Archive for the ‘history’ tag
I moved to Chicago in 1994, and the heat-wave of 1995 surprised me. I was used to living in extreme heat in Austin, several of my cheap apartments didn’t have air conditioning. But Chicago was not culturally or politically prepared to deal with the heat of that summer. This year’s heat-wave was taken a lot more seriously by city officials, as Eric Klinenberg reports:
the most visible human drama of climate change is happening in cities. Cities are not merely the population centers where dense concentrations of people are trapped and exposed during dangerous weather events. They are also “heat islands,” whose asphalt, brick, concrete and steel attract the heat while pollution from automobiles, factories and air-conditioners traps it. City dwellers experience elevated heat at all hours, but the difference matters most at night, when the failure of high temperatures to fall deprives them of natural relief. For the most vulnerable people, these “high lows” can be the difference between life and death.
Americans began to take urban heat seriously after 1995, when a record-breaking heat wave — three days of triple-digit heat — baked Chicago. Ordinarily, heat waves fail to produce the kind of spectacular imagery we see in other disasters, like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes and floods. Heat doesn’t generate much property damage, nor does it reveal its force to the camera or naked eye. Heat waves are invisible killers of old, poor and other mostly invisible people. Until the summer of 1995, medical examiners and media outlets often neglected to report heat-related deaths altogether.
But the great Chicago heat wave changed things. It caused so much suffering that at one point nearly half the city’s emergency rooms closed their doors to new patients. Hospitals were not the only institutions stretched beyond capacity by the heat. Streets buckled. Trains derailed. The power grid failed. Water pressure diminished. Ambulances were delayed.
There were “water wars” in poor neighborhoods, where city workers cracked down on residents who opened fire hydrants for relief. There were surreal scenes at City Hall, where members of the mayor’s staff declined to declare a heat emergency, forgot to implement their extreme heat plan and refused to bring in additional ambulances and paramedics.
And there was Mayor Richard M. Daley, telling reporters: “It’s hot. It’s very hot. But let’s not blow it out of proportion,” while the morgue ran out of bays and the medical examiner had to call in a fleet of refrigerated trucks to handle the load. When the temperatures finally broke, 739 Chicagoans had died as a result of the heat wave.
Chicago learned from the disaster, and today it is a national leader in planning for the next acute heat emergency. The city compiles a list of old, isolated and vulnerable residents, and public workers contact them when dangerous weather arrives. City officials and community organizations promote awareness and encourage residents to check in on one another. The local news media treat heat waves as true public health hazards. Everyone knows how perilous the new climate can be.
Unfortunately, Chicago keeps getting reminders. In the early July heat wave, despite its improved emergency response system, Chicago reported more heat deaths than any other city or state. And this week the Union of Concerned Scientists released “Heat in the Heartland,(PDF)” a study that reports an increased incidence of dangerous hot weather throughout the Midwest in the past 60 years, including elevated evening temperatures and more heat waves lasting three days or longer. Along with Chicago, the report singles out St. Louis, Detroit, Minneapolis and Cincinnati as being at risk, but also cites public health research predicting more heat waves in towns and cities throughout the Midwest and Northeast.
(click here to continue reading Is It Hot Enough for Ya? – NYTimes.com.)
Rising temperatures are not just a concern for the future. Dangerously hot weather is already occurring more frequently in the Midwest than it did 60 years ago.
The report, Heat in the Heartland: 60 Years of Warming in the Midwest, presents an original analysis of weather data for five major urban areas — Chicago, Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis, and St. Louis — as well as five smaller nearby cities.
The results from the analysis are clear: Hot summer weather and heat waves have been increasing in cities in the nation’s heartland over the last six decades on average. The report documents this trend, explores its health implications, and looks at what the largest cities are doing to adapt to these changes and protect their residents.
High temperatures can lead to dehydration, heat exhaustion, and deadly heat stroke. Very hot weather can also aggravate existing medical conditions such as diabetes, respiratory disease, kidney disease, and heart disease.
Urban populations, the elderly, children, and people with impaired health and limited mobility are particularly susceptible to heat-related illness and death.
Now if only someone could come up with a good (non-financial) reason for the Tea Party and other GOP factions to support a national policy dealing with climate change…
Dr. Juan Cole discusses a bit of European history in context of Romney’s Aryan Nation remarks.1 Talk about dog whistles: Romney is talking to a very specific type of racist, whether intentional or not.
Anyway, Dr. Cole writes, in part:
I really dislike Nazi references. They are for the most part a sign of sloppy thinking, and a form of banal hyperbole. But there just is no other way to characterize invoking the Anglo-Saxon race as a basis for a foreign policy relationship, and openly saying that those of a different race cannot understand the need for such ties. It is a Nazi sentiment.
If you would like some evidence for what I say, consider Adolf Hitler’s own point of view:
For a long time yet to come there will be only two Powers in Europe with which it may be possible for Germany to conclude an alliance. These Powers are Great Britain and Italy.”
Of the two possible allies, Hitler much preferred Britain because he considered it higher on his absurd and pernicious racial hierarchy. Indeed, Hitler held Mussolini a bit at arms length while hoping for a British change of heart, a hope only decisively dashed in September, 1939, when Britain declared war.
