JF Ptak Science Books Post 1674
Burbling to the top of the massive (organized) heap of material that came my way from the Library of Congress was this beautiful, six-page introduction to punching people, complete with original photographs of the author performing the sweaty necessaries of readying for the punching adventure. (My guess is that it was never mass produced,m and sent to the Library to protect a copyright application, as is the case of thousands of these LC items that I have.)
But not being a boxer a punch looks pretty much like a punch to me (unless it is George Foreman crushing the formerly indestructible Joe Frazier with an insane shot to the top of the former champion's head, a shot so devastating that Joe's nervous system did not know exactly what to do with all that speedy data*) and, frankly, other things come to mind with the word "punch" quicker than a fist.
for programming computers, instructions being the little holes that were removed from the programming card and read as instructions by a little tiny set of people inside the large box that others referred to as "computers". (The original "computer", by the way, were people who did data entry and crunched same; they were carbon-based biounits. Karl Pearson's Tracts for Computers of 1911 was a work for exactly those people.) The punch card was a programming tool used by Jacquard to guide the operation of his loom in the late 18th century and employed widely in this trade after that. It uses as a computation instrument came later to the mind of Herman Hollerith, whose earliest crowning achievement was to put it to use in the tabulation of the American 1890 census. (The government balked with meeting his demands for the use of his invention, or were hesitant primarily so, and Herman took his good work overseas. A similar path would be followed by the Wright Brothers in about 15 years, as had happened earlier with Thomas McKenney and his going-begging collection of Indian portraits. National intellectual and monumental treasures like these sometimes had a terrifically terribly go of being accepted and compensated by our government.)
Maybe the most popular "punch" was the so-called "Hawaiian" one, which was a sugar drink given to children made by a company which was a holding company of the American Dental Association. Just kidding about the dental part. But the "energy drink" was like many others during this period--pure badness that kids loved. It was originally designed as an ice cream topping when it appeared in the early 1930's, but when folks discovered, somehow, that the topping made a great drink when mixed with water, a new 2% or whatever fruit drink was born. The "punch" in it came from the wallop of sugar infused directly into the circulatory system. I don't know where the "Hawaiian" part comes from.
The most literary "Punch" comes in the form of the British magazine of that name, (Punch, or the London Charivari), a witty and dripping humor and satire magazine which appeared in 1842 and last until 1992. (Punches' longevity surpasses that of supposed brawler Ernest Hemingway and the tiny-fisted fury of the problematic (did anyone read that last bilge-piece thing he did of the imaginary early life of Hitler?) Norman Mailer.) I think that, like Harper's Weekly and other such political commentary journals of that time, if you can understand a tenth of the complex and complicated caricatures and commentary, then you really *do* know your history.
Probably the most-often referenced literary aspects though to the punch is found elsewhere, in countless magazines and comics destined for little hands, published by Dell and DC Comics and Marvel. Only the punch really doesn't appear so without the reference to the noise it sort of makes, "POW" (as my daughter Emma has reminded me. "Honey", I asked her, "what comes to your mind when I say the word 'punch'? "Pow" she answered immediately.) And who better to illustrate this point than the immortal Adam West? (And this of course is not a comic, but a TV show that was made from a comic book that used comic book word balloons[for the first time?] in a video format.) Maybe it is Batman who is the most famous literary puncher, and maybe not: there's Popeye, a man of exceptional prowess in the Department of Making Things Unconscious; and the Justice League Superman; the Hulk, who evidently did nothing but punch; and of course, my wife Patti Digh reminds me of "Punchious Pilate". There's also Sigmund Freud, a man who delivered a painful and boring punch to the unconscious and whose horrible thinking has been felt right down to this very day, the world suffering his made-up junk since his own annus mirablis of 1905.
Perhaps the greatest knock-out punch of all time (literally) was not the result of George Foreman or Jake Lamotta, but I.B.M. The I'll Be Moved Company is the endish result of the work of Willard and Harlow Bundy, the brothers who created the first time, or punch, clocks. Their company consolidated into the International Time Recording Company and then in 1911 reformulated as the Computing Tabulating Recording Company (CTR) and then again into International Business Machines. The punch clock kept up to (or down to) the minute surveillance on the comings and goings of business employees (among other many other things), and was perhaps the most influential disruptor and capturing device of time since the invention of the mechanized clock. It delivered a true knock-out to the cushion of independently recorded renderings of when things "got done".
Lastly, I cannot leave the subject of punching without remarking that I cannot mention Rocky, and that I must simply end the whole thing with two words: Muhammad Ali.
(Image from jeffbots.com )
A note on the 1973 Foreman/Frazier fight clip: its actually pretty tough to watch. If you don't care for combat like this, I'd stay away.
*Frazier was by far the superior boxer, but Foreman's punch was unbelievably devastating. In the 1973 fight between the two men, Foreman knocks Frazier down six times. Frazier looks pretty scary for the first 2 minutes and 17 seconds of this video, but at 2:18 foreman hits him with a left that basically ended the fight--Frazier probably didn't know where he was. At 3:16 in the comes the second knockdown, and then at 3:36 the third, at the bell ending the first round. At the opening of the second round Foreman just about lifts Frazier out of the ring, and then crushes his head at 5:10. Frazier was ready for the fight and he was probably about the best boxer in the world outside of Ali; but he couldn't hurt foreman, and then Foreman killed him.