Ok, it's a big news day, so let's dive right in, shall we?
First some good news. The Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter made a flawless orbital insertion yesterday. It took seven months for the 4000 pound, $720 million spacecraft to reach the red planet, and it will take another 7 months of careful aerobraking to bring the orbiter down to its desired altitude of approximately 250 miles above the surface. The MRO is equipped with the most powerful optical cameras ever launched into space, as well as a spectrometer for atmospheric analysis, radar for probing beneath the Martian topsoil, an advanced communications array that will permit the craft to more effectively relay information from probes already on the surface, a gravitational field investigation package designed to measure Mars' gravity, and accelerometers which will gather data about the composition and density of the Martian atmosphere during the aerobraking maneuvers.
Once the MRO is settled into its orbit it will begin two years of the most intense and detailed scrutiny of Mars ever conducted. Its high resolution camera will be able to see objects as small as one meter in length, and may even be able to find the wreckage of the Mars Polar Lander which is believed to have crash landed on December 3, 1999.
Closer to home is a story that I am somewhat reluctant to take pleasure in, but it's just too damned hard not to. Slobodan Milosovic, the former Yugoslavian leader responsible for the deaths of thousands of Bosnian Croats and Muslims between 1992 and 1995, died in his cell sometime today. I'm only sorry that he died peacefully in his sleep of apparant natural causes, and not wetting himself and begging for mercy in front of a firing squad. If there is a final judgement beyond this world, I would imagine Milosovic will soon be joining the Infernal poker game right alongside Hitler, Stalin, and Dahmer. Bon voyage, bastard.
Even closer to home is a story I predicted years ago. I have long been saying that Michael Jackson is a classic case of insanity gone unchecked. As long as he was bringing in more cash than any two third-world nations he was coddled, and pampered, and shielded from 'the real world' by the toadies and ass-kissers surrounding him. Well, now the house of cards is collapsing around him. Despite his acquittal of child molestation charges, Jackson has been living in Bahrain ever since, and apparantly not paying his bills here at home. The state of California has given Jackson til Tuesday to pay $100,000 in penalties and $306,000 in back pay owed to nearly 50 workers at his Neverland Ranch. According to workers at Neverland, they haven't been paid since December. Allegations of Jackson's financial troubles have been plentiful, and one witness, a forensic accountant, testified at the recent trial that Jackson had been consistantly spending $20-30 million more than he made annually. Of course, Jackson's attorneys deny all of this, but the workers at the ranch have been barred from returning due to the fact that Neverland's workers compensation insurance had lapsed. As for the dozens of exotic animals at the ranch, several local animal welfare agencies have been notified, and PETA has even put thier two cents in, calling for all the animals to be sent to sanctuaries.
And right here at home, I'm not going to war after all. Our beloved mama cat, Artemis, came down with a urinary infection, and her visit to the vet, along with two shots, bloodwork, and antibiotics pretty much wiped out my war chest. But, disappointed though I am, it is far more important to keep the babies healthy. And even though she slept more than usual yesterday, she was friskier than ever last night and even chased the laser pointer, which she ususally ignores. So all in all it was a good decision. But now I have to treat her for ear mites, and she ain't gonna like that.
From sunny Tampa, where I'm about to be bleeding from several places, I bid you adieu for now.