Archive for December, 2010

$163,197,125 Given In 1910 For Philanthropy

From January 1, 1911

163,197,125 GIVEN IN 1910 FOR PHILANTHROPY

$163,197,125 GIVEN IN 1910 FOR PHILANTHROPY (PDF)

1910 had some generous donors, including David Rankin, Jr., who this article describes as “giver of the year.” The 75 year old bachelor donated $3 million — his entire life savings — to a school in his name. It wasn’t the highest amount given by a millionaire, but it was everything he had.

2010 was no slouch, either. This year Bill Gates and Warren Buffet asked their fellow billionaires to pledge at least half their net worth to charity. Some who have agreed to do so include George Lucas, Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Ellison, and Mark Zuckerberg.

Today is the last day you can make a donation to a non-profit and have it be tax deductible for 2010. If you haven’t already done so, and you want to actually see your donation make a difference, check out DonorsChoose.org where you can read about schools in need of help, and pick a specific classroom with a specific project that you want to see funded.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:30 am

Important Jewish Manuscript Older Than Gospels

From January 1, 1911

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS

IMPORTANT JEWISH MANUSCRIPT OLDER THAN THE GOSPELS: Thought by Dr. Solomon Schechter to Tell of the Beliefs of a Band of Jews Who Broke Away from the Older Body About 290 B. C. — Dr. G. Margoliouth Dates It About 70 A. D. (PDF)

This Hebrew text was discovered in the genizah (storeroom) of an ancient synagogue in Cairo, but experts couldn’t agree on what it means:

In Hebrew learning Dr. Schechter has certainly no superior. With infinite patience and with that devotion that scholars know he sought the long-hidden manuscripts under the old synagogue at Cairo and deciphered and published them.

In this instance, however, the interpretation he puts on one document of his remarkable find is questioned by another great authority, Dr. G. Margoliouth of the British Museum, who suggests a meaning for the manuscript that is of startling interest.

The fragment just published by Dr. Schechter is called by him a Document of the Jewish Sectaries. He sees in it an extraordinarily interesting account of the beliefs of a band of Jews who broke away from the main religious body about 290 Bc. C., went to Damascus and founded a cult of their own, based closely on the Jewish Law, but with an additional belief in some sort of Messiah.

Dr. Margoliouth, on the other hand, finds an entirely different meaning. To him the document is of much later date, probably of the second half of the first century of the Christian era. To his min there are two Messiahs, not one, spoken of, the first a forerunner and the second a unique “Teacher of Righteousness” — the “Only Teacher.”

He identifies the first Messiah with John the Baptists and the “Teacher of Righteousness” with Jesus himself.

The University of Manchester has scanned 15,000 of the fragments found in the genizah, and you can browse them online. More information is also available through the Friedberg Genizah Project.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Religion

“Fewer Marriages Among Women Of The Future”

From January 1, 1911

FEWER MARRIAGES AMONG WOMEN OF THE FUTURE

FEWER MARRIAGES AMONG WOMEN OF THE FUTURE: Mrs. Donald McLean Deplores the Trend of Modern Femininity — Suffrage a Cup With Bitter Dregs, She Says — Dangerous Tendencies That Threaten the Race (PDF)

Yes, that’s right. Modern femininity threatens the entire race. That’s according to Emily Nelson Ritchie McLean, wife of distinguished lawyer Donald McLean, charter member of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

“First of all, the new conditions will be certain to have their grave effect on matrimony, which, in days gone by, was almost the only possible outlook for the intelligent and self-respecting woman who was not queer nor yet unfortunate. Here, undoubtedly, is where society will be most notably affected. Marriage will decrease as a result of the new tendency of womankind. In the old days there was always the fair chance that any given woman, no matter how long she might wait before she married, would eventually be wed, but under new conditions this is unlikely to be true of women who do not marry in their youth. Women who live far beyond the twenties without marrying are, in the future, more likely to pass their whole lives in celibacy.”

