The website Atlas Obscura always has fascinating things. Recently, they posted photos of abandoned amusement parks around the world. For example, there was this one near Chernobyl which was open only one day. Talk about bad timing.
Here's a rollercoaster from an abandoned amusement park in Japan:
Here's an amusement park that bit the dust with Katrina:
Anyone remember Holy Land USA?
Or this "Wonderland", in China:
It was originally organized as a peace movement, to bring war widows together from both sides of the Civil War. Essentially, it was the Code Pink of the 19th Century.
Before the brunches, before the gifts and greeting cards, Mother's Day—today honored with perhaps the ultimate Internet accolade, a Google doodle—was a time for mourning women to remember fallen soldiers and work for peace.
When the holiday went commercial, its greatest champion gave everything to fight it, dying penniless and broken in a sanitarium. Of course, Mother's Day marched on without her and is today celebrated, in various forms, on a global scale.
As early as the 1850s, West Virginia women's organizer Ann Reeves Jarvis held Mother's Day work clubs to improve sanitary conditions and try to lower infant mortality by fighting disease and curbing contaminated milk, according to historian Katharine Antolini of West Virginia Wesleyan College.
The groups also tended wounded soldiers of both sides during the U.S. Civil Warfrom 1861 to 1865, she added.
In the postwar years Jarvis and other women organized Mother's Friendship Day picnics and other events as pacifist events uniting former foes. Julia Ward Howe, for one—best known as the composer of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic"—issued a widely read "Mother's Day Proclamation" in 1870, calling for women to take an active political role in promoting peace.
Around the same time, Jarvis had initiated a Mothers' Friendship Day for Union and Confederate loyalists across her state. But it was her daughter Anna who was most responsible for what we call Mother's Day—and who would spend most of her later life fighting what it had become.
Moved by the 1905 death of her own mother, Anna Jarvis, who never married or had children of her own, was the driving force behind the first Mother's Day observances in 1908.
On May 10 of that year, families gathered at events in Jarvis's hometown of Grafton, West Virginia—at a church now renamed the International Mother's Day Shrine—as well as in Philadelphia, where Jarvis lived at the time, and in several other cities.
Largely through Jarvis's efforts, Mother's Day was observed in a growing number of cities and states until U.S. President Woodrow Wilson officially set aside the second Sunday in May in 1914.
"For Jarvis it was a day where you'd go home to spend time with your mother and thank her for all that she did," said West Virginia Wesleyan's Antolini, who wrote"Memorializing Motherhood: Anna Jarvis and the Defense of Her Mother's Day"as her Ph.D. dissertation.
"It wasn't to celebrate all mothers. It was to celebrate the best mother you've ever known—your mother—as a son or a daughter." That's why Jarvis stressed the singular "Mother's Day," rather than the plural "Mothers' Day," Antolini explained.
But Jarvis's success soon turned to failure—at least in her own eyes.
Anna Jarvis's idea of an intimate Mother's Day quickly became a commercial gold mine centering on the buying and giving of flowers, candies, and greeting cards—a development which deeply disturbed Jarvis. She set about dedicating herself and her sizable inheritance to returning Mother's Day to its reverent roots.
Jarvis incorporated herself as the Mother's Day International Association and tried to retain some control of the holiday. She organized boycotts, threatened lawsuits, and even attacked First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt for using Mother's Day to raise funds for charities.
"In 1923 she crashed a convention of confectioners in Philadelphia," Antolini said.
A similar protest followed two years later. "The American War Mothers, which still exists, used Mother's Day for fundraising and sold carnations every year," Antolini said. "Anna resented that, so she crashed their 1925 convention in Philadelphia and was actually arrested for disturbing the peace."
Jarvis's fervent attempts to reform Mother's Day continued until at least the early 1940s. In 1948 she died at 84 in Philadelphia's Marshall Square Sanitarium.
"This woman, who died penniless, in a sanitarium in a state of dementia, was a woman who could have profited from Mother's Day if she wanted to," Antolini said.
"But she railed against those who did, and it cost her everything, financially and physically."
Today, of course, Mother's Day continues to roll on as an engine of consumerism. And Anna Jarvis, one might imagine, continues rolling in her grave.
In the U.S. alone, Mother's Day 2011 spending will reach $16.3 billion—with the average adult spending more than $140 dollars on gifts, the National Retail Federation estimates.
