I. 2017 Election Success!
The 2017 Election went off without a hitch thanks to the Elections committee and their collaboration with the Communications, Development & Membership, Translation, Volunteers & Recruiting, and Webs committees! Elections would like to thank all of the members who sent in questions for the Q&A and everyone who voted in the election. They also thank all six phenomenal candidates, and send congratulations to Claire P. Baker, Danielle Strong, and Jessie Camboulives for becoming our newest Board members!
II. At the AO3
After the upgrade to Rails 4.2 in July, Accessibility, Design and Technology has begun testing upgrades to move AO3 to Rails 5.1 and Ruby 2.3. You can keep up with all the changes made to AO3 in our release notes.
Open Doors had a very productive August! They worked with Translation and Communications to announce the import of The Collators' Den and The Fandom Haven Story Archive to AO3. They completed three semi-automated imports: Daire's Fanfic Refuge, HL Raven's Nest, and StargateFan. They also finalized preparations and began manually importing works from the archives Hammer to Fall, Bang and Blame, and Least Expected.
In August, Abuse received over 600 tickets, and Support received over 1,300 tickets. As a reminder, all Abuse and Support reports must now include an e-mail address for the submitter.
III. Legal Advocacy and Fannish History
The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) was at the forefront of the Legal committee's August activities. They submitted a petition to the Copyright Office seeking to renew the vidders’ exemption to the DMCA, which allows people to rip DVDs, Blu-Rays, and digital files for the purpose of making make non-commercial fanvids.
Legal also submitted comments to the Canadian government suggesting what Canada’s copyright law priorities should be as it renegotiates the North American Free Trade Agreement. Trilateral NAFTA talks between the governments of U.S., Canada, and Mexico began in August, and will be resuming in September.
Lastly, the Fanlore homepage has a new section that features articles that require expansion. Go check it out and see what you can contribute!
IV. It's All About the Peeps
As of the 28th of August, the OTW has 680 volunteers. \o/ Recent personnel movements are listed below.
New Committee Staff: 1 AD&T, 1 Open Doors, 2 Communications
New Fanlore Gardener Volunteers: Syd and 2 other Fanlore Gardeners
New Tag Wrangler Volunteers: Chai, Canislupa, Andy D, Stephanie Godden, Windian, Relle, Miss_Chif, Annie Staats, leftmost, snowynight, kenzimone, Hannah Miro, Leo, Eliana, Evie D, Alex D., Dre, Lily_Haydee_Lohdisse, Reeby, Zed Jae, Nemesis, Koi W, Saoirse Adams-Kushin, englishsummerrain, RussianRadio, Amy Lynn, ElleM, and carboncopies.
New Translator Volunteers: 1
Departing Committee Staff: Asanté Simons (Volunteers & Recruiting), Amy Shimizu (Abuse), gracethebookworm (AO3 Documentation), 1 Abuse Staffer and 1 Communications Staffer
Departing Tag Wrangler Volunteers: 1 Tag Wrangling Volunteer
Departing Translation Volunteers: Maliceuse, Kyanite and 2 others
In a 2013 article for the Newsletter of the New Sheridan Club—a club dedicated to extremely British foppishness—writer Sean Longden makes the following claim: “Only jeans can compete with bags in the history of 20th-century menswear.”
What he’s talking about is a style of pant called the “Oxford bags,” a mysterious and, yes, influential design that achieved extreme popularity in the 1920s. Of course, in the cyclical world of fashion, the popularity of the Oxford bags didn’t end with a single tenure; they came back in the 1970s, and then, arguably, in the late 1990s and early 2000s. They are singularly ridiculous and delightful, at their extreme one of the silliest pant designs ever conceived. And there’s no reason to think they won’t be back again at some point.
First, let’s do a description. Oxford bags were typically made of flannel or another lightweight material. They are not particularly weird in terms of construction; a typical design sported all the normal pockets, had a crease down the front of each leg, and was cuffed at the ankle. Where things get weird is in their dimensions: these were among the earliest, perhaps the original, pants that were baggy to the point of ridiculousness. The most extreme examples could be 44 inches in circumference at the ankle; this is big enough to completely hide the lower leg and any evidence of a foot. For comparison, the leg opening of a Levi’s 501 jean—a fairly loose cut, by modern standards—is 16 inches. These pants were bonkers.
The story of how Oxford bags became a trend is one mired in controversy; at least, as much controversy as a debate over 100-year-old English pants can create. The most-cited explanation for their size and name comes from 1924, at the University of Oxford, when the school administration supposedly banned the wearing of knickerbockers (or, more specifically, plus-fours). Knickerbockers are those baggy almost-pants that end at just below the knee. Plus-fours extend, as the name suggests, another four inches down. (There are also plus-sixes and plus-eights.) Plus-fours were, the story says, beloved amongst Oxfordians. As a rebellion, the students decided to keep wearing them—but to wear something over them, to hide them. Something fairly lightweight and billowy enough to hide the already loose plus-fours they loved so dearly. And so was born a fashion trend.
Longden finds this claim ridiculous. You’re banned from wearing your favorite pants so you...wear stupider pants over those pants? So nobody will see them and also you’ll be uncomfortable? Longden also finds it unlikely that the early versions of the Oxford bags would even fit over plus-fours without an unmanageable surplus of fabric bunching up; they were big, but not that big, not yet.
