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
There's something about a strong design in brilliant red:
This striking work is the cover for a circular produced by the National Fire Protection Association in 1929. It is a simple folded sheet, with some basic data about joining the association, and someone did a very good job of creating artwork for the front cover of this simple publication.
Here are some other small designs for pamphlet covers that I've found, and scanned, and cleaned up, and made into 14x19 posters, which look pretty good and which are also crazily color-hungry:
And just at the last moment, another found design in red:
This is the cover of a small pamphlet by W. Howard Grady, published in Kansas City, in 1925. From what I can tell in a quick read there seems to be no overriding approach to the New America outside of faith, freedom, and "buy American".
Just two years before the 400th anniversary celebrating Columbus, and in the city celebrating it with a world's fair (Columbian Exposition) of 1892, Charles A. Story set out on his own voyage, seeking support to change the way the United States wrote in ts native tongue. It seems high in the century for this sort of expedition, and Story was not nearly the first to get that, not even the first of 1890, as spelling reform has been a subdued meme in this country for a long time.
What make's Story's story so momentarily interesting is that he sought government intervention to make his dream come true. He was preceded in this strategy by Robert Fulton (who received $300K+) and Samuel Morse ($30k), which was money well spent by as usually very tight Congress; Story sought $5,000,000 1890's dollars to change the alphabet, at the end of which you would get an alphabet of 66 letters of which only 45 were really necessary. And 100 schools to teach the new alphabet. And so on.
A curious and Outsidery text illustration illustrative of some misty point:
$5,000,000 was a h of a lot of money back then, and could have been spend of better things and maybe on some worse things (though perhaps not on the latter).
Mr. Story had a nicely designed cover for his plea; he didn't do quite so nicely on the text illustrations.
Here's another unfortunate text illustration; this one isn't so much like an Outsider as it is just plain creepy:
How this was supposed to enhance the language, or create new words, in the fine tradition of the development of the English language from the languages of the Aryan, Persian, Sanskrit, Greek, Latin, and so on, is a $500,000 mystery.
Leonard R. Bester was a marine architect and naval engineer who produced this very interesting document on his highly-stylized concepts for boat/ship design. The vessels are all certainly streamlined, and are long and narrow, and share the same "tubular" hull construction. He recorded them in these documents (below) which were sent by him to secure copyright protection to the U.S. copyright office, one copy of which was sent on to the Library of Congress. They were certainly produced on a very small production scale, perhaps only a few copies made, given what looks like their home-cooked flavor--in any event, they did not receive any circulation that I can find, and are not listed anywhere in WorldCat (which is a librarian's tool for recording and documenting books) showing that nothing by Bester is listed in any contributing library worldwide.
Bester was definitely a working naval architect who possessed at least several patents1 who worked for the Todd Shipping Company (NYC) and who was listed by 1919 as a member of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers2 . The work looked interesting and intriguing to me, but is also in a field that I know basically nothing about, so I thought that given the possible interest in it to designers and engineers that I would at least enter the information about the work here in internettubewebland where it might be findable to someone interested in this sort of creative thinking.
All of this is offered for sale at the blog bookstore, here.
The work seems to be divided into two section, each section with three parts, and although not dated per se the title pages such as they are are copyrighted 1935 and 1936, with the later having a copyright/Library of Congress acquisitions stamp for 1936. The blueprints, on the other hand, date back as far as 1931, so there's a bit of a mix. The work certainly is not passed 1936. Altogether there are 19 folding blueprints of boats, 36 pages of text, 12 photographs on three leaves, and several folding charts.
Section I: The Streamline Fleet (1935), divided into three sections.
