Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Today -100: March 31, 1915: In which is revealed the most shocking crime of the war

Headline of the Day -100:

That’s Leon Thrasher, 31, the first American killed in World War I. A mining engineer from Massachusetts who worked in British West Africa (Ghana), drowned when that U-boat sank the Falaba. His corpse will wash ashore in Ireland in 3½ months.

The NYT thinks “The sinking of the Falaba is perhaps the most shocking crime of the war.”

Pres. Wilson’s daughter (but which one?) has a stalker. Who has just been committed for the second time.

Turkey promises to protect Christians from further massacres in Urumiah, Persia.

Businesses on Broadway in New York City will sue to prevent the Broadway Subway, now under construction, from ventilating its tunnels through street gratings that would send hot smelly fumes into the area above and up Marilyn Monroe’s dress.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

Today -100: March 30, 1915: We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink

A German sub sinks the British liner RMS Falaba in St George’s Channel (between Ireland and Wales). The sub surfaced, gave the ship 5 minutes to load everyone into lifeboats – which wasn’t enough time – then torpedoed it (it may have resorted to torpedoes so quickly  because the Falaba was trying to wireless for help). 104 of the 240 crew and passengers aboard the Falaba died, including... well, tune in tomorrow. One survivor of the Falaba “distinctly saw the crew on the deck of the submarine laughing.” The Falaba blowed up real good because it was carrying contraband explosives, as the Lusitania would be doing in a little bit.

Not that torpedoing a ship and detonating explosives in it is always a good thing: the U-boat that sank the Falaba, the U-28, will sink in 2½ years when it detonates ammunition on the Olive Branch, which hurls a lorry into the air – right onto the U-28.

An English passenger had a camera, and put those 5 minutes to good use before jumping into the sea, where he floated an hour before being rescued.

The Daily Telegraph calls the Germans “an enemy without bowels of compassion for the defenseless and the weak and without respect for any law except his own necessity.”

Bowels of compassion?

British Chancellor David Lloyd George is threatening to ban booze: “We are fighting Germany, Austria, and drink, and, so far as I can see, the greatest of these three deadly foes is drink.” Unpatriotic boozing workers in shipyards and munition plants are being blamed for the inability to keep up with the ridiculous amounts of shells and whatnot being thrown at the Germans, because no one will admit out loud that Secretary of War Kitchener is just not very good at admin.

One of the pretenders to the defunct French throne, Philippe the Duke of Orléans (to add insult to other insult, the NYT refers to him as the Legitimist heir, mistaking him for a different non-king from a different line, the one thrown out by a revolution in 1830 as opposed to the one thrown out by a revolution in 1848), was rejected when he tried to join the French Army, and then was rejected in turn by the British, Russian and even Belgian armies. Now his request to join the French Foreign Legion under a fake name (as was the custom) has been rejected.

The Allies are claiming that Germany has plenty of food, and all that moaning is just put on to arouse world feeling against England. This assertion is supported by an unnamed “neutral diplomat,” who adds the interesting detail that the average man on the straße in Germany thinks that after Germany defeats Russia (in a couple of months, of course) and France (soon after), France will be bought off with half of Belgium and join Germany in fighting Britain.

Prominent Republicans are considering whether they can nominate Elihu Root for president in 1916 without Roosevelt shitting all over him.

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Sunday, March 29, 2015

Today -100: March 29, 1915: The Carpathian Caper

Headline of the Day -100:

Is it a heist caper? Are the Russians a motley crew of misfits attempting to overcome their differences and steal the Hungarian crown jewels? Is one of them a humorous older character actor? Is one of them Brad Pitt, I mean one of them is always Brad Pitt, right? Has this whole war just been a distraction? Have I used the word caper yet?

Headline of the Day -100:  

We’ve all been there.

That story was written by an embedded reporter – embedded firmly up Gen. Joffre’s ass. It’s purest propaganda: a wounded soldier (Georges Bastard by name) sings the Marseillaise to encourage his comrades; Joffre pins a medal on a soldier whose eyes fill with tears as he remains at attention; the French soldiers are “hardy and unfatigued” and look “strong with purpose”; trench life is “singularly attractive” (!), etc.

The spread of prohibition in the US has reduced federal income from various alcohol taxes by $2 million this year, with 9 more states due to go dry in 1916.

The Tory press, starting with the London Times, has been criticizing Prime Minister Asquith for the worrying – but pleasingly alliterative – shell shortage.

Georgia’s governor-elect, Nathaniel Harris (whose wives’ names were Fannie and Hattie, which is about as Southern as you can get), is being very On the One Hand, On the Other Hand about the Leo Frank case, and is plainly hoping the US Supreme Court will make a decision that will let him avoid having to make his own decision about whether to pardon Frank.

Headline of the Day -100:  

With the nature of 20th century warfare understood better than it was, for example, last August, I’m a little surprised at how blatantly greedy and pragmatic the countries that haven’t entered yet – Bulgaria, Italy, Greece etc – are being in their public statements. No one’s talking about making the world safe for democracy, or the dangers of Prussian militarism or British perfidy, or poor little Belgium; instead they’re being quite open that it’s all about how much territory they can grab. And it’s still perfectly acceptable to proclaim that as a good reason to send teenagers off to die.

To be fair, Italy is also perfectly willing to be bribed territorially to refrain from entering the war. They don’t really care who wins, as long as they get Trieste.

