Saturday, December 3, 2016
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September 11th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon

(I replaced the photo with this video as the latter is wa-a-a-aay cooler. Watch!)

As you likely already know, that big ass noise (that completely freaked the dog out)
was made by the Space Shuttle Discovery when it entered the atmosphere at Edwards Air Force base after completing a trip to deliver supplies and equipment to the International Space Station.

According to NASA, the mission lasted 14 days and covered 5.7 million miles.

Discovery was originally scheduled to land in Florida but was rerouted to us because FLA had non-felicitous weather.

(By the way, I notice that I got the correct news on Twitter way quicker than the same material showed up on the wires.)

And speaking of wires, here is an important fact on the mission
from the AP story on the landing:

The shuttle dropped off tons of supplies and equipment, including a $5 million treadmill named after Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert. That was his consolation prize after pushing for naming rights to a new space station room. NASA chose Tranquility for the yet-to-be-launched room, even though Colbert won the online vote.

Okay, back to our regularly scheduled and slightly more sensible reporting.

Posted in Science | 23 Comments »

Happy Birthday, Moon Landing – July 20, 1969

July 20th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon


Onward to Mars.

And, yes, for all NASA’s failings, I’m one of those people who believes that the space program is important.

And because most occasions are an excuse for poetry, here’s a snippet of what Rumi had to say about the moon, generally. (And I’m sure he would have had something every bit as enthusiastic to say about the moon landing specifically had he been around in the 20th Century instead of the 13th. Really. I know these things about Rumi.)

The sky was lit
by the splendor of the moon
So powerful
I fell to the ground

(W.H. Auden wrote about the moon landing directly in September of 1969, but his attitude was that of a Luddite, so screw him.)

Posted in Science | 15 Comments »

Monday’s Social Justice Shorts

July 20th, 2009 by Celeste Fremon



LA’s homeless columnist, Walter Melton, has written a colorful, comprehensive and entirely inspiring portrait of Skid Row’s 30N3 Basketball team that takes on any and all comers (drug dealers, addicts, and members of rival gangs)–as long as they absolutely, positively follow the leagues rules.

Here are a few clips:

The SKIDROW 3ON3 STREETBALL LEAGUE has been part of the fight for the soul of Skid Row since its founding two years by OG ‘n Service Association, a self-help community organization.

Manuel (OG Man) Compito is the driving force behind the league.
He and his organization have been active in Skid Row for years, seeking ways to build community through efforts to clean the streets, cover graffiti-scarred walls with artistic murals, and other basic measures that residents can accomplish on their own.


“We do not judge men in this league,” Compito says. “We did not want to exclude drug dealer because that would defeat our purpose of having any influence of over them. We take away the negativity and insert positive thinking.”

Compito knew the players presented a potentially volatile mix, with drug dealers and addicts
— and members of rival gangs — sharing the court.

“The first thing we said was that no drugs could be sold in the park during games,”
Compito says. “People do not think the Skid Row Community is family oriented. That is not true. We are about family and kids. We do not want children around drugs, and we make sure that children do not see drug activity.”

Compito also made it clear that the league would be an authority in the lives of anyone who wanted to play. Attendance to all league affairs became mandatory, and punctuality was required. Players would be held accountable — and expected to hold themselves accountable for their behavior.

I know Manual Compito, the league’s founder, who is a longtime resident of Skid Row and quite a remarkable man, a visionary really.—which is one more reason why it’s so great to hear about his league’s success.


The U.S. Military has been holding Iraqi journalist Ibrahim Jassam for ten months and counting. Yet there have been no charges filed against Jassam?

NPR explores the alarming story.



In Sunday’s New York Times, Tom Wolfe, the journalist/novelist/writer-about-town-in-a-white-suit, makes the case
that the Neal Armstrong’s Apollo 11 first step on the moon,—the near mythic event that occurred 40 years ago today—was the moment that the American space program was sent toward a forty-year slow death.

Wolfe is the country’s one public pundit who has the standing to advance such a theory. His 1979 poetic and entirely magnificent account of the Mercury program, The Right Stuff, is still the best analysis of the place that the quest for manned space flight fit into the American psyche in general, and the American political landscape in particular.

Agree with his thesis about what derailed the space program or not (or whether or not the space program should have been derailed or not), Wolfe’s passion for the program together with his grief for our lost—at least for now—desire to “build a bridge to the stars,” is both real and compelling.

In any case, read the essay.

Oh, hell. Even better, read the book. I reread it a year ago, and was blown away all over again.



Expanding on the issue I’ve been harping on here at WLA, KPCC’s Frank Stolz has followed up in detail with Father Greg Boyle who talks candidly about the hope that Homeboy Industries brings to so many in LA County, about its victories and its budget woes…and about how the failing economy is likely to affect the population Homeboy serves.

“If folks can’t feed their kids, then hang on…”

It’s a good interview, so check it out.

Posted in Science, Social Justice Shorts | 8 Comments »