Jack Armstrong, All-American Fly

Greetings, Matt!:

In the 1930s and 1940s, a popular radio program was Jack Armstrong, the All-American Boy. Jack's sidekick was Billy. What was Billy's last name? P.S.: Do flies dream?

-- PSK, San Diego

And what exactly would a fly dream about? Meadows full of the richest dog poop? Acres of reeking garbage cans? We can only guess. We set the elves off to see if they could find some sleeping flies to check for twitching feet or wiggling wings and see if an alarm clock would wake them up. No luck. Flies don't really sleep, like, conk out to recover from their nasty day, the way we do, since their whole biochemical machine is different from ours. Fly brains are mostly devoted to vision, no surprise, and response to chemical stimuli from the environment. Torpor, a sort of motionless, low-response state is the closest a fly might come to what we'd call sleep. Is much of anything going on in the fly's cranium at this time? Well, nobody can say for sure definitely no way Jose. But since flies don�t have brain matter arranged to do what we'd call thinking, it's not likely they could squeeze out a good nightmare. And think how spooky rapid-eye-movement sleep (dream sleep) would look in a critter with multi-lensed peepers.

P.S.: Jack Armstrong was actually a show put together by a Chicago advertising agency for the purpose of selling us Wheaties. The cereal sponsored the program for all its 20 years. And Jack's sidekicks were Billy and Betty Fairfield and their uncle Jim. It was actually the Fairfields who brought Jack along with them on their journeys, not vice versa. Jack was just the studliest of the group. There. Hope you can finally get a night's sleep knowing that.

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