Dug North sez, "The book titled 'Two Odd Volumes on Magic & Automata; has been available in a printed version for a while, but is now available as a PDF. The book is offered for free from LEAFpdx, but I am sure donations would be welcome."
The Sette of Odd Volumes published two fantastic books in the early 1890s. The Sette was a club of book collectors and eccentric personalities in London. It was founded by the famed book dealer Bernard Quaritch in 1878. He collected members for his club much like he did rare editons: each had an expertise in some unusual specialty.
William Manning was a club member who gave an after dinner talk on his recollections of the great magician Robert-Houdin. When Manning was a young boy he met the great magician and befriended Robert-Houdin's sons. His 'recollections' about Robert-Houdin were later published as a small book. Reading it today, over a hundred years after the speech was originally given, one is still struck by how forward thinking Robert-Houdin was and how down to earth. He developed many famous magic acts that are still performed today. Originally trained as a clockmaker, Robert-Houdin built all his own automata and magic props. He experimented with electricity and even wired his house with clocks and alarms in the 1860s which must have seemed very magical indeed. Manning captures the spirit of his admired friend. His words make the magician seem very contemporary and even more remarkable.
The New Statesman has compiled a collection of reviews of classic books that were published in its pages contemporaneous with their publication. The review of Nineteen Eighty-Four by VS Pritchett is a revealing look at the way that Orwell as perceived and received in his lifetime:
Nineteen Eighty-Four is a book that goes through the reader like an east wind, cracking the skin, opening the sores; hope has died in Mr Orwell's wintry mind, and only pain is known. I do not think I have ever read a novel more frightening and depressing; and yet, such are the originality, the suspense, the speed of writing and withering indignation that it is impossible to put the book down. The faults of Orwell as a writer - monotony, nagging, the lonely schoolboy shambling down the one dispiriting track - are transformed now he rises to a large subject. He is the most devastating pamphleteer alive because he is the plainest and most individual - there is none of Koestler's lurid journalism - and because, with steady misanthropy, he knows exactly where on the new Jesuitism to apply the Protestant whip...
...Mr Orwell's book is a satirical pamphlet. I notice that some critics have said that his prophecy is not probable. Neither was Swift's Modest Proposal nor Wells's Island of Dr Moreau. Probability is not a necessary condition of satire which, when it pretends to draw the future, is, in fact, scourging the present. The purges in Russia and, later, in the Russian satellites, the dreary seediness of London in the worst days of the war, the pockets of 19th-century life in decaying England, the sordidness of bad flats, bad food, the native and whining streak of domestic sluttishness which have sickened English satirists since Smollett - all these have given Mr Orwell his material. The duty of the satirist is to go one worse than reality; and it might be objected that Mr Orwell is too literal, that he is too oppressed by what he sees, to exceed it. In one or two incidents where he does exceed, notably in the torture scenes, he is merely melodramatic: he introduces those rather grotesque machines which used to appear in terror stories for boys. In one place - I mean the moment when Winston's Inquisitor drives him to call out for the death of his girl, by threatening to set a cageful of famished rats on him - we reach a peak of imaginative excess in terror, but it is superfluous because mental terrorism is his real subject.
Mike Mika's five-year-old daughter wanted to play Donkey Kong as Princess Toadstool, so he hacked the ROM to effect the genderswap (see the Damsels in Distress episode of "Tropes vs Women in Video Games" for more). He's even posted a patch (ZIP) for the original ROM so you can play it yourself, or with your kids.
My three year old daughter and I play a lot of old games together. Her favorite is Donkey Kong. Two days ago, she asked me if she could play as the girl and save Mario. She's played as Princess Toadstool in Super Mario Bros. 2 and naturally just assumed she could do the same in Donkey Kong. I told her we couldn't in that particular Mario game, she seemed really bummed out by that. So what else am I supposed to do? Now I'm up at midnight hacking the ROM, replacing Mario with Pauline. I'm using the 2010 NES Donkey Kong ROM. I've redrawn Mario's frames and I swapped the palettes in the ROM. I replaced the M at the top with a P for Pauline. Thanks to Kevin Wilson for giving me the lead on the tools and advice.
