Do We Want the World to End? Is Santa Like Wrestling? & Other Relevant Questions

Some questions from PBS Idea Channel to contemplate as the world doesn't really end.

The 2012 Mayan Apocalypse is… today and there are a lot of people wondering if it's going to happen. Sorry to burst your bubble, but (Spoiler Alert) nothing's going to change. The so-called Mayan long count calendar predication of the apocalypse is based a fundamental misunderstanding of Mayan calendars and society. It's so far off base that scientific and anthropological experts can dismiss it with laugh. Yet, if it's so fundamentally wrong, why do we keep hearing about it? Why are there movies and news casts and websites dedicated to this non-event?
 
Does Santa have more in common with Hulk Hogan than St. Nick? People love Santa. Christmas is the largest holiday in western culture, and Santa Claus is the centerpiece of that holiday (sorry baby Jesus). But even though our understanding of Santa changes as we mature, we still maintain and cultivate our culture's love of him. And to understand why this is, we had to ask: Is our relationship with Santa similar to wrestling? Though (SPOILER) wrestling is more entertainment than sport, we still enjoy watching it. So it begs the question are Santa, Hulk Hogan and the Rock more similar than different?
 
Can you live without your phone? We've all become pretty attached to our cellular devices: it's a GPS, a camera, a game console, a social media portal... and half a million other things, all in our pocket! From concerts to meals to our pets, we process and experience the world through our phone. But as we see in so many mobile phone ads, the representations of these moments (whether its instagrams, foursquare check ins or Facebook shares) seem to be taking over and replacing the experience itself. In this brave new world is the mobile phone a tool, or a filter through which we experience a new reality?
 
You know how chain restaurants always sing some weird unknown birthday tune, instead of the actual Happy Birthday song we know and love? It's because "Happy Birthday To You" is protected by copyright! They are legally not allowed to sing it in public, and neither are you. Copyright was originally created for two reasons: to protect the original creators so they could benefit from their work AND have creative works enter the Public Domain. Unfortunately, the whole system has gotten out of whack with copyright extensions that extend far beyond the life of the creator. The current holder of the Happy Birthday copyright is the Warner Music Group and the original creators of the song stopped having birthdays a long time ago because they're dead. It makes you wonder if copyright law hasn't deviated a bit from it's original intentions. Or maybe you just shouldn't celebrate your birthday in a Red Lobster.
 
Adventure Time is an animated kids show on the Cartoon Network that is super popular, not just with the kids, but with full grown adults too! Why would a bunch of serious adults, including Mike's Mom, watch Adventure Time? We think its because the show taps into our memories of childhood with nostalgia. But this isn't the "I Love the 90's" kind of nostalgia that we normally talk about! We're talking about Romantic Nostalgia which is a confusing emotion, mixing happy and sad, creating a powerful mix that really hits you right in your gut. It adds a ton of emotional depth to an already great kids show, which you should all really watch, because it is AMAZING!
 
Did you know there's a place where you can learn just about anything you'd like? It's true! It's called YOU TUBE! Sure, YouTube has hundreds of thousands of hours of deliciously time-wasting content, but it's a whole lot more than just a black hole of pet videos and FAIL clips. If you know where to go, YouTube has some of the best educational content on the planet! And although watching Kahn Academy all day might be a bit dry, the creativity of YouTube creators has allowed "education" to be transformed in variety of amazing and engaging ways. YouTube probably won't replace schools anytime soon, but it's a pretty rad alternative. So time to stop watching cat videos and get your learn on!
 
The animated GIF has had a long and fascinating history, but the GIF took a giant leap forward this year when it became part of the 2012 Presidential Election! This election season, GIFs of Obama, Romney, Biden and Ryan, populated not only Tumblr and Buzzfeed, but also media heavyweights like The Atlantic, Forbes, and The Wall Street Journal. It became the perfect vehicle to capture a reaction, a gaffe or hilarious election moment and stream it ad infinitum. Will the Graphics Interchange Format swing the election for Obama or Romney? Probably not, but it's a pretty bold step for our pal the GIF!
 

Previously on the Idea Channel: