Monday, January 31, 2022

Today -100: January 31, 1922: And you thought he came from Krypton

Anti-Treaty republicans are elected or re-elected as mayors of Dublin, Cork, Sligo, and Limerick.

Ireland has seen a string of bank robberies, stickups, and the like recently as criminals take advantage of the transition between British and Irish rule. But while the Irish haven’t fully taken over policing yet, a Republican court in Dublin rules that a female bookkeeper fired for smoking in the office where all the male employees were allowed to smoke is entitled to a week’s wages.

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Larry Niven might have a few thoughts about that.

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Sunday, January 30, 2022

Today -100: January 30, 1922: Sensuality, He Declares

Ernest Shackleton died a few weeks ago on his ship, the Quest, anchored off South Georgia Island. The explorer was 47.

Pres. Harding says the Knickerbocker Theatre disaster “has deeply depressed all of us and left us wondering about the revolving fates.”

A 20-year-old black man is lynched in Pontotoc, Mississippi.

Lenin will go to the Genoa Conference in May to represent Russia. As far as I know, he hasn’t left Russia since the Revolution. 

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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Today -100: January 29, 1922: Gunning for boobs

The roof of the Knickerbocker Theatre, a Washington DC movie theatre, collapses under the weight of snow following a record snowfall, killing 96 or possibly 107 people who moments before had been enjoying “Get-Rich-Quick Wallingford,” a (now lost) film about con men (“The tale of a town with more dollars than sense, and a bright young man who was gunning for boobs”).

Last September, a Marine Corps gunner said he crashed his airplane in the Georgia marshes and had to abandon it. Turns out he actually sold it to a couple of guys, one of them an exhibition flyer.

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Friday, January 28, 2022

Today -100: January 28, 1922: Of gas, phoning girls, ghost banjos, and Nelly Bly

In Nevada, Gee Jon and Hughie Sing are sentenced to death for the murder of Tom Kee, an old guy from a rival tong (yes, Gee killed Kee). They are the first people ever sentenced to die by lethal gas. I’d have said sentenced to die in the gas chamber, but Nevada doesn’t have one. The state prison plans to put them in a cell for several days, then randomly choose a day to gas them in their sleep. Spoiler Alert: this will not work.

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I’ll bet he does.

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Journalist Nelly Bly (real name Elly Cochran) dies at 57. She went undercover in a lunatic asylum to expose abuses in 1887, then followed up by beating Jules Verne’s fictitious Around the World in Eighty Days journey, doing it in 72 days. She spent a few years writing novels, then married a much older businessman and ran his steel-container business (into the ground). She returned to journalism as a war reporter during the Great War.

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Thursday, January 27, 2022

Today -100: January 27, 1922: Of free advice, anti-lynching, and craps

Secretary of Commerce Herbert Hoover gives France some financial advice – the areas of France damaged by the war can be rebuilt only to the ability of Germany to pay for it, and the French army should be cut in half to balance the budget – and France is livid.

The Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU), at a bit of a loss since Prohibition passed, now plan to bring their anti-booze message to Mexico and Cuba. Good luck with that.

The Austrian government falls after the Pan-Germans ditch the governing coalition to vote against the treaties with Czechoslovakia.

The House passes, 230-119, an anti-lynching bill, and sends it to the Senate to die.

A judge in Beaufort County, North Carolina, makes 5 black men convicted of shooting craps shoot craps to determine their sentences, which therefore range from 3 to 12 months.

Speaking of justice in NC, Canada decides not to send fugitive negro Matthew Bullock back to the state to face charges or, more likely, a lynch mob like the one that murdered his brother. (Update: this decision is just not to deport him for breaking immigration laws entering the country; extradition is still possible.)

BBC Radio 4 is currently (you know, in 2022), running a series of 15-minute documentaries entitled 1922: The Birth of Now on subjects including The Criterion, Nosferatu, Louie Armstrong, Einstein, etc. Available worldwide for at least a year.

