Thursday, 07/24/2014

Separated At Birth?

Been trying to figure out where I've seen Mark Gatiss, the actor who plays Mycroft Holmes, before.  Now I know.  Here he is in Sherlock:

And here he is playing Supreme Court Justice Alito:

Gatiss has quite the range!


July 24, 10:09 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Propaganda Can Only Cover Up So Much

Go figure:

For the first time, perhaps, Americans are witnessing the suffering of Palestinian people in the establishment press. Even while the framework of “Blame Hamas” dominates mainstream media coverage, the humanity of Palestinian people is cracking through the decades-long, well established façade of pro-Israeli propaganda.

And how can it not? When the actual experience of journalists contradicts the propaganda narrative, if they have a heart or a brain, they cannot help but see Zionist propaganda for what it is. This is possibly why Israel kept out foreign journalists during the 2008 Cast Lead operation.
Despite the serious intimidation faced by journalists...such pressure seems to be working less and less. While Magnay was called away from Gaza by CNN, a vigilant social media sphere combined with mass protests around the world has created a climate where if media institutions are to retain their credibility they have to at least appear to be balanced.

This is the opening that Palestinian rights activists and supporters need to harness in order to reframe the debate. While they lack lobby groups, media watchdog outfits, paid trolls, disinformation experts and the vast financial resources of the Israeli side, they do have one thing going—the truth.

Let's hope that eventually puts pressure on Israel.  I'm not overly optimistic.


July 24, 9:22 AM in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


July 2012.

July 2013.

July 2014.


July 24, 8:05 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, 07/23/2014

Psalm 8:3

"This has been far more than three men on a mission to the Moon; more, still, than the efforts of a government and industry team; more, even, than the efforts of one nation..."


July 23, 10:45 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Apparently Some People Aren't Aware Of Bicameralism

It seems that Ted Cruz thinks he's a member of the House and not the Senate.


July 23, 10:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Obama's So Alien

The Prez met with Mike and Buzz and Carol Armstrong yesterday, but this older vignette stuck out for me:

After his last meeting with the crew — marking the 40th anniversary, in 2009, when Armstrong was still alive — Obama said he remembered following the Apollo missions, sitting on his grandfather's shoulders to watch the capsules coming into port in Hawaii.

How quintessentially American to watch our conquering star voyagers' spacecrafts coming into port!  But not even that counts for somebody like Rep Steve King (R-IA).


July 23, 7:33 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Maladjusted In Defense Of Liberty

The whole "you can't be intolerant of intolerance" canard reminded me of Dr King:

I am sure that we will recognize that there are some things in our society, some things in our world, to which we should never be adjusted.

There are some things concerning which we must always be maladjusted if we are to be people of good will.

We must never adjust ourselves to racial discrimination and racial segregation. We must never adjust ourselves to religious bigotry.

We must never adjust ourselves to economic conditions that take necessities from the many to give luxuries to the few. We must never adjust ourselves to the madness of militarism, and the self-defeating effects of physical violence.

Thus, it may well be that our world is in dire need of a new organization, The International Association for the Advancement of Creative Maladjustment.
Men and women should be as maladjusted as the prophet Amos, who in the midst of the injustices of his day, could cry out in words that echo across the centuries, 'Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream'; or as maladjusted as Abraham Lincoln, who in the midst of his vacillations finally came to see that this nation could not survive half slave and half free...

And through such creative maladjustment, we may be able to emerge from the bleak and desolate midnight of man's inhumanity to man, into the bright and glittering daybreak of freedom and justice.

We must never adjust ourselves to LGBT discrimination and marriage inequality.  We must never adjust ourselves to physical violence against women who exercise their rights to reproducitve self-determination and the doctors and others who help them do so.  We must never adjust ourselves to disenfranchisement and denial of services to the poor.

It's really just another way of being intolerant of intolerance, all in defense of liberty, which is no vice...


July 23, 6:47 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Tolerate The Bigots!

Yeah, whatever:

Rubio acknowledged the United States has a history of discrimination against gays and lesbians. But he said he could not support such unions despite a quick-moving shift in public opinion in support of allowing same-sex couples to marry.

"There is a growing intolerance on this issue," Rubio said of those who back same-sex marriages. He then urged his opponents to show civility: "Tolerance is also a two-way street."

It ain't a two-way street.  You're denying people civil rights, we're fighting you, just like abolitionists fought slavers who were so very upset by their rudeness they started a fucking civil war.  We're under no obligation to tolerate evil.


July 23, 6:20 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday Kittehblogging

Rainy days are good for chilling with your fam.


July 23, 4:33 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Dear DC Circuit: That’s Not ‘Moops,’ You Jerks!

