O.B.I.T. – The machine that allows the observation of anyone, anywhere, at any time.

Standard
O.B.I.T. in action

O.B.I.T. in action.

The ‘all-seeing eye’ has been a source of fascination to futurists for quite some time. In a previous post on Atomic Flash Deluxe we considered the 1948 DC comic, How Television Will Change Your Future, with its ‘Eye-In-The-Sky’ and how it relates to George Orwell’s 1948 classic, 1984. In a common vein, The Outer Limits episode, O.B.I.T. – originally aired during the first season of the classic sci-fi television series on 4 November 1963 – takes the concept to a much more sinister level. Wikipedia gives a very nice synopsis of the episode:

Opening narration:

In this room, twenty four hours a day, seven days a week, security personnel at the Defense Department’s Cypress Hills Research Center keep constant watch on its scientists through O.B.I.T., a mysterious electronic device whose very existence was carefully kept from the public at large. And so it would have remained but for the facts you are about to witness…

Plot:

While inquiring into the murder of an administrator at a government research facility, a U.S. senator is confronted with paranoia, secrecy, and intimidation. He ultimately learns the cause: An unusual security device that is used to monitor its employees. The Outer Band Individuated Teletracer (known by the acronym O.B.I.T.)[1] is so pervasive and invasive that no one can escape its prying eye, at any time or within 500 miles. It is even deemed addictive by some of its operators. After a missing administrator is found and reveals his knowledge of O.B.I.T., its sinister, unearthly origins and purpose become apparent; the device is, in actuality, an alien invention that was designed to demoralize and desensitize the human race in preparation for invasion. During government hearings, Lomax, one of the projects administrators reveals himself to be an alien, proudly warning onlookers as to the horrific impact O.B.I.T. will have on mankind. As he speaks, a nearby O.B.I.T. machine shows Lomax in his true alien form.

Quotes:

Lomax: People with nothing to hide have nothing to fear from O.B.I.T.
Orville: (scoffs) Are you that perfect, Mr. Lomax?

Senator Orville (taking Grover’s testimony in the hearing room): Weren’t you in favor of O.B.I.T?
Colonel Grover: I was at first. But I was wrong. (now fighting to compose himself) It’s the most hideous creation ever conceived. No one can laugh… or joke. It watches!

Lomax (revealed as an alien): The machines are everywhere! Oh you’ll find them all, you’re a zealous people. And you’ll make a great show of smashing a few of them. But for every one you destroy, hundreds of others will be built. And they will demoralize you, break your spirits, create such rifts and tensions in your society that no one will be able to repair them! Oh, you’re a savage, despairing planet, and when we come here to live, you friendless, demoralized flotsam will fall without even a single shot being fired. Senator, enjoy the few years left you. There is no answer. You’re all of the same dark persuasion! You demand – insist – on knowing every private thought and hunger of everyone: Your families, your neighbors, everyone — but yourselves.

Closing narration:

Agents of the Justice Department are rounding up the machines now. But these machines, these inventions of another planet, have been cunningly conceived to prey on our most mortal weakness. In the last analysis, dear friends, whether O.B.I.T. lives up to its name or not will depend on you.

Certainly a prescient episode so very relevant for the current times: the most incredible invention of the 20th century – the internet – could be used as a source of education and global communication that would better the world, but instead of this its been turned into a source of corporate consumerism, conflict, pernicious gossip, surveillance, and…control.

The prophets of the early-to-mid 20th century were truly remarkable in their visions – it’s unfortunate that we’ve failed to heed their warnings.

Advertisements

“Manners” — Starring Mr. Do & Mr. Don’t (Pointers For Little Persons, [and big] 1943)

Standard

There are a lot of ‘little’ persons with very big mouths these days. It seems that civility, decorum, and manners are alien concepts in today’s world. This book is a children’s primer published in 1943. It should be recalled that that was right in the middle of a world war.

Perhaps this should be put back in print and sent to every household around the world.















