This morning, for approximately four minutes, former Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ceased being the richest person on the planet for the sole reason that he ceased being on the planet. Unlike fellow billionaire Richard Branson, he and his crewmates crossed the Kármán line. Also unlike Richard Branson, they went up in rocket ship, so all in all the feat of Bezos, et. al. was certainly cooler. But as I was watching it this morning the whole time I could not stop thinking: What is with the feather in the Blue Origin logo?
Jeff Bezos’ space escapades are rich with symbolism. He named his rocket the New Shepard, in an homage to the first American to go into space, Alan Shepard. (Side note: This new Space Age makes Tom Wolfe’s “The Right Stuff,” which immortalized the Mercury Seven, as relevant as ever.) Also aboard the New Shepard today was Wally Funk, a female astronaut who trained for space in the 1960s but who was unable to go because she was a woman. The name of Blue Origin itself is a not-so-subtle reference to Carl Sagan’s description of Earth as a “Pale Blue Dot.” All of this is great, but none of it explains the feather.
A popular T-shirt on Amazon right now is one featuring a blueprint of the New Shepard. You can see the Blue Origin logo prominent at the top:
The feather rests atop the words “Blue Origin.” Any place you see it, whether it is on merchandise or on the New Shepard’s landing spot, it is positioned at that 45 or so degree angle. What it most reminds me of is the opening scene of Forrest Gump:
Was this the message that Bezos was trying to send us? Is his “running away” to space supposed to be akin to Forrest, running across America and into our hearts despite being born with a physical limitation? Is this all an elaborate attempt to win back Mackenzie Scott, his own personal Jenny?
The answer is unclear. For what it’s worth, the Blue Origin website addresses the feather logo as such:
The Blue Origin feather is a symbol of the perfection of flight. It represents freedom, exploration, mobility and progress. For thousands of years, we humans have been looking up at the birds and wondering what it would be like to fly. Now, we look up to the stars and pursue a bright future for all of us.
Obviously, that is not very convincing. With all the other symbolism surrounding Bezos’ plan to take humanity to parts unknown, his answer for choosing a feather logo is “birds have feathers”? Come on, now. Birds may have feathers, but birds do not go into space. If Jeff Bezos had earned his fortune from some industry associated with birds, say like Jack Dorsey and Twitter, then I would at least entertain the notion. Otherwise, the bird story is a front, and more investigation is needed on the topic.
Until I hear otherwise, I am officially concluding that the feather in the Blue Origin logo is a Forrest Gump reference. Do with that information what you will. Now, run, Jeff, run!
We Strongly Recommend ‘Chronology’ For Family Game Night
We Know Products readers know that we love games. Over the years titles we have recommended include …I Should Have Known That, 5 Second Rule, Half Truth, and Trivillenial. Now it is time to add another to our list—Chronology. I received it as a Christmas gift, and we have already played it so many times that we may be close to exhausting every card in the set.
I had never heard of Chronology until the week before Christmas. I was at a holiday party, and several guests referred to the game as a recent favorite of theirs. They described the rules: Each player starts out with an historical event, complete with the year it occurred. As the game progresses, they are dealt additional cards and challenged to place the date of its happening in the timeline in front of them. In the beginning, this task comes easy. It does not take a history buff to know that Kelly Clarkson winning the first season of American Idol took place after the signing of the Magna Carta in 1215.
But as your timeline grows, so does the level of reasoning required. Even if you have a sense that the NASA launch of Apollo 17, the debut concert of the rock band Kiss, and the the invention of the Rubik’s cube all took place in the 1970s, would you be able to correctly slot them in that order?
The best part of this game is that anyone can excel at it. The events tackle a wide range of topics, including not only history but also sports and pop culture. When I played over a dozen times with family over the break, I think every player won at least one time. It is also a great springboard for conversation. For example, the elder statesmen in the group will be unable to resist the urge of telling about how they remember when their households first got color TV.
There is only one issue with the game, and it is a minor one because it does not affect very many cards. For some reason, the B.C. dates are not affixed with that information. Ergo, Julius Caesar’s death is listed as “44” instead of “44 B.C.” and the first Hanukkah as “164” instead of “164 B.C.” In other words, if you didn’t know better, you would think that the Maccabean revolt against the Seleucid Empire somehow happened after it was already in the dominion of Rome. (Chronology makers, if you are reading this, please fix this for future editions!)
With sometime like 99% of the dates being after the birth of Christ, this small error hardly diminishes one’s enjoyment with the game. Chronology gets the WKP seal of approval and a “strong recommend” for your next family game night.
The Flashing Cube Will End Up In Many Stockings This Year
Are you sick of all the pop-its accumulating around your house? Are you skeptical of the claims that the colorful fidget toys are anything more than an educational distraction? A new bestselling toy might help. The “Flashing Cube” (or “Flashdash”) is basically an electronic fidget. Yes, it does light up and make noise, so on the surface it may seem more annoying than its analogue counterparts. On the other hand, it offers actual built-in games to help children develop important skills like memory and dexterity.
The Flashing Cube offers four games, called “Chase Me,” “Catch Me,” “Follow Me,” and “Remember Me.” The latter two are essentially an update of the classic Simon, though obviously with more buttons to press there are many more combinations. The abundance of gameplay possibilities is a huge selling point of this toy, since in theory it should take longer for your child to become bored of it and demand something new.
As you can see from the image above, it is possible to mute the volume, though ideally there would be some parental control option so your young one can’t just crank it up as soon as it is in his or her possession. Still, the Flashing Cube is shaping up to be one of the most popular stocking stuffers for Christmas 2021—Amazon is selling out of them fast, so you (or Santa!) would be well advised to act fast.
Give Out The Perfect Prizes At Your Halloween Party
Like the retail stores that already have Christmas trees on display, it is true that we have begun the transition from Halloween to holiday season content. But Halloween is still more than a week away, and though you may not be able to buy your dream costume if you haven’t already, there is still Halloween paraphernalia out there that can be delivered to you in no time. One such item that caught our eye was this cute set of skeleton statuettes.
As you can see from the above image, this 4-pack comes with stickers so that you can award winners of “Funniest Costume,” “Coolest Costume,” “Sparkiest Costume” (whatever that means), and of course “Scariest Costume.” However, since these titles are stickers that can be applied, you can give them as prizes for all sorts of Halloween-related contests. Do you work at a school or apartment building and want to give out a prize for best door decorations? Here is the trophy you need. Or perhaps you are throwing a Halloween party for your child that will feature classic games like wrap the mummy or find the hidden pumpkins. Sadly, bobbing for apples is probably a no-go this year for sanitary reasons, but to be honest that is one COVID casualty that we could probably continue to go without.
These cool trophies measure 6.7 inches high, so they are about half as tall as an Oscar statuette. There is no doubt that the winners will give them pride of place in their bedrooms or wherever they choose to display their accomplishments. And at just $18, these plastic figurines are cheap enough that you can buy several packs if you are one of those “everybody gets a trophy” families.