There is a long history of baggy pants before the Oxford bags. Harem pants, similar to knickerbockers, are very baggy pants made of a lightweight material, though harem pants are gathered at the ankle rather than just below the knee. As long as there have been pants, there have been loose pants. But Oxford bags may have been the very first to make over-the-top bagginess a part of their appeal.
Longden thinks Oxford bags started out as a sort of formal, Oxfordian version of warmup pants. Rowing is a popular sport and culture at Oxford; what the rowers did and wore had a pretty good chance of becoming a trend. The rowers, Longden suggests, came up with the wider-leg pants (at this point only about 22 or 24 inches at the ankle) to make it easy and comfortable to slip on over their rowing shorts during cold mornings. The wide ankle and flowing fabric would make it easy to wear as an outer layer, and wouldn’t even require the rower to remove his shoes.
This use may have started amongst rowers, but it took off soon enough among other students and those not affiliated with the university at all. Those folks decided that if baggy was good, hugely baggy would be even better. The pants got bigger, and bigger. Twenty-four inches became, possibly as the result of a mixup between circumference and diameter, 44 inches.
As the trend of huge trousers moved beyond Oxford—it came to the U.S. very quickly, being rebranded and slightly retooled as “collegiate pants”—new parts of society began to realize that really baggy pants could actually be pretty useful. Workmen found that it was easier to move in looser pants, so discarded the wool flannel for hardier textiles like corduroy but kept the looser look. Criminals realized they could store all kinds of weapons alongside their legs. (In later decades, as baggy pants gained favor in various minority communities, this theoretically criminal use would lead to rampant profiling.)
The enormously wide-legged look fell out of fashion quickly, as all extremes in fashion do, but it came back a few decades later, as many extremes in fashion do. In the early 1970s, a new club trend started up in the cities of the north of England, spawning a movement which would come to be called Northern Soul. It was an unusual musical movement in that it didn’t actually involve new music; instead, it was essentially a fanbase of Northern English teens and twentysomethings with a passionate love of a particular brand of mid-1960s American soul. The music this scene favored was generally kind of sweet, up-tempo, doo-wop-inspired, pre-disco, pre-funk soul from Motown and Motown-inspired labels.
The fashion of Northern Soul clubgoers was just as specific and significantly older than the music they danced to: for men, it was, you guessed it, Oxford bags, paired usually with a tank top. But as with the likely original use of the Oxford bags, the Northern Soul kids liked Oxford bags because they were utilitarian: Northern Soul was very serious about its dance moves, which involved a lot of spinning and kicking the air and dropping down for splits.
Northern Soul dancers needed pants that would allow them to move, and the Oxford bags provided that, but they also gave a bonus: all that fabric looked extremely cool in an intense spin move or kick.
Northern Soul also had a bit of a bad reputation; the drug favored by the high-kicking dancers was amphetamines, and there were definitely reports of crime around the scene, though it’s kind of hard to tell how much of that was just reporters doing some good old-fashioned “look at the kids these days!” fearmongering. Still, the idea of extremely baggy pants as being somehow rebellious or intimidating stayed.
Head on up to the 1990s! Hammer pants, a riff on harem pants popularized by MC Hammer, had much of the same background as Northern Soul’s pants: as a dancer, he needed freedom of movement, but as a showman, he wanted something flashy. A bit later, brands like JNCO, which made ridiculously large jeans, began marketing to various subcultures and those who admired them: skateboarders, ravers. These were sort of worse than previous takes on the big pants concept; made of heavy denim, it wasn’t actually easy to skateboard, dance, or walk in them. But parents and school administrators hated them, which probably did a lot for the brand.
Big pants are starting to make their inevitable comeback, especially for high-fashion women, and they actually look a lot like Oxford bags: Light materials, essentially classic in their construction and design, but outsized in their dimensions. Those wearing these pants today may not know it, but they’re perfect for slipping on over a pair of rowing shorts.
In late 1917, handcrafted gold items and silverware alike were melted down as part of the October Revolution. Newly fledged Bolshevik Russia was short on cash, and the literal liquidation of these glimmering assets was a speedy way to fill communist coffers. The tsars' chattel was quickly "nationalized," and even extraordinary examples of silver and gold plates, goblets, and cutlery were lost in minutes. Among the items was a priceless neo-Gothic silver tableware set by master jeweler Fabergé, thought to be gone for good.
But perhaps not entirely. Two lost silver fish knives from the set have reappeared in Poland, as reported by AFP. They have attracted bids of more than $1.2 million from foreign collectors. The longer of the two, used for serving, is 14 inches long; the smaller individual one just over eight. And there's a story behind them, Adam Szymanski, a Polish art historian and Fabergé expert, told the news service. They were apparently gifted to a Red Army soldier in 1918, as payment for his help in melting down their silver flatmates. Three years later, Szymanski said, the soldier sold them to a Polish doctor, whose family they stayed in, though their precise whereabouts became a little foggy. Last year the knives reappeared, as if from nowhere, to be sold to a new owner.
Fabergé is known for his enamel-encrusted golden eggs, studded with semiprecious and precious stones. Today, these fetch astronomical prices at auction. But he also made other treasures, including the tableware set. It had been commissioned by the wealthy heiress Barbara Kelch-Bazanova, Szymanski said, who married into nobility. This 32-person set was designed to be impressive and match the decor of the neo-Gothic dining hall of the Kelch Mansion. "There's no doubt the letter 'K' on the knives is exactly the same as the ones we find engraved in the Kelch dining hall," Szymanski told AFP. "The knives have the Fabergé stamp ... the name 'Fabergé' in Cyrillic print is very legible."
