Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Does the Catholic Church recruit exclusively from silent movie villains?

London Times: “German Bishop Accused of Beating Orphaned Girls.”

How long before we hear about an archbishop who used to tie helpless maidens to railroad tracks?

Minetti is back!

The famous pressure Obama is putting on Netanyahu is for a 4-month construction freeze in East Jerusalem. For which Obama would not only pressure Abbas to hold talks with Israel, but direct rather than indirect talks. Four full months. That’s like tipping your waiter a nickel.

Berlusconi, annoyingly, did well in regional elections (although the racist Northern League did better), and he got a judge to overturn the little fake-signatures problem in Lombardy, so showgirl slash dental hygienist Nicole Minetti can add another line to her resume: regional councillor.

The ANC is angry that a song, recently sung by the party’s Youth League leader, has been banned as hate speech (by a white High Court judge yet): “Shoot the Boer.” They say it’s part of their heritage. I can’t find this no doubt catchy ditty on You Tube, but here are the lyrics, in Zulu and English:
Ayasab’ amagwala [the cowards are scared]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
ayasab ‘a magwala [the cowards are scared]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
awu yoh
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

awe mama ndiyekele [mother leave me be]
awe mama iyeah [oh mother]
awe mama ndiyekele [mother leave me be]
awe mama iyo [oh mother]

aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

Ayasab’ amagwala [the cowards are scared]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot ]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
ayasab ‘a magwala [the cowards are scared]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
iii yoh
dubula dubala [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

awe mama ndiyekele [mother leave me be]
awe mama iyo [oh mother]
awe mama ndiyekele [mother leave me be]
awe mama iyo [oh mother]

aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

Ziyarapa lezinja [these dogs are raping]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
ay iyeah
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Ziyarapa lezinja [these dogs are raping]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
ay iiiyo
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

Aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Aw dubul’ibhunu [shoot the Boer]
dubula dubula [shoot shoot]

Ayasab’ amagwala [the cowards are scared]
Dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Ay iyeah
Dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Ayasab’ amagwala [the cowards are scared]
Dubula dubula [shoot shoot]
Ay iyeah

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Today -100: March 30, 1910: not OK

Oklahoma Governor Haskell has signed a resolution to submit a referendum to the voters to disfranchise blacks (or some blacks) from voting on constitution amendments. The story is quite short, but I think this is the grandfather clause.

L.C. Dulaney, a fixer in Mississippi politics, is arrested for paying State Senator T. G. Bilbo $645 to vote for Leroy Percy for US senator. Bilbo claims it was a sting operation, and that he kept Rev. Culpepper, President of Clark Memorial College, in a hotel for four days so that he might witness the bribe whenever it occurred (however, the reverend missed the hand-over, which took place in another room).

Monday, March 29, 2010

Today -100: March 29, 1910: Of patience, apoplexy, and rolling eggs

Teddy Roosevelt addressed the University of Egypt, praising British colonial rule in the Sudan and saying that “the training of a nation to fit it successfully to fulfill the duties of self-government is not a matter of a decade or two, but of generations.” He quoted “the old Arab proverb, ‘God is with the patient if they know how to wait.’” Roosevelt of course was renowned for his... patience. He also came out against assassination (Egypt’s Premier Boutrous Pasha Ghali, grandfather of the UN secretary-general, was assassinated by a nationalist in February). And he opposed the nationalists’ demand for a constitution: “Some foolish persons believe that the granting of a paper Constitution, prefaced by some high-sounding declarations, in itself confers the power of self-government.”

Supreme Court Justice David Brewer dies of apoplexy.

Easter egg-rolling at the White House. Here’s a surprise: “Children of the rich and the poor, white and colored, all were admitted and had the run of the place for their games and their picnics.” An inter-racial event at the White House – however did the Republic survive? No adults were admitted unless accompanied by children, but some small boys hired themselves out to successive adults who wanted to see the custom.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Confusing Headline of the Day

(London Times): “Queen Withdraws from Tattoo in Staircase Row.”

Headbutts and butt-heads

Headline of the Day (the Indy): “Zookeeper Hospitalised after Giraffe Headbutt.”

There was an anti-Harry Reid tea party rally addressed by Sarah Palin in Searchlight, Nevada. The NYT tells us: “The show put on by a group called the Tea Party Express included Tea Party country songs and Tea Party rappers”.

So... there are Tea Party rappers.

Today -100: March 28, 1910: Of chivalry and beggars

In a letter to the NYT, Alice Stone Blackwell offers assurances that women’s suffrage will not herald the end of chivalry and force women to stand in trolley cars. Women are much more likely to be offered a seat in Denver than in New York. However, Blackwell says, justice would be worth more to women than chivalry; better to stand for 20 minutes in a street car and get equal pay. But the two are not incompatible.

The general strike in Philadelphia has been called off, though the trolley workers soldier on. But who has been hurt most by the strike? Beggars, according to one blind guy who made up to $30 a week selling shoe laces and lead pencils in Philly (if true, more than the trolleymen make) but after the strike began had to relocate to D.C.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Moral relativism

A blog post from Archbishop Timothy Dolan of NY complains about the church being singled out for criticism over the child abuse cases. Noting the NYT story “Doctor Asserts Church Ignored Abuse Warnings,” he asks why we never see headlines like “Doctor Asserts Public Schools Ignored Abuse Warnings,” because “abuse of minors by teachers, coaches, counsellors, and staff in government schools is much, much worse than by priests,” according to research (disputed research, I might add) by... wait for it... a Dr. Carol Shakeshaft.

So it’s official: according to a self-proclaimed expert on sin, two wrongs do in fact make a right.


Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Conway, an opponent of gays in the military, says that if DADT is repealed, he will try to avoid making straight Marines roommates with gay ones – “I would not ask our Marines to live with someone who is homosexual if we can possibly avoid it” – which implies that he intends to continue trying to determine the sexuality of marines and record it in their files. He says the Marines might even have to resort to single-occupant rooms, and it’s the word “might” that indicates how little actual thought he put into this before shooting off his mouth, because he seems to have thought about his policy of segregating gays only from the perspective of homophobic straight Marines, without considering the, um, implications of putting all the homosexuals into two-person rooms.

