The Soul of America – We Are All Amateurs

The Soul of America – We Are All Amateurs

No matter where you are in America – the United States of America – you’re within shouting distance of an amateur. Maybe it’s a garage tinkerer, a homebrew geneticist, DIY archaeologist, or “self-taught sky-buffs” fabricating home telescopes that rival the technical ability of major institutions. These characters and their creations are explored in This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt’s newly published book, Bunch of Amateurs, which hits stands today.

America’s self-invented tinkerers are back at it in their metaphorical garages—fiddling with everything from solar-powered cars to space elevators. In Bunch of Amateurs, Jack Hitt visits a number of different garages and has written a fascinating book that looks at America’s current batch of amateurs and their pursuits. From a tattooed young woman in the Bay Area trying to splice a fish’s glow-in-the-dark gene into common yogurt (all done in her kitchen using salad spinners) to a space fanatic on the brink of developing the next generation of telescopes from his mobile home, Hitt not only tells the stories of people in the grip of a passion but argues that America’s history is bound up in a cycle of amateur surges.

In celebration of the amateur spirit, we’re giving away a bunch of prizes (including an Orion 90mm refractor telescope) starting today and in the coming weeks – more information after the jump.

For our first prize we’re giving away an Orion AstroView 90mm refractor telescope. Also included is an adjustable tripod and multiple eyepieces for various star-gazing applications. Celestial objects in the night sky will appear bright as day with this awesome entry-level telescope. You can find more information on this device on the manufacturer’s website.

To enter to win: all you have to do is leave a comment below! Comments left before May 17th @ 11:59PM PST will be considered to win this prize. Be sure to leave a valid email so we can contact you if you win. Feel free to tell a story about your own amateur pursuits, although this is not necessary – just leave a comment! For complete rules please click here.

We’ll be offering two more prizes, on Tuesday May 29th & Tuesday June 12th, accompanied by interviews with the author Jack Hitt – be sure to check back then for another chance to win!

These prizes are provided by The Crown Publishing Group, publishers of Bunch of Amateurs.

582 thoughts on “The Soul of America – We Are All Amateurs

  1. drakechristensen says:

    I want that telescope!

  2. Joe says:

    i want a telescope!

  3. Kirk Pearson says:

    *Insert witty comment about wanting a telescope.*

  4. amddude says:


  5. acceber says:

    I have loved the stars too fondly to be fearful of the night. i love that telescope!

  6. meg says:


  7. Emmanuel Mota says:

    Looking forward to reading the book! Oh man… I want to do astrophotography so bad.. I would put that telescope to use!

  8. Lobo says:

    Telescope please!

  9. davidcdean says:

    Everyone wants a telescope. If anyone is interested, it looks like this book is way cheaper on amazon, new in hardcover.

    1. Sherry Blythe says:

      This would be an awesome introduction for my son!!

  10. Andrew says:

    Those guys want that telescope!

    (And, so do I.)

  11. Carm says:

    It would be nice to have a telescope of my own.

  12. mmayers says:

    Count me in!

  13. Matt says:

    Telescopes ROCK, plus I’m an amateur at almost everything, gotta try it all once.

  14. Michael M. says:

    …I’d quite like one.

  15. Owen Marshall says:

    A reply has been left. Will it be found and replaced with a telescope? Only time shall tell.

  16. Erdem Dilbaz says:

    I want to live in USA for a while!

  17. Chad B Thompson says:

    very nice

  18. Nick O'Neill (@nickoneill) says:

    Telescope would be fun!

  19. fiid says:

    Definately an amateur here, and proud of it! :)

  20. Bruce Skelly says:

    Hey me too.

  21. lokeuei says:

    Awesome telescope!!

  22. Andrew says:

    I’d use the telescope every night! Thanks for the opportunity.

  23. Thomas Doggette says:

    Alas! I’m a professional.

    A professional who WANTS A TELESCOPE.

  24. plcorb says:

    This looks like a great book, and one that tells a better story of how many Americans use their leisure time more productively than consumer culture would lead us to believe.

  25. Jane piecuch says:

    day dreaming about star gazing through such refracting amazing scope!

  26. Marty200 says:

    I would love the telescope.

  27. Robert Lagerman says:

    Go Makers!!! I have an 11 yearold son who is a huge fan who would take that telescope apart and build a sensor array out of it allowing for power to be re-routed to the main deflector shield and saving all life in the universe!!!

  28. Henry says:

    Who wouldn’t want one?

