Sunday, August 31, 2014

Spankings for Sodomites?

The truth about those spankings
It’s clear that the Sun felt that the World deserved the blame. The lengthy (three-and-a-half columns) piece on the Elmira Reformatory, that the Sun ran on August 31, 1894, has at the beginning of its subhead “Complete Breakdown of the ‘World’s’ Charges.” An investigation into the methods used at the reformatory had started in 1983, after reports of cruel treatment at the reformatory.

The World alleged that prisoners were being maltreated. One of the methods used by Zebulon Brockway, the superintendent of the reformatory, was the paddling of prisoners as one of the means of punishing them for infractions while imprisoned, although according to testimonies, it really was more than just a paddling.


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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Volapük Conferences in the US — Their Short History

Let the Volapük speakers come!
Many of the places that there the sites of early successes of Esperanto in the first decade of the twentieth century were sites of successes of Volpük in the late nineteenth. Just as the first Esperanto conference in the United States was held at Chautauqua, New York, under the auspices of the Chautauqua Institution,[1] Volapük conference was held there as well.

Disclosure: I am not at all versed in Volapük. I have looked at it (as I have several other planned languages) and it was not to my taste. Nor have I (until recently) looked much into its history, so all I know about it is what I’ve read in the papers (the papers being those of a century ago that have been scanned and indexed on the web). However, I do find Volapük of historical interest, since it had a much more rapid rise than Esperanto (or any other planned language). It also flamed out just as fast.


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Friday, August 29, 2014

How Telepathy Works (Or Doesn’t)

I see a picture of two men. One has a beard.
On August 29, 1903, the Deseret Evening News ran a somewhat long piece on (then) current studies on telepathy, viewing it as a controversy between Garret P. Serviss (not a professor, but a journalist, no matter what the Evening News said[1]) and William T. Stead (journalist, publisher, and Esperantist). Mr. Stead announced that there had been a transmission of messages by telepathy from Nottingham to London. Mr. Serviss was skeptical.

The article itself was written by H. Addington Bruce, yet another journalist. Judging from his list of publications, Mr. Bruce did not share Mr. Serviss’s skepticism (or at least saw that books on the subject would sell). For that matter, the article itself seems to assume it most likely that thoughts can be transferred by telepathy. At the time, there was the new experience of “the Marconi system of wireless telegraphy,“ if you could send those messages across the air without wires, why not thought itself?


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The Doubtful History of Mrs. Stoner

The mysterious Mrs. Stoner
I’ve written previously about Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr., the early Esperantist whose skill at languages was held up by her mother (also Winifed Sackville Stoner) as proof of the older Stoner’s educational theories. The younger Stoner (hereafter “Cherie,” her nickname) was the subject of a profile piece in the San Francisco Call on August 29, 1910. The Stoners had taken part in the first American Esperanto congress in 1908, and Mrs. Stoner was the head of the Women’s Auxiliary of the Esperanto Association of North America, but they were not able to attend the 1910 Universala Kongreso in Washington, D.C.

The Stoners, alas, seem to have a casual relationship with truth. As I noted before, some of Mrs. Stoner’s claims of her daughter’s educational attainments are simply incredible. Indeed, some of their contemporaries also held her achievements in doubt. A 1915 letter to the New York Times asked “has it occurred to any one to test the child Winifred Stoner, for whom her mother makes such remarkable claims?“ But the remarkable claims were not only for the daughter.


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Posner on Same-Sex Marriage Is Music to My Ears

Matching bands! An an assault
on tradition!
Yesterday, the New York Times (and lots of other places) reported on the August 26 hearing at the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit. This was a combined hearing in which the states of Indiana and Wisconsin (both in the Seventh) attempted to defend their bans on same-sex marriage before an appeals court of three judges.

Of the three judges, Ann Clair Williams, David Hamilton, and Richard Posner, most of the media attention has been on Judge Posner, never a shrinking violet. Posner, until fairly recently, maintained a blog, originally titled “The “Posner Blog,” until he started collaborating on the blog with Gary S. Becker. A quick check of the blog shows that with Becker’s death, Judge Posner decided to terminate the blog.


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Thon — The Lost Pronoun

Thons music was mawkish.
I have written about some of the reform movements associated with construction languages,[1] but of course there have been reforms offered to natural languages as well. If you’re an American, you’re using spellings from a wholly successful reform advocated by Noah Webster. Others have been less successful, such as the efforts championed by Teddy Roosevelt in the early twentieth century to make English “mor fonetik.“[2]

And there have been larger ones. There’s been a long series of attempts to bring an epicene pronoun into English, that is to say a singular pronoun that can be used for either males or females. It’s all to avoid constructions like “he or she,“ as in:
When a professor teaches a class, she or he…
It all strikes me as an awful lot of effort to save one a tiny bit of effort.

On August 28, 1884, the National Tribune of Washington, D.C. somewhat garbled a piece on a new proposal for a pronoun. I say “garbled,” because the second paragraph has been transported to the item above,[3] where it makes little sense.


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Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monoglott — A Language of One?

"More" but not "much"
I have previously written about some early Nebraska Esperanto speakers, as I stumbled on articles about a mother and daughter who were both Esperantists, and there was an active community of Esperanto speakers in Nebraska in the early twentieth century. But that doesn’t mean that everybody in Nebraska was a fan of Esperanto.

