My column in the Daily Beast: “Not Much Passes the 100-Year Test. Will Trump?”

In my time running SundayMagazine.org, it’s become increasingly apparent to me and my readers just how few of the most prominent people, places, and things from 100 years ago are still well remembered tgoday.

What does this insight reveal about who and what from this era might still be well remembered 100 years from now?

My prediction: despite how big the biggest people, places, and things seem to us at the moment, almost nothing and nobody lasts 100 years in the public’s consciousness.

Will Trump? Will Obama? Will 9/11? Will today’s technology? What about the biggest movies or songs?

I tackle these questions in my new opinion column for the Daily Beast: “Not Much Passes the 100-Year Test. Will Trump?”

https://www.thedailybeast.com/not-much-passes-the-100-year-test-will-trump

 

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Written by Jesse

June 4th, 2018 at 1:22 pm

Posted in Blog Stuff

France’s New President

When Paul Deschanel was elected president of France in January 1920, this article predicted great things. Instead, his behavior proved so erratic that he resigned after seven months and entered a mental institution.

Now if Paul Deschanel is to tread carefully in the footsteps of his excellent predecessors of the Third Republic, he has received the best possible schooling during his long career as President of the Chamber. He is promoted from presiding officer of a legislature to presiding officer of a nation. Aside from that and still with due attention paid to the traditions of the Presidency, as far as political affairs are concerned, there are great possibilities for Paul Deschanel.

Actually, the opposite occurred. Deschanel’s behavior became increasingly unhinged, culminating in falling out the window of a moving train and subsequently wandering around outside aimlessly in his pajamas. He resigned the presidency in September 1920 and entered a sanatorium.

Yet upon his release he was elected to France’s Senate, where he served for the rest of his life — apparently without incident, as far as I can tell.

Deschanel’s prior political position, President of the Chamber of Deputies, is equivalent to the American position Speaker of the House. Fortunately, America has had the opposite track record as France: only one Speaker of the House has ever become president, James K. Polk, and historians rank him in the top third of all presidents.

France’s New President: Paul Deschanel’s Shadowy Office Better Matched to His Personality Than to the Rugged Figure of Clemenceau (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 25, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 22nd, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Unhappiness

In the early months of Prohibition, a common phrase swept the land.

“Of course, that was before the first of July,” one heard everywhere. Men winked at you in the street and whispered that “was before the first of July.” Children in the schools are taught ancient and modern American history now. Our ancient history was pre-July. Our modern history was post-July. Our laughter subsided into a whisper. We used to speak of Uncle Sam. Now we speak in awesome tones of his successor, Geoffrey Bootleg.

One man interviewed in this 1920 article postulated that with alcohol banned, freedom at large would soon follow:

“Do you know that when the barroom goes, democracy goes with it? Under the Caesars and Cromwell there were no bars. The bar parlor, the wine room, the cantina, the barroom flourish in direct ratio to the quantity and quality of the freedom that exists in a country. All Bastiles are undermined by the music of clinking glasses in public places. All Bastiles rise also to the pump of hidden stills.

“The American barroom abolished caste. The proletariat, the bourgeoisie, and the patrician got together over the bar rail. All men were created free and equal before a white apron. In the barroom race, color, or present condition of servitude melted into universal goodfellowship. Liquor was the eternal democrat. Laughter and drink leveled all humanity before the big mirror. There was, in the good old barroom, a continual interlocking of classes.”

That premise is certainly debatable. If bars were really the great equalizer in society, there wouldn’t have been such a large number of bars back then with signs in the windows reading ‘No Coloreds Allowed.’ And Prohibition was repealed in 1933, right at the moment that — at least under the economic libertarianism definition — unprecedented government intervention caused a substantial decrease in Americans’ freedom.

 

Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Unhappiness: Now That Our Bronze Goddess Enlightens the World With Wood Alcohol, the Inalienable Right to Decline a Drink Is Alienated (PDF)

Published: January 18, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 16th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Democratic Candidates: Hoover, Without a Political Past, With Palmer and McAdoo in Forefront of Discussion

10 months before the 1920 presidential election, there were three leading Democratic candidates. None would become that year’s nominee, but one would later be elected president… as a Republican.

