📝 After a small hiatus, we’re back with a big announcement:
🎙 Pessimists Aloud Podcast
Pessimists Aloud is a new weekly podcast of article readings by voice actors. Each reading has a real digitized record as backing music (crackle and all.) Each episode has a link in the description to view the original article in AR.
EPISODE 1 is an 1878 New York Times piece that proclaimed “Mr. Edison has invented too many things” a year before he perfected the lightbulb. The whole thing is incredibly amusing.
💡 Crazy Ideas (1903)
In 1903 a man started to think electricity was shrinking his head and rotting his bones: ❝Possessed of the idea that his head has been decreased in size and the bones of his body rotted away through the subtle force of electricity...❞ not dissimilar notions to 5G conspiracies.
🦖 This Week in 1993
Jurassic Park was released in cinemas, the first GMO produce was due to hit store shelves the following year and the biotech industry worried some would treat the film like a documentary (they did.) Anti-GMO activists even picketed the films opening. The late 90s & early 2000s would see a global revolt against GMOs.
📚 Library of Sin (1881)
An early concern about publicly funded libraries is they would give children free access to novels, a form of juvinile entertainment that was frowned upon at the time. We have seen this concern crop up more than once in the archives.
❝School-boys or students who took to novel reading to any great extent never made much progress in after life. They neglect real practical life for a sensually imaginative one❞ - The New York Times, 1881
🎺 Jazz-o-Cide (1921)
Jazz got blamed for many things at its height, this article defends it from false accusations in regards to a murder of a mother by a daughter. The author ends with this: ❝Let us not render curses to Caesar for every ill that befalls the empire❞ a phrase that could apply to mania new trends.
📼 Be Unkind Rewind
As VHS began to scale across the world a full blow - tabloid led - moral panic began in England about what were termed ‘video nasties’, VHS films were not regulated like television and film. UK parliament would eventually pass a law requiring VHS videos to be held to the same standards as TV/Film.
📞 Phoney Argument (1996)
A telecom trade group tried to ban internet phone calls citing ‘unfair competition’, a classic incumbent move when faced with an existential threat: instead of competing, they lobby for prohibition. Marc Andreessen retorted saying he’d build online phone calls into Netscape.
🔐 Crypto Wars (1994)
Talks about prohibiting crypto-currencies reminded us of the battle around encryption, known now as the ‘crypto-wars.’ At one point it was illegal to export encryption products from the US - a problem for the tech industry. Once those export restrictions were lifted, the Clinton administration and Vice President Al Gore pushed backdoor encryption keys.