A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3.6 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, The Paris Review, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 3,000+ total posts
In the heat of the Battle of Britain (September 7, 1940 to May 21, 1941) a contribution was made to the women of the U.K. by Mrs. Frances Ruskin of NYC--well, sort of a contribution, or at least a suggestion of something bearing some resemblance to camaraderie. "Light and dark colored air raid suites", with adjustable hoods and deep pockets outfitted with blast plates, and made "fireproof" by a "treatment" from du Pont. This short note appeared in Popular Mechanics in May, 1941.
Dr. Edward Jarvis (1803-1884) conducted a study1 in 1866 to determine how much a factor distance from an "insane hospital" was in regards to people using the facility. It sounds like an obvious-enough question with a probably-obvious answer, but these things are really never so until someone actually looks at the data and extracts an answer. And so Dr. Jarvis performed this function, answering the question once and for all that yes, indeed, the further away you are from a facility the less likely you are going to be to use it.
For example, in my own state of North Carolina, Dr. Jarvis breaks down the rather long and narrow state into five sections, and then lists the number of people per section making use of the state facility in Raleigh.
This item can be purchased from the blog's bookstore, here.
The findings by section and distance as follows:
I, Wake county, including Raleigh; 1 in 4,875 residents used the state hospital
II, 50 miles distant; 1 in 6,433
III, 50-100 miles "from the asylum"; 1 in 9,707.
IV, 100-150 miles from Raleigh; 1 in 10,982
V, 150-250 (+) miles; 1 in 45,790.
This is pretty much consistent with the few other states that I checked.
Jarvis conducted another study that also conclusively stated that the closer people are to an asylum that the more they are subjected to the idea of being able to help/cure the people attending the institution.
Jarvis had a few pages of analysis at the end, establishing a "law of nearness" on the use of facilities. He established that just because the institution is equally available to all (white) people doesn't mean that it will be used equally by all. He suggested that institutions be established in different sections of the state to help make it possible for all people in a state to use the state asylum.
Again, something isn't obvious and correct until it is.
This was some early and instructive medical statistics work conducted by Jarvis, who in addition to being an M.D. served from 1852 to 1884 as president of the American Statistical Association. He completed this survey not long after having tabulated the national statistics of mortality for the Eight U.S. Census (of 1860).
1. JARVIS, Edward, M.D. "Influence of Distance from and Nearness to an Insane Hospital on its Use by the People." Offprint from the American Journal of Insanity, XXII, January 1866, pp 361-406. This publication paginated 1-46.
I wish there was more time so that I could scan and post the contents of this pamphlet, though sometimes you can get a pretty good insight into a work by reading the index--this is one of those times:
This pamphlet may be purchased through the blog's bookstore, here.
It is a tough go.
I had a difficult time categorizing this pamphlet outside of the obvious "history of medicine" category (broad, I know, but this is mainly a physics/maths place). I did choose "History of Fear" as a category because in many cases the insane--and especially the unreachably insane, and beyond even that, the poor and unreachable insane--because there was little these people could "offer" to the world on the other side of their eyeballs other than the reminder that this condition could happen to anybody; that, and of course the state of physical fear because the medical community didn't know what to do with these people for the most part. This becomes painfully obvious before a reader makes it past the two pages of the index.
Provision for the Insane Poor. Extract from the Report of the Board of Public Charities for 1874. Harribburg; B.F. Meyers, State Printer, 1875. 9x5", 24pp, original printed wrappers. Deaccession stamp on rear wrapper; also s small oval "Library of Congress/Smithsonian Deposit" stamp on the title page. Four copies located by WorldCat: Duke, University Chicago, NY Academy of Medicine, College of Physicians of Philadelphia.
There is a warehouse of boxes of books set into rows, and at the back of a row of boxes is a column of boxes, and in the bottom box of the column at the bottom of a stack of books sat the unpromising-sounding "A Sanitary Survey of Woods Hole" (1926). Woods Hole (in Barnstable County on Cape Code) as most people would know it today is the home of the largest privately-funded oceanographic research institution in the U.S. (organized in 1930), though when this report was written in 1926, it was still a fairly sleepy resort town for the privileged of Boston and NYC.
This document is available for sale at the blog's bookstore, here.
The report (written by James Bernard Graeser) is pretty much as it says, including a social health history of the small town. But tucked away in the back of this typescript is what seems to be an original health notice (printed on cloth) outlining what people should not be throwing into the ocean and harbor. It uses some surprising language--at least to the 21st century reader--which is a little on the disturbing side, though there would not have been a need to print such a poster and put it up around town if there wasn't a need.
Strong stuff. "...(O)r cause any animal to be drowned in such waters"?