  29. cubeberg says:

    My kids would love the telescope!

  30. matt (@mattthemaker) says:

    Having a telescope would be a wonderful thing.

  31. repurposer says:

    The spirit of the inventor is truly immutable. Now, onward ye dilettantes an make professional your amateur methods!

  32. Jane piecuch says:

    MAKE my star gazing dreams come true

  33. Sasha Woodward says:

    In college, I was actually on a track to be an astronomer for a while, but decided it was too difficult. I feel so sad having given that up, and I feel sad for everyone who thinks they can’t make a difference because they’re not a professional scientist. Before all these fancy degrees, anyone could be a scientist. Power to the amateurs!

  34. smileyfacetech says:

    I want to see stars!

  35. Jeff Wheeler says:

    My nephew and I love stargazing!! And this telescope would be a wonderful surprise for him. :)

  36. Ted Breyere (@TeddyElectron) says:

    Telescope, yes. The kids would love it.

  37. ERay says:

    Wheeeeeeeeee!!!! Telescope…and good article! :-)

  38. bár says:

    i do wanna the telescope :D

  39. Noah B says:

    I’ve had a New Year’s goal to get more familiar with the night sky…

  40. Tara Roehl says:

    Count me in! What a beauty that one is – love love love looking at the stars!

  41. Craig McCoy says:

    Amateur telescope-winner, reporting in.

  42. Eddie Muro says:

    I would love to win that telescope for my son, he is only 5 but he loves the planets and stars.

  43. SiliconFarmer says:

    I hope it comes with a camera adapter. If not, I’ll just have to make one on my 3D printer.

  44. Walter Williams says:

    My kids would so love the chance to be Astronomy geeks!

  45. Art Gever/Peter J Grady says:

    One of my favorite quotes I heard listening to Pale Blue Dot by Sagan on the audio book as I drove across the desert – “TELESCOPES ARE TIME MACHINES”. Awesome! I got home a week later & bought my daughter a telescope!

    Pete Grady/ – Art Gever on FB

  46. mauimaker says:

    The telescope would be an awesome addition to our Makerspace. We are the amateurs who occasionally hang out with the pro’s up at the UH Institute for Astronomy here on Maui. jerry at

  47. Mitch Sweeney says:

    Would be good to teach my son how to use a telescope

  48. Rich Magahiz (@richmagahiz) says:

    90 mm aperture? That sounds pretty great.

  49. Martin J. says:

    I got gifted a half working Bausch & Lomb telescope. Since it wouldn’t work with the eye pieces I grabbed some PVC pipe that would fit inside and grafted the body cap of my DSLR onto it (with a hole cut in the center). I now have essentially a 900mm lens and have managed to get a picture of Jupiter with all 4 Galilean moons, I was so excited! It would be awesome to have a real working telescope too!

    1. Art Gever/Peter J Grady says:

      Nice work man!

  50. Morgan says:

    “How far away the stars seem, and how far is our first kiss, and ah, how old my heart.”

  51. bill (@bkatsma) says:

    Send one my way :-)

  52. Bill Morgan says:

    Count me in!

  53. Wcoates says:

    Really looking forward to reading this book!

  54. jefro says:

    Would love to set up a sun funnel with this scope

  55. ccsccs7 says:

    There are so many talented people out there! I had visions of doing crazy things that were hardly practical, but that doesn’t stop some people.


  56. Rocky says:


  57. renee121 says:

    As a painter, I delight in all the amazing, creative, crazy fun creations at the Maker Faire. Alas I can only dabble with line, shape, space, texture, form and value in a two dimensional manner. I can’t wait to see the show in San Mateo this weekend!

  58. Lillian says:

    I don’t think I reach even amateur-level skills in so many areas that fascinate me, including astronomy, but I’m working on it — one garden, one knitted shawl, one Coursera course at a time.

  59. andrea carter wilson says:

    I love sky watching, and would make great use of this telescope!

  60. Paul says:

    Looks like a great book. Can’t wait to read!

  61. Carl Hazen says:

    i would like to share that telescope with my 8th graders at a starparty.

  62. Michael T. says:

    Carver would be quite happy with this renaissance.

  63. Steven W. says:

    I’m going to go check this book out right now on Amazon! BTW can’t wait for this weekends maker faire!

  64. spaceinmyface says:

    I’d use this to watch the sky with my kids!

  65. Yarrow says:

    This would be a much cooler way to look at the stars with my 5yr old daughter than on the computer!

