mikestew 5 days ago
And just in case you thought they'd give you, the individual, a lighthouse:

"This year, six lighthouses are being offered at no cost to federal, state or local government agencies, non-profits, educational organizations or other entities that are willing to maintain and preserve them and make them publicly available for educational, recreational or cultural purposes."

I'm sure the General Services Administration just wants them off the books ("if they're not needed, don't take maintainence out of our budget"), I don't even want to imagine the money pit of maintenance of a structure by the sea. Oh, and it's over 100 years old? My first thought was the Cape Hatteras lighthouse that's been moved at least once in my memory, because the ocean was going to eat it.

In other words, you like the idea of owning a lighthouse, just as I do.

walrus01 5 days ago
> In other words, you like the idea of owning a lighthouse, just as I do.

Much as one might like the idea of owning an off grid log cabin somewhere that's 2.5 hours drive down dirt roads from the nearest town, until you have to DIY your own electrical, water supply, sewage system, etc. You'd have to commit to the full lifestyle.

bookofjoe 5 days ago
And yet there's still time to play your flute... https://www.nms.si/en/collections/highlights/343-Neanderthal...
walrus01 5 days ago
I've seen this before, somewhat related, the archaeological evidence for the existence of pants is much more recent than this flute. Meaning that there's a high possibility that for many tens of thousands of years humans had flutes and hollow bone musical instruments but no pants.
akiselev 5 days ago
The archaeological evidence for pants might not have survived but we're pretty certain that humans started wearing clothing 80,000-230,000 years ago because that's when body lice, adapted to living in clothing, genetically diverged from head lice [1]. On top of that the oldest surviving sewing needle is roughly 45,000 years old [2] so complex clothing was very likely contemporaneous or far older than the flute.

[1] https://academic.oup.com/mbe/article/28/1/29/984822

[2] https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S00472...

eesmith 5 days ago
Could have been wearing a skirt, sarong, loin cloth, tunics and more. Some people wear a koteka (penis gourd).

The Romans considered pants barbarous; Julius Caeser almost certainly invaded Britain without pants.

lostlogin 5 days ago
It might all be a terrible misunderstanding. What if that koteka was actually a flute holder?
bookofjoe 5 days ago
eesmith 5 days ago
That Julius Caesar definitely never wore pants? I have no source.

That Romans at the time did not, for the most part, wear pants? It's a DDG search away:

"Even when foreign garments – such as full-length trousers – proved more practical than standard issue, soldiers and commanders who used them were viewed with disdain and alarm by their more conservative compatriots, for undermining Rome's military virtus by "going native". ... Trousers – considered barbarous garments worn by Germans and Persians – achieved only limited popularity in the latter days of the empire, and were regarded by conservatives as a sign of cultural decay." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clothing_in_ancient_Rome

"But in Imperial Rome, obviously, things were a little different—no man of honor would think of wearing what was considered the garb of a savage barbarian." https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/trousers-pants-roman-h...

"For the Romans, to encircle the legs and thighs with fasciae, or bands, was understood, in the time of Pompey and Horace, to be a proof of ill health and effeminacy.[2] Roman men typically wore tunics, which were one-piece outfits terminating at or above the knee." - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Braccae

"Leg coverings were seen as crude items, something that was worn by the barbarians who lived beyond the borders of Roman civilization or as the leg protection of the very poor or old. Long pants, like long sleeves were seen as effeminate. ... In Caesar's day braccae were considered effeminate and barbarian-wear — something to avoided by civilized Roman men." - https://romanobritain.org/8-military/mil_soldiers_braccae_.p...

Digging more, I found this from "Roman Influences on the Victory Reliefs of Shapur I of Persia", Marjorie C. Mackintosh, California Studies in Classical Antiquity , 1973, Vol. 6 (1973), pp. 181-203, https://www.jstor.org/stable/pdf/25010653.pdf

> On the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the emperor addresses his men who, like himself, are clad in tunica, sagum and bracae (Hamberg [supra n. 22] 143, pl. 26, scene LXXXIII). See also Brilliant, Severus, 155, n. 23. That the Romans on the other reliefs do not wear the same may have been due to an oversight or to the fact that the Romans considered trousers as a basically barbarian garment (E. Sander, Die Kleidung des romischen Soldaten," Historia 12 [1963] 152) and may have preferred not to be depicted thus in a "barbarian" monument. Since the Romans probably helped in the design of the monuments, their preference might have had some force. Roman monuments show emperors and officers in field situations both with and without bracae.

