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Popular Diet Tips from 100 Years Ago

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For the past century or so, the human race has been struggling to undo the millennia of genetic programming that tells us to eat. Eat what you can, take pleasure in your food, for it may be weeks before you stumble across another wounded aurochs. In the early 20th century, concerns about obesity, mostly cosmetic, resulted in the creation of libraries of diet literature. While most advice had the familiar and reasonable refrain of "eat less and exercise," there were occasional divergences into the maniacal that gave weight-loss advice of this era a memorable, frightening charm.

Are you fat?

The first question you must ask yourself is, "Are you fat?" If you are unsure, Mrs. Annette Kellerman, in her 1918 book Physical Beauty, How to Keep it, has devised a number of tests to reveal your condition. Now get naked.

Here are a few tests to determine how much of you is real woman and how much is just plain fat. In the first place stand before your mirror nude and look yourself over…Now bend over in various attitudes. Are there unsightly wrinkles and rolls of loose flesh? Lie down on a bed or couch on your back…With your free hand grasp the loose skin and flesh that lies above these muscles… if you are too fat there will be big rolls of loose flesh above the tightened muscles. [Physical Beauty, How to Keep it]

Also, check for loose busts.

The woman who is too fat will frequently, though not always, have loose busts. She is likely to have excessive hips. Her knees and ankles, instead of being trim and shapely are likely to be soft and puffy. [Physical Beauty, How to Keep it]

If you're still wavering, another method of determination is presented by the anonymous Countess C__, in her 1901 book, Beauty's Aids: Or, How to Be Beautiful. Your general form. Is it human-shaped? Or do you look like someone mated a manatee with a rodeo monkey?

A very thin woman is not beautiful, but she can be graceful even to a remarkable degree; but what shall we say of an old woman, overflowing with fat, no longer possessing a human form, much less the form of a woman, always gasping, sweating, and breaking out into redness at the slightest movement, looking, in short, vulgar, ridiculous, and half-bestial. [Beauty's Aids: Or, How to Be Beautiful]

Still don't know? This last test will cinch it. Ask yourself, does your flesh escape you like filthy secrets hidden in a pudding bag? From The Woman Beautiful, an 1899 work by Helen Follett Jameson:

[The fat woman] gets into clothes that are skin-tight, and she draws in her corset string until it snaps and gives at every breath and sneeze, and even then she does not look graceful and pretty, for the fat — like secrets — will out, and it rolls over and around like the little bumps and humps in a pudding bag. [The Woman Beautiful]

Napping makes you stupid and fat

Oh dear, dear Pudding Bag, how did you let this happen? Of course overeating can lead to obesity. But did you know naps, or even eight hours of sleep a night, can also pack on the pounds? The experts agree.

Mere napping about for those who already have too much rest and luxury is suicidal to both mind and body. Oversleeping at any time makes one stupid and logy, yes — fat. [Physical Beauty, How to Keep it]

Sleep must be limited to seven hours, and daily naps are strictly tabooed. [The Woman Beautiful]

And if you can't force yourself out of bed, get a much less comfortable bed.

If she cannot give up all that gratifies her palate but produces flesh...exchange her soft and downy bed for a harder one and reduce her sleep by two or three hours daily. [Beauty, Its Attainment and Preservation, 1892]

Basically, too much peace and comfort in life, the very thing our ancestors fought to obtain, is now the offender. Get up, Puddin'. Nap time is over.

First, as regards repose, all soft habits of laziness, long since contracted, must be given up. Bed must be lain in for as short a while as possible, and only entered for sleep; much exercise, even violent exercise, must be taken. [Beauty's Aids: Or, How to Be Beautiful]

Water, the silent enemy

There was once a pervasive belief that water was fattening. The "science" behind it seemed to have to have something to do with water interfering with "gastric juice." If the gastric juice is allowed to attack solid food unimpeded, then...something something…weight loss could occur. This was the theory put forth by Thomas King Chambers in 1852, in his essay Corpulence: Or, Excess of Fat During Pregnancy. He extrapolated his theory that pregnant woman should be denied water to all those who were too stout. His work was supported by some of the era's most respected not-remotely-doctors who wrote medical advice for women.

Said Jameson:

Do not drink much water. A little lemon juice added to it will make it less fattening. [The Woman Beautiful]

The Countess C__ agrees:

First and most important, drink very little, as little as possible, and only red or white wine, preferably Burgundy, or tea or coffee slightly alcoholized. [Beauty's Aids; Or, How to Be Beautiful]

In America the number of fat people is growing larger every year and the suffering endured by this usually good-natured class of people is tremendous. As a matter of fact, a great deal of this discomfort might be avoided if people would not drink such an inordinate quantity of ice water and could be made to understand that thirst does not lie in the stomach and that it is not satisfied by pouring down water by the glassful. [Beauty, Its Attainment and Preservation]

The internal fatbustion engine

Nothing combats excess weight like an active lifestyle. Most diet books of the day strongly encouraged walking, riding, and even swimming. Just not for the reasons you would expect. You see, oxygen burns fat. Literally. You just have to breathe fresh air, and all that nasty fat goes up in smoke. It's just science.