They certainly seem legitimate, though the $1.2 million offer put forward by an American collector may not be a good value. AFP spoke to two jewelry experts, who felt that the value of the knives is considerably lower. "If I were the owner, I'd accept a million dollars straight away!" said French jewelry expert Maxime Charron, apparently sputtering. "Despite being quite rare and interesting, it's just simple cutlery."
It's a little hard to get excited at the thought of spending your Sunday on a city bus.
A historic city bus, though—that's a different thing altogether. This Sunday, September 24, the New York Transit Museum will throw its 24th Annual Bus Festival, a daylong celebration of the city's surface transportation.
The museum is pulling out all the stops for the occasion. The planned event advertises "crafts, toys, and transit merchandise," along with "special guests," namely historic buses temporarily brought out of retirement.
This year, they're teasing appearances from Betsy (a double-decker bus from 1931), Bus 2185 (restored after it was damaged by falling debris from the Twin Towers), and Tunnel Wrecker, aka the "Monster of the Tunnels," which once rescued disabled vehicles from the Queens-Midtown Tunnel.
The vehicles will be parked in stately rows along Boerum Place, where fans can step on and off of them, offer seats to each other, and generally pay their respects.
The party starts at 11 a.m. (More information can be found on the Museum's website.) Admission costs $1, which, shrewdly, is much less than a modern-day bus ride. Not bad for time travel.
Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For centuries, the Black Sea, the wide basin that connects Eastern Europe to Asia, was traveled by ships laden with goods. Not all of those ships made it to their destinations, and a team of scientists studying the bottom of the sea—the Black Sea Maritime Archaeology Project (MAP)—has discovered a collection of beautifully preserved shipwrecks that date back to the 9th century.
The Black Sea MAP project wasn’t explicitly searching for shipwrecks, but rather scanning the seafloor to understand the region's natural history. But they knew they would find wrecks along the way. The Black Sea’s waters have relatively little salt and low oxygen concentration, which means that the creatures that break down the wood of shipwrecks elsewhere don’t thrive here. When a wooden ship sinks to the bottom of the sea, it can stay in decent condition, even after centuries.
Of the 43 shipwrecks the team identified, one of the most stunning is a medieval ship dating to the 13th or 14th century. Historians know that ships of this style existed from written sources, including manuscripts from Venice, but no example had ever been found. This one is so well preserved that the masts are still standing.
“This is the type of ship that created the trading empires of Venice and Genoa; the type of ship used by the Crusaders,” the University of Connecticut's Kroum Batchvarov, a codirector of the project, said in a press release.
The project’s primary goal is to study the layers of sand and rock at the bottom of the sea to better understand the region’s history of flooding. At one point in history, the waters of the Black Sea had receded enough for people to settle in what had been marshy land—only to have their homes floods as climate has shifted. How fast did that happen? It would have been a slower-moving disaster than a sinking ship, but still the sort of event that upended lives before people had a chance to adapt.
I just need to find a good picture. Suggestions?
People keep making the mistake of thinking that just because I'm nice, I'm a pushover. Or gullible. Or both.
That is...beyond hilarious as a concept.
Fuck everyone today.
(Work issues, though I've run into the same idea outside of work, I suppose. I will elaborate when I'm not vaguebooking on a work computer on a work network.)
I hadn't been to the Empire State Building since I was a kid, and angelgazing was like, "Why even live in NYC if you don't go to the attractions?" and I was like, "I've never even been to the Statue of Liberty." *hands* Generally speaking, the thought of masses of tourists repels more than the attractions attract. Unless someone from out of town wants to go, I generally don't do those kinds of things, though they are always fun when I do.
Anyway. The Good Place had its season 2 premiere Wednesday night, but it started at 10 pm and when I saw that I was like, "oh hell no!" I am not cut out for 10 pm shows anymore. So I set the DVR and watched it last night.
Spoilers from here on out! Please don't read if you haven't watched. It's a show that works best unspoiled the first time around! ( spoilers for all of s1 and the s2 premiere )
rachelmanija has a much more thoughtful post here.
It was close to 10 p.m. on a spring night in Tokyo in 1912, when Kazuko Mozume heard a dog barking behind her father’s house. It would not stop. At the back gate, she found three men waiting for her, a policeman and two others. They didn’t say what they wanted, they only asked her if this was the office of Seitō, the women’s literature magazine she had started with four other young women.
She led the men through the large house and down the long corridor to the rooms that served as the magazine’s headquarters. The men looked around and spotted just a single copy of the magazine’s latest issue. They seized the publication and, as they were leaving, finally told the surprised young woman why they had come. This issue of Seitō had been banned, they told her, on the grounds that it was “disruptive of the public peace and order.”
The young women who had created the magazine less than a year before had known it would be controversial. It was created by women, to feature women’s writing to a female audience. In Japan in 1911, it was daring for a woman to put her name in print on anything besides a very pretty poem. The magazine’s name, Seitō, translated to “Bluestockings,” a nod to an unorthodox group of 18th-century English women who gathered to discuss politics and art, which was an extraordinary activity for their time.
