Saturday, November 22, 2014

Today -100: November 22, 1914: Of unfriendly unhostile acts, free countries, swapped giants, and little lord fauntleroys


Turkey explains why it fired on a US launch in Smyrna.  See, they were just friendly warning shots, warning the launch that the harbor was mined and they shouldn’t enter it.  The Wilson administration is pretending to believe this, although we’re not quite sure what the captain of the Tennessee believes, since he reported the shots as “unfriendly” but also as “not intended as a hostile act,” whatever all that means.  It also seems that US embassy was informed that the port of Smyrna had been closed but didn’t have the means of communicating that information to US Navy ships.

The NYT Magazine asks “Did You Ever Hear of a Free Country Called Moresnet?”  Moresnet was a tiny sort-of-nation between Belgium and Germany, sort of jointly but very loosely administered by both, without a real government or courts.  And (Spoiler Alert) it won’t last long.

Evidently not just Carranza fled Mexico City, but also the entire police force.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Swap Giant for Dwarfs.”  William Hempstead, an eight-foot-tall Englishman stuck in Germany at the start of the war, is exchanged for two Germans who are under two feet tall, and are you fucking kidding me?

Headline of the Day -100:  “LORD FAUNTLEROY,' ORIGINAL, MARRIES.”  That’s Vivian Burnett, the son of novelist Frances Hodgson Burnett, is forever stuck with being called Little Lord Fauntleroy, the effeminate character his mother modeled on him.  Indeed, in 1937 the NYT reported his death at 61 under the headline “Original Fauntleroy Dies in Boat After Helping Rescue 4 in Sound.”


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Friday, November 21, 2014

Today -100: November 21, 1914: Of uniforms, knives, vicious lobsters, and illicit newspapers


Headline of the Day -100:  “Leaves Battle Front to Visit His Tailor; Marquis of Anglesey, His Coat Shot Away, in London for New Uniforms.”  The article notes that his uniform may have been more than usually fragile because it was made by a fashionable tailor, and that the previous Maquis of Anglesey, “Toppy” Paget, was renowned for his wardrobe of more than 300 coats (and for cross-dressing, but the NYT doesn’t mention that part).

Mexican Rumor of the Day -100: Gen. Lucio Blanco is now in charge, having imprisoned Gen. Obregón.

The US has decided to keep the customs duties it collected while occupying Vera Cruz until there’s a stable government in Mexico.  Could be a while.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Slew 1,200 With Knives.”  Moroccan troops.  Either the French didn’t trust with guns or they simply didn’t need them.  They attack Germans who were desecrating a graveyard at Tracy-le-Val by digging trenches in it.  I’m guessing there’s some slight exaggeration in this story from Le Temps.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Bitten By Vicious Lobster.”  A helper in the kitchens of the Hotel Klein in New Brunswick, NJ, is bitten on the finger by a lobster he was trying to grill.  He had to go to the hospital for more than a month and has now won $210 + medical expenses in court.  Don’t know what happened to the vicious lobster, who I have decided was named Harold, but I fear the worst.

Canada bans four German newspapers.  It is now illegal to sell or even possess one.

The British Parliament votes to raise another 1 million soldiers, in addition to the existing 1.1 million.  They are assured that will be quite enough to ensure victory.


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Thursday, November 20, 2014

We’ll miss her when she’s gone. She is going, right? Please tell me she’s going.


Michele Bachmann complains about Obama’s immigration policy: “millions of unskilled, illiterate, foreign nationals coming into the United States who can’t speak the English language.” And they’ll take away jobs producing hilariously oblivious straight lines from hard-working American idiots.


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Today -100: November 20, 1914: Of bigger armies, volunteer prisoners, and squandered shells


Headline of the Day -100:  “Taft for a Bigger Army.” Also, bigger pants, bathtubs, pies.  However, he supports Wilson’s policy of staying out of the European war.

After multiple scandals at Sing Sing, the new warden will be Thomas Mott Osborne, a prison reformer who spent a week as a volunteer prisoner in Auburn Prison last year, just like Robert Redford in that movie, and wrote a book about it.  He is opposed to capital punishment and won’t attend executions, but says if there are to be executions, they should be public.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Squandered Shells to Please the Kaiser.”  While he was touring the front.


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Today -100: November 19, 1914: Three hundred miles of cannon spoke


A committee of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) submits a report in favor of the restrictive immigration bill (including literacy tests) pending before Congress.  It says that the European war will be followed by mass migration from the affected countries, but those governments will offer inducements to the fit to stay and aid in restoration while encouraging those crippled by the war – “these bits of wreckage” – to emigrate to America.

