The Watering Hole: December 31 – What’s Really New?

Happy New Year everybody ! (about 23 hours and 29 minutes early)

Blurb from Popular Science - September, 1922

While doing some research on early 20th Century electronics, I hitched onto the above blurb. I explored a bit further and became even more convinced that every day is Groundhog Day. The articles were all sensational both then and now. Some were based on fact, and some on fantasy – according to more recent scientific findings. What is amazing is how often they were right.

To take a few examples from back then, these (plus the one above) offer a few examples of the absurd:


  • Electric Spark to Ignite Aviator’s Cigarette (Can’t do this, even in the lavatory!)
  • New Phonograph Built Like Human Ear (Hearing aid?)
  • Voting Machine Arrests “Repeater” (Don’t voter ID laws solve this?)
  • Will This “Whirling Leaf” Flying Machine Solve Greatest Problem in Aviation? (Pilot error?)
  • Typewriter Prints Whole Word at a Touch (Can it discern between “everybody” and “every body”?)

There is even a blurb on shale being the elixir for the nation’s energy problems!

Others can be harbingers of practically when adjusted to a practical design. For one:


  • Mirror at Blind Crossing Warns Motorists
    Now convex mirrors are prevalent examples of how this can be made practical.

Still all-in-all, ideas then were only limited by the science of the time. There were still some interesting thoughts on weaving together the fabric of the Universe around us. They even speculated on the existence of multiple universes. What makes human curiosity today differ from what it was then, from the Greek philosophers or the individual who first fashioned a stone ax? Leaves a bit for thought!

This is your Open Thread. Now it’s your time to think! Or opine.

119 thoughts on “The Watering Hole: December 31 – What’s Really New?

  1. That’s quite the contraption. Now, radio waves can be picked up on something as small as an earpiece. We have come a long way. Just look at today’s cell phones. I remember my first car phone. It was large and plugged into the cigarette lighter.

  2. Great post Walt… Popular Science was a favorite magazine when I was a kid. I remember taking apart a lot of old clocks and small appliances, just to see what was in them, and reassembling the pieces into all kinds of imaginary contraptions. My father was a ham radio operator, and he was always building new antennas and radios, surrounded by shelves and crates full of tubes and wire.
    Yes, we have come a long way, 90 short years ago.
    Another 90 years, and anyone still a part of the “global economy” will have embedded somewhere on their person a dime sized wafer with a nuclear battery that will contain a GPS locator, all their DNA, personal data, and credit rating. Data will be collected, updated, and analyzed through numerous massive installations, heavily guarded by one percent of the populace who will not have told the ninety nine percent about the kill switch also included (free of charge!)
    Happy New Era!

  3. U.S. Exports Record Amount Of Refined Fuels In 2011

    Supplies that might have helped lower domestic prices were shipped abroad, causing U.S. drivers to spend a record amount on gasoline.

    U.S. refineries exported a record amount of refined fuels in 2011 to markets in South America, Central America and Europe. It was one reason why Americans spent a record amount on gasoline this year: Supplies that might have helped lower prices here had been shipped abroad.

    In 2007, U.S. exports of all kinds of fuel held steady throughout the year at 1.24 million to 1.25 million barrels a day, according to Energy Department statistics.

    But by 2011, exports of diesel, gasoline and other products surged. In November and December, U.S. fuel exports averaged between 2.77 million and 2.89 million barrels a day, the highest ever.

    Drill Here! Drill Now! Export More!

    We shouldn’t be exporting even one gallon of fuel. This proves that the XL pipeline will never be about lowering US prices. In fact, if the Canadians built a pipe to their West coast and sent it all to China, it wouldn’t make an iota of difference in prices here.

  4. Another reason not to build the Keystone XL pipeline.

    Missing Maps Mean PG&E Lines Weren’t Inspected

    Pacific Gas and Electric Co. failed to check nearly 14 miles of gas distribution pipelines for leaks for up to two decades when it lost track of 16 maps needed to guide mandated safety inspections of its system in eastern Contra Costa County, company officials acknowledged to state regulators Friday.

    • On the Keystone XL pipeline, if it the oil from it is meant to lower OUR oil and gas prices, then why does it have to be piped all the way down to New Orleans? Aren’t there any refineries along the Northern border that can be refurbished?

    • When I and my spouse visited my parents in Redlands, Ca, she said she smelled natural gas near the house. My folks called PG&E and a PG&E technician came and found a leak on the customer side of the meter (Installed by PG&E). Net was that my parents got free gas for three years. Makes one wonder!

  5. I wish all of you a good and prosperous new year.
    I am so thankful that I found this community of well-informed, intelligent, and amusing folks.
    Does anyone have any fabulous plans for tonight? I plan to watch Toy Story 3 (the one with the Cheney-like stuffed bear) and eat popcorn. I am one wild partier.

