Thursday, 31 October 2013

Re: [New post] SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them by a man in a dress

It is very much an American concern, when Saudi Arabia is voted in to the United Nations Security Council.  This is where your isolationist views are just Anti-American Plain Ol'.......
 
 


On Thu, Oct 31, 2013 at 4:23 PM, plainolamerican <plainolamerican@gmail.com> wrote:
SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them
---
not an American concern.

next ...

On Thursday, October 31, 2013 1:07:26 PM UTC-7, Travis wrote:




BareNakedIslam posted: "The victim, an Indian national, pleads for his life as his Saudi employer accuses him of looking at his wife. Despite repeated denials, the victim is then subjected to a horrific and sustained beating. Just before the camera stops, he is asked, "Do you wa"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them by a man in a dress

by BareNakedIslam

The victim, an Indian national, pleads for his life as his Saudi employer accuses him of looking at his wife. Despite repeated denials, the victim is then subjected to a horrific and sustained beating. Just before the camera stops, he is asked, "Do you want to die?"  82-countries-in-the-united-nations-praise-saudi-arabia-for-its-outstanding-human-rights-record INN (h/t Maurice)  This is par for the course in […]

Read more of this post

BareNakedIslam | October 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Z4j

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Fwd: [New post] Dennis Miller says small business owners should fire Obama supporters





Dr. Eowyn posted: "In his radio program on Oct. 19, Dennis Miller advises business owners that if they are forced to cut hours and or fire employees due to the impact of Obamacare, then it is the Obama supporters that should be fired. (0:42 mark) I agree with Miller."
Respond to this post by replying above this line

New post on Fellowship of the Minds

Dennis Miller says small business owners should fire Obama supporters

by Dr. Eowyn

In his radio program on Oct. 19, Dennis Miller advises business owners that if they are forced to cut hours and or fire employees due to the impact of Obamacare, then it is the Obama supporters that should be fired. (0:42 mark)

I agree with Miller. Elections have consequences!

What say you?

H/t Clash Daily

 

~Eowyn

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Fwd: [New post] Department of Homeland Security Senior Advisor says, “the United States is an Islamic country”





BareNakedIslam posted: "Mohamed Elibiary, a controversial Muslim Homeland Security advisor who was recently promoted to senior fellow, is a self-declared Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamist Mohamed Morsi supporter.  h/t WZ RELATED STORIES: mohamed-elibiary-a-rabid-mus"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

Department of Homeland Security Senior Advisor says, "the United States is an Islamic country"

by BareNakedIslam

Mohamed Elibiary, a controversial Muslim Homeland Security advisor who was recently promoted to senior fellow, is a self-declared Muslim Brotherhood and radical Islamist Mohamed Morsi supporter.  h/t WZ RELATED STORIES: mohamed-elibiary-a-rabid-muslim-brotherhood-supporter-gets-promotion-at-homeland-security-dept what-weve-got-a-muslim-on-the-homeland-security-advisory-council

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BareNakedIslam | October 31, 2013 at 1:26 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Z45

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Fwd: Daughters of the Jihad Death Cult








Daughters of the Jihad Death Cult

Posted By Robert Spencer On October 28, 2013

Last Monday in the Russian city of Volgograd, a 30-year-old woman from Dagestan named Naida Akhiyalova boarded a bus. Akhiyalova, a convert to Islam, soon afterward exploded a jihad-martyrdom suicide bomb vest, killing herself, murdering six other people, and injuring over 30 more. The vest, as it turned out, was a gift from Akhiyalova's 22-year-old husband, Dmitry Sokolov, himself also a convert to Islam.

Nothing says "I'm just not that into you" quite like giving your wife a suicide vest. The immediate explanation for Sokolov's gift to his bride was that he had grown disenchanted with a wife eight years his senior, and found a convenient means to get her out of the way – however much his marriage to an older woman resembled that of Muhammad to Khadija, his first wife, who was fifteen years older than the prophet of Islam.

However, that scenario doesn't account for why Sokolov didn't just say the triple talaq ("I divorce you"), which would have rid him of Akhiyalova quickly, easily, and painlessly. Nor does it explain why Akhiyalova was apparently willing to get on the bus, even though she knew it would be her last ride.

