Thursday, December 31, 2009

Epidemiology: 1773

This evening he disputed the truth of what is said, as to the people of St. Kilda catching cold whenever strangers come. 'How can there (said he) be a physical effect without a physical cause?' He added, laughing, 'the arrival of a ship full of strangers would kill them; for, if one stranger gives them one cold, two strangers must give them two colds; and so in proportion.' I wondered to hear him ridicule this, as he had praised M'Aulay for putting it in his book: saying, that it was manly in him to tell a fact, however strange, if he himself believed it'. He said, the evidence was not adequate to the improbability of the thing; that if a physician, rather disposed to be incredulous, should go to St. Kilda, and report the fact, then he would begin to look about him.
--From Boswell's Life of Johnson--

People who lived in an isolated community noticed they would catch colds when strangers came to visit. Johnson found the idea ridiculous, and later jokes that they must just not like the visitors they were getting.

It's easy to dismiss ideas when they go against a consensus. Fortunately, in science, people make decisions about truth based on falsifiable experiments and not consensus. That's why today we worry about germs instead of our humors.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Echinacea: 1599

Marg. A maid, and stuffed! there's goodly catching of cold.
Beat. O, God help me! God help me! how long have you professed apprehension?
Marg. Even since you left it. Doth not my wit become me rarely?
Beat. It is not seen enough, you should wear it in your cap. By my troth, I am sick.
Marg. Get you some of this distilled Carduus Benedictus, and lay it to your heart: it is the only thing for a qualm.
Hero. There thou prickest her with a thistle.
--From Much Ado About Nothing--

If you take Echinacea because people say it will fight a cold, why not try Carduus Benedictus? Shakespeare recommends it and he's better than "people", isn't he?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Germ warfare: 1790

When those who labour for their daily bread have the misfortune to catch cold, they cannot afford to lose a day or two, in order to keep themselves warm, and take a little medicine; by which means the disorder is often so aggravated as to confine them for a long time, or even to render them ever after unable to sustain hard labour. But even such of the labouring poor as can afford to take care of themselves, are often too hardy to do it; they affect to despise colds, and as long as they can crawl about, scorn to be confined by what they call a common cold. Hence it is, that colds destroy such numbers of mankind. Like an enemy despised, they gather strength from delay, till at length they become invincible.
--From Domestic Medicine--

Now I understand the phrase: "that which does not kill you, only makes you stronger." It's about colds. If you spread them to others and they die you have less competition.

[Note that the author isn't talking about the disease spreading to uninfected people from infected people who refuse to isolate themselves. That idea isn't mentioned in this medical treatise.]

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Health advice: 1889

...Mutton, pork, ham, and even venison all dance to the same music. Spinach, turnip-tops and other greens were boiled and baptized with grease. It was hog meat, hog meat everywhere; hog meat for breakfast, hog meat for dinner, hog meat for supper, always fried and served up in its own grease. A caustic observer says that the devil of indigestion holds full sway in certain localities because the frying-pan has a firm grip on the affections of the people. He complains of seeing tall, gaunt men, sallow faces like corpses, having perfect satisfaction with the country, a lack of strong high ambition; women, gaunt, haggard, and hopeless looking, all trace of womanly beauty long since gone, every line of their faces speaking of want, privation, neglect of all sanitary laws, and unvaried monotony of unwholesome food; little children, flabby, yellow, pallid, with old men's faces. This is not malaria, he says, but the frying-pan.
--From Good Housekeeping--

To avoid fried foods is something your great-grandmother might have told you. Granted, she might have said it would make you waste away, but then people have been sure their food was killing them for some time.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Recycling: 1888

Old shoes have uses as raw material for certain industries. In many countries abroad and to some extent in the United States, they are collected with care, ripped apart and the leather subjected to treatment that renders it soft and makes it available for sundry purposes. Patterns are stamped upon it, trunks are covered with it, and it is also used for making shoes again. The soles are extensively used in making heels for ladies' and children's shoes. The nails also are saved and made profitable, and the useless scraps are converted into fertilizers.
--From Good Housekeeping--

I guess we couldn't do something like this today because of all the manual labor it would take. The minimum wage and all sorts of regulations would make it impossible. How much recycling isn't done simply because regulations make it too expensive to be profitable?

Politicians say global warming is the biggest issue facing humanity, but they never act like it, except when it comes to raising taxes.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Journalism: 75

Whilst Scipio was thus employed, Caesar with incredible dispatch made his way through thick woods, and a country supposed to be impassable, cut off one part of the enemy and attacked another in the front. Having routed these, he followed up his opportunity and the current of his good fortune, and on the first carried Afranius's camp, and ravaged that of the Numidians, Juba, their king, being glad to save himself by flight; so that in a small part of a single day he made himself master of three camps, and killed fifty thousand of the enemy, with the loss only of fifty of his own men. This is the account some give of that fight. Others say he was not in the action, but that he was too far disordered his senses, when he was already beginning to shake under its influence, withdrew into a neighbouring fort where he reposed himself.
--From Plutarch's Lives--

Caesar either killed 50,000 people in a brilliant battle or was quietly having a seizure, but at least the author admits he doesn't know. That's all it takes to be unbiased, a willingness to admit you may not have perfect knowledge of events. Who is willing to do something like that anymore?

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas presents: 1888

Christmas is coming, bright, jolly Christmas-tide, with its attendant train of work and worry, surprises and delight, and every lady reader of Good Housekeeping is puzzling her brain to think of what to make for Christmas gifts, and it may be taken for granted that each one would be glad of a few hints on what to make and how to make it.
--From Good Housekeeping--

Because who needs to buy Christmas presents when you're competent at making things?

Monday, December 21, 2009

Economy: 1888

False ambition is one prolific source of false economy, and it is truly pitiable to see the woeful ignorance that exists regarding true economy....
People coming up with big schemes, ostensibly to save money, that end up wasting money. What does that remind me of? Pretty much everything now-a-days.
...A lack of a knowledge of true economy keeps many a family in squalor and filth. True economy consists in a рrореr adjustment of time, strength and money. It does not consist solely in saving money; it may consist in spending it.
The difference between economizing and economics is that economizers will talk about both saving and spending money while economists will only talk about spending it. It's no wonder the government hires all sorts of the latter, but not a single one of the former.

--From Good Housekeeping--

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Dance music: 1888

You may not recognize it at first, but if you pay attention, you'll realize you've heard it before.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Microwave ovens: 1888

After a winter of "light housekeeping " over a diminutive lamp stove—the size costing one dollar, or a trifle more or less, and which holds a quart of kerosene— Abbie Fletcher would have no more parted with it than would Aladdin with the lamp that so readily summoned a powerful genie to his aid....
A lamp stove?
...During the winter, the lamp—with one or two utensils such as a small frying pan, double boiler, etc.,—had been sufficient to provide due variety of food for two or three persons, as excellent bakeries were close at hand to supply deficiencies...
It was a tiny stove, powered by a lamp, that you could use to cook small, convenient meals.
...Water may thus be quickly heated at all hours, in case of sickness, or to warm a baby's food ; tea is quickly prepared for any belated traveler who comes after the range fire is out; a flatiron can always be ready for the dressmaker....
You could use it for simple things, like heating water or making tea.
...Being a wise woman, Miss Fletcher did not attempt great reforms in the family routine at first, but let her favorite introduce itself gradually. It was first used to make tea on hot summer nights, and once when bread failed she made biscuit for supper thus: One pint of flour,...
...True, they required half an hour for baking, while fifteen or twenty minutes would have sufficed in a range oven...
They had special recipes with special cooking times. was necessary to turn them à la griddle cake that they might brown well on top...
And browning was an issue.

--From Good Housekeeping--

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Chidren's literature: 1888

Why no scholar familiar with recent advances in the ethnological, philological and sociological sciences had undertaken to prepare a comprehensive account of the origin and achievements of the Aryan race until the task was taken in hand by Mr. Charles Morris, it would be hard to say....

...To the student, Mr. Morris' book is a necessity, and it should be in the library of every cultivated household. There could be no more broadening and stimulating reading for the boys and girls just growing into maturity.
--From Good Housekeeping--

Here's an excerpt from the book (just so there's no misunderstanding):
The one perplexing problem of America is the Negro. Between him and the white the race-antipathy seems too strong for any great degree of amalgamation ever to take place, while the mulatto has the weakness and infertility of a hybrid.
What's especially creepy is how Good Housekeeping gives the book a glowing endorsement without really saying what it's about. They didn't publish an excerpt, just the names of some of the book's chapters. If it wasn't for the use of the word "Aryan" over and over again, I would have thought it a droll work of anthropology.

You have to wonder, if everyone thought these ideas were good enough to compliment, why they wouldn't express them more openly.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Monday, December 14, 2009

Whole Food: 1896

In the fall, when apples are at their best, do not add spices to apples, as their flavor cannot be improved; but towards spring they become somewhat tasteless, and spice is an improvement.
--From The Boston cooking-school cook book--

Over the past week or so, I've made some apple dishes which didn't have spices added to them. One of the first things I noticed about them was that they taste like apples, and it was a revelation. Why do we put so many spices in apple pies? Why can't apples taste like apples?

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Rhode Island Apple Slump: 1888?

This is from the June 8, 1888 edition of Good Housekeeping. It was considered an old-fashioned recipe at the time; something people's grandmothers "used to make."
Take ten or twelve tart apples—none so good as the "Rhode Island Greenings,"
I used McIntosh apples, since they are my favorite apple, they were on sale, and they date back to 1811.

pare, core and quarter them. Add one cupful of water, place in a kettle to stew. As they begin to soften add two cupfuls of molasses.
I used sweet sorghum molasses.
Prepare a crust of one pint of flour— measured before sifting; one teaspoonful of sugar, one-half teaspoonful of salt, one-half teaspoonful of soda, one teaspoonful of cream of tartar.

Mix thoroughly, run through the sieve. Then, add sufficient sweet milk to make a soft dough. Roll out, and cover over the sweetened apple which by this time is boiling.

Steam without lifting the cover for twenty or thirty minutes.

The end result:

It was a hot mess, but good! I also added one of the suggested sauces: equal parts sugar, butter, and boiling milk, which was like gilding the lily. Vanilla ice cream is the only thing that could cut through all that sweetness.
Some use sugar instead of molasses, but if you want the "regulation slump," be sure to use the molasses.
Oddly, the Rhode Island Fruit Growers Assocition provides a recipe for apple slump which uses sugar! And they bake it. Heretics!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

To broil fresh salmon: 1823

This recipe is from A modern system of domestic cookery, published in 1823.
Cut some slices from a fresh salmon, and wipe them clean and dry; then melt some butter smooth and fine, with a little flour and basket salt. Put the pieces of salmon into it, and roll them about, that they may be covered all over with butter.

Make a batter out of flour, salt and butter. Make sure this is cool because you're not supposed to be cooking the salmon at this point.
Then lay them on a nice clean gridiron, and broil them over a clear but slow fire.

Easy enough to duplicate.

While the salmon is broiling, make your sauce thus: take two anchovies, wash, bone, and cut them into small pieces, and cut a leek into three or four long pieces. Set on a sauce-pan with some butter and a little flour, put in the anchovies and leek, with some capers cut small, some pepper and salt, and a little nutmeg; add to them some warm water, and two spoonfuls of vinegar, shaking the sauce-pan till it boils; and then keep it on the simmer till you are ready for it.

You only have about five minutes to do this, so be prepared. Chop, and have everything measured ahead of time. (Also, don't take pictures like I did!)

I used anchovy paste instead of anchovies, none of the ingredients are exotic. It's a lot simpler than it sounds; just making a roux, throwing in all the ingredients, and adding hot water.
When the salmon is done on one side, turn it on the other till it is quite enough; then take the leek out of the sauce, pour it into a dish, and lay the broiled salmon upon it . Garnish with lemons cut in quarters.

