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Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Tuesday's links

April 25th is ANZAC (Australian and New Zealand Army Corps ) Day, the anniversary of the Battle of Gallipoli.

Seven Things You Didn’t Know About Medieval Dragons.

Is a Drunk Witness a Bad Witness?

It's Oliver Cromwell's birthday - here's his excellent speech throwing out the corrupt Parliament, with bonus Monty Python.

The World's Most Stubborn Real Estate Holdouts.

Inside the FBI’s Colossal Pre-Computer Fingerprint Factory.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include the science of cheap wine, Earth Day's murderous co-founder, a 1964 coffee revolt, fighting communism with jazz, and a 1983 episode of The Family Feud that pitted the cast of Gilligan's Island against the cast of Batman.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Friday links

This 1983 episode of The Family Feud pitted the cast of Gilligan's Island vs the cast of Batman.



April 22 is Earth Day: here's the story of the co-founder who killed, then composted, his girlfriend.

The Science Behind Your Cheap Wine.

The Coffee Revolt of 1674: Women Campaigned to Prohibit “That Newfangled, Abominable, Heathenish Liquor".

ICYMI, Tuesday's links are here, and include the history of women pirates, the 1906 earthquake and fire that destroyed 80% of San Francisco, the 8 year long McDonald's Monopoly Fraud, and some history - T'was the eighteenth of April in seventy-five (the midnight ride of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott (and Paul Revere))

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Tuesday links

On April 18, 1906, an earthquake and fire destroyed 80% of San Francisco: here's a documentary, Library of Congress footage of the destruction, and side by side film of Market Street two weeks before the earthquake compared to afterward.

The Swashbuckling History of Women Pirates.

The McDonalds Monopoly Fraud: from 1995 to 2001, there was only one real winner - Uncle Jerry.

T'was the eighteenth of April in seventy-five: The midnight ride of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott (and Paul Revere)



ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include Cadbury Egg history, marshmallow peep violence, the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's assassination (and the eyewitness who appeared on TV in 1956), a first-person account of the sinking of the Titanic, and lots of creepy Easter Bunny photos.

Monday, April 17, 2017

T'was the eighteenth of April in seventy-five: The midnight ride of William Dawes and Samuel Prescott (and Paul Revere)

Listen my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
'Twas the eighteenth of April in seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (wikiPaul Revere's Ride, stanza 1)

The entire poem is at the bottom of this post.

Paul Revere (wiki) gets all of the credit, but he never actually finished that famous ride, and in fact warned the British that the Americans were coming. William Dawes and Samuel Prescott were left out of the poem and subsequently most elementary history books: it was actually Samuel Prescott who completed the midnight ride. 

Revere would be surprised that he ended up receiving sole credit for the midnight ride. In addition to Dawes and Prescott, dozens of other men helped spread the word that night. Revere started other express riders on their way before leaving Boston, and he also alerted others along his journey. They too began riding, or shot guns and rang church bells to alert the community.

Revere covered 13 miles in less than two hours, but he was not working alone. British patrols were posted along the roads, which is why more than one messenger was used for the mission.

In addition to omitting the efforts of Dawes, Prescott and dozens of nameless midnight riders.Longfellow's poem contains other errors as well; most notably, the signal of two lanterns hanging in the Old North Church was a signal from Revere, not a signal to Revere. In his defense, Longfellow didn't intend for the work to be an historical account - the 1860 poem was meant to inspire his countrymen on the eve of the Civil War.

Click to embiggen.


Here's William Dawes' story:

I am a wandering, bitter shade,
Never of me was a hero made;
Poets have never sung my praise,
Nobody crowned my brow with bays;
And if you ask me the fatal cause,
I answer only, "My name was Dawes."

William Dawes
'Tis all very well for the children to hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere;
But why should my name be quite forgot,
Who rode as boldly and well, God wot?
Why should I ask? The reason is clear --
My name was Dawes and his Revere.

When the lights from the old North Church flashed out,
Paul Revere was waiting about,
But I was already on my way.
The shadows of night fell cold and gray
As I rode, with never a break or a pause;
But what was the use, when my name was Dawes!

History rings with his silvery name;
Closed to me are the portals of fame.
Had he been Dawes and I Revere,
No one had heard of him, I fear.
No one has heard of me because

He was Revere, and I was Dawes.

