Armistice Day 1942


Seventy-five years ago today, November 11, 1942, was the nation’s first wartime remembrance of Armistice Day.

The two pictures shown here appeared in that day’s Pittsburgh Press, showing a parade of 20,000 men who marched in celebration of the end of the last war. The included both the veterans of the First World War, along with their comrades fighting the Second.

The newspaper noted that the parade, which had been underway for an hour, halted at 11:00 AM while buglers sounded Taps in “an official and solemn recollection of the end of the last war, the tribute to the honored dead of that war, and, it seemed, a spiritual pledge of victory in the new and immensely greater war.”

1937 Ground Rod and AC Powered Mini Trouble Lamp

1937NovPMEighty years ago, the November 1938 issue of Popular Mechanics showed this method of increasing your ground conductivity. The addition of water isn’t even mentioned in the text. But by adding the water, the ground near the rod becomes saturated, increasing the conductivity.

The actual hint being discussed is the use of a spark plug as a lightning arrestor. The lead-in is connected to one terminal of the spark plug, with the other end grounded.

1937NovPM2Another hint shown in the same issue is shown here. Batteries are cheap enough these days that I don’t think it would be worth trying to put together this contraption, which doesn’t look very safe. But if you really want to run your small flashlight off AC power, then wiring it in series with a 25 watt light bulb, as shown, would do the trick.

1937 Midget One Tube Regen

1937OctPS1The November 1937 issue of Popular Science carried the plans for this midget one-tube regenerative receiver for the broadcast band using a dual-grid type 49 tube.  The notable feature of the tiny set was that it employed only a single battery, a 3 volt “A” battery that powered the filaments as well as supplying the modest B+ voltage.

The low power requirement apparently meant that the set was just a bit finicky, since the article cautioned that many of the parts had to be exactly as specified in the article.  But when done, the set was said to produce good headphone volume with 10-20 feet of insulated wire tossed on the floor as the antenna.

The modest battery requirement meant that the set was ideal of hikers and campers, or for use in isolated areas without electric power.



1917 Foreign Records

1917NovTalkingMachine1917NovTalkingMachine2A hundred years ago this month, the November 1917 issue of Talking Machine World offered some advice for phonograph retailers seeking to “reach talking machine buyers of foreign birth.” The magazine noted that dealers in cities with a large foreign element had come to realize the profitable opportunities presented by featuring foreign records. “It has been found that nothing so stimulates the sale of talking machines and records in foreign sections as the fact that foreigners can secure records of their native music offered in their native language.”

One success story was Grinnell Bros. of 243-247 Woodward Avenue, Detroit.  (It appears that the streets had been renumbered, since the previous link identifies the company’s building as being at 1515 Woodward Avenue.)  That company had great success with advertising in foreign-language newspapers catering to the many immigrants working in Detroit’s auto industry. Examples in German and Polish were shown, in addition to the Russian ad shown here. The magazine noted that the newspapers would be happy to translate the ad copy.

The image shown above appeared elsewhere in the magazine. It is a window display offered by Columbia to highlight the company’s foreign records.

Products from


Ying Ong, American Radio Patriot

1942NovRadioCraftShown here in the November 1942 issue of Radio Craft is Ying Ong of Phoenix, Arizona, rightly described by the magazine as an American radio patriot.

Mr. Ong took it upon himself to listen to and transcribe the broadcasts from Chungking Radio. He took the contents down by shorthand, and then relayed them to his fellow Chinese-American countrymen and to American news services. His dispatches often were made by telegram, and he bore the expense himself. He also sent copies to the FCC, Chinese-American newspapers, and the Chinese consulates.

The nationalist Chinese government took note of this, and at one point sent him a check for $100 to help cover his expenses. He endorsed the check over to the China War Relief Fund.

The broadcasts of the powerful GE San Francisco shortwave station KGEI often, the magazine noted, contained in its newscasts the phrase “Chungking radio says….” These reports were able to hit the air so quickly thanks to Mr. Ong’s transcripts of the broadcasts.

I was not able to find a listing for Mr. Ong in either the 1940 or 1946 call books, so I don’t believe he was a licensed ham.  But as an SWL, he certainly performed a service to both China and America by ensuring that nationalist broadcasts were received in this country by all who needed to hear them.