How quaint, the notion that women would remain celibate if they never married. She goes on to say that these unmarried women will be less happy than their married counterparts, and obviously won’t have any children. This could be suicide of the human race.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life

Sewing Woman, Nearly Blind, Wins Prize For Novel

From January 1, 1911

SEWING WOMAN, NEARLY BLIND, WINS PRIZE FOR NOVEL

SEWING WOMAN, NEARLY BLIND, WINS PRIZE FOR NOVEL: Marguerite Audoux Amazes Paris by Getting the Academy of Women Prize of 5,000 Francs. (PDF)

This woman I’d never heard of has quite a remarkable story. She was born in 1863, but orphaned by age three when her mother died and her father abandoned her. She spent nine years in an orphanage, and then became a farm worker. She met a boy and fell in love, but his parents wouldn’t allow them to marry. In 1881 she moved to Paris and found work as a seamstress. In 1883, she had a difficult pregnancy that resulted in a stillbirth and left her sterile.

During her time as a seamstress, she found an interest in literature. She turned her own life story into the basis of a novel called Marie Claire, and it became a huge hit.

Her subsequent novels never reached the acclaim of her debut effort. You can read Marie Claire for free at Project Gutenberg.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Literature

A Skyscraper Built By The Nickels Of Millions

From January 1, 1911

A SKYSCRAPER BUILT BY THE NICKELS OF MILLIONS

A SKYSCRAPER BUILT BY THE NICKELS OF MILLIONS: The Wooworth Building Tells the Romance of a Business — How a Farmer’s Boy Started a Little Five and Ten Cent Store and Now Has 286 Big Ones. (PDF)

The Woolworth Building is one of New York City’s oldest skyscrapers, and its gothic architecture suggests an older era, so it’s easy to forget that it wasn’t even around 100 years ago. In anticipation of its planned erection, the Times Magazine published this retrospective on Frank W. Woolworth, the man behind the Woolworth’s five and dime stores.

Readers of The Times have already learned about the skyscraper. It is to look like a vast tower in the Gothic style, extending 105 feet along Broadway and 197 feet on Park Place. With forty-five stories, it will rise into the air to a height of 625 feet, or thirteen feet higher than the Singer Building. The skyscraper will cost $5,000,000. It will bear the name of its projector — the Woolworth Building.

“Do you mean to say,” you ask, “that this is to be built by the 5 and 10 cent store man?”

It is the same man — Frank W. Woolworth.

The building eventually surpassed its originally planned height, and is now 792 feet tall. You can visit SkyscraperPage.com to see how the Woolworth Building compares to other notable structures of the past and today.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 9:30 am

Can Record The Beating Of Your Heart Miles Away

From January 1, 1911

CAN RECORD THE BEATING OF YOUR HEART MILES AWAY

CAN RECORD THE BEATING OF YOUR HEART MILES AWAY: Delicate New Instrument Brought to This Country Accurately Registers Every Cardiac Motion — Test by Human Ear Will Be Supplanted. (PDF)

Until the invention of the electrocardiograph, doctors had to use their ears to figure out what was happening with your heart. But the EKG (the initials stand for the German name, elektrokardiogramm) took out the guesswork by measuring the electric pulses in your heart.

The article imagines a future where everyone has a terminal in their workplace connected remotely to “heart stations” where the main EKG lives:

“Hello! Is this Heart Station No. 1,000?”

“Yes; who is this and what will you have?”

“This is John Smith. Just hitch me up to your apparatus, take an electro-cardiogram, diagnose my case, and send me a prescription. I really haven’t time to go around and see you. Thanks. Good-bye.”

The patient pauses in his business rush long enough to attach his right arm and left leg to the wonderful electric machine with which his office, like all other up-to-date establishments, is equipped. The operator at the Heart Station takes the photograph of his heart action in a jiffy, and Mr. Smith goes back to his work.

In a few hours, or as soon as the heart expert has had time to examine the cardiogram he has taken, Mr. Smith receives the scientist’s diagnosis and knows whether the symptoms he has been experiencing are merely the temporary effects of some undue excitement he has recently undergone or are the more serious manifestations of some dreaded heart affection that will end his days unless he mends his steps and places himself under the physician’s care.