The entirety of the wonderful 1972 Tales from Muppetland special Muppet Musicians of Bremen is on YouTube is six parts. I loved this one growing up, and can't wait to share it with my daughter. It's not out on DVD, though you can find old laserdiscs of it if you hunt around.
Lakelady sez, "In an ad for cold cream facial cleanser they use 'slightly' radioactive dirt on a young woman's face to test which cleanser works the best. Complete with geiger counter clicks. Gotta love the innocence of the 50s."
Before anyone protests that the level of radioactivity is very low -- like, lower than a brick wall -- the astounding thing isn't that they're spreading "radioactive" stuff on a model's face, but rather that "radioactivity" is being presented as a health benefit and beautifying agent.
Matt Senate has a tattoo of the ARPAnet as it stood in 1971 -- ARPAnet being the lineal ancestor of the modern Internet. The photo here is from Cyrus Farivar. Here's some relevant Wikipedia verbiage:
In March 1970, the ARPANET reached the East Coast of the United States, when an IMP at BBN in Cambridge, Massachusetts was connected to the network. Thereafter, the ARPANET grew: 9 IMPs by June 1970 and 13 IMPs by December 1970, then 18 by September 1971 (when the network included 23 university and government hosts); 29 IMPs by August 1972, and 40 by September 1973. By June 1974, there were 46 IMPs, and in July 1975, the network numbered 57 IMPs. By 1981, the number was 213 host computers, with another host connecting approximately every twenty days.
In 1973 a transatlantic satellite link connected the Norwegian Seismic Array (NORSAR) to the ARPANET, making Norway the first country outside the US to be connected to the network. At about the same time a terrestrial circuit added a London IMP.
Megan and I were very fortunate that Emma Hurst chose to spend her college field work term with Prelinger Library and Archives, helping with Megan's forthcoming book and my forthcoming movie. As she viewed and logged some two hundred hours of home movies, she curated a striking collection of still images that, like all great collections, exceeds the sum of its parts.
Home movies manage to be many things at the same time: faithful records of ceremonies, places and behavior; deeply enigmatic and ambiguous narratives whose essence we'll never discover; and footage that just maybe points the way to new modes of moviemaking we've yet to discover. Since home movies are effectively infinite (we have 9,000 in our archives), the first task is to find, isolate and reframe the images that we want to work with. Out of some two million frames, Emma picked these.
"Types of insanity, an illustrated guide in the physical diagnosis of mental disease" from 1883 is not just a frightening look at the inhumane treatment of people with mental health problems in the 19th century, it's also full of sensitive charcoal portraits of inmates in various asylums, along with their tragic personal histories: "X______ has been melancholic for some years, and the disease is drifting into dementia."
John Camden Hotten's The Slang Dictionary: Etymological, Historical and Anecdotal was published in 1874, and is available in Project Gutenberg's archive. It's a nice piece of work, as this post on EbookFriendly illustrates, with choice definitions from a bygone era for "Pin," "Twitter" and more.
pin: “to put in the pin,” to refrain from drinking. From the ancient peg tankard, which was furnished with a row of pins, or pegs, to regulate the amount which each person was to drink. Drunken people are often requested to “put in the pin,” from some remote connexion between their unsteadiness and that of a carriage wheel which has lost its linch-pin. The popular cry, “put in the pin,” can have no connexion with the drinking pin or peg now, whatever it may originally have had. A merry pin, a roysterer
twitter: ”all in a twitter”, in a fright or fidgety state
poll: a female of unsteady character; “polled up,” means living with a woman in a state of unmarried impropriety. Also, if a costermonger sees one of his friends walking with a strange woman, he will say to him on the earliest opportunity, “I saw yer when yer was polled up”