According to the Social Security Death Index, a Ying Ong, born on 25 August 1918, with a place of residence in Phoenix, died on 17 July 1992. He is buried at Greenwood Memory Lawn Cemetery in Phoenix.


1947 Two-Tube Regen for Junior

1947NovPSWhile this project from the November 1947 issue of Popular Science is ostensibly a Christmas present for Junior, the text of the construction article reveals that Mom and Dad might have an ulterior motive:  “Everyone in the family will enjoy this little two-tube headphone set.  Junior can listen to all the programs especially meant for him, and Pop and Mom will escape the nerve-shattering tommy guns and thundering herds.”

The set is a two-tube regenerative receiver for the broadcast band, using a 12J7GT detector with a 12J5GT serving as audio amplifier.

It’s an AC/DC set, meaning that Junior should probably make sure he doesn’t use it close to the water pipes. It appears to be electrically isolated from the chasis, and as long as capacitor C8 doesn’t short out, the headphones will be isolated from the AC line.

To tame the regenerative receiver, and keep Junior from becoming a squeal hound, the controls are preset, and tuning is accomplished with three or four trimmer capacitors set to local stations, and a switch is used to pick the station.

No external ground is used (probably to keep the AC-DC set from blowing a fuse or zapping Junior). The article notes that an outdoor antenna is desirable but not absolutely necessary.



1957 Springfield Enterprises VHF Transceivers

1957NovPEThis ad from sixty years ago, in the November 1957 issue of Popular Electronics,  was for two little VHF rigs I had never seen before, from a company called Springfield Enterprises of Springfield Gardens, New York. The prices shown in bold print certainly look reasonable. The two-meter version is priced at $6.98, and the six-meter version is $14.98. But the fine print reveals that these are the prices for the chassis only. It is already assembled, but it doesn’t include the microphone, “miniature mike transformer,” headphones, or even the case. With these “accessories,” the price increases.

The description is lacking in details, but the two-meter version is a single tube with VFO. It’s probably similar to the transceiver shown previously at this link.

The six-meter version contains a crystal-controlled transmitter with variable frequency receiver, and uses multiple tubes. Both sets were billed as having a range of 1-5 miles with a built-in whip, and “much more with directional beam antenna.”

I’ve never seen any reference to either of these rigs, other than this K3DSM’s website, in which he states that he owned one of the two-meter versions.

1942 Primitive Canoe

1942NovBLThese scouts didn’t have to worry about the modern Guide to Safe Scouting, and the procurement of materials right run afoul of modern Leave No Trace principles.  But these scouts 75 years ago put together this primitive canoe according to plans appearing in the November 1942 issue of Boys’ Life.

The plans given don’t go into great detail, but with a little common sense, exact instructions are not necessary.  The frame of the craft is made out of several saplings, and the shell is a 12′ x 12′ tarp.  The author, William “Green Bar Bill” Hillcourt, notes that “a river should be no obstacle for your Patrol if you have an axe, some string and a waterproof tarpaulin.  Then you can produce a primitive canoe, and paddle yourself across, using a couple of trench shovels, pieces of bark or your hands.”

The frame is constructed by lashing the various saplings together, and then the tarp is added.  It should be within the skill level of any scout who has mastered the basic lashings for First Class.

Note:  In my opinion, constructing and using this canoe is a perfectly appropriate activity for modern scouts.  However, proper safety precautions should be followed, and if it’s a BSA activity, then the Guide to Safe Scouting must be followed.  In particular, the 1942 Scouts shown in the picture would not pass muster, since they are not wearing approved life jackets.

They are, however, following the buddy system, and I assume that they have both passed the BSA swimmer test.  They’re obviously staying close to shore, and the craft appears to be seaworthy for that location.

Under current BSA rules, the “craft must be suitable for the activity, be seaworthy, and float if capsized. All craft and equipment must meet regulatory standards, be properly sized, and be in good repair.” Depending on the conditions, a boat like the one shown should qualify.

Since the boat “must meet regulatory standards,” this means that the boat must be legal under state law.  In Minnesota (and probably in other states) no registration is required, since the boat is less than 10 feet in length and non-motorized.

