Wednesday, April 01, 2015

Today -100: April 1, 1915: Of zebras. What more do you need?


With the British talking about restricting alcohol sales to boost productivity by munitions workers, King George “has volunteered, if it is considered advisable, personally to give up the use of all alcoholic liquors and to issue an order against their use in the royal households.” Which would certainly boost the king’s productivity, if he actually produced something. The problem is that it would look bad if the government enacted measures solely aimed at the working class. The other problem is that the productivity problem is partly caused by workers wanting more pay if they’re going to work longer and harder while the profits of the companies they labor for go up and up.

Former Mexican dictator Victoriano Huerta is sailing from Spain to Cuba. Is he planning to lead a new uprising?

A prohibition bill fails in the New York State Assembly, 54-48.

The NY Assembly  passes an exemption to state factory laws, allowing canning plants to employ women and children for 72 hours a week. At the conclusion of the vote, Minority Leader Al Smith says, “If you Republicans stay in power long enough you’ll tear down the whole law that protects New York’s most valuable asset - its womanhood.” A bill to allow women and children to work until midnight in canning factories fails by a single vote, and a bill to allow them to work on Sundays also loses.

Britain is facing a revolt on the north-west frontier of India.

The Congressional Union for Woman Suffrage finally splits formally from the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association. Focused on a national rather than state-by-state campaign, it will be younger and more radical in its methods than the rather stale NAWSA, following the example of the militants in Britain, with whom some CU leaders (Lucy Burns, Alice Paul, Rheta Childe Dorr) worked. At the CU’s organizing meeting there is some debate over whether men should be allowed to join. They won’t be.

The first Baron Rothschild dies at 74. Nathan R. headed the British branch of the banking family, was president of the British Red Cross Society, and was the first professing Jew to enter the House of Lords, in 1885, when he was made a baron; he was already an Austrian baron.

The new double Baron, Walter, was a crap banker so the family allowed him to step down so he could spend more time with animals. He likes animals. A lot. And Zionism.





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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Today -100: March 31, 1915: In which is revealed the most shocking crime of the war


Headline of the Day -100:


That’s Leon Thrasher, 31, the first American killed in World War I. A mining engineer from Massachusetts who worked in British West Africa (Ghana), drowned when that U-boat sank the Falaba. His corpse will wash ashore in Ireland in 3½ months.

The NYT thinks “The sinking of the Falaba is perhaps the most shocking crime of the war.”

Pres. Wilson’s daughter (but which one?) has a stalker. Who has just been committed for the second time.

Turkey promises to protect Christians from further massacres in Urumiah, Persia.

Businesses on Broadway in New York City will sue to prevent the Broadway Subway, now under construction, from ventilating its tunnels through street gratings that would send hot smelly fumes into the area above and up Marilyn Monroe’s dress.


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Monday, March 30, 2015

Today -100: March 30, 1915: We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink


A German sub sinks the British liner RMS Falaba in St George’s Channel (between Ireland and Wales). The sub surfaced, gave the ship 5 minutes to load everyone into lifeboats – which wasn’t enough time – then torpedoed it (it may have resorted to torpedoes so quickly  because the Falaba was trying to wireless for help). 104 of the 240 crew and passengers aboard the Falaba died, including... well, tune in tomorrow. One survivor of the Falaba “distinctly saw the crew on the deck of the submarine laughing.” The Falaba blowed up real good because it was carrying contraband explosives, as the Lusitania would be doing in a little bit.

Not that torpedoing a ship and detonating explosives in it is always a good thing: the U-boat that sank the Falaba, the U-28, will sink in 2½ years when it detonates ammunition on the Olive Branch, which hurls a lorry into the air – right onto the U-28.

An English passenger had a camera, and put those 5 minutes to good use before jumping into the sea, where he floated an hour before being rescued.




The Daily Telegraph calls the Germans “an enemy without bowels of compassion for the defenseless and the weak and without respect for any law except his own necessity.”

