Don't know if this has been brought up yet, but it seems today might be a good day for it.
At 12:31 a.m. central time August 6 NASA will bless us with its latest extravaganza, a multi-billion-dollar, decade-long effort to launch a six-wheel rover dubbed ‘Curiosity’ on the red planet 154 million miles from home. Reading the newspaper one morning, I was amused to learn about the Rube Goldberg "braking" system invented to control landing on Mars. A huge parachute is supposed to slow the craft despite an atmosphere only one percent of the earth’s, followed by freefall, then eight rocket engines ignite and lurch the craft out of the path of the trailing parachute somehow previously jettisoned, followed by a second freefall episode beginning at 66 feet altitude followed by a ‘sky crane’ lowering the rover as it unfurls its wheels, capped off by pyrotechnic charges that send blades to cut the nylon tethers. Oh my.
The rationale for this dubious landing system? "In theory, the rockets could provide a gentle enough landing to finish the job. But in practice, they would kick up such a dust storm that it could ruin the rover." Ah yes, I agree the inevitable dust storm would be a big problem. Engineers must design around that. But why wasn’t a dust storm a formidable problem on July 20, 1969, the occasion of man’s "greatest technological achievement," landing a man on the moon and returning him safely via Apollo 11? The moon is plenty dusty too.
The Shining is surely Stanley Kubrick's most misunderstood masterpiece.I use the word 'masterpiece' guardedly because I have never really thought that The Shining was a very good film.At the time, in 1980 when I first saw it, I didn't like it at all. The way that Kubrick threw out so much of Stephen King's great source material and replaced it with a lot of things that just didn't seem to make any sense, really bothered me.Hopefully, before I am finished with this essay, the reader will see it is only when Kubrick dramatically alters the script from Stephen King's novel that we can begin to understand what Stanley Kubrick is trying to tell us in his version of The Shining.It should be understood from the beginning that The Shining is Stanley Kubrick's most personal film (outside of, possibly, Eyes Wide Shut). Before we are done here it will be easy to see that Kubrick was only using Stephen King's novel as a launching pad (excuse the pun) to be able to tell a completely different story under the guise of making a film based on a best-selling novel.He did this for a very important reason - mainly to save his life. Let's not get too far ahead of ourselves.