    • We will be attending the annual local New Year’s Eve party at a friend’s house. It will be wall to wall people and since the weather is nice, there will probably be a bonfire going. Tomorrow, we will be going to another friends’ house to enjoy the annual pork, sauerkraut and mashed potatoes. This needs to be done in order to have a year of good luck. It’s the Pennsylvania Dutch way. Happy New Year to the Zoo gang. 🙂

  6. The old man shuffling out to be followed by the babe in diapers. With this years Republican crew that imagery seems apropos. We seem to have survived another year and the next looks to be a real wowzer. The dark humorist in me wonders how right it would be to have the Republicans sweep the elections only to have the world end in December. They finally get all their plans in place, ready to make a real go of it in January only the lights get turned off and everyone goes home. And the final dig, the real pisser, is it would be a Mayan who got it right.

    Anywho, I hope all have a wonderful evening. It looks like I will be doing something of a marathon. I seem to have this collection of TV shows to watch. All the episodes of the Flying Circus. A bit of a warmup for the coming months, eh what?

    • Flying Monkey Circus?

      Kathy Malloy does a promo for Mike’s show where she refers to the ‘Flying Monkey Right’.

      I have a Virginia – Auburn game on tonight.

      I may watch some Ab Fab on BBC America tomorrow, in between the football, excuse me, TtT, Hand Egg games. There’s three new episodes starting next weekend, as a Twentieth Anniversary special. Edina and Patsy rule!

    • That bab is gonna grow up fast with the Republican Iowa Primary on Tuesday. Then we’re off and running toward November and hopefully, Obama’s reelection.

  7. The lead sentence in a story sometimes tells you all you’d want to know, such as today’s example:

    An Indian man who died in a state-run hospital is alleged to have had his penis chewed off by rats.

  8. Halftime during Texas A&M – Northwestern, and a lot of reports are about all the teams that made it to bowl games, but the school fired the coach anyway. So many teams are being coached by interim head coaches, some who are changing schools after the game as well. If your team made it to a bowl game, but that’s not good enough, I think there are too many bowl games.

  9. Yesterday afternoon, Ebb posted a note that said an Oregon wolf had moved into and been spotted in California. I responded by saying:

    Every cattle rancher in N. California just soaked his Depends while he was loading his 06.

    Today I received this from the Center for Biodiversity:

    Traveling more than 700 miles from northeast Oregon, a wolf crossed into California this week. It’s the first time wolves have been in California since they were purposefully killed off 85 years ago.

    This is a critical milestone for wolf recovery and cause for great celebration.

    But the California Cattlemen’s Association immediately called for a “shield” to keep wolves out of California and warned that “If there were no regulations, our family would shoot them on sight.”

    Shows that when people are truly stupid AND fucked up, they’re easy to predict and spot. Among other things.

  10. Finally got rid of my rear bearing noise in the 944. It was the left rear outer bearing that had lost it’s grease. Now I can enjoy the rest of the holiday!

    Happy freakin’ New Year!!!!!!!!!!

  11. I had to stop at the local market to pick up a few items. When I returned to my car, this note was on the windshield, “Look @ that another Asshole Driving a Honda and voting for Obama.” Who is the real asshole? Not me. This person can leave nasty, rude, ignorant, racist notes but they can’t take away my free speech.

  12. No NYE party for this old man, but I will be enjoying a rib steak (no sharing this time), creamy polenta (which I’ve finally figured out, thanks to Giada) and a French sparkler. Oh, and a pinot with dinner. Highly doubtful I’ll make it to midnight and ear plugs should keep it that way no matter how raucous the neighbors may get.

    • If she prays enough, does that mean people will vote for her? Or will God smite down the people who want to vote for the other Candidates? How many evangelicals does it take to win an election anyhow?

      I suspect that Michele, one “L,” will soon be joining Tim Pawlenty in campaigning for Mitt.

  13. Chief justice defends court’s impartiality

    “I have complete confidence in the capability of my colleagues to determine when recusal is warranted,” wrote Roberts. “They are jurists of exceptional integrity and experience whose character and fitness have been examined through a rigorous appointment and confirmation process. I know that they each give careful consideration to any recusal questions that arise in the course of their judicial duties.”

    Oh, just shut the fuck up.

    • Spell checker does not correct “currant” vs. “current”. Add adverbs plus nouns and pronouns and the words become confusing. Now New Years is based on local time and the 180th meridian. Add Zoo time to the mixture and my brain may turn into tapioca.

      • I did enjoy Umberto Eco’s ‘Island of the Day Before’ …. oh the confusion… I’ve travelled around the world twice, once in each direction so I am still in balance.

        • Samoa missed Friday all together – having moved to the west of the International Date Line!
          (of course American Samoa didn’t change)

  14. Turtles are staying local, watching Nims Island and trying to settle a new puppy down to sleep in the house for his first night….

  15. Ok, I’m just a tad nervous living on the top floor — effers about a block away are shooting guns in the air!

    Happy New Year West Coasters!

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