The three leading contenders were Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer, former Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, and former Federal Food Administrator Herbert Hoover.

Prior to the 22nd Amendment’s ratification in 1951, limiting the president to two terms, then-second term Democratic President Woodrow Wilson hoped to serve a third term. But party bosses were skeptical about nominating him following his debilitating stroke in October 1919, which left him immobile.

Ohio Governor James M. Cox ended up winning the Democratic nomination, on the party convention’s 44th ballot.

Hoover was seeking the Democratic nomination because of his lead role helping rebuild Europe after World War I under a Democratic president, although that position was relatively nonpartisan. Two months after this article, in March 1920, Hoover switched his allegiance to the Republicans and sought that party’s nomination instead. The strategy failed, with Hoover failing to even break the top 10 candidates at the Republican convention.

In early 1920, there were also three leading Republican candidates. One of them, Warren Harding, would win the nomination — and the presidency. Sunday Magazine recently covered the New York Times‘ similar article about the top three Republican contenders:

Republican Candidates: Wood, Harding and Lowden Avowed Possibilities in the Presidential Campaign

That certainly wasn’t the end for Hoover, but the beginning. He would serve as Harding’s Secretary of Commerce for all eight years, then won the presidency himself in 1928.

 

Democratic Candidates: Hoover, Without a Political Past, With Palmer and McAdoo in Forefront of Discussion (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 18, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 15th, 2020 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World

The huge fad in 1920: ouija boards. Americans went crazy trying to communicate with the deceased and the great beyond.

This January 1920 article hyperbolized and satirized the trend:

Telephones are rapidly falling into the discard; men, women and children ring up Hyperspace and talk with their ancestors and their pre-natal souls. Books are being written with the aid of “controls”; the stock market has abandoned the ticker for the ouija pointer; the weather forecaster has tossed his maps and wind measures into the river and gets his predictions from the spirits.

Why did the board surge in sales then? Likely because of the era’s tumult, wrote Linda Rodriguez McRobbie for Smithsonian Magazine:

It’s quite logical then the board would find its greatest popularity in uncertain times, when people hold fast to belief and look for answers from just about anywhere, especially cheap, DIY oracles. The 1910s and ’20s, with the devastations of World War I and the manic years of the Jazz Age and prohibition, witnessed a surge in Ouija popularity.

In May 1920, no less a chronicler of the American way than Norman Rockwell painted a couple with a ouija board for a Saturday Evening Post cover:

 

Madame Ouija, Bolshevik of the Spirit World: Sinister Suggestion by a Worshipper of the Psychic Goddess That There’s a Slight Impediment in Her Veracity (PDF)

Published: Sunday, January 11, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 8th, 2020 at 1:14 pm

Posted in Life

Paraguay, Land of the Tea With a “Kick”

This 1920 article predicted Paraguay’s beverage yerba mate “may become a habit some day in the United States.” It was not to be.

The article also noted the country’s 10:1 female-male ratio. Today, it’s completely even.

A celebrated and valuable product of the little inland South American Republican of Paraguay is “yerba maté,” made from the leaf of a very tall, bulky tree. The leaves are cut from the branches, placed on brushwood and roasted slowly in holes sunk in the ground and lined with skins.

The tea is imbibed through a “bombilla,” or tube, which is placed in the “maté,” or gourd, containing the infusion. An alcoholic “kick” is not claimed for yerba maté, but that it is refreshing to a degree — that it will certainly buck one up — is attested by the fact that a large proportion of the people of Central South America are irrevocably addicted to it. Its popularity extends to all classes.

A century later, it had yet to catch on in the U.S.

The women outnumber the men ten to one, which really indicates a considerable gain for the male sex, because fifty years ago the score was said to be twenty-five to one in favor of the women.

Paraguay’s gender disparity has completely evened out by now, with the country’s male:female ratio at a virtually-identical 1.01 to 1, according to the CIA’s World Factbook. (If anything, that means men actually slightly outnumber women.)

Paraguay, Land of the Tea With a “Kick”: Yerba Mate May Yet Become a Favorite Dry Beverage Here–Inland South American Republic, With Ten Women to Each Man, Seeks Commercial Advancement (PDF)

Published: January 4, 1920

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Written by Jesse

January 2nd, 2020 at 3:15 pm

Posted in Food,Life,Travel

Young Men More and More Active in Politics

In 1919, young men were becoming more active in politics. Is that true in 2019? Even if so, they still have perhaps the lowest political activity rate of any age/gender combo.

