Tag Archives: entertainment

Dragon cargo fees to rise, due to NASA demands

A government audit has found that the fees that SpaceX charges for its Dragon cargo missions to ISS will rise as much as 50%, and the cause of that price rise is almost entirely due to NASA redesign demands.

[T]he auditors pinned much of the blame on NASA for the increase. They also emphasized that the program still seems like a good deal for lowering launch costs. Auditors cited NASA for missing opportunities to cut redundancies and bargain on pricing, and noted that the agency forced SpaceX to (expensively) redesign its Dragon spaceship from the bottom up.

The report did hint, however, that SpaceX has done some reckoning as the startup has matured. “[SpaceX] also indicated that their CRS-2 pricing reflected a better understanding of the costs involved after several years of experience with cargo resupply missions,” the auditors wrote. (A SpaceX representative declined to comment on the report.)

None of this is a surprise. There are factions in NASA that have been working for the past decade to stymie or defeat the arrival of privately built and owned spacecraft like Dragon, as it makes the NASA-built spacecraft like Orion look bad. By demanding redesigns that raise the cost for Dragon, these factions gain ammunition to attack it. I guarantee we will see op-eds doing exactly that in the next year.

No matter. In the end the private market still does it better and cheaper than the government, as the audit found.

Despite the cost increases, the report ultimately called the CRS contracts with private companies “positive steps” for NASA — especially since the agency could find discounts by launching cargo on used SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket boosters. “NASA’s continued commitment to the commercial space industry also helps spur innovations in the commercial launch vehicle market,” the auditors said.

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Dolly Parton – Stairway to Heaven

An evening pause: Parton often likes to invoke the dumb blonde in her stage presence, but this is one thing she definitely is not. This performance demonstrates that she knows music, and how to do it, with great skill, talent, and intelligence.

The music will at times appear to be out of sync, because the visuals come from one live performance but the sound from another. They match remarkably well however. Ignore this minor issue, and instead watch the talent perform.

Hat tip Diane Zimmerman.

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Walt Disney’s MultiPlane Camera

An evening pause: This was filmed in 1957, and was almost certainly made to be shown as part of Disney’s weekly television show series for kids that began in 1954 and was one of television’s most popular shows in the 1960s. It describes one of the most important technical developments in animation, developed by Disney, until the arrival of computers.

To repeat: This was made for kids, yet it is thoughtful, entertaining, educational, and quite detailed in the information being conveyed. It treats its young audience with great respect and dignity.

I generally do not watch children’s shows today, but the few that I have seen have generally been quite shallow, overwrought, and would have insulted me, when I was a child. I don’t know if today’s kids would react the same today, because when I was a child Disney’s show was somewhat typical. I expected to be treated with respect. Today’s kids might not have that expectation.

Hat tip Wayne DeVette.

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Julie Andrews & Christopher Plummer – Something Good

An evening pause: O that face. Even with this poor recording, you can see why I said, in my very first evening pause, Julie Andrews had “one of the most incredible screen presences of any actor in the history of film.” And the lighting here, reflecting off her features and eyes with a glint, accentuates that presence.

From The Sound of Music (1965).

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Kukla, Fran and Ollie – Here We Are Again

A evening pause: Hat tip Jim Mallamace, who writes, “Before there was Shari Lewis; before there were the Muppets, there was Kukla, Fran, and Ollie. An American television staple from 1947 – 1957, Kukla, Fran, and Ollie demonstrated there would be as large an adult audience for puppetry as there was a child audience. Burr Tillstrom voiced all the puppets. Fran Allison was the host. In this video, they sing their theme song ‘Here We Are Again.'”

Do a quick search on youtube and you can find clips of them singing songs from things like The Mikado and doing satire on television advertising. As primitive as it might seem when compared to modern television, this was a children’s show with a whiff of sophistication.

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Dwight Yoakam with Buck Owens & Flaco Jimenez

An evening pause: Performed live, 1988. The magnificent set starts wth “Guitars Cadillacs,” then goes on to “Streets of Bakersfields,” “Buenas Noches from a Lonely Room,” and finishes with a song I simply can’t identify. It’s a bit long for an evening pause, but worth every second. And a great way to end the week.

Hat tip Robert Pratt of Pratt on Texas.

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