The Vatican claims it’s just scurrilous to suggest that Pope Benny when he was Cardinal Rats knew about the paedophile priest in Germany being allowed to continue working, as it were, with children. The archdiocese “rejects any other version of events as mere speculation.” Great, wheel his freaking holiness out to deny it out of his own mouth.

“Stray bullet” – the perfect metaphor for Eric Cantor?

Quote of the Day, Gen. Stanley McChrystal, about checkpoints in Afghanistan: “We have shot an amazing number of people, but to my knowledge, none has ever proven to be a threat.”

Today -100: March 27, 1910: Of tariff wars, negro disenfranchisement, and plucky women

Tariff war with Canada has been averted. Still don’t care.

The Democrats of the Maryland Legislature, in caucus, agree to support the Negro Disenfranchisement Bill, which would do just what it sounds like it would do (Spoiler alert: the Lege will pass it and the governor will veto it). The claim is that this is constitutional because Maryland never ratified the 15th Amendment (in fact, the Legislature had rejected the amendment unanimously). (They finally ratified in 1973).

The London County Council had a marathon sitting that began at 2 in the afternoon and ended at 8 the next morning. The NYT is amazed that the 3 women councillors “pluckily” stuck with it, “bright and alert to the very end.”

Friday, March 26, 2010

Wherein is revealed what people have to get past

According to Gen. Ray Odierno, commander of US forces in Iraq, “People have to get past why we came here.”

Today -100: March 26, 1910: Of Liberians, Martians, and sexist laws

An American Commission to Liberia concludes that the republic is in trouble, beset by the British and French Empires on either side. What would really help Liberia out, the Commission suggests, is if the US take control of its customs collection. And organize its police. And establish a naval coaling station. “[T]he whole situation is summed up as very hopeless for the little nation unless the United States steps in and helps her out.”

Astronomer Percival Lowell talks about what he thinks Martians are like. Evidently, they’re not human beings. “They are intelligent organisms, but not in the least like men.” Sadly, Mars is dying from lack of water. Perhaps it would help if the US takes control of its customs collection.

The NY State Woman Suffrage Association issued a pamphlet, “Laws Discriminating Against Women in the State of New York.” The NYT gives a long list of them. Go read it.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Alaska’s powerful beauty

The cable channel TLC will bring us “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” Peter Liguori, CEO of the TLC’s parent company, Discovery Communications, says the program will “reveal Alaska’s powerful beauty as it has never been filmed,” which I believe is Liguori’s attempt to make us think Palin will be naked.

I was about to suggest a contest along these lines: clearly, TLC can no longer stand for The Learning Channel, so suggest what TLC now stands for in its Palinolithic period. But then I checked what TLC is up to these days, and figured out why I haven’t watched anything on it in years an forgot that it existed: its current focus seems to be not so much learning as reality shows about families with lots of children (Jon & Kate, the Duggars, etc), plus programs such as What Not to Wear, Cake Boss, Policewomen of Maricopa County, Paranormal Court, Hoarding: Buried Alive, and Extreme Forensics. The Losers Channel? In fact, I think that TLC has been dis-abbreviated and no longer does officially stand for The Learning Channel, just as A&E no longer stands for Arts & Entertainment since that channel dropped both from its schedule. Don’t get me started on the inevitable dumbing-down trend of cable channels (see also Bravo, BBC America).

So, CONTEST: the TLC thing, or suggest a better name for the program than “Sarah Palin’s Alaska.” (Possibly “Look! A moose!”)

Today -100: March 25, 1910: No need of being hysterical

The Equal Franchise Society holds its last meeting of the season (evidently there’s a season for women’s suffrage). President Katherine Mackay notes that the Society has grown in its first year to 625 members, adding “We have been doing a propaganda work; we have not been preaching, been hysterical, or emotional. There is no need of it.”

Teddy Roosevelt is in Egypt. Sees the sphinx. And vice versa.

Speaking of TR, the circus was in town at Madison Square Garden. Barnum & Bailey. A trapeze artist fell, fracturing both wrists, distracting three other trapezists, who also fell, with lesser injuries. But the show went on, including a little parody of TR, a van filled with stuffed lions, hippos, giraffes, zebras etc, the driver dressed as Roosevelt, with giant fake teeth, followed by a clown with “a little dog incased in something that made him look like a lizard. The clown announced that this was ‘the only animal Teddy left alive in Africa.’”

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Today -100: March 24, 1910: Of union wusses, uniforms, and fashionable hats

The Pennsylvania Federation of Labor decides against a state-wide strike in support of the street car strike in Philadelphia.

The House voted to make it illegal for theaters in D.C. or territories of the US to discriminate against military people in uniform. Rep. Sims (who I take to be Thetus Sims, D-Tenn.) moved to amend the bill to apply only to white wearers of the uniform, but was told that the bill banned discrimination solely on account of the uniform and didn’t prevent other types of discrimination. Satisfied, he withdrew his amendment.

The NJ Legislature’s lower house passed an Audubon Society-sponsored bill by a vote of 33 to 11, to ban women (I assume the law actually applies to hat-wearers of both sexes, but the NYT says women) wearing hats decorated with feathers, wings or entire bodies of dead birds, with the exception of the feathers of birds of paradise, ostriches, domestic pigeons or domestic fowl.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010


Helpful advice, or incitement to violence, whichever, from Sarah Palin:

Today -100: March 23, 1910: Of poor Uncle Joe, peace and dreadnoughts, trolleys, and damned fools

Taft visited New York and, says the NYT, “probably established a new record... for a day’s activity for a President of the United States.” For example, he attended two luncheons and a dinner. The things he ate did for his country. At the Press Club, a photographer’s flash set a curtain on fire; the Secret Service put it out. The members then sang parodies of popular songs, such as this one about Speaker Cannon to the tune, with which I’m sure we’re all familiar, of “Old Uncle Ned”:
Hang up the gavel and cigar, cigar,
Close up the House and Senate bar;
There is trouble and woe for poor Uncle Joe,
Cause he went just a little too far!

