Tag Archives: History

Time Travel Kitchen

I’ll tell you what: If we must label it, let’s call it “Neo-Victorian” from the start, since there’s nothing punk about these steamy dishes.

But whatever you call it, if you’ve a taste for scrumptious historical cooking, Time Travel Kitchen is about the best damn thing ever.

Author Gail Carriger tipped me off to this one when she bubbled over about the Kitch’s assault on “Vermicelli Soup, Jugged Hare, Vegetables, Bread and Butter Pudding,” taken from the esteemed Ms. Carriger’s favorite cookbook, 1876’s Things a Lady Would Like to Know.

As if cooking up comestibles from the Allan Quatermain era wasn’t enough…



The Holsman High-Wheeler


Creative Commons image by James Tworow

I love the Brass Era of automobile manufacturing, and the Holsman High-Wheeler in particular. The Brass Era is one of the names for the pre-World War I period when cars were fielded with many brass fittings. The Holsman model was part of a class of American cars known as high wheelers that were shaped, more or less, like the earlier horse-drawn buggies. Their high wheels (with solid rubber tires) made it easier to drive over the very rough roads that had been designed for horses, and for horse-drawn carriages with wooden wheels. Many of those tracks still had the ruts left by said wooden wheels. (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM.)

High Wheels Travel All Roads Because All Roads Are Made To Be Traveled By High Wheels.”

A Million Random Digits

One of the projects of the quasi-government think tank the RAND corporation shortly after its formation in the 1940s was research into the generation of random numbers.

This generated the publication of a book that seems like a great choice for any true weirdo on your holiday list: The 1955 hardcover A Million Random Digits with 100,000 Normal Deviates.

…having primarily aesthetic interests, that’s not what I give a damn about anyway. What I love are the Amazon reviews of the book’s 2001 paperback reissue, like this one by “Roy“:

If you like this book, I highly recommend that you read it in the original binary. As with most translations, conversion from binary to decimal frequently causes a loss of information and, unfortunately, it’s the most significant digits that are lost in the conversion.


Good Fun With Knothole-Grable

Public domain US Department of Energy image from the Grable shot.

Having enjoyed numerous evenings of relatively undisturbed sleep during the several months I’ve been writing a novel about pus-spewing dead things that want to eat my face, I decided this just wouldn’t do.

I thought, “Hey, let’s talk about nuclear war!”

Disgusted by the Reagan-era neutron-bomb-apologism of the one post-nuke survival book available at my local library, I turned to my favorite sleep-killer, Wikipedia, where I’ve often cured my insomnia by purging myself of any desire to ever close my eyes again.

It was there that I ran across the fascinating article on nuclear artillery, a concept whose time has surely passed, right? Wrong! (READ THE REST OF THIS POST ON TECHYUM)

Rothstein: The Life, Times, and Murder of the Criminal Genius Who Fixed the 1919 World Series by David Pietrusza

Near the end, I finally had to abandon this too-long, too-slow, too-discursive “biography” of Jewish gangster Arnold Rothstein, the guy who — as the subtitle (and The Godfather II, and every damn book and article about Rothstein) tells us, fixed the 1919 World Series

Rothstein is a fascinating figure and the times he lived in are amazing, and there are a lot of great anecdotes in this book. But I’m afraid the overall information is too random and all over the place; I have no sense of the bigger picture.

I have read over 100 books on organized crime, so when I read a new one I should have at least a vague sense from the first few chapters where this guy fits into the overall history of organized crime in the US.

I didn’t get that sense, here, and I got the distinct impression that it was because the author doesn’t really know.

In the early parts of this book, there are some great stories and discursive histories of other figures of the time. But it is RARE that I make it 3/4 of the way through a book and then not decide to finish it. There’s too little information about Rothstein, and too many detours along the way. I didn’t even get to his murder, and I’m not sure I care to even look that crap up on Wikipedia, I’m so disgusted by the whole experience.

My next option to learn about Rothstein is The Big Bankroll by Leo Katcher, which is something of a classic, or at least old. But my suspicion is that — as with many of the organized crime figures from early this century — there just isn’t enough info about Rothstein to warrant a full biography. He’s one of those figures who is incredibly important, but nobody’s 100% sure just why he’s important, except maybe the guys sleeping with the fishes.

Or, perhaps, why Rothstein’s important can’t be cooked down into a 3 or 400 page book. Maybe Rothstein’he’s just a force that weaves through the rest of the organized crime histories, especially of Jewish gangsters.

Anyway, a reasonably noble effort, but not much good for me either for entertainment or research.