Bowels of compassion?

British Chancellor David Lloyd George is threatening to ban booze: “We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and, so far as I can see, the greatest of these three deadly foes is drink.” Unpatriotic boozing workers in shipyards and munition plants are being blamed for the inability to keep up with the ridiculous amounts of shells and whatnot being thrown at the Germans, because no one will admit out loud that Secretary of War Kitchener is just not very good at admin.

One of the pretenders to the defunct French throne, Philippe the Duke of Orléans (to add insult to other insult, the NYT refers to him as the Legitimist heir, mistaking him for a different non-king from a different line, the one thrown out by a revolution in 1830 as opposed to the one thrown out by a revolution in 1848), was rejected when he tried to join the French Army, and then was rejected in turn by the British, Russian and even Belgian armies. Now his request to join the French Foreign Legion under a fake name (as was the custom) has been rejected.

The Allies are claiming that Germany has plenty of food, and all that moaning is just put on to arouse world feeling against England. This assertion is supported by an unnamed “neutral diplomat,” who adds the interesting detail that the average man on the straße in Germany thinks that after Germany defeats Russia (in a couple of months, of course) and France (soon after), France will be bought off with half of Belgium and join Germany in fighting Britain.

Prominent Republicans are considering whether they can nominate Elihu Root for president in 1916 without Roosevelt shitting all over him.


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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today -100: March 29, 1915: The Carpathian Caper


Headline of the Day -100:


Is it a heist caper? Are the Russians a motley crew of misfits attempting to overcome their differences and steal the Hungarian crown jewels? Is one of them a humorous older character actor? Is one of them Brad Pitt, I mean one of them is always Brad Pitt, right? Has this whole war just been a distraction? Have I used the word caper yet?

Headline of the Day -100:  


We’ve all been there.


That story was written by an embedded reporter – embedded firmly up Gen. Joffre’s ass. It’s purest propaganda: a wounded soldier (Georges Bastard by name) sings the Marseillaise to encourage his comrades; Joffre pins a medal on a soldier whose eyes fill with tears as he remains at attention; the French soldiers are “hardy and unfatigued” and look “strong with purpose”; trench life is “singularly attractive” (!), etc.

The spread of prohibition in the US has reduced federal income from various alcohol taxes by $2 million this year, with 9 more states due to go dry in 1916.

The Tory press, starting with the London Times, has been criticizing Prime Minister Asquith for the worrying – but pleasingly alliterative – shell shortage.

Georgia’s governor-elect, Nathaniel Harris (whose wives’ names were Fannie and Hattie, which is about as Southern as you can get), is being very On the One Hand, On the Other Hand about the Leo Frank case, and is plainly hoping the US Supreme Court will make a decision that will let him avoid having to make his own decision about whether to pardon Frank.

Headline of the Day -100:  

With the nature of 20th century warfare understood better than it was, for example, last August, I’m a little surprised at how blatantly greedy and pragmatic the countries that haven’t entered yet – Bulgaria, Italy, Greece etc – are being in their public statements. No one’s talking about making the world safe for democracy, or the dangers of Prussian militarism or British perfidy, or poor little Belgium; instead they’re being quite open that it’s all about how much territory they can grab. And it’s still perfectly acceptable to proclaim that as a good reason to send teenagers off to die.

To be fair, Italy is also perfectly willing to be bribed territorially to refrain from entering the war. They don’t really care who wins, as long as they get Trieste.


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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Today -100: March 28, 1915: All ready


Headline of the Day -100:



Mary Mallon, or Typhoid Mary as she was nicknamed by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1908, resurfaces. Released from an involuntary three-year quarantine in 1910, she took a false name and returned to her profession of cook. At the Sloane Hospital for Women in New York. Which has just had a typhoid outbreak affecting 25 people, mostly staff. Only one (maybe two) deaths this time. She will now be locked up in quarantine at Riverside Hospital for the rest of her life. She died in 1938.

