Thursday, July 30, 2015

Today -100: July 30, 1915: They have some rights that the white man is bound to respect

US Secretary of State Robert Lansing telegraphs the leaders of various Mexican factions, telling them to allow the resumption of railroad traffic between Vera Cruz and Mexico City so food can reach the latter. There may be a delay in Zapata getting his telegram – I hear that railroad traffic between Vera Cruz and Mexico City is down.

Headline of the Day -100:

Negroes in Tennessee are supposedly complaining about whites breaking the Jim Crow laws and sitting in the black section of trains. In Virginia a black person can ask a white person in the wrong section to vacate his seat and he is required to do so even if there are no seats in the white section and he has to stand. The NYT says “The protest of the Tennessee negroes is just. They have some rights that the white man is bound to respect, and one of them is the right to choose their company.”

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Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The vanishing Amazon link

I removed the Amazon referral link from my sidebar. I noticed that for a while I hadn’t been getting any actual, you know, money from it, and finally got around to checking if anyone had been placing orders through it. Yes, they had. So I connected to Amazon, which said that they had determined, through some sort of proprietary top-secret algorithm or something, that the order had been placed by me or someone I knew, and were therefore ineligible. The only information I can access is what has been purchased, not by whom, so for all I know it was a friend or friends of mine, but if not, I can’t challenge the proprietary top-secret algorithm or something because it’s, you know, proprietary and top secret.

There are two possibilities here: 1) Amazon is cheating me out of my 4%. 2) It knows who my friends are (or people it considers to be my friends). Which is creepy. Either makes it essential that I sever my very slightly remunerative relations with Amazon, but the second, creepy possibility seemed like something I should share with the group.

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Today -100: July 29, 1915: Of a Haitian recall election

Haitian Pres. Vilbrun Guillaume Sam is dragged out of the French embassy and killed, his body torn apart and dragged through the streets by a presumably angry mob. US marines are landed, their mission to protect American and other foreign lives and then quickly leave the country.

In 1934.

Capt. Karl Boy-Ed, German naval attaché in Washington by day, head of espionage & sabotage operations in North America by night, says that Germany won’t change its submarine warfare policy or even “condescend to reply” to Woodrow Wilson’s note until he protests just as vehemently against British violations of neutrality. (Or not: the German ambassador will say that the Providence Journal made up the whole interview.)

Evidently when William Jennings Bryan resigned as secretary of state, he appropriated his desk as a souvenir. I say his desk, but it had actually been the desk of all the secretaries of state for the previous 50 years. The NYT has an acidly sarcastic editorial (my favorite kind of NYT editorial) on the subject.

A coroner’s jury in Chicago rules that the capsizing of the Eastland is the fault of the Eastland’s captain and engineer, the general managers of the steamship company and the company leasing it, and two federal inspectors who passed the ship for passengers early this month. It recommends they all be charged with manslaughter.

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Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Today -100: July 28, 1915: Of poetry, dead presidents, and invisible planes

It’s one year since Austria declared war on Serbia. There’ll probably be cake or something.

Headline of the Day -100: 

War is hell.

Haiti is a bit of a mess, as is the custom. Pres. Vilbrun Guillaume Sam ordered a massacre of 167 political prisoners, including former Pres. Oreste Zamor. Angry crowds, said to consist largely of relatives of the 167, pull the governor of Port-au-Prince, who carried out the executions, out of the Santo Domingo embassy where’s hiding and kill him. The president is now hiding in the French embassy, for all the good it will do him.

The Cologne Gazette says that Germany now possesses invisible airplanes. Specifically, Fokker monoplanes covered with cellon, an early form of plastic. It does reduce the plane’s visibility in clear skies, but it’s also reflective, occasionally blinding its planes’ pilots, so the experiment will ultimately be abandoned, except by Wonder Woman.

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Monday, July 27, 2015

Rick Perry shoots off mouth, foot

Perry said that if people in the Lafayette, LA movie theater had just been armed, everything would have been just fine.


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Today -100: July 27, 1915: An expected damnable outrage

A German u-boat sinks the US steamship Leelanaw a bit off Britain’s Orkney Islands, but it did it the nice way: not without warning like the Lusitania, but after asking it politely to stop, determining that it was carrying contraband (flax), politely asking the Leelanaw’s crew to evacuate and come aboard the u-boat, then sinking it, and putting the crew back on their life-boats nearer to shore. Technically, under the 1828 Prussia-US treaty, they should have allowed the Leelanaw to jettison its cargo and not sink it, but hey close enough, right?

Woodrow Wilson doesn’t have a response yet – he’s waiting for details – but, not surprisingly, Theodore Roosevelt isn’t waiting: “It’s a damnable outrage, but one that was to have been expected. I wonder what our pacifist friends will say to this? Wait for a whole year to discuss it, I suppose?” (The latter referring to William Jennings Bryan’s arbitration treaties).

Headline of the Day -100: 

Hudson County, NJ Sheriff Eugene Kinkead (a former US congressman) decides to personally end the Standard Oil/Tideland strike in Bayonne, punching and arresting a strike leader who turns out not to be an actual Standard Oil employee, and arresting and beating up IWW leader Frank Tannenbaum. Then he orders the men to return to work on a vague promise of an unspecified wage increase and somehow convinces the strike committee to resign when the strikers refuse. He then announces that he will protect anyone who returns to work. So now all he needs are a lot more cops than he has (he keeps insisting that these foreigners are really impressed by police uniforms). But neighboring towns refuse to send any, and the governor already refused national guard assistance, so he goes around to those towns and forcibly swears in every cop he meets, arresting or threatening to indict those who refuse. One captain puts out his stations’s lights and pretends no one’s there.

Britain responds (four months late) to the US complaint about its enforcement of its naval blockade of Germany. It says basically, “Hey remember how you seized British ships bringing ‘contraband’ to the Confederacy during the Civil War? Well, fuck you.”

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Sunday, July 26, 2015

Today -100: July 26, 1915: Of excess bodies, POWs, field marshals, and wobblies

The NYT says 915 bodies have been recovered from the Eastland disaster and 563 are still missing, and I still don’t know how they’ve counted more bodies than there actually were. People are asking why a ship known to lean to one side because of its top-heavy design was still allowed to carry passengers.

Supposedly, a man who was standing by the river contemplating suicide when the Eastland turned turtle dived in and rescued 9 people.

Germany claims that it and Austria have taken 1.5 million Russians prisoner.

The king of Bavaria appoints Kaiser Wilhelm a Field Marshal of the Bavarian Army, and Willy accepts, although it is a matter of debate whether the king of Bavaria actually has that power. This seems to be a way for Bavaria to assert itself at a time when Prussians are dominating everything in Germany.

A mob of 10,000 Italians storm Philadelphia Hall to stop an IWW meeting, having heard that the Wobblies have been telling Italian reservists not to go home to fight.

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Saturday, July 25, 2015

Today -100: July 25, 1915: The Eastland disaster

The SS Eastland, a ship used for tourist excursions, rolls over in the Chicago River, drowning 1,800 according to the NYT, at least 919 according to the Chicago Tribune, and 844 according to Wikipedia (or, elsewhere in the article, 848)(So how in hell does the NYT have a figure of 889 recovered bodies?) Either way, way more than were killed by Mrs O’Leary’s cow in the Great Chicago Fire of 1871, the largest previous disaster in Chicago.

They were employees of the Western Electric Company, being taken on a picnic. The Eastland was simply a badly designed, top-heavy ship, took on water ballast ineptly, and was carrying more passengers than the legal maximum of 2,500. Also adding to the excess weight, ironically, were 15 tons of lifeboats added due to legislation passed after the Titanic.

The captain is nearly lynched on the wharf when he tries to stop rescuers, I guess because they were dismantling his ship to get to people trapped in it. Chicago, as was the custom, is after blood. The coroner orders the arrest of every official of the Indiana Transportation Company. 4 of those officials and two of the crew will be indicted and tried in 1916, the former for manslaughter, the latter for criminal negligence. They’ll get off scot free, although to be fair, the chief engineer, who was defended by Clarence Darrow, seems to have been a hero, nearly drowning while keeping the boiler from exploding as the ship sank.