I guess in theory this could happen today. But we’d all need to be trained to make sure we are using the device properly. And they would probably not be cheap. So we still go in to the doctor’s office for an EKG.

The inventor of the EKG, William Einthoven, won the 1924 Nobel Prize in medicine for his invention.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Science,Technology

Zero At The Equator Some Day, Says Dr. H. W. Wiley

From January 1, 1911

ZERO AT THE EQUATOR SOME DAY, SAYS DR. H. W. WILEY

ZERO AT THE EQUATOR SOME DAY, SAYS DR. H. W. WILEY: But the Winds Will Keep People Warm, Adds the Head Chemist of the Agricultural Department — Which Doesn’t Mean What It Seems To. (PDF)

H. W. Wiley of the US Agricultural Department is worried that the world is cooling. But he has a plan: windmills.

Dr. Wiley has been at work for a long time, perfecting and polishing the processes by which he will make electricity out of the wind, but he has not talked about it until very recently. Then, at Washington, he delivered a lecture upon whether the human race ultimately will starve or freeze. His reply was that the earth was cooling so unmistakably that freezing was to be our lot. Starvation could be indefinitely forefended by means of artificial and intelligent cultivation of soil, but what could warm us satisfactorily if Broadway became like unto the north pole, and the equator as bleak and rayless as the Alaskan wastes?

The answer, said Dr. Wiley, was warmth and work by electricity, and electricity to be had from the winds.

He goes on to lament that nobody can come up with a way to get the planet to stop cooling and start warming.

If in 100 years we have 800,000,000 persons on this earth to feed, we can do it with the utmost ease. Starvation, in short, is a dim and remote occasion. But not so with the cold. Up to the present we have found no generally accepted method of making the warmth of the earth reproduce itself. We cannot fertilize our generators of heat, with the heat we had yesterday and have used. We may make our earth arable by allowing its own vegetation to fall on it, and lie till it is assimilated. How are we to make our heat reproductive?

Things Dr. Wiley got wrong: The world population is about 8.6 times greater than his estimate. Starvation currently affects almost 16% of the population. That’s about a billion people. And of course, we stumbled upon a way to heat up our planet in ways he didn’t even consider.

But we do use windmills for electricity.

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Written by David

December 31st, 2010 at 9:00 am

Is The Demand For Dickens As Great As It Used To Be?

From December 25, 1910

IS THE DEMAND FOR DICKENS AS GREAT AS IT USED TO BE

IS THE DEMAND FOR DICKENS AS GREAT AS IT USED TO BE? Book Dealers Tell of a Great Falling Off in the Popular Favor Accorded the Famous Novelist. (PDF)

Choice quote:

The further downtown you go, the less of Dickens the second-hand book-dealers sell. Far down, Gorky, Tolstoy, Karl Marx — serious, revolutionary writers — are the ones who make the hit. Dickens with his come-gather-round-the-fire-and-we’ll-all-have-a-fine-time-spirit seems completely out of touch with the people down there.

On the whole, judging from first and second hand book dealers both, it seems as if Dickens, like Kipling and Mark Twain in one hundred years, no doubt, can not be said to be widely cared for, any longer.

No Doubt.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 10:45 am

New York’s Sewage Problem A Hard One To Handle

From December 25, 1910

NEW YORKS SEWAGE PROBLEM A HARD ONE TO HANDLE

NEW YORK’S SEWAGE PROBLEM A HARD ONE TO HANDLE: Dr. George A. Soper, President of the Commission Dealing with It, Tells of Its Difficulties and What Is Being Done to Remedy It. (PDF)

“I suppose,” said Dr. George A. Soper of the Metropolitan Sewerage Commission, regretfully, “that the question of sewage and garbage disposal is not thought by the average person to be very interesting. As a matter of fact, it is no less interesting than a surgical operation and quite as necessary.”

