Friday, January 28, 2011

What is a Hero?

The word hero, like so many other handy buzzwords, has been almost drained of its meaning by the bloodless, hyperbole addicted press of today. It seems anyone who meets an untimely death is dubbed a hero. I'm sorry, but the people who died in the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 were not heroes, although some probably were and we'll never know, they were victims.* The Chilean miners were not heroes, although the people that worked tirelessly to get them out definitely were, but you don't see any of them going to the White House. No, to me a hero is someone who consciously puts the well being and safety of others ahead of their own, and few people earn the moniker 'hero' like astronauts. Space is a very dangerous place, and getting there and back again is one of the most hazardous things a human being can do. Yet hundreds have dedicated their lives to just that. They climb into tiny, cramped tubes of aluminum, plastic, and foam, strap themselves to megatons of explosive force, and go into an environment that at any time can kill them in any number of truly terrible ways. And given how unfathomably dangerous this venture is, the US safety record is incredible. Out of the hundreds of manned space flights, including 123 shuttle launches, only 24 US astronauts died in the line of duty. Most of them are well known, since they died aboard the Challenger and the Columbia, but there are some you have probably never heard of. Pray indulge me as I take a moment on this, the 25th anniversary of the Challenger disaster, as I list these heroes:

Theodore C. Freeman
T-38 accident, October 31, 1964

Charles A. Bassett, II
Elliot M. See, Jr
T-38 accident, February 28, 1966

Clifton C. Williams, Jr.
T-38 accident, October 5, 1967

(the T-38 is a small one or two man training jet)

Virgil "Gus" Grissom
Edward H. White, II
Roger B. Chaffee

Killed when their Apollo 1 capsule burst into flames during a ground test, January 27, 1967

Michael J. Adams
X-15 accident, November 15, 1967
(the X-15 was an experimental high speed/high altitude plane)

Robert H. Lawrence Jr.
F-104 accident, December 8, 1967

Francis "Dick" Scobee
Michael J. Smith
Judith A. Resnik
Ellison S. Onizuka
Ronald E. McNair
Gregory B. Jarvis
S. Christa McAuliffe

Killed when Challenger exploded on launch throttle up, January 28, 1986

Manley L. "Sonny" Carter, Jr.

Commercial plane accident, April 5, 1991

Rick D. Husband
William C. McCool
Michael P. Anderson
Kalpana Chawla
David M. Brown
Laurel Clark
Ilan Ramon

Killed when Columbia broke up during reentry, February 1, 2003

I won't go into why their sacrifices are not in vain, except to say that many of the technological advances that make life so comfortable, safe, and longer for you and me are directly beholding to the efforts of the people listed here. Because of them, and thousands of others like them, we enjoy a world that is cleaner, safer, healthier, and more enjoyable than would have been possible had mankind not looked up and asked, "I wonder what's out there". I honor these brave men and women today, and every day, for truly embodying the NASA motto: For the betterment of all.

*That is not meant to disparage the brave firefighters, police, and ordinary citizens who responded to the emergency and were definitely heroes.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Starbase Repairs

Hi, Folks,
Please forgive this shameless begging, but the Starbase is in dire need. My computer is having serious problems, and the time has come that we need a new one to keep the show going. Unfortunately, with a baby on the way, what little discretionary income we have is dedicated to the impending birth. To that end I have set up a donate button on our show's website so folks can kick in a buck or two to help keep the show going. If you listen, and feel we are worthy of a a few sheckles, please help. No amount is too small, and every penny, after PayPal gets its cut, will go directly into the show. And if you can't, that's groovy too. We still love you. :-)

We now return you to your regularly scheduled Internet, already in progress.

Peace, y'all,

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Geekling Inbound

So there is much news to report, oh amazingly patient and wonderful readers. First, and foremost, Mrs. Marius is with child!! I know I'm not supposed to say anything until the third month, and some of you will recall that back in the summer of '06 we had a pregnancy that went very wrong, but I've been bottling this up for almost three weeks now and I'm about to burst. She's about 7 weeks or so along, and there is a good heartbeat and she's quite obviously showing, and I can't imagine waiting another two months to say anything. I don't mind admitting that I'm a bit terrified. Even though I've been a step-father for 8 years now, this will be my first baby, and at my age that's a bit daunting. But I'm studying, and doing my best to prepare, so wish me luck. :-)

In other news my wife's computer, that the lovely and talented Celebhith gave us when we returned to Florida half a decade ago, finally croaked yesterday. So rather than go buy the new dresser we really need we bought a refurbished desktop at CompUSA. So I've spent a large part of last night and today loading, configuring, installing, and tweaking. It's working great for her, so her Farmville crops are safe. I am now trying to revive the old machine enough to use just for podcasting. I'm optimistic, but it might just be an exercise in futility...we'll see.

Finally I got a really groovy...well, to me recently. If you are familiar with the Haynes series of auto repair manuals you'll find this amusing:

It's full of great pictures, diagrams, and descriptions of all the Star Trek Enterprises, and I'm really digging it. (you think my kid might grow up to be a nerd?) ;-)

Ok, that's all for today. What's up with you?


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Love the Ones You're With

2011 was getting off to a pretty good start...then tragedy struck. Last night I received a text from a very dear friend who moved to California many years ago. J requested prayers for her mother. Her mother, whom I've also known for years, was a vibrant, energetic, and very healthy woman who rode her bicycle hundreds of miles each week, went to the gym regularly, ate well, and was the last person I expected to hear of having a health related problem. I called J immediately and found out her mom had fallen ill and was in the hospital. Within an hour of that call she was gone. No one still knows why. If you are the praying type, please hold J and her family in yours. And everyone reading this please take a moment to tell those closest to you that you love them, or appreciate them, or make them a peanut butter and banana sandwich just out of the blue, because nothing is guaranteed in this world, and the healthiest person you know could be gone in a heartbeat.

And just for the record, I love you all.