Month: November 2011

Another Reason to Increase NASA Funding

Sometimes, the best justification for something is to look at the things that it is not:

An artist's rendering of the Phobos Grunt (Ground) probeRussian officials on Tuesday acknowledged that the chances of fixing a space probe bound for a moon of Mars that got stuck in Earth’s orbit are close to zero, Russian news agencies reported.

The unmanned $170 million Phobos-Ground was launched two weeks ago and reached preliminary Earth orbit, but its engines never fired to send it off to the Red Planet. Russian engineers have been trying to retrieve data from the probe as it passes over their territory but haven’t established contact ….

…. The failed spacecraft is 13.2 metric tons (14.6 tons), and most of that weight, about 11 metric tons (12 tons), is highly toxic fuel.

Davydov said Tuesday that Phobos-Ground could crash to Earth some time between late December and late February. The site of the crash cannot be established more than a day in advance, he said.

Davydov insisted that “if you calculate the probability of it hitting somebody on the head, it is close to zero.”

Thank you, Vitaly Davydov. We all feel so much better.

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Just One of Those Things

There is little in the way of preface that could adequately frame the spectacle. Though for some, Debbie Harry’s “self sacrifice” apparently seemed a horrifying endorsement of sexual violence. As J. J. Anisiobi explains:

Debby Harry's Self SacrificceDressed in a floor-length red dress and with her trademark blonde hair Debbie took centre stage at the Museum Of Contemporary Art Gala and both shocked and disgusted attendees.

As the 66-year-old singer stood with all eyes on her, two life-size nude statues of herself and co-curator Marina Abramovic were rolled onto the stage.

With almost magician-like precision Harry produced a large machete and as the crowd of celebrities began to cheer she plunged the knife straight into the heart of her naked double.

Some members of the MoCA audience chanted, “Violence against women!” in protest of the the faux brutality. One person in attendance described the show as “appalling”. Perhaps most damning, Dita von Teese, who has made a career out of exploiting female sexuality, invoked the famous comic strip Pogo, tweeting that, “This must be art, because it sure ain’t entertainment”.

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What Bottom Shelf Comedy Looks Like

Onion Sports NetworkThe folks at The Onion brought a few tears to their own eyes today with a demonstration of how to absolutely embarrass oneself by telling a bad joke. The headline is a variation on as stale a theme as one can find: “Alex Ovechkin Having Trouble Following Puck On TV“. And the detail? Well, yeah. One can certainly appreciate the Onion Sports Network’s self-deprecating sense of irony.

A Brief Note on Headbanging

In the 1980s, you could easily mark four bands as the dominant names in what we know as speed or thrash metal. Strangely, they all survived the period.

  • Anthrax
  • Megadeth
  • Metallica
  • Slayer

It’s not that nobody else made it through, but it seems somehow striking that these four did.

Anthrax - Among The LivingTo the other, I couldn’t tell you, without looking up their wiki entries, about any number of bands. But Nuclear Assault, The Forbidden, Panic, D.R.I. …. I’d like to think that the fact that so many of the bands I adored in my teenage angst lived to tell the tale says something about my artistic taste, but at the same time, so many of them didn’t. Agony Column? (Six six six guns … for Satan!) What is Flotsam and Jetsam doing these days? Apparently, any number of these bands turn up on the club circuit, but I’ve managed to see the big four at arena shows in recent years, and perhaps it is a pervading sense of nostalgia, but I’m not sure how many of them actually expected to see the twenty-first century.

No, there isn’t any real point. Maudlin nostalgia, I guess.