One small step backward for humanity(?)… One giant leap forward for A.I.!

June 20, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Dystopian movies featuring A.I. as the antagonist abound. The thought of a world in which a soulless “entity” is in the lead role with humanity at its behest is terrifying. How will the relationship between A.I. and humans play out over time is anyone’s guess, but with all the benefits artificial intelligence brings to the table, I feel a little like “a moth to a flame”, and it bugs me.

Why the angst? We recently came across a Los Angeles Times dated May 12, 1997, which had coverage of the historic(?) chess match between Gary Kasparov, the reigning world champion at the time, and “Deep Blue”, an IBM supercomputer. The strings of o’s and 1’s ruled the day, defeating Kasparov in the deciding game in 19 moves. I wonder if many moons from now, when/if A.I. decides to write its own developmental timeline, if this achievement will be listed as one of significance?Note: In case anyone is wondering, upon its victory, “Deep Blue” was NOT crowned the new World Champion of Chess.

They put it in print, 1926 – “With just the naked eye and a glove…”

March 11, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Some feats seem more like folklore than reality. Can a person, unaided in any way, catch a baseball dropped from a plane with a standard baseball glove? If it weren’t for the many witnesses who observed this amazing feat first-hand, who would have believed this actually occurred? However, on July 23, 1926, the New York Times published details of Babe Ruth’s amazing accomplishment – a record setting one at that. How do we know” They put it in print:

They put it in print – an 1877 opinion of The Press…

January 6, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

Sometimes a picture says it all. The illustration below was printed in a Harper’s Weekly dated June 2, 1877, but left undated some might think it is a recent print. Do these “1000 words” from the 19th century, in fact, have staying power? You decide.

Fascinating Conspiracies (Episode 3)… Coup d’état

January 3, 2022 by · Leave a Comment 

The following may feel a bit 3rd-Worldish, however, we have had our own attempted coup d’état right here in the USA … and not so long ago – as reported in the Omaha Bee, November 21, 1934.

“The Business Plot (also called the Wall Street Putsch and The White House Putsch) was a political conspiracy in 1933 in the United States to overthrow the government of President Franklin D. Roosevelt and install a dictator. Retired Marine Corps Major General Smedley Butler asserted that wealthy businessmen were plotting to create a fascist veterans’ organization with Butler as its leader and use it in a coup d’état to overthrow Roosevelt. In 1934, Butler testified under oath before the United States House of Representatives Special Committee on Un-American Activities (the “McCormack–Dickstein Committee”) on these revelations. Although no one was prosecuted, the Congressional committee final report said, “there is no question that these attempts were discussed, were planned, and might have been placed in execution when and if the financial backers deemed it expedient.”

Early in the committee’s gathering of testimony most major news media dismissed the plot, with a New York Times editorial falsely characterizing it as a “gigantic hoax”. Reporting changed when the final report was issued.

While historians have questioned whether or not a coup was actually close to execution, most agree that some sort of “wild scheme” was contemplated and discussed” (Wiki)

The Village Voice, U2, Hitler – The sky is falling!

December 10, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Many children of the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s grew up with the threat of nuclear war hanging over their heads. From “Dr. Strangelove” to “The Day After” – the annual death-march of dystopian movies capsulized the vague dread that everything could end at any moment; or worse still, that the end could begin at any moment — with all of the indeterminate, lingering fallout and devastation. Discussions took place about whether it would be better to live close to a big city that was bound to be a target and promised immediate annihilation, or further out where radiation sickness might destroy. It was a gruesome topic made more appalling by resigned acceptance.

The pop culture of that era seemed to feed one of two perspectives:  distraction or depth. Such publications as The Village Voice articulated both positions. The May 24, 1983 review of U2’s album “Peace with Honor”, contains an editorial observation that has very little to do with the music.

“Though I was born one week after the atomic bomb was dropped on people, I have always expected to live out my appointed days.  But recently it’s been evident that large numbers of teenagers, adolescents, even children now fully expect that their appointments will be cancelled by person or persons unknown, so a vast, anti-militarist ground swell isn’t much of a surprise.”

Note: To add to the uneasiness of the era, a few pages earlier The Voice included an article highlighting the life of Adolf Hitler.

Whether or not you agree with the distinct bias of The Voice, it certainly holds an important value as being an accurate representation of the angst of the generation — and it did so for a few generations.