Lina Cavalieri explains in her 1914 My Secrets of Beauty:

Fresh air is a destructive agent to fat. Oxygen burns carbon. To make this clear, let me ask you if you have noticed how a dying fire flames up when a draught of cold air is turned upon it? That is precisely what happens when a woman who is too fat goes out for a walk. Carbon, which is in the great folds of flesh that lie upon her abdomen and blanket her hips, is also a component part of the coat. Oxygen acts upon this as a burning match applied to paper. [My Secrets of Beauty]

Ms. Jameson supports Cavalieri's theory:

Oxygen destroys or burns out carbon, and carbon is fat. The more exercise and fresh air, the more oxygen, and consequently destruction of fat by the one healthy means of remedying obesity. [The Woman Beautiful]

True, human fat contains carbon, but that's because most fat people live on Earth, where all organic life is carbon-based. And oxygen is used in the conversion of fat to energy, but oxygen is used by humans for everything. It is the physical effort of exercise that taps the fat reserves, not air you breathe while doing it.

The porpoise is NOT a slender animal

Outdoor exercise is preferable, but if you are simply too much of a loose-busted corset snapper, there are other, less public options. Cavalieri insists that the stout woman begins her day by doing stretches in front of an open window. Sensible enough. Then, onto the rolling!

Banish all thoughts of going back to bed. Instead begin your rolling. There is no mystery about rolling. It is simply what the name indicates. Down upon the floor you go and roll over and over swiftly, not slowly as a porpoise rolls. The porpoise, you will observe, is not a slender animal. Roll over as a puppy, tingling with the joy of life, rolls in the dust when at play. Roll quickly. Make at least 80 revolutions before stopping. [My Secrets of Beauty]

Jameson can offer you an option even kinder, if you can't exercise your own body, have a machine do it for you!

To those who prefer, mechanical massage can be given, and this will take the place of long walks, although they are really preferable, as the fresh air is necessary. [The Woman Beautiful]

As for the "mechanical massage" that can consume that carbon-y fat just nearly as well as walking,Collector's Weekly has an excellent, horrific collection of what Ms. Jameson might be referring to.

And finally, my little Pudding Bag, if you needed any more motivation to lay off the tap water and get yourself strapped into a mechanical masseuse, this selection from Nathaniel Edward Yorke-Davie's 1889 Foods for the Fat: A Treatise on Corpulency and a Dietary for Its Cure will surely be the inspiration you need.

There are many other evils beyond corpulence that result from excess in eating, and a badly arranged dietary. Among them may be mentioned a deranged digestion, a loaded tongue, an oppressed stomach, vitiated secretions, a gorged liver, plethora and its consequences, a sluggish brain, with horrible dreams during sleep, and depression when awake. [Foods for the Fat: A Treatise on Corpulency and a Dietary for Its Cure]

I don't know what most of those conditions actually are, but they make for some fearful wicked poetry. This little porpoise has some tingling puppy rolls to do.

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History
Civilian Researchers Discover Wreckage of the USS Indianapolis
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On July 30, 1945, the cruiser USS Indianapolis sank in the Pacific Ocean after it was torpedoed by the Imperial Japanese Navy submarine I-58. More than 70 years after the historic naval tragedy— which claimed the lives of nearly 900 crew—The New York Times reports that the ship’s mysterious final resting place has been found.

The discovery came courtesy of a team of civilian researchers, led by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen. His state-of-the-art research vessel, Petrel, located the wreck 18,000 feet below the Pacific’s surface, the team announced on Saturday, August 19.

"To be able to honor the brave men of the USS Indianapolis and their families through the discovery of a ship that played such a significant role in ending World War II is truly humbling,” Allen said in a statement. “As Americans, we all owe a debt of gratitude to the crew for their courage, persistence, and sacrifice in the face of horrendous circumstances."

Before it sank, the USS Indianapolis had just completed a top-secret mission to a naval base on the Northern Mariana island of Tinian. After delivering enriched uranium and components for Little Boy— the atomic bomb that the U.S. would drop on the Japanese city of Hiroshima about a week later—the cruiser forged ahead to Guam, and then to the Philippines. It was supposed to meet the battleship USS Idaho at Leyte Gulf in the Philippines to prepare to attack Japan.

The USS Indianapolis never made it to Leyte Gulf. Shortly after midnight on July 30, the Japanese submarine I-58 spotted the cruiser and fired six torpedoes. The USS Indianapolis—which was hit twice—sank within 12 minutes. Around 300 to 400 sailors and Marines were killed in the attack; the rest were stranded in the Pacific Ocean for several days.

Many of these survivors would ultimately lose their lives to sharks, a grisly scene that would be famously (albeit semi-accurately) recounted in the 1975 movie Jaws. Others died from drowning, heat stroke, thirst, burns and injuries, swallowing salt water or fuel oil, and suicide. More than 300 crew members were rescued after a bomber pilot accidently sighted the imperiled men while on a routine antisubmarine patrol.

