Danica Patrick: Brmmm!

American pocket rocket Danica Patrick has become the first woman to win an Indy Car race, triumphing in the Japan 300 yesterday.

This is a big thing in America where girls are expected to stand on the sidelines and wave pom-poms rather than actually participate in sport, as this is considered unladylike.

Already the naysayers are grumbling that in a sport where every ounce of petrol counts 5'2" Danica (who weighs just 100 lbs) has an unfair advantage. They are also claiming that she has been using her looks to get publicity, rather than talent.

Well sorry, sexist rednecks, you don't win any top class motorsport event by looking cute alone. Being slammed around under high g-force for an hour and a half while travelling at over 200mph takes some doing.

Triple P approves of Danica. Well done, another barrier broken!
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Big Headphones!

What is this ludicrous new fashion for wearing full-sized headphones connected to your iPod? We saw three people yesterday at Bank Station wearing these and they just look silly when worn with a suit. Don't say it's for better audio quality either as what sort of quality can you get from an iPod worn in a busy city anyway? Claiming that is just pretentious.
I'm sorry but Agent Triple P thinks big headphones worn outside are ridiculous!
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Black and White Babe of the Week 5: Ingrid Aperon

Well, we failed to post a BaWBotW last week as we were in Calcutta, more of which another time.  For this week, we have always liked this photograph of French model Ingrid Aperon. Just what Triple P would like to find in the kitchen on a hot day.
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Black and White Babe of the week 4: Patricia Velásquez

HMS sent me a note extolling the virtues of Edward Weston ( a man who took two good pictures in his career). HMS, for all his many other virtues, does not get the point of this thread. It is not "black and white artistic nude of the week", it is "black and white babe of the week". The babe is more important than any perceived artistic element.

We are very tempted to post a John Swanell picture just to annoy HMS, especially as there is an exhibition of his work at the Chris Beetles Gallery at present. Agent Triple P had a very interesting conversation with Mr Beetles a few weeks ago during a special showing at his eponymous gallery so we are keen to promote it as the treasure trove that it is.

But this week we feature Venezuelan Patricia Velásquez: bisexual Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, star of The Mummy and The Mummy Returns, Indian activist and linguist (she is fluent in English, French, Italian and Spanish.
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Miss April: Gabrielle Richens

Gabrielle was born in Kent in 1974.

Exotically she is of British, Indian and Chinese extraction although her parents are from South Africa.

Richens has been a model since the age of fifteen when she signed with the Elite model agency.

Agent Triple P thinks she is rather splendid!

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Korean Rocket!

Yesterday we made a joke about a Hyundai rocket but blow me down here it is!

The Korea Space Launch Vehicle (KSLV) will be the first space launcher of South Korea. It is being built under the authority of the Korea Aerospace Research Institute, the equivalent to NASA.

The KSLV-I launch vehicle is based on the first stage of the Russian Angara rocket and will be built by Russia. The solid-fueled second stage of KSLV-I will be built by South Korea. The launch complex for KSLV will also be built by Russia. It will be capable of launching a satellite weighing 100 kilograms into low orbit. The first launch of KSLV-I is planned for 2008.

Thw Yanks, of course, are worried about the South koreans building a missile which could threaten North Korea. The Americans have been putting pressure on the Russians with regard to technology transfer in this area.

If the launch takes place without a hitch, South Korea will be the eighth country in the world to build its own satellite and rocket and send it into space after (United States, Russia, Japan, China, France, India and Israel).
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R-7 Rocket

TMA-12 blasts off yesterday

The basic design of the launcher which took Korea's first astronaut (or is she a cosmonaut as she went in a Russian rocket?) is over 50 years old and is very much a design classic.

The R1 in 1948

The first Russian built rocket was just a re-engineered V2 (or, more correctly, an A4) and was launched in 1948 under the technical management of Sergei Koralev ( properly, Sergey Pavlovich Korolyov) and was called the R-1.

A series of developments of the original R-1 followed (R-1B R-1D, R-1E and R-1V) and they carried the first scientific experiments and the first living creatures (dogs) into space on the very fifties retro-looking (retro rocket?) R-1D in 1951.

The R-1D. The first cool looking Soviet rocket.

Work took place on a series of rockets, or more properly missiles, for a variety of strategic uses but the race was on with the USA to build the world's first inter-continental ballistic missile.

The R5. The first missile to carry a nuclear warhead.

The R5 broke the altitude record for rockets in 1958 reaching 473km.

In 1953 Korolev began work on a ICBM launcher originally called the 8k71 (catchy!). It featured strap on boosters which gave what became the R-7 its distinctive (and very cool) look.

An early R-7 launch

The first three launches, in 1957, were all disasters but the fourth on August 21st 1957 was a success. The R-7 was 34 m long, 3 m in diameter and weighed 280 metric tons, it was two-stage, powered by rocket motors using liquid oxygen (lox) and kerosene and was capable of delivering its payload at around 8,800 km, with an accuracy (CEP) of around 5km. As an ICBM the rocket entered service in 1960 but it was not exactly a success. Only six launch sites were built and each site cost 5% of the Soviet defence budget. The rocket needed 20 hours to prepare for launch and this would have made it very vulnerable to enemy strikes.

