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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1984 Follow Me on Pinterest

This remarkable photograph was published in The Illustrated London News on 15 September 1934 and shows the Fascist demonstration in Hyde Park of 9 September. There was an "anti-Fascist counter-demonstration" at the same time, same park–the two sides were divided by the "No Man's Land" path in the middle, screened by police on each side. The crowd at the left/middle is the fascist group–easily discriminated by their salute and then their visual sameness, so many of them wearing the signature black shirts. At bottom/right/top is the counter-demonstration group, which is far larger–they were orderly but not having any patience for Hitlerism.

Crowds fascist105

Which is a detail from:

Crowds fascist104
[Source: private collection]

I found a handbill for one of the opposing groups at the demonstration: the Young Communist League, which evidently showed up in force. In the caption of the above photo there is no mention of the party affiliation of the anti-fascists, except to quote witness Will Rogers saying "the Blackshirts were holding one meeting. Two hundred yards away the Communists were holding theirs. And in between was all of London lauhing at the both of them". According to a quick search I'm not sure that there were this many communists in all of London in 1934–I assume the anti- crowd was very mixed.

(These Blackshirts should not be confused with Albanian/Indian/Italian blackshirts, or German brownshirts (brown maybe because black was traditionally used for Christian Democrats?), or American silvershirts, though some do bear some resemblence. In the other color-shirt-political-affiliation categories there are, for example, the redshirts of Italy, the blue- and greenshirts of Ireland, the goldshirts of Mexico, the greyshirts of South Africa, the greeshirts of Romania, and the blue shirts of Taiwan).

Fascist demonstration 193
Source: British National Archive, here.

The "Mosley" here Sir Oswald Mosley (1896-1980), founder of The British Union of Fascists in 1932 which in 1936 changed its name to the British Union of Fascists and National Socialists and then in 1937, slimming it down to the British Union, until it was disappeared by the government in 1940 in a 'defence of the realm action" under Defence Regulation 18B.

Mosley and his wife were arrested in 1940 and spent a few years in relatively high privilege in prison, a situation granted by Winston Churchill. They lived in their own inner-prison cottage, with a garden and servents. They were released in great controversy in 1943 and seem to have spent decades in the far right spectrum publishing and promoting questionable and of course distasteful political viewpoints.

JF Ptak Science Books

"Sometimes a book is just entirely bad, and sometimes it is entirely nothing. It is impossible for a book to be both very bad and very nothing. Impossible. Except for this book, whose badness is exceeded only by its nothingness, and vice versa ". –Oscar Wilde

And so into this black hole of imaged Wildeian description we go, into a very real-ish book.

I found a novel tonight, bought long ago and long ago mostly lost. It was written by a doctor who worked in the District Hospital in Lima, Ohio, and written in 1934. The Lima Hospital was the largest poured concrete structure in the world when it was built in 1915, and stayed so until the Pentagon was completed. The hospital was established for the criminally insane, had 14"-thick walls, and reinforced steel bars laid into the walls that went "right down to bedrock".

It was somewhere in there that this doctor wrote something that was really so toweringly bad that it escapes comprehension. I own the carbon copy of the unpublished work, which is typed on 14×8.5" sheets of paper, front and back, running 94 pages. It is a very crowded affair, with 90 lines of single-space typed lines, making the work about 115,000 words long.

There wasn't enough space evidently for paragraphs, which gives the work a kind of insistent, casket-cramped cruelty. To read it takes your breath away for its dullness–the book moves so weirdly and at the same time so very slowly that it doesn't move at all even while moving.

Manuscript insane one

A few months ago I found the seven-foot-long scroll of the book's plan–a work of crowded magnificence of nothing and confusion, being very orderly at the same time. It went to a friend of mine who created artwork around it, and as it happens made a very noticeable appearance in a very significant yearly show in NYC last week. I was stunned to find that there was actually a text to go with the scroll-outline–it emerged from the warehouse this week, so perhaps this too will find a very celebrated life as art as well. Certainly the book would go nowhere on its own as a book, though it stood a chance at surviving on the grounds of its considerble design weirdness, which is of a complexified beauty.