  66. Paul says:

    Looks like a great book. Can’t wait to read it!

  67. Generz says:

    I’ve been enjoying my old telescope that I got as a kid recently (an old TASCO with a “Watch Haley’s Comet!” sticker on the box)… there is a lot to look at one the moon!

  68. Kim says:

    I’ve always wanted to see the stars and constellations a little closer. I’m always looking at the stars.

  69. colin landrum says:

    size matter

  70. Earl says:

    Venus said, “What a big telescope you have”
    I’ll say, “All the better to see you with!”

  71. Awesome g says:

    Omg can’t wait to see the stars in my telescope…..oh the book sounds cool too

  72. Lawgo says:

    I look forward to turning this telescope into a home brew Portal 2 weapon replicate. And yea, you guessed it, it will have lasers. PEW PEW PEW!

  73. Mauro Hernandez says:

    I love this new ” renaissance” outlook on life now a days. I think its so important to not be content with what they show to us, and try to figure life out ourselves. Maker faire gives this ideology the great push and support it needs.

  74. David Melinkoff says:

    Here is my response. In college, I had a strong interest in astronomy, but when I went through the Engineering building to find the astronomy department (housed for some reason next to engineering) there was a prominent sign outside of the departmental office indicating that there was virtually no work in astronomy, and there was no point in trying to sign up for astronomy classes as nobody studying in the department was likely to ever make a living at it. Good grief!

  75. Lisa Macchia-Ohliger says:

    Would love a high powered scope. Our whole family loves looking at the night sky and enjoying its lovely sights!

  76. Debra D. says:

    I hope to win the telescope.

  77. Brad Horeftis says:

    I was here!

  78. landisb says:

    Goodness, both me and my 7 year old would have a blast with a pretty, new telescope:)

  79. Scott Norlin says:

    I would love to win this telescope! Always wanted a telescope again since my parents took back the one I received for Christmas when I was a kid because it was broken.

  80. Brandy Smith-Horeftis says:

    Doing an exhibit on the sun at the Maker Faire this weekend. I need to learn about the stars and moon now. (hoping this comment posts, as I dont think my others did)

  81. Joe Ratulowski says:

    Telescope is mine! MINE!

  82. Morgan Whaley says:

    I’m in!

  83. Jeff Schmidt says:

    This book sounds very interesting! I’ll definitely have to check it out.

  84. Kozz says:

    Love listening to Jack Hitt on TAL, and my boys would love to learn about telescopes. We were talking about them just yesterday.

  85. bonni says:

    i have always wanted a telescope!!!

  86. lechef27 says:

    I’ve always wanted a telescope so that I can look out in the nightsky and see planets among stars!!

  87. Mike szewczyk says:

    Wow, I saw this on twitter. Can’t wait to get home to download the book!

  88. Don Miller says:


  89. Daniel J. Grinkevich says:

    I’ll take one!

  90. Adam Hoke says:

    Although the telescope would be great, I just want to be able to go to Makerfaire! Its on my bucket list!!!!!! Make on!

  91. william petty says:

    The book is a great idea..From sculpting odd lamps and mobiles,and making toys all from found objects I’ve delighted in building these things and having openings.I suppose the best thing so far was the drum set {Trap set} I made from lamp parts and cans; called the CAN TRAPtion. -Or was it the lighted ball that spun around so fast that it rotated at frightening speeds? The motorized device with wheels called the Pest Chaser was a hit. Found object Art predetermines what it will become.Disparate things just fit together.. OOh Yes.. I would love the telescope..What is more inspiring than the stars?

  92. dwgsp says:

    I’d go bonkers for the telescope! And the book sounds cool, too.

  93. Jon Bittner says:

    Pick me, pick me!

  94. Nate says:

    It’s full of stars!

  95. rateofchange says:

    I have studied astronomy extensively while in college and borrowed telescopes from my friends on more than a few occasions. Despite this, I am ashamed to admit I have never actually owned a telescope in my life.

  96. Barry says:

    If I had a telescope, I could be out standing in a field.

  97. fyodorena says:

    My chemistry professor says if I stand in a deep enough well that keeps sunlight from reaching my eyes, I’ll be able to see all the stars above us clearly, even during the day. But until I find a deep enough well, I’d like this telescope please!

  98. funderwood says:

    I like makeing things look bigger

  99. Tom says:

    I used to be an amateur astronomer, but I had to sell my telescope when I moved cross country and couldn’t take it with me. A replacement would be great!