Not much is known about her at this point, but it may be that she was a true believer. There are, after all, numerous precedents. On June 21, 2005, a 21-year-old Muslim woman named Wafa Samir al-Biss tried to kill herself and murder as many infidels as possible at an Israeli checkpoint, but her explosive vest failed to detonate. She recounted later that day that her "dream was to be a martyr. I believe in death."

Wafa Samir al-Biss

The idea of believing in death comes from the Qur'an, in one of its many verses hectoring the Jews: "Say, 'O you who are Jews, if you claim that you are allies of Allah, excluding the [other] people, then wish for death, if you should be truthful'" (62:6). An American Muslim from California who recently traveled to Syria to fight with al-Qaeda jihadists against the Assad regime declared:

What America hates, I love. What they love I hate. They love Dunya [earthly life]. I hate the Dunya. They love life. I love death.

This is commonplace among jihadists, and this sentiment affects even the family unit. Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri's wife advised Muslim women: "I advise you to raise your children in the cult of jihad and martyrdom and to instill in them a love for religion and death."

Raised in this culture of death, Wafa Samir al-Biss explained on the day her jihad failed: "Today I wanted to blow myself up in a hospital, maybe even in the one in which I was treated. But since lots of Arabs come to be treated there, I decided I would go to another, maybe the Tel Hashomer, near Tel Aviv. I wanted to kill 20, 50 Jews." She was disconsolate about her failure, weeping and expressing a peculiarly Palestinian inversion of murderer's remorse: "I don't want my mother to see me like this. After all, I haven't killed anyone…will they have pity on me?"

Wafa Samir al-Biss was released from prison in 2011 as one of 477 Palestinian prisoners exchanged for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. She was unrepentant: "This is an honorable thing and I would be a suicide bomber three times over if I could."

Wafa had spent the previous six years in an Israeli prison that held other women who failed in their attempts to explode themselves and kill a crowd of Zionists in the process. One of them, 20-year-old Ayat Allah Kamil, explained that her motivation was purely Islamic. She tried to explode a suicide vest, she said, "because of my religion. I'm very religious. For the holy war [jihad] there's no difference between men and women shahid [martyrs]." Ayat thought that if she had managed to kill herself and murder some infidels in the process, she would be "the chief of the 72 virgins, the fairest of the fair."

Hamas encourages such beliefs. On December 30, 2008, its television station, Al-Aqsa TV, aired a series of statements by female jihadists who pledged to carry out suicide attacks. One said: "I swear by Allah that I will turn my body parts into a fire that will burn the occupation soldiers, if they move towards my house. My beloved people, if Allah supports you, no one will be able to overcome you. We are confident of the support of Allah. There are thousands of martyrdom-seeking women like me, waiting for the occupier."

Another woman, brandishing a rifle, quoted the Qur'an: "Allah said: 'Prepare against them what force and steeds of war you can, to strike terror in the hearts of the enemies of Allah and your own enemies'" (8:60). She added: "My honorable people, have more forbearance and steadfastness. Your daughters march by your side on the path of Jihad and martyrdom."

However, not all of the women in the Israeli prison to which Wafa Samir al-Biss was sent had attempted a jihad suicide attack because they were true believers. Their guard explained: "There are 30 of them, between 17 and 30 years old, some of them are married and others aren't, some of them have children. Their stories come out of the Thousand and One Nights. Some of them did it to make amends for a relative who was a collaborator, others to escape becoming victims of honor killings."

Indeed. On January 12, 2004, the most celebrated female jihad suicide bomber, a 21-year-old mother of two named Reem Riyashi, murdered four Israelis at a checkpoint between Israel and Gaza. Photographs of Riyashi holding a Qur'an in one hand and a rifle in the other have become iconic of jihadists, and she is celebrated as a heroine among Palestinians. However, it came out not long after her murders that she was having an affair with Abdel Nasser Abu Shokeh, a Hamas leader in Gaza. Her husband found out, and like Dmitry Sokolov, encouraged her to take the path of jihad — in this case, to atone for the shame she had brought to him.

We may never know if Naida Akhiyalova committed her murders out of a commitment to Islam, or to cleanse her family's besmirched honor. In either case, however, the love of death and murder that her act betrays is going to become an ever more familiar feature of life in the West. And as our cultural denial about what gives rise to this perverse love continues and deepens, more and more people with a healthy love for life, like those people who were unfortunate enough to be on the bus Naida Akhiyalova boarded, will fall prey to it.


