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
I have been surprised by the strength and endurance of this series on blank and missing people--astonished, really, that there would be so much that would present itself in such incidental ways. I do not go out of my way to find these things, they just come to me in the course of daily living; perhaps if I looked for them I would see them less frequently.
Mr. 52 and Mr. 53 are part of a group picture of Esteemed British Yachtsmen in the 24 August 1884 issue of The Graphic magazine--it is actually a smartly-conceived thumbnail image index of a double-page photo, an easily-readable key to a complex photo. The effect of taking it out of context, though, is remarkable, turning the index into a wood engraving of number-only-blank-faced people with facial hair attributes.
This is just a quick picture-post sharing the cover art for anti-Communist works by the Jesuit priest, Raymond Feely. Fr. Feely was not a fan of the Communists, who he felt amidst all other things raised the importance of the state to a religion and beatification of the State, and that of course just would not do. He wrote these in the mid-1930's before the bestial stuff of Joseph Stalin had come out popularly in the West, and also before the Great Terror enveloped the U.S.S.R. There was still some interest in Stalin's brand of Communism in the U.S., though that was the left-over mythological and chromed-over trumpian gilted Communism that people thought existed earlier, but actually didn't.
Anyway, Feely had no use for that, and wrote about it--you can pretty much tell by the cover art what he thought of Communism.
This pamphlet--published not after March 26, 1946, with the latest letter in the text being September 25, 1945--describes the "plight" of Ukrainian "DPs" at the end of WWII. "Plight" is a very weak word for their situation, as is the term designated them, "DP" or "displaced person". These people--several million of them--had been slave laborers, taken by the Nazis in the advance through Central Europe, and sent to work in German factories and fields. Many were theoretically and semi-practically paid a wage, though in general much of that went to providing themselves food and clothing and such that enabled them to work. These people were known as Ostarbeiter (Eastern Laborer), and at the end of the war, many were repatriated to their country of origin. Of the 3-5 million Ostarbeiter, about 2.5 remained alive at war's end, with the vast majority--over 2 million--being from the Ukraine. This pamphlet details some of the terrible accounts of Ukrainians being repatriated to the Soviet Union and being treated as plagued outsiders, criminals, and worse, some simply executed, while hundreds of thousands of others were sent on for "re-education", with many winding up in the Gulags. It was a terrible position to be in--the slave returned home after the war to be treated as a criminal, and slave again. The conditions for repatriation to the Soviet Union were so bad that by October 1945 General Eisenhower forbade this action in the U.S. Occupied Zones.
I've reprinted the full text below. (Plight of Ukrainian DPs : a few typical letters of many being received daily from Europe describing the tragic plight of Ukrainian displaced persons whom the Soviets would forcibly repatriate and doom to enslavement, persecution or death, ca. 1945/6, or 1945 according to WorldCat/OCLC.)
NOTE: good, clear images are available when you click on the page images; double-click for giant images.
JF Ptak Science Books (Expanding an earlier post, not having previously noticed the robot baby)
Punch, or the London Charivari published this delightful and somewhat prescient illustration ("Harlequin Aluminum; or, Jack and the Pharaoh's Serpent") in its 27 January 1866 issue. It is for me an excellent, sort-of early depiction of a steam-man, a steampunk man, a steam-driven clown robot person, that is very deeply and frequently hinged, with smoke belching from a curved smokestack coming from the back of its head, and controlling its own destiny enough so that it is actually attacking and blowing up a steam locomotive.
And that's what this image is all about--in the age of steam, the future looks more so; that, and given its extraordinarily frequent use (16 times) in the very short text, things in the future are going to get very "scientific1".
And what the (aluminum2) robot seems to be doing with its scientific poker is exploding a scientific locomotive, for reasons unknown, except that the application of the poker was very successful, if that is the proper word to describe this action--it does act to control its steam technology is busting the new technologies of the era, a rub and at the same time a statement of hope or expectation in a high-Victorian manner, a rationalism of all things via technological means. And at this time, in the mid-1860's, the new wellspring of hope was being found in electricity-based solutions--moving away from the pervasive steam-driven technologies--though as the cartoon suggests those expectations might be too soon, too fast and too deeply placed. After all, these things are being exploded by a "scientific clown" with a "scientific poker"--and that clown is being driven by steam.
Further, the steamrobot clown is pulling a scientific baby from a mortar--this is something that is unique to my experience, a robot generating a newer, younger, baby-robot in some undescribed manner. This is a generational moment among robots and something that is certainly not common in the history of early robots.