In 1910 sewage was being emptied into the harbor at a rate of 700 million gallons a day. The Hudson River was so dirty that it could barely support fish. Part of the problem was that “the tide in New York Bay, for the most part, merely shifts the water about, but it does not thoroughly change it.” This had a lot of people worried and, I hope, disgusted. The article discusses alternatives to dumping sewage in the harbor, and is actually more interesting than I thought it would be.

Insert your own New Jersey joke here.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 10:30 am

Posted in Development

Growth Of The Nation And Growth Of New York City

From December 25, 1910

GROWTH OF A NATION AND GROWTH OF NEW YORK CITY

GROWTH OF A NATION AND GROWTH OF NEW YORK CITY: Dr. Walter Laidlaw Makes Interesting Comparisons of the Recent Census Reports and Those of Previous Years. (PDF)

The New York Times recently put together an impressive interactive map that lets you explore the data from a national census taken from 2005-2009. No doubt they will do something similar with the data from the 2010 census which has just been released.

For the census of 1910, nobody had Flash installed in their web browsers, so the Times published this analysis in print instead.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Development

Says He Can Stop His Heart’s Beating At Will

From December 25, 1910

SAYS HE CAN STOP HIS HEARTS BEATING AT WILL

SAYS HE CAN STOP HIS HEART’S BEATING AT WILL: Nordini Gives Exhibitions of Unusual Muscular Control That Astonishes Investigators. (PDF)

Nordini, the man who said he can stop his heart’s beating at will, also claimed he could hold his breath for extended periods of time, and was buried under a ton of sand to prove it. Is that more or less impressive than David Blaine doing the same stunt in a tank of water? According to the article, Nordini was able to stop his heartbeat for 20 seconds. David Blaine said that in his breath-holding stunts, he was able to slow his heartrate down to 12 beats per minute. Nordini wins.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 10:00 am

East Side Messenger Boy Wins Fame As A Sculptor

From December 25, 1910

EAST SIDE MESSENGER BOY WINS FAME AS A SCULPTOR

EAST SIDE MESSENGER BOY WINS FAME AS A SCULPTOR: Undismayed by Poverty Joseph Davidson Fitted Himself for a Notable Career in Art – Unusual Successes Here and Abroad. (PDF)

This is the story of Jo Davidson, who was 26 at the time of this article but had already climbed out of poverty to become a successful sculptor. Davidson went on to win several prestigious honors, had various exhibits and retrospectives, and ultimately became the subject of this Wikipedia entry were you can learn more about him and see some of his work.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Art

James Lane Allen On “The Future Christmas”

From December 25, 1910

JAMES LANE ALLEN ON THE FUTURE CHRISTMAS

JAMES LANE ALLEN ON “THE FUTURE CHRISTMAS”: Author of “The Bride of the Mistletoe” Traces Festival to Remote Pagan Past and Pictures Its Development Through the Ages. (PDF)

Although the headline suggests the article is all about the future, in fact novelist James Lane Allen gives a detailed history of Christmas. He focuses on the symbols we associate with the holiday — the tree, Santa, etc — and explains their Pagan origins. He then speculates that in the future, Christmas will again be celebrated as a ritual worshiping nature. He doesn’t say exactly when this will happen, so there’s still time for his prediction to come true.

James Lane Allen wrote a story that uses on the Pagan roots of Christmas as a theme. It’s called The Bride of the Mistletoe and can be read free here at Project Gutenberg

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Baltimore Tries Drastic Plan Of Race Segregation

From December 25, 1910

BALTIMORE TRIES DRASTIC PLAN OF RACE SEGREGATION

BALTIMORE TRIES DRASTIC PLAN OF RACE SEGREGATION: Strange Situation Which Led the Oriole City to Adopt the Most Pronounced “Jim Crow” Measure On Record (PDF)

Well, this might be the most depressing and disgusting thing I’ve come across so far in these old articles. The city of Baltimore passed an ordinance that says:

1. That no negro may take up his residence in a block within the city limits of Baltimore wherein more than half the residents are white.

