Capt. Bartlett And Harry Whitney To Lead American Expedition To Seek South Pole

From December 11, 1910

CAPT. BARTLETT AND HARRY WHITNEY TO LEAD AMERICAN EXPEDITION TO SEEK SOUTH POLE

CAPT. BARTLETT AND HARRY WHITNEY TO LEAD AMERICAN EXPEDITION TO SEEK SOUTH POLE: First Announcement Through The Times of American Effort to Plant the Stars and Stripes in the Furthest Antarctic by Peary’s Old Captain and the Well-Knocn Arctic Traveler — A Race Against Scott’s English Expedition. (PDF)

I’ll get to the article’s headline in a second. But for me, the real eye-opening part of this article is buried on page two:

“Are penguin nice to eat?”

“They are not,” said Harry Whitney emphatically.

“The meat is course and oily,” added Capt. Bartlett. “But anything counts down there.”

I don’t think I’ve ever wondered what penguins taste like. But apparently it’s a hot topic in certain discussion forums. All 17 species of penguin are protected from hunting, so it’s illegal for you to go kill one and find out. But the consensus among historians is in agreement with Harry Whitney and Captain Bartlett. Penguins aren’t very tasty.

Antarctic explorer Frederick Cook described the taste of penguin in the late 19th century, “If it’s possible to imagine a piece of beef, odiferous cod fish and a canvas-backed duck roasted together in a pot, with blood and cod-liver oil for sauce, the illustration would be complete.” Yum.

Back to the point of the article: Captain Bartlett and Harry Whitney set out to be the first people to reach the South Pole. Spoiler alert! They didn’t make it. The first people to reach the pole were a Norwegian party in December 1911.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Adventure

What New York Artists Pay For A Good Model

From December 11, 1910

WHAT NEW YORK ARTISTS PAY FOR A GOOD MODEL

WHAT NEW YORK ARTISTS PAY FOR A GOOD MODEL: Rules That Obtain Among Those Who Gain a Livelihood by Posing in Schools and Studios. (PDF)

The answer: 50 cents an hour. Sure, that sounds like a lot of money to just sit still. But consider:

Have you ever tried to sit in one position for twenty-five minutes? Have you ever tried to hold your hand out before you for that length of time? If you have not, then do so at once. When you have had fiteen minutes of it think whether you would care to make a living as a model at 50 cents an hour. Twenty-five-minute periods are the standard ones in the art schools and studios, and the rest of five minutes follows. This lasts for eight hours a day. Being a model, therefore, is no easy task.

If you want to see someone hold still long enough to be sketched, there are some great places in the city where you can attend a sketching event with live models. The Society of Illustrators hosts regular Sketch Nights in their Upper East Side clubhouse with a full bar and live jazz. For a more alternative experience, try Dr. Sketchy’s Anti-Art School, which holds events in several cities worldwide.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Art,Life

Germany Has A Talking Dog

From December 11, 1910

GERMANY HAS A TALKING DOG

GERMANY HAS A TALKING DOG: Don, the Marvelous Setter with a Vocabulary of Six Words — Scientists Stupefied. (PDF)

These days it seems that everybody has a talking dog. But do any of those dogs speak German? Don the Dog Who Is Either A Setter Or A Pointer did!

Don’s power of speech was revealed when he was 6 months old. It came to light without training or teaching of any kind upon the part of his master. The dog took up his position one day while the Ebers family was sitting at supper and began begging, in familiar dog fashion, with his eyes. “Willst du wohl was haben?” (You want something, don’t you?) asked the game keeper, expecting nothing in reply except the stereotyped, grateful, affirmative look from Don’s soulful eyes. To Herr Eber’s consternation, the dog answered, not with a look, but with unmistakably plain and intelligent speech, “Haben!” (Want.) It was the first time a spoken word have ever escaped his lips.

The article notes that “Skeptics persist in the belief that whatever the dog ‘says’ is at best only articulate growling or barking.” But that surely can’t be the case, because the Times only publishes the news that’s fit to print.

Bonus fun fact: The phrase “Scientists Stupefied” only has three Google search results at the time of this writing (excluding instances where the words appear together but are parts of separate clauses).

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Nature,Urban Legend

New York’s Fine New Library Nearly Completed

From December 11, 1910

NEW YORKS FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED

NEW YORK’S FINE NEW LIBRARY NEARLY COMPLETED: Will Be Ready Before the Contract Time, and Needs Only the Interior Furnishings (PDF)

Because I’ve done so much research for this website in the microforms room of this building at 5th Avenue and 42nd Street, I was especially delighted to come across this article. It’s interesting to see the famous reading room totally empty of furniture.

After ten years of actual construction and an expenditure of upward of $9,000,000, New York’s new public library has been completed.

It is not to be opened for use until May of next year because the furniture has to be installed, and that cannot be done before the middle of April. But the last stroke of the builder’s hammer has already fallen. Bag and baggage, the building himself has been turned out, and at present the mechanical equipment of the structure, such as printing presses, type-setting machines, and book stacks are being installed.

But for the lack of furniture the building could be thrown open in a month.

Before the main branch of the New York Public Library was built, the entire block was occupied by the Croton Reservoir, a tall above-ground reservoir in the middle of the city. People could go for a stroll on top of the surrounding wall. The reservoir was torn down around 1900, and the library was built in its place.

In the article, a representative from the architectural firm which designed the building looks forward to today:

A century hence… the classic perfection herein attained by the artisans of the Hayden ateliers will have rendered this work, then softened with the passing of time, an antique that will be much appreciated.

He was specifically referring to a wood carving inside the building, but the same could have been said of the building itself. Unfortunately, the building has softened a bit too much with the passing of time, and has needed renovation. The interior restoration has already been finished, and the exterior renovation is currently underway. I assume it will be finished in time for the building’s centennial next year.

The main branch of the NYPL (now officially named the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building) was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1965.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Modern Woman Getting Nearer The Perfect Figure

From December 4, 1910

MODERN WOMAN GETTING NEARER THE PERFECT FIGURE

MODERN WOMAN GETTING NEARER THE PERFECT FIGURE: Dr. Dudley A. Sargent of Harvard Denies that She Is Getting Masculine, But She Is Getting More Sensible. (PDF)

The woman pictured on the top left is Annette Kellermann, an Austrian professional swimmer. She was so renowned for being a “perfectly proportioned woman” that she eventually wrote a book and health plan so that, as her ad says, “you CAN have a figure as perfect as mine!”

Dr. Dudley Allen Sargent, the focus of this article, agrees that she has just about the most ideal figure he has ever studied.

In all seriousness, the doctor isn’t as nutty in his assessment of the ideal figure as I imagined he would be (although his method of examining thousands of bodies in search of the ideal figure must have raised some eyebrows or snickers). His focus is on health, and his advice makes sense. He explains that corsets, which were all the rage, are unhealthy. And he encourages women to do the same kinds of exercise as men.

I couldn’t decide what to excerpt, so I encourage you give the whole article a read.

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Written by David

December 3rd, 2010 at 9:45 am

Inventors Who Take No Profits From Their Work

From December 4, 1910

INVENTORS WHO TAKE NO PROFITS FROM THEIR WORK

INVENTORS WHO TAKE NO PROFITS FROM THEIR WORK: Give the Results of their Skill and Study Without Charge for the Good of Mankind, Declining Royalties. (PDF)

Fans and practitioners of open source intellectual property and creative commons licensing can look to these inventors as their predecessors in spirit. Each of them donated their inventions to the public. In fact, if you look at the patent for Logan Waller Page’s new form of concrete, discussed in this article, you will see that it boasts on the first page “DEDICATED TO THE PUBLIC.” In the text it elaborates:

…the invention herein described and claimed may be used by the Government of the United States or any of its officers or employees… or by any person in the United States, without the payment of any royalty thereon.

So why get a patent at all? The article explains:

Patents for the public are becoming more numerous and important each year. It is only within the last few months that the Patent Office has established the official classification of “Dedicated to the Public” in its official gazette of patents, and has attempted to assemble the records of those discoveries and inventions that have been taken out for the benefit of the people of the United States.

These patents are secured to insure the free use of the patented object by the public. If such action were not taken the principle of the invention or discovery might at once be incorporated ins ome other invention and patented by another person, with the result that the benefits intended for the public would go to some private corporation.

*ahem* Speaking of open source inventions, allow me to tell you about one of my own: the Bulbdial Clock. It’s a new kind of clock original envisioned by me, developed by Evil Mad Science Labs, and now available as an open source hardware kit that makes an excellent gift for the holidays.

