‘Pole Sitting’ in Adelaide, circa 1950s.

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When I was 12 years old my Dad would regularly take me down to the Henley Beach Square at Henley Beach (a seaside suburb of Adelaide).
There I would stand open mouthed, staring upwards at the grown up adults sitting on top of poles.
They were crazy, but why did they do it?
Evidently, pole sitting competitions were all the rage in the United States in the early 1920s.
People were desperate for money and so they sat up on the top of poles to win some lousy competition.
Like most things the craze took another 20 years or more to reach the shores of Australia.
The Square would be packed with families enjoying the summer nights as they wandered from pole to pole.
There was a lot of good natured banter between pole sitters and those gawking up at them.
Because Adelaide was a small city there were a lot of people who knew each other and to me a visit to the square was exciting.
derwombat

‘Hells Bells’ or ‘I’ll be dipped’: Notes on Swearing.

swearingIn 1904, Roland D. Sawyer launched a crusade against obscenity.
No one ever heard my grandmother, in all her eighty-three years, utter a bad word. I can only once remember her even raising her voice. “It’s all fouled up!” she cried then, shaking a broken TV set.
She said it with such frustration and despair that it expressed at least as much as any curse word might have. In fact, besides the time I heard a four-year-old in my brother’s playgroup call his sister Mary-Ellen a “fuckindamnshit,” it was the most shocking thing I’d ever heard.
Her husband, my grandfather, was considered foul-mouthed in the family; his language was a constant cause of distress to her. But in fact, he didn’t use real swear words either—certainly not compared to that little boy.
It was usually a savage Goddammit! Or Hell’s Bell’s! His worst outbursts were reserved for his weekly gin game. It was then that he’d reach for the worst epithet of all: “I’ll be dipped.”
“I’ll be dipped”—said with a vehement emphasis on the last word that hinted at incipient violence, and with an Arkansas accent—was all the scarier because we weren’t sure what it meant. Sheep dip? Boiling oil? As a grown-up, I’ve heard it since in the South (or in its cruder form, “I’ll be dipped in shit!”) but it’s always a benign expression of surprise. Never does it convey the menace that my grandfather’s version did.
It’s true that curse words tend to be ugly—guttural, coarse, basic—but then, any word can be made ugly.
There just needs to be enough rage behind it, the way something innocent can be turned into a weapon.
Read on via Notes on Swearing: Is “I’ll Be Dipped” Our Finest Epithet?.

The ‘Vinegar’ King James Bible (1717).

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The Holy Bible as printed in Oxford in 1717 by John Baskett became known as the ‘Vinegar Bible’ on account of the celebrated misprint in the Parable of the Vineyard. Rel.bb.71.2
No authoritative copy of the King James Bible survives.
The manuscript, supposedly still in existence in 1655, is said to have perished in the Great Fire of London.
The first editions were produced by the King’s Printer, Robert Barker, who despite his eminent position seems to have been a disorganised workman who introduced a large number of typographical errors.
The first Cambridge edition of 1629 carefully revised the text, but Barker excelled himself in 1631 with the notorious ‘Wicked Bible’ which omitted the word ‘not’ from the Seventh Commandment.
The translation itself was not universally admired either, the Puritan scholar Hugh Broughton damning it as soon as it appeared, and a later writer producing an 800 page volume on errors in the Pentateuch alone.
Nonetheless, assisted by the monopoly of the King’s Printer, the new translation rapidly supplanted the Bishops’ Bible and, more slowly, the Geneva version.
Plans for another rendering in the Commonwealth period came to nothing, and the King James version, dubbed the Authorised Version although no record survives of it ever having been authorised, reigned unchallenged until the 1880s.
Lectern
via Great and Manifold Blessings: The Making of the King James Bible.

The Flippers and Floppers of the Old Guv.

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Flippin’ and Floppin’ were swear words used by our Salvation Army workmates.
The two main users of these weak as piss swear words were Bert Cotton and the late Ivan (Frecklehead) Merrett.
Allan (Porky) Dell, Trevor (Mr. Nice Guy) Roberts and Steve Jones (Monocaster) would also use these words freely when they had the shits on with the comps.
The big question is what word did flippin’ replace and what word was floppin’ replacing?
I often wondered what a Salvation Army service would be like if they all got angry or all holy and started calling each other flippin’ and floppin’ idiots.
Can’t you just imagine Ivan Merrett telling Bert, “I say Bert, you really are a big flippin’ dobber.”
Then Bert would reply, “Ivan, go and get flopped!”
I wonder if the Salvation Army still uses these words today?
Warren

The Bundy ‘Time Clock’ Brothers torn apart by their Clock.

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It was a disaster for the families.
But it started well. The inventor of an early version of the time clock was a jeweler, Willard Legrand Bundy of Auburn, New York.
His brother, Harlow Bundy, an entrepreneur, formed Bundy Manufacturing Company in 1889 to produce Willard’s time clock.
Their “workman’s time-recorder” captured on paper tape the arrival and departure times of employees. Businesses and factories across the country began using the recorder.
In 1900, Bundy Manufacturing merged with other companies to form international time recording, which later became IBM.
But the brothers, who worked together, had disagreements, starting with the firing of one of Willard’s sons.
Willard eventually left the company , too. His sons formed a rival time recording company using a new patent. Harlow’s company hammered them with lawsuits for years.
Family disputes aside, the value of the time clock was immediately obvious. It’s ability to accurately track workers’ hours helped workers, who had proof of time worked.
And managers received data more accurately and efficiently than from human time recorders.
via Two Brothers Time Clock | Orbital Shift.

The Transoceanic Airport Network circa 1930s.

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This short shelf-lived idea was that of Edward R. Armstrong (1880-1955), who in 1927 first published his plan for a series of ocean-moored 1200’x200’ floating platforms standing 100′ above the waves for refueling and whatnot for transcontinental flights.
These five-acre stations—named the “Langley” in honor of Samuel Pierpont Langley, would be placed every 375 miles across the ocean.
It doesn’t look like a very practical (or good) idea, but Armstrong received a $750,000 piece of development change from du Pont and GM, which was major dollars in 1929.
Armstrong’s idea would get major play in the popular press from time-to-time, his project renamed “The Seadrome” and discussed as a series of floating islands.
Armstrong himself would organize the Seadrome Ocean Dock Corp. in the late 1930’s, his pretty but enormously impractical idea (reported by Time Magazine2 in 1933 as little more than “a perennial gift to Sunday feature editors”) finally grinding to a salty end with greater fuel capacity and efficiency in transatlantic aircraft.
Read on via JF Ptak Science Books: Floating Transoceanic Airport Network, 1930s.