But Seitō was not intended to be a radical or political publication. “We did not launch the journal to awaken the social consciousness of women or to contribute to the feminist movement,” wrote the magazine’s founder, Haruko Hiratsuka, who went by the penname Raichō, or "Thunderbird." “Our only special achievement was creating a literary journal that was solely for women.” Raichō was most interested in self-discovery—“to plumb the depths of my being and realize my true self,” she wrote—and much of the writing in the magazine was confessional and personal, a 1910s version of the essays that might now be found in xoJane or Catapult.
Women's feelings and inner thoughts, however, turned out to be a provocative challenge to the social and legal strictures of this era, when a woman’s role was to be a good wife and mother. The Seitō women imagined much wider and wilder emotional and professional lives for themselves. They fell in love, they indulged in alcohol, they built careers as writers, and they wrote about it all—publicly. The stories were radical enough that the government censored them. The story that prompted policemen to visit the magazine’s office late at night was a piece of fiction about a married women writing to her lover to ask him to meet her while her husband was away.
As they attracted public attention and disapproval, instead of shying away from the controversy they'd created, the editors of Seitō were forced to confront more baldly political questions, and this in turn earned them more banned issues. In the pages of their magazine they came to debate women’s equality, chastity, and abortion. Without originally intending to, they became some of Japan’s pioneering feminists.
Starting the magazine hadn't been Raichō’s idea. At first she had no interest in being a professional writer or editor. At the time that her mentor, Chōkō Ikuta, suggested it, Raichō had been immersed in practicing zen meditation, learning English, and pursuing a self-directed course of literary study at the library. She was 26 and living at home with her parents, so she wasn’t worried about supporting herself. She may also have been reluctant to reenter Ikuta’s world. Her experience with his last literary society had ended when she ran off with a married man to a mountain retreat, where they spent a night outside in the cold—a romantic, failed attempt at suicide.
This incident had been a scandal for her upper-middle-class family, and though her father and mother had supported her through it, she was still expected to settle down in a respectable marriage. Raichō was part of a generation of Japanese women who had unprecedented access to education, in women’s high schools started in the late 19th century and at Japan Women’s University, which was established in 1901. Women like Raichō studied the literature of naturalism, full of ideas about self-awakening (for men, at least). Even as women’s education improved, they were expected to conform to increasingly constrictive ideas about women’s roles and behaviors. Strict moral codes were creeping up around chastity, and arranged marriages, once a practice reserved for the highest classes of society, were becoming more common among the middle class.
“A lot of these young women had developed intellectual curiosity and ambition and wanted to do something more than be a good wife and mother,” says Jan Bardsley, a professor of Asian Studies at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the author of The Bluestockings of Japan.
Living at home, Raichō had a roommate, Yoshiko Yasumochi, a friend of her older sister. When Raichō mentioned the idea of a literary magazine, Yasumochi, who had recently graduated college, jumped on it. “She had no desire to return to her home in Shikoku,” Raichō wrote in her autobiography. “This was just the sort of job she had been looking for.”
The two women started making plans for the magazine and a literary society that would accompany it. They recruited three other founding members, including Mozume, who offered her house as an office. Raichō was too worried about her own father’s continued support to offer hers, but her mother did secretly fund the printing of the inaugural issue. At Ikuta’s urging, the Seitō founders had canvassed for submissions and support among the few female writers of Japan and the wives of literary men. The first issue contained a poem from the famous poet Akiko Yosano, who wrote:
The day has arrived when the mountains are about to become active
People do not believe me when I say this
The mountains have simply been dormant for awhile …
... Believe only this
Now all the women who lay dormant are rousing themselves.
Raichō herself wrote the magazine’s manifesto and call to action, which became known as the first public address on Japanese women’s rights. “In my wildest dreams, I did not imagine how much my opening statement would stir the young women of my generation,” she wrote later. She had sat up through the night, writing “with every fiber of my being,” an expansive, rambling, impassioned piece that opens, “In the beginning, women was the sun ... ” and builds to a call to arms, “Even if I collapse halfway, or even if I sink to the bottom of the ocean, a shipwrecked soldier, I will raise both my paralyzed hands and yell with my last breath, 'Women! Advance! Advance!'”
The Seitō editors put a small ad in the paper to announce the first issue. They priced it at 25 sen, slightly more expensive than other magazines of its kind. None of them expected it to be a publishing success.
The first issue sold out in a month. Seitō was a phenomenon.
In the first issues, the Seitō editors published essays, poems, and works of fiction that plumbed their inner worlds. “There was a vogue at the time to write in the first person, as if you were sharing your innermost thoughts,” says Bardsley. These weren’t political provocations, but they attracted an impassioned following, mostly young women. Letters from around the country poured in, and the magazine's most ardent fans showed up at the office looking for advice or a glimpse of the writers they admired.
From this outpouring of enthusiasm, the inner circle of Seitō began to grow. Within the first year of publication, the office started receiving frequent letters, which, Raichō wrote, “stood out for their pure idiosyncracy.” They came from Kōchiko Otake, the daughter of a prominent artist. In person, Otake was tall and loud, and dared to wear men’s clothing. But in her writing, she sounds like an eager kid. In her first letter to Seitō, she wrote, “I’ve said so many foolish things, but that’s the kind of person I am—I just can’t be dishonest about myself. So I’ll just go ahead and send this letter .... When I go to Tokyo, I’ll visit your office and apologize in person in my crude, childish way.”
“She was absolutely uninhibited,” Raichō wrote.
This particular quality of Otake's became a problem for Seitō. The popular media had taken an interest in the lives of the unusual women who were producing the magazine. As many feminists have found, their ideas and work mattered less to the press and public than how they conducted their personal lives. After she became a regular presence in the office, Otake's taste for adventure and eagerness to share her experiences fueled the gossip swirling around the editors.
