Saturday, June 24, 2023

A Technological Appendix to Postblogging Technology, February 1953 with Bonus Old Man Ranting: Fuel Cells


In February of 1953, Engineering published on titanium, a swing-wing jet prototype, gas turbine locomotives, a proton synchrotron, and nuclear power; and in retrospect the most science-fictional material published in the course of the month (apart from speculation about a nuclear reactor that generated electricity directly from particle emissions rather than thermally) is a short summary of A. P. Paton's "Fuel Cells: A Non-Technical Outline of Their Development," published by the British Electrical and Allied Industries Research Association, Thorncroft Manor, Dorking Road. 

Sunday, June 18, 2023

A Technological Appendix to Postblogging Technology, February 1953: Sluice Gates


I'm sorry, Dutch people, "Watersnoosdramp" reminds me of Futurama. This is a picture of Oude Tonge, on the island of Goeree-Overflakkee, which has such a clumsy name because it is a relatively late formation, being carved out of the mainland of North Brabant and South Holland by flooding events in 1216 and 1421, per Wikipedia. Oude Tonge, first attested in 1420/1, is a village carved out of the "Old headland polder" in the manor of Grijsoord, which sounds like an exposed location, and proved to be so over the night of 31 January/1 February 1953 when a windstorm drove the spring high tides up over its embankments, killing 305 people in this village including 42 family members of poster-child survivor Jos de Boet. 

The reclamation history of these islands in the Meuse/Maass/Escaut/Scheldt/New Rhine estuary (I vote for bringing back "the Maze" as the geographic designator) is an interesting one for the historian of the Late Middle Ages/Early Modern Period, perhaps the clearest evidence that the economy and population of northwestern Europe was expanding during the "waning of the Middle Ages" and not contracting as the grand overarching "The Black Plague Kills Everyone Except One Person To Pass On The Message" theory of European history. But I'm never going to roll that rock up that hill, so let's not talk about it.  Let's talk about even older coastal defences, instead.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Gathering the Bones, XXVIII: Devil Take the Tobacco People

 Who knew that I'd need the "Drug Humour" tag again the week after I created it?

Tilsonburg is a town of 18,700 fifty kilometers southeast of London. (Where nephew M., who is getting married next Saturday, attended medical school. W00t! Go M.!). In the golden postwar days of the Canadian leaf, it may or may not have been synonymous with the Canadian tobacco industry before Stompin' Tom Connors recorded "Tilsonburg" in his golden years after the Centennial. Afterwards, Tilsonburg became synonymous with back breaking fieldwork in the "nicotine dew." This isn't exactly a trivial point. There wouldn't be a Virginia, or, quite possibly an America had John Rolfe not been able to establish the broadleaf Virginia tobacco industry in 1611. The received story is that Rolfe obtained Nicotiana tabacum seeds produced in Trinidad, the so-called "Orinoco" strain, and established it in Virginia in place of the tobacco then grown in Virginia, said to have been the rougher tasting and more psychoactive Nicotiana rustica 

Apparently, some historians I've never met don't listen to Stompin' Tom and certainly a larger group have never seen the  1992 Sommersby movie, perhaps because they weren't dating way out of their league and thus weren't into seeing a later Richard Gere vehicle. 

(It's too bad that the extract doesn't include the later footage of the beds being covered.)

Since I, personally, have this rigorously scholarly background in the literature, it occurs to me to wonder whether, given that producing tobacco is evidently quite hard,  there isn't more to say.

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Postblogging Technology, February 1953, II: Too Good To Be Forgotten

R_. C_.,

Dear Father:

I think I would be on and on about either feminine complaints or politics if I spent overlong with this, so best wishes, my love, and what a complete shambles the Eisenhower Administration has been! "Car dealers for New Dealers." 

Hah! Also, oops. Sorry. Like I said, better not to spend too long on this.  

Your Loving Daughter,