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Posts Tagged ‘Henry Ford

“Those who control the past control the future”*…

 

Lindberg

 

Matt Seaton, editor of the New York Review of Books Daily, recounts his investigation into what might seem a small issue– the wording of a photo caption…

The photograph above appeared with Sarah Churchwell’s June 22 article for the Daily, “American Fascism: It Has Happened Here.” It shows Senator Burton K. Wheeler, former aviator Charles Lindbergh, and novelist and newspaper columnist Kathleen Norris at a rally in New York’s Madison Square Garden of the isolationist America First Committee (at right, mostly cropped out in this use, is also the pacifist minister and socialist Norman Thomas). Per the information from Getty Images with this photo, one of several similar images, our original caption in the piece read thus: Senator Burton K. Wheeler, Charles Lindbergh, and novelist Kathleen Norris giving the Nazi salute at an America First Committee rally, New York, October 30, 1941. (As can still be viewed via the Wayback Machine.)

A few days after publication, I received an email from a biographer of Wheeler that insisted the senator was not giving a Nazi salute; it was, he wrote, a “Bellamy salute,” a patriotic gesture to the American flag widely used at pledge of allegiance ceremonies. We should certainly correct our caption, I was told, since it was an unmerited slur against Wheeler, who was no fascist or anti-Semite.

We do, it is true, occasionally find errors of fact with captions from Getty—hardly surprising for one of the world’s most comprehensive photo archives, with some 200 million “assets.” If we have good reason to believe there is an error, we communicate that to Getty staff; they review our report, make their own assessment, and, if need be, correct the caption.

On this occasion, however, I was not persuaded of an error. While I could see that Wheeler’s gesture appeared half-hearted and not very Nazi, Lindbergh’s salute looked full-on fash to me.

But what of this Bellamy business?

The Bellamy salute is named for Francis Bellamy, a minister who, in 1892, wrote the American Pledge of Allegiance. A socialist and internationalist, he hoped that his original wording would be adopted by all nations (the words “of the United States of America” were added after “Flag” only in 1923; and “under God” was later added after “one nation,” during the Eisenhower administration, the better to ward off godless Communists). Bellamy also described the physical gesture to accompany the pledge-taking; hence the Bellamy salute.

A quick search of Getty stock for flag salutes from the first half of the twentieth century revealed plenty of images of mainly young people saluting the flag with either a conventional military salute (crooked arm, hand to the forehead) or the also-familiar hand-on-heart; only a few showed Bellamy salutes, from around the turn of the century, with the straight, outstretched arm, though also generally with the palm open, not facing downward. So I advised the biographer that he should take up the issue directly with Getty, rather than with us. And I said the same when, a few days later, I received a similar remonstration from another teacher and author, who also happened to be a great-grandson of Burton K. Wheeler.

A couple of weeks later, I heard back from the Wheeler biographer, notifying me that Getty had agreed to amend its caption. I checked the new wording, which was now uncommonly long and detailed for an archive photo, with the following sentence added: “They are giving the Bellamy Salute, which was replaced by the hand-over-heart salute the following year, because of concerns about its similarity to the Nazi ,or fascist salute, used in Italy and Germany.” Well, I wasn’t going to quibble over a misplaced comma, and I did update the caption in Churchwell’s—by removing any statement about what kind of salute this was.

But I was perturbed: I felt that Getty had accepted too readily the lobbying of one person (or possibly two, if the Wheeler relative was also a party to the effort), and I worried that the scenario in the photograph—which seemed, on its face, dubious and equivocal at best—had been declared far too affirmatively in one direction…

And so Mr. Seaton went to work… what he learned is both historically important and painfully timely: Saluting the Flag.

* George Orwell, 1984

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As we face history, we might (or might not) send birthday greetings to Henry Ford; he was born on this date in 1863.  Founder of the Ford Motor Company, he was a chief developer of the assembly line technique of mass production.  By creating the first automobile that middle-class Americans could afford, he converted the automobile from an expensive curiosity into an accessible conveyance that profoundly impacted the landscape of the 20th century.

Ford was also a fellow-traveler of Lindbergh, a ferocious anti-Semite who used his  newspaper, The Dearborn Independent, to publish the fabricated The Protocols of the Elders of Zion and a series of his own essays that were subsequently collected into a book, The International Jew, which Ford distributed in English, and had translated into German (where the subtitle “the World’s Foremost Problem” was added)– where it became a powerful influence on the development of Nazi thought.  Indeed, Ford is the only American mentioned favorably in Mein Kampf.

220px-Henry_ford_1919 source

 

“Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana”*…

 

Time

 

How does now unstick itself and become the past, and when does the future morph into the present? How do these states transition, one into another, so seamlessly?

How long is right now ?…

[Fascinating explorations of different explanations…]

Each theory of right now has one thing in common: It challenges the notion that the present is reliable and objective, or that it stretches out infinitely in front of us, even if we sometimes perceive it that way. This is an important reminder because the way we think about time affects the kinds of decisions we make.

We don’t just think about the past, present, or future, we think about ourselves in those places. (That’s the impetus behind something called Time Perspective Theory, which argues that there are six different ways people regard time, and it greatly influences your perspective on life.)

Studies have found that many people think about themselves in the future not as themselves, but as other people. When asked to imagine a birthday in the far off future, people are more likely to envision it from a third-person viewpoint. When we think about ourselves in 10 years, compared to right now, it activates similar parts of our brain that think about others, not ourselves.

