60 years ago in space

Laika, Russian cosmonaut dog, 1957. Laika was the first animal to orbit the Earth, travelling on board the Sputnik 2 spacraft launched on Nov. 3, 1957. The Soviet space program used dogs and other animals to ascertain the viability of later space travel. (Fine Art Images/Heritage Images/Getty Images)

From the New Yorker;

On the evening of November 3, 1957, barely a month after the Soviet Union sent humanity’s first artificial satellite into orbit, a rocket lifted off from a secret site in Kazakhstan, carrying its second. The launch of Sputnik 2 was timed to coincide with the fortieth anniversary of the October Revolution, and the craft itself was an appropriately showy statement of Communist know-how—six times heavier than Sputnik 1, designed to fly nearly twice as high, and, most impressive of all, containing a live passenger. A week before the mission began, Moscow Radio had broadcast an interview with the cosmonaut in question, described as “a small, shaggy dog.” Western newspapers, however, were initially confused about what to call her. Introduced as Kudryavka (“Little Curly”), she was also known as Limonchik (“Little Lemon”) and Damka (“Little Lady”). A Soviet spokesman eventually clarified that her name was Laika (“Barker”), which did nothing to stop a columnist at Newsday from referring to her exclusively as “Muttnik.”

It kind of went like this:

Well, not really;

But the story of Laika had a dark lie at its core. In 2002, forty-five years after the fact, Russian scientists revealed that she had died, probably in agony, after only a few hours in orbit. In the rush to put another satellite into space, the Soviet engineers had not had time to test Sputnik 2’s cooling system properly; the capsule had overheated. It remained in orbit for five months with Laika inside, then plunged into the atmosphere and burned up over the Caribbean, a space coffin turned shooting star. Turkina quotes one of the scientists assigned to Laika’s program: “The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”

And this final word from Laika’s trainer:

Laika’s trainer, Adilya Kotovskaya, a Russian biologist, recently told Agence France-Presse of her remorse as she prepared to send Laika into space: “I asked her to forgive us and I even cried as I stroked her for the last time.”

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Sometimes, compromise is inhumane

White House chief of staff John Kelly, the chief of staff to the klan klinging knome, said on  Fox News (of course) that a “lack of an ability to compromise” on slavery led America into the Civil War.

What did Abraham Lincoln think when the ancestors of the ku klux klowns said stupid shit like this in his time?

Lincoln:The question recurs, what will satisfy them? Simply this: We must not only let them alone, but we must somehow, convince them that we do let them alone. This, we know by experience, is no easy task. We have been so trying to convince them from the very beginning of our organization, but with no success. In all our platforms and speeches we have constantly protested our purpose to let them alone; but this has had no tendency to convince them. Alike unavailing to convince them, is the fact that they have never detected a man of us in any attempt to disturb them.
“These natural, and apparently adequate means all failing, what will convince them? This, and this only: cease to call slavery wrong, and join them in calling it right. And this must be done thoroughly – done in acts as well as in words. Silence will not be tolerated – we must place ourselves avowedly with them. Senator Douglas’ new sedition law must be enacted and enforced, suppressing all declarations that slavery is wrong, whether made in politics, in presses, in pulpits, or in private. We must arrest and return their fugitive slaves with greedy pleasure. We must pull down our Free State constitutions. The whole atmosphere must be disinfected from all taint of opposition to slavery, before they will cease to believe that all their troubles proceed from us.”
There was, simply, no room for compromise, because slaveholders demanded that everyone not merely accept but approve of slavery.
When you deal with bigots, racists, xenophobes and Nazis, compromise only makes you an embarrassment to humanity.
John Kelly is the perfect chief of staff for the pussy-grabbing babyman. His stupidity is only matched by he venality.

A modern history revelation

The following painting appears on the second floor of the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery in Washington:

It shows every woman who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court. Seated from left are Sandra Day O’Connor and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Standing are Sonia Sotomayor and Elana Kagan.

The first Supreme Court was named in September 1789. Since that time there have 112 Supreme Court Justices in American history. In all of American history, these are the only women who have had the title of Supreme Court justice.

