New York Times on Sputnik

Great, great piece on what Sputnik meant to the world and the country:

With Fear and Wonder in Its Wake, Sputnik Lifted Us Into the Future

Published: September 25, 2007

Fifty years ago, before most people living today were born, the beep-beep-beep of Sputnik was heard round the world. It was the sound of wonder and foreboding. Nothing would ever be quite the same again — in geopolitics, in science and technology, in everyday life and the capacity of the human species.

The Soviet Union had launched the first artificial satellite, a new moon, on Oct. 4, 1957. Climbing out of the terrestrial gravity well, rising above the atmosphere and into orbit, Sputnik crossed the threshold into a new dimension of human experience. People could now see their kind as spacefarers. Their enhanced mobility might someday prove as liberating as the first upright steps of hominid ancestors long ago.

The immediate reaction, though, reflected the dark concerns of a world in the grip of the cold war, a time of fear and division in which the two superpowers, the Soviet Union and the United States, stared each other down with the menace of mass destruction. Sputnik altered the nature and scope of the cold war.

It was an unprepossessing agent of alarm. A simple sphere weighing just 184 pounds and not quite two feet wide, it had a highly polished surface of aluminum, the better to reflect sunlight and be visible from Earth. Two radio transmitters with whiskery antennas issued steady signals on frequencies that scientists and ham operators could pick up, and so confirm the achievement.

The Russians clearly intended Sputnik as a ringing statement of their technological prowess and its military implications. But even they, it seems, had not foreseen the frenzied response their success provoked.

When the Soviet dictator Nikita S. Khrushchev received word of the launching, he was of course pleased, and he and his son, Sergei, turned on the radio to listen to the beeping Sputnik. They went to bed, the son remembers, without realizing “the immensity of what was happening during those hours.”

The Soviet press published a standard two-column report of the event, with a minimum of gloating. But newspapers in the West, particularly the United States, filled pages with news and analysis.

Sputnik’s signal reverberated through chambers of the powerful and down ordinary streets. People listened and, from rooftops and backyards, saw in the night a moving point of light, like an errant star. The interrogatory of invention used to be “What hath God wrought?” Now it was “What are the Russians capable of next?”

“No event since Pearl Harbor set off such repercussions in public life,” Walter A. McDougall, a historian at the University of Pennsylvania, has written. A younger generation may draw comparison with the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Sputnik plunged Americans into a crisis of self-confidence. Had the country grown lax with prosperity? Was the education system inadequate, especially in training scientists and engineers? Were the institutions of liberal democracy any match in competition with an authoritarian communist society?

In “The Heavens and the Earth: A Political History of the Space Age” (1985), Dr. McDougall wrote that before Sputnik the cold war had been “a military and political struggle in which the United States need only lend aid and comfort to its allies in the front lines.” Now, he continued, the cold war “became total, a competition for the loyalty and trust of all peoples fought out in all arenas of social achievement, in which science textbooks and racial harmony were as much tools of foreign policy as missiles and spies.”

At the time of Sputnik, John F. Kennedy was the junior senator from Massachusetts with no particular interest in space. Yuri A. Gagarin was an unheralded Russian military pilot. John H. Glenn Jr. was a Marine Corps pilot who had recently set a record for the fastest transcontinental jet flight to New York from Los Angeles. Neil A. Armstrong was testing high-performance aircraft in the California desert. Their lives were soon to be changed, as were those of hundreds of thousands of engineers, technicians, other workers and ordinary people everywhere.

Thomas J. O’Malley, an aviation engineer in New Jersey, would move in a few months to a forlorn spit of land at Cape Canaveral, Fla., to be a test conductor in the accelerated development of the Atlas missile, which would eventually lift American astronauts into orbit. “We had one goal,” he recalled recently. “To get something up there as quickly as possible.”

Christopher C. Kraft Jr. soon found himself working with a task force planning an American response to the challenge. He would become the first flight director of astronaut missions, but at the start, he has written, the morale of American engineers was low. “I wasn’t the only engineer who was stunned at how much I didn’t know and how much I had to learn,” he said.

When the Sputnik news reached Huntsville, Ala., Wernher von Braun was beside himself with restless frustration. Mr. von Braun, a German-born rocket scientist working for the United States Army, said this country could have beaten the Russians into orbit if not for Pentagon orders to resist any thought of adding a small satellite to the Jupiter-C missile he had been testing.

To make matters worse, the first American attempts to launch a tiny Vanguard satellite were embarrassing failures. It was the end of January 1958 before Americans succeeded with Explorer 1, boosted into orbit by a multistage version of Mr. von Braun’s Jupiter-C. But the much larger Sputnik 2 had already carried the dog Laika into orbit, a harbinger of human spaceflight. The original Sputnik — in Russian, “satellite” or “fellow traveler” — was no onetime fluke.

The post-Sputnik dynamic even reached out and recruited me. I was then a soldier in the cold war. Along with nearly every able-bodied young American man (even Elvis had to put in his two years), I was fulfilling my obligation to interrupt life and career for military service. I had completed college and was a reporter on military leave of absence from The Wall Street Journal, at the Army base in Fort Dix, N.J.

The morning after the Soviet triumph, I was on a one-day pass in Trenton. I bought the papers and spread them out on a coffee shop table. Banner headlines trumpeted the news. The recondite language of rocketry and orbits tied up my head, but I read on. I gave a passing thought to the coincidence of Sputnik’s going up on my birthday; at least I should never forget the date the space age began.

My story should at this point resound with destiny’s thunderclap or a sudden gust swinging open the door, scattering the papers and leaving me strangely moved. But I had no premonition that Sputnik had set in motion events that would shape my career. It was not until 1959, soon after I returned to The Journal from service in West Germany, that I felt the Sputnik effect.

Newspapers and other media, influenced by Sputnik, were scrambling to expand coverage of science, medicine and technology. I agreed to the managing editor’s suggestion that I try my hand writing about medicine. One thing led to another, from medicine to science and space exploration, to Time magazine and eventually to the staff of The New York Times to cover the most ambitious American response to Sputnik: the Apollo program.

Sputnik should not have come as such a surprise. Both the Soviet Union and the United States had embarked on the development of ballistic missiles for carrying nuclear warheads to great distances. They had also announced plans to launch artificial satellites in the International Geophysical Year, a cooperative 18-month scientific undertaking to study Earth and its atmosphere, beginning in 1957. Khrushchev had reiterated Soviet intentions only two months before.

But a shock it was, a wake-up call. One of the intriguing might-have-beens of history is: What if Americans had deployed the first satellite?

Alex Roland, a historian of technology at Duke University and a former NASA historian, said that a first launching by Americans would have merely confirmed their reputation for technological superiority. The costly rivalry for dominance in space, he said, would have probably been waged with much less driving urgency.

John M. Logsdon, director of the Institute of Space Policy at George Washington University, agreed. “If not for Sputnik,” he said, “there would probably not have been Apollo.”

But after Sputnik, there was no stopping the momentum of the space race. Critics attacked the administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower, who at first had dismissed Sputnik as an event of only “scientific interest.” Soon the Defense Department stepped up missile development. The Democratic Congress established the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

The perception of a threatening Soviet advantage in missiles persisted. Necessity had dictated the Russian concentration on missiles. Ever since World War II, American bombers had been more capable than those of the Russians, who also had no air bases in striking distance of their adversary’s heartland, in contrast to the American bases that ringed the Soviet Union.

An exaggerated estimate of the “missile gap” became a rallying cry of the 1960 presidential campaign and may have been crucial in Kennedy’s narrow victory. Not long after he took office, the Russians scored another stunning triumph. In April 1961, Gagarin became the first human to fly in Earth orbit.

After weeks of closed-door consultations, Kennedy went before Congress, on May 25, and declared, “Now it is time to take longer strides — time for a great new American enterprise — time for this nation to take a clearly leading role in space achievement which, in many ways, may hold the key to our future on Earth.”

He committed the country to “the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.”

How brief the space race was, the 12 years from the wake-up call to the first walk on the Moon, but thrilling, mind-boggling, even magnificent at times.

While the Russians forge ahead, Americans begin catching up with the Mercury and Gemini flights in orbit. As the goal comes into sight, there are the countdowns of tingling anticipation. In the dark before dawn, we drive toward the shining light enveloping a spaceship that looks like an obelisk out of antiquity, waiting to be launched. The blast of the Saturn 5, just three miles of sand and scrub away, beats on your chest and shakes the ground you stand on. Once at full thrust, and unbound, the huge rocket at first appears to be losing its fight against gravity, then slowly rises to the occasion and is off over the ocean, fire and vapor trailing behind. Spacefarers are on their way to the Moon.

Three lunar voyages are most sharply etched in memory. The Apollo 8 astronauts, in December 1968, are the first to reach the Moon, circling it 10 times. Out their windows they see the achingly beautiful Earth, blue and green under swirls of white clouds. On Christmas Eve, the men take turns reading verses from Genesis. It is a gift from on high at a time of turmoil and despair in the year of assassinations, rioting cities and a divisive war.