Fascinating Conspiracies (Episode 2) – Secret Societies in the 18th century…

November 15, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I have a dear friend who, while attending Penn State in the late 70’s, became intrigued with The Illuminati and spent countless hours in the library pouring over microfiche of old newspapers for insight into this Secret Society which made it’s way from Europe to the Colonies during America’s founding years.  Fast forward 40 years…

Now I spend my days surrounded by old newspapers… probably some of the very same titles and dates my friend was digging through (albeit electronically), so it should come as no surprise the following snippet in an issue of THE GENTLEMAN’S MAGAZINE for February, 1798 caught my attention (see below).  A quick mention to my friend is certainly in order and perhaps a bit more perusing of other issues on Secret Societies.

They put it in print, 1917 – “The more things change…”

October 4, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

A recent post focused on a headline which borrowed Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr’s famous words from 1849: “the more things change, the more they stay the same” (translated from “plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose”). This tendency, as applied to human behavior, has certainly been substantiated time and time again in the world of politics.

During former President Trump’s term in office “leaks” were springing up everywhere. For a novice to the political realm this may have appeared to have been a new phenomenon; however, the banner headline from a San Diego Evening Tribune dated January 8, 1917 makes it clear that once again, Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr was spot-on. How do we know? They put it in print:

They put it in print, 2003 – “Horses with no names?”

September 23, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Many recognize the names of the most famous racehorses of all time: Seattle Slue,  Man o’ War, American Pharaoh, and Citation to name a few – especially if they were featured in a major Hollywood Movie, but what about their sired offspring? Do we recognize their names? How do we even refer to them? Perhaps “Seattle Slue and his Crew”, “Man o’ War and his War Reenactors”, “American Pharaoh and his Royal Subjects”, and/or “Citation and Prized Awards” would be appropriate? While all of these ideas ended up on the drawing room floor, one did make the cut. Thanks to his jockey’s restaurant, we have “Seabiscuit and his Little Biscuits”. How do we know? In the July 10, 2003 issue of the Los Angeles Times, they put it in print.

While none of Seabiscuit’s foals grew up to become famous in and of themselves, the restaurant he inspired is still in business.

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Update 9/28/2021, compliments of K.W. from Illinois…

Creativity with Consequences…

July 12, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

Whereas hindsight is 20/20, or so they say, it is sometimes hard to reconcile this statement with our lack of propensity to learn from our mistakes. However, when Orson Wells picked up his morning paper the day after his incredibly creative radio broadcast of War of the Worlds had filled the airwaves, there is little doubt his hindsight had perfect vision. e realized he should have handled things differently. The reality  that this new medium of radio was powerfully persuasive and must be handled with a large degree of responsibility could not have been missed. While we may not know which paper he held in his hands when this truth struck him like a ton of bricks, the discovery of a GREENSBORO PATRIOT (NC) for October 31, 1938 recently brought this moment to our attention.

From Dream to Dream…

May 14, 2021 by · Leave a Comment 

I can’t speak for anyone else but, at this moment… I’m over with bad news. I long for news stories that make me smile … that bring to mind sweeter times. Today, in the subtlest of news stories, my wish came true and a huge smile spread over my face. On June 30, 1905, the Springfield Republican published their issue for the day. I am sure no one in the editor’s office had a clue that on the sports page there was one line in the box score that would, 80+ years later, inspire one of my favorite movie moments of all time. Allow me to borrow a paragraph from our RareNewspapers website’s description for this Springfield issue…

“Spoiler alert: Anyone who has viewed the *movie-classic, “Field of Dreams,” starring Kevin Costner, has been touched by Archie “Moonlight” Graham (played by Burt Lancaster). The poor fellow simply cannot catch a break. When this doctor, who had given up baseball after only 1 professional appearance in order to care for people via his physician training, was given (in the movie) a 2nd chance to get on the magical “field of dreams,” he was almost immediately faced with the choice between either leaving the field (never to return) in order to save an injured young fan from near-certain death, or stay on the field and enjoy the game he had always loved.”

Although Field of Dreams mixes fantasy and reality, this peek into a “real life person” made me dig a bit deeper. Wikipedia sums him up as follows: “”Doc” Graham, as he became known after his career as a ballplayer, served the people of Chisholm (MN) for fifty years. From 1909 to 1959, Graham was the doctor for the Chisholm schools. For many years, “Doc” Graham made arrangements to have used eyeglasses sent to his Chisholm office. On Saturdays, he would have the children of the Iron Range (Minnesota) miners, from Grand Rapids to Virginia, come to his office, have their eyes checked and then fit them with the proper set of glasses, all free of charge.”
Wrapped up in this good news from the past is also a reminder that sometimes, when one dream ends, a better one begins.

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