A Daily History of Holes, Dots, Lines, Science, History, Math, the Unintentional Absurd & Nothing |1.6 million words, 7500 images, 4 million hits| Press & appearances in The Times, Le Figaro, MENSA, The Economist, The Guardian, Discovery News, Slate, Le Monde, Sci American Blogs, Le Point, and many other places... 4,200+ total posts
This small ad for Sanitas (a non-poisonous"the disinfecting fluid", composed of hydrogen peroxide and camphor as main ingredients) appeared in the quarter panel of the Illustrated London News on November 13, 1915, and told a definite story. Here we see a British soldier, sitting squarely on Germany, asking the reader "Did any one say that there was a GERM anywhere?" in a not-subtle connection between the German enemy and disease. I hadn't noticed this before, and so thought I would share...
I was just looking for a good link for the full text of Donald Knuth's 1965 paper on "Very Magic Squares" when instead I found mention of his earliest publication, a playful paper that was published in MAD magazine in issue #33 for June 1957. The work by the 19-year-old Knuth, "The potrzebie system of weights and measures", suggested that, among other things, the "potrzebie" as a standard unit of measure--and that was equal to the width of the issue #33 or 2.263348517438173216473. There were more fanciful measures for Knuth, which suggests that these "standard" units are infinite, one measure of infinite being the length of the finite over its negative.
This brings us to measuring things in terms of units of Mt. Everests found in this short notice in Popular Mechancis for September 1933. Truthfully this is a simple dataviz tool, comparing the depth of one unknown and not visualized entity--in this case, the "deepest spot in the Pacific"--with another that is known and highly visible (after a fashion), and so we get to appreicate the great depth by comparing it to Mt. Everest. There are no stackings of Everests in this image though I can see a future use for the visual--I have after all posted many unusual pieces to this blog where heights/depths are measured in terms of stacks of Eiffel Towers, or mammoth bread, or gigantic piles of wood, or nails, and uprighted ships, and of course numerous Great Pyramids filled with excavated dirt from the digging of the Panama Canal and stretched over the island of Manhattan. Those are more involved, while the present unit of measure is just suggesting itself for future use.
On the other hand it might be more beneficial to use stacks of the Empire State Building to convey the sense of deep depth. In 1933 it was just two years old and a world-wide sensation as an icon art deco building and the tallest building in the world, so if you said that the deepest depth could absorb 32 Empire State Buildings one on top of the other, there may have been a greater understanding of the consequences of that much depth. In any event, I like that more as a unit of measure.
Knuth. Selected Papers on Fun and Games, http://www-cs-faculty.stanford.edu/~uno/fg.html (From the website: "I've never been able to see any boundary between scientific research and game-playing. ... The topics treated here were often inspired by patterns that are visually compelling, or by paradoxical truths that are logically compelling, or by combinations of numbers and/or symbols that fit together just right. These were papers that I couldn't not write.)
No doubt there is some serious and useful information in this little undated (ca. 1945/6) pamphlet--mostly I guess its purpose was fulfilled in its attempt at softening the dread of nuclear holocaust in that there was actually something that could be "done" in the event of an attack. It addresses the standard fears, and perhaps the standard fears of hope, though the pamphlet does paint a profile of possibility for a post-attack scenario that is, shall we say, a little optimistic. In any event, I share this now for the graphics, and the Manhattan Destroyed map.
Of course there must be a map, but instead of the usual map of rings of destruction, this bird's eye view was meant only to depict the effective range of an air raid siren--and it is not lost on me that the central red graphic is placed very near to the WTC site. (The first published map of the rings of destruction of an atomic bomb on any city of so far as I can tell appeared in the great PM newspaper the day after Hiroshima, showing what sort of effects the bomb would have on a profile not of Hiroshima, but of Manhattan. As a matter of fact the entire issue of the ad-free newspaper was devoted to the bombing, Hiroshima receiving more (and better) coverage than in any newspaper reporting I have seen in the first week after the bomb was dropped. I really have no idea how the paper was able to put together dozens of bright and informed pages of coverage in 24/36 hours after the event--except of course that those were some very smart people.)
