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What It Was Like to Watch the Beatles Become the Beatles

Beyond their music itself, their greatest strengths were clarity of image and the way they balanced. It’s a truism that no pop format is any good unless it can be expressed in one sentence, but the Beatles went beyond that, they could each be said in one word: Lennon was the brutal one, McCartney was the pretty one, Ringo Starr was the lovable one, Harrison was the balancer. And if…

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Replaying Childhood: On Gifting my Video Games to the Library of Congress

Giving up my games ended up being a bit of an emotional experience. I think the emotion of that experience underscores why it matters for the Library to collect games. The box of games and systems had sat in our basement for the last five years, and my mother’s basement for a good while before that. The last time I sat down and played through most of these games was…

Space Shuttle Challenger (Destroyed 28 Years Ago Today)

I was in my final semester of high school. I remember Principal Burch came over the loudspeaker to announce that the Challenger “blue up on the pad,” which I knew wasn’t true because I was watching a TV… probably in the library. Years later, I was teaching an advanced technical writing class, and we studied the documents related to the Challenger loss. Challenger was destroyed at 11:39:13 am Eastern Standard…

What blogging was

I’ve maintained this blog since the spring semester of 1999, though at the time I considered it an “annotated list of links.” Updating it meant editing the HTML by hand. Like Crichton’s dinosaurs, blogs have evolved into everyday things that we may not recognize as the powerful, conspicuous giants they once were. Blogs have evolved into the social media outlets where most of us (including me) do most of our…

Internet Archive puts classic 70s and 80s games online

Classic video games from the 1970s and 1980s have been put online by the Internet Archive and can be played within a web browser for nothing. The collection has launched with games from five early home consoles, including the Atari 2600 and Colecovision. The games do not have sound, but will soon, the Internet Archive said. “In coming months, the playable software collection will expand greatly,” archivist Jason Scott wrote.…

Why NORAD Tracks Santa

The call had come in on one of the top secret lines inside CONAD that only rang in the case of a crisis. Grabbing the phone, Shoup must have expected the worst. Instead, a tiny voice asked, “Is this Santa Claus?” “Dads pretty annoyed,” said Terri Van Keuren, Shoups daughter, recalling the legend of that day in 1955. “He barks into the phone,” demanding to know whos calling. “The little…

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WFAA legend on pioneering live coverage of JFK assassination

  The vast majority of Americans remember it as the day that an American president was assassinated. Only a few also remember it as the day that television news grew up. One of them was the young reporter seen carrying the camera on rare videotaped footage of the Channel 8 newsroom just minutes after the president was assassinated. He had just returned from Parkland Hospital, where he had just witnessed a…

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How Television Covered the Kennedy Assassination – a 1964 TV Guide Article

It was a new, shocking, traumatic thing for Americans — who were used to getting their bad news from kindly gentlemen who filtered it for them and helped them digest the worst bits — to watch reporters, live on air, learning new details and reacting as they happened. First CBS Bulletin (at 10:45 into a soap opera.) Walter Cronkite announces death of JFK. You can hear in the background people…

Robert T. Conrad, Whig mayor of Philadelphia, 1854-1856.
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Rare Philadelphia win – for a Whig!

For the first time in 159 years, Philadelphians have elected a Whig to public office – specifically, putting a member of the Modern Whig Party into a spot as judge of elections in Northeast Philadelphia’s 56th Ward, in the Rhawnhurst section. Robert “Heshy” Bucholz, 39, a software engineer with four children and a fifth on the way, went door to door soliciting support from his neighbors and wound up garnering…