Hitler complained that colonialism was in danger of diluting Aryan European strength, weighing down the metropole powers. He contrasted this situation with that of the white United States, blessedly possessing its “own continent.” Indeed, it is, he argued (genocidal crackpot that he was), Britain’s special relationship with the Anglo-Saxon-dominated United states that kept it from being overwhelmed by its subhuman colonials:
“we we too easily forget the Anglo-Saxon world as such. The position of England, if only because of her linguistic and cultural bond with the American Union, can be compared to no other state in Europe.”
The argument of Romney’s advisers has exactly the same shape as Hitler’s, only it is being made from the American point of view rather than the European.
And, if we had a Jewish president at the moment, couldn’t the Romney camp make exactly the same argument, that the person didn’t appreciate the importance of the Anglo-Saxon heritage and ties? Is this really the discourse you want to engage in just before you arrive in Israel?
Romney has to find out who told Swain these things, and fire them. He has to publicly disavow these racist sentiments. They pose the danger for him of raising again the question of his own attitude to African-Americans as a young man in the 1970s before the Mormon church stopped discriminating against them on the grounds that they bore the mark of Cain.
Beyond the distasteful resemblances of this white supremacist discourse to the worst forms of rightwing extremism, the allegation astonishingly neglects to take account of who Barack Obama is.
Obama’s maternal grandfather, Stanley Armour Dunham, had English ancestry (among others), and some genealogists trace him back to the Earl of Norwich, who was a surety baron of the Magna Carta. Moreover, Stanley Dunham served in the US military in London and then on the continent during World War II, and was involved in saving Britain from Nazi Germany. You’d think that would be a basis for pretty warm feelings. And remember, it was Stanley Dunham who actually raised Barack Obama; he did not know his father.
In contrast, the Romney clan’s only practical relationship to Britain aside from ancestry was trying to convince Scots in Edinburgh in the 1920s to give up alcohol and caffeine and become Mormons. Aside from explosive mirth, I don’t know what other emotion that record might evoke among English Anglicans of the sort Romney appears to want to rub up against, but it certainly would not be warmth.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that the whole idea of “Anglo-Saxon” England is a myth. Historical geneticist Eric Sykes has found in hisSaxons, Vikings and Celts that the genetic mix in England is not for the most part different from that in Wales and Scotland and Ireland. There are, here and there, signs of Norse or German (Angles and Saxons) settlement, but they are minor and have to be looked for and are mainly in the y chromosome markers, i.e. on the male side of inheritance. The women are virtually all “Celts.”
But even “Celts” are a historical construct as a matter of “race.” In his Seven Daughters of Eve, Sykes had found that almost all Europeans are descended from only seven women who lived sometime in the past 45,000 years, one of them from the Middle East. These seven haplotypes or genetic patterns show up in all European populations, including the Basque (in the mitochondria, the power plant of the cell, which is passed on through females and does not change in each generation).
There simply are no distinctive “races” in Europe.
(click here to continue reading Romney, and Aryan Racial Theory as a basis for Foreign Policy | Informed Comment.)Footnotes:
- quote: “suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa. “We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney” [↩]
Didn’t end up reading much of Ulysses, but still had fun photostrolling with some Flickreenos in Graceland Cemetery and nearby area. I had never been to Graceland Cemetery before, but it most certainly merits another visit, presumedly on a day where the temperature isn’t approaching that of the sun…
Click an image to embiggen, and probably learn more about it.
Paul Krugman muses on the dismal science a bit, and the dismal scientists known as structural economists
So what’s with the obsessive push to declare our problems “structural”? And, yes, I mean obsessive. Economists have been debating this issue for several years, and the structuralistas won’t take no for an answer, no matter how much contrary evidence is presented.
The answer, I’d suggest, lies in the way claims that our problems are deep and structural offer an excuse for not acting, for doing nothing to alleviate the plight of the unemployed.
Of course, structuralistas say they are not making excuses. They say that their real point is that we should focus not on quick fixes but on the long run — although it’s usually far from clear what, exactly, the long-run policy is supposed to be, other than the fact that it involves inflicting pain on workers and the poor.
Anyway, John Maynard Keynes had these peoples’ number more than 80 years ago. “But this long run,” he wrote, “is a misleading guide to current affairs. In the long run we are all dead. Economists set themselves too easy, too useless a task if in tempestuous seasons they can only tell us that when the storm is long past the sea is flat again.”
I would only add that inventing reasons not to do anything about current unemployment isn’t just cruel and wasteful, it’s bad long-run policy, too. For there is growing evidence that the corrosive effects of high unemployment will cast a shadow over the economy for many years to come. Every time some self-important politician or pundit starts going on about how deficits are a burden on the next generation, remember that the biggest problem facing young Americans today isn’t the future burden of debt — a burden, by the way, that premature spending cuts probably make worse, not better. It is, rather, the lack of jobs, which is preventing many graduates from getting started on their working lives.
So all this talk about structural unemployment isn’t about facing up to our real problems; it’s about avoiding them, and taking the easy, useless way out. And it’s time for it to stop.
(click here to continue reading Easy Useless Economics – NYTimes.com.)