Only 33% of men aged 18-29 voted in the 2018 midterm election, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Higher percentages of women in that age group voted (38%), and a far higher percentage of men aged 65+ voted (68%).

The consequences were literally world-changing. Donald Trump very likely would have lost if most the young men who claimed to strongly oppose him — which numbered millions — actually voted for Hillary Clinton. Instead, millions of young men who professed to dislike both Trump and Clinton didn’t vote at all.

(And even a not-insubstantial number of young men who did vote cast ballots for third party candidates Gary Johnson or Jill Stein, or write-in votes for Bernie Sanders or Ron Paul.)

This 1919 article doesn’t have similar turnout data, since such statistics were barely collected back then, if at all. It does include this explanatory quote from Republican National Committee Chair Will H. Hays, who tied the rise of young men in politics to the end of World War I the year prior:

It is a natural aftermath of war. During the last few years millions who hitherto thought that they could do nothing for their country have given generously themselves, their time, their money. It has been a revalation.

Millions of boys realized that the future of the nation was in their keeping. Those who had never thought of any of the serious things which make up America were suddenly brought face to face with reality. As they crossed the continent, as they crowded into ships to make the perilous journey overseas, as they worked and fought in France and as they rested they thought in unfamiliar ways of their country.

It seems to me that the spirit which was awakened under the stimulation of the conflict will not be content to forget the service of that high season. Young men will not forget. The nation which had the supreme demand upon them in time of war still wants their service and they know it. And they know their country needs this service.

Most interesting to modern eyes is FDR being listed in an accompanying photo compilation of young men in politics. Roosevelt, then the Assistant Secretary of the Navy, was 37 at the time. Today, we tend to think of him more as the grandfatherly figure he had become by his presidency, particularly his 1940s-era third and fourth terms when he led the nation during WWII.

Young Men More and More Active in Politics: Will H. Hays, Republican National Chairman, Says Stern Duty of Taking Part in Public Life Confronts Youth of the Country (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 28, 1919

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Written by Jesse

December 27th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Republican Candidates: Wood, Harding and Lowden Avowed Possibilities in the Presidential Campaign

Who would become the Republican presidential nominee in 1920? In December 1919, three candidates led. Warren Harding ended up as president. Frank Lowden and Leonard Wood were largely forgotten by history.

This article broke down the pros and cons of each:

Ohio Senator Warren Harding

Advantages:

  • “Senator Harding stands out most conspicuously in the eyes of the Republican powers that be as a safe man… He apparently knows the secret of making advances in life without arousing antagonisms.”
  • “His greatest advantage from a political standpoint is that he hails from a pivotal State, a doubtful one with a big electoral vote. From being considered a rock-ribbed Republican State, Ohio has gone Democratic in the last two Presidential elections.” [Indeed, Ohio would vote Republican for Harding the following year. And it remains among the bigger swing states today.]

Disadvantages:

  • “Senator Harding has failed to come out in a clear-cut fashion on some of the important issues that have arisen in this country since the armistice, his opponents point out. They have waited in vain, they assert, to hear from him on the steel strike, the coal strike, the Plumb plan, and on radicalism generally.” [Indeed, this flip-flopping / wait-and-see approach were major marks against recent losing candidates John Kerry, Mitt Romney, and currently Joe Biden.]

Illinois Governor Frank Lowden

Advantages:

  • “In Governor Lowden’s career, starting from a humble beginning, there is a quality that has its appeal to the voter. He is the son of a village blacksmith.”
  • “He has an excellent record as administrator and reformer of the Illinois State Government… When he was elected Governor in 1916 there were 128 State commissions, overlapping in wastefulness and inefficiency. These were consolidated into nine departments and an effective budget system was introduced.”

Disadvantages:

  • “He lives in a State which is regarded as safely Republican.” [But so was Illinois a safely Democratic state for Barack Obama, so this argument seems flimsy to modern ears.]
  • “His large wealth could be made the target of attack to prejudice labor against him.” [Donald Trump is literally one of the wealthiest people on planet earth, and certainly in America, yet that didn’t seem to prejudice voters against him.]