~ Helen F. Moore (1851-1929) ("The Midnight Ride of William Dawes," Century Magazine, 1896)

On the evening of April 18, 1775, General Thomas Gage, the British commander in Boston, dispatched a contingent of troops to seize a supply of arms and powder that the colonial insurgents had stored at Lexington and Concord, as well as to arrest two leading patriots, Samuel Adams and John Hancock, who were also hidden in the area. 

As every schoolchild knows, Paul Revere's ensuing midnight ride called the local militia to arms, and the battles of Lexington and Concord followed the next day. Largely obscured by the great renown of Longfellow's poem, "Paul Revere's Ride" (included in his Tales of a Wayside Inn of 1863), is the fact that two other men - William Dawes (1745-1799) and Dr. Samuel Prescott (1751-1777) - also rode that night to spread the alarm. Moreover, it can be argued that Revere was the least successful of the three, because although he and Dawes were both captured by the British, Dawes escaped to arouse Lexington, and then Prescott carried the word to Concord. 

For some, the midnight ride conjures images of Paul Revere riding through the night, shouting out, "The British are coming! The British are coming!" But this phrase would have made no sense to the colonists; everyone at that time thought of themselves as British. Instead, Revere spread his message subtly by saying something along the lines of, "The Regulars are coming." The troops were known as Regulars, Redcoats or The King's Men. The troops called the colonists country people, provincials, Yankees, peasants or rebels.

Here's Longfellow's entire poem:

Paul Revere
Listen my children and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere,
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.

He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town to-night,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,--
One if by land, and two if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm,
For the country folk to be up and to arm."

Then he said "Good-night!" and with muffled oar
Silently rowed to the Charlestown shore,
Just as the moon rose over the bay,
Where swinging wide at her moorings lay
The Somerset, British man-of-war;
A phantom ship, with each mast and spar
Across the moon like a prison bar,
And a huge black hulk, that was magnified
By its own reflection in the tide.

Meanwhile, his friend through alley and street
Wanders and watches, with eager ears,
Till in the silence around him he hears
The muster of men at the barrack door,
The sound of arms, and the tramp of feet,
And the measured tread of the grenadiers,
Marching down to their boats on the shore.

Old North Church
Then he climbed the tower of the Old North Church,
By the wooden stairs, with stealthy tread,
To the belfry chamber overhead,
And startled the pigeons from their perch
On the sombre rafters, that round him made
Masses and moving shapes of shade,--
By the trembling ladder, steep and tall,
To the highest window in the wall,
Where he paused to listen and look down
A moment on the roofs of the town
And the moonlight flowing over all.

Beneath, in the churchyard, lay the dead,
In their night encampment on the hill,
Wrapped in silence so deep and still
That he could hear, like a sentinel's tread,
The watchful night-wind, as it went
Creeping along from tent to tent,
And seeming to whisper, "All is well!"
A moment only he feels the spell
Of the place and the hour, and the secret dread
Of the lonely belfry and the dead;
For suddenly all his thoughts are bent
On a shadowy something far away,
Where the river widens to meet the bay,--
A line of black that bends and floats
On the rising tide like a bridge of boats.

Meanwhile, impatient to mount and ride,
Booted and spurred, with a heavy stride
On the opposite shore walked Paul Revere.
Now he patted his horse's side,
Now he gazed at the landscape far and near,
Then, impetuous, stamped the earth,
And turned and tightened his saddle girth;
But mostly he watched with eager search
The belfry tower of the Old North Church,
As it rose above the graves on the hill,
Lonely and spectral and sombre and still.
And lo! as he looks, on the belfry's height
A glimmer, and then a gleam of light!
He springs to the saddle, the bridle he turns,
But lingers and gazes, till full on his sight
A second lamp in the belfry burns.

A hurry of hoofs in a village street,
A shape in the moonlight, a bulk in the dark,
And beneath, from the pebbles, in passing, a spark
Struck out by a steed flying fearless and fleet;
That was all! And yet, through the gloom and the light,
The fate of a nation was riding that night;
And the spark struck out by that steed, in his flight,
Kindled the land into flame with its heat.
He has left the village and mounted the steep,
And beneath him, tranquil and broad and deep,
Is the Mystic, meeting the ocean tides;
And under the alders that skirt its edge,
Now soft on the sand, now loud on the ledge,
Is heard the tramp of his steed as he rides.

