Sunday, February 23, 2014

This Day in History

On February 23, 1455...

...Johannes Gutenberg invented the Internet.

Well, of course he didn't! Look at the above picture. Think that's how they do things at Google? Why, they're not even sitting on bean bags!

However, you could argue that the Bible that first came off Gutenberg's newly invented printing press on this day in 1455 (according to tradition, i.e., no one has a clue) inevitably led to the Internet. No, God did not say "Let there be!" That link doesn't even bring you to the right place. It's not so much that it was a bible but a book. The first mass produced book, which meant that for the first time reading material wasn't just available to the wealthy few but the public at large. Of course, the public at large first had to learn how to read. That took time. Several centuries in fact. The few poor that did know how to read took to pamphleteering, thus becoming the first bloggers. Some people burned books. They were the first trolls.

Newspapers cropped up. Here's one from September 10, 1666:

Hard to read, I know. So I'll just quote what a London paper boy said that day: "Extra! Extra! Read all about it! We're on fire!"

Just as important, school books popped up. Several centuries later, when the powerful elite finally said, "We better educate the masses or how else are they going to read their eviction notices?", report cards were mass produced for the very first time (some of us have never forgiven Gutenberg for that.)

The more people read, the more widely information was disseminated. Scientific principles were discovered and passed about. Inventions were invented: the steam engine, the telegraph, the telephone, the light bulb, the internal-combustion engine, the airplane, radio (for some reason that doesn't sound right with a "the" in front of it), television (ditto), until, finally, and this I can qualify with a "the", the computer! Which of course led to Al Gore inven--proposing legislation signed into law creating the Internet. So popular has the Internet become we no longer need pamphlets, newspapers, or school books, finally freeing us to dismantle all those damn presses and sell the copper for top dollar, or bitcoin.

And just think, it all started with a Bible.

  No word on when the first hotel room was invented, or whether Gutenberg ever stayed there.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Loose Lips Sinks Lollypops


BREAKING NEWS!!! I just got it from a reliable source that Shirley Temple was in actuality Herman Snipple, master of prebuscent female disguise, and J. Edgar Hoover's most trusted agent. Known  and envied throughout the Federal Bureau of Investigation for his uncanny kneecap tap dancing skills, Snipple infiltrated the Hollywood movie industry in the 1930s and '40s,  keeping a watchful eye on such possible threats to national security as Adolphe Menjou, Bill Robinson, Robert Young, Buddy Ebsen, Jack Oakie, Burt Lahr, Montey Woolley, and Ronald Reagan!

Only kidding, folks. I just happen to see the late Ms. Temple more in terms of film history--she brought a much-needed respite to the Great Depression and all that--than as a performer whose art remains timeless. Now, if you disagree with me, than she's obviously timeless for you. Feel free to say so.

I have to go now. I just got word from that same reliable source that Jane Withers may have been an enemy spy!

Sunday, February 9, 2014

This Day in History

On February 9, 1964...

...Elvis Presley and Chuck Berry might as well have been Frank Sinatra and Bing Crosby.

Oddly enough, Ed Sullivan stayed the same.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Quips and Quotations (21st Century Television Edition)

“Truth is stranger than fiction, but it is because Fiction is obliged to stick to possibilities; Truth isn't.”

--Mark Twain, who obviously never owned a set.