HB V

is older than it's ever been and now it's even older

5/08/2001

Dreaming in technicolor


I think the reason I liked the color pictures from Russia that I linked yesterday is because they allow a look in memory terms of an era that is beyond historical memory. I've always been fascinated by history, of all types. I get chills when I think about things that were done on the land that I am standing on; as if it's the land rather than the people that make history happen. Nonetheless, our scope of history in the West is really quite narrow; we are a young country and that tends to create a small set of data to conceive of our history in. Therefore, something that happens in the nineteenth century is A Long Time Ago, but for other countries they have much older historic antecedents. I think a neat way to think about history is in terms of living memories and how they correspond to the previous era. Our parents' parents could remember seeing the last Civil War veterans die, as they passed on in the forties; these same Civil War vets could have talked with those who served in the war of 1812, and those people certainly knew people who remember the revolutionary war. We're not very good at dealing with oral history in the United States; I see it all the time on the Antiques Roadshow, where people bring in some artifact that has been in their family for 150 years and they don't know anything about it. It's sad.

Every generation henceforth is far more lucky than the previous one, as each aspect of our lives get chronicled ad nauseum. The basic history of the last hundred years is documented well, as well as pictures to aid our visual memory, but it's shocking to think how much basic things have changed. The awesome show the 1900 House that aired last year was an excellent example of this phenomenon. Who could imagine the way life is lived without the washing machine, safety razor, or comfortable clothes? So, since I liked the pictures, I went looking for more. None of these are quite as cool as the shots from yesterday, but they're all pretty neat.
This is the world's oldest color photograph; it was taken in 1872. It's a landscape of a French town. Here are some more very old pictures, many of them taken using the Autochrome method. The Autochrome was the first mass-produced color system; it involved using starches on glass to capture the color. One drawback to this system is that each exposure took much longer than B/W pictures; that helps explain the dearth of people in picture collections like this one of Kansas City in the 1930s. Unfortunately, it's the people that seem to be the most interesting facet of the old photographs. Some more old Autochromes can be found here. Lastly, this history of color photographs is very informative of the processes and has some cool pics as well.

Some neat color WWII pictures can be found here and here.

Updates! (and sports, sorta)

On the Dartmouth fratboy sex rag scandal; the school president is now under fire for not reining in the power of the hegemony of the Greeks. One of the things I am most happy about my undergraduate experience is that I didn't go to a school that had any fraternities (or sororities). Well, they tried to, but the only people who were part of the Greeks at LC were the same people that tried to start the LC Gun Club, and that went over like a lead balloon. The debate squad room happened to be the only place the 'frat boys' at LC hung out, my freshman year (1993). They were also known for throwing raw meat through the window of the Resident Assistant, who was a shrewish woman named Jenny Horvat. Jenny finally got her revenge by chasing the frats off campus for good and getting the debate team kicked out of our squad room under her window. I liked that room; it was out of the way, quiet, and featured a closet that homeless members of the team could live in for weeks (or months, like Steve Pointer) at a time.

Update on cranky cartoonists (see also Jack Chick): A brief history of the cranks that have been cartoonists over the last 100 years. Thanks to the Null Device for the link.

News flash: Shaquille O'neal is an asshole. And how to get to first base without Barry White playing in the background. Thanks for the links, Jeff.

(confidential to Shawnee Keck: Write me! I know you're out there.)

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