Laika (c. 1954 – November 3, 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth.
Laika was a stray dog, originally named Kudryavka (Russian: Кудрявка Little Curly); she underwent training with two other dogs, and was eventually chosen as the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957, (becoming the first dog in space, to orbit the Earth, and was also the first animal to die in space.) The Soviets designed the spacecraft knowing she would not survive. One Soviet scientist took her home to play with his children because he said “I wanted to do something nice for her. She had so little time left to live.” Laika likely died within hours after launch from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death was not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six, or as Soviet government initially claimed, she was euthanized prior to oxygen depletion.
As a kid who was very into rockets and airplanes I remember being told about her (mind you, I wasn’t born until the cold war was ending), but in my childish innocence I assumed she came back okay.
Here’s a statement made by Oleg Gazenko, one of the Sputnik scientists:
“Work with animals is a source of suffering to all of us. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it… We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog.”
You know what makes me (sorta) happy? They built her a window. Despite the challenges and costs of building a secure window in a pressurized capsule, they did it so the dying dog could look out.
Gazenko speaks of the bond that grew between the dog and him as they worked toward her mission, leading us in unembroidered prose through a brief tale of preparation, hours of readiness on the launch pad, and the launch itself. But the heart of the article for me, and the part to which nothing I’ve found since makes reference, is this: Gazenko tells us that as engineers rushed against deadlines to complete the capsule that would carry the dog into space, outfitting it with equipment to record the details of her death, he took on a battle in Laika’s behalf. Against heavy objections from the decision-makers, he insisted upon the installation of a window. A window in a space capsule, where such a luxury would cause complications and expenses that I can barely imagine. A window for the dog whose monitored demise had been this man’s objective in all the interactions that had bonded her to him with the eager devotion of every well-trained working canine.
Yet Gazenko persisted and prevailed.
Roof In Peace.
W.H. Auden, I love you.
This is a sad and brave poem about accepting the suffering of unrequited love—an experience that Auden was apparently familiar with. In this poem, he makes his peace with his experience of “stars” whose beauty inspires such passion and longing, but which care nothing for him in return.
Being treated with indifference is not so bad, Auden says, in the first stanza; there are worse things in life. To love, even if one is not loved back, is more than enough, he suggests in the second stanza. And, in the final two stanzas, Auden tells himself that even if that which one loves were to disappear from one’s life, one would survive the grief and the emptiness—even if, as he poignantly understates it in the last line, being reconciled with that loss may “take a little time.”
Stephen Fry = <3 x 1,000,000
I feel like I would need a Master’s degree in English History just to give Stephen Fry an adequate hand job.
I LOVE HARRY REID!
Senator Harry Reid’s boring demeanor and refusal to be phony apparently rubs many people the wrong way. But choking a dangerous mafia man, getting a bomb strapped to his car for daring to act against the mafia in Vegas, as well as not withholding punches from Sen Ted Cruz and Tea Party obstructionists make him a bad-ass in my book.
He has a very confrontational style when it comes to the Tea Party. If he doesn’t like something, and doesn’t hesitate to criticize it. Such candor from a politician is a refreshing break from the usual self-interest based hesitancy to make such remarks. He has called the extreme ring wing fraction of the Republican Party, “anarchists” and “reckless”; he’s said they’ve “lost their minds” and need to “get a life”; and during this government shutdown his office leaked private emails with House Speaker John Boehner’s chief of staff.
The emails show that before the House speaker demanded an end to health-care subsidies for congressional staffers, he vigorously fought behind the scenes to procure them. It appears that Boehner’s public reversal on this position made Reid and Democrats reach their breaking points. “Speaker Boehner has a credibility problem,” Reid said in a statement. “From refusing to let the House vote on a bill that was his idea in the first place, to decrying health-care subsidies for members of Congress and staff that he worked for months to preserve, to stating that the House doesn’t have the votes to pass a clean CR at current spending levels, there is now a consistent pattern of Speaker Boehner saying things that fly in the face of the facts or stand at odds with his past actions.”
