Thursday, May 29, 2014

Today -100: May 29, 1914: Of commissions, tea, and TeleVista


The Niagara conference will, after all, name a five-man commission to govern Mexico, which the US promises to give “moral support.” This will all be valid under the Mexican constitution, they say, because the man the conference picks as president (a member of the commission with no greater powers than the other four) will first be named foreign minister by Huerta, who will then resign so that he becomes president (there is currently no veep); he’ll then name the other four to his cabinet. (Actually, the rebels point out that this maneuver would only be constitutional if you recognize the legitimacy of Huerta in the first place, which they don’t and the US supposedly doesn’t either). Whoever this guy is will be someone sympathetic to the rebels, but not an active rebel. Since the representatives of Argentina, Brazil and Chile refuse to participate in naming members of the commission, the job will be left to... wait for it... the United States and the delegates representing Huerta, who is currently busy packing his bags and, I’d imagine, drinking heavily. I have difficulty believing that everybody at the conference really deluded themselves into believing that this plan has any chance of being accepted by the Constitutionalists.

Headline of the Day -100: “Huerta Takes Tea.” He also had a haircut, the story mentions. Why the tea and not the haircut was worth a headline on the front page, I do not know.

Misleading Headline of the Day -100: “Senators Would Accept Greece's Offer to Buy Mississippi and Idaho.” To be fair, that’s the sub-hed, but the NYT index page showed only that, leaving out the headline, which makes clear that we’re talking about battleships rather than states. That said, it’s hard to see the states of Mississippi or Idaho being anything but improved by being sold to the Greeks.

Two suffragettes break windows at Buckingham Palace. The Master of the Royal Household refuses to prosecute. They’re also badgering the Archbishop of Canterbury, who refused to give sanctuary to Annie Kenney. Kenney returns to Lambeth Palace and says she’ll stay (still on hunger strike, lying on the pavement) unless the archbish speaks to her. She’s arrested again.

Dr. Archibald Low, a British inventor, says he’s invented a method of “seeing by wire,” which he calls TeleVista (a letter to the Times offers “teleseme”). He’s thinking of it as a videophone but what he’s actually got is a very crude, very early television. Or you could say early internet, in that he can send pictures over a telephone wire. Low admits his invention isn’t commercially viable yet, which just shows he didn’t think about the porn possibilities. He will soon be distracted by the Great War into pursuing other lines of mad science, including wireless-guided rockets.

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