Two-thirds of Americans celebrating Mother's Day will treat their mothers to flowers, the federation reports, and more than 30 percent of the surveyed celebrants plan to give their mothers gifts of jewelry.
The U.S. National Restaurant Association reports that Mother's Day is the year's most popular holiday for dining out. Some 75 million U.S. adults are expected to do just that today, the association says.
As for Mother's Day being a Hallmark holiday, there's no denying it, strictly speaking.
Hallmark Cards itself, which sold its first Mother's Day cards in the early 1920s, reports that Mother's Day is the number three holiday for card exchange in the United States, behind Christmas and Valentine's Day—another apparent affront to the mother of Mother's Day.
"A printed card means nothing except that you are too lazy to write to the woman who has done more for you than anyone in the world," Jarvis once said, according to the book Women Who Made a Difference.
"And candy! You take a box to Mother—and then eat most of it yourself. A pretty sentiment."
Mother's Day Gone Global
The holiday Anna Jarvis launched has spread around much of the world, though it's celebrated with varying enthusiasm, in various ways, and on various days—though more often than not on the second Sunday in May.
In much of the Arab world, Mother's Day is on March 21, which happens to loosely coincide with the start of spring. In Panama the day is celebrated on December 8, when the Catholic Church honors another famous mother, the Virgin Mary. In Thailand mothers are honored on August 12, the birthday of Queen Sirikit, who has reigned since 1956 and is considered by many to be a mother to all Thais.
Britain's centuries-old Mothering Sunday, the fourth Sunday of the Christian period of Lent, began as a spring Sunday designated for people to visit their area's main cathedral, or mother church, rather than their local parish.
Mothering Sunday church travel led to family reunions, which in turn led to Britain's version of Mother's Day.
I can barely remember going to Jamestown on vacation with my family as a child, but I'm sure no one mentioned cannibalism.
Archaeologists excavating a trash pit at the Jamestown colony site in Virginia have found the first physical evidence of cannibalism among the desperate population, corroborating written accounts left behind by witnesses. Cut marks on the skull and skeleton of a 14-year-old girl show that her flesh and brain were removed, presumably to be eaten by the starving colonists during the harsh winter of 1609.
The remains were excavated by archaeologists led by William Kelso ofPreservation Virginia, a private nonprofit group, and analyzed by Douglas Owsley, a physical anthropologist at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington. The skull bears tentative cuts to the forehead, followed by four strikes to the back of the head, one of which split the skull open, according to an article in Smithsonian magazine, where the find was reported Wednesday.
It is unclear how the girl died, but she was almost certainly dead and buried before her remains were butchered. According to a letter written in 1625 by George Percy, president of Jamestown during the starvation period, the famine was so intense “thatt notheinge was Spared to mainteyne Lyfe and to doe those things which seame incredible, as to digge upp deade corpes outt of graves and to eate them.” Five other historical accounts refer to cannibalism during the Jamestown siege.
The girl’s remains were discovered last summer in a refuse dump containing horse and dog bones. From the state of her molars, she is judged to have been 14 years old. Isotopes in her bones indicate that she had eaten a high-protein diet, so she was probably not a maidservant but the daughter of a gentleman.
Dr. Owsley said in an interview that he could tell she was English because of his familiarity with English skeletal remains of the 17th century and from scientific tests. The ratio of oxygen isotopes in her bones indicated that she had grown up in the southern coastal regions of England, Dr. Owsley said, and the carbon isotopes pointed to a diet that included English rye and barley.
James Horn, a historian with the Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, said at a news conference on Wednesday that the young woman probably had arrived on one of the six surviving ships from a supply fleet that sailed from Plymouth, England, in early June of 1609. A week short of its destination, the fleet was scattered by a hurricane. The flagship, named the Sea Venture, which carried the expedition’s leaders, was driven onto reefs at Bermuda, an event that became the inspiration for Shakespeare’s play “The Tempest,” Dr. Horn said.
In mid-August, six of the ships eventually reached Jamestown. But their arrival, with little food and many extra mouths, did not bring relief or comfort. The settlers’ insistent demands for food antagonized the Powhatan Indians, who at first had welcomed and provisioned them. In October or early November, with about 300 colonists crowded into the narrow confines of the James fort, the Powhatans launched a full-scale attack and siege, cutting off any hope of outside relief.