Manuscript insane two

In the meantime, before all of the letters slide themselves off the page from sheer boredom and before the thing is resurrected as a magnificent artistic effort, I'll share some ianges of the extra-ordinary book of reversed brilliant badness. I've also culled a few imaginary descriptions of the book from writers known and not:

Potboiler scribbler:

"He couldn't speak. He could barely see. Blinded by the flames ignited inside his eyeballs from the novel in his lap. The words were like molten lead, sucked off the page by his eyes, forming a vacuum in his brain. It was a bad book".

The first-time published novelist's approach:

"He couldn't speak the words of the thoughts in his head, because they and all of his breath were stolen by the magic of the complete badness of the book in his lap".

Gertrude Stein:

"The book was bad and bad, and bad was the book. Even the badness of the bad was bad, a whole new insight into being bad. It was the bad book by which bad books are called bad".

Ernset Hemingway:

"He didn't read the book so much as he looked through it. It was easy–there was nothing there. As bad as it was, it could get no worse. So he shot it, and poured a drink".

You might wonder what this book is about. Me too.

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

Weak women061
Women, weak women, women with iron-poor blood, were sought by the manufacturers of Nuxated Iron, a small-bottled mottled mess that promised to increase vigor and iron levels, mostly through miracle. It turns out that, according to various early studies, there was a very small amount of iron in the concoction, as well as small amounts of strychnine. An E.O. Barker, M.D., reported to JAMA in 1923 that a small boy he attended who had taken 32 of these Nuxated Iron tablets died from strychnine poisoning. There was no benefit from the iron, evidently; I wonder what the long term effects of small dosage ingestion of strychnine led to? ["Weak Women" ad for Nuxated Iron from Illustrated World, November 1920/]

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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

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This is a Quick Post quickly posted, fast-quick, mainly because I'm not so sure what to say about it, other than "wow". So, I'm sharing these patents for the sake of sharing, mostly without comment. (Here's another curious suppository-related post on this blog: Radioactive Suppository Sex Aids & Radium Toothpaste: Shining Lethal Nonsense).

The first comes from Leonhard Roth, of Brooklyn, who won this patent in 1881:

And:

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JF Ptak Science Books Post 1956
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[All images via the lovely and easy to maneuver Google Patents here]

Fortune telling and divination is mostly the subject of the pretty patents (below), a quick penny-ante for the fulfillment of the instant treatment of possibility. reckoning via mechanical means,easing folks out of the necessity to think about What May Come, and also, possibly, relieving some of them of the possibilities of worry should the fortunes agree with their hopes. And desires. Opposite, for the opposite.

This thinking goes back a long way into dark and dusty time, though it becomes interesting (to me, anyway) when it gets wrapped up in Renaissance magic and science.

I'm not sure what it reveals except for what people might have wanted to believe in during different periods of time.

Anyway, the patent drawings are pretty.

The ways of telling fortunes are broad and numerous and may have been dictated by the stuff that was readily available at hand; a veritable alphabet can be quickly summoned to deal with the most common of the sort:

Alectromancy (telling the future by relatively brainless modern dinosaur roosters pecking at the ground for stuff);

Astrology
(thinking that the motions of stars that are light years away from the
observer in a vast sea of space and their annotation on an
infinitesimally small speck of universe dust called "Earth" can somehow
interact with living organisms that are 1030000 the amount of space that can be affected by the light from the stars that are 1/1,000,000,000 of the age of those stars);

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JF Ptak Science Books LLC Post 959, extended. Daily Dose from Dr. Odd
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Nothing
quite exceeds like excess said Mr. Wilde (and others) , and he/they could be no
more correct when looking at this picture of a Movable Maginot Line—it is a
mobile fort, complete with plane launching capacity, two dozen long canons, a
crane, and a host of other stuff.