  100. Kumiko Iwamoto says:

    me amateur too! looking forward to going to Maker Faire this weekend… nice telescope!

  101. Jamil says:


  102. Bob says:

    That would be awesome

  103. Gerard Holder says:

    I can really use this telescope!

  104. Cai Maver says:

    One of my earliest memories was when I was maybe 4 years old and my family moved out of San Francisco and down the peninsula away from the city lights. I had never seen so many stars before! Shortly after moving, our new neighbors set up their large telescope and invited out family over to have a look. I got to look at Saturn and it looked just like a marble with a ring around it. I spent the next 8 years or so completely absorbed in the idea of exploring space. It was a defining moment for me and turned me towards a life of scientific inquiry and exploration.

    If I were to win this telescope, I’d use it to give my son the same introduction that I got (though if I don’t win this, I appreciate the reminder that I’ll need to get access to a telescope in the near future). The book looks like a good read too, thanks Make!

  105. Chris S. says:

    For a while Ive always wanted to get into amateur astronomy. Ive been using my SX130 IS to take photos of Orions Belt, but the photos arent to my liking. Id Love to have this telescope :)

  106. Angela says:

    Love to win this!

  107. Paul Schaffner says:

    There is nothing greater than spending a night out in a field with a few close friends, sharing the amazement of the incredible universe we live in. I’d love to win this telescope for planetary viewing! Venus is incredible right now and all I can see it as is through NASA’s virtual telescope…

  108. James Staton Richardson says:

    The other night I saw my first nebula in the Orion constellation. The next object I want to find is the Andromeda Galaxy, our nearest neighbor galaxy. I am definitely an amateur. I’ve built two CNC machines in my garage from old copier parts and a controller I soldered together myself. I make my own soap even the lye from soaking ashes in rain water. I put linux on devices that were never meant to have it. I tweak and tinker an void warranties all in the name of wanting to learn or try to make something new or better. I love being an amateur. I will definitely check out this book.

  109. Chris Douglas says:

    I am ordering this book. Looking very much forward to reading it.

  110. BeautifulJapan (@BeautifulJapan) says:

    I would love to get this for my husband in time for Father’s day.

  111. Marc Tyler says:

    There is an idea that persists in this country that it is money that fuels innovation. This idea has been foisted upon us by people who, while they may understand money, have no concept of what it is to be possessed by an idea. Innovation, invention comes from another, deeper place. Money does not fuel innovation, but it does lubricate it.

    1. plcorb says:

      Well said. In most parts of the United States, people innovate with what they have. They make do. Spending any real money on their avocation is a luxury. But, they keep a craft alive, even innovate, through sweat equity and passion.

  112. Tim Bibo says:


  113. backtothefront says:

    Telescope! Thank you MAKE!

  114. slwild1 says:

    This is very nice- I wouldn’t mind a telescope myself. I promise to take star pictures!

  115. Whitney says:

    For my boyfriend’s dad!

  116. johonn says:

    Wow, I’d love to have a telescope! Not only would I use it just for looking through, but I’d pair it with my DSLR and take pictures that I never could before of the heavenly bodies!

  117. James Hotelling says:

    Yay comment! Double-yay telescopes!

  118. Tim says:

    I wanna see some stars!

  119. Robert says:

    Amateur is accessible for all – and elevates our collective game.

  120. Michelle Huston says:

    What a wonderful sounding book, and thanks, Make, for bringing it to our attention. As a daughter of an incurable tinkerer, I look forward to some oddly familiar stories about people I’ve never met.

  121. jm says:

    I always wanted a telescope. Maybe I’ll win this one. :-) Thanks Make Magazine!

  122. clide says:

    That’s a great looking telescope

  123. Trent Fisher says:

    I’d love to have a telescope, a much better way to see stars than a blow to the head.

  124. pack215 says:

    Our Cub Scout Pack would love to use this with 1st-5th graders for years to come! We are looking forward to bringing our Scouts to the Bay Area Maker Faire this weekend!

  125. Jay says:


  126. Jennifer says:

    Looks like a good read! (and a great telescope! ;) )

  127. Johnathan Burton says:

    Can’t wait for Maker Faire…looking foward to bringing R2-D2! He says he needs a new telescope. ;)

  128. seanosteen says:

    comment left

    …oh, and looking forward to reading the book as well :)

  129. Tricia says:

    The book sounds fascinating! Will request it from my library. My library also has telescopes to loan, but it would be way more awesome to own one ourselves…

  130. Pat Arneson (@noise_is_life) says:

    Looks like a cool book. I would love a telescope.

