A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7000 images, 3 million hits| History of Science, Math & Tech | Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places...
Isn't this great? I bumped into a wonderful site called kloth.net (http://www.kloth.net/services/cardpunch.php) that provides a free-to-all and unrestricted use of their punch card emulator. It was found while looking for dating ideas for an IBM 5081 card that I have that has programming information for the BINAC computer (ca. late 1940's), and kloth.net had info on the history of IBM cards as well as the emulator--plus other stuff. Completely distracted from the BINAC quest, I created some cards using some great first lines of literature. You can play too!
I found this fine appreciation of one great naturalist (Ernst Haeckel, 1834-1919) on the career and work of a great biologist and educator (Thomas Henry Huxley, 1825-1895) in the February 1874 issue of Nature. [Ernst Haeckel, "Scientific Worthies II--Thomas Henry Huxley", in Nature, February 5, 1874, pp 257-258, four very-compact columns.] Huxley was first-class and was perhaps the major defender and exponent of Charles Darwin (earning him the well-known nickname of "Darwin's Bulldog")--in a sense, Haeckel was a German equivalent of the Huxley/Darwin relationship, along with being an embryologist, physician, philosopher, biologist, and a great and demanding scientific illustrator. The article is a quick and interesting read, and is reproduced in full, below.
There are a number of posts on this blog relating to maps of unusual, odd, and non-existent places (see for example Maps of Imaginary Places III, here, and On Missing Antique Atlases of Imaginary Places and the Sameness of Alien Math and Music: Huygens' 1698 ETs, here) so this lovely map of the action in Hamlet came as an unexpected and welcome addition.
["Autograph diagram: Hamlet Prince of Denmark, 30x47cm, stage sets and scenery." Source: http://www.library.upenn.edu/collections/rbm/photos/]
It makes sense of course to chart the action in a play, but I think that I've never seen one that was of some age...and to see this plotting the advances and retreats of Gertrude, Hamlet, Laertes, Ophelia, Polonius, Fortinbras, Claudius, King of Denmark, Rosencrantz, and Guildenstern and to see them all at once made everything more comfortable, and confusing. Perhaps that is the great quieter of maps and diagrams of imaginary places, adding another layer of mystery by making the nonexistent more complex.
The greatest map of nothing must be from Lewis Carroll’s The Hunting of the Snark, an Agony in Eight Fits, and occurs in the Bellman’s tale, starting the second fit. It begins:
The Bellman himself they all praised to the skies- Such a carriage, such ease and such grace! Such solemnity too! One could see he was wise, The moment one look in his face!
He had bought a large map representing the sea, Without the least vestige of land: And the crew were much pleased when the found it to be A map they could all understand.
"What's the good of Mercator's North Poles and Equators, Tropics, Zones, and Meridian Lines?" So the Bellman would cry: and the crew would reply, "They are merely conventional signs!
"Other maps are such shapes, with their islands and capes! But we've got our brave Captain to thank" (So the crew would protest) "that he's bought us the best- A perfect and absolute blank!"
Sometimes there is nothing so fine as something that beautifully illustrates the nothing that isn’t there, and this lovely map, unencumbered of all of the elements and details that define the mapness of something, perfectly explains the origin of its need.
Another great and perhaps probably not-imaginary map is the wonderful hair growth/directional map that was the creation of Dr. Walter Kidd (Fellow of the Zoological Society, London) and his attempt to reconcile the the influences of gravity, inheritance, genetics, Weismannianism, and other assorted biological bits via his study of hair growth patterns. The article appears in the (many) pages of the ScientificAmericanSupplement for 13 September 1902, on page 22, 328.
And as much as Kidd's map was one of tracing impossible connections of hope in a hairy back, the "Cadger's Map" from the land of Hobos hopes to thread out a decent pass-through experience for the People With Nothing to try and get a little something.
[Source: John Hotten, The Slang Dictionary, Etymological, Historical, and Anecdotal, 1874; full text available here.]