I vowed I was going to stop making drive-by posts1 like these, but here’s the quandary. I know next to nothing about economics and even economic history, so I can’t dispute or amplify what Dr. Krugman asserts. However, I like his turn of phrase, and his reasoning sounds plausible. Maybe in the future, I’ll be able to use this post as a footnote to a different post?
What do I know about partying or anything else?Footnotes:
- posts where I don’t add much to the discussion [↩]
InterContinental Chicago aka Medinah Athletic Club, originally uploaded by swanksalot.
South Tower, designed by architect Walter W. Ahlschlager. Click here for lightbox version.
The Medinah Athletic Club building was intended to combine elements of many architectural styles. At the eighth floor, its Indiana limestone facade was decorated by three large relief carvings in ancient Assyrian style. Each frieze depicted a different scene in the order of constructing a building, with Contribution on the south wall, Wisdom represented on the west wall and Consecration on the north. (According to an article in the Chicago Tribune from Sept 16, 1928 entitled “Building art inspires panels”:“The friezes were designed by George Unger, in collaboration with Walter Ahlschlager, and carved by Leon Hermant. The figures are costumed in the period of the building, which is that of an old fortress in Mesopotamia in Xerxes time, about 5th century BC.
The theme of the panels as explained by Mr. Unger, was inspired by the history of construction of any building. The south panel starts the story. Here a magnificent cortege is displayed. This panel, termed Contribution, signifies the getting together of treasures for the construction of the building. In the west panel, facing Michigan Avenue, a ruler is shown with his counselors and an architect is shown bringing in a model of the building planned. The north panel shows the consecration of the building after it has been built. A priest is sacrificing a white bull whose blood will be mixed with crushed grapes and poured into the earth. A monkey trainer and his animals are shown. Since the animals represented bigotry in the ancient drawings, they are shown here in leash as symbolic belief that bigotry has no place in the Masonic order.”) The figures in all three scenes are said to be modeled after the faces of club members at the time of its design. Three Sumerian warriors were also carved into the facade at the twelfth floor setback, directly above the Michigan Avenue entrance, and remain visible today.
The exotic gold dome, which is Moorish in influence, originated as part of a decorative docking port for dirigibles – a notion conceived before the Hindenburg disaster in 1937. Years later, the building would lose several feet with the dismantling of an ornamental canopy on the small turret north of the dome. This chimney-like structure was originally intended to assist in the docking of these air ships, but it was never put into use. Inside the dome, a glass cupola and spiral iron staircase resembling the top of a lighthouse led down to the hotel’s upper elevator landing.
Never took a good photo of this building before last month.
Fun for your May Day celebrations: pretend you are part of the black helicopter One World Cabal of Illuminati, as explained by The Straight Dope’s Cecil Adams:
Just exactly what event are the Russians and Red Chinese commemorating on May 1 each year? I have yet to find any birthday or important event relating to communism/socialism that occurred on May 1. Someone once told me, though, that May 1, 1776, was the birth date of a group called the Illuminati, which was alleged to be a clandestine group devoted to one-world government. Is it so? Please enlighten.
— Bob B., Dallas
Better grab yourself a sandwich and a beer, Bobberino; this is going to take a while. The Illuminati play a leading role in what is without doubt the muthah conspiracy theory of all time, stretching back at least two centuries and probably as far as the Pleistocene epoch, to hear some tell it.
Adherents of the theory, who for the most part are right-wing fruitcakes, claim it explains every social upheaval from the French Revolution of 1789 through the Russian Revolution of 1917. The Illuminati are said to be the guiding force behind a vast international cabal involving the Masons, German and/or Jewish socialists, the Bolsheviks, and revolutionaries of every stripe, whose principal aim is either the establishment of a totalitarian one-world government, the destruction of Western civilization, or both. This ain’t no foolin’ around, apocalypse fans.
Let’s start with the easy part. May Day, an international celebration of worker solidarity observed principally in socialist countries, traces its origins back to the eight-hour-day movement in the U.S., and specifically commemorates the 1886 Haymarket Riot in Chicago, of all places. (We learn this, incidentally, from the Great Soviet Encyclopedia.)
At an October 1884 convention in Chicago, the Federation of Organized Trades and Labor Unions, later to be reorganized as the American Federation of Labor, declared May 1, 1886, to be the date from which “eight hours shall constitute a legal day’s work,” as opposed to the nine- or ten-hour days then prevalent.
Why May 1 is chosen is not clear. Among other things, it happened to be the date of the traditional May Day spring festival, celebrated in Europe (and parts of the U.S.) since medieval times. But other American labor groups had earlier suggested other days, such as the Fourth of July.
(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Does May Day actually commemorate the birth of the Illuminati?.)
Coincidentally–although some would say it’s no coincidence–May 1 is also the date that a secret society called the Illuminati was founded in 1776 by a Bavarian university professor named Adam Weishaupt. Although the group’s precise aims are a little murky, the Illuminati were apparently dedicated to the abolition of organized religion and the nation-state–in short, they were anarchists. Such ideas were not uncommon at the time; Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau had vaguely similar notions.