All four are alive. O’Connor retired 2006. Ginsburg, Sotomayor and Kagan are currently on the court.

This is an amazing portrait, because it makes you reflect on the history of this country and our shortcomings. Just if you go by population distribution, in a country that believed in equality, 57 women should have served on the Supreme Court by now. How much would have history changed if that were the case? But women weren’t allowed the right to vote until 1920. Pure sexism.

A patriarchal mindset kept women and minorities off the court for hundreds of years.

Of the 112 justices, only two have been African American: Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. Only one of them is alive. Population distribution over history should have made that number closer to 15. But the country was founded on the enslavement of Africans that only ended with the Civil War. And the post Civil War treatment of blacks was dominated by segregation and Jim Crow laws. Pure racism.

You can’t tell me that in all of American history, there weren’t 57 women or 15 African Americans who would have made excellent Supreme Court justices.

But here I am. Standing in the National Portrait gallery, reflecting on a painting of every woman who has ever served on the U.S. Supreme Court,  realizing that every one of them is still alive and seeing the empty space in the portrait where other women should have been.

Who goes Nazi: A parlor game

The stub-fingered krimson klad klansman has made Nazis fashionable. That where the legion of pump truppets have taken us. Now the question is “How do you spot a Nazi?”

Dorothy Thompson

Back in 1944, Dorothy Thompson, an American journalist and one of the most influential women in the country at the time, wrote a piece in Harpers Magazine titled “Who Goes Nazi.” The world was at war and everybody knew the Nazis were evil, they just didn’t know the depth of their depravity. But Americans wanted to figure out what kind off person would be a Nazi. Thompson envisioned a cocktail party and scanned the room looking for the guests who were inherently fascist:

It’s fun—a macabre sort of fun—this parlor game of “Who Goes Nazi?” And it simplifies things—asking the question in regard to specific personalities.

Kind, good, happy, gentlemanly, secure people never go Nazi. They may be the gentle philosopher whose name is in the Blue Book, or Bill from City College to whom democracy gave a chance to design airplanes—you’ll never make Nazis out of them. But the frustrated and humiliated intellectual, the rich and scared speculator, the spoiled son, the labor tyrant, the fellow who has achieved success by smelling out the wind of success—they would all go Nazi in a crisis.

Believe me, nice people don’t go Nazi. Their race, color, creed, or social condition is not the criterion. It is something in them.

Those who haven’t anything in them to tell them what they like and what they don’t-whether it is breeding, or happiness, or wisdom, or a code, however old-fashioned or however modern, go Nazi. It’s an amusing game. Try it at the next big party you go to.

Read the whole piece here. It explains why there are idiots who believe there are “very fine people on both sides.”

Thompson actually met Adolf Hitler. She interviewed him in 1931, before he took power in Germany.

“He is formless, almost faceless, a man whose countenance is a caricature, a man whose framework seems cartilaginous, without bones,” she wrote. “He is inconsequent and voluble, ill-poised, insecure. He is the very prototype of the Little Man. A lock of lank hair falls over an insignificant and slightly retreating forehead. . . .The nose is large, but badly shaped and without character. His movements are awkward, almost undignified and most un-martial. . . .The eyes alone are notable. Dark gray and hyperthyroid—they have the peculiar shine which often distinguishes geniuses, alcoholics, and hysterics.”

To that unflattering description, she added: “There is something irritatingly refined about him. I bet he crooks his little finger when he drinks a cup of tea.”

She basically saw him as a crank, maybe even a clownish buffoon, thinking that no sane electorate would choose him as their leader. As history.net puts it:

But she couldn’t believe that this “Little Man” could actually succeed in that grandiose goal. “Imagine a would-be dictator setting out to persuade a sovereign people to vote away their rights.” That idea seemed preposterous to her.

But the thing was, he didn’t need a majority of the popular vote to take power. The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum notes:

In the Reichstag (German parliament) elections of November 1932, the Nazis lose almost two million votes from the previous elections of July. They win only 33 percent of the vote. It seems clear that the Nazis will not gain a majority in democratic elections, and Adolf Hitler agrees to a coalition with conservatives.

You’d think we would have learned something from World War II. But no one pays attention to history.