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Aberdeen Daily News, July 17, 1877. I’m not sure what’s the correct lifeboat logic to implement here. Is it better to start by feeding on the youngest and then work your way up the line, or should the mom have begun at the top by feeding the 16-year-old to the wee ones, then worked her way down? Tough call.

The Inter Ocean, July 13, 1878.

Dallas Morning News, February 1, 1886. Said Frenchmen would in fact have been Quebecois rather than F.O.B. cheese-eaters. Now, your Quebecois gene pool is (no aspersions intended) a tight and tidy affair, which raises the possibility that the behavioral oddities manifested by these Gallic lumberjacks stemmed from some kinda mutation. But I’m more inclined to think that this was a culture-bound syndrome like latah, piblokto, bulimia or Republicanism. Read More »

New York Times, July 3, 1871. There are only two ways to get a significant pay raise in academe: accept an offer from another university, or use such an offer to shake down one’s current employer for more money. Judging from this story, the principle goes back a good ways, but there was a time when one had to pretend that one’s motives were other than pecuniary.

The New York World, February 4, 1926. It’s a Catch-22: If Caspar were the kinda guy who likes tripe, he’d also have the stones to stand up to waiters.

Boston Daily Globe, January 13, 1926. If you’ve ever typified some wimpy dude as a “Caspar Milquetoast,” you were unwittingly quoting the work of cartoonist H.T. Webster, whose nationally syndicated strip “The Timid Soul” chronicled —without a shred of sympathy— the tribulations of the passive and chinless nebbish. Seems wholly in keeping with the sad bastard’s luck that he should be forgotten even as his name lives on.

The Trentonian, August 3, 1995. The Lindbergh baby is America’s answer to the lost Dauphin of France: Over the years there have been any number of nuts and hustlers claiming to be the kidnapped son of aviator and Nazi sympathizer Charles Lindbergh. But unlike this candidate, most such pretenders have tended be be blond, blue-eyed and male. I was planning to attend this press conference but I slept in or something, thus missing the chance to consider this lady’s evidence. I guess we’ll never know.


Friend of mine just forwarded me this CFP (that’s ‘call for papers,’ for the unwashed among you) for an impending scholarly clambake at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. In this golden age of academic off-jag, it’s pretty hard to stand out as a polysyllabic bullshitter, but this, uh, text and its author deserve mad props for totally delivering on the enticing promise of the panel’s subtitle. Take us beyond meaning, Jamie Bianco of the University of Pittsburgh!

Non-discursivity and Affect: Beyond Meaning in Media

Seminar Organizer: Jamie Bianco, U of Pittsburgh
Within cultural and comparative studies, we engage the world through discursive and critical frameworks. In response to emerging theorization of multimodality, non-discursivity, creative criticism, practical research, object-oriented philosophy, and speculative realism, this seminar seeks to engage work that draws out these emergent conceptualizations in relation to cultural and media production, reception, circulation/distribution, and response. Are non-discursive elements “readable” in a critical response? What is the role of “design”? How might we think about and produce responses to ecologies and ethologies of culture, media, mediated objects, and user/makers within creative critical or multimodal productive methods that privilege critical making over intervention? Are experiential critical designs effective? This seminar considers media to include print and analog forms as well as digital and computational forms and welcomes work in multimodal/multimediated genres and styles.

So much to admire here. I love the way that “practical research” stands out like a turd in a punchbowl next to “multimodality, non-discursivity” etc etc. I loves them scare quotes around “‘readable’” and “‘design,’” though would prefer to see same around “role,” and maybe “seminar” too, because that’s a concept that’s really been insufficiently problematized. I’m dying to know the distinction between “critical making” and “intervention.” Are we talking here about the difference between sitting around criticizing shit and actually doing something about shit? Just a fucking guess, based on the rash assumption that it has to mean anything at all.

In the words of my man Flann, “Can you imagine the sneering daredevils who despise each other for not ‘understanding’ grey incomprehensibilities like this?”

Idaho Avalanche, June 20, 1885. Does news get more general than this? I think it does not. Concerning that last item: Harassing the Salvation Army was once something of a national pastime, as the outfit was well-known in its early years to be an obnoxious and fanatical cult. Local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them. In fact, the Sally Anns also got into trouble with the law a lot, owing to their obnoxious and fanatical insistence that they didn’t need a municipal license or permit to preach and demonstrate in public. The case law that grew out of their legal troubles significantly helped broaden and strengthen the 1st Amendment. Also, their street bands were a significant influence on Tom Waits.
Placer mining is a hydraulic technique for separating gold from silt and soil—works sort of like mechanized panning. Often it was what you did with a claim once the big chunks had been removed with pick and shovel, and the yield was typically much lower. The Chinese specialized in these placer-mining clean-up operations, taking over claims that had been exhausted from the perspective of white miners. But then if a given claim turned out to be not so exhausted after all, they were prone to being displaced—it even happened in kinder, gentler Canada! They were well known to be an inferior and heathen race, so local law enforcement didn’t exactly knock themselves out to protect them.

The item about Senator Ransom signifies that he’s a bon vivant or a dandified sleazebag depending on the values you bring to the story.

Beats me what the English are doing with those $25 squirrels. In pairs.

Minneapolis Journal, November 3, 1900. Living the gourd life isn’t always easy. It’s interesting to see that somebody was hip as early as 1900 to the profligacy of Halloween visa vis the pumpkin, that most noble and delectable squash. Things have of course gotten much worse since 1900: Your average supermarket pumpkin nowadays wasn’t even bred for edibility but for size, sturdiness of stem and bright orange color. All kinds of superior varieties have lost or all but lost to the hegemony of the jack o’lantern.

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