Helen Peters and the Ouija board

“For such an iconic thing that strikes both fear and wonder in American culture, how can no one know where it came from?” [Source]

As that most wonderful time of the year — Halloween — approaches, it is time to turn our attentions to the world of spiritualism and the occult.

Helen Peters (1851 -1940) is known as “the mother of the Ouija board”.[1]

Helen Peters was the sister-in-law of Elijah Bond, who held the patent for the Ouija board, and who was a business partner of Charles Kennard, who claimed to have invented it. [2]

Peters was present and played a pivotal role on two different occasions crucial to the birth of the Ouija board. The first was when the board was given the name “Ouija” — by her, in consultation with the board, at a meeting of potential investors. The other was in applying for a patent for the Ouija board, when she demonstrated the operation of the board at the patent office, in order to prove that the board worked. [2]

Peters has been described as an affluent woman from a “society background” who, along with her brother-in-law, was an investor in Kennard’s fledgling Ouija board company.[1]

According to Kennard, the board got its name when he, Helen Peters, and Elijah Bond were hanging out at a boarding house. They needed a name for the board and decided to ask the board what it wanted to be named. Peters was described as a strong medium, and the answer she got from the board was “Ouija”.  They then asked the board the meaning of the word and the board answered “good luck”.  Later, Peters pulled out a locket she was wearing with an image of a woman and the word ouija below it, which has been traced to the signature for “Ouida“, a pen name for Maria Louise Ramé, a British author who was known for her salons and her flamboyant lifestyle. [3]

In the second instance of rescuing the Ouija board for Posterity, Peters traveled to Washington DC patent office with Bond, since the patent office had responded that “action on the merits is suspended until proven by a working model to be operative”. Peters was able to demonstrate the board actually did work by spelling out the name of the chief patent officer, which was supposedly unknown to them. [3]

Personal life

In 1891 she married Ernest Nosworthy. She moved to Denver in 1896 and lived there until her death in 1940.  She is buried at Denver’s Fairmount Cemetery. [2]


[1] https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/how-the-ouija-board-got-its-name.amp

[2] https://tbhs.org/helen-peters-nosworthy/

[3] https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/the-strange-and-mysterious-history-of-the-ouija-board-5860627/

So what about this Ouida person?  Why would a “wealthy society woman” be wearing a locket with her picture?

Ramée was a British-born writer who penned dozens of overheated romance and adventure novels set in exotic locales, plus critical essays, animal stories, and books for children. Her books were best-sellers on both sides of the Atlantic; even Queen Victoria was a fan. According to The Bloomsbury Dictionary of English Literature, in her later life she lived mostly in Italy, indulging in “an expensive and affected life with dogs and frequent hopeless infatuations.”

Eccentric and ostentatious (she loved purple writing paper and Lord Byron), scorned by many male writers, but beloved by female readers, Ramée and her signature apparently became something of a talisman for forward-thinking women like Peters. [1]

Hmm, “overheated romance and adventure novels set in exotic locales”?

Where are these Ouida novels?

Here are two of them, and the LOC link has a few more:

And now, a preview of upcoming attractions at the Gender Desk

So here is a teaser for the next thing I am working on in the back room.

It has come to my attention that even though the purpose of this blog is to shine a light into the crevices of Wikipedia criticism, of late, Crowsnest has been the only one holding the denizens of Wikipediocracy to account. Plus he has all those rants to write about the Daily Mail and that British chemist woman, I forget her name. Jesse something. Wade. A Herculean task, and one that may never be complete.

So it is only right that I start taking up some of the slack where Wikipediocracy is concerned. I’m sure I will be able to find something nefarious if only I check in there once in a while. But I will be starting out small, and mellow, at least at first. There will be plenty of time later to take out the purple prose, if the spirit moves.

So for your Halloween pleasure, the first Wikipediocracy piece I will try to do in time for Halloween. Or All Saints Day, depending. It will probably be more or less serious, and about something that would probably not stand up to a deletion discussion, but deserves to have some information online. Since this blog says “gender” at the top, I will also have to think of something about gender to put in it. Also scariness, because Halloween. It also involves punk, so I am having a little trepidation here, as I am not sure I know enough about punk to do it justice. So far I have been looking at this Wikihow article about how to be punk, and have already found out it’s not the same as goth or emo. Also that you are supposed to start with the music.

It’s sort of like Imposter’s Syndrome, except I seriously am not qualified to write it.

But if I don’t write it, who will. So forge ahead, I must. I am certain there are punks at Wikipediocracy who can fill in any gaps that I might miss.

