This harmonica, and these bells, are sitting in the Smithsonian Museum today. In 1965, however, they were in space, with astronauts Walter M. "Wally" Schirra Jr. and Thomas P. Stafford, who were doing a pre-Christmas mission aboard Gemini 6.
Just before Stafford and Schirra were scheduled to reenter Earth's atmosphere December 16, the pair reported they had sighted some sort of UFO. Schirra recounted the moment when Stafford contacted Mission Control in Schirra's Space, a memoir he wrote with Richard Billings:
"We have an object, looks like a satellite going from north to south, probably in polar orbit.... Looks like he might be going to re-enter soon.... You just might let me pick up that thing.... I see a command module and eight smaller modules in front. The pilot of the command module is wearing a red suit."
Then ground controllers heard the strains, both familiar and otherworldly, of "Jingle Bells." The Santa Claus plot had been hatched weeks before the Gemini 6 mission. "Wally came up with the idea," recalls Stafford, now a retired Air Force general, who chairs an International Space Station advisory group. "He could play the harmonica, and we practiced two or three times before we took off, but of course we didn't tell the guys on the ground."
"I could hear the voices at Mission Control getting tense," Stafford adds, "when I talked about sighting something else up there with us. Then, after we finished the song, [Mission Control's] Elliot See relaxed and just said, 'You're too much.'"
Thanks to leharrist for Submitterating!
[[Generations of propaganda about the instability of "the commons" and the desirability of assigning property rights in everything has led the human race into a very dark place: now, two scholars, David Bollier and Silke Helfrich, have published Free, Fair and Alive, which offers a critique of the "Tragedy," case studies of working commons, and a path to a better world based on shared resources and commons-based production. -Cory]]
Could we please, finally, lay to rest the tendentious "tragedy of the commons" fairy tale that has poisoned the minds of at least two generations? The accurate story about the commons deals with its ability to address the intractable problems of our time -- wasteful economic growth, predatory markets, the climate emergency, savage inequality. The commons offers practical ways to develop non-capitalist social systems that meet needs while helping rebuild our ecosystems and create a sense of belonging.
This was a key reason why we wrote Free, Fair and Alive: The Insurgent Power of the Commons. At some point, Big Deceptions such as the "tragedy" fable become so deeply rooted they need to be confronted and debunked. One way to do this is to recognize the social realities and political potential of actual commons.
The Sound Archive posted a 1930s-era recording of a conversation in a British pharmacy. The received-pronunciation chatter isn’t quite reality–it was recorded to teach English as a foreign language–but it’s a stark and amusing insight into English as she was spoke. Madam. Would you like a hard brush, or a medium one? The recording also […]
Pack rats, aka woodrats, build their nests, called middens, from plant debris, rocks, animal parts, paper, and almost any other bits of detritus nearby. Frequently, they urinate on their middens. The urine crystalizes and encases the nest material, preserving it for as long as 50,000 years by some estimates. For paleobotanists, middens are a great […]
In the early days of the web, everyone wanted a .com domain for their site. As a result, all the good ones got snapped up. But .com no longer has the cachet it once did. In fact, many new businesses and individuals are opting for other top-level domain extensions. One of the most memorable is […]
When the SNES launched back in the early 1990s, it changed gaming forever. One of the innovations was a gamepad with four action buttons — something that has remained a constant on controllers ever since. The 8BitDo SN30 Bluetooth Gamepad brings that iconic design up to date, with Bluetooth connectivity and support for multiple platforms. […]
After a long day at work, cooking a meal from scratch can seem like too much trouble. Unfortunately, the alternative is usually something unhealthy. Enter the Mellow Sous Vide Precision Cooker. This compact water bath uses cutting-edge technology to cook meat and veggies at the perfect temperature for exactly the right amount of time. It […]