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The Weekender: on the Rocketeer, Reddit, and the fall of the Berlin Wall

What to do, see, and read this weekend

Good morning, and welcome back to the Weekender. Our weekend journey is just now starting, so thank you for choosing us for your travels. As you may recall, this was the 45th week of the year 2014 on the planet known colloquially as Earth, otherwise known as Terra in other inhabited star systems. It was not a quiet week, as you might imagine. Below you'll find your itinerary, carefully crafted for your pleasure; stories from the week passed and recommendations for the days ahead. Now. Please sit back and relax as we take you on a journey through time and space. You might hear a slight buzzing in your ears as we get started.

Do this

Vintage Camera Day, Alice Austen House

Staten Island's Alice Austen was a trailblazing photographer in her day, one of the few women in the early days of photography to wield a camera. Naturally, she followed the latest technological trends in her field. This Saturday, visitors at the Alice Austen House museum will be treated to talks and demonstrations on vintage photography and image-making. Learn something new this weekend.

Vintage Camera

Lichtgrenze, Berlin Wall site

This Sunday marks the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall. To commemorate the occasion, brothers Christopher and Marc Bauder installed 8,000 illuminated balloons along the original path of the wall. Lichtgrenze, meaning "Light border," is a stunning reminder for Berliners of what once divided their city. The balloons will be released by volunteers on Sunday night. It's a light show you'll want a camera for.


Read this

Uber is recruiting 50,000 vets as drivers—but are they getting taken for a ride?

Uber says that veterans make for better drivers, so it's hoping to hire a whole lot of them. That sounds like great news for all the veterans seeking jobs, but it's far from clear whether the opportunity that Uber's offering is a good one.

Spaceflight's no good, very bad week

After the explosion of the Antares rocket and the disintegration of SpaceShipTwo, what comes next for spaceflight? Private companies will continue to push ahead, but it's going to be a lot easier for some than for others — with the biggest ambitions possibly being delayed for years.

Microsoft had to blindfold me so I could hear the future

Microsoft has created a high-tech headset that's able to guide someone who's blind around a city using little more than some sound. And while this isn't what you usually think of Microsoft working on, it could just be something that we start seeing a lot more of.

Big Hero 6: How one of Marvel's most bizarre comics got Disney-fied

Disney's Big Hero 6 is filled with the kind of soft, lovable characters that you'd expect it to make, but those characters weren't always that way. Take a look back with us at the beautiful and strange comic-book origins of Big Hero 6's eclectic cast of characters.

An interview with the CEO of CurrentC, the merchant-backed app taking on Apple Pay

Dekkers Davidson hasn't been having the best couple of weeks. He's the CEO of the company that makes CurrentC, and he's the man who many see — rightly or not — as the reason that merchants like Walmart are blocking Apple Pay. We caught up with him to find out why retailers think CurrentC is worth fighting for.

The Greatest Story Reddit Ever Told

The Kernel
Kevin Morris profiles Dante "Youngluck" Orpilla, an ex-con whose art and love of Reddit saved him from a long stint in prison.

When Orpilla loaded it up from his home in 2009, Reddit was only on the cusp of its future ubiquity. And he was about to write what should be (and was once) its greatest story—one that has faded into obscurity as the site has exploded in size, becoming little more a memory of a few strings of text that once ran across the screens of thousands of strangers.

The Sixth Stage of Grief Is Retro-computing

Paul Ford grieves for an old friend while reminiscing over ancient software and the connection he feels to them.

Moore’s law, the speed at which technology moves forward, means that the digital past gets smaller every year. So this is what is left are the tracings of hundreds of people, or thousands, who, 20, 30, 40 years ago found each other and decided to fabricate all this…digital stuff. Glittering ephemera. They left these markings and moved on. Looking at the emulated machines feels…big, somehow. Like standing at a Grand Canyon with a river of bright green pixels running along the bottom.

