Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 5.djvu/526

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is reached, and a hole is made in the skull as large as a silver dollar. Of course, if the operation is carried a little too far, the patient dies; and this appears to be the mode in which most of the cures are effected, death being the result in about half the cases operated upon. The hole is usually covered with a piece of cocoa-nut shell, scraped thin, and placed under the scalp. Formerly, the instrument employed was a shark's tooth, but broken glass is found to act better. Bone-scraping is also resorted to as a cure for rheumatism in old people. The skin is cut open, so as to lay bare the bone supposed to be affected, and the surface of the latter is then scraped until a portion of the external lamina is removed. Here surely the remedy is worse than the disease."


New French Life-saving Raft.—An extraordinary safety-raft has recently been invented in France. It is described as large enough to support from 400 to 600 persons, as neither incumbering nor requiring any alteration in the arrangement of vessels, and as needing only a minute or two to inflate and launch it. It is an airtight mattress, with a surface of nearly 900 square feet, inflated in one minute, it is said, from a reservoir fixed in the engine-room, and always charged with air under a pressure of fifteen atmospheres. When not in use it is rolled up, and takes no more room than a boat. When inflated it falls over the side of the vessel, against which it is retained by ropes till all the persons on board are transferred to the raft. Three strong spars, passing through the whole length of the raft, keep it flat and solid.


Training Shepherd-dogs.—Sheep-raisers in California have an ingenious system for training dogs to guard their flocks. In Southern California one may wander for miles, and see thousands of sheep without a single shepherd to watch them, but around each flock half a dozen dogs. These have the entire care of the sheep, drive them out to pasture in the morning, keep them from straying during the day, and bring them home at night. These animals have inherited a talent for keeping sheep, and this talent is cultivated in the following way: When a lamb is born, or the shepherds have a pup which they want to train, the lamb is taken from its mother, she not being allowed to see her offspring, and the puppy is put in its place, and the sheep suckles it. When the puppy grows old enough to eat meat, it is fed in the morning and sent out with the sheep. It stays with them, because it is accustomed to be with its foster-mother; but it cannot feed with them, and, as they get full, the dog grows hungry. At length, impatient to return, in hopes to get its meat, the dog begins to tease and worry the mother, and finally starts her toward home; the others follow, and thus the whole flock is brought in. If they are brought home too early, or the dog comes without them, he gets punished in some way; and thus, by taking advantage of their instincts and appetite, these dogs are trained to a great state of perfectness, and become invaluable to the owners of large flocks.


Legislative Blunders.—The Pall Mall Gazette thus indicts the English Public Health Act of 1872: "Its failure, now that this has become too clear to be diluted, turns out to be of a more than usually instructive kind; for it shows that, contrary to all expectation and probability, there was, in 1872, still a blunder remaining for us to commit in sanitary administration, and that we have since committed it. We had already exhausted every source of administrative inefficiency which is to be found in inadequacy of powers, defects of initiative, and obscure intricacy of law. We had set up sanitary authorities who could not act, authorities who would not act, and authorities who did not know when, where, and how to act: it remained for us to establish authorities who could and must act, and then to misdirect and mislead them into a confusion worse than inactivity. Having failed in every possible way at the circumference, we had yet to fail at the centre, and we have done it."


Skunk-Madness.—Rev. Horace C. Hovey, in the American Journal of Science, gives some novel results of a protracted inquiry concerning the common skunk (Mephiitis mephitica). He says that, at times when