The symbols are explained in the book on page 38:
"Another use is also made of hieroglyphs. Charts of successful begging neighbourhoods are rudely drawn, and symbolical signs attached to each house to show whether benevolent or adverse“In many cases there is over the kitchen mantelpiece” of a tramps’ lodging-house “a map of the district, dotted here and there with memorandums of failure or success.” A correct facsimile of one of these singular maps is given in this book. It was obtained from the patterers and tramps who supplied a great many words for this work, and who were employed by the original publisher in collecting Old Ballads, Christmas Carols, Dying Speeches, and Last Lamentations, as materials for a History of Popular Literature. The reader will, no doubt, be amused with the drawing. The locality depicted is near Maidstone, in Kent; and it was probably sketched by a wandering Screever in payment for a night’s lodging. The English practice of marking everything, and scratching names on public property, extends itself to the tribe of vagabonds. On the map, as may be seen in the left-hand corner, some Traveller has drawn a favourite or noted female, singularly nicknamed Three-quarter Sarah. What were the peculiar accomplishments of this lady to demand so uncommon a name, the reader will be at a loss to discover; but a patterer says it probably refers to a shuffling dance of that name, common in tramps’ lodging-houses, and in which “¾ Sarah” may have been a proficient. Above her, three beggars or hawkers have reckoned their day’s earnings, amounting to 13s., and on the right a tolerably correct sketch of a low hawker, or cadger, is drawn. “To Dover, the nigh way,” is the exact phraseology; and “hup here,” a fair specimen of the self-acquired education of the draughtsman. No key or explanation to the hieroglyphs was given in the original, because it would have been superfluous, when every inmate of the lodging-house knew the marks from his cradle—or rather his mother’s back."
This all leads somehow to this impossible quest of Richard Saunders, who sought spiritual/biblical/cosmo-comographical spiritualness connecting the dots and creating lined matrices in human mole placement:
I've written a bit about this in 2009 in this blog, here. It seems to me that in all the maps of something-that-is-nothing, Saunders' efforts may be at teh top or bottom of that heap.
There's definitely an angelic figure in this photograph, an image made showing American Doughboys lining up in front of a bakery/candy store (high-sugar delivery transport systems enhancer) in Paris in 1918. This photograph is a News Photo Service item, produced by the Western Newspaper Union, which would send photographs (and their captions) on demand to newspapers and magazines requesting a scene, say, of American soldiers waiting patiently in line for apple pie at a Parisian bakery. The caption says that "America's sons (were) grouped about the store waiting for doors to open" so that they could have at the apple pie. They are waiting for something, to be sure; it doesn't seem quite right that a bakery would not be open during daylight hours (though the shutters on the upper floors are closed still) in the winter (I see snow), but then again I'm not an expert on the hours kept by small business in Paris during WWI.
I am taken with the figure of the small girl in the windowed-door of the bakery, standing there with her hands clasped, framed by the window pane, dressed in flowing white. Is the place really closed, or did the soldiers simply have no money for these treats, the little girl standing there in the unlocked doorway wondering why all of these soldiers just don't come inside? Were the men paid in scrip with no value in the streets of the city? The good news is that these men were alive, and it may have been November or December of 1918, which means that the killing of millions and millions of soldiers and civilians had just about come to an end, so they could probably stay living, safely making their idle if not penniless way around the snowy streets of Paris, wanting and waiting to go home.
This photograph is available for sale at our blog store, here.
There are many posts on this blog relating to pre-WWII visualizations of bigness and smallness, of what it would like exactly to see 54,000 B-17s in flight, or how much a German prisoner eats per year in British compounds in 1917, and so on. I found the following qualitative display of quantitative data regarding American railroads and the astonishing amount of material they transported per year, resting comfortably in the pages of a Scientific American for 1918. The editor placed the display right on the first page of the issue, stating that "every one of us knows that the railway system of the United States has the quality of bigness, but not every one understands just how immense it actually is", and he was correct. The top image relates to the 2 billion tons of freight hauled by the railways every year--that would mean that you could fill up Madison Square Garden (one of the earliest versions of the building now occupying that spot) twice every day with stuff for one whole year. That would be a cube 870' long and 540' wide and 280' deep. (The editor doesn't reckon it but that would also make for a tower 870'x540'x90,000' (or 18 miles) high.)