In one incident that made it into newspapers, for instance, Otake visited a café known as a haunt for local artists, where the proprietor taught her to make a trendy cocktail with five brightly colored liquors. Women weren’t supposed to drink, and Otake was less interested in imbibing than in the delight of mixing the concoction. But when she described it in the magazine, it seemed as if everyone involved with Seitō had been getting drunk on fancy cocktails.
More scandalous was a visit arranged by Otake's uncle to the Yoshiwara quarter of the city, a red-light district that only men were supposed to frequent. A small group of women, including Otake and Raichō, spent the night in a high-end brothel, in the company of a courtesan named Eizan. The Seitō editors had little sense of the lives of women of lower classes, and the visit was meant to open their eyes to the problems faced by women of different circumstances. That is not how it was received when Otake told a reporter about it.
“Some key members of the 'Seitō Society’ have absurdly and outrageously been to the Yoshiwara,” one paper wrote. “They have gone so much on the loose that even men would have been put to shame."
"They also write about iconoclastic and unconventional things," the article noted, almost as an aside.
The newspaper reporters weren’t the only ones who thought Otake and Raichō had gone too far, though. The Yoshiwara trip in particular caused divisions among Seitō's members. The magazine’s subscriber base had been growing, but after this incident, teachers, worried for their jobs, canceled their subscriptions so they couldn’t be associated with this group of wayward women. Mozume’s father forced her to resign (though she kept writing under a pen name). Yasumochi, who had been so important in the founding of the magazine, wrote to Raichō that, “In the earlier stage Seitō was indeed a heartfelt, trustworthy and distinguished magazine, but it has lost these good qualities .... Because of your thoughtless conduct, all these women have gained a bad reputation for doing away with past conventions and attempting things women have never done before.”
By 1913, Seitō had reached a turning point. The group’s collective journey of self-exploration had led them into trouble, but rather than turning away from the controversy, they leaned into the questions of women’s rights and lives that they’d raised.
In the first year of publication, the editors had discussed women’s issues on occasion, most notably in a special issue on Henrik Ibsen’s play A Doll’s House, itself a controversial work about the place of women in society, which had run in Tokyo. And the 1912 Seitō story, “The Letter,” which provoked the first censure from the government and the seizing of the issue from the office, read: “thinking of the nape of your neck and the delight of the first night your crimson lips met mine …. What I want ... is to feel completely enveloped by an earnest and human love.”
They increasingly began to confront controversial questions about the rights of women and the control they should have over their bodies. In a special 1913 issue on women’s rights, Seitō commissioned an essay from Hideko Fukuda, a feminist known as a radical activist, on “The Solution to the Woman Question,” in which she advocated not just for equal rights between genders, but also for a communal system to create equality among classes as well.
“Only under such circumstances will real women’s liberation come about,” she wrote. “Unless this first step is taken, even if women get voting rights, and even if courts, universities, and government offices in general are opened to women, those who enter these, will, of course, only be women from the influential class; the majority of ordinary women will necessarily be excluded from these circles. Thus, just as class warfare breaks out among men, so class warfare will occur among women.”
The government banned this entire issue for being “disruptive of public peace and order.” A couple months later, another issue was banned because of an article opposing arranged marriages. The next year, one of the magazine’s writers sparked a debate on chastity when she wrote (in vague terms) about losing her virginity to a boss who threatened to fire her if she wouldn’t have sex with him. Though that question aroused the feelings of the magazine’s contributors, who argued over whether the writer’s decision was analogous to accepting an arranged marriage, the government allowed the discussion to proceed.
Censors returned for a 1914 issue containing a fictional story about a woman leaving her husband, and one in 1915 for a fictional story about a woman who did not regret having an abortion. That story, “To My Lover From a Woman in Prison,” was inspired by real-life events, and the main character offers a pro-choice argument that must have seemed incendiary at the time. “As long as a fetus has not matured, it is still just one part of the mother’s body,” she writes to her lover. “There, I believe it is well within the mother’s rights to decide the future of the fetus, based on her own assessment of its best interests.” The government called the story “injurious to public morals.”
As they provoked government censors with their writing, the women of Seitō tried to live according to the principles of freedom and exploration that they advocated for. They left husbands and started affairs. They found themselves pregnant and considered abortion. Raichō started a relationship with a younger man, left her parents’ house, and gave up their financial support. Pursuing an unconventional life and publishing a controversial magazine, though, strained her emotional resources. In 1915, she handed over editorial control of the magazine to Itō Noe, who pushed further into contentious territory. But the magazine had been struggling financially and, after Japan entered World War I, attention began to fade. It closed, without warning, in 1916.
For many years after that, Seitō’s creators dropped out of the spotlight. “They were notorious in the 1910s, but then you don’t hear too much from them,” says Bardsley. But after World War II, the occupying Allies pushed for women’s equality, through coeducation and the right to vote. All of sudden, interest in the Bluestockings rose again, and they were seen as a pioneering feminist organization in Japan. Today, anyone who studies the history of women's rights there learns about their work.
“Too often the perception is that women movements come from elsewhere to Japan,” says Bardsley. The story of Seitō, though, shows that Japanese feminism has its own legacy. “It’s mixed in with ideas from abroad, but there are Japanese ways of thinking about these issues,” says Bardsley. “In its own day, what was so bold about Seitō was just that these women stood up and wrote, ‘I think this. I want this.’”
