the curse of a disorganized and polluted mind. “In perfectly natural sleep, there are no dreams; consciousness is entirely suspended.” In fact, Kellogg counseled, disregard any patient’s claim that she cannot control her dreams. The truth is, she chooses not to, so as maintain one cherished outlet for her lascivious desires.
And finally, Kellogg gives the 19th century one more reason that women should abstain from reading. It might make them aware of their naughty-nubs.
“Story books, romances, love tales, and religious novels constitute the chief part of the reading matter which American young ladies greedily devour. We have known young ladies still in their teens who had read whole libraries of the most exciting novels….The taste for novel-reading is like that for liquor or opium.”
The problem with this sort of reading, explained Kellogg, is that it takes a girl beyond the wholesome dreadfulness of her reality and transports her to a place that triggers passion. Passion so great that some girls “discovered the fatal secret themselves.”
The Symptoms of a Child in Danger
The preceding has all been a bit of a yogurt-enema (another favorite treatment of the doctor). That is, weird and uncomfortable, but generally harmless, especially when considered in its historical element.
The real problem is how declarative Kellogg was, without examining alternate theories or offering actual evidence for his findings. Kellogg refused to even suspect he might be wrong and he provided no proof that he was right. There is no record of him doing double blind studies on the effects of cloves on the sexual drive of children. He just knows.
Warning: here we must take a rather vicious turn. These are the symptoms Kellogg gave to parents to identify whether or not their child was engaging in “the secret vice.”
Bed wetting: Masturbation causes the entire genital area to become lax and undisciplined.
Changes in Behavior: “When a girl, naturally joyous, happy, confiding, and amiable, becomes unaccountably gloomy, sad, fretful, dissatisfied, and unconfiding, be certain that [the cause] for it will rarely be found to be anything other than solitary indulgence.”
Insomnia: “Sleeplessness... may justly be a cause for suspicion of evil habits.”
Trouble in school: “When a child who has previously learned readily, mastered his lessons easily, and possessed a retentive memory, shows a manifest decline in these directions...he has probably become the victim of a terrible vice, and is on the road to speedy mental as well as physical ruin. Watch him.”
Lying: “This vice has a wonderful influence in developing untruthfulness. A child previously honest, under its baneful influence will soon become an inveterate liar.”
Bashfulness: “If spoken to, instead of looking directly at the person to whom he addresses an answer, the masturbator looks to one side, or lets his eyes fall upon the ground, seemingly conscious that the eye is a wonderful tell-tale of the secrets of the mind.”
Boldness: “The individual seems to have not the slightest appreciation of propriety. He commits openly the most uncouth acts, if he does not manifest the most indecent unchastity of manner.”
Fearfulness: “Easily frightened children are abundant among young masturbators…The victim’s mind is constantly filled with vague forebodings of evil. He often looks behind him, looks into all the closets, peeps under the bed, and is constantly expressing fears of impending evil. Such movements are the result of a diseased imagination, and they may justly give rise to suspicion.”
Unusual vaginal discharge, stretched vaginal cavity: “The presence of leucorrhoea in a young girl accompanied by a relaxed condition of the vagina, is presumptive evidence of the existence of this vice.”
Seductive behavior in little girls: “A forward or loose manner in company with little boys is suspicious conduct, especially in one who has previously shown no disposition of this sort. Girls addicted to this habit usually show an unnatural fondness for the society of little boys, and not infrequently are guilty of the most wanton conduct.”
Do these feel oddly familiar to you? The Delaware Department of Services for Children, Youth and their Families gives a very succinct list of similar behaviors, which also includes changes in behavior, inappropriate sexual behaviors, changes in school performance, and vaginal discharge. Modern medicine and psychology identifies these conditions as potential signs of a child being sexually abused. The two lists match, almost word for word.
Gutting, isn’t it? A man who claimed great familiarity with so-called sexual deviance completely blind to the real instances.
Consider the following story, from Kellogg’s 1902 edition of Ladies’ guide in health and disease. He spoke of a mother who brought a 10-year-old rape victim to him: “Her first instruction was received from a hoary-headed fiend in human shape who had enticed her to a secluded place, and there introduced her to all the nastiness which his depraved and sensual nature could devise.”
But as Kellogg saw it, he was actually brought a 10-year-old masturbator. “…a little girl, naturally bright and unusually attractive and intelligent, had become the victim of this soul-and-body-destroying habit, which had brought on a serious nervous disease that threatened to destroy both body and mind before she had reached the age of ten years.”
Masturbation itself is a common reaction to trauma in children. But the reason why she masturbated was unimportant, an unfortunate side-note, spoken with the same casual dismissal he might use to describe a patient who picked up an exotic disease abroad. Her rape wasn’t the issue. As her physician, it was his job to save her from touching her genitals. At any cost.
Kellogg advised that a child must first be caught in the act. He wanted parents to see them masturbating. The best way to do that, he says, is to sneak up on the child soon after they have gone to bed, throw off their blankets “under some pretense” and examine the child’s genitalia for sexually excited characteristics. This is the only “evidence” he ever suggests gathering, and it’s optional.
Boys will of course have an erection. That can be judged visually, perhaps. As for girls: “If the same course is pursued with girls, under the same circumstances, the clitoris will be found congested, with the other genital organs, which will also be moist from increased secretion.” That may require a physical inspection.
Here Kellogg was instructing adults to charge into a child’s room, rip off their blankets and nightclothes to expose their privates, and then to thoroughly inspect a girl’s (or teenager’s) vulva for an engorged clitoris and sexual lubrication. He is guiding an adult through a very particular course of sexual abuse of their own child.