Funny, but I guess not haha funny:

Supporters of the Affordable Care Act point out that, the sloppily written language notwithstanding, the full text of the law clearly indicates that its drafters intended for the government to subsidize health plans purchased through the federal exchanges. These two judges, however, argued that a narrow reading of one out-of-context sliver of the bill trumps all, and ruled in favor of eviscerating the ACA and causing massive chaos in the insurance market. It’s the sort of thing that conservatives used to denounce as “judicial activism.” (A separate rulingyesterday from the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the legality of the subsidies.)

I’ve been trying to figure out how to best characterize and/or mock the legal reasoning at play behind the Halbig decision, and I think it can be boiled down to one word: Moops.

I’m referring, of course, to George Costanza’s famous game of Trivial Pursuit against the Bubble Boy, in which Costanza tries to cheat his way out of losing by taking advantage of a misprint on the answer card: “Moops” instead of “Moors.”

Dunno, I'd go with their decision being the worst since Dred Scott, personally...


July 23, 2:42 PM | Permalink | Comments (2) | TrackBack (0)

To Our Land

Mahmoud Darwish:

To our land,
and it is the one near the word of god,
a ceiling of clouds
To our land,
and it is the one far from the adjectives of nouns,
the map of absence
To our land,
and it is the one tiny as a sesame seed,
a heavenly horizon ... and a hidden chasm
To our land,
and it is the one poor as a grouse’s wings,
holy books ... and an identity wound
To our land,
and it is the one surrounded with torn hills,
the ambush of a new past
To our land, and it is a prize of war,
the freedom to die from longing and burning
and our land, in its bloodied night,
is a jewel that glimmers for the far upon the far
and illuminates what’s outside it ...
As for us, inside,
we suffocate more!

It was either that or Passers Between the Passing Words.


July 23, 2:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Sometimes You Find A Yearning For The Quiet Life

The country air and all its joys...


July 23, 12:24 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Precious Progressivism

Um, yeah, okay:

At the end of the day, the 1955 Montgomery bus boycott had to be converted into the 1964 Civil Rights Act. We don’t want politicians who’ve gotta be coaxed, cajoled and protested. We want them on our side from the beginning. We want them to know that the power is with the people, and we have expectations that must be met: delivering legislation and law that reflects the will of the people. That’s how I see the Progressive Caucus fitting in.

I like Congressman Ellison.  A lot.  But dude, that's just some naive, self-serving crap right there.  

Pols generally have to be cajoled on a number of things, particularly important ones.  In fact, I'd be a little worried if they were so certain of stuff that they never had to be coaxed or protested--it's unnatural and probably indicative of their inability to respond to the People.  Besides, when has any politician ever been exactly what each voter, supporter or not, wants?


July 23, 11:57 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Marse Robert

Even I at one time glossed a little bit (and was set aright) over Robert E Lee's relationship with his slaves.  But he was a right old bastard just like the rest of 'em.


July 23, 11:05 AM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

July Crisis

One hundred years ago, Serbia received an ultimatum in the wake of Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination.  Two days later they would ultimately agree to essentially everything except a provision allowing Austria police to be involved in their official investigation of the incident.

British Prime Minister, Sir Herbert Asquith, wrote to his confidante, Venetia Stanley:

Austria has sent a bullying and humiliating ultimatum to Serbia, who cannot possibly comply with it, and demanded an answer within 48 hours - failing which she will march. This means, almost inevitably, that Russia will come to the scene in defence of Serbia and in defiance of Austria, and if so, it is difficult for Germany and France to refrain from lending a hand to one side or the other. So that we are in measurable, or imaginable, distance of a real Armageddon. Happily, there seems to be no reason why we should be anything more than spectators.


Anyway, I've been thinking of this a lot lately when I hear McCain and Graham and others whine about "doing something" after MH17.  Fucking idiots.


July 23, 9:02 AM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Tuesday, 07/22/2014

Secret Moon Base Revealed!

Oh, that's just old fake Apollo footage...


July 22, 10:41 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Whistling Past The Obamacare Lawsuits' Graveyard


Today’s ruling is also further proof that President Obama’s health care law is completely unworkable.  It cannot be fixed.

Really, it couldn't be fixed by, you know, Congressional clarification that the subsidies which clearly apply to Federally-run state exchanges do, in fact, apply to Federally-run state exchanges?  Not a lot of faith in yourself there, Mr Speaker.


July 22, 8:00 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Picking Up The Split

Emily Bazelon Johnson is right:

Obamacare is increasingly popular. One recent survey found that 74 percent of newly covered Republicans are satisfied with the health coverage they’re getting through the law. Throw in newly covered Democrats and independents, and the rate goes up to 78 percent. Do all those governors who refused to set up state exchanges want the people in their state to be stripped of subsidies now? Does the Supreme Court want to pick up this ax and throw it? Surely the answer is no. Let’s count on the D.C. Circuit to come to its senses in the next round. If that happens, and no other full appeals court strikes down this part of the law, these cases will sputter out. As they should. It’s time to stop picking at the statute’s loose threads and move on to a new national project.

