Friday, July 27, 2007

Blast off!

by Capt. Fogg

The most important thing in rocket travel is the blast off. I always take a blast before I take off! Otherwise, I wouldn't go near that thing!

-Jose Jimenez

Old timers like me remember laughing at comedian Bill Dana's comic character Jose Jimenez' astronaut routine that was so popular during the 60's that even the Project Mercury astronauts, if the movie The Right Stuff is to be believed, adopted him as a mascot. Although the comic stereotype may seem a bit questionable to today's sensibilities, it's not hard to identify with the sentiment. Getting into a vintage vehicle with a few million miles on the odometer, built by the lowest bidder and filled with enough high explosives to light up the night sky 200 miles away is something that I couldn't do without a heavy slug of the right stuff either - better make it a triple.

It shouldn't be a surprise that some astronauts are alleged to have had similar feelings and according to Aviation Week & Space Technology's Web site, a special panel studying astronaut health found that on two occasions, astronauts were allowed to fly after flight surgeons and other astronauts warned they were so drunk they posed a safety risk.

There was a time when I viewed NASA as a wonderland; a golden gate leading to a brave new world, but that wonderland has become as shabby to look at as any Motel 6 in rural Alabama. One by one, all the reasons I once had to brag about the United States of America have been tarnished, debauched or sold down the river. This doesn't come lose to the embarrassment I feel at living in a country that has George W. Bush as a president, but it doesn't help.

(Cross posted at Human Voices.)

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