Since constructing this boat requires cutting living trees, great care should be taken in their selection.  Other materials (such as, perhaps, PVC pipe) should be considered.  But in my opinion, with a little planning, there’s no reason why scouts today shouldn’t be able to duplicate the craft built by their predecessors three quarters of a century ago.

Laika’s Flight: November 3, 1957

On this day 60 years ago, November 3, 1957, Laika, a Soviet dog, became the first Earth creature to orbit the Earth.

Her survival was never expected, since the technology to de-orbit had not yet been developed. Little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures, and some scientists believed that it would be impossible to survive the launch. Laika’s mission was designed to determine whether a living creature could survive the forces of launch and the micro-g environment of space travel.

The Soviets initially claimed that Laika was humanely euthanised by lack of oxygen. However, her actual cause of death was made public in 2002, when it was revealed that the spacecraft overheated, causing her death within a few hours.

Laika was originally a stray found wandering the streets of Moscow. It was thought that such animals were already well adapted to surivial. Three dogs were trained, and Laika was finally selected as the “lucky” winner to make the one-way trip to the final frontier. She was trained by being kept in progressively smaller cages. Before the launch, one scientist took Laika home to play with his children. He reported, “Laika was quiet and charming. I wanted to do something nice for her. She had so little time left to live.”

She was hooked to sensors, and on November 3, 1957, she was launched on her mission from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. When a piece of thermal insulation tore loose, the temperature of the capsule soon reached about 104 °F. Laika died of overheating on about the fourth orbit.

After 2570 orbits, the Sputnik 2 spacecraft, along with Laika’s remains, disintegrated during re-entry on April 14, 1958.

Ranked Voting Strategy

As explained below, there are three things to remember about ranked voting:

  • Vote for as many candidates as you have choices, as long as some of them are less objectionable than others.
  • All other things being equal, vote for the less popular candidate before you vote for the more popular candidate.
  • Never vote for the same person more than once.

Both Minneapolis and St. Paul will be using “ranked voting” in the mayoral election this year. There is no primary election, and in St. Paul, there are 10 candidates running in the general election. You are allowed to vote for your top six choices. In other words, there are six different elections you can vote for.  Minneapolis has similar numbers.  You will vote for your first choice, and that is one election. Then, you will vote for your second choice, and that appears on the ballot as an entirely different race. This continues through your sixth choice. You can make any number of choices, between zero and six. Minneapolis has a similar number of candidates and choices.

As an election judge, I am allowed to explain the basic mechanics of voting, but I am limited in what I am allowed to explain. In particular, I am not allowed to explain to voters anything that might be perceived as “strategy” in using your six votes. So as a citizen, let me explain a bit about strategy.

A winner will generally not be selected unless that person has a majority (defined as 50% plus one vote). At first, the votes will be counted as usual. On election night, you will see the name of the candidate who won the most votes as first choice. If that person has a majority (50% plus one vote), then that candidate will be the winner. But it is extremely unlikely this will happen. Chances are, none of the candidates will receive more than 50%. Therefore, vote counting will continue on Thursday morning.

On Thursday morning, the second round will begin. One candidate (the one receiving the least votes) will be eliminated. If you voted for anyone else, then your vote will not change. Your first choice will remain your vote.

Election judges (which will include me) will then remove the ballots of the people who voted for the eliminated candidate. We will look at the second choice, but only on those ballots. Then, we will place those ballots in with the original ballots for that candidate.

We will then count the ballots a second time. If someone now has a majority, then that candidate will win. If no candidate has a majority (which is still extremely likely), then the counting will move to the thrid round. Again, one candidate will be eliminated. All of that candidate’s votes (which might have been the voter’s first or second choice) will be removed. We will then look at the next choice on those ballots (which might be the second choice or third choice), and add those ballots to the count for that candidate.

This process will continue, probably several times, until some candidate has a majority. It is likely that the winner will not be known until Saturday, after several rounds of counting have been done.

We can argue all day about whether this is a good system or a bad system. But that doesn’t matter. If you live in Minneapolis or St. Paul, this is the system you need to deal with. And if you want the maximum impact from your vote, then you need to think about strategy.