Back when I had an open shop I would occasionally have surveyor customers who would come in after hauling themselves back to our civilization, telling stories of doing some re-survey of some piece of land in the out-yonder and finding old heart of pine stakes from a 19th c survey still in place and just very slightly off from where the modern surveying tools would place them. These guys held these earlier surveyors in high regard, as they did hard work and did it very well, using relatively rudimentary tools (optics, chains, measures) in sometimes very difficult conditions and doing a splendid job of it.
These stories came to mind just this afternoon again while cataloging an 1842 manuscript map made by Britton Hood, Jr., who was the son of a surveyor Hood Sr. who worked through the late 18th c and into the middle 19th. The family was in Wayne County, and it looks as though the son stayed their, at least according to a hint or two on this map. Although the location is not identified the major feature is, and the "Cabin Branch" of the map may be the "Cabin Branch" creek that is south-central Wayne County, south of Goldsboro.
The very attractive part of this map of course are the landmarks used by the surveyor, and as is very often in these cases, the "landmarks" tend to be simple trees and stumps and such. Of course is you identify a starting place and base all of the landmarks upon that, then virtually anything can be used, so long as it is referenced to something.
This leads to the found-poetry of the Hood map:
Some of the then-essential and now-delightful boundary markers for Hood's 770-acre survey include:
Maple at the fork of the branch
stake at the turn of the branch
pine at the west edge of the swamp
large cypress at the edge of the swamp
through the meander of the Rockish (?) Creek
large dead pine
pine at the prong of the NW branch
and of course a pine, pine, and small pine, among other things.
This piece of cartographic propaganda appeared in the fifth month of the war in the Illustrirte Zeitung (Leipzig) on Christmas Eve, 1914--it was in its way a vision of hope for the popular audience that this German equivalent of Life magazine reached. Perhaps it was a comfort to read that Great Britain and Ireland had been invaded before--many times--and that it might happen yet again; perhaps it was a comfort at a time when the realization dawning on tens of millions of people that This War would be over by Christmas, but it had really just only begun. Not much comfort though can be had in a piece of paper.
This leaflet was dropped on German forces by the R.A.F. and the U.S.A.A.F. soon after the breakout of the Battle of the Bulge/Ardennes in the end of January 1945, which is one of the two failures that this propaganda sheet screamed about. It is a little odd though that in the map it would show the German offensive at its worst for the U.S. troops, with the bulge extending far west and Bastogne being surrounded. Yet the leaflet told of the German losses of its failed offensive ("Operation Watch on the Rhine") though it did not show the progress of the month-long battle on the map, which should have shown the battle line back to its more-or-less original position by 25 January. In describing the catastrophe of the German position in the east (leading with the loss of "380,000 soldiers") the date of 24 January is mentioned, which supports the late January estimate for a printing date. This was of course the Vistula-Oder Offensive. which saw the Soviet Army advance more than 300 miles in a month, right to the Oder, only 40-odd miles from Berlin. In that campaign the German Army Group A was just about killed--of the 450,000 soldiers in retreat along this long and disastrous front during the month of January, the overwhelming majority were casualties, including nearly 300,000 killed. The wounded and other survivors became POWs. The bottom line of course was that the winter of 1945 for the German soldier was bitter and deadly, and was leading nowhere except defeat--there was no doubt what lay ahead after seeing that map of the Eastern Front.
[This expandable image is from the blog's copy of the publication--full text can be found at the Internet Archive, here: https://archive.org/details/cu31924083814453]
The idea of the frontier in American history has been around for quite some time, made famous and mostly-invented (and closed) by Frederick Jackson Turner in 1893, and expanded, imagined, enticed, magnified, micro-analyzed, and generally messed with ever since. There have been all sorts of frontiers introduced into the study of the birth, expansion and filling-up of this country, from the very earliest colonial periods of Indian frontiers, “far-western” river frontiers of the Connecticut, Delaware, Hudson (!) and Susquehanna, to the Appalachian frontier of the early western reaches of the colonies, to the transportation frontier, the slavery frontier, the gold and mining frontier, the gun frontier, and so on.
