Save the Sails 4.2
A California activist sailing from San Francisco to Yokohama, Japan in an attempt to dramatize the plight of the world's whales was forced to head for port in Honolulu - after his boat ran into one of the noble beasts. Michael Reppy's voyage was hampered by steering problems almost from the start - but it wasn't until the 10th day of the voyage that he realized the trouble with his rudder must have been caused by a late night encounter he had with a couple of whales the first night out. "I feel stupid for taking so long to find the rudder problem - which is obviously the cause of the steering problems I have been having," he wrote in a message on his Web site at www.tchild.org. "And of course there is the irony of sailing to save whales and running into them."
Sea of Tranquility 6.7
After you shuffle off this mortal coil, do you dream of being blasted to a final resting place on the surface of the moon? If so, you're in luck: Celestis Inc., a Texas company famous for lobbing the remains of such celebrities as Timothy Leary and Gene Roddenberry into deep space, has announced plans to offer 200 lucky dead people the chance to ride in a rocket designed to crash-land on the lunar surface, all for the low, low price of $12,500. "The funeral industry is changing dramatically," company co-founder Charlie Chafer recently explained to The Associated Press. "The baby boomers want to do things a little differently."
Bang, Zoom! 9.0
Speaking of shooting things at the moon: The Associated Press reports that the U.S. government seriously considered blasting the moon with an atomic bomb in the '50s to scare the Russians (provided it didn't blow up on the launch pad). A young Carl Sagan - then an astronomy grad student - even helped out with some of the calculations. "Now it seems ridiculous and unthinkable," says physicist Leonard Reiffel, a former NASA official who headed up the project. "But things were remarkably tense back then."
David Futrelle is a contributing editor of In These Times.