Saturday, March 23, 2013

Today -100: March 23, 1913: Of the next war, assassinations, white persons (as commonly understood), freaks (again), and misapplied art


The Great Powers set out the terms of peace they think everyone should accept to end the Balkan War: large swathes of the Ottoman Empire ceded to the allies, including Crete, the establishment of Albania, no indemnity.

The Sunday NYT Magazine features Sir Arthur Conan Doyle on “England’s Next War.” He says there is no German menace. So that’s okay then. He talks a lot about submarine warfare and concludes that Britain needs a Channel Tunnel.

In a seriously botched story for which I can’t find any correction ever having been printed, the NYT says that the former Chinese Minister of Education, Gen. Sung, has been assassinated, but that before he died of his wounds, he received a letter saying, sorry, meant to kill the other Gen. Sung. None of that’s true. The guy who was actually assassinated, Sung Chiao-jen, was neither a general nor an education minister, but the president of the Kuomintang. He was engaged in an effort to restrict the powers of the president in favor of the parliament, which was why he was almost certainly ordered murdered by Provisional President Yuan Shikai and other members of the government. However, the assassin and his accomplices were all murdered before the investigation went anywhere.

The US District Court for D.C. rules against a half-German, half-Japanese man who claims that he is white and therefore eligible for US citizenship. The Court says, “In the abstractions of higher mathematics it may be plausibly said that half of infinity is equal to the whole of infinity; but in the case of such a concrete thing as the person of a human being it cannot be said that one who is half white and half brown or yellow is a white person, as commonly understood.”

Headline of the Day -100: “SAYS BIG GUN FIRE MADE EATON QUEER; Stepdaughter Asserts He Never Was the Same After Standing Too Near Cannon.” This was in the Trial of the Century of the Week, that of the widow of retired Rear Admiral Joseph Eaton, who claims she didn’t poison him, he poisoned himself.

Headline of the Day -100, Alliteration Division: “ELEPHANTS, PEANUTS AND FREAKS AGAIN; Blare of Big Bass in Barnum & Bailey Band Begins the Big Ballet. Ancient Animals Amuse All, and Active, Airy Athletes Annex Animated Admiration.” Freaks, by the way, had been absent from the big top since the merger of Barnum & Bailey with Ringling Brothers five years ago, but they’re back, because who doesn’t love a good freak show? The freaks include a 700-pound lady, the 19-inch-tall Princess Wee Wee, African pygmies, and of course Zipp, for whom no description is forthcoming beyond “amiable grotesque.” *Pauses for research into this important historical phenomenon...* Ah, that must be “Zip the Pinhead,” who has a Wikipedia page. The clowns performed a suffragette parade – the mind boggles.

The Academy of Misapplied Art of NYC holds an exhibition of “cubistic, past-impressionistic, futuristic, neurotic, psychopathic, and paretic” art, i.e., a parody of the recently closed Armory Show. I wonder if any of this art survived. I couldn’t find “Food Descending a Staircase” or “Emotions of a Lady of Sixty-Three on Roller Skates” on Google Images. Congrats to the NYT for reviewing this show, and for the phrase “outcube the cubists.”

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