“Those teens who wanted to pick up an instrument without hardly being able to play it, had nothing to relate to, no genre where they could fit in.”   Oh.

Neil Cavuto of Fox News gets COVID, religion, and death threats

Cavuto, who is immunocompromised due to health problems, has suddenly gotten religion after catching COVID.

And now he is getting death threats for talking about it.

But this isn’t the main guy stirring up the rabble against the vaccine.  It’s Tucker Carlson.

You may remember this is also how the “Real Wiki in Action” subreddit came about, the Hezbollah-dude who moderates “True Wiki in Action” turned out to be a rabid anti-masker and Tucker Carlson fanboi, everyone else made a quick exit.

So, maybe we can get Tucker Carlson to change his mind?

As it turns out, zoos are having quite a bit of success with this by giving animals positive reinforcement after getting an injection.  The big cats get goat’s milk sprayed in their mouths, the bears get ice cream and whipped cream, and chimps get marshmallows and M&Ms. I wonder if any of these would work on Tucker.

Also RIP Colin Powell. I always kind of hoped he would run for president, but after he got blindsided by the WMD forgeries (thank you very much Judith Miller and Dubya), all he could do was announce his resignation as Secretary of State and retire from public life. It might have changed the course of the GOP for years to come. But the price of oil went up, so at least someone benefited, I remember paying over $4.50 a gallon for gasohol in Iowa’s cornland, on my way to the convention.

Fundraising: still reading your user agent

Do most people understand what it takes to read your cookies when you browse a site? Personally I find it a bit creepy when I am reading a personal email and an ad on that topic appears in the margin.

What Wikipedia is doing here is probably not quite as invasive, since what I am reading is a public website and not private mail.  But it is still rather sobering to think there is a whole marketing department that is casual enough about looking at the private data emitted by your machine to use the information in their automated messages. I wonder where it is stored, how many people have access to it, and whether they have all signed NDAs.

What can they find out about you when you browse their site?  Yikes.

Also, it goes without saying that you can not stop these messages by donating.

Moments later, another nag. And they know they sent the first one.

Seven Harp Ensemble

 [TLDR: go straight to the end of the post and listen to Valérie Milot play Bach on harp.]

The Seven Harp Ensemble (SHE) is an Australian performance group that specializes in progressive music, much of it written by Australian composers, and commissioned especially for the group.  The group represented Australia at the American Harp Society’s annual conference in 2006, and they have toured in Australia and China.

The group was started by harpist Alice Giles at the Australian National University’s Kioloa Summer Harp Camp in New South Wales, Australia.  It was originally known as the Kioloa Harp Ensemble. In 2010 they released a CD “Bolmimerie” on Tall Poppies label. Their last known performance was in 2011 2014.  (Twitter: @sevenharps)

CD “Bolmimerie”

Their 2010 CD Bolmimerie”, now out of print,  was recorded in Bavaria.  Music critic John Sunier of Audiophile Audition described it as “a wonderful sound”.  Malcolm Tattersall called it “a marvellous achievement” and “unique pleasures”, and Patricia Kelly called it “immensely satisfying”. It was artistic director and harpist Alice Giles’ fifth CD for this label, so if you like her stuff, there are more recordings out there somewhere.

  • Bolmimerie, SHE Seven Harp Ensemble – Tall Poppies TP204, 64:48 [Distr. by E1]

What about Wikipedia?

Beate Bolm

The title composition of their recording is Carlos Salzedo‘s “Bolmimerie”,  originally written in 1919 as a pantomime for the dancer Olaf Bolm, son of Adolph Bolm. (See YouTube. “Carlos Salzedo: Prelude to Olaf Bolm”.) Unsurprisingly, Wikipedia has no mention of Adolf Bolm’s marriage, wife, or child. Olaf Bolm (July 4, 1920 – July 31, 2008), was the son of Russian dancer Adolph Bolm. (1884-1950) and Beatrice (Beate) Krebs Alanova (b. ~1887). They met while on tour in Belgium and in 1916 the couple moved to the United States.  Olaf was born in Chicago while Adolph was in Europe on tour, and they joined him on tour as soon as the child was old enough to travel.

Bonus harp lesson, the string colors, the pedals….

And for diehard Bach and/or Valérie Milot fans, there is still “Bach: Fuga: Allegro (Sonata No.1 BWV 1001)”:


[Note: I was quite unhappy to find that Valérie Milot‘s rendition of “J.S. Bach: Sonata for violin No.1 in G Minor, BWV 100, 2.Fuga” on harp was no longer online (see the end of “Héloïse de Jenlis: Imagine a cafe in Paris…”), especially since so many of my readers were so impressed with it, to the point of preferring Bach on harp to any other instrument.]


