The air conditioner repairman came today to recharge the coolant. This was on the house, since I had bought a new system and they couldn’t put it in right away. I wondered if it would work, since the problem was with the attic coil - something that sounds like an object of dread in a 19th century novel, now that I think about it.
He had visions of ancient horrors, of attic coils
But of course the word I’m thinking of is antic. I hate to do that “fun with etymology” thing, because it seems like filler, and also “I learned something and now you must as well,” but it is interesting. You may click here to skip the entire pedantic passage.
When Renaissance Italians began exploring the ancient Roman ruins around them, they discovered fantastic mural paintings that they called grottesca (which means "grotesques," a name given to the paintings because they were found in caves, or grotte)
You know where that word was headed. But also:
Because they were so old, the murals were also called antichi, or "ancient things." English speakers adopted antichi, modifying it to antike or anticke, and eventually any behavior or dress reminiscent of the kind depicted in the Roman murals became known as an antic.
Now it gets odd.
Within 20 years of its earliest recorded uses as a noun, antic began appearing as an English adjective. Originally, it meant "grotesque" or "bizarre" (a sense now considered archaic)
How did this happen? How did the two words converge again? It wasn’t done:
. . . today it means "playful, funny, or absurd" and the noun means "an often wildly playful or funny act.”
It may mean that, but no one uses it anymore.
Also: “attic” can refer to ancient Greek, which might be also what I was thinking.
Anyway, the attic coil prevented the coolant from circulating, so nothing was successful. It was only 85, so we managed. It will be worse tomorrow. But there is nothing to be done.
I went to work, and got used to air conditioning. Took a long walk around downtown and was grateful for the air conditioning I would be entering when I was done. Took some pictures of things, as usual, wondering, as usual, what will ever become of them. Perhaps that’s the advantage my parents’ generation had: they only took a few pictures, so the idea of looking at them years later wasn’t daunting. Then again, I would’ve loved to discover that my Dad shot Fargo storefronts over and over, from the 40s to the 80s; that could be left to a University for future research.
Back up a second. I was researching a cartoonist today, because he illustrated a 1928 humorous essay condemning skinless wieners. (You’ll hear all about it next week; it has a hell of a punch line.) Once I teased his name out of his signature, I found that the web was mostly silent about his work, except for one military history message board. The poster had bought a box of the man’s stuff, and put it all online in the worst possible way - angled cellphone pictures. You couldn’t make out much. But it turned out the guy was with the Army, drew cartoons for the paper, and was sent to draw illustrations of atomic bomb tests. There was so much remarkable work, and you wonder why it ended up in a box on an online website.
Even he ended up in the Great Stream. Sometimes the Stream deposits the flotsam and jetsam on the shores, where it makes its way to a permanent home. Most of it just flows on, until it sinks for good, or someone fishes it out.
In the early days of this website the peculiar ephemera went into a catch-all site called “Flotsam Cove.” In a way that’s what this has always been.
Like, for example, this! I don’t know why I set this aside, except that it was A) strange to see in an ad, because who could buy one? And B) old tech.
The NBC Bizmac.
It’s gone to war! That was the usual phrase. Lucky Strike, Sunbeam, Amalgamated Candle, and RCA's Super Brain have gone to war!
All of this can fit on a piece of plastic the size of a match head today. Ergo, ha ha, you in the past!
But really, this was something: tapes and punch cards.
Wonderful news! But . . . what does it do?
Look at the complexity of the board below: you see all the inspiration for sci-fi movies and stories. They'd still use "tapes" a hundred years in the future, too. What else could they use?
Okay yes (nodding along) I get it
Gather 'round, boys, and pretend you know what's going on
Everything’s automatic. You can absolutely understand how people looked at this and saw every possible ordinary job just evaporating.
Computer, singular. Capitalized, no article.
I wonder if her boyfriends ever called her the Interrogation Unit.
The numbers are overwhelming. To you, anyway. To mere humans.
Where was this? What did they do? How long did it last?
The RCA BIZMAC was a vacuum tube computer manufactured by RCA from 1956 to 1962. Although RCA was noted for their pioneering work in transistors, RCA decided to build a vacuum tube computer instead of a transistorized computer.
It was the largest vacuum tube computer of its time in 1956, occupying 20,000 sq ft of floor space with up to 30,000 tubes, 70,000 diodes, and 35,000 magnetic cores. It weighed about 26,500 lbs.
And it was doomed.
The huge BIZMAC system was very quickly made obsolete by faster and more reliable computer systems, including IBM's 705 computer as well as RCA's own transistorized 501 computer. The BIZMAC was taken offline from the OTAC in 1962. Only about six BIZMAC computers were actually made.
So who cares? Well. Now we get to the interesting details.
One of the original engineers of the BIZMAC was Arnold Spielberg, the father of film director and producer Steven Spielberg. Spielberg designed and patented an electronic library system used for searching data stored on magnetic tapes.
Spielberg died from natural causes at his home in Los Angeles, California, on August 25, 2020, at the age of 103.
Did you know any of that? I had no idea.
And now, this year's Above-the Fold Kul-chah Feature, or ATFKF.
Tentenkamp in de Tiergarten te Berlijn.
Even the boring engravings need affection.
It's a lot of work to make one of these.
I found a statue that looks like that in the real garden, but not exactly.
Eleven thousand souls, down from a 1960 high of almost 14,000. History:
Snyder is named for merchant and buffalo hunter William Henry (Pete) Snyder, who built a trading post on Deep Creek in 1878. It soon drew fellow hunters, and a small settlement grew up around the post. The nature of those early dwellings, mostly constructed of buffalo hide and tree branches, led to the community's first, if unofficial, name of "Hide Town". Another early name, "Robber's Roost", is said to owe its beginnings to the sometimes nefarious nature of a few residents and a lack of law enforcement
Powers Boothe was born here.
Oh dear. Well, I guess we’re starting on the outskirts.
Can’t be a theater; the building’s too small, you think. But it was: the Aztec, showing Spanish-language movies.
Now why would I take a picture of a 60s gas station that hadn’t sold regular for decades -
Never seen the upper windows . . . sag like that.
Nice bright litle store, once.
Now we’re getting into downtown proper!
Things will pick up now, I'll bet -
I just can’t get this town going.
Again, here's the before.
Let’s roll back in time, and take a look at that corner.
Nothing flashy, but solid; interesting carvings on the capitols.
Well, the bench survived.
Ghost sign in good shape; was it revealed by destruction?
Rolling back again, we see yes, it was revealed when another building fell. And here it was:
Columns supporting . . . nothing. But you know, I like the design.
“For Jupiter’s sake, paint it!” - Julius Caesar
Ghost of its longtime companion, now lost.
Sit on that bench and you’ll tumble right into the street: