Category Archives: History

Early version of Google

This was the early version of Google. Using these humble wooden drawers, generations of scholars and researchers, desperate students and cunning spies, despairing parents and fanatical bibliophiles, and every other shape and size of reader delved into the depth and breadth of human understanding.

Something worth considering: Google contains only a fraction of the knowledge once cataloged by card catalogs. Technology has digitized and indexed only that which is easy to digitize and index; most journal articles, newspaper articles, books, scientific papers, notebooks and other written material are still confined to physical forms, and unknown to Internet search engines.

How I miss card catalogs.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder's of the world's past and the future of the universe.

The humble card catalog was the early version of Google. These wooden drawers held the wonder’s of the world’s past and the future of the universe.

Advertisements

Along the Louisville waterfront

Louisville is a seaport, of sorts. The Louisville, Kentucky, “seacoast” is the waterfront along the Ohio River, with that other coastal state, Indiana, just across the water. Barge traffic has moved up and down the river for a couple of centuries, winding its watery way to the Gulf of Mexico.

Most of the waterfront is industrial, or devoted to roads. There are a couple of parks. And a boat ramp, where this sign was found:

"Cars will be launched" could be frightening, unless you had a car that was also a launch, which is a particular type of boat.

“Cars will be launched” could be frightening, unless you had a car that was also a launch, which is a particular type of boat.

Less whimsical is this concrete obelisk, marked off in feet, showing the height of the river above “normal” elevation. At 26.5 feet is a note that this was the height of the 1997 flood. A mark at 29.2 feet shows the 1964 flood level. A mark at 30.1 feet shows the 1945 flood level. And the red arrow at the top points to the air above the 32 foot mark, noting the 1937 flood level, at 40 feet, would be somewhere up there.

Flood gauge along the Ohio River front in Louisville, Ohio, showing the heights of the 1997, 1964, and 1945 floods. A mark at the 32 foot level notes that the 1937 flood would have been up there somewhere, eight feet higher.

Flood gauge along the Ohio River front in Louisville, Ohio, showing the heights of the 1997, 1964, and 1945 floods. A mark at the 32 foot level notes that the 1937 flood would have been up there somewhere, eight feet higher.

Bottle cap Flag

In the United States, you can start a riot, or sink a political campaign, or fill nightly newscasts for a week with a real or implied desecration of the American flag. But apparently there is nothing at all wrong with creating a flag out of beer bottle caps.

Beer bottlecap flag over bar in Northern Virginia

To be honest, this really is an impressive piece of artwork.

It is worth noting that the American Revolution was fomented, in large measure, in the fermented confines of taverns.

Official Fourth Estate

Here we see a newspaper box at George Mason University in Northern Virginia. Note that the title of the newspaper is “Fourth Estate.” Then notice the slogan at the top: “Broadside and Connect2Mason present George Mason University’s official student news outlet.”

George Mason University has an official Fourth Estate, just like other well-known totalitarian regimes.

George Mason University has an official Fourth Estate, just like other well-known totalitarian regimes.

We can only assume that George Mason either lacks a department of journalism or lacks a history department, or both.

Why I didn’t become a graphic artist

I spent most of my grade school years drawing pictures instead of doing classwork. Classwork was easy, so I did that quickly and then “illuminated” my work with fanciful spacecraft, mythic maps, and lots of lizards and horses. My maps were quite good, my spacecraft were probably not flyable, and everything else was quite poor.

But now, thanks to powerful computer hardware and clever software, I can make cartoons based on nothing more than photographs that I’ve taken and odd comments. Such as this:

Cartoon showing two stacks of CD-ROMs mulling over their fate.

Combine powerful computers and software, a decent photo or three and some brief text, and you have cartoons!

You can find more such efforts at KLJC Computing Cartoons.

Adam the First

Genesis states that man was formed from dust of the ground, and this first man, Adam, went on with Eve to populate the Earth. This happened before 4000 BC, according to Bishop James Ussher (1581-1656), who precisely dated the creation of everything as occurring the night before Sunday, October 23, 4004 BC.

Modern cosmological evidence puts the date of the universe a bit earlier, roughly 13.75 billion years ago, give or take a few decades. Presumably the first human came after this, though the exact date depends on how you define “first human.”

But this large placard, in Howard County, Maryland, suggests Adam the First dates back to sometime before 1668. This opens up the intriguing possibility that Adam is younger than Bishop Ussher, which would certainly be a surprise to the Bishop.

Adam the First

Adam the First.

Of chocolate and wasabi

One of my coworkers recently took a trip to Japan. She’s always been fascinated with Japanese life and culture, and even went there on her honeymoon.

As I, too, am fascinated in Japan, though my fascination extends more into the scholarly fields, she brought me back a memento. The memento is also something of a challenge:

KitKat bar from Japan - with wasabi

KitKat bar from Japan - with wasabi. It is both a candy and a challenge. (iPhone photo by Lawrence I. Charters)

She was (and is) most curious to see if I would eat it. I share her curiosity; it is still sitting on my desk.