  131. dusrin anderson says:

    my son would totally flip over an actual working telescope! i would lovr to learn more about space with him!

  132. FredB says:

    This would make a nice companion to my 80mm Celestron binoculars. I built a mount from an old tripod and some things just laying around the garage.

  133. Kathy Ceceri says:

    I’d love to see the rings of Saturn…

  134. Mike Linnell says:

    Ha if you give me a telescope I will see Uranus !!!!

  135. Amanda King says:

    Mostly I try to feel big and confident…to see the stars so clearly would make me feel so small in the best way possible…and now I’m daydreaming of stargazing.

  136. Maria says:

    That sounds cool. I hope I win :-D

  137. John Coxen says:

    A Homebrewer who’s starting to dabble in Arduino’s married to a Candle/Chain Mail/Jewelry maker. I’d love to add Astronomy to the list…especially since I live about 30 miles from one of the darkest night viewing sites in the Eastern US.

  138. drew tomita says:

    I can spy on my neighbors with that thing!

  139. parichards says:

    My kids and I would love a nice new telescope!

  140. Mark Hulme says:

    Here’s to the amateur – long may s/he reign!

  141. Jeff Carter says:

    Would be sweet for the upcoming summer camping trips to the mountains

  142. Eric Hall says:

    Woohoo! Nice telescope.

  143. zof says:

    I can’t actually believe I don’t already own a telescope, I figured in childhood that would defiantly be one of the things I would own when I was an adult. Well heres my chance!

  144. matthewcgood says:

    Looks like a great book, added to my wishlist.

  145. Matt Craver says:

    Would like a telescope

  146. doug messinger says:

    This book sounds great. It has always been my dream to invent something.

  147. Elizabeth Pierce says:

    Amatuers become entreprenuers become success stories becme the American dream

  148. Bob Stack says:

    use it some nights and share it with the a2geeks community the rest of the time…

  149. tom piecuch says:


  150. benddennis says:

    Just trying to live the DIY dream. Owning this telescope would be magical!

  151. Richard Clemens says:

    Everything from looking for comets to building a homebrew weather station I am always working on a project. Lately it has been focused on keeping our earth green and making a difference in my community.

  152. O.A. Rondon says:

    My amateur story involves a nail, a hammer, a finger, and a lack of coordination. You won’t need a telescope to uncover the outcome.

  153. Sean Lavery says:

    Jack of All Trades, Master of None? Renaissance Guy? Toad of Toad Hall – that’s me…
    New telescope means new hobby

  154. Jesse Cunningham says:

    Yeah, stars are pretty cool.

  155. Dana says:

    Great article! I can’t wait to read Bunch of Amateurs!

  156. Steve Hefter says:

    Very nice. My son loves looking at the stars!

  157. TSlagle says:

    Would be nice to win something for my boys

  158. Brian Korn says:

    Just what the kids need

  159. misssilvestris says:

    That is a very nice looking telescope. Maybe MAKE could do a DIY astronomy month? There are tons of cool projects for adults and kids to do. Astral photography, grinding your own lenses, simple optics systems, and dark site discussions among other things.

  160. funvill says:

    Cool, Winning this would awesome

  161. Steve Hefter says:

    Very nice. Love stargazing with our son !

  162. Jason says:

    I like the author’s name… Jack Hitt. Say it quickly.

  163. Jason says:

    Very nice

  164. Jason says:

    Very nice.

  165. parker says:

    I live in the middle of nowhere and my son would LOVE to use this telescope with me.

  166. Dan Clark says:

    This looks like a pretty interesting book!

  167. sfrockdr says:

    Some of us amateurs would use something like that on Sunday to go see the annular eclipse (only with a solar filter, of course). But only AFTER going to the Maker Faire (for the first time) with my son on Saturday!!! See you there.

  168. rob says:

    count me in

  169. april says:

    this would be so cool!

  170. Susan says:

    This would thrill our Cub Scout pack as we are encouraging all of our kids to get their Astronomy badges before our next recognition ceremony! As for amateur endeavors, I’m just starting to gather ideas as my 9 year old is exploring much. On his own accord, he’s been exploring concepts of electrical circuitry including use of conductive paints and/or conductive thread to make his own light up projects in recent months with leds and batteries and anything else in his path that can be tweeked with little lights.