Yeah, this ain't going to SCOTUS.  Full DC Circuit will reverse, the score will be 4-0 and we will move on, even if people of a certain ilk can't ever take no for an answer.


July 22, 7:12 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

And A Good Ruling

And the 4th Circuit upholds subsidies:

That Congress sometimes specified state and federal Exchanges in the bill is as unremarkable as it is unrevealing. This was, after all, a 900-page bill that purported to restructure the means of providing health care in this country. Neither the canons of construction nor any empirical analysis suggests that congressional drafting is a perfectly harmonious, symmetrical, and elegant endeavor...Sausage-makers are indeed offended when their craft is linked to legislating...At worst, the drafters’ perceived inconsistencies (if that is what they are at all) are far less probative of Congress’ intent than the unqualified and broad contingency provision.



PS--How did I miss the pizza analogy?

July 22, 1:55 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Coming Home

A converstation with Capcom Charlie Duke on July 22:

05 12 17 21 CC
...Mrs. Robert Goddard said today that her husband would have been so happy. "He wouldn't have shouted or anything. He would just have glowed." She added, "That was his dream, sending a rocket to the Moon." People around the world had many reasons to be happy about the Apollo 11 mission. The Italian police reported that Sunday night was the most crime free night of the year. And in London, a boy who had the faith to bet $5 with a bookie that a man would reach the Moon before 1970 collected $24.000. That's pretty good odds. 
05 14 37 53 CC
Apollo 11, Houston. You are GO for TEI. Over. 

05 14 37 59 CMP
Apollo 11. Thank you. 

05 14 49 25 CC
Hello, Apollo 11. Houston. You've got about 8 minutes till LOS. Your AOS with the burn, 135 34 05, no burn 135 44. Over. 

05 14 49 43 CMP
Okay. Thank you. 

05 14 49 46 CC
Yes, sir. 

05 14 56 35 CC
Apollo 11, Houston. One minute to LOS. Go sic 'em. 

05 14 56 41 CMP
Thank you, sir. We'll do it. 

05 15 19 -- BEGIN LUNAR REV 31 

05 15 35 14 CC
Hello Apollo 11. Houston. How did it go? Over. 

05 15 35 22 CMP
Time to open up the LRL doors, Charlie. 

05 15 35 25 CC
Roger. We got you coming home. It's well stocked. 

That first beer call on terra firma must've been nice, even if it was with Nixon.


July 22, 12:06 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

The Affordable Care Act Wasn't Intended To Make Care Affordable

An unsurprising, bad ruling, that likely can be overcome:

A divided three-judge panel on the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the text of the Affordable Care Act restricts the provision of premium tax credits to state-run exchanges. The two Republican appointees on the panel ruled against Obamacare while the one Democratic appointee ruled for the law.

"We conclude that appellants have the better of the argument: a federal Exchange is not an “Exchange established by the State,” and section 36B does not authorize the IRS to provide tax credits for insurance purchased on federal Exchanges," Judge Thomas B. Griffith wrote for the court.

His ruling was joined in a concurring opinion by George H. W. Bush-appointed Judge A. Raymond Randolph.

Carter-appointed Judge Harry T. Edwards voted to uphold the subsidies.

"This case is about Appellants’ not-so-veiled attempt to gut the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act," Edwards wrote in his dissenting opinion.



July 22, 11:11 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)


Yeah, no:

There is a school of thought, called “declarationalism,” that holds that our Declaration of Independence should be viewed on equal par with the Constitution in American jurisprudence. Has there ever been an instance in which a ruling by our highest court has used the Declaration as the key legal basis for any of its decisions? None that I could find, though there look to be scores of instances in which it is mentioned.

In one case that set back political equality — the Dred Scott case of March 1857 — the Supreme Court ruled that black Americans in the United States, whether slaves or free, did not have the right to become citizens. In Dred Scott v. Sanford, Chief JusticeTaney, in legalizing slavery, wrote for the majority that black Americans “had no rights which the white man was bound to respect; and that the negro might justly and lawfully be reduced to slavery for his benefit. He was bought and sold and treated as an ordinary article of merchandise and traffic, whenever profit could be made by it.” Taney held that the Declaration’s claim that “all men are created equal” did not apply to black Americans. To him, “it is too clear for dispute, that the enslaved African race were not intended to be included, and formed no part of the people who framed and adopted this declaration. . . .”

But most instances in which the Declaration is mentioned by our highest court appear more in the vein of what John Quincy Adams had in mind. For instance, in Cotting v. Godard, in 1901, the Supreme Court makes the case that the Constitution is but the “body and the letter” of the “thought and spirit” of the Declaration’s founding principles.

It's a good piece, so read it all.

Anyway, right wingers have a tendency to conflate the Declaration and our Consitution.  I hate that.  

Look at the damned documents.  Does the Declaration lay out any frame of government?  Nope, it's a statement of purpose and list of grievances.  Sure it announces what our motivating ideals are, but saying I'm all for liberty is meaningless without my putting that into practice.

Consider that on the day Henry Lee first proposed a resolution declaring independency, Congress postponed that decision for three weeks and immediately appointed a committee to come up with "a plan of confederation" that became the Articles.  They knew that whatever happened, they needed a coordinated government of some form.

Same goes for the Constitution's Preamble (and the pre-Preamble that Madison proposed).  It's all important, and can provide some guidance I guess (in the context of natural rights, perhaps), but shouldn't be treated as having any force of law.


July 22, 10:47 AM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

"From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome..."

Yes, how quaint:

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles.

Emma Lazarus.


July 22, 7:28 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, 07/21/2014

No Time To Talk

Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother...


July 21, 11:28 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

At Least They're Keeping Things In Perspective

Sarah Palin Johnson is right!

This president’s forgotten man is we the people, and we the people know that our best days are still ahead because we know that God shed his grace. He’s given us our freedom to do what’s right. God doesn’t drive parked cars. I think he expects us to get up and take action in order to defend these freedoms that are God given. I think it’s an affront to God to let this go on because he gave us these freedoms. We’re not going to let someone, a person, a party take them from us. We’re not going to dethrone God and substitute him with someone who wants to play God.

She's really pulling her punches, though, compared to this guy:

We all know, if there ever was a president that deserved to be impeached, it’s this guy. Alright? And I wouldn’t stop. I would think being hung, drawn, and quartered is probably too good for him.

He seems nice.


July 21, 10:59 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

We Don't Need Another St Louis


Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick (D) announced a proposal on Friday for two military facilities to serve as host sites for some of the thousands of undocumented Central American immigrants who have come into the U.S. in recent months, saying the move falls in line with the country’s tradition of helping children in need.

“We have rescued Irish children from famine, Russian and Ukrainian children from religious persecution, Cambodian children from genocide, Haitian children from earthquakes, Sudanese children from civil war, and New Orleans children from Hurricane Katrina,” Patrick said. “Once, in 1939, we turned our backs on Jewish children fleeing the Nazis, and it remains a blight on our national reputation. The point is that this good Nation is great when we open our doors and our hearts to needy children, and diminished when we don’t.”

Richest country in the world.  You'd think we could do something other than bomb other places and send kids back to hellholes created by our policies.


July 21, 10:38 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Yes, I Cannot Do The Job

Yeah, this makes a lot of sense:

Sara Hellwege is a member of the American Association of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists who believes that birth control can “cause the death of a human embryo.” As such, she is able to “counsel women regarding all forms of contraception,” but not prescribe it “unless pathology exists,” which is exactly what she told the director of human resources at Tampa Family Health Centers. She then inquired about available positions as a laborist or antepartum nurse. The director responded with a polite email informing her that no such positions were available, and that her stated refusal to meet the requirements of the position of certified nurse-midwife would be a barrier to her moving forward with the application process.

Hellwege’s complaint against the medical center alleges that she was “told she could not apply for the positions of certified nurse-midwife by Tampa Family Health Centers [...] explicitly based on her religious beliefs and moral convictions in opposition to prescribing certain drugs that she believes can cause the death of a human embryo.”

Imma try this with Lockheed Martin soon...


July 21, 10:19 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Gotta Learn To Crawl Before You Can Run To The Moon

We had to figure out how to even stay up there before Gemini, let alone Apollo.  Ole Gus, he did alright.


July 21, 1:35 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

A Quarter Million Miles Away

First Men on the Moon:

That afternoon in mid-July,
Two pilgrims watched from distant space
The moon ballooning in the sky.
They rose to meet it face-to-face.
Their spidery spaceship, Eagle, dropped
Down gently on the lunar sand.
And when the module's engines stopped,
Rapt silence fell across the land.
The first man down the ladder, Neil,
Spoke words that we remember now—
“One small step...” It made us feel
As if we were there too, somehow.

J. Patrick Lewis.


July 21, 7:51 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, 07/20/2014

Speaking Of Landing On The Fucking Moon

Holy shit, an oldie but a fucking goodie.


July 20, 10:39 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Going Biblical On The Moon

When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, and the son of man that you care for him?

 - Psalm 8:3-4

From The Inside Story of America's Apollo Moon Landings:

"Eagle, Houston," he spoke into his microphone. His words raced across space at 186,300 miles per second to the two men. "If you read, you're GO for powered descent."

Armstrong and Aldrin were not alone in space. A third member of the Apollo 11 crew, Michael Collins, was 50 miles above them, in lunar orbit in their command ship, Columbia. He had heard clearly the vital message from the control center.

