It does, you know. You just have to get it hot enough.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Toys and Their Context in Society

now there’s a book I want to write in my copious spare time…

I’m doing that adult-thing where I finally clean out my closet from grade school, but unlike previous generations, I can just sell it all on eBay and maybe make some profit on collectible toys.  I did most of the Star Wars and Micronauts toys, now I’m going thru my GI Joe stuff and while researching prices, learning about the history of what was actually going on in the world when I was 10 years old.

GI Joe was a popular action figure in the cold war era then Vietnam happened.   At home, my dad spent most of my early years in MACV, Saigon, and hanging out with the Degar (Montagnard) people.  In the rest of the world, the draft, violent protests against the war, daily TV news coverage of the war, and Hasbro is stuck trying to figure out how to keep making money on GI Joe.  Before cancelling it entirely in 76 or 77 (and not bringing it back until the early 80s) Hasbro appears to have copied Fisher Price’s “Adventure People” and launched “Adventure Team.”  Two of the eight GI Joes are black (I suspect another was supposed to be Latino) and there are pages of new catalog accessories and outfits that were very much not about being a solider.  GI Joe isn’t just a soldier, he’s off hunting big game, rescuing people, and doing all sorts of not blowing up civilians and dropping napalm on the VC.

Check this catalog from 1975.  I have many of these toys going on eBay this week but I had no idea why they existed and no connection to their pop culture context.  The website has some layout/design problems, each of those “pages” is actually a topic and a link to a section of the catalog with a number of pages for that topic.  GI Joe wasn’t just a soldier, he was a “Radiation Detector,” “Smoke Jumper,” and “Emergency Rescue”(r).  Apparently grammar was hard in the 70s.




posted by jet at 21:47  

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

head bumps and reading skills

One of the things the docs warned me about in rehab was that post bonking my head I might perceive reality a bit differently than before. I’ve noticed a few minor kinetic bits here and there, but they’re mostly related to two weeks of being in bed and losing some of my muscles. (I can play catch and walk backwards already, not sure I could do that before the fall…)

However, after bonking my head in the basement I also found the latest Jameco catalog, and something about it just isn’t right.

posted by jet at 17:39  

Friday, October 28, 2011

why have a 3d printer, redux

Awhile back I made a simple stand for the NookColor (that I posted to thingiverse) and sometime in the past few months I apparently lost it, as I can’t find it now.

I discovered this while getting ready to assemble my Mk.7 Stepstruder and realized I could print another pair out faster than I could dig through the entire house looking for the first set I printed.

Which makes me wonder — why can’t I do this when I can’t find the cap for my pen or some random generic plastic part for a battery pack? If it’s easier to print one out than find it, what happens when I find the one that I lost? Toss the one I printed in the Imaginary ABS Recycling Bin?

posted by jet at 22:30  

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

fear of sentient robots

[something short that I’d like to turn into something much longer, given the time to do some research. –jet]

In the past few weeks there have been a number of news articles and at least four kerjillion blog posts regarding robots and the future of humanity. Robots that power themselves with organic matter, robots that can run like an animal, and snake robots that can hump human legs are all pretty cool, but there’s also a related narrative that we, as humans, don’t know how to deal with sentient robots.

The thing is, we’ve had unstoppable, zombie-like, intelligent actors capable of taking out a single human for at least a century. They have legal status, can own property, can file lawsuits, own weapons, have security forces, and they self-replicate based on available resources.

They’re called “corporations”.

A corporation has almost all the rights of an individual human, save for voting. But in most other ways, they’re better than any single human. They can store and process data in vast quantities and faster than a single human. They can make intelligent decisions about how they interact with you based on your purchasing history, your medical history, your entertainment preferences, and your social networking activities. A corporation can not only repair itself, it can survive financial death via various forms of bankruptcy and self-replication. If a corporation gets too big, it can split into a group of more efficiently sized corporations that can coordinate efforts with one another.

I’m not worried about a future where sentient robot dogs that feed on the dead stalk the streets at night.

I’m worried about a now where corporations trick humans into paying as much for a liter of bottled tap water as they do for a liter of milk.

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posted by jet at 19:11  

Friday, June 26, 2009

designing for maintenance, a success story

I hate cordless phones. Hate hate hate. They are expensive, break easily, interfere with other wireless devices, and when the battery starts to die down, you have to buy some obscure, phone-specific battery for way too much money.

Last week, we bought yet-another-cordless-phone after the GE died and the replacement handset would never sync properly with the base station. This time, I decided to go with a Panasonic, as some similar models had received good ratings in Consumer Reports and Costco had them for cheap.

Setting them up, I was happy to discover that instead of some cordless phone specific battery, they use regular NiMH AAA batteries. Plentiful and cheap when the time comes to replace them.

Now if I could just get a set of schematics and a parts list so we’d have a chance of repairing the phone itself, maybe I’d have a phone that I could maintain over the long run…

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posted by jet at 17:56  
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