LOOKING BACK: February 2020

Canada wins(finally,) Charlie Brown checks out, and Voyager 1 never left.

Time to jump back into the time machine, kiddies. Here’s what was cooking in 2010, 2000, and 1990 in the month of February.


February 14: Better late than never

On February 14, Alexandre Bilodeau won gold in the freestyle skiing men’s moguls event. Say that last sentence three times, fast. He was the first Canadian to win a gold medal during a Canadian-hosted Olympics. So okay, it was only the third time, but given that there’s like one hundred gold medal events in any given Winter Olympics, and Canada is like, winter central… Come ON, Canada! Good lord.

It was Valentine’s Day, and Canada felt the love. The sweet, sweet love.


FEBRUARY 13: All out of Peanuts

The very last new Peanuts comic strip ran on 13 February, 2000, a Sunday. By coincidence or fate, it was only a day after its creator, Charles Schulz, passed away. Thus ended an era of small, smart-mouthed kids and one smart-ass dog that stretched a full half-century.

This dog has written and published novels. His 401k makes yours look like a joke. He retired at 50. So how you doin’?

As happens with all intellectual property, the Peanuts brand has been kicked around, bought up, and divided multiple times since Schulz kicked off. The brand was sold off to the new company Peanuts Worldwide LLC, which was 80% owned by Iconix Brand Group and 20% owned by Charles M. Schulz Creative Associates. Then DHX Media swallowed Iconix whole, taking their 80%. Then they sold 49% of their 80% to Sony Music Entertainment Japan for like, some reason.

I can’t stop wondering what Linus would make of all this.


FEBRUARY 14: Voyager snaps a world-class pic

What is with everything happening on Valentine’s Day? Is it just a good waypoint, or something? Anyway…

The Voyager 1 space probe finally got far enough afield to take a picture of the entire solar system.

Look, it’s a space probe, not Sears Family Portrait Studio.

It was the composite of the last pictures the probe sent back to Earth. It continued to send other data back home, however. In fact, it still does to this very day, despite being over 13 billion miles from home base.

Voyager 1 has never failed to impress. The space probe’s original mission was completed nearly FORTY YEARS AGO, but it just kept going, and going, and going… As long as everything keeps poking along, Voyager 1 will mark the 43rd anniversary of its launch this September.

How long can it go? Sadly, not much longer. Best estimates suggest that the electrical power will fail sometime in 2025. I think it’s safe to say this thing’s done its service to God and country, however. Dead but not gone, it will continue to float further afield into outer space, possibly outliving the civilization that first sent it on its way.

Voyager 1: Taking the fiction out of Sci-Fi.

TODAY’S LESSON: A cartoon dog and an inanimate object have both outworked and outlived you. Time to step up your game, yo.

LOOKING BACK: January 2020

Simon’s all done, Bill had a good run, and Pisa’s tower lean is just no fun.

Well, we didn’t get to explore the eighties for very long, did we? Oh, well. New decade, new… decades? Heh… Here’s what was happening back in January 2010, 2000, and 1990.


JANUARY 11: Simon Cowell leaves American Idol

“Does this shirt make my nipples look big?”

It had been rumored for some time, but Simon Cowell made it official in January of 2010: He was leaving American Idol. The show still stood at the top of prime time in the US, but Simon had his sights set on returning to The X Factor back in the UK as a judge.

His replacement was Steven Tyler which, okay. But that kicked off a tradition of constantly shifting judges in the following years. The wheels finally fell off in 2015, and there was much rejoicing…

Until they brought the show back in 2018 because, clearly, we haven’t all suffered nearly enough.

We are giving this man entirely too much money.


JANUARY 13: Bill Gates steps down as Microsoft CEO

This is the face of a man that makes $20,000 while taking a shit.

The iconic nerd behind the birth of Microsoft, Bill Gates finally stood up from the Captain’s Chair in 2000 and gave it to Steve Ballmer. While he wasn’t the funnest person to hang out with, there was no question that he had built the company into a leviathan… which is why it faced antitrust litigation only two years prior.

Bill would continue to guide product strategy until 2006, which turned out to be a good time to duck out. The very next year, Windows Vista was unleashed on us all. That was, of course, followed by the band aid known as Windows 7, and then there was Bing, Microsoft Edge…

MICROSOFT: “We’re Almost Good Enough. Kind of. Maybe.”


JANUARY 7: The Leaning Tower of Pisa is closed to visitors for, well, leaning too far

Just look at that shifty son of a bitch.