In the background-right we see a string of "scientific fairies" suspended by electricity, and beyond them, center-rear, is a comedian reading from Joe Miller's joke book (of "scientific puns") into a telephone-like device, with an audience to his mirth sitting and listening on the other end of the line--and this still 11 years away from the invention of the telephone. And so on. It is a marvelous piece of work, especially considering what was probably an ephemeral status.
(Also, the "Pharaoh's Serpent" part of the title of the illustration refers to a three-year-old phrase: "1863 W. AllinghamJrnl. 3 Oct. in H. Tennyson Mem. Tennyson (1897) I. 513 Mrs Cameron showed a small firework toy called ‘Pharaoh's Serpents’, a kind of pastille which when lighted twists about in a wormlike shape"--from the OED.)
1. It is well-known that William Whewell created the word "scientist" relatively recently, in 1834 (see below). "Scientific" goes back quite a bit further, deep into the 18th c in some uses; farther back in others.
"Scientist" in the OED: 1834 W. Whewell in Q. Rev.51 59 Science..loses all traces of unity. A curious illustration of this result may be observed in the want of any name by which we can designate the students of the knowledge of the material world collectively. We are informed that this difficulty was felt very oppressively by the members of the British Association for the Advancement of Science, at their meetings..in the last three summers... Philosophers was felt to be too wide and too lofty a term,..; savans was rather assuming,..; some ingenious gentleman proposed that, by analogy with artist, they might form scientist, and added that there could be no scruple in making free with this termination when we have such words as sciolist, economist, and atheist—but this was not generally palatable.
1840 W. WhewellPhilos. Inductive Sci. I. Introd. p. cxiii, We need very much a name to describe a cultivator of science in general. I should incline to call him a Scientist. Thus we might say, that as an Artist is a Musician, Painter, or Poet, a Scientist is a Mathematician, Physicist, or Naturalist."
2. "Aluminim" is a word created by Humphrey Davy in 1812.
I was working my way through a stack of volumes of William Cobbett's Political Register containing reporting for the war years for the War of 1812--this magazine/newspaper was a weekly journal of news and interpretation by an American-sympathizing radical journalist reformer Brit. Looking for one event in particular, I came across it in an official report of September 19, 1814, dated from Washington City, in the November 14, 1814 issue of the Register, Nestled in the "official reports" section is this summation of the action of September 13, 1814, in the city of Baltimore, which was under siege by a large British fleet, which was "successfully resisted by the steady and well-directed fire of the fort and batteries opposed to it".
Here's the snippet:
Source: William Cobbett, Cobbett'sPolitical Register, London, printed for the author and sold by Richard Bagshaw in Covent Garden, volume 26, November 5, 1814.
Much of the critical bombardment of the fort occurred at night, and for one observer--an official U.S. representative then being held in custody by the British on board a ship in the harbor--the outcome of the battle would not be known until the first light of day. What he saw that morning by dawn's early light was what he had seen in the evening, hailed at the twilight's last gleaming,--a U.S. flag (a "star-spangled banner") flown above the fort, meaning that the fort had survived, the defense maintained, with a victory in hand.
The fort was Fort McHenry, and the U.S. representative here of course was Francis Scott Key, who turned his experience into a national witnessing, presenting it in a poem later to to music that would become the national anthem.
There was no mistaking the victory described here at Baltimore (and also the mention of the major victory at Plattsburg), though there was not much flavor to the reporting. But here it is, a great national moment, appearing as a single sentence with four commas. Given the scanty capabilities of overseas reporting perhaps these were the scant public facts that were presented to the British people buying Cobbett's two-penny weekly (much scorned by the wealthy/well-do-do and much read by the actual working class), so the emotive significance of the event was lost to detail and translation. The impact of the victory was certainly felt very quickly in the U.S.
This is one reason why it is so interesting to read the original reports and publications of historical social and scientific events.
