Sunday, March 22, 2015

All the ways man’s best friend helped soldiers in WWI

An exhibition at the Bishopsgate Institute in London, “Dogs of the First World War,” explores the role dogs played as messengers, sentries, carriers and trackers. Slide show follows brief Emirates Airlines video....

Wednesday, March 11, 2015


World War I has often been associated with intoxication in popular culture. Cocktails like the French 75, so named for the kick of a common artillery piece, became popular during the interwar period. During the “Spirit of 1914”– a burst of popular enthusiasm upon the war’s outbreak– European intellectuals likened war hysteria to mass intoxication  After the war, Ernst J√ľnger depicted modern combat as an intoxicating rush (or Rausch) in his popular novelizations of his own experiences on the Western Front. More recently, HBO’s Boardwalk Empire explored drug abuse, alcoholism, and the rise of organized crime through the stories of traumatized World War I veterans Jimmy Darmody and Richard Harrow. This entry explores how alcoholic intoxicants like wine and absinthe were used and depicted during the war. Our guide for this exploration is the poilu [1], the typical French soldier, and his fondness for wine.

Saturday, March 7, 2015

London's Pneumatic Tube Messaging System

London's pneumatic tube system provided a high-tech solution to "the last mile" message transmission challenge in Victorian London and well into the 20th century. As this exquisitely fascinating article mentions, it also played a role in World War I communications.

See Get Them On the Blower.

The name of Slough, a section of London, mentioned early in the article, rhymes with plow.

Pneumatic tubes are now most commonly seen at bank drive-up windows located on lanes not adjecent to the building.

As noted in the article, the pneumatic tube carriers were made of gutta percha. History buffs may remember that Congressman Preston Brooks was a Democratic Representative from South Carolina notorious for beating Senator Charles Sumner (Free Soil-Massachusetts), an abolitionist, with a cane on the floor of the United States Senate, on May 22, 1856. The cane was actually a gutta-percha walking stick. Brooks'ss act and the polarizing national reaction to it {even worse than Ferguson today) are frequently cited as a major factor leading to the Civil War.

The Jules Verne pneumatic tube trains are a pseudo-prototype of the maglev train, , one of Elon Musk's projects Elon Musk’s 800mph Hyperloop

Re speaking tubes on ships, you may recall these were used on the famous "Yellow Submarine," which is actually referred to in this article with reference to sound attenuation.