Major General Leonard Wood

Advantages:

  • A beloved military hero. “In 1886, in the campaign against the Apaches in the West, his conduct as a medical and line officer won for him the Congressional Medal of Honor.”
  • “Because of his close association with Theodore Roosevelt, the following of the late leader is rallying to him.” [Roosevelt, a beloved two-term president whose face would later be carved into Mount Rushmore, had died in January of that year.]

Disadvantages:

  • “As the campaign unfolds, General Wood, as an officer under the President as Commander in Chief of the Army, is withheld from making known his views on questions uppermost before the people, or in putting his own energy in the fight for the nomination.”
  • “There is nothing in the army regulations to prevent him from becoming a candidate for the Presidency, but the ethics of it is another question, it is stated.”

 

Of these three leading Republican candidates at the time, Harding would go on to win both the nomination and the presidency.

But ’tis not always thus. Trump wasn’t in the top three Republican candidates before he announced — in fact, most people didn’t even think he was actually going to run at all. (He had been talking about running for president since at least 1988, but most people dismissed it at self-promotional since he’d never actually pulled the trigger.)

Of the top four Democratic candidates right now, three of them were initially viewed as top tier contenders — Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren, and Bernie Sanders — but current fourth place Pete Buttigieg most certainly was not. Indeed, most people hadn’t even heard of him back on January 1.

 

Republican Candidates: Wood, Harding and Lowden Avowed Possibilities in the Presidential Campaign, With Some Dark Horses in Background Republican Candidates (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 21, 1919

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Written by Jesse

December 20th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Criminal Is a Defective, but Not a Type

Which matters more for influencing criminal behavior: nature or nuture? This 1919 paper from England, “the most complete first hand scientific study of the criminal that exists in any language,” found it was nature.

Presenting what seems to be the most complete first hand scientific study of the criminal that exists in any language, it goes a long way toward proving that there is no “criminal type,” and casts grave doubt upon the previously held theory that the criminal is a product chiefly of environment.

Dr. Goring comes to the conclusion that physical and mental defectiveness, like many other human qualities, is inherited, and he infers that crime is, to a large extent, a product of nature rather than of nurture and environment.

So what indeed determines criminal behavior, according to the study? Primarily inherited mental disorders:

First convictions show a preilection for the age period 15 to 25, which Dr. Goring concludes to be significant. Comparing this fact with the age incidences of liability to various diseases, he is inclined to interpret the facts as evidence that a “mental constitutional proclivity is the primal source of the habitual criminal’s career.”

The nature vs. nurture debate still plagues us today. Coming down on the nature side is the thought-provoking book  Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa. I actually had an email correspondence with Kanazawa after reading his book, and he was very friendly and helpful in elucidating some of his book’s ideas further. Coming down more on the nurture side is the 2018 documentary Three Identical Strangers, which I’d also highly recommend.

Every month I listen to the debate show Intelligence Squared U.S., in which teams of two debate a topic and the audience votes on which side most changed their minds. October’s episode on nature vs. nurture was terrific. I won’t spoil which side won, but the final score was +7% to +5%, one of the closest matches in the history of the show.

 

Criminal Is a Defective, but Not a Type: Conclusions from Biometrical Study of 3,000 British Convicts Discredit Lombroso’s Theory and Minimize the Influence of Environment (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 21, 1919

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Written by Jesse

December 19th, 2019 at 1:44 pm

Posted in Science,True Crime

Nervous Invalids Back on a Peace Basis

The end of World War I was great news for everyone, but especially for psychiatrists. Shouldn’t war have meant more need for psychiatrists, and peace meant less need? Actually, it was apparently the opposite.

They’re all back, it seems — that neurotic clan of wealthy women, ranging from hysterical debutantes to idle spinsters — from the victims of coddling husbands to “misunderstood wives.” Before the war their favorite indoor sport was symptoms. From April 1917 to November 1918, the neurosthenic market had a sensational slump. But the war is over — for the ladies, if not for prohibitionists.

One professional explained how the war had slashed demand for psychological services.

