Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Today Minus 100 Years, November 25, 1909: Of scabs, more horsies, Turkey Day, giant possums, and Bernard Shaw

Some of the large NYC shirtwaist manufacturers have been meeting secretly to organize owners against the strikers (and the smaller firms that have settled). One of the larger manufacturers, not identified by the NYT, claims that its employers are perfectly satisfied and calls the strike foolish and hysterical. 17-year-old Mina Bloom, one of the strikers, was fined $10 for hitting a scab.

At the Madison Square Garden Old Glory horse sale, hundreds of horses were auctioned off, along with a single automobile, “led on to the track with a halter attached,” “[a]mid the jeers, laughter, and hoots of a thousand horsemen”. It sold for $1,000, less than some of the horses.

The Wright brothers plan to open “the first are largest airship factory in the country” in Dayton, Ohio, producing four planes per month.

An editorial warns against acting hastily against the Zelaya government in Nicaragua, which risks damaging commerce with other Latin American countries and inclining them to trade more with Europe. Amusingly, the NYT thinks if the US shows it carefully weighed up such factors as whether Cannon and Groce were free-lancing or were part of a legitimate combatant rebellion and therefore entitled to prisoner of war status, our decision to send in the marines or whatever won’t look like an imperialist power grab. “We are a pretty big brother to the nations down there, and some of them, perhaps because they do not understand us very well, are not a little afraid of us.” The ones that do understand us well are very afraid of us, in 2009 as in 1909. “They have not forgotten, they never will forget, the international crime by which we separated Panama from the United States of Colombia.”

Thanksgiving at the Taft White House will feature a large turkey (but I repeat myself), a 50-pound mince pie, and a 26-pound possum “reputed to be the largest that ever came out of Georgia”. It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a giant possum.

Now an appearance in Today Minus 100 Years by a guest Times, the NYT’s even snootier older brother, the Times of London, which Today Minus 100 Years printed a letter from George Bernard Shaw (who wrote many witty, cranky letters to newspapers over many decades on a wide variety of subjects – Shaw so needed a blog) about the recently begun forcible feeding of suffragette hunger strikers. Shaw offers to provide Home Secretary Gladstone, who has downplayed the unpleasantness of the practice, with “a banquet which Sardanapalus [the possibly fictional last king of Assyria and a noted party animal] would have regarded as an exceptional treat. The rarest wines and delicacies shall be provided absolutely regardless of expense. The only condition we shall make is that Mr Herbert Gladstone shall partake through the nose; and that a cinematograph machine be at work at the time registering for the public satisfaction the waterings of his mouth, the smackings of his lips, and other unmistakable symptoms of luxurious delight, with which he will finally convince us all of the truth of his repeated assurances to us that the forcibly-fed suffragist is enjoying an indulgence rather than suffering martyrdom.” I pause to remind you that here in 2009, roughly 30 prisoners at Guantanamo are being forcibly fed, also roughly, through the nose. Oh, and Happy Thanksgiving, everybody!

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