Archive for December, 2010

Santa Claus Up-to-Date

This wasn’t actually in the Magazine Section, but it was from the same issue and I found it amusing so I thought I’d share it anyway:

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Scathing Arraignment Of Women By Mrs. John A. Logan

From December 11, 1910


SCATHING ARRAIGNMENT OF WOMEN BY MRS. JOHN A. LOGAN: Well-Known Writers Believe They Are More Responsible for the Communities’ Morals and the Nation’s Welfare than Men. (PDF)

Ladies, brace yourselves for a reality check by Mary Logan, widow of General John A. Logan. She has some real problems with how you dress, raise your kids, and generally behave. You’ll have to read the whole article for the complete lashing, but here is a representative sample:

“Even in my youth they used to talk about the ‘Girl of the Period’ with amusement. She used to wear some dreadfully exaggerated costumes — her fashions, some of them, were quite insane — but the worst of them were mild and modest by comparison with the extreme vogues of to-day. I gasp with real astonishment — I sometimes blush with shame — when I go upon the streets of a large city nowadays and observe the manner in which women garb themselves. Some of the fashions of this year of 1910 are not only hideous, but viciously indecent. Oh, yes, I mean that — indecent! The only hats this season which show real intelligence in their design are the poke bonnets of some sensible automobilists. The modish dresses are an outrage upon the modesty of womankind. Any lady who gowns herself in the extreme fashion of to-day, and has her picture taken, will, if she looks at it and stops to think, blush at the thought that later on her grandchildren may see it. If the fashions of to-day were actual signs of the times the thoughtful person would be forced to make admission that they are sorry signs of very sorry times. It has been many years since we have had a line of women’s fashions so objectionable as are those which rule the mode to-day. The women promenading upon Broadway or Fifth Avenue, in New York, or in the shopping districts of any of our other cities, form, to me, at least, a shocking spectacle — a very shocking spectacle, and a very melancholy spectacle. I may be foolishly old-fashioned — I sometimes think that plain morality and common human decency are getting nowadays to be old-fashioned — but to me the fashions of to-day seem incompatible with proper womanly modesty.”

Among the fashions Mrs. Logan finds outrageous are hobble skirts. She is right. This insanity must end. Women, consider yourselves arraigned.

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Written by David

December 10th, 2010 at 10:00 am

Posted in Life

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: 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: 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: 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 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: 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: 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: 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: 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