The Carousel of Progress

NOTE: This entry is a trip down memory lane, but be warned: At the end it gets political. As a result, I’ve disabled comments for this post. If you disagree with anything here, the Web is open – write your own blog. I have nothing against respectful dialog, but the Internet being what it is, I have no time for trolls.

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I first encountered this lovely exhibit when I attended the New York World’s Fair in 1965. Of all the presentations at the Expo (aside from the food – Belgian waffles, mmm) – along with the Picturephone demonstration, this is the one that stuck in my mind.

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After the fair closed, the ride was moved to Disneyland, where I experienced it again, and thereafter found a home in Disney World in Florida, which we visited just last week. It was lovely to reminisce.

Carousel 1

The 1900s. Life couldn’t be better with all the modern conveniences like gas lamps… and soon they’re supposed to have electric lights in the house!

As with anything, the ride did get a few updates over the years:

Carousel 2

Notice in this version it’s Valentine’s Day – and the model has had a bit of an update as well.

Carousel 3

The 1920’s. Electricity and gas are everywhere, and life couldn’t possibly be better. Happy 4th of July!

Carousel4

Hallowe’en in the 1940’s – this looks a lot like kitchens that I grew up with in the 50s.

Carousel 6

Christmas in the 1960s – this tableau has now been supplanted by a 21st-Century version – in the back is a view of Disney’s model city of the future, part of the original idea behind EPCOT (Experimental Planned Community of Tomorrow). Which, unfortunately, because our nation has been focused on flinging its precious human and material resources into unwinnable and futile conflict, has yet to become a reality – despite that dream.

Carousel 5

Another view of the 1960s.

Carousel 7

The 21st Century – (click for a larger view). Most of what you see here is now real, including much better graphics on Virtual Reality devices.

Carousel 8

If our 45th president and the climate-change deniers have their way, it might be necessary to replace the last tableau with one like this.

There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
Shining at the end of every day
There’s a great, big, beautiful tomorrow
And tomorrow’s just a dream away

Man has a dream and that’s the start
He follows his dream with mind and heart
And when it becomes a reality
It’s a dream come true for you and me

The only dream of our current “leaders” seems to be to violate the planet, exterminate the poor and the different, and add to the bottom line of the wealthy. I do not support this, I will not support this, I will not be silent – or I will never be able to look my children and grandchildren in the eye with honor.

Resist
The Old Wolf has spoken.

The ‘10,000 Calorie Sundae’

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The image above shows two young girls purchasing a so-called “10,000-calorie sundae” from Blair Parson’s store in Lynchburg, Virginia, sometime in the 1950s. Price: 35¢.

Odds are that this was some marketing license; the average hot fudge sundae comes in at about 284 calories, and these don’t look like killers. But it’s a cute picture.

They, the builders of our nation.

The builders

Found at the Facebook page of The Old Map Gallery in Denver, Colorado.

An inspiring work from a daughter of a calligrapher for the United States Treasury Department. Louise E. Jefferson is a fascinating figure that was a key part of the Harlem Artist Guild, author and mapmaker. Here her map for the many peoples that made the nation in the 1940’s

Our nation was built on the back of so many people, I find it surprising that a very small group of people are claiming this country as “theirs” and doing all they can to keep others out. This map is intriguing and historically revealing.

Slum Life in New York City

The collection of pictures found at io9 is extracted from the website I mentioned in this post, How the Other Half Lives – from a work by Jacob Riis.

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Mulberry Bend

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Lodgers in a crowded flat on Bayard Street. Rent: 5¢ per day.

It gives you a look at some of Riis’ work without having to dig through the online text, but I still recommend perusing the entire, impressive effort.

We have come far. We still have far to go.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

 

Colored School at Anthoston

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Seen at Library of Congress

Colored School at Anthoston.
Census 27, enrollment 12, attendance 7. Teacher expects 19 to be enrolled after work is over. “Tobacco keeps them out and they are short of hands.” Ages of those present: 13 years = 1, 10 years = 2, 8 years = 2, 7 years = 1, 5 years = 1. Location: Henderson County, Kentucky

There appears to be no information regarding photographer or date, but it’s an intriguing photo.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

K’minyan Tov

I have long loved and respected the work of Art Spiegelman, author of Maus and Maus II, two graphic novels which autobiographically recount the experiences of his father Vladek through World War II and the years previous.

