- Gathering the Bones, 18: Hew Down the Bridge!
- Postblogging Technology, October, I: Forest for the Trees
- The Bishop's Sea, III: The Real Presence
- Postblogging Technology, November, 1943: Caesar's New Clothes
- Postblogging Technology, November 1950, II: Platypus Time
- Postblogging Technology, December 1950, II: Christmas Corps
- Postblogging Technology, March 1944, I: Pulling In the Horns
- A Techno-Pastoral Appendix to Postblogging Technology, October 1950: The Chestnut Plague
- Gathering the Bones, XXIII: Wyandotte Days
- I Would Run Away to the Air: The British Economy, Montgolfier to 727, Part 1
Saturday, October 31, 2020
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Thursday, October 15, 2020
From January through October of this year, and most especially through the Canadian lockdown, I helped operate a "corner store" concept for my company --4000 sq feet of grocery attached to a pharmacy in the Oakridge shopping mall. An unwelcome legacy of the old Oakridge store was a queue of items that had gone out of stock just before the old store shut off automatic replenishment. Unless we manually removed them from outgoing orders, we got a very eclectic set of items, again and again.
Yes, they included an item identified as kippered herring, although as far as I can tell it's not quite the same preparation as the kippered herring that comes in cans. These particular kippered herrings had to be stored frozen and cooked before eating. I bought a couple and they were . . okay. Products of the Scottish herring fishery, they are Relevant to events of today, as fishing rights come up under Brexit. Foreigners fish some fishing grounds in British waters, and it is perhaps a matter of urgency that they be made to stop. Because of conservation. Or jobs. The fact that the British are great fishers but terrible seafood enthusiasts is a very interesting subtext to the discussion, and perhaps a historical question of some significance.
Getting back to the fish I ate (not a normal part of my diet, either), Alison Mary Locker explains that these short-life preservation techniques came into vogue in Nineteenth Century London because the fish would last long enough to be distributed by costermonger, but didn't ask too much in the way of cooking equipment and time. She's probably not the only historian to explain such things, but, in comparison with agrarian history, there's a bit of shortage of fishing/salt industry historians. In spite of that, there's been some movement in the field in the last few decades, perhaps not entirely synthesised yet. (I keep finding references to Kurlansky's Salt in academic monographs. Surely if there was something less popular, it would be cited instead?)
Friday, October 9, 2020
Pretty cool and historical that the USAF specified that its 1956 fighters should be capable of remote control via the Sperry Zero Reader directing the autopilot, right? Hopelessly precious, to be sure, but even that is grist for the historian's mill. Anyway. What's a Zero Reader?
Stop giving me those pitying looks. I figured it out. The Sperry Zero Reader is just a flight director. I feel dumb not figuring it out, or at least not pursuing the question far enough to find someone to explain it lucidly.There's a little more to be said about its gyroscopic magic, and it wouldn't be Fifties-era militariana if it weren't a little sinister in a nuclear-holocaust-sort-of-way. I'm also going to touch base with a classic of history of technology, Donald MacKenzie's Inventing Accuracy. Looking back a generation later, it does seem to me that MacKenzie's pioneering work ought to have been the starting point of a historiography rather than all the profession has written on the subject. There's a lot going on here that historians could pull into perspective so that we could understand this world of ours before we run head on into slow motion disasters like the 737Max grounding.
Saturday, October 3, 2020
I could get to love Hong Kong eventually! If it ever cools down. Best of all, my father threw an absolute fit over my refusing to book a ticket east the day after the war started. ("It's not safe," and "It's that boy!") Well, yes, Dad. It is the boy. You know, my fiance. Who has interests that need looking after whilst he is busy flying in the war. If "snooper" missions over the Straits of Formosa count as war, which I think they do! In fact, I'd like to be in Formosa, but apparently it's no place for an American girl. Of course, you don't want to know what the kind of people who say that, think of Hong Kong. Well, a big raspberry to them. Where else can you go out to a dim sum lunch with movie stars? And admittedly also pay for it, because Hong Kong movie stars can't afford dim sum.
Yes, these reports will continue to be written out of Time and Aviation Week for the foresseable future, as the sad days of normality from B.D, "Before Diphtheria," seem like they will never return.