Inside The Stern Pinball Factory, Again

About six months after the Popular Mechanics article about the last great pinball factory, Stearns gets the video treatment from the Onion’s A.V. Club. Stearn is the “oldest and largest designer and manufacturer of arcade-quality pinball games [remaining] on the planet”



I was surprised to learn that about fifty percent of all pinball machines produced by Stern are exported out of the country. Additionally, most of the parts are manufactured in Chicago and the machines are hand assembled. I think if Trump truly wants to throw some money at American manufacturing the pinball machine industry would be a great place to start.

Top 10 Most Banned Books: 2016

Well, here we are again, folks. It’s banned books week. Once again I’m here with a new post listing the top 10 most challenged books during the previous year. During 2016 there were 323 recorded challenges by the ALA and they have brought us a new crop of frequently challenged books. The The Holy Bible had been removed from the list this year. However, this is the first time I’ve ever seen a book or series of books being challenged because of the “criminal sexual allegations against the author“. I think it is also worth noting that half of the list are illustrated.

2016

  1. This One Summer, by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Jillian Tamaki
    Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, drug use, profanity, sexually explicit with mature themes.
  2. Drama, by Raina Telgemeier
    Reasons: Includes LGBT characters, sexually explicit, offensive political viewpoint.
  3. George, by Alex Gino
    Reasons: Includes a transgender child, “sexuality was not appropriate at elementary levels”.
  4. I Am Jazz, by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, and illustrated by Shelagh McNicholas
    Reasons: Portrays a transgender child, language, sex education, offensive viewpoints.
  5. Two Boys Kissing, by David Levithan
    Reasons: Cover has an image of two boys kissing, sexually explicit LGBT content.
  6. Looking for Alaska, by John Green
    Reasons: Sexually explicit scene that may lead a student to “sexual experimentation”.
  7. Big Hard Sex Criminals, by Matt Fraction and illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
    Reasons: Sexually explicit.
  8. Make Something Up: Stories You Can’t Unread, by Chuck Palahniuk
    Reasons: Profanity, sexual explicitness, being “disgusting and all around offensive”.
  9. Little Bill (series), by Bill Cosby and illustrated by Varnette P. Honeywood
    Reasons: Criminal sexual allegations against the author.
  10. Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell
    Reasons: Offensive language.

Read More

I Can’t Stop Thinking About The Eclipse.

2017 Eclipse

I can’t stop thinking about the eclipse.

I thought I pretty much knew what to expect from the 2017 solar eclipse. I understood the science. I had already witnessed a few partial/annular eclipses. I’ve been anticipating the event for a few years now and had read about the sensory changes I could expect to witness. I had a few good viewing locations scoped out with choices depending on the cloud coverage or crowds we might run into that day. My 3 1/2-year-old twins had plenty of food, water, sunscreen, eclipse glasses, and excitement. We were prepared for the event. But I soon learned that nothing could prepare me for the experience.

We had a perfect location on a ridge near Muddy Mountain Wyoming that provided 360 degree views. We were away from the crowds. And most importantly it was cloudless with 2 minutes and 18 seconds of anticipated totality.

We spent an hour watching the partial eclipse and eating a picnic lunch in the shade provided by some old, scraggly, Limber Pines. Eventually, the temperature began to drop slowly. Soon our surroundings dimmed and crickets began to chirp. I found myself caught off guard by the strangeness of my environment. The landscape appeared rosy and dimmed – as if I was wearing sunglasses. My stomach flipped with anticipation and anxiety caused by the surreality of my surroundings.

Quickly, much faster than I anticipated, darkness descended on us. The disorienting passage of time was head-spinning. I took my eclipse glasses off to see if I could see the umbra race toward us from across the valley below. But it happened too quickly. It was with a ridiculous suddenness that the moon’s shadow had shrouded us. I quickly turned around and looked up and saw the eclipsed sun glowing in the sky and my brain turned inside out.

My fingers fumbled around for my camera phone and I somehow managed to capture the image above. I tried to take a video of the “sunset” that surrounded us in every direction, but I only managed to catch these three seconds. I was overwhelmed.

The corona was much more bright and lustrous than I envisioned. It shone bright white and with a jaw dropping brilliance. We were all bewildered with its beauty and absolute strangeness. To look up into the sky and see a sparkling shine, unlike anything I have ever seen in my years of looking at the heavens. To share this with my wife and children.

And then it was gone. And now I can’t stop thinking about the eclipse.

Rare Video Of Bruce Lee Fighting In Competition


This is rare video footage of Bruce Lee fighting in 1967 Long Beach International Karate Championships. In the video, we get a unique look at Lee using his Jeet Kune Do fighting style in actual competition.

