Category Archives: History

Paul Ford Builds It

And almost 2000 people show up immediately.

If you are respectful of others, you will be welcomed, and people will be excited to see your web pages and to meet you. This is not a special characteristic of tilde.club; this is a basic characteristic of decent humans that somehow has become atypical on the Internet.

I got online in 1992, and this piece is making me so nostalgic, even though everything about what he made sounds distinctly nicer than most of what I encountered then. Wait, is that what nostalgia is? Being suffused with a sense of what the good old days could have been if they actually had been good?

Happy International Women’s Day!

Perspective can be tough to get, especially on our own behavior. We know that “seeing the big picture” or “getting an aerial view” is important to deep understanding, that we need to get some distance. It’s much easier to give someone else good advice than to follow it ourselves (even when our ability to give good advice comes directly from needing it).

It’s true for group behavior, too. The conventions, the little in-jokes, the “way we’ve always done it” – these can be harmful to individuals, but if the group is homogeneous enough, the pressure to refrain from pointing it out can be just as strong as the negative experiences themselves.


From a booklet intended to help wartime supervisors bring women into the workplace, from the Records of the War Manpower Commission.

When women went to work to support the war effort, they entered an environment few of them had ever seen, supervised by people who barely recognized where they were coming from. These pages, along with 2 other spreads at the National Archives, Southeast Region, give us a look into a booklet to help those supervisors get the best work out of these mysterious new employees.


This is good advice for all managers of any employees.

The presentation has all the hallmarks of a startlingly condescending piece, but the words tell a different story. Women are cooperative, patient, teachable. It may seem ridiculous that any of those things needed to be said, especially at a time when women were expected to be agreeable, long-suffering, and obedient, but the language is certainly more respectful than those cultural expectations. And the guidelines themselves are remarkable for what they really are: just plain good advice about welcoming new employees and managing them effectively.


This IS people management.

As minority interests of all kinds receive more attention, we see over and over again that familiarity goes a long way, that seeing the old, established ways through the lens of the people who had no say in them brings harmful behavior into focus and creates the potential for a better experience for all. Men benefit just as much as women from respectful treatment in the workplace, arguably more because they still have advantages there as well!

People don’t like change, and they often can’t stand the idea that someone ‘has it easier’ because of a classification difference. Fostering the understanding that they don’t have it easier – quite the contrary – is probably a lost cause, but we don’t really need a “who has it worst” contest at work, anyway. Workplace practices that proactively and supportively resolve issues that get in the way of actually getting the work done put the emphasis where it belongs: on the work getting done.


We can do it!

 

Thing-a-day 18: Beginning of the End

So sighs a friend of mine upon discovering this page from LIFE Magazine in 1938:

It was quoted extensively in an “on this date” piece in the Lock Haven (Penn.) Express, in 1967:

1-Piece Swim Suit Hit Shore 30 Years Ago

NEW YORK (AP) — Amid dire predictions of moral perdition, the topless bathing suit bit American beaches just thirty years ago this month. The furor was not to be believed. The city fathers of Atlantic City, N.J., home of the Miss America contest, said they would never tolerate such an obscenity on their strands. Across the country there were outraged howls. Bare bosoms? Belly buttons? And worse, Hairy bosoms and stomachs? Because the guardians of public morals were talking about men swimming in just trunks.

Until 1937, the men of America had been swimming in one- piece or two-piece knit bathing suits with more material above the belt than below. Most of the trunk parts had skirts over them, moreover. Like the topless fad for females, the mens’ craze originated on the French Riviera, spread to California and then insinuated its way to the East Coast. Life Magazine commented then that “in the more inhibited East a male costume consisting solely of trunks was, until just recently, cause for arrest on almost all public beaches and raised eyebrows on many a private one.” It wasn’t until the next year that Long Island’s Long Beach allowed men to air their chests and Atlantic City held off until the outbreak of World War

Bathing suit manufacturers complained that there was little chance for originality in design — just plain black knit trunks with a white canvas belt. The next year in its July 18, 1938, issue Life showed pictures with such captions as “trunks do little for faulty posture,” “hairy chests are becoming public,” “trunks should be privately fixed,” and “trunks should be worn high.” Atlantic City, and other hoi* outs, have long since lost their battle: The bathing suit manufacturers have discovered Heeding Madras, boxing trunks, Bermuda shorts, cabana suits and a great many other changes on the black knit trunks they thought were the limit. Will the topless fad for women spread as fast and the objections sound as silly so soon?

Yeah, so, that’s kind of a no on that last thing, although that fad remains popular in Europe and on private beaches of the West Coast — the same places this fad began!

Thing-a-day 16: Knights and Snails

The British Library posted a wonderful group of images of marginalia featuring knights facing off against snails, almost all from the 14th century.


Knight v Snail II: Battle in the Margins (from the Gorleston Psalter, England (Suffolk), 1310-1324, Add MS 49622, f. 193v. More at Knight v Snail.

Got Medieval also touched on this subject some time before, but with fewer illustrations, and at pre-Gébelin Tarot History, Michael Hurst explored it (mainly about halfway down).

Smithsonian also took it up, gathering a couple of these and other references, and Homo Ludditus expanded on the subject, adding a few more. Strange and wonderful.