November 28th, 2001


Arming America data spurious

Arming America by Emory University history professor Michael Bellesiles was hailed by pro-gun control advocates because his work suggested that guns were rare and heavily regulated in colonial America. His book won widespread acclaim and publicity, winning positive reviews in the New York times, as well as the Bancroft prize, the most prestigious award for American history writing.

However, it appears that much of the data upon which Bellesiles based his claims cannot be independently verified.

Baltasare Forestiere: The Mole Man of Fresno
Retro, July/August, 1996

Forestiere's patio

"The Mole Man of Fresno"

WHAT STRANGE drive possesses a man to
toil for thirty-eight years alone, in the middle of nowhere, on an
elaborate labyrinth of underground rooms and gardens? Was it madness,
a broken heart, or something else?

Early this century, a young man returned
home to Italy to claim his childhood sweetheart as his bride. Proudly
and excitedly, he told her of a comfortable home he'd designed and
built for the two of them in America, ideally suited for the desert
climate of California. He asked that she return with him as his wife,
and share in this good fortune.

Baltasare Forestiere, the Mole Man of Fresno

Her response was to ridicule and shame
him. How could she have waited so long only to learn of the outlandish
way that he proposed they live? She refused his offer. Heartbroken,
the man returned to California alone, and vowed that he would continue
building his home until he'd created an estate like no other; a
spectacle that would bring, instead of mockery, public wonderment and

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I'm a sucker for hand-operated gadgets. According to the manufactures specs, the Wonderwash measures 12"x12"x15" (LxWxH) and can hold 5 lbs of clothing:

* 7-8 dress shirts or
* 10 T-shirts or
* 30 pairs of socks or
* 3 pairs of blue jeans

How does it work? According to the FAQ:

"...When you put warm or hot water into the drum, fit the lid in place and
seal the machine,the air inside the drum will absorb the heat of the
water and expand (i.e., just like a hot air balloon). When the air
expands it creates pressure inside the drum. The pressure forces the
detergent (which is diluted into the water) into & through the fabric
(which is porous) about 100 times faster than you could by hand or

It costs ~$40.

Wonderwash, hand operated washing machine

This seems like it would be useful for an RVer or single apartment dweller. Anybody use it?

For $300, they also offer an automatic mini washer-dryer. If I had access to electricity and $1100 bucks to spare, I'd probably go for the Thor, though. CompactAppliance has some more cool gadgets.