RIP Bar, Hub and Stub

Greetings, loyal minions. Your Maximum Leader wants to note the passing of some important figures this week.

The first is champion race horse Barbaro. As you have no doubt heard, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro was put down yesterday. Your Maximum Leader did not really bond with this horse. While he was intellectually disappointed that the horse lost his battle for survival after a brutal broken leg; he can’t say that he is emotionally torn up over this. It is, if anything, a testament to the improvements in veterinary medicine that Barbaro wasn’t put down 8 months ago when the leg was broken at the Preakness. It is sad to see such a beautiful animal’s life cut short, but your Maximum Leader isn’t going to shed tears over the horse’s passing.

After 16 years of faithful service to astronomers around the world, it appears as though the Hubble Space Telescope is dead. At least the primary optics and optical controls are dead. There are secondary systems that appear to function, but who knows how long that will last. Your Maximum Leader is a little dismayed by this. Again, intellectually he isn’t all torn up about it. Afterall, the Hubble is 16 years old. As your Maximum Leader understands it, the telescope was designed to operate for 5 years. By that standard the past 11 years have been gravy for scientists. Your Maximum Leader doubts that NASA will send the shuttle up for another repair mission. It is probably time for a new telescope. It will take some time to design, build, test, and launch. The benefits to human understanding that flow from a space telescope are worth the time and treasure.

And finally, au revoir to public smoking in France. Well actually, smoking in public places or on the property of public buildings is going to be banned on Thursday. The French will still be allowed to smoke outside, in their homes, or in places that approximate homes - like hotels. What will happen to our stereotypcal Frenchman sitting in a cafe, sipping his coffee and smoking a Gauloise? Well… If your mental picture of the Frenchman has that virtual Frenchman sitting outside smoking and drinking coffee; then that picture will not change. If your virtual Frenchman is sitting in a cafe or restaurant; then the Frenchman will be sipping coffee and nervously drumming his fingers and eyeing the door as he craves his niccotine fix.

If you are living in or visiting France, your Maximum Leader suggests you smoke ‘em while you’ve got ‘em.

Carry on.

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