The Munich-based Jugend magazine (1896-1940), founded by Georg Hirth, was host to an entire generation of art nouveau artists, lending its name ("Jugendstihl") to a movement of expression of German Art Nouveau. In the April 25, 1896 issue we find an unusual image of extraterrestrial life within our own solar system, drawn by the artist and illustrator Arpad Schmidhammer. It depicts life on a planet beyond Saturn--complex life, complete with what we'd imagine automobiles of the future from 1935 to look like, as well as cities, and large crowds very engaged in receiving an object from a world alien to their's. The commotion seems to be a space-shell of some sort, and of course it carries issues of Jugend magazine. There is all manner of action around the magazine in the foreground, and slightly beyond that we see another large group of people crowding around a telescope, hoping for a view of the Earth, while another dense crowd farther in the background swells around another Earth-intent telescope. It is intended as a humorous scene, no doubt, but the fact is that there weren't all that many scenes of alien life forms taking an interest in a floating Earth in the background. Perhaps Wilhelm Roentgen's newly-discovered X-rays helped an image like this along with the idea of entirely unseen worlds made visible...
[This image found thanks to an image-share by the Ephemera Society USA. Image Source: University of Missouri libraries, http://muspeccoll.tumblr.com/post/144371190257/jugend-1896-no-17-katya-s-jugend-mu-nchen utm_content=buffera68da&utm_medium=social&utm_source=twitter.com&utm_campaign=buffer]
And just for the record, "extraterrestrial" finds life in English as far back as 1868:
1868 W. Lockyer & J. N. Lockyer tr. A. Guillemin Heavens (ed. 3) 188 Bodies situated in the extra-terrestrial regions.
1882 Nature 21 Dec. 173/2 The oblique direction of the meteor..is another evidence of its extra-terrestrial origin.
There is some inexplicable something about advertising in popular magazines and newspapers during war time, and how inappropriate it seems to used the circumstance of conflict to sell a product. Of course, everything doesn't come to a standstill in war time, not even in World War, as economies still run and society still functions (at least to the very end). So, even though there could be millions of soldiers in uniform, and millions dead, and tens of millions (hundreds of millions peripherally) involved in the conflict, the daily life of living and the stuff of society keep on. This is what strikes me about these ads, all seen in two consecutive weekly issues of the Leipzig-based Illustrirte Zeitung in November 1914: chocolate, cigarettes, cognac, and of course a Benz automobile, though it was the cognac that seems to me to have the most noise about it--I don't know how you relate cognac to a war effort (let alone having it being fired from a howitzer) but they did manage to wrap themselves up in a patriotic-something and associative themselves with the national war effort. Over time manufacturers and ad folks would manage to see connections between the war effort and whatever it was they were producing--scissors, laxatives, buttons, razors, toys, pool tables, and so on. Then again, in a presidential cycle such as what we are witnessing in the U.S., people can relate anything to anything else in spite of the nonsensical and mythological nature of it, like the impossible Donald Trump stating he can relate to racism because "the system" has been "stacked against" him. You can say anything you want in these circumstance, evidently--the point is not making sense, it is about making a vague memory dent, and how that dent got there is immaterial to the lingering notion of the association.
Riding the last waves of wear into the public conscience and pocketbook come these two ads, published in a very large full-page format in the Illustrated London News in August 1918, just a few months before the end of WWI. Yes, no doubt there was a public "nervousness" about the affairs of the self/state/world in general, and yes there was a problem at this point with the beginning of flu season (which would soon develop into a world-wide pandemic that killed millions), and I guess the makers of Sanatogen and Oxo thought that they could make a positive impact on these things. Considering that Sanatogen was a tonic and both a relaxing and a vitalizing agent, and made of 95% milk protein, probably would not make much of an impact in anyone's nervous system. Same deal too to Oxo--apart from water the major ingredients were flour, beef fat, and dried beef bone, and probably whatever beefy thin might have fallen to the floor at the slaughterhouse. Certainly there was no good to come of treating a deadly influenza with beef fat--except of course that the manufacturer would do well distributing dietary supplement made of the stuff that has almost no value of any sort.
So, I guess I'll need to check out Oxo for the winter of 1918/19 and see how often this ad appears--it wouldn't be until the fall of 1918 that the pandemic would begin, killing about as many people who were killed in the just-ended war. Combating infectious disease with left-over stuff from a beef killing floor was probably not a hope-filled thing.
I found this nice association copy of an unusual pamphlet1--the work is on the Lowenbrau brewery in Munchen (with a nice bird's-eye view of the massive works), and it was given once upon a time to the Library of Congress by none other than the Bard of Baltimore, H.L. Mencken (1880-1956), who was known to enjoy his suds. As a matter of fact, here's a sort of quietly iconic picture of the man from the Baltimore Sun, legally enjoying his drink in Baltimore in 1933, right after the repeal of prohibition (1920-1933).