  171. Tess Elliott says:

    I come from a long line of amateurs, and as an artist it opened me up to that wonderful state of mine only a tinkerer would understand: to play with something physical and learn how you can do something with it that it wasn’t made to do. Things get recycled, and re-purposed. It’s passion doing something really fun and maybe even something useful! Americans are dreamers in the best sense of that word.

  172. Chad says:

    I would love to win this for my kids.

  173. Sarah says:

    Me! I would love to read this book and win a telescope.

  174. Tony Prichard says:

    This book looks great. And I want to look at stars.

  175. Shirley says:

    want to look at the stars.

  176. Nathan n says:

    The Wright brothers definitely came to mind when I read this!

  177. Gary E.Fassauer says:

    As a artist of the abstract and real creations I sure feel like a amateur on some of the projects, as of lately I have been interested in using more interactive creations that the viewer of my creations would enjoy. Telescope to expand my reality, very interesting thought and the Bunch of Amateurs a great idea.That’s how we learn.

  178. lysa filcek says:

    ohhh, a telescope! my Makers in training would love one of those. See you Saturday!

  179. beaalvarez says:

    It would be great to enjoy this beautiful telescope looking at the solar eclipse on Sunday, I’ll be at maker faire this weekend so I can pick it up :) get it ready for me!!!!

  180. mimir557 says:

    I have always dreamed of a telescope! Albeit, being in Southern California I need to get away a bit for a good view.

  181. Jeffrey Murray says:

    There are 60 nights in a Pacific Northwest year that a telescope is any good. So I want to be ready for one.

  182. Neil hunt says:

    What can you find with a 90mm telescope? Be fun to find out!

  183. Elden W says:

    this would be awesome

  184. Miguel says:

    I’ve recently started exploring cnc technology and am looking forward to building my own cnc from scratch. Novice? Amateur? Right on.

  185. Neil hunt says:

    What can you see with a 90mm telescope? Be fun to find out!

  186. J. SHEPARDSON says:


  187. Ryan Shiroma says:

    o wow! Would love to take this out for a summer camping trip!

  188. Mohamed Iqbal Pallipurath says:

    Refractors? Hope there is no chromatic aberration in the one I get.

  189. Mohammad g issa says:

    I want a telescope , to see the make mag. On the moon

  190. Kanmahr says:

    I wish I may, I wish I might
    Win a telescope by tonight

  191. Kris Lee says:

    I never win something but it is always worth to try. This one would be quite improvement over what we have now.

  192. Dan Bramos says:

    I’d like the telescope like everyone else, but I found my next book, too!

  193. gregjsmith says:

    Pick me! Pick me!

  194. kurtroedeger says:

    Wow, the comments are piling up.

  195. rodaniel says:

    Never thought of “amateur” as a label I’d proudly wear, but now…

    I’m looking forward to reading the book and my son would love that telescope!

  196. thaspius says:

    I would love a telescope. I’ve not had one since I was quite young. As a side note, the “Leave a reply form” is broken in Chrome 18.0.1025.168 m, Firefox 9.0.1, and IE 8.0.6001.

  197. Brian Givens says:

    A telescope would be awesome! And the book looks interesting, I’ll have to add it to my Amazon list!

  198. elentir says:

    Yes, please.

  199. Colin Faulkingham says:


  200. bot719 says:

    This would be nice to have.

  201. Kristen Sutherland says:

    Awesome! Pick me? :)

  202. Mark says:

    Can’t wait to read the book!

  203. Nancy Ely says:

    As an archaeologist, I’ll be interested to see what he has to say about DIY archaeology…

  204. David says:

    I want to DIY everything.

  205. Zack says:

    I assume it ended yesterday? But in case it didn’t I’m going to leave a comment now

  206. Dewayne says:

    Amateur astronomy would be next on my list!

  207. rlindqui says:

    This book is now on my to-read list.

  208. Reggie Dablo says:

    comment: want.

  209. Maker Dan says:

    This book looks pretty interesting. I hope it’s also in the Kindle store!! :)

  210. clare kildare says:

    Nifty and inspiring!

  211. Louis says:


  212. Chris Maurice says:

    And queue one of the most commented stories in some time. If only the signal to noise ratio was higher I’d try looking through them for peoples amateur greatness. I am constantly amazed by the activities that are moving into reach of the dedicated tinkerer.

  213. equality7 says:

    It’s been years since I’ve gazed through a telescope. Would love to have one again for me and the kids!

  214. pns72 says:

    I’m picking this book up asap. I love learning about people and what they do in their garages.