His dinner was hosted by the American Peace and Arbitration League. He said he was all in favor of universal peace, which he intended to get... by building two new battleships each year until the completion of the Panama Canal. But he also agrees with the idea of an international arbitration court.

The trolleymen and the Philadelphia transit company haven’t come to an agreement, but the general strike seems to be breaking down, with textile workers and journeymen bricklayers returning to work. 35 motormen and conductors were arrested after a trolley car was dynamited.

NYC Mayor Gaynor ordered the NYPD to stop taking pictures and Bertillon measurements of prisoners for its Rogues Gallery unless they were actually convicted of a crime (while fingerprinting was known in 1910, evidently they didn’t keep a permanent record of fingerprints). And in 2010 there are op-ed articles in the NYT calling for a national database of everyone’s DNA.

In New Jersey, Mrs. Nellie Fitzherbert sued Surrogate David Young for saying she talked like a “damned fool.” Evidently in NJ, “The pain and suffering that can be caused by profane words is fixed by statute at 50 cents, plus the costs of court, which amount to $5.” He pleaded justification. The jury found him not guilty.

Monday, March 22, 2010

I’m sure it was the most sincere apology ever

Rep. Randy Neugebauer (R-Shouty Town) admits to having shouted “Baby killer” on the floor of the House during the HCR debate, apologizes “to all the baby killers.”

Census, follow-up

Sent in my census form today (and received in turn a postcard reminding me to send in my census form). Answered the race question by checking other and writing in “human,” as per the suggestion of commenter “Huntress.” Annoyingly, right-wing loons are objecting to the question for completely different reasons and are writing in “American.”

I have a question about HCR & abortion

So HCR allows parents to keep their children on their insurance until 26. If a daughter wants that extra abortion coverage and her parent doesn’t want her to have it, what happens?

Today -100: March 22, 1910: Of hatpins and goats, but not tariff wars

By the way, a possible tariff war with Canada was a big topic of discussion 100 years ago, but you don’t care and I don’t care. Let’s move on to matters of greater moment.

Chicago City Council voted 68 to 2 to outlaw long hatpins. Punishable by arrest and $50 fine. Women hissed and booed from the council galleries.

Headline of the Day -100: “Policeman Shot for Raid on Goats.” In Brooklyn, no less. Possibly “part of an organized plan of vengeance” by Italians who were subpoenaed because their goats were intruding, as goats will, on other people’s lawns and gardens.

Sunday, March 21, 2010


Planned Parenthood: “We regret that a pro-choice president of a pro-choice nation was forced to sign an Executive Order that further codifies the proposed anti-choice language in the health care reform bill”.

When a president signs an executive order that codifies anti-choice language, maybe it’s time to stop referring to him as a pro-choice president.

Hard to reach places

An NYT editorial about the FCC broadband plan refers to “the Universal Service Fund, established decades ago to ensure phones got to hard-to-reach places”. Elsewhere in today’s paper, an article about the (stupid) use of laws against teenagers who engage in “sexting” says that one-fifth of them do so. So, mission accomplished.

Today -100: March 21, 1910: They shoot horses and speakers of the House, don’t they?

Speaker Cannon is not happy with yesterday’s coup against him. At a dinner of the Illinois Republican Association, he says that the majority in the House is no longer held by the R’s but by the D’s plus a “15% slough from the Republican Party.” Which was the most polite thing he called them, alongside “curs,” “feeble-minded,” “abnormal,” “insane,” and “cranks.”

A dance marathon in San Francisco was stopped by police after a record 15 hours and 6 minutes, after doctors said that continuing might lead to fatalities.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

You have suffered grievously

The pope wrote a pastoral letter to Ireland. He told the victims of priestly child sexual abuses, “You have suffered grievously and I am truly sorry.” So that’s okay then.

His “truly sorry” face

“Many of you found that, when you were courageous enough to speak of what happened to you, no one would listen.” He failed to mention the Cardinal Brady, who did listen – and then swore the children to silence (on the Bible? we still don’t know).

“It is in the communion of the Church that we encounter the person of Jesus Christ, who was himself a victim of injustice and sin. Like you, he still bears the wounds of his own unjust suffering.” Of course Catholics make paintings and stained-glass windows of Jesus receiving his wounds and wear little replicas of the instrument which inflicted those wounds around their necks...

The pope addressed the child abusers: “Sincere repentance opens the door to God’s forgiveness and the grace of true amendment. By offering prayers and penances for those you have wronged, you should seek to atone personally for your actions.” You know where they’d have plenty of time to offer prayers and penances? Prison. I must have missed the part of the letter where he told them to turn themselves in to the police, confess their crimes, and plead guilty. Maybe it just slipped his mind.

After he wrote the letter, he held a “special audience” with the Italian Civil Aviation Authority, and tried on a pilot’s hat. Remember: in the Vatican, it’s all about the hats.

I’ll be here all week

Catholic nuns, unlike the male bishops, are supporting the health care bill. They hear it’ll cover ruler elbow.

Today -100: March 20, 1910: Of House coups and death by suicide

The House votes 181-164 to remove Speaker of the House Uncle Joe Cannon from the Rules Committee, largely de-fanging him, 35 “insurgent” Republicans voting with Democrats. Then he is re-affirmed as speaker, with a 38-vote majority. Until this moment, Cannon, who had exercised a “czarist” control over Congress since 1903, was arguably more powerful than President Taft, and frequently thwarted Roosevelt as well.

The NYT notes in an editorial that when Roosevelt expressed an interest in currency reform, Cannon said, “There ain’t going to be no currency reform,” and that was that. “This was a typical manifestation of Cannonism. There has come an end to all that. The House is once more a deliberative body, not a meeting in vassalage to the Speaker.”