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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Today -100: March 28, 1915: All ready

Headline of the Day -100:

Mary Mallon, or Typhoid Mary as she was nicknamed by the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1908, resurfaces. Released from an involuntary three-year quarantine in 1910, she took a false name and returned to her profession of cook. At the Sloane Hospital for Women in New York. Which has just had a typhoid outbreak affecting 25 people, mostly staff. Only one (maybe two) deaths this time. She will now be locked up in quarantine at Riverside Hospital for the rest of her life. She died in 1938.

Controversy over prohibition in Sims, Illinois would seem to be the reason a church was dynamited.

Headline of the Day -100:  

“Thrilled,” huh?

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):

Serbia has captured a lot of Austrian soldiers, but it doesn’t have the prison facilities to guard them, or indeed the guards, so they’re all on parole, just wandering around Serbia, taking jobs, and even bringing their families.

The boxing match between Jack Johnson and Jess Willard next month in Havana has been postponed by one day, because the US ambassador to Cuba complained that it was being held on Easter, which “will inevitably produce a storm of protests from the United States against this country, as you know sentimental feeling in the States about Easter Sunday is very strong”.

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Friday, March 27, 2015

Today -100: March 27, 1915: Beware of bear who walks like a man

I. Lehmann, an arms exporter in New York, says the European war will be over by fall because the ammunition will run out.

Headline of the Day -100:

You know what’s most annoying about this LA Times article? That that “beware of bear” line appears nowhere except in the headline.

Headline of the Day -100:  

The Zapatistas will pay compensation for killing American businessman John McManus in Mexico City, but the State Dept evidently hasn’t even made any demands for reparations for their mistreatment of the American flag flying over his house, and the Mexicans haven’t even apologized to the dyed cloth in question.

Headline of the Day -100: 

Headline of the Day -100:  

“Dickie” Darling, no less, of the Acme Sanitary Appliance Company, is acquitted of... I’m not sure what the actual charge was, but evidently getting a man’s wife to leave him and stay in a hotel with him for 6 days was a felony of some sort.

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Thursday, March 26, 2015

Today -100: March 26, 1915: The boat is too big for them to rock

I guess someone got tired of Karl Liebknecht, the German Socialist member of Reichstag, criticizing the war and the army: they’ve drafted him, disregarding his parliamentary immunity. (Or not.)

Turkish troops invade the American Presbyterian Mission in Urumiah, Persia, where thousands of Christians are seeking refuge, and hang an Orthodox bishop and four bishops, kill 60 refugees, and seize young women.

Speaking of missionaries, President Wilson addresses the Southern Methodist Conference on that subject and on war. He says some people are trying to “rock the boat,” i.e. get the US into the war, but “The boat is too big for them to rock. They are of such light material that they cannot rock it very much, but they are going through the motions, and it is just as well for them to look around once in a while and see the great steadfast body of self-possessed Americans not to be hurried into any unconsidered line of action, sure that when you are right you can be calm, sure that when the quarrel is none of yours you can be impartial, sure that the men who spend their passion most will move the body politic the least, and that the reaction will not be upon the great body of American citizens, but upon themselves.” He says the “great moral forces of the world” act like the newly invented airplane stabilizers.

Speaking of rocking the boat, a German U-boat sinks a Dutch steamer, the Medea (!), which was sailing for London with a cargo of oranges.

Charles Mahaley, charmingly described by the LAT as a “negro quack doctor,” claims to be responsible for former president Taft’s weight loss. He is fined $100 and sent to jail, presumably for negro quackery, although the LAT fails to explain what he was convicted for.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Today -100: March 25, 1915: Of the New York privileged class, rescued maniacs, and World War I goes all Lord of the Rings, like you always knew it would

The Allies land troops on the Gallipoli Peninsula. This should go well.

Although Italy has not yet declared war, Austria is moving troops into position, just in case, evacuating towns near the border, blowing up houses and cutting down trees to create a clear line of fire, etc.

The New York Legislature passes a bill for pensions for (some) widowed mothers, by a vote of 129-8 in the Assembly despite the impassioned plea of Majority Leader Harold Hinman (R-Alliteration) that this was “a move to encourage and increase poverty, rather than to remedy it. It is an entering wedge for bills to pension old people, women who have lost their husbands and every one else who hasn’t a big income. It will encourage loafing and tend to make in the State an aristocracy because it creates a privileged class.”

At least two dozen US citizens have been killed in the war (serving in Canadian units).

Headline of the Day -100:

Not as interesting a story as the headline makes it sound.

Stonewall Jackson’s widow dies.

Headline of the Day -100:

A steamer carrying relief supplies for Belgium, not an actual country of elves, and I have never been more disappointed.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Reigniting the promise of America

Ted Cruz announced his imaginary candidacy for president (that is, he used the word “imagine” many times during the speech, which he gave at an institution which firmly believes that imagination is the tool of Satan, Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University (which, following the proud tradition of the Holy Roman Empire, is not a university and does not have liberty).

AREN’T THERE HAIRSTYLES RIDICULOUS?: “Imagine your parents when they were children.”

UM, WHY ARE THE NICE BAPTISTS LAUGHING AT CRUZ’S CUBAN FATHER?  “Imagine a teenage boy, not much younger than many of you here today, growing up in Cuba. Jet black hair, skinny as a rail.

OF COURSE WHEN JEFFERSON TALKED ABOUT CHAINS AND MISCHIEF, HE MAY HAVE HAD SOMETHING ELSE IN MIND:  “the purpose of the Constitution, as Thomas Jefferson put it, is to serve as chains to bind the mischief of government.”

BUT IF EVERYONE FOLLOWS US, WON’T WE STOP BEING “EXCEPTIONAL”?  “And then the American exceptionalism that has made this nation a clarion voice for freedom in the world, a shining city on a hill.”