"Features and Advantages of the New Tubular Type Boat", pp 3-6
Tech illustrations in 12 figures, pp 7-9, followed by 6 leaves of 2 figur/leaf of various cross-sections
"Design Features", pp 10-14, with a folding plate: "Comparative plate of tubular type hull structure", 13x18"
"Main points of advantages of tubular design", pp 15-17
"Summary of the Streamline Tubular Boat", pp 18-19
"High Speed Yachts", p. 22
"Future of the Yachting Industry", pp 23-26
Conclusion, p. 27
"Propulsion Machinery, Diesel Power", pp 28-30, with 3 leaves of tables and 2 folding plates on the turbine
65' Express Transportation Yacht for 60 people, 19x11 inches
75' Express Transportation Yacht for 75 people, 10x22"
85' Express Transportation Yacht for 85 people, 10x23"
100' Express Transportation Yacht for 110 people, 10x30"
Express Transportation Yachts
1. Bester patented an approach to "tubular" hull construction ("Ship hull design", filed in 1936 and patented in 1939, US2158214A), which seems reasonable to me (as a non-engineer). He describes it so: "It has been the practice in the making of steel vessels such as are commonly used, to provide framework consisting essentially of transverse web frames coupled with longitudinal members, whereby to give form and rigidity to the vessel. Even where the vessels were oval or cylindrical in general cross-section, the framing invariably embodied straight pieces. This type of construction had the considerable disadvantage that it was quite heavy and it was not possible to attain any great amount of saving in weight by variations in the arrangement and size of the several frame members. It was also impossible in such construction to reduce the labor cost in the building there of and also to reduce the cost of propulsion or materially increase the speed of the vessel without overstraining the hull structure." Source: Google Patents, http://www.google.com/patents/US2158214
2. Proceedings of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers, volume 25, 1918, listing of the Society's leadership and membership.
Yes, yes, I know this isn't the work of the beautiful Paolo Uccello, but it does remind me of his Battle of San Romano (ca. 1435, and 60 sq ft of brilliance) one of the great works by one of the leading early Renaissance artists. It is the spears, which is about the first thing that I see in Uccello--that and of course the horse rumps, which are part of the issue in William Gaddis' great American novel, The Recognitions, in which he discusses the famous "solids in Uccello". And he's right--there is little or no detail in some big splashes of color, as in the horses. Big, solid, colors--what in the world was Uccello thinking about using those great blocks, nearly 600 years ago?
This is a detail from the larger three-section image (below) which is itself a small detail from the 20-section whole of one of the most famous festival books of the mid-Renaissance, this the work of Nicolaus Hogenberg (c.1500-1539). Gratae et laboribus aequae posteritati. Caesareas sanctique patris longo ordine turmas aspice. The original was published in 1540 and excessively rare (very valuable) in the first and second editions--my copies come from much later, int he late 19th century. That said, it is at least a thrill to have them right there in front of you, in their great massiveness.
[ The full original work can be seen at the British Library collection of Festival Books, the Coronation of Charles V http://special-1.bl.uk/treasures/festivalbooks/pageview.aspx?strFest=0086&strPage=049&print=1]
And the Battle of San Romano that I'm dreaming of:
[Source: the National Gallery, http://www.nationalgallery.org.uk/articulate/projects/bf/bf_painting.html]
How does that saying go? "The more things stay the same, the more they stay the same?" Something like that. New stories are just sometimes the old stories that people forget from one generation to the next, with a societal memory that is possibly nullified or flimsy. Some stories that dictate a a particular outcome--like the example we are getting to below--are often repeated, sometimes for millennia, the same outcome retold with variations on the premise.
God's Last Warning to the United States of America, Repent and Surrender or Hell and Chaos is an example of this cyclically forgotten memory.
Most of this short poli-prophesy tract calls upon the creator of the universe to come to Earth and establish a holy kingdom to combat a "SATANIC POVERTY CRISIS", an "unfulfilled Prophetic Political Kingdom Message" which thee author "gives FREE to the United States of America and the WORLD". [Note: all use of caps in quotations are found in the original; caps and the lack of them.]
It is a prophesy that even as it is being ministered has also been rejected--and this right on the cover of the pamphlet, above the title, which makes it all seem a little too late, though the author pleas and prays the case, anyway. (He also asks the question, "Is Christianity Dead?", though forgets the question mark. The title is a good indicator for the possibilities of the text being promisingly problematic, and it does not mislead.)
The author's prose is difficult and oddly one-dimensional, floating tenses here and there, declaring tautologies, and lowering the needs of logical argument. For example , Mr. Cutter states that the ultimate message sent from the Lord of warning "will fit the conditions as they now exist. Former messages have been given that have revealed truths he wanted to make known to the World at the time they were given", which is a fairly problematic double-statement. Mr. Cutter suggests a solution for the Depression, which he labeled as a "total collapse of our present Economic system known as Capitalism, or the Price Profit system, the writer is presenting a brief message outlining a repent surrender program by which we can get the PRINCE OF PEACE back to earth and our people prepared for His reception".