Bruce Lee first fights Ted Wong, one of his top students. He then fights Taky Kimura. It will come as no surprise that Bruce easily wins each match. You won’t be able to readily identify either fighter from their likeness because California State regulations prevented fighting without protective gear. However, is easy to discern Lee from his controlled movement and composed demeanor. Lee’s legendary speed and precision are on full display. He remains calm and cool as his opponents nervously jump around, keeping them at bay by repeatedly countering their attacks with a series of lightning-quick blows.

Mister Rogers Marathon

Every Episode Of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood

It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood. Twitch is running a Mister Roger’s Neighborhood marathon that will be showing all 886 episodes of the exceptional children’s program. The marathon is a fundraising effort to celebrate the positive influences of PBS. Feel free to use the donation panel on the linked page to donate to your local PBS station.

The Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood Marathon features the most comprehensive collection of episodes available, including many that only aired once and are unavailable elsewhere online. We will be playing the episodes back to back starting at 12PM Pacific on May 15th.

The marathon is expected to take about 17 days to run all the way through. PBS has more information on the Twitch-PBS partnership here.

Inside The Stearn Pinball Factory

Manufacturing as a whole in America has been suffering. Add to that the fact that video game consoles have entered millions of homes since the early 90s and you have a perfect storm that has resulted in the shuttered and faltering sales of major pinball manufacturers for decades. A great pinball machine requires a vast amount of craftsmanship, and one of largest producing places you’ll find that kind of work happening today is at Stern Pinball. Last month Popular Mechanics went inside of Stearn Pinball manufacturing facility to see how a 21st-century pinball machine comes together. It examines the process by dividing it into four main sections:

  • Finding a license
  • Designing the game
  • Sub-Assembly
  • Assembly and testing
  • While there won’t be anything new in the article for enthusiasts, it is an excellent primer on pinball manufacturing in America. What pinball machines and manufacturers has sold the most over the years? The table below could give some insight.

    The Highest Selling Pinball Machines Of All Time

    A list of all pinball machines that have sold 10,000 or more units, Source: IPDB
    YearName  (Click to display that game)MFGProd.Rating
    1932BallyhooBally50,000*8.8
    1990FunhouseWilliams10,750*8.1
    1976FireballBally10,000*6.3
    1992The Addams FamilyMidway20,2708.2
    1977Eight BallBally20,2307.1
    1979FlashWilliams19,5057.6
    1978PlayboyBally18,2507.4
    1980FirepowerWilliams17,4107.8
    1986High SpeedWilliams17,0807.9
    1979KissBally17,0006.9
    1979Star TrekBally16,8427.1
    1978Mata HariBally16,2607.8
    1976Capt. Fantastic and The Brown Dirt CowboyBally16,1557.8
    1993Twilight ZoneMidway15,2358.4
    1991Terminator 2: Judgment DayWilliams15,2028.0
    1979Harlem Globetrotters On TourBally14,5507.5
    1987F-14 TomcatWilliams14,5027.7
    1979GorgarWilliams14,0007.5
    1977Evel KnievelBally14,0007.5
    1978Power PlayBally13,7507.4
    1992Fish TalesWilliams13,6408.0
    1992The Getaway: High Speed IIWilliams13,2598.0
    1980Black KnightWilliams13,0757.9
    1978Strikes and SparesBally12,8207.6
    1993Indiana Jones: The Pinball AdventureWilliams12,7168.3
    1976Royal FlushGottlieb12,2507.9
    1986PIN·BOTWilliams12,0017.9
    1978SinbadGottlieb12,0007.6
    1993Star Trek: The Next GenerationWilliams11,7288.3
    1976Space MissionWilliams11,6527.8
    1980Space InvadersBally11,4007.7
    1980XenonBally11,0007.8
    1982Mrs. Pac-Man PinballBally10,6007.1
    1976Grand PrixWilliams10,5547.5
    1992Star WarsData East10,4008.0
    1992Lethal Weapon 3Data East10,3507.5
    1980Silverball ManiaBally10,3507.4
    1979SupersonicBally10,3407.0
    1978Lost WorldBally10,3307.0
    1978The Six Million Dollar ManBally10,3207.2
    1975Spirit of 76Gottlieb10,3007.6
    1976AztecWilliams10,1507.7
    1976Surf ChampGottlieb10,0707.7
    1975Wizard!Bally10,0057.9
    1981Flash GordonBally10,0007.9
    Plastic Pants

    Hot Pants?

    Plastic Pants

    Retailer TopShop is selling clear, plastic, jeans for a meager $100. I would argue that they are really selling clear, plastic, capri pants but whatever. TopShop says,

    Think outside the box with these out-of-the-ordinary clear plastic jeans – guaranteed to get people talking. In a straight leg cut, they feature classic pockets detailing and are cropped at the ankle bone. Ideal as a statement piece for a festival or costume party, take the look to the extreme with a bikini and sequin jacket or dress down, layered under an oversized jumper or asymmetric hem dress.

    If these are your style have a look at TopShop’s pink, vinyl, jamie jeans.

    via Boing Boing