Our instinct to place a lot of emphasis on the present, said Hal Hershfield, a psychologist at UCLA who has studied how perceptions of time relate to the choices people make. But if we could better relate to our future selves, we could be better off later on. Hershfield and his collaborators did a study that found that those who felt more similar to their future selves made more future-oriented decisions and had higher levels of well-being across a decade…

How long is right now?  As long as it took you to read that question?  Or shorter?  Or it might not exist at all…

* Anthony G. Oettinger

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As we remember Ram Dass, we might recall that it was on this date in 1914 that Henry Ford announced that his company would cut its workday from nine hours to eight, and double workers’ wages to $5 per day.

Cited as the beginning of the “living wage” revolution, it is often suggested that Ford made the move so that his employees could afford the product that they were making.  But many historians argue that the real motivations were likelier an attempt to reduce employee turnover and to put economic pressure on competitors.  In any event, that’s what happened:  while Ford’s move was hugely unpopular among other automakers, they saw the increase in Ford’s productivity– and a significant increase in profit margin (from $30 million to $60 million in two years)– and (mostly) followed suit.

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Assembly line at the Ford Motor Company’s Highland Park plant, ca. 1913

source

 

Written by LW

January 5, 2020 at 1:01 am

“Life is one big road with lots of signs”*…

 

Hay

 

(R)D has looked before at the remarkable work of the Farm Security Administration, which was launched in the New Deal to help relieve crippling poverty in rural communities.  As small part of that mission, the organization documented life in the the communities in which it worked….

These photos naturally included many road scenes, as the Great Depression had plunged rural America into a great migratory frenzy.

The photographs taken by FSA photographers under the direction of economist Roy Stryker have come to form the basis for the popular image of the Great Depression, among them Dorthea Lange’s Migrant Mother.

But I’m sure you familiar with that photo. What I want to share with you are some of the more striking images of cars and roadside life that also make up part of the collection, which the Library of Congress has digitized and made available on Flickr.

These photos capture a country on the move, attempting to make its way out of the worst financial crisis it had ever seen and into a productive future. This is intentional, of course. The photographs were intended to “introduce America to Americans” and instill pride in the country as it shook itself out of the depression…

Lincoln

More at: These Color Photos From the New Deal Show What Life On The Road Once Was Like.”  Visit the Flickr archive here.

* Bob Marley

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As we motor on, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908, at the at the Ford Piquette Avenue Plant in Detroit, “Model T 001”– the first production Model T– rolled off the line.  (On May 26, 1927, Henry Ford watched the 15 millionth Model T Ford roll off the assembly line at his factory in Highland Park, Michigan.)

220px-1908_Ford_Model_T

1908 Ford Model T ad

 

Written by LW

September 27, 2019 at 1:01 am

Taking it to the streets…

 

From traditional road signs…

… to the more modern electric variety…

… to the road itself…

… local artists and hackers around the world are adding spice to the daily drive.  See more at Web Urbanist’s “Culture Jamming: New Subversive Signs of Our Times.”

 

As we search for spray paint in an environmentally-friendly non-aerosol can, we might recall that it was on this date in 1902 that Henry Leland  formed the Cadillac Automobile Company.  When Henry Ford left the Henry Ford Company with several of his top lieutenants earlier that year to start the Ford Motor Company, the stranded financiers asked Leland, a master engineer, to appraise the plant and equipment for sale.  In the event, Leland bought the assets and re-started the operation, naming the new venture after his ancestor, Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit.  The company’s logo– the crest– is based on a coat of arms that Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac had created at the time of his marriage in 1687.

source

But while Leland is best remembered for Cadillac, he has arguably touched more lives via his invention of electric barber clippers.

source

 

Let’s get small…

Gerd Binnig and Heinrich Rohrer, inventors of the Scanning Tunneling Microscope (source: IBM)

Twenty years ago, technicians at IBM’s Almaden Research Lab pulled a nifty stunt with their scanning tunneling microscope (STM).  IBM scientists had invented the STM nine years earlier in IBM’s Zurich Lab (and received a Nobel prize for it in 1996); while the STM was originally intended simply to create visualizations of things very, very tiny, the folks at Almaden realized that the technique used– it “felt” the atoms in question with similarly-charged particles, then mapped the object– could be reversed:  the STM could change it’s charge, “pin” an atom, and move it…  The first illustration– and, some argue, the first example of “practical” nanotechnology– was this IBM logo, “written” in xenon atoms:

source: IBM

Over the last two decades, the STM has become a critical tool for chip makers, enabling them to perfect  current DRAM and flash memories.  Now, the folks at Almaden, still pushing the limits of their gear, they’ve turned their STMs into slo-mo movie cameras, and captured the atomic process of setting and erasing a bit on a single atom– that’s to say, of the operation of a single-atom DRAM.

Practical applications- atomic memories, better solar cells, and ultimately, atomic scale quantum computers– are, of course, some way off… but Moore’s Law seems safe for awhile.

Read all about it in EE Times.

As we drop the needle on that Steve Martin album, we might recall that it was on this date in 1908 that the Model T went on sale; it cost $825 (roughly equivalent to $20,000) today.  Ford’s advances in the technologies used both in the car and in its manufacture, along with economies of scale,  resulted in  steady price reductions over the next decade: by the 1920s, the price had fallen to $290 (equivalent to roughly $3,250 today).

1908 advertisement

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