• Woz's Apple rainbow logo eyeglasses (and an Apple I) up for auction

    "Around 1979, I had an optometrist in Palo Alto custom make 30 pairs of these glasses with lenses in the shape and rainbow colors of the original Apple logo," says Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak. "It was a project, just for fun."

    One of those original pairs will be on the auction block December 10 in RR Auction's "Steve Jobs + Apple Auction." Also available, an original Apple I, an Engelbart mouse, and assorted other objects and ephemera.

  • Wasps threaten airplane safety

    Wasps are threatening airplane safety at Australia's Brisbane Airport. The keyhole wasps have identified an airplane's "pitot tube," an externally-mounted sensor that measures airspeed, as an ideal location to make a nest of mud and grass. "We realized that this wasn't just an inconvenience, that you just had to clean these things out and swat the wasps away," says Eco Logical Australia researcher Alan House. "This could actually lead to major accidents." From CNN:

    Most of the nests were close to the grassed area of the airport, according to the study's co-author, Jackson Ring, wildlife management and planning coordinator at Brisbane Airport. The wasps collect caterpillars from the grass and shove them into the pitot tubes as food for their offspring. Wildlife managers are using targeted, organic pesticides to kill the caterpillars, and have so far succeeded in cutting wasp activity near the international and domestic terminals by 50%, Ring said[…]

    House said researchers didn't want to give the impression that it's not safe to fly out of Brisbane. If anything, he said, it's safer than it was a few years ago, when they knew less about the insect.

    The keyhole wasp might be small, he said, but their threat to aviation can't be ignored.

    "There's a lot of attention paid right across the world to other wildlife management issues at airports, birds especially because they're obviously seen as a major hazard for flying," House said."Something like a wasp is seen as more of a low-level risk. The chances of something happening are pretty small, but there's still a chance that it might happen."

  • Pillow with a built-in hand to hold

    Madeline Robertson recently patented a pillow with a built-in hand to hold. Apparently, the hand could also be attached to a shirt. From the USPTO filing:

    The tactile object may be formed of a second material that is different than the first material, the tactile object formed in the shape of a comfort item. The tactile object further has a first side providing tactile sensory feedback, and a second side configured to be attached to the shell such that the first side of the tactile object extends away from the first rectangular side of the shell. According to the inventive concepts disclosed herein, the substrate is provided to a user in need of comfort and the tactile object provides tactile sensory feedback to the user designed to comfort the user.

    (via Weird Universe)

  • Listen to Bjork singing at age 11

    In 1976, Björk, then 11-years-old and studying classical piano and flute, sang Tina Charles's "I Love to Love" for a school recital. According to Wikipedia, "her teachers sent a recording of her singing the song to the RÚV radio station, which was then Iceland's only radio station. The recording was nationally broadcast and, after hearing it, a representative of the Fálkinn record label offered Björk a recording contract. Her self-titled début, Björk, was recorded when she was 11 years old and was released in Iceland in December 1977.


  • A Native American folk/rock/country soundtrack for today, and any day

    For today, and any day, here is a collection of gorgeous folk, rock, and country songs by Indigenous Americans whose voices you can hear on Light in the Attic's eye- and ear-opening box set "Native North America (Vol. 1): Aboriginal Folk, Rock, and Country 1966–1985, Morley Loon's "Northland, My Land," and Willie Thrasher's "Spirit Child."

    "Tshekuan Mak Tshetutamak" by Groupe Folklorique Montagnais:

    "Spirit Child" by Willie Thrasher:

    "N'Doheeno" by Morley Loon:

    "Ajuinnarasuarsunga" by Sugluk:

    "Fall Away" by Sugluk:

    image at top: Sugluk

  • Ready Player Two: read an interview with Ernest Cline and listen to his soundtrack for the book

    Ernest Cline's long-awaited sequel to Ready Player One is out this week! My copy of Ready Player Two just arrived and I can't wait to dive back into the Oasis. Above Ernie's Spotify "soundtrack" for the book. And below, here's a bit from an interview with Ernie in Entertainment Weekly:

    ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: So when did you first start thinking of ideas for the sequel?

