Link About It: This Week’s Picks

The reusable rocket that made it back to Earth, light sabers inspired by designers and more in this week's look at the web

1. Otis Johnson on Life After 44 Years in Prison

At the age of 25, Otis Johnson was sentenced to 44 years in prison. Now 69 years old, Johnson is finally free and has re-entered society—albeit a much different one than he left behind. In a video produced by Al Jazeera, Johnson discusses the strangeness of the modern world, including people walking attached to their cellphones, videos playing from store windows, and the ingenious combination of peanut butter and jelly in a single jar. He also opens up about his life after prison and how he now spends his free time—he enjoys sitting in the sunshine and meditating.

2. Tips for Traveling During the Busy Holiday Season

As airports begin to crowd with holiday travelers, there’s bound to be an overbooked, delayed or canceled flight or three. When airline staff begin calling for volunteers to stay behind, don’t panic. As a paying customer, you have an array of legal rights that airlines must abide by. So before accepting a measly flight credit, head to The Hustle to find out how to get cash instead of credit, a hotel voucher if you need to stay a night, or how to avoid being booted from an overbooked flight in the first place.

3. Lightsaber Handles Inspired by Six Iconic Creatives

In a project called “Design X Saber,” Y Studios—a San Francisco-based research company—has envisioned what lightsaber handles might look like had they been designed by six iconic creatives. The proposed sabers were inspired by the exoskeletal aesthetic of architect Zaha Hadid, mid-century modernism of Charles and Ray Eames’ furniture designs, clean lines of industrial designer Dieter Rams’ works and more. Take a look at the design and build process behind each of the new handles at Design Boom.

4. How Candied Yams Became a Thanksgiving Staple

For many, Thanksgiving dinner isn’t complete without a serving of sweet potato casserole aka candied yams. But many don’t know how the sweet and sticky recipe came to be. According to Munchies, a corporation came up with the sweet potato side dish in an attempt to mass-market marshmallows—which had just been introduced—and convince Americans to accept the light and fluffy treats. Apparently it worked, and marshmallow-topped yams is now a Thanksgiving staple. Read more about its history on Munchies.

5. First Reusable Rocket to Land Back on Earth

With its New Shepard rocket, Blue Origin—founded by Amazon co-founder Jeff Bezos—has become the first company to successfully launch a reusable rocket into space and land it safely back on Earth. Blue Origin previously attempted the landing in April, but ultimately failed due to hydraulic issues. Elon Musk’s SpaceX has also been working on a similar maneuver, but has yet to succeed. Until now, rockets have always been design for one-time use but, with this historic feat, consumer space tourism is looking a lot more affordable. Watch New Shepard nail its vertical landing at Popular Science.

6. How Budding Musicians are Escaping Their Internet Past

In the age of the internet, hiding one’s past is nearly impossible, especially for those in the public eye. Before emerging as musical superstars, Ed Sheeran, Sam Smith and FKA Twigs (to name a few) were young artists taking on sometimes embarrassing gigs in hopes of hitting their big break. As Noisey points out, this inescapable past is one of the main troubles plaguing the careers of budding artists. Head to their site to read more.

7. Meet Three NYC-Based Makers Perfecting Their Craft

On a journey to uncover craftsmen from around the world, the Balvenie Commission has traveled to New York to meet and document three NYC-based makers: Max Cohen, Matthias Slavens and Apparatus Studio. At different spaces across the city—from Brooklyn to Queens to Manhattan—each has found a way to invent new perspectives on everyday products—whether that be guitar straps or furniture. Learn more about the three individuals, their creative processes and how they continue to perfect their craft at the Balvenie Commission.

8. Ornella Fieres Blends Images of Space with Otherworldly Effects

For her upcoming exhibition “Looks like you tried to go somewhere that does not exist,” artist Ornella Fieres points out how our Internet browsing tendencies shape the way we view the rest of the world. She’s taken intergalactic images and painted over them with otherworldly digital effects, resulting in photos that distort the way we perceive the universe and what we recognize to be real or altered. “Looks like you tried to go somewhere that does not exist” opens tomorrow, 28 November and runs through 9 January at Berlin’s Sexauer Gallery.

Link About It is our filtered look at the web, shared daily in Link and on social media, and rounded up every Saturday morning.