Article printed from PJ Lifestyle: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/lifestyle/2013/10/28/daughters-of-the-jihad-death-cult/

 



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Fwd: Intelligence Officials Defend Surveillance Programs as Congress Considers Reforms






Intelligence Officials Defend Surveillance Programs as Congress Considers Reforms

Posted By Rodrigo SermeƱo On October 31, 2013

WASHINGTON – During a grilling by the House Intelligence Committee on Tuesday,  top spy chiefs defended their intelligence-gathering activities in the wake of allegations that the United States collected telephone and email records from European citizens.

National Security Agency director Gen. Keith Alexander said the NSA would prefer to "take the beatings" from the public and in the media "than to give up a program that would result in this nation being attacked."

He vigorously defended the agency's intelligence programs, saying they have helped save lives "not only here, but in Europe, and around the world."

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper asserted there is no other country in the world that has the magnitude of oversight over its intelligence apparatus as the U.S. does.

"We operate within a robust framework of strict rules and rigorous oversight involving all three branches of the government," he said.

Clapper said the manner in which the work of the intelligence agencies has been characterized in recent months has often been "incomplete, inaccurate, or misleading."

"I believe that most Americans realize the intelligence community exists to collect the vital intelligence that helps protect our nation from foreign threats. We focus on uncovering the secret plans and intentions of our foreign adversaries, as we've been charged to do," he said. "But what we do not do is spy unlawfully on Americans, or for that matter, spy indiscriminately on the citizens of any country. We only spy for valid foreign intelligence purposes as authorized by law, with multiple layers of oversight to ensure we don't abuse our authorities."

Clapper admitted there have been mistakes, but these are caused by "human error or technical problems."

"Whenever we've found mistakes, we've reported, addressed and corrected them," he added.

The hearing follows a report by the German magazine Der Spiegel that the NSA monitored German Chancellor Angela Merkel's personal cell phone. Citing documents provided by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden, some European newspapers have also reported the U.S. carried out surveillance on French and Spanish citizens.

Last week, the former director of France's domestic intelligence agency, Bernard Squarcini, stated in an interview to French newspaper Le Figaro that "there is no reason to be surprised" as allies have been spying on each other for a long time.

"The French intelligence services know full well that all countries, whether or not they are allies in the fight against terrorism, spy on each other all the time," Squarcini said.

House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) made reference to the interview, asking Clapper whether those remarks were consistent with what he knew as the director of intelligence operations.

"Absolutely," Clapper replied. "It's invaluable to us to know where countries are coming from, what their policies are, how that would impact us across a whole range of issues, so – and it isn't just leaders themselves. It's what goes on around them and the policies that they convey to their governments."

Both he and Alexander said that allies conducting espionage against the U.S. and its leaders was just "a basic tenet" of intelligence operations.

Alexander said overseas reports the U.S. had collected tens of millions of phone calls in France, Spain, and other European nations were "completely false."

That data, he said, is at least partly collected by the foreign intelligence services and provided to the NSA.

"This is not information that we collected on European citizens. It represents information that we and our NATO allies have collected in defense of our countries and in support of military operations," he said.

The White House has tried to control some of the damage from reports of NSA spying on allies. President Obama has promised a thorough review of overseas spying operations and is considering whether to suspend monitoring the leaders of U.S. allies, the New York Times reported.

Following the Snowden leaks, media reports have primarily focused on two authorities under the 2001 Patriot Act and the 1978 Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA). First, the business records provision, known as Section 215 of the Patriot Act, which allows the government to legally collect so-called metadata — phone numbers and length of calls – but not content, conversations, or names, according to committee Ranking Member Dutch Ruppersberger (D-Md.).

The second authority is known as Section 702 of FISA, also known as PRISM, which allows the government to collect the content of email and phone calls of foreigners who are located outside of the U.S.

Both of these authorities are legal and no court has ever struck them down, Ruppersberger noted.

The congressional hearing was meant to discuss potential changes to FISA, which grants the NSA its authority for data collection.

Ruppersberger said Congress is working with the administration and the private sector to explore changes to FISA. He said they are considering a proposal to require a declassification review of any FISA court decision or opinion "to improve transparency without threatening sources and methods."

The FISA Court grants or refuses surveillance rights requests from U.S. government agencies.

"The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act must be reformed. We have worked with the administration, the Senate, telecommunications companies and other stakeholders to evaluate and vet a range of options. We must approve transparency, privacy protections, and thereby restore the public's confidence. You cannot truly have privacy without security or security without privacy," he said.