In early June, 1944, tens of thousands of American troops prepared to storm the beaches of Normandy, France. As they lined up to board the invasion barges, each was issued something less practical than a weapon, but equally precious: a slim, postcard-sized, softcover book.
These were Armed Services Editions, or ASEs—paperbacks specifically designed to fit in a soldier's pockets and travel with them wherever they went. Between 1943 and 1947, the United States military sent 123 million copies of over 1,000 titles to troops serving overseas. These books improved soldiers' lives, offering them entertainment and comfort during long deployments. By the time the war ended, they'd also transformed the publishing industry, turning the cheap, lowly paperback into an all-American symbol of democracy and practicality.
As the bookseller Michael Hackenberg writes in an essay for the Library of Congress, small books and paperbacks have arisen many times over the course of publishing history, usually in response to some particular need. In 1501, Venice's Aldine Press began printing octavo-sized editions of Latin and Greek classics for aspiring scholars on the go. (The books were designed to be "held in the hand and learned by heart… by everyone," their publisher, Aldus Manutius, later wrote.)
The streets of 16th-century Europe were plastered over with paper tracts and pamphlets. In the 1840s, the German publisher Bernhard Tauchnitz began putting out portable editions of popular books, which travelers snapped up to while away the hours during rail journeys, and by the 1930s, Britain was stacked with softcover Penguin Classics, available at every Woolworth's store.
But in the U.S. in the early 20th century, paperbacks were a bit more of a hard sell. As Hackenberg writes, without a mass-market distribution model in place, it was difficult to make money selling inexpensive books. Although certain brands, including Pocket Books, succeeded by partnering with department stores, individual booksellers preferred to stock their shops with sturdier, better-looking hardbacks, for which they could also charge higher prices.
Even those who were trying to change the public's mind bought into this prejudice: one paperback series, Modern Age Books, disguised its offerings as hardcovers, adding dust jackets and protective cardboard sleeves. They, too, couldn't hack it in the market, and the company folded in the 1940s.
At exactly that time, though, another demographic arose that had a particular use for low-cost, portable books: American soldiers. In September of 1940, as the U.S.'s entry into World War II began looking more and more likely, President Roosevelt reinstated the draft. Hundreds of thousands of new recruits soon found themselves in basic training, an experience that, due to a lack of available facilities, often included building their own barracks and training grounds.
Within a couple of years, many of them—along with hundreds of thousands of others—had been deployed. As Hackenberg writes, the U.S. military now consisted of "millions of people far from home, who found themselves in a situation where periods of boredom alternated with periods of intense activity." In other words, they were the perfect audience for a good paperback.
It didn't take long for the Army, too, to come to this conclusion. As Molly Guptill Manning writes in When Books Went to War, although books were already considered an important source of troop morale—the Army Library Services had been established during World War I—Nazi Germany's embrace of book-burning, propaganda and censorship imbued them with new wartime significance. In 1940, after word got out that the newly built camps were starved for books, the Army's new Library Section chief, Raymond L. Trautman, set out to change that.
As Manning writes, Trautman's initial plan, which involved using Army funds to buy one book per soldier, fell far short of its goal. In an attempt to pick up the slack, libraries across the country independently organized book drives. This quickly mushroomed into the nationwide Victory Book Campaign, or VBC, a collaboration between the Army and the American Library Association that aimed to be the biggest book drive in the country's history.
Although the campaign started off strong, collecting one million books in its first month, donations soon slowed—citizens, who were already being asked to sacrifice for the war effort in any number of other ways, couldn't keep up that initial pace. Many of the books donated—like How to Knit and An Undertaker's Review—were rejected, as it was assumed, fairly or unfairly, that they'd hold no interest for soldiers. On top of that, the bulky, boxy hardcovers proved bad battlefield companions. In 1943, the VBC was officially ended.
Trautman had to try something different. Over the course of the preceding years, he had consulted with publishers, authors, and designers about how to quickly and efficiently increase the number of books that made it to the troops. In 1943, together with the graphic artist H. Stanley Thompson and publisher Malcolm Johnson, he officially proposed his idea: Armed Services Editions, or ASEs.
These would be mass-produced paperbacks, printed in the U.S. and sent overseas on a regular basis. Rather than depending on the taste and largesse of their overextended fellow citizens, soldiers would receive a mix of desirable titles—from classics and bestsellers to westerns, humor books and poetry—each specially selected by a volunteer panel of literary luminaries.
But choosing the books was only half the battle. As had been proven by previous efforts, in order for this project to be a success, the objects themselves had to be somewhat war-ready: "flat, wide, and very pocketable," as John Y. Cole, of the Library of Congress's Center for the Book, put it. Although five different presses quickly volunteered to help make the books, their machines were normally used to print magazines, which, while both flat and wide, were certainly too big for your average soldier's pocket.
Trautman and Thompson solved this problem by printing two books at a time, laid on top of each other. Workers at the presses printed out the double pages, cut them in half, and sorted them into appropriate piles. The pages were then stapled together—a way of thwarting the world's many glue-eating insects, and of slowing down the mildew invited by thread.
Because of the varying sizes of the printing presses, two types of ASE resulted: a smaller one, about the size and shape of a postcard, which could fit into a breast pocket, and a larger one, 6 ½ by 4 ½ inches, for the pants pocket. Both kinds were horizontally oriented, almost like a flip book. These design choices weren't lost on the soldiers: "Whoever made 'em hip pocket size showed a stroke of genius!" one soldier wrote. "I can't say it's next to my heart, but it is treasured."