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Written by David

December 3rd, 2010 at 9:30 am

Amethyst Jones Gives An Account Of His Amours

From December 4, 1910

AMETHYST JONES GIVES AN ACCOUNT OF HIS AMOURS

AMETHYST JONES GIVES AN ACCOUNT OF HIS AMOURS: A Thrilling Story of His Varied Experiences in New York. (PDF)

Amethyst Jones, as far as I can tell, is a fictional character, the invention of author Frederic Pierpont Ladd. In this odd series, which the Magazine published on a regular basis, Ladd recounted the antics in Amethyst Jones’ love life. It reads a bit like a male version of Sex and the City: 1910.

“I was 27 when I first knew Lucie De Lorme. Lucie was a French governess. The business of a governess is to teach. The French possess a particularly facile mode in teaching, as in all other fine arts. From the first moment I knew that Lucie was a superb governess. Her looks, and her manner, were all in her favor.

“We were each of us more or less alone in New York. New York is a city in which one may readily feel the pangs of loneliness. Lucie and I resided in contigous apartments. I was a bachelor and she was a bachelor belle. I shall never forget the occasion of our first meeting. She stood in helpless dismay vainly trying to open the door of her apartment. The key was so bent that it resisted all efforts to open the door.

“Lucie’s pretty blue eyes — she was of the most exquisite French blonde type — were filled with tears. She drew her lissome figure to its full height, and stamped the daintiest foot which the gods ever made, and lifted her face in appeal to me. The heart of Amethyst Jones was touched. I opened that door for her inside of one hour.”

Yeah. I won’t be publishing more of these. But if you’re interested, you can find more of Amethyst Jones’ antics in the Times here.

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Written by David

December 3rd, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Fiction,Life

Watching The Pulse Of New York Tell Its Life Story

From December 4, 1910

WATCHING THE PULSE OF NEW YORK TELL ITS LIFE STORY

WATCHING THE PULSE OF NEW YORK TELL ITS LIFE STORY: Activity in Business and Social Life Shown in the Daily Charts of the Telephone Exchanges. (PDF)

If you’ve ever seen an old-timey movie, you’ve likely seen a sequence where someone picks up the phone and connects with a telephone operator who sits at a giant switchboard and manually connects the call. That’s what this article is about. It describes exactly what’s going on when a phone call is made:

When you take your telephone receiver off its hook, that tiny light already mentioned flashes in front of the girl whom you call “Central” — one of scores, sitting in a long line at the switchboard of your local exchange.

To her question, “Number, please?” you give her, say, a number in your district. She inserts a plug, representing your wire, into a small hole, which represents that of the subscriber whom you are calling, and rings the latter up. Every telephone number in that particular district terminates in a hole, or “jack,” in front of each operator at the exchange switchboard; in other words, the number is repeated at intervals of about six feet all along the switchboard.

If anther operator along the board has already connected the number which you want with some other, the girl who answered your call is warned by a buzz as soon as she inserts the plug in the jack on her board corresponding to the busy wire. Then it is that you hear the familiar phrase, “The line is busy.”

If the subscriber with whom you wish to speak is in another district of the city, the operator who answers your call connects herself, by means of a “trunk” line, with the exchange wanted. She then gives the number you want to an operator at that exchange, who in turn inserts the plug corresponding to the trunk line communicating with your exchange into the jack corresponding to the telephone of the subscriber with whom you wish to speak.

If you call a number on a suburban toll line, the operator answering your call connects herself with a special switchboard, where there is a so-called “recording operator.” After making out a slip for the call, the recording operator then gets the suburban exchange where the person you want is located, and from there the connection with his telephone is made.

If there is a delay you will possibly make disparaging remarks to the girl at your local exchange, who has been innocent of everything to do with the call from the moment when she made connection with the recording operator.

Imagine having to connect phone calls manually. As the article describes, it’s not that bad in the wee hours before dawn, but in moments when everyone needs to place a call at once, things get crazy for the operators. And those times may not be what you think. For example, since there was no other way to get news in real time, people had to make phone calls to find out simple things like the results of a sports game. So call volume increased as games neared their conclusion. Here are a few other times when the switchboards could get crazy:

Election days, although holidays, are among the busiest for the girls in the exchanges. The general interest as to the result causes a great deal of general telephoning. Then, when people desire to know the result of the voting the girls are worked for a while to the limit of their capabilities.

But by far the severest strain that can be put on telephone operators is that caused by excited happenings on the stock market. Every second counts then for those using telephones — subscribers, their nerves stretched to snapping point, are furiously impatient and exacting.

