Archive for the ‘Life’ Category

“Are You Uhmuricun or American?”

Why is there so much slang, mispronunciation, and similar linguistic issues among native-born Americans? The writer Clarence Stratton suggests here that the fault lies in democracy itself:

“Our speech suffers because our wrongly interpreted democratic idea makes common people intolerant of anything like authority in everyday matters. The German acknowledges a standard of usage and pronunciation indicated by Hanoverian. In France and Spain academies determine currency and meaning, and the people recognize their decisions. Italians will quote to you the proverb that settles all linguistic standards for them.”

And to anybody in the modern-day red states who believes the New York Times is elitist and looks down on them, this passage from 100 years ago proves this is nothing new:

“The Southerner departs furthest from the norm of good American speech with his drawling utterance, his radical change of accepted sounds, and his entire disregard of certain letters.”

“Are You Uhmuricun or American?” — Language in United States Seems to Educator a Mass of Sounds Which Are Not Worthy of Being Considered Speech at All (PDF)

From Sunday, July 22, 1917

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Written by Jesse

July 20th, 2017 at 7:31 am

Posted in Humor,Life

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages

What was causing German atrocities during World War I? Harvard geology professor Reginald Aldworth Daly suggested a largely-unheralded factor may have been alcohol:

“The Germanic peoples are the only great group who feed alcohol to the babies or very young children of middle and upper classes. Just at the time of life when the nervous system should be specially protected against all poisons, vast numbers of German children are kept mildly charged with alcohol. If the baby has not already been prenatally damaged because of the beer drunk by his mother, he still runs the risk of poisoning from the alcohol-bearing milk of a drinking mother or wetnurse. The child grows to manhood, drinking alcohol and continually handicapped in his development of cerebral, and therefore moral, control.”

Daly concludes with a quote from von Moltke: “Beer is a far more dangerous enemy to Germany than all the armies of France.”

According to statistics from the World Health Organization, Germany today still ranks among the biggest alcohol-consuming nations in the world, with an average 11.4 liters of alcohol consumed per capita, for citizens age 15 or older. The global average is 6.4. The U.S. number is 9.3. Highest in the world is Lithuania at 18.2.

Professor Blames Beer for German Outrages: Cumulative Effect of “Mildly Alcoholic State” on the Minds of Men Who Have Imbibed National Drink Since Babyhood (PDF)

From Sunday, July 1, 1917

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July 2nd, 2017 at 3:14 pm

Posted in Health,Life,War

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped

As men entered World War I, women were called upon to perform traditionally male roles involving more physical labor and brawn. The British Health of Munition Workers Committee found:

“that, compared with man, woman has less strength, less endurance; that she can undergo neither such long hours nor such long periods of labor; that she cannot stand the strain of night work; that her body, physiologically different from man’s, is subject to ‘certain ailments and forms of physical disability’ that are ‘readily caused or at least accentuated’ by various forms of body activity, and that these ailments are ‘far-reaching in effect’; that the lifting and carrying of heavy weights, ‘all sudden, violent, or physically unsuitable movements in the operating of machines,’ and prolonged standing, are ‘highly provocative causes of trouble to women and girls.'”

Anybody who still claims that men have more stamina and women need more “days off” should read the news this week. Ivanka Trump had to fill in for her father at an event that he dropped out from citing “exhaustion.”

Man’s Labor the Best, British Committee Decides; Woman Handicapped: The Frailer Sex Lacks Nothing in Patriotism, But Needs More “Days Off” — Endurance in Munition Plants (PDF)

From Sunday, May 27, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 25th, 2017 at 3:59 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps

A new Federal Commission on Training Camp Activities was created shortly after the outset of American involvement in World War I, in hopes of preventing sin and vice among soldiers such as excessive drinking and prostitution. Among the attempted solutions: all soldiers were required to participate in sports and physical exercises, and soldiers were paired with homes and families that they could visit when on leave in the city. No word on whether prostitution was completely banished, but given that it still goes on in the military today (though perhaps at a lesser rate?), it clearly wasn’t 100 percent successful.

Making Vice Unattractive in Soldiers’ Camps: Federal Commission Just Appointed to Solve Vital Problem of Healthful Recreation for Young Men of Our New Armies (PDF)

From Sunday, May 20, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 18th, 2017 at 4:17 pm

Posted in Life,War

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth

Why was everything going to hell in 1917? Ralph Philip Boas, Associate Professor of English at Whitman College, suggested a large measure of blame should be placed on young people:

The danger of democracy is never that it will be too stern, too rigid, too intellectual, too conservative. No, the danger of democracy is that it will be too easygoing, too soft, too emotional, too fickle.