2. That no white person may take up his residence in such a block wherein more than half the residents are negroes.

3. That whenever building is commenced in a new city block the builder or contractor must specify in his application for a permit for which race the proposed house or houses are intended.

It’s terrible. But what did the locals think? The Times contacted a woman in Baltimore society for her opinion. “It is a most deplorable thing,” she said, and I felt a bit of relief, until I read the rest of the sentence:

“It is a most deplorable thing,” she said, “that even the best of the well-to-do colored people should invade our residential districts. I am sure the colored race has no better friend than I and those situated as I am. From my earliest recollection my feeling for the race has been one associated with affection; my old negro ‘mammy,’ my little nurse-girl playmate, all are among my happiest recollections.

But the idea of their assuming to live next door to me is abhorrent. I am sure no good can come of it to them. They will be lonesome up here away from the rest of their kind. It is a sad thing, and I do hope there will be found some way to put a stop to it. I would hate at my time of life, after living so many years in such pleasant relations with the darkies, as all my family always have, to be compelled to change my ideas upon the subject.”

Yikes. For an opposing viewpoint, the Times found a black man with some expertise on the matter. For one thing, it was his own occupancy of a home in Baltimore that practically precipitated the whole ordeal. And for another, he happens to be one of the most successful black lawyers in Baltimore. Let’s see what he has to say:

“The class of colored people in this block which has occasioned so much excitement is a most respectable one. Three of the houses are boarding houses, in which there are no boarders but female teachers in the public schools. The fourth is occupied by a clerk in the Post Office, who has been there twenty years. As far as being peaceful and lawabiding citizens, I challenge the rest of the block to show its superiority over those four colored families. We did not move up there because we wished to force our way among the whites; association with them in a social way would be just as distasteful to us as it would be to them. We merely desired to live in more commodious and comfortable quarters. There were many vacant houses in the block when I moved in; these the colored families I have mentioned have taken.

“As for property deteriorating on account of our advent in that neighborhood, I know it cannot be so, because all of us are paying higher rentals than the white occupants who immediately preceded us, and there is no better criterion of value than the rent a property brings. I have lived now for several months with white people next door to me on either hand, and we have never had the slightest difficulty. I do not try to associate with them socially any more than they with me, and I am sure none of us have any such desire, nor will any attempt be made on my part…

“As to the ordinance in question, it is my opinion as a lawyer that it is clearly unconstitutional, unjust, and discriminating against the negro, although on its face it appears to be equally fair to white and black.”

I can feel the tension in 1910 Baltimore just reading about it.

The Supreme Court ruled racial zoning unconstitutional in 1917. So Baltimore instead turned to the use of racial covenants to keep white neighborhoods white. By the 1930s, African Americans made up 20% of Baltimore’s population, but were confined to 2% of the city’s land area.

It wasn’t until 1968, days after Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated, that Baltimore passed a Fair Housing Act to end racial discrimination in housing.

2 comments

Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Development,Politics

When The Giant Dinosaur Walked Down Broadway

From December 25, 1910

WHEN THE GIANT DINOSAUR WALKED DOWN BROADWAY

WHEN THE GIANT DINOSAUR WALKED DOWN BROADWAY: Unexpected Discovery of the Skeleton of This Animal of Ten Million Years Ago in the Palisades Interests Scientists. (PDF)

If a fairly prosperous but somewhat bibulous and pleasure-loving New Yorker, going home on a Christmas eve or Christmas night, were to find before his door an animal which rested on the ground on limbs the size of barrels, having a body which would fill several Harlem flat rooms and spill over into the next door apartment, and a head which looked into the third story window, he would think strange thoughts about himself and probably anchor himself on the water wagon for evermore.

But that is just what he might have seen had he antedated Father Knickerbocker some ten million years and lived in the days of the dinosaurs. The immensely interesting discovery a short while ago of the skeleton of one of the earliest forms of dinosaurs in the Palisades opposite West 150th Street proves beyond a doubt the character of the earliest inhabitants of this pleasant island of Manhattan.