    ERNEST CLINE: I tried to set up the possibility of a sequel when I wrote the first novel. As I was finishing the first book, and I knew the first book was going to be published, ideas started to formulate in the back of my head. I don't think I really started writing until they started production on the movie, which got me back into living in the world of Ready Player One. That's when I started to really write the sequel. Also, I knew then there was like a ticking clock because if the movie does well, then they're going to want to make a movie sequel. And if there's no book to base the sequel on, then that won't stop them. So that motivated me and it was great because as we were finishing the movie, Steven started to ask me questions about what the sequel might be about so he could get that into the ending of the first movie. It was also great because I was in [the book's shantytown village] the Stacks — on the set of the movie — in this recreation of things from my imagination. So it was hard to think about anything else once I was there. I had to then stop and do [promotion for the film] and now I've been working on it nonstop for the last two years.

    While there are obviously many reasons to do a sequel, did you have any trepidation after you managed to have a first-time writer's dream experience with the first book, which was such a home run in every way? Were you concerned about doubling down?

    It did give me a huge amount of anxiousness going into writing it. I know from my own experience — like with the Star Wars prequels — that expectations are often resentments waiting to happen. The higher your expectations, the more you're setting yourself up for disappointment. The great thing about my first novel was that nobody knew who I was and people could discover it. Once it became more popular I would see people who heard it was so great from their friends, then they would go into it with expectations. So I knew everybody would even be going into this story with expectations, including me and including Steven Spielberg. He would call occasionally and ask if it was done. Nothing will light a fire under you like getting one of those phone calls, and I knew fans were waiting too. At the same time, I wasn't going to let anyone rush me. It's a strange sort of storytelling. I worked on Ready Player One for almost a decade. I was still working full-time jobs during that time, but I would work on and off and sometimes set it aside for as much as a year, but I'd always come back to it. I believed in the story and I knew I had to finish it. The way that I would do the puzzles is very elaborate. Each of the puzzles is its own elaborate puzzle box and weaving all the riddles and puzzles and the '80s references into the story takes a lot of thinking and like trial and error. So it's different than other writing projects. I really wanted it to be as good as I could make it and as fulfilling as the first book. I think a lot of people are going to enjoy it. I know some people's expectations might not be met and I'm braced for that too.

  • The Arecibo radio telescope will be demolished

    The National Science Foundation announced that it will decommission and demolish the iconic Arecibo radio telescope in Puerto Rico. This comes after two cables suspending the telescope's 900-ton receiver platform above its massive dish broke while others are weakening. Completed in 1963, the Arecibo Observatory has been a key instrument in the development of radio astronomy. It's also where in 1974 my friend Frank Drake, SETI pioneer and telescope director at the time, transmitted an encoded message for any extraterrestrials who may be listening. Over at National Geographic, Frank's daughter, esteemed science writer Nadia Drake, has been covering the story. Here is Nadia's piece about today's sad news and the following is from her feature last week in National Geographic:

    Discoveries from Arecibo include the 1974 detection of a pair of whirling pulsars that are emitting gravitational waves—earning the 1993 Nobel Prize in Physics—and the first confirmed planets spotted orbiting a star other than the sun in 1992. Scientists at Arecibo also worked out Mercury's rotation rate, spotted a repeating fast radio burst, and conducted numerous searches for communicative extraterrestrial civilizations—an endeavor popularized by Carl Sagan's novel Contact that was later made into a movie of the same name.

    In addition to observing the heavens and collecting radio waves, Arecibo is also an extremely powerful radar. Scientists use this capability to characterize asteroids that cross Earth's orbit, calculating their positions with extreme precision to figure out how to avoid future collisions. And in 1974, Dad used it to send an interstellar message to a clump of stars called the Great Cluster in the Hercules constellation. In it, he encoded information about humans, Earth, the solar system, and Arecibo, and broadcast it during a celebration of upgrades to the telescope.

    "It does atmospheric science, it does solar system science, it does astronomy, it does astrophysics," Rivera-Valentín says. "It's important for science, and for the entire world."

    image: University of Central Florida

  • These are the most common passwords that people are using (and shouldn't be) in 2020

    Password management software company NordPass published its list of the "Top 200 most common passwords of the year 2020." The top 10 are mostly the glaringly obvious ones that somehow people still use. "Password" even moved up a spot to number four! New additions include "picture1" and "senha," the Portugese word for, er, "password."

    "Top 200 most common passwords of the year 2020" (via CNN)

  • Indonesian man sells meteorite that fell through his roof for $1 million

    A meteor recently crashed through Josua Hutagalung's tin roof in Sumatra, Indonesia.

    "The sound was so loud that parts of the house were shaking too. And after I searched, I saw that the tin roof of the house had broken," Hutagalung, a 33-year-old coffin maker, told Indonesia's Kompas newspaper. "When I lifted it, the stone was still warm."

    The bad luck became very, very good luck when Hutagalung sold the 2.1kg space rock for more than $1 million. From The Independent:

    The meteorite is carbonaceous chondrite, an extremely rare variety estimated to be 4.5 billion years old – and reportedly worth around £645 per gram.

    Mr Hutagalung told The Sun he sold the rock to US meteorite expert Jared Collins – who then sold the item to a US collector, currently storing it at the Centre for Meteorite Studies at Arizona State University.

  • The original, wonderful, folky, and slightly schmaltzy recording of "Turn! Turn! Turn!"

    Folk legend Pete Seeger penned "Turn! Turn! Turn" in the the late 1950s, but the release of his recording was preceded by the above 1962 version recorded by folk trio The Limeliters. One of the players on that Limeliters session was Jim McGuinn (later known as Roger McGuinn) who went on to form The Byrds and rearranged that song to be a massive folk-rock hit.

    image: album art/Discogs

    (via r/ObscureMedia)

  • On today's anniversary of Jonestown, here is a moving music video using footage from the Peoples Temple

    On November 18, 1978, more than nine hundred members of the Peoples Temple, under the guidance of cult leader Rev. Jim Jones, killed themselves or were murdered in the jungles of Guyana. Five years before the mass suicide-murder though, Jones was a pillar of the San Francisco community, hobnobbing with government officials and other big-shots while leading his adoring congregation in religious, social, and political activism. Inspired and moved by this strange and tragic story, the band Cults and director Isaiah Seret created the music video above in 2011 and premiered it on Boing Boing. Here is Seret's statement about the project:

    To tell the story of Cults' hauntingly beautiful track, "Go Outside", I was inspired to bring the band inside the world of Jim Jones' famous religious cult, Peoples Temple, and the eventual tragedy in
    Jonestown. Fortunately, when exploring the feasibility of this video I became acquainted with Fielding M. McGehee III, an expert on Peoples Temple history and the primary researcher for the Jonestown Archive. It is thanks to him and his encouragement that I was able to take on this project and through his support gained access to over two and half hours of home videos showing Peoples Temple in Jonestown. For this music video we didn't want to put a spin on the footage or the peoples lives—instead we wanted to re-tell and humanize their story. In order to achieve this we used a combination of stock footage, visual effects and other tricks to embed the band into the historical footage. This was achieved through my collaboration with my visual effects supervisor Bill Gillman and my cinematographer Matthew Lloyd. Lastly, I am moved to say when we completed the video we were able to preview it for some of the survivors of the Jonestown Massacre, who expressed their appreciation of our focus on the lives of the People's Temple members as opposed to exploiting the graphic images of the final tragedy.

    To learn more about the Peoples Temple and the event leading up to November November 18, 1978, visit: Alternative Considerations of Jonestown & Peoples Temple (SDSU)

    image: Nancy Wong (CC BY-SA 4.0)

  • Dr. Martens planning for IPO in 2021

    Iconic punk, skinhead, and mall punk shoemaker Dr. Martens is planning for an IPO in early 2021. Oi? From Hypebeast:

    Permira, which acquired the company for around £300 million GBP (approximately. $398 million USD) in 2013, has appointed Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley to act as global coordinators on the float.

    Permira purchased the company from the Griggs family, who had owned the company since it was licensed in the U.K. in the late 1950s. The last full financial year depicts a positive outlook for Dr. Martens, with underlying earnings doubling to the end of March.

    Video above from The Young Ones (1982).

    image: Vugluskr (public domain)