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Wednesday, January 26, 2022

Today -100: January 26, 1922: Of Southern customs, sea vamps, and gray hair

6 members of a negro band from Ohio, playing at a tourist hotel in Miami, are beaten up by an unidentified mob who break their instruments and tell them to leave town, which they do. Evidently they “had not conducted themselves in accordance with Southern customs, had sought to mingle with white people in the public parks and at public entertainments”. Funny definition of “public” ya got there, Florida.

Elsewhere in Florida, the St. Petersburg Purity League asks Mayor Frank Pulver to appoint a bathing suit inspector to “protect the married man from the wiles of the sea vamp.”

A Chicago judge decides that 30-year-old Delta Callery, who had a fight with a neighbor who made fun of her gray hair, but who says SHE’S PROUD OF HER GRAY HAIR, should be examined in the psych ward because she’s a 30-year-old woman who is PROUD OF HER GRAY HAIR.

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Tuesday, January 25, 2022

Today -100: January 25, 1922: Anybody knows good whisky

Egyptian nationalists, following Gandhi’s model in India, call for a boycott of the British. Lord Allenby orders the arrest of the 8 leaders who signed the manifesto and the suspension of the 4 newspapers that published it. 

Some assholes argue before the Supreme Court that the 19th Amendment was wrongly ratified, that it destroys the equal representation of states in the Senate (how?) and is “an attempt to put shackles on our great democracy,” which will obviously lead to revolution. The lawyer, William Marbury, says the power to amend the Constitution does not contain “the power to destroy.” Why, he speculates, if this ratification were accepted, a future amendment could establish a monarchy. Um, no one tell the Trumps.

A federal judge in Brooklyn presiding over a Prohibition case rejects the government’s offer to have a chemist analyze supposed liquor, saying the jury could decide for itself: “Anybody knows good whisky.” So the jury pass a bottle around, then go to lunch, taking the bottle with them. When they return, the evidence is mysteriously missing, and they vote to acquit.

Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon rejects a bonus for WW I veterans as contrary to his plans to pay down the debt and as damaging industrial revival.

At the Washington Conference, Japan repeats that it will only leave Siberia when it damned well feels like it.

Gen. Walther von Lüttwitz, one of the leaders of the Kapp Putsch, currently a fugitive hiding in Hungary, asks if Germany can send along his pension, please and danke. 

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Monday, January 24, 2022

Today -100: January 24, 1922: Oh sure, everyone always blames the turnips

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And beet roots. See, when Charles tried to seize the Hungarian throne last October, the harvest had just come in and took up all the railroad carriages, delaying the putsch.

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Sunday, January 23, 2022

Today -100: January 23, 1922: I’m just surprised those two even sat in the same room

Michael Collins and Northern Ireland Prime Minister Sir James Craig come to an agreement ending the mutual boycott in Belfast and beyond, and agreeing to a commission to set borders between Northern and Southern Ireland.

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Saturday, January 22, 2022

Today -100: January 22, 1922: Of dead popes and redundant horses

Pope Benedict XV dies.

The New York Fire Dept will lay off the last of its horses in March and in future rely solely on motorized fire trucks.

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Friday, January 21, 2022

Today -100: January 21, 1922: Of elephants, apoplexy, and boxing

Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria hasn’t yet sold off his menagerie, but former kaiser Wilhelm’s lions, tigers, zebras, elephants and hippopotami are coming to Coney Island.

Kansas City Mayor James Cowgill (which is definitely a Kansas-City-mayor name) drops dead of apoplexy while berating police commissioners for insufficient zeal in going after prostitutes.

Cleveland Mayor Fred Kohler bans boxing matches being held before mixed-sex audiences.

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Thursday, January 20, 2022

Today -100: January 20, 1922: Courtroom drama

At Fatty Arbuckle’s second trial, the prosecution’s key witness recants her previous statement that Virginia Rappe said “He hurt me,” which she says she was coerced by the police into signing after she refused to sign one attesting that Rappe said “I’m dying, he killed me.”

By the way, I don’t think I’ve mentioned that one of Rappe’s pallbearers was Oliver Hardy.

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Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Today -100: January 19, 1922: They must be ruled

American writer Grace Thompson Seton speaks with former Austrian emperor Charles, who says that Hungary is not ready for a republic, and indeed no European country is except Switzerland. “Democracy? My people do not understand what it means. They think democracy means riding about in motor cars and doing no work and being fed without trouble and having plenty of money. The people do not understand that they need a strong hand to govern them. They must be ruled.”

Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria can’t afford to feed the two elephants and some buffalo in the royal menagerie and wants to sell them. The Cincinnati and Bronx zoos have expressed interest.

The New York movie censors demand changes, and yet more changes, in Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives, and demand to see advertising copy in advance.

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Tuesday, January 18, 2022

Today -100: January 18, 1922: Of conferences, lynchings, and impecunious royals

Invitations to the Genoa Conference in May, which will discuss economic and financial issues and deal (again) with German reparations, have been sent to every nation in Europe, including pariahs Germany and Russia, but not to Turkey, which basically has two governments at this point. The US, Japan, and South American countries have also been invited.

A mob in Mayo, Florida lynch a black alleged murderer.

Members of the former ruling family of Austria-Hungary are all poor now. Relatively speaking, anyway. The reproduction of this article is rather poor, so for a minute I thought the former emperor and empress had been reduced to selling the family towels. Some of the Habsburgs have even been forced to... work, with “indifferent success” according to the headline, but details seem to have been edited out of the final article.

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Monday, January 17, 2022

Today -100: January 17, 1922: Of surrenders, embargoes, censorship, and extraditions

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Or, as Collins puts it, “The members of the Provisional Government received the surrender of Dublin Castle at 1:45 o’clock this afternoon, and it is now in the hands of the Irish nation.” The British burn a bunch of documents before departing, as is the custom.

China may be heading towards civil war, so the House of Representatives votes to give Harding and Secretary of State Hughes the power to stop arms shipments from the US to China.

In the last 5 months of 1921, the NY Motion Picture Commission licensed 1,330 movies, banned 5 and required cuts in 160. The commission wants new powers to ban “unpatriotic” films. It deplores that films “incorporate... in such a marked degree the vices of the human race, and also... depict violations of law in the commission of various crimes.” It wants the Legislature to give it power to ban films with actors whose fame derives from scandal or crime.

North Carolina wants the extradition from Canada of Matthew Bullock, a black man who allegedly led an attack on whites at a railroad station in which two white men were shot in a conflict over the quality of 10¢ of apples his brother had purchased. Since two men have already been lynched over this thing, including the brother, there is some controversy in Canada over whether extraditing Bullock would be a good idea.

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Sunday, January 16, 2022

Today -100: January 16, 1922: Of last laughs

Sing Sing will show a movie as a special treat for two men before their executions in the electric chair. The movie: The Last Laugh. I think this is a Mutt & Jeff animated short.

The Knights of Columbus plans a $1 million fund, at the Pope’s request, to combat US Protestant missionary work in Italy. Evidently only the Methodists are currently trying to convert people in Rome.

Raymond Poincaré, speaking with Lloyd George before he’s technically even prime minister yet, asks for a more concrete military alliance to enforce the Versailles Treaty. LG says no.

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Saturday, January 15, 2022

Today -100: January 15, 1922: Of American Puritanism, boat people, and provisional heads of provisional governments

Postmaster General Will Hays will resign to head the national association of motion picture producers and distributors.

German Rear Admiral Karl Hollweg denounces the Washington Conference’s submarine agreement as “a piece of English sentimentalism, cant and American Puritanism”.

The Armenian Catholic Patriarchate of Constantinople says all the Armenians want to leave Turkey, and could someone please send ships to transport 120,000 of them.

The Southern Irish Parliament chooses Michael Collins as head of the provisional government of the Irish Free State. The Republican members, including de Valera, stay away.

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Friday, January 14, 2022

Today -100: January 14, 1922: Long live the holy Gandhi

The arrival of the Prince of Wales in Madras is greeted by rioting, as was the custom. The rioters seem a little unclear on the concept of satyagraha, attacking a movie theater, for example, while shouting “Long live the holy Gandhi!” Muslims, presumably not followers of the holy Gandhi, also riot against the princely visit.