Nasty, brutish and short. The R-7 ICBM

However, in parallel to its role as an ICBM the R-7 launcher was used to transport the Sputnik satellite into orbit on October 4th 1957. A brave thing to do for a rocket that had only had one successful and three unsuccessful launches!

The more elegant lines of the current Soyuz FG

Later the same basic rocket, with added extra stages, was used for all the Soviet and then Russian manned flight missions. The Soyuz version was first launched in 1963 and since then there have been around 1,200 launches of that configuration. If the earlier incarnations of the R-7 are included as well then the total number is around 1,700. In the early eighties the Soviets were churning out 60 a year.

Soyuz under construction

The current version is the Soyuz FG with a Fregat booster. A new version is due out this year. The rockets are assembled in a horizontal position which is much cheaper than the typical American vertical build. They are then transported by rail to the launch pad and raised up into the firing position.

TMA-12 in its gantry.

Preparing for launch



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Koreans send babe into space.

Korea has its first astronaut in the better than average shape of engineer, Yi So-yeon.

Brarst off!

The 29 year old is the youngest woman to go into space and blasted off on the Soyuz TMA-12 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan yesterday.

So-yeon suggests a zero gravity activity to fellow cosmonaut Sergei Volkov which isn't in the official flight plan.

So-yeon, a bio-engineer, travelled with two Russian cosmonauts and and will rendezvous with the International Space Station tomorrow.

Frying high! But Ko San is about to be gazumped

The Korean's have given the Russians $20,000,000 to get an astronaut into space so must have been a bit miffed when the Russki's kicked the Korean's first choice astronaut, male mathematician (a dodgy bunch) Ko San, off the programme for, allegedly, borrowing technical manuals and taking them home to Korea (by mistake, allegedly).

TMA-12 heads out to the launch pad.

We all now expect a nice Hyundai rocket with four strap on boosters, air conditioning, CD player and built in Sat-Nav within five years.

Hyundai man reckons, "We could build one of those, no problem!"

Over 36,000 Koreans applied to be the country's first astronaut and posed the problem for the Russians of how to produce dog-flavoured squeezy space meals. Never mind, it wouldn't be the first time the Russians have blasted dog into space.

How are you feeling? "Ruff!"

Laika (Russian for "barker"!) was not only the first living thing (or Earthling, anyway) into space but the first female. Of course she was never meant to survive her flight in Sputnik 2 and died five to seven hours into the flight on November 3rd 1957. The capsule was burned up on re-entry five months later thus barbecueing what was left of poor Laika. Which brings us neatly full circle to Koreans in space.

Anyway, Agent Triple P wishes So-yeon a good flight and happy randings!

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Fishnet ban at law firm

Would you ban this?

It seems a law firm (everyone is assuming it is a London one) has banned its female staff from wearing fishnet tights at work as it "distracts male colleagues". This is causing all sorts of nonsense in the press as the grubby hacks try to get pro and con quotes.

Agent Triple P's favourite was:

"At my firm, our investment banking clients were always happy to see us girls at negotiation meetings in very short skirts. Our male colleagues were very happy about it too. Do I detect a hint of jealousy among the frumps that can't get away with it?"

Well, Agent Triple P's not inconsiderable experience of lady lawyers in London is that he would rather not see most female solicitors in fishnets. Burkas, perhaps. Of course there is the City phenomenon whereby the senior women dress in a-line dresses, flat shoes and plain blouses and the secretaries dress in pinstripe suits. No doubt these girls think that the fishnets perk up the pinstripes so perhaps the ban is aimed at the junior staff. Also, maybe it's not a London firm. Maybe its some dreary provincial firm in Norwich or somewhere else uncool like that. Actually, Agent Triple P used to know a girl from Norwich (or at least very close by) who looked sensational in fishnets so maybe we are being unfair.

Too tasteful to be banned?

Of course there are fishnets and fishnets and there will no doubt come the thorny issue of when is a pattern a fishnet and when is it just a lacy diamond pattern. Maybe the ban is just aimed at the classic Moulin Rouge/Chicago look and not some of the more sophisticated numbers that have come onto the market recently.

Agent Triple P's neighbour demonstrates how badly fishnets cover a thigh tattoo.

Really, Agent Triple P's only observation would be that no women should wear fishnets unless they have very, very good legs indeed. They are not easy to carry off!

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Black and White Babe of the Week 3: Eva Herzigova

There are so many nice black and white shots of the lovely Eva that it's hard to chose one.

But this Bruce Weber shot for the April 1998 Pirelli Calendar contains much that appeals to Agent Triple P: a half naked Eastern European girl, cooking, spaghetti. It was even shot in Miami, one of our new favourite places.

She's all very al dente.
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