Animals in Space


We’ve covered dogs and monkeys being launched into space but I didn’t know that France had launched cats into space.

France launched a black and white stray tomcat of the Paris streets on October 18, 1963, on Veronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47 from the Hammaguir test range in Algeria. Was it a male named Felix. Or a female named Felicette? Whichever, it was the first cat in space as the capsule in the rocket’s nose cone separated at 120 miles altitude and descended by parachute. Electrodes in the cat’s brain transmitted neurological impulses to a ground station. The cat was recovered. Another cat flight on October 24, 1963, failed and was not recovered. Flights were directed by France’s Centre d’Enseignement et de Recherches de Medecine Aeronautique (CERMA).

Wikipedia has a great entry about animals being sent into space.

The first animals intentionally sent into space were fruit flies which were sent along with corn seeds aboard a U.S.-launched V2 rocket in mid July, 1946. The purpose of the experiment was to explore the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. Some further V2 missions carried biological samples including moss.

Albert II in a U.S. launched V2 became the first monkey in space on June 14, 1949 (after the failure of the original Albert’s mission). Albert II died on impact after a parachute failure

(Thanks to PVC for the cat link)

Jack Bauer vs. Chuck Norris

Vote for who you think will win in a fight of good vs. good.

Me and Mrs. Cynical just recently started getting into 24 and rented the first few seasons. We are up to Season three at the moment and I am wondering if Kim Bauer is the biggest jinx in the history of television. She makes Cousin Oliver from the Brady Bunch seem like a winner. How does anybody get kidnapped six times in one day? At one point she gets kidnapped from her kidnappers by an entirely different set of kidnappers. And in those rare instances that she isn’t being held by gunpoint or inadvertently getting people around her killed or mutilated, she is spouting opinions that are consistently wrong. I thought CTU hiring her in Season 3 was a stroke of genius if the plan was that CTU would ask for her opinions and then do the exact opposite of whatever her gut was telling her at the time.

Then again, I guess if she exhibited any common sense they would have to call the show 2 so I guess I really have no point.

Pictures of a Soviet Underground Submarine Base


Almost the entire population of Balaklava at the time worked at the Base, even family members could not visit the town of Balaklava without good reason and identification. The base remained operational after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 until 1993 when the decommissioning process started and the warheads and low yield torpedos were removed. Then in 1996 the last Russian Submarine left the Base, and now you can go on Guided tours round the Cannel System, Base and small Museum, which is now housed in the old weapons stowage hangers deep inside the hillside.

Train Rage

There are a variety of different ways to start off a morning. Some people go for a jog while others opt for ingesting caffeine, usually in the form of coffee. This morning, I got my day started by being assaulted.

I work in Cambridge but the Cynical-C Mansion is located a few miles away so I take the commuter train in every morning (my building doesn’t have a helipad…yet). I got on the train today as I would any other day when I felt a hard shove from behind. I looked back to see what happened and some guy was screaming that I had cut him off. I immediately went into commuter defense mode which is to pretend nothing unusual happened and keep walking. This is usually the best way to handle anybody who has started exhibiting erratic or aggressive behavior on the train/subway. It failed me this time. He punched me in the back of the neck as I was walking away and kept yelling unintelligibly as his wife/girlfriend/handler jumped into the fray to pull him away and most likely give him another dose of thorazine.

I was shocked more than anything else at being punched in the back of the neck in front of a trainload of people and the incident was witnessed by the conductor who promptly called the police. The train was held up for about twenty minutes while we waited for the police to arrive. I then had to identify the assailant and give a statement. The conductor had witnessed the incident so the police didn’t ask if I wanted to press charges but just arrested him. I got back on the train and headed off to work.

I’ve been talking to people about this all day and getting a million different opinions on what they would have done if they were in my position. Some people say they would have hit him back but if I had to do it over again I think I would have reacted the same way. I was a bit bigger than him (He was about 5’9 and skinny and I’m 6 ft, 215lbs, none of it muscle) so I didn’t feel physically intimidated even though he did hit me as I was walking away. I remember at the time realizing that I had several witnesses who had seen him hitting me and wanted them to remember that picture if they were questioned by the police. If he had taken a less cowardly approach and attacked me from the front then I probably would have been forced to defend myself.

And what would you have done? (Yes, you!)