BURN, BABY, BURN! “I want to talk to you this morning about reigniting the promise of America”.

IMAGINE: “I want to ask each of you to imagine, imagine millions of courageous conservatives, all across America, rising up together to say in unison ‘we demand our liberty.’” Because nothing says liberty like millions of people speaking in unison.

The interesting part of that sentence is actually the word “our.” “We demand liberty” would be a much more idealistic battle-cry, but he’s positioning liberty as something that belongs to those “courageous conservatives” who are demanding it, and who presumably don’t have it now, or why would they be demanding something that belongs to them, which means that someone, someone or ones who are something other than courageous conservatives, must have stolen it. So what starts out as a call for liberty is transformed by that “our” into a whine of victimization.

WELL, THAT’S WHERE ALL THEIR SELF-FLAGELLATION EQUIPMENT IS:  “Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren’t voting. They’re staying home.”

BECAUSE NOTHING SAYS INNOVATION AND OPPORTUNITY LIKE FUCKING COMCAST:  “Imagine innovation thriving on the Internet as government regulators and tax collectors are kept at bay and more and more opportunity is created.”

Five years ago today, the president signed Obamacare into law.
Within hours, Liberty University went to court filing a lawsuit to stop that failed law.

How can you call something “failed” only hours after it’s initiated, before it’s even... Oh yeah, the “Ted Cruz Presidential Campaign.” Never mind.

IMAGINE: “Imagine abolishing the IRS.” And Coca-Cola in the drinking fountains.

IMAGINE: “imagine repealing every word of Common Core.” And not being able to spell any of them.

IMAGINE: “that every single child, regardless of race, regardless of ethnicity, regardless of wealth or ZIP Code, every child in America has the right to a quality education.” Unless their ZIP code has a 7 in it; those people piss me off.

SOME OF US DO SEEM TO BE HALF-BAKED: “God’s blessing has been on America from the very beginning of this nation, and I believe God isn’t done with America yet.”

In case you’ve been staring at Ted Cruz trying to figure out who he looks like, Princess Sparkle Pony and I worked that out.

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Today -100: March 24, 1915: Of Purrz... Pretsel... Persimmon... Prazmissile...

Headline of the Day -100:  “ALL RUSSIA REJOICES.; Great Demonstrations in the Cities Over the Fall of Przemysl.” Although if you ask them how to pronounce Przemysl, they kind of mutter and look at the ground.

Russian troops will now move on Hungary.

The Germans held a concert at the Brussels Opera House. A group of Belgian businessmen bought up all the tickets, except for the royal box and one seat in the middle. And then didn’t show up. So the audience consisted of one German soldier in the stalls and a German general in the box.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):

Blockade that, Britishers!

Japan is sending troops into Manchuria and Shantung Province.

A women’s international peace congress has been called for the Hague in April.

The Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns the state election law allowing non-US-citizens to vote.

George Joseph Smith is charged with three counts of murder in London. Scotland Yard finally noticed that all of his wives tend to die an “accidental death” in the bathtub shortly after marrying him (to be fair, he did use different names). His first wife is still alive, and there’s a fourth one the article says nothing about.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):

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Monday, March 23, 2015

Today -100: March 23, 1915: Of disappointing zeppelins, typewriters, eugenic marriages, and whipping posts

Headline of the Day -100:

Everyone’s a critic. Actually, Parisians were waiting for another zep attack air show, but came there none.

The German army bans Socialist deputy Karl Liebknecht from writing articles or attending meetings.

An NYU engineering student, Heuen Chi, patents the first Chinese-language typewriter. It has 3 keys: the space key, the backspace, and the key which strikes a copper cylinder with 4,200 characters.

The Louisiana Supreme Court upholds a lower court’s ban on the reading of the Bible and the Lord’s Prayer in Shreveport public schools.

Vermont passes a law for “eugenic” marriages. Couples can only marry if doctors examine them and give them certificates of health, mental and physical. If they marry without the certificates, there’s a $500 fine.

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):

A police judge sentences two 15-year-olds convicted of petty thievery to “twelve hard strokes with the rod on the bare hide.” By their mothers.

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Today -100: March 22, 1915: Let them come, then, these charmers

Karl Liebknecht is once again the only vote in the Reichstag against the budget.

Headline of the Day -100:

Liechtenstein, which refused a friendly request from Austria to send 1,000 troops. Liechtenstein is not only neutral, it has technically been at war with Prussia since 1866, when Prussia and Austria signed a peace treaty, leaving out Liechtenstein, which they had probably just forgotten had also declared war.

The Archbishop of Cologne says children should forgo getting new clothes for their confirmations and give the money instead to support the war.

Secretary of War Herbert Kitchener threatens Liverpool dock workers with “steps” unless they start working overtime.

Austria decides to resume war against Serbia (which the NYT is now calling by that name instead of Servia), which is currently devastated by typhus, cholera, you name it, so Austria thought they’d be easier to take in a fight this time.

Headline of the Day -100:

A ship, not the actual royal person.

Zeppelins drop bombs on Paris. Not much damage done.

The US goes to war with Germany. OK, it doesn’t, but the US fort at El Morro, Puerto Rico, shoots at a German steamer, the Odenwald. The ship has been holed up there since August, but finally asked for clearance to leave. Denied permission, it tried to make a run for it, but returned meekly when the fort shot it up a bit. The US suspects the Odenwald was attempting to bring coal and supplies to a German warship.

Headline of the Day -100:

Headline of the Day -100:

Germany is putting about the idea that British recruitment has been so bad that they’ll start using women. You know, suffragettes and the like. Says the Frankfurter Zeitung, “Let them come, the heroic furies. We shall receive them with a thunderous salute of shells. Their sex shall not save them. ... Let them come, then, these charmers.”