The ironic part of this is that one of the areas referenced is Penzance Point, which was a wealthy summer home development, and which had been built on the site of the Pacific Guano Company (bust in 1886), "which produced fertilizer from guano imported from islands in the Pacific Ocean, the Caribbean, and the coast of South Carolina" (Wiki)
Until today I had never considered the idea of alcohol as a propagandistic weapon in war until I read Hitler is in Favor (1943), a slim pamphlet that turns out to be an anti-anti-Prohibition statement from the Repeal Associates (of Washington D.C.). The statement "Hitler is in favor" seemed more an interogatory or than a declarative, and the issue of what he was in favor of seemed to be pretty open-ended. Alcohol was not on the suspect list.
From what I can tell the pamphlet is a declaration against an earlier pamphlet written by R(overt) Hercod (b. 1876), who was a prominent international figure on the prohibition scene, general secretary of the International Bureau Against Alcoholism (Laussane, Switzerland), and also active in organizations like the Swiss Total Abstinence Federation and other such groups. He wrote (necessarily) on the evils of alcohol and the need for the reintroduction of prohibition, while recognizing that Hitler was against alcohol, and trying to distance his views from those.
This however is not achieved in high relief.
For example in 1939 Hercod observes in a pamphlet purchased and distributed by the Board of Temperance of the Methodist Church that "(Hitler) knew Prohibition was a good issue for starting up trouble" by trying to cause a wider division between wet/dry forces in the U.S., which I've never heard of before as a tool in the Nazi propaganda toolbox.
Things get more problematic for the Hercod pamphlet, as the author of Hitler is in Favor points out the "Dr. Hercod has a kind word for Nazi sterilization law, although agreeing that it cannot have much effect in bringing about temperance". This sterilization law must have been a subset of other sterilization laws in Germany, this one being the sterilization of "serious cases" of alcoholics which could prove to be a "danger...for the race".
Hercod identifies the German government in 1938 and 1939 as "benevolent", at least in regards to its participation in organizations like the International Temperance Union, which seems to be an extreme example of single-issue politics.
Another positive influence seen by Hercod is in Hitler Youth, where even though they "are not required o take a pledge of abstinence...they are expected to abstain from alcohol and tobacco..."
Then this nugget: "As to the future of alcohol in German, Dr. Hercod does not believe such a drastic step as prohibition is in the offing".
The sterilization part is a very sobering insistence that this weird intellectual effort is not without its fair share of bizarre, real-life implications, and that there was an overall positive if not foggy interpretation of National Socialism, with everything weighed in terms of prohibition.
But then the stiffener comes at close of the pamphlet--an incredible statement made in 1939 that no doubt demanded the consumption of an obscuring potion by the writer. The anonymous author notes that Hercod relates "how active German Jews were in temperance movements) in 1939, but then "without promulgation, so far as we know of any special decree to this effect, the Jews disappeared from the temperance societies (when the authorities took control of these societies) where they had often occupied an important place".
In the pursuit of an alcohol-free world Hercod overlooks the Nazi plan for the Jewish-free world. Being in neighboring Switzerland it seems impossible that Hercod could have missed the previous six years of bitter race laws instituted in Germany (including the Nuremberg Race Laws of 1935), but it seems as though he did. He also does not seem to have been affected by the Austrian Anschluss, either. Or any of the other Hitler stuff that wasn't playing out so nicely in 1939. (I can only assume that all this was written before September, 1939, but...)
And so that is the end of the tour of this very brief but deeply troubling nine-page pamphlet. It is difficult to understand the thinking that makes such extreme disgusting myopia possible, though I think it is helpful to surface such a brew as this to appreciate a part of the low wavelength thinking that contributes to making monstrous social licensing possible.
I've bumped into another issue of the Physical Review (December 1911, pp 409-430, volume II (second series), #6) with the important William D. Coolidge paper, "A Powerful Roentgen Ray Tube With a Pure Electron Discharge".
A decade-and-a-half after Wilhelm Roentgen's discovery of x-rays (an epochal paper published at the tail end of 1895) this is the first appearance of what we think of as the modern X-Ray tube--a design that would be used for decades to come, and which provided clear and more accurate that had been seen, in a way opening this world up, well, exponentially. It is a very significant contribution to the history of science, and it was cool to find it again by chance.
[Source: Wikipedia, showing the Coolidge tube ca. 1917.]
Here's an interesting (literally) little book1 on Western poker players and poker in general published in the Great State in 1930. What makes it very appealing to me is that it has colorful and rusty minute biographies (with drawings) of some of the noteworthy Western players, though it is particularly Texas-centric.(15 of 21 of the players are from that state).
(The Library of Congress Copyright entries for 1930 lists "J.F. Dresing, Jr." 2 in what may be the author's chair.)
