Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Today -100: May 27, 1915: But born they are

Headline of the Day -100:

Interesting to see the Times using the term “birth control,” coined by Margaret Sanger just the year before. Anyway, this is a public meeting at the Academy of Medicine at which “The terms used were as frank as those of the lecture room of the medical schools in spite of the fact that the men and women present in about equal proportions were not of the profession”. Dr. Abraham Jacobi (a pioneering pediatrician and former president of the AMA who was a political prisoner in Germany after the 1848 Revolution and a friend of Marx and Engels) calls for elimination of the NY law making it illegal for anyone (including doctors) to give out birth control information. He makes the case on eugenic grounds, saying that hereditary epileptics, idiots, etc “should not have been permitted to be born.” Also, children of poor people, who get insufficient feeding, coarse clothing, and live in congested, cold or overheated tenements. “Would it be wise on the part of the children not to be born? Surely, but born they are”.

New York State Supreme Court Justice Edward Whitaker bans the Commissioner of Licenses from preventing the showing of the 1914 movie The Ordeal, which the National Board of Censors thought might upset German-Americans. Whitaker says there’s no such thing as German-Americans, there’s just Americans: “What has lately become known as hyphenated citizenship has no color or standing.” He also says the commissioner should ignore the self-appointed National Board of Censors.

New York state’s Committee on Elementary Schools rejects Major Sidney Grant’s complaint about the students of PS 165 in Brooklyn singing “I Didn’t Raise My Boy to Be a Soldier.”

In an editorial entitled “For Liberty and Democracy,” the NYT finds it significant that Italy entered the war because the people clamored for it and forced the government to respond, while the German and Austrian emperors didn’t even consult the people. “Italy’s war is an Italian war; Germany’s war is a Potsdam war. ... Aside from Russia [!], the war is one between autocracy and democracy; between the peoples and the Kings”. I call bullshit.

Unfortunate Headline of the Day -100:


Headline of the Day -100: 

150 lepers have been secretly (and presumably forcibly) removed from a Manila hospital from which they’ve taken to coming and going as they please, to the leper colony on the island of Culion.

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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today -100: May 26, 1915: Of cabinets, neutrality, and bitter Germans

The new British cabinet is formed. Asquith remains as PM, Grey as foreign secretary, and Lord Kitchener as hapless minister of war. Lloyd George moves from the Exchequer to the new post of Minister of Munitions, temporarily until he gets the shells shortage sorted (say that three times fast). He will be replaced by Reginald McKenna. Tory leader Bonar Law is brought in as colonial secretary and Austen Chamberlain (brother of Neville, son of Joseph) gets India. Churchill is replaced at the Admiralty by former PM Arthur Balfour. Churchill will be the chancellor of the Duchy of Lancashire, which is the equivalent of a waiter being tipped a nickle, or maybe it’s the equivalent of being sent to the naughty step. Ulster leader and pre-war treasonist Sir Edward Carson will be attorney general; Irish Nationalist party leader John Redmond refuses to take any Cabinet position. Lord Haldane is out as Lord Chancellor because rabid newspapers and idiots have been attacking him as supposedly pro-German. And there’s a member of the Labour Party in government for the first time, Arthur Henderson as president of the Board of education.

Portugal’s prime minister João Chagas resigns for health reasons – being shot in the head last week seems not to have agreed with him.

Italian troops invade Austria.

Headline of the Day -100:

Wilson’s special commissioner, Duval West, who has returned from investigating conditions in Mexico, reports that he has no idea who’s going to win power down there and recommends just doing more of the same – watching and waiting and selling arms to anyone who can afford them – because that’s working out so well.

Headline of the Day -100: 

They seem to think that US neutrality isn’t really very neutral, what with all the munitions being sold to Germany’s enemies.

I’ve noticed an increase in the use of the word Teutons when describing Germans + Austrians.

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Monday, May 25, 2015

Today -100: May 25, 1915: Perfidy whose like history does not know

Italy declared war on its own schedule, but most of the initial military moves seem to have been initiated by Austria, including aerial bombing of Venice.

Italy seizes $20 million worth of Austrian and German ships in Italian ports (even though they’re not at war with Germany?).