The weaknesses of democracy show nowhere more clearly than in its attitude in America. Our country is the paradise of youth; here we think only of our duties toward our children, never of our children’s duties toward us. An American works himself to death for his children — happy not in their respect and their love, but in their success. Everything is done for the American youth.

Look at his education. Schooling is free from the kindergarten through the university. The State taxes itself willingly that its boys and girls may have the best education which it can give them. And what does it ask in return? A sense of responsibility? A sense of gratitude? Service in the army? Service in civil life? No. It asks nothing in return.

It is pathetically proud of the advantages its youth enjoy, never once realizing this fundamental danger: If you train up young people to be soft and luxurious, to expect everything as a right and to give nothing in return, to absorb unthinkingly all the advantages of civilization without adding anything to those advantages, are you training up young people who can help in the great decisions of a democracy?

No.

Of course, this has been an age-old complaint — indeed, Aristophanes was complaining about “kids these days” back in 419 BC. And the same youth who Boas criticized in 1917 went on to become the adults who would lament the rise of rock ‘n’ roll a few decades later.

As Dick van Dyke asked in Bye Bye Birdie, ‘What’s the Matter With Kids Today?”

Real Democracy’s Need Is Discipline of Youth: A Land Where Responsibility Harmonizes with Freedom, Not a Mere Paradise for Children Without Sense of Obligation (PDF)

From Sunday, May 6, 1917

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Written by Jesse

May 3rd, 2017 at 1:26 pm

Posted in Education,Life,Politics

Individual’s Day Is Over, Says Geo. W. Perkins

This passage written by George Walbridge Perkins, then Chairman of the New York City Mayor’s Food Supply Commission, could just as easily have been written today — if not even more applicable today, considering the massive technological changes brought about by the Internet, smartphones, email, automation, and more:

We are just entering a new electrical world, where everything is done, as it were, on the instant.

Our fathers had none of the modern machinery with which social and business intercourse is now carried on. Their sons are wrestling with the problem of how to use these new methods of intercommunication and still adhere to the laws, the precedents, and the book learning of their fathers.

This is our great problem. It is a difficult, complicated problem, and is causing a struggle of titanic proportions — a struggle to throw off in a night, as it were, the precedents of an Old World for the realities of a new.

Precedent makes cowards of us all. But the educator, the scientist, and the inventor have left us no choice. We must adjust our thought and action to new conditions.

The changes of the last twenty-five years, socially, industrially, and economically, have been great, yet I believe they are infinitesimal compared to the changes that are coming.

As for the headline’s prediction that the “individual’s day is over,” that prediction did not turn out true. As my 2011 Washington Post article noted, the first 10 songs to reach #1 on the Billboard music sales chart were by eight groups and only two individuals, while as of the column’s publication, the 10 most recent #1 songs were by an almost-reversed nine individuals and only one group.

Individual’s Day Is Over, Says Geo. W. Perkins: And the Process of Curtailing His Privileges in Favor of the Community Is Still Only in Its Infancy, According to Him (PDF)

Published Sunday, April 1, 1917

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Written by Jesse

April 7th, 2017 at 2:56 pm

Posted in Life

The Harvard Slouch: Four Out of Every Five Harvard Freshmen Stand in a Faulty Posture, Says Boston Physician

In preparation for the imminent onset of World War I, 746 incoming Harvard students were trained in physical fitness for possible military service. A solid 25.9 percent of them failed in all four elements of good posture, while only 6.7 percent met all four elements.

This was a real thing. Apparently almost 20 percent had feet in such poor condition that it would keep them from serving in war.

Meanwhile, the article’s claim that “A Harvard entering class may be taken as typical of many thousands of American young men” is dubious at best, especially if The Social Network is any indication.

The Harvard Slouch: Four Out of Every Five Harvard Freshmen Stand in a Faulty Posture, Says Boston Physician (PDF)

From Sunday, March 18, 1917

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March 28th, 2017 at 7:01 am

Posted in Life

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon

This is notable for being by far the most “clickbait” style headline the New York Times Sunday Magazine ever featured on this blog. This is perhaps the only headline yet featured that would be written word-for-word the exact same way today.

A New York state bill was debated in 1917 that would license all pet cats and kill all others in the state. (The verb used in the article is the even more horrific “destroyed.”) The reason was not due to visceral hatred of the cute kittens, but for economic purposes:

“The high cost of living is largely due to the fact that not enough foodstuff is produced by the farmers; the shortage of crop is, in turn, partly due to the ravages of insects, and the only effective check on the insects is the birds. But the birds are destroyed by the cats. Every link in this chain between the cat and the cost of food is backed up and proved by scientific demonstration and statistics and the totals all along the line are enormous.