The salmon ends up with a fine brown crust on all its cooking surfaces. It contrasts well with the chewy leaks, smooth sauce, and tender meat. The taste was excellent, too. Nothing overpowered anything else and there was some sort of sweet and sour thing going on.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Living simply: 1889

There are so many dainty things for the adornment of modern tables, that come to my notice when I visit my friends on the main-land, from the exquisitely embroidered pieces for the center of the table, the napkins for the tea-pot and cups, for the carver, for the roast potatoes and for corn, for the bread and cake-plates, to the dainty doylies for the finger-bowls, that one becomes bewildered, hardly knowing what to choose.
Many people think formal silverware is confusing, but there used to be all sorts of special plates, bowls and table linens that went along with it.
One can keep house with a few table-cloths...
The magazine has hired a Quaker to give newlyweds some simple folk wisdom on how to set up a household. She'll cut down on the bewildering array of table cloths:
I would have one very handsome table-cloth, with large dinner napkins to match; one breakfast cloth, with napkins to match, which of course will be a smaller size; one lunchcloth, which can be colored, if preferred, with napkins to match; and to these can be added four other table-cloths and two dozen napkins, and two heavy table-cloths for kitchen use, which can be bought by the yard.
There you go, you only really need nine table cloths.

Everyone who reads this should take a moment and wonder if they need all the extra table cloths which I'm sure they have, being overly complicated modern people.

--From Good Housekeeping--

Thursday, December 10, 2009

The birth of an industry: 1889

California raisins compete in quality with the famous Malaga varieties and the large crop of last year has been in in part shipped abroad to supply a deficit in the Malaga product. The culture of raisin-grapes is increasing so rapidly in California that the raisin industry there bids fair to become one of the largest in the world...

...The scarcity of the right kind of labor is the main difficulty with which California growers have had to contend so far.
--From Good Housekeeping--

Industries springing up and growing so fast they can't find enough people to hire. That's what unbridled capitalism can lead to.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Help with housework: 1889

Most women heartily despise a "Betty," by which is usually meant a man who pokes his nose into the details of household affairs, dabbles in the work of the kitchen and irritates the housewife by assuming, regularly or occasionally, functions which she deems exclusive to herself. The dislike of women for this kind of man is in the main wellgrounded. The average man is unfortunately unable to make himself useful in household work, without making himself, also, more or less a nuisance....

...There is no reasonable reason why a man should not be able to broil a steak, boil or bake potatoes, cook an egg, make coffee or tea and prepare other articles of food should an emergency arise to make it desirable (and such emergencies do often arise), and do it too without turning the kitchen and diningroom topsy-turvy in the operation. Some men can and do accomplish such work, and even make biscuits, griddle-cakes and the like.
--From Good Housekeeping--

This article was written by a man, trying to convince women to let men who were able, help them around the house. The big problem for women wasn't that men didn't help with housework, but that they tried to!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Amber Pudding: 1889

This is from the February 2, 1889 edition of Good Housekeeping.

Line a dish with pie-crust and fill with this mixture: Six tart apples stewed (covered) three-fourths of an hour,

It would probably be cheaper to just use apple sauce.
the juice and rind of one lemon, two tablespoonfuls of butter, one-fourth of a cupful of water. Rub through a colander and add one cupful of sugar, the yolks of three beaten eggs.

I skipped adding extra water and put the apples through a blender instead of a colander. Also, I added all the ingredients after the apples were blended.

Bake one-half hour, and cover with meringue, the stiff whites of three eggs, one-half of a cupful of sugar, and brown.
I baked the pie at 375 degrees F and the meringue at 350 degrees F (for 15 minutes). I made the crust without lard, it was just plain old butter, flour, salt and water.

The results were interesting. It kind of tasted like lemon meringue pie, but distinctly different. I don't think the pudding was supposed to set; it only had three egg yolks in it after all. On the plus side, I didn't have to worry about a dry crust; this thing is its own sauce. It tasted good so I might make it again.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Women in the workforce: 1888

In the entrance of women into the occupations of men, the former have done so well in their ventures that the men are complaining about the competition. In 1840 there were but seven occupations outside of domestic industry that were open to women; the number had risen to 287 in 1880 and every year adds to the list. These occupations call for ability to understand the work of machinery and to operate it; and in such an industry as the making of boots and shoes, which employs a large amount of machinery in all departments of the work, more than one-sixth of those employed are women.

In the occupations that call for business knowledge women are pushing everywhere; they are found in insurance, in real estate business, in mercantile establishments, in manufactories, in lawyers' offices, doing portions of the work of management, of marketing goods, of correspondence and of driving bargains.

--From Good housekeeping--

The Victorian Era: a time of changing gender roles and a greater self-awareness among women of their ability to compete with men.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Raised Wheat Muffins: 1888

This is from the May 26, 1888 edition of Good Housekeeping, which called itself a fortnightly journal at the time.
Use one pint of milk, one generous quart of flour, one teaspoonful of salt, two tablespoonfuls of butter, one tablespoonful of sugar, one-fourth of a cupful of yeast, and two eggs.
This is for two dozen muffins (seem more like rolls to me). I cut the recipe in half and used a package of yeast. A package of yeast would probably work just as well for a full recipe, too.
Put the flour, salt and sugar in a deep earthen bowl. Boil the milk and add the butter to it.

Let this mixture stand until only tepid, then add the milk, butter and yeast to the flour and beat well.

Cover the bowl and let it stand in a rather cool part of the kitchen, unless the weather be very cold, in which case it will be necessary to keep the bowl in a warm place. When morning comes the batter will be found to have risen to a light sponge.

Beat the two eggs till very light and add them to this sponge, beating them in well. Half fill well buttered muffin-pans with the batter;

cover, and let the muffins rise in a warm place for one hour. Bake for half an hour in a moderately quick oven.
I let the muffins rise in a warm oven, uncovered (I worried the batter would stick to a towel), for about an hour. I guessed 350 degrees F was a moderately quick oven.