The Hunter, The Hoaxer, And The Battle Over Bigfoot

Tim Stelloh on the ongoing rivalry between two unlikely adversaries in the hunt for the real Big Foot.

There was no deal, and a video soon appeared on YouTube. In it, Dyer is wearing a cowboy hat and a striped short-sleeve button-up. In one hand, he’s holding a bottle of lighter fluid; in the other, he’s waving Meldrum’s book, Sasquatch: Legend Meets Science. "Dr. Jeffrey Douchebag Meldrum," Dyer says to the camera. It’s dark, and Dyer is surrounded by a small audience. He looks like a drunk preacher as he reads aloud: "He knew his footprints were fake, but he thought in his mind, ‘Hey, there’s never going to be anything to compare it to.’ Until Rick Dyer. You’re busted, Mr. Douchebag."

The $9 Billion Witness: Meet JPMorgan Chase's Worst Nightmare

Rolling Stone
Matt Taibbi profiles Alayne Fleischmann, a witness to one of the biggest cases of white-collar crime in American history.

As Fleischmann was waiting for the Justice Department to call, Chase and its lawyers had been going to tremendous lengths to keep her muzzled. A number of major institutional investors had sued the bank in an effort to recover money lost in investing in Chase's fraud-ridden home loans. In October 2013, one of those investors – the Fort Worth Employees' Retirement Fund – asked a federal judge to force Chase to grant access to a series of current and former employees, including Fleischmann, whose status as a key cooperator in the federal investigation had made headlines in The Wall Street Journal and other major media outlets.

How the Hell did NFL Blitz Ever Get Made?

Vice Sports
Aaron Gordon wonders aloud how NFL Blitz, the most violent football game ever made, ever got out from under the NFL's nose and into our homes.

Next thing DiVita knew, they were brutalizing each other with late hits and violent takedowns. DiVita executed flawless piledrivers. Everyone loved them, so he broke out a modified spinebuster, where he mimicked lifting up a ball carrier by his face-mask and shaking him in the air before collapsing to the ground so his victim would land spine-first. The room burst out in hysterics and glee, knowing they had the foundation of a football game unlike any other. "We were like, 'Oh my God, this is so fun," DiVita said. "I can't wait to get it into the game.'" Meanwhile, the NFL hadn't checked in on the project since signing a licensing deal with Midway.

NFL Blitz

Listen to this

Azealia Banks - Broke with Expensive Taste

Azealia Banks' first EP 212 met with critical acclaim back in 2012, and we've been waiting for a full-length album ever since. Two years was worth it, because her debut record Broke with Expensive Taste, released completely by surprise, is already one of the year's best efforts. Both sonically eclectic and a throwback to New York's hip-hop glory days... look, you just need to listen to this. Stop wasting time.

The Smashing Pumpkins - One and All

The Smashing Pumpkins' next album Monuments to an Elegy is due out next month, but fans can enjoy the band's first single in One and All. The track, heavy on the distorted guitars, sounds like it walked out of the '90s — and that's not such a bad thing, especially with Motley Crüe's Tommy Lee on the drums.

Play this

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare - Cross-Platform

A good word to describe how good the latest entry in the Call of Duty might just be sumptuous. It's bright, bombastic, and expensive-looking, throwing you into the series' most progressive installment yet. Its cityscapes glitter, even amidst the chaos of firefight after firefight. And all this despite the constant fetishization of the military industrial complex. Play this game and enjoy it for what it is, even if you're keenly aware of how killing realistic civilians shouldn't be all that fun.


Watch this

The Rocketeer

1991's The Rocketeer is a glorious love-letter to the serials and film reels of the 1930s, complete with an art deco aesthetic and admittedly hokey story. Who wouldn't want to zip around with a jetpack? There's also something of a thrill in watching Terry O'Quinn, otherwise known as Lost's John Locke, play Howard Hughes himself. Check this out on Netflix for a weekend matinee.