By and by it occurred to Weishaupt that he could multiply his influence by infiltrating existing lodges of Masons. The Masons, themselves a secret society, seem to have originated in England, and by Weishaupt’s time were well established throughout Europe. Although they were decentralized and had no overriding political program, the Masons had attracted a fair number of freethinkers, who to some extent took advantage of the group’s clandestine character to discuss Enlightenment ideas. Masons were suspected of being anticlerical, and had been condemned on several occasions by the Catholic Church.
Weishaupt’s minions succeeded in gaining influential positions in many Masonic lodges in Germany, Austria, and elsewhere. Characteristically, though, only the top leaders of the Illuminati knew the full extent of the group’s radical plans. Weishaupt, who claimed to have been inspired partly by the Jesuits, set up an elaborate hierarchy complete with secret signs, ceremonies, and codes in which members were gradually given additional knowledge as they rose in rank.
Eventually, though, some of the Illuminati quarreled, and disgruntled ex-members went to the authorities with lurid stories. In 1785, the alarmed Elector of Bavaria ordered both the Illuminati and the Masons suppressed. Numerous incriminating papers were confiscated and later published throughout Europe, creating a widespread panic that secret societies were plotting the violent overthrow of all civilization. This probably would have died down eventually, except for one thing: on July 14, 1789, the Bastille fell to a Paris mob, and the French Revolution began.
We now take leave of Reality, and enter the twilight world of Total Paranoia. Not much is known about what happened to the Illuminati after 1785. Some of them went underground, and several may have been involved in various plots over the following few years. Whatever the truth of the matter, rightists began churning out an immense volume of books and pamphlets blaming the Illuminati for . . . well, just about everything.
(click here to continue reading The Straight Dope: Does May Day actually commemorate the birth of the Illuminati?.)
Diplomacy hasn’t really changed that much over the years, has it?
In 1867, the British ambassador to Bolivia fell afoul of its dictator, Mariano Melgarejo, by refusing a glass of chicha, a cloudy drink based on fermented maize. Opting for cocoa instead, the ambassador got more than he asked for: Melgarejo, incensed, forced him to drink an entire bowl of liquid chocolate. He then paraded him three times around La Paz’s main square, tied up and seated back to front on a donkey, before shipping him back to London.
When the disgraced ambassador related his story to Queen Victoria, she was not amused at all. Her Majesty resolved to have the Royal Navy bombard Bolivia’s capital in retaliation. Consulting a map of South America, she soon discovered that La Paz lay far inland on the Andean altiplano, well beyond the reach of British cannon. So she simply marked the offending country with an X, pronouncing: “Bolivia does not exist”.
The story is related in the 1971 book “Open Veins of Latin America,” Eduardo Galeano’s critical analysis of imperialism in Latin America. The book rocketed up the best-seller lists when Mr. Chavez gave it to newly elected President Obama at a Summit of the Americas in April 2009.
Several variations of the original story exist, adding color but subtracting veracity: that Melgarejo invited the ambassador to the senatorial inauguration of his horse, or the official presentation of his new mistress; that he challenged the ambassador to kiss his mistress’s behind, or that the ambassador pooh-poohed the glass of chicha even though offered by Melgarejo in person; and that the dictator forced an entire barrel of cocoa down the ambassador’s throat.
(click here to continue reading How Bolivia Lost Its Hat – NYTimes.com.)
Virginia Woolf may have had a delicate appearance, but she was stronger than she looked.
The New Yorker recalls:
as Evelyn Irons recalled in an essay published in our pages in 1963, three members of the Bloomsbury Group requested a tour of the Daily Mail’s printing presses in 1932. “Look here, Virginia wants to see your paper being printed,” Vita Sackville-West had told Irons at the time. “Do you think you could arrange it?”
Irons, who later became a war correspondent and was the first woman journalist to reach Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, was then the editor of the Mail’s women’s page. (She would later be fired for “looking unfashionable.”) In that capacity, she had, the previous year, interviewed Sackville-West and the two women had begun an affair. According to Victoria Glendinning’s biography of Sackville-West, Irons was the subject of a number of Sackville-West’s 1931 love poems. “It seemed very odd to me that Virginia Woolf should want to see the mass-circulation Daily Mail being put to bed, but it could be arranged, and easily,” wrote Irons.
At nine o’clock one night the following week, Sackville-West, Woolf, and Woolf’s husband, Leonard, arrived at the Mail’s offices for their tour. “The whole evening had an unreal quality,” Irons recalled, and continued:
There they were, perched around the room like unfamiliar night birds: Vita Sackville-West, tall, intensely handsome, wearing her usual long, dangling earrings and smoking through a paper cigarette holder; Leonard Woolf, a dark, brooding man with aggressive eyebrows; and Virginia Woolf, recalling the moon in the daytime sky—ethereal, bone-pale, the eyes set deep in the skull. She was fifty, but age had nothing to do with her appearance; she must have looked like that forever. You might as well show those clattering presses to a ghost, I thought.