Here's another bit to add: the newspaper frontier.
I just happened upon a volume of the US Census of 1880, with a special report by S.N.D. North entitled History and Present Condition of the Newspaper and Periodical Press of the United States…and published in 1882. What provoked me was the map of Texas newspapers for 1880. It very clearly, and like no other map of its kind, delineates a fantastic line/frontier between the Texas with newspapers and the Texas without newspapers. We see very clearly that the frontier of the newspaper stops fairly abruptly (and wonderfully) at the 100th meridian, with only two newspapers in all of the rest of Texas found beyond that point (and those just barely beyond the 100th. And it’s the 100th meridian that mostly marks the vertical middle of the country, running through North and South Dakota, Kansas, Nebraska, the Texas/Oklahoma borders, and so into Texas—if you folded this map vertically in half it folds virtually on the 100th meridian. An odd bit, it is, half of the country and then approaching half of Texas.
I should report that the newspapers west of the 100th meridian were in Kinney County (population 4,440) with the Fort Clark News (established in 1880, at exactly the year of census) and Donley County (population 160, with the monthlyClarendon News and a 50-cent annual subscription rate). The newspaper development also sort of followed the frontier fort development, almos tall of which (but four) were east of the 100th.
Of course the population and easier-natural-resources are located east of this point, I know, but it is still quite a jolt to see the line of newspapers get drawn in the sand so vividly. There isn’t anything else quite like this so far as the newspapers go, except, a little, for Florida, where the line gets drawn north and south, splitting the peninsula roughly in half, the southern part holding only five counties at this point.. But it is a much more robust image for Texas given the number of newspapers that were being published—280 periodicals and newspapers for Texas versus 45 for Florida, with 11,374 in the entire country*—so that the difference between the have-newspapers and haven’t-newspapers in Texas is that much more vivid.
Texas needed more papers: there were 1.5 million people living in the massive state in 1880, almost twice as many as there were in 1870, and almost half of what there would be there in 1900. That was another story, entirely—even in 1880, which is only 130 years ago, there were only 270,000 people living in the entire state, not even close to half of the county population of Pinelas today.I’m just enjoying the surprise of the straight-edge frontier in Texas.
The deal too was that Texas wasn't at the top of the lisst for average area for each publication per square mile, with each periodical providing coverage for 936 miles. But that again is for Texas east of the 100th meridian--throw in the rest of the state, and that number skyrockets. (There were 13 states with a higher mileage distribution than Texas, topped by Indian Territory,m with basically nothing, with each paper servicing an area of 21,000 square miles.
Also, Texas' 225 counties had 119 counties publishing newspapers and/or peridoicals, compared to the national figures, which were 2,605 counties and 2,073 publishing papers.
*Just for the sake of comparison, the number of newspapers and periodicals per state for 1880 was as follows: Illinois, 1017; New York, 1411; Pennsylvania, 973; Ohio, 774; New Jersey 215. Also, oddly, the average circulation of the Florida and Texaspapers was roughly the same: 1,282 for Texas and 1306 for Florida (with an average for the country at 4137).
the following two images are found in a small pamphlet on the general election and single-question referendum held in Germany on March 29, 1936 (Des Deutschen Volkes Schicksalswende am 29. Marx). as it turns out the small pamphlet accordion-folded oput to about 2.5 feet, which was printed on both sides. Anyway the single question was whether the voter wanted a single-party representation by the NSDAP in the Reichstag--not surprisingly whatsoever the German population voted/"voted" 99% in favor of the proposal. The pamphlet was a gross propaganda instrument, as was the "election/referendum", and it contained a number of striking images, though perhaps none so as near-unforgettable as that showing Hitler arising from a living-person map of Germany:
Hitler came to power via a number of elections--he didn't just take it, or at least not until 1933; 44 million people voted in March 1933 (an 88% turnout), and 17 million voted for the NSDAP and Hitler giving him the popular vote and the most seats in the Reichstag. In the November 1933 ("Ein Volk, Ein Fuhrer, Ein Ja") elections, 39 million/92% voted for Hitler, which was another story. And here he is, rising from a sea of Germans, three years later, a leader restrictive of enemies and opposition, the whole thing looking horrible.