They are also evaluating congressional reporting, so that all members of Congress, not just those on committees with jurisdictions, can view the classified reports about the programs.

Alexander and Clapper both said they were open to greater transparency around their intelligence-gathering activities.

On Tuesday, dozens of lawmakers from both parties introduced legislation to curb the NSA's surveillance powers.

The USA Freedom Act, which has 16 co-sponsors in the Senate and more than 70 in the House, would stop the agency's massive phone record collection program.

The bill was authored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), one of the leading authors of the Patriot Act.


Article printed from PJ Media: http://pjmedia.com

URL to article: http://pjmedia.com/blog/intelligence-officials-defend-surveillance-programs-as-congress-considers-reforms/

 



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Fwd: How Historic Revisionism Justifies Islamic Terrorism







How Historic Revisionism Justifies Islamic Terrorism

Posted By Raymond Ibrahim On October 31, 2013

How important, really, is history to current affairs?  Do events from the 7th century—or, more importantly, how we understand them—have any influence on U.S. foreign policy today?

By way of answer, consider some parallels between academia's portrayal of the historic Islamic jihads and the U.S. government's and media's portrayal of contemporary Islamic jihads.

While any objective appraisal of the 7th century Muslim conquests proves that they were just that—conquests, with all the bloodshed and rapine that that entails—the historical revisionism of modern academia, especially within Arab and Islamic studies departments, has led to some portrayals of the Muslim conquerors as "freedom-fighters" trying to "liberate" the Mideast from tyrants and autocrats. (Beginning to sound familiar?)

Today's approach to teaching the history of the Muslim conquests of the 7th century is something as follows: Yes, the Mideast was Christian, but local Christians helped Arab Muslims invade and subjugate their countries in preference to Christian Byzantine rule, which was oppressive due to doctrinal disagreements over the nature of Christ.  Hence, the Muslim conquerors were actually "liberators."

This perspective, as with many modern Western perspectives concerning Islam, is a product of modern day epistemic distortions, chief among them: 1) repackaged narratives of the "noble savage" myth—yes, 7th century Muslim invaders were coarse, but had elevated ideals, including a fierce love for freedom and religious tolerance in comparison to Christians of the time (not to mention now); and 2) entrenched political correction that seeks to whitewash the true history of Islam followed by the uncritical acceptance of Islamic apologetics, some of which border on the absurd.

Of course, before the Islamic "liberator" thesis had become mainstream, historians such as Alfred Butler, author of The Arab Conquest of Egypt, had this to say about it:

Even in the most recent historians it will be found that the outline of the story [of the 7th century conquest of Egypt] is something as follows:… that the Copts generally hailed them [Muslims] as deliverers and rendered them every assistance; and that Alexandria after a long siege, full of romantic episodes, was captured by storm. Such is the received account. It may seem presumptuous to say that it is untrue from beginning to end, but to me no other conclusion is possible. (emphasis added; pgs. iv-v).

In fact, one of the major themes throughout Butler's Arab Conquest of Egypt—which, published in 1902, is heavily based on primary sources, Arabic and Coptic, unlike more modern secondary works that promote the Islamic "liberator" thesis—is that "there is not a word to show that any section of the Egyptian nation viewed the advent of the Muslims with any other feeling than terror" (p. 236).

Butler and other politically incorrect historians were and are aware of the savage and atrocity-laden nature of the Islamic conquests.  The Coptic chronicler, John of Nikiu, a contemporary of the Arab conquest of Egypt and possibly an eyewitness, wrote:

Then the Muslims arrived in Nikiu [along the Nile]…  seized the town and slaughtered everyone they met in the street and in the churches—men, women, and children, sparing nobody.  Then they went to other places, pillaged and killed all the inhabitants they found….  But let us say no more, for it is impossible to describe the horrors the Muslims committed…"

Nonetheless, today's accepted narratives do not come from antiquated historians or primary historical texts; they come from the Saudi-funded ivy league— Berkeley, Columbia, Cornell, Georgetown, Harvard, Princeton, etc.—all of which peddle pro-Islamic propaganda (I personally had direct experience at Georgetown), including the "freedom loving jihadis" vs. "oppressive tyrants" thesis.

Percolating out of liberal academia to liberal mass media, the effects of this well-entrenched but false narrative have taken their toll, ultimately helping to create a disastrous U.S. foreign policy.