It was twelve by the village clock
When he crossed the bridge into Medford town.
He heard the crowing of the cock,
And the barking of the farmer's dog,
And felt the damp of the river fog,
That rises after the sun goes down.

It was one by the village clock,
When he galloped into Lexington.
He saw the gilded weathercock
Swim in the moonlight as he passed,
And the meeting-house windows, black and bare,
Gaze at him with a spectral glare,
As if they already stood aghast
At the bloody work they would look upon.

It was two by the village clock,
When he came to the bridge in Concord town.
He heard the bleating of the flock,
And the twitter of birds among the trees,
And felt the breath of the morning breeze
Blowing over the meadow brown.
And one was safe and asleep in his bed
Who at the bridge would be first to fall,
Who that day would be lying dead,
Pierced by a British musket ball.

You know the rest. In the books you have read
How the British Regulars fired and fled,---
How the farmers gave them ball for ball,
From behind each fence and farmyard wall,
Chasing the redcoats down the lane,
Then crossing the fields to emerge again
Under the trees at the turn of the road,
And only pausing to fire and load.

So through the night rode Paul Revere;
And so through the night went his cry of alarm
To every Middlesex village and farm,---
A cry of defiance, and not of fear,
A voice in the darkness, a knock at the door,
And a word that shall echo for evermore!
For, borne on the night-wind of the Past,
Through all our history, to the last,
In the hour of darkness and peril and need,
The people will waken and listen to hear
The hurrying hoof-beats of that steed,
And the midnight message of Paul Revere.

The Revolutionary War began the next day - April 19, 1775. Here's Emerson:

By the rude bridge that arched the flood,
Their flag to April’s breeze unfurled; 
Here once the embattled farmers stood; 
And fired the shot heard round the world. 

Ralph Waldo EmersonConcord Hymn (stanza 1)

A strip from "They'll Do it Every Time" by Jimmy Hatlo (1897-1963).  Note the reference to Shakespeare's disputed authorship:


Remember the kerfuffle when Sarah Palin mentioned that Revere actually told the British that the Americans were coming and the "intellectuals" on the left, who got their history from the poem, made much of what an idiot she was?

During Paul Revere’s ride he was stopped by British soldiers, which Revere recounts in a 1789 letter maintained by the Massachusetts Historical Society, in his original language:
observed a Wood at a Small distance, & made for that. When I got there, out Started Six officers, on Horse back, and orderd me to dismount;-one of them, who appeared to have the command, examined me, where I came from, & what my Name Was? I told him. it was Revere, he asked if it was Paul? I told him yes He asked me if I was an express? I answered in the afirmative. He demanded what time I left Boston? I told him; and aded, that their troops had catched aground in passing the River, and that There would be five hundred Americans there in a short time, for I had alarmed the Country all the way up. He imediately rode towards those who stoppd us, when all five of them came down upon a full gallop; one of them, whom I afterwards found to be Major Mitchel, of the 5th Regiment, Clapped his pistol to my head, called me by name, & told me he was going to ask me some questions, & if I did not give him true answers, he would blow my brains out. He then asked me similar questions to those above. He then orderd me to mount my Horse, after searching me for arms. He then orderd them to advance, & to lead me in front. When we got to the Road, they turned down towards Lexington. When we had got about one Mile, the Major Rode up to the officer that was leading me, & told him to give me to the Sergeant. As soon as he took me, the Major orderd him, if I attempted to run, or any body insulted them, to blow my brains out. We rode till we got near Lexington Meeting-house, when the Militia fired a Voley of Guns, which appeared to alarm them very much.
Further reading: 

There's an excellent breakdown at the Journal of the American Revolution's blog: Dissecting the Timeline of Paul Revere’s Ride, and this article at the same publication is also worthwhile: How Paul Revere’s Ride was Published and Censored in 1775.

PaulRevereHouse.org's article on the real story has an interactive map.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

1983 episode of The Family Feud: the cast of Gilligan's Island vs the cast of Batman

The cast of Gilligan's Island plays against the cast of Batman for charity in this 1983 episode of The Family Feud. It's interesting in a glimpse of history sort of sense, too - the number one answer to "Name something you bring into the bedroom for the day when you're sick in bed." is "a television", and another answer is "the phone". 



via Laughing Squid

Friday, April 14, 2017

Friday links


The Titanic sunk on April 14, 1912 - here's an eyewitness account.