Here's another bit from the same 12-panel accordion-fold pamphlet, a propaganda map showing the possibly-invasive weaknesses of the Versailles-dictated German army. AS in the case of several other maps posted to this blog on this 1934-1939 geographic creation of risk and threat, this one depicts a heavily-armed and populated French army looking at Germany, while the relatively-meagre 100,000-man German army quietly protects itself on the borders 50km away from the Rhine. I guess it might have been effective if people were actually voting in this election, for scared people to vote their scared conscience for the man who scared them. The writing however was on the proverbial wall, and the only thing left to do with the Versailles treaty at that point would be to scrap it. About four years later the Nazis would come sweeping down on France and by June 22 the French would be signing a humiliating surrender instrument.
Čtyři léta války v mapách ("Four Years of War...in Maps"), published in London, ca. 1943, is a Czech-exile publication showing the development of the war in a number of very striking maps. The maps end at the publication of the pamphlet--except of course, for the 1948 map. The culminating interest though shows the Nazis surrounded, and put to the final test--it is the first map I list, below, even though it was about the last map in the pamphlet. It is a rare thing, this pamphlet, and it does not show up in the usual places. There are only seven copies located in the WorldCat/OCLC, all in top-notch libraries: NYPL, Yale, Harvard, Harvard Law, UC Berkeley, Oxford, and Nanterre.
An overall view of the progress of German war conquests:
This was about as high as one could be in a ground-based structure in Manhattan--at the top of one of the granite towers of the Brooklyn Bridge, 277' (plus whatever wooden structure has been built on the top of the bridge, plus the height of a person). The image is found in Scientific American for August 16, 1877, and shows a bit of the bridge which was still six years away from completion, with workers looking out and down at the rest of the city. It is an unusual perspective, looking south, and seemingly far higher than what must be Trinity Church (the present version completed in 1846)--Trinity's sp[ire was actually seven feet taller than the finished bridge (at 284'), though from this angle it is dwarfed by the new structure. There wouldn't be a building higher than 400' until the very early 20th century. In any event, I thought to share this view for its unexpected nature.
$650 doesn't sound like much in today's dollars, but in 1912 that 650 would be about equal to the average salary of a factory worker1; so, if you calculated the trip of 1/3 year at the average salary today of, say, $45,000, it feels more expensive. It doesn't translate all that well, really, but it does give a good idea of what that 650 meant in 1912.
Uncle Sam is taking a breather from his work on the Panama Canal, which is clearly under construction in the vignette at bottom left and something that wouldn't open for business for another two years. The Hamburg American Line was definitely associating the grand undertaking in Panama with its around-the-world cruise offering--the Panama engineering feat was certainly considered one of the wonders of the world. The zeppelin flights were extraordinary in themselves, what with making transatlantic flights with 400-800 people (depending on the airship) who received three square meals a day, could rent their own rugs, go to the barber and to the ship's library, and listen to the airship's band.
The bottom line here is that this is a great design, and as advertisements go it seems to be very effective.
(See http://www.gjenvick.com/PassengerLists/Hamburg-AmericanLine/Westbound/1912-11-01-PassengerList-PresidentLincoln.html#axzz43r2FHFKT for various passenger lists, activities, menus, and the like.)
1. See an earlier posst, http://longstreet.typepad.com/thesciencebookstore/2009/09/the-overworked-working-poor-of-1914-women-and-children-and-what-they-didnt-get-paid.html
I've known about this famous map/curiosity by Jean de Gourmont (ca. 1570) for some time, though I never seem to meet it out there in the world very often. Yesterday though I discovered that there was a fine 19th century reproduction of it in the studio, and so I thought I had a closer look now that I had a good copy in my hands.
