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Scientists confirm: Harvard book about the ‘destinies of the soul’ bound in human skin

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Experts have confirmed that a 19th-century book about the destiny of the soul in the afterlife “is without a doubt bound in human skin.”

The book was donated to Harvard’s Houghton Library by Dr. Ludovic Bouland in the 1930s, and contained a note from the Bouland in which he claimed that “a book about the human soul deserved to have a human covering.”

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Arsène Houssaye had presented his friend Bouland a copy of Des destinées de l’ame (Destinies of the Soul), and according to his note, Bouland then used “this piece of human skin taken from the back of a woman,” a mental patient who had died of “apoplexy,” to bind the book.

“It is interesting to see the different aspects that change this skin according to the method of preparation to which it is subjected,” Bouland wrote in his handwritten note. “Compare for example with the small volume I have in my library, Sever. Pinaeus de Virginitatis notis which is also bound in human skin but tanned with sumac.”

Grotesque as it sounds, the practice of binding books in human skin — or anthropodermic bibliopegy — was once more common. The confessions of executed criminals were occasionally bound in the skin of the convicted, and some families bound the favorite books of recently deceased family members in their skin as a kind of memorial to them.

Harvard scientists tested Des destinées de l’ame using several different methods, including peptide mass fingerprinting (PMF). According to Bill Lane, the director of the Harvard Mass Spectrometry and Proteomics Resource Laboratory, “[t]he PMF from Des destinées de l’ame matched the human reference, and clearly eliminated other common parchment sources, such as sheep, cattle and goat. However, although the PMF was consistent with human, other closely related primates, such as the great apes and gibbons, could not be eliminated because of the lack of necessary references.”

Portions of the binding were then subjected to a Liquid Chromatography-Tandem Mass Spectrometry (LCMSMS), which determined the order of the amino acids within each peptide — an order that is unique to each species of primate.

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The result, Lane said, was “[t]he analytical data, taken together with the provenance of Des destinées de l’ame, make it very unlikely that the source could be other than human.”

[“Man Looking Shocked At The Light Coming Out Of A Book” on Shutterstock]


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‘Breadth and scale’ of nationwide protests is ‘staggering’: NYU history professor

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Protests continued to grow in size in cities and towns from coast-to-coast -- and around the world.

"As a historian of social movements in the U.S., I am hard pressed to think of any time in the past when we have had two straight weeks of large-scale protests in hundreds of places, from suburbs to big cities," NYU history Prof. Tom Sugrue posted on Twitter.

"The breadth and scale of #Floyd protests is staggering," he continued.

"We have had some huge one-day demonstrations, e.g. March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom (1963); antinuclear march in NYC (1982), and Women's March (2017). We have widespread, simultaneous protests, such as in the days following MLK, Jr.'s assassination (1968)," he explained. "But the two together--very unusual."

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Incel blew his hand off — and may have been planning for suicide bomber attack on ‘hot’ cheerleaders: report

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A young man in Virginia was photographed for his mugshot with extensive facial injuries.

"A 23-year-old Virginia man who appeared to be planning an incel bomb attack on "hot cheerleaders" accidentally blew off his hand with explosives, authorities say," BuzzFeed News reported Saturday. "Cole Carini was charged in federal court on Friday connection with the plot after he allegedly lied to FBI agents by saying his extensive injuries were the result of a lawnmower accident."

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Big turnout for protest in Texas town known as a ‘haven’ for the Ku Klux Klan

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Protesters gathered in Vidor, Texas on Saturday for a rally against racism and police violence.

https://twitter.com/JordanJamesTV/status/1269366486189080576

The East Texas town has long had a reputation for racism.

Vidor is a small city of about 11,000 people near the Texas Gulf Coast, not too far from the Louisiana border. Despite the fact that Beaumont, a much bigger city just 10 minutes away, is quite integrated, Vidor is not. There are very few blacks there; it's mostly white. That is in large part because of a history of racism in Vidor, a past that continues to haunt the present," Keith Oppenheim reported for CNN in 2006.

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