Frederick Winslow Taylor, father of “scientific management” (stop-watches, deskilling, exploitation, etc) fame, dies at 59.

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Saturday, March 21, 2015

Today -100: March 21, 1915: Of outlaw Indians, German pigs, Australian rabbits, duels, and the last war ever

Headline of the Day -100:  “Gen. Scott Captures Outlaw Indians.” I’d forgotten about the Piute uprising in Utah, possibly because the NYT hasn’t mentioned it in nearly a month.

Germany, which is worried about its pigs eating up fodder that could feed hungry Germans, has come up with a solution: billeting 1 million pigs on the Belgians, all of whom, without exception, will be made responsible for at least one pig. It seems unlikely to me that Germany is really using its over-stretched transport system for this, but I suppose it’s possible.

Some in America are trying to help out by mailing food parcels to Germany, which is quite expensive and the parcels may not make it past Holland. The postmaster general is asking the State Department what to do.

An Australian legislator, a Mr. Waddell of the New South Wales Parliament,  wants to help out the British with their food issues by shipping them a few million dead, refrigerated rabbits.

Maurice Pol-Roger, the mayor of Epernay, France, and a Monsieur Chapron, the prefect of the Department of the Marne, duel with swords. Pol-Roger accused Chapron of having abandoned his post and fled when the German troops arrived. Both are injured.

Andrew Carnegie says the European war will be the last war ever. Obviously in the future everyone will just turn to the International Court in the Hague.

The Republican and Democratic candidates for mayor of Chicago sign a declaration that they won’t bring up religion in the election campaign. Democrat Robert Sweitzer, who will lose, is a Catholic. We’ll see if Big Bill Thompson breaks his pledge, but in a later election he did stage a mayoral debate between himself and two actual rats, so subtle campaigning doesn’t seem to really be his thing.

Opening this week: the John Barrymore movie “Are You a Mason?

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Friday, March 20, 2015

Today -100: March 20, 1915: Of dervishes, Armenians, slimy underground passages, and young naval love

Fog of War of the Day -100, DISPELLED!: German claims that a dervish uprising in the Sudan against British colonial rule are denied by letters from missionaries.

Headline of the Day -100:

Headline of the Day -100:

Putting to one side how the sub-hed sounds like a gay porno (as does “special cable”), this story of soldiers from both sides advancing slowly through huge cellars and passages underneath the monastery in Ramscappelle would make a great movie.

The US Navy will stop enforcing the ban on midshipmen and young officers marrying. Says Navy Secretary Josephus Daniels, “If I were a young middy in love with a girl I would marry her if it broke up the whole navy.”

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

Today -100: March 19, 1915: You do not fight, you murder

There have been accusations that Russia is killing Jews in Austrian Poland and maybe in Russian Poland as well. A Jewish group gives the NYT a copy of a supposed military order from November which says that because Jews have been spying for and giving provisions to German troops, hostages should be taken and searches made for secret telegraphs.

Germany says that because Russian troops pillaged and burned villages in East Prussia, it will fine Russian towns which it’s occupying, and if it happens again they’ll burn three down 3 villages or estates for every 1 the Russians burn.

The British take the village of Neuve Chapelle after a fierce bombardment. One Prussian officer, a wounded prisoner, complains, “You do not fight, you murder. My regiment never had a chance from the first. Nothing could live under such a fire.” So, more than half a year into the war, someone still has schoolboy illusions about war.

Yet another rumor of the death of the German crown prince. It is evidently “common knowledge in Denmark” that he was murdered by a member of his entourage.

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Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Today -100: March 18, 1915: Of espionage, munitions, eccentric firemen, and koocks

The German consul in Seattle, Wilhelm Müller, and his secretary are served with arrest warrants for conspiracy to buy business secrets, specifically about shipments of submarine parts to Britain. Consuls, at least German ones, don’t have diplomatic immunity. Müller says, “The statement that I offered Murdock [a shipping clerk at the Seattle Construction and Dry Dock Company] money for information is ridiculous, as I am not empowered to pay out money for secret agent services except under direction from my home office.” That may be the most German denial I’ve ever heard. The State Department will intervene to prevent the case coming to trial.

A New York state supreme court justice rules that a wife’s earnings belong to her husband. Justice Morschauser is very surprised that anyone’s upset by his decision.

The British government will take over the running of all munitions factories. Profits will be limited and unions will be politely requested to relax work restrictions. And strikes will be banned, of course. One of those restrictions is on the use of female workers. The deal will, of course, be that the munitionettes will all be fired at war’s end.

Marching bands were forbidden to play “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary” in yesterday’s St Patrick’s Day parade, because it might be seen as un-neutral. One band, that of the Eccentric Firemen’s Union (!), played it anyway. Members of the Women’s Political Union were on hand to talk to the crowds about women’s suffrage.

Headline/Name of the Day -100:

That’s Mary Koock of Passaic, NJ.

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Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Low ready

You may have read about how a Yale campus cop pulled his gun on NYT columnist Charles Blow’s (black) son – if not, you can google it as well as I can. The cop was cleared by his department, which says he didn’t point the gun directly at the hilariously named Tahj Blow but rather held it at “low ready.” Still... remember the John Wayne line “fill your hand”? When the cop drew his gun, his hand was full, he effectively narrowed the range of possible physical interactions with Tahj available to him to one.