Then there is Apollo 11. On July 20, 1969, Neil Armstrong steps down the landing craft’s ladder and takes “one giant leap for mankind.” Buzz Aldrin joins him for the first walk on the Moon. In contrast to exploration’s previous landfalls, the whole world is watching on television.

In the current documentary film “In the Shadow of the Moon,” Michael Collins, the Apollo 11 pilot who remained in lunar orbit during the landing, recalls that on the crew’s world tour afterward, people they met felt they had participated in the landing, too. “People, instead of saying, ‘Well, you Americans did it!’ ” he said, “everywhere, they said, ‘We did it!’ We, humankind, we, the human race, we, people, did it!”’

The warmth of shared experience was remarkable, given the origins of the space race in an atmosphere of fear and belligerence.

Apollo 11 essentially ended the space race, and public interest in spaceflight was flagging by the time of Apollo 13, in April 1970. The residual self-assurance that committed the country to Apollo in 1961 had given way to self-doubt. The war in Vietnam, another chapter in the cold war, shoved Apollo to the periphery of the national mind.

Apollo 13 is the mission that failed, but a drama of epic dimensions worthy of Homer. Three astronauts go forth on a daring quest, meet with disaster, face death and barely limp back to the safety of home. If anything, this brush with death put a more human face on spaceflight and made it seem more exciting, and dangerous.

By the end of 1972, the last of the 12 men to walk on the Moon packed up and returned home, and no one has been there since. At the conclusion of that flight, Apollo 17, I solicited historians’ assessments of the significance of these early years in space. Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. predicted that in 500 years, the 20th century would probably be remembered mainly for humanity’s first ventures beyond its native planet. At the close of the century, he had not changed his mind.

In succeeding years, the Russians and Americans continued spaceflights, at a reduced pace. Most American money went into the space shuttles, the reusable vehicles confined to orbit that never lived up to their promise to make human flight more routine. The public’s most lasting images of the program are the Challenger’s deadly explosion shortly after liftoff in 1986, and the Columbia’s disintegration on re-entry 17 years later.

It was left to the relatively low-budget robotic spacecraft to sustain the impression of exploration and discovery on this new frontier. In that respect, they alone exceeded early promises. Russian and American craft explored Venus. American vehicles landed several times on Mars, and a European capsule reached the surface of Saturn’s moon Titan. Two Voyager craft made a grand tour of the four giant outer planets and are now approaching the edge of the solar system. The Hubble Space Telescope still sends images from deep in cosmic time.

Carl Sagan, the astronomer and author, often spoke of this as the golden age of planetary exploration. “In all the history of mankind,” he wrote, “there will be only one generation that will be first to explore the solar system, one generation for which, in childhood, the planets are distant and indistinct disks moving through the night sky, and for which, in old age, the planets are places, diverse new worlds in the course of exploration.”

One evening in 1990, I drove across Baltimore on a sentimental journey. Every so often since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the reunification of Germany, the collapse of communist regimes in Eastern Europe and the last gasps coming out of the exhausted Soviet Union itself, I had allowed myself reflections on my two years as a soldier in an unconventional war and the nearly half-century of anxieties of living in a world primed to blow itself up.

I could hardly think of myself outside the context of the cold war. Without the intense Soviet-American competition epitomized by the space race, I would not have become a science journalist who wrote about astronauts going to the Moon to “beat” the Russians. I would therefore not be in Baltimore again, this time with astronomers who were preparing to look into the heavens via a giant orbiting telescope.

I found my way to Travelers Lounge, the bar that had been across from the gate to the Army Intelligence School at Fort Holabird. We used to tarry in the back room there, over pitchers of beer fueling arguments about politics and the American novel. I took a stool and told the bartender that it had been more than three decades since I last had a beer here, back in my Holabird sojourn.

“One of them comes in every few months and looks around,” the bartender said. “We’re about the only thing left from those days.”

So I had seen. The fort was gone. In its place stretched one corporate complex after another, buildings of glass and steel and spreading car parks. The names I saw were as unfamiliar as their digitized new-technology goods and services. I imagined I was looking on a monument to the cold war, and how apt it seemed.

The conflict we had lived through did not lend itself to heroic and triumphal iconography, nothing like the Iwo Jima flag-raising statue, nothing to glorify war or proclaim victory. So these commercial enterprises rising from cold-war technology, supplanting an old fort, were working monuments to the end of the cold war, monuments that do not look back.

At least Travelers and I had made it through this passage in history. Over my shoulder, I saw families and couples dining, not a beer pitcher or soldier anywhere. I wondered what post-cold-war memories these diners would bring back there in coming years.

I took my leave of Travelers and an era. I had to be fresh in the morning for another meeting with people at the Space Telescope Science Institute. They were tending their own monument to the cold war, which had fostered the Hubble Space Telescope’s technology. I wanted to learn more of our — and my own — expanding universe.

Over a long dinner, after the cold war and almost 30 years since the first lunar landing, a former astronaut who walked on the Moon and one of the Apollo flight directors got to skylarking about the good old days, something people do when they think of their past receding and the world changing all around. They laughed almost to tears telling cherished stories, one trying to top the other.

Then a cloud seemed to pass over their faces. Pete Conrad, the astronaut, who would soon die in a motorcycle accident, and Gerald D. Griffin, the flight director, wondered in perplexity what had happened to their good old days. What of those grand prospects of a few decades ago? No humans have flown to Mars, as once predicted, or established a permanent base on the Moon. A long-sought orbiting space station was finally being assembled in orbit, but no one seemed sure what it was good for, except as a demonstration of cooperation by many nations, including Russia, in a major space endeavor.

Economics and shifting national priorities had thwarted the most ambitious post-Apollo plans.

Dr. Logsdon of George Washington University called Apollo “a product of a specific time in history,” and a singular crash program responding to a perceived threat to the country. It did not represent a firm commitment by society to full-scale space exploration.

As Dr. Roland of Duke pointed out, Apollo “did just what it was designed to do, which was to convince the world and ourselves that we were masters of technology, and it wasn’t designed to do anything else.” As yet, he said, “we have not identified a mission for astronauts that was commensurate with Apollo.”

Dr. Roland noted that telecommunications was the only space enterprise that pays for itself and, he added, “It has transformed the world.” All other space activities, military and civilian, depend so far on “what states believe are in their best interest to invest in” — and those interests have changed since the cold war.

Let Neil Armstrong, known as a man of few words, have the last word.

“I think we’ll always be in space,” he said in an interview for NASA’s oral history program. “But it will take us longer to do the new things than the advocates would like, and in some cases it will take external factors or forces which we can’t control and can’t anticipate that will cause things to happen or not happen.”

Mr. Armstrong then struck a note sure to resonate with many of his contemporaries. “We were really very privileged,” he said, “to live in that thin slice of history where we changed how man looks at himself and what he might become and where he might go.”



2007 MacArthur Geniuses

Update on the New Orleans Film Fest '07

Stars are expected to come out for the biggest New Orleans Film Festival yet

Posted by Mike Scott, Movie writer September 20, 2007 8:00AM

Storm? What storm?

Two years removed from its Katrina-forced hiatus in 2005, the New Orleans Film Festival is gearing up for its biggest schedule ever: 117 films and such marquee attendees as Vince Vaughn and Alan Cumming.

"We've never played more than 67 (films)," said Ali Duffey, executive director of the New Orleans Film Society, which organizes the festival. "I'm not sure how it happened, but I'm really glad that it happened."

Festival officials will announce the full schedule for the Oct. 11 to 18 event -- as well as the list of 2007 major winners (see box below) -- at a "launch party" today at the International House Hotel.

One of this year's festival highlights will be the attendance of funnyman Vaughn, the star of the hit comedy "Wedding Crashers" and the forthcoming fall films "Fred Claus" and "Into the Wild."

Vaughn will bring along his lengthily titled documentary "Vince Vaughn's Wild West Comedy Show: 30 Days and 30 Nights -- Hollywood to the Heartland." Set for a February release, the film follows Vaughn on a 30-day comedy tour with a hand-picked cadre of comics.

Cumming, who has appeared in such films as "X2" and "Spy Kids," also will attend in support of his horror-comedy "Suffering Man's Charity," his big-screen solo directorial debut. The film tells the story of a failed composer turned music teacher who becomes embittered when a struggling young artist takes advantage of his generosity.

Duffey also predicted that other notable filmmakers and guests would attend, though she did not release all of their names.

The festival doesn't officially adopt a theme each year, but Film Society Artistic Director John Desplas said that this is shaping up to be the year of the documentary.

"I don't think we've ever devoted as much programming as we did this year to documentaries," Desplas said.

The winner of the festival's documentary category, "The Allen Toussaint Touch," is a profile of the New Orleans musician songwriter, composer, pianist and producer, produced for the BBC by director Jill Nicholls. Toussaint is expected to attend.

Among the other documentaries to be screened are "Oswald's Ghost," a deconstruction of the presidential assassin, from director Robert Stone; "Tootie's Last Suit," a look at the local Mardi Gras Indian culture, from director Lisa Katzman; a sneak preview of Sundance Film Festival hopeful "Faubourg Treme: The Untold Story of Black New Orleans," from director Dawn Logsdon and written by Times-Picayune columnist Lolis Eric Elie; "The King of Kong," the critically acclaimed look at the enduring video game culture, and the lost boys who can't seem to give it up, from director Seth Gordon; and "Left Behind: The Story of the New Orleans Public Schools," a film with a depressingly self-explanatory title from directors Vince Morelli and Jason Berry.

Other notable films to be screened at the festival include:

- "Grace is Gone," written and directed by James C. Strouse, and starring John Cusack. Winner of the Audience Award for Drama at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. The feature film tells the story of an Iraq war veteran's husband (Cusack) who struggles to find the courage to tell his children of their mother's death.

-- "Killer of Sheep," directed by Charles Burnett. Declared one of the "100 Essential Films" by the National Society of Film Critics, and among the first 50 films placed on the National Film Registry, Burnett's 1977 film has never been released theatrically or on video due to problems associated with music licensing. Examining Los Angeles' Watts neighborhood in the mid-1970s through the eyes of one of its residents, a slaughterhouse worker, the film is only now being released in the 35 mm format after music rights were finally secured.

-- "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," directed by Julian Schnabel, the 2007 Cannes Film Festival winner for best director. Based on real events, the French feature film tells the story of French Elle editor Jean-Dominique Bauby, who was incapacitated in 1995 by a stroke but who refused to yield to his medical condition. In French with subtitles.

-- "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead," directed by Sidney Lumet, and starring Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Marisa Tomei, Ethan Hawke and Albert Finney. The legendary Lumet's suspense thriller, which is one of the festival's opening-night selections, focuses on a pair of brothers (Hoffman and Hawke) who decide to rob a mom-and-pop jewelry shop. The problem is that the mom and pop are their own, and the perfect robbery proves to be anything but.

-- "Lady Chatterly," directed by Pascale Ferran. D.H. Lawrence's celebrated and subversive love story gets another adaptation. In French with subtitles.

. . . . . . .

Movie writer Mike Scott can be reached at mscott@timespicayune.com or (504) 826-3444. To comment on this story or read Scott's other film-related features and reviews, go to http://blog.nola.com/mikescott.


Times-Picayune Article on Bush's Prod Co.

Posted whole because I don't want to lose this after 14 days:

The Producer: Reggie Bush adds something new to his resume: production company founder

Posted by Mike Scott, Movie writer September 19, 2007 8:00AM

The lights at the Superdome were mostly dark. It was a Tuesday morning, painfully early, and there were no Saints home games scheduled for almost two weeks. But in one corner, in the tunnel just behind the Poydras Street end zone, dozens of coffee-fueled film crew members were shuffling around.

They were setting up for a Subway sandwich ad featuring Saints running back Reggie Bush and Subway sandwich poster boy Jared Fogle. Titled "The Odd Couple," the 30-second spot would feature the theme song from the old Tony Randall/Jack Klugman TV show, playing over alternating images of superstar Bush and regular guy Fogle.

Subway doesn't normally make its commercials here and, truth be told, the folks with the outfit hired to handle the nuts and bolts of this particular shoot, Boston's Element Productions, probably prefer sleeping in their own beds.

But aside from those tax incentives that are so attractive to film and video productions, Louisiana has Bush, who has become so in-demand for national endorsements -- Hummer, Subway, Adidas, Pepsi -- that he is breathing down the neck of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Peyton "The Pitchman" Manning, the face that launched a thousand commercials.

In fact, Bush has landed so many endorsement deals -- upwards of 20 national TV spots, by the count of his marketing mentor, Mike Ornstein -- that it led him recently to launch his own New Orleans-based production company.

But this isn't your ordinary production company. 619 Productions, named after Bush's old San Diego area code, has a unique, community-oriented intent: to urge his sponsors to make their commercials down here, in Hollywood South. There's nothing contractually to oblige them to do so, but Bush's muscle isn't limited to those impressive guns he carried away from his offseason workouts.

The Subway spot was the first national commercial being handled by 619. It's a for-profit company, so Bush and his business partners in the venture -- which include Ornstein, local investment banker Leonard Alsfeld, production veteran James Brooke and former Saints defensive back Toi Cook -- stand to make more than a few dollars from it. But Bush, who in his short time in New Orleans has launched an impressive number of charitable projects -- and with another, a local battered-women's shelter, in the works -- sees it as another way of giving back to the local community.

"Knowing what went on with Katrina, the city still needs a lot of work. I'm really just trying to be an active member of the community, a light and inspiration to these people, because they really need a lot," Bush said during a break in shooting on the Subway ad set.

Alsfeld, who has experience in the business end of the local film industry, sees Bush's marketing muscle and the state's film industry tax incentives as a perfect fit.

"We figured, hey, Reggie is from USC, arguably one of the best film schools in the country," Alsfeld said, "so why don't we involve him in using his brand to direct the making of commercials featuring him down here, where he can jump-start the film industry through the commercial end?

"They don't think of New Orleans as a place where they should be doing this. Mike Ornstein realized it and said, 'Why not?' "

The potential benefits to the region are multiple. Of the 75 or so people working on the Subway shoot, about 85 percent were local, by Alsfeld's estimate. For them, the Subway production helped in two respects: It helped build up their bank accounts, and it helped build up their resumes.

Just as important, Ornstein said, is that 619 will put Louisiana on the radar of out-of-state commercial makers, such as Element. Once they see what Louisiana has to offer, he said, they might come back for more. That's particularly important during hurricane season, when many feature-film productions shy away to avoid being interrupted by a storm, and the higher insurance costs that come along with that. Two-day commercial shoots, however, likely wouldn't be affected.

"I just talked with Subway, and they had a great experience, and they want to do more commercials in town, without Reggie Bush," Ornstein said. "And that's the whole idea."

Kim Hennig, Subway's director of brand management, had nothing but praise for her experience with 619, with the "Odd Couple" crew, and with New Orleans as a whole, which she refers to as "a jewel."

Should we expect Subway back? "Absolutely," she said.

. . . . . . .

When word came down that Bush was on his way that Tuesday morning, the energy at the Superdome picked up noticeably.

"Please remind everybody not to ask Reggie for autographs," someone said over the two-way radios attached to many of the crew members' hips.

Jared wasn't scheduled to appear on camera yet -- his scenes were to be shot the following day -- but he was hanging around the set. As a gentle (or maybe not-so-gentle) jibe at Bush, he was wearing a Dallas Clark jersey -- yes, that Dallas Clark, the NFL tight end who caught two passes for 48 yards and rushed once for 14 yards during the Indianapolis Colts' 41-10 victory over the humbled Saints five days earlier.

When Bush arrived to shoot his scenes for the commercial -- which is expected to begin airing nationally later this year -- he was all business, dispensing with scenes quickly and efficiently. He shot a scene in a Dome locker room in which he was being interviewed by faux media members. He put on eye black for a close-up. He pumped iron in front of a wall in the tunnel leading to the field. He did some sprints on the Dome turf.

Then it was off to Slidell, where a particularly elegant home would double for his West Coast abode, and where he would do a scene at the Subway at Gause Boulevard's Northside Plaza Shopping Center. Nobody was supposed to know that Bush was going to show, but word leaked out somehow, and it was "a mob scene," Alsfeld said. Reggie had to sneak in a back door.

After the shoot, however, he stuck around, signing autographs and pressing the flesh. Ever the mindful spokesman, he ordered a couple of 6-inch sandwiches -- one club, one roast beef -- on his way out.

. . . . . . .

The camera may love Reggie Bush, but any feature-film directors who dream of building a movie around his 100-megawatt smile will have to wait. He's a man with priorities, and films have been dropped to the bottom of the list for the time being.

Top of the list: the Tennessee Titans, the Saints' next opponent, followed, in order, by the 13 other teams the Saints will face in the 2007 regular season.

"Maybe someday after football's all said and done," Bush said of expanding his film career to movies. "It's all football right now, and little things like this.

"I don't really consider myself Hollywood, although I live there. I'm still the same old Reggie, to me."

. . . . . . .

Movie writer Mike Scott can be reached at (504) 826-3444 or mscott@timespicayune.com. To comment on this story or read Scott's other film-related features and reviews, go to http://blog.nola.com/mikescott.


AP Article On the New Moon Race

Asian spacefarers race for the moon

by Anil Penna Tue Sep 25, 5:41 AM ET

HYDERABAD, India (AFP) - Asian giants Japan, China and India are engaged in a race to map lunar resources and make the moon a platform to explore planets beyond, amid a renewed burst of global space activity.

Japan flagged off the Asian lunar race on September 14 when it successfully launched its first lunar orbiter. China plans to launch its own moon probe before the end of the year, followed by India in the first half of 2008.

"We want to investigate the moon, to know more about the whole of the moon," Keiji Tachikawa, president of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, said in this southern Indian city.

JAXA, as the agency is known, will carry out more robotic missions before a landing and astronaut on the moon, said Tachikawa in a brief interview Monday.

Missions to the moon and to Mars and international cooperation top the agenda of a five-day global conference in Hyderabad that brought together 2,000 space professionals, including scientists, astronomers and astronauts.

"There is a great revival of interest in exploring various planets," said Sun Laiyan, head of the China National Space Administration.

China's Chang'e 1 lunar probe is being transported to the launch site and "if everything goes fine, will be launched by the end of the year," said Sun, adding that China will consider a manned moon mission in the future.

India's Chandrayaan 1 lunar probe will be launched in March or April 2008, said B.N. Suresh, director of the Vikram Sarabhai Space Centre in Kerala's capital Thiruvananthapuram.

Preparatory work is in "full swing" at the Sriharikota space station in southern India, where the craft is being assembled, the launch vehicle readied and antennae installed to receive data from the moon, Suresh told AFP.

Also in 2008, India will likely choose the target year for a human spaceflight to the moon, said G. Madhavan Nair, head of the Indian Space Research Organisation.

"It will take seven or eight years," Nair said. "We are in the process of sharpening our ideas."

Despite more than four decades of lunar missions, space scientists still lack definitive answers to questions about the moon's origin, the minerals it contains and whether it has water that could support human life.

"There is a lot more known about the moon, but even after the current round of lunar missions, you will still have more questions," said Indian scientist U.R. Rao, who did pioneering work on space launch vehicles.

Mineral samples from the moon contained abundant quantities of helium 3, a variant of the gas used in lasers and refrigerators as well as to blow up balloons, and space experts say that may offer a solution to the earth's energy shortages.

Technology for converting helium 3 to energy is still far away, but spacefaring nations are already talking about a permanent human presence on the moon and looking beyond to Mars and more distant planets.

President George W. Bush in 2004 announced an ambitious plan for the US to return to the moon by 2020 and use it as a stepping stone for manned missions to Mars and beyond.

NASA aims to put a man on Mars by 2037, Michael Griffin, the administrator of the US space agency, indicated here Monday, saying the orbital international space station targeted for completion by 2010 would provide a "toehold in space" for travel first to the moon and then Mars.

Japan's 55-billion-yen (478-million-dollar) Kaguya is the largest moon explorer since the US Apollo missions ceased in the 1970s after six human landings, the only time mankind visited another world.

"The moon is no longer a place for us to visit," said JAXA's Tachikawa. "We should consider inhabiting and exploiting it."

The Kaguya orbiter, aiming to collect data for research on the moon's origin and evolution, will travel around the Earth before moving into an orbit of the moon in early October.

It will gather data on the distribution of chemical elements and minerals and study the moon's gravity and environment while searching for hydrogen.

Still, humanity is a "couple of generations away" from tapping commercial opportunities in outer space, including the moon, said Franco Bonacina, spokesman for the European Space Agency.

"But we need to go back to the moon to go even farther," he said. "The moon is a harbour -- a kind of spare wheel -- from where we can push to Mars."

In the scramble to reach the moon, spacefarers risk duplication of effort, said Indian scientist Rao, who called for cooperation between the world's space agencies to avoid that.

"Everyone doing the same work would be a waste of resources."



Best Travel Books

Bookmark: Article on the Future of Space Flight


The New X Prize


New X-Prize for the Moon

Google is offering $20 million dollars to the first private entity to land a robotic rover on the Moon.

Welcome to the new space race. Motivated by money and the desire for exploration. And now we are going beyond sub orbital. This just makes me smile. Of course when we start throwing up private citizens and corporations into space, I am sure NASA, the other space agencies, and the UN will go into fits. I say screw them. They wasted all the capital and resources they had built up in the race to the moon and Soyuz. If it wasn't for the Chinese I am not sure NASA (an organization I love) would even be trying to go back to the moon.