“I have known girls at the switchboards go into hysterics at such times,” declared one of the men in authority at the Cortlandt Exchange.

At the time of this article, New York had twice as many telephones as any other city in the world, at approximately 310,000. There were 12,000 telephone employees, and around 1,250,000 phone calls made per day.

Here are some more interesting stats from the article:

Average time required for an operator to receive a call and repeat it to the called subscriber, 13.5 seconds.

Average time required for the operator to connect with and start ringing the calling subscriber, 13.5 seconds.

Average time required for subscriber to answer the telephone, 10.5 seconds.

Average time required to disconnect the lines after the conversation is completed, 3.8 seconds.

Although automated switchboards have long since replaced manual switchboards, some large buildings such as offices and hotels continued to use manual switchboards well into the second half the of 20th Century.

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Written by David

December 3rd, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Life,Technology

The Woman, The Banana Peel And The Damage Suits

From November 27, 1910

THE WOMAN, THE BANANA PEEL AND THE DAMAGE SUITS

THE WOMAN, THE BANANA PEEL AND THE DAMAGE SUITS: Mrs. Anna H. Sturla, Who Has Mad a High Record for Accident Cases, Will Have to Prove to the Court She Hasn’t Been Faking. (PDF)

Here we have a detailed accounting of each instance in which Anna H. Sturla reached a monetary settlement after a slip-and-fall “accident.” There were so many instances, it looks like greed got the best of her as she pulled this scam over and over until she was eventually caught.

I love how the article pits Sturla against her mighty foe, banana peels:

She was in the ladies’ cabin [of a ferryboat], she said, when a banana peel, that old bête noir of hers, again tricked her and caused her to fall on the floor.

She maintained that her mishap was due to a small paper bag, from one corner of which protruded the fatal banana peel…

The company paid her $150.

Not six months went by after that before Mrs. Sturla was once more in trouble with these arch-foes of hers, banana peels. One of these slippery gentry, according to her, was soon all ready for her on a boat of the Union Ferry Company, proceeding to the foot of Futon Street, Brooklyn. As the boat was entering the slip the miserable peel saw its chance, got under one of Mrs. Sturla’s feet, and caused her to fall to the deck.

She got $200…

Fifteen days later — March 19, 1908 — she again came to the fore with a claim for injuries in an accident. This time the culprit, she averred, was the Lehigh Valley Railroad. According to her story, she was riding one of its trains, bound for Buffalo, when she slipped on something (she gave those lurking enemies of hers, bananas, the benefit of the doubt) and fell forward. After being helped to her feet by a male passenger she saw him, she said, pick up some — banana peels!

Yes, there they were, ever vigilant, ever on the alert to trip her…

It might be assumed that by this time those grim old foes of hers, banana peels — that Yellow Peril of her life! — would have decided to rest on their laurels and persecute her no more.

Far from it!

One of them, according to her, was in her path on May 19th, 1908 — only eight days after her Fort Lee Ferry mishap — while she was shopping in the store of R. H. Macy & Co. It threw her, as usual. She was taken to the Herald Square Hotel, close by, and stayed there a couple of days. The owners of the store settled with her for $150.

Banana peels, of course, are also the scourge of many cartoon characters and vaudeville performers.
Do kids today even know that banana peels are hilarious?

I always thought banana peels were used as props to slip on in old comedy routines because they were cheap and easily obtained. But it turns out that banana peels on the sidewalk were a real problem at the turn of the last century.

Today, slip and fall insurance scams are frequently caught on video, so don’t even think about it.

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Written by David

November 26th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Humor,True Crime

A Little Island Near New York Peopled With Babies

From November 27, 1910

A LITTLE ISLAND NEAR NEW YORK PEOPLED WITH BABIES

A LITTLE ISLAND NEAR NEW YORK PEOPLED WITH BABIES: Taken from Incoming Steamers Suffering from Measles, Scarlet Fever and Other Ills, They Are Cared for on Hoffman Island Till They Get Well. (PDF)

My imagination got the best of me when I read the headline. I pictured an isolated civilization run by babies. Baby shopkeepers, baby baristas, baby firemen, and baby butlers.

But no. It turns out to be much less hilarious than that. The island in question is called Hoffman Island, a manmade piece of land located just off Staten Island. 100 years ago it was used as quarantine for sick children who came into Ellis Island as immigrants.

During World War II it was used as a marine training center, and after the war plans were considered to turn the island into a park. That never happened.

