GN.W. - Be Mine?
You’ve probably already caught a whiff, but Valentine’s Day is around the corner and love is in the air. The hallmark “Hallmark” holiday is projected to drive a near-record-breaking $19.6 billion in spending this year, be it for sweethearts, pets or self-care. Over half of the U.S. population participates, spending an average of $143.56 individually.
For the Love Birds
Despite beliefs that Hallmark invented Valentine’s Day as a consumer holiday to sell cards, the holiday finds its roots with Ancient Rome, which celebrated a fertility festival that began with the sacrifice of a goat and end with a random drawing of names to pair off bachelors and bachelorettes.
In the late 400’s, it's suspected that Pope Gelasius declared February 14 as a day honoring Saint Valentine in an effort to “Christianize” the pagan fertility festival. As the legend goes, the St. Valentine we celebrate today was one of at least three martyred men who share the name. In one story that accounts for his association with love, he was jailed for helping Christians escape persecution from the Romans, where he fell in love with his jailer's daughter and sent the first “valentine” greeting, signed “From your Valentine”.
February 14 was also believed to be the beginning of birds’ mating season, during the Middle Ages, further solidifying the connection between the date and doting.
Such Simpler Times
Of course, gone are the days that love is chalked up to saints and birds. Anthropologist Helen Fisher and her research team used MRIs to explore what exactly is going on in our brains when people are in romantic love, and when they’re dumped.
“I’ve come to believe that romantic love is an addiction: a perfectly wonderful addiction when it’s going well, and a perfectly horrible addiction when it’s going poorly,” she said during her 2008 TED Talk. “Indeed, romantic love is one of the most addictive substances on Earth . . . love is in us. It’s deeply embedded in the brain. Our challenge is to understand each other.”
Twenty-billion-dollar-man and possible alien, Elon Musk, made history again this week with the launch of Falcon Heavy, the world’s most powerful operational rocket, into space.
On board the behemoth? Musk’s personal Tesla roadster and stand-in dummy driver, Starman, who made his debut during the live stream launch of Falcon Heavy. The footage is unreal (and somehow most certainly real).
One Small Step for SpaceX . . .
Capable of carrying more than twice the weight of any other available rocket into lower Earth orbit, Falcon Heavy brings hope to “democratize space”, in the words of Bill Nye. SpaceX is pioneering the technology to reuse rockets, which can dramatically decrease the cost of getting equipment, supplies and, eventually, people further into space.
This launch used both a used capsule and rocket, which then returned safely to Earth for reuse yet again, proving the technology.
“The great thing about Falcon heavy is that it opens up a new class of payload,” Musk said. “It could launch one more than twice as much payload as any other rocket in the world, so it’s up to customers what they might want to launch. But it can launch things direct to Pluto and beyond. No stop needed.”
Here’s the full launch footage from SpaceX.
Of course, as Russia’s space agency has pointed out, the inclusion of Musk’s personal car and Starman in Falcon Heavy’s payload was more of a clever marketing “trick” than anything else.
“The rocket put in space not some worthless dummy, a payload nobody will be sorry to lose, but a very specific motor vehicle,” the agency spokesperson said.
Still, it doesn’t cheapen the achievement, and you have to appreciate Musk’s showmanship.
Sharing is Caring
All the other good stuff we wanted to share this week:
+ From The Boston Globe: Last Sunday the Eagles finally gave their fans a Super Bowl victory in their game against the Patriots. Following her husband’s loss, Gisele Bundchen, taught us all a good lesson in sportsmanship.
+ From Quartz: The New York Times is experiencing a financial comeback after years of industry losses, showing positive growth after moving to an online subscription model and hopefully paving the way for other struggling news organizations to succeed as well.
+ From WaPo: “Shirtless Tongan sensation returns to Olympics, this time as a cross-country skier”
+ From the NY Times: It’s not perfect, but “Many considered it an impossible dream to have an Olympics of peace, in which North Korea would participate and the two Koreas would form a joint team.”
+ From CNN: Mister Rogers, who taught us all to love ourselves and love our neighbors, and will be honored with an official Forever Stamp, coming in March.
+ From Variety: In other Mister Rogers news, Tom Hanks has been cast as the beloved icon in an upcoming biopic titled “You Are My Friend”.