Barbie turns 50
March 9: Clad in a zebra-striped swimsuit, the first Barbie dolls sashayed their way into the American marketplace 50 years ago today. In the half century since, Barbie has wiggled her way both onto store shelves and also into pop culture, and eventually the word Barbie began to connote image--conscious superficiality. Two years after rolling out Barbie in 1959, Mattel decided it was not good for Barbie to be alone. So Mattel created Ken.
Paging George Jetson
March 11: One small conference in San Diego, one giant leap into the future. The Conference on Human-Robot Interaction might not spark a lot of headlines, but the ideas and research hashed at the La Jolla Marriot beginning on March 11 will demonstrate what the future could hold when Barbie turns 100. Building on a theme of "Interacting Naturally with Robots," panelists and lecturers will discuss a range of topics, including how the domestically minded use the Roomba, the robotic vacuum cleaner, and how humans build emotional attachments to their robots.
March 17: Former President George W. Bush will transition to the lecture circuit when he makes his first post-White House speech in front of businessmen at a convention center in Calgary, Alberta. About a week after leaving office, Bush made himself available for paid lectures on the Washington Speakers Bureau website beginning the traditional post-presidential transition from Commander in Chief to commander in speech.
March Madness play-in game
March 17: Woe to the winner of the first game of the men's college -basketball tournament, otherwise known as March Madness. Since 2001, the NCAA has pitted two of its worst seeds against each other for the right to play the overall top-seed in the 65-team tournament. In the eight previous years with a play-in game, the top team has gone on to easily defeat the play-in winner every time by an average of 27.25 points.
Pope to Africa
March 17: In his first trip to Africa since becoming pope in 2005, Benedict XVI will travel to Cameroon and Angola on a mission to bolster the ranks of African Catholics. Benedict XVI is expected to press Cameroon President Paul Biya to stamp out governmental corruption.
Iraq War anniversary
March 20: President Barack Obama didn't start the Iraq War. But the sixth anniversary of the invasion of the Arab nation by coalition forces serves as a reminder that it's one that he has now inherited. Obama has hinted he would like most U.S. combat forces out of Iraq by August 2010-but that's not soon enough for some of Obama's fervent anti-war supporters during the campaign. Anti-war protesters are planning a major protest march to the Pentagon on March 21.