Controversy over prohibition in Sims, Illinois would seem to be the reason a church was dynamited.

Headline of the Day -100:  


“Thrilled,” huh?

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):


Serbia has captured a lot of Austrian soldiers, but it doesn’t have the prison facilities to guard them, or indeed the guards, so they’re all on parole, just wandering around Serbia, taking jobs, and even bringing their families.

The boxing match between Jack Johnson and Jess Willard next month in Havana has been postponed by one day, because the US ambassador to Cuba complained that it was being held on Easter, which “will inevitably produce a storm of protests from the United States against this country, as you know sentimental feeling in the States about Easter Sunday is very strong”.



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Friday, March 27, 2015

Today -100: March 27, 1915: Beware of bear who walks like a man


I. Lehmann, an arms exporter in New York, says the European war will be over by fall because the ammunition will run out.

Headline of the Day -100:


You know what’s most annoying about this LA Times article? That that “beware of bear” line appears nowhere except in the headline.

Headline of the Day -100:  


The Zapatistas will pay compensation for killing American businessman John McManus in Mexico City, but the State Dept evidently hasn’t even made any demands for reparations for their mistreatment of the American flag flying over his house, and the Mexicans haven’t even apologized to the dyed cloth in question.

Headline of the Day -100: 



Headline of the Day -100:  


“Dickie” Darling, no less, of the Acme Sanitary Appliance Company, is acquitted of... I’m not sure what the actual charge was, but evidently getting a man’s wife to leave him and stay in a hotel with him for 6 days was a felony of some sort.


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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today -100: March 26, 1915: The boat is too big for them to rock


I guess someone got tired of Karl Liebknecht, the German Socialist member of Reichstag, criticizing the war and the army: they’ve drafted him, disregarding his parliamentary immunity. (Or not.)

Turkish troops invade the American Presbyterian Mission in Urumiah, Persia, where thousands of Christians are seeking refuge, and hang an Orthodox bishop and four bishops, kill 60 refugees, and seize young women.

Speaking of missionaries, President Wilson addresses the Southern Methodist Conference on that subject and on war. He says some people are trying to “rock the boat,” i.e. get the US into the war, but “The boat is too big for them to rock. They are of such light material that they cannot rock it very much, but they are going through the motions, and it is just as well for them to look around once in a while and see the great steadfast body of self-possessed Americans not to be hurried into any unconsidered line of action, sure that when you are right you can be calm, sure that when the quarrel is none of yours you can be impartial, sure that the men who spend their passion most will move the body politic the least, and that the reaction will not be upon the great body of American citizens, but upon themselves.” He says the “great moral forces of the world” act like the newly invented airplane stabilizers.

Speaking of rocking the boat, a German U-boat sinks a Dutch steamer, the Medea (!), which was sailing for London with a cargo of oranges.

Charles Mahaley, charmingly described by the LAT as a “negro quack doctor,” claims to be responsible for former president Taft’s weight loss. He is fined $100 and sent to jail, presumably for negro quackery, although the LAT fails to explain what he was convicted for.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today -100: March 25, 1915: Of the New York privileged class, rescued maniacs, and World War I goes all Lord of the Rings, like you always knew it would


The Allies land troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This should go well.

Although Italy has not yet declared war, Austria is moving troops into position, just in case, evacuating towns near the border, blowing up houses and cutting down trees to create a clear line of fire, etc.

The New York Legislature passes a bill for pensions for (some) widowed mothers, by a vote of 129-8 in the Assembly despite the impassioned plea of Majority Leader Harold Hinman (R-Alliteration) that this was “a move to encourage and increase poverty, rather than to remedy it. It is an entering wedge for bills to pension old people, women who have lost their husbands and every one else who hasn’t a big income. It will encourage loafing and tend to make in the State an aristocracy because it creates a privileged class.”

