11 thoughts on “Thursday, January 13, 2022

  1. Wow, quite the responses from my challenges from fellow OTP’rs. I would cite the discovery of electricity as precipitating the telegraph, but it was more of an 18th century discovery not a 19th. I would say that the developments that came from both the telegraph and photography (the beginning fo mass media). I would also add that Maxwell’s EQ’s and from that (in 1888) H. Hertz investigation that led to the discovery of the radio wave. Hertz himself believed it was a useless discovery (how is that for a lack of vision?). Marconi in turn used Morse’s invention and the rest is history.

    As far as phrenology as a basis of racism. Thank you for the insightful response. A student in one of my periods wrote about the eugenic movement. Yes, unfortunately these bias have really dealt a hard blow to those communities to which this unfair lens was pointed. Bad behavior needs justification so that those inflicting it can look at themselves in the mirror and sleep at night. I hope we can work together to rectify generational trauma and past damage in a way that we can all heal together as humans.

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    1. Teacher Maness, I appreciated the prompt. If I had more tries (for extra credit?), I would also list:

      1) Barbed Wire (ca. 1870). An incredible book that traces the invention of barbed wire as a weaponization of pain against cattle in the American west to its deployment in the Boer War to its use in the world wars and concentration camps is Reviel Netz, Barbed Wire: An Ecology of Modernity. I cannot recommend Netz’s book enthusiastically enough.

      2) The many developments in astronomy, both material (optical devices) and conceptual. And the ways these developments and astronomical language showed up in the poetry of Emily Dickinson, who studied astronomy as one of her subjects at both Amherst Academy and Mount Holyoke Female Seminary in the 1840s.

      One small addendum to your feedback: with my post, I was after the ways science is always already enmeshed its societal settings, not just that it is capable of being misused via bad behavior. These enmeshings are not only in the past; they continue to be actively produced and reproduced today.

      Finally, what is my and Mike in VA’s collective grade on this project?

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  2. daniel, 17+ people perished in the bronx a few day ago in one of the worst fires in nyc’s modern history. good reflection from you today on risk and how we assess it. used to be risks to the soul were taken much more seriously than risks to the body.

    xicano, i feel you. here in nyc the situation is total chaos. children are now the main vectors of covid, catching it in schools and then taking it home to multigenerational families packed into small apartments. but school is also the bulwark of stability, food, etc. for many of those same children.

    tori, my grandfather grew up in a famine and very nearly did not survive. he could not abide the throwing away of any food. ever. but it also led to some pretty twisted affective relationships with money amongst his children.

    leo, i love archaic words, the little cross (of death) that marks them in the oed. and i love using them, believing that they never die, that their afterlives continue, like ghosts, haunting our everyday speech.

    ron, this is an important conversation, about the art and the artist, the maker and the made. of course, being dead does not prevent continued accrual of reputational profit, the formation of canons, anthologies, syllabi, and library collections constituting the backing sheet of the collective conscious. in this way, there may be an imperfect parallel to the politics of statues (and a literal one in the case of the petition to tear down jack london’s statue). good for thinking on more, for sure, but i’m not convinced the question of immediate monetary gain to the author provides a satisfying way through it. more anon, perhaps, on this.

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  3. DBD: I didn’t know about the OED’s little + denoting death next to an archaic word. My physical OED, 2nd Edn, 2003, doesn’t have ‘somewise’ at all. Interesting that a later same-size dictionary (Collins, 2018) does. Theoretically, if based on usage, they should all be the same. They must be using different data. The Chambers always has more Scottish words.

    You’re probably aware of the story of the madman W. C. Minor (I’m not using the term lightly: Minor cut off his own penis while in a madhouse and sewed it back on again…you couldn’t make it up) who was one of the greatest contributors to the first OED to contain examples taken from contemporary sources, 10,000 of which were provided by the aforementioned man with a needle. Simon Winchester’s book, The Professor and the Madman, aka The Surgeon of Crowthorne, was even made into a movie with Sean Penn and Mel Gibson, that well-known anti-semite. I haven’t seen the film but I thoroughly enjoyed the book.

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  4. I’ve enjoyed the Physics essays, especially about the original digital communication. Marconi did not invent radio, but as many of us, I’m sure glad he commercialized it so it became widely used. Imagine a world without radio.

    Not nice to ignore fire alarms. Is it always necessary to exit a building? As a former firefighter, I say yes. Now I can also say we all can make a choice, but don’t stay in too long because when there’s smoke there are many more hazardous deadly gasses, especially with modern furnishings, carpets, and wall coverings. 19 people didn’t make it out in the Bronx.

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    1. Hi Bill, my understanding is that all the Bronx fatalities were from smoke inhalation and that advice in high rises with “fire proof” construction materials is that it’s safer to close doors and shelter in place on upper floors rather than risk smoke inhalation in the long descent down interior stairwells. A family of five on the 17th floor tried to exit immediately upon hearing the alarm and were trapped in thick smoke in stairwell. What’s your take on this as former firefighter?

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    1. I googled that, but did not find a lot of evidence for it. They were doing those kinds of pseudoscientific work for sure though.

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  5. Mr. Maness, my cat ate my homework last night. But I do have an OTP post tomorrow on your assignment. I understand my grade may be lowered in respect to the lateness of submission. My son tells me the invention of the steam engine is key – and anything dealing with light. But no cheating with offspring. donkeysbydaylight, my hearts go out to the community of Bronx folks, many working class and immigrants and trying to get them the support they need without fear of ICE or other kinds of harassment. Daniel, fear and irrational fear, at least you are conscious of that thing that begs consideration always. Articulation of fear; a painful memory that you typed out. Xicano, mental health is a big factor that we seem to be in denial of especially for the children and their teachers on the front line — very much here in Oakland – even though we knew this would happen. Also, dbd, barbed wire; ugh. Stockhausen to the Border Patrol, such a low tech invention — but effectively enmeshing us to this day.

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    1. I believe that the steam engine is 18th century, so technically it does not count for the assignment. I would mark that as the beginning of the industrial revolution.

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