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Today -100: March 17, 1915: He will tell you that you are going straight to hell and try to make you forget that you are living in hell on earth right now

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: The rumor that the son of former Ottoman Sultan Abdul Hamid was strangled has been denied. What is it with this war and dead-prince rumors?

Headline of the Day -100:

Edmond Kehren, a French reservist, sailed home from New York at the start of the war. Around the Strait of Gibraltar he threw a message for his wife and child overboard in a bottle. The bottle was retrieved a few months later in Spain and sent on to New Jersey. Which is a delightful story, and the disturbing imagery generated by the idea of a French kiss in a bottle may never leave my head.

Germany claims the British sunk the cruiser Dresden while it was in neutral waters off Chile.

A Pancho Villa court-martial convicts Gen. Mateo Almanza and his staff and has them executed.

Elizabeth Gurley Flynn of the International Workers of the World (Wobblies) says Billy Sunday was paid by manufacturers to break unions. “He is coming here [Paterson] to tell you how many glasses of beer you drank and how many cigarettes you smoked, but he will not tell you how many weeks you were out of work, how many times you were docked, how many of you are blacklisted. He will tell you that you are going straight to hell and try to make you forget that you are living in hell on earth right now.”

Italy isn’t just demanding Trento and Trieste in exchange for staying out of the war, but huge swathes of Austria. But Emperor Franz Josef isn’t even willing to give up Trento and Trieste, although his government is still negotiating; it’s willing to give up the two cities in exchange for cash and renunciation of Italian claims on any other territories, some of whose inhabitants are Italian, so that won’t happen. Supposedly, Kaiser Wilhelm has asked the pope to convince the emperor to make a deal.

Aviator Frank Stites dies in a plane crash in the war. Well, in Universal City, California while making a film about the war. I can’t seem to find out what film, but the internet informs me that the Ghost of Frank Stites haunts Universal Studios to this day and has its own Facebook page (don’t bother).

Stites dropped a “bomb” on an unmanned plane which was rigged to explode:

At which point he lost control of his own plane.

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Monday, March 16, 2015

Today -100: March 16, 1915: Of oligarchies of virtue, ammunition, blockades, and wholesale bloodshed

The NYT mocks the New York World for coming out in favor of women’s suffrage, or at least declaring that it is inevitable, that “In the steady sweep of democracy, the time will come when the present opposition to woman suffrage will seem as short-sighted and senseless as the former opposition to manhood suffrage now seems.” Nah, that could never happen. The World also wants to enfranchise all women because, it says, a handful of women agitators have too much power now, maintaining “a reign of terror over legislative bodies, in consequence of which half the country is now bedeviled by some form or another of harem government”. The NYT thinks it’s ridiculous to believe “that a woman ceases to be contrary when she gets what she thinks she wants.” The editorial continues, “Women are not purer or more noble than men, and if they were that would be no reason for giving them the ballot. An oligarchy of virtue would be only one degree less oppressive than an oligarchy of vice.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Kitchener Needs More Ammunition.” The British secretary of war blames trade union restrictions and not his own incompetent management.

Wilson proposed to Germany and Britain that Germany stop sinking British ships if the UK allows food shipments to reach Germany. Britain says no, and now has declared its blockade of Germany (while for some reason carefully avoiding the word blockade). It says the goods it seizes will be sold and the proceeds will go to the owners... eventually. Because they’re claiming this move is solely in retaliation for Germany’s submarine warfare (i.e. not what it really is, a war measure to starve Germany into submission), only Germany and not Austria is being blockaded.

Vice President Thomas Marshall says it would be a bad idea to intervene militarily in Mexico. “Wholesale bloodshed would follow.. and then we would have another Philippine Islands on our hands – something we would have trouble getting loose of.” And “what would we do with the blood-thirsty Yaqui Indians? We might never subdue them?”

Rich Germans are fleeing to Scandinavian countries. Out of a sense of patriotic duty, of course: the government supposedly asked them to leave in order to relieve some of the pressure on the food supply.

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Sunday, March 15, 2015

Today -100: March 15, 1915: In fighting for the Empire Irishmen are fighting for Ireland

Irish Nationalist leader John Redmond brags about how many Irishmen have joined the British Army. “Ireland,” he says, “has been admitted to her proper place in the British Empire.” Cannon fodder.

West Virginia Gov. Henry Hatfield arrests two men on a train who he says took a book he left in the dining car. He also roughs them up a bit. Hatfields take their little grudges very seriously.

The London County Council rejects requests that it change the names of Wiesbaden Road, Hanover Square etc to something less Teutonic-sounding. However, “Bismarck herring” is now sold as “filleted herring” in London delis.

Turkey moves its capital to Eski Shehr (Eskişehir), in case Constantinople falls. Eski Shehr, the NYT informs us, is famous for its meerschaum pipes.

Germany slaps another fine on Lille after deciding that a public meeting protesting German persecution was a pretext for organizing a massacre.

Jane Addams will lead an American delegation to a peace conference at the Hague in April.

Germany is trying to buy Italy off with Austrian territory, but the ancient emperor Franz Josef refuses. The police and other municipal employees of Trieste are being made to take an oath that if it is occupied by Italy they will quit their jobs and leave the city.

Former Greek prime minister Venizelos, fired by the king for favoring war, says if Greece joins the war quickly, it can quadruple the country’s size. Quadruple it!

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Saturday, March 14, 2015

Today -100: March 14, 1915: I will come if you don’t mind me being a leper

Harry Thaw is acquitted of conspiracy to escape from Matteawan asylum. The jury evidently agreed with his self-assessment that he was entirely sane.

French Foreign Minister Theophile Delcassé says the war will probably be over by harvest time. That’ll be nice.

Orestes Zamar, who was president of Haiti two coups ago (in other words, one year ago), is captured.

Weird-Sounding Headline of the Day -100:

The Panama-Pacific Exposition in San Francisco has opened, without the presence of Woodrow Wilson, who decided he needed to stay at home just in case anyone called and asked him to negotiate world peace or something. And evidently, it includes a freak show. Or at least it will if the Himalayan pinheads who just arrived aren’t deported from Ellis Island as being liable to become public charges. The guy who planned to exhibit them says they’re of great scientific interest.

The New York Times really needs to hire more European correspondents, so it won’t have to keep resorting to interviewing every American returning from the Continent. May Maugan, fashion buyer for Gimbels, tells it that the English and French POWs returned in a prisoner exchange “were all crippled. Some had lost arms, others legs, and one or two both legs.” She also reports that “The great change in the fashions, of course, is the full, short skirt and the lovely boots that go with it.” Though probably not for the limbless soldiers.

Actually, Ms Maugan does report something interesting: the basis of the prisoner exchange was the number of limbs as well as people, with Germans missing an arm or leg being exchanged for an equivalently afflicted Allied soldier.

Obit of the Day -100: Sir George Turner (b.1848), medical officer and sanitary reformer in Portsmouth and then in South Africa where, among other things, he developed a typhus serum and worked with lepers. Guess what he died from? “The first public announcement was when he refused an invitation to dine with the words, ‘I will come if you don’t mind me being a leper.’”

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Friday, March 13, 2015

Today -100: March 13, 1915: Of looting, fines, and perfect eugenic babies

John McManus, an American who owns mines in Mexico, is killed by Zapata’s forces in Mexico City, which they have just occupied. Evidently flying an American flag over your house doesn’t protect you. Gen. Salazar says McManus fired first, admittedly, while the soldiers were looting his house, or possibly they had gone to get revenge, since the last time the Zapatistas occupied the capital, McManus killed three of them trying to loot his home. The Chicago Tribune prints a letter he wrote to his sister describing how he happened to kill the “greasers”). Gen. Salazar is rumored to have had the soldiers who killed McManus shot.

Sen. George Norris (R-Nebraska) wants the US to send an invading force to restore order in Mexico in conjunction with France, Spain and Britain.

Germany is fining occupied Lille 500,000 francs for cheering French prisoners of war.

These are William Flynn (37 months) and Alene Calvert Houck (17 months). And they are perfect, evidently.

They’ve been examined at the Eugenics Congress in L.A. and been awarded trophies attesting to their 100% perfection. So yes, their mothers plan to breed them.

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Thursday, March 12, 2015

Today -100: March 12, 1915: Of pigs, champagne, olde-timey pastimes, and legions

Germany is still anxious to kill off its 20 million pigs, who are eating potatoes that humans could be eating. “Each pig killed between now and the middle of April, it is estimated, will insure the existence of ten Germans until October.”

Headline of the Day -100:

The New York State Senate fails by a vote of 25-12 to ban the popular Coney Island, um, game, of throwing baseballs at a negro’s head. Why, scoffs Sen. Thompson, “you might just as well pass a bill making it a misdemeanor... to give bad peanuts to a good monkey.”

Secretary of War Garrison writes to Gen. Leonard Wood, Commander of the Department of the East, telling him to stop promoting the American Legion (again, not the current Legion but a group of former members of the military ready and willing to join some hypothetical war that the US might hypothetically enter). And he leaks the letter to the press, which shows just how pissed off he is with Wood.

The US cavalry intercepts 200 Mexicans about to cross from Texas into Chihuahua. These are refugees and former Federale soldiers who have been recruited to fight against Villa.

New York Mayor John Purroy Mitchel has changed his mind, or at least his perception of which way the wind is blowing, and now supports women’s suffrage.

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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Today -100: March 11, 1915: Of plots, nervous breakdowns, and daylight savings

Fog of War (Rumors, Propaganda and Just Plain Bullshit) of the Day -100: Germany is claiming there was a Franco-British plot to assassinate the neutralist king of Greece.

More Fog: The Duke of Brunswick, Kaiser Wilhelm’s son-in-law and a major, I think, in the German Army, is said to have had an incurable nervous breakdown.

Germany will go on daylight savings time in April to save fuel. (Actually, they’ll do it next year instead). This will be the first use of DST.

Carranza, in response to what he claims was an insulting letter from Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan asking him to stop Gen. Obregon inciting the residents of Mexico City against foreigners, writes
to Pres. Wilson, suggesting that Americans and other foreigners should just leave the capital.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Today -100: March 10, 1915: Of prefects, aliens, and hostages

The British Parliament votes to allow the government to take over the country’s entire engineering industry.

The Germans have supposedly arrested Felix Trepont, the French prefect of the Nord, for opposing something or other about raising the funds demanded by Germany from occupied French cities. Actually, I think Trepont was just taken hostage along with other notables, as was the custom. Le Matin also claims that German troops’ morale is very low and they often cry when ordered to the front, and their commander has ordered all civilian clothing stored in the citadel to prevent soldiers wearing it when they desert.

The New York Legislature revises its previous ban on aliens being employed on public works. Now they’ll be allowed when US citizens are “not available.” The building of the NY subway system can go on.

Rumors say Bulgaria has just mirrored events in Greece, with a neutralist king firing a prime minister who wanted to take his country into the war.

The military governor of Smyrna has come up with a solution to the problem that the guns of the Turkish forts on the Dardanelles have a shorter range than those of the British ships: arrest male citizens of enemy nations and use them as human shields.