Carranza moves his capital from Mexico City to Orizaba.  The other president of Mexico, Eulalio Gutiérrez, is rumored to have been put in jail by Pancho Villa for approving the idea of Villa and Carranza going into exile.

Turkish forces in Smyrna shoot at a US Navy launch (which was flying the US flag) from the cruiser Tennessee.

German troops have reportedly captured the governor of Warsaw (Russian Poland).  He is being confined in the “best hotel” in Gnesen.

Germany is trying to forcibly recruit Belgian Civil Guards into its war with Russia.  They are resisting, hiding, and attempting to escape into Holland.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Even the overly credulous NYT doesn’t really believe this one: A Cossack general named Arintinoff captured Czernowitz, in Austrian Poland, and told the town rulers that, following the Austrian example in Kaminez Podolski, he wanted 600,000 rubles in gold and silver (reduced, after much begging, to 300,000) by the next day or he will blast the city.  So they milked every last peasant (the rich people having already fled town), collecting trinkets, jewelry, menorahs, church ornaments etc, and just managed to raise it by the deadline, whereupon the general told them to take it back, he just wanted to show them what it’s like.

A little light googling doesn’t show up a Gen. Arintinoff or Arintinov or Rintintinoff, except for this tale.

Rudyard Kipling shits out a poem in praise of the late Lord Roberts:
He passed in the very battle-smoke
Of the war he had descried.
Three hundred miles of cannon spoke
When the Master Gunner died.  Etc.


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Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Today -100: November 18, 1914: Of mediation, good times in Warsaw, elusive teetotalers, wet military zones, and humane projectiles


Headline of the Day -100:  “President to Await Mediation Request.”  And await... and await...

Command of Mexico City is seized by Gen. Álvaro Obregón.  On behalf of Carranza, but that part is not clear to a confused NYT yet.  The move was intended to forestall Villa, who is sending troops towards the capital.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Germans Expected Good Time in Warsaw.”  This is why you should never trust graffiti in bathroom stalls.  The Germans had been planning to hold a ball in Warsaw after they captured it – they printed invitations and everything.  The army is now retreating, leaving behind horses and artillery, although it claims this is merely a strategic maneuver.

To pay for the war, British Chancellor of the Exchequer David Lloyd George proposes doubling the income tax and increasing the tax on beer and, so that the “elusive teetotalers” don’t escape having to pay, on tea as well (at this point Liberal MP and temperance advocate Leif Jones stalked out of the House of Commons chamber in protest).

Britain declares the whole North Sea a military zone, supposedly in response to Germany using civilian shipping vessels to lay mines.  So really, this military zone thing is a benevolent act to protect neutral ships from German perfidy and not at all a naval blockade intended to starve Germany.

Britain denies German charges that it uses dum-dum bullets, and says Germany does.  On the standard British army bullet, “In the opinion of Sir Victor Horsley, a well-known surgeon [and well-known vivisector of dogs], this bullet is ‘probably the most humane projectile yet devised’”.


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Monday, November 17, 2014

Today -100: November 17, 1914: The Germans all boast of their culture


Russian troops may have set Cracow on fire.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: More Russian rumors about Austria: Austria is planning to seek a separate peace, independently of Germany;  Germany demanded that Austria fire 11 generals and the heir-apparent, Archduke Karl Franz Josef (as a field marshal; he can continue being heir-apparent); and have taken command of Cracow’s defenses away from the Austrians.

The war is costing Britain £1 million a day.

Germany is re-naming French cities it claims to have annexed: Calais will be Kales, Dunkirk Dünkirchen, Lille Ryssel, Boulogne Boonen, Nancy Nanzig, etc.

Pope Benedict urges peace.  He blames the war on materialism and lack of brotherly love.  “The spirit of Christ does not reign today,” he says.

Pancho Villa accepts Carranza’s offer that they both quit their positions and leave the country.  So we’re all agreed, and this will definitely happen, right?  Eulalio Gutiérrez certainly thinks it has, and has written to Woodrow Wilson, “president” to president, that “the time of dictatorships born of violence and personal ambitions has passed forever” in Mexico.  So that’s all good.

Name of the Day -100: Americans with German names are being warned by the State Department against traveling to countries at war with Germany after complaints from a George Rottweiler of Chicago about ill-treatment in France and Britain.

In the NYT letters pages appears what you didn’t even realize the war needed: a limerick.
The Germans all boast of their culture
In a way that would almost insult you;
But the wreckage at Rheims,
And the loot of Louvain
Show their “culture” develops a vulture!


