On this day in 1903 Thomas Edison proved that he was as evil as I’ve always said he is. He electrocuted an elephant to death to prove that his way of providing electricity – DC, direct current – was better than the AC (alternating current) preferred by others, notably, George Westinghouse.
Now, before you read on, I warn you that this is upsetting and if you liked Thomas Edison before because you thought he was a great inventor and blah, then if you read on you will hate him and want to stick electric currents up his dead arse. Right, warning given, on with the hideous bastard story.
The elephant in question was called Topsy. She was 28 years old and was owned by Forepaugh Circus. She spent the last years of her life, before the electrocution at Coney Island’s Luna Park. To be fair to Edison, which I’d rather not be, but there you go, Topsy wasn’t chosen for no good reason; she had killed three men in three years and so it was decided she need to be executed. The initial decision made about her death was that she should be hanged, but the American society for the protection of cruelty against animals, (ASPCA) complained that this was unnecessary cruelty, so the plan was put on the back burner.
It’s a shame that the ASPCA didn’t point out that the whole thing was cruel, full stop, period, etc. Topsy had a pretty miserable life, with no space to be a proper elephant and enjoy running about. One of the men she killed was a nasty piece of work who tried to make her eat lit cigarettes. She was killing because the life she had been given was slowly making her lose her mind and she was surrounded by utter bastards who deserved anything she did to them.
When the hanging was ruled out, along came Edison who was in the midst of a “War of Current” with Westinghouse (FFS!)and he said
he’d kill her with electric. The electric chair had already been used in prisons, so they knew it worked, he just wanted to show them that it worked with his direct current. She was fed carrots containing potassium cyanide before the current was put through he body and thankfully she was dead within seconds. Edison, not happy enough to have killed a beautiful creature, also filmed it and released it as a film called Electrocuting and Elephant, which toured the US and was watched by millions. To think that people get upset about that film about the human caterpillar thing when over a hundred years ago people went to the cinema to watch an elephant being murdered. THE BASTARDS!
Edison went down in history as a great inventor, unless you’re like me and have always wanted to smash his face in, in which case he went down in history as an utter twat. Topsy may have had her revenge though. In 1944 Luna Park burned to the ground and the destruction became known as Topsy’s revenge. In 2003 a belated monument to her was erected at the Coney Island Museum.
Today is and was the birthday of any number of really dull people who I cannot be bothered to write about. In my defence, I did spend much of last night with the Winter Sickness virus which has left me weak and rather irritable. Also, an awful lot of the people were either:
- Who are you?
- Dull beyond belief
- Slightly interesting like Louis Braille, but how much can you possibly write about a man who invented a way of reading for the blind? Don’t answer that. I’m sure you could come up with loads, but I don’t really care
- Slightly more interesting like Wat Tyler who lead the Peasants Revolt in olden days, but again, I’m not in a “up with the revolution mood
- Pretty cool, like Michael Stipe, but again, I’m not in an R.E.M. place right now
There’s no one wicked or evil or who one could happily take the piss out of for several paragraphs and anyway, none of them probably spent last night being sick and ill. To be fair that’s because a lot of them are dead, but that’s merely an excuse.
So, there is no birthday celebration today, because I have deemed that none of them are worth my sadly low energy, so they can go elsewhere if they want to see someone being all “happy birthday!” because they ain’t getting it off me.