People began eating leather from their clothes and boots and killing their horses, cats and dogs. Those who ventured into the woods in search of roots were killed by Indians. “Only in the most desperate of circumstances would the English have turned to cannibalism,” Dr. Horn said.
The colony was saved in May 1610 by the arrival of the settlers who had been marooned in Bermuda. They found the 60 survivors as thin as skeletons. In June 1610, another relief fleet arrived, commanded by Lord De La Warr, who would later lend his name to the state of Delaware. De La Warr’s men swept the grisly remains of the siege — dog and horse bones and those of at least one person — into the refuse pile that Dr. Kelso and his colleagues have just begun to excavate.
The Jamestown site was long thought to have eroded into the James River but was rediscovered by Dr. Kelso and other archaeologists, who began excavations in 1994. The site was selected for colonization in 1607 by the Virginia Company of London because no Indians lived there, but — as it turned out — the reason the land was uninhabited was that it was swampy and unsuitable for agriculture.
Bernard Bailyn, a Harvard historian and an expert on colonial history, said the new report of cannibalism was very interesting. “It’s part of the disaster the company faced and the terrible problems they had at the beginning,” Dr. Bailyn said. As to the reasons the Virginia Company failed to provide adequate support to its colony, he said, “Whose fault it was is very difficult to say.”
I wrote this a few years ago. I republish it every once in awhile in the vain hope that someone stumbles across it and the lightbulb comes on for him.
I noted the difference in the definition of fascism between the 1975 and 1993.
I asked why the concept of fascism would shed the "dictatorship of the extreme right" and "the merging of state and business leadership" over those years. Identifying the "extreme right" and "business" are gone and replaced with... bullshit. In our dictionaries. Even our dictionaries are now bullshit.
A book came out about a year back, Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years by David Talbot, former editor-in-chief of Salon.com. For the most part I thought it was pretty good. It gave a glimpse into what the Kennedys were thinking during those days when the Kennedy brothers ran the country and were then both assassinated.
The one chapter that struck me as way out of line, though, was the one about the Jim Garrison investigation. Here was a DA investigating the murder of his brother and Robert Kennedy was beyond hostile to him. Much of the chapter relies on the recollections of Walter Sheridan, who a few years earlier had helped Bobby's investigation of Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters and the mob. It was Sheridan who kept feeding Bobby negative things about Garrison and his investigation. It was Sheridan who said that Garrison was steering clear of Mafia connections and essentially running a big hoax. Sheridan actually got time on television to run an unprecedented hour-long attack on Garrison. Something was wrong about this.
A few weeks later I received a comment from Lisa Pease on that particular piece I'd written. Pease was one of the editors of a great collection of essays, THE ASSASSINATIONS. The book covers the assassinations of JFK, Malcolm X, MLK and RFK. They were all thoughtful essays, many of them based in part on formerly classified documents that were released in the 1990s. I recommend it to anyone interested in that particular era of our history.
Here's what Pease wrote to me on the Talbot book:
Talbot's book is excellent, with a couple of notable exceptions, one being the Garrison chapter, which literally made me sick to my stomach. I consider Talbot a friend, which makes it all the harder to say that.
When he first started writing his book, he was pretty convinced that the Kennedys had ordered Castro killed. I argued hard with him about that and insisted he look into the role of Sam Halpern in spreading that awful disinformation. Talbot really looked into it, and saw the truth of what I was saying. But I didn't press as hard on Sheridan, and how Sheridan's first loyalty was not to Bobby, but to the CIA. I wish now I had. But even so, Talbot's contribution to the true history of the Kennedy's is immense, and despite the upset stomach, I'm still very grateful that he wrote (most of) what he did.
So, ultimately, Sheridan was a babysitter for the Agency. He watched Bobby, fed him enough misinformation to steer him away from Garrison and his investigation. I'd bet that during the Hoffa wars Sheridan probably had been steering Kennedy away from those parts of organized crime which had been integrated with our national security state. Bobby Kennedy, who privately vowed to get to the bottom of his brother's murder, never hooked up with the best lead in the case. The rest is, well, history.
I dug into my stacks and pulled out the October 1967 issue of Playboy. (Yes, I used to read Playboy for the articles.) That issue has a truly remarkable interview with Jim Garrison, given by him during the time he was investigating President Kennedy's murder. Did Garrison concentrate on the CIA to the detriment of the Mafia involvement? Carlos Marcello didn't write the Warren Report.