And then when I looked the map up I found a number of good descriptions of it that pretty much took care of its description and interpretation. The baseline description is that it is mostly an allegory on the pursuit of knowledge, and of knowing, and thinking about the nature of knowledge--my read is that in the end, only a fool would think that the more they knew the less there was to know. The famous Ortelius map ("Typus Orbis Terrarum") in the face of the jester could represent a gridwork of what we think we know, though across the top of the image is the dictum from Socrates, "Know Thyself" ("Congnois toy ['toi'] toy-meme"), which prepares us for what might be the dry hole in our soul if we spend too much time in the pursuit of knowledge of the world.
One of the most interesting reads on this image can be found in Literature, Mapping, and the Politics of Space in Early Modern Britain, by Andrew Gordon, Bernhard Klein, where the authors discus the mind-as-a-map, and bring into play a great passage from the immortal great-book-that-is-semi-unreadable Anatomy of Melancholy, by Robert Burton. They refer to the great map set in the motley, order set against "the spirit of disorder" and "the enemy of boundaries", with Burton declaring on the essence of folly.
1935 was not a particularly good year for Austria. The country was fighting off the threat of Anschluss--the occupation of Austria by Nazi Germany--for several years, the cause hurt by the infamous assassination of the federal chancellor Englebert Dollfus in July 1934. When this pamphlet was printed in 1935, the threat to Austria from Germany was real and advanced. This publication, Luftschutz durch Selbstschutz ("Self Protection by Anti-Aircraft Defense" or so) addressed part of this issue. It sounds more militarily-based than it is; the story though is that the pamphlet was intended as a sort of civilian defense piece, for example, asking people to join an air defense club ("hinein in dem Luftschutverein") for the protection of all ("Schutz fuer jedermann") and to be general aware and prepared for the possibility of air raids.
What attracted me from the outset was the cover design which at first doesn't actually appear to be a map, though it is--and an effective one at that. In the middle of the circle is a red Austria with a white bar; on top of that, in yellow, is a bomb in a triangle; and surrounding Austria in a blue circle are the possible approaching/attacking/threatening air forces of its neighbors. Inside the pamphlet is another, more detailed map (below) showing the disposition of opposing air forces. It is interesting to note here that Germany is shown as having zero aircraft as dictated by the Treaty of Versailles, though it was in February of this year (1935) that the Luftwaffe was organized thus disbanding part of the treaty--at this point in 1935 the threat from Germany was not presently from the air.
The pamphlet runs 64 pages and contains information for Austrians in preparing for aerial assault, in general: what to do when the bombs fall, how to prepare, what sort of supplies are needed to survive a sustained attack, and the like--plus ads for gas masks, survival goods, and such.
In the end, Germany did not bomb Austria--it disappeared as part of the Reich in March 1938 as a result of intimidation, embargo, political subterfuge, and finally the threat of war.
Victor Levasseur (1800–1870) was a French cartographer who crippled and broke the modern line about not spending ink on a informational design that did not carry some sort of specific and necessary data. It seems that most of Levasseur's ink was decorative--but that's okay, I guess, because the effects today look quite handsome--and also it should be remembered that at the time the man was not exactly awash in detailed data. That said, he produced this beautiful little miniature map showing the comparative heights of mountains, though the detail is more-or-less generally lacking, and frankly I'm comfortable with that.
[Source: "Tableau Orographique" a miniature map by Victor Levasseur (1795-1862), published in his Atlas Classique Universel de Geographie ..., about 1835]
To read the title of the pamphlet The Radio Dealer's Handbook (1937) in a sales catalog would do little to excite any particular zeal, though to see its cover probably would spark an interest enough to at least browse the pamphlet. And browsing was a happy thing, as I found several infographics,including a terrific map of the U.S. showing the states in proportionate sizes according to radio ownership. Well, it shows the U.S. and Canada, which evidently sported as many radios as Massachusetts and exists on this map looking very much like a mini-U.S. It also seems as though radio ownership in the Dust Bowl regions was very restricted, the land area north of Oklahoma to the border is about as thin as a swizzle stick.
And a graphic representation of how well radios reproduce various sounds (that was to be used by radio salesmen in influencing their customers' selections):
And the very seldom seen layout of a radio shop:
And the cover of the pamphlet and source of these images: