I'm half-watching a TV documentary while putting together next week's Bleats, and overhear a drug side effect: You may experience unnatural urges. Was that it? Rewind to check it out. Ah, but you can't rewind to a particular point in the ad, you have to rewind to the segment before the ads came on, whereupon the streaming service says YOU MUST BE PUNISHED, and gives you a minute of unskippable ads.
"Learn about uncontrolled unusual urges." That's what it said. What might that be?
Gambling. The might make you have a strong desire to gamble. As the website says:
Some people have had strong unusual urges, to gamble and gambling that cannot be controlled (compulsive gambling). Other compulsive urges include sexual urges, shopping, and eating or binge eating
Surely I'm not the only one who thought this
Don't mean to make light of it, even though I suppose I did. I'm just fascinated by the idea of a drug that helps with one thing but gives you a gambling addiction as a side effect. One day you start shaping your mashed potatoes like a slot machine and then you find yourself inexorably drawn to Vegas.
Well, an ordinary day in every possible respect, and nothing of note to report. So let's get to our Thursday material.
Our weekly example of the happy pasttime of our era: clicking and clicking with no objective in mind. Where do we start? Where do we go?
Can't do the photos that tell you where we started and where we ended, because it gives it away.
I was doing some research on Lee DeForrest, for reasons that will be apparent later. If you don’t know the name, you’re wrong; you do. Or at least a penumbra of its emanation.
De Forest prepared for college by attending Mount Hermon Boys' School in Mount Hermon, Massachusetts for two years, beginning in 1891. In 1893, he enrolled in a three-year course of studies at Yale University's Sheffield Scientific School in New Haven, Connecticut, on a $300 per year scholarship that had been established for relatives of David de Forest. Convinced that he was destined to become a famous—and rich—inventor, and perpetually short of funds, he sought to interest companies with a series of devices and puzzles he created, and expectantly submitted essays in prize competitions, all with little success.
His passion was electricity, and he regularly blew the lights out in the classrooms or buildings, which earned him a dismissal from the school.
With the outbreak of the Spanish–American War in 1898, de Forest enrolled in the Connecticut Volunteer Militia Battery as a bugler, but the war ended and he was mustered out without ever leaving the state.
I must serve my country . . . by bugling!
After that came the rise to fame with the invention of the audion tube, but that’s not why we’re here. His second marriage was to Nora Stanton Blatch Barney.
She was famous!
They had a daughter, but soon divorced. Why?
Nora Stanton Barney (September 30, 1883 – January 18, 1971) was an English-born American civil engineer. Barney was among the first women to graduate with an engineering degree in United States.
In 1908, she married the inventor Lee de Forest, and helped to manage some of the companies he had founded to promote his invention and the new technology of wireless (radio). The couple spent their honeymoon in Europe marketing radio equipment developed by de Forest. However, the couple separated only a year later, due largely to de Forest's insistence that Nora quit her profession and become a conventional housewife.
Dude. DUDE. What did you expect, when your wife’s grandmother was . . .
||"Elizabeth Cady Stanton (November 12, 1815 – October 26, 1902) was an American writer and activist who was a leader of the women's rights movement in the U.S. during the mid- to late-19th century."
She was the main force behind the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, the first convention to be called for the sole purpose of discussing women's rights, and was the primary author of its Declaration of Sentiments. Her demand for women's right to vote generated a controversy at the convention but quickly became a central tenet of the women's movement. She was also active in other social reform activities, especially abolitionism.
In 1851, she met Susan B. Anthony and formed a decades-long partnership that was crucial to the development of the women's rights movement. During the American Civil War, they established the Women's Loyal National League to campaign for the abolition of slavery, and they led it in the largest petition drive in U.S. history up to that time. They started a newspaper called The Revolution in 1868 to work for women's rights.
The first issue was not the lightest and brightest thing, and had the hectoring tone of all manifestos.
We know where the offices were:
That’s Printers’ Row, which would end up demolished for larger newspaper buildings. This was how it looked in 1868. I don’t know whom the statue is meant to memorialize. Could be Ben Franklin. Could be the artist added it.
Let's see what the area looks like today! Oh
I know that spot, and it’s just a grotesque place.
Anyway: one of the investors in the magazine was a fellow named George Train, whose wikipedia bio says - really - “he also organized the Union Pacific Railroad." Oh, and a little something called the Credit Mobilier.
A new company, Crédit Mobilier of America, was created by Union Pacific executives to actually build the line albeit at inflated construction costs. Though the railroad cost only $50 million to build, Crédit Mobilier billed $94 million and Union Pacific executives pocketed the excess $44 million.
Then, part of the excess cash and $9 million in discounted stock was used to bribe several Washington politicians for laws, funding, and regulatory rulings favorable to the Union Pacific. The US government gave the Union Pacific empty land to sell in a checkerboard pattern, keeping every other plot. Eventually the fertile land was sold to farmers who shipped out the crops by rail.
To get the new project funded, Washington loaned the Union Pacific federal bonds that could be used as collateral when the railroad needed to borrow money. The Union Pacific --like a third of all the nation's railroads, declared bankruptcy during the Panic of 1893.
The manifesto of The Revolution touted the Credit Mobilier system as a way of national rejuvenation. The scandal wouldn’t hit until 1872.
Anyway, back to Train. This guy was something else.
He stood for the position of dictator of the United States, charged admission fees to campaign rallies, and drew record crowds. He became a vegetarian and adopted various fads. Instead of shaking hands with other people, he shook hands with himself, a manner of greeting he claimed to have seen in China. He spent his final days on park benches in New York City's Madison Square Park, handing out dimes and refusing to speak to anyone but children and animals.
In 1890, Nellie Bly traveled around the world in 72 days, instigating Train to do a second circumnavigation of the earth in the same year. He completed the trip from Tacoma, Washington, and back in 67 days 12 hours and 1 minute, a world record at the time. A plaque in Tacoma commemorates the location where the 1890 trip began and ended. Train was accompanied on many of his travels by George Pickering Bemis.
In 1870 Train made the first of three widely publicized trips around the globe. He believed that a report of his first journey in a French periodical inspired Jules Verne's novel Around the World in Eighty Days; protagonist Phileas Fogg may have been modeled on him.
I think it goes without saying that he was a member of the club that probably invented the idea of Friday the 13th.
The reason I got spun off on Lee Deforrest is because I was doing research on Dr. McCoy. Yes: that's who the actor was named after.