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Category Archives: Workplace safety

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 »

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.

Daily Telluride Journal, August 3, 1901. This item puts me in mind of Yosemite Sam’s deathless line from the classic 1949 Friz Freleng cartoon High Diving Hare: “I paid my four bits to see the high divin’ act, and I’m gonna see the high divin’ act!” more

Omaha Daily Herald, December 20, 1881. Yes, well, it’s been her gig for 16 years, so it make sense she doesn’t see it as unusual. Moving on. Read More »


The San Francisco Call, February 1, 1910. Ha! It’s like a vaudevillian pre-make of Georges Clouzot’s The Wages of Fear. Who plays the souse with the red sticks? Fatty Arbuckle? Harold Lloyd? Heck, it hardly even matters: with material this boffo, you could cast Calvin Coolidge and people would still be rolling in the aisles. more

Daily Picayune, February 18, 1881. Also known as a barrel organ, the hand organ was like a cross between a calliope and a music box. It opened up the busking trade to those without musical skills, but was not readily programmable, so some dudes just ground out a single melody throughout their careers as street entertainers.
“Star Spangled Banner” didn’t become the national anthem until 1931, and their was considerable controversy over the choice owing to the melody’s origins as a bawdy 18th-century British drinking song. It’d be interesting to know whether our patriotic sailor was serving in the U.S. Navy, as the latter, hard-drinking crew were early adopters of the song when the rest of the country still regarded “Hail, Columbia” as the patriotic default.

Charlotte Observer, June 1, 1891. Read more.

The Daily Inter-Ocean, May 22, 1879. In today’s history lesson, we trace gay nightlife in Chicago back to the first term of the Hayes administration. Read more.

I’ve just published a piece about killer prof Amy Bishop at the Chicago Reader. Technically this is Bad News From the Present, I know. So sue me.

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