These muffins should not be set to rise before nine o'clock at night. They are nice for luncheon or tea, but when they are intended for luncheon use almost twice as much yeast as you other, wise would. With the quantity of materials stated above two dozen muffins can be made.
They tasted like yeasty biscuits. They were good with butter and jelly. You could also probably mix in herbs or other ingredients when you stir in the eggs just before the final rise.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Our hectic modern world: 1888

Civilization has become so artificial that many know nothing of such life, or regard it as savagery. The vast horizon and overarching sky, silence and space where the voice of God speaks directly to the soul of man, the mysterious processes of nature, terrify them. They miss conventional forms as much as matutinal [morning] warm water, rocking-chairs and the daily paper. Having learned neither to observe nor to think, they are as lonely, awe-struck and unappreciative as a deserted babe under the dome of St. Peter's.
--From Good housekeeping--

Warm water in the morning, newspapers, and rocking-chairs; it's amazing anyone can feel a spiritual connection to anything with all the decadence which surrounds them, especially the rocking-chairs.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Lactose intolerance: 1888

Some complain that they cannot drink milk without being "distressed by it." The most common reason why milk is not well borne is due to the fact that people drink it too quickly. If a glass of it is swallowed hastily it enters into the stomach and then forms in one solid, curdled mass, difficult of digestion. If, on the other hand, the same quantity is sipped, and three minutes at least are occupied in drinking it, then on reaching the stomach it is so divided, that when coagulated, as it must be by the gastric juice, while digestion is going on, instead of being in one hard, condensed mass upon the outside of which only the digestive fluids can act, it is more in the form of a sponge, and in and out of the entire bulk the gastric juice can play freely and perform its function.
--From Good housekeeping--

Can you imagine people watching a clock as they drink a glass of milk, making sue it takes them at least three minutes? And they'd still have intestinal problems.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Prisoner rehabilitation: 1888

Good conduct and good food go hand in hand in the California state prison. The convicts are chiefly employed in quarrying and dressing granite. The new arrivals are supplied with rather poor fare, as are, also, those who are ill-behaved, and they get boiled beans, salt meat, cabbage, mush, bread and coffee without milk. Within smelling distance from this table is another table where fresh beef and mutton, various kinds of vegetables, rice, and many other toothsome articles of food, are served to all convicts who have earned the privilege by diligent and faithful conduct. Those who eat at the better table are allowed considerable liberty. It is said that the inmates of this prison so order their conduct that, within a few months after their entrance they win the better food. They have an incentive to attend strictly to business, to respect all the rules and to observe a constant propriety.
--From Good Housekeeping--

It sounds exactly like a child rearing technique. I bet it worked pretty well.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

I think I have an eating problem: 1888

But when artificial life, with its meager exercise, its seclusion from pure air, its jading cares and conventional excesses, destroys natural appetite, its victims may justly demand that artifice shall supplement, as it has supplanted, nature. The languid appetite must be beguiled and tricked into activity by an appeal to senses other than those of hunger.
--From Good housekeeping--

Oh, the things you read in women's magazines!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Health food: 1888

Home should never be considered entirely furnished in its culinary department unless equipped with an ice-cream freezer, as with it many attractive and nutritious desserts may be prepared with but little trouble and expense. It matters not how heartily one may have dined, a dish of good ice-cream is always acceptable.
Nutrious ice-cream, full of the healthy fat and calories everyone needs.
It is a very common occurrence to hear a physician speak of the injurious effects of ice-cream, and at the same time admit that they result from the coloring and the flavoring extracts used in them.
But watch out for the artificial chemicals "modern" people add to their food.

--From Good housekeeping--

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Perspective: 1863

But if we take the case of a physical catastrophe, over which man has no control at all, such, for instance, as an earthquake, it may be remarked, that one of the severest on record, namely, that which desolated the Neapolitan provinces in 1858, swept away only about 20,000 persons in all the different places which lay in its path, whereas the present war in America, even if it were brought to a speedy issue, will have cost the lives of half a million of the human race.
--From Climate: an inquiry into the causes of its differences...--

We could wipe out billions of people in the blink of an eye, we will be able to for the foreseeable future, and politicians worry about secondary or tertiary problems which may never materialize, or may even turn out to be blessings!

Saturday, November 28, 2009


The beach is a graveyard for things which thought shells would protect them.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Living in a golden age: 1888


These are the days of promise, by old-time seers sung
In the clear light of the morning, when earth and man were young.
This is the shining future which, ancient bards foretold,
Should crown the bright'ning ages with a final age of gold!

Ours are the years of fruitage; we are the heirs of Time.
Yes, the great world hangs a-rip'ning now in its golden prime;
Never will grand achievement shine as it shines to-day,
For the world will return to chaos, and men will return to clay.

This is the time for living; these are the pregnant days;—
What are you doing, brother, for the manhood of the race?
Give what is best within you; labor with labor crown;
Your hand is on the lever, and the world goes up or down!

Mighty the forces of evil; terrible sweep the stars;
Portents are darkly lowering; devils are breaking their bars.
Now is the time, if ever, to stand on the side of right.
To help roll the world out of shadow into the broadening light.

Surely, the right will triumph—grant it, О God, above!
The arc of thy plan is wisdom, as the arc of life is love;
Help us to make the human as God-like as we may,
Ere earth returns to chaos, and men return to clay!

--From Good housekeeping--

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Veggies=Yuck: 1888

I have sat at the Thanksgiving tables of clergymen, lawyers, doctors, generals, merchants, the best of our New England farmers and the far-famed hospitable Quakers. Never, except at a recent dinner in Boston, have I seen a soup as a part of a Thanksgiving dinner, and never except in some magazine bills of fare have I seen a course of fish, or canned vegetables, or a salad, unless celery served without dressing and eaten with the other dishes, may be called a salad.
--From Good housekeeping--

Veggies for Thanksgiving are just another fraud the mainstream media is trying to foist upon us. Don't be a victim. Veggies are filler!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anthropomorphic Global Warming: 1863

It would appear, then, that man is really capable of exercising a certain control over the humidity of the climate, by thinning the forests, or by renewing them in the manner represented; nor can it be doubted, that the same effect will be brought about by drainage, which carries off the redundant waters into their appropriate channels, instead of allowing them to stagnate upon the surface.

And in thus altering the character of a country with respect to its humidity, he may hope to bring about a corresponding change also in its temperature, for the tendency of swamps and stagnant waters is to cool down by their evaporation the surface of the earth, as well as to intercept the rays of the sun by the mists and fogs they engender.

I'll buy that. It even sounds testable, go figure.

--From Climate: an inquiry into the causes of its differences...--

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Our decadent youth: 1904

The boy of the present generation has more practical knowledge of sexual instinct at the age of fifteen than, under proper training, he should be entitled to at the time of his marriage; and the boy of eleven or twelve boastfully announces to his companions the evidences of his approaching virility. Nourished by languishing glances and fanned by more intimate association on the journey to and from school, fed by stolen interviews and openly arranged festivities, stimulated by the prurient gossip of the newspaper and the flash novel, the gallant of twelve years is the libertine of fourteen.
--From Sexology--

Hopefully with the oft predicted death of newspapers and books, this problem can finally be solved.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Book adaptations: 1903

Can't the film industry come up with original ideas? Also, what's with all the special effects?

