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The First Time News Was Fit To Print, IV

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I told you I was going to beat this concept into the ground. To review, these excerpts mark the first time The New York Times deemed our selected topics newsworthy. Here are Part I, Part II and Part III.

Digital Camera
May 29, 1991

The Eastman Kodak Company took its first real step into digital photography by introducing an electronic camera system that can turn a conventional Nikon into a high-tech electronic camera. Kodak's professional digital camera system will sell for about $20,000 and is intended primarily for photojournalists and government surveillance, the company said. The system also marks Kodak's first move into pure electronic photography, where images are captured and created without film.

Larry David
March 3, 1979

larryDavid.jpgWord from uptown is that a new young cabaret troupe called Metropolis has extracted some tangy satiric juice from the New York scene. Among their sketch-and-song targets are the New School, primitive art, affirmative-action groups, block parties, the Hare Krishna sect, French cinema, Isaac Bashevis Singer and Mayor Koch....The new Metropolis troupers, who also contributed to the writing, are Judy Engles, Marjorie Gross, Jane Ranallo, Larry David, Jeremy Sage and Gary Yudman.

Keep reading for The Drudge Report, VCRs, Ulysses S. Grant and even restless leg syndrome.

Drudge Report
December 30, 1996

drudge.jpgCorporate sites are usually the polar opposite of the homegrown, wildly original sites that drove the Web's early popularity. In the spirit of remembering whence we came, what follows is a list of decidedly uncorporate Web sites, compiled for your enjoyment andpossibly, inspiration.

The Drudge Report (http://www.lainet.com/drudge/)

A remarkable site that links to virtually every magazine, newspaper or news service on the Web and includes Drudge's own commentary. For its sheer utility, just moved to the top of my bookmark list.

These quirky sites are a minuscule sample of the diversity on the Web today. Turning the Internet into a mass medium is fine, but it is far more thrilling to contemplate what might happen in a world where more people have the means to express their creativity to each other -- without the censors, filters and gatekeepers that the mass media employ.

Ulysses S. Grant
April 10, 1862

ulysses.jpgGeneral Grant is just forty years of age, is a native of Ohio, a graduate of West Point, and served honorably in the Mexican War....Upon the breaking out of the present war, he offered his services to Governor Yates, and...served until promoted as a Brigadier-General, with commission and rank from the 17th of May, 1861....It was reported that he was under a cloud with the superior military authorities, and the most absurd stories were circulated as to the cause thereof.

Restless Leg Syndrome
August 20, 1991

RestlessLeg.gifInsomnia has all sorts of causes, Dr. Wagner emphasized. "If you can't sleep because you have restless leg syndrome, because you stop breathing or because you are depressed, a rocking bed won't help," he said. "If it does help, it probably means your insomnia was fairly mild and transient anyway."

The VCR*
June 13, 1979

VCR.gifAlong with cable television, pay television and new networks distributed by satellite, the 80's promise a burgeoning of the home video market. The key components of this new field are to be video tape-recording units and phonographlike devices that play video disks....The disk technology has been slow in developing for the mass consumer market and is still in the test-market stage. But the home video recorders, known as VCR's, have in the last three years proliferated sufficiently to create a separate programming industry, with more than 100 companies already engaged in the production or distribution of prerecorded tape cassettes.

*This was the first time the Times called the VCR the VCR, which was referred to by other names in the late 1970s. Including in this fantastic article: "The Sony Corporation announced yesterday that it planned to begin selling next spring a three-hour video tape cassette for use with a new home television recorder, now limited to two hours, that carries a suggested list price of $1,300."

T.jpgWant complete access to The New York Times archives, which go all the way back to 1851? Become an NYT subscriber.

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Animals
25 Benefits of Adopting a Rescue Dog
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According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs enter shelters each year in the United States. Although that number has gone down since 2011 (from 3.9 million) there are still millions of dogs waiting in shelters for a forever home. October is Adopt a Shelter Dog Month; here are 25 benefits of adopting a shelter dog.

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fun
How Urban Legends Like 'The Licked Hand' Are Born
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If you compare the scary stories you heard as a kid with those of your friends—even those who grew up across the country from you—you’ll probably hear some familiar tales. Maybe you tried to summon Bloody Mary by chanting her name in front of the mirror three times in a dark bathroom. Maybe you learned never to wonder what’s under a woman’s neck ribbon. Maybe you heard the one about the girl who feels her dog lick her hand in the middle of the night, only to wake up to find him hanging dead from the shower nozzle, the words “humans can lick too” written on the wall in the dog’s blood.

These ubiquitous, spooky folk tales exist everywhere, and a lot of them take surprisingly similar forms. How does a single story like the one often called “Humans Can Lick Too” or "The Licked Hand" make its way into every slumber party in America? Thrillist recently investigated the question with a few experts, finding that most of these stories have very deep roots.

In the case of The Licked Hand, its origins go back more than a century. In the 1990s, Snopes found that a similar motif dates back to an Englishman’s diary entry from 1871. In it, the diary keeper, Dearman Birchall, retold a story he heard at a party of a man whose wife woke him up in the middle of the night, urging him to go investigate what sounded like burglars in their home. He told his wife that it was only the dog, reaching out his hand. He felt the dog lick his hand … but in the morning, all his valuables were gone: He had clearly been robbed.

A similar theme shows up in the short story “The Diary of Mr. Poynter,” published in 1919 by M.R. James. In it, a character dozes off in an armchair, and thinks that he is petting his dog. It turns out, it’s some kind of hairy human figure that he flees from. The story seems to have evolved from there into its presently popular form, picking up steam in the 1960s. As with any folk tale, its exact form changes depending on the teller: sometimes the main character is an old lady, other times it’s a young girl.

You’ll probably hear these stories in the context of happening to a “friend of a friend,” making you more likely to believe the tale. It practically happened to someone you know! Kind of! The setting, too, is probably somewhere nearby. It might be in your neighborhood, or down by the local railroad tracks.

Thrillist spoke to Dr. Joseph Stubbersfield, a researcher in the UK who studies urban legends, who says the kind of stories that spread widely contain both social information and emotional resonance. Meaning they contain a message—you never know who’s lurking in your house—and are evocative.

If something is super scary or gross, you want to share it. Stories tend to warn against something: A study of English-language urban legends circulating online found that most warned listeners about the hazards of life (poisonous plants, dangerous animals, dangerous humans) rather than any kind of opportunities. We like to warn each other of the dangers that could be lurking around every corner, which makes sense considering our proven propensity to focus on and learn from negative information. And yes, that means telling each other to watch out for who’s licking our hands in the middle of the night.

Just something to keep in mind as you eagerly await Jezebel’s annual scary story contest.

[h/t Thrillist]

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