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21 World War I Recruitment Posters From Around the Globe

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All countries have their own style when it comes to military recruitment posters, and even within one country, the style will change drastically depending on the specific branch looking for volunteers. Here are some interesting examples of military recruitment posters from World War I.

England

This poster was designed to bring a sense of shame to those who weren’t fighting.

While every other poster I found was vertical, the decision to shape this one like an arm was pretty perfect considering the message.

While this would be a great way to recruit D&D fans these days, at the time the knight and dragon image was selected to remind viewers of the story of Sir Gawain St. George and the dragon.

Scotland & Ireland

While the United Kingdom may be united in title, the country is most certainly not all one culture, which is why the powers-that-be had to make posters oriented specifically towards Scotland and Ireland as well. This design by Lawson Wood is pretty subtle other than the fact that the soldier is wearing the Scottish military dress and the fact that the caption includes a bit of slang.

The Irish were even harder to recruit into the war given all the political turmoil going on in their own land at the time. In fact, while the World War was going on, there were rebellions breaking out throughout Ireland, and as soon as the major international war ended, the Irish War of Independence broke out. That’s why recruiters hoping to get Irishmen to enlist into the war couldn’t just ask them to support their king & country like they asked the Scottish. Asking for revenge for the German attack on the passenger ship was a good way to encourage the Irish to fight without asking them to fight for the kingdom.

Australia

This poster doesn't bother striking up national pride, guilt or benefits to potential troops; essentially, all it says is “We promised to help England -- can you help? No big deal if you can’t.”

Canada

One of the best ways to recruit people into a war if they don’t otherwise care about the cause is to show them what they could get out of it. This Canadian ad promises to help improve the skills of artisans and mechanics, thus, hopefully, ensuring them better employment after the war.

Germany

Wondering what the recruitment posters looked like on the other side of the battle lines? Well, they are strikingly darker. In fact, maybe it’s just because I can’t read German, but I think I’d be less likely to sign up after seeing a creepy, ghostly poster like this one, designed by Julius Ussy Engelhard.

This poster, created by Lucien Zabel, isn’t quite as horrifying as the other, but I still don’t think it would have me running to a recruitment office to sign up.

U.S.A.

While America’s recruitment efforts usually focus on specific branches, there are still a few designs just urging people to get out there and fight. This one is particularly powerful as it shows Uncle Sam standing over a seemingly violated Lady Liberty telling the viewer “It's up to you. Protect the nation's honor.”

Navy

It’s interesting to see the contrast of the frail, weeping Lady Liberty in that first U.S.A. poster up against Kenyon Cox’s image of a strong, powerful woman bearing a sword. She’s certainly more awe-inspiring like this, isn’t she?

There’s something incredibly familiar about this Navy recruitment poster. Is it possible that Dr. Strangelove borrowed the idea for their climax from this Richard Fayerweather Babcock image?

The pin-up girl poster was designed by Howard Chandler Christy.

To be fair, this poster, by James Henry Daugherty, was released just after the war, but it’s hard to leave out of this collection when it has such fantastic artwork and a classic message inspiring people to see the world by joining the Navy.

Marines

Of course, the Army isn’t the only branch that recruits soldiers by promising to show them the world. Here is the Marines' version of the same concept. Interestingly, this poster was released in 1917, so it was pretty darn unlikely that any of the recruits inspired by this artwork by James Montgomery Flagg actually saw any cheetahs, at least not until the war was officially over.

The Marines have always put bravery over all else, so while many people might be put off by the idea of being the first to fight, those aren’t the people this ad, by Sidney H. Riesenberg, was targeting anyway.

Army

The power of this poster, designed by I. B. Hazelton, is its simplicity. All you need to know is that men are needed for the Army and that you can help, beyond that, the wonderful artwork speaks for itself.

August William Hutaf’s design for the Tank Corps is truly fantastic. My only question: is the cat terrified because the Tank Corps roughed him up or is he angry because he is symbolizing the roughness of the Tank Corps?

Canada hoped to recruit artisans and mechanics, and the U.S. needed them as well. Only rather than going after people who already were familiar with the trade, this recruiting poster promised to train anyone interested to become a mechanic -- offering them a great opportunity to land a job in a booming industry when they returned home.

WWI was the first war to incorporate planes. In the U.S., soldiers involved in this division were part of Army’s Air Service, which eventually became the U.S. Air Force after the war ended. With posters featuring great artwork like this design by Charles Livingston Bull, and the opportunity to learn to be a pilot at the beginning of the aviation industry, it’s easy to imagine that the Air Service had a lot of recruits, even if it was incredibly dangerous.

National Guard

The National Guard was fairly new during WWI. In fact, over 40% of the U.S. soldiers in France during WWI were in the National Guard.

[All images courtesy of the Library of Congress. For more World War I history, start following Erik Sass' WWI Centennial series, covering the events leading up to the war exactly 100 years after they happened.]

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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva
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technology
Man Buys Two Metric Tons of LEGO Bricks; Sorts Them Via Machine Learning
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iStock // Ekaterina Minaeva

Jacques Mattheij made a small, but awesome, mistake. He went on eBay one evening and bid on a bunch of bulk LEGO brick auctions, then went to sleep. Upon waking, he discovered that he was the high bidder on many, and was now the proud owner of two tons of LEGO bricks. (This is about 4400 pounds.) He wrote, "[L]esson 1: if you win almost all bids you are bidding too high."