Friday, November 20, 2009

Inkblots: 10,000 B. C.

So much better than inkblots because you can say you see God and no one thinks you're strange.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Waterboarding: 1632

Then the Tormentor having charged the first passage about my body (making fast by a device each torture as they were multiplied) he went to an earthen Jarre standing full of water, a little beneath my head: from whence carrying a pot full of water; in the bottome whereof, there was an incised hole, which being stopd by his thumb, till it came to my mouth, hee did powre it in my bellie; the measure being a Spanish Sombre, which is an English Potle: The first and second services I gladly receaved, such was the scorching drouth of my tormenting payne, and likewise I had drunke none for three dayes before.

But afterward, at the third charge, perceiving these measures of water to be inflicted upon me as tortures, O strangling tortures! I closed my lips, gaine-standing that eager crudelity.

Whereat the Alcalde inraging, set my teeth asunder with a payre of iron cadges, detayning them there, at every severall turne, both mainely and manually; whereupon my hunger-clungd bellie waxing great, grew Drum-like imbolstered : for it being a suffocating payne, in regard of my head hanging downeward, and the water reingorging it selfe in my throat with a strugling force; it strangled and swallowed up my breath from youling and groaning.

--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

It's only not torture when Americans do it.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Traditional western medicine: 1632

And not far from this Garden, in a sandy Desart, is the place called Mommeis, which are innumerable Caves cut foorth of a Rocke, whereunto the Corpes of the most men in Cayro, are carried and interred. Which dead bodies remayne alwayes unputrified, neyther yeeld they a stinking smell: Whereof experiments are plentiful at this day, by the whole Bodies, Hands, or other parts, which by Merchants are now brought from thence, and doth make the Mummia which Apothecaries use: The colour being very blacke, and the flesh clung unto the bones.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

So, pharmacists would take the mummified copes of humans and use them in medicine. The tiger penises they use in traditional Chinese medicine sound pretty tame in comparison.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Fiji water: 1632

The water of Jordan hath beene transported to Venice in barrels, for that purity it hath; which will reserve unspoiled, both moneths and yeares, and the longer it is kept, it is the more fresher; and to drinke it, is an excellent remedy for the fever quartan or quotidian, being neare in vertue to the Wine of Libanon.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

The modern version isn't allowed to make those sort of health claims, but they're kind of assumed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Drug addiction: 1632

But when I perceived, his extraordinary service and flattery, was onely to have a share of the Tobacco I carried with me, I freely bestowed a pound thereof upon him: Which he and his fellowes tooke as kindly, as though it had beene a pound of gold, for they are excessively adictted to smoake, as Dutch men are to the Pot...
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

I'm sure he doesn't mean the same thing by "pot" as we do, but the Dutch are still known for it.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Istanbul (Not Constantinople): 1632

Constantinople is the Metropolitan of Thracia, so called of Constantine the Emperour, who first enlarged the same : It was called of old Bizantium, but now by the Turkes Stambolda, which signifieth in their language, a large City : It was also called Ethuse, and by the Greekes Stymbolis.
Yup, that made a great song:

--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Pirates: 54 BC

For when he [Alexander the Great] inquired of a pirate by what right he dared to infest the sea with his little brigantine: “By the same right,” he replied, “which is your warrant for conquering the world.”
--From On the Commonwealth--

Speaking truth to power, then and now.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A trip to Candy Island: 1632

Leaving them with many counterfeit thankes, I travelled that day seaven and thirty miles, and at night attained to the unhappy Village of Pickehorno: where I could have neither meate, drinke, lodging, nor any refreshment to my wearied body. These desperate Candiots thronged about me, gazing (as though astonished) to see me both want company, and their Language, and by their cruell lookes, they seemed to be a barbarous and uncivill people: For all these High-landers of Candy, are tyrannicall, blood-thirsty, and deceitfull. The consideration of which and the appearance of my death, signed to me secretly by a pittifull woman, made me to shun their villany in stealing forth from them in the darke night, and privately sought for a secure place of repose in a umbragious Cave by the Sea side, where I lay till morning with a fearefull heart, a crased body, a thirstie stomacke, and a hungry belly.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

Don't you hate it when people go on vacation, then come back and complain about all the small inconveniences they had to put up with, like they were on the worst trip ever?

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Brand extensions: 1632

Infinit citations could I produce, of such like intolerable attributs, besides the dividing of her in a 1000 stiles, The Virgin viz. The Lady of the wines, Lady of the oyles, Lady of the cornes, Lady of the woods, Lady of the mountains, Lady of the meeds, Lady of the sheepe and goats, Lady of the springs, Lady of the fire, Lady of the shepheards; from earthquakes, thunder and fire-flashes, Lady of the Angels which is at Asisi in Ombria, Lady of miracles in divers places, Florence, &c. Lady of life in Bullogna newly found, Lady of all noble Ladies, and Nunnes, Lady of the galley-slaves, Lady of shipwracking seas, Lady of rivers and waters, Lady of young children, and orphanes, Lady of all consolation, Lady of pure Virgins, Lady of distressed widdows, Lady of the sicke, and women with child, &c. Besides the powerfull Lady of Mountserrata in Catalogna, the aforesayd miraculous Lady of Loretta, and the clementious Ile-ruling Lady of Trapundy in Sicilia, &c.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

Lady of dark chocolate, Lady of diet dark chocolate, Lady of dark chocolate with orange, Lady of easy blog posts...

