The next stage of history

Scythians

“Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe. … We cannot tell yet how much of the winnings of catastrophe remain to be gathered in. New falsities may arise and hold men in some unrighteous and fated scheme of order for a time, before they collapse amidst the misery and slaughter of generations.

“Yet, clumsily or smoothly, the world, it seems, progresses and will progress.”  —  H.G. Wells, “The Outline of History” (1920)

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‘Inner St. Louis’

09-27-1917 inner 3 smallA century ago, the Commission on Comity of the St. Louis Church Federation surveyed “Inner St. Louis,” the area east of Grand.

This portion of the city, the Protestant ministerial group found, accounted for “half the population, three-fifths of the saloons and four-fifths of the crime.”

The “East End” held the city’s “foreign colonies” and “most of the factories and factory workers.”

The survey, the Post-Dispatch reported on Sept. 25, 1917, found conditions that tend to “weaken the family relationship: Bad housing, many divorces, common-law marriages and other marital irregularities, desertion, nonsupport. Of 15,000 births in the district within a year, 750 were out of wedlock.”  Read more of this post

Kein Unrecht

Roman Herzog

“Kein Unrecht, und mag es noch so groß gewesen sein, rechtfertigt anderes Unrecht. Verbrechen sind auch dann Verbrechen, wenn ihm andere Verbrechen vorausgegangen sind.” — Roman Herzog (Altbundespräsidenten und Staatsrechtler, Bundesrepublik Deutschland)

Journalism!

The influence of big business

hb portrait“The influence of big business has always been present in our federal government. But there have been some checks on its control. The mere presence of a Supreme Court, a House of Representatives, a Senate and a President would not be sufficient protection against the utter centralization of power in the hands of a few men who might hold no office at all. Even in the case of Hitler, many shrewd observers feel that he is no more than a front man and that his power is derived from the large munitions and steel barons of Germany. …

“Now one of the first steps which Fascism must take in any land in order to capture power is to disrupt and destroy the labor movement. … I think it is not unfair to say that any business man in America, or public leader, who goes out to break unions, is laying foundations for Fascism.” — Heywood Broun, journalist and founder of the American Newspaper Guild, quoted in 1936 (from George Seldes’ “Facts and Fascism.”)

The ‘talking newspaper’

09-10-1911 news that talks smallFound by accident, while searching for something else, this Sept. 10, 1911 feature published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch about the Telefon Hírmondó, the “talking newspaper” of Budapest. Newspaper subscribers would receive news dispatches via a special telephone.

One paragraph in the article about the new news delivery platform has a familiar ring to it: an argument that the new technology would enhance, not threaten, print newspapers:

It may appear at first that the “telefon hirmondo” would seriously cripple the newspapers by depriving them of circulation, but such is not the case. In the first place, only newspaper subscribers can avail themselves of the service, and the advantage of having the news telephone in the house therefore attracts many who would not otherwise be subscribers. Moreover, in the telephone message, the subscriber is given only enough of the news to make him hungry for details, and he consequently looks with greater interest for the arrival of his printed sheet.

 

These exit signs could be characters in a novel

Alta AldersonAlta Alderson (Exit 161, Interstate 64, West Virginia); Louisa Ashland (Exit 191, I-64, Kentucky); Antonio Barnhart (Exit 185, I-55, Missouri); Bill Gillette (sign along Wyoming Highway 59 north of Douglas); Ebenezer Goodman (Exit 146, I-55, Mississippi); Cooter Holland (Exit 4, I-55, Missouri); Marie Lepanto (Exit 41, I-55, Arkansas); Victoria Luxora (Exit 53, I-55, Arkansas); and Waddy Peytona (Exit 43, I-64, Kentucky).

Gathered these from recent trips. Got any others? 

Independence Day

07-03-1917 rube goldberg small

‘There was great rejoicing in hell this morning.’

Bennett H. Young mugFew men did more to advance the Lost Cause mythology of the South than Bennett H. Young, the old soldier who was the featured speaker at the 1914 dedication of the Confederate memorial in St. Louis.

Five hundred people gathered at the Jefferson Memorial to hear Young — described as “one of the most eloquent living Confederates” — eulogize the “bravery” and “bitter determination to win” of 600,000 Southern men who fought for a “cause they believed to be right.”

Then 71, Young was midway through his term as commander-in-chief of the United Confederate Veterans Association, where he worked with allied groups like the United Daughters of the Confederacy to pepper the nation with monuments to the CSA.

That same year, Young had published “Confederate Wizards of the Saddle,” a 630-page paean to the Confederate horsemen like slave-dealer Nathan Bedford Forrest. Read more of this post

‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’

Bovard gravestone“In this space I cannot hope to describe his singular abilities or indicate the range of his sinewy, searching mind. Through one rule which he laid down for reporters he may be glimpsed. This was the rule: ‘Never be satisfied with the surface of the news.’ If he considered the pupil worthwhile he would explain: ‘There is a formal and superficial aspect of every story. It may be a police report, a lawyer’s brief, an application for a trolley franchise, or a President’s message to Congress. As such it may have a proper place in your story. But to print that alone may result in misleading the reader partially or completely. Read more of this post