D. C. John seems to have written quite a few letters to the editor of the Omaha Daily Bee in the mid 1910s. He wrote on a number of subjects, but in a pair of letters published on August 17 and 27, 1915, proposed a competitor to Esperanto. I’m not exactly sure about the identity of D. C. John. One letter does refer to D. C. John as a male, and describes him as “the learned doctor,” so the letter writer might have known more than we do. Further, D. C. John’s wife later became the head of the Douglas County Woman’s Christian Temperance Union chapter.[1] D. C. John seems to have stopped writing letters to the editor about the same time that his wife became busier with the WCTU. D. C. John seems to have been involved in the Anti-Saloon League. Most of the articles I’ve found on the Johns are about the temperance movement.

D. C. John’s interest in this matter seems to have been sparked by an August 2, 1915 letter by Charles P. Lang promoting Esperanto. Mr. Lang had done this before. On April 22, 1915, he cited the war bulletins that were being in Esperanto. Mr. Lang’s August 2nd letter brought forth an amplification from D. C. Corios, a native of Yucatan, living in Omaha on the 6th. And then, finally, D. C. John weighed in on August 11, 1915.


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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

The Lost Keychain

Your password will be…
Think you can remember that?
Keychain is one of those Apple products that sounds like a good idea, but I don’t know about anyone else, I’ve had a lot of problems with it. For those who don’t know, Keychain is Apple’s password management system. At its best, it would create passwords that were difficult to break and then manage them so that the password unlocking your device (should you have one) is the one big thing to keep secure. In reality, things are a little different.

My first problem is with the passwords themselves. They all follow the same pattern of four groups of letters or numbers, separated by dashes. If I were a hacker and could tell that the password was fifteen characters long, my first guess would be that the fourth, eighth, and twelfth characters were all dashes. And, of course, some sites don’t accept the passwords.


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The Unhappy Birth of Ido

If this writer only knew
how many there were.
Ido was introduced in late 1907, but it seems it wasn’t until August 1908 that it came to the attention of the New-York Tribune, which wrote about the new language on August 26, 1908. The general tone of the article seems to be against the whole idea of a international language. I know from my reading that there were still many contemporaneous voices calling for a international language, though the skeptics had been there from the beginning.

Near the end of the article, there’s a suggestion that Ido will itself have a schism, bringing yet another proposed international language to the fore. Point of fact, that actually happened. I’ve previously noted that the language Adjuvilo[1] was created as a further reform of Ido, and there were others. I find myself wondering about the “family trees” of various planned languages, since I know that Volapük also spawned a number of reform projects.


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Monday, August 25, 2014

A Problem with Numbers

Numbers
It wasn’t my usual problem with numbers (that is, that I am nearly innumerate), but instead that I had a problem with Numbers this morning. Numbers, for those not in the know is Apple’s spreadsheet program, which is cheaper (and I think nicer) than Excel.[1] The problem might have been related to being a Yosemite beta tester.[2]

On Friday, as I was updating Yosemite to Beta 2, the App Store told me that Numbers also had an update. It’s the only one of the iWork apps I’ve installed on Yosemite, so it didn’t tell me about the concurrent updates to Pages and Keynote. I downloaded the update.


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

You Can’t Take the Eagles to Mordor — Part 2

No, I'm not drawing runes on it.
I was thinking further about the suggestion that Gandalf meant the Fellowship to fly to Mordor (which makes no sense, since if they were going to do that, why not have the eagles pick them up in Rivendell?). What would be the reason to tell everyone that you were going to walk all the way to Mordor, if you meant to get carried by the eagles at some point? And if you had to travel to a certain place from which to fly the eagles, well, then it would be like taking a airplane.

That’s when I realized that for considerations of space, Tolkien left out the pre-boarding announcement that Bilbo, Gandalf, and the Dwarves received before getting on the eagles in The Hobbit. Fortunately, a scrap of parchment with the faint remains of runic characters was separately discovered. Scholars have determined that these were ancient eagle runes, written with an ink derived from the blood of shrews, voles, and mice.

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Saturday, August 23, 2014

The Doctor, the Time War, And the Time Lock

This is a blue box.
I swear it's bigger on the inside.
This is not a review of the latest Doctor Who episode, "Deep Breath." How could it be? I haven’t seen it yet. But as we await to see Peter Capaldi in the role of the Twelfth Doctor, I want to address a misunderstanding I have seen since the 50th Anniversary episode, “The Day of the Doctor” aired.

Since last November, I’ve seen a lot of discussion about the events of that episode, and some of the comments I’ve seen have brought to mind a line from The Hitch-hiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the radio series, not the movie).
FORD: You know what your trouble is Arthur? You’ve got as much grasp of multi-temporal causality as a concussed bee.
I am sorry that so many of my fellow Doctor Who fans, like Arthur Dent,[1] have as much grasp of multi-temporal causality as a concussed bee. And, if I see another statement about the Time War being time locked, I will “jump up on a table and scream!”[2]