Monday, November 9, 2009

The Exorcist: 1632

Another time, comming backe from my second Travels in Affricke, it was my lucke to stumble in here againe, where I saw an old Capuschin Frier conjuring the Divell out of a possessed woman, who had stayed there, and two men keeping her above eighteene moneths, being twise a day brought before the Chappell. The Frier stood up before her, the two men holding both her armes; and sayd, laying his formost finger on her brow ; In nomine Patris, &c....
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

Just something you see in the street. Happens all the time. No big deal.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The decline of manhood: 1632

O miserable and effeminate age! when vertue by most men is despised, and neglected, and sensuall vice every where exalted : Nay; ruffian Pandors, by hopefull youth and prodigall gallants, are now clothed, Coatched, and richly rewarded; whilst best merits and highest deserts, of rarest spirits, are neither looked to, set by, nor regarded.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

 Every man since 1590: total pussy.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Antonyms: 1632

If I have made use of my poore Talent, the profit redoundeth unto my Country; which being shaddowed under your auspicuous Favour, shall leave a greater stampe to the Worke, and a deeper impression, of future knowledge, to the curious Understanders.
--From The totall discourse of the rare adventures...--

Are you a curious understander, or are you... ? What's the opposite of a curious understander? An incurious knower? An incurious know-nothing?

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


I've read about, but never seen, people who paint only clouds. I'd like to see a room full of canvases painted by old masters, of nothing but bits of sky with clouds in them. Or an entire museum; each room a different time or weather condition. How lovely that would be!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Walmart: 1900

The real, the vital count against the department store is that it viciously demoralizes values in the public mind. It is immoral to sell a book, or a pair of shoes, or a handkerchief, as a bargain, so low that if everything were sold on the same basis you would go into bankruptcy. Whatever reductions in prices come from lucky purchasing, from better system, from clever advertising, is legitimate and proper. But every article ought to bear its fair share of all fixed expenditures, and carry a- margin of profit as well.
--From American druggist and pharmaceutical record--

 Department stores are shells of their former greatness, but small stores are still around complaining about the next new retail trend that is going to put them out of business.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Ice habit: 1900

Following the installation of the fountain came hot weather, and on one day he sold one thousand glasses of various flavors; on other days, six or seven hundred glasses; and even during recent cooler weather there has been a profitable business....

Doctors called and denounced the use of soda water, fearing harmful effects from the dangerous ice-cold liquid, and then took it themselves, just as they do at home. The success of this fountain is another indication of the growth of the ice habit in England. Colmore Row is a great thoroughfare, but is not as likely a place for a soda water fountain as is crowded New Street. It seems that an American soda fountain syndicate has taken up the matter of the introduction of soda water fountains in England, and is determined to, and will, succeed.
--From American druggist and pharmaceutical record--

So, if you went to your drug dealer to purchase ice for your habit, you were literally going to your drug dealer to purchase ice for your habit.

And don't even get me started on the powerful syndicate pushing ice on the dwellers of urban areas.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Community organizer: 1920

Dorothy was, perhaps, even more ambitious than most girls her age, and she was determined not to let her mind "get into a rut," which, she had noticed, feminine minds in Crescentville were somewhat likely to do. So she had decided to join the Alpha Club, which was the woman's study club of the town, keep up her music, take French lessons, keep posted in current events, and map out a course of good solid reading with the help of Miss Brooks, the librarian.
Sounds like a plan.
But she reckoned without Florence Mclntyre and other distracting influences of a stay-at-home existence. It wasn't so easy to be purposeful as it seemed.
Oh no!
"...I have to remember that this is a library, not a recreation center. But, goodness knows, I'd be glad enough if there were such a thing in Crescentville, to keep the young people off the streets."

"A recreation center?" asked Dorothy. "I never heard of such a thing. Just what is it?"

"A place where people, young and old, meet to have a good time. There is usually a building with a gymnasium, a theater and lecture room, and other meetingrooms and play-rooms, a bowling alley, perhaps, and athletic grounds outside, and usually a place where people can bring their lunches and have picnics."
Yes, Dorothy escapes the influence of Florence Mclntyre and becomes a community organizer.
Dorothy, meanwhile, for the first time since she had left school, felt that she was doing something that amounted to something.
Isn't that nice? But there's more!
Without a dissenting voice Dorothy was chosen as the girls' playleader, at a small salary, to be paid out of the Recreation Fund that was being raised.
She uses her position to get a cushy job!
Dorothy had met the young man in question at a church supper, and thought he seemed a very nice boy. He had been two years at an agricultural college, where he had been captain of the football team, but after he had served in the war, financial circumstances had compelled his coming to Crescentville to seek a position, and the dry-goods shop was the first thing that offered. No, he didn't like it especially; he was looking around for some kind of an outdoor job, but he hadn't found anything yet. Dorothy mentioned him to the committee as a possibility, and they said they would inquire.
And one for a boy she fancies!
Then Dorothy took several trips to Milltown, the nearest large town, where there were several flourishing community activities, and received help in many ways from the leaders there.
Also she used her position to take lots of trips.
She had filled out considerably and even grown an inch or two, which fact was probably due to the gym work and outdoor sports she had taken up as a part of her leadership activities.
And get a free gym membership.

--From The hall with doors--

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Playgirl: 1913

"I am dying by inches thinking and dreaming about her, she's a playgirl, I never thought I could win her, I only wanted to stop dreaming about her to give my soul some peace."

"That's the way I like to hear a boy talk," said the witch doctor, his clear, limestone-colored eyes twinkling sympathetically.
--From Susquehanna legends--

I feel the same way about the song:

Friday, October 30, 2009


The rich don't know how to be rich anymore. There's no real reason to envy them, except maybe out of habit. I mean, what do they have today, that an ordinary person couldn't purchase a pretty good substitute for? Or make themselves? No one's going to be touring their houses in a hundred years. They're probably not even made out of materials that would last that long.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Pirating: 1898

Every reader of The Black Cat and every publisher knows that its stories are copyrighted, and that each number gives due notice of such legal protection. No better evidence of the superior excellence of The Black Cat stories is needed than the fact that the property of no other periodical has been so widely pirated. In their anxiety to publish the cleverest short stories of the day, a number of the foremost papers have repeatedly been led to disregard the Eighth Commandment.
--From The Black Cat--

Is the pirating of intellectual property a major problem of the internet age, or is it only a problem that is easier to see with the use of the internet (because you can google your own copyrighted material)?