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Sunday, November 16, 2014

Today -100: November 16, 1914: Of foxes, censorship, flügels, uriahs, fortresses, and Masonic conspiracies


First World War Problems: the war is seriously interfering with fox hunting in England.

All train passengers heading from London to the Continent will be searched for spy stuff.

The Daily Chronicle (UK) complains again about military censorship.  Germany has accredited war correspondents and “If Germans die in the performance of a heroic exploit, they do not die unheard of, unhonored, and unsung, as with rare exceptions their British and French opponents do.  In this way the martial enthusiasm of the nation is kept at the highest pitch.”  But the French War Office’s “policy it has been to hound down British correspondents in France like vermin and treat them as if they were worse than spies.”  And the British government has taken to seizing reporters’ passports.  The Chronicle claims Germany treats reporters from neutral countries very hospitably, but NYT correspondents report frequently being arrested as suspected spies.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Worry Over War Kills Dr. Fluegel.”  Worst Dr. Seuss book ever.  Ewald Flügel was chair of the Stanford English Philology Dept, working on a massive project to create a concordance to Chaucer’s work.  And he was worried about the war.

Also dead: Uriah Hill, a retired stove manufacturer.  Nothing noteworthy, but you just don’t see many Uriahs anymore.

Russia is imposing financial penalties on East Prussian towns, just like Germany does in Belgium.  The German military authorities have ordered East Prussians to flee and leave nothing behind that the Russian troops can use, bringing their flocks with them and burning their homes.

Exotic-As-Hell Headline of the Day -100:  “Indians Take Turkish Fortress in Arabia.”

Cardinal O’Connell of Boston blames the disorder in Mexico on a “Masonic conspiracy.”

Masonic conspirator Carranza offers to turn control of the military over to Masonic conspirator Gutierrez and go into exile in Cuba – provided that Masonic conspirator Villa does the same, on the same date.


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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Today -100: November 15, 1914: Of little Bobs, touchy czarinas, Belgian caps, audaciouses, illustrations independent of accordance with fact, and ice


Field Marshal Frederick “Little Bobs” Roberts, the 1st Earl Roberts of Kabul and Kandahar, the retired former Commander-in-Chief of the Forces, dies of pneumonia at age 82 in France, where he had gone to visit Indian troops.  He bounced around the colonies most of his military career, which spanned the Indian Mutiny to the Boer War.  He spent the last years before the war agitating for compulsory military service and for the army to rebel and refuse to enforce Irish Home Rule.  At five foot two, he was too short to be an enlisted man, even with the newly reduced minimum height.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Touch of Czarina Like Miracle Cure.”  A barracks near the Winter Palace has been converted into a military hospital, and Mrs Tsar and a couple of the czarettes play at nurses.

Fashion Headline of the Day -100:  “BELGIUM MAY BE INSPIRATION FOR WINTER'S NEW FASHIONS; Details of Costumes Worn by Inhabitants of Little Nation Which Has Stirred the Imagination of the World May Be Reproduced in Other Lands. Already Belgian Cap Is the Smart Thing in Millinery.”  I’m assuming a Belgian cap is some sort of contraceptive device.

The super-dreadnought HMS Audacious, the 3rd largest ship in the British Navy, was sunk by a mine last month in the North Sea.  Most of the crew was rescued by the Olympic.  The news was kept secret for more than two weeks, despite being known by the crews and civilian passengers of multiple ships.

If a dreadnought fears nothing, what is a super-dreadnought?

The federal commissioner of Indian Affairs, Cato Sells, admits that Kate Barnard’s accusations about Indians being robbed of millions are true, but says he inherited the situation from previous regimes and he’s now sending probate lawyers to try to straighten it out.  He doesn’t seem to be as willing as Barnard to accuse the newish state of Oklahoma of being a giant criminal conspiracy to defraud Indians of their lands, which is what it was.

The Rev. Hugh MacCauley of the Second Presbyterian Church in Paterson, NJ, says that his mention in a recent sermon of a New Jersey woman who adopted two Belgian boys, only to find when they arrived that their hands had been cut off by German soldiers, was just a rumor which he used as an “illustration” and “its value as an illustration was quite independent of its accordance with fact.”

The city of Bakersfield’s new charter, which has to be ratified by the California Legislature, declares ice a public utility and authorizes the city to manufacture and sell it.


