thoroughly kottke’d

24 Jun

I got thoroughly kottke’d this week. (Not sure if Jason ever thought his last name would be verbed, but it’s officially happened.) One site shouldn’t offer so many great tidbits from the peripheries of history and culture. I get bogged down in my own fascination, and three or four ‘Draft Saved’s later, I don’t know what to write about, and even if I did, I’d feel like a hack for just regurgitating a week’s worth of another blog’s already regurgitated content.

But I guess if the hack shoe fits…. Here’s a handful of fascinating facts from everywhere, collected on kottke.org:

1. I really enjoyed looking back at the Boston Globe‘s real-time news feed circa 1900. Headlines were scrawled on blackboards hung from the awning above the Globe’s classical storefront. One of the boards in the above photo reads “US Forces Invade Central Solomons.” The writer cleverly notes how similar this turn-of-the-century system is to a 21st-century home page.

“This isn’t the first time the paper has tried a free, real-time, ad-supported product. From at least the turn of the century until the 1950s, Globe staff shuttled back and forth throughout the day from the newsroom to the street. There they wrote breaking news headlines and sports scores on four blackboards and two enormous sheets of newsprint. Behind the Globe’s windows? Ads.”

2. Also from the Boston Globe, a report on the global economy as experienced in the purchase of an ice-cream cone from Boston’s famous Toscanini’s, ice cream the NYTimes says is “the best in the world”:

“The story of this scoop of ice cream, as it moves from raw materials to finished product, captures the myriad forces that are pushing food prices higher. … A cyclone in Australia wiped out sugar beet crops. Uprisings in the Middle East have threatened to disrupt oil supplies. Growing demand for milk by Asia’s rising middle class affects the over-the-counter price of an ice cream cone at Toscanini’s.”

3. For all the foreign turmoil going on (hiking our ice-cream prices), I was encouraged by—of all things—the US military. Why? Turns out it’s got a system of daycare and early-childhood education that could be a model to replicate nationwide.

“Perhaps the most impressive achievement of the American military isn’t its aircraft carriers, stunning as they are. Rather, it’s the military day care system for working parents. While one of America’s greatest failings is underinvestment in early childhood education … the military manages to provide superb child care.”

4. Kottke includes another tidbit that’s equally surprising and inspiring. It’s a quote from Sgt. Maj. Micheal Barrett, the top non-commissioned officer in the Marine Corps:

‘Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution is pretty simple. It says, ‘Raise an army.’ It says absolutely nothing about race, color, creed, sexual orientation. You all joined for a reason: to serve. To protect our nation, right? How dare we, then, exclude a group of people who want to do the same thing you do right now, something that is honorable and noble? … Get over it. We’re magnificent, we’re going to continue to be. … Let’s just move on, treat everybody with firmness, fairness, dignity, compassion and respect. Let’s be Marines.'”

5. Of course, these topics are outliers when it comes to the military; a good daycare system and one man’s open-minded opinion hardly erase the less-attractive aspects of the institution. I was reminded of some of these aspects—and not even close to the worst of them—reading another post. Kottke discovered a 1969 Playboy Bunny manual and posted the following excerpt:

Bunnies must allow enough time before going to their assigned rooms to report to the Bunny Mother for appearance inspection. The Bunnies’ hair, nails, shoes, makeup and costume must be “Bunny-perfect” and no Bunny is permitted to begin working unless appearance specifications are met. Demerits may be issued for carelessness in this regard. When the Bunny reports to her scheduled room, the Room Director, too, will note her appearance and suggest improvements if necessary.

Sounds eerily similar to being a petty officer in the US Navy.

For more nuggets of reportage from off the beaten path: kottke.org.

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