  215. Joseph says:

    I love being an amateur – it means I can have multiple hobbies with no pressure to commit huge swaths of time to any of them. I can brew beer, hack a circuit, build a table, and bike to work. I may never win any competitions, but I have a lot of fun.

  216. tributeautomotive says:

    Viewing the moons orbiting Jupiter with my kids, seeing their faces light up in that AHA! moment that Galileo must have had was priceless. Telescope. WANT!

  217. Andrew Huntley says:

    It’s great to finally see Makers getting some form of mainstream press what what they do. I’m looking forward to this book…although I wouldn’t say no to a telescope…

  218. Daniel Morgan says:

    Love the book cover!

  219. J.R. says:

    Very nice prize! Thanks for the chance.

  220. Gary Ferguson says:

    Pick me, please.

  221. jim Willaims says:

    I am an amature.. lets make something.

  222. rolisemeka says:

    :- ) awesome giveaway! My son and I, as well as radom neighbourhood kids I hustle to “look up”, have been tracking the path of the moon since winter, we love it! Would love to have them see more, especially since we will be planting biodynamically ;-) ….great giveaway guys!

  223. James Valentine says:


  224. Christopher Schoenhals says:

    I hope this helps to reinspire people to work hard at your dreams. Don’t settle and don’t take no for an answer. I can’t wait to read the book.

  225. xanthicsky says:

    I want to gaze at the stars.

  226. Toyotero says:

    In for a shot at it. Cheers.

  227. Mean Gene says:

    That’s a sweet looking telescope.

    Btw, if anyone has not yet seen these, check them out: Sagan’s Xmas Lectures 1977

  228. Jack S. says:

    Telescope is on my list. Amateur? Definitely.

  229. Tcoyle says:

    New book for summertime reading.

  230. Pierre says:

    Please pick me. I’d love this telescope.

  231. Manuel McLure says:

    I could definitely use a decent refractor!

  232. seapigg says:

    This would make a great birthday gift for my little girl.

  233. djnastyc says:

    It’s not for me, it’s for my wife!

  234. Jaime G. says:

    Live to make.

  235. Gabe says:

    I could put that to good use.

  236. gigagyaan says:

    I want this telescope…thanks

  237. Cederholm says:

    I’m an amateur on so many levels! :)

  238. TheCraiggers says:

    Woooo, telescopes! Always wanted one.

  239. Dan says:

    There are days when I feel like an amateur in everything I do! :-)

  240. Trebu says:

    Last Comment.

  241. Greg J says:

    As a Canadian, I find the part of the post that says, “No matter where you are in America – the United States of America – you’re within shouting distance of an amateur,” a little arrogant. Considering people in Canada and Canadian amateurs invented stuff like the telephone (Bell was Scottish, living in Canada, when he came up with the idea for the phone), and basketball (Naismith was a Canadian living in the US), it would appear the US doesn’t hold any particularly special claim to amateurism.

    In fact, it could likely be argued that because of the remoteness of some of Canada’s people, there might even be more amateurs per capita than in the US. You can’t just order stuff off Amazon Prime and have it UPS’ed overnight, so you’ve got to tinker, and modify, and make do….

    1. davidcdean says:

      That quote isn’t exclusionary. Nobody said anything negative about Canada. No reason to get all cranky and offended.

    2. Nick Normal says:

      hi Greg. Thanks for reading. And I couldn’t disagree with you more. American amateurism is distinctly unique. As Hitt points out, the Franklin-inspired phrase “pursuit of Happiness” (with a capital H) from the Declaration of Independence is something deeply rooted in the American psyche – something my Canadian friends (from Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver, Nova Scotia, cities with cultures as diverse as America) acknowledge they simply don’t (can’t) relate to. If you disagree I would encourage you to write about Canadian amateurism – I don’t think the game of basketball debunks my claim.

      1. Nick Normal says:

        And to be clear I mean our idea/version of amateurism is unique; I’m not proclaiming that amateurism only exists in America.

  242. Alan Anderson says:

    Homeschooler in need of educational tools!

  243. Kelly says:

    I definitely will check out this book.

  244. Dante says:

    I am nothing, if not an amatuer, in almost all things. And for that, I feel I deserve a prize.

  245. Angie says:

    I need an upgrade to my telescope..

  246. Dwayne says:

    Me wants… me needs the telescope.

  247. EJ says:


  248. Lynne Whitehorn says:

    But I’m not a professional commenter

  249. GCF says:

    Telescopes are pretty cool. I’ll have one!

