Thursday, March 22, 2018

Soyuz MS-08 launched yesterday!

Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev, Andrew Feustel
Soyuz MS-08 crew (L-R): Ricky Arnold, Oleg Artemyev, Andrew Feustel 

Mission patch

Soyuz MS-08, launched yesterday, March 21, 2018, is on its way to the International Space Station, carrying members of Expedition 55 and 56. Its crew consists of Commander Oleg Artemyev (Roscosmos), Andrew Feustel and Richard "Ricky" Arnold, both of NASA.  They will dock with the station tomorrow, March 23.

They will join the current crew, Anton Shkaplerov, Scott Tingle and Norishige Kanai, already on board.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Ranger 9 launched 1965

Image of the lunar surface from Ranger 9

Ranger 9, launched March 21, 1965, was the fourth of the Block 3 Ranger spacecraft sent to the moon.  It reached the moon three days later and took 5814 pictures of the final 19 minutes of flight, before it impacted the lunar surface in the Alphonsus crater.

"Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla" released 1974

Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla, released March 21, 1974, is the 14th film in the Godzilla franchise.  It was released in a very limited run in the U.S. in 1977.  Cinema Shares released the movie as Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster, but Universal Television threatened to sue them for the use of the word 'bionic' because Universal owned The Six Million Dollar Man and The Bionic Woman so Cinema Shares changed the name to Godzilla vs. the Cosmic Monster.

The film is the first appearance of King Caesar, the guardian of an ancient Japanese family.  He is awakened to help Godzilla defeat Mechagodzilla, who has been sent by the Aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole to conquer Earth.

It starred veteran Godzilla actors Akihiko Hirata and Kenji Sahara.

Happy birthday, Belgian astronaut Dirk Frimout!

Dirk Dries David Damiaan, Viscount Frimout, born March 21, 1941 in Poperinge, Belgium, flew into space aboard Space Shuttle Atlantis (STS-45) March-April 1992 as a Payload Specialist for the European Space Agency.  He is the first Belgian in space.

His flight made him famous in Belgian and a ticket tape parade was organized for him upon his return.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Donna Summer releases "Another Place and Time" 1989

Donna Summer released her fourteenth studio album Another Place and Time, March 20, 1989.  She broke away from her label Geffen Records, with whom she had released much of her 80's work, and went with producer Stock Aitken Watermen.

She released the first single This Time I Know It's for Real a month before the album was released and it became her biggest hit from the album.

Another Place and Time was certified gold in the UK.

The Twilight Zone episode "The Masks" airs 1964

Ida Lupino directed this classic episode of the Twilight Zone, The Masks which first aired March 20, 1964.  It is the only episode directed by a woman and Lupino is the only person to have appeared in an episode and to direct an episode. 

Wealthy Jason Foster is dying in his New Orleans mansion no Mardi Gras, and has his considerably-less-than-loving family to be with him.  He makes them wear hideous masks until midnight or they lose out on their inheritance.  Each mask mirrors their own deplorable personalities.  I won't put any spoilers here but one can see where this is headed when the family is allowed to remove their masks.

The Masks keeps appearing on lists of the best episodes or the scariest episodes of the Twilight Zone.  Interestingly, the son is played by Alan Sues, who plays a sadistic thug, but went a few years later went on to star in the over-the-top comedy Laugh-In.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Greed and lies. Now Pruitt adds hate to the EPA's agenda.

From the beginning, everyone knew, and yet nobody was denying it, Scott Pruitt was the absolute worst choice to become Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency.  Mainly, it is his track record as Attorney General of Oklahoma that made him uniquely unqualified to sit in that seat:  He sued the EPA several times, seeking regulatory freedom for the oil and gas industries.  Pruitt opposed anything, the Clean Air Act, the Clean Water Act, the Clean Power Act, anything that would allow the oil and gas industries, which donated heavily to his campaign to become their lawyer, free reign to pollute our atmosphere, water and soil. 

His greed has been apparent for a long time, and still, he does nothing to deny it. 

Now he has added another evil, hate, to his greed and lies. 

Last week, twenty eight senators, including Ben Cardin and Chris VanHollen of Maryland, sent a letter to Pruitt urging him not to roll back restrictions on the use of dangerous pesticides by young workers, i.e. youngsters under the age of 18.  According to the Huffington Post, the American Farm Bureau lobbied the TEPA after the EPA under Obama finalized these rules.  They argued that the regulations were too tight, probably because minors tend to work cheaper than adults.  Since immediate family members are exempted from those rules, it is likely the opponents to these rules are wanting to hire young workers who might be migrants who speak little if any English and do not understand their rights. 

This attack on children’s health comes as no surprise for anyone watching Pruitt and the TEPA.  Back in May 2015, Pruitt delayed the ban of chlorpyrifos, an insecticide that exposure to which causes health problems in young children, especially between the ages of 2-3.  Pruitt has moved the decision on the ban back to 2022.  His excuse?  He says there “continue to be considerable areas of uncertainty” and he was “returning to sound science in decision-making rather than predetermined results”.  Pruitt does not give any clarity of what he has determined to be “sound science”.  Accusing an institution like Columbia University of falsifying data and information is just deplorable.  Sound familiar?

Apparently, Pruitt made this decision after a brief meeting with Dow Agro Sciences LLC, the manufacturer of the insecticide.  And still he claims that he doesn’t meet with polluters.  There is no basis for delaying this ban.

When it comes to the health of our children, we should always err on the side of caution and nothing is too safe for our children.