CLOSE

The First Time News Was Fit To Print, IX

More old news from the Times archives. As always, we've found people, places and things with first mentions worth mentioning.

Hedge Fund

November 26, 1966
A Mutual Fund That Is Unusual
The Hubshman Fund, described as the first mutual fund offered to the public that will employ both hedging and leveraging principles, is scheduled to begin operating today.
* * * * *
The Hubshman Fund, with headquarters at 350 Park Avenue, is modeled after one of Wall Street's little known but profitable vehicles for private investors "“ the hedge fund.

These hedge funds are limited partnerships, as contrasted to mutual funds that are open to the public. Typical partners of hedge funds include sophisticated businessmen and families of wealth who are attracted by the principle of making money in the stock market by taking both long and short positions.

John Updike

March 2, 1958

The Magic World Of Words
updike.jpg What influences a child's sensitivity to language, to choice of words, to color, to tempo, to construction? There may be innate differences in this sphere just as there are in music and visual art. Whether for biological or cultural reasons, girls and women, generally, are more skillful "“ and certainly more prodigal "“ with words than are boys and men. Allowing for individual differences, though, what can parents do to nurture, or at least not to destroy, the young child's gift for language?

We took this question up with...John Updike, who to our mind is one of the most skillful and versatile young artists we've read. As for specifics, Mr. Updike said: "When children are picking up words with rapidity, between two and three, say, tell them the true word for something, even if it is fairly abstruse and long. A long correct word is exciting to a child. Makes them laugh; my daughter never says rhinoceros without laughing. Also around this time, puns are popular. A child sees the humor of nonsense."

Still to come: Silicon Valley, White Collar Crime, Web 2.0, Big John Studd and more.

Silicon Valley

January 16, 1975

New Markets Are Sought For Miniaturized Computers
pirates-of-silicon-valley.jpgThe United States electronic industry has developed circuitry so miniaturized that it is pushing to install many computer functions in such things as automobiles, gasoline pumps, traffic signals and supermarket cash registers. This development is expected, within a few years, to give computer technology more impact on daily life than it has today, when computer circuitry in consumer products is limited to pocket calculators, digital watches and some cameras.
* * * * *
The buildings of Intel were put up on a former citrus orchard. Santa Clara south of San Francisco Bay next to San Jose, is in the heart of what those in the electronics industry call "Silicon Valley" because so many makers of semiconductors are here.

White Collar Crime

December 28, 1939
Dr. Sutherland Says The Cost Of Duplicity In High Places Exceeds Burglary Losses
"White-collar criminality" was sharply attacked by the retiring president of the American Sociological Society, Dr. Edwin H. Sutherland of Indiana University, in an address tonight which discarded accepted conceptions and explanations of crime.

Speaking at a joint session of that society...Dr. Sutherland described present-day white collar criminals as "more suave and deceptive" than last century's "robber barons" and asserted that "in many periods more important crime news may be found on the financial pages of newspapers than on the front pages."

Energizer Bunny

October 23, 1989
Amid TV's Ad Clutter, A Rabbit Runs Wild
energizer.jpgRight from the start, the new commercial for Eveready's Energizer batteries does not look like the run-of-the-mill television ad. The star of the whimsical campaign is a bright pink toy bunny wearing Ray-Ban sunglasses and blue thongs. Banging a big bass drum as it struts around the set, the mechanical rabbit suddenly runs amok and marches out of the sound studio's doors.

But unsuspecting viewers watching when the spot made its debut last week were in for an even bigger surprise. Halfway through what appears to be a coffee commercial that shows two women quietly chatting, the runaway rabbit pops up and creates havoc as it tramps across the table.

Then, just when it seems safe to go back to ignoring commercials, the Energizer bunny charges through the laboratory setting of a spot for a nasal spray. Startled viewers were left wondering when the marauding rabbit would turn up next.

Web 2.0

August 14, 2000

As Innovation Lags Behind And The Mainstream Moves In, Net Entrepreneurs Look For Ways Out
"We're burned out," Ms. Harmel said, speaking of Net entrepreneurs of a certain level of experience and fatigue. "Some of us are tired and rich. Some of us are tired and not rich. But we're all tired."