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Friday, August 22, 2014

(Bonvolu Ne) Ŝteli Tiujn Blogaĵojn - (Please Don't) Steal These Blog Posts

Publika letero al la blogisto kiu uzas miajn blogaĵojn. A public letter to the blogger who is using my blog entries.
Bonvolu Ne Ŝteli Tiujn Blogaĵojn Please Don’t Steal These Blog Posts
Je jaŭdo, mi malkovris ke alia blogo uzas mian blogaĵon senpermese. Ne ĉiu blogaĵo, sed kelkaj, kaj nur la blogaĵoj pri la frua historio de la usona Esperanto-movado. Alia blogo, kun la sama nomo (sed alia retloko) uzas nur la komenco de la blogaĵoj, kaj tiam estas ligilo al mia blogo, kio ne ĝenas min. Mi volas ke miaj legantoj legas mian verkon ĉe mia blogo. Ĉi-tie.[1]

Multaj homoj kredas ke se io estas je la interreto neniu havas la kopirajton. Ili ne pravas. La verkoj ĉe mia blogo estas la miaj, kaj oni ne rajtas kopii ilin senpermese. Mi ne donas permeson kopii miajn blogaĵojn.
On Thursday, I discovered that another blog was using my posts without permission. Not every entry, but a few, and only the blog posts about the early history of the American Esperanto movement. Another blog, with the same name (but another website) uses only the beginning of the blog posts, and then there is a link to my blog, which does not bother me. I want my readers read my work at my blog. Here.[2]

Many people believe that something is on the internet no one has the copyright. They are not right. The works in my blog are my own, and they are not allowed to copy them without permission. I do not give permission to copy my blog entries.

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Beta, Take Two

New icon!
If there’s one thing that Yosemite has taught me, it’s how reliant I have become on the cloud. Because of the incompatibly between iCloud Drive and iOS7, whenever I boot into Yosemite, I’m going “cloudless.” No working on a draft on my iPad while I do something else (such as rebooting to swap between OSes). Yesterday, Apple released Yosemite Beta 2. I had been busy using things I’m keeping solely in Mavericks for a bit, so I wasn’t able to check it out until today.

After getting a few things cleared away,[1] I quit everything, opened System Preferences, clicked the Yosemite drive as my startup, and rebooted…


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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Esperanto, the Language of Women’s Rights

Virinoj devas havi rajtojn!
One of the characteristics of Esperanto that it doesn’t seem to share with other planned language movements is a commitment to social justice. Not to say that every Esperantist is a progressive, far from it.[1] Early on, the language was picked up by the socialist movement[2] and the workers’ movement. It seems that people promoting conservative causes are less likely to be encouraging people to learn an international language, though, once again, there are conservative Esperantists.[3]

It should not be a surprise that in 1910 one of the speeches at the Universala Kongreso was in favor of women’s rights. One of the articles read on the forming of the Esperanto Association of North America noted the presence of women in leadership roles. In 1908, the expectation was that women would be shunted off to the ladies’ auxiliary (and, admitted, EANA did have such a group). On the other hand, I can’t imagine people like Ivy Kellerman Reed and Winifred Stoner, Sr. conceding that they should take subordinate positions on the account of their sex.


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Oregon Okay with Licensed Brothel

You broke the law, but you seem
to have paid in advance.
As with an earlier post, I don’t want to speculate to wildly over the identity of the brothel keeper in an article from the East Oregonian of Pendleton, Oregon of August 21, 1913. She’s described as “Belle Olcott,” but the only Olcott I can find living in Pendelton in 1913, is Ida Beale Olcott, the wife of a farmer. She and her husband later moved to San Diego California. But perhaps I would be maligning her in suggesting that she is the subject of our tale.

On the other hand, the article does note that Belle Olcotte (who may or may not be Ida Beale Olcott) previously ran the “Stock Exchange,” which (given the location) was either a saloon or a place where livestock were traded. Either of those might actually be the occupation of the wife of a farmer. The article suggests that she had another occupation, “conducting a bawdy house.”


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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Salome Whitman — A First for Women

Well, it is a first.
The article in the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer of August 20, 1884, says that Salome Whitman was a historic first a woman in the state of Pennsylvania, but before you start lauding her as a early feminist, you should know that what Ms. Whitman was a first at was that she was first woman convicted in Pennsylvania of stealing horses.

This is sort of astonishing. Pennsylvania became a state with the rest of the original thirteen states. Is the Lancaster Daily Intelligencer really telling us that the state went from the Federal period, through the Civil War, all the way to 1884 stealing horses? What was wrong with the women of Pennsylvania?


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Clarison, an International Language

Do you speak Clarison?
It’s hard to imagine just how many candidates there have been for an international language over the years. In her wonderful book, In the Land of Invented Languages, Arika Okrent has a select list of planned languages. She noted that a complete list would be full “boring” redundant names (she ask “you many variations on ‘Lingua International’ do you need to get the picture?”). Others were omitted because the actual authorship wasn’t clear. This may be why she doesn’t list “Clarison,” which was the subject of an article in the Salt Lake Herald on August 20, 1898.

The Herald says that it got its information from “the New York Press.” I have not found a newspaper of that name, but there were plenty of New York newspapers. Nor have I found much detail over who created Clarison. A notice of the book Clarison appeared in the Times (London) on July 30, 1898, so I’m guessing the book was probably published on England. Later that year, Current Literature reprinted a four-page description of the language from the London Year Book. I have been unable to find any record in a library of Clarison.