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Health Claims: 1898

You know things are bad when companies are advertising how nonpoisonous their products are.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Lose weight fast!: 1898

--From The Black Cat--

See how women have advanced? In the past something like this would be in the back of a magazine. Now it's on the front cover with an incredibly thin celebrity.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Creepy crawly things: 1862

--From The Intellectual Observer--

They're beautiful! I suppose something like this image is the dream of all insect collections.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Green revolution: 1769

The improvements which have been made in the art of Gardening, within fifty years past, are very great; so that we may without presumption affirm, that every part of this art is in as great perfection at this time in England, as in any part of Europe. Our markets being better supplied with all sorts of esculent plants through the whole year, than those of any other country; and these in their several seasons are afforded at so cheap rates, that they are become a great part of the food of the poor: to which we may in part attribute the abatement of those violent scorbutic disorders, which formerly raged so much in this country.
--From The gardeners kalendar--

It's kind of weird to think of gardening as a major survival skill; it's probably a sign of the decadence of our society that when we hear the word "gardening" we think of flowers. A garden must have been an amazing place when food was hard to come by.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Home Sweet Home

We tend to think of "home" as a fixed place, but I think of it as some sort of emotional excretion. It just kind of collects when we stay in one place; like we shed "home" particles wherever we happen to be.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Politicians: 1789

Mr. Sherman conceived it difficult to modify the clause and make it better. It is well known that those who are religiously scrupulous of bearing arms, are equally scrupulous of getting substitutes or paying an equivalent. Many of them would rather die than do either one or the other; but he did not see an absolute necessity for a clause of this kind. We do not live under an arbitrary Government, said he, and the States, respectively, will have the government of the militia, unless when called into actual service; besides, it would not do to alter it so as to exclude the whole of any sect, because there are men amongst the Quakers who will turn out, notwithstanding the religious principles of the society, and defend the cause of their country. Certainly it will be improper to prevent the exercise of such favorable dispositions, at least whilst it is the practice of nations to determine their contests by the slaughter of their citizens and subjects.
 --From Annals of Congress, House of Representatives, 1st Congress, 1st Session--

The debate revolved around people who refuse to fight because of religious feelings. Should they expressly be allowed to refuse to serve in the military? The amount of wisdom expressed by members of Congress in response was shocking. Almost makes you believe in government.

I know I'd gladly let these people control everything. Of course, they'd be wise enough to refuse the task and probably berate me for bringing it up.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Health advice: 1734

The tender Patients, by bathing in a Tub of cold Water; to which may be added a Pail of boiling Water; a general Method of so much bleeding and purging must be used before the cold bathing, as the Disease requires; and if you dip but twice in a Bathing, 'tis as much as the old Writers required...
--From The Gentleman's magazine--

They were obsessed with bleeding and cold baths, we're obsessed with food. And we clearly think too much about it, otherwise people wouldn't bother to report on it so much in the popular press (with so little information to back their stories up).

I mean, I remember when margarine was health food! Is it health food again? I have no idea.

Unless it's literally poison, I don't want to hear about it. That's my new policy.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Blighted neighborhoods: 1734

Our Coffee-houses and Theatres supply us with Examples enough of what is not Good Breeding...
--From The Gentleman's magazine--

What base places coffee-houses and the theater must have been.

Will cultured people in the future impress others with their knowledge of hip-hop music and force their children to watch pornography on PBS?

Monday, October 19, 2009

Space aliens: 1698

We know that Mercury is three times nearer that vast body of Light than we are. Whence it follows that they see him three times bigger, and feel him nine times hotter than we do. Such a degree of Heat would be intolerable to us, and set afire all our dry’d Herbs, our Hay and Straw that we use. And yet I warrant the Animals there, are made of such a temper, as to be but moderately warm, and the Plants such as to be able to endure the Heat. The Inhabitants of Mercury, it’s likely, have the same opinion of us that we have of Saturn, that we must be intolerably cold, and have little or no Light, we are so far from the Sun. There’s reason to doubt, whether the Mercurians, tho they live so much nearer the Sun, the Fountain of Life and Vigour, are much more airy and ingenious than we.
--From Cosmotheoros--

This is nothing next to his reasoning that aliens must have hands so they can write down their astronomical observations. But that's metaphysics for you.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

The Universe: 1715

--From Astro-theology--

Forget about the Earth revolving around the sun. The big realization was that stars were like the sun and perhaps even had planets of their own, which is why this diagram shows the distant stars as having planets orbiting around them.

In our solar system the planets were all thought to likely be habitable and the consensus was that the Moon was covered in oceans. But even though there was a consensus, people who claimed the Moon had observable liquid water were still willing to listen to dissenters. Before telling his personal account of seeing lunar oceans, the author of this book quotes Huygens:
In the Moon I find no likeness of Seas although Kepler and most others are of a different opinion. For those vast plane regions, which are much darker than the Mountainous parts, and are commonly taken for Seas, and bear the names of Oceans; in those very places viewed with a long Telescope, I find little round Cavities, with shadows falling within them; which cannot agree with the Surface of the Sea...
If your theories are strong, they can withstand the criticism of others.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Perspective: 1715

The prodigious and inconceivable Rapidity assigned by the Ptolemaicks to the Heavens, is by the Copernican Scheme taken off, and a far more easy and tolerable Motion substituted in its room. For is it not a far more easy Motion for the Earth to revolve round its own Axis in 24 hours, than for so great a number of far more massy, and far distant Globes, to revolve round the Earth in the same space of time? If the Maintainers of the Ptolemaick Systeme do object against the Motion of the Earth, that it would make us dizzy and shatter our Globe to pieces, what a precipitant, how terrible a Rapidity must that of the Heavens be? What a Velocity must the Sun have to run its course, at the distance 21 or 22 Semidiameters of the Earth? What a Velocity must that of the Fixt Stars...
--From Astro-theology--

Does the Earth spin in the universe or is the Earth fixed and the universe spin around us?

If we were fixed then the star Betelgeuse, which is about 640 light years away, would travel 3.80 X 10^16 km every day at a speed of 1468757.4 times that of light. Since nothing can travel faster than the speed of light (other than a rumor) the planet Earth must rotate.

So, if you think the universe revolves around you, hopefully this demonstration of math and physics will convince you of the error of you ways.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Spin Doctor: 1776

When Columbus, upon his return from his first voyage, was introduced with a sort of triumphal honours to the sovereigns of Castile and Arragon, the principal productions of the countries which he had discovered were carried in solemn procession before him. The only valuable part of them consisted in some little fillets, bracelets, and other ornaments of gold, and in some bales of cotton. The rest were mere objects of vulgar wonder and curiosity in some reeds of an extraordinary size, some birds of a very beautiful plumage, and some stuffed skins of the huge alligator and manati ; all of which were preceded by six or seven of the wretched natives, whose singular colour and appearance added greatly to the novelty of the show.

