Friday, November 12, 2004

Tin-foil hats

Since I will soon be departing on a quick jaunt to the Floridian Republic of Dumbfuckistan, I gift you all with the product of some research I have been conducting.

I wondered, why are we suddenly hearing so much about these tin-foil hats--or is it just because I have ventured too far into the realm of the wearers that the term has become ubiquitous?

For instance, just thinking of the last two days, in addition to mtnRoughneck's recent assessment of a recommended article, I received an e-mail from a friend who has been working for the BOE in North Carolina. When I learned that he had been involved in vote counting on computerized voting machines, I asked him for an explanation of their validity. Although he agreed with me that he would like to get a little easy-to-read receipt saying how he voted, he addressed me as "Mon cher professeur qui ne porte pas un chapeau d'aluminium"--as if he believed my assertion that I don't doubt the results of the election!

And I think Wonkette may even have linked to a descriptive site with an illustration, but I don't have the patience to go back and find it.

But did you know that the internets is a veritable treasure trove of information about constructing and implementing this technology?

You see, tin-foil hats themselves are a way to ward off mind control and psychic penetration. Unfortunately, even those of us in our aluminium beanies are no longer safe.

One informative online writer has provided us with a tinfoil hat FAQ, including answer to the much pondered question, "Does the reflective side go in or out?"

And a reader identified as Xopher commented on Electrolite that the materials does matter:

I use only the finest Reynolds Wrap (tm) for my hats. Heavy duty, oven-tempered (for flexible strength!) Reynolds Wrap. (If it's owned by some Al Qaeda hanger-on, I don't want to know it.)

It would be better, of course, to use hematite, but that stuff's expensive, and I don't know where to get it since they stopped having Gem Shows.

The term "tinfoil hat" has become an incredibly useful shorthand, showing up in all kinds of phrases and subconcepts:
* It's tinfoil hat time!
[subcategory: tinfoil hat time--midwestern style. Does that involve more casseroles?]
* Where's my tinfoil hat?;
* Resisting the tinfoil hat;
* Today's tinfoil hat link;
* The Tinfoil Hat Club;
* not to be confused with The Tinfoil Hat Brigade--which to join??;
[UPDATE: the Tinfoil Hat Brigade requires nominations.]
* Tinfoil Hat Moment;
* The Tinfoil Hat Files;
* Tinfoil Hat Award.
I hope I don't need to mention that this is hardly a complete list!

If you are curious about the distinction between a tinfoil hat and an asshat, read this.

And conveniently enough, there is a whole category now of Tin Foil Hat Democrats.

But holy cow--these people are serious!

The more literary among you will be relieved to know that the device has made its way into poetry:
Well, Old William Kuker
has 31 cats,
and each one of them wore
a tin foil hat.

That's only the first stanza, of course, but you can read the rest on the site.

Not to be confined to the recognizable tinfoil beanies, these folks have constructed a wide array of styles--dapper!

And if you too have become overwhelmed the frequency of tinfoil-hat comments emerging from your keyboard, you might be interested in the tinfoil-hat emoticon.

The trouble is, what I still can't seem to find is a good history of the term. Wikipedia (quoted up at the very beginning of the post) gives a good definition but now indication of the earliest usage, and the OED has got nothing.

Can anyone help me out?

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