However, her guests were not there to hear anecdotes. Despite her ethereal appearance, Virginia Woolf had more than a passing interest in the working of the newspaper’s presses. To Irons’s surprise, Woolf engaged in lengthy and detailed discussions with the printers, handling their tools and often shouting to be heard over the noise of the presses. At one point Woolf even displayed her ability to read set type upside down. “We don’t often get ladies coming in from outside who can do that,” said one of the printers. The experience changed Irons’s view of Woolf:
There seemed to be little that was wan or mothlike, delicate or remote, about her now. Her long, slender fingers were smudged with black ink, and her behavior was that of a mechanically minded man.
(click here to continue reading Back Issues: Virginia Woolf Visits the Daily Mail : The New Yorker.)
Mad Men finally began Season 5 after a seventeen month hiatus, and opening the first episode was an incident fairly closely based on fact, and resonating with the current Occupy Wall Street movement. From the New York Times Archive, May, 28, 1966:
More than 300 poor people and antipoverty workers picketed the Madison Avenue headquarters of the Office of Economic Opportunity yesterday, demanding more money for city programs, but they received only a pelting by water bombs apparently thrown by irate office workers.
(click here to continue reading Poverty Pickets Get Paper-Bag Dousing On Madison Avenue – POVERTY PICKETS GET A DOUSING – Front Page – NYTimes.com.)
You have to be a subscriber to read the whole article (or be able to go to a library, how quaint). Here’s a few paragraphs I ran OCR1 on:
Shortly after the demonstration began, a series of handprinted signs were taped to the inside of the second-story windows of 285 Madison Avenue, half a block away. The building is occupied almost entirely by the Young & Rubicam advertising agency.
The signs read: “If’ you want money, get yourself a job”; “You voted for Lindsay, see him”; “Support your local police–no review board,” and “Goldwater ’68.”
A container of water was pitched out of one of the windows of the building, splashing two spectators.
Later, two demonstrators were hit by water-filled paper bags thrown from the building. One of the water bombs struck James Hill, 19 years old, of 224 York Street, Brooklyn, who then slipped and fell to the pavement. He was not hurt. The other struck 9-year old Mike Robinson of 777 Fox Street, the Bronx.
Mrs. Esmé Robinson, the boy’s mother, and several other angry women immediately went up to the sixth-floor offices of Young & Rubicam, from which several onlookers said they had seen the water bombs thrown.
But a secretary in the office said:”That’s ridiculous, they didn’t come from this floor. This is the executive floor. That’s utterly ridiculous.”
“Don’t you call us ridiculous. Is this what Madison Avenue represents?” shouted one of the women.
“And they call us savages,” exclaimed Mrs. Vivian Harris, another of the women.
The women were invited to the second floor to meet with Frank Coppola, the Young & Rubicam office manager, who apologized for the incident. He told them:
“We have 1,600 people in this building, and I can’t control all of them. I’ve ordered all the windows closed and I have men patrolling all the floors to make sure this doesn’t happen again.”
Pretty much as portrayed on Mad Men…
New York TImes May, 28, 1966.PNG
- Optical Character Recognition [↩]
In response to some complaining about the debauchery of St. Paddy’s Day in Chicago, I tweeted:
Puritan-era Americans on a random Tuesday in May probably consumed more booze than St Paddy’s partiers today. Jes sayin.
— Seth Anderson (@swanksalot) March 17, 2012
Undergraduate history class was a long time ago, so I started looking on the internet for some facts, and found this bit of fun:
Colonial Americans, at least many of them, believed alcohol could cure the sick, strengthen the weak, enliven the aged, and generally make the world a better place. They tippled, toasted, sipped, slurped, quaffed, and guzzled from dawn to dark.
Many started the day with a pick-me-up and ended it with a put-me-down. Between those liquid milestones, they also might enjoy a midmorning whistle wetter, a luncheon libation, an afternoon accompaniment, and a supper snort. If circumstances allowed, they could ease the day with several rounds at a tavern.
Alcohol lubricated such social events as christenings, weddings, funerals, trials, and election-day gatherings, where aspiring candidates tempted voters with free drinks. Craftsmen drank at work, as did hired hands in the fields, shoppers in stores, sailors at sea, and soldiers in camp. Then, as now, college students enjoyed malted beverages, which explains why Harvard had its own brewery. In 1639, when the school did not supply sufficient beer, President Nathaniel Eaton lost his job.
Like students and workers, the Founding Fathers enjoyed a glass or two. John Adams began his days with a draft of hard cider. Thomas Jefferson imported fine libations from France. At one time, Samuel Adams managed his father’s brewery. John Hancock was accused of smuggling wine. Patrick Henry worked as a bartender and, as Virginia’s wartime governor, served home brew to guests.
The age of the cocktail lay far in the future. Colonists, nevertheless, enjoyed alcoholic beverages with such names as Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip. If they indulged too much, then they had dozens of words to describe drunkenness. Benjamin Franklin collected more than 200 such terms, including addled, afflicted, biggy, boozy, busky, buzzey, cherubimical, cracked, and “halfway to Concord.”
(click here to continue reading Drinking in Colonial America: Rattle-Skull, Stonewall, Bogus, Blackstrap, Bombo, Mimbo, Whistle Belly, Syllabub, Sling, Toddy, and Flip : The Colonial Williamsburg Official History Site.)
Oh, and for the record, the website Paddy Not Patty amused and informed me. You do know that it is correctly called St. Paddy’s Day and never, ever called St. Patty’s Day, right?