As interesting as Garrison's interview was, with the ins and outs of his ongoing investigation, the end of it actually gave the reader a true measure of the man. The interviewer asked this:
"Where would you place yourself on the political spectrum--right, left or center?"
This is what Garrison said. In 1967. My bold:
That's a question I've asked myself frequently, especially since this investigation started and I found myself in an incongruous and disillusioning battle with agencies of my own Government. I can't just sit down and add up my political beliefs like a mathematical sum, but I think, in balance, I'd turn up somewhere around the middle. Over the years, I guess I've developed a somewhat conservative attitude--in the traditional libertarian sense of conservatism, as opposed to the thumbscrews-and-rack conservatism of the paramilitary right--particularly in regard to the importance of the individual as opposed to the state and the individual's own responsibilities to humanity. I don't think I've ever tried to formulate this into a coherent political philosophy, but at the root of my concern is the conviction that a human being is not a digit; he's not a digit in regard to the state and he's not a digit in the sense that he can ignore his fellow men and his obligations to society.
I was with the artillery supporting the division that took Dachau. I arrived there the day after it was taken, when bulldozers were making pyramids of human bodies outside the camp. What I saw there haunted me ever since. Because the law is my profession, I've always wondered about the judges throughout Germany who sentenced men to jail for picking pockets when their own government was jerking gold from the teeth of men murdered in gas chambers.
I'm concerned about all of this because it isn't a German phenomenon. It can happen here, because there has been no change and there has been no progress and there has been no increase of understanding on the part of men for their fellow man. What worries me deeply, and I have seen it exemplified in this case, is that we in America are in great danger of slowly evolving into a proto-fascist state. It will be a different kind of fascist state from the one the Germans evolved; theirs grew out of depression and promised bread and work, while ours, curiously enough, seems to be emerging from prosperity. But in the final analysis, it's based on power and on the inability to put human goals and human conscience above the dictates of the state.
Its origins can be traced in the tremendous war machine we've built since 1945, the "military-industrial complex" that Eisenhower vainly warned us about, which now dominates every aspect of our life. The power of the states and Congress has gradually been abandoned to the Executive Department, because of war conditions, and we've seen the creation of an arrogant, swollen bureaucratic complex totally unfettered by the checks and balances of the Constitution. In a very real and terrifying sense, our Government is the CIA and the Pentagon, with Congress reduced to a debating society.
Of course, you can't spot this trend to fascism by casually looking around. You can't look for such familiar signs as the swastika, because they won't be there. We won't build Dachaus and Auschwitzes; the clever manipulation of the mass media is creating a concentration camp of the mind that promises to be far more effective in keeping the populace in line. We're not going to wake up one morning and suddenly find ourselves in gray uniforms goose-stepping off to work.
But this isn't the test. The test is: What happens to the individual who dissents? In Nazi Germany, he was physically destroyed; here, the process is more subtle, but the end results can be the same. I've learned enough about the machinations of the CIA in the past year to know that this is no longer the dreamworld America I once believed in. The imperatives of the population explosion, which almost inevitably will lessen our belief in the sanctity of the individual human life, combined with the awesome power of the CIA and the defense establishment, seem destined to seal the fate of the America I knew as a child and bring us into a new Orwellian world where the citizen exists for the state and where raw power justifies any and every immoral act.
I've always had a kind of knee-jerk trust in my Government's basic integrity, whatever political blunders it may make. But I've come to realize that in Washington, deceiving and manipulating the public are viewed by some as the natural prerogatives of office. Huey Long once said, "Fascism will come to America in the name of anti-fascism." I'm afraid, based on my own experience, that fascism will come to America in the name of national security.
Then the final question to him:
Considering all the criticism that has come your way, would you still launch your investigation into the assassination if you had it to do over again?
And this is what Garrison said:
As long as the men who shot John Kennedy to death in Dallas are walking the streets of America, I will continue this investigation. I have no regrets about initiating it and I have no regrets about carrying it on to its conclusion. If it takes me 30 years to nail every one of the assassins, then I will continue this investigation for 30 years. I owe that not only to Jack Kennedy but to my country.