Data on this topic are scarce, but anecdotal evidence suggests that a changing of the guard is under way in the Internet industry, as the early proponents of the Web are stepping aside for the mainstream business people who have migrated to the new medium. Such a cultural shift was to be expected, given how the Web itself has become a mainstream phenomenon. But analysts say the executive shift could have broad implications for e-commerce.

"Call this Web 2.0," said Clay Shirky, a partner at Accelerator Group, a consulting firm that works with Web start-ups, who has worked in the Internet industry since 1993. "This has been going on slowly, and now people are realizing the landscape has changed without us having caught onto it."

Post-it Notes

August 30, 1981

Some Practical Gadgets To Keep In The Bag
post-it.jpg Post-It Notes are another member of this family. In this case, however, the adhesive is to be found in a narrow stripe along one edge of the back of pieces of note paper. The notes, available in various size sheets, come in the form of handy pads. Merely jot a note to yourself or someone else, lift the note from the pad and touch it to the wall, door, film box, photo paper box, or other surface. The note will stick to almost any surface and can be removed without doing harm to painted walls or any other delicate finishes.

Big John Studd

December 22, 1983
Fitness Offerings
studd.jpgEarlier this month President Reagan gave Parade Magazine, the Sunday newspaper supplement, an exclusive story on how he keeps fit. Included in the article over the President's byline was an exhortation to Americans to follow his example and take up, among other exercises, weight lifting.

So far, according to the White House press office, there "hasn't been a large response." But among the early respondents were several people apparently seeking indirect White House endorsement of their exercise products.

Spalding, the company that gave the nation the high-bounce pink rubber ball sometimes called the Spaldeen, has offered the President the free use of Power Rings, a weight-lifting device that retails for $109. And Big John Studd, a professional wrestler who says he is the only man to have body-slammed Andre the Great, has asked the Reagan re-election committee to give the President his own exercise contraption, which is a bicycle handlebar affixed to a wagon wheel.

Here are some of the topics featured in previous installments of this series:

"¢ Volume I: The Simpsons, Barack Obama, iPod and Microsoft
"¢ Volume II: Donald Trump, Starbucks, Global Warming and Wikipedia
"¢ Volume III: JFK, The Smurfs, the Internet
"¢ Volume IV: Larry David, Ulysses S. Grant, VCRs
"¢ Volume V: Walkman, Osama bin Laden, Pearl Jam
"¢ Volume VI: Times Square, Marijuana, Googling
"¢ Volume VII: Kobe Bryant, Apartheid, Gatorade
"¢ Volume VIII: Bob Dylan, Barbie, War on Terror

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

nextArticle.image_alt|e
Mad Magazine
arrow
Lists
12 Things You Might Not Know About MAD Magazine
Mad Magazine
Mad Magazine

As fast as popular culture could erect wholesome depictions of American life in comics, television, or movies, MAD Magazine was there to tear them all down. A near-instant success for EC Comics upon its debut in 1952, the magazine has inspired generations of comedians for its pioneering satirical attitude and tasteful booger jokes. This month, DC Entertainment is relaunching an "all new" MAD, skewering pop culture on a bimonthly basis and in full color. To fill the gaps in your knowledge, take a look at these facts about the Usual Gang of Idiots.

1. NO ONE KNOWS WHO CAME UP WITH ALFRED E. NEUMAN.


Jamie, Flickr (L) // Boston Public Library, Flickr (R) // CC BY 2.0

MAD creator Harvey Kurtzman was in the offices of a Ballantine Books editor discussing reprints for the fledging publication when he noticed a grinning, gap-toothed imbecile staring back at him from a bulletin board. The unnamed figure was ubiquitous in the early 20th century, appearing in everything from dentistry ads to depictions of diseases. A charmed Kurtzman adopted him as MAD’s mascot beginning in 1954. Neuman later become so recognizable that a letter was delivered from New Zealand to MAD’s New York offices without an address: the envelope simply had a drawing of Alfred.  

