US unemployment timelapse highlights 2008 crisis

It's difficult to comprehend the onset and severity of the 2008 financial crisis, but this timelapse map of US unemployment data from 1990 through July 2016 helps put things in context. Read the rest

Stunning photos of black women from the Victorian era

Shared by Downtown L.A. Life and Dangerous Minds, these gorgeous photos are dated around 1860 to 1901. I've collected a few of my favorites, but both sites have even more portraits on display. They're the perfect rebuttal for those who argue diversity is a new phenomenon. Read the rest

National Archives now curates GIFs

From the sublime to the ridiculous, the U.S. National Archives' new curated page of GIFs on Giphy has an animated bit of US history for every occasion, like Woodsy Owl or this analog odometer from the Apollo 8 mission. Read the rest

Meet the WWI women who pretended to be rocks for the war effort

The Women’s Reserve Camouflage Corps were a group of 40 woman artists from NYC and Philadelphia ("in perfect physical condition") who devised camouflage systems for fighters and materiel during WWI, testing their theories by hiding in Van Cortlandt Park in the Bronx -- where the local cops grew accustomed to having seeming rocks and trees spring to life as they passed. Read the rest

Inside the nuclear bunker holding America's film history

From Great Big Story:

America's movie and film archive is located in an underground bunker in Culpepper, Virginia. The bunker was originally a gold storage unit that doubled as a fallout shelter for the U.S. president and his cabinet during the Cold War. Today, the Library of Congress stores all manner of film here. Archivist George Willeman is in charge of the nitrate vaults, where fragile (and combustible) old films sit undisturbed and well preserved.

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Comic about the creation of Twitter

In a brand new series for the Webby Awards where I'm editor-at-large, I commissioned the talented comic artist Andy Warner to illustrate the wild history of the Web, from inspiring eureka moments to crackpot ideas that changed the world to fantastic failures.

The first comic in the series is: "Twitter's First Chirps"!

And for more of Andy's work, I highly recommend his absolutely wonderful book just out this week, Brief Histories of Everyday Objects, the illustrated stories behind life’s most common and underappreciated items. Read the rest

New book explores abandoned asylums

Photographer Matt Van der Velde traveled the U.S. to document his upcoming book Abandoned Asylums. Most of the locations featured are still in fairly pristine states because entry is restricted by the private or governmental owners of the properties. Read the rest

NASA's forgotten 3mm gauge movie camera

Dino Everett of USC's Hugh M. Hefner Moving Image Archive shows off a nifty little gadget: a working 3mm movie camera developed by Eric Berndt in 1960 for NASA's Mercury missions. Read the rest

Jo Walton's "Informal History of the Hugos" coming July 2017

Tor will collect Jo Walton's excellent series of essays on the winners and nominees of the past Hugos in a book called An Informal History of the Hugos coming in July 2017. Read the rest

Meth, Hitler and the Reich: the true, untold story of the Nazis' dependence on coke, meth and oxy

Novelist Norman Ohler became fascinated with the Third Reich's reliance on opiods and methamphetamines when DJ Alexander Kramer mentioned it to him in passing; he set out to write a novel, but in Blitzed: Drugs in the Third Reich he produced what historian and authority on the Third Reich Ian Kershaw called "a serious piece of scholarship." Read the rest

On the once and future history of clouds

James Bridle (previously) honors the The Cloud Index, "a tool for actionable weather forecasts" at London's Serpentine Gallery, with a lyrical longread about the history of clouds, science, war and computation. Read the rest

Thomas Jefferson, the great importer of mac 'n cheese

Thank you to the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson, for recognizing the greatness of French food and imported macaroni and cheese where it has (d)evolved into its own food group.

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New York Deaf Theater performs Hamilton's Cabinet Battle #2

The cast of Hamilton joined with the New York Deaf theater in a video that is pure amazeballs. Read the rest

The history and future of Lemmings, and a proposal

Lemmings is one of the best video games of all time, and seemed in the 90s to be on the verge of becoming an explosive media phenomenon. Its tiny animated characters are fab: adorable yet down-to-earth, capable yet doomed, a smorgasbord of sarcastic bite and hurt/comfort neediness. After publisher Psygnosis was bought by Sony, though, the Lemmings soon vanished into the corporate archives. The creators went on to make the Grand Theft Auto series. But perhaps their first mega-hit could have its day again.

‘I would have loved to take the characters and do something different with them,’ says [co-creator Mike] Dailly. ‘But we never got the chance. When you get down to it the original game was brilliant, and the sequel had brilliant tech. But the characters themselves are what makes the game. And they should be used for more, for far more.’

In today’s nostalgia-hungry industry the return of Lemmings is hopefully a matter of time. Updating a classic is never easy, of course, but the game is so original and well-loved it’s amazing no-one has tried to do what Championship Edition did for Pac-Man. That may be Lemmings’ beauty and its curse. There is not a single element of the game that could be removed without changing the whole thing. Adding more stuff, as with the sequel, doesn’t make it better. And how can you update visuals that are iconic because they’re 8×10 sprites?

In the leap from cult hit to world-spanning franchise, there are hard marketing problems when your entire premise is "100 literally identical characters, constantly and comically brutalized". Read the rest

When "computers" were young, brilliant black women mathematicians

Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures recovers the lost history of the young African American women who did the heavy computational work of the Apollo missions, given the job title of "computer" -- her compelling book has been made into a new motion picture. Read the rest

A socialist wrote the Pledge of Allegiance, which used to be accompanied by Nazi salutes

Socialist minister Francis J. Bellamy wrote the Pledge of Allegiance in the 1890s in an effort to paper over the post-Civil War divisions; to accompany it, he devised the "Bellamy Salute": "raise your right hand, flip your palm down, point it toward the flag in a salute and recite the words." Read the rest

Watch artisans make Freddie Mercury's Blue Plaque

Freddie Mercury's childhood home in London will now have a blue plaque, the UK's acknowledgement of a significant historical person or place. This endearing film chronicles how it was made. Read the rest

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