More Junkmail from Bob!

Thursday, February 8, 2001
Important Stuff.

Atlantis Flies

Yesterday the Space Shuttle Atlantis took off to Space Station Alpha. Except NASA is calling it ISS and International Space Station now, so maybe the name Alpha didn't stick. At any rate, if things go as planned they'll drop off a 30-ton lab and head back to earth.

Here's what it looked like yesterday:


Here's what it should look like when they get there and unload the lab:


Mir Takes a Dive

The Russian Mir space station was launched about 14 years ago. In a few weeks it will come crashing down to earth. It weights about 130 tons. Two thirds of that will burn up on the way down, and the rest will experience a not-so-soft landing in the Pacific just a couple thousand miles south of Tahiti. I wonder how sure they are about the location. Wasn't this the same space station they lost communications with for a while a few weeks ago?

For the low, low price of $6,000 you too can hop a chartered airliner and watch it yourself. I'm not sure how the charter company Citrons is going to handle the fact that there are a lot more seats than windows on a wide-body jet.,1284,41711,00.html

Mir history:


Next Monday the NEAR spacecraft is going to crash-land on the asteroid it's been circling. I don't think anybody will be chartering a plane for that one, but we should get some cool pictures. The NEAR is going to slow down to 5 mph and transmit a picture about every minute, with the closest one between one and two thousand feet above the asteroid. It's hoped to have 4" resolution.

NASA isn't crashing the spacecraft just for the heck of it. It's been orbiting the asteroid since last Valentine's day and it's almost out of fuel. It's been a successful mission.

Getting Rich

I try not to complain too much about politicians, because they're such an easy target that it gets pretty boring. But this one really has me irritated. Marc Rich and his partner Pincus Green were pardoned by President Clinton just before Clinton left office. Jack Quinn, former White House lawyer, and his former firm were paid about $300,000 to orchestrate the deal.

Mr. Rich paid a lot of money to a lot of people to get the pardon. In addition to some furniture and campaign contributions, Rich's ex-wife pledged a million dollars to the Clinton Library in Little Rock.

"The stealthy campaign to win the pardons was lubricated by $220 million worth of philanthropy from his fugitive clients that produced support from prominent citizens across the globe, including influential constituents of the former first lady, Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak, grateful for Mr. Rich's financial support of peace efforts, personally lobbied the president to pardon Mr. Rich by telephone after failing to persuade him to free convicted Israeli spy Jonathan Pollard."

More details:

This really makes me mad. The President of the United States can be bought. Or at least he could a month ago.

I checked the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today for articles about this. All but USA Today had several articles over the past several days, in detail. The USA Today search showed nothing about Marc Rich or "Rich and Pardon", even though they had a limited article about this on the front page. This, together with the people they left out of their "pardon list" bothers me. I had thought USA Today was a reasonably unbiased news source, but I could have been wrong.

The Aircam is Built!

We hauled it to the airport Friday.


The engines ran yesterday. We may be flying in 2-3 weeks, after some details and paperwork.


There's a cold front coming...


Impressive temperature differences.

Pictures of Today

Trees at Sundown


Here's a great picture of northern Jupiter taken by the Cassini spacecraft.


(e) 1983, no rights deserved. Any unauthorized duplication or distribution of this potentially classic literature is hereby issued a pro forma non-presidential pardon.

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