The mass tragedy—which wouldn’t be announced to the public until August 15, 1945—sparked controversy: Charles B. McVay III, captain of the USS Indianapolis, was found guilty in a court martial of failing to steer the ship on a “zigzag” course to elude Japanese submarines. A Japanese submarine captain testified that this precautionary measure wouldn’t have thwarted the enemy, but McVay was charged nonetheless. The captain died by suicide in 1968, and wouldn’t be officially exonerated by the Navy until 2001.

For decades, the remains of the USS Indianapolis were lost to the ravages of time and nature. But in 2016, naval historian Richard Hulver found a historic ship log that mentioned a sighting of the USS Indianapolis. Allen’s search team used this information to locate the ship, which was west of where experts assumed it had gone down.

Allen’s crew took pictures of the wreckage, including a piece of its hull, and will search for more of the ship. They plan to keep the exact location of the USS Indianapolis a secret, however, to honor the sunken ship as a war grave.

"While our search for the rest of the wreckage will continue, I hope everyone connected to this historic ship will feel some measure of closure at this discovery so long in coming,” Allen said.

[h/t The New York Times]

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entertainment
The Time That Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis Opened Competing Restaurants on the Sunset Strip
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From 1946 to 1956, Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis were show business supernovas. With an act that combined singing, slapstick, and spontaneous hijinks, the duo sold out nightclubs coast to coast, then went on to conquer radio, television, and film. Long before Elvis and The Beatles came along, Dean and Jerry  were rock stars of comedy.

Offstage, there was a cordial but cool friendship between the laidback Martin and the more neurotic Lewis. But as the pressures of their success increased, so did the tensions between them. Martin grew tired of playing the bland romantic straight man to Lewis’s manic monkey boy. And when Lewis started to grab more headlines and write himself bigger parts in their movies, Martin decided to quit the act. In an angry moment, he told Lewis that he was “nothing to me but a f**king dollar sign.”

After the split, both men went on with their individual careers, though it took Martin a few years before he regained his footing. One of his ventures during that transitional period was a Hollywood eatery called Dino’s Lodge.

DINO'S LODGE

In the summer of 1958, Martin and his business partner, Maury Samuels, bought a controlling interest in a restaurant called The Alpine Lodge, at 8524 Sunset Boulevard. They hired Dean’s brother Bill to manage the place, and renamed it Dino’s Lodge.

Outside they put up a large neon sign, a likeness of Dean’s face. The sign turned into a national symbol of hip and cool, thanks to appearances on TV shows like Dragnet, The Andy Griffith Show, and most prominently, in the opening credits of 77 Sunset Strip.

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Dino’s Lodge was popular from the get-go, serving home-style Italian food and steaks in an intimate, candlelit, wood-paneled room meant to replicate Martin’s own den. In the first year, Dean himself frequented the place, signing autographs and posing for photos with starstruck diners. He also occasionally brought along famous friends like Frank Sinatra and Shirley MacLaine. To promote the idea of the swingin’ lifestyle that Martin often sang about, Dino’s served “an early morning breakfast from 1 to 5 a.m.” The restaurant also had a lounge that featured singers, though only females. Dean apparently didn’t want any male vocalists encroaching on his turf.

But as with many a celebrity venture into the food business, this one soon turned sour. And most of that was due to the jealousy of Jerry Lewis.

JERRY'S

In late 1961, Lewis wooed Martin’s business partner Maury Samuels away, ponied up some $350,000, and opened his own copycat restaurant three blocks down Sunset. It was called Jerry’s. To make it clear he was out for top billing, Lewis had his own likeness rendered in neon, then mounted it on a revolving pole 100 feet above his restaurant. In contrast to Dino’s Italian-based menu, Jerry’s would serve “American and Hebrew viands.” Lewis didn’t stop there. Within a few months, he’d hired away Dino’s top two chefs, his maître d', and half his waitstaff.

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When Lewis was in Los Angeles, he made of point of table-hopping and schmoozing with his guests at his restaurant, and he occasionally brought in a few of his celebrity friends, like Peggy Lee and Steve McQueen.

FOOD FOR THOUGHT

By the following year, a disgusted Dean Martin was fed up with the restaurant business and cut ties with Dino’s Lodge. Much to his aggravation, he lost a motion in court to have his likeness and name removed from the sign. So the new owners carried on as Dino’s Lodge, with the big neon head staring down on Sunset for another decade before the place finally went bust.

Jerry’s lost steam long before that, folding in the mid-1960s.

For the rest of the 1960s and the early 1970s, Martin and Lewis avoided each other. “Jerry’s trying hard to be a director,” Dean once told a reporter. “He couldn’t even direct traffic.”

In 1976, Frank Sinatra famously engineered an onstage reunion of the pair during The Jerry Lewis Telethon. While the audience roared their approval, Sinatra said, “I think it’s about time, don’t you?” And to Sinatra, Lewis said under his breath, “You son of a bitch.”

What followed was an awkward few moments of shtick between the former partners. Reportedly, Martin was drunk and Lewis was doped up on painkillers. There was a quick embrace, Martin sang with Sinatra, then blew Lewis a kiss and disappeared from his life for good. Martin died in 1995. Lewis passed away today, at the age of 91.

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