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Sinclair Lewis and the Esperanto Congress

Sinclair Lewis
Despite the small size of the 1910 Universala Kongreso, many American civic leaders were certain that it would be beneficial to their city to host a future one. And so, on August 20, 1910, there were several newspaper reports that appeals had been made to the attendees of the conference to consider another American city for a future UK.

Despite the small size of the Congreso, the leaders of the Esperanto movement were open to the idea of returning to the United States in 1915, although they noted that decision would not be made until 1913. That didn’t stop New Orleans and San Francisco from sending representatives to deliver addresses to the 1910 UK.

The representative of New Orleans was Grosvenor Dawe, the director of the Southern Commercial Congress, a figure too obscure to get his name in the title of this piece (sorry, Mr. Dawe). A variety of newspapers[1] reported that Dawe had an address prepared in Esperanto to be distributed to the delegates, although it was his intention to deliver his remarks in English. Mr. Dawe had founded the Southern Commercial Congress in 1908; by all appearances he was a reasonably prominent figure in 1910.


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Tuesday, August 19, 2014

The US Esperanto Group Before the Group Before the Current Group

Dear Sir:
I’ve seen it said that there needs to be a history of the Esperanto Association of North America, because some of that history has been lost due to the lack of continuity between EANA and the current organization, Esperanto-USA.[1] But even if there had been that continuity, it’s not that EANA suddenly formed out of nowhere. If we had a full archive of EANA, there would still be things to find. There’s a bit of history of the Esperanto movement in the United States before EANA was formed in 1908.

EANA was organized at the 1908 National Esperanto Congress in Chautauqua, New York. The new national organization was preceded by the planning of the congress, and more. By 1908, the United States was home to two Esperanto magazines, the Esperanto Journal and the Amerika Esperantisto (the two later merged under the name of Amerika Esperantisto).[2] One of the two magazines was published by Arthur Baker, who had written a book on Esperanto, and cross-promoted the two with a special deal for a copy of The American Esperanto Book and a year subscription for Amerika Esperantisto.



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Pity the Poor Hotel Clerk

The Arlington Hotel
Zamenhof dormis tie.
Sure, an Esperanto Congress is great fun for the participants who get to spend all day talking in the Internacia Lingvo, but did anyone ever consider the plight of the poor clerks at the hotel hosting the congress?

The Washington Herald, as part of their extensive coverage of the 1910 Universala Kongreso, ran a series of brief items under the heading "Esperantograms" on August 19, 1910. Among them was one that looked at the situation at the Arlington Hotel.

I want make a brief digression here on the actual location. After all these references to the Arlington Hotel, I found myself wondering if it were still around. Can an ardent Esperantist stay in the room where Zamenhof slept? (Would there be a plaque reading "Zamenhof dormis ĉi tie"?) No, you can't.


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Monday, August 18, 2014

A Death at the Esperanto Congress

President Montt
At the end of July, 1910, it was announced that John Barrett, the director of the Bureau of American Republics (now the Organization of American States), and himself a prominent Esperantist,[1] announced a diplomatic reception to be held at the Peace Palace, the newly built headquarters of the Bureau of American Publics. As I noted, the reception didn’t happen. This is why.

On July 17, 1910, it was announced that Pedro Montt, the President of Chile, had died. President Montt was also an Esperanto speaker, and he had been promoting Esperanto in Chile. President Montt was not attending the Congress, and he was in Bremen, Germany when he died. He had just travelled there from the United States, but died of a heart attack shortly after arrival. However, as an expression of sympathy, the event was postponed and then cancelled, as a measure official mourning. Obviously, if you’re sincerely in mourning, you don’t hold a diplomatic event.


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Esperanto — Language of the International Stage

Addison Wells Smith
Aspiring Actor
One of the events of the sixth Universala Kongreso was a first-ever staging of Shakespeare in Esperanto. There was a long association of Shakespeare and Esperanto, as one of the first translations L. L. Zamenhof published was of Hamlet.[1] But instead of doing Zamenhof’s translation of Hamlet, the congress arranged for a new translation to be produced,by a Washington figure. The Hickman Players staged Ivy Kellerman-Reed’s translation of As You Like It, Kiel Plaĉas al Vi.

That play has to have received some of the best advance notices ever for a stage production, as I’ve noted before. For weeks in advance, newspapers all over the country reported that the congress would include a production of As You Like It in Esperanto (newspapers also seemed fascinated by the news that there would be church services in Esperanto as well). And with all that advance notice, of course there had to be a review or two.


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Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Esperanto News in German

It's lovely, though I find it tough to read
In the early twentieth century, there were several newspapers in a variety of languages other than English. The Chronicling America site at the Library of Congress has nearly as many German-language newspapers as ones in Spanish. The Baltimore newspaper Der Deutsche Correspondent published many articles on planned languages, and seem to be the first newspaper in the United States to mention Esperanto (in 1887, mere weeks after Esperanto was introduced).

Like many other newspapers, they reported on the various Esperanto congresses, often at length. I’ve skipped over those articles for two reasons:
  • My German is very weak. I studied it for a year, and really don’t use it.
  • Der Deutsche Correspondent was typeset in Fraktur, and it’s difficult for me to read.

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Friday, August 15, 2014

Esperanto in the News, Literally

Yeah, I fix up a lot of errors,
and try to to introduce too many.
On August 15, 1910, with the sixth Universala Kongreso taking place in Washington, D.C., the Washington Herald showed its enthusiasm by printing a greeting to the congress members. Unfortunately, the compositor clearly didn’t know what was being set and managed to to misspell a word in the very first line, introducing the character x into Esperanto.

