How many humans and animals have died while on space missions?

Second Thought takes a brisk stroll through the historical death toll for earth creatures sent into space. Let's just say you didn't want to be a space monkey in the mid-20th century. Read the rest

Gentleman smokes 75-year-old cigarette from military rations

Military ration historian Steve1989 cracked open a real gem: a 1942 World War II K Ration by Doughboy Mills, which contained a package of Chelsea cigarettes. Read the rest

Gallery of gadgets at the Bang & Olufsen Museum

Vlad Savov went on a tour of the Bang & Olufsen Museum in Struer, Denmark—a wonder closet of cool audio gear.

The very earliest Bang & Olufsen product was actually a component rather than a full-fledged radio. The Eliminator, as it was called, made batteries unnecessary and allowed you to plug your radio directly into the mains. A couple of years after the Eliminator’s introduction, Peter Bang and Svend Olufsen moved their work out of the Olufsen family farm and into a factory in the nearby town of Struer in northwest Denmark. This is where the main B&O manufacturing facilities remain to this day.

In terms of their design inspiration, these first B&O radios were like the original skeuomorphic iPhone OS of their time. They adapted the styling of familiar pieces of home furniture to their technological purposes.

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Bill Wurtz' video presents history of the world in 20 minutes

Bill Wurtz is the guy who made a fantastically entertaining video history of Japan last year. In this video, he's taken on the slightly more ambitious task of presenting the history of the universe, beginning before the formation of matter and quickly focusing on a rapid fire lesson in world history. A+ work! Read the rest

Watch how librarians digitize a 6-foot wide book

The Klencke Atlas is a massive 350-year old bound book that has graced the entrance of the British Library maps room. Now it's being digitized with the latest technology, and the process is remarkable. Read the rest

Soupy Leaves Home: a masterpiece of YA graphic storytelling, about hobos on the open road

In Soupy Leaves Home, writer Cecil Castellucci and artist Jose Pimienta expand the borders of young adult graphic novels, telling a moving, inspiring tale of Depression-era hobos, identity, gender, suspicion, solidarity, and the complicated business of being true to yourself while living up to your obligations to others.

5 things you know about pulp science fiction are wrong, or at least not always true

Vintage Geek offers a list of miscconceptions people have about pulp-era science fiction, whose legacy has warped in the public imagination moreso even than Captain James T. Kirk's. [via MeFi]

“Pulp-Era Science Fiction was about optimistic futures.” “Pulp scifi often featured muscular, large-chinned, womanizing main characters.” “Pulp Era Scifi were mainly action/adventure stories with good vs. evil.” “Racism was endemic to the pulps.” “Pulp scifi writers in the early days were indifferent to scientific reality and played fast and loose with science.”

All these things are true, of course, but what better time to search for counterexamples than now?

To be fair, science fiction was not a monolith on this. One of the earliest division in science fiction was between the Astounding Science Fiction writers based in New York, who often had engineering and scientific backgrounds and had left-wing (in some cases, literally Communist) politics, and the Amazing Stories writers based in the Midwest, who were usually self taught, and had right-wing, heartland politics. Because the Midwestern writers in Amazing Stories were often self-taught, they had a huge authority problem with science and played as fast and loose as you could get. While this is true, it’s worth noting science fiction fandom absolutely turned on Amazing Stories for this, especially when the writers started dabbling with spiritualism and other weirdness like the Shaver Mystery. And to this day, it’s impossible to find many Amazing Stories tales published elsewhere.
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Russia's anti-Nazi women's sniper unit, colorized

These smiling assassins enlisted as snipers when Germany invaded Russia in 1941. "We mowed down Hitlerites like ripe grain," said Lyudmila Pavlichenko aka Lady Death, one of many elite snipers whose photos were colorized by Olga Shirnina aka Klimbim. Read the rest

"Why I Hate My Uncle," by William Hitler (Look magazine, 1939)

A copy of Look Magazine from July 4, 1939 will cost you $950, because it has a a six-page photo-illustrated feature by William P. Hitler, called "Why I Hate My Uncle."

William Patrick Hitler was born in Liverpool in the UK in 1911. His father was Adolf Hitler’s brother Alois Hitler. William moved to Germany in 1933 in an attempt to benefit from his uncle’s position of power. It appears William, who was familiar with Adolf’s family background, was an embarrassing thorn in Adolf’s side during the 1930s. Moving to the United States in 1939, William served in the US Navy in World War II. After the war, William Hitler changed his last name to Stuart-Houston.

