As a baby boomer, I spent a lot of time endlessly thumbing through Popular Mechanics magazines. They were just so damn practical and useful, populated by a world of deeply handy and capable Americans that were hard not to like.
Things are different now. Americans seem to have different things on their mind such as reducng third world countries to dust and misery or ignoring global warming to the point of calamity. They’re not as easy to like.
Until yesterday when my jaded view of the US took a sudden turn for the better. From my friend Genevieve in Oregon (who is transplanted there under most unusual circumstances) I received a copy ofThe Best of Make: 75 projects from the pages of Make.
Make Magazine is a US Magazine that has only been going for a few years but has found a vast niche market: the people who are the shed tinkerers of the US, the hard rubbish collectors, the try-anything-for-a-bit-of-a-laugh types, the frugal people who never throw anything out because they can see use still in that stuff.
The projects they make a somewhere between art/craft/engineering… and fun. Most important… fun.
At last! We here at the Institute of Backyard Studies salute Make and the many activites they propagate such as Makers Faires and lots of online material (see www.makezine.com)
The book is even better. It starts with a story from Mister Jalopy about trying to repair his car’s non-functional fuel guage which was going to cost over $500. He decided to try to do it himself and ended up finding it was a very simple problem involving a broken clip which would have cost about a dollar.
What the Maker people are about is forcing manufacturers not to do this sort of wasteful foolishness and they pursue with a missionary zeal.
Their Makers Bill of Rights should go up on any respectable shed wall. It includes things like Cases shall be easy to open! Batteries should be replaceable! Special tools are allowed only for darn good reasons! Screws are better than glues! And many others usually relating to electronics (they are very keen on liberating electronics from geekdom).
There’s also an eagerness and openness about sharing ideas and knowledge that is quite infectious.
This book will gladden the heart of any tinkerer and it is especially good for a child who needs to get some hands-on experience and will see some results from that experience. It would be a nice addition to any library in a community men’s shed..