"Eagle, this is Columbia. They just gave you a GO for powered descent," Collins said.

The two men glanced at each other. "Roger," Armstrong acknowledged. They were now headed for a waterless sea known as Tranquility.

Inside Houston's Mission Control Center, a small army of tense flight controllers sat with eyes riveted to their data consoles. "Hey, gang." Heads turned. Gene Kranz, flight director, smiled. "We're really going to land on the moon today."
When the instruments told them that they were 192 miles from their projected landing site, Armstrong and Aldrin would unleash decelerating thrust and begin slowing their speed for the touchdown.

This was it. PDI. Powered Descent Initiate.

On earth, radio listeners and television viewers held their breath. People prayed. Fingernails dug into palms.

Gently the ship descended through the black sky. The Eagle's electronic brain monitored the deceleration, measured the loss of velocity, judged height and confirmed the angle of descent. The invisible hand of the computer then began to add power.

Throttle up. Full power!

Flame gushed beneath them. The Eagle rocked from side to side and pitched violently. The computer fired control thrusters to hold the craft steady.

Gravity pulled at Eagle with a vengeance as it decelerated. Inside their capsule, Armstrong and Aldrin, who had been weightless, were once again in a gravity field. Their arms sagged. Legs settled within their suits.

Armstrong smiled, immersed in the reality of their incredible adventure. He saw Aldrin grinning like a kid.

They were going to land on the moon!

SPOILER: after sailing the breezes of heaven, they make it as Dog intended.  And weren't deported by Christian Loonies.


July 20, 9:22 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Crappy Christians

Ted Cruz is nice:

“Join the fight to stop the crisis on the border -- sign the petition to #StopObamasAmnesty,” Cruz wrote on his Facebook and Twitter.

Cruz argues the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program has spurred a wave of child immigrants from Central America to seek illegal entry into the United States, creating a crisis at the border.

The Tea Party favorite is pushing legislation that would defund the program to prevent it from being expanded. Cruz says his bill should be a part of any broader package approved by Congress to deal with the crisis.

Noting that Cruz clearly thinks the US is a "Christian" nation, and keeping RMJ's admonishment about quoting the Bible in mind, I cannot help but recall Leviticus 19:33-34:

33 [I]f a stranger sojourn with thee in your land, ye shall not vex him.

34 But the stranger that dwelleth with you shall be unto you as one born among you, and thou shalt love him as thyself; for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am theLord your God.

Of course Cruz applauds "charity" like Glenn Beck's, but only to keep kids from abject misery until we send them back to abject misery.  How charitably Christian.


July 20, 7:45 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Speaking Of Nixon

He was no Al Gore.  And no Friend (certainly not the type who would run an underground railroad to rescue LGBT Ugandans).


July 20, 6:07 PM in Conscience | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

John 15:5

I'd like to take this opportunity to ask every person listening in, whoever and wherever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours and to give thanks in his or her own way. Over. 

 - LMP from Tranquility Base, 105:25:38 MET

Buzz wrote in his 2009 book, Magnificent Desolation:

Landing on the moon is not quite the same thing as arriving at Grandmother's for Thanksgiving. You don't hop out of the lunar module the moment the engine stops and yell, "We're here! We're here!" Getting out of the LM takes a lot of preparation, so we had built in several extra hours to our flight plan. We also figured it was wise to allow more time rather than less for our initial activities after landing, just in case anything had gone wrong during the flight.

According to our schedule, we were supposed to eat a meal, rest awhile, and then sleep for seven hours after arriving on the moon. After all, we had already worked a long, full day and we wanted to be fresh for our extra-vehicular activity (EVA). Mission Control had notified the media that they could take a break and catch their breath since there wouldn't be much happening for several hours as we rested. But it was hard to rest with all that adrenaline pumping through our systems.

Nevertheless, in an effort to remain calm and collected, I decided that this would be an excellent time for a ceremony I had planned as an expression of gratitude and hope. Weeks before, as the Apollo mission drew near, I had originally asked Dean Woodruff, pastor at Webster Presbyterian Church, where my family and I attended services when I was home in Houston, to help me come up with something I could do on the moon, some appropriate symbolic act regarding the universality of seeking. I had thought in terms of doing something overtly patriotic, but everything we came up with sounded trite and jingoistic. I settled on a well-known expression of spirituality: celebrating the first Christian Communion on the moon, much as Christopher Columbus and other explorers had done when they first landed in their "new world."

I wanted to do something positive for the world, so the spiritual aspect appealed greatly to me, but NASA was still smarting from a lawsuit filed by atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair after the Apollo 8 astronauts read from the biblical creation account in Genesis. O'Hair contended this was a violation of the constitutional separation of church and state. Although O'Hair's views did not represent mainstream America at that time, her lawsuit was a nuisance and a distraction that NASA preferred to live without.