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Monday, March 09, 2015

Today -100: March 9, 1915: Gott strafe England

Britain will segregate the prisoners captured from the sunken German U-boat U-8 for possible war crimes trials after the war. The British are still undecided on whether their condemnations of Germany’s unrestricted submarine warfare policies mean that submariners should be treated as pirates.

The US is sending more warships to Mexico. Carranza has invited foreign diplomats to follow him in leaving Mexico City for Vera Cruz, although he claims this is in no way a ploy to get them to recognize him as the one true president of Mexico. They have declined his invitation, because they don’t want to be seen abandoning their nationals in Mexico City to the rampaging mobs.

Various stories in today’s paper say that Germany is totally convinced it will win the war by the end of the year, because Russia will collapse at any moment, while Russia is totally convinced it will the war, because Turkey will collapse at any moment.

Oh, and Germans are replacing the phrase “Auf Wiedersehen” at the end of conversations with “Gott strafe England” (God punish England).

Yes, that is the origin of the word “strafe” in English c.1915, to mean attack or bomb. The more specific current meaning dates from World War II.

Harry Thaw, the famous murderer, is still fighting in court to prevent his return to the Matteawan insane asylum, a year and a half after his escape. He claims that he was sane at the time he escaped, therefore he was being illegally confined and it was not illegal for him to escape.

Headline of the Day -100:

He took as the text of his sermon that famous religious tome Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde “and illustrated his points with a mixture of baseball yarns and Bible narratives translated into street slang.”

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Sunday, March 08, 2015

Today -100: March 8, 1915: If you see something, put it in a pail of water

Basil Ruysdael, an opera singer at the Met (and later an actor whose first film was the Marx Brothers’ Cocoanuts and last film was 101 Dalmatians), knocks down a couple with his car on 5th Avenue, killing the woman. When giving his side to reporters later in the day, Ruysdael used the phrase “To complete my horror...”

Headline of the Day -100:

Was it a secret? You’d think all the explosions would be kind of a giveaway. The sub-head is

I assume “the battlefront” is what Gen. Joffre calls his genitals.

Germany claims to have captured nearly 1 million prisoners.

Germany is now drafting men as old as 55.

Headline of the Day -100:

Finding a package on his 2nd Avenue NYC stoop, Frank Razzo figures it’s probably a bomb, because reasons. So he puts it in a pail of water, cuts hair until closing time, does some other stuff, and only then takes it to the local cop shop, 10 hours after its discovery. They put it in a pail of water and call an inspector from the... wait for it... Bureau of Combustibles (I’ve googled it: that was actually a thing), who confirms that the package contains two sticks of dynamite and a faulty fulminating cap.

The new New York City phonebook is out. There are 566,000 phone numbers in the city.

King Constantine I of Greece names a new government, which is pledged to neutrality in the war. Germany was threatening to go to war with Greece if it declared war on Turkey, and Turkey evidently threatened to massacre Christians.

The German authorities suspend the Münchner Zeitung, an anti-semitic newspaper, for calling for the annexation of Belgium.

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Saturday, March 07, 2015

Today -100: March 7, 1915: Everybody went to bed and slept as usual

Headline of the Day -100:  “Bulgaria’s Position in the World War.” Note the use of “World War.”

Headline of the Day -100 (LA Times):  “Call Germans Incendiaries. French Indignant at Use of Burning Fluid in War.”

The Texas House of Reps votes down a women’s suffrage amendment to the state constitution (90-32 in favor, but it needed 2/3, which is 94 votes).

The Lusitania docks safely in Liverpool. This time it didn’t fly an American flag. “While crossing the Irish Channel the lights were extinguished, but everybody went to bed and slept as usual.”

Justice Department agents are investigating multiple rumors of plots for a German invasion of Canada from Chicago or Buffalo or St. Paul or maybe Milwaukee, because why not.

Book of the Day -100: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Valley of Fear. The last (and least) Sherlock Holmes novel. Actually published last year, but the NYT reviews the US edition today. Their reviewer, Hildegarde Hawthorne, granddaughter of Nathaniel, likes it.

The Greek cabinet resigns. They want to go to war against the Central Powers (well, just Turkey really), but King Constantine does not.

A revolt in Portugal. Former minister of war Gen. Antonio Barreto is declared president of the Republic of Northern Portugal, which is evidently a thing now.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Sing Sing to Teach the Genteel Arts.” There’ll be a brass band and everything. A very genteel brass band.

The state of New York prosecuted 42 canning companies for illegal use of child labor in 1914, but only 2 were convicted, and those 2 were only fined $20. The state labor commissioner says local sentiment in favor of child labor influenced juries and magistrates. The companies erected tents outside the factories for their under-14 workers, and then claimed that, hey, they’re not working in a factory.

If it’s Sunday, it must be a flood of letters in the NYT about women’s suffrage. One from Everett Pepperrell Wheeler, failed candidate for governor of New York in the ‘90s and president of the Man-Suffrage Association, responds to a previous letter about how suffrage could make subways less crowded, or something. Wheeler says if women don’t like the city, why there are plenty of families in the country looking for servants. Charlotte Perkins Gilman and Mrs. Arthur Dodge are given 1½ pages each to present the best arguments pro and con, so you can read those if you haven’t made up your mind yet.

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Friday, March 06, 2015

Today -100: March 6, 1915: The burned trenches remained ours

German troops used flamethrowers in an attack in Argonne, but, according to a soldier quoted in La Liberté, they were forced to retreat. “The burned trenches remained ours.”

Belgium protests Germany illegally seizing its machinery, raw materials, etc.