In consequence of the representations of Columbus, the council of Castile determined to take possession of the countries of which the inhabitants were plainly incapable of defending themselves. The pious purpose of converting them to Christianity sanctified the injustice of the project. But the hope of finding treasures of gold there was the sole motive which prompted to undertake it; and to give this motive the greater weight, it was proposed by Columbus, that the half of all the gold and silver that should be found there, should belong to the crown. This proposal was approved of by the council.
--From An Inquiry into the nature and causes of the wealth of nations--

I love Adam Smith, he's not swooning in hero worship over Columbus like some people. Instead, he spends a couple of pages pointing out Columbus's failings with dry British humor. But who was the spin doctor, Columbus or Smith? Maybe they both were. Maybe everyone is who tries to interpret things.

Make me laugh and I wont complain.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Peaceniks: 1787

It has long been the opinion of the Author, that such a state of peace and happiness as is foretold in scripture and commonly called the millennial period, may be rationally expected to be introduced without a miracle....

The spirit of commerce is happily calculated by the Author of wisdom to open an amicable intercourse between all countries, to soften the horrors of war, to enlarge the field of science and speculation, and to assimilate the manners, feelings and languages of all nations. This leading principle, in its remoter consequences, will produce a thousand advantages in favour of government and legislation, give Patriotism the air of Philanthropy, induce all men to regard each other as brethren and friends, eradicate all kinds of literary, religious and political superstition, prepare the minds of all mankind for the rational reception of moral and religious truth...
--From The vision of Columbus: a poem in nine books--

 So if you were into world peace you'd go into business. Think of all the hippies who felt bad about "selling out"!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Executive compensation: 1744

...whatever Inducements Columbus had for his attempting these Discoveries Westward, he proposed the finding out a Way to the East-Indies by the Western Ocean, to King John of Portugal; and gave such substantial Reasons for the Attempt, that the King seemed to think the Thing very probable, though he did not like the Terms this Adventurer proposed. At several times he made Application to the Genoese, and Henry VII. King of England...

...applied himself to Ferdinand and Isabella, King and Queen of Castile and Arragon, who, in the Year 1492. provided him with Money, and entrusted him with the equipping and fitting out three small Ships for the Expedition: He also obtained a Grant from their Majesties to be Admiral of the Western Seas, that all Civil Employments, as well as Governments, in the Continent or World to be discovered, should be wholly at his Disposal; and, besides the Revenues of the Posts of Admiral and Viceroy, he should enjoy a tenth of all the Profits arising by future Conquests in those yet unknown Lands.
--From A system of geography--

Ten percent of all future profits; that sounds insane. But you know the British and Portuguese probably kicked themselves for not agreeing to pay it.

We often hear people complaining about how much someone else is paid, but there are people who are worth the price and can deliver; if you don't pay them what they ask, the people who do will eat your lunch.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Contacting aliens: 1696 is reasonable to believe, that the Winds and Currents brought from America those several things towards the Azores and Porto Santo, which are recorded by Fernan Colon, in the Life of his Father Christopher... be some of the Reasons moved the said Christopher Columbus to attempt the Discovery of the W. Indies. The things mentioned by them, are 1. a piece of Wood ingeniously wrought, but not with Iron,... ...2dly, Another piece of Wood like the other... ...3dly, very large Canes, much beyond any growing in those Parts... ...and that on another of those Islands... ...was cast on Shore two Mens Bodies with larger Faces, and different Aspects from Christians; and that at Capo della Verga were once seen two Canoas or Barks with Cabins, which were believed to be forced to Sea, when accidentally they had been going from some one Island to another.
--From Philosophical Transactions--

We know what happened to the people in the Americas after they unintentionally made Europeans aware of their presence. Why do we allow people to purposefully try to send messages to aliens?

Monday, October 12, 2009

Columbus: 1620

And therefore it is fit that I publish and set forth those conjectures of mine which make hope in this matter reasonable ; just as Columbus did, before that wonderful voyage of his across the Atlantic, when he gave the reasons for his conviction that new lands and continents might be discovered besides those which were known before; which reasons, though rejected at first, were afterwards made good by experience, and were the causes and beginnings of great events.
--From The New Organum--

Writing down your theories, conducting an experiment based on those theories, and then learning from your experiences. Sounds like a scientist to me.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Homoeroticism: circa 900

His face shone like the moon at its full and he seemed as if he had just come from the bath, with his rosy cheeks and flower-white forehead and mole like a grain of ambergris, even as says the poet:

Within one mansion of the sky the sun and moon combine; With all fair fortune and delight of goodliness they shine. Their beauty stirs all those that see to passion and to love: Good luck to them, for that they move to ravishment divine! In grace and beauty they increase and aye more perfect grow: All souls yearn out to them for love, all hearts to them incline. Blessed be God, whose creatures are so full of wonderment! Whate'er He wills He fashions forth, even as He doth design.

--From The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night--

That was one man describing another man. It sounds homoerotic, but it was just how straight men acted. It's kind of like what Kenneth Anger (my obsession this weekend) was able to capture in Scorpio Rising:

Anger says in the director's commentary that he was surprised at what the guys in the motorcycle club he was filming did and that they made it seem more queer than even he thought it was.

Another similarity, in both the poem above and the movie, God makes an appearance.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Throwing someone under the bus: circa 900

If through a servant misfortune befall thee, Spare not to save thine own
life at his cost. Servants in plenty thou'lt find to replace him, Life for life never, once
it is lost.
--From The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night--

It was what servants were for. In some circles today, this is wisdom.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Women in the media: circa 900

...I am head of my family and mistress over men and slaves and servants. I have here a ship laden with merchandise...
An independent business woman.
"O sister, what wilt thou do with this handsome young man?" "I purpose to make him my husband," answered I; and I turned to the prince and said, "O my lord, I have that to propose to thee, in which I will not have thee cross me: and it is that, when we reach Baghdad, I will give myself to thee as a handmaid in the way of marriage, and thou shalt be my husband and I thy wife."
And not afraid to ask a man to marry her either.

--From The Book of the Thousand Nights and One Night--