Their word, “sentuxiasmuloj” is not an early usage of the “x-system,” a means of typing Esperanto without the accented letters in which sort order can be preserved.[1] It’s a typo, and that x isn’t the only problem. The word they were hoping for is entuziasmuloj, “enthusiasts,” (the compositor clearly misread the z for an impossible x). Where did the s come from? It made me think of a compressed form of senentuziasmuloj, “non-enthusiasts.”


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Wabbit Season!

Fricassee. Not just for cartoons.
My favorite Warner Brothers cartoons are the three known as the “hunting trilogy.” Each of the three[1] has the same basic premise: Elmer Fudd goes off hunting, while Bugs Bunny and Daffy Duck try to convince him that the other is in season.
“Duck season!”
“Rabbit season!”
“Duck season!”
“Rabbit season!”
It’s already been duck season at my house (in the sense of cooking duck), so rabbit season couldn’t be far behind. It’s wabbit season!


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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Beware the Civil Procedure Division Scam!

I’ve been getting calls from an outfit that calls itself the Civil Procedure Division. I finally too the trouble to Google them. They’re a scam. I’m not sure what they expected me to do, since the scam works like this:

Civil Procedure Divison employee:[1]
I’m calling from the Civil Procedure Division. We have documents to deliver for [a relative].[2] Will [relative] be available to accept these documents tomorrow between the hours of 10 and 4?
The first sign that this is a scam is that when you ask for any sort of clarifying information, they hang up on you. The first time I simply denied any ability to accept documents on behalf the named relative. Then they called back, so I tried to dig for information. If you’re nice, they don’t always hang up on you immediately.

I did get a return phone number of 855–778–5234. That doesn’t give me any idea of where they are. Damn. After giving me the number, the woman hung up on me.

I tried again. No dice. Finally, I heard her say, “do not ever call this number again” before she hung up on me. Well, it’s not like they would oblige if I said that, so I had no qualms about trying again. And they hung up on me on the second ring.

I was patient. I called and in a meek voice explained I needed to deliver some legal documents to them,[3] and I asked for an address. I got the “almost” address of a Post Office in Orlando, Florida.
1703 West Wetherbee Road,
Suite 772590
Orlando, Florida, 32877
Now, 1701 West Wetherbee is a Post Office. In other words, they’re Box 2590 at that Post Office.
I’ve contacted the Florida Attorney General and the U.S. Postal Service, reporting attempted fraud in both cases. I’m hoping after today they stay off my back.

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  1. I wasn’t quite certain how to characterize the caller. “Fuckwad” didn’t seem sufficiently clear in context.  ↩
  2. They’ve been asking about a specific relative. In the context of the scam, it turns out it’s not actually important.  ↩
  3. They lie. I lie.  ↩

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Ido and Esperanto Congress

Not an Ido speaker to be found.
On August 14, 1910, the Washington Herald had several articles on Esperanto, and perhaps to balance all that off, also included one on Ido. Their placement of the article couldn’t have been worse. It occupies almost the entire remainder of the three columns beneath a set photos of prominent members of Esperanto congress, Gabriel Chavet, Dr. H. W. Yemors, Edwin C. Reed, Dr. Ivy Kellerman Reed, and Captain Josefo Perogordo. Not an Idoist in the bunch.

Oddly enough, though the article makes the claim that Ido is makes improvements to Esperanto, the article starts by talking about what a success Esperanto was at fostering communication between people of differing native languages. But despite the “wonderful progress” of Esperanto, the writer of the article, Lindsay S.Perkins, decided to devote a chunk of the article to Ido.


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Wednesday, August 13, 2014

What to Feed an Esperanto Speaker?

Just in case you needed a mead recipe
I may have to leave this one for a food historian.

As the 1910 Esperanto congress neared, the American press in general and the Washington papers in particular gave a lot of space to discussing Esperanto and the congress. On August 13, 1910, the Washington Herald ran an article on preparations for the congress, noting the attendance of various dignitaries, many of whom were also Esperantists.[1]

Some of the delegates who were officially representing various countries were also Esperanto speakers themselves, and so presumably at the congress in their personal capacities as well. I haven’t seen any indication that a government sent someone who didn’t speak Esperanto. That would strike me as just about the worst diplomatic job: smile and look amused while not understanding a word.

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Gandalf Didn’t Mean It That Way

Gandalf knew what he was doing
Recently, I’ve seen a post going around Facebook about the supposed “eagle plot hole” in The Lord of the Rings. It turns out to be not-so-recent, as I found it was posted on Reddit more than a year ago. And it’s wrong.

Since this is my first, and hugely belated post about fantasy or science fiction, let me provide some bona fides. I am not some newbie who got into LOTR because the movies came out. When I first read LOTR there were exactly 0 movies. Ralph Bakshi’s animated film was yet to come out.[1] I was the sort of kid who was writing in Tengwar in my mid-teens (and, oh, that was a very long time ago). In addition to decades of reading science fiction, I’m also trained in Medieval Studies, inspired in part by Tolkien.

Old school, hard core Tolkien fan.

