mushfakes

My rule has been, so far as I could have any rule (I could have no cast-iron rule) – my rule has been, to write what I have to say the best way I can – then lay it aside – taking it up again after some time and reading it afresh – the mind new to it. If there’s no jar in the new reading, well and good – that’s sufficient for me.
—  Walt Whitman

MUSHFAKING

"Mushfaking" is a prison argot term which is used by Ohio prisoners to describe the process of producing contraband items from whatever materials are available to them in penal institutions."

~ The Journal of Social Psychology. 1982. Vol.117.

For example, turning a Sony PlayStation into a tattoo gun or making a jailhouse hot plate out of a brick.

"Mushfake" is a very interesting word. It seems to have first appeared in underworld slang back in the early 19th century in England. "Mush" by itself was, in that period, slang for an umbrella, from its similarity in shape to a mushroom. The verb "to fake" during the same period was criminal slang for "putting something in shape to sell by covering its defects." So a "mushroom faker" or "mushfake" was a con artist who repaired discarded umbrellas just enough to make them briefly functional and then sold them on the street, preferably during a downpour. Anyone who has ever bought one of those $3.00 umbrellas in a New York City rainstorm will recognize the racket. You’re wet again two blocks later.

Imported to America fairly quickly, “mushfaker” became hobo slang for an itinerant tinkerer or handyman. “Mushfakers” repaired pots and pans as well as umbrellas, but “mushfaking” was considered an occupation of last resort and “mushfakers” occupied the lowest rung of hobo society. By the 20th century, “mushfake” had become prison slang for making useful objects out of cast-off or less-useful materials. Ironically, a good “mushfaker” is probably a lot more popular in prison than on the street.

~ The Word Detective

Image: Via Prison Photography.

Jail house hotplate made from a brick.
Toxico Cultura Jailhouse ( via )

From the accompanying article :

"Sometimes I also have them teach me their particular “skills” in exchange for my time. One of them, in trade for teaching his daughter to read, showed me how to kill someone with a shoelace. Basically all you have to do is hold the shoelace in such a way that when you shake someone’s hand his index finger gets caught in a little noose, you pull sharply, he looses his balance, and then you twist the shoelace around his neck and pull hard. This really tiny guy showed me this technique, he can do it in one swift move, its crazy to watch, almost like a magic trick. That guy really intrigues me. He used to be a locksmith and he says he has invented a lock that not even he can break into. He asked me to help him patent it so I am researching patent laws for him next week. There are really talented cons in there. Some are really brilliant in fact, you have no idea all the things I have learnt in the past two years. The prison is a great school for all the people inside them: though probably not in the way that society would like them to be. Re-adaptation, certainly; for what exactly is the mystery.”
~ Antonio Vega Macotela

( Submitted by Mumblelard. Thanx bro. )

Antarctic Snow Chopper Made From Junk Parts

"What do you do in your spare time when you’re working in Antarctica maintaining snowmobiles for the U.S. logistics hub and you do mechanical and fabricating work back at home? Well, you could build something out of some of the junk and discards found at the station, like a snow chopper, maybe?

Bob Sawicki and Toby Weisser did just that using the engine and track from a totaled 1981 Ski Doo, bent pipe, a crowbar, whatever would work and except for a couple of odds and ends that cost a grand total of $10, they built what you see here.

The 2 tanks are old fire extinguishers, one now holds fuel and the other compressed air for the refurbished air horn. They say it does 30 to 35 mph on the snow. The build time of about 120 hours makes up most of the cost.” ~ Kneeslider

Just the thing you need to help you survive snowmageddon.

Dangerous Beauty: The Art of the Shiv - Photographs by Brett Yasko.

Materials:
Stainless steel tablespoon; handle wrapped with upholstery.

Backstory:
At its core here is a spoon, stolen from the staff dining room at Rahway, where, as in many federal penitentiaries, inmates were restricted to using plastic flatware. Stamped “State of NJ,” the spoon likely to have been sharpened on the cement floor or wall of a cell. The bowl of the spoon was filled with wax and then wrapped with upholstery thread (taken from the furniture shop, where it was used to re-stitch chair cushions) thereby forming a generously-scaled handle.