So, maybe Julius Caesar did sometimes wear pants? You'll need to ask a Romanologist.

Still, there's going to be plenty of Roman flute players who never wore pants.

codyb 5 days ago
That's very funny. But is it possible whatever rudimentary coverings early humans had would just decay unlike a flute? Or would we still expect to see... fibers or something?

For instance, if early humans used furs, would those... stay intact through the ages? And be distinguishable from other animal skins that were laying around after a hunt?

bookofjoe 5 days ago
This is the most interesting thing I've read so far today — and I've read a LOT of interesting stuff already!
dabluecaboose 5 days ago
Idk to a lot of those people, the "downsides" you're describing are perks
i2cmaster 5 days ago
I grew up in a place like that. I hated it, went to college, got a job, and now I wish I had never left.
Archit3ch 5 days ago
Isn't that how owning a castle works? You have to pay for upkeep, so you might as well convert it into a museum and show it to visitors.
em-bee 4 days ago
not quite. castles were usually built by their private owners, so most that are in private hands now, always were. they are still under protection though, so you can't just do whatever you want with them.
toast0 5 days ago
Looks like it's time to form an educational organization, pending non-profit recognition. :)

Personally, I'm interested, but would prefer one on the west coast.

nyokodo 5 days ago
> The development of modern technology, including GPS, means lighthouses are no longer essential for navigation, said John Kelly of the GSA’s office of real property disposition. And while the Coast Guard often maintains aids to navigation at or near lighthouses, the structures themselves are often no longer mission critical.

Hopefully this modern technology and these aids to navigation don't all rely on space based hardware to function otherwise if there's a hot war in space or otherwise a case of Kessler Syndrome then we have a lot of ship wrecks baked into the equation.

ianburrell 5 days ago
GPS is well above where Kessler Syndrome would be a problem. GPS orbits in medium-earth orbit with 12-hour period. The only other thing in area are other navigation constellations and there is much more space than LEO. Also, GPS is high enough that would require special and large anti-satellite weapons to take out.

There was a post this week, https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=36043377, about alternatives to GPS.

stn8188 5 days ago
Certainly the GPS navigation equipment on board a vessel could fail in the event GPS signals are jammed or otherwise inoperable.

As for the navigation aids themselves, as of a decade ago there were no GPS devices in the aids (though a GPS receiver is used for precise placement of buoys). The navigation lights in (or near) the lighthouse structures use large lead-acid batteries for energy storage, and a large solar array for charging. When I left, we were in the process of converting many of the aids to LED lamps, which use far less energy (thus reducing the size requirements of the batteries and solar arrays). For the larger lamps, we had a pretty complex box with the electrical equipment to manage charging, flash patterns, backup lights, etc. (the old "SACIII" aka Solar Aid Controller). The electrical systems are all pretty neat but really don't need the "shelter" of a lighthouse, and many lights are on simple towers.

_moof 5 days ago
If (when) the GPS fails you can do pretty well with radar and a depth sounder.
somerandomqaguy 5 days ago
I'd imagine there's options if every space based constellation was knocked out. Ground based GPS transmitters are a thing (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pseudolite) and I'd imagine could be very quickly erected.

And DARPA is putting significant money into GPS denied navigation systems as well: https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2014-07-24

Assuming that modern semi conductor manufacturing wasn't knocked out at the same time, ship navigation would probably be fixed in a hurry.

throw0101b 5 days ago
> […] ship navigation would probably be fixed in a hurry.

Just make sure you have a sextant, an almanac, and a UTC-synced watch on-board and you're fine:

* https://www.npr.org/2016/02/22/467210492/u-s-navy-brings-bac...

* https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/research/a36078957...

