Life as an Extreme Sport

Living in Shatner’s World

I grew up in an ecumenical household. There was no battle between the Stars – Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica. As long as it was space opera, it was welcome, and this was the influence of my father. I don’t have any memories of this starting, because it always was. What I do remember, however, is my first. Oh, you typically hear of “the first” – genre-wise – with regards to Doctor Who; who was your first Doctor? And while I certainly have a first Doctor (Nine, thankyouverymuch), it doesn’t have the same hold on me as my first captain. Oh captain, my captain – Captain Kirk. Yes, Sir Patrick Stewart was wonderful as Captain Picard, and I suspect you can trace much, if not all, of my interest in philosophy and history and most importantly, ethics, to Captain Jean-Luc Picard and his thoughtful troubleshooting and conflict resolution. I

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Hurricane Irene is Big. Really, Really Big

Hurricane Irene is big. This still image taken from the SpaceFlight Now Live ISS feed shows us just how big. It’s like looking at Jupiter’s clouds big. But there’s still a sense of scale missing. Let me help you with that. The leading edge of Hurricane Irene, in the Gulf of Maine (Canada). The eye of the storm had not yet reached Virginia at 3:40pm ET, the time this screenshot was taken.

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The End of the Shuttle Era

I took a nap rather than actually sleep through the night, in order to watch STS-135 (Atlantis) land for the final time. For the entire space shuttle program’s final time. The shuttle program is 33 years old. I grew up watching the shuttles, from the Enterprise OV tests to Challenger and Columbia and all the launches and successes between. And now this, the bittersweet end. A program that started because JFK realized the importance of manned exploration of the world beyond ours, fueled by a space race against those evil commie Russians, now ends with American reliance on the Russians to get to the ISS at all. There might be a modicum of irony in that. Yes, the shuttle program is expensive – but it’s the kind of expensive I want my tax dollars going to. It’s the kind of expensive that brings back miraculous and amazing technology, research, and

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Speaking to History

The NASA announcer got a bit poetic welcoming Endeavour home this evening – and why not? How often do you go into a situation knowing that you’re speaking to history? Most of the time, we recognize history in hindsight, and it’s pieced together from the banal comments and reactions that were of the time. But not this time. This time, everyone knew that this was it. This was the 25th and final flight for Endeavour, the penultimate landing for the entire US space shuttle program. History. She has spent 299 days in space, orbited Earth 4,671 times, and traveled 122,883,151 miles. Everything about this was historic – so why not take a minute to wax poetic, not only to the returning astronauts and watching and listening viewers, but to whomever will be writing this history down, in some future history of the space program book? If nothing else, the act

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