Since the revolt against Cannon began, Taft has consistently refused to say anything about it.

In Marion, Arkansas, a mob took two negroes from the jail and lynched them, hanging them in the Court House square. The coroner’s verdict: “death by suicide.”

Friday, March 19, 2010

Today -100: March 19, 1910: Of eggs

Remember the dispute in Canarsie between two families over possession of an egg lain by a passing hen in a lot on the border of their two properties? Two weeks later, it’s still going on, Magistrate Nash having passed it (the case and the egg, which the NYT insists on referring to as “Eggshibit A”) to Magistrate Voorhees, who is passing it to Special Sessions. More on this story as it develops (or hatches, as the case may be).

Thursday, March 18, 2010

So that’s okay then

Mr Netanyahu would also promise not to publicise further construction plans for Jerusalem.”

Today -100 goes to the movies!

100 years ago today, the horror movie was created, with the release of the Thomas Edison Company’s Frankenstein, with Charles Ogle in clown shoes as the monster. 12½ minutes.

Today -100: March 18, 1910: Of Short and Mud

The Philadelphia general strike will be supported by a state-wide strike. The transit company has again increased the number of trolleys running, and, indeed, running over two more children.

A man who tried to follow President Taft into a meeting in Chicago was seized by the Secret Service. He claimed to be a reporter, which he wasn’t, and that his name was, um, Dick Short. At the train station, a woman who tried to get into Taft’s car and fought with the Secret Service claimed that her name was Jennie Mud.

Republican Insurgents in the House are striking at the power of the over-powerful Speaker, “Uncle Joe” Cannon, by trying to remove him from the Rules Committee and strip him of the power to name members of the committee. One of the Insurgents, and presumably this is a real name, is Judge Crumpacker.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Barack Obama and the Shamrocks of Doom

Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan threatens that if everybody keeps talking about the Armenian Genocide, he’ll be forced to expel from Turkey 100,000 Armenians who he claims are illegal immigrants. See, and you thought that there was maybe some sort of animosity in Turkey towards Armenians, wasn’t that just silly of you?

Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen gives Barack Obama a bowl of weeds shamrocks. CAPTION CONTEST!

Today -100: March 17, 1910: Of meat, trolleys, over-complicated electoral systems, and equal pay

The meat strike (boycott), which began in Cleveland and spread throughout the Midwest, is officially over. It was always supposed to be a 60-day event, but in practice most 1910 Americans simply couldn’t last much more than a week without beef. The price of beef has increased by 20% or so since the strike was announced.

The Philadelphia general strike continues. The transit company again claims a record number of trolleys in operation by scabs, with only one small child run over.

The Prussian Diet votes to reform the state’s electoral system, very slightly. There will be direct suffrage (presently, groups of 150 citizens vote for delegates who in turn elect members of the Diet), but Prussia will retain the three-tiered system in which electors are classified according to the amount of taxes they pay, each group electing one-third of the Diet, so that a small number of rich people in the 1st tier elects the same number of MPs as the vast majority of people in the 3rd tier.

NYC’s board of education votes 23 to 15 against equal pay for women teachers.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010


Ratio of the number of times a fire extinguisher is used in a Hollywood movie or tv show to extinguish a fire to the number of times a fire extinguisher is used to hit a guy in the face: 1:20.

Misc – yes, a mummified hand, a flying dog, evil priests and Joe Biden, I think that qualifies as a “misc” post

I thought the British newspapers were going to be worthless today, since David Beckham did himself an injury, but by gum we’ve got “Mummified Hand Stolen from Pub” – a pub haunted by the ghost of the “Demented Whist Player,” no less – and “Combat Dogs Take to the Skies for Secret Missions in Afghanistan.”

In priest child abuse news, most of the attention has gone to the pope’s personal involvement in the 30-year cover-up for an abusive priest in Germany, but for sheer assholery, you have to look to Cardinal Seán Brady, who made victims of abuse by a priest in Ireland take an oath of silence – did he make them swear on the Bible? – and is now daring the pope to fire him as the head of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Brady says it wasn’t his responsibility to report the crime to the police.

John Oliver in the Bugle podcast says of Biden’s 90-minute boycott of the state dinner in Israel in response to the announcement of new settlements (would Biden have even bothered to mention it if the announcement had been made the week before he visited or the week after?) that Israeli leaders were punished by being made to fill up on breadsticks.

Today -100: March 16, 1910: Of the census, inter-state commerce, official cars, unnecessary noise, general strikes, plain-clothes cops, and Frisco

Since I raised the question of race in the 2010 census, let’s look at 1910. The 1910 census was the last to categorize people as mulattoes (the more specific Octoroon and Quadroon designations were dropped after 1890). The Census Bureau defined mulatto for its enumerators as “all other persons having some proportion or perceptible trace of negro blood”. One problem with this system was that “perceptible” varied according to the race of the census worker (you’ll recall the Bureau’s fear that white people would be enumerated by black enumerators), with black census workers managing to detect more mulattoes than white ones. Efforts were also made to detect the racial purity of Native Americans. Asians were either Chinese or Japanese. Everyone else was “other.”

While recent socialist-led demonstrations in Germany for greater democracy (Prussia’s system is particularly antediluvian) have been met by police sabers, the Reichstag has voted to introduce a bill to make the government responsible to it rather than to the kaiser. It also voted to make Alsace-Lorraine, seized from France in 1870 and soon (spoiler alert) to be seized back, a federal state, with a diet elected by universal suffrage and a secret ballot.

An interesting discussion of separation of powers in the Senate. Taft’s bill for changes in inter-state commerce law, including the establishment of a Court of Commerce which would mostly deal with railroad cases, came to the Senate floor without a single senator willing to speak in support of the president’s bill (which isn’t to say the R’s won’t force it through anyway). Albert Cummins (R-Iowa) attacked the bill for having been re-written several times by the White House at the request of railroad magnates, with the Inter-State Commerce Committee simply adopting those changes verbatim. This is a departure, Cummins says, from Roosevelt, who said it was improper for the executive to suggest precise phrasing of bills.

