Few people have heard of it, yet many consider John Blankenbaker's KENBAK-1 to be the first commercial personal computer.

Koss introduced these headphones over 40 years ago, and they remain affordable favorites to this day.

Wear Your Politics On Your Sleeve... Or Lapel

Pres buttons HLINE
It's been a long, negative, and cynical campaign running for President of the United States. Even those of you living outside of the U.S. haven't been spared this seemingly interminable process. That's to be expected I guess since we have the best country in the world (hooray!), the best political process in the world (wince), the smartest, most enterprising and best-looking citizenry in the world (bewildered smirk), etc. etc.  If all of that could even be true, it sure doesn't feel like it. Can't we just say that we have the best strawberry-rhubarb pie in the world and be content with that?

I shouldn't sound so despondent. This is as close as I get to following a sport. Every four years U.S. citizens get to wear their politics on their sleeves - and their lapels. Campaign buttons have been around since at least the late 1800s when mass production make it easier and cheaper than ever to create a giveaway of a candidate's likeness. Thankfully, buttons are also cheap enough to leave room for funny ones. This election thing is a serious business, but it's nice to sneak in a smile when you're pulling down that lever.

I found a big sack of buttons at a thrift store. All indications are that they are from one person's collection, and there were a number that are politically oriented. Let's have a look at a personal pinback time capsule.

Obama theremin 300pxOkay - this one didn't come from the thrifted bag I just mentioned. I'm a sucker for any candidate who makes swoopy analog music on the first instrument that you didn't have to touch to play. Obama has been portrayed both as some kind of uber-nerd and wizard, it seems like the theremin would be his jam. Obviously this is just a Photoshop composite (and not an especially good one at that), but it reminds us how important it is for a candidate to reach across the aisle - especially if there's a theremin over on that side.

JR Ewing button 250pxPretty much every election inspires TV fans of one polarizing character or another to put him up for president. For those of you who don't remember, J.R. Ewing was from the nighttime soap opera Dallas that ran from 1978 to (unbelievably)1991. The show was all about dirty business, lurid sex, backstabbing, even an "assassination" attempt in the famous "Who shot J.R." cliffhanger that left everyone guessing for months whether the lovable/detestable character was dead or alive. Those all sound like great qualifications to me for any president, past or future.

Women for reagan bush 300pxThis is a more serious "message" button, showing double X chromosome support for the Reagan and Bush presidential run from nearly 30 years ago. Say what you will about how much women ultimately benefited from that ticket, but this button does have a clever feminine reference hidden in plain sight. Look how the "o" atop the "f" are connected to look like the astrological Venus symbol for "female". Nice, eh?

Lead me to your taker 250pxHere's an oldie that's true no matter what year you're casting your vote. Taking off from the sci-fi cliche, "take me to your leader", I've seen this button many times over the years. The idea of the government not just leading, but dipping deep into our pockets is an idea that's always going to be there. Maybe I'll wear this pin today along with one advocating the ruthless J.R. Ewing for president. I have a feeling that these are two buttons that voters on both sides can finally agree on.

[note: please don't turn the comments section into a bully pulpit for either candidate. Jokes and intelligently snide comments are always welcome (heck, they're our bread and butter around here), but we don't want our nice comments section to turn into a screechy mess. Inflammatory or cruel comments will be expunged, Nixon-style.]

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