2. THEY HAD TO APOLOGIZE ALMOST IMMEDIATELY.

MAD was conceived during a particularly sensitive time for the comics industry, with parents and watchdog groups concerned over content. (It didn't switch to a magazine format until issue #24.) Kurtzman usually knew where the line was, but when he was laid up with acute hepatitis in 1952, publisher William Gaines and others had to step in for him. Gaines thought it would be funny to offer a fictional biography of himself that detailed his father’s Communist leanings, his past as a dope dealer “near nursery schools,” and bouts of pyromania. When wholesalers were shocked at the content and threatened to boycott all of his titles, Gaines was forced to write a letter of apology.  

3. THEY PREDICTED JOHN F. KENNEDY'S ELECTION IN 1960.

But it was a cheat. In the run-up to the 1960 Presidential election, MAD printed a cover that featured Neuman congratulating Kennedy on his victory with a caption that read, “We were with you all the way, Jack!” But the issue was shipped long before votes had been tabulated. The secret? It was a dual cover. Flip it over and Neuman is celebrating Richard Nixon’s appointment to office. Stores were told to display the “right” side of the magazine depending on the outcome.

4. ALFRED BRIEFLY HAD A GIRLFRIEND.


MAD Magazine

A character named Moxie Cowznofski was introduced in the late 1950s as a female companion for Alfred. She made only a handful of cover appearances, possibly due to the fact she looked alarmingly like her significant other.

5. THEY DIDN'T RUN ANY (REAL) ADS FOR 44 YEARS.

From the beginning, Gaines felt that printing actual advertisements next to the products they were lampooning would not only dilute their edge but seem more than a little hypocritical. After some back-and-forth, MAD cut ads starting in 1957. The decision was a costly one—most print publications survive on such revenue—but led to the magazine’s keeping a sharp knife against the throat of seductive advertising, including cigarettes. Faced with dwindling circulation in 2001, Mad finally relented and began taking ads to help pay for a switch to color printing.

6. "SPY VS. SPY" WAS CREATED BY A SUSPECTED SPY.

Cuban cartoonist Antonio Prohias was disenchanted with the regime under Fidel Castro when he began working on what would become “Spy vs. Spy.” Because Prohias’ other newspaper illustrations were critical of Castro, the Cuban government suspected him of working for the CIA. He wasn’t, but the perception had him worried harm might come to his co-workers. To get out of the situation, Prohias came to America in 1960. With his daughter helping translate, he stopped by Mad’s New York offices and submitted his work: his sneaky, triangle-headed spies became regulars.

7. THERE WAS ONE FOLD-IN THEY WOULDN'T RUN.

Artist Al Jaffee, now 94, has been with Mad almost from the beginning. He created the famous Fold-In—the back cover that reveals a new picture when doubled over—in 1964 after seeing the fold-outs in magazines like National Geographic, Playboy, and Life. Jaffee has rarely missed an issue since—but editors backtracked on one of Jaffee’s works that referenced a mass shooting in 2013. Citing poor taste, they destroyed over 600,000 copies.  

8. THEIR MOVIE WAS A DISASTER.

With the exception of Fox’s successful sketch series, 1994’s MAD TV, attempts to translate the MAD brand into other media have been underwhelming: a 1974 animated special didn’t even make it on air. But a 1980 film venture, a military school spoof directed by Robert Downey, Sr. titled Mad Presents Up the Academy, was so awful William Gaines demanded to have their name taken off of it. (Renamed Up the Academy, the DVD release of the movie still features someone sporting an Alfred E. Neuman mask; Mad parodied it in a spoof titled “Throw Up the Academy.”)

9. THE APRIL 1974 COVER HAD PEOPLE FLIPPING.


MAD Magazine

MAD has never made a habit of good taste, but a depiction of a raised middle finger for one issue in the mid-’70s caused a huge stir. Many stores wouldn’t stock it for fear of offending customers, and the company ended up accepting an irregular number of returns. Gaines took to his typewriter to write a letter of apology. Again. The relaunched #1, out in April 2018, pays homage to this cover, though it's slightly more tasteful: Neuman is picking his nose with his middle finger.