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Okay, this is about the Pacific naval treaty banning the building of new bases on the Philippines, Guam, Hong Kong, etc, and not, as I originally assumed, about preserving a building in which military personnel could get a drink. I was wondering why that required a treaty.

Remember how the War Office decided to issue lists of World War I draft dodgers, many of whom turned out not actually to be draft dodgers? Well, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court rules that newspapers that published those lists can be sued for libel, although the War Office cannot.

Indictments are issued for union officials in the Mingo, West Virginia strike, for treason, no less, for opposing the declaration of martial law and raising an army against the state of West VA.

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Thursday, January 13, 2022

Today -100: January 13, 1922: Of complete vindications and exonerations, prime ministers, amnesties, and banning war

The Senate votes 46-41 to allow Truman Handy Newberry (R-Michigan) to keep his seat, despite his conviction for election irregularities, which was reversed by the Supreme Court only because primaries aren’t “real” elections. The Senate does deplore the excessive spending of $195,000 on the primary. Newberry calls this “complete vindication and exoneration” after 3 years and 4 months of persecution.

French Prime Minister Aristide Briand resigns. Raymond Poincaré agrees to form a cabinet. Briand had returned to Paris and defended his policies, such as the alliance with Britain, in the National Assembly, successfully it seems, so the reason for his resignation is rather unclear, something about having a majority but not a strong enough majority behind him.

King George proclaims an amnesty for Irish political prisoners. British “police auxiliaries” and Black and Tans will be leaving Ireland tomorrow.

The New York State League of Women Voters convention calls for war to be outlawed. Among those elected to the board of directors is Eleanor Roosevelt.

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Today -100: January 12, 1922: Of model communities, grand juries, reparations, and bachelor taxes

Henry Ford wants to develop a model community, or something, in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, in the form of a 75-mile long “city” composed of a bunch of towns (Ford believes small communities are better than cities). He’d lease the nitrate plant from the federal government and take over a dam started during the Great War but then pretty much abandoned.

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals frees a convicted murderer because the grand jury that indicted him had two (gasp) women on it, so legal cooties or something.

Germany says it can only afford to pay 520 million gold francs in reparations this year.

Outgoing Virginia Gov. Westmoreland Davis, in his final message to the General Assembly, proposes an amendment to the state Constitution to require politicians to take an oath that they haven’t had a drink since Prohibition and won’t do so in the future. Presumably they can break any other law.

The Montana Supreme Court throws out the state’s tax on unmarried men aged 21+ and the poll tax on all men 21 to 60.

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Tuesday, January 11, 2022

Today -100: January 11, 1922: Of mutual defense, strikes, and naked ballet

Arthur Griffith is elected by the Dáil Éireann as its president, effectively president of Ireland, after a rather contentious session.

Italy is begging to be allowed into the mutual-defense treaty Britain and France are working on.

White South African gold miners go on strike against the mineowners employing too many black miners. In case I don’t get back to this, here’s a little hint: the big strikes in this period by white miners fail while strikes by black miners succeed, because guess who does the actual work.

Naked ballet dancer Celly de Rheydt (sometimes called Rheidt) and her co-dancers go on trial in Berlin for making photographs and a film of said naked dancing. The judge has the film (which I can’t find online) played in the closed court, “frequently stopping the reel for a closer examination”. He then demands a special live performance, just for him, in a theater. “American visitors who have since seen her modified ‘beauty dances’ say they never saw anything like them before. Among these American art experts were pillars of the community, mostly with wives and families across the Atlantic.”

Erich von Stroheim’s Foolish Wives, the first million-dollar movie, premieres. The studio cut about one-third of von S’s version, as was the custom, and are actually still cutting it day by day as it airs. The commentary track by  Richard Koszarski on the DVD/Blu-ray is quite good.

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Monday, January 10, 2022

Today -100: January 10, 1922: Of mutual defense and ignorant Irish people

Britain and France are working on a mutual-defense treaty. Britain’s dominions (Canada, Australia, etc) can join it or not as they prefer.