Obama and Reid can’t negotiate with Boehner because they can’t trust him. Not trust in the “he lacks integrity” sense, although that may be true, but can’t trust in the “I wouldn’t trust my weight to that bridge” sense – he does not have control of his caucus, nor does he have a good feel for what drives his caucus on this issue. (For a Speaker of the House, John Boehner is a lousy politician. Since negotiations are both a bad idea from the Democratic perspective, and also totally futile so long as Boehner remains the GOP point man.)
At this point, the whole world is watching the catastrophic consequences of a leaderless House during the Republican’s renewed threat of a government shutdown or debt-ceiling default. These reckless actions are part of a grandstand play to reverse Obamacare (or the ACA) but they’ve assumed an illogic of their own. The House Republicans seem almost to enjoy holding the country hostage. Their version of Russian roulette has become so familiar that everybody seems to forget just how outrageous it is. Speaker Boehner surely knows this type of brinkmanship, however popular with the right wing, is damaging the party nationally. But he simply cannot control his members.
Basically, The Tea Party Republicans have total control over Speaker Boehner and the House of Representatives. And by being completely batshit insane, they’ve put themselves in a position where they can crash the country OR the Republican Party. Or both. This isn’t even negotiating with terrorists. Terrorists at least have reasons and overarching ideals. This is, plain and simple, a bunch of power-mad idiots who have no idea how the world works and pretty much think they can put a stop to the 21st century if they pout hard enough.
The framers of the constitution never imagined a stupid and malicious enough group coming together to decide it’s worth fucking up the national and global economy in order to prevent the process of laws going into effect. There is no “Hastert Rule” in the Constitution. You don’t defund the government over a disagreement over a law. This isn’t a budget issue where both sides couldn’t agree on how much to spend on different parts of the government. This sets a bad precedent if they succeed. This would allow them to hold the government hostage over ANY law that they don’t like in the future. (Gay marriage becoming legal nationwide? The war of drugs being ramped down and work towards legalization? Outlawing things that are not science being taught in public schools as if it is truth? Any other major shift in policy that doesn’t fit the republican worldview…) This is a test run to see what they can do by brute force. This isn’t just an idea or an executive order they are fighting, it is a law which has been passed and upheld as constitutional.
What they are trying to do right now is throw away our entire way of life. And that is not a melodramatic statement. They are trying to exert unilateral power over the law of the land, using a single party, in a single body, in a single branch of the government. This CANNOT be allowed to happen.
As a liberal, (who has a generally negative view of politicians on both sides), I have come to appreciate Harry Reid, when he commits to doing something, he does it. And in times like these I’m glad to have someone like that in my political corner.
The Phenomenon of Grieving Dogs:
In the face of disaster, danger, and death, some dogs live up to their reputations as man’s best friend with heartwrenching acts of loyalty. Ciccio, a 12-year-old German shepherd, proves how faithful he is on a daily basis, heading to his nearby church in Italy when the bells begin to ring each afternoon, just as he did with his owner when she was alive. “Dogs go through grief, just as we do,” said Sarah Wilson, an animal behavior expert, in People. “It’s all a part of being attached and loved.” Here, 12 dogs whose courageous and loyal actions say more than words:
1. Ciccio: Truly devoted
Ciccio and his owner lived in the village of San Donaci in the southern region of Puglia, Italy. When the bells tolled each afternoon, he would accompany the woman, who was known in the village as “Maria of the fields,” to church. But when Maria died suddenly in November, Ciccioappeared devastated. He attended the funeral and followed his mistress’ coffin as it was carried into the same local church. Thereafter, he just kept coming back, day after day. His devotion has so impressed the parishioners that they rallied together to care for him, giving him water and food and allowing him to sleep in a covered area outside the church. The priest, while hoping to find a new home for the faithful pup, even lets Ciccio sit in front of the altar during service.