“Young girls,” said the doctor, “whose sole end in life had been to succeed in society and to make a ‘suitable match’ got down on their hands and knees and scrubbed the floors of canteens and hospitals. They had no time for introspection. Moreover, they had an emotional outlet, since patriotism is as intense an experience as religion.”

Interestingly, something similar may be happening currently. America is not at war, yet people seem to be more worried. Therapists have reported huge post-2016 spikes in people citing Donald Trump as a cause of their stress, worry, or psychological symptoms. (Those on the right call this “Trump Derangement Syndrome.”)

 

Nervous Invalids Back on a Peace Basis: War’s Compensatory Outlets Closed, the Neurologists’ Waiting Rooms Are Crowded Again, and the Sanitaria for the Newly and Idly Rich Are Booming (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 14, 1919

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Written by Jesse

December 10th, 2019 at 11:10 am

Posted in Health

Outer Government Entrenched at Washington

How did Washington, D.C. become “the swamp”? Around 1900, the rise of lobbying organizations in the nation’s capitol caused great controversy. By 1919, it was considered normal.

When one side of a case is represented only, the reaction is likely to be one-sided. This situation, from the first, has been the great magnet in bringing new national organizations to Washington.

This movement began more than twenty years ago, when lobbying was becoming a national scandal, and has grown to its present proportion almost unnoticed by the country. In order that its side of any proposed legislation might be legitimately represented, one organization after another made Washington its headquarters.

That’s only become more true by 2019. In August, I wrote an article for GovTrack Insider about the SWEET Act, which would end the federal subsidy for the sugar industry. It was introduced in the House of Representatives by Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA10), who represents the Pennsylvania district where Hershey is located. If the federal sugar subsidy was eliminated, smaller manufacturers would have a much harder time withstanding the blow — massive corporations like Hershey would survive.

Of course, perhaps the most famous lobbying organization is the one described by humor writer Dave Barry in his book Lessons From Lucy earlier this year:

AARP is a powerful lobbying group representing the interests of senior citizens. Like, if a member of Congress even thinks about cutting Social Security benefits, an elite AARP tactical assault lobbying squad will descend on the congressperson’s office at a slow rate of speed and wave their catheters around in a threatening manner until the congressperson sees the light.

This blog’s created and former lead writer David Friedman now works for the AARP, producing videos and documentaries for their website and social media channels.

 

Outer Government Entrenched at Washington: Organizations Which Encircle the Capitol Dome and Influence Legislation for the Special Classes and Interests They Represent (PDF)

Published: Sunday, December 7, 1919

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Written by Jesse

December 4th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

Primitive Delaware

For anyone who claims the New York Times is biased, or looks down upon certain areas of the country, it’s impossible to imagine them calling a state “primitive” as they did to Delaware in 1919.

This opening passage is brutal:

When Caesar Rodney put to blush all the other historic Caesars and Czars and Kaisers by signing the Constitution of the United States, he also put Delaware, whose representative he was, into the very forefront of the thirteen Colonies, for she was first to ratify. That was nearly a century and a half ago; and Delaware, having a contented sigh at this indefeasible proof of her initiative and progress, thereupon went away back and sat down.

The article lists several supposed examples of the state’s backward ways:

Delaware alone has the whipping post. It is not so very long since she abolished the pillory. She even retains the ancient system of indenture, whereby children are “bound out” to masters until they reach maturity; and in not other State, even in the “benighted” South, was it stipulated, say, a year ago, as it was in Delaware, that white men should not be taxed to help educate the negro.

Why was this the case?

Wilmington, with 105,000 inhabitants, is the only city having a population of more than 10,000. The peninsula between the Chesapeake and Delaware Bays was settled by English stock, and until within the last quarter of a century no railroad disturbed its agricultural tranquility.

The peninsula stock, in Maryland as well as in Delaware, was almost undefiled with the passage of a century. The families intermarried. They retained many quaint locutions of the England of an earlier day. They were a people apart, somewhat like the mountaineers of Kentucky and Tennessee, a people of singular frugality and piety, among whom it was a special creidt to be a “meetin’ man” and who, when the charter was granted for the railroad which now forms the Maryland Division of the Pennsylvania, specified that no trains should run on Sundays. It was not until ten years ago that a law was passed amending that chart. The rural population takes its Bible verbatim.