  250. Dan says:

    This book sounds great. nice competition too.

  251. Michal Chamedes says:

    Choose me! Choose me! I want a telescope!

  252. PM says:

    The recent views of Venus and the Moon within such close proximity to each other would have been even more spectacular with a telescope…I am wishing upon a star to receive this wonderful gift…Thank you!

  253. Christoph says:

    Thank you for this salute. Amateurs often bring a fresh way of looking at a problem and innovative new solutions.

  254. Patrick says:

    What a fantastic topic. It makes me swell with pride to think of the creative thinkers and innovators that spend their own time an money to accomplish great things here I our country.

  255. Patrick says:

    What a fantastic topic. It makes me swell with pride to think of the creative thinkers and innovators that spend their own time and money to accomplish great things here in our country.

  256. Woodblock Printmaking with Ayu Tomikawa | House of Mods says:

    […] Patrick: What a fantastic topic. It makes me swell with pride to think of the creative thinkers and innovator… […]

  257. Calvin says:

    I am an amateur and so can you.

  258. Mark A. Yoder says:

    My kids could put that scope to use too.

  259. Charles Haase says:

    Ooh… that scope is just ripe for attaching some stepper motors for long exposures! I want one.

  260. Anthony Murillo (@geekdadof6) says:

    Please pick me… me and my twin 6 yr old daughters would love to explore the night sky with this.

  261. Kristina says:

    My personal goal would be to bike up Mount Hamilton, and look up into the stars with this refractor telescope. And see the beauty of the skies.

  262. Jacob says:

    I’ve been thinking about setting up a telescope in my backyard, this would be perfect.

  263. OneEyedJimmy says:

    Dreaming is the key to our future. Go get some sleep.

  264. kim J says:

    nice! I wanna win!

  265. EJ says:

    I’ve so enjoyed getting back to making in the last year. So many of my generation, like Lady Ada and her ilk, lost sight of he fact that they were playing with building toys and taking things apart long after others would deem it behind them. They can have this for a career. It’s there for the taking. Here’s to the Makers.

  266. todd says:

    I like making DIY equipment for brewing beer. I am also into armature electronics. Someday I would like to combine the two. I am always looking to expand into a new amateur pursuit.

  267. larry says:

    this would be so fun to use

  268. Leon says:

    good luck everyone!

  269. Arsene Daniel says:

    It’s too late for a chance to win?

    1. Nick Normal says:

      hi Arsene – sorry but the chance to win has finished for this prize. Be sure to visit back on the dates in the article for the next prize giveaway!

  270. Mike Stackhouse says:

    “all you have to do is leave a comment below! Comments left before May 17th @ 11:59PM PST will be considered to win this prize”

  271. Heath says:

    my son would LOVE a telescope.

  272. Brian Underwood says:

    Yay prizes!

  273. Matt says:

    Thanks for offering this! I’d love to win it.

  274. Anna says:

    This looks like a great book – I can’t wait to read it. I could definitely see the words better with… a … telescope? Haha, I had to try it.

  275. Jeremy says:

    I’ve been thinking about buying a telescope… I’d probably appreciate the universe more if I won it instead.

  276. don kasprzak says:

    I would relish the change for my children to explore space with a telescope.

  277. Michal Chamedes says:

    I wouldn’t mind a telescope right now….

  278. mrspie says:

    A telescope would be fun.

  279. Aaron Havens says:

    i am raising a group of amateurs at home.

  280. singh22 says:

    Sweet …for the ultimate astrophotography rig!!

  281. MAKE | On Amateurism: Interview With Jack Hitt, Part 1 says:

    […] this month, we announced the publication of This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt’s newest book, Bunch of […]

  282. On Amateurism: Interview With Jack Hitt, Part 1 | Indoor Digital Billboards says:

    […] this month, we announced the publication of This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt’s newest book, Bunch of […]

  283. On Amateurism: Interview With Jack Hitt, Part 1 | House of Mods says:

    […] this month, we announced the publication of This American Life contributing editor Jack Hitt’s newest book, Bunch of […]

  284. says:

    Can’t wait to read part 2. Book sounds amazing!

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I'm an artist & maker. A lifelong biblioholic, and advocate for all-things geekathon. Home is Long Island City, Queens, which I consider the greatest place on Earth. 5-year former Resident of Flux Factory, co-organizer for World Maker Faire (NYC), and blogger all over the net. Howdy!

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