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Friday, November 14, 2014

Quote of the Day


Asked in Burma about press freedom, Obama says he has raised the issue with both the Chinese and Burmese governments: “I’m pretty blunt and pretty frank about the fact that societies that repress journalists ultimately oppress people as well”. First they came for the journalists, but they weren’t people, so I said nothing....


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The return of In Other Words


George Bush is interviewed by NPR, because of course he is. He mostly talked in other words about the book he totally wrote all by himself about his father.

IN OTHER WORDS: “He had a strategy to deal with Saddam Hussein. And then when he said, this will not stand, he meant it. In other words, he understood that when a president speaks, he’s got to mean what he says.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “We both went to the United Nations to get a resolution. In other words, this wasn’t a unilateral American action.”

IN OTHER WORDS: “It was more complex because this decision was made in a post-9/11 world. In other words, the removal of Saddam from Kuwait was definitely in our national interest. But it didn’t necessarily mean that the United States’s homeland would be threatened or not threatened depending upon his actions.” No, it didn’t necessarily mean that. I think. Wait, what did you say?

WHAT GEORGE CAN UNDERSTAND (NOT GRAMMAR. NEVER GRAMMAR): “I can understand the comparisons between he and me.”

WHAT GEORGE COULD ENVISION: it was totally necessary to invade Iraq because “one could envision a nuclear arms race between Iran and Iraq.”

A BETTER SHOT: “And I would argue that the people of Iraq have a better shot at living in a peaceful state.” They certainly have enough ammunition.

THE CONDITION ELSEWHERE MATTERS:
GREENE: I guess I just wonder broadly what you tell Americans who look at the chaos today and link it back to your decision to invade in 2003. And...
BUSH: I just say the condition elsewhere matters to the security of the United States, and we cannot become isolationists.

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Today -100: November 14, 1914: Of insane dukes, passports, villas, and punctured romances


Headline of the Day -100:  “Duke of Cumberland Made Insane By War.”  Found wandering around in a demented state because his son, the Duke of Brunswick, has been declared missing in battle.  I don’t know if either element of this story – the insanity or the MIA thing – have any truth to them.  This could be British disinformation aimed at two guys on the German side (the elder Duke used to be the king of Hanover, when there was still a kingdom of Hanover, and the younger is married to Kaiser Wilhelm’s daughter) who happen to possess English titles (which they will be deprived of in 1919).  The inter-marrying of royalty creates these problems.  The dukes are direct descendants of George III, who was king of both Britain and Hanover, as were all British monarchs from George I until Victoria – Hanover’s rules of succession did not allow for female monarchs.  (Update: Germany denies, a few days later, that Brunswick is wounded or missing or a prisoner.)

The US says it will end its occupation of Vera Cruz in 10 days.  Evidently trying to get out before the newest civil war heats up.  Now they just have to decide which government to give the customs duties they’ve been collecting.

Kate Barnard, the state commissioner of charities in Oklahoma, says there is a conspiracy in the state legislature and congressional delegation to rob Cherokees, Seminoles and Chickasaws, especially orphans, of tribal funds.  This theft was facilitated by the 1908 decision to turn the cases over from federal courts to Oklahoma courts.  Once she started advocating for Indian wards, the Legislature de-funded her Department of Charities and Correction, which now runs on, well, charity.  Incidentally, state commissioner of charities is the only office a woman was allowed to hold under the OK constitution.

Britain will now require Americans boarding steamships for America to show passports, but...

The State Department admits that foreign spies have gotten American passports (such as Carl Lody, who was just executed in Britain) pretty easily.  Under new rules, people will have to do more than pretend they’ve lost their passport and swear that they’re American, like Lody did.

Kaiser Wilhelm, afraid that Greece might soon join the Allies, is trying to sell his villa, Achilleion, on Corfu before it gets confiscated.  Which is in fact what happened.  It became a wartime hospital, an orphanage, a Nazi headquarters, and a museum/casino (in which the casino scene in the James Bond film For Your Eyes Only was filmed).


Speaking of film history, “Tillie’s Punctured Romance,” the first full-length comedy motion picture, starring Marie Dressler, Charlie Chaplin and Mabel Normand, directed by Mack Sennett, is released.  This is a pretty good print, but turn off the obnoxious sound.



The New Statesman publishes George Bernard Shaw’s article “Common Sense About the War,” which will also begin running in the NYT tomorrow and lead to much vituperative debate in Britain, questions in Parliament about why it wasn’t censored, etc (some of the debate is reproduced in the book version at the link). Read it and decide for yourself (in other words, I completely forgot I intended to read it by today).


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