Germany declares war on Italy, the NYT claims, incorrectly.

The Austrian Emperor Franz Joseph issues a manifesto to his troops, calling Italy’s forsaking of its previous allies “perfidy whose like history does not know.” I dunno, history knows a lot of perfidy. And Franz Joseph knows a lot of history. He actually led troops against the Habsburg Empire’s rebellious Italian subjects during the 1848 revolutions and was emperor when Italy finally won its independence in 1860, because he is just that fucking old.

Sidenote: We don’t use the word perfidy enough any more.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Britain says the Germans are now chaining artillerymen to their machine guns.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: 50 Italians are supposedly shot as spies in Trentino after a railroad bridge is blown up.

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Sunday, May 24, 2015

Today -100: May 24, 1915: Of wars, Saxons, crimes against humanity, beards, and telescribes

Italy declares war on Austria-Hungary (it won’t declare war on Germany until August 1916).

On paper, the Italian military looks pretty strong and likely to break the stalemate in the war. 3.3 million soldiers, a surprising number of airplanes, a reasonably good navy. In practice, though, they will kind of suck and won’t significantly affect the outcome or duration of the war.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The British claim that Prussian troops fired on Saxons trying to surrender. The official report says “The fact that the victims of this slaughter were Saxons was a source of regret to us, since Saxons always have proved more chivalrous and less brutal than either Prussians or Bavarians.”

Headline of the Day -100: 

Britain, France and Russia tell Turkey to stop massacring Armenians, and say they will hold members of the government responsible. They term Turkish actions “mass murders” and “a crime against humanity and civilization” – this seems to be the origin of the term “crime against humanity.”

French soldiers are complaining about an order that soldiers at the front must be clean-shaven (because of lice, presumably).

Thomas Edison invents the telephone answer machine, which he calls a telescribe, although he thinks the primary function of this telephone-with-a-recording-phonograph thing will be for businessmen to have an accurate recording of their business conversations.

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Saturday, May 23, 2015

Today -100: May 23, 1915: Of bikes, war & legs, Georgia matters, bossism, and Charlie Chaplin vs The Dancing Girls

Germany bans all bicycle-riding in Belgium.

The National American Woman’s Suffrage Association asks the Congressional Union to stop working for a federal suffrage amendment in New York until after the referendum on a state amendment in November. NAWSA is complaining that “War has been declared upon the National by a new militant organization which enjoys autocratic leadership and a philosophic irresponsibility to the suffrage movement in the various States.” By “the suffrage movement,” they of course mean themselves, evidently expecting to be able to issue orders to the CU even after kicking it out.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Were those her only two options?

Nat Harris, governor-elect of Georgia, says that the issue of Leo Frank and clemency “is entirely a Georgia matter”. Isn’t that what you guys used to say about slavery?

Theodore Roosevelt wins the libel suit brought against him by the alliterative “Boss” Bill Barnes. TR claims his victory is the death-knell of political bossism.

Coney Island opens for the summer. Live dancing girls have been replaced as attractions by Charlie Chaplin movies.

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Today -100: May 22, 1915: Of welcomed wars, eastern passes, gas attacks, tea & typhus

Headline of the Day -100:

Oh, of course they bloody do.

Headline of the Day -100:

Admittedly, I initially read that as “Eager to Hold Easter Passes,” which is a more interesting headline.

Scotland Yard is warning that future zeppelin attacks on London might feature gas attacks, so be sure to close your windows. In fact, aerial gas attacks will remain well beyond German capabilities.

The Northcliffe newspapers in Britain are attacking Lord Kitchener in the hopes of seeing him removed as secretary of war in the reshuffle, mostly on the perfectly correct charge that he was sending ordinary shrapnel shells to the front, which are completely ineffective against German fortifications, rather than high-explosive shells.

Germany is now calling up men up to 45.

French soldiers will now be issued tea during warm weather. And will continue to get their half-liter of wine ration, because French people.

Headline of the Day -100:

Typhus sounds bad, Urumiah sounds worse. “He had a bad case of Urumiah.”

