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Posts Tagged ‘Woodrow Wilson

“The cyclical rebirth of caste in America is a recurring racial nightmare”*…

 

griffith

Dorothy and Lillian Gish and D.W. Griffith at the White House, 1922. Library of Congress

 

The year 1915 marked the fiftieth anniversary of the end of the Civil War. Monuments to Confederate and Union heroes were being dedicated all over the country. Woodrow Wilson, a fan of Jim Crow laws, was president. He had allowed federal workplaces to segregate again.

Enter Thomas Dixon Jr., Wilson’s classmate from Johns Hopkins. A film had just been made of Dixon’s second novel, “the true story” of the South under Reconstruction. Would the president, he wondered, be interested in viewing it? (He would.)

“History written with lightning,” Wilson declared of The Clansman, the second film ever to be screened in the White House. It was an endorsement guaranteed to head off resistance from town censor boards charged with shutting down entertainment deemed unsuitable or incendiary to the public…

The Clansman was a silent movie with title cards. It depicted whites as victims and blacks as villains. Benevolent former masters were denied votes and subjugated by newly freed blacks taking over the country. In an early scene, black legislators sit at desks, shoeless and drunk, too busy stuffing their faces with fried chicken to work. The title card read: “An historical facsimile of the State House of Representatives of South Carolina in 1870.” South Carolina had been the first state to elect a majority-black legislature and that the card implied that the apish behavior depicted was historically accurate, too.

In a later scene, the white heroine (played by Lillian Gish) is threatened by a black man unable to contain his urge to “mongrelize” the white race. Before she is ravaged, a savior army rides in: The Ku Klux Klan. The title-card copy comes straight from the president’s five-volume History of the American People, published in 1902:

440px-wilson-quote-in-birth-of-a-nation

More of this sad story, and its aftermath, at “Hatred Endorsed by a President.”

* Michelle Alexander, author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

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As we ruminate on recurrence, we might send never-ending birthday greetings to August Ferdinand Möbius; he was born on this date in 1790.  A German mathematician and theoretical astronomer, he is best remembered as a topologist, more specifically for his discovery of the Möbius strip (a two-dimensional surface with only one side… or more precisely, a non-orientable two-dimensional surface with only one side when embedded in three-dimensional Euclidean space).  See ““It might help to think of the universe as a rubber sheet, or perhaps not.”

 source

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Written by LW

November 17, 2018 at 1:01 am

Patience, rewarded…

 

As (R)D readers know, Randall Munroe’s xkcd webcomic has done some weird and wonderful things before (e.g., here and here), but #1190, ‘Time,” is something special.  A time-lapse movie of two people building a sandcastle, it’s been updating just once an hour (twice an hour in the beginning) for well over a month (since March 25th)– and after over a thousand frames shows no sign of ending.  Any day now, the number of frames will surpass the total number of xkcd comics.  Some of its readers have called it the One True Comic; others, a MMONS (Massively Multiplayer Online Nerd Sniping).  It’s sparked its own wiki, its own jargon (Timewaiters, newpix, Blitzgirling), and a thread on the xkcd user forum that runs to over 20,000 posts from 1100 distinct posters.  So, is ‘Time” a mesmerizing work of art, a penetrating sociological experiment — or the longest-running shaggy-dog joke in history?  Randall Munroe’s not saying.

See it here— and leave it open in your browser… for a long time…

[TotH to Slashdot]

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As we remember that at least some things come to those who wait, we might also recall that it was on this date in 1914 that President Woodrow Wilson proclaimed Mother’s Day– the second Sunday in May– as a day for Americans to show the flag in honor of those mothers whose sons had died in war.

The drive to found the holiday came from Anna Jarvis (in honor of her mother, Ann, who had tried to start a “Mother’s Remembrance Day” in the mid-19th century).  In 1905, Jarvis enlisted the support of merchant extraordinaire John Wanamaker, who knew a merchandising opportunity when he saw one, and who hosted the first Mother’s Day ceremonies in his Philadelphia emporium’s auditorium.  In 1912, Jarvis trademarked the phrases “second Sunday in May” and “Mother’s Day”*, and created the Mother’s Day International Association.  By 1914, Jarvis and Wanamaker had built sufficient support in Congress to a get Congressional Resolution requesting the President’s action.  Wilson, who was by current accounts uninterested in the move (distracted as he was by the beginnings of his ultimately unsuccessful effort to keep the U.S. out of the troubles in Europe that became World War I), nonetheless knew better than to take a stand against moms.

So readers should remember that there are only three shopping days (counting today) before this year’s Mother’s Day.

 source

* Though the ad above handles it differently, Jarvis specified that that “Mother’s” should “be a singular possessive, for each family to honor their mother, not a plural possessive commemorating all mothers in the world.”

Written by LW

May 9, 2013 at 1:01 am

Say when…

Introducing When the What?— “It’s Timeline Time!”