Videos of violence against marshmallow peeps, including peeps vs. .50 Caliber Rifle and microwave ovens, plus Artworks Made From Peeps. Related: Peeps on Television: 20 Shows Recreated With Marshmallow Peeps.


Prepare to be offended: Easter cards from The Onion.


ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and are income tax related: history of income tax, tax implications of the zombie apocalypse, the animated version of The Beatles "Taxman", tax revolts from science fiction, and more.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

The appropriate music for the bomb dropped on ISIS in Afghanistan

The U.S. military dropped its largest non-nuclear bomb on an ISIS tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan on Thursday. The GBU-43B, a 21,000-pound conventional bomb, was deployed in Nangarhar Province close to the Afghanistan/Pakistan border. By comparison, each Tomahawk cruise missile launched at a Syrian military air base last week weighed 1,000 pounds each.

The MOAB -- Massive Ordnance Air Blast -- is also known as the “Mother Of All Bombs.” It was first tested in 2003, but hadn't been used in combat before Thursday.

Here's The Gap Band (youtube channel):

Creepy photos of Easter Bunnies with kids

More awkward photos:





















Giant tampon bunny!:




No kids (yet), but what's with the "tail"?


Check out the body language - this bunny is trying to get as far from Superman (in his George Reeves incarnation) as possible:


And not the bunny, but is this a great Easter picture of your kids, or what?


Related posts:

Awkward glamour photos.

These awkward Christmas photos are a hoot.

Want more? There are a gazillion of these on the interwebs - the best (non-bunny-specific) roundup that I know of is Awkward Family Photos (and they have a book that make a great gift for that person who has everything).

Thursday links

Tax day: quotes, songs, links, advice, filing an extension, Dave Barry, and the 1967 cartoon version of The Beatles "Taxman".



Death and Taxes... and Zombies: Tax implications of the zombie apocalypse.

TaxProf's IRS scandal archives - he's posted every day since May 10, 2013 when the IRS admitted that they were targeting conservative groups.

A Short History of Congress’s Power to Tax and eleven shelters, dodges, and rolls - all perfectly legal - used by America's wealthiest people.

ICYMI, Wednesday's links are here, and include dog fart science, why the date of Easter moves around, the physics of shoelace knot failure, the guy who had to chat with the king while he used the toilet, and the beginning of the Civil War.

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday links

The first shots of the Civil War were fired on April 12, 1861 at Fort Sumter.

There's A Secret Hideaway In The Heart Of Disney World Just For The Military.

We may have missed Dog Farting Awareness Day (it was April 8th), but Scientific American's article on the science of dog farts is still worthwhile.



It Was Once Someone’s Job to Chat With the King While He Used the Toilet.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and include FDR's bomb shelter, a mine-sweeping drone, nuclear and chemical testing in the U.S., and an 1860s series of Australian photos illustrating the '5 stages of inebriation'.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

In 1956, an eyewitness (Samuel Seymour) to the Lincoln assassination appeared on TV

In 1956, a 96 year old eyewitness (Samuel Seymour) to the Lincoln assassination appeared on "I've Got a Secret":


The show's producers learned about Mr. Seymour from an article written by him in the February 7, 1954 issue of The American Weekly (wiki) magazine. It was available online a couple of years ago, but I can no longer find a link to it. Here's an image of the article:



And here's the text:

“I Saw Lincoln Shot"

By Samuel J. Seymour, as told to Frances Spatz Leighton

The only living witness re-creates the drama of that tragic night.

This is an eyewitness account of one of history’s great tragedies – the assassination of Abraham Lincoln – told by the only living witness to the fateful drama enacted at Ford’s Theater on the night of April 14th, 1865 – THE EDITORS

Even if I were to live another 94 years, I’d still never forget my first trip away from home as a little shaver five years old.

My father was overseer on the Goldsboro estate in Talbot County, Maryland, and it seems that he and Mr. Goldsboro has to go to Washington on business – something to do with the legal status of their 150 slaves. Mrs. Goldsboro asked if she couldn’t take me and my nurse, Sarah Cook, along with her and the men, for a little holiday.