Mattheij had noticed that bulk, unsorted bricks sell for something like €10/kilogram, whereas sets are roughly €40/kg and rare parts go for up to €100/kg. Much of the value of the bricks is in their sorting. If he could reduce the entropy of these bins of unsorted bricks, he could make a tidy profit. While many people do this work by hand, the problem is enormous—just the kind of challenge for a computer. Mattheij writes:

There are 38000+ shapes and there are 100+ possible shades of color (you can roughly tell how old someone is by asking them what lego colors they remember from their youth).

In the following months, Mattheij built a proof-of-concept sorting system using, of course, LEGO. He broke the problem down into a series of sub-problems (including "feeding LEGO reliably from a hopper is surprisingly hard," one of those facts of nature that will stymie even the best system design). After tinkering with the prototype at length, he expanded the system to a surprisingly complex system of conveyer belts (powered by a home treadmill), various pieces of cabinetry, and "copious quantities of crazy glue."

Here's a video showing the current system running at low speed:

The key part of the system was running the bricks past a camera paired with a computer running a neural net-based image classifier. That allows the computer (when sufficiently trained on brick images) to recognize bricks and thus categorize them by color, shape, or other parameters. Remember that as bricks pass by, they can be in any orientation, can be dirty, can even be stuck to other pieces. So having a flexible software system is key to recognizing—in a fraction of a second—what a given brick is, in order to sort it out. When a match is found, a jet of compressed air pops the piece off the conveyer belt and into a waiting bin.

After much experimentation, Mattheij rewrote the software (several times in fact) to accomplish a variety of basic tasks. At its core, the system takes images from a webcam and feeds them to a neural network to do the classification. Of course, the neural net needs to be "trained" by showing it lots of images, and telling it what those images represent. Mattheij's breakthrough was allowing the machine to effectively train itself, with guidance: Running pieces through allows the system to take its own photos, make a guess, and build on that guess. As long as Mattheij corrects the incorrect guesses, he ends up with a decent (and self-reinforcing) corpus of training data. As the machine continues running, it can rack up more training, allowing it to recognize a broad variety of pieces on the fly.

Here's another video, focusing on how the pieces move on conveyer belts (running at slow speed so puny humans can follow). You can also see the air jets in action:

In an email interview, Mattheij told Mental Floss that the system currently sorts LEGO bricks into more than 50 categories. It can also be run in a color-sorting mode to bin the parts across 12 color groups. (Thus at present you'd likely do a two-pass sort on the bricks: once for shape, then a separate pass for color.) He continues to refine the system, with a focus on making its recognition abilities faster. At some point down the line, he plans to make the software portion open source. You're on your own as far as building conveyer belts, bins, and so forth.

Check out Mattheij's writeup in two parts for more information. It starts with an overview of the story, followed up with a deep dive on the software. He's also tweeting about the project (among other things). And if you look around a bit, you'll find bulk LEGO brick auctions online—it's definitely a thing!

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Cs California, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0
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science
How Experts Say We Should Stop a 'Zombie' Infection: Kill It With Fire
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Cs California, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY-SA 3.0

Scientists are known for being pretty cautious people. But sometimes, even the most careful of us need to burn some things to the ground. Immunologists have proposed a plan to burn large swaths of parkland in an attempt to wipe out disease, as The New York Times reports. They described the problem in the journal Microbiology and Molecular Biology Reviews.

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) is a gruesome infection that’s been destroying deer and elk herds across North America. Like bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE, better known as mad cow disease) and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, CWD is caused by damaged, contagious little proteins called prions. Although it's been half a century since CWD was first discovered, scientists are still scratching their heads about how it works, how it spreads, and if, like BSE, it could someday infect humans.

Paper co-author Mark Zabel, of the Prion Research Center at Colorado State University, says animals with CWD fade away slowly at first, losing weight and starting to act kind of spacey. But "they’re not hard to pick out at the end stage," he told The New York Times. "They have a vacant stare, they have a stumbling gait, their heads are drooping, their ears are down, you can see thick saliva dripping from their mouths. It’s like a true zombie disease."

CWD has already been spotted in 24 U.S. states. Some herds are already 50 percent infected, and that number is only growing.

Prion illnesses often travel from one infected individual to another, but CWD’s expansion was so rapid that scientists began to suspect it had more than one way of finding new animals to attack.

Sure enough, it did. As it turns out, the CWD prion doesn’t go down with its host-animal ship. Infected animals shed the prion in their urine, feces, and drool. Long after the sick deer has died, others can still contract CWD from the leaves they eat and the grass in which they stand.

As if that’s not bad enough, CWD has another trick up its sleeve: spontaneous generation. That is, it doesn’t take much damage to twist a healthy prion into a zombifying pathogen. The illness just pops up.

There are some treatments, including immersing infected tissue in an ozone bath. But that won't help when the problem is literally smeared across the landscape. "You cannot treat half of the continental United States with ozone," Zabel said.

And so, to combat this many-pronged assault on our wildlife, Zabel and his colleagues are getting aggressive. They recommend a controlled burn of infected areas of national parks in Colorado and Arkansas—a pilot study to determine if fire will be enough.

"If you eliminate the plants that have prions on the surface, that would be a huge step forward," he said. "I really don’t think it’s that crazy."

[h/t The New York Times]

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