And this, gifting the pamphlet seven years earlier:
But what I really liked was this photo of the cooper works, dozens of folks working on the barrels to be filled with beer, an entire industry dedicated to packaging liquid and grain, all gone now:
1. Aktienbrauerei zum Lowenbrau in Munchen, which was probably published by the brewery, and printed pre-WWI, ca. 1910 or so.
This extraordinary image was found in the November 21, 1918 issue of Illustrated London News--a strong vision celebrating the newly-signed armistice ten days earlier ending WWI. It shows one of the statues at Tulieres--this at the entrance to the garden. Like many statues and buildings and churches, this structure was protected by sandbags--and in this case, the sandbags were decorated with war trophies of German helmets.
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.
There is an origin certainly for the reference to "shooting" fil or "shooting" a movie and such, and I think that it is fair to say that the following two illustrations of photographic innovations will explain that origin. The first is E. Enjalbert's "photo-revolver", a woodcut and explanation of which appeared in Scientific American (""A Photographic Revolver for Amateurs" ) May 17, 1884. It really is an ingenious thing: the lens of the camera was located in the barrel (#2) with the camera apparatus in section "H"; the photo-sensitive plates (life sized at #3), are both pushed forward and down with the action of the trigger/hammer. It is a snappy design. On the other hand I don't think I'd want to actually use the thing in an urban environment, as there might not be time for an explanation that "this is a ....".
(From the signature at bottom right of teh wood engraver this was no doubt published earlier in La Nature.)
And then there's the great Etienne Marey's "Fusil Photographique", as it appeared in La Nature in 1882, which was an early and significant step in the development of cinematography, though again a highly problematic and time-invasive explanation out in public might escape the user:
If there was any debate on the origin of the above-mentioned phrase, this might sway it.
This fine image from Popular Mechanics (January 1927) imagines the Martian moon "Ganymeade", mentioning that it is only 7 miles around, and could hardly host a large city, which the artist imagined in this free-for-all concept piece. I like the idea of putting the size of the moon in perspective like this--I must say that I've never seen one quite like this. But first, the magazine identifies the Martian moon as "Ganymede", which is actually a Jovian moon. The moons of Mars are Phobos and Deimos (the names meaning panic/terror and terror/dread), and they are 13.8 miles and 7.8 miles, respectively. They were discovered in 1877 by Asaph Hall at the National Observatory, and there wasn't a "Ganymede" between them--weirdly and wonderfully, though, their existence was imagined by non other than Jonathan Swift, who had his Laputan astronomers discover two moons in Gulliver's Travels in 1726. But no Ganymede. As it turns out, Ganymede is the largest moon in the solar system, and is nearly the size of Mars, so maybe that is where the confusion started.
I had no idea that the Salvation Army was responsible for sending out a quarter million immigrants into the world in just a couple of dozen years. This is a substantial travel program, and a dissemination of potential proselytizers into the far reaches of the Empire's domain. And as it turns out, the Salvation Army HQ in London was destroyed during the Blitz, along with the records of this great migration--very little remains of any official records regarding this long effort.
"The Salvation Army was the United Kingdom’s largest voluntary migration society in the first half of the twentieth century, helping around 250,000 people to emigrate from the British Isles to the British Empire Dominions. Given the wide-reaching impact of this work and the considerable resources The Salvation Army dedicated to it, it is surprising how little evidence and knowledge of it there is now."--http://www.salvationarmy.org.uk/history/blog12
Empire reconstruction. The work of the salvation army, migration - colonization department, 1903-1919 and after. (35x22cm, 12pp, with 12 photographs. Provenance: (Leland) Stanford (Junior) University, from prof. E(phraim).D(ouglas) Adams, then to the Library of Congress, then to me, Only one copy is located in the WorldCat/OCLC, at the Bibliotheque de documentation internationale contemporaine Nanterre).
The part about The History of Obviousness that is so wonderful is that sometimes the obviousnesses aren't evident, or apparent, until they are established--and then of course there is no ghostly memory of their formative semi-hidden natures. Sometimes things are best hidden in plain sight, and sometimes one doesn't realize that is is raining men-in-bowler-hats until Rene Magritte points it out. This may be one of those cases where something is so obvious that its extreme nature just blends into the surroundings, even when there aren't any.
[Source: Illustrirte Zeitung, December 31, 1914.]
So, in the picture above, we have not only a guard/observation station built in a lonely tree, but there's also a small lean-to at the bottom, with of course a soldier standing next to (but not inside) it.