Meanwhile the House of Reps has voted not to provide the vice president and speaker of the House Cannon with official automobiles.

The Society for the Prevention of Unnecessary Noise (evidently a women’s group) is lobbying NYC Mayor Gaynor against the Fourth of July, but it turns out he likes fireworks. So they plan to make his life miserable by phoning him at all hours and bombarding him with letters and requests for visits.

Since taking office 2½ months ago, Gaynor has been engaged in a fairly impressive attempt to reform the NYPD, cracking down on corruption and cracking down on cracking heads with clubs. Now he’s asking the police commissioner how many plain-clothes cops there are and what exactly they do that they couldn’t do in uniform. He also wants to know how many cops “are assigned to what is called special duty”. I don’t know what that is.

Compare and contrast: March 1910, the British Liberals plan to turn the House of Lords into a wholly elected body; March 2010, the Labour Party plans to turn the House of Lords into a wholly elected body.

The Philadelphia general strike – which may soon be joined by a state-wide sympathy strike – is growing or declining, depending on who you believe. The transit company says that today it operated more trolleys than on any day since the strike began, although they are also running over quite a few people. And the mayor and public safety director tell The New Theatre not to perform John Galsworthy’s play about a strike, “Strife.”

A letter from a former resident of San Francisco says that he never heard Los Angeles referred to as “Los,” but that there was an ad on the SF street cars asking people not to call the city “Frisco,” a term which rankles San Francishoovians to this very day.

Monday, March 15, 2010

History in Texas

I hesitate to announce a contest when my recent posting of little besides 1910 blogging has so reduced readership, but let’s give it a try: give us an excerpt (or excerpts) from history textbooks drawn up to the new specifications of the Texas Board of Education (sic). Remember, you can mention Phyllis Schlafly but not Thomas Jefferson, and free-enterprise system but not capitalism.


Got my census form, just like the letter last week said I would. Thank you for the warning, superfluous letter.

They want to know my race. I don’t intend to reify socially constructed (that is, not actually existing) categories by answering this one. Will probably write “none.” Thoughts?

(Just checked the ol’ archives to see what I did in 2000. I was thinking about none then too, or something from the Star Trek universe. 3 days later I wrote, “In 1941 the Census Bureau told the government where to find Japanese Americans for internment. I may have to rethink the idea of listing my race as Romulan.”)

Update: I hear vampires are very popular among the kids these days. Maybe I should write that.

Today -100: March 15, 1910: Of midgets

How did New Yorkers entertain themselves in 1910? The midget circus is in town! Gerson’s Lilliputian Circus at the Hippodrome. 35 little people, none over 3 feet tall, and one of them described as a “small negro,” doing circus acts.

There was a related article, “Curious Facts About Midgets,” in the previous Sunday paper, in which the manager of the troupe explains that midgets dislike being picked up and called cute. So keep that in mind.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Today -100: March 14, 1910: Of general strikes (strikes general?)

The Philadelphia Central Labor Union orders all milkmen, bakers, grocery clerks and other providers of food to join the general strike (they avoided this sort of thing in the first week, but I guess the gloves are off), and for all union members to withdraw their money from banks. The NYT lists the costs to the trolley company of the strike, $1,150,000 so far, including $2,000 to replace 5,750 panes of glass broken in trolley cars, $1,350 to feed 6,000 policemen (480 Pinkerton men have also been hired). The company plans to make the city pay for damages inflicted by rioters (no wonder they’ve been so obdurate).

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Don’t know much

In fact, as far as Texas conservatives are concerned, the only worthwhile thing Jefferson ever did was to fuck his slaves.

Today -100: March 13, 1910: Of automobilists, trolleys, persuasive language, and Los Angeles forever

At least in NYT usage, people who drive cars are now “automobilists” and not “autoists” as they were in 1909.

Taft refuses to intervene in the Philadelphia strike. A trolley which sped up “to avoid a fusillade of missiles” ran over a 3-year-old girl. The crowd tried to seize the scab motorman and lynch him, but the police clubbed them back.

A US Court of Appeals lets stand an injunction against the United Mine Workers by the Hitchman Coal & Coke Company of West Virginia, restraining the UMW from unionizing employees or picketing “for the purpose of using violence or threatening or persuasive language” to induce employees to strike.

On Feb. 20, the NYT ran an editorial insisting that the proper way to pronounce Los Angeles was “Loce Ahng-hayl-ais” (with a long o in Los) as opposed to Loss Anjelees, with a short o. It claimed that everyone on the Pacific Slope called it simply “Los” (I have never ever heard anyone do this), which it doesn’t like at all, and says rather bitchily that “There is nothing about [LA’s] present state of profitable confusion to suggest angels, and very little to suggest Spanish origin or the poetical conceits of Iberia. ... Los Angeles has outgrown its traditions and its angels.” The LA Times has responded to the “illiterate, unlettered, and altogether uninformed provincial person of this New York newspaper,” “Does he not know that Los Angeles was named in an hour when Destiny stood breathless on the hill tops and the Star of Empire held the constellations tied at the post? ‘Los Angeles’ is a name wrought from the singing soul of Castile to the music of golden harps. Los Angeles forever.”

Friday, March 12, 2010

Today -100: March 12, 1910: Of general strikes and trolleys, and tax cheats

The Philadelphia general strike grew again today, or is about to collapse, depending on who you believe. Some more attacks on trolley cars, some more attempts to force the transit company into arbitration.

Samuel Gompers, president of the AFL, says that in banning meetings etc, Philadelphia is treating Americans as Russian subjects are treated.

And in Trenton, the trolley strikers win. What do they win? 23¢ an hour and a (roughly) 10-hour day within 12 consecutive hours (i.e., no shifts), but not union recognition.