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Yosemite — Out with the Old, In with the … Old

That's a suspiciously 3D graphic
I haven't booted into OS X 10.10 for nearly a week. I was using a few things that I'm keeping wholly in Mavericks right now (like iPhoto) or won't really work (no point in using Clear if it's not going to sync with my iOS devices). This morning, I decided to work in Yosemite for a bit, although some of the things I want to do today involve installing additional apps onto my Yosemite drive.

There's still plenty of room, because I've been keeping it tidy. I'm not backing up the Yosemite drive, so instead I transfer things over to the main partition of my hard drive. Finished documents are stored there. (And the main consumers of space on my hard drive are my photo library and my music collection.)


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Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Mrs. Reed and the Unofficial French Delegates to Esperanto

That's "Dr. Reed" to you
In my previous post I wrote about the group of French Esperantists arriving in Washington, but due to the length of the article, I transcribed only about half of the it. The rest of the article has some interesting things, so now I’m returning to the August 12, 1910 Washington Herald.

Some of the article repeats the information that was widely reported elsewhere. The production of As You Like It in Esperanto was probably one of the most widely written about plays[1] ever to trod the boards (I mean seriously; the play was written about in newspapers all over the country for weeks). This was quite a triumph for the author. How many translations of plays out of English get national attention in the United States?


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Esperantists Arrive in Washington

Gabriel Chavet
Appreciative tourist
Not all of the European attendees of the 1910 Esperanto Congress travelled on the George Washington (though with twenty-two of them, that might have been the largest crowd, and with the Zamenhofs, the most celebrated). A group of three French Esperantists travelled on the Rijndam, leaving Boulogne-sur-Mer on July 30 and arriving in New York on August 9, slightly ahead of the George Washington group.

The three were Gabriel Chavet (30), Claudius Colas (26), and Georges Warnier (27). All three are listed as “linguists.” All three are listed in Esperanto Wikipedia, while only M. Colas has an entry in the English language Wikipedia. In that same year, under the pseudonym Prof. V. Esperema, Colas published L’Adjuvilo; Langue Auxilaire Internationale, or, “simplified Ido.” As Colas never joined the Ido movement or even left the Esperanto movement, it has been suggested that Adjuvilo was created to sow dissension among the Ido speakers, by suggesting further reforms.[1]


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Monday, August 11, 2014

The Honorable Gentleman from Esperantio

Sinjoro Bartholdt
If I had to make a guess, I would estimate the current number of Esperanto speakers in the United States Congress at zero. I could be wrong, but I’m basing this on a lack of any evidence that any member of Congress speaks Esperanto.[1] No, I haven’t compared the names in the Esperanto-USA membership list with the names of the members of Congress. And I can imagine that if a member of Congress were a member of Esperanto-USA, he or she might not want to be listed.

But in the early part of the twentieth century, there was a member of Congress who made no secret of it. Richard Bartholdt, a Republican from Missouri, was a proponent of Esperanto. According to the dates listed in Wikipedia, he joined Congress at a time when Esperanto was pretty much unknown in the United States, although he had emigrated from Germany only a few years before Zamenhof published Esperanto.

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Knish — A Delicious Book

Yum!
Knish, by Laura Silver, Brandeis University Press.

Full disclosure: I have never eaten a knish.

“Does it mention Mrs. Stahl’s’?” was my mother-in-law’s first question when I told my her that I had read Laura Silver’s Knish. Yes, it’s a major topic of the book. “What about Yonah Schimmel?” That too. As with Ms. Silver, knishes evoke memories for my mother-in-law.

I certainly understand the nostalgia that can connect to certain foods. There are foods that bring me back to my childhood, it’s just that the knish isn’t one of theme. Thanks to Laura Silver, I can understand my mother-in-law’s reaction.

As a huge coincidence, this book arrived at my door while I was off in New York City. My steps took me on several occasions within an easy walk to Schimmel’s. Had I read this book before this trip to New York, I undoubtably would have made it a stop on my travels. Next time.

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The Zamenhofs Arrive in New York

What? No Esperanto lessons in
Third Class?
About a year after the New York Sun reported on John Pollen’s 1909 visit to New York, Pollen was back again, but this time he was upstaged by an another passenger. Traveling on the same ship as Pollen (whom the New-York Tribune referred to as Dr. John Pollen) were the Zamenhofs, making their visit to the United States.

According to the passenger records for the George Washington, the Zamenhofs travelled with with Battina Essingmann, a 34-year old woman. Like Klara Zamenhof, Mrs. Essingmann is described as a housewife. Ludovick Zamenhof is described as begin 5’7“ with gray hair. Klara was 5’5” with blond brown hair (I’m assuming that’s a light brown, or a dark blond).

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Sunday, August 10, 2014

When The Cavalier Experimented with Esperanto

In this issue: Esperanto
First, I need to distinguish between two similarly named but unrelated magazines. I’m talking about the earlier one, published by Frank Munsey from 1908 to 1914 (and not the Fawcett men’s magazine, started in 1952). The Munsey The Cavalier was a story magazine. On August 10, 1912, The Cavalier tried an experiment: Esperanto.

On Thursday, August 8, 1912, the Washington Times carried a two-column advertisement from The Cavalier, split into several sections, as if it were part of the news content of the paper. The last of these is titled “An Experiment in Esperanto.”

