The perils of fast fashion, c. 1969 (these are both from the same work, a 1960s photographic handbook)

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The things you learn: photographic identification cards existed as early as 1861 in some form

dispatches from a century ago: the Scottish football clubs met and agreed that no player needed to be paid more than £200 a year.

(the same issue of the paper had various adverts for domestic cooks at £50 a year, to give you an idea of where that stood)

Alec Douglas-Home, accidental discoverer of Nixon's great secret. It's never the ones you expect.

(Francis Wheen, 'Strange Days Indeed')

This evening's film: Desk Set (1957), a late Hepburn/Tracy comedy set against the looming spectre of computers coming & taking our jobs.

(Taking *her* job, anyway. He is the computer guy. You can guess how it goes.)

I have a preprint out estimating how many scholarly papers are written using chatGPT etc? I estimate upwards of 60k articles (>1% of global output) published in 2023. arxiv.org/abs/2403.16887

How can we identify this? Simple: there are certain words that LLMs love, and they suddenly start showing up *a lot* last year. Twice as many papers call something "intricate", big rises for "commendable" and "meticulous".

I really need to find something better than a flatbed for this, but it's definitely working.

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Second 120 film today - spooling a little fiddlier but came out OK. Quality looks excellent for a 70-year-old camera & lens! Going to be a pain to scan, though...

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The camera itself is surprisingly well-preserved for something that has "MADE IN GERMANY US-ZONE" on the back. Retail UK price was £10/4/4 for this model, which is pretty close to what I paid on ebay last week.

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further experiments: my first roll of medium-format film, on an untested 1950s folding camera, using Ilford XP2, which is not meant to be developed in normal B&W chemistry so I had to make up the times.

Amazingly, there are actually pictures coming out on the film. I mean, let's not assume they're in focus or reasonably exposed, but still.

I sort of see what the gov.uk people are trying to do here, but my goodness, this is a wild prompt to put on the confirmation screen for a form that has nothing to do with organ donations.

Their competitors (the Leicester Chronicle rather than the Leicester Mercury) were a bit more pro. Get the feeling these two reviewers did not often agree.

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This evening's delightful discovery is a regional English paper's slightly bemused review of Bob Dylan's 1966 tour.

"I must admit I was surprised at the heavy emphasis Dylan put on this type of music which has by no means become associated with him. But one must give him credit for such a brave display of his amazing versatility."

Good news: the following Monday it had dropped to just 11 patients on the critical list, and also the censor would grudgingly allow romance

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Spotted in an Aberdeen paper, 1941: they printed bulletins on individual patients in the city hospitals, using reference numbers? huh.

Caffenol adventures 2.0: so much better! Same recipe but using real vitamin C not effervescent tablets, and adding about half a gram of potassium bromide to slow down the graininess.

my foray into the wonderful world of weasels comes from having had the opportunity to photograph some on Wednesday: I am now absolutely in agreement with "something enormously satisfactory"

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a weasel (~200g) was once observed recorded trying to mug a snowy owl (~2kg) for a mouse.

(do snowy owls normally eat weasels? why, yes, they do. did this stop it? no)

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In 1939, the German zoologist Konrad Herter taught a weasel to read.

Well, taught a weasel to distinguish the shapes "W" and "L", and from there worked steadily up to having it distinguish boxes with WURM and LEER ("empty") on it, which it managed about 80% of the time.

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