10. THEY INVENTED A SPORT.

MAD writer Tom Koch was amused by the convoluted rules of sports and attempted to one-up them in 43-Man Squamish, a game he invented for the April 1965 issue. Koch and artist George Woodbridge (“MAD’s Athletic Council”) prepared a guide that was utterly incomprehensible—the field was to have five sides, positions included Deep Brooders and Dummies, “interfering with the Wicket Men” constituted a penalty—but it amused high school and college readers enough to try and mount their own games. (Short on players? Try 2-Man Squamish: “The rules are identical,” Koch wrote, “except the object of the game is to lose.”) For the less physically inclined, Mad also issued a board game in which the goal is to lose all of your money.  

11. WEIRD AL WAS A GUEST EDITOR.

In what must be some kind of fulfilled prophecy, lyrical satirist “Weird” Al Yankovic was named as a guest editor—their first—for the magazine’s May 2015 issue. Yankovic told Entertainment Weekly that MAD had put him on “the dark, twisted path to becoming who I am today … I needed to pollute my mind with that kind of stuff.” In addition to his collaborations with the staff, Yankovic enlisted Patton Oswalt, Seth Green, and Chris Hardwick to contribute.

12. FRED ASTAIRE ONCE DANCED AS ALFRED E. NEUMAN.

In a scene so surreal even MAD’s irreverent editors would have had trouble dreaming it up, Fred Astaire decided to sport an Alfred E. Neuman mask for a dance number in his 1959 television special, Another Evening with Fred Astaire. No one seems to recall why exactly Astaire would do this—he may have just wanted to include a popular cultural reference—but it was no off-the-cuff decision. Astaire hired movie make-up veteran John Chambers (Planet of the Apes) to craft a credible mask of Neuman. The result is … well, kind of disturbing. But it’s a fitting addition to a long tradition of people going completely MAD.

Additional Sources:
Harvey Kurtzman: The Man Who Created Mad and Revolutionized Humor in America.

nextArticle.image_alt|e
iStock
arrow
science
Can You 'Hear' These Silent GIFs?
iStock
iStock

GIFs are silent—otherwise they wouldn't be GIFs. But some people claim to hear distinct noises accompanying certain clips. Check out the GIF below as an example: Do you hear a boom every time the structure hits the ground? If so, you may belong to the 20 to 30 percent of people who experience "visual-evoked auditory response," also known as vEAR.

Researchers from City University London recently published a paper online on the phenomenon in the journal Cortex, the British Psychological Society's Research Digest reports. For their study, they recruited more than 4000 volunteers and 126 paid participants and showed them 24 five-second video clips. Each clip lacked audio, but when asked how they rated the auditory sensation for each video on a scale of 0 to 5, 20 percent of the paid participants rated at least half the videos a 3 or more. The percentage was even higher for the volunteer group.

You can try out the researchers' survey yourself. It takes about 10 minutes.

The likelihood of visual-evoked auditory response, according to the researchers, directly relates to what the subject is looking at. "Some people hear what they see: Car indicator lights, flashing neon shop signs, and people's movements as they walk may all trigger an auditory sensation," they write in the study.

Images packed with meaning, like two cars colliding, are more likely to trigger the auditory illusion. But even more abstract images can produce the effect if they have high levels of something called "motion energy." Motion energy is what you see in the video above when the structure bounces and the camera shakes. It's why a video of a race car driving straight down a road might have less of an auditory impact than a clip of a flickering abstract pattern.

The researchers categorize vEAR as a type of synesthesia, a brain condition in which people's senses are combined. Those with synesthesia might "see" patterns when music plays or "taste" certain colors. Most synesthesia is rare, affecting just 4 percent of the population, but this new study suggests that "hearing motion synesthesia" is much more prevalent.

[h/t BPS Research Digest]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER
More from mental floss studios