Things You Never Knew Existed
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Friday, September 23, 2016
September 25 is National Comic Book Day.  Not to be confused with National FREE Comic Book Day, which takes place on the first Saturday in May, this is a day for readers, collectors, and fans to celebrate all Things about comic books.

In honor of this auspicious occasion, I thought I'd provide you with a few facts you can use to astound your friends (or just show off).
  • The first known American comic book was a hardcover called "The Adventures of Obadiah Oldbuck". It was printed in 1842. 
  • Newspaper comic strips established many of the story telling techniques used in the early comic books, which evolved into the comics we know today when publishers started reprinting them in book form.
  • "Famous Funnies", which appeared in the US in 1933, is believed to be the first reprinting of newspaper comic strips as a book.
  • Comic books are not always 'comic'. In fact, they span all genres from horror to sci-fi to humor to drama.
  •  People who collect comic books are known as pannapictagraphists.
So how do you celebrate national comic book day? Buy a new comic book. Or two or three. Try drawing a comic of your own. Use the hashtag #NationalComicBookDay to get your friends involved on social media. Then again, you could just read a comic book or two. Or five or ten.

Happy Comic Book Day! See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 16, 2016
Human skulls have been part of culture since the beginning of recorded history. Their significance and evolution through different societies might diverge, but one Thing has never changed: humans use skulls in ceremonies, as personal adornments and as home decorations just as they have for centuries.

From its early beginnings, skull imagery represented death and mortality. Many cultures still regard the skull as a symbol of evil as well. But many ancient societies regarded skulls such as the famous crystal skull as a representation of life and consciousness.

In modern times, the skull has taken its place somewhere between death and life in most societies. Some people collect them as a reminder of their mortality, that some day everyone must dance with Death. Others collect them as a fierce sign of fearlessness, power, strength, and immortality — overcoming Death. Still others see them as a symbol of wisdom and guidance from the world beyond.

I have lots of skull-related Things, but until I started writing today's blog, I never thought about what they mean. Or why I collect them. I'm still not sure. Maybe they stand for someThing and maybe they don't. Or maybe I just think they're cool.

See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 9, 2016
I was driving to work when I heard that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York City. By the time I got there, the second plane had hit the other tower. When I went inside, no one was working. Some people were just sitting there in stunned silence. A few people were crying. Others were trying to get in touch with friends and family in the city. Most were gathered around the television in the conference room just trying to make sense of it all.

People tend to remember exactly where they were and what they were doing at the moment of certain defining events in our shared history. The day JFK was assassinated. Or John Lennon was killed. Or that terrible morning 15 years ago when America changed forever.

On Sunday, we will remember with ceremony and salutes. We think about all those who were lost. We honor the brave first responders who charged into those doomed buildings. We'll salute the American spirit of strength and perseverance that saw us through it all. And we'll make the promise we made then: we will never, ever forget.

See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, September 2, 2016
Mark Hamill just dropped a major Star Wars spoiler on Twitter: a video of him getting his facial hair removed from The Force Awakens. He also posted this message: "Haven't seen my chin since May '15, so #FarewellFacialFur & #ByeByeBeard (at least til #EpisodeIX) @popculturequest."

Since he wasn't onscreen for much of The Force Awakens, fans are bolstered by his tweet that seems to indicate Luke Skywalker will be around at least until Episode IX.

Fans expected him to die in the last film because, well, that's what beloved Star Wars characters do. But for now it looks like Skywalker won't become a "Force ghost" for at least two more films.

May the Force be with you. I'll see you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 26, 2016
Many years ago, astronomer Carl Sagan said that Earth, viewed from other solar systems, would look like a pale blue dot. Now astronomers think they've found a habitable planet orbiting Proxima Centauri, the closest star to our solar system. They're calling their campaign to explore this new celestial body, "Pale Red Dot".

Guillem Anglada-Escude of Queen Mary University of London, who heads up a team of 30 scientists around the world at work on the campaign says, "We're talking about a planet that has very similar properties to Earth." But there are some very striking differences.
  • First, the planet is more massive than Earth and orbits its star every eleven days, making for a super short "year" in Earth terms. 
  • Second, if you were able to stand on the planet, it would definitely look like an alien world because only one side of the planet ever faces its star, making it seem as if the star is stationary in the heavens. 
  • Third, though the official name of the planet is the dry and boring "Proxima Centauri b" the planet is so orange that its atmosphere would give the impression of a perpetual "autumn sunset". Which is why everyone calls it the Pale Red Dot.
The Pale Red Dot is about 4.25 light years away, which might seem like a long distance to you and me, but to astronomers, it's a short trip down the cosmic street. Villanova University astronmer Edward Guinan says with our current technology we can travel at about one tenth of the speed of light. Which means humans could be there in about 50 years.

It might be a bit early to start packing your bags for the half-century trip, but according to Guinan, a trip to the Pale Red Dot is totally "feasible". Which is why 'visit the Pale Red Dot' is the newest Thing on my Bucket List.

See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 19, 2016
Treasure hunters in Poland are looking for the famed Nazi Gold Train. Andreas Richter and Piotr Koper are convinced the train is buried under the city of Walbrzych, claiming that they located it with radar equipment. Adding to the hysteria and ensuing 'gold rush' to the city, one government official even said he was 99% sure that the train was there.

Despite the fact that many researchers say the Thing never existed, the treasure hunters press on. Despite the findings of geological experts from a Krakow university who used magnetic detection equipment to basically prove there was no train there, they press on. Despite the fact that it makes absolutely no sense for the the Nazis to try to smuggle gold, art and weapons from Walbrzych to Waldenburg, where the approaching Soviet Army would be almost sure to find it, they press on.

That's the Thing about treasure. It's all about the hunt. It's about the off chance that you might hit someThing with your shovel. And that Thing might just turn out to be the best Thing ever.

See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink
Friday, August 12, 2016
From pollsters to pundits to statisticians, everyone is trying to predict the outcome of the 2016 presidential election. Given the history and accuracy of previous predictions, I don't hold out a lot of hope for accuracy. You might get a better read on the whole Thing from your local neighborhood psychic.

Polls and stats aside, I recently stumbled on three weird and wacky ways people are trying to predict the unpredictable.
  1. What Did Oscar Say?  Jacopo della Quercia of Cracked Magazine says the prediction is as simple as popping popcorn. If the movie that wins the Oscar for Best Picture in the election year has a happy ending, the sitting party wins. The other party only wins if the movie has a sad ending. This year's winner is a bit of a toss-up since it's hard to tell if the end of Spotlight was happy or not.
  2. Olympic Incumbents. I'm not sure who came up with this one, but it is true that every year since 1968 (with the exception of '88), incumbents held on to the Oval Office if the country who hosts the summer games has hosted before. This doesn't bode well for Dems since Brazil is an Olympic first-timer. 
  3. How Did the Los Angeles Lakers Play? Since 1960, Republicans have won the White House if the Los Angeles Lakers played in that year’s NBA Finals. It doesn't matter if the Lakers win — they just have to make the finals. If you're a hoops fan, I don't have to tell you that the Lakers' abysmal performance last season isn't a good Thing for GOP hopefuls.
Me, I don't know who will win. But I have one very happy prediction that I know will come true: it will all be over when we vote in 87 days.

See you next week,

Posted by: Bobby | 8:00 AM | permalink

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