There is also a prediction of the Brotherhood of Man Political party (in 1940), and "a sane-sensible use of our can-be-amended National Constitution are tow keys that will unlock the door and make it possible for the Prince of Peace to establish his KINGDOM in the United States here and now...and to take over the Governmental Role of the WORLD".
There were evidently "wholly overlooked" parts of the Bible that would deliver us from the "Satanic depression" to allow the appropriate number of votes "will be the ordering of sufficient amendments to our National Constitution , so our lawmaker can pass the necessary Legislation in order that the Kingdom of JUSTICE can be established in the United States..."
And so it goes. This little tract is nothing particularly new or old to the U.S., and the title with some slight revision could have been printed today, or 150 years ago.
The pamphlet is 19 pages long, with the prophecy occupying 9pp of it, with the balance being reprints of letters that the author sent to the Nobel Prize Committee offering himself as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize of 1939. The last three letters concern Cutter's reprinting of the correspondence for publication, which the Nobel representative asks Cutter not to do. Cutter then spends two pages in a response explaining why he needs to do so. And the rest of the story, as they say, is not-history.
There's a box in the studio that is filled with all manner of antique and semi-antique adding/calculating/etc. instruments, from slide rules to blast effects of a nuclear weapon to air speed to the gas mileage for a 1959 Rambler. Some are wood, some metal, but my favorites I think are those made of paper (a large revolving baseball from 1961 for calculating world series records is my favorite in that area....that, or the radiation measurer made of paper to place alongside A Body Part to check on its incremental-or-not growth following nuclear detonation).
The there are the little bits that maneuvered the little bits, as seen in this uncovered little gem, the "Fraction of an Inch Adding Machine" (shown above). It was patented in 1952 by K.P. Jaeger (http://www.google.com/patents/USD169941), and is stamped "Sheradco, Inc., Detroit" on the reverse of the metal plate.
It does a relatively simple task as stated--adding diverse fractions--and it does so quickly; as a matter of fact, it is far quicker than you can do it online, even with a converter. This is basically two steps--you put a pen or pencil head in the outer ring hole for the first fraction and move the dial clockwise until you come to the stop; then you do the same for the next fraction, and the result is instantly displayed. For operations above 1, you just need to keep track of the whole numbers yourself. Unfortunately it doesn't teach you anything about fractions, but neither does your digital calculator teach you about anything calculating.
This is just a smart and pretty instrument that works very nicely indeed, and I just wanted to share it.
[I did find a lovely post on how to make your own! It also provides a pdf of base plate and the rest of it as well: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/2007/make-your-own-1952-fraction-of-an-inch-adding-machine]
While looking for it on Google Patent Search I bumped into some other similar devices, and I just wanted to take a moment to note the beauty of the possibility of their interior base dials. Just one sample here for the moment: the "Dial Adding Machine" of E.T. Knopke, 1952, which is so full of numbers and potential and mathematical poetry:
This short pamphlet is a very strong tonic to those thinking about Chicago's "Century of Progress" celebration and World's Fair that was taking place in the middle of the Depression in 1933. (It was intended to instill hope and foster a little forgetfulness during a time in which the Depression in full swing nationwide, plus native-Chicago problems of gangsterisms, race riots, red scare, and economic distress ) As a matter of fact this pamphlet didn't seem to find much distribution, or at the very least it didn't get saved in spite of the fantastic documentary images that it contains. This copy of Herman O. Duncan's Chicago on Parade (1933), was his own, sent to the Library of Congress as a gift in 1942 before it came to me in 1999. I can find only three other copies of this pamphlet located in libraries world wide (Oxford, Duke, Chicago), and it seems very strangely underrepresented.
Duncan addressed the work directly to the Rufas Dawes (President of the Century of Progress Celebration), and to the mayor of Chicago and governor of Illinois as a very blunt request to not forget the actual world of real Chicagoans living in dire straits within site of the fairgrounds. Duncan was obviously taking issue with the many statements of wonderment and flourishes of progress that accompanied the propaganda surrounding the fair, so that the attention of the public would not be "diverted by our political and civic leaders". Duncan continued that these photographs, "none of which had been published previously in the United States" could "perhaps suggest a point of reference from which Chicago can measure its Second Century of Progress".
[Anxious men, women, and children welcoming the rubbish from a garbage truck.]