Éamon de Valera’s resignation takes effect, and then, I suspect rather to his surprise, a motion to re-elect him as president of the Dáil Éireann loses 60-58. Now he’s claiming he hadn’t approved the introduction of the motion to re-elect him, but, it is pointed out, he made four speeches to clarify that position. De Valera admits that the Irish people largely favor the treaty, but it’s only because they just don’t understand it yet.

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Sunday, January 09, 2022

Today -100: January 9, 1922: Gloomy satisfaction is the most British satisfaction

The Morning Post (UK) on the divisions in Ireland over the Anglo-Irish Treaty: “The bewildered British public find a gloomy satisfaction in reflecting that perhaps the Irish will now be contented to shoot one another.”

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Arctic explorer Roald Amundsen arrives in the US, after being stuck in the polar ice for, what, 3 years? And he has “adopted” two Eskimo girls, as was the custom.

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Saturday, January 08, 2022

Today -100: January 8, 1922: Go for him!

The Dáil Éireann ratifies the peace treaty by a vote of 64-57. De Valera insists that it doesn’t count because the republic was established by the Irish people and until they disestablish it, it goes on.

The US, Britain, France, Italy and Japan agree to ban the use of poison gas in warfare, and ask everyone else to join them. There are no sanctions for violating the agreement. Most countries think the Washington Conference has now accomplished everything it’s going to accomplish (sorry about that, China).

There’s an article in the Sunday NYT Magazine about how Ernst Lubitsch directs mob scenes, for example telling a group of German extras presumably playing Egyptians in the forthcoming Pharaoh’s Wife, “The price of bread has gone up. Over there is a rich baker’s shop. Go, go for him!”

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Friday, January 07, 2022

Today -100: January 7, 1922: Of resignations, conferences, poison gas, and light bulbs

Éamon de Valera resigns as president, taking his cabinet along with him whether they like it or not. He intends to stand again on the principles of 1916 (i.e., the republic) and, if re-elected by the Dáil, to throw out the treaty and offer Britain one of his own. He has agreed to postpone his resignation becoming effective until the Treaty is voted on by the Dáil, as long as they do it quickly. He says he’s sick of politics and wants to go back to private life (Spoiler Alert: He won’t. I mean, he really really won’t), and complains that Finance Minister Michael Collins sent men to Cork to get the kidnapped London Times reporter released, when the minister of defence should have done that.

In March, there will be a conference of all European countries, including Germany and Russia, to discuss economic matters set conditions for the recognition of Russia, which naturally include “legal enforcement of the rights of private property” and payment of Tsarist debts.

At the Washington disarmament conference, the US proposes banning poison gas.

Congress is investigating whether General Electric is using its near-monopoly over light bulb sales to price-fix and drive competitors out of business.

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Thursday, January 06, 2022

Today -100: January 6, 1922: Of kidnappings, commerce destroyers, pigeons, and normal marriages

London Times correspondent A.B. Kay, in Dublin covering the Dáil debate, is kidnapped by the IRA while eating lunch. He’s taken to Cork, where he reported last week that most people were in favor of the Treaty, evidently to find out whether he’d interviewed anyone from the army (I assume that means the Irish Republican Army). Michael Collins sends men to Cork to tell the local IRA to release Kay, which they do.

The US, Britain, Japan, France, and Italy agree not to use submarines as “commerce destroyers,” although they can still sink civilian commercial ships after searching them and putting their crew in a place of safety, but can’t sink them without warning. But the agreement faisl to define merchant ships, like whether an armed ship counts. And there’s no punishment for violations.

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Tell me more, front page of the NYT.

“powerful Bavarian circles controlling the bulk of Bavarian public opinion” are attempting to ensure that when, inevitably they think, Austria is absorbed into Germany, it won’t be as a separate state but will be amalgamated with Bavaria, countering the dominance of Prussia. They say Austrian Tylorians are especially eager to join Bavaria, since the both peoples play zithers, yodel, and wear those knee pants and the hats with the feathers.

Worst Episode of The Andy Griffith Show Ever:

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Wednesday, January 05, 2022

Today -100: January 5, 1922: By God, you are trying to prove me nutty!