Indeed, all sorts of prehistoric animals roamed New York before man ever set foot here (or anywhere else, for that matter). You can see some modern computer animated recreations of Manhattan’s early animals in these video clips from the “New York” episode of the Discovery Channel program Prehistoric.

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Written by David

December 24th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

Santa Claus’s Mistake

From December 25, 1910

SANTA CLAUS MISTAKE

At first glance, this struck me as just a relic from an era when racial segregation was an intriguing idea (more on that topic will be posted Friday). But then I remembered that pretty much the same joke was used recently on The Office in an episode where Toby ends up stuck with a black doll for his daughter, when he thought he was getting a white one. So I guess it’s a timeless joke.

Back in 1970, a similar situation appeared on a very special Christmas episode of Bewitched called Sisters at Heart in which a potential client of Darren’s mistakenly thinks Darren and Tabitha have three kids — a black daughter, a white daughter, and a son whose race he doesn’t know. So when he comes over to Darren’s house with gifts for the kids, he brings a white doll for one girl, a black doll for the other, and a panda doll for the boy (being both black and white, you see).

And in 1965, an episode of the Alfred Hitchcock Hour called Where the Woodbine Twineth featured a little white orphan girl who talks to her toys, including a black doll she receives midway through the episode. The girl wasn’t the one with the problem, though; she enjoyed playing with the doll. It was her guardian Nell who had a problem with it. But I don’t know that Nell’s issue was based on race as much as it was that the little girl was really creepy.

The topic of race and dolls is actually a serious one. Earlier this year, Anderson Cooper reported on CNN that a famous experiment from the 1940s was recently revisited by a child psychiatrist named Margaret Beale Spencer:

Spencer’s test aimed to re-create the landmark Doll Test from the 1940s. Those tests, conducted by psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark, were designed to measure how segregation affected African-American children.

The Clarks asked black children to choose between a white doll and — because at the time, no brown dolls were available — a white doll painted brown. They asked black children a series of questions and found they overwhelmingly preferred white over brown. The study and its conclusions were used in the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which led to the desegregation of American schools.

60 years later, children in both races still show a bias towards white in similar tests.

A couple weeks ago, USA Today reported on the Black Baby Doll Project, which “puts black dolls in the hands of young girls.” They hope to boost the self esteem of black girls, and they accept donated dolls. But you should be aware of some guidelines before you consider donating:

Tattoos, piercings, a ton of makeup drawn on and skimpy clothes are some of the automatic disqualifiers for the dolls. They are supposed to model average black girls and women, Cornett-Scott said. Another big requirement, and a harder one to meet, is finding dolls that have authentic black features.

She held up three examples. The first, a doll with dark brown skin and a short bob, the next with braided hair and glasses, and the last with curls and full lips.

“We don’t want dolls that look like white dolls that have been painted black,” Scott said.

Every young black girl should have a doll that looks like she does, Scott said. “We want them to think ‘this doll is beautiful, and it looks like me.”

That’s easier said than done, however. Finding dolls that meet the project’s qualifications is difficult.

“I didn’t realize how hard it is to find black baby dolls until I did this project,” Mary Baldwin freshman Melissa Anoh said.

I think Toby has one he might be willing to part with.

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Written by David

December 21st, 2010 at 2:46 pm

Posted in Entertainment,Life

Kinship Of All Nations Is Shown In Their Toys

From December 18, 1910

KINSHIP OF ALL NATIONS IS SHOWN IN THEIR TOYS

KINSHIP OF ALL NATIONS IS SHOWN IN THEIR TOYS: Games and Playthings Pretty Much the Same the World Over — Dolls of the Ancients — A Santa Claus in Japan. (PDF)

This article talks about the variations on Santa Claus that can be found in different cultures worldwide, but I was more interested in the discussion of how our toys are similar. The Brooklyn Museum’s toy expert Stewart Culin notes that throughout the world children play with pretty much the same toys.

The casual observer, when he sees a child playing shuttlecock or dominoes or similar childish games, takes it to be merely the natural expression of the inevitable childish tendency to frolic. The student of men and customs looks deeper. He sees int he games and toys of childhood the evidence of a kinship of the human race.