It wasn’t just that those people existed in the state, but that their political power was disproportionate:

Each of the three counties is now represented equally in each branch of the General Assembly: so that Wilmington, which has half the population of the State and pays 95 per cent of its income tax, is outvoted two to one by the rural down-State Senators and Representatives, who cherish toward the “city” legislators that cordial animosity common to all such State Assemblies.

Interestingly, Wilmington’s population has actually declined in the past century. 105K at the time, it’s now about 70K, according to a 2018 Census estimate.

As for Delaware being backwards, they seem to have largely shed that reputation over the past century. (Although some Republicans might disagree.)

What is America’s stupidest state? In a series of segments a few years ago, Bill Maher tried to find out:

Arizona vs. South Carolina

California vs. Oklahoma:

Montana vs. Florida:

 

Primitive Delaware: State of the Whipping Post and “Bound” Children, Awakened Now, Is Fighting Hard for Decent Schools (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 30, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 30th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

Heavens a Hippodrome and All the Actors Airplanes

In 1919, some predicted that the future realm of acting would be not the stage nor the screen, but the sky with airplanes.

This is the key to the great Futurist drama. The Sardous, Gus Thomases, Ibsens, Sam Shipmans and Barries of the future will write for a stage whose wings will be Arcturus and Halley’s comet, whose footlights will be the electirc bulbs and lamp-posts of all the earth — even unto Philadelphia; whose roof will be heaven itself, whose actors will be airplanes cut and painted to resemble the characters of the play, driven and manipulated by hooded and goggled drivers. Instead of a prompter, a wig-wag aviator sitting on the edge of the moon. The stage manager will thunder his directions for rehearsals from a giant super-megaphone-telephone from the top of the Matterhorn or in a giant Caproni anchored to Mars.

What of the naysayers?

Do you believe it? No? Well, there were once those who believed the earth was flat, that the heavens were a series of blue-china saucers glued together, that Bryan was a radical and that booze was immortal.

Well, after Prohibition was repealed a few years later, it turns out booze was immortal. And similarly, the skeptics of “the theater of the sky” were right in their predictions, too.

That being said, it sounds super fun. Maybe it should take off. I’d watch it.

 

Heavens a Hippodrome and All the Actors Airplanes: Drama of the Futurists Where the Gestures Are Tail Spins, and the Waiting World Lies Flat on Its Back and Looks Up at the Busy Sky (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 30, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 29th, 2019 at 1:01 pm

Open Season Threatens the Extinction of Deer

A New York state hunter could only kill only one deer per season, which had to be a male buck with antlers. Starting in 1919, a hunter could kill two deer, including a male buck or a female doe. Would that decimate the animal’s population?

Even some hunters were opposed to the new law, for that very reason:

Most of the real sportsmen were opposed to allowing does to be shot, for they well knew that if the does were killed off, it would not be long before the last deer would be gathered in from the Adirondacks. But the demands of promiscuous hunters had sway. The law was passed.

Those fears didn’t come to pass. In fact, the opposite occurred.

In 1919, a census found there were “not more than 50,000 deer in New York State.” But by 2018, there were about 1 million. Hunters kill about a quarter-million deer in the state each year, including 227,787 in 2018. Yet the animal’s population has remained roughly steady.

As Oak Duke wrote for the Evening Tribune in upstate New York:

Long gone is the attitude of 50 years ago when there were few deer compared to now. A sighting, let alone a successful hunt, was more of a rarity. Now deer have become ubiquitous, a common sight, if not a serious bother to motorists, farmers, and outdoors recreationists worried about ticks.

 

Open Season Threatens the Extinction of Deer: Hunters Permitted by New Law to Kill Does as Well as Bucks–Quail Still Protected, but Fight for End of Restrictions Is in Prospect (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 16, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 16th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Nature,Politics

Polite Masque of Pageantry and Prohibition

How were the first parties after Prohibition? According to this 1919 article, the NYC parties were not nearly as fun as before. In New Jersey, on the other hand…

First, in New York City:

Even the parties that evaded the mighty hand of the law were afraid to act as if they were having too good a time, lest the gods see and envy and smite. As for those others who may have partied in neighborhood studios, perhaps their abandon was restrained by the Christian charity which gloats not over less favored mortals — perhaps by a sobering walk across the street in the night air. Be that as it may, a visitor from Mars would have seen only a few hundred well-bred Americans dancing waltzes and fox trots apparently with much enjoyment. Not one “interpretive dance” was improvised… The ball closed at 4:30 A.M. instead of at the dear old bedraggled hour of 7.

