Morbid Fact Du Jour for January 31, 2015

Today’s Overcrowded Yet Truly Morbid Fact!

Trapped between the sea and steep hills, Hong Kong is one of the most overcrowded cities in the world, and its murder rate has always been high. After World War II, the population quickly rocketed from half a million to more than two and a half million. Consequently, there was a terrifying wave of gang murders – murders so atrocious that the police speak of them as the work of “horror cults”.

In 1958, there were more than 900 murders – five times the American murder rate, and 150 times the English. These “horror cults” are, in fact, Chinese “tongs”, or “Triad Societies”. (The earliest tongs were called “Three Harmonies Societies”.) Like their American counterpart, the Mafia, they operate prostitution, drugs rackets, protection, and extortion. But their methods of ensuring obedience depend upon terrorism.

For example, in 1958, a rich merchant named Ko Sun Wei, together with four of his family, were horribly murdered in his house in Kowloon. The victims were staked out, with their arms and legs spreadeagled. Three women – the merchant’s two daughters and his daughter-in-law – were raped repeatedly, then tortured to death with knives. One woman was still alive when the police arrived, but was unable to speak – her tongue had been cut out. These were only five among 350 murders that took place in Hong Kong in September 1958. The interesting point here is the verification of observations about overcrowding. It produces true gangsters – men who are adepts in cruelty and violence, because they are unable to experience ordinary human emotions.

Culled from: Crimes and Punishment: The Illustrated Crime Encyclopedia, Volume 10

So, do you buy that?  Does overcrowding result in increased crime due to men being unable to experience ordinary human emotions?


Morbid Sightseeing News!

Howard sent me a link with some potential good news for morbid sightseers.  Let’s keep our fingers crossed!

“Hart Island, which just east of the Bronx in the mouth of the Long Island Sound, boasts breathtaking views of the water, fascinating examples of Victorian architecture, 100 acres of open space and…the bodies of almost one million dead New Yorkers.
“The largest publicly funded cemetery in the world, Hart Island has served as a potter’s field for New York City since 1869. Since then, it’s housed a prison, a workhouse for the poor, an insane asylum, a tuberculosis sanatorium and a missile base. Currently, around 1,500 bodies are buried there annually.

“And in a few years, you might be able to picnic there. City Councilwoman Elizabeth Crowley, who represents Ridgewood, Maspeth and Glendale in Queens, has introduced a bill that would transfer control of the half-mile-long island to the Parks Department. The goal would be to open the island to the public, transforming it into a space similar toGovernor’s Island.”

New York’s Newest Park Could Be Built Atop Nearly a Million Unmarked Graves


Decayed Daguerreotypes!

With yesterday’s newsletter, I shared the fascinating glass negative photographs of Costică Acsinte.  One of the things I love about the photos are the atmospheric cracks that cover many of them.  Now, here’s a collection of decayed daguerreotypes, courtesyMichael M. who sent me the link.

“Daguerreotype portraits were made by the model posing (often with head fixed in place with a clamp to keep it still the few minutes required) before an exposed light-sensitive silvered copper plate, which was then developed by mercury fumes and fixed with salts. This fixing however was far from permanent – like the people they captured the images too were subject to change and decay. They were extremely sensitive to scratches, dust, hair, etc, and particularly the rubbing of the glass cover if the glue holding it in place deteriorated. As well as rubbing, the glass itself can also deteriorate and bubbles of solvent explode upon the image.”

Fascinating effects!

Decayed Daguerreotypes

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