HeyLaughingBoy 5 days ago
If you're close enough to shore that a missing lighthouse would be an issue, a sextant wouldn't be very helpful (OK, you could use horizontal sextant angles, but those are not well known). An alidade and a compass will do just fine.
bookofjoe 5 days ago
Will UTC still be functioning?
foxes 4 days ago
If we start shooting satellites out the sky I don't really think you will have to worry about ships wrecking themselves for very long.
stn8188 5 days ago
This is a fascinating article, and one of few on HN that I feel uniquely qualified to discuss :)

Three of the lights mentioned in the article are ones which I was responsible for maintaining with the US Coast Guard a decade ago. Lynde Point in particular was one of my favorites (you can see it easily from I-95 as you cross the Connecticut River). The house nearby was used as Coast Guard provided housing for one of the Chiefs on the base. The sale/divestment of lighthouses has been going on for some time, I recall ferrying prospective buyers to Latimer Reef light back then.

The problem is, as other commenters have pointed out, that these structures are simply falling apart, often containing hazardous materials such as asbestos, and more critically are generally difficult to land a boat at. We managed to ding a prop on at least one occasion on the rocks at Race Rock light. It's certainly ideal to set up a foundation which maintains the structure and grounds as well as providing a historically significant place for visitors to see. Some lights in the area are set up beautifully like this (I can think of Huntington Harbor NY, Falkner's Island, and New London Ledge lights off the top of my head). There are a few which are completely private as well. I'll never forget walking through the beautiful house at Dean Kamen's unique North Dumpling Island "nation".

The fact of the matter is that while a lit navigation aid is still absolutely critical for maritime safety, it no longer needs to be housed in a large structure providing shelter for equipment and a keeper. With the advent of LED technology, it's trivial to mount a small solar panel with a storage battery the same size as a car's. This makes the lighthouse structures themselves only a burden for the Coast Guard to care for, which we absolutely did not have the resources for.

throw0101b 5 days ago
Yeah, the US (and others) also shutdown Loran because GPS supposedly made it 'unnecessary'.


* https://www.space.com/gps-signal-jamming-explainer-russia-uk...

* https://www.gps.gov/spectrum/jamming/

* https://gpsjam.org

* https://www.zdnet.com/article/criminals-are-using-gps-jammer...

Perhaps folks should worry less about efficiency and more about Positioning, Navigation, and Timing (PNT) resiliency:

* https://www.dhs.gov/science-and-technology/publication/resil...

* https://www.gps.gov/resilience/

Rebelgecko 5 days ago
Isn't LORAN just as susceptible to jamming as GPS? Maybe the signal isn't as close to the noise floor, but I think that just means you need to pump a few more watts into your jammer to be effective.
tibbon 5 days ago
One of my late life dreams is to be an old man with a beard, pipe and cat living in a lighthouse and staring at the sea. I live in Rhode Island, and seriously want to figure out how to get one of these…
notdang 5 days ago
There is a big problem with your dream: stairs.

Once you hit a certain age, the stairs become an obstacle that cannot be solved. Have seen it with my grandparents and parents in normal houses. Now imagine the stairs in a lighthouse.

quinndexter 3 days ago
Come now, we've all seen some media with a form of the old chair-thing-that-goes-up-the-stair-rail trope.
mythrwy 5 days ago
This makes me think of the "The White Ship" by H.P. Lovecraft.


bookofjoe 5 days ago
Very soon there's gonna be a VR for that
mensetmanusman 5 days ago
My dream is to be in a dusty, dark closet with a sweaty helmet on that shows me that I'm actually an awesome, old man on a lighthouse.
tracker1 5 days ago
Just like available radio isn't necessary... Until or unless it is.

I feel that redundancy, failover and fall back options are seriously undervalued.

davidpfarrell 5 days ago
There's definitely a sci-fi movie plot in that statement:

A group of scrappy teens save the day when they move their raves to abandoned lighthouses after war screws up gps and our ark ships keep crashing into the shores.

"I always knew techno could save the world"

mensetmanusman 5 days ago
Um, a good solar flare and we need them again.

Need more long term planners...