“For example, Frank M. Chapman of the American Museum of Natural History figures that there are at least 25,000,000 cats in the United States, and the country’s annual loss in crops from the depredations of insects alone is estimated at $1,200,000,000.

The license fee for a pet cat would have been 50 cents and 25 cents for each subsequent reissue.

Shockingly, the most common argument against the bill — and in favor of cats — was not from animal lovers or PETA (which would not be founded until 1980), but “The one argument most frequently heard in behalf of the cat is that it kills rats and mice.”

Did the bill pass? While I found that in the same year of 1917 New York state began requiring dogs to be licensed, I was unable to determine whether cats were too. If anybody knows the answer, please comment below.

Your Pet Cat May Have to Have a License Soon: Otherwise It Will Be Killed as a Public Nuisance If Bill Now Before Legislature Passes — An Effort to Protect Birds and Crops (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 16th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Efficiency Test of Domestic Standards for Every Housekeeper

There was a discrepancy of 60,000 more housekeeper jobs than people to fill the positions, as of 1917, because many women found the position undesirable.  Thetta Quay Franks, author of the book The Margin of Happiness: Practical Studies in Household Efficiency, came up with a series of questions for the head of the household to ask their housekeeper, to ensure the housekeeper was happy and comfortable in their employment. Among them were questions related to fair wages, vacation time, whether the female head of the household assisted with the work, whether a daily schedule of work as provided, and whether employees received different food than the family.

Today, the housekeeper isn’t nearly as common a position as it was back then. Then again, those holding the position can still exert a strong influence: just listen to the new popular podcast Missing Richard Simmons and listen to the influence of Teresa Reveles, Simmons’s housekeeper of 27 years who may or may not be abusing the fitness trainer and holding him hostage in his own home.

Efficiency Test of Domestic Standards for Every Housekeeper: Put Yourself in Place of Your Cook and Get Her Point of View, Says Mrs. Thetta Quay Franks (PDF)

From Sunday, March 11, 1917

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March 15th, 2017 at 7:40 am

Posted in Life

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”

'U.S. Dry Within Ten Years'

When this article was published in January 1917, 23 of the then-48 states banned liquor. That included four states adopting such a measure two months prior on Election Day alone: Michigan, Nebraska, South Dakota, and Montana. It was clear which way momentum was swinging. But the idea that the U.S. would be dry within the decade was underestimating just how much momentum was swinging, as the 18th Amendment was was passed a mere two years after this article in January 1919, with the amendment taking effect in January 1920.

However, it became the only constitutional amendment ever repealed 13 years later in December 1933. Now Americans are free to consume alcohol once again, as will be proven — for better or for worse — on Super Bowl Sunday in a few weeks… and more imminently on Inauguration Day Friday.

“U.S. Dry Within Ten Years”: So Say Prohibitionists After Webb-Kenyon Decision – Liquor Dealers Say It Will React in Their Favor (PDF)

From Sunday, January 14, 1917

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January 15th, 2017 at 7:16 pm

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace

popular-catchwords-are-a-national-menace

Back in 1916, Mary Watts lamented what she saw as the pervasive influence of New York City dictating the thoughts of those in Cincinnati suburb Walnut Hills and elsewhere:

“These people who think they are thinking,” she said, “do not make up their own phrases or originate their own ideas. They think in catchwords.”

“What are some of these catchwords?” The Times man asked.

“Well,” she replied, “‘the relation of capital and labor’ is one. And ‘the child in the house’ is another. And then there is that very popular catchword ‘social consciousness.’ But out here in the Middle West we aren’t so much bothered with social consciousness as you are in the East.”

“Now and then we make desperate attempts to be Eastern and cosmopolitan, and all the rest of it. We try hard to get up a bohemian atmosphere among our writers and painters — we try to do this even out here, in Cincinnati. But we haven’t enough writers to form a separate class.”

There was a time when New York City had a great influence on the rest of the country, despite a 2016 election cycle where the candidate New York City voted for at a greater margin than in almost any other location got crushed and there was something of a public revolt against the media and journalism industries headquartered out of Manhattan.

Popular Catchwords Are a National Menace: Mary S. Watts Laments “Social Consciousness,” Deliberate Bohemianism, and Influence of New York on Rest of Country (PDF)

From January 7, 1917

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January 4th, 2017 at 7:26 am

Posted in Life,Literature

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men

birth-rate-declining-among-college-men

Even today, the gap between fertility rates between those with and without college degrees is statistically significant. The big difference between now and then is that the “college-educated” constitutes women as well, with women starting in 2015 attaining more college degrees than men.

Birth Rate Declining Among College Men: Statistics for Harvard and Yale Show Steady Decrease in Number of Graduates’ Children and More Childless Marriages (PDF)

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December 15th, 2016 at 7:12 am

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance

george-c-boldts-life-a-continuous-romance

Ah, the days when “the most famous hotel man in the world” didn’t inherit the business from his father, but achieved his status through grit and determination after starting in the kitchen.

George C. Boldt’s Life a Continuous Romance: Reminiscences of Waldorf-Astoria’s Proprietor, Who Rose from the Kitchen to be the Most Famous Hotel Man in the World (PDF)

From December 10, 1916

 

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December 7th, 2016 at 10:34 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race

From October 29, 1916

indian-no-longer-called-a-vanishing-race

Indian No Longer Called a Vanishing Race: Educational Campaign Among the Red Men Has Raised Birth Rate and Lowered Death Rate – Reservations Self-Supporting (PDF)

Back in 1916 even a publication as respected as the New York Times had no problem calling the demographic “red men.” Even Disney would do so with the Peter Pan song “What Makes the Red Man Red?” in 1953, and Washington’s NFL team still uses a variant on that name to this day.

According to the 1916 article, the improvements in Native American birth rate and health came about over the previous three years in large part due to the health education campaign of Cato Sells, Commissioner of the Bureau of Indian Affairs from 1913-1921, which today is an agency housed within the U.S. Department of the Interior.

After a period in which the population was shrinking, in 1916 the total number of births in the group was 6,092 compared to 4,570 deaths. The total “Indian population” at the time was 209,221. Those trends must have continued, because today the total American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) alone population is 2.9 million, or about 0.9 percent of the U.S. population, according to the National Congress of American Indians.

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Written by Jesse

October 28th, 2016 at 2:18 pm

Posted in Life,Science

Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?

From October 22, 1916

will-the-brunette-race

Will the Brunette Race Eliminate the Blond?: Latter Has Lost Ground Steadily Both in This Country and Europe for Centuries, Says Expert (PDF)

Hair color was apparently a large enough worry a century ago that some feared an extinction of blonds. That was the worry at the time of Madison Grant, a Trustee of the American Museum of Natural History and Councilor of the American Geographical Society, in his cringeworthy-title-in-retrospect book “The Passing of the Great Race.” Today, about 2 percent of the world’s population is blond, though that’s about 16 percent in the United States.

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Written by Jesse

October 21st, 2016 at 11:29 am

Posted in Life,Science

George Bernard Shaw On Anglo-American Relations

From October 22, 1916

g-bernard-shaw-on-anglo-american-relations

George Bernard Shaw On Anglo-American Relations: Famous Writer Discusses Attitude of Great Britain Toward United States with His Customary Frankness and Brilliancy (PDF)

This passage was interesting:

British hypocrisy is not real hypocrisy, because its first condition is that it shall not deceive. In English public life it is is a point of honor, when once the truth is so apparent that there can be no possible deception, to get up and lie about it. A man who tells the truth unnecessarily is not considered a gentleman. A man who tells a lie that is believed is considered a liar. The perfect gentleman does not give pain to his audience. He says what they like to hear. He proclaims the thing that ought to be, the nice thing, the good-natured thing. And that is never the thing that is. As nobody is taken in except the people who want to be taken in, nobody objects. Very often that is the condition of the entire audience, representing therein the entire nation.

Can any British readers please reply in the comments as to whether this descriptions still describes England in 2016?

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Written by Jesse

October 19th, 2016 at 11:25 am

Posted in Life

What Is the Matter with the Modern Boy?

From September 24, 1916

what-is-the-matter-with-the-modern-boy

What Is the Matter with the Modern Boy?: He Is Less of a Boy, But Not More of a Man, Than His Father Was — The Reason and Cure Outlined by One Who Knows Him (PDF)

In the words of the musical Bye Bye Birdie, “What’s the Matter With Kids Today?” They’ve been asking that question for ages, and in 1916 a boys’ school headmaster named Thomas S. Baker continued that storied tradition. He laid the blame for the modern boy at several primary culprits including the rise in popularity of sports and movies during the previous generation.

On movies:

What effect is the indulgence in this form of imaginative debauch going to have upon the minds of American boys?… The boy gets his sentiment and his imaginative excitement in big ladlefuls from the moving pictures. They certainly are not stimulating to his mentality, although they may have a very exciting effect upon his emotions. The unrealities which are laid before him cannot fail to give him a distorted view of life.

On sports:

I have been frequently asked what sort of things the boys of today like to read… The greatest element in their reading is the sporting pages of the newspapers. This is the boy’s favorite hunting ground. He has an encyclopedic knowledge of sports before he develops any interest in the other portions of the newspapers. If his school work demanded an examination in the biographies of athletes or the condition of contemporary athletics, he would receive a mark that would make a strong contrast to his other averages.

Alexandra Petri wrote a great humor column for the Washington Post a few years ago about how every generation thinks the subsequent generation is just the worst, going back to at least Ancient Greek times. Worth a read, if you want a laugh with a serious point:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/compost/wp/2014/05/15/millennials-are-going-to-be-less-narcissistic-than-ever-suggests-new-study/

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Written by Jesse

September 25th, 2016 at 3:41 pm

American Sentiment and American Apathy

From September 24, 1916

american-sentiment-and-american-apathy

American Sentiment and American Apathy: Until We Prove Our Resolution as Well as Our Reasonableness, Self-Congratulations Are Out of Order, Says Noted Author (PDF)

Then as now (at least to some extent), there was a fear among some that America’s values were going astray, that materialism and societal divisiveness were rampant while patriotism and tolerance were not. Author Agnes Repplier outlines that anxiety in this paragraph:

If the United States is a land where hatred dies, why are our industrial disputes settled by strikes to the accompaniment of violence? Are the soldiers who fire from trenches inspired by hatred, and the rioters who fire from curbstones inspired by brotherly love? How much blood has been spilled, how many “social war” crimes have been committed, how many workmen have been maimed, how much property has been destroyed in fifty years of strife between employers and employed! Is acquisitveness a nobler spur than patriotism? Is caste a stronger bond than country?

Just remember: 2016 is actually a relative calm period in American history.

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Written by Jesse

September 25th, 2016 at 3:38 pm

Posted in Life

One Auto For Each 25 Americans by January 1

From August 6, 1916

One Auto For Each

One Auto For Each 25 Americans by January 1: Remarkable Increase in Number of Cars Owned in This Country Will Soon Bring Total to 3,946,664, Valued at $2,000,000,000 (PDF)

These numbers have certainly skyrocketed in the past year. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, as of 2014 there were 260.3 million total registered highway vehicles. For cars specifically, as of 2006 (the most recent year for which statistics were available) there were 135.3 million registered passenger cars. That’s approximately one auto for every 2.2 or 2.3 Americans, a far more even ratio than the one auto for every 25 Americans back in 1916. And those numbers are likely to level even further as last year was the best year for auto sales in American history with 17.5 million, due largely to an improving economy and low gasoline prices.

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Written by Jesse

August 3rd, 2016 at 5:49 pm

Posted in Business,Life

Why Is the Birth Rate Constantly Declining?

From July 16, 1916:

Why Is The Birth Rate

Why Is the Birth Rate Constantly Declining?: Results of an Inquiry Conducted in England by National Council of Public Morals, Which Seeks to Regenerate the British Race (PDF)

In 1916, the United Kingdom’s population was approximately 34 million. By the time of the 2011 census, the U.K. population had increased to 63.2 million. Still, that increase was far less than that of the U.S. or the world at large over the past century, due in large part to Europe having some of the lowest birth rates in the world. That trend still holds today, with the U.K. having approximately 12.2 births per 1,000 population in 2014 — the U.S. had 13.4 births per 1,000.

What’s fascinating is that most of the reasons why the birth rate is deemed to be falling in 2016 are not major reasons for the same phenomenon in certain countries back in 1916. Increased education for women? Barely. Later ages for marriages and starting families? Not really. Abortion? That wasn’t legal in the U.K. until 1967, and for the most part wasn’t legal in the U.S. either until 1973.

It’s worth remembering that the U.K. population is approximately 65 million today and that it is far more industrialized that it was a century ago when reading this quote from Chairman Rev. Dean Inge back in 1916:

The Chairman added that, with regard to England, he did not think it desirable that the country should contain sixty, or seventy, or eighty millions of persons, entirely divorced from the land, employed in large towns in producing commodities under cheap conditions. “Is that,” the Chairman asked of the witness, J.A. Hobson, “a state of things which could possibly produce a satisfactory or healthy nation?”

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Written by Jesse

July 15th, 2016 at 5:04 pm

Posted in Life