We made the 150-mile trip by coach and team and I remember how stubborn those horses were about being loaded onto an old fashioned side-wheeler steamboat for part of the journey.

It was going on toward supper time – on Good Friday, April 14th, 1865 – when we finally pulled up in front of the biggest house I ever had seen. It looked to me like a thousand farmhouses all pushed together, but my father said it was a hotel.

I was scared. I had seen men with guns, all along the street, and every gun seemed to be aimed right at me. I was too little to realize that all of Washington was getting ready to celebrate because Lee has surrendered a few days earlier.

I complained tearfully that I couldn’t get out of the coach because my shirt was torn – anything to delay the dread moment – but Sarah dug into her bag and found a big safety pin.

“You hold still now, Sammy,” she said, “and I’ll fix the tear right away.” I shook so hard, from fright, that she accidentally stabbed me with the pin and I hollered, “I’ve been shot! I’ve been shot!”

When I finally had been rushed upstairs, shushed and scrubbed and put into fresh clothes, Mrs. Goldsboro said she had a wonderful surprise.

“Sammy, you and Sarah and I are going to a play tonight,” she explained. “A real play – and President Abraham Lincoln will be there.”

I thought a play would be a game like tag and I liked the idea. We waited a while outside the Ford Theater for tickets, then walked upstairs and sat in hard rattan-backed chairs.

Mrs. Goldsboro pointed directly across the theater to a colorfully draped box. “See those flags, Sammy?” she asked. “That’s where President Lincoln will sit.” When he finally did come in, she lifted me high so I could see. He was a tall, stern-looking man. I guess I just thought he looked stern because of his whiskers, because he was smiling and waving to the crowd.

When everyone sat down again and the actors started moving and talking, I began to get over the scared feeling I’d had ever since we arrived in Washington. But that was something I never should have done.

All of a sudden a shot rang out – a shot that always will be remembered – and someone in the President’s box screamed. I saw Lincoln slumped forward in his seat. People started milling around and I thought there’d been another accident when one man seemed to tumble over the balcony rail and land on the stage.

“Hurry, hurry, let’s go help the poor man who fell down,” I begged.

But by that time John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, had picked himself up and was running for dear life. He wasn’t caught until 12 days later when he was tracked to a barn where he was hiding.

Only a few people noticed the running man, but pandemonium broke loose in the theater, with everyone shouting:

“Lincoln’s shot! The President’s dead!”

Mrs. Goldsboro swept me into her arms and held me close and somehow we got outside the theater. That night I was shot 50 times, at least in my dreams – and I sometimes still relive the horror of Lincoln’s assassination, dozing in my rocker as an old codger like me is bound to do.

Related post:

Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on April 14, 1865

From Harper's Weekly of April 29, 1965. this illustration is by Thomas Nast, and represents Nast's Tribute to the fallen president. The illustration shows Columbia, or Lady Liberty, kneeling and weeping over Abraham Lincoln's Coffin. The picture also shows a grieving Union Soldier, contemplating the loss of his commander and chief. Also pictured is a Union Navy man, likewise mourning Abraham Lincoln's death.
O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done,
The ship has weather'd every rack, the prize we sought is won. 
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people are exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring;

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of red,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead. 

~Walt Whitman (1819-1892) (wiki) ("O Captain! My Captain!," 1st stanza)*

Last known photograph of Abraham Lincoln,
taken by Henry F. Warren on 6 March 1865
Our children will behold his fame,
The kindly-earnest, brave, foreseeing man,
Sagacious, patient, dreading praise, not blame,
New birth of our new soil, the first American. 
~James Russell Lowell (1819-1891) (of President Lincoln, Commemoration Ode, 21 July 1865)

Assassination has never changed the history of the world.**

~Benjamin Disraeli (1804-1881) (in the House of Commons, 1 May 1865, on Lincoln's assassination) 

With malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to finish the work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have born the battle and for his widow and for his orphan, to do all that may achieve a just and lasting peace among ourselves and with all nations. 