2. Capitan: Faithful forever
Miguel Guzman bought Capitan for his son, Damian, in 2005. After Guzman died the next year, Capitan disappeared. A week after the funeral, the family returned to the cemetery in central Argentina and found Capitan there, howling. The heartbroken dog had found the cemetery and tomb on his own, and has lived there ever since, sleeping on Guzman’s grave. “I’ve tried to bring Capitan home several times,” Damian, 13, says, “but he always comes straight back… He’s looking after my dad.”
3. Hawkeye: Loyal to the end
Hawkeye the chocolate Lab’s owner — 35-year-old Navy SEAL Jon Tumilson — died in the August 6, 2011, helicopter crash that killed 38 American servicemen. Roughly 1,500 mourners came out to a local high school gym in Iowa to pay their respects, and all eyes were on the heartbreaking display of devotion as Hawkeye, unwilling to leave the side of Tumilson’s casket, seemed to grieve for his fallen friend. (Watch the video here.)
4. Kirby: Going the distance
In early August 2011, Kirby, a small black dog whose owner recently died, went missing from his new home. The little pup was found soon after, sitting by his owner’s grave, having walked miles to find it.
5. Unknown: Standing guard
After Japan’s devastating earthquake in March 2011, reporters videotaped a shaking, mud-splattered spaniel sitting next to another dog, which is lying, hardly moving, next to him. The healthier dog refuses to leave his friend and stands guard, sometimes pacing. The dogs were eventually rescued and taken to medics. The video received 10 million hits on YouTube with comments from dog lovers pouring in: “That dog is a better person than most humans,” wrote one. “Loyalty is the best word to use when you describe a dog. Truly, man’s best friend is a well-deserved title,” wrote another.
6. Leao: Keeping vigil
In January 2011, floods and landslides ravaged Brazil, outside Rio de Janeiro. One of the most “gut-wrenching” photos to emerge from the tragedy showed a mixed-breed dog, Leao, lying patiently by the fresh grave of his owner. While news of the fatal landslides spread, it was the image of this lonely, grief-stricken dog that really put a “face on just what a tragedy the country [was] facing,” said Sasha Brown-Worsham at The Stir.
7. Spot: Faithfully waiting
While Wayne Giroux was working away at his lawnmower repair shop, his dog, Spot, waited faithfully for his return every day at the same street corner near their home in Lone Oak, Texas. After Giroux was killed by a drunk driver in June 2010, Spot continued to wait for him. Five months later, the dog still waited, and Giroux’s son, Paul, said he didn’t think the dog would ever give up.
8. Zelda: Looking for her boy
Joshua Reed rescued a sweet, rust-colored dog named Zelda from the road after she was hit by a car. From that moment on, the two were inseparable, said Marci Reed, Joshua’s mother. In 2009, just three years after their chance meeting, 15-year-old Joshua was killed in an ATV accident. Months later, the dog could be seen roaming the Indiana farm roads near the family’s home. “She’s without her boy,” said Marci Reed, “She just sniffs all over looking for her boy.”
9. Unknown: Dodging traffic
This “rather unbelievable” video that surfaced in December 2008 showed one dog’s heroism in the face of danger — and oncoming traffic. After a dog is hit by a car on a freeway, another dog dodges cars and drags his severely injured friend off the highway to safety.
10. Cash: Starving to protect
Jake Baysinger, a 25-year-old Colorado man, had been missing for months in 2008 when, in August, his German Shepherd, Cash, was found roaming the Colorado plains. The dog led searchers to Baysinger’s body. He had reportedly committed suicide, and Cash stayed by his side for six weeks. The dog was badly dehydrated and very thin, and authorities said it was a miracle the animal survived. But his presence prevented Baysinger’s body from being attacked by coyotes.
11. Squeak: Refusing to leave
In March 2002, a 51-year-old farmer named Terry Ford was brutally killed in Zimbabwe. Sitting beside the mutilated corpse was the man’s devoted dog, a 14-year-old Jack Russell Terrior named Squeak. It took family members an hour to coax the dog away: “He was crying when the body was found and he is still crying now,” said one friend of the family.