Apparently a party ending at 4:30 A.M. was considered early. Good times.

But relatively to the comparatively staid New York, another nearby state acted like the ban on alcohol never happened.

However, there are rumors that in Jersey — where people still vote against prohibition — things are different. A Halloween party in a certain country club over the river dared to be a masquerade ball in which the thermos bottle was the only thing that did not wear a mask. It stood boldly on every table. Folks say that it was a nice party, and they’re building another tube to Jersey from chastened New York.

In the words of the song Blow Us All Away from Hamilton: “Everything’s legal in New Jersey.”

 

Polite Masque of Pageantry and Prohibition: Prunes and Prisms Also Would Have Been Perfectly at Home at the First Bohemian Ball in the City of Dreadful Drought (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 16, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 15th, 2019 at 1:40 pm

First Woman Magistrate Judges Fallen Sisters

In 1919, Jean H. Norris became the first female judge in New York City history. But her name isn’t celebrated today, because in 1931 she was disbarred and removed from the bench.

Upon first rising to the position, Norris’s promotion was trumpeted:

The first few rows of the courtroom were filled with women. A few of them had opened the morning session with congraulatory speeches, a thing as unheard of in the annals of the court as was the occasion which prompted it. A group of fashionable women sat beaming at the proceedings in the last few rows. Their attitude manifested complete satisfaction with the woman who represented them in this high capacity.

By 12 years later, quite the opposite reaction would have occurred. Judge Norris was found to have falsified court records, convicted a girl without evidence, and endorsed a product in violation of judicial ethics.

First Woman Magistrate Judges Fallen Sisters: Quality of Mercy Is Not Strained in Jefferson Market Court at Mrs. Norris’s First Session, but Eloquence of Mere Men Is Curtailed (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 9, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 7th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Development,Politics

Southward With the Coffee-Pot Tourist

As the weather got colder in November 1919, an article described how some folks were making their annual pilgrimage to live down in Florida for a few months — in far more flowery language than would ever be used now:

Whatever in the Spring the young man’s fancy lightly turns to, and just as surely as the sap in that season of etherial madness rises in the tree trunks, there comes in the Fall to all Northern mankind and birdkind the urge of the migratory instinct southward. It isn’t only the plutocrats and society lovers that go to have their pictures taken for the illustrated papers at Palm Beach in their Winter splendor of Summer raiment. It is likewise those who though neither one nor another are both. And even in this spendthrift season, when a world’s ransom is being lavished on the pomp and circumstance of peace, there are still thrifty tourists, as well as the other sort.

Many go down south during the cold months nowadays as well. My recent GovTrack Insider article about the Canadian Snowbirds Act describes a congressional bill that would increase the duration Canadian retirees could spend in the U.S., often in Florida, from six months to eight months.

Southward With the Coffee-Pot Tourist: It Is Not Only the Spendthrifts but the Thrifty Also Who Migrate to Florida for the Summer of Their Wintertime (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 9, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 6th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Life

Metropolitan Museum’s Rarest Treasures

When the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s director was asked in 1919 what was the museum’s “one great treasure among many,” he answered the Estruscean bronze chariot.

[It is] the only complete one in the world. It is a magnificent triumphal affair and was found in the tomb of the hero who once rode proudly in it through the streets of ancient Rome.

The story of the chariot’s discovery is more interesting still, though not mentioned in the 1919 article.

An Italian farmer named Isidoro Vannozzi was digging a wine cellar when he accidentally came across the item in 1902. Vannozzi only earned about $6,000 in today’s money for selling the chariot he found, even though it was ultimately sold for $1.7 million in today’s money. (And likely actually worth far more than that by now, were it ever to be sold again, given the skyrocketing prices for both art and antiques in the 117 years since then.)

After a series of sales, it finally came to the Met in 1903 — six years before a 1909 Italian law forbade the export of culturally significant Italian relics.

