Photos from late 19th-Century Japan.

Samurai in Armour
In 1881, after working for many years with the European photographers Felice Beato and Baron Raimund von Stillfried as a photographic colourist and assistant, the Japanese photographer Kusakabe Kimbei finally opened his own workshop in the Benten-dōri quarter of Yokohama.
He’d soon establish himself as one of the most respected and successful Japanese photographers of his generation, opening another studio in Yokohama’s Honmachi quarter in 1889, and also a branch in the Ginza quarter of Tokyo.
The selection here is from the collection held by The Getty in Los Angeles, focusing mostly on work from the early part of Kimbei’s career.

Flower Kept Alive by Putting in Water; Kusakabe Kimbei (Japanese, 1841 – 1934, active 1880s – about 1912); Japan; 1870s – 1890s; Hand-colored albumen silver print; 20.3 x 26.6 cm (8 x 10 1/2 in.); 84.XA.700.4.30

Playing Samisen, Tsudzumi, Fuye and Taiko; Kusakabe Kimbei (Japanese, 1841 – 1934, active 1880s – about 1912); Japan; 1870s – 1890s; Hand-colored albumen silver print; 20.3 x 26.3 cm (8 x 10 3/8 in.); 84.XA.700.4.19

Source: Kusakabe Kimbei’s Photographs of Late 19th-Century Japan | The Public Domain Review

“Dimension X” Sci-Fi Radio Show, 1951.

dimension-x
Enthusiasts of American radio drama usually place the form’s “Golden Age” as beginning in the 1920s and ending, almost at the stroke of television’s mass adoption, in the 1950s. NBC’s Dimension X, which ran in 1950 and 1951, came somewhat late to the game, but it did more than its part to give “old time radio” a strong last decade — indeed, perhaps its strongest.
Other famous “serious” science-fiction programs had aired in the 20s, 30s, and 40s, but Dimension X made its mark by adapting short stories by acknowledged masters of the craft: Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, and even a non-genre-bound literary mind like Kurt Vonnegut.
All of these world-creators knew well the value of imagination, and radio, in its way, stood then and remains today the most evocative, imagination-driven medium of them all.
At the Internet Archive (certainly a more convenient old time radio source than the bootleg cassette tapes I used to have to buy) you can download all of Dimenson X‘s “adventures in time and space, transcribed in future tense.”
If you don’t know where in this speculative field of time and space to begin, we’ve highlighted a few Dimension X episodes drawn from works of the most notable authors. June 10, 1950′s “The Green Hills of Earth“, based upon the Robert Heinlein story of the same name, relates the life of “Noisy” Rhysling, a blind space-age troubadour who realizes he must pay tribute to the planet he long ago left behind.
The very next week’s “There Will Come Soft Rains“, one of Ray Bradbury’s many works adapted for the show, describes the apocalypse through the processes of the self-maintaining high-tech miracle house.
June 17, 1951′s “Pebble in the Sky” takes its theme from the eponymous Isaac Asimov novel that thrusts a 20th-century everyman into a complex future of a galactic empire, a radioactive Earth, and mandatory euthanasia at age sixty.
And in February 11, 1950′s “Report on the Barnhouse Effect“, only the show’s third broadcast, we hear the testimony of a telekinetic — one who, given that Kurt Vonnegut wrote the original story, it won’t surprise you to hear the government immediately (and haplessly) tries to weaponize.
via Dimension X: The 1950s SciFi Radio Show That Dramatized Stories by Asimov, Bradbury, Vonnegut & More – | Open Culture.

The Cool Vintage Radio Kluge California Kilowatt.

1310357535068775086If you were a radio nerd in the 1940s, this was your dream set. Built by Kluge Electronics in Los Angeles, the “California Kilowatt” could not only send and receive messages, but it came with all the bells and whistles — including built-in speakers and an illuminated map of the world, all housed in a sleek fold-down desk.
The term California Kilowatt was slang in the ham radio community for a transmitter with a power input that exceeded the legal limit. The slightly misleading part? This radio only transmitted at the legal limit. I guess even the coolest radio ever can’t have it all.
From the ad in the March 1946 issue of Radio-Craft:
Kluge Electronics, Inc., is the first to conceive, design and produce this remarkable contribution to modern radio. Among the special Kluge features designed into the CALIFORNIA KILOWATT are:
A California Kilowatt transmitter with an amazing new tube development — 5 band operation with variable frequency control in each band — phone or CW at the throw of a switch — 110 or 220 volt operation;
Provisions for your choice make of receiver;
Built-in speaker — (high-fidelity remote speaker also available);
Built-in world time clock;
Illuminated world map with cork backing;
Price — the complete CALIFORNIA KILOWATT Station costs far less than you would expect to pay for a transmitter alone.
Sadly, the ad doesn’t mention how much this thing was going for exactly. But I can’t imagine it was cheap.
Image: Scanned from the March 1946 issue of Radio-Craft magazine
via This Is The Coolest Vintage Radio Ever .