More (and larger) hand-drawn histories at When the What?  [TotH to Brain Pickings]

As we get our stories straight, we might wish an isolationist Happy Birthday to historian and Republican politician Henry Cabot Lodge; he was born in Boston on this date in 1850.  One of the first students to earn a Harvard doctorate in history and government (1876), Lodge represented his home state in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1887 to 1893, and in the Senate from 1893 to 1924.  After World War I, as chairman of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, he led the successful fight to keep the U.S. out of the League of Nations, arguing that membership in Woodrow Wilson’s proposed world peacekeeping organization would threaten the sovereignty of the United States by binding the nation to international commitments it would not or could not keep.  (Hear Lodge’s case against the League, from the Library of Congress’ collection, here.)

source: Library of Congress

I’ll take the low road…

source: Argonne National Laboratory

Cartoonist Rube Goldberg sketched ironic paeans to parsimony– cartoons depicting the simplest of things being done in the most elaborate and complicated of ways.  His whimsy inspired Purdue University to hold an annual Rube Goldberg Contest, in which teams of college students from around the country compete “to design a machine that uses the most complex process to complete a simple task – put a stamp on an envelope, screw in a light bulb, make a cup of coffee – in 20 or more steps.”

New Scientist reports on this year’s meet:

Who ever said a machine should be efficient? The device in this video was deliberately over-engineered to water a plant in 244 steps, while illustrating a brief history of life and the universe in the meantime. Created by students at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana, it sets a new world record for the most complex Rube Goldberg machine – a contraption designed to complete a simple task through a series of chain reactions.

The machine was unveiled in March at the National Rube Goldberg Machine Championships held at Purdue University. The competition, first held in 1949, challenges competitors to accomplish a simple task in under 2 minutes, using at least 20 steps.

Although this machine used the greatest number of steps, it encountered some problems during the contest so was disqualified. But the team tried it again afterwards and it worked – too late to compete in the championships but still valid as a world record entry. They should find out this week if Guinness World Records accepts their record-breaking feat.

For more Rube Goldberg machines, check out our previous coverage of the championships, watch this cool music video by OK Go or see how an elaborate Japanese device could fix you a noodle dinner.

As we savor the sheer silliness of it all, we might recall that The American Academy of Arts and Sciences, which was founded during the Revolutionary War, was chartered on this date in 1780.

Established by by John Adams, James Bowdoin, John Hancock, and other leaders who contributed prominently to the establishment of the new nation, its government, and its Constitution, the Academy’s purpose was (in the words of the Charter) “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honour, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”

Over the years, just about everyone a reader may have encountered in a U.S. History text has been a member: The original incorporators were later joined by Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Charles Bulfinch, Alexander Hamilton, John Quincy Adams, and others. During the 19th century, the elected membership included Daniel Webster, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John J. Audubon, Louis Agassiz, Asa Gray, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Alexander Graham Bell.  In the early decades of the twentieth century, membership in the Academy continued to grow as other noted scholars, scientists, and statesmen were elected– including A. A. Michelson, Percival Lowell, Alexander Agassiz and, later, Charles Steinmetz, Charles Evans Hughes, Samuel Eliot Morison, Albert Einstein, Henry Lee Higginson, Woodrow Wilson, William Howard Taft, and Henry Cabot Lodge.  (Current members are listed here.)

Today the Academy is (in its self-explanation) “an international learned society with a dual function: to elect to membership men and women of exceptional achievement, drawn from science, scholarship, business, public affairs, and the arts, and to conduct a varied program of projects and studies responsive to the needs and problems of society.”

The Minerva Seal (source)

The lore of large numbers…

The folks at Pingdom pay pretty close attention to the Net.  Now, in “Internet 2009 in Numbers,” they share back what they’ve learned.

For example:

– 90 trillion – The number of emails sent on the Internet in 2009.
– 247 billion – Average number of email messages per day.
– 1.4 billion – The number of email users worldwide.
– 100 million – New email users since the year before.
– 81% – The percentage of emails that were spam.
– 92% – Peak spam levels late in the year.
– 24% – Increase in spam since last year.
– 200 billion – The number of spam emails per day (assuming 81% are spam).

There’s more– in a way that’s amusingly resonant with their subject, much, much more–  here.  As the folks at Pingdom suggest, “prepare for information overload…   but in a good way.”

As we reset our spam filters, we might recall that it was on this date in 1919 that The Paris Peace Conference, convened to build a lasting peace after World War I, approved the proposal to create the League of Nations. A centerpiece of Woodrow Wilson’s “Fourteen Points for Peace,” the organization was meant to provide “mutual guarantees of political independence and territorial integrity to great and small states alike.”

The League was liquidated in 1946, at the end of the global conflagration– World War II– it was meant to prevent; it was effectively replaced by the United Nations, which took over many of the League’s agencies and functions.

Commemorative Card

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