Oops of the Day -100: A French steamer bringing a load of ammunition to Nieuport accidently (alcohol was involved) sailed to Ostend in German-occupied Belgium instead. So it was shelled and sunk.

Motorcyclists protest a pending bill in New York which would require motorcycles to be registered, with license plates.

Headline of the Day -100:

Totally not a euphemism, probably!

George “Honey Boy” Evans, of the Honey Boy Minstrels, the co-writer of “In the Good Old Summer Time,” “I’ll Be True to My Honey Boy,” “Come Take a Trip in My Airship,” and “Standing on the Corner Didn’t Mean No Harm,” dies at 44.

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Thursday, March 05, 2015

Today -100: March 5, 1915: Englishmen do not think it necessary to put up the shutters whenever they are engaged in war

As Italy removes its troops from the interior of Libya just in case it needs them... someplace else... the natives begin a revolt.

Woodrow Wilson signs a Congressional resolution giving the president powers to enforce the neutrality laws against exports of munitions to belligerent countries, but not the absolute power to do so (I don’t understand the distinction, to be honest), which Wilson objected to as giving him too much power, if you can wrap your head around the idea of a president ever thinking such a thing.

The London Times suggested that horse racing be shut down for the duration. Lord Rosebery writes in to disagree: “You say that our Allies ‘cannot understand how Englishmen can go to race meetings when their country is engaged in a life and death struggle.’ With all submission I think our Allies understand us better than this. They know that Englishmen do not think it necessary to put up the shutters whenever they are engaged in war.” Rosebery is worried that thoroughbred lines would disappear, as it’s too expensive to keep them around “for the mere pleasure of looking at them in the stable.” The Epsom and Ascot races were held during the Crimean and Napoleonic wars, he points out.

Headline of the Day -100:  “Russian Amazons Capture Soldiers.” Actually peasant women who hadn’t evacuated the war zone.

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Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Today -100: March 4, 1915: We will fight, but we must have potatoes

Gen. Obregon threatens to take his troops and leave Mexico City at the first sign of rioting, rather than be forced to fire on “the hungry multitude” in order to protect merchants who he says refused his “invitation” to assist the people. Others point out that it is his army which commandeered the food supply of Mexico City, shut down the railroads, etc.

British warships are still destroying Turkish forts at the Dardanelles, firing from beyond the range of the forts’ guns.

Potato shortage in Berlin. Socialists to SPD Reichstag deputy Eduard Bernstein says, “We will fight, but we must have potatoes.”

Germany reduces the bread/flour ration from 225 grammes per person to 200.

The Ship Purchase bill is killed in the Senate by a Republican filibuster on the last day of the session.

Retiring Sen. Elihu Root (R-NY) complains about the Senate eliminating the Navy Department’s Plucking Board, which chose candidates for forcible retirement, without replacing it with anything, “leaving a lot of men in command whom a former president of the United States once described to me as a lot of wheezy, onion-eyed, old stuffed puddings.” I’m gonna take a wild case that the unnamed former president then said “Bully!”

Headline of the Day -100:  “Greatest Mountain Battle. Snow in Carpathians So Deep the Dead Remain Standing.”

Headline of the Day -100:  “For Permissive Widows’ Pensions.” Permissive widows are the best kind.

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Tuesday, March 03, 2015

Bibi Netanyahu and the Tentacles of Terror

Netanyahu addressed Congress today.

He started out with a lie. “I’m deeply humbled...”

IT WAS INTENDED TO BE A NON-POLITICAL CALL FOR WAR: “I deeply regret that some perceive my being here as political. That was never my intention.”

STAND UP, SIT DOWN, FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT: “I know that no matter on which side of the aisle you sit, you stand with Israel.”

“The remarkable alliance between Israel and the United States has always been above politics. It must always remain above politics.” “Politics” is how things get decided. What he means is it must always remain unquestioned.

“Some of what the president has done for Israel is less well known. I called him in 2010 when we had the Carmel forest fire... In each of those moments, I called the president, and he was there.” Cursing the lack of Caller ID on White House phones.

He complains that Ayatollah Khamenei tweets about Israel.

“Iran’s goons in Gaza, its lackeys in Lebanon, its revolutionary guards on the Golan Heights are clutching Israel with three tentacles of terror.” First, he gets points for “goons,” a goofy word we do not hear nearly enough these days. Second, “three tentacles of terror” suggests that he spends his Saturday nights watching bad movies on the SyFy Channel, eating Ben & Jerry’s while checking Khamenei’s Twitter feed to see if he’s talking about him.

“We must all stand together to stop Iran’s march of conquest, subjugation and terror.” Again with the standing.

DA DUM DA DA DA DUM DUM DA DEE: “In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.” But a lot of frontal nudity.

PUT A RING ON IT: “the greatest dangers facing our world is the marriage of militant Islam with nuclear weapons.”

He makes clear that it’s not just a non-nuclear Iran he wants, it’s an Iran whose economy is strangled permanently:
Would Iran be less aggressive when sanctions are removed and its economy is stronger? If Iran is gobbling up four countries right now while it’s under sanctions, how many more countries will Iran devour when sanctions are lifted? Would Iran fund less terrorism when it has mountains of cash with which to fund more terrorism?
So any deal with Iran that includes the lifting of sanctions must be unacceptable. It’s almost like he doesn’t want negotiations to succeed.

“This deal won’t be a farewell to arms. It would be a farewell to arms control.” Some of his rhetoric in this speech is pretty good. This is kind of lame.

It is literally an irresponsible speech, a speech that says what he wants to happen and what he doesn’t want to happen, but leaves it to others to figure out how to comply with his wishes. It is Bibi talk.

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