Tuesday, August 09, 2005

Two Things.

Shuttle Discovery landed at Edwards AFB early this morning
(I Heart Spacemen)

If you read my July 26 post: Blast Off! Shuttle Discovery blasts into space, I Dine on cheese, you heard me write (you know what I mean) about the Shuttle Columbia's disasterous take-off. I was mistaken. The Columbia exploded during re-entry. Egg on my face. Also mentioned in the same post was my enthusiasm about the shuttle program, the space center (people living in outer space!), and the reverence I have for astronauts (did you know that Johnny Depp is one-- it's true, I saw it in a movie. Apparently, he is also married to Charlize Theron. I don't think Vanessa Paradis is au courant).

Warning, the following may contain sentiments too saccharine and nationalistic for the International community-- and prove dangerous to anyone who hates America.

I get a very infantile sense of joy whenever I think of such an amazing accomplishment that we (and by 'we,' I mean NASA, the DOD, Industrial Light & Magic, and Lance Bass) continue to build on. The space program is one of things that Americans-- all Americans are proud to claim. With so many anti-American sentiments coming from within our own country (read into that what you will. This is not a political blog and if you wish to know of which side I affiliate myself, [I won't tell you but...] you should check back everyday and leave at least two comments each time. Also, tell all of your friends about my blog), varying degrees of disdain from the other cultures, and varying degrees of antipathy--yes, I mean antipathy-- from world leaders, it's hard to be enthusiastic about the state of domestic (or int'l.) affairs. But the space program is different. We're not competing with anyone-- in fact, we're working with several countries (including Big Red... er, um... I mean Russia), and unlike our sports stars, actors/actresses, and especially politicians, Astronauts are still real heros. The former are pathetic displays of what humanity becomes when given fame, fortune, and power with little to no effort. And what do they do with that power-- they disappoint. But astronauts are still going into the unknown, they are still putting theirs lives in danger, they are smart, successful, and they aren't doing it for fame or fortune, but for their country, for science, and for the love of it.
An astronaut is different from a soldier (although many start out in the armed forces) in a few ways, but most importantly in the way the public sees them. An astronaut will never be hated by the public for merely doing their job, and Americans will never look at an astronaut with pity and consider him just a brainless pawn in the President's "game." Astronauts are America's last true heros. And to hear that they made back, that the shuttle is set to launch in September, and that we still get it right some times is quite... uplifting.

Peter Jennings, 67, died Monday at his home in New York.

For those of you not familliar with American television news, Peter Jennings was an icon in journalism. I had the opportunity to hear him speak last spring as he was accepted a lifetime achievement award. I was awed that one man had experienced so many significant, historical events and movements. ABC World News Tonight was the only American news program I watched (while still at home) and he will be missed (painful understatement-- I know).

The following was taken from the ABC website and highlights some of the many accomplishments of his career.

He was in Berlin in the 1960s when the Berlin Wall was going up, and there in the '90s when it came down. He covered the civil rights movement in the southern United States during the 1960s, and the struggle for equality in South Africa during the 1970s and '80s. He was there when the Voting Rights Act was signed in the United States in 1965, and on the other side of the world when black South Africans voted for the first time. He has worked in every European nation that once was behind the Iron Curtain. He was there when the independent political movement Solidarity was born in a Polish shipyard, and again when Poland's communist leaders were forced from power.
And he was in Hungary, Czechoslovakia, East Germany, Romania and throughout the Soviet Union to record first the repression of communism and then its demise. He was one of the first reporters to go to Vietnam in the 1960s, and went back to the killing fields of Cambodia in the 1980s to remind Americans that, unless they did something, the terror would return.
He established the first American television news bureau in the Arab world in 1968 when he served as ABC News' bureau chief for Beirut, Lebanon, a position he held for seven years. He helped put ABC News on the map in 1972 with his coverage of the Summer Olympics in Munich, when Arab terrorists took Israeli athletes hostage.

And, I will never EVER forget amidst the turmoil and pain of September 11th, watching him cry during his marathon coverage (he spent more than 60 hours in front of cameras reporting) of the events of that day and week. Many of you may not understand why a news reporter would be such a loss to an entire country, and, sadly, there are many Americans who couldn't care less. But many of us saw him as one of the last great seekers of truth. He was not a TV personality, he was a real journalist. He came into my home every evening, and made the harsh realities of the world a little bit easier to stomach because it was news being delivered by a trusted friend-- not a reporter w/ questionable motives, and certainly not diabetes-inducing "Ray of Sunshine" Katie Couric. He will be missed.

In Summation.
Astonauts: good. Peter Jennings: good, but dead. Serena: overly sentimental and still so removed from current events that she didn't find out about his death until today.

I was going to spend this evening posting public restrooms in Europe. I have encountered more than one significant difference and have quite a bit to say on the subject-- and a few words of advice (take it from someone who, unfortunately, had to learn from her mistakes). But I heard about the two aforementioned events today and, frankly, it doesn't take a lot to trump a bathroom post. Again, folks, I like hearing from you, but "Comments" is also a good place to leave news updates, headlines, grand openings, birth announcements.


Blogger Serena said...

Captain Obvious says: "The men dressed in silver space suits are not members of the Shuttle Discovery Crew."

1:41 AM  
Blogger UrbanCannibal said...

First Mate Obvious says:
Peter Jennings was a Canadian - therefore he will be missed, despite never wearing a dress made of meat.

3:04 AM  
Blogger Adrian said...

SERENA: I am just as proud as you are about the safe landing of the crew.


Sorry to hear about the loss of what was obviously an important man and insoirational human being.

3:39 AM  
Anonymous Smart Sue-Asian said...

Sorry Serena. This was boring to read. Perhaps it is because I have listened to a lot of NPR lately and these two topics are repeated heavily. Jennings crying is good though. I was touched by that on 9/11.
please post a photo of a really good looking Parisan, male if you can. I want to erase this image of a very skinny man in a black and white striped shirt with a tear tatoo on his face.

3:55 AM  
Blogger Serena said...

Chief Petty Officer Obvious says: "Like with most things, we still claim PJ as ours. Because we successfully intergrated him into our culture, we will take credit for his accomplishments. "

Smart Sue-Asian-- there is really nothing I can do for you. They all really do look like that (Just add a beret and a glass of kir). They also like to dance to the Tango played on an accordian-- not necessarily in a dance hall or club, just randomly break into dance on the street. I feel like I am living in a french version of FAME, only everyone smokes and there are a lot of tourists taking pictures.

9:56 AM  

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