NYC will install traffic lights controlled centrally by a “traffic dictator.” This will allow lights to be synchronized, easing traffic, and let the city fire thousands of traffic cops.

British theatrical censorship, of which Shaw wrote so often and so hilariously, shows signs of easing slightly: August Strindberg’s Advent will be allowed to depict Jesus. As played by a 14-year-old girl, because why not.

The Senate committee investigating Thomas Watson (D-Georgia)’s claims about executions of US soldiers without courts-martial during the war hears from ex-soldiers who say they witnessed these events. One of whom, asked if he has been ill since returning from France, yells “By God, you are trying to prove me nutty! You are a bunch of fanatics.”

There’s been a suggestion that the problem of the phone company charging for calls that were never made could be solved by putting pay phones into every home, but it turns out no one actually wants pay phones in their homes.

Ernest Vilgrain, the under-secretary of state for supply in the French Food Ministry 1917-20, is arrested for supposedly deliberately injuring himself in August 1914 to get out of the army. His story is that he was shot in the hand by a man in French uniform he recognized as the mayor of a village. Who had an alibi. And at some point all Vilgrain’s military records vanished. The doctor who examined him a couple of times to see if he was fit to return to duty says he complained both times of “doubtful symptoms” of appendicitis, but refused to have an operation. So he’s being charged with desertion in the face of the enemy and voluntary self-mutilation, which theoretically carry the death penalty. He will be acquitted.

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Tuesday, January 04, 2022

Today -100: January 4, 1922: Of body rubbers, the worst divorce, and causing tumults and public disorders

Rep. Thomas Blanton (D-Texas) introduces bills to tear out the Congressional Roman baths and fire the “body rubbers.” Also the House barber. And its restaurant.

The Nevada attorney general is still trying to overturn Mary Pickford’s March 1920 divorce, which he calls “the worst of its kind”.

The Italian government is considering charging Deputy Benito Mussolini with having, in 1919, “formed and armed a band for the purpose of committing crimes against persons, terrifying the public and causing tumults and public disorders.” It will have to get permission from the Chamber of Deputies to charge him. For balance, I guess, it will also try to prosecute a Communist deputy, Garosi, for writing negative things about the army.

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Monday, January 03, 2022

Today -100: January 3, 1922: Of non-republics, shaking hands, and things that are here to stay

The India Office denies that anyone has declared a republic.

The Hardings revive the custom of the White House New Year’s Reception, shaking hands with 6,500 visitors, which is how Covid started, probably. Wilson stopped the practice because ambassadors show up at these things and during the war that would have been just awkward: do you greet the French ambassador first or the German? Plus he didn’t like shaking hands with so many people.

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According to President Friedrich Ebert, and he should know.

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Sunday, January 02, 2022

Today -100: January 2, 1922: Of new yearses, prescriptions, and registers

New York has a very New York New Years, with shootings, stabbings, assaults, robberies, false fire alarms, etc., but “A peculiar thing about the disorder was that many of its makers appeared not to have been drinking.” There are many drinkers, but they’re just having fun.

Chicago doctors issued 2,189,000 prescriptions for liquor in 1921.

Secretary of Labor James Davis wants the Bureau of Naturalization to register all aliens. Aliens should be assured that the purpose is not espionage, but to let the government follow the progress of Americanization, which isn’t creepy at all.

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Saturday, January 01, 2022

Today -100: January 1, 1922: Happy 1922!

Sen. Boise Penrose, the Boss of Pennsylvania Republicans, who had a hell of a name, dies at 61.

Oskari Tokoi, the former prime minister of Finland who fled that country after the Whites won the civil war, is arrested in Massachusetts as an alien anarchist.

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Prof. Charles St John of the Mt. Wilson Observatory says there’s no life on Venus. But that’s just what an undercover spy from Venus would say, isn’t it?

The Tuskegee Institute reports there were 64 lynchings in the US in 1921. 59 of the victims were black.

Lenin is re-elected head of the Russian government by the All-Russian Soviet Congress. Unanimously.

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