Shame was one of Kellogg’s least destructive tools. There was hope that a single occurrence of this “morally justified” violation would be enough to stop the habit by shame alone. But it might not. More drastic measure may be needed. For those children Kellogg advised:
“Bandaging the parts has been practiced with success. Tying the hands is also successful in some cases; but this will not always succeed, for they will often contrive to continue the habit in other ways, as by working the limbs, or lying upon the abdomen. Covering the organs with a cage has been practiced with entire success.”
This still isn’t the reason I consider Kellogg irredeemable. Because sometimes those cages and tied hands weren’t enough to control a child. Occasionally, a child’s disturbance ran so deep, there was only one recourse. Little boys were to be circumcised, an operation seldom performed in the 19th century outside of religious reasons. Without painkillers of any sort.
“The operation should be performed by a surgeon without administering an anaesthetic, as the brief pain attending the operation will have a salutary effect upon the mind, especially if it be connected with the idea of punishment, as it may well be in some cases. The soreness which continues for several weeks interrupts the practice, and if it had not previously become too firmly fixed, it may be forgotten and not resumed.”
Pain is necessary. It confirms to the child that he is being punished.
As for little girls, Kellogg recommended a more permanent solution, as related in the following “case study.”
“A Desperate Case.—A little girl about ten years of age was brought to us by her father, who came with his daughter to have her broken of the vile habit of self-abuse into which she had fallen. Having read an early copy of this work, the father had speedily detected the habit, and had adopted every measure which he could devise to break his child of the destructive vice which she had acquired, but in vain… it finally became necessary to resort to a surgical operation, by which it is hoped that she was permanently cured, as we have heard nothing to the contrary since, and as the remedy seemed to be effectual.”
He never even looked in on the child after the operation. It would seem a common courtesy to follow up on a patient after you’ve cut off her clitoris and labia minora, or perhaps not to cut off her genitals altogether. But it was that or the carbolic acid, Kellogg’s other final cure.
Treatment-… the application of blisters [carbolic acid] and other irritants to the sensitive parts of the sexual organs, the removal of the clitoris and nymphaea, [labia minora] constitute the most proper treatment.
Faith Beats Facts
There were reams of medical literature available to Kellogg examining and decrying clitorectomies all through his career. (It should be noted that the operation was performed, and likely still is, in legitimate medical emergencies, such a tumor growth). And that literature was written by doctors who did follow-up research.
Kellogg, instead, clung to two main influences: an English doctor named Isaac Baker Brown, who was banned from practicing medicine because of his adherence to this procedure, and a preacher named Sylvester Graham. You know him—he invented your toddler’s favorite snack (barren of sugar or spice, originally) to dull her urge to touch her privates.
In 1868, near the height of the popularity of “life-saving” clitorectomies—which, thankfully, were not widely practiced—a highly respected gynecologist named Charles West wrote Lectures on the Diseases of` Women. He related the following story:
“I know a lady aged fifty-three, who had suffered from a painful fissure of the anus, for which she underwent the usual operation of dividing the mucous membrane of the ulcer. The surgeon who did this, without saying a word to the lady or to the husband, or indicating in any way what he was about to do, cut off her clitoris.
The stump of the amputated clitoris became the seat of pain…In answer to her enquiries, after some evasion, she at length learned what had been done, and further had the humiliation of discovering that the justification of the outrage was, that she was assumed by the surgeon to be addicted to a vice with the very name and nature of which she was alike unacquainted.”
West got to the heart of the matter: “It will, I imagine, scarcely be contended that proceedings which we should reprobate if practiced on the one sex, change their character when perpetrated on the other.” Meaning, what outrage would be met if doctors began lopping of penises without even consulting the patient? Yet this practice is unnoticed and even applauded when visited upon women.
In 1912, as the practice was losing its popularity (though there is no record of Kellogg ever recanting his faith in the procedure), Orificial surgery, its philosophy, application and technique, was published by Benjamin Dawson, Mrs. Elizabeth Muncie, and Albert Grant. “Mrs.” Muncie was a physician and surgeon, though apparently the “Dr.” prefix wouldn’t fit. The book denounced the practice completely, stating that clitorectomies brought “relief from the abnormal irritation which they sought to cure, but also from all normal sexual instincts, and was so frequently followed by insanity.”
“It is no more necessary to amputate a normal clitoris than it is a normal penis,” they wrote.
God is More Powerful than Good
Some people think Kellogg was a product of his time and has become a scapegoat, his public face making an easy target for outrage against the mistakes of the era. And maybe that’s true. But it was that public face that gave him his power, and allowed him to do more harm than the average child-clitoris cutter.
John Harvey Kellogg’s not-entirely-negative reputation for health reform would live a century beyond his time; he was a Christian man, and a doctor. He became the face of Victorian health, body and soul. And all the while, he was cutting off little girls’ genitals because they touched themselves. He was binding the hands of 10-year-old rape victims, suggesting they were just as responsible for their shame as their rapists. He was using carbolic acid to burn the flesh of children so that they would know they had sinned.
And he believed he was doing God’s work. He cited no solid research, experimentation, tests, or proof. He seemed to have believed himself beyond the need for them. He should have known better. Maybe he did.
Therese Oneill lives in Oregon and writes for The Atlantic, The Week, Mental Floss and more. Her first book, “Unmentionable: The Victorian Lady’s Guide to Sex, Marriage and Manners” will be available from Little, Brown in October. Meet her at writerthereseoneill.com.
Illustration by Angelica Alzona