“Manners” — Starring Mr. Do & Mr. Don’t : Pointers For Little Persons

Written by Virginia Parkinson
Claytoons by Lowell Grant, Maxwell Dorne Studio
Illustrations by Isabel Phillips
Color Photos by Philip Fahs
Harvey House, Inc — Irving-on-Hudson, NY 1943
Lithographed Print edition, 1961

via The Childrens Bizzare

Bicycle Safety: Don’t Be A Monkey, Right?

One Got Fat Title
Standard

In an almost fairy tale manner, this [1963] film depicts a group of monkey-like youngsters riding bicycles to the park for a picnic and pictures the violation of various bicycle safety rules. As the youngsters are eliminated one by one because of rule violations, only one arrives at the park for the picnic. Narration: Edward Everett Horton (TV’s Fractured Fairy Tales)

Just looking at screenshots of a few of the characters is enough to give any sensitive child nightmares for a week. (Images via Charm and Poise)

One Got Fat : Screenshot
One Got Fat: Screenshot
One Got Fat: Screenshot
One Got Fat: Screenshot

Vanity Fair’s Bifurcated Girls – ‘Gay Girls In Trousers,’ 1903

Hurrah!
Standard

Bifurcated Girls - Vanity Fair 1903Vanity Fair special issue from 1903 dedicated to “bifurcated girls”, i.e. women in trousers. Note this isn’t the same Vanity Fair of current fame, but an earlier magazine with the same name, more of a Victorian version of FHM.   – The Public Domain Review

The Bifurcated Girls Rough House

The Bifurcated Girls Rough House (Click to enlarge)

To read more check out the post at The Public Domain Review here.

The ‘Woman’s Dilemma’ Of 1947 – The Woman’s Mettle Of The 21st Century

Standard
Housewife Marjorie McWeeney, 1947 - Photographer: Nina Leen

Housewife Marjorie McWeeney, 1947 – Photographer: Nina Leen

This photo by Nina Leen [“Housewife Marjorie McWeeney amid symbolic display of her week’s housework” in “Woman’s Dilemma,” Life, June 16, 1947, p. 105] depicts part of the housewife-y stuff of attention in the course of her 100-long-week.  The remarkable part of the photo is that all of this was displayed in a window display at Bloomingdales.

Part of Ms. McWeeney’s average work week included “35 beds to be made, 750 items of glass & china, 400 pieces of silverware to wash, 174 lbs. of food to prepare, some of 250 pieces of laundry.on a line, & a ringer washing machine”–that plus paying attention to her children during  the 70+ hours a week in which they are awake.   – JF Ptak Science Books  Post 1047

From the LIFE magazine issue:

Actually Marjorie’s chores are much lighter than they would have been a few generations ago. She cleans with machinery propelled by electricity, she uses food prepared in canneries, she buys clothes factory-made to fit every member of the family. But her jobs, though relieved of old-time drudgery, have none of the creative satisfactions of home baking, home preserving, home dressmaking. And, because her family unit is small with no aunts or cousins in the household, all the time she saves from housework must go into supervision of her children. Unless she makes special arrangements with a baby-sitter, she has no relief from child care.

Many women in Marjorie’s position feel that this is a life of drudgery, that it is not good for Marjorie, a graduate of a junior college, to stay with small children long, continuous hours. Marjorie herself has no desire to work outside. Because as an individual she likes the job that she does, she has no problem right now. Like most busy young housewives, however, she gives little thought to the future–to satisfactory ways of spending the important years after her children have grown up and left home.

via JF Ptak Science Books: “Her Work” Visualizing the100-Hour Work Week of the 1947 Housewife..

So, what image do we, in the 21st century, present as a ‘symbolic display’ of today’s woman? The most recurrent image is woman as goddess – and not just any goddess, but the multi-armed Hindu victor of good over evil – Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura Mardini:

Goddess Durga, also known as Chamundeshwari or Mahishasura MardiniCompare Durga with this image:

Modern Multi-armed multi-tasking GoddessAnd this one:

Modern Multi-armed Multi-tasking GoddessOf course, the many arms of the modern woman represent ‘multi-tasking’ in the conscious mind. But what about the subconscious effect? In Hinduism the many arms of the deities represent their immense power and their magical ability to do several acts at the same time – it is the artist’s attempt to express the deity’s superhuman power. Are today’s women an evolutionary step towards a different kind of society in the future?