Duncan (who unfortunately did not identify the photographer(s)) was very strong in the use of images. He was not afraid to show long bread lines, people (including children) scavanging at the city dumps, blacks and whites marching together in protest of police brutality, (many hundreds) of people sleeping out of doors in Grant Park (Chicago's "front yard"),because they had no where else to go, and much more. The photographs had a real touch of journalistic acumen, and none of the images look forced or posed--they are the real stuff of social documentary, and how they have escaped wide notice is not known to me .
Perhaps the strongest statement (outside of the photos of the children scrounging for food in dustbins and at the dump) is this series (below) showing views of the city of Chicago that were within site of the tower for the Century of Progress Sky Ride ("See the Fair / Come Up in the Air"). The series make an elegant and strong and incontrovertible point, and that there was definitely something very wrong going on outside the walls of the celebration which had been scooped out of the city's east side. (The images remind me of series of photos of the US Capitol Building that appeared in the great classic of social and cultural recording of class division, Neglected Neighbors, which my friend Andy Moursund introduced me to many years ago in Georgetown.)
The logo design for the event is terrific and I'm sure that everyone had seen it at least once in their lives, but out of the many hundreds of other pamphlets and display materials that I have here for the expo I've got to say that the overwhelming majority of them are luridly colored with a palette found outside nature.
And anti-nature colors are somewhat schizoid-happy colors, like MGM technicolor cartoons from 1949, which applies a massively ugly chromo-palette to the blight of the surrounding Depression problems. Mr. Duncan was determined that this not happen, at least so far as he could help it, and published these arresting images to remind the rest of Chicago that the vividly colored happy face placed over the city like a stamp for the Century of Progress was not the case in fact.
There are another few images in the "continued reading" section.
Note: click on the photos for a larger, more detail view.
There's a bookcase in the house that has a top shelf for small books, most of which I haven't written about, though there is a clutch of them that have gotten some exposure here on the blog, with most of them being unused diaries, and most of those being Nazi-oriented. I've wondered about the people who would have sat down with those things blank-ish books, thinking about scheduling their time, or recording events, and then deciding not to. Maybe they didn't want to be reminded of Nazi holidays and/or the birth of Hitler, or the right of duty and the proper way to respond to current events based on the policies of the NSDAP. The diaries are all pretty much like-new, and aren't even all that old in the scheme of things, though their distance in time doesn't match their distance in historical "space" (so to speak).
This diary was for German girls who were members of the Young Girls League (Jungmädelbund), which in the German stratification of Nazism was part of the League of German Girls (Bund Deutscher Mädel), which in turn operated under the broader gender-divided organization of Hitler Youth.
It is difficult as a father of two daughters--one of whom is of the correct age to have been using this diary had circumstances been enormously different--and it is painful to imagine her looking through these pages, at the red-letter days and inspiration photographs, filling in the book and responding to these enormous and not necessarily subtle social pressures.
"Wir folgen!" states the cover of the diary, and it meant it. "We follow".
The book itself is not-at-all-fluffy, and pretty adult, set up with five days per page, and with plenty of Nazi propaganda and history. Al of that occupies the first 157 pages; from there to page 220 is a textual review of Hitler Youth philosophy, plus stories of brave young party members, twelve pages of explanation of rune symbology, maps, diagrams, and the like.
Liberally sprinkled throughout the diary section are many quotes by Hitler and other party sub-luminaries. For example, opening to the two pages covering December 20-27, we see nothing for Christmas except for its lonely date. Right next door, on the 26th, there is a note marking the day for the death of Dietrich Eckart--he was one of the founders of the Deutsche Arbeitspartei which became the NSDAP, and was one of the leaders in the Putsch of 1923, jailed in Landesburg with Hitler, though he was released early to die of a heart attack in Bertschesgaden that same year. (I'm sorry that I know that much about such an inferior person, but I do.) On the page opposite is a note stating that Hitler was released from prison on that day, December 20, 1924, to begin his work again. It is a homely two pages.
There are also a few loose quotes for the writer Hans Baumann, who became a significant nationalist figure in the indoctrination of German youth via his many works for children. Mr. Baumann's work was not-so-pretty, and after surviving years on the Eastern front and imprisonment he somehow rose up again to become a popular international writer of childrens books and a winner of several awards, all in spite of his great popularity among the National Socialists. He died in 1988.
Oh--and this note for April 13, noting that on that day in 1932 "S.A., S.S., H.J, verboten", referring to the Weimar government banning the S.A., S.S. and Hilterjunge (H.J.) .
