Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Podcast: 99% Invisible (more notes)

Here are a few more notes cut and pasted from the 99% Invisible podcasts I've been listening to whilst at the gym. That's right, I like to break a mental sweat as well as a physical sweat. Boo yah! (they don't say that any more, do they, the young people?..aysh!)

Episode 144: There Is a Light That Never Goes Out
Hanging in the garage of Fire Station #6 in Livermore, California, there’s a small, pear-shaped light bulb. It is glowing right now. It's been glowing, with a few interruptions for 113 years. Can be watched here. (I just checked and yup, it's still glowing).
Episode 148: The Sizzle  (trademarked sounds)
 The first trademark for a sound in the United States was issued in 1978 to NBC for their chimes. MGM has a sound trademark for their roaring lion, as does 20th Century Fox for their trumpet fanfare. Harley Davidson tried to trademark the sound of their motorcycles, but after years of litigation, they finally withdrew their application. Right now there are fewer than two hundred active trademarks for sounds (US).
Me: EU Law from Wikipedia: '. A change in legislation occurred in 2005 so that now the Office accepts sonograms as a graphical representation of a trademark if they are accompanied by an MP3 sound file when filing a trademark electronically.'
Episode 145: Octothorpe (# the hashtag)
The hashtag, as we know it, was born one day in 2007. An early Twitter user named Chris Messina, in anticipation of an event called BarCamp. ...The pound symbol had already pervaded other corners of the web. Internet Relay Chat (IRC) used the pound sign to represent chat rooms, or conversation “channels”; another social network called Jaiku also had them. (subsequently adopted officially by Twitter with a just few lines of code)

..the symbol traces back to Ancient Rome. ...Its story starts with the Latin term Libra Pondo, meaning “pound in weight.” This was abbreviated to lb, which we still use. When lb became standard, it was often drawn with a little bar across the tops of both letters (℔), just to show that the l and the b were connected. As scribes started writing this sign faster and faster, lb began to morph.

Over time, the symbol’s meaning started to bifurcate—it was used for the unit pound, and it also started to be used as a number sign. It was important enough to wind up on typewriter keyboards, which helped it survive.

Fast forward to 1963. the invention of the touch tone telephone.
In 1968, Bell Labs  they decided to add keys on either side of the zero. This would make the keypad into a nice even rectangle, and give users a few more options on a phone menu.
Unlike rotary phones, touch tone phones allow you to continue to dial after the connection has been made, enabling the new telephone systems, such as automated menus. Additional buttons, they realized, could be handy in this regard. They settled on the asterisk (*) and the number, or pound sign (#), mostly because they were symbols that they knew computers would be able to recognize and were already on the standard QWERTY keyboard. ...A couple of Bell Labs employees decided to call it an “Octotherp”—a name pretty much pulled out of thin air. (“Octo-” refers to the shapes eight lines that stick out of the sides; “-therp” is completely made up.) “Octotherp” morphed into “octothorpe”
Episode 151: La Mascotte (mascots)
The idea of the mascot came to America by way of a popular French opera from the 1880s called La Mascotte. The opera is about a down-on-his luck farmer who’s visited by a girl named Bettina; as soon as she appears, the farmer’s crops start doing well and his life turns around. The word “mascotte” is a play on the French slang word “masco,” meaning “witch.” Hence, “mascotte” (or the anglicized “mascot”) came to mean a person or thing that brings good luck.
at first, mascots were mostly passive agents that just stood around being lucky. That changed in 1944, at an exhibition game in Hawaii when Joe DiMaggio hit a massive home run off of a pitcher named Max Patkin. Patkin snapped. He ran off the mound and chased after DiMaggio as he rounded the bases, mimicking his home run trot. The crowd loved it. After World War II ended, Patkin stopped being a pitcher and was hired by the Cleveland Indians to draw in and entertain crowds. Patkin was eventually dubbed “The Clown Prince of Baseball.”
Episode 155: Palm Reading  (our fascination with Palm trees)

Reports on theft of public palm trees, noted that a single tree can fetch up to $20,000.
We don’t plant palms for any of the normal reasons we want other trees around. They produce little shade, are difficult to climb, and don’t, for the most part, produce edible fruit. Palm trees, it seems, do something else.  They’re evocative. They’re transportative. They inspire us to dream big. ... Palms trees became a symbol for luxury and leisure.
By 1900, if you stayed at a fancy hotel in any world city—be in San Francisco, or New York, or Paris, or London—you could expect to find a palm court there. Even the RMS Titanic had a palm court. 
Previous summaries can be found here.

Episode 164: The Post-Billiards Age (ivory to plastics)
Episode 163: The Gruen Effect  (shopping malls)
Episode 161: Show of Force (the ghost army)
Episode 160: Perfect Security (Bramah, Chubb and Yale)
Episode 157: Devil’s Rope (barbed wire)

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