Nerd Factor: Thanos’ Big Dumb Idea

Dr. Mike Robinson, UofL Communication Studies Professor~

By now, you’ve probably seen Avengers: Infinity War. Or you’ve had someone tell you what happened in the end. If not, stop reading now.

Thanos killed half of the population of the universe.  With a snap of his fingers—and the unimaginable power of the Infinity Gauntlet—Thanos’ will was enforced and a number of beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe characters crumbled to dust. Read More


Nerd Factor: Who is Superman?

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

The answer seems simple enough.  But there is a certain genius in that small, factual sentence.  

Eighty years ago, Superman arrived in “Action Comics” #1. The cover of the comic depicts Superman lifting a gangster’s car over his head and crashing it against a rock.  By today’s standards, that seems like a light day’s work for the Man of Steel. But the harried look on the face of the fleeing villain in the cover’s bottom left corner shows us how startling it was at the time.   Read More


Nerd Factor: Let Thanos Win

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

While this edition of the Nerd Factor does not contain spoilers per se, it does reveal information about past Thanos stories that might give something away.

Thanos of Titan is one of the greatest antagonists in the Marvel Universe.  That’s not bad for a guy who was, by his creator Jim Starlin’s admission, a rip-off of DC’s Darkseid.  Like the best baddies from ole Marvel, Thanos does not see himself as a villain. Oh, he does terrible things, but he often sees these as actions taken for the best.   Read More


Nerd Factor: For the Love of HAL

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Last week marked the 50th anniversary of the release of “2001: A Space Odyssey,” one of the most important science fiction movies ever made. This sprawling vision of human history was directed by the legendary Stanley Kubrick, who also co-wrote the film with another legend, prolific writer and futurist, Arthur C. Clarke. The movie opens in prehistory as our primate ancestors struggle to survive. It closes with a hallucinogenic journey into the unknown that ultimately hints at the destiny of our species.  However, it’s the middle of the film that often garners the most attention (and not just because it’s easier to understand). Read More


Nerd Factor: “My Cat” Magazine

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Many years ago when I got my first cat, I accidentally subscribed to a magazine called “My Cat.”  I say that I accidentally subscribed because I honestly do not remember asking for it. It just started showing up one day, probably after I sent in some kind of rebate offer for Iams cat food.  

As an early aside – yes, that is how “they” got you before the internet.  Not quite as easy as clicking on an advertisement and having that advertisement follow you for life across the internet, but it was a similar process. Read More


Nerd Factor: Who Mourns for Geoffrey?

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Nostalgia is a powerful force in popular culture.  The very thought of losing Toys “R” Us has sent many people swirling back through their own recollections to a time when their lives seemed to play out to the chain’s iconic jingle.  Gilded memories of a place that seemed larger than life because it was seen from the low-angle perspective of children flash before their eyes. Read More


Nerd Factor: Winged Victory?

Dr. Mike Robinson, LC Communication Studies Professor~

Longtime readers of the Nerd Factor will no doubt recall that this column remains more than a little dubious on subject of superpowered flight.  Although people often name flying when asked to fantasize about having a superpower, the ability itself is fraught with potential problems. Ease of high altitude transportation, for example, has to reckon with the difficulties of navigating from high altitudes.  Of the many and various ways that superhero stories have presented flight, one of the most problematic subsets of this power is the possession of actual wings. Read More