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Friday, August 8, 2014

Waving the Green Flag

It’s not clear why the Sun expected Colonel John Pollen to speak anything but English to reporters when he arrived in New York City on August 7, 1909. They reported on this the next day, making him a more prominent New York arrival than a Russian prince.

The Sun was clearly watching Colonel Pollen for any indication that he might slip in some Esperanto on the sly, as they noted that he “was not observed to prattle in the new tongue with acquaintances.” Of course, Pollen didn’t exactly travel anonymously, since the point of the article was that he was waving the green flag.

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Thursday, August 7, 2014

The Esperanto Late News

Sign up now!
The Coconino Sun was probably repeating an article from another source on August 7, 1914, but they might have more carefully read the article about the Tenth Universala Kongreso before publishing it. The congress was scheduled for August 2—10, 1914, so it’s already too late to get there.

Anyone looking for more information, as detailed in the article, had better hope that the mails were really quick. Even with next day delivery (both ways) getting to the closing ceremonies would have required the interested person to hop on a jet (not yet invented). Of course, with the technology of the era, it would have involved a train (several, probably) from Flagstaff, Arizona (where the Coconino Sun was published) to New York, and then steamship trip of several days in order to get to Le Havre (or some other port), and then another train to Paris. Simple, huh?

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Esperanto and the Danger of Snark

Dear sir, I wish to call to your
attention that your compositor has
been drinking.
There seems to be a rule in the universe: if you mock someone’s language, you will make an error yourself.

This was in effect at the Guthrie Daily Leader on August 7, 1908, and I’m going to take the risk and point it out. Oh, what terrors I am braving for you! The Daily Leader should have been paying more attention to its compositor and less to the Dallas Times-Herald. This is going to be another one of those cases in which I transcribe exactly, making no alterations.[1]

And so, to show that it wasn’t just this one item, I have also included the one after, which also has a misspelling. Okay, in 1908, nobody could set things up on a computer, and they certainly didn’t have squiggly red lines underneath suspect words. They were working under more difficult conditions. And these short items are more-or-less page fillers.


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Chinese, the Language of the Future

The future is now
I’ve seen recent claims that parents who want their children to succeed in the future should be encouraging them to learn Mandarin, and some schools have offered Mandarin to fairly young children. I am skeptical of this, however, I was not surprised to find that the idea is not new.

China was quite a different place in 1911, when the San Francisco Call published a short article in which the cited a professor[1] who said that Chinese[2] would be “the language of the future.” More than a century has passed, and there are some who still think that Chinese is the language of the future.

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Another Early Nebraska Esperantist

Alice Howard
In my previous post, I wrote about Abigail Russell, an early Esperanto speaker, living in Nebraska. As I noted, her daughter was also an Esperanto speaker, and apparently as active as her mother in Esperanto and other areas. Alice Howard, née Alice Russell, was very active in Omaha society in the early twentieth century. The Nebraska papers wrote about her and her family ninety-one times, between 1887 and 1915. Her husband was a druggist. The lived in Dundee, Nebraska.

Many of the pieces are short items dealing with the Howard’s social life, such as Alice going to visit her parents or her parents coming to visit her. When they spent the summer of 1901 with relatives in Ord, did Alice and her mother, Abigail, teach the little Howards any Esperanto? Or had Alice done that herself already?

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An Early Nebraska Esperantist

Abigal Russell
It’s not clear when Abigail Russell learned Esperanto. On August 6, 1911 the Omaha Daily Bee said that she had learned Esperanto “even before text books and readers in the language arrived in this country,” which if accurate would mean she had she had learned Esperanto within a year of so of its inception, as Henry Phillips, Jr. had translated and adapted Zamenhof’s pamphlet in 1889, under the name An Attempt at an International Language.[1] The implication seems to be that she learned the language not long after it was introduced.

Mrs. Russell is not listed in The North American Review's first list of American esperantists in July 1907 (nor are any other Nebraska esperantists). By May, 1908, she is listed as the head of the First Nebraska Esperanto Club, as noted in Amerika Esperantisto. (She is not the first Nebraskan to be listed in Amerika Esperantisto. That honor goes to John Springer, of Red Cloud, who had himself listed in the “Fako de Korespondado”[2] section in January 1908.) In the July 1908 issue, she actually has a short piece, “La Ĉielo Lin Benu!”[3]

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Was It 1910 or 1911 for the Esperanto Congress?

What year was that?
As I've noted many times, Washington D.C. hosted the 1910 Universala Kongreso, the World Esperanto Congress, which has the dubious distinction of being the smallest one ever (if you don’t count the Paris 1914 convention, which was cancelled as people were traveling to it, since World War I had broken out). A pair of conflicting articles, on August 5, 1909 in the Washington Times and Washington Herald, do show that Washington D.C. was eager to host the convention, although it’s not clear from the articles what was being proposed.

The bid process currently for a Universala Kongreso ends with a vote of the leaders of the Universala Esperanto-Asocio, and somehow involves the national organization of the host country, and possibly a local group. Nitra, where the 2016 congress will be held, was this year the site of the Somera Esperanta Studado, so presumably a number of Esperantists were able to determine the suitability of the location. There had been a proposal for San Diego, but it seems that was rejected (in part) for being too expensive, a concern that the Esperanto movement had with the prospect of a UK[1] in the United States in the early part of the twentieth century.