First of all, if you believe that some of the candidates are worse than other candidates, then you should take advantage of your ranked voting to make sure that the person you do not like is defeated. In other words, if there are evil candidates and lesser evil candidates, then it is in your best interest to vote for the lesser evils at some point in the voting.

If you vote for only one candidate, then there is a 9/10 chance that your candidate will be eliminated. Once your preferred candidate is eliminated, then only your other ranked choices will prevent the worst candidate from being elected.

In other words, if you learn on Saturday that candidate X, whom you hate, has been elected, and that even candidate Y would have been better, then it’s your fault if you failed to vote for candidate Y. Your failure to vote for candidate Y, even though you had the opportunity, meant that the even worse candidate, X, was elected.

Therefore, if, in your opinion, six candidates are better than the other four, then you should vote for all six of those candidates. If you fail to do so, then you are responsible for one of those four bad candidates winning. Please do not blame others if one of those four wins, because by not voting all of your choices, you are responsible. So at the very least, you need to look at all ten candidates and decide which four you want the least. Then, vote for the other six, in your order of preference, even if you have to hold your nose to vote for some of them.

If there is more than one candidate whom you prefer approximately the same amount, then there is another consideration. One candidate will be eliminated after the first round. If you vote for that candidate as your second choice, then your vote will not count.

This is important to remember, because there might be some candidate you really like, but you do not believe that candidate has a very good chance of winning. If that is the case, then you should vote for that candidate as one of your first choices, rather than as one of your last choices.

Let’s say, for example, that you like candidate A, but you don’t think he or she has a very good chance of winning. You like candidate B about as well, but you think they have a better chance of winning.

In this case, your best strategy is to vote for candidate A as your first choice, and candidate B as your second choice. TO see why, let’s look at how your one vote could make a difference.

Let’s say that in the first round, you vote for candidate A.  Candidate B, who you also like, failed to get a majority by a single vote. If you had voted for B, then B would have won. Your vote cost that candidate the election–but only in the first round.

But no matter how many rounds the election goes, that candidate will eventually win, because you voted for them. Eventually, your other candidates will be eliminated. And eventually, your one vote will be cast in favor of candidate B. Since candidate B lost the first round by only one vote–your vote, it turns out–it is impossible for any other candidate to win. Since your guy is only one vote short of a majority, it is impossible for any other candidate to get 50% plus one vote. The best they can possibly get is 50% minus one vote, which is not enough to win the election.

However, if you voted for B because you thought B was more likely to win, then this can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. If A does not get enough votes in the first round, then A will be eliminated. Your vote for A as second choice will not count, because A has already been eliminated.

Therefore, all other things being equal, it is to your benefit to vote for the less popular candidates as your first choices. If they are truly unpopular, then they will be eliminated, but you will still get to vote for the more popular candidate in the next round. And even though you ranked them lower, you will still cast the deciding vote for them.

In summary, if you want to be a responsible voter, then you should vote for six candidates, even if your sixth choice is deeply flawed, as long as choices 7 through 10 are more flawed. If a candidate you do not want wins the election, then you have no valid reason to complain, because you could have voted against that person but chose not to do so.

And if you want to vote in the most strategically beneficial way, then you should vote for less popular candidates as a higher rank than more popular candidates.

Finally, it should be noted that there is absolutely no benefit to voting for the same candidate as more than one choice. For example, assume you vote for C as both your first choice and your second choice. As long as C is still in the running, then your vote will be counted for C, no matter how many rounds the counting goes. Nobody will ever look at who your second choice was.

But if C is eliminated at some point, then the judges will look at your second choice. If C is your second choice, then this vote will not count, because C has already been eliminated. Therefore, there is no rational reason for voting for the same candidate more than once. Your second vote will not help them, and you have deprived yourself of the opportunity to vote for another candidate.

In summary, here is how you should rationally cast your ballot:

  • Vote for as many candidates as you have choices, as long as some of them are less objectionalbe than others.
  • All other things being equal, vote for the less popular candidate before you vote for the more popular candidate.
  • Never vote for the same person more than once.

All of the foregoing advice is non-partisan, and is equally applicable whether you are on the left or right.  To view my personal endorsements in the St. Paul election, please see my earlier post.

This post was prepared and paid for by Richard P. Clem, who is solely responsible for its content, and is not authorized by any candidate or candidate’s committee.