Woodrow Wilson’s daughter Eleanor Wilson McAdoo has a daughter, Woodrow’s second grandchild, named after the president’s late wife Ellen. This Ellen will marry actor Rafael Lopez de Onate (aka Ralph Novarro) while still in her teens (and he was 38). Her parents objected and tried to get the marriage stopped as violating California laws against interracial marriage, forcing Novarro to prove that he was of Spanish rather than Filipino blood. The marriage lasted two years. She died at 31.

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Thursday, May 21, 2015

Today -100: May 21, 1915: Wow, war, what a surprise

The Italian Parliament votes 407 to 74 to allow the government to declare and wage war.

Emmeline Pankhurst calls for martial law in Britain and conscription for men and women.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Today -100: May 20, 1915: Short people got no reason to live

Prime Minister Asquith announces that Tories will indeed be brought into the government, but gives no details except that he and Foreign Secretary Sir Edward Grey, who is rapidly going blind, will retain their jobs. Everyone is speculating about who will get what job, and asking whether it is allowable for Lord Reading to become Lord Chancellor, because the lord chancellor is the “keeper of the king’s conscience” and Lord Reading is... a Jew.

Asquith gives a speech, in which he thanks the colonies for all the cannon fodder, saying “It is safe to say that there is no part of the British Empire but would suffer annihilation rather than become subject to any other sovereignty.” The colonies respond, “Sure, any time, wait, did you say annihilation?”

Britain reduces the minimum height for soldiers to 5’2” (from 5’5” before the war) and raises the maximum age to 40. The maximum height (6’2”) was abolished at the start of the war.

Germany ends prisoner exchanges with Britain, because German submarine crew prisoners are supposedly being mistreated.

It’s been the practice of every country in this war to publish a book, named after a color, justifying its position. Now, in preparation for joining the fun, Italy publishes a Green Book with documents about its negotiations with Austria, although the point they seem to be trying to make is that the Austro-Hungarian negotiators “failed to realize that Italy was firmly determined to enter the war if she was unable to obtain satisfactory territorial concessions by diplomatic action.” The monsters! They must be crushed at any costs!

Italians in Rome are expressing their displeasure with Austria and Germany by playing their phonographs pointed towards their consulates. Heavy metal, one assumes.

Headline of the Day -100:

Did this really happen? Did the Germans really hang the mayor of Jaslo for flying a Russian flag? Who knows?

Suffragists have been going to places Woodrow Wilson is visiting and trying to talk to him about women’s suffrage. Other suffragists think this is very rude. The NYT contributes a rather predictable editorial.

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100:

They’re still recovering Lusitania corpses from the sea, 12 days later.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Today -100: May 19, 1915: Of u-boats, pernicious practices, fishers, and independent pumping

Germany suspends submarine attacks on civilian merchant ships. For now.

A NYT editorial points out that there are huge meetings and petitions against Leo Frank being executed everywhere in the country – except Georgia.

Pancho Villa’s brother, who served under him, is killed by some drunken soldiers in a bull ring, as was the custom.

British Secretary of War Lord Kitchener calls for yet another 300,000 men. If he weren’t so careless with his toys, he wouldn’t keep needing new ones. He refers to the German use of poison gas as “diabolical” and a “pernicious practice” and says Britain and France will soon also use poison gas. He says the news from the Gallipoli campaign is “thoroughly satisfactory.” He doesn’t say to whom.

“Jackie” Fisher, the First Sea Lord, resigns, tired of fighting with Churchill over Gallipoli (which Churchill pushed as a strategy as an alternative to “sending our armies to chew barbed wire in Flanders,” and to which Fisher gave in against his better judgment) and for supreme control of the Admiralty. There are strong rumors that this will set off a reshuffle to create a “National” government of Liberals and Conservatives.

Austria’s last offer to Italy to prevent war: a bit of the Tyrol, the part of the western bank of the Isonzo inhabited entirely by Italians, not Trieste, which will just be made a “free imperial city,” etc. Couldn’t sound more grudging, or more like Austria intends to use the caveats to avoid implementing any of it.

Italian socialists declare a general strike against the war. Some of them are shot in Turin.

The Italian army commandeers the automobiles of every member of the cabinet except the prime minister.

The Yaqi Indians declare war on Mexico. They have captured a pumping station, and if that doesn’t say independence I don’t know what does.

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