Paddy is derived from the Irish, Pádraig, hence those mysterious, emerald double-Ds.
Patty is the diminutive of Patricia, or a burger, and just not something you call a fella.
There’s not a sinner in Ireland that would call a Patrick, “Patty”. It’s insulting. It’s really as simple as that.
The head of MGM, Louis B. Mayer, famously had great doubts about The Wizard of Oz.
“Be smart but never show it,” is one of Mayer’s more famous sayings, but the man who built MGM into a powerhouse occasionally found himself tripping over bad instincts (not to mention a lacerating tongue; displeased with the posture of a then 16-year-old Judy Garland, he took to calling her “my little hunchback”). And he was adamant —adamant — about his distaste for “Over the Rainbow.” Here’s Troy’s breakdown of the dispute: “Mayer thought it slowed the movie down. That it was too serious a song — too long a song.”
You can see Mayer’s point. Who starts a movie with a momentum-killing ballad? … Nevertheless, Mayer wanted the ballad gone, and here’s what Troy unearthed during his research: “They kept taking it out and putting it back in, and after the third time they cut it from a test screening (producer) Arthur Freed finally said, ‘What exactly is your problem with this?’ So he listens to all the reasons, and then his response is: ‘”Rainbow” stays, or I go.’”
Bold words. But at the time, Freed was producing yet another Garland musical for Mayer (“Babes in Arms” with Mickey Rooney) that was midway through filming. “Freed realized he had some leverage, and if not for ‘”Rainbow” stays, or I go,’ that song would never have been in the movie.”
“The Wizard of Oz” would go on to win two Academy Awards, including best song for “Over the Rainbow” (Mayer really ate crow on that one, didn’t he?), and yet everything about the film’s gestation suggested disaster. As many as 14 writers were assigned to work on the script, with just as many drafts floating around. (The final version was cobbled together by the film’s lyricist E.Y. “Yip” Harburg, who essentially cut-and-pasted bits from each draft.)
Five directors were assigned to the film, although only three actually directed scenes. Richard Thorpe was on the film for barely two weeks before producers, unhappy with his work, switched him out in favor of Victor Fleming, who is the credited director on the picture and was responsible for all the scenes that take place in Oz.
But then Fleming, too, was reassigned to another movie. “He would have finished the picture,” said Troy, “except that Clark Gable, who was a good buddy of Victor Fleming’s, had just started on ‘Gone with the Wind’ and was very uncomfortable being directed by George Cukor, who was known as a women’s director.” Apparently afraid he would contract a case of cooties, “Gable demanded that Fleming be brought in to direct ‘Gone with the Wind,’ so suddenly Victor Fleming was yanked off ‘The Wizard of Oz’ with just a few weeks left to go, which left a vacuum with the Kansas scenes.” The producers brought in King Vidor, who made his name in silent films, to shoot the black-and-white portions that bracket the film.
(click here to continue reading The story behind The Wizard of Oz – chicagotribune.com.)
Coincidentally, we recently watched the film for the first time in years and years, and of course were captivated. The edition of The Wizard of Oz I have has a second disc full of documentary pieces which were mostly fascinating, including a bit of the jitterbugging footage mentioned by Nina Metz.
Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse’s fascinating article that was mentioned in the NPR piece on the Haymarket Riot and “Truth” versus primary sources.
For the past 10 years I’ve immersed myself in the details of one of the most famous events in American labor history, the Haymarket riot and trial of 1886. Along the way I’ve written two books and a couple of articles about the episode. In some circles that affords me a presumption of expertise on the subject. Not, however, on Wikipedia.
The bomb thrown during an anarchist rally in Chicago sparked America’s first Red Scare, a high-profile show trial, and a worldwide clemency movement for the seven condemned men. Today the martyrs’ graves are a national historic site, the location of the bombing is marked by a public sculpture, and the event is recounted in most American history textbooks. Its Wikipedia entry is detailed and elaborate.
A couple of years ago, on a slow day at the office, I decided to experiment with editing one particularly misleading assertion chiseled into the Wikipedia article. The description of the trial stated, “The prosecution, led by Julius Grinnell, did not offer evidence connecting any of the defendants with the bombing. … “
Coincidentally, that is the claim that initially hooked me on the topic. In 2001 I was teaching a labor-history course, and our textbook contained nearly the same wording that appeared on Wikipedia. One of my students raised her hand: “If the trial went on for six weeks and no evidence was presented, what did they talk about all those days?” I’ve been working to answer her question ever since.
I have not resolved all the mysteries that surround the bombing, but I have dug deeply enough to be sure that the claim that the trial was bereft of evidence is flatly wrong. One hundred and eighteen witnesses were called to testify, many of them unindicted co-conspirators who detailed secret meetings where plans to attack police stations were mapped out, coded messages were placed in radical newspapers, and bombs were assembled in one of the defendants’ rooms.
In what was one of the first uses of forensic chemistry in an American courtroom, the city’s foremost chemists showed that the metallurgical profile of a bomb found in one of the anarchists’ homes was unlike any commercial metal but was similar in composition to a piece of shrapnel cut from the body of a slain police officer. So overwhelming was the evidence against one of the defendants that his lawyers even admitted that their client spent the afternoon before the Haymarket rally building bombs, arguing that he was acting in self-defense.
