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    Lost dogs of 18th-century London

    And other recent highlights from the Ideas blog

    You might think that cosseted house pets are a modern phenomenon. It takes a certain level of affluence and leisure time to devote as much attention to them as we do, dropping human-sized sums of money on doggie day care and visits to the animal hospital. But a post on the history blog Wonders & Marvels reveals that even in grimier times, people were still preoccupied with their canine companions.

    The post excerpts some of the nearly 500 advertisements for lost dogs that appeared in central London newspapers between 1700 and 1800. Here’s a short one from the Public Advertiser, 1768:

    “Lost on Saturday last, between Whitehall and Privy Garden, a small Red Dog of the Spaniel Kind, with four white Feet., a White Snip on his Nose, a few white Hairs on the outside of his Neck, and answers to the Name of MUFF. Whoever, brings him to the Right Hon. the Earl of Waldegrave’s, at Whitehall, shall receive Half a Guinea Reward.”


    The half-guinea reward offered for Muff was a little on the stingy side. Fifteen years earlier, for example, Mr. Humphrey Wynne of Shawberry had offered 10 times that much for the return of a female dog “of the Setting Breed, with a red Spot on her Forehead, answers to the Name of Phillis.”

    Carving in crayon

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    Vietnam native Diem Chau’ssculptures are improbable from the start: There’s no way it’s possible, you’d think, to carve a gazelle on the tip of a pencil. But she does, and not just gazelles. Here’s a fly, there’s a chameleon. She has a whole series of crayon sculptures, too, depicting each letter of the alphabet and its representative figure—U is for urchin, H is for handstand. Her work prompts delight beyond technique: We know pencils and crayons are creative tools, but Chau’s work—on display at the Packer Schopf Gallery in Chicago until May 18—suggests they have yearnings of their own.

    Boston: It’s not easy to get to work

    When people comparison shop among cities, one of the most important factors they consider is how long it takes to get to work. A new study out of the University of Minnesota ranked 51 cities in America by the accessibility of jobs by car. The researchers looked at the number of jobs that could be reached by varying drive times and gave more weight to closer-in jobs (i.e.: a job that could be reached within 10 minutes counted more than a job that could be reached in 50 minutes) to create a weighted index of the cities. The top-five most accessible cities were, in order, Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, and Minneapolis.

    Boston came in ninth, which is a relatively poor showing given the total number of jobs in the area. Boston ranks 20th for the total number of jobs that can reached within 10 minutes of driving, just ahead of Rochester, N.Y.; but it ranks fourth for the total number of jobs that can be reached within 60 minutes of driving, suggesting that while Boston has a lot of jobs overall, most of them require a lot of driving to get to.

    And the accessibility of jobs in Boston has been getting worse. From 2000-2010, Boston ranked with Grand Rapids, Raleigh, and Detroit as the four cities whose jobs accessibility deteriorated the most. This decline could be because new jobs in the Boston area are being created in more far-flung locations, or because traffic conditions have been getting worse over time so that formerly accessible jobs are now less so.


    Regardless of the cause, if you’re mobile and looking for work, you might be interested to know that the cities whose job accessibility improved the most over the last decade are Jacksonville, Miami, and Houston.

    Kevin Hartnett is a writer who lives in Ann Arbor, Mich. He can be reached at