The Magnet 74: Grab Bag
Psychic Surgery, Audio Oscillators, and a Big Book of Covers
While waiting for a restaurant in Sherman Oaks, California to open, Carla and I went into a bookstore next door called The Psychic Eye. I’ve bought some excellent used books there in the past, including Yesterday and Today (1985) by Larbi Layachi. It also has a lot of junk, like this one called Psychic Surgery (1973), by Tom Valentine. I was attracted to the cover’s bright colors, 1970s typeface, and title. I didn’t buy it, but it reminded me of some TV shows in the late 1970s or 1980s about “psychic surgeons” in the Philippines. People from around the world would fly there to get tumors removed by surgeons who operated with their bare hands. Watch this 1973 AP video that shows Antonio Agpaoa (“Dr. Tony”) poking his fingers into a woman’s abdomen and pulling out bloody gristle and clumps of hair. When he’s finished the woman’s stomach has no incision.
It’s no surprise that Agoao (1939-1982) was a fraud. He wasn’t a doctor. In fact, he dropped out of school in the third grade. He was a former sleight-of-hand magician, which helped him hide plastic bags filled with blood, chicken livers, and other animal parts that he pretended to remove from his victims. In 1968 Agoao was charged with fraud in the United States after he pretended to heal a victim’s broken neck with the healing power of his hands. Skeptic James Randi noted that Agoao elected to have an appendectomy at a U.S. hospital instead of getting it psychically removed.
Psychic surgery reminded me of “Chi Kung Master” John Chang from Indonesia who demonstrated to a credulous documentary crew how he could electrically shock people with his and ignite newspaper with his bare hands. Watch this video and tell me how you think he does it.
The birthplace of Silicon Valley
In early January I took a walk in a well-manicured area of Palo Alto, and I stumbled across the storied HP Garage, which has been called the birthplace of Silicon Valley because it was where William R. Hewlett and David Packard of Hewlett Packard (now HP) started making electronic equipment. The garage was at the end of a long driveway behind a gate. I took this photo through the slats of the gate.
A sign in the front yard said:
This garage is the birthplace of the world’s first high-technology region, “Silicon Valley.” The idea for such a region originated with Dr. Frederick Terman, a Stanford University professor who encouraged his students to start up their own electronics companies in the area instead of joining established firms in the East. The first two students to follow his advice were William R. Hewlett and David Packard, who in 1938 began developing their first product, an audio oscillator, in this garage.
Hewlett and Packard shared the house next to the garage when they were starting out. I don’t know how much the rent was in the 1930s, but Zillow says estimates the value of the 3-bedroom, 2,234-square-foot house to be $4,455,300, with an estimated rental price of $9,214 a month.