The ‘woman’s dilemma’ in Marjorie’s time was to be a stay-at-home-housekeeper or join the outside workforce. The woman’s dilemma of today doesn’t appear to be that simple to define. One observation can be made though – while the roles of women in the world of today are often taken for granted and under-appreciated, a subtle but certain empowerment is taking place. An empowerment many women in Marjorie’s generation only dreamed of – it’s a hard and challenging road, but could this be one that leads to a more promising future?

Only time will tell.

Fare Thee Well, Al Feldstein

Standard
Al Feldstein by Michael Netzer

Al Feldstein by Michael Netzer

The great Al Feldstein crossed the great divide this week – Tuesday, 29 April – he was 88.

His most enduring legacy will perhaps be that centerpiece of American satire, Mad magazine. After Feldstein took the helm in 1956 the magazine rocketed upwards and became one of the most popular periodicals in the nation. He captained the ship for twenty-nine years. While Feldstein’s success with Mad magazine is certainly worth the acclaim, his earlier work with EC Comics should not go unrecognized. From 1948 until 1955, he was prolific as writer, illustrator, and editor for this highly poignant line:

As EC’s editor, Feldstein created a literate line, balancing his genre tales with potent graphic stories probing the underbelly of American life. In creating stories around such topics as racial prejudice, rape, domestic violence, police brutality, drug addiction and child abuse, he succeeded in addressing problems and issues which the 1950s radio, motion picture and television industries were too timid to dramatize.
wikipedia

Below is the cover of Panic #2 issued 1 April 1954. The dangerous looking boy is playing with a ‘Junior Kem-Kit For the Budding Scientist.’ In the 1950s atomic everything was in vogue – in 1951-52 Gilbert produced the ‘Atomic Energy Lab’ that included four types of uranium ore. Also in the ’50s Chemcraft produced the ‘Porter Atomic Energy Kit’ that included a vial of uranium ore, a vial that contained a ‘uranium chemical’ and a ‘screen’ of radium. Was Feldstien the only person at the time who recognized the bizarre nature of such things? Be that as it may – his illustration is one that we can all relate to today.

Fare thee well, Mr. Feldstein – you done good.

Panic #2 - 1 April 1954

Panic #2 – 1 April 1954 – Illustration: Al Feldstein

‘Protect Your Children’…? – TRIMZ DDT Children’s Room Wallpaper

Image
TRIMZ DDT WALLPAPER - WOMAN'S DAY MAGAZINE 06/01/1947

TRIMZ DDT WALLPAPER – WOMAN’S DAY MAGAZINE 06/01/1947 (Photo via Gallery Of Graphic Design)

As early as the 1940s, scientists in the U.S. had begun expressing concern over possible hazards associated with DDT, and in the 1950s the government began tightening some of the regulations governing its use. However, these early events received little attention, and it was not until 1957, when the New York Times reported an unsuccessful struggle to restrict DDT use in Nassau County, New York, that the issue came to the attention of the popular naturalist-author, Rachel Carson. William Shawn, editor of The New Yorker, urged her to write a piece on the subject, which developed into her famous book Silent Spring, published in 1962. The book argued that pesticides, including DDT, were poisoning both wildlife and the environment and were also endangering human health.

(Source: wikipedia)

Scientists have continued to monitor those effects on human health and various studies have shown that regular exposure to DDT can be linked to diabetes, interference with proper thyroid function, a fivefold increase in breast cancer incidence for women who were exposed to DDT earlier in life, damage to the reproductive system and reduction of reproductive success, and reproductive toxicity which causes developmental problems for children that include decreased cognitive skills and retarded psychomotor development.

In this advert, the makers of TRIMZ DDT Wallpaper declare their product ‘Non-Hazardous’ and ‘guaranteed effective’ for one year – noting that ‘actual tests have proven the insect-killing properties still effective after 2 years of use.’  Among the named household pests killed ‘after contact’ we find that bedbugs are included. From the sound of it, that’s some pretty strong exposure for the children whose rooms were enclosed with this dangerous pesticide.

It would have been an interesting study to trace the effects on the children and households who lived for years with this product in their homes.