A century later, the museum still possesses the chariot. Photos are in the public domain:

Metropolitan Museum’s Rarest Treasures: Fewer Than Fifty Are Marked With Double Stars on the New List (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 3rd, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Art

Our Unguarded Treasury

Lest you think wasteful or redundant government spending is a uniquely 20th century phenomenon, this example from 1919 is as bad as anything happening today.

An amusing example of needless expense continued after attention has been repeatedly called to it exists in connection with the Coast and Geodetic Survey. The building which this service occupies lies directly across the street from the House Office Building. A steam supply main from the Capitol power plant passes directly through the basement of the building of the Survey to the House Office Building. The Survey, however, is not permitted to use steam from this pipe, but is required to operate its own separate boilers, purchase coal, hire firemen and other help for operating an independent heating plant in the very basement through which an ample supply of Government steam passes to another building.

It got worse.

So, also, a local electric plant is working in the basement of the House Office Building, across the street, but the Coast Survey is obliged to purchase current from a commercial company and to employ a force of dynamo tenders throughout a twenty-four hour day. In this case, where the law requires a service to operate a light plant and a heating plant, where both light and heat are available from a central power plant maintained by the Government, the chief of the service estimates that $4,000 per annum is wasted. The change of a few words in the law would correct it. This has been asked, but has not been done.

A more recent attempt to cut down on redundant government spending is through the Duplication Scoring Act, a congressional bill which I wrote about for GovTrack Insider in September. But just like that aforementioned 1919 line — “The change of a few words in the law would correct it. This has been asked, but has not been done.” — the Duplication Scoring Act has similarly received neither a House nor Senate committe vote.

 

Our Unguarded Treasury: Haphazard Financial System Which Has Necessitated the New Budget System for Federal Government (PDF)

Published: Sunday, November 2, 1919

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Written by Jesse

November 2nd, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Politics

What’s Wrong With Labor?: Federation Threatened with I.W.W. Control from the Inside

Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) was a revolutionary socialist labor union. In 1919, a bitter debate brewed them and the more mainstream and moderate American Federation of Labor (AFL).

One organization’s aim was to attain some method of cooperation between capital and labor and the consequent mutual benefit. The other aimed to eliminate capital.

With such diametric opposition in ideas, the two organizations stood at challenge from the start, as no rival labor organizations had stood before.

All the radical elements, with the turbulent Western Federation of Miners at the head, were, it seemed, to rally around the I.W.W., purging the American Federation of units antagonistic to its purposes, and establishing a chasm between the two. Chasm there was, and across it were hurled the bitterest epithets heard in the labor world.

Ultimately, the IWW lost the debate and the AFL won.

The IWW went from 150+ thousand members in 1917 down to only 3,845 members as of September 2019, according to their most recent annual LM-2 report filed with the Labor Department.

Meanwhile, in 1955 the AFL merged with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) to form the AFL-CIO, now the nation’s largest union federation with 12+ million members.

What’s Wrong with Labor: Federation Threatened With I.W.W. Control from the Inside (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 26, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 23rd, 2019 at 2:51 pm

Posted in Business,Debate

A Tenderwing in the High Air

This 1919 article about the novelty of air travel made a few projections. “Tenderwing” didn’t become a common word as predicted, but the practice of photographing airplane passengers did disappear as predicted.

A tenderfoot is defined as one who is not yet hardened to the life of the plains, so a person who is not yet hardened to the life of the air must be a tenderwing. The word isn’t in the dictionary yet, but I fancy it will be there some day soon.

That… didn’t happen.

All prominent people like to have their pictures taken, including Presidents and Generals. And right here let me say, please, that taking pictures of air travelers about to get aboard will soon be over. In a few months the novelty will be worn thin, and the news value of the thing lost forever. There is no particular lust for photographs of obscure citizens about to enter a railroad train. There used to be, but there isn’t now.

That did indeed happen.

This article also references a plane flying at 90 miles per hour, far slower than the 575 MPH average for a commercial jet today.

A Tenderwing in the High Air: Sensations and Observations of a Confirmed Groundling on an Aerial Passenger Liner Between New York and Washington (PDF)

Published: Sunday, October 19, 1919

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Written by Jesse

October 18th, 2019 at 12:01 pm

Posted in Technology