What that crackpot district attorney, that conspiracy theorist, said back then sounds pretty rational now. It's now over forty years since he gave that interview. Garrison's dead. RFK's dead, shot dead in public like his brother. It's a different war now, different conditions, different fears, different "national security" concerns.
The world is a different place than it was in 1967, and no better for most of what the post-JFK America foisted on it. What we have now is a permanent government that seems pretty much a merging of state and business leadership. Where have I seen that before? The current administration, in the name of security, keeps making unconstitutional claims to power and no one seems to be able to do much about it.
When the final FISA vote happened a few months ago there was a lot of anger from progressives and civil libertarians directed at Obama and other Democrats who voted for the bill. Many liberals and progressives were justifiably concerned about giving this power to George Bush.
But the analysis was flawed. The Republicans were nearly unanimous in voting for it, and they had no qualms about ceding so much power to an Obama Administration. Why, when the Republicans are willing to throw any phony scare tactic against Obama are they so unconcerned about giving real powers to the Executive Branch and a Democratic President?
The first part of the answer is easy. The phony scare tactics are just that: phony. Those are just lies to win an election, and they're not working so well this time around. The politicians who are saying them don't believe them either. The second part is easy, too, if you think about it. Those powers in the FISA bill don't accrue to the President. Those powers go to the NSA, as other recently created spying powers go to the FBI, the CIA and other agencies. That is, the President, whether he's Bush, Obama, Clinton, whoever, isn't as powerful as we were taught to believe. The President isn't in control of those agencies. The opposite is true. Because people like Bush and Cheney are consonant with our permanent government, sometimes we confuse the personification of that permanent government with the real deal.
How did our intelligence agencies get more powerful than our Presidents?
You haven't been paying attention.
I believe it was Fletcher Prouty, the Air Force colonel portrayed by Donald Sutherland in "JFK," who wrote that the reason that John Kennedy was shot dead in broad daylight in the middle of Dealey Plaza was so that everyone in the government, anyone who ever considered running for higher office, got the message. The hoi polloi could be confused or distracted by official lies regurgitated by allies in the press, or just by the enormity of the Big Lie. And they were. But the people in the know knew where the power was, who pulled the trigger.
I'd mention here that there was added symbolism that the murder occurred in downtown Dallas, the capitol of the oil business.
Granted, I've got a queasy feeling that the machines are in place to steal this election, but even if the people's will is recorded, I have my doubts that the people's will will be implemented.
I'm not sure what the exact percentage is now, but the last time I checked (about a year ago) close to seventy percent of Americans wanted us out of Iraq. In 2006 the American people voted out the party that brought us the war. The party that is consonant with the permanent government. The last time anyone asked them a majority of Americans were actually ready to impeach George Bush (whose father was Director of the CIA). In 2008 we are at the edge of a landslide pushing more Republicans out of office and putting a Democrat into the White House.
For those looking forward to the second New Deal, expect the progress to be slow and halting. Expect the inexplicable when it comes to why a Democratic majority keeps failing to give us what we ask for. Expect past crimes to be left uninvestigated, expect the FBI bureaucrats to fail to look. Expect bad laws to be left on the books, to be exploited when the Republicans, the party in consonance, returns to power. When they fail us, as the Carter and Clinton administrations failed us, we will look to the quality of our leaders' personalities or defects in their character. We will see weakness and deceit, but we will be using the wrong yardstick.
With such a mandate from the people what is our Congress now? A debating society. What is our President? At a certain point, only a figurehead.
We aren't going to ever get back the power we have lost until enough of us can say in public what has happened in broad daylight.
As part of the 50-year anniversary of Beatle history, here's the story of "From Me To You".
Though Lennon and McCartney wrote a substantial number of songs between 1957 and 1962,* their confidence in all but a few of them was low. The majority of the group’s pre-1963 act consisted of other people’s material with only an apologetic leavening of Lennon-McCartney originals. Realizing the weakness of his protégés’ existing catalogue, George Martin advised them to come up with more hits without delay, a plea repeated with added urgency when “Please Please Me” began to move in large quantities. They wasted little time. Based on the letters page of New Musical Express (“From You To Us”), “From Me to You” was written on the Helen Shapiro tour bus on Feb. 28, 1963—the group’s first custom-built Beatles song as Parlophone artists.