At least two dozen US citizens have been killed in the war (serving in Canadian units).

Headline of the Day -100:


Not as interesting a story as the headline makes it sound.

Stonewall Jackson’s widow dies.

Headline of the Day -100:


A steamer carrying relief supplies for Belgium, not an actual country of elves, and I have never been more disappointed.


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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reigniting the promise of America


Ted Cruz announced his imaginary candidacy for president (that is, he used the word “imagine” many times during the speech, which he gave at an institution which firmly believes that imagination is the tool of Satan, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (which, following the proud tradition of the Holy Roman Empire, is not a university and does not have liberty).

AREN’T THERE HAIRSTYLES RIDICULOUS?: “Imagine your parents when they were children.”

UM, WHY ARE THE NICE BAPTISTS LAUGHING AT CRUZ’S CUBAN FATHER?  “Imagine a teenage boy, not much younger than many of you here today, growing up in Cuba. Jet black hair, skinny as a rail.
(LAUGHTER)”

OF COURSE WHEN JEFFERSON TALKED ABOUT CHAINS AND MISCHIEF, HE MAY HAVE HAD SOMETHING ELSE IN MIND:  “the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.”




BUT IF EVERYONE FOLLOWS US, WON’T WE STOP BEING “EXCEPTIONAL”?  “And then the American exceptionalism that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill.”

BURN, BABY, BURN! “I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America”.

IMAGINE: “I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty.’” Because nothing says liberty like millions of people speaking in unison.

The interesting part of that sentence is actually the word “our.” “We demand liberty” would be a much more idealistic battle-cry, but he’s positioning liberty as something that belongs to those “courageous conservatives” who are demanding it, and who presumably don’t have it now, or why would they be demanding something that belongs to them, which means that someone, someone or ones who are something other than courageous conservatives, must have stolen it. So what starts out as a call for liberty is transformed by that “our” into a whine of victimization.

WELL, THAT’S WHERE ALL THEIR SELF-FLAGELLATION EQUIPMENT IS:  “Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home.”

BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY LIKE FUCKING COMCAST:  “Imagine innovation thriving on the Internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay and more and more opportunity is created.”

Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law.
   
AUDIENCE: Boo.
   
Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law.

How can you call something “failed” only hours after it’s initiated, before it’s even... Oh yeah, the “Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign.” Never mind.

IMAGINE: “Imagine abolishing the IRS.” And Coca-Cola in the drinking fountains.

IMAGINE: “imagine repealing every word of Common Core.” And not being able to spell any of them.

IMAGINE: “that every single child, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth or ZIP Code, every child in America has the right to a quality education.” Unless their ZIP code has a 7 in it; those people piss me off.

SOME OF US DO SEEM TO BE HALF-BAKED: “God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”



In case you’ve been staring at Ted Cruz trying to figure out who he looks like, Princess Sparkle Pony and I worked that out.


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Today -100: March 24, 1915: Of Purrz... Pretsel... Persimmon... Prazmissile...


Headline of the Day -100:  “ALL RUSSIA REJOICES.; Great Demonstrations in the Cities Over the Fall of Przemysl.” Although if you ask them how to pronounce Przemysl, they kind of mutter and look at the ground.

Russian troops will now move on Hungary.

The Germans held a concert at the Brussels Opera House. A group of Belgian businessmen bought up all the tickets, except for the royal box and one seat in the middle. And then didn’t show up. So the audience consisted of one German soldier in the stalls and a German general in the box.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):


Blockade that, Britishers!

Japan is sending troops into Manchuria and Shantung Province.

A women’s international peace congress has been called for the Hague in April.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns the state election law allowing non-US-citizens to vote.

George Joseph Smith is charged with three counts of murder in London. Scotland Yard finally noticed that all of his wives tend to die an “accidental death” in the bathtub shortly after marrying him (to be fair, he did use different names). His first wife is still alive, and there’s a fourth one the article says nothing about.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):



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