Boing Boing 

Apollo mission treasures from Neil Armstrong's attic

Spocko sez, "After Neil Armstrong's death his widow, Carol, discovered a white, cloth bag in a closet, containing flight and space related artifacts."

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Necromantic lawyers say George Patton can't appear in video games


California's insane publicity rights regime mean that the general -- who's been dead for 69 years -- can't be a video-game character because people might mistakenly think he endorses the game.

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Alan Turing's lost notes discovered as crumpled insulation in Bletchley Park huts


After the war ended, Churchill ordered all of Bletchley's work -- the computers, the notebooks -- destroyed, but some of Alan Turing's notes were discovered between the walls of Hut 6 during a recent renovation, and are now on display at Bletchley Park.

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“The Queen of Code,” new short documentary on computing pioneer Grace Hopper

The Queen of Code

Grace Hopper invented the world's first compiler. This wonderful video directed by Community's Gillian Jacobs is a brilliant introduction to her career and position in the history of computing. My only objection is that it's not a full-length documentary.

Grace Hopper, 1952.


Grace Hopper, 1952.

Listen: Marlene Dietrich plays musical saw (with bonus Star Trek theme)

Marlene Dietrich always wanted to be a classical musician. Since her cabaret act and film career left little time for her to do the required practice, she played the musical saw instead. Throughout World War II she wowed USO audiences with the novelty. Here she is playing "Aloha Oe" in 1944 with the comedic setup she did in her cabaret act.

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1871 plans map out the first circuit of the globe by telegraph

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The Library of Congress site contains gems like this map showing the proposed final link of the original world wide web: the proposed trans-Pacific telegraph line, envisioned with Civil War-era technology.

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Plan C: The top secret Cold War plan for martial law in the USA


Michael from Muckrock sez, "Starting on April 19, 1956, the federal government practiced and planned for a near-doomsday scenario known as Plan C. When activated, Plan C would have brought the United States under martial law, rounded up over ten thousand individuals connected to 'subversive' organizations, implemented a censorship board, and prepared the country for life after nuclear attack. There was no Plan A or B."

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When shirts cost $3,500


An eye-popping parable about the benefits of automation: 200 years ago, it took 479 hours worth of labor to make a shirt (spinning, weaving, sewing), or $3,472.75 at $7.25/hour.

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History of the World in 1,000 Objects

History of the World in 1000 Objects opens up with a simple stone handax for cutting and digging made around 1.65-million years ago and ends, 999 artifacts later, with satellites and smart phones.

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Watch two women compare a century of beauty trends

YouTuber Cut Video mashed up two remarkable videos showing models cycling through 100 years of fashion trends, decade by decade.

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Rare photos from a 1965 Selma March participant's POV

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To celebrate the film Selma and its two Oscar nominations today, here's a rare collection of Selma March photos by participant James Barker. The Smithsonian has Barker's back story:

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Jo Walton's "The Just City"

Time-travelling godess Athena assembles on a volcanic island every man and woman in history who has ever prayed to her to live in Plato's Republic, and sets in motion a social experiment that shows just how heartrending, exciting, and satisfying philosophical inquiry can be.Read the rest

Leif the Lucky – A gorgeously illustrated bio on Leif Erikson, the first European to set foot in America

Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer, is usually just briefly touched on in elementary school classrooms. But his rich story is a captivating one that any child – or adult – would enjoy. As a boy he moved from Iceland to icy Greenland, where his father established the continent’s first settlement. Eric grew up learning how to sail ships, throw spears, and catch sea animals for dinner. He played with baby polar bears and dreamed of adventures.

As a young adult Leif sailed to Norway and charmed the king with a Greenland falcon on his fist and a bear cub at his side. The king granted him permission to explore the west (Leif’s father had once seen a speck of something west of Greenland on an earlier exploration), and Leif became the first European to set foot in America (Canada) – 500 years before Christopher Columbus “discovered” it. Soon Leif’s relatives settled in this new land – for a while – until, well, I won’t give the whole story away, but let’s just say they were chased off the new land and forced to hightail it back to Greenland.

As soon as I laid my eyes on this book I was blown away by the stunning art: the bold popping colors on some pages, the beautifully shaded black and white images on others, and the saturated details and texture that all of the illustrations enjoy. And then I found out the book was first published in 1941 by Doubleday, created by the bohemian husband-and-wife team Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, who wrote 27 illustrated books in all (many of them tales about Scandinavian heroes and mythology). Leif the Lucky is one of three of their books to be reprinted by University of Minnesota Press, and I now need to get my hands on the other two (Children of the Northlights and Ola).

Leif the Lucky, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

See sample pages of Leif the Lucky at Wink.

Difficult questions posed to the NYPL reference desks before the net


In the New York Public Library's Instagram account, Information Architect Morgan Holzer is posting images of 3x5 cards pulled from a shoebox collecting 50 years' worth of weird questions that were posed to the system's reference desks, which were strange and notable enough to warrant addition to the collection.

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Donald Duck promoting birth control? Sex ed history

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Collector's Weekly presents Slut Shaming, Eugenics and Donald Duck: The Scandalous History of Sex-Ed Movies, exploring the strange, often awkward and puritanical history of education about birth control and disease prevention through the years.

At one point, the Comstock Law even blocked anatomy textbooks; the idea of students learning how their own sex organs function in books was apparently scandalous to Victorians. While social purity leaders urged parents to teach their children proper sexual morals, by the end of the 1800s they were looking to school as the next-best place to teach proper behavior. In 1892, the National Education Association teacher’s union, which was proposing a standard 12-year school curriculum, passed a resolution endorsing “moral education” in schools.

Whoa. Yet by the 1910s, there were already apparently a number of graphic films about venereal diseases -- and later on, films about how the "brassy", low-income girl from under the bleachers would probably be the vector by which "nice boys" spread it to their "nice" girlfriends.

And that's before we even get into "stranger danger" films:

Former child actor Sid Davis became the driving force behind “stranger danger” guidance films. “Sid Davis is very much his own phenomenon,” says Prelinger, who was friends with the director before his death. “He was a chancer himself. He had been a juvenile delinquent and a bit of a gambler, and he’d made fortunes and lost them. Before he died, he told me the story of how he was working as John Wayne’s stand-in on the set of ‘Red River,’ and he was talking with the Duke about a case of kidnapping and child molestation in L.A. And the Duke said, ‘Why don’t you make a film?’ and staked him money to make ‘The Dangerous Stranger’ (1950), which was the first film about abduction and sex crimes—the sex crimes being suggested, if not shown.
It's a long read, but an educational and amusing one.

The strange history of Disney's cyber-psychedelic "Computers Are People Too"

The cult favorite documentary was produced to promote Tron's release, featuring a trippy plot and the strangest computer graphics this side of SIGGRAPH -- and it quickly became a staple of the LA club scene as visual accompaniment for whatever was floating your boat that night.

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Stross's Merchant Princes books in omnibus editions


Charlie Stross's "Merchant Princes" series-- a sly, action-packed romp that blends heroic fantasy, military science fiction, economics, politics, and alternate worlds -- originally published as six mass-market paperbacks, is now available in three handy trade-paperbacks.

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