The first set of ASEs was released in October of 1943. Each month for the next four years, crate after crate of books made their way to overseas soldiers, pretty much wherever they were. "They have been dropped by parachute to outpost forces on lonely Pacific islands; issued in huge lots to hospitals… and passed out to soldiers as they embarked on transports," reporter Frank S. Adams wrote in 1944.
They were a huge and immediate hit. "Never had so many books found so many enthusiastic readers," Cole later wrote. As Manning tells it, "servicemen read them while waiting in line for chow or a haircut, when pinned down in a foxhole, and when stuck on a plane for a milk run." Some soldiers reported that ASEs were the first books they had ever read cover to cover. Troops cherished their shipments, passing them around up to and beyond the point of illegibility. "They are as popular as pin-up girls," one soldier wrote. "To heave one in the garbage can is tantamount to striking your grandmother," quipped another.
Sometimes, particular titles had lasting effects. Betty Smith, whose A Tree Grows in Brooklyn went out in Shipment D, received ten times more fan mail from soldiers than she did from ordinary civilians. (One, from a 20-year-old soldier who read the book while recovering from malaria, told her that it caused his "dead heart" to "[turn] over and become alive again.") After Katherine Anne Porter's Selected Short Stories was chosen, she began hearing from aspiring writers who wanted to discuss technique and craft.
During a Library of Congress event in 1983, veteran Arnold Gates remembered tucking Storm Over the Land, Carl Sandburg's history of the Civil War, into his helmet before marching to the front lines. "During the lulls in the battle I would read what he wrote about another war and found a great deal of comfort and reassurance," he said.
This influence went both ways. The soldiers' enthusiasm brought particular titles—including the Great Gatsby, which wasn't very popular when first released—a new wave of renown. It also changed the American paperback's reputation forever. "The ASE series set the final imprimatur on cheap, mass-market reading material," Hackenberg writes.
From the beginning of the production process, he continues, the publishers involved felt "a sense of pending triumph and of crossing a new threshold." After the project's end, in 1947, this instinct was borne out: by 1949, softcovers were outselling hardback books by 10 percent.
So the next time you dog-ear a page of your pocket paperback and slip it into your jacket to accompany you on your commute, think of a soldier. They're a big part of why it fits.
The most important thing about this fascinating and diverse mythology isn't whether or not it's 'real', it's what it says about modern culture. I've been researching this title since I was a child, nervously turning over the pages of 'real life UFO' books. -- Paul Cornell
( Read more... )
Conversely, Dark Horse has been putting out their own series of EC reprints. These versions are digitally recolored and are published in chronological order. There are some here.
I will probably continue to use Fantagraphics' versions for the time being just because I already have them in my collection but I was wondering which versions you would prefer to see if I was able to pick from both.
It’s funny — in astronomy, you wouldn’t think split-second timing would be all that critical for getting a good shot of some cosmic object. After all, the galaxies, stars, planets, and more have been around for billions of years. What’s the hurry?
But then, you have to remember that not everything is just sitting out there waiting for the shutter to snap. Some thing are moving pretty rapidly, and if they’re close enough to us then the difference between getting a nice shot and a fantastic one can take less than a second.
Here, I can show you. Check this out!
That is the Sun (duh), taken by Spanish astrophotographer Dani Caxete. He took this on September 5, 2017. At the time, those two big sunspots groups were visible (called Active Regions 12673 and 12674 (the former of which flared several times just days later) — in fact, they were big enough to be spotted with no optical aid; I saw them myself using my eclipse glasses left over from August.
But that’s not all that’s in the shot. Look again: Between the active regions is a decidedly more artificial spot:
Yup, Caxete caught the International Space Station as it transited the Sun! The ISS is orbiting the Earth at about 8 kilometers per second at a height above ground of just over 400 km (about 500 km from Caxete, who was in Madrid when he took the shot due to his angle). At that speed and distance, it takes very roughly a half a second to cross the face of the Sun.
To capture it, you can’t rely on tripping the shutter at the right time; it’s better to take video, and then select the frames that show the ISS. This image shows one such frame. Caxete made a nice little video showing his travel across the city, the equipment-setting-up, and then getting the shot:
Coooool. I like his ‘scope, too; it’s a Long Perng 80 mm f/6.8 refractor with a Lunt Solar Systems Herschel wedge (which filters the sunlight down to acceptable levels), and a Nikon D610 camera. There’s no substitute for good optics!
As Dani told me, he has something of “an obsession with the ISS”. He took this shot as well:
Nice. And he has lots of other such images he’s taken (including one I featured on the blog back in 2011, though the ISS had a visitor that day), and I suggest you scroll through them, because they’re very pretty.
Getting a shot like this takes some planning, too. The sky is big, and you have to be at the right spot at the right time to catch the ISS moving across a target like the Sun or Moon. Happily, software packages like CalSky (which is what Caxete uses) make that a lot easier; you give it a location and it can calculate what’s visible in the sky and where, including the Sun, Moon, planets, asteroids, and satellites (including potential transits near your location). It’s not too hard to use and fun to play with, so give it a try.