I met with Deke Slayton, one of the original "Mercury Seven" astronauts who ran our flight-crew operations, to inform him of my plans and that I intended to tell the world what I was doing. Deke said, "No, that's not a good idea, Buzz. Go ahead and have communion, but keep your comments more general." I understood that Deke didn't want any more trouble.

So, during those first hours on the moon, before the planned eating and rest periods, I reached into my personal preference kit and pulled out the communion elements along with a three-by-five card on which I had written the words of Jesus: "I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit; for you can do nothing without me." I poured a thimbleful of wine from a sealed plastic container into a small chalice, and waited for the wine to settle down as it swirled in the one-sixth Earth gravity of the moon. My comments to the world were inclusive: "I would like to request a few moments of silence ... and to invite each person listening in, wherever and whomever they may be, to pause for a moment and contemplate the events of the past few hours, and to give thanks in his or her own way." I silently read the Bible passage as I partook of the wafer and the wine, and offered a private prayer for the task at hand and the opportunity I had been given.

Neil watched respectfully, but made no comment to me at the time.

Perhaps, if I had it to do over again, I would not choose to celebrate communion. Although it was a deeply meaningful experience for me, it was a Christian sacrament, and we had come to the moon in the name of all mankind — be they Christians, Jews, Muslims, animists, agnostics, or atheists. But at the time I could think of no better way to acknowledge the enormity of the Apollo 11 experience that by giving thanks to God. It was my hope that people would keep the whole event in their minds and see, beyond minor details and technical achievements, a deeper meaning — a challenge, and the human need to explore whatever is above us, below us, or out there.

As I've said before, I never had a problem with Genesis on Apollo 8 and think it would be completely appropriate for Buzz to have been more public, too.  Now if Nixon had done something like that, it would've been a different story.


July 20, 5:21 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Around The Horn

Go, no go, for undocking...


July 20, 1:06 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Look Out For Chang'e

Just before Neil and Buzz entered Eagle for final descent prep:

03 23 16 32 CC
Okay. Church services around the world today are mentioning Apollo 11 in their prayers. President Nixon's worship service at the White House is also dedicated to the mission, and our fellow astronaut, Frank Borman, is still in there pitching and will read the passage from Genesis which was read on Apollo 8 last Christmas. The Cabinet and members of Congress, with emphasis on the Senate and House space committees, have been invited, along with a number of other guests. Buzz, your son, Andy, got a tour of MSC yesterday. Your Uncle Bob Moon accompanied him on the visit which included the LRL. Among the - - 

03 23 17 27 LMP
- - Thank you. 

03 23 17 28 CC
Roger. Among the large headlines concerning Apollo this morning, there's one asking that you watch for a lovely girl with a big rabbit. An ancient legend says a beautiful Chinese girl called Chang-o has been living there for 4000 years. It seems she was banished to the Moon because she stole the pill of immortality from her husband. You might also look for her companion, a large Chinese rabbit, who is easy to spot since he is always standing on his hind feet in the shade of a cinnamon tree. The name of the rabbit is not reported. 

03 23 18 15 LMP
Okay. We'll keep a close eye out for the bunny girl. 

About 7 and a half hours later, they were on the surface.


July 20, 10:52 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

One Giant Leap

One small baby.


July 20, 9:13 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Birthday Lights

By Calef Brown:

Light bulbs on a birthday cake.
What a difference that would make!
     Plug it in and make a wish,
     then relax and flip a switch!
No more smoke
      or waxy mess
      to bother any birthday guests.
But Grampa says, “it’s not the same!
      Where’s the magic?
       Where’s the flame?
To get your wish without a doubt,
You need to blow some candles out!”

And thus Sadie turns TWO...


July 20, 7:53 AM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, 07/19/2014

A Million Lights Above You...

Smile down upon your home.


July 19, 10:40 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Hath Not An Immigrant Lice?

An American tradition:

[C]onservative media figures have stoked tensions with wild and dishonest rhetoric on the supposed threat of new arrivals. “Dengue fever, 50 to 100 million new cases a year of dengue fever worldwide. In Mexico, it is endemic. It’s a terrible disease, for anyone that’s had it,” said Fox News host Marc Siegel, who continued with a warning. “There’s no effective treatment of it. It’s now emerging in Texas because of the immigration crisis.” Likewise, on her radio show, Laura Ingraham declared, “The government spreads the illegal immigrants across the country, and the disease is spread across the country.”

Because climate change couldn't be involved:

Warmer temperatures, heavy rainfall (remember, wetter areas get wetter) and high humidity make conditions ripe for ticks and mosquitoes, whose range is expanding. And they’ll bring West Nile virus, Dengue Fever and Lyme disease along with them. That’s certainly the case for the Asian Tiger Mosquito; a study from last August found that over the next two decades, the amount of land area the pest covers will likely increase from 5 to 16 percent.

“Right now, about one-third of the total population of 55 million people in the northeastern U.S. live in areas where the tiny insect has taken up residence,” explains PLoS blogger Linda Marsa, “but that number is projected to double, to 60 percent, by the end of the century, when the mosquito is expected to infest all the major cities on the Atlantic Coast, making over 30 million people who live in these areas vulnerable to locally acquired infections.”

The National Climate Assessment found that those same climate factors will influence the development of both the Lyme disease bacteria and the ticks that host it.

Who could believe in science when there are brown people to blame?


July 19, 8:07 PM | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)


Tomorrow's her birthday...

...but the was a general consensus that...

...we shouldn't wait for cake.

Presents and bowling with Papa tomorrow.  And more cake.


July 19, 6:49 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

061:39:55 MET

11's crossing the equigravisphere today, so here's a refresher on what that is:

Between the Moon and Earth, there came a point where the gravity of the approaching body became stronger than that of the receding body. When this point of gravitational equality was reached, it was customary for mission control, and especially those concerned with flight dynamics, to switch their frame of reference from one world to another.

However, because the Moon itself was in motion around Earth, the numbers representing the spacecraft‘s speed and position appeared to jump. Journalists, more used to figuring out the trajectories of political figures rather than those of spacecraft, found it difficult to make sense of this change in the velocity figures being fed to them by the NASA public affairs people, and some got the impression that a ‘barrier’ was being crossed and that this must surely be felt by the crew. 

Mike Collins later related how Phil Shaffer, one of the flight dynamics controllers in the MOCR struggled to explain the truth to reporters as Apollo 8 entered the lunar sphere of influence: “Never has the gulf between the non-technical journalist and the non-journalistic technician been more apparent. The harder Phil tried to dispel the notion, the more he convinced some of the reporters that the spacecraft actually would jiggle or jump as it passed into the lunar sphere. The rest of us smirked and tittered as poor Phil puffed and laboured, and thereafter we tried to discuss the lunar sphere of influence with Phil as often as we could, especially when outsiders were present.” 

As a homeward-bound Apollo 11 crossed the imaginary line between the gravitational spheres of influence of the two worlds, Capcom Bruce McCandless called the spacecraft to inform the crew: “Apollo 11, this is Houston. Stand by for a ‘mark’ leaving the lunar sphere of influence." He then indicated the moment’s passing, “Mark. You’re leaving the lunar sphere of influence. Over.”

Collins saw a chance for some mischief. “Roger. Is Phil Shaffer down there?“ The FIDO console was being manned by Dave Reed rather than Shaffer. “Negative.” said McCandless, “but we've got a highly qualified team on in his stead.”

“Roger. I wanted to hear him explain it again to the press conference," teased Collins. “Tell him the spacecraft [definitely] gave a little jump as it went through the [equigravisphere].“

“Okay. I'll pass it on to him. Thanks a lot," said McCandless, “and Dave Reed is sort of burying his head in his arms right now.”

Oh, those astronauts, always playing pranks!  Anyway, tomorrow's a big day...


PS--NASA defined the equigravisphere as 40,000 statute miles (64,374 kilometers) from the center of the Moon.

July 19, 12:02 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Mayakovsky In 1913

Happy birthday, Vladimir:

I didn’t know you when you were in your full glory,
I only saw your fiery ascent,
But, maybe, today I have the right
To remember that day from years ago.
How sounds braced the lines of your poetry
With voices like we’d never heard…
Your young hands didn’t rest,
And the scaffold you built was terrifying.
Everything you touched
Seemed transformed,
Whatever you wanted to destroy—collapsed,
A life or death sentence in every word.
Alone and never satisfied,
You tried to rush fate along.
You had already freely and willingly accepted
That soon you’d have to go out and join the great struggle.
I can still hear the answering roar
When you read to us,
The rain slanted its angry eyes,
You started a wild fight with the city.
And your still-unknown name,
Flew into the stuffy lecture hall like lightning,
So that today, cherished everywhere in this country,
It could ring out like a battle cry.

Anna Akhmatova.


July 19, 10:49 AM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, 07/18/2014

177k Miles From Earth

If that's not the Earth, we're in trouble.


July 18, 10:32 PM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday Familyblogging

Sometimes you just have to give 'em electronics to stop the screaming.

Kittens need no such parental tricks.


July 18, 6:51 PM in Family Life | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Terrorists Of Infinite Space

Israeli journo Noam Sheizaf writes:

I keep running into Israelis who don’t know, for example, that we still control Allenby Bridge (which connects the West Bank to Jordan), and with it each entrance and exit of every Palestinian into the West Bank; or they don’t know that the Israeli Defense Force still operates in Area A, supposedly under the full control of the Palestinian Authority; or that there is no 3G network in the West Bank because Israel doesn’t permit the Palestinian cellular providers to use the necessary frequencies; or that we imprison hundreds of Palestinians without trial for months and years; or any other factual, undeniable aspect of the occupation. If all this is unknown, then perhaps this is all just a big misunderstanding.