And of course February 24 for the 1930 death of Nazi martyr Horst Wessel, and at the bottom of the same page as long quote from the odious Alfred Rosenberg.
On and on it goes.
The book was published by Eher-Verlag (Franz Eher Nachfolger GmbH), which was the central publishing arm for the Nazi Party, and which published, well, pretety much everything, including Mein Kampf, from 1925 to the end. The building at Thierschstrasse 11 in Munich still stands, a piano company occupying the ground floor now.
The most disappointing thing about this tiny pamphlet is that it is not illustrated--I would have loved to see the representation of the flat Earth and its relation to the rest of the solar system. Unfortunately, there's nothing, only word-pictures that are not altogether descriptive in spite of liberal sprinklings of exclamation points in the midst and end of some irregular and turgid prose. So, I'm not reporting on it, the thing being too demanding for not feasible return, but I will reproduce the thing in toto so that the curious reader may take the adventure themselves.
The pamphlet (actually just a folded sheet of paper) was the work of John Hampden, whose name is probably recognizable to those who have read in the swollen knuckle religious/scientific strife literature. He was a long opponent of the Earth as a sphere, basing much of his deep assertions on scripture. Hampden was that terrible mix of unctious and litigious, and fought with folks for decades, most famously with Alfred Russell Wallace, to whom he lost several libel suits costing him money and freedom over the long course of that inextinguishable dumpster fire.
In any event, here is the text (printed I think around 1890, some 20 years after his troubles with Wallace began); this copy is the Smithsonian Institution Deposit copy via the Library of Congress, and now lives here in the studio:
In nearly the very middle of WWI, on August 24, 1916, there appeared this remarkable ad in the pages of the decidedly this-is-what-left-wing-magazines-look-like NYC-published magazine, The Nation:
It is interesting to think of the "middle" of this war with the "middle" of other wars, because, well, this doesn't look like the middle of anything except for the post facto chronometer of fighting. In the U.S. Civil War, the almost-perfect middle turns out to be Gettsyburg, and that looked considerably past the middle so far as the Confederacy was concerned. (And as a matter of fact, the section on Gettysburg in Shelby Foote's great classic (The Civil War, a Narrative) comes in the near-exact middle of the middle volume of the three-volume work...the "capstone" of the book, as he referred to the battle.) With WWII, the chronological middle, which is right around New Year's 1943, doesn't look like anywhere in the middle if you were there, though with the involvement of the U.S. and its enormous industrial/production capacity spelled the eventual end of the Axis; in January 1943, it still looked like a very hard road ahead.
It is highly probable that teh nature of being in the middle of anything is apparent only in hindsight.
Anyway, the ad shown above was an appeal for financial support, to help fight a war that was enormously expensive, and soliciting from overseas sources one one approach.
The U.K. had been consumed by the war since August, 1914, and would wind up with enormous losses totaling more than 10% of the entire soldiers-in-unfirom for the war, with more than 800,000 soldiers killed (and more than 1.6 million wounded)--the fatalities being roughly twice the number of people buried in Arlington Cemetery.
As a matter of fact, the U.K lost more soldiers in WWI than the U.S. lost in the Revolutionary War (25,000), War of 1812 (15,000), Mexican American War (13,000), Spanish American/Philippine American Wars (6,000), WWI (116,000), World War II (405,000), Korea (36,000), Vietnam (58,000), Iraq (3,600) and Afghanistan (1,800) combined, and then some. The U.S. Civil War, though, is another thing entirely, so far as these numbers go. (That said, and speaking of "another thing entirely, there was the Taipei Rebellion of 1850-1864, ending just before the U.S. war, claimed the lives of an unbelievable 20 million.)
Other nations fared even worse: Austria-Hungary suffered 1.2 million soldiers dead, France 1.4 million, and Russia and Germany each with about 2 million dead.
I'm not sure how I got here in this short post--all of the above generated by this advertisement for financial help to fight the war and to keep a country solvent. Now that I've had a quick look through the full years for 1916 and 1917 this seems to be the only appearance of the ad, and it is also I think the only full-page ad in The Nation for that time. I have no idea what happened to the U.S. appeal--perhaps they were reaching out to the wrong audience, because in spite of the time and the spirit of the magazine, prior to U.S. involvement in the war for 1916 and 1917 there wasn't much war coverage beyond the first page or two of general war news. Interesting.