Today the buildings are long gone, and Hoffman Island is off limits in order to protect wildlife. But a few years ago a local triathlete swam the mile to the island with some friends who joined him in kayaks. He gives a full account on his blog, and links to a gallery of photos they took.

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Written by David

November 26th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Adventure,Life,Science

Mottoes That Have Guided Prominent Men To Success

From November 27, 1910

MOTTOES THAT HAVE GUIDED PROMINENT MEN TO SUCCESS

MOTTOES THAT HAVE GUIDED PROMINENT MEN TO SUCCESS: “Never Complain, Never Explain” Is President Taft’s Favorite — Rules of Life of Carnegie, Bishop Greer, W. C. Brown, and Others (PDF)

Mottoes from the article:

“The American people like to be humbugged.” – P. T. Barnum

“Don’t keep a rag-bag.” – A. T. Stewart

“Never write letters.” – Martin Van Buren

“Fair play and half the road.” – “Uncle” David Gray

“Never complain, never explain.” – William H. Taft

“If you want business, you’ve got to go after it.” – John W. Gates

“The highest product possible at the smallest cost of manufacture.” – Andrew Carnegie

“Perfect organization will accomplish all things.” – James Stillman

“Know the people, know the country, know the markets.” – W. C. Brown

“If you first find out what the people want and then give them what they want at a price they will pay, the people will do the rest.” – Frank A. Munsey

Admittedly, some of those make more sense in the context provided in the article, so if you’re wondering what the heck a rag-bag is, give it a read.

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Written by David

November 26th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Business,Life

Seeking The Explanation Of Reese’s “Mind Reading”

From November 20, 1910

SEEKING THE EXPLANATION OF REESES MIND READING

SEEKING THE EXPLANATION OF REESE’S “MIND READING”: Committee of Scientists Will Make Special Tests of His Powers — How Somewhat Similar Performances Are Done. (PDF)

Last week, the Sunday Magazine ran an article on W. Bert Reese, the amazing wizard whose powers astound scientists. There was debate even among those who should know better (*ahem* Thomas Edison) over whether Reese actually could do what he seemed to do. Harry Houdini said later that he detected Reese’s psychic tricks at a séance, and caught him “cold blooded.”

This week, the Magazine takes a stab at explaining how Reese does his mind reading trick. At the very least, they reveal how similar tricks are done, so give it a read and learn to amaze your friends.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 10:30 am

Posted in Entertainment

The Gibson Girl Analyzed By Her Originator

From November 20, 1910

THE GIBSON GIRL ANALYZED BY HER ORIGINATOR

THE GIBSON GIRL ANALYZED BY HER ORIGINATOR: Artist Whose Delineation of the Young American Woman Made Him Famous Tells How the Type Came Into Existence and What Her Mission Is. (PDF)

Charles Dana Gibson was an illustrator whose depiction of women came to represent the archetype of a beautiful American woman at the turn of the last century. She was dubbed the Gibson Girl. A Google Image Search for the term will show you several examples.

In this article, the artist reluctantly answers questions about the Gibson Girl at the insistence of the reporter, and explains that to him, the “Gibson Girl” does not really exist. Rather, there are just beautiful girls who exist as a product of evolution and the melting pot of races in America:

“Will you make a head for me?” I asked. “A Gibson Girl’s head, please!”

He tried it, but in a moment stopped work on it.

“I give up,” said he. “I never could work that way. I always am astounded, and perhaps a little envious, when I see chaps, at a dinner, for example, scratching pretty heads off on menu cards while they are talking. I can’t do it. I must work carefully and slowly and from models.”

“Then the stories of the models,” I said eagerly, “the models for the Gibson girl, are–”

He sighed wearily. “Please don’t,” he said. “The ‘Gibson Girl’ does not exist. She has been as the grains of sand in number. I imagine that folks must recognize ‘United States’ in her, and that it’s that which makes them think she’s all, or nearly all, the same. She isn’t really.”

His mind turned to [another topic, which he began to speak about for a bit.]

We dropped this line of conversation for a moment and went back to talking of the “Gibson Girl.” This was not because he wished it; it was because I forced it. A passing bell-hop saw him looking bored and glanced at me resentfully. Gibson is the sort of chap who quickly makes all creatures, even bell-hops, fall in worship.

“If there really is no ‘Gibson Girl,'” (the thing was in my head and bothered me) “how did the name originate?”

“The first time the name was used was in a story which The Century gave me to illustrate. It dealt with a certain type of girl, and in the manuscript, when it came to me, this type was called, I think, the ‘Goodrich Girl.’ I noticed that the word was written over an erasure in the manuscript wherever it occurred, but that did not impress me. Later, when — that ‘Gibson’ took the place of ‘Goodrich’ on the printed page — I saw what had been really done, I blushed. I have been blushing ever since. Let’s drop the ‘Gibson Girl.’ I don’t want to feel uncomfortable tonight.

“I haven’t really created a distinctive type,” he went on, more comfortably, having recovered from his embarrassment, “the nation made the type. What Zangwill calls the ‘Melting Pot of Races’ has resulted in a certain character; why should it not also have turned out a certain type of face? If I have done anything it has been to put on paper some fair examples of that type with very great, with minute, care. There isn’t any ‘Gibson Girl,’ but there are many thousands of American girls, and for that let us all thank God.

“They are beyond question the loveliest of all their sex. Evolution has selected the best things for preservation as the man and woman have climbed up from the monkey. In the body, as it always is in battle, it has been the fittest which has survived. Men are stronger, braver than the savages from which they sprang. Why should they not be handsomer? Why should women not be beautiful increasingly? Why should it not be the fittest in the form and features, as well as in the mind and muscle, which survives? And where should that fittest be in evidence most strikingly? In the United States, of course, where natural selection has been going on, as elsewhere, and where, much more than elsewhere, that has been a great variety to choose from. The eventual American woman will be even more beautiful than the woman of to-day. Her claims to that distinction will result from a fine combination of the best points of all those many races which have helped to make our population.

Later in the article, Gibson laments that there is no good place to exhibit illustration in New York:

“Americans are doing really big things with brush and pencil. Yes; let the eagle scream! I think they lead the world as illustrators. But–”

Indignation crept into the face of the big artist.

“Well, what is the ‘but’?”

“There is an exhibition of the really good work of American illustrators now traveling about the country. It is in Pittsburg now, and later on will be shown in most of the important cities, all the way to San Francisco. Everybody ought to go to see it; but — I was disgusted when I found that there is not a place in New York City provided for such things. The work is of a character superior to any I have ever seen exhibited in any country; but New York stands a chance of losing opportunity to look at it. Such things make me very weary. I’m trying, now, to find a place where the pictures may be shown, when they get back from San Francisco…”

Charles Dana Gibson did help set up a place in New York for illustrators to show their work, at the Society of Illustrators. He was a founding member and one of the first Presidents of the organization. Their earliest meetings were attended by Howard Pyle, Maxfield Parish, N.C. Wyeth, Charles Dana Gibson, Frederic Remington, James Montgomery Flagg, Howard Chandler Christy and guests such as Mark Twain and Andrew Carnegie.

The Society still exists and they occupy the same old carriage house they’ve been in since 1939. A sort of clubhouse for illustrators, the Society holds sketching events upstairs where they have a full bar and dining area. And they have a gallery downstairs that rotates exhibits featuring prominent and emerging illustrators.

And the Society of Illustrators has a special prominence in my life, as I got married there a few years ago, surrounded by great artwork by the artists named above and others. I suppose in a way my wife is my Gibson Girl.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Art

The Secret Of Success — Intellectual Concentration

From November 20, 1910

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS -- INTELLECTUAL CONCENTRATION

THE SECRET OF SUCCESS — INTELLECTUAL CONCENTRATION: Notable Cases Where Men Won Fame and Fortune Through Absorbing Self-Communing — Edison, Keene, Pupin, Hewitt, Westinghouse and Gould as Examples (PDF)

The point of this article is that the most successful people spend periods of time in silent concentration without interruption. As described, it seems like meditation for some, or just some quiet thinking time for others. These days it’s hard to find a prolonged period of silence in which to concentrate, with so many beeping, buzzing, and ringing distractions coming from the computers in our pockets and on our desks.

It reminds me that I’ve been meaning to try out the Freedom app, available for Mac and Windows computers. It costs a few dollars to purchase, and it has one function: it disables your computer’s network ability for a predetermined set of time. With no internet, you can concentrate without distractions, and without temptation to browse around the web procrastinating. I think I’ll give it a try, and see if I too can win fame and fortune through concentration.

One comment

Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Business,Life

Sir Oliver Lodge Teaches The Soul’s Pre-Existence

From November 20, 1910

SIR OLIVER LODGE TEACHES THE SOULS PRE-EXISTENCE

SIR OLIVER LODGE TEACHES THE SOUL’S PRE-EXISTENCE: Famous Physicist Announces His Belief, Gained Through Scientific Research, in Immortality, the Gift of Prophecy, and Christ’s Incarnation. (PDF)

Why the Magazine has become infatuated with this debate in recent weeks is beyond me. It’s an interesting topic, but I’m surprised to see so many articles about it. It all started when Thomas Edison proclaimed there is no soul, and now they keep writing about some expert or other who is sure that there is or isn’t a soul. Add this one to the pile.

Sir Oliver Lodge was a scientist whose inventions aided in developing wireless technology. He was also a member of The Ghost Club, an organization in the UK that still exists and whose “prime interest is that of paranormal phenomena associated with ghosts and hauntings.” Other notable Ghost Club members include Charles Dickens, W. B. Yeats, and Peter Cushing. If you’d like to join, you can find a membership application on their website, but please note that the Ghost Club does not perform clearances or exorcisms, and the use of Ouija Boards is strictly prohibited.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:45 am

Posted in Debate,Religion,Science

The Busiest Man Of His Age In The World

From November 20, 1910

THE BUSIEST MAN OF HIS AGE IN THE WORLD

THE BUSIEST MAN OF HIS AGE IN THE WORLD: Roger Sherman Hoar, Massachusett’s Young Legislator, has Enough Jobs for a Dozen Men. He is an Enthusiastic Suffragist Champion and Works Hard for Interests of that Cause. (PDF)

When this article was written, 28 year old Roger Sherman Hoar was a lawyer, State Senator, student, inventor of a waterproof blanket, treasurer of his town committee, trumpeter, cartoonist, cavalryman, organizer of a news agency, secretary of the Free State League, and active suffragist.

But wait! There’s more!

In the decades after this article was written, Roger Sherman Hoar became a notable science fiction author, writing under the name Ralph Milne Farley. He wrote short stories for pulp magazines like Weird Tales and Amazing Stories, and a series called The Radio Man.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Fiction,Politics

America’s Great Scientists Rapidly Decreasing

From November 20, 1910

AMERICAS GREAT SCIENTISTS RAPIDLY DECREASING

AMERICA’S GREAT SCIENTISTS RAPIDLY DECREASING: Dr. James McKeen Catell of Columbia Says There Are Fewer Men of Distinction in Scientific Lines Than There Were Seven Years Ago. (PDF)

The point of this article is that the number of scientists in the country decreased over seven years from 1903 to 1910, and appeared to be an ongoing trend. That’s sad, and I wish the country today were more science-minded. I think too little value is placed on science education these days.

But mainly I want to point out that awesome drawing representing a scientist.

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:15 am

Posted in Education,Science

Did Life First Come To This Earth In A Meteor

From November 20, 1910

DID LIFE FIRST COME TO THIS EARTH IN A METEOR

DID LIFE FIRST COME TO THIS EARTH IN A METEOR: Arrhenius, Following Kelvin, Holds That Its Initial Germs Were Brought Here in a Fragment of an Exploded World, and That Particles of Our Globe Are Now Taking Life to Others. (PDF)

Before we go into the details of this article, take another look at the photo of the meteorite above and make sure you see the children. I missed them the first time. That meteorite is known as the Willamette Meteorite and it can still be seen in the Hayden Planetarium* at the American Museum of Natural History, where it has been since 1906.

In the article, astronomer Mary Proctor (whose articles for the Times Magazine have graced this site before) discusses panspermia, the idea that life can spread throughout the universe carried on meteors and asteroids.

The first time I heard about panspermia, my mind was blown. I hadn’t considered that life could have come here from somewhere else. But it makes sense as a possibility. And if meteors can theoretically bring life to our planet, that means we can theoretically send life to other planets. Wait a minute! What if those first crafts we sent to Mars weren’t completely sterile? What if we sent a germ, bacteria, or other microbe capable of withstanding space travel and Mars’ atmosphere? Perhaps over the next hundred million years it could evolve into something more intelligent than us!