Contents of the pamphlet:
"Rules for Winners (How to win more)" with advice such as “…Get in first blow on arriving home by advising wife of the pre-carious condition of the SICK FRIEND…”
The pamphlet also offers "Rules for Losers (How to lose more)" such as “…attempt to “bluff” the winners frequently, and note result….” And “…draw for middle straights whenever the opportunity offers…” and “…never despair…”
General Rules, such as “… when the cards are passed around, and the ‘pot not opened,’ do not neglect to mention, ‘honest dealer’”
Rules for On-Lookers or Sweaters, such as “…request the cinch players to loosen up…” and “…talk all the time, criticize every man’s play…”
Wild Cards section:
"Addresses to Make Up a Game table"
“Experience log to track who owes what"
And then comes the 21 images of the great Texas poker players and their one-line identifications, which are entertaining and probably not very helpful:
Damon G. Gaiter, Dallas, Texas, “Who plays them wide open and makes the ‘going’ rough for the Leathered Vested FRATERNITY.”
B.A. Parrett, Owl-Den, Texas, “Who talks loose, but plays tight.”
Before the Neil deGrasse Tyson version and update of Carl Sagan's landmark television series, Cosmos, there was Alexander von Humboldt, and his enormously influential book of the same title, printed in 1845-1862. Well, von Humboldt's (1769-18591) book was actually Kosmos when published in German, which is where it started its life (and which von Humboldt suffered mightily for in it English translation), and in which this map appears. Von Humboldt was enormously studied and educated and of a high scientific mind over many subjects, one of those 19th century figures who seemed as though they could know everything, a polymath of high order (along the lines of Goethe and von Helmholtz and Thomas Young and others). He was a meteorologist and biogeographer before those sciences existed; a naturalist, geographer, archaeologist, and explorer, a natural philosopher of magnitudes.
The original maps is available for sale at the blog's bookstore, here.
Kosmos reflected his lifelong interest in order, and what he did was astonishing--he attempted to unifying the complexities of nature in one book (of five volumes), binding the various branches of science together in a cohesive whole, attempting to show how the laws of the universe acted here on Earth. It was a very influential work, very progressive, a masterwork of scientific method. Kosmos.
At first glance this detailed and dense map looks foreboding and somehow off-putting--at least for me, and that was before I understood what the numbers represented.
The blue numbers on this section of a larger map refer to soldiers killed on the battlefield of the 1916 Somme battlefield. It is the work of Lieutenant Colonel Arthur Messer (Assistant Director of Graves Registration and Enquiries in France), who undertook to record the crosses of the Fallen on the battlefield and register their location, and then to re-inter the bodies together in larger cemeteries.
[Source: John Hughes-Wilson, The First World War in 100 Objects, Firefly Books, 2014.]
What we are seeing here are pieces of four 6x6 grids (one complete and three partial) numbered (in red) 1-36, each one of these squares further subdivided into four section. Each larger square composed of 36 squares is 1000x1000 yards total, meaning that each one of the 36 subdivisions is about 166x166 yards, and each of the four segments of one smaller square is 83 yards. The blue numbers indicate a soldier killed on that field of battle which means that in the large 36-square "M" subdivision #18 that there were 210+29+372+17 fatalities, or 628 on a 166x166 yard field, or in one case 372 killed on a 83x83 yard plain. The deaths were even more intense on other areas of the field--in Square S #11 there were 749+207+234+126, or 1,416 deaths in that 166x166 yard field, and 749 on the 83x83 yard field. It is hard to visualize such loss. I picture a U.S. football field--there are 22 players on the field during play, and that seems to populate the area pretty well--casualties of 749 soldiers on a similar area would be nearly 35 times that, meaning that placed equidistantly and with a few feet on the sides they would cover the field. There are, what, 75 people on a football team? That means at the beginning of the game when all of the players and coaches and staff and cheerleaders and member of the band run out onto the field to take their places, they would all be dead--and then some. That is a lot of death.
According to the Imperial War Museum, temporary markers for fallen soldiers looked like this:
After the war the Imperial War Graves Commission replaced the wooden crosses with stone markers.
The wooden markers would then returned to the family.
Shells as far as the eye can see, at the National Filling factory at Chilwell, Nottinghamshire. Even though I enjoy calculating estimates at vast quantities of things (like all of the life that has existed on Earth, from multi-cellular onwards, how many Legos it would take to build a Dyson sphere around our Solar System, what distance the Enterprise has covered under the command of Capt Picard, that sort) I really can't get a comfortable picture of the vastness of this factory to estimate the number of pounds of explosives under that roof.
Given that the factory produced about 19 million shells during WWI, I think it would be a safe guess that some 1 billion pounds of explosives were processed through the factory--and perhaps several billion. But it is difficult to say what we are looking at in these photos, except to say that the number is "big".
[Source" John Hughes-Wilson, The First World War in 100 Objects, Firefly Books, 2014.
["Female munitions workers guide 6 inch howitzer shells being lowered to the floor at the Chilwell ammunition factory in Nottinghamshire, U.K."--Source: "British official photographer : Nicholls, Horace - This is photograph Q 30040 from the collections of the Imperial War Museums."]