Saturday, July 4

Monday, July 3

The big one is coming. The American celebration of exceptionalism. I'm not sure how easy it will be to sell it this year, but the attempt will be made. I like the parade float cover, with the society dames thinking how dirty birds are, and they're wearing white, and how they hadn't considered this aspect of patriotism at all. The Kellogg-Briand pact had been signed years ago, but it seems that some of the Soviet Union's neighbors had concerns that perhaps the Soviets didn't think the word "aggression" meant what everyone else thought it meant, so they just signed off an a pact agreeing what aggression meant. From Wikipedia: ""Aggression" included attacks on territory, naval vessels or aircraft, a naval blockade, aid to armed bands "formed on the territory of a State", or failing "to ...

Sunday, July 2

Things that happened in the past carry weight. Consider the good old butterfly effect, which posits that the slightest action can be amplified over time and have great consequences. The thing about that one is that we'll never know which butterfly where did the flapping, or know which action to take now to have some intended effect in the future. The butterfly effect is interesting, possibly true, and useless. What we need is something that lets us bypass the delay between cause and effect. We use the phrase "see into the future" when we think about this idea, but the thing there is that we would use that knowledge, not to affect the future we've seen, but to profit by that knowledge- in other words, to know which stocks will rise next month and buy them now. But this requires us to...

Saturday, July 1

Hard to believe but it's just about halfway through 1933. Leading off July with the aircraft that represented the ideal solution to the problem of commercial flight. Three motors were too noisy and too messy, one was certainly not enough, but this two engine craft could climb on one engine and carry its load at speeds rivaling military planes. The DC-1 was quickly refined and enlarged, but of all the planes that were rapidly coming to the same design solution, this one was the big winner. So, refinement of design could apply to people too. There had been plenty of health nuts in the world but now they had their own magazine. Several in fact. Nothing nutty about it. Unlike the design for a post office shown on the Popular Mechanics cover. Compare it to the great stone block that w...

Friday, June 30

In Columbia, South America- a canoe stored close by the house. To keep it dry? Carved from a big log, looking a little like some sort of river creature itself. I'm thinking that what looks like a pillow on top of it might be a pillow, something you could put on your head when you hoist this thing up there to carry it over to the water. But I don't know. What I do know is that when you live somewhere, and you have to work at something in order to eat, you like to keep your tools close at hand. Walk out the door, hey, here's your rake, and that's good because you're gonna spend hours using it to move the rocks off your field today. Or grab a ladder, because you'll be getting up in the trees for fruit. In Columbia, there's lots of different kinds of wood to make tools from. In China...

Thursday, June 29

It's a big day when the new issue arrives. There are a lot of magazines out there, but this one, left casually on an end table, will tell your guests that you have class, refinement- even if you don't bother having fish. America is still in the gee-wiz period of its air power, to judge from this invitation. I think that what looks like a bat symbol is actually just a bomb with wings. The triangle helpfully indicates direction of travel. Notice the two forms of observation depicted. I get the buzzard, can someone help me out with the first one? Maybe aerial photography. The French Grand Prix starting grid, a small field in a big field. Can't you just smell 'em? These cars would burn, leak, or otherwise displace gallons of oil during a race. That's one of the reasons a mechanic r...

Wednesday, June 28

Heiress turns North. There seems to be a lot unsaid about Louise Arner Boyd, but then, there's a lot unsaid about most people. She was raised in wealth, but never married and seems to have been little involved with the business she had inherited. She sponsored and participated in multiple expeditions to the fjord region of Greenland throughout the 20's and 30's. During these she took thousands of feet of movies, mainly continuous shots of the seacoast from the passing ship. Also around this time, half of a great Italian armada is crossing the North Atlantic on its way to the Chicago World's Fair. Wait until you get a load of these aircraft. Northern exposure today, here.

Tuesday, June 27

In a sign of the times, the German National Peoples Party is banned. Their coalition with the Nazi party earlier in the year had given Hitler the votes he needed to carry out his plans. Who knew? Well, they probably failed in part because of their crummy logo. Who would want to identify with a political party who's mighty eagle looked like he'd had his beak cut off and had been given a bad haircut? At least his sunglasses were cool- in a Joe Biden sort of way. So we won't have to put up with this logo, which looked like a 6 year old designed it. We all know how cool the Nazi logo looked, but what else was there in front of our eyeballs in '33? One of the old, almost naturalistic logos was in the process of turning into a schematic of the thing it represented, but in 1933 it was st...

Monday, June 26

British beaches flow like the tides of time. It's possible to find better beaches, and we will have a look at some exotic locals in the future, but the Brits have a unique sensibility about summer vacation which involves a certain amount of public humiliation- all jolly fun, wot? Not to mention furry donkeys. Butlin was a celebrity who grew that celebrity into a chain of amusement parks along the margins. The promotional material for the seacoast in general was ubiquitous, and nicely done as well. You could find romance at the resorts, let your hair down, give the kiddies some fun. And- it was Quicker by Rail. Meanwhile, back in the states, one of our native attractions was performing daily in a bistro at the World's Fair- Miss Sally Rand and her feathers. see it all here.

Sunday, June 25

It's summer in New York and the regular staff are gone. At the New Yorker some unfamiliar initials appear at the ends of pieces that sometimes stretch clever a little too far, and sometimes in interesting new directions. The stories are about traveling by air across Europe, or about finding decent entertainment if you're stuck in the city like a junior staffer at the New Yorker. It's a slim issue. The cover reflects a trend that wouldn't hit the memestream for about a decade- the city folk who want a little place in the country. Somebody has the money, as the "colored" cleaning lady explains to the young writer filling in for someone with famous initials. There are adverts for beer and portable beer coolers, and a keg-a-rator that will fit on a sailboat. And there's an ad that will...

Saturday, June 24

Image is news. Leading off today with yet another magazine cover in the style of Norman Rockwell, this time one by J.F. Kernan. Kernan was a prolific illustrator in the 30's and his work appeared on the cover of the Post, but he was focused on the American graces of fishing, hunting, and sports. Here he tones down the sentimentality that clung to his work in the 20's, perhaps seeing that Rockwell was striking a modern emotional chord that acknowledged the hard times yet showed the public a way through them. Kernan makes the attempt, and borrows the Post's iconic circular frame to center our attention, but he's missing the Rockwellian hook, the irony, the knowing wink. Kernan's America is simpler America. Things are simple in the paper Hitler has owned since the early 20's. In their...