One thing in his account puzzled me, though – the exchange recounted in the panels below, just after Vladek arrives at Auschwitz.

Spiegelman

I had no idea why the priest said that 17 in Hebrew was “kminyan tov,” because seventeen is “shiv’a ‘asar.” The internet didn’t help, because every reference to “k’minyan tov” led back to Spiegelman’s work. I was stumped. It turns out I just didn’t know enough about Hebrew or kabbalistic customs.

After letting the matter rest for about five years, during which interval I began a study of modern Hebrew, I returned to it with a vengeance and did some more digging.

The Polish priest was learned in the ways of gematria, or the mystical assignment of numerical values to Hebrew letters, and divining meaning from how words add up; I first became aware of gematria when I read The Chosen by Chaim Potok.

I was coming at my puzzle all wrong, assuming that minyan was referring to the quorum of ten Jewish male adults required for certain religious obligations. The word itself also means “count,” with “k’minyan” meaning “like the count of.” That expression appears to be used almost exclusively in referring to values in gematria. Look at this post in a forum:

A week or two ago, a posting on the number of brakhot in shmoneh esrei suggested, IIRC, something like that the addition of birkat ha-minim in E”Y changed the 18 to 19. It appears, however that in E”Y there were originally 17 b’rakhot, gematria tov and the addition of birkat ha-minim made it 18, k’minyan chai.

This entire sentence is far over my head in terms of understanding the context, but to have found the expression in an external source was significant. It seems then that this phrase can be read “like the count of ____”, whatever number is being referred to.

Thus the priest reads Vladek’s number (175113) and notes that the first two numbers are 17 – with “טוב” (tov, meaning “good”) being the numbers 9+ 6+ 2 (each Hebrew letter is assigned a value corresponding to its position in the alphabet). Hence “tov” has the value 17; “k’minyan tov” can be interpreted in this case as “like the count of ‘good’.) This would be seen as a good omen. Another interpretation I found indicates that 17 would indicate the 10 men necessary for a minyan, plus seven more, making it a “good minyan” or a “strong prayer group.”  I can’t speak to the accuracy of this interpretation, but it’s interesting nonetheless – this was the first thing that occurred to me, and it didn’t make sense. Now it does. Sorta.

Vladek’s priest friend notices that 1+7+5+1+1+3 equal 18, and the Hebrew word for “life” (חי – chai) is composed of the numbers 10 + 8, or 18, the number referred to in the quote above, which could be read as “like the count of ‘life’.” And this was sufficient for Vladek to express the feeling that he had been given another life. Vladek escaped, and the priest was never seen again.

I don’t think I have the intellectual discipline to pursue this any farther, but my curiosity has been silenced. At least I understand the basic meaning of what Spiegelman was relating in this scene, and that will have to do.

The Old Wolf has spoken.

(For what it’s worth, “Old Wolf” in English gematria is 522, which has the same value as Truth, Birthday, Stephen, Russia, Muslim, Bill Gates, Twelve, Justice, Victor, Vincent, Rand Paul, Priest, Person, Nothing, Lotus, Hail Mary, Yahuwah, Street, Stealing, The Sun, Blessing, Elishone, Cnaan Aviv, Noahs Ark, Elohiym, Lee Vayle, Dustin, Democracy, Praises, Potato, Euro Bay, String, Taav Aaleph, Myth U, Ninety, Baptist, Crackpot, Company, Inside Job, Architect, God Of Buddha, Different, Cotton, Buddhist, The Eyes, Chin Woo, Diaper Dude, Project, Break The Ice, Manifest, Charlemagne, Helsinki, Mackenzie, Gram Of Fat, Oh My God, Gnostic, Archigonic, Samskarda, Tornado, Forecast’, Paternal, Ho Chi Minh, Natural, Black On Black, Dream Logic, Swedish, Sonnet, Mind Of God, Cortez, Paul Rand, Indeed Jobs, Shelter, My Garden, Get Hay At, Consider, King Of All, Vietnam C, All Is One, Veronica, Punish, Fulfilled, Sam Bowie, The Gilded Age, Whether, Def Leppard, Get A T Hay, Pat Crock, טרוטה Truth, Canaanites, Dependent, Lumpy, Fallout, Frighten, Happily, Sticky, Pell Mell, The Mayan, Idiocracy, Pitagora, and Got Milk. Make of that what you will.)