The editor also points out that if you took all of the locomotives (and coal cars) in the U.S. and lined them up they'd be a 4-track-wide string of them 385 miles long--that's a lot of locomotives.
This great photograph was made in 1918 and stamped on the reverse "Photo by Central News Photo Service" of NYC. It shows the launching of the U.S.S. Agawam, the first standardized ship launched by the U.S. Navy (according to a New York Times article for May 3, 1918, ("FIRST FABRICATED SHIP; The Agawam, Forerunner of Standardized Fleet, to be Launched Today"). [This image is actually available for purchase via the World War I Photography section of this blog, here.]
The image reminds me in a way of the launching of the Dreadnought, which in some ways was another beginning of WWI, or at least of the naval race right before the war and of the competition for naval superiority between the Germany and England. And I remember how King Edward VII, rickety with illness, climbed the stairs to deliver his speech, and to break open the bottle of Australian wine against the Dreadnought's bow. Except that the bottle didn't break on the first attempt--a somewhat forbidding element, except that it was her bow that Dreadnought used to sink a German sub. The ship revolutionized naval technology and Germany played catch-up to it (and in effect an entire new class of battleship) right to the beginning of the war. Less than 15 years later, the Dreadnought was sold for scrap.
In the vast caches of loot taken during the course of war I suspect books have ranked somewhere in the middle of stolen stuff--no doubt some fine libraries have disappeared, though I can't offhand say how many fine libraries emerged from the slaughterhouse. This photograph--a wartime news photo service image--is one of the few that I have seen depicting the capture of stolen books.
[A deep detail, followed by a more moderate detail]
And the full image, along with the news photo service prepared description of the image:
The following is a simple scan-and-post of the 40 documents here that are a peep behind the curtain of running the JFK campaign in 1960. They came from the estate of Gladys Beauchamp Uhl, who served in the capacity as Jacqueline Kennedy's press secretary (but who did not make the transition to the White House). There are interesting telegrams regarding the birth of John Kennedy Jr., Mrs. Kennedy's wish to "buy American" for her inaugural gown, the rejection of the idea of a Kennedy-Nixon spouse debate, and such. There's also a multi-page script ("Jackie Kennedy TV Show") for a political t.v. spot for JFK.
I thought that I published this a while ago--evidently I did but only for parts and pieces. This is the entire archive.
There was perhaps nothing so satisfying to a fellow in America in 1878 than to have a massive moustache--or at least the idea of one, a call to high fashion in hairstyles for men. But since not everyone could produce a garden on their upper lip there was always someone around to take advantage of the necessity of hope--in this case, the hope was provided by Smith & Co of Palatine, Illinois. They sold a concoction of some sort that promised (on three applications) to produce a heavy moustache and/or beard with 'no injury".
The detail from the following snippet, which is actually a tiny detail from a full-page sheert of ads (see below):
A little research reveals the packet for the miracle-grow:
As long as there is something worth stealing it is probably the case with the human race that what that something is won't be, and will be stolen. This has been the case forever, and as vigilant as an owner of property might be--whether that bit that stood for labor exchange units was a cow or land or gold or money itself--there will be someone else out there in the anti-vigilant world tempting fate and chance and skill at taking someone else's belongings away.
We have a little window that has opened to reveal a piece of that world--an unusual one, for the 19th century, anyway. That is what I saw when breezing through the memoirs of George Washington Wallace (1823-1891), Recollections of a Chief of Police, which was published in 1887. Wallace was police chief of NYC, making him THE police chief (sorry, Chicago), and he had some pretty good recollections to recollect. (Which is a good thing he recorded this book when he did, because he would be deads four years later.)
But as I said, the image that stopped me was the one shown below, displaying the tools criminals would use to creak/creep their way into someone else's life.
And the interesting bit inside the interesting bit? The wall-mounted collection of mugshots: