Archive for May 2009

Hubble Repair Mission Launch

May 11, 2009

Monday, May 11, 2009, 2:01 EDT

This will be the 5th and final Hubble repair mission.

With two non-functioning cameras, the orbiting telescope is all but blind now.  NASA engineers readily admit that they’re going for broke with this ambitious mission, which will replace those cameras and upgrade a host of other sub-systems on the 19 year old observatory. Says Tariq Malik at

If all goes well, the astronauts will leave Hubble’s vision and science capability more powerful than ever before by the end of the 11-day mission. Atlantis is also carrying a set of IMAX 3-D cameras to document Hubble’s last service call for a film slated to be released in spring 2010.

To see live coverage on your PC, go here for information or here for a live feed.

HST was designed to last a minimum of 15 years in space, but it was hoped that with well timed servicing missions it would be up there for 25. With this mission, the telescope should easily be able to last that long. Getting to this point has been sometimes problematic.

NASA canceled an Atlantis mission to extend Hubble’s operational life in January 2004 because the trip was considered too risky in the wake of the 2003 Columbia tragedy that killed seven astronauts. But public pressure and the development of safer shuttle technology led the U.S. space agency to reconsider.

As I type this, the weather report for launch could not be better.


Not Something Normal Fans Would Do

May 6, 2009

Chuck Fans Have A Heart

Chuck is a good show on NBC that’s having a harder time getting renewed than it should. The announcement, expected last Monday, was delayed without explanation, and fans became, well, a little worried.

Tomorrow, 7-May, sometime between 1 pm and 2 pm, CNN is going to highlight the amazing fan reaction to this bit of adversity.  It goes way beyond writing e-mails to NBC executives or sending various unwanted items to their desks in vast quantities.  The fan known as “Chuckling” explains.

On the morning of May 5, 2009, a few of us were kicking around ideas on the NBC Chuck forum of what else might be done to extend the SAVE CHUCK cause. Ideas started coming together suggesting that we donate to Subway’s favorite charity, The American Heart Association.

And why Subway’s favorite charity? That’s because Subway was a major sponsor of Chuck, and had prominent product placement in several episodes. It was a running gag that the fans actually enjoyed.

And for at least the last two episodes of the season, fans showed their support in an organized manner by buying the product.  No disses, no boycotts, just support.

So why the hold up at NBC? Dateline Hollywood TV critic Nikki Finke thinks she knows.

As for Chuck, this gets complicated. Turns out NBC didn’t like David E Kelley’s Warner Bros pilot Legally Mad. Problem is, there’s a $2 million penalty that gets paid to WB if the network doesn’t pick up the show. So NBC is hoping to work a deal tying the renewal of Chuck, which is also a WB show, to a pass on paying that Legally Mad penalty.

Regardless of your fandom status, if you’d like to donate to the American Heart Association, you can start here.  If you’d like to show your support for the show at the same time, you can start at the WeHeartChuck site.

Maybe You CAN Be Too Safe

May 3, 2009

Justify Yourself!

Watch out! Buckley’s on his hobby-horse again. Beware!

I caught just a bit of flack for this, written last August.

Only two months ago we experienced a short but very intense storm in the suburban areas north of DC. It happened right before the evening rush hour, and, of course the lights went out. Traffic lights not exempted.

In this, the second most traffic-congested area of the country (after L.A.), during the most congested part of the day, tens of thousands of drivers were forced to take their lives into their own hands and brave intersections without the benefit of technology.

Seldom have I seen moving so smoothly in my 29 years here.

Well, I understand.  It’s hard (read, dumb!) to justify espousing the removal of red-lights, especially if you dress it up as a safety measure, of all things.  Who would be so foolish?

Just because I believe people would drive safer if you removed air bags and replaced them with a sharp spike in the steering column doesn’t make me a fool, does it? [Really want an answer, JB? – ed.]

So what do I find today, but this, by Tom Vanderbilt?

What would happen if traffic lights were suddenly switched off? Would there be gridlock or would the queues of frustrated drivers miraculously disappear?

People in London are about to find out the answer in Britain’s first test of the theory that removing lights will cure congestion.

For six months, lights at up to seven junctions in Ealing will be concealed by bags and drivers will be left to negotiate their way across by establishing eye contact with pedestrians and other motorists.

The reason for the trial was pure accident:

Ealing found evidence to support its theory when the lights failed one day at a busy junction and traffic flowed better than before. Councillors have approved a report which recommended that they “experimentally remove signals since experience of signal failure showed that junction worked well.”

Vanderbilt is quoting the Times of London.  Life may not be a Monty Python skit, exactly, but sometimes it appears to be so.

Jack Kemp – RIP

May 2, 2009

A Boy’s First Football Hero

Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp

Saw it first on twitter, and then here.

WASHINGTON – Jack Kemp, the ex-quarterback, congressman, one-time vice-presidential nominee and self-described “bleeding-heart conservative,” died Saturday. He was 73.

Kemp died after a lengthy illness, according to spokeswoman Bona Park and Edwin J. Feulner, a longtime friend and former campaign adviser. Park said Kemp died at his home in Bethesda, Md., in the Washington suburbs.

If anyone deserved the title “Mr. Buffalo Bill”, he did.

Jack Kemp was 73.

Found In Dictionary Under ‘Fools’

May 2, 2009

Cross Referenced Under ‘Beclowns’

I know Olbermann is an idiot, but who IS this nameless fool with him?  Never mind.  He’s ignorable.
From Townhall via Glenn Reynolds, I give you assininity.

Instapundit is right, though. They do far more damage to the gay-marriage (and gay-rights) cause in these brief, two minutes than most do in a lifetime of effort.