It’s kind of all there in the title, isn’t it? The move was largely spurred by the collapse of the Civic Tower in Pavia, Italy. It should be noted that the Civic Tower sure as hell wasn’t leaning when it collapsed, which makes one wonder why the Pisa tower was ever deemed A-Ok for occupancy.

Especially since this decision was made after experts studied its stability for TWO YEARS before finally deciding to close it. I imagine it was mostly an expert saying “This isn’t safe” followed by Pisa officials saying “But, money!” for several months. However it happened, they closed shop and set to shoring up the structure.

The solutions were almost child-like in their simplicity. They started by taking the heavy stuff out(the bells at the top.) Then they tied the tower back with cables. Finally, they dug dirt out from underneath the high side of the tower to make it lean less.

Artist’s Depiction

The plan worked (eventually) and the high side of the tower settled back down nearly eighteen inches by 2001. It was reopened to the public in December of that year. Further restoration work has shored up the tower enough that experts now say it will remain stable for 200 years.

Now watch it collapse like, two years from now.

“Perfect! Now stay right there for two hundred years. Thanks!”

LOOKING BACK: December 2019

Avatar rules, Napster drools, and Taylor Swift and The Simpsons hit a big milestone

How’s that saying go? If you don’t remember history’s underpants, they’ll get moldy? Something like that? Why are there so many questions in this first paragraph? Should I stop? Yes, yes I should.

Here’s a new thing for me to annoy you with: Looking Back. Once a month I’ll… look back at the events of the past thirty years and see how they relate to today’s world. Sounds fun, right?

…That was rhetorical.


DECEMBER 10: President Barack Obama accepts the Nobel Peace Prize

“‘Sup, bitch?”


The prize was awarded to President Obama for “extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between people.” Think about that for a moment. Now think about the Great Orange Whale squatting in the White House right now. The about-face is just about enough to snap your head clean off your damn neck.

DECEMBER 18: Avatar premiers in the US

This was from the movie, right? I actually never watched it, so…

Aye, do ye remember the dark night that the Great Blue Plight was unleashed on our tender population?

I never saw Avatar(aren’t I so fucking cool?) A WHOLE HELL of a lot of other people did. I never saw the draw, and I think there’s a chance a whole bunch of people aren’t going to see it anymore, either.

If Cameron had pooped out an Avatar sequel even three years after the first, I think it would have done reasonably well. The awe of seeing the world of Pandora in 3-D would have waned somewhat, but it would sell tickets. But today? Forget it.


DECEMBER 7: The RIAA sues Napster

Remember when the download time for a song was, you know, longer than the song? *shudder*

We all know how peaceful the Recording Industry Association of America is, so it came as quite a surprise when they decided to sue Napster back out of existence. Eight years(!) later, the RIAA won and Napster went bankrupt…

Then they came roaring back after being bought by Rhapsody and now have over 2.5 million subscribers worldwide. Huh, that turned out all right…

DECEMBER 31: Boris Yeltsin resigns as president of Russia

Whenever he smiled, it always looked like he farted and was just so damn proud of it.

Boris Yeltsin resigned at the end of 1999 after a series of missteps intertwined with a number of unfortunate events. He left then Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in charge in his stead. Yeah, that Vladimir Putin. Hindsight, and all that…


DECEMBER 17: The Simpsons premiers on Fox

It’s hard to imagine an entire town of people surviving jaundice (or Homer Simpson) for three decades, but whatever.

This entry makes me feel violently old. The Simpsons is more than a quarter-century old. If Bart aged like a normal human boy, instead of being some sort of twisted, ageless golem, he’d be MIDDLE AGED, like I ALMOST AM. Shit shit shit shit shit…

Um, anyways… It was a home run for Fox, finally giving them real competition to pit against the animation Goliath that was Disney. I bet the House of Mouse wishes they could get a slice of that pie!

Oh, right

DECEMBER 13: Taylor Swift is born

“Wait, I’m how old this month?”


Yes, T-Swizzle is hitting the big 3-0 this month, and is somehow the same age as The Simpsons. I doubt these facts will bother her too much, seeing how she ages at about the same rate as Baby Yoda.

“Need to calm down, you do.”

Being worth a reported $400 million probably helps too, though. That’s over half the market value of Anheuser-Busch Inbev. Then again, the reported value of The Simpsons is over $13 billion. Eh, somehow I think she’ll shake it off.