So I removed the line about there being “no evidence” and provided a full explanation in Wikipedia’s behind-the-scenes editing log. Within minutes my changes were reversed. The explanation: “You must provide reliable sources for your assertions to make changes along these lines to the article.”
(click here to continue reading The ‘Undue Weight’ of Truth on Wikipedia – The Chronicle Review – The Chronicle of Higher Education.)
Parenthetically, as an undergraduate history major, for a couple of semesters I did some primary research at the Lyndon Baines Johnson Library in Austin (fun stuff, actually, flipping through memos and hand written notes from various players in the LBJ administration – too bad I didn’t turn my research into a book), but in those golden oldie days Wikipedia didn’t even exist.
Interesting discussion with Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse regarding the Haymarket Riot and subsequent trials, and his effort to alter Wikipedia. Too bad his book is currently selling for $73 (!!), or I’d buy a copy.
This is TALK OF THE NATION. I’m Neal Conan in Washington. Wikipedia is both ubiquitous and irreplaceable, the go-to source for quick information on almost every topic imaginable. The online encyclopedia is written and edited by volunteers. Anybody can send in a new entry or update an old one, except sometimes they can’t.
Case in point: Professor Timothy Messer-Kruse, perhaps the world’s foremost expert on Chicago’s Haymarket riot and the trials that followed, Wikipedia repeatedly rejected his repeated efforts to remove information he knew to be wrong. We’ll find out why in just a moment.
…Timothy Messer-Kruse joins us, a professor at Bowling Green State University, the author of “The Trial of the Haymarket Anarchists.” He wrote about his experience with Wikipedia in the Chronicle of Higher Education, and he joins us from a studio in Perrysville, Ohio, and nice to have you with us today.
TIMOTHY MESSER-KRUSE: Thank you, Neal.
CONAN: So you have primary sources that contradict Wikipedia’s account of that trial. You enter a change on the website. So what happens?
MESSER-KRUSE: Well, I tried to change what I thought was the most glaring inaccuracy in the page on the Haymarket. The page described the actual Haymarket bombing. It described the eight-hour movement leading to it. It described the trial that came from that event.
And in that article, the description of the trial began, saying the prosecution did not offer evidence connecting any of the defendants with the bombing. Well, my research has all been about showing what exactly went on in the trial, and there was an overwhelming amount of evidence. Now maybe it’s not evidence that we today would find worthy of convicting these men and sending them to the gallows, but there was undoubtedly multiple kinds of evidence.
There was 118 witnesses called to testify, many of them involved in the anarchist movement themselves. There was forensic, chemical evidence. There was even some embarrassed admissions on the part of some of the defendants. So I thought that description in particular needed to be changed.
And I tried to simply delete that reference, and when I did so, within minutes, that page was restored, and I was instructed by whoever this volunteer editor was about some of Wikipedia’s ongoing policies that prevented my making these changes.
CONAN: And you tried it again, and basically what they said was they don’t rely on primary sources like transcripts of the trial but rather on the preponderance of secondary sources.
MESSER-KRUSE: That’s right. So I was told that I needed to come up with some published sources that supported my point of view. Simply referencing the coroner’s records or the trial transcripts or other sources that I’d uncovered was not sufficient.
So I actually bided my time. I knew that my own published book would be coming out in 2011. So I tried again and was told that I needed to represent a majority viewpoint, not a minority viewpoint, namely my own, and that Wikipedia was about verifiability, not necessarily about truth.
And if my account may have been truthful, the majority view still has to be represented on Wikipedia’s website because it needs to be verifiable, it needs to represent what is the majority opinion.
(click here to continue reading Truth And The World Of Wikipedia Gatekeepers : NPR.)
It is a big flaw with Wikipedia, actually. Primary sources are not respected, and sometimes Wikipedia editors are not open to accepting changes. For one small example, Steve Jobs was a fruitarian, but the editors of Steve Jobs Wikipedia page constantly delete any reference to this. I’ve added citations from Walter Isaacson’s book, as have other people, but since these citations are based upon primary sources that Mr. Isaacson interviewed, there is currently no mention of Steve Jobs being a Fruitarian on his biography page. Minor, but telling.
One final excerpt, which also echoes my experience attempting to edit a Wikipedia page:
CONAN: Timothy Messer-Kruse, I wanted to go back to you. Given what your – you’ve experienced and what you’ve learned about this process, what might you suggest as an improvement?
MESSER-KRUSE: Well, I think one thing is to make new contributors more aware of sort of the Wikipedia culture because I think one of the obstacles I ran into was that I was too easily deterred from trying to persist and make these changes, although I, you know, I try it a dozen times over two years. I sort of gave up after I was scolded and told to look at the civility policy at one point. At one point, I was branded a vandal for trying to change a page after someone had changed it back. And I kind of slunk away. And in the last week, I’ve been reading some of the comments to my article and some people have been suggesting that I was not persistent enough. So it seems like a catch-22. Either you persist and resist against these policies and accusations, or you don’t. In academia, of course, if I submit an article to an editor and I get it returned to me and rejected, I don’t then call up the editor and yell at them and insist that it be published. I just go somewhere else. So there’s that difference in culture, I think, that maybe many academics like myself would find an obstacle to really contributing.
