Friday, July 27, 2007

Blast off

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.


Reign of Reason said...

Your post reminds me of an analogy I often use...

Governments, corporations and people: all suffer they same fate via a similar "evolutionary" path:

All start-out weak and vulnerable ... if they survive the first several years its a miracle.

One they hit pre-adolescence, they are vibrant and creative.

On into the middle years, they are usually very productive...

As they move into old-age, they become stagnated, dependent on others and usually a hindrance to progress...

Our government and big corps have all reached this later stage of life. Time for euthanasia.

expatbrian said...

I remember Jose. God, I even remember the Steve Allen show. More important though is, as you say, the grief I feel as one by one all the things that used to make me proud to be an American are stripped away.

Capt. Fogg said...

NASA has become its own enemy - doing one stupid thing after another. Both shuttle crashes had to do with politics being more important than engineering and science.

The Mercury astronauts used to be heroes to me. I guess that's what I get for looking for heroes.