Today marks one of those weird cosmic convergences of events that makes you think that if there is a God, She has a great sense of humor. One piece is the 50th anniversary of Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay’s trip to the top of Mt. Everest, the first by human beings (I’m sure someone believes space aliens made the trip 10,000 years ago). This is one of those human achievements that tip toes the thin line between incredibly brave and just plain crazy – but you have to admire the guts not to mention the mental stamina that such a trip required.
A good way to celebrate the anniversary of Hillary and Norgay’s journey is to go right to the top yourself. Panoramas.dk, an outstanding site that features links to hundreds of QuickTime VR views of all parts of the world, has an incredible VR from the summit of Everest taken 14 years ago. (You’ll need QT 5 or higher and a fast connection since this is a full screen VR.)
The second cosmic event occuring today is the Bob Hope’s 100th birthday. Bob Hope probably doesn’t mean much to most of you under 40 but for us old folks, he was one of those little touchstones of popular culture that everybody knew and liked, regardless of their age. In in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s he was all over television specializing in a lost art called the variety show. And, of course, his trips to Vietnam (and other military bases) to entertain the troops were legendary. His jokes poked relatively gentle fun at politicians on both sides as well as the weirdnesses of society in general.
If you aren’t familiar with Bob Hope and his place in 20th century culture, a good place on the web to do some exploring is the Library of Congress’ Bob Hope and American Variety. In addition to sound and film clips of Hope, the exhibit also explores the styles and technology of entertainment over the years to give a little great context.
I don’t have enough philosophical skills to find any connection between these two events but Hillary and Norgay’s trip and Hope’s humor are the kind of little pieces of history that stick in my weird little brain.
Oh, I almost forgot… today is also the finals of the National Spelling Bee. There isn’t much significance in that but I thought I’d toss it on the pile. Draw your own conclusions.