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Post Week in Review: December 7-13

Published: December 12, 2014

The ‘Father of Video Games’ Dies at 92

If I were to ask you which home videogame console came first you’d probably say the Atari 2600. But it was actually the Magnavox Odyssey. Its inventor, Ralph Baer, died this week at the age of 92.

In the late ’60s, Baer and two colleagues created a prototype for a game system they called Channel L.P. (which stood for Let’s Play). In the early ’70s they sold it to Magnavox who changed the name to Odyssey. The system had 12 games when it launched. One of them called Ping-Pong came before Atari’s famous Pong game. Baer received the National Medal of Technology in 2006.

He also invented the electronic game Simon, but I do remember hounding my mother to buy me Merlin for Christmas the year it came out. And I got it! I played it nonstop for about a month and then never picked it up again. I think that was around the time I got an Atari 2600.

Here’s Why Smoking Might Be Deadlier for Men Than Women


Did you know that women who smoke are less likely to die from smoking-related illnesses than men who smoke? Now scientists in Sweden might have discovered why.

Men whose blood cells are missing the Y chromosome (which can happen as we age) are at a higher risk for cancer in general, and the researchers found that the more men smoked, the more likely their cells were missing that chromosome.

The good news? The Y chromosome can actually come back if you quit smoking! So I guess the point of all this is, it’s OK to start smoking if you plan on quitting.

TGI Fridays Drone ‘Nipping at Your Nose’

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

oneinchpunch / Shutterstock.com

During the holiday season, we often have to deal with a lot of inconveniences when we go out to a restaurant: a long wait for a table, loud crowds, slow service, drones cutting off our noses, babies crying.

Wait … what was that?

Yes, a drone nipped at a woman’s nose in a Brooklyn TGI Fridays. It’s some sort of mini drone that carries mistletoe and flies over couples, encouraging them to kiss — sort of like the kiss cam you see at basketball games, only with little sharp blades. She wasn’t a customer; she was actually a photographer there with a reporter getting a demonstration of the device. The drone operator says it wouldn’t have happened if she hadn’t flinched as he was trying to land the drone on her hand.

It used to be the only blades you had to worry about in a restaurant were the ceiling fans, if you were tall or had a baby on your shoulders. But if the blades are coming down to nose level, I hope the napkin dispensers will now be filled all the time.

People Mad Anaconda Didn’t Eat a Guy

We’ve always had stunt-related TV. When I was a kid I loved when Evel Knievel and his motorcycle would show up on ABC’s Wide World of Sports to jump over a bunch of cars. And then came reality shows and David Blaine risking his life on TV and shows where people eat gross things for money.

Now we have shows where gross things eat people. Or at least try to. That’s what happened last weekend on the Discovery Channel special Eaten Alive. Paul Rosolie, a naturalist from New Jersey, put on a special suit and tried to get eaten by an anaconda — it wasn’t a live taping and he’s been doing interviews so you know he made it out. Viewers are upset because, well, Rosolie wasn’t actually eaten by the anaconda. It just sort of wrapped itself around the guy for a while and then his team came in and saved him.

Maybe viewers have a point. When something is actually titled Eaten Alive you don’t tune in expecting to find a little wrestling. I don’t think the anaconda even gummed Rosalie a little. Rosalie says people were expecting too much but he also told Jimmy Kimmel, “I think I owe it to the people of planet Earth to get eaten by something, no?”

I’m sure Discovery will have a What Animal Should Paul Rosolie Be Eaten By Next? poll up on their site any day now.

More News from the World of Pizza


We’ve had pretzel-dough crust, cheese inside of crust, and even garlic bread crust. Is there anything else left to invent in the world of pizza crust technology?

Yes. Pizza Hut has just launched a pizza with a crust made of Doritos! They’re testing it in Australia right now, but I’m sure it will make it to our shores in the future.

I’m just worried about Doritos taking over everything. A few weeks ago we had news of a Doritos-flavored soft drink. And the other day I picked up my high blood pressure medicine from the pharmacy. Yup, they’re Cool Ranch-flavored now.

National Cocoa Day


Sometimes food holidays come at odd times of the year. For example, why is National Strawberry Ice Cream Day in January? Wouldn’t that be better as a June, July, or August thing? Thankfully National Cocoa Day is today, smack in the middle of December, two weeks before Christmas. It makes everything seem right with the world.

I have to admit I use Swiss Miss (Rich Chocolate flavor), the instant stuff in the packets. I just like the taste (try it with a vanilla-flavored coffee creamer — it’s delicious). Here’s a great hot cocoa recipe from Food.com, and here’s a video tutorial on how to make homemade instant hot cocoa from America’s Test Kitchen:

For the record, today is also National Ambrosia Day. No, not that Ambrosia, this Ambrosia!

Upcoming Anniversaries

December 15, 1791: The Bill Of Rights Ratified
Read The Bill Of Rights at archives.gov.
December 16, 1773: Boston Tea Party Protests
Read the history of The Boston Tea Party here.
December 19, 1843: “A Christmas Carol” is Published
Read the short story “Marley’s Ghost — Again” by Wendell Mayo and “A 19th Century Christmas Sampler” by SEP Archive Director Jeff Nilsson.

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