Interesting bit of historical research about human sleep rhythms.
In 2001, historian Roger Ekirch of Virginia Tech published a seminal paper, drawn from 16 years of research, revealing a wealth of historical evidence that humans used to sleep in two distinct chunks.
His book At Day’s Close: Night in Times Past, published four years later, unearths more than 500 references to a segmented sleeping pattern – in diaries, court records, medical books and literature, from Homer’s Odyssey to an anthropological account of modern tribes in Nigeria.
Roger Ekirch says this 1595 engraving by Jan Saenredam is evidence of activity at night Much like the experience of Wehr’s subjects, these references describe a first sleep which began about two hours after dusk, followed by waking period of one or two hours and then a second sleep.
“It’s not just the number of references – it is the way they refer to it, as if it was common knowledge,” Ekirch says.
During this waking period people were quite active. They often got up, went to the toilet or smoked tobacco and some even visited neighbours. Most people stayed in bed, read, wrote and often prayed. Countless prayer manuals from the late 15th Century offered special prayers for the hours in between sleeps.
And these hours weren’t entirely solitary – people often chatted to bed-fellows or had sex.
A doctor’s manual from 16th Century France even advised couples that the best time to conceive was not at the end of a long day’s labour but “after the first sleep”, when “they have more enjoyment” and “do it better”.
Ekirch found that references to the first and second sleep started to disappear during the late 17th Century. This started among the urban upper classes in northern Europe and over the course of the next 200 years filtered down to the rest of Western society.
By the 1920s the idea of a first and second sleep had receded entirely from our social consciousness.
He attributes the initial shift to improvements in street lighting, domestic lighting and a surge in coffee houses – which were sometimes open all night. As the night became a place for legitimate activity and as that activity increased, the length of time people could dedicate to rest dwindled.
In his new book, Evening’s Empire, historian Craig Koslofsky puts forward an account of how this happened.
“Associations with night before the 17th Century were not good,” he says. The night was a place populated by people of disrepute – criminals, prostitutes and drunks.
“Even the wealthy, who could afford candlelight, had better things to spend their money on. There was no prestige or social value associated with staying up all night.” That changed in the wake of the Reformation and the counter-Reformation. Protestants and Catholics became accustomed to holding secret services at night, during periods of persecution. If earlier the night had belonged to reprobates, now respectable people became accustomed to exploiting the hours of darkness. This trend migrated to the social sphere too, but only for those who could afford to live by candlelight. With the advent of street lighting, however, socialising at night began to filter down through the classes.
(click here to continue reading BBC News – The myth of the eight-hour sleep.)
Personally, if my natural sleep pattern is followed (that is, if I don’t have other pressing reasons to change my patterns, like work related issues, or illness, or whatever), I take an hour nap in the late afternoon/early evening, stay up for a while, then sleep about 6-7 hours.
Cory Franklin thinks the reason that Hull House shut down was that it became dependent upon government money to stay afloat, and Illinois is not flush with cash these days, nor is helping poor people top priority of most politicians…
In 1889, future Nobel Prize winner Jane Addams and her associate Ellen Starr founded Hull House after visiting London’s Toynbee Hall, the oldest settlement house in the world. In England’s class-ridden society, Toynbee’s philosophy was to bring the wealthy and poor together — “to learn as much as to teach, to receive as much as to give” — and create a sense of community between the classes. As Addams expressed it, “to accentuate the likenesses and ignore the differences which are found among the people whom the settlement constantly brings into juxtaposition.”
Hull House provided social and educational support to Chicago’s immigrant poor and dispossessed at a time when class struggle threatened to tear Chicago apart. The 1886 Haymarket riot and the 1894 Pullman strike created social turmoil and class resentment in the city. In that environment, Addams and Starr fostered personal interaction at Hull House between the rich, middle class and the poor.
Tradesmen taught skills. College graduates and the wealthy led artistic and music programs. Social clubs showed immigrants how to assimilate. Hull House was renowned for lively discussions of religion, politics and the arts. People of widely different backgrounds and outlooks learned about each other and worked together for the goals of the progressive movement: child labor laws, unemployment compensation, women’s suffrage and protection of immigrants and minorities.
Hull House was originally financed by private money but then, as now, private money was limited. As Addams wrote in “Twenty Years At Hull House,” “we were often bitterly pressed for money and worried by the prospect of unpaid bills, and we gave up one golden scheme after another because we could not afford it; we cooked the meals and kept the books and washed the windows without a thought of hardship if we thereby saved money for the consummation of some ardently desired undertaking.”
She harbored no illusions about government or politicians. She admired the latter for their ability to gain the trust of the poor. She understood this was often through patronage, which she loathed. However, she would confront politicians when she believed their venality undermined her constituents. She worked with government since she understood it was able to do many things Hull House could not, and she willingly ceded those responsibilities. However, she avoided having Hull House become too reliant on government.
(click here to continue reading Commentary: Why Hull House had to shut down – chicagotribune.com.)