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Saturday, June 13, 2015

Cartoon of the day: Hillary and the media

More Branco cartoons at Comically Incorrect.

Friday, June 12, 2015

Ave Atque Vale Sir Christopher Lee, who died Sunday: here’s a supercut of his death scenes

Sir Christopher Lee (wiki), known as the master of horror, has died at the age of 93 after being hospitalized for respiratory problems and heart failure.

The veteran actor, immortalized in films from Dracula to The Wicker Man, and via James Bond villainy to the Lord of the Rings trilogy, died at 8.30am on Sunday morning at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital in London.

His wife, the former Danish model Birgit Kroencke, decided to hold back the information for four days until all family members and friends were informed.

More at The Guardian.

Friday links

Because it's really hot here in the DC area - all about Air Conditioning: invention, historical reactions, Arthur Miller column on the days before air-conditioning, more. Related, sort of: one way to make good use of the heat wave - how to bake cookies on your dashboard, step by step.

10 Most Muscular Dogs of All Time.

WHO (World Health Organization) warns you not to drink camel urine.
One of my favorite Father's Day stories (NSFW- language).

10 Animal-Plant Mash-Ups That Would Be Unstoppable Killers.

18 Awesome Things Were Actually Invented By Mistake.

ICYMI, last Friday's links are here, and include the 75th anniversary of Dunkirk, time-lapse videos of seeds turning into vegetables, how to turn a stadium full of people into thousands of pixels, and how to make an untraceable gun.

Air Conditioning: invention, historical reactions, Arthur Miller column on the days before air-conditioning, more

Want to know what people thought of “colderizing,” "air chilling," “mechanical weather,” and being “cooled by refrigeration” in its early days*. One of my favorite comments, on a system installed in the Capitol in 1928:


Though the air undoubtedly increased comfort in the chambers, some still complained that it was too cold. According to Cool Comfort, John E. Rankin, a Democrat from Mississippi lodged the first complaint on May 28, 1929, saying "the atmosphere is too cool in this room. On yesterday it was 75 by thermometer ... and 91 degrees on the outside. Fifteen or twenty degrees difference is too much ... This is regular Republican atmosphere, and it is enough to kill anybody if it continues." His declaration was met with applause.
Here's Ben Stein paying respect to the invention of the air conditioner:



And here's playwright Arthur Miller (wiki), writing in the June 1998 issue of New Yorker:
People on West 110th Street, where I lived, were a little too bourgeois to sit out on their fire escapes, but around the corner on 111th and farther uptown mattresses were put out as night fell, and whole families lay on those iron balconies in their underwear.

Even through the nights, the pall of heat never broke. With a couple of other kids, I would go across 110th to the Park and walk among the hundreds of people, singles and families, who slept on the grass, next to their big alarm clocks, which set up a mild cacophony of the seconds passing, one clock’s ticks syncopating with another’s. Babies cried in the darkness, men’s deep voices murmured, and a woman let out an occasional high laugh beside the lake.
No surprises here for us older folks, and it's worth remembering that even if the technology existed in the 1930s it was certainly not widespread - I'm 66 years old, was raised in upstate New York, and I don't think I ever saw air conditioning in a private home until the 70's, after I moved to the Washington, D.C. area. I'd also never heard of the concept of an air-conditioned car. 

1959 advertisement
Here's Miller again:
My first direct contact with an air-conditioner came only in the sixties, when I was living in the Chelsea Hotel. The so-called management sent up a machine on casters which rather aimlessly cooled and sometimes heated the air, relying, as it did, on pitchers of water that one had to pour into it. On the initial filling, it would spray water all over the room, so one had to face it toward the bathroom rather than the bed.

Willis Carrier poses proudly in 1922 with the first chiller

The origin of air conditioning is disputed, (the first cooling of buildings was engineered by the Romans, who ran aqueducts through the houses of the upper class to cool them), but here's a Wired article on Willis Haviland Carrier's invention that forms the basis of the modern air conditioner - it was originally designed as a humidity controller for a printing company. 


Mental Floss has more contemporaneous sources on air conditioning in the early days.



10 Cool Engineering Tricks the Romans Taught Us.

Previous post:

How to Build a Homemade Air Conditioner for Just $8, and charge your phone using Gatorade and an onion.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

On This Day in 1964, Democrats Filibustered the Civil Rights Act

Leading the Democrats was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV), who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan.
On this day in 1964, Everett Dirksen (R-IL), the Republican Leader in the U.S. Senate, condemned the Democrats’ 57-day filibuster against the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Leading the Democrats in their opposition to civil rights for African-Americans was Senator Robert Byrd (D-WV). Byrd, who got into politics as a recruiter for the Ku Klux Klan, spoke against the bill for fourteen straight hours. Democrats still call Robert Byrd “the conscience of the Senate.”
In his speech, Senator Dirksen called on the Democrats to end their filibuster and accept racial equality.
Related: Here's a bit of Americana for you - the 1920's KKK Application Form.