*giggle

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Written by David

November 19th, 2010 at 9:00 am

Posted in Nature,Science

Wizard With Amazing Powers Astounds Scientists

From November 13, 1910

WIZARD WITH AMAZING POWERS ASTOUNDS SCIENTISTS

WIZARD WITH AMAZING POWERS ASTOUNDS SCIENTISTS: Thomas A. Edison, Dr. William H. Thomson and Others Admit They Are Unable to Explain the Feats of W. Bert Reese — Reads Questions Written in Another Room and Answers Them. (PDF)

For most of the past several weeks, the Magazine published articles about how amazing someone’s magic or telepathic powers are and how they mystify science. But they also published articles explaining the secrets of magic tricks and special effects. You’d think someone would have figured that perhaps they are one and the same.

This week, the subject is W. Bert Reese, a mentalist who did indeed confound Thomas Edison and other scientists with his magic tricks, as the article explains. But one man not mentioned in the article was in fact clever enough to see through Reese’s tricks: Harry Houdini.

The recently departed Martin Gardner wrote about Reese in his book Did Adam and Eve Have Navels? Debunking Pseudoscience and quotes from a letter Houdini wrote to Arthur Conan Doyle about Reese in 1920:

You may have heard a lot of stories about Dr. Bert Reese, but I spoke to Judge Rosalsky [in front of whom Reese had performed a mind-reading trick to get out of a disorderly conduct charge] and he personally informed me that, although he did not detect Reese, he certainly did not think it was telepathy. I am positive that Reese resorts to legerdemain, makes use of a wonderful memory, and is a great character reader. He is incidentally a wonderful judge of human beings.

That he fooled Edison does not surprise me. He would have surprised me if he did not fool Edison. Edison is certainly not a criterion, when it comes to judging a shrewd adept in the art of pellet-reading.

The greatest thing Reese did, and which he openly acknowledged to me, was his test-case in Germany when he admitted they could not solve him.

I have no hesitancy in telling you that I set a snare at the séance I had with Reese, and caught him cold-blooded. He was startled when it was over, as he knew that I had bowled him over. So much so that he claimed I was the only one that had ever detected him, and in our conversation after that we spoke about other workers of what we call the pellet test — Foster, Worthington, Baldwin, et al. After my séance with him, I went home and wrote down all the details.

While I highly recommend reading all of Gardner’s book, you can find some of the relevant excerpts on Google Books.

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Written by David

November 12th, 2010 at 9:45 am

The Psychology Of Baseball Discussed By A. G. Spalding

From November 13, 1910

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BASEBALL DISCUSSED BY A. G. SPALDING

THE PSYCHOLOGY OF BASEBALL Discussed by A. G. SPALDING: The Game Elevates and Fits the American Character — It Brings Into Play the Emotional and Moral as Well as the Physical Side of Man’s Nature. (PDF)

By 1910, Albert Spalding had been a Major League Baseball player and manager, and had launched the Spalding line of sports equipment. At 60 years old, just five years before he would die, he gave the Times Magazine this wonderful and lengthy answer about why he loves baseball in response to a question about the psychology of baseball.

“The psychology of baseball?” he said thoughtfully. “I confess that the ‘psychology of baseball’ is a new one on me.

“I take it that you are trying to find out what effect the game has on the mind, and what effect the mind has on the game. The general impression among those who do not know, and, although there are several million people in this country who do know, still, there remain a few who don’t, is that baseball is simply a form of physical exercise which is interesting to watch and to take part in. Those who have played the game know well that it is more — much more. They know that it is quite as much a mental as it is a physical exercise.

“As a matter of plain fact, it is much more a mental exercise than a mere physical sport. There is really no other form of outdoor sport which constantly demands such accurate co-ordination between the mind and body as this National game of ours. And that is rather fine, when you come to think about it.

“Baseball elevates, and it fits the American character. The emotional and moral as well as the physical side of a man’s nature are brought into play by baseball. I know of no other medium which, as completely as baseball, joins the physical, mental, emotional, and moral sides of a man’s composite being into a complete and homogeneous whole. And there is nothing better calculated than baseball to give a growing boy self-pose, and self-reliance, confidence, inoffensive and entirely proper aggressiveness, general manliness. Baseball is a man maker.”

If you’re a baseball fan, it’s well worth reading the whole article. Mr. Spalding explains how baseball helps shape a man morally as well as physically, and how the skills translate to a man’s later life and business affairs. His wife and nephew both weigh in on the topic, too.

In related news, The Onion has an editorial this week by Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay called “If I Had One Piece Of Advice For Today’s Youth, It Would Be To Throw A Baseball Really, Really Well.”

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Written by David

November 12th, 2010 at 9:30 am

Posted in Life,Recreation,Sports