Dismissed in most accounts of their career as a transitional time-marker between “Please Please Me” and “She Loves You,” “From Me to You” was actually a brilliant consolidation of the emerging Beatles sound,** holding the No. 1 position for seven weeks (the longest occupation of this place by any of their eighteen British No. 1 singles apart from “Hello, Goodbye” and “Get Back”). That it was specifically designed to accomplish this testifies to the canny practicality of the group’s songwriting duo. Like most of Lennon and McCartney’s few recorded full 50-50 collaborations, “From Me to You” proceeds in the two-bar phrases a pair of writers typically adopt when tentatively ad-libbing at each other. The usual result of such a synthetic process, in which neither contributor is free to develop the melody-line in his normal way, is a competition to produce surprising developments of the initial idea. As in “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” the variation surprise in “From Me to You” consists of a sudden falsetto octave leap, a motif first tried on the chorus of “Please Please Me” (itself rewritten in this to-and-fro fashion)
Read it all.
You may know that Mark Twain was credited with being the first person to write a novel on a typewriter. So who was the first to write a novel on a word processor?
Would best-selling novelist Len Deighton care to take a walk? It was 1968, and the IBM technician who serviced Deighton’s typewriters had just heard from Deighton’s personal assistant, Ms. Ellenor Handley, that she had been retyping chapter drafts for his book in progress dozens of times over. IBM had a machine that could help, the technician mentioned. They were being used in the new ultramodern Shell Centre on the south bank of the Thames, not far from his Merrick Square home.
A few weeks later, Deighton stood outside his Georgian terrace home and watched as workers removed a window so that a 200-pound unit could be hoisted inside with a crane. The machine was IBM’s MTST (Magnetic Tape Selectric Typewriter), sold in the European market as the MT72. “Standing in the leafy square in which I lived, watching all this activity, I had a moment of doubt,” the author, now 84, told me in a recent email. “I was beginning to think that I had chosen a rather unusual way to write books.”
Today, of course, many—surely most—fiction writers work with computers, laptops, and word processors just like the rest of us. Literary scholarship generally credits Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi with being the first manuscript submitted to a publisher in typewritten form. Would it be possible, I wondered when I began my research into the literary history of word processing a year and a half ago, to locate a corresponding first for the digital age? The answer turns out to be the book Deighton published in 1970 with the aid of the MTST: a curiously apropos novel about World War II, titled Bomber.
Deighton at the time was something of a sensation, a fixture in Swinging London whose 1962 espionage thriller, The Ipcress File, became a worldwide bestseller. The film of Ipcress launched Michael Caine’s international career. Writing about espionage gave Deighton a certain profile, one he also enjoyed as a roving travel editor for Playboy. (Spies, declared Conrad Knickerbocker in 1965 inLife were “hip, committed, engagé and morally relevant.”) But Bomber was to be a darker, more serious, and altogether more ambitious book, its origins lying in Deighton’s own childhood in London during the Blitz and his experiences of photo-reconnaissance in the Royal Air Force just after the conclusion of the war.
Bomber follows the course of a single raid by the RAF (taking place on June 31, 1943) through the eyes of dozens of different characters—British and German, combatants and civilians, in the air and on the ground alike. Deighton prepared for the writing with thousands of hours of research, including site visits to the locations depicted in the book, stints in the military archives, scores of interviews, and a cross-Channel flight in a restored German Heinkel III. He kept meticulous notes, all of them color-coded and cross-referenced. Meanwhile, the walls of his London home were papered with maps and weather charts of Europe, which he used to storyboard the unfolding action, placing tape and tags to mark the positions of different aircraft over the course of the book in order to ensure narrative continuity—an uncanny reminder of the big-board displays used by wartime air controllers to maintain situational awareness during the actual bombing raids.
Like many other commercially successful novelists before and since, Deighton could not afford to indulge a solitary muse. Ellenor Handley had worked with him in his south London home since 1966. In an email, Handley, now 73 and retired, detailed her role in Deighton’s writing process. “When I started Len was using an IBM Golfball machine to type his drafts,” she wrote. “He would then hand-write changes on the hard copy which I would then update as pages or chapters as necessary by retyping—time-consuming perhaps but I quite liked it, as I felt a real part of the process and grew with the book.” When the MTST arrived at Merrick Square, the author and his assistant recall, it was Ms. Handley who mastered it.