~President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) (wiki) (Second inaugural address, 4 March 1865)

Lincoln Assassination - Harper's Weekly Illustration
Although he actually died at 7:30 the following morning, today is the anniversary of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865) on 14 April 1865, only five days after Lee's surrender at Appomattox. Lincoln was very fond of the theater, and that evening, he and Mrs. Lincoln - likely in a celebratory mood because of the end of the Civil War - attended a performance of the comedy, Our American Cousin, by English playwright Tom Taylor at Ford's Theater on 10th Street NW in Washington. There, following the intermission, actor and Southern sympathizer John Wilkes Booth managed to gain access to the Presidential box through a series of security lapses, and shot Lincoln in the back of head with a small pistol. He then jumped down onto the stage, shouted "Sic semper tynannis!" ("Thus always to tyrants!"), and although breaking his leg in the process, made his escape. Booth was ultimately tracked down and killed on 26 April, and four other conspirators were hanged on 7 July 1865.*** 

The Assassination of President Lincoln at Ford's Theatre
After the Act, wood engraving from Harper's Weekly, April 29, 1865.
At least in the North, the President's death unleashed a paroxysm of grief. Before funeral services in Washington, he lay in state in both the White House and the Capitol, and the train that slowly bore his body to Illinois for burial stopped in 11 cities for additional viewings by the public. He was laid to rest in Springfield, Illinois on 4 May 1865. Perhaps my favorite Lincoln quotation:
"As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy."
* N.B. Written by Whitman in 1871 in memory of the assassination of President Lincoln.

** Except that this one probably did, at least in the United States... It led to the many excesses of Reconstruction and lasting bitterness between the North and South.

*** Lincoln's assassination was only part of a larger conspiracy which also targeted Vice President Andrew Johnson and Secretary of State William Seward. Johnson's intended attacker lost his nerve, but Seward was seriously wounded in a stabbing attack that same night. 

Here's a brief (5 minute) video on the assassination:


Funeral March for Abraham Lincoln written by Major General John Gross Barnard was performed by the United States Marine Band during the funeral procession from the Executive Mansion to the Capitol on April 19, 1865. This youtube version is played with with period illustrations of the obsequies: 


In 1956, an eyewitness (Samuel Seymour) to the Lincoln assassination appeared on "I've Got a Secret": 



Lincoln's 1858 speech on the meaning of Independence Day: Let us stick to it then. Let us stand firmly by it then.

Gorgeous remastered and colorized images from the Civil War era, including Lincoln and Mark Twain

Much more at History.com. The rest of the illustrations from the Harper's Weekly issue referenced above are available here.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Friday links


FDR's Bomb Shelter was located in an old vault under the Treasury, connected to the White House via tunnel. 


Recreating History - side by side comparison of real historical footage with movie re-creations.

These brothers built a mine-sweeping drone.


ICYMI, Thursday's links are here, and include the war over cookie butter patents, the anniversary of the United States joining World War I, and instructions from 1650 on how to dye your hair blond.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

1860s series of photos illustrating the '5 stages of inebriation'

Australia never enacted full Prohibition (wiki) as the United States did, but there were campaigns against alcohol consumption there, as well as here. These photographs, dated between 1863 and 1868, are believed to be propaganda from a New South Wales temperance group. They coincide with the 1866 “Drunkard’s Punishment Bill”*, suggesting there was a bit of a local alcoholism problem. The photographer, Charles Percy Pickering, was commissioned by the NSW government. 

Decades after these photos were taken, the Australian temperance movement seemingly scored a victory when mandatory early closures were enacted for pubs and hotel bars as an austerity measure during World War I. This backfired, however; the early closing times created the “six o’clock swill,” as people dashed from work to bars and drank as heavily and quickly as possible, ending up like the model in these photos before the sun was down.