Marvel Comics’ Stan Lee Dies At 95.

American comic book writer, editor, publisher and former President of Marvel Comics Stan Lee died Monday at the age of 95.
Lee gave us over six decades of work like The Incredible Hulk and The Amazing Spider-Man — superheroes we could identify with, characters that allowed us to suspend our disbelief because they reacted to bizarre situations like you or I might.

In a 1998 interview, Lee said, “Before Marvel started, any superhero might be walking down the street and see a 12-foot-tall monster coming toward him with purple skin and eight arms breathing fire, and the character would have said something like, ‘Oh! There’s a monster from another world; I better catch him before he destroys the city.’

Robert Scott, owner of Comickaze, a San Diego comic-book store, says Lee put the human in superhuman.”He would talk about prejudice, racism,” Scott says. “I mean the X-Men, here was a group of people who were only trying to do good things and only trying to help and they were constantly ostracized by being mutants”. “For Lee, having compelling, thought-provoking subject matter was crucial to his business.”
Lee Dies At 95 : NPR

The Age of Scrapbooking.

julaug14_d06_scrapbookingHow much media do you see in a single day?
God knows there’s more than ever being produced.
In the next 24 hours, for example, the New York Times will write more than 700 stories, the Huffington Post will post 1,200, Forbes and BuzzFeed will generate 300 to 400 and Slate another 60.
Of course, this is just the smallest sip from the fire hose. Throw in, say, YouTube, and you’ve got 144,000 hours of new video to watch every day.
How do we sift through this onslaught of news and information? Largely by using social media.
People now routinely cull through their favorite sites for photographs and bits of news, then post them online.
Collectively, we’ve pinned more than 30 billion items on Pinterest, shared a staggering 400 billion photos on Facebook and tweeted more than 300 billion times so far.
julaug14_d02_scrapbooking
Jolie Gabor (mother of actresses Eva, Zsa Zsa and Magda) scrapbooking in the 1950s. (Bettmann / CORBIS)
Cutting, pasting, collating: This feels like a new behavior, a desperate attempt to cope with a radical case of information overload.
But it’s actually a quite venerable urge.
Indeed, back in the 19th century we had a similarly intense media barrage, and we used a very similar technology to handle it:
the scrapbook.
Now read on via When Copy and Paste Reigned in the Age of Scrapbooking | History | Smithsonian.

The History and Origins of Ice Cream.

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AMSCOL, the Adelaide Milk Supply Co Operative Limited. Remember the factory in Carrington Street in the city? Amscol was set up by Adelaide’s dairy farmers in the 1920s to process daily milk supplies. And of course Amscol made other treats, too, like the ice cream brick, Amscol Dandies, Twin Chocs, Berry Bars and Hi Tops.
The Chinese King Tang of Shang is thought to have had over ninety “ice men” who mixed flour, camphor, and buffalo milk with ice. They had pots they filled with a syrupy mixture, which they then packed into a mixture of snow and salt.
Emperor Nero Claudius Caesar of Rome was said to have sent people up to the mountains to collect snow and ice which would then be flavoured with juice and fruit—kind of like a first century snow cone.
One of the earliest forerunners of modern ice cream was a recipe brought back to Italy from China by Marco Polo.
The recipe was very like what we would call sherbet. From there, it is thought that Catherine de Medici brought the dessert to France when she married King Henry II in 1533. I
n the 1600s, King Charles I of England was said to have enjoyed “cream ice” so much that he paid his chef to keep the recipe a secret from the public, believing it to be solely a royal treat.
However, these two stories appeared for the first time in the 19th century, many years after they were said to have taken place, so may or may not be true.
One of the first places to serve ice cream to the general public in Europe was Café Procope in France, which started serving it in the late 17th century.
The first mention of ice cream in America appeared in 1744, when a Scottish colonist visited the house of Maryland Governor Thomas Bladen wrote about the delicious strawberry ice cream he had while dining there.
The first advertisement for ice cream in America appeared in 1777 in the New York Gazette, in which Philip Lenzi said ice cream was “available almost every day” at his shop.
However, the “origin” story that his wife Martha once left sweet cream on the back porch one evening and returned in the morning to find ice cream is definitely not true.
Thomas Jefferson created his own recipe for vanilla ice cream, and President Madison’s wife served strawberry ice cream at her husband’s second inaugural banquet.
Strawberry-ice-cream-cone
Ice cream at this time was made using the “pot freezer” method, which involved placing a bowl of cream in a bucket of ice and salt (note: not mixing the ice and salt with the cream as many believe).
The St. Louis World Fair popularized the ice cream cone. World War II further popularized the dessert as the treat was great for troop morale and became somewhat of a symbol of America at the time (so much so that Italy’s Mussolini banned ice cream to avoid the association).
This war time ice cream resulted in the biggest producer of ice cream in America in 1943 being the United States Armed Forces.
via Today I found Out.