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Wednesday August 31 2005
Today's Featured Article - Space Shuttle Challenger
The Space Shuttle Challenger (NASA Orbiter Vehicle Designation: OV-099) (born: 1983; died: 1986) was the largest government fireworks show ever put on, not even coinciding with Independence Day but serving as an early commemoration of Presidents Day (now "Martin Luther King's Birthday," which was not yet celebrated nationwide).
The Challenger project shows that — despite recent American history in which U.S. Presidents brazenly sacrifice military and diplomatic personnel for the sake of a safe re-election, a "theme" for a Presidency, or an inspiring media event — the tendency to treat people as expendable props went all the way back to Ronald Reagan and was not confined to defending Marines in Lebanon by sentries with unloaded weapons.
The January 28, 1986 launch of OV-099 (which had a number of its own: STS-51-L) was no ordinary space launch. For one thing, a schoolteacher was going to be on board. For another thing, President Ronald Reagan was going to telephone the astronauts with a greeting. Reagan would make carefully scripted remarks demonstrating his commitment to Public Education despite slashing funds because of that silly "It's not in the Constitution" preoccupation of his. The launch was a perfect example of what Americans would now call Homeland Security. It had to go forward despite pesky obstacles, such as the fact that the bitter cold temperature on January 28 would normally call for the launch to be aborted. (more...)
Yesterday's Featured Article - Battle of Bosworth
The Battle of Bosworth (22nd August 1485) is classified as the last ruckus in the War of the Roses. It saw King Richard III slain on the battlefield and his successor Henry VII proclaimed king by a patriotic army of mercenaries, Welshmen, Frenchmen, felons, traitors and turncoats. The battle was so famous that years later no one could remember exactly what happened, where it had been fought or whether it had been a good idea after all.
England in the 15th century had gone through a long struggle between rival groups of aristocrats who had nothing better to do but to argue about the colour of roses. Some said the red rose (of England) was more noble but others said white was purer. After some polite discussions, leading on to debates and finally fights - the issue had appeared to have been resolved when King Edward IV killed his rivals in 1471. The Whites or the 'Yorkists' won whilst the Reds (the Lancastrians) were broken and left only an itinerant Welshman called Henry 'Dai' Tudor as their standard bearer. Since there was a price on his head, Henry moved to a caravan park in Brittany where he lived with his uncle Sir Jasper Tudor ('Do Not Touch Me'). Jasper was also Welsh and a creep.
That should have been that for the Lancastrians but in 1483 Edward IV died whilst trying to row off his excess body fat in a fishing expedition. His son Edward became King Edward V but needed to have his fancy dress day out (a coronation) to be 'King in the eyes of God'. But Edward was still in short tights so a regent was required or 'protector' as the title was then called. (more...)
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