Stage 1:

Stage 2:

Stage 3:

Stage 4:

Stage 5:


The 'Drunkard Punishment Bill: 1866' from an article in The Illustrated Sydney News: 15th Sept. 1866:
The following is the Bill introduced by Mr. Martin and passed by the Legislative Assembly:-
Clause 1. "Any person who shall be found drunk in any highway, street, or public place, shall be liable, on conviction, as hereunder mentioned, to a fine or penalty not exceeding twenty shillings.
Clause 2. "Any person who shall be found drunk and disorderly in any highway, street, road, or public place, shall be liable, on conviction, as hereunder mentioned, to a fine or penalty not exceeding forty shillings.
Clause 3. "It shall be lawful for any constable to apprehend and confine in any watchhouse, until he can be taken before a Justice of the Peace, to be dealt with as hereunder mentioned, any person whom he may find drunk, or drunk and disorderly, in any highway, street, road, or public place.
Clause 4. "It shall be lawful for any Justice of the Peace, before whom any person shall be taken as aforesaid, and charged without any formal information, with a breach of either the first two sections of this act, to enquire into and adjudicate upon such charge in a summary way, and, on conviction, to direct that such person shall pay such fine or penalty as is hereinbefore provided, and, in default of immediate payment, to commit such person to any gaol or house of correction for any period not exceeding seven days, with or without hard labour.
Clause 5. "This act may be cited for all purposes as the 'Drunkards' Punishment Act of 1866."
Related posts: 


Winston Churchill's Doctor's Note Allowing Him to Drink "Unlimited" Alcohol in Prohibition America.

Thursday links



These 10 companies control everything (edible) that you buy

In 1650, here's how you could dye your hair blond.

Map: watch as the world’s cities appear one-by-one over 6,000 years.

Victorian ‘Coffin Torpedoes’ Blasted Would-Be Grave Robbers.

ICYMI, Friday's links are here, and are all April Fool's Day related: history, pranks, and hoaxes.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

The United States entered World War I on April 6, 1917.

The War was decided in the first twenty days of fighting, and all that happened afterwards consisted of battles which, however formidable and devastating, were but desperate and vain appeals against the decision of Fate. 

~ Sir Winston S. Churchill (wiki) (1874-1965) (Preface to Spears, Liaison 1914)

Napoleon had said it was rare to find generals willing to fight battles. The curse [of World War I] was that so few could do anything else. 


When every autumn people said it could not last through the winter, and when every spring there was still no end in sight, only the hope that out of it all some good would accrue to mankind kept men and nations fighting. When at last it was over, the war had many diverse results and one dominant one transcending all others: disillusion. 

~ Barbara Tuchman (1912-1989) (The Guns of August, "Afterward") 

Today is the 100th anniversary - the centennial - of the entry of the United States into World War I on April 6, 1917, when the House of Representatives passed the declaration of war proposed four days earlier by President Woodrow Wilson (1856-1924) (wiki) and adopted by the Senate on the 4th. The United States only joined the Allies after nearly three years of war, provoked beyond endurance by Germany's unrestricted submarine warfare campaign and the German "Zimmermann telegram" (wiki) - intercepted by British intelligence - which promised Mexico the return of her "lost territories" in the southwest United States in return for an alliance with a victorious Germany. 

Ultimately nearly two million American troops joined French and British counterparts on the Western Front and provided the final impetus for breaking the stalemate that had lasted there since late 1914. The United States lost over 53,000 men killed or missing in action, plus 204,000 wounded.* In his call for a war declaration, President Wilson noted,
Zimmerman Telegram
"It is a fearful thing to lead this great peaceful people into war ... We shall fight for the things we have always carried nearest our hearts - for democracy, for the right of those who submit to authority to have a voice in their own Governments, for the rights and liberties of small nations, for a universal dominion of right by such a concert of free peoples as shall bring peace and safety to all nations and make the world itself at last free."
Alas, these noble aspirations were largely unrealized, and the primary legacy of World War I - the worst calamity to afflict Western Civilization in our times - was World War II.

* N.B. The U.S. dead were only a small percentage of the total number of those killed on both sides - 5-1/2 million. It's also notable that the United States military suffered even more deaths to other causes, mostly the influenza pandemic that struck in 1918. 

A brief documentary on the entry:


From the BBC: 
In this collection of archive footage and interviews, the introduction and training of United States soldiers to the Allied cause in the First World War is discussed.


The text above is adapted from Ed's Quotation of the Day, only available via email - leave your email address in the comments if you'd like to be added to his list. Ed is the author of Hunters and Killers: Volume 1: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1776 to 1943 and Hunters and Killers: Volume 2: Anti-Submarine Warfare from 1943.

If you're interested in further information on the subject there are hundreds of books and films - the best books I know of (and unlike Ed, I'm no expert) are Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August (which won a Pulitzer back when they meant something) and John Keegan's The First World War.