Headline of the Day -100:

Standard Oil refuses arbitration of the demands of the Bayonne refinery strikers.  Why are the workers almost entirely foreigners, anyway? The Tidewater Oil Company plant’s guards have been taking random potshots from the factory stockades at houses and saloons and tenements. The sheriff tells the company that if any more shots are fired except in defense of life – “and by that I mean life, not property” – he’ll arrest company officials. It stops. (Update: no it doesn’t, and tomorrow Sheriff Eugene Kinkead will arrest 30 Tidewater employees).

William Creen, the prisoner who tried to kill Leo Frank, tells Georgia Governor Nat Harris that he only did it to prevent an attack on the prison by a lynch mob, so really he was just preventing bloodshed.

Relatedly, a meeting is held in La Grange, Georgia which calls on the Jews of Georgia to deny the charges that they have been the subjects of prejudice and/or race hatred. “By their silence they have indorsed all the vile charges, and if these charges be true it is high time that they were seeking more congenial climes.” Yup, no prejudice or race hatred in Georgia, that’s for sure.

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Today -100: July 24, 1915: Of flims

Three Cleveland companies manufacturing munitions for the Allies have been warned by the government of a plot to blow up their factories.

A German privy councillor (and author of “The Propeller and Its Effect on the Water”) says the British deliberately got the Lusitania sunk in order to bring the US into the war. Would I be mentioning this if his name weren’t Oswald Flamm? Probably not.

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Thursday, July 23, 2015

Today -100: July 23, 1915: And worth every penny

John Wanamaker, president of the Philadelphia branch of the National Security League, proposes that the US buy Belgium from Germany for $100 billion, then give it its freedom. Belgium’s good for the money, he says.

The US sends its final note to Germany on submarine warfare. Basically, it says that the continuance of cordial relations between the two countries depends on Germany not blowing up US ships or killing Americans on other ships unless in accordance with the rules of war. No further response from Germany is expected or desired, just, you know, not blowing up US ships etc. “Repetition by the commanders of German naval vessels of acts in contravention of those rights must be regarded by the Government of the United States, when they affect American citizens, as deliberately unfriendly.”

Today -100’s Notable Deaths:

1) Inez Vernon, widow of George Vernon, who died on the Lusitania, commits suicide.

2) Henry Clay Ford, manager of Ford’s Theatre at the time of Lincoln’s assassination. He was married to the actress who played the female lead in the first US production of H.M.S. Pinafore.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Today -100: July 22, 1915: No nation ever amounted to anything if its population was composed of pacifists and poltroons

Theodore Roosevelt at the Panama-Pacific Exposition: “A mother who is not willing to raise her boy to be a soldier is not fit for citizenship.” “I’m not for war [ed.: ha!], I want peace, but don’t want peace for Uncle Sam because outsiders don’t think him worth kicking.” He says the US has been “culpably, well-nigh criminally, remiss” in not increasing its military preparedness. Just look at how screwed Belgium and China are, he says. “The average Chinaman took the view that China was too proud to fight,” he says, using Woodrow Wilson’s phrase.  “The professional pacifists, the peace-at-any-price, non-resistance, universal arbitration people are now seeking to Chinafy this country.” Not surprisingly, he calls for universal military service for men and for preparing our souls. “If we become soft and flabby physically and morally we shall fail. No nation ever amounted to anything if its population was composed of pacifists and poltroons, if its sons did not have the fighting edge”.

The South Wales coal strike is over, after Lloyd George comes down to mediate personally. They love LG in Wales.

With one dead at the Standard Oil strike in Bayonne, NJ, the national guard is sent in. One unusual feature: the sheriff orders the arrest of guards who came out of the plant with clubs and attacked strikers.

The US government will start suing Americans to whom it provided relief funds when they were stuck in Belgium at the start of the war. Just the wealthy ones who can afford to pay it back.

Hungary will now conscript men up to 50 years old.

Headline of the Day -100: 

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