Tasteful Stories

Posted in History by chamblee54 on October 30, 2012

The Memory Palace is a source of entertainment. The stories are based on history, and are likely to be true. Maybe they are plugged into The Akashic Record, the eternal archive of everything ever said and done. One such story is about Guglielmo Marconi, credited with inventing radio. Mr. Marconi was a believer that everything ever said still exists.

The front page of TMP has a bit of text about helping out. They are always happy to receive contributions. “Spread the word. Tell a friend. Tell all of your friends. Tell your weird uncle. Tweet about the podcast. Use ___________ (insert other social media site) to ____________ (insert social media site-related verb) about it. Blog about it. Write articles about it. Interview me. Whatever. “

In 1915, after the Titanic, laws were passed requiring sufficient lifeboats. A boat on Lake Michigan was retrofitted with these life saving facilities. The only problem was, the boat was not designed to have the extra weight on the top deck. It capsized, and over eight hundred people drowned.

Jenny Lind was the vocal superstar of her era. Today, she is lost to history. None of her performances were recorded, because records had not been invented. Another forgotten star is Sarah Bernhardt. Tom Waits tells a story about her. Late in her career, she had a leg amputated. P.T. Barnum got the leg, put it in formaldehyde, and displayed it. The leg made more money than Sarah Bernhardt did.

Perhaps the most tasteful of the stories is about Lewis Keseberg. By all accounts, he was a drunk with a nasty temper. This does not mean that he was a cannibal.
Mr. Keseberg was going to California in 1847. The wagon train got stuck in the mountains. When Mr. Keseberg was rescued, the story spread that he had killed, and then eaten, Tamsen Donner. This reputation made the rest of his life difficult.

While PG was listening to these stories, a remarkable collection was coming to live in his computer. The pictures were from the Farm Security Administration collection, at The Library of Congress.

Many of these images were cropped to 161:100 ratio. This is known as the golden rectangle. “Do we surround ourselves with the Golden Ratio because we find it aesthetically pleasing, or de we find it aesthetically pleasing because we are surrounded by it?”

The photographs were taken in October, 1941, by John Collier. A typical caption is French-Canadian stevedores. Oswego, New York. These men unloaded cargo at a port on Lake Ontario.

The term stevedore is seldom heard today. PG read it in Mad magazine as a kid, and has not seen it since. Container ships have made the job all but obsolete. The always tasteful Urban Dictionary adds:

“Literally “one who stuffs”. Originally referred to longshoremen or cargo workers in the maritime industry since before the industrial revolution. Nowadays in common usage it describes someone who swears profusely or who garners a lot of poon tang.”

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