Look’s article is written by William and reveals what it was like to be Adolf Hitler’s nephew. Here are some excerpts: “Being very close to my father at the time, he (Adolf Hitler) autographed this picture for me. We had cakes and whipped cream, Hitler’s favorite desert. I was struck by his intensity, his feminine gestures. There was dandruff on his coat.” “When I visited Berlin in 1931, the family was in trouble. Geli Raubal, the daughter of Hitler’s and my father’s sister, had committed suicide. Everyone knew that Hitler and she had long been intimate and that she had been expecting a child – a fact that enraged Hitler. His revolver was found by her body.” “I published some articles on my uncle when I returned to England and was forthwith summoned back to Berlin and taken with my father and aunt to Hitler’s hotel.

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Internet Archive to ignore robots.txt directives

Robots (or spiders, or crawlers) are little computer programs that search engines use to scan and index websites. Robots.txt is a little file placed on webservers to tell search engines what they should and shouldn't index. The Internet Archive isn't a search engine, but has historically obeyed exclusion requests from robots.txt files. But it's changing its mind, because robots.txt is almost always crafted with search engines in mind and rarely reflects the intentions of domain owners when it comes to archiving.

Over time we have observed that the robots.txt files that are geared toward search engine crawlers do not necessarily serve our archival purposes. Internet Archive’s goal is to create complete “snapshots” of web pages, including the duplicate content and the large versions of files. We have also seen an upsurge of the use of robots.txt files to remove entire domains from search engines when they transition from a live web site into a parked domain, which has historically also removed the entire domain from view in the Wayback Machine. In other words, a site goes out of business and then the parked domain is “blocked” from search engines and no one can look at the history of that site in the Wayback Machine anymore. We receive inquiries and complaints on these “disappeared” sites almost daily.

A few months ago we stopped referring to robots.txt files on U.S. government and military web sites for both crawling and displaying web pages (though we respond to removal requests sent to info@archive.org). As we have moved towards broader access it has not caused problems, which we take as a good sign.

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Vintage Chicago street gang business cards

Before the internet, even before desktop publishing, gang members who wanted calling cards headed to a printer with their idea. The results are collected in Brandon Johnson's Thee Almighty & Insane: Chicago Gang Business Cards from the 1970s & 1980s. Read the rest

New documentary on the history of graphic design and technology

The long-awaited documentary Graphic Means just premiered at the ByDesign film festival, describing a half-century of world-changing analog-to-digital shifts in how graphic designers worked. Here's the trailer. Read the rest

The 19th-century teen girl who overpowered men in traveling shows

Bill Kirby shares interesting stories about Augusta, Georgia history. Here, he discusses Lulu Hurst, a local teen girl who wowed audiences by overpowering any man who dared to accept her strength challenge.

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A great oral history of Funny Or Die, which just turned ten

Funny Or Die is ten years old this week. The comedy site's launch a decade ago almost didn't happen. Wired has compiled a definitive oral history of the site, right up through its most recent reset as Trump ascended to the Presidency.

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Neo-fascist presidential candidate Marine Le Pen says France was not complicit in rounding up Jews

Marine Le Pen says that she is not like her father, the notorious fascist political leader Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of the far-right National Front party (she excommunicated him from the party, but remained chummy enough to borrow millions from him for her presidential bid). Read the rest

How America's obsession with hula girls almost wrecked Hawai'i

Over at Collectors Weekly, Lisa Hix has just written an incredibly in-depth history of the hula, from its roots as a sacred dance to its kitschy personification as a dashboard doll. For her piece, Hix spoke with Constance Hale, a hula dancer herself, whose new book, The Natives Are Restless, focuses on authentic, 21st-century expressions of the hula.

Snip:

In his journal, Captain Cook described the Hawaiians’ hula: “Their dances are prefaced with a slow, solemn song, in which all the party join, moving their legs, and gently striking their breasts in a manner and with attitudes that are perfectly easy and graceful.”

In The Natives Are Restless, Hale explains, “To be sexually adept and sensually alive—and to have the ability to experience unrestrained desire—was as important to ancient Hawaiians as having sex to produce offspring. The vital energy caused by desire and passion was itself worshiped and idolized.”

Cook and his men—and the merchants, whalers, artists, and writers who followed—mistook the hula’s sexually charged fertility rituals as a signal the Hawaiians’ youngest and loveliest women were both promiscuous and sexually available to anyone who set foot on their beaches. In her 2012 book Aloha America: Hula Circuits Through the U.S. Empire, historian Adria L. Imada explains how natural hospitality of “aloha” culture—the word used as a greeting that also means “love”—made Hawaiians vulnerable to outside exploitation. To Westerners, the fantasy of a hula girl willingly submitting to the sexual desires of a white man represented the convenient narrative of a people so generous they’d willing give up their land without a fight.

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Historically accurate leggings based on medieval armor

Lorica is a fully-funded Kickstarter campaign that started with the promise of making leggings inspired by medieval armor, with rigorous and accurate depictions -- now that the campaign has reached its stretch goals, it has grown to incorporate a range of armor-inspired clothes. Read the rest

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