000--win--land tank

It
looks as though it has ample room for all sorts of materiel though leaving
little room for, perhaps, an engine. I
just can’t see where it might be…perhaps it is near the
not-room-enough-for-it-either ammunition compartment. Maybe they were in a smaller armed cart being
pulled by the mothership? I reckon that
this beast was 66 feet high, 100 feet long and 60 feet wide, which is a very
big, heavy near-cube. Good luck with driving the thing in anything that was
less than perfect conditions. A big
profile like this, filled with guns and canons or not, also makes for a big
target profile—a tall, broad target with flat/non-inclined sides. ( I should
also point out that there are two 10’ loudspeakers mounted on the front of the
fort to instill fear in the people that the thing was approaching with loud
noise. The author points out that the
Nazis used noise against the French with their “screaming dive bombers”, and so
the fort would use the same tactics against the Nazis in the moveable fort—not
that the sound of the engines and the attendant noise wouldn’t’ve been enough
of a fear factor in themselves…)000--win--tubular ship

But
the image of such a monster, sensical or not, was enough for the purposes of
the pamphlet in which it appeared. The Brains to Win was a piece of British
spirit/hope propaganda issued at about the time of the Battle of Britain in
1940, and it listed the sorts of technological breakthroughs that were going to
push the nation over the top to victory.
Some of the stuff was real, some not—like the moving fort/Howl’s Castle
above, and the floating fort, below.

000--win--floating airport

I’m
not sure where a floating fort would make sense, especially one of that size.
(Iterating the figures on deck into distance, it looks as though the deck on
the floating platform was 150 or 200’ square.
It would’ve looked like a big target from above.) Given the time and
expense and material needed for such a
thing, it seems that it would’ve been cheaper to make a moveable fortress not
quite so big, with less of a profile, and more mobile—I think that this was
called a “destroyer” or “battleship”.

But
no matter, I’m just poking fun at some of the future vision that became archaic
the moment it was drawn, punk retro-future.
All the pamphlet was trying to point out in its 32 pages was that
overall the Brits were smarter than the Germans and that would be the balance
for victory in the war. “Hitler will get
some very unpleasant surprises before this is over” the author very politely
pointed out, no doubt with one eyebrow raised. The scientists agreed.

And
they were right, which is all that matters.

JF Ptak Science Books Daily Dose from Dr. Odd
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This cure-all from G. Anston looks simple, but the hydraulics of his nerve juice pumper is actually a little involved, or more involved than it needed to be given the fact that the machine didn't actually do anything productive. That said, Anston was setting out to "move fluids" and cause all manner of cure-alls for "air stagnation" in the body, without the trouble of losing any time except for sticking those tubes into your nostrils. I do not know why the artist has the subject standing on #44 (the nerve-waste elimination tube) which was basically the tail-pipe of the cure-waste that was supposed to be flushed from a window. It seems as though stopping the exit of the stagnated brain-air and nerve-fluid effluvia might've made the subject's head pop off a little, which would be problematical.

[Source: Google Patents, here.]

JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post


Newsboy
I've posted a number of times in this blog on child labor in the U.S. Today's post is a simple display of images made by the great Lewis Hine (1874-1940) that are housed at the Library of Congress (findable here) showing the state of the child worker in the first quarter of the 20th century. The children are chauffeurs, bootblacks, delivery boys, messengers, food vendors, shuttle runners (and all sorts of mill work activities), miners (coal handlers, underground mule guides, etc.) and many other jobs, including of course the most iconic and visible reminder that children were working–the newsboy. Hine's documentary evidence shows the children working in all manner of weather, at all times of day and night, in all sorts of working conditions–and of course showing how little and frail and open-to-abuse the children were.

Each of the images below is expandable and linked to the original at the Library of Congress site; shown below are two of the ten pages of images.


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JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post

"There is work that profits children, and there is work that brings
profit only to employers. The object of employing children is not to
train them, but to get high profits from their work."
–Lewis Hine, 1908

These broadsides are tough going. They are the work of advocates and reformers who sought to give children an even chance at growing up as children, rather than joining the hundreds of thousands of 6-12 year olds already in the workforce in America in the first decade or two of the 20th century. They were a simple and very powerful appeal to business-owners and parents to resist the temptation of child exploitation–none though so far as I can tell directly addressed the children. See my other posts on this topics here:

[Source for the following images at Inquiry Unlimited, follow the link for other examples. ]

Child work making_human_junk

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