David Francis, governor of Missouri in the 1880s and ‘90s and interior secretary in the 1890s, is arrested for property tax evasion.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Today -100: March 11, 1910: Of navies, trolleys, car salesmen, and sensitive suffragists

Canada wants to build its own navy, independent of Britain’s. Isn’t that adorable?

Another trolley strike, this one in Trenton. Strikers and strikebreakers engaged in a shoot-out, but no one was hit.

And in Philadelphia, thousands fought with police, with no deaths but plenty of injuries, after police banned a mass meeting by strikers at the National League ball park (that is, on private property). So they marched to City Hall, singing “Hang Mayor Reyburn to a Sour Apple Tree,” where the real fight with mounted police took place. High school boys joined in, although they seem mostly to have “contented themselves with smashing every hat in sight”.

Russia is issuing expulsion orders against Jews in various towns.

The news of the plight of young Philander Knox Jr, shunned by his father for marrying without permission, has brought offers of employment from all over the nation. He has decided to sell automobiles.

NY Assemblyman James “Paradise Jimmy” Oliver denies that he insulted the suffragist, and is backed up by other assemblymen, while Henrietta Mercy’s version is backed up by another suffragist. A NYT editorial insists he hadn’t meant to insult her, but “When he pointed out to his visitor, who, by the way, did not wait for the formality of an introduction, that the younger Assemblymen would likely be more susceptible to feminine arguments than a seasoned old legislator, he spoke truly enough. He meant nothing wrong.” And “When he addressed his visitor as ‘little girl’ he merely recognized her youth.” (She seems to have been at least 21). The paper suggests that “When the women get into politics they must expect to be treated as other politicians. The suffragists must get over their sensitiveness.”

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Christmas Miracle

Secretary of War Gates visited the town of Now Zad, Afghanistan.

He was accompanied by Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson, who said, “This represents the rebirth of a city that had been dead.” Because nothing says rebirth like an American invasion. “We call this [place] the Christmas miracle.” Really, is that what you call it. I don’t think I’ve run across Nicholson before, but for “Christmas miracle,” I am bestowing upon him this blog’s highest military accolade, the title of Military Moron (MM).

You know how awkward it is to have a political argument with a naked man?

In the wake of the revelations of hot Rahm-on-Massa lobbying, the WaPo launches an investigation of “how much business politicians conduct while naked.”

Sen. John Tester said, “This morning [at the Senate gym] I talked with Lamar Alexander about a hold”.

On a nomination! A hold on a nomination!

Rep. Patrick Kennedy said, “It’s the only place where you get to see a member in a different light.”

Today -100: March 10, 1910: Of New York’s need for mothering, New York assemblymen’s need for hugs and kisses, and of course trolleys

As happened at this time every year, women suffragists and anti-suffragists traveled to Albany to lobby the NY state Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees. Mrs. Anna Etz, President of the Steuben County Woman Suffrage Association, said, “New York State needs mothering.” Carrie Chapman Catt said NY might fall behind in the progress of democracy, noting that “woman suffrage prevails over 1/15th of the earth’s area”. Well, that’s Finland and Australia and New Zealand, is that really 1/15 of the earth’s area?

On the anti-suffrage side, a Mrs. Henry Stimpson argued that “Were we so presumptuous as to think we could take up men’s work we should have to take it up in addition to our own, and, while the Legislature might make us voters it could not make you men mothers. ... Women, if they become voters, will succumb to the nerve-racking brain strain,” lowering the birth rate.

One suffragist “girl delegate,” identified by the NYT as “Little Miss Henrietta Mercy,” lobbied Assemblyman James Oliver of NYC, who she says told her he didn’t want to be bothered about it, and that she should find some young assemblyman and give him a hug and a kiss. “That’s the way the girls on the street get what they want.” He denied to the NYT that he’d used those words – “It isn’t like me, is it?” – but admitted saying something about the advantage of bringing women’s charms to bear in appealing to the younger, more susceptible, more good-looking members of the Legislature.

The Philadelphia general strike grew or shrank again today, depending on who you believe. One trolley car in operation was caught in a blast of dynamite laid on the tracks.

Speaking of trolleys, a trolley on Nevsky Prospect (St Petersburg) clipped Emperor Nicholas’s carriage.

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

Today -100: March 9, 1910: Of trolleys, trusts, secret marriages, moving pictures, blackmail, and lenten ideas

In Philadelphia, a party of strikebreakers respond to attacks by strikers on trolley cars by stealing a trolley car and going on a joyride, shooting into crowds, hitting 6. The general strike grew or shrank today, depending on who you believe.

Standard Oil files a brief in the Supreme Court arguing against its being broken up for violation of the Sherman Anti-Trust Law. Rather than getting stinking rich by restraint of trade, the brief says, Rockefeller et al did so by “untiring energy, with infinite skill, with abundant capital, and the steady reinvestment of early profits”.

Secretary of State Philander Knox’s college-aged son Philander Jr. (!) secretly married without parental permission. He brought his new wife to Washington but failed to receive forgiveness.

Headline of the Day -100: “Roosevelt is Now Hunted.” Teddy Roosevelt, still on safari in Africa, is being stalked by American journalists “lying in wait for him all along the river [Nile].” They want to ask him if he will run for president again.

A Circuit Court gives Thomas Edison an injunction against three movie production companies, saying he has the sole patent on the process of making motion pictures. There are 13,000 movie theaters in the country; ticket prices average 7¢ each.

Enrico Caruso is now being given the sort of police protection normally accorded presidents, thanks to a stack of threatening letters (blackmail letters, in the older use of the word) from the Black Hand, including a threat to throw acid on him from an upper box in the Academy of Music.

A letter to the NYT calls for heathen countries to be divided up by the Christian ones so that they may be forced to become Christians. It is signed “A Lenten Idea.”

Monday, March 08, 2010

Difficult words

California State Senator Roy Ashburn, who was caught drunk driving on his way home with a, ahem, friend from a gay nightclub, now says: “I’m gay. Those are the words that have been so difficult for me for so long. Because I had a cock in my mouth.”