All over the world and from the earliest ages children have amused themselves in very much the same manner. The toys and games American children have this Christmas time are very much the same as those that amuse the children of China, Japan, and Africa. What is more, they are approximately of the same sort as those played with four thousand years ago by the brown-skinned babies over whom the Pharaohs ruled.

We acquire, as time goes on, a greater mechanical dexterity, but we never improve on the nature of the toys. They are just the same kind now as Pharaoh’s daughter gave to Moses to keep him from crying when she rescued him out of the bulrushes.

I wonder what Stewart Culin would say about video games. They are certainly a far cry from the games of thousands of years ago, but maybe he would see similarities. The Sims are just like complex dolls in virtual dollhouses. And many popular games are merely high-tech boardgames. But what about first person shooters? Or arcade games? Platform jumpers? What would he have made of them? Unfortunately, Culin died in 1929, long before the first video games, so we’ll never know.

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Written by David

December 17th, 2010 at 9:30 am

How Well-Known Men Give The Gentle Hint To Their Callers

From December 18, 1910

HOW WELL-KNOWN MEN GIVE THE GENTLE HINT TO THEIR CALLERS

HOW WELL-KNOWN MEN GIVE THE GENTLE HINT TO THEIR CALLERS (PDF)

If you are dreading your company holiday party because those dweebs from accounting will chat you up all night, read this article for tips from some of history’s famous brushers-off, including Presidents Roosevelt and Taft, and J. D. Rockefeller.

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Written by David

December 17th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Life

A New Automobile And Aeroplane Disease

From December 18, 1910

A NEW AUTOMOBILE AND AEROPLANE DISEASE

A NEW AUTOMOBILE AND AEROPLANE DISEASE (PDF)

I guess new technologies have always brought scary articles about their dangers. Airplanes and cars were still pretty new, and this article explains that moving so quickly through the air can force so much carbon dioxide into your lungs that you’ll die.

The new disease is a poisoning of the system through the lungs. It is caused by repressed breathing while moving rapidly through the air. At first it seems to be a sort of smothering. But the disease is more than that.

Air once taken into the lungs practically becomes carbonic acid gas — a deadly poison. When expelled at once, of course, no damage is done. But when men pass rapidly through the air, the pressure on the face from the fast driving prevents the expulsion of the poisoned air from the lungs. The carbonic acid gas is forced back into the body. Only a little of it can get away, because of the air pressing on the face. The gas is rebreathed and poisons the system…

[Dr S. A. Knopf says the disease] had not been recognized yet by American physicians.

“To find out about such a disease,” he said, “it would be needful to have a chauffeur drive an automobile very swiftly with his face unprotected. To experiment on a man — no, that would be too dangerous. But we could find out if we strapped a monkey to an automobile and drove the machine at sixty, or, say, seventy miles an hour.”

But don’t worry. With outrageous theories come outrageous solutions:

The remedy for the new disease suggested in England, and a preventative of similar ills is a mouthpiece to be strapped to the face with tubes extending from it on either side to the back of the head in the shape of the letter U. With the ends behind the ears and pointing backward, the wind pressure on the breath would be relieved and the poisonous carbonic acid gas could escape to the rear.

Somehow, these automobile snorkels just never caught on.

But what about automobile fumes? Should people worry about those? The doctor says no. “There is no danger from the fumes of the gasoline. They are dissipated in the air.”

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Written by David

December 17th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Life,Technology

The Top Ten NY Times Sunday Magazine Articles from 1910

It’s that time of year when publications come up with their annual top ten roundups, so I figure I should contribute to the genre. Here, then, is my list of Top Ten New York Times Sunday Magazine Articles From 1910 (Not Including Articles Prior To March 20 Because I Didn’t Start This Blog Until Then).

It was very difficult to pick just ten out of the 179 articles I’ve posted since I started this blog. I tried to pick some that are funny, some that are historically important, and some that are just plain interesting. They are presented in no particular order.