Most of the time I try to correct misconceptions and argue over such details, but if I had to explain the whole thing briefly, I would use the following metaphor: We’ve built two giant prisons. Let’s call them “West Bank Prison” and “Gaza Prison.” The West Bank Prison is similar to a minimum-security facility, where prisoners get torun their own affairs as long as they behave. They are entitled to vacations from time to time, and once a year they are even taken to the beach. Some lucky people get below-minimum-wage jobs in nearby factories, and when you consider the low prices in the prison canteen, it’s actually not a bad deal.

Gaza, on the other hand, is a maximum-security facility. It is difficult to visit and impossible to leave. We allow in essential food, water, and electricity so that the prisoners don’t die. Apart from that, we don’t really care about them—that is unless they approach the prison fence, or the “forbidden” perimeter, where anyone who wanders too close is shot, or if they try to throw something over the fence.

There it is in a nutshell. 


July 18, 5:52 PM in Viva Palestina | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Corporatism Needs No Amendment

Indeed, Godel's right that we could constitutionally become a dictatorship through Article V processes.  But how quaint: just inject enough money into the system and you don't even need to amend things.


July 18, 2:49 PM in Constitution, Schmonstitution | Permalink | Comments (1) | TrackBack (0)

Swimming Through The Void

We're one in the river and one again after the fall.


July 18, 1:05 PM | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Riding The Fire

Michael Collins describes his first launch, flying on Gemini 10 with John Young, on July 18, 1966:

10 — 9 — 8 . . . grab the ejection D-ring between your legs with both hands; one jerk and our seats will explode free of this monster . . . 7 — 6 — 5 . . . it’s really going to happen . . . 4 — 3 — 2 — 1 . . . engines should be starting—IGNITION—pay attention to those gauges—LIFT OFF!

A barely perceptible bump, and we are airborne. Fairly high noise level, but we feel the machine, rather than hear it. Down below the engines shift back and forth in rapid little spastic motions, keeping the cigar-shaped load poised in delicate balance despite gusty winds and sloshing fuel tanks. Up on top we feel this actively in the form of minute sideways jerks.

There is absolutely no sensation of speed, and only a moderate increase above one G as we are gently pushed back into our contoured seats. I am dimly aware that a thin overcast layer above us seems to be getting closer when pow we burst through the wispy clouds in brief but clear contradiction to the seat-of-the-pants feeling of standing still. Cod- damn, we are moving out! As the G level begins to build, so does a choppy, buzzing vibration, not side to side now, but fore and aft.

This is the so-called POGO motion, and we are expecting it; it is no surprise and no discomfort, causing only a high-frequency quivering of body and instmment panel, which makes the dial faces appear slightly out of focus. In fifty seconds we pass our ejection seat limit and I loosen the death grip on my D-ring. Noise and vibration increase sharply as we approach Mach 1; then there is an abrupt smoothing effect as we reach the supersonic domain in the thin upper atmosphere.

The G level is getting noticeable now as the first-stage fuel tanks are nearly empty, but the two first-stage engines are still churning away at full thrust. "Staging" (the shut-down of the empty first stage, separation from it, and ignition of the second-stage engine) nears, as the clock approaches two and a half minutes and the C meter creeps up over 5.

Staging is a shock. Too many things happen too swiftly for the brain to render a verdict. The eye barely has time to register catas- trophe and rescue: the G load abruptly ceases, and I feel myself flying forward against restraining straps. The window is instantaneously full of reds and yellows and bright parficles and whizzing pieces of debris, and then, as quickly as chaos has come, it evaporates, leaving black sky and quiet ride as the second stage hums serenely along.

On the ground Pat watches her TV screen and thinks that the vehicle has exploded. She is right. An instant after the two stages separated, the first-stage oxidizer tank ruptured explosively, spraying debris in all directions with dramatic, if harmless, visual effect. Back in the cockpit we have no time to discuss the matter. John, up for his second time on a Titan, knows this one is different, but not me—I luxuriate in my ignorance and begin to enjoy this ride.

He had to do stuff like this to get himself and the whole program ready so he could be coasting toward the moon a mere 3 years later.


July 18, 11:07 AM in Mars, Bitches! | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

At Least He Didn't Make A Lidice Joke

Jesus fuck, this is more assholish than usual:

“Dealing w/ Hamas is like dealing w/ a crazy woman who’s trying to kill u,” Maher posted. “u can only hold her wrists so long before you have to slap her.”

Genocide and misogyny all in one tweet.  Well played.


July 18, 9:41 AM in And Fuck... | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)