Not that getting a shot like this is easy. But with all this lovely tech we have handy, it’s a lot easier than it used to be. Still, it takes a lot of experience and perseverance… and a deep love of the chase. I don’t mind a chase myself, given the right circumstances (I traveled to Wyoming for the eclipse last month, after all), but in this case, I’m just glad experts like Caxete and others are willing to drop everything, even for just a short while, to provide the rest of us with such lovely images.1
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Next issue, Arba and Dakarba, the witches.
Please help us with the following issues:
2017 Oscars RPF / Academy Awards RPF - These were each submitted with the same character nominations: Andrew Garfield and Dev Patel. Nominators, do you have a strong preference as to what fandom label is used?
Chronicles of the Raven - James Barclay - Ry Darrick only seems to appear in the sequel trilogy; is that incorrect, or does this fandom label cover both trilogies? We’d also appreciate a little more information on the Unknown Warrior.
Dallas Stars (Hockey RPF) - Justin Courtnall does not appear to belong in this category; please comment, or we will either move him to another category (if an appropriate one exists) or reject him. It is not clear to us that Katie Hoaldridge is a celebrity in her own right; could the nominator please give their reasoning?
動物戦隊ジュウオウジャー | Doubutsu Sentai Zyuohger - the character Insarn does not seem to belong here. Did you mean Naria?
Element of Fire - Martha Wells - this is nominated with the characters Giliead (Ile-Rien), Ilias (Ile-Rien), and Tremaine Valiarde. The characters don’t seem to match the fandom. Nominator, would you prefer to change the fandom or the characters?
Forgotten Realms - for Khelben Arunsun, is Khelben "Blackstaff" Arunsun or Khelben Arunsun the Younger meant, please?
Giant Robo - This is nominated with the characters Alberto (Giant Robo), Ginrei (Giant Robo), Hanzui (Giant Robo), Ivan (Giant Robo), Kenji Murasame (Giant Robo), Shokatsuryou Koumei, Sunny the Magician, Taisou (Giant Robo), Tetsugyu (Giant Robo), and Youshi (Giant Robo). As far as we can tell, this is a mix of 1960 and 1990s anime. Nominators, could you please confirm which media you want and if they should be separated out or sent through together?
合法ドラッグ | Gouhou Drug | Legal Drug - the character Watanuki Kimihiro doesn’t seem to belong here. Nominator, could you please clarify?
No Game No Life - Kamiya Yuu - we're a little confused by the character 『 』| Kuuhaku | Blank. Could the nominator please give their reasoning for nominating this character separately?
Numbers (Anthropomorphic) - There are multiple sets of nominations for this fandom. Going by fandom spelling, respectively, the characters nominated are:
- -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 7, Golden Ratio, Pi
- -128, -i, 0.5, 12, 16, 256, i, sqrt(2)
- 666, e, j, k
The last set in particular is confusing us. Do j and k together (without i?) refer to components of a unit vector? Or, if j and k refer to unrelated concepts, is j being used as notation for the square root of negative one, or something else, and what is k? Is this meant to denote 1000? Nominators, please elaborate on your thinking.
Smosh - the characters nominated are Keith Leak Jr., Noah Grossman, Olivia Sui, and Shayne Topp. Could the nominator please clarify if this is a nomination for RPF, or for fictionalized characters that share the names of the real people?
Trial and Error (TV 2017) - We can't find the character Anne Cox. Could the nominator please confirm and give us pointers to when she appeared?
You Could Make a Life Series - Taylor Fitzpatrick - we can’t find the characters Mason Draper and Nate Wozniak. Could the nominator(s) give us pointers, please?
All Media Types fandoms
We need clarification from the person (or people) who nominated the following fandoms. Please specify a single version of the canon and provide a link to your nominations page so we can confirm the nomination. If these aren't answered, the fandoms will be rejected:
- Kino no Tabi | Kino's Journey - All Media Types, characters: Kino (Kino no Tabi)
- Kurosagi - All Media Types, characters: Kashina Masaru, Katsuragi Toshio, Kurosaki (Kurosagi), Yoshikawa Tsurara
- The Martian - All Media Types, characters: Beth Johanssen, Chris Beck, Mark Watney (The Martian - All Media Types)
- Paint Your Wagon, characters: Ben Rumson, Elizabeth (Paint Your Wagon), Schermerhorn (Paint Your Wagon), Sylvester Newel. Did you want the movie or the musical, please?
- Rookies - Morita Masanori & Related Fandoms , characters: Aniya Keiichi, Kawatou Kouichi, Mikoshiba Tooru, Shinjou Kei
- A Room With a View - All Media Types, characters: Charlotte Bartlett, Eleanor Lavish
- 屍者の帝国 | Shisha no Teikoku | Empire of Corpses - All Media Types, characters: Alexei Karamazov, Friday, John Watson (Shisha no Teikoku), Nikolai Krasotkin
- XCOM (Video Games) & Related Fandoms, characters: Firebrand, Lily Shen (XCOM), The Commander (XCOM)
We will accept labels like “the Council” or “the hunters” for characters in cases where the ensemble does not have different distinct characters in it. For the following fandom, please either confirm that there are no distinct characters in the group, or pick a single character out of the group you’ve nominated:
- Compendium of World Knowledge - John Hodgman - Hobos, possibly also Cryptozoologists (?)
If you are commenting about your own nomination to say what you would like done with characters or fandoms, please link your nominations page! It is the page you get by clicking ‘My Nominations’ from the tag set.
If you notice any problems with your nominations - mis-spellings, etc - feel free to comment on this post.