I may have made up the last sentence.

Today -100: March 8, 1910: Of general strikes, shirtwaists, hatpins, and the Solomon of Flatbush Court

Philadelphia general strike: the unions say 100,000 are on strike, the police authorities say 18,407, the mayor 12,000.

Remember the shirtwaist strike? The Women’s Trade Union League states that it was won on more or less favorable terms, and the WTUL is now focusing on publicizing the firms that made the best settlements. Two firms, the NYT notes, are even putting union labels on their goods. So, um, look for the union label.

One thing they credit with helping the strike: the change of police policy, stopping arrests of peaceful picketers, by Mayor Gaynor after he came to office in January.

The Chicago city council’s judiciary committee orders an ordinance drawn up to ban hatpins extending half an inch beyond the crown of the hat. Several women came to express their disapproval of the City of Chicago regulating their clothing. Alderman Mack responded, “Well, you women want to regulate what we men drink, don’t you?” and Alderman Bauler said, “If women care to wear carrots and roosters on their heads, that is a matter of their own concern, and it cannot be interfered with by the city, but when it comes to wearing swords they must be stopped.”

Headline of the Day -100: “Policeman Swims for Negro.” An exciting story of a cop who jumped into Rockaway Inlet to capture an armed killer trying to escape by launch, who was not only, as the story informed us repeatedly, a negro, but a “giant negro.”

Two neighbors in Brooklyn go to court over possession of a newly lain egg found in a vacant lot. Magistrate Nash says he will ponder the matter a few days. “It is believed that the Magistrate will settle the dispute by having the egg hard boiled and divided equally between the two families.”

Sunday, March 07, 2010

No applause, please, we’re British

The British general election will feature the first ever debate between party leaders, and the rules have been agreed upon: there will be an audience, but there will be complete silence. No booing, hissing, applause, or heckling. In other words, it will be exactly like British sex.

Today -100: March 7, 1910: Of general strikes, quiet rubber, and phosphate violence

The city of Philadelphia’s director of public safety claims there are only 30,000 out on strike; the unions disagree. (And many paragraphs later, the NYT gets around to mentioning that the director of public safety is also a major stockholder in the Rapid Transit Company). Rioting was met by police shooting (annoyingly, the NYT is making no effort to keep count of the fatalities in this strike, but it’s certainly in the double digits). Emma Goldman is said to be on her way to the city, but the union leaders don’t want her. So far, 500 trolley cars have been burned or so damaged that they can’t be used, and people are soaping rail lines so the cars can’t climb hills. Scabs are being imported and paid a princely $5 a day (and some of them seem also to be keeping the fares they collect), compared to the $2 to $2.50 earned by the men they are replacing, who have actual experience.

The price of rubber has become less volatile, leading to the Headline of the Day -100: “Rubber Quiet in London.”

A short story with no details reports a race war with two dead in a phosphate camp in Florida. Don’t know what it’s about, but suddenly I want a chocolate phosphate.

What, too soon?

Saturday, March 06, 2010

A new level of vulnerability for government officials that would be chaotic

Robert Fisk on Turkey’s tantrum over a possible US recognition of the 1915 Armenian Genocide: “The message is simple. Acknowledge the genocide, and the US will lose its airbases in Turkey and the Turkish roads its military convoys use into Iraq. The fact, unfortunately, is that these roads are the very highways down which the Armenians were sent on their death marches in 1915.”

David Paterson is refusing to resign but it’s not for himself, it’s for the benefit of future scuzzy politicians: “To step down from office over unproved allegations would create a new level of vulnerability for government officials that would be chaotic.” “Vulnerability” may not be a word someone who bullied a woman who’d been physically abused by his aide should really be using. Also, note the non-denial denial: “unproved” allegations. The same thing Israel says about that Mossad murder in Dubai.

Speaking of which, when I heard that some of those killers came directly from Dubai to the United States (using false passports yet), I sort of assumed that meant we’d have to join in investigating the affair. Not that I expected US politicians to criticize Israel for making us look complicit in their crimes (assuming we weren’t).

NYT headline: “More Scanners Headed to Airports.” 3 nerd points if, reading that headline, you pictured a head exploding. 10 nerd points if, reading that headline, you muttered to yourself, “Scanners live in vain.”

Government in a box

McChrystal said, “We’ve got a government in a box, ready to roll in” to Marja, failed to specify what type of box. It seems the new governor, Abdul Zahir Aryan, spent 4 of those 15 years in Germany in prison for getting all stab-y on his stepson, who’d complained when Zahir beat up one of his wives. The WaPo quotes American military types saying it’s not a “big deal,” but not, for some reason, by name.

Must... resist... tasteless joke.... Can’t... resist... tasteless joke

Headline of the Day (WaPo): “Rep. Barney Frank Warns of Fannie, Freddie Risks.” And when Barney Frank warns you about fannie risks....


Today -100: March 6, 1910: Of general strikes

A NYT editorial on the Philadelphia general strike displays several assumptions that are worth examining. It assumes, without feeling any need to argue the point, that it is the job of the government to put down the strike, not simply because of the violence already displayed against trolleys and the scabs operating them, but because a general strike is inherently illegitimate, an act of violence rather than a withdrawal of labor. That definition in turn rests on the assumption that workers, even 100,000 of them, many in highly skilled trades, are simply interchangeable cogs. “The real element of efficacy in the general strike consists in the violence that would follow if it were carried out in the spirit already shown. ... If employers and merchants and tradesmen of all sorts had nothing to fear but the inconveniences attending the changes in employés that would occur, they would look upon a general strike with a good deal of equanimity.” Unionists, the NYT goes on, would not have voted for a general strike had they depended solely on this “inconvenience” to enforce their demands, given how very replaceable they know themselves to be, but on violence as well, and it is the duty of the authorities to repress this violence with, um, violence. A general strike is “a dream of the revolutionary minds of Europe”, a “declaration of war upon the community. It sets the unions apart from the rest of society in a hostile camp. It differentiates their members from the mass of the people, not only as a class, but as an enemy class, bent on attaining selfish ends by unfair and cruel means.”