Like many early technologies, the MTST began as a hybrid creation, a kind of mechanical centaur consisting of two separate devices fused to work in conjunction with one another. At the same instant a character was imprinted on the page from the Selectric’s typing mechanism, that keystroke was also recorded as data on a magnetic tape cartridge. There was no screen, but backspacing to correct an error on the page also resulted in the data being corrected on the tape. Unblemished hard copy could then be produced with the push of a button, at the rate of 150 wpm. What’s more, the printing process could be halted while in “playback” mode to allow for the insertion of additional text; sentence spacing, line-lengths, even hyphenated words were all adjusted automatically as revisions were introduced. In the States, the MTST retailed for $10,000; Deighton leased his as a hedge against its eventual obsolescence. Because he had opted for the most expensive of the four models, it had an additional tape storage reel (much like the dual floppy disk drives that would begin accompanying personal computers a decade or so later). The operator could retain two different bodies of text at the ready “on-line,” and even blend them with one another in the course of producing finished pages—what we would today call a mail merge. For a project such asBomber, which involved continuous cross-referencing between the different narrative episodes, this was to prove a particular advantage. Ms. Handley was also able to take advantage of a feature that allowed special magnetic marker codes to be recorded on the tape, thus enabling near-instant access to any passage so flagged; this was crucial to ensuring consistency in the technical portions of the manuscript.
“One might almost think the word processor (as it was eventually named) was built to my requirements,” Deighton told me:
"I am a slow worker so that each book takes well over a year—some took several years—and I had always 'constructed' my books rather than written them. Until the IBM machine arrived I used scissors and paste (actually Copydex one of those milk glues) to add paras, dump pages and rearrange sections of material. Having been trained as an illustrator I saw no reason to work from start to finish. I reasoned that a painting is not started in the top left hand corner and finished in the bottom right corner: why should a book be put together in a straight line?"
Bomber was greeted with widespread acclaim upon its publication in 1970. Today it is regarded in the U.K. as one of the great works of fiction about World War II, praised by Anthony Burgess and Kingsley Amis. But it also has another claim on literary history. “This perhaps the first book to be entirely recorded on magnetic tape,” Deighton noted in his afterword to the original edition. Though he didn’t use the term himself at the time, it was also the first published novel to be written with a product explicitly brought to market as a “word processor.” But what did that mean years ahead of the advent of the first office terminals and personal computers?
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Scientists can now pretty much pinpoint when The Iliad was written. 762BCE.
The epic poem The Iliad, set amid the final year of the Trojan War, is attributed to the ancient Greek poet Homer and is foundational to Western literature, but scholars have not reached a consensus about whether it was written shortly after the war or centuries later. Archaeological and historical evidence have placed the text's origins in the 7th or 8th century BCE, but such records are sparse and often have an uncertain validity.
Santa Fe Institute External Professor Mark Pagel, an evolutionary biologist at Reading University (UK), and colleagues decided to ask what scholars refer to as "The Homeric Question" using a quantitative approach borrowed from study of evolution.
In determining when species emerged and in gauging their relatedness to others, biologists compare genetic and physical traits along with novel adaptations. Similarly, linguists compare words that share an ancestor (e.g., water in English and wasser in German both come from the proto-Germanicwator), as well as words that supplant earlier terms (the modern English dog, for example, largely replaced the Old English hund), to pinpoint when a lexicon or language was in fashion.
Pagel's team compared the Greek vocabulary in Homer's Iliadto modern Greek, relying on a 200-word lexicon found in every language and contrasting the distantly related Hittite as an indicator of divergence.
Their methods date Homer's language to 762 BCE. The statistical model, says Pagel, "is completely ignorant to history -- it doesn't know who Homer is and doesn't know Greek." Accordingly, the potential date ranges from the improbable extremes of 376 BCE to 1157 BCE. But the estimate attaches a robust likelihood to the date, and it ties nicely to Nestor's Cup, a vase dated to 723 BCE that is thought to carry an inscription from The Iliad.
The study reveals "an astonishing regularity in the way languages evolve," notes Pagel. "That we can blindly apply rates of language change to Homeric and modern Greek and come up with 762 BCE tells us language is behaving in a regular and predictive way."
Long ago in a place far away Windows made a video explaining what Windows 95 was all about, starring Matthew Perry and Jennifer Aniston. Here it is.