Eclipse above, New Order on the iPod, the end of this inexplicably long week in sight: grand mood. Lots of fun pop-cult unearthings to follow. But first, CRISIS IN SPACE!

The errant satellite has been shot down; good. Nice work. It certainly beats having the thing dump toxic hydrazine all over the place, and if it did land someplace where humans – or, worse, polar bears – might breathe the fumes, there would be hell to pay. The Daily Mail, however, has this:

Bush branded 'cowboy of space' after decision to shoot down malfunctioning satellite

Cowboy of Space! It’s either a badly translated Japanese 50s sci-fi movie or a badly translated Steve Miller song. I speak of the PomPOTUS of Love. The Mail notes that China shot down a satellite recently, and quotes a fellow whose lengthy credentials surely indicate the presence of lofty Olympian impartiality:

“But space and security experts claimed yesterday that Mr Bush's decision was more about showing Russia and China what the U.S. was capable of, rather than preventing danger to life and limb.

“Jonathan McDowell, an astronomer with the Harvard-Smithsonian Centre for Astrophysics, called the move "regrettable".
And in a jibe aimed at the President he said: "Clearly someone in the administration who has the instincts of a cowboy has decided this is the perfect excuse to rattle our sabres and show the Chinese that we have the same capabilities." 

Noted: it’s provocative to show the Chinese we can do what they did. Because if we didn't do it, they would stop doing it too. Human nature teaches us that unanswered assertions are always met with chastened withdrawl, after all.

Dr. McDowell’s webpage is here. His personal politics are here. He’s a Green party member, among other things. So put down the Greens in favor of satellites with poisonous fuel hitting the Earth, I guess. I know it's a bit much for a news story to note that the scientist quoted might have pre-existing ideological precepts that colored his evaluation, but gosh, it would be easier if they'd google a bit and save us the trouble.

While searching for Thursday’s  Lance Lawson strips (note: all the strips up on Buzz.mn will eventually be collected at lileks.com) I came across this ad. It made two interesting claims: clothing would be whiter than brand new, and brighter than brand new. So . . . it’s caustic bleach, then? No: it has SOLIUM!

Yes, Solium, the scientific Sunlight ingredient extracted from the finest, choicest fundaments of advertising copywriters. Those were the days: you could name a secret ingredient after an imaginary element that ended in IUM, and people wouldn’t associate it with cancerous rays. Rinso dropped the Solium angle, but continued to insist that the healing, whitening power of the Sun itself was contained in every box. Witness this ad:

It's discontinued in the States, but according to wikipedia, they sold the brand name to other markets, including Turkey. No kidding:


This week’s Bleat Radio Theater brings you “The Whistler.” This was an anthology show, like “Mysterious Traveler” or “inner Sanctum” – a creepy host, a tale of DOOM. “The Whistler” generally avoided the supernatural. It was introduced by a fellow who walked the Earth by night, whistling a strange theme that’s about 63% less haunting than it seems like it should be. It’s as if he’s just making it up. He narrated each tale with pointed, taunting remarks directed at the main character.

Starring in this episode was William Conrad, who seems to pop up in every other Bleat Radio Theater episode. For good reason. I include this for three reasons: it’s almost a techno-thriller, for the time; it reminds you how quickly you could get to the airport in New York in 1949; and I missed half of it while I dropped off some missed homework at (G)Nat’s school.



Early in the show one of the characters references “The Rover Boys,” and makes a self-mocking reference to the big words. “The Rover Boys” was a series of children’s books in the early 20th century. The series stopped in the 20s, but it was still a common pop-culture reference in ’49; for the rest of the century it would be familiar to cartoon fans in parody form:

These characters would appear in the Animaniacs in the 90s.  There was a time when I wondered aloud whether The Rover Boys was the source of the name of the TRB column in the New Republic. I'd read something to that effect. I pity the fool who googles that topic. Sorry! So sorry!

Enough. Here’s your Sears1973 page; see you at buzz.mn with eclipse footage, and a double Lance-Lawson Thursday. Can I do a Diner and the Smartflix column AND Chuck E. Cheese’s in one day?  Stay tuned.