1935

Flashback Friday: Alcoholics Anonymous 1935

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Alcoholics Anonymous Wikipedia Image
Image Credit: Wikipedia
Author: John Leffman

Eighty-seven years ago, today, Robert Smith drank his last drink, the date marked by AA for its anniversaries.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international mutual aid fellowship dedicated to abstinence based recovery from alcoholism through its spiritually inclined Twelve Step program. Following its Twelve Traditions, AA and autonomous AA groups are self-supporting through the strictly voluntary contributions from members only. The Traditions also establish AA as non-professional, non-denominational and apolitical, with an avowed desire to stop drinking as its sole requirement for membership. Though AA has not endorsed the disease model of alcoholism, to which its program is nonetheless sympathetic, its wider acceptance is partly due to many members independently promulgating it. A recent scientific review shows that by many measures AA does as well or better than other clinical interventions or no treatment. In particular, AA produces better abstinence rates with lower medical costs. As of 2020, having spread to diverse cultures, including geopolitical areas normally resistant to grassroots movements, AA has estimated its worldwide membership to be over two million with 75% of those in the U.S. and Canada.

AA marks 1935 for its founding when Wall Street analyst and newly recovering alcoholic Bill Wilson, then reeling from a failed proxy fight, sought to stay sober by commiserating with detoxing surgeon Bob Smith. After leaving the Oxford Group to form a fellowship of alcoholics only, Wilson and Smith, along with other early members, wrote Alcoholics Anonymous: The Story of How More Than One Hundred Men Have Recovered From Alcoholism, from which AA acquired its name. Published in 1939 and commonly called “the Big Book”, it contains AA’s Twelve Step recovery program. Later editions included the Twelve Traditions, first adopted in 1946 to formalize and unify the fellowship as a “benign anarchy”.

Wiki Summary

Movie Monday: Why Pay Rent? 1935

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Why Pay Rent Image One
Image Credit: imdb.com & amazon.com

Eighty-five years ago, today, the black & white short comedy Why Pay Rent? was released. Directed by Lloyd French and, co-written by Dolph Singer & Jack Henley, it starred Roscoe Ates, Shemp Howard, Billie Leonard, Ethel Sykes and Ron Le May.

Synopsis:

Elmer (Roscoe Ates) fixes up a room for his just-married, freeloading brother-in-law and wife. When the newlyweds show up, Henry (Shemp Howard) brings a surprise in the form of stepson Junior. The apartment is now too small so, Henry decides that they’ll buy a lot and build a do-it-yourself home, a disaster in the making when Junior switches the house’s part numbers. It doesn’t help matters that Elmer, Henry and the wives are all incompetent.

Review:

In the 1930s, the Vitaphone division of Warner Brothers made a bunch of very uninspired and, often, unfunny comedy shorts. One of them, Why Pay Rent? is a bit like One Week (with Buster Keaton) but, only if the folks building the house were dumber than a pile of bricks. In many ways, this might have worked better as a Three Stooges short, which is interesting because Shemp Howard stars in this one, as well as Roscoe Ates, an incredibly unfunny comedian whose shtick was stuttering…which was annoying rather and cruel.

This film isn’t listed as lost but, I couldn’t find any video clips of it. I did find some stills of Elmer painting himself into a corner on Getty Images. ~Vic

Trivia Bit:
♦ Some of the construction sight gags, including the final scene, were re-done two years later by Moe, Larry and Curly in The Sitter Downers.

Additional Reading:
Shemp Howard Review (DVD Talk)
Why Pay Rent? (IMDB)
Why Pay Rent? (1935) (The Three Stooges Online Filmography)

Flashback Friday: Schrödinger’s Cat 1935

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Schrodingers Cat Image
Image Credit: chillingcompetition.com

Eight-four years ago, today, Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger published his first of three essays on a Thought Experiment regarding a hypothetical cat:

[A] cat, a flask of poison and a radioactive source are placed in a sealed box. If an internal monitor (e.g. Geiger counter) detects radioactivity (i.e. a single atom decaying), the flask is shattered, releasing the poison, which kills the cat. The Copenhagen interpretation of quantum mechanics implies that, after a while, the cat is simultaneously alive and dead. Yet, when one looks in the box, one sees the cat either alive or dead, not both alive and dead. This poses the question of when, exactly, quantum superposition ends and reality collapses into one possibility or the other.

[Schrödinger] intended the example [above] to illustrate the absurdity of the existing view of quantum mechanics:

One can even set up quite ridiculous cases. A cat is penned up in a steel chamber, along with the following device (which must be secured against direct interference by the cat): in a Geiger counter, there is a tiny bit of radioactive substance, so small, that perhaps in the course of the hour one of the atoms decays, but also, with equal probability, perhaps none. [If] it happens, the counter tube discharges and, through a relay, releases a hammer that shatters a small flask of hydrocyanic acid. If one has left this entire system to itself for an hour, one would say that the cat still lives if, meanwhile, no atom has decayed. The first atomic decay would have poisoned it. The psi-function of the entire system would express this by having in it the living and dead cat (pardon the expression) mixed or smeared out in equal parts.

It is typical of these cases that an indeterminacy originally restricted to the atomic domain becomes transformed into macroscopic indeterminacy, which can then be resolved by direct observation. That prevents us from so naively accepting as valid a “blurred model” for representing reality. In itself, it would not embody anything unclear or contradictory. There is a difference between a shaky or out-of-focus photograph and a snapshot of clouds and fog banks.

Schrödinger’s famous thought experiment poses the question, “when does a quantum system stop existing as a superposition of states and become one or the other?”

Schrodinger's Cat Image Two
Image Credit: andrewlawrenceking.com

The EPR Paradox was a thought experiment proposed by physicists Albert Einstein, Boris Podolsky and Nathan Rosen (EPR) that they interpreted as indicating that the explanation of physical reality provided by quantum mechanics was incomplete (PDF).

Biography
Interpretations of the Experiment
Schrödinger’s Foray into Quantum Mechanics
Legacy
Honors & Awards
All About Science Article
References from Einstein: His Life and Universe