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Advances in Medical Science — The Aura

Kilner said he saw this when looking
at a healthy man
The Washington Times reported on August 5, 1911 on the work of a New York physician who was attempting to add a contribution to the then-current theory of auras. This was the subject of a 1911 book by the British physician, Walter J. Kilner. Although auras have now been exiled to the metaphysical precincts, they were seen as a potential new diagnostic tool.

I don't really want to mock Dr. Francis Rebman, the subject of the article in the Times. He was working in the context of the best science of the day, although he might have approached his researches with just a tad more skepticism.

That, as we all know, didn’t happen. The article begins by suggesting that in the future doctors will ask after their patients’ auras. If my doctor asked me about my aura, I’d be finding another doctor.

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Monday, August 4, 2014

Esperanto’s Savior?

Savior or traitor?
The August 4, 1907 New York Sun had a lengthy piece on Esperanto (almost two columns), and I won’t be quoting it in full here (maybe another time, because it is a valuable early document in the press). Instead, I’m going to focus on just the first six paragraphs.

I don’t believe that everything in the article “Pioneers of Esperanto” is accurate, because already in the first six paragraphs, there are problems. The opening of the article largely focusses not on Ludovik Zamehhof and the creation of Esperanto, but instead on Marquis Louis de Beaufront, the early Esperanto advocate, who soon after this article was published would introduce his “revised Esperanto” project, Ido.

The Sun describes de Beaufront as someone who has to be taken in “almost equal regard” as Zamenhof himself. Since the article was published, 107 have gone past, and we can look at de Beaufront somewhat differently. One thing that has become clear was the he was a great self-promoter and self-mythologizer.

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A Vermont Esperantist

S-ro. Pellett je 1920
The Vermont Phœnix of Brattleboro, Vermont, ran two articles on Esperanto (one short, one long) in their August 4, 1916 edition. Both dealt with a Battleboro resident’s trip to the ninth congress of the American Association of North America. Mr. Pellett clearly had an in at the Phœnix, as not only did they write about his travels, but wrote a longer piece about the current state of Esperanto and highlighting some of the prominent figures in the Esperanto movement in the United States. (The Pellett family seems to have been prominent in Brattleboro.)

It’s a small city newspaper, not the New York Sun or the Washington Herald, but it’s clear that in 1916, John C. Pellett’s local paper was quite willing to devote a number column inches to Esperanto.

I've dumped most of my comments into the footnotes this time.

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No Profit in Volapük

Quite the knee-slapper!
This is just a short item. I'll try to provide some context.
Depreciated in Value
Old Lady (in bird store)—Can that beautiful parrot talk?
Bird Fancier—Yes, indeed.
Old Lady—How much?
Bird Fancier—One dollar, madam.
Old Lady—So cheap!
Bird Fancier—Yes, madam. He was a good bird, but he's gone off in value. His last mistress taught him volapuk. —Tid Bits.

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Desperate Plunge Into Esperanto?

That's a charge of felonious
leg pulling
The article in the the August 3, 1907 New York Sun reads like a piece of fiction, though the names are real. So, did this really happen? Was there a “renaissance of culture” among the police in 1907?

I wouldn’t believe it for a minute, but the Sun did publish this. Here’s their tale of the New York police making a desperate plunge into Esperanto. You can decide whether or not to believe it. My mind's made up.

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What I Miss in OS X

I'm nostalgic for Trash
During the presentation on OS X Yosemite, it was said that much effort went into the redesign of the Macintosh Trash. I think part of that was convincing Sir Jony Ive that skeumorphism should still prevail in this one bit of the operating system. But since the release of OS X 10.1 in March 2001, it actually hasn't been a trash can.

During the last thirteen years (fourteen, if we count in the OS X 10.0 public beta), it's been called trash, but it has looked like a wastebasket. With 10.10 it looks like a different sort of wastebasket (a plastic one, instead of a wire one). I miss Trash.

I've had a Mac since the days of System 4. Way back in 1984 or 1985, I got to play with a friend's Mac running the first System (on floppy). That was my introduction to Trash, which was a marvelous thing in the context of the day.

In DOS, if you wanted to delete a file, you typed something like "del myfile.txt" and it was gone. Forever. Being able to put something into the trash and then change your mind (unless you emptied it), that was amazing. That was the whole difference between marking a file for deletion and actually deleting it.

It will never happen, but I wish they had marked 10.10 by bringing back the Oscar-the-Grouch style trash can.
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That's Not Actually Volapük

What are you implying that he said?
A short item on the sports page of the August 3, 1914 Washington Herald claims that it includes a line of Volapük, but what’s actually there looks more like mangled Esperanto. By 1914, the Volapük movement was long since dead, with only a small number of Volapük speakers remaining. Yet it was still mentioned in newspapers from time to time, though without much frequency. Over the years, reporters had moved from portraying it as the archetypal incomprehensible tongue to the archetypal failed international language scheme.

It’s a filler item, wedged in between the last of the sports reports (the scores of the game between the Washington Cricket Club and the Baltimore Sons of St. George) and the advertisements (Dr. Reed’s specialties include “Private Diseases”). It reads:

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Saturday, August 2, 2014

Beware of Scorchers!

No scorching.
This letter to the New York Sun was just too good to let pass. It appears right below Henry Foreman’s remarks on Esperanto and takes us back to a time when cars were a rarity and blinding speeds were much slower than they are today.

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