Reading list

Every once in a while I find something interesting to read online, and show it to my fearless and devoted readers. And then I lose it.

This is a place to keep them all together.  Music lists are at the end.



How to

  • The manual “Story-Based Inquiry”, compiled by Dr. Mark Lee Hunter, a media professor at INSEAD. with (in alphabetical order) Nils Hanson, Rana Sabbagh, Luuk Sengers, Drew Sullivan, Flemming Tait Svith and Pia Thordse. Since its publication by UNESCO in 2009, “Story-Based Inquiry” has been translated to 12 languages, which makes it the first trans-cultural reference work in the world.  https://bird.tools/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/SBI_Manual.pdf
  • Saul Alinsky, Rules for Radicals, perennial classic.

Music lists

Listen to the new CEO and board live

They just started a few minutes ago, they say they are taking live questions, in case anyone can think of any burning questions at this hour, but so far it’s a monologue by Shani Evenstein Sigalov, mostly the stuff that is already online.

The video is now available on YouTube, along with captioning, which is somewhat imperfect but helps a lot with comprehension of the non-native English speakers. I don’t know about anyone else, but it always helps me understand the undercurrents when I can see how people talk and interact.

The link on meta: https://meta.wikimedia.org/wiki/Wikimedia_Foundation_Community_Affairs_Committee/2021-10-20_Conversation_with_Trustees and my Evil Twin has crossposted it to Reddit

Will try to live blog this, sorry no time stamps…..

Continue reading “Listen to the new CEO and board live”

Wokeness at Loudoun County

“Two girls, allegedly sexually assaulted in school, four months apart, by the same person. And so far, the only person to be convicted of a crime is the victim’s father.”  [Source]

Loudoun County Virginia is at the epicenter of…something.

Something about a teacher being suspended over how to refer to trans-identified students, so that “they don’t have to fight with staff about which restroom to use..”  There were lawsuits. The ACLU got involved, but not for defending “free speech”, this time they want the teachers silenced.

Then there was something else, a father dragged out of a school board meeting by police, saying his daughter was sexually assaulted in the school toilet by a boy wearing a dress. But the reports all looked like typical misinformation: Daily Mail, RT (Russia Today), and Fox News, complete with dog-whistle Soros references and talk about the closely contested Nov. 2 gubernatorial election (early voting has already started).

Then something started to shift. The Washington Post printed something vague about Trump supporters in Loudoun county, along with the resignation of a school board member, Beth Barts, so you knew something was going on. [“Her resignation comes shortly before she was due to face a trial in the recall campaign against her, which is being led by Fight for Schools, a parent group known for its advocacy against Loudoun’s equity work and whose founder, Ian Prior, is a former Trump administration official.”]  Then the sheriff’s office confirmed “that a May 28 police report exists detailing forcible sodomy and sexual battery at Stone Bridge High School.” It was the day that Scott Smith said his daughter had been assaulted.

The rest is now out, published by The ^Daily^ Wire,* and here is a non-paywalled version. I’m not going to say any more, the piece speaks for itself.

Oh, and the school principal, the one who sent out the memo saying no students had been harmed on the same day as the assault in the toilet, has deleted his account. https://webcache.googleusercontent.com/search?q=cache:VOII3VyFw7QJ:https://twitter.com/timothyjflynn%3Flang%3Den+&cd=3&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us [https://archive.is/81iix]

*The Daily Wire, sorry. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Daily_Wire So this is only being reported in the conservative press, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Reliable_sources/Perennial_sources but as far as I can see, it is sourced, at the very least to an official statement by the sheriff’s department (Republican, while the appointed school superintendent is Democratic), and a minor, whose name has not been released, has been charged in both the sodomy/assault and the kidnapping/sexual thing incidents. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/video/2021/10/19/leesburg_parent_scott_smith_wants_answers_after_2_alleged_sexual_assaults_at_loudoun_county_schools.html

Update: The 15 y o has been convicted Oct. 25, sentencing is next month, presumably after the election.

New page patrol “hilarity ensued”

The GLAM newsletter is usually straight boosterism, so the USA report for September is something I have never seen before. https://outreach.wikimedia.org/wiki/GLAM/Newsletter/September_2021/Contents/USA_report  Nine diffs, documenting newbie-biting, and worse, by patrollers.  And it has 100 page views already. The August report only has 25 or so. And if you start looking at the diffs, and the talk pages, the problem would seem to be quite understated. The patrollers are now actually edit warring to move new articles (of women, who else) to draft space, because they are “losing” too many AfD’s.