The graphic from Wired:

A Lunar picture as well:



Joseph Kisinski Reel


He is Iron Man

Summer colds/flus are the worse. But early Iron Man trailer first thing on Monday morning rocks:


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Marvel and DC

Watching The Hulk and Superman Returns this weekend, something so simple dawned on me: Marvel super heroes are based more in science whereas DC's superheroes are based more in mythology.

The Hulk is still the best of all the recently made super hero movies by the way.


Books in 2007, 13

Basket Case
Skinny Dip
The Quick Red Fox
Deadly Shade of Gold
Roving Mars
The Road
Carter Beats The Devil
The Trench
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Bright Orange for the Shroud
Meg: Primal Waters
Crooked Little Vein
Plum Lovin'
Lean Mean Thirteen


New Orleans Film Fest

More as the details start to come out:


The Dark Knight Trailer Quote

"Some men aren't looking for anything logical. They can't be bought, bullied, reasoned or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn."

- Alfred


In the Shadow of the Moon Trailer

"It was a time when we made bold moves."

That line in the trailer sums up a lot of things and shows a lot of what is wrong with us now. We don't make bold moves. We make moves advised by lawyers and consultants and our own fear of offending or hurting someone.

We don't try to explore space anymore because someone might die. Death is a part of exploration. It is something to relish, but it is simply what happens when you try and go and do what has never been done before.

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Poem: Exploring Space

Exploring Space
Jim Culleny

Call me nomad, but rootlessness is my routine

From where I stand space seems to beg for exploration not occupation.
Occupation of space requires a military state of mind.
Armies are trained for it
Individuals however, grow dull and lethargic just occupying space

There's no substitute for dynamism when facing space
When I stumble upon a new chunk I like to engage it many times over
laying out alternate trajectories; bisecting circles; flying off on tangents;
or just nosing around looking for shortcuts

If the wind's right you might catch me boogalooing along an hypotenuse
or oscillating between the foci of an ellipse. Whatever,
I go at it from all angles by any means

For example I've found a trampoline's a satisfying way to explore space:
up, down, up, down.
Along similar lines (if you have the money) a space shuttle is good too:
up, down, up, down.

There are various ways to approach space
We can grid it off and tackle it one little corner at a time
or go at it whole, working it as Jackson Pollock would a canvas.
What we choose depends upon our depth of indoctrination
or degree of personality disorder

Whatever our style though, space can be an exhilarating place
--or is it places?
In fact space is full of surprises
(moving beyond bland Euclidean space that is;
the plainest of all geometries).
Still, you gotta hand it to the guy
Euclid's space may be old hat,
but it's a space that's served us well over the years
--probably well past warranty.
Try getting from here to there without it.

But what really psyches me
are novel topologies of space
There's nothing more satisfying
then space that pushes the envelope

Consider the quirky but tasty appeal of a torus,
Crispy Creme or fresh fried by grandma
or the intriguing infinity of a mobius strip
or the warm and cozy feel inside a conversation-laced pub
these are boundary-pushing spaces all, but
they're nothing up against the reality-bending possibilities
of warped space as offered to us by Einstein

Just the thought of Einsteinian space neutralizes any residual sense of metaphysical claustrophobia
I had left over from grade-school catechism under hard nuns

Me? I never miss the chance to savor space
With six billion of us on the planet at our present rate of consumption
you never know when we might run out

June 2007



Ave Maria

Ave Maria

(Franz Shubert)

Ave Maria
Gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Maria, gratia plena
Ave, ave dominus
Dominus tecum
Benedicta tu in mulieribus
Et benedictus
Et benedictus fructus ventris
Ventris tuae, Jesus.
Ave Maria

Ave Maria
Mater Dei
Ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Ora pro nobis
Ora, ora pro nobis peccatoribus
Nunc et in hora mortis
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Et in hora mortis nostrae
Ave Maria


US Space and Rocket Center

We stopped in Huntsville on the way back from Nashville and took Sippy to the US Space and Rocket Center. Wow. We spent a good time there and still didn't completely see everything inside or even hit the outside area. Just a great place with so much to see and so much to be able to actually to touch and see and play with.

It actually gave me an idea for a road trip. Start off in Houston at the Space Center. Then go to Stennis. From there head up to Huntsville. From there head south going through Montgomery and stopping at the US Army Aviation Museum. Then to Pensacola and head to the US Naval Aviation Museum. Then of course down to Cape Canaveral and Kennedy Space Center. From there head the eastern seaboard stopping at Kitty Hawk and then winding up at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum.


Current Bourbon

Picked up a bottle of Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon last night. Very good stuff.


Superman Theme

This always makes you feel better:

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