Friday, March 05, 2010

Embracing the agenda

Right-wingers’ latest crusade is four SEALs who beat up an Iraqi prisoner of war and are being court-martialed. Here’s Sarah Palin’s tweeted contribution:

Yes, question that anti-beating-prisoners-up-and-lying-about-it agenda. Question it, I say!

Today -100: March 5, 1910: Of strikes, Russian Jews, and Enrico Caruso and the Black Hand

The Philadelphia general strike has begun, with 60,400 said to be on strike, including 200 milk wagon drivers, 2,000 cigarmakers, 225 egg candlers, 150 piano wagon drivers, 300 horseshoers, 200 suspendermakers, and 350 fresco painters. A demonstration has been called for Independence Square, which the police plan to ban; Mayor Reyburn quotes, in support of the ban, a Supreme Court decision that “the public possesses in the highway the right of transit only”. He calls on people not to loiter on the streets, collect in or join crowds, or use insulting language.

Harriot Stanton Blatch (suffragist, daughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton) warns the NY Legislature against passing the Dana Bill, which has already passed the lower house, and would require that future amendments to the state constitution get a 2/3 vote of the electors rather than a simple majority. She believes (wrongly, I think) that it is intended specifically to thwart women’s suffrage and warns that “Heretofore there has been no reason in America for suffragettes to use militant methods... Our methods so far have been quiet and amiable. But with an added burden put upon us like this, we shall have to resort to...” wait for it... “open-air meetings, to bands and banners, and holding up people on the street corners.”

A committee of the Russian Duma denounces a 1907 government circular which instructed officials not to evict Jews who had settled recently outside the pale of settlement. The committee wants them not only evicted but brought to trial.

Two members of the Black Hand are arrested after sending threatening letters to Enrico Caruso demanding $15,000. Caruso wouldn’t talk to the press, and the director of the Met, Gatti-Casazza, merely “threw up his hands and said: ‘It is not musical and it is not artistic, and I know nothing about it.’”

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Location location location

Senior German politicians suggest that Greece deal with its financial difficulties by selling off some of its uninhabited Aegean islands. I think we know what sort of buyers they might find, but how much income will that bring to the beleaguered Greek economy?

Today -100: March 4, 1910: Of civil wars, trolleys, lynchings, schools of crime, and presidential hoe-downs

I’ve more or less stopped following the stories of battles in Nicaragua, because they seemed highly untrustworthy, but the NYT reports that Estrada’s insurrection has been almost completely defeated, the impetus (as well as the possibility of direct American intervention) having gone out of it with Zelaya’s resignation.

The NYT publishes the positions of various sides in the Philadelphia trolley strike. The Central Labor Union complains that the trolley company sent detectives to spy on the union, fired employees purely for union membership, broke the agreement covering wages and negotiations, etc. Its manifesto also focuses on the role of City Hall in using violence and arrests against unionists and bringing in the State police. The trolley company claims that the June 1909 closed shop agreement was the result of “political coercion” and says it is fighting for the rights of its employees to deal directly with the company “without the intervention of an organization officered and controlled by outside men” and for the right of the company to fire anyone for any reason. Mayor John Reyburn criticizes the ministers’ association for “support[ing] a lot of men in the destruction of property and murder... Why, the same men would be the first to burn down their churches.”

In Dallas, a lynch mob of 3,000 people seized a black man in a courtroom where he was being tried for attacking a 3-year-old white girl, threw him out the window, which broke his neck, then dragged his body half a mile away and hung it on a spike. The mob stormed the jail, but other prisoners had been removed. Firemen tried to disperse the mob with water but “retired from the contest” when threatened with being lynched themselves. The first sentence of the longish story mentioned an “old negro” at the head of the mob, but nothing more was said about him.

Two women, 18 and 19 years old, arrested for shoplifting, tell the court that they were “instructed in the art of pilfering in a school of crime fitted up in imitation of a department store” in the home of a fellow employee of a button factory. Charmingly Dickensian, no?

President Taft gave a dinner in honor of Speaker of the House Cannon (who, rumor has it, he would love to get rid of). Afterwards, they danced. Cannon did a Highland fling, then, as he bragged about how well he’d done it, “For answer the President stepped smilingly forward and those who were present say the two executed several steps of an old-fashioned ‘hoe-down’ that delighted every one. Both were puffing when they finished.”

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Today -100: March 3, 1910: Of ballots, guns, and sleeping bull moose

In an editorial on the Massachusetts ballot system, the NYT argues against its alphabetical listing of candidates and in favor of some system that allows voters to vote the party ticket, without bothering themselves to inform themselves about individual candidates. The real problem with elections is not straight-party voters, the Times says, but the large number of offices electors have to vote on. The “short ballot” would be a much more helpful reform than direct primaries or referenda.

Rep. Henry Rainey (D-Illinois), later Speaker of the House, accuses Bethlehem Steel, which has been getting increasing numbers of War Department orders, subcontracted from government arsenals, of doing shoddy work and of underpaying its skilled workers. A 14-inch gun burst during ordinance trials, Rainey says, and this was hushed up.

It is feared that Teddy Roosevelt, still on safari in East Africa, may have contracted sleeping sickness!

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

You won’t have Nicole Minetti in a gold bikini on a swing to kick around any more

Berlusconi’s party will not be running candidates in regional elections in 2 of the 13 regions voting later this month. In Lazio (around Rome), a party official failed to turn in the candidate list by the deadline. He says he was late because he was eating a panino sandwich. Or he was checking on his sick daughter. Or he was “distracted” by the Radial Party members. And in Lombardy, 500 of the necessary 3,500 signatures turned out to be invalid. This is a definite bump on the political road for showgirl slash dental hygienist Nicole Minetti, who was to have run in Lombardy. The Assemblea regionale’s loss is dental hygiene’s gain.