Here's a fun thing that's started circulating on the Internet. Someone watching footage of the 1928 premiere of Charlie Chaplin's film The Circus noticed a female pedestrian caught on camera who appears to be speaking into a cell phone. Since cell phones did not exist in 1928, the footage seemed inexplicable, leading its discoverer to speculate - half seriously, I guess - that maybe the woman was a "time traveler."
You can watch the footage here. If you want to bypass the rather boring and long-winded introduction, the 1928 footage starts around the 3:00 mark.
So what's the answer to this mystery? Was a time traveler caught on film in 1928?
A commenter on the National Review website who goes by the name of ChugBug supplies a better answer. The thing in the lady's hand, which does sort of resemble a cell phone, is probably a hearing aid.
Yes, there were hearing aids in 1928, and yes, some of them were flat and large, like this object. Since the microphone was located in the flat part of the device, the woman was probably speaking into the mike as she walked along. I don't know who she was talking to. Maybe she was talking to herself.
ChugBug helpfully included a link to a Web page that shows a particular hearing aid, the Audiphone, that would match up very nicely with the mysterious object in the lady's hand.
Admittedly, the time traveler conjecture is more fun, and reminds me of a fine old science-fiction story called "Vintage Season."
Has any celebrity of the worldwide stature of Tiger Woods ever seen his reputation collapse so quickly and so completely?
Lo, how the mighty have fallen. It's enough to put one in a poetic mood.
I met a golfer from a foreign port Who said: "Two vast and trunkless legs of tin Stand in a sand trap. Near them in the dirt, Half sunk, a shattered visage lies, whose grin And twinkly eye and boyish air of sport Tell that its sculptor well those passions cut Which yet survive, stamped on that frozen face, The heart that drove the ball and sank the putt. And on the pedestal these words appear: `My name is Tigerwoodsias, I set the pace: Look on my scores, ye duffers, and despair!' Nothing beside remains. Around the bole Of that colossal wreck, unswept and bare, The sand trap stretches toward the eighteenth hole".
Regular readers may remember how I complained about the chore of reading The Brothers Karamazov a few months back. I did eventually finish the book, though I skipped the long chapter recounting Father Zosima's life story. Actually I thought the story picked up considerably in the second half, and became quite compelling toward the end.
Even so, I sympathize with the filmmakers of the new movie version, as reported by "America's finest news source," The Onion.
Incidentally, I'm now working my way through Anna Karenina. These Russian authors really weren't into fast-paced storytelling, were they?