1) Circus Clown A Serious Person Out Of The Ring
I love this interview with Slivers the Clown in which he laments that clowns just get no respect. It inspired me to look up whatever happened to Slivers, and that’s when I found out about his dark downward spiral. If you’re intrigued by a story of love, death, and circus clowns, give this one a read.

2) Rathbone Ends Long List Of Lincoln Party Tragedies
It never occurred to me that there were other people in the booth with the Lincolns when Abe was shot, so I was fascinated to read about the other couple that was there with them. Imagine how scarred they must have been by the experience. There you are, the guests of the President and First Lady, when all of a sudden the President is shot in the head as he sits right there next to you. This article tells what happened to that other couple, and everyone else who stepped foot in the booth that night. Without giving too much away, let me just say that their darkest days were yet to come.

3) Was Queen Elizabeth A Famous Imposter?
Bram Stoker, most famous for having written Dracula, believed that when Queen Elizabeth was a little girl, she died and was secretly replaced by a little boy named Neville and nobody ever knew. This article describes how he thinks it went down.

4) Wireless Wonder Aged 14 Amazes Senate Committee
If this kid were born 70 years later, he would have been building computers in his garage. Instead, he built radios in his garage, and imagined a day when people would use handheld devices to make wireless phone calls. A proponent of keeping the airwaves open, he testified before congress on the topic in his role as the president of the first amateur radio club in America. It’s a great story about a smart kid, and one of the first articles that inspired me to look up what ever happened to the person. Being able to look into our past to see what happened next feels a bit like looking into the future from 1910.

5) Wooed a “Marjorie Daw” For Fourteen Long Years
Today we sometimes hear stories of sad and lonely people conned out of their savings by an online lover who turns out not to be who they claimed to be. This is the story of a man who falls for the same scam by mail. He spends 14 years strung along by an imaginary girlfriend who takes him for all he’s got. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

6) How Those Amusing Freak Moving Pictures Are Made
The motion picture industry was still young, but already people were figuring out how to do special effects. This article reveals the secrets of some popular effects films.

7) No Immortality Of The Soul, Says Thomas A Edison
This article kicked off several weeks of back and forth articles on the existence of an afterlife. First, Edison reflects on a friend’s death and mentions that he believes there is no soul. The next week, people wrote in to either agree or disagree. Several more articles were published, with scientists and laymen declaring the soul’s existence or non-existence.

8) First Account Of The Conquering Of Mt. McKinley
The early 20th Century was full of exploration firsts. Both poles were reached within a few years of each other, and airplanes were allowing people to venture further and faster than ever before. But I think this exploration achievement is far more interesting than the others because it was achieved by a group of laypeople who had no climbing experience. Or was it? There were so many lies and false claims of summiting Mt. McKinley already made, that there was reason to be suspicious.

9) Night In A Fascinating Square That Never Sleeps
This is a very well written description of a full night spent in Times Square. It describes the people, the sounds, the sights, etc. If you’ve ever been in Times Square during the week hours of the night, you’ll recognize the feeling. It’s easy to read this and relate to the author.

10) Charles K. Hamilton Tells How To Run An Aeroplane
In the seven years since the Wright Brothers made their first flight, airplanes became a popular hobby for the wealthy and adventurous. Most weeks, the Magazine had at least one article about airplanes. Someone was always doing something new: either flying an airplane further, faster, or somewhere they’ve never gone before. So I chose this article to represent all the others. It’s a very readable description of exactly how to fly an airplane, complete with illustrations.

I just realized I accidentally ended up with 11 articles on my list. So this one’s a bonus:

11) A Proposed Plan For An Invariable Calendar
Maybe it’s not that big a deal that every year has a different calendar. January 1 falls on a different day of the week each year, and we’ve still managed to get by. But I can’t help imagine what it would be like if this plan had actually been adopted. What if every year, every date was always the same day of the week? Would life be any easier, or would it just be different in this minor way? At any rate, I thought this proposed calendar was kind of clever.

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Written by David

December 13th, 2010 at 11:30 am

Posted in Blog Stuff