Put differently, the Islamic terrorists waging jihad against autocratic (but secular, religiously tolerant) governments—most notably in Syria today—are easily portrayed in the West as "freedom fighters" against oppressive tyrants and thus deserving of U.S. support in great part because this motif has permeated the social consciousness of America—as molded by Hollywood and the news rooms—thanks to the academic distortion of events that took place nearly fourteen centuries ago.

Meanwhile, back in the real world, the Islamic "freedom fighters" are slaughtering, raping, beheading, persecuting and plunderingjust as they have been for nearly fourteen centuries.

That is the only unwavering constant in this sad story.

*

Don't miss Jamie Glazov's video interview with Raymond Ibrahim about how Obama enables Islam's new war on Christians:

Freedom Center pamphlets now available on Kindle: Click here.


Article printed from FrontPage Magazine: http://frontpagemag.com

URL to article: http://frontpagemag.com/2013/raymond-ibrahim/how-historic-revisionism-justifies-islamic-terrorism/

 



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Re: [New post] SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them by a man in a dress

SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them
---
not an American concern.

next ...

On Thursday, October 31, 2013 1:07:26 PM UTC-7, Travis wrote:




BareNakedIslam posted: "The victim, an Indian national, pleads for his life as his Saudi employer accuses him of looking at his wife. Despite repeated denials, the victim is then subjected to a horrific and sustained beating. Just before the camera stops, he is asked, "Do you wa"

New post on BARE NAKED ISLAM

SAUDI ARABIA: Where migrant workers often get the crap beat out of them by a man in a dress

by BareNakedIslam

The victim, an Indian national, pleads for his life as his Saudi employer accuses him of looking at his wife. Despite repeated denials, the victim is then subjected to a horrific and sustained beating. Just before the camera stops, he is asked, "Do you want to die?"  82-countries-in-the-united-nations-praise-saudi-arabia-for-its-outstanding-human-rights-record INN (h/t Maurice)  This is par for the course in […]

Read more of this post

BareNakedIslam | October 31, 2013 at 2:06 pm | URL: http://wp.me/p276zM-Z4j

Comment    See all comments

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Fwd: Bras in Space







 

http://www.thecredits.org/2013/09/bras-in-space-the-incredible-true-story-behind-upcoming-film-spacesuit/

 

Bras in Space: The Incredible True Story Behind Upcoming Film Spacesuit

September 17, 2013 By Bryan Abrams

"We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win, and the others, too." – President John F. Kennedy, September 12, 1962, Rice University.

When we think of the Apollo 11 moon landing, what do we think of? President Kennedy's bold vision. Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin's heroism (unfortunately we rarely think about Command Module Pilot Michael Collins). Perhaps we even think of the incredible engineers, rocket scientists, astrophysicists and all the other geniuses at NASA who made it possible. Now we want you to think about your grandma's bra.

Why? Because without the technology behind that brassiere (or girdle), the moon landing would have been impossible. It turns out that the 21-layers of gossamer-thin fabric in the Apollo spacesuits that kept Armstrong and Aldrin from "the lethal desolation of a lunar vacuum," as Nicholas de Monchaux puts it in his remarkable book "Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo," was created by the same people who made your grandma's bra. Playtex. And now, Warner Bros. has hired Richard Cordiner to adapt De Monchaux's book, which is a story so good you almost believe it was scripted by a Hollywood scribe, not part of historical fact.

A crucial cog in the Apollo 11 moon landing, hard at work. Courtesy ILC Dover, LP

The creation of the Apollo AL7 Pressure Garment is one of the great American stories of the past forty-plus years. When America pitched itself into the great Space Race, and president Kennedy declared we'd have a man on the moon by the end of the decade, among many of the colossal obstacles NASA had to face was how to make a suit that could withstand space's incredibly hostile environment. NASA turned the creation of the spacesuit into a competition (largely dominated by military contractors)—and it was assumed a military contractor would win the day.

Instead, pitted against the military-industrial complex, Playtex created the 21-layer spacesuit, each layer distinct yet interrelated in function to the rest of the whole—a masterly combination of elegance, complexity, and form. Where the military contractors created cybernetic, armor-like suits (that failed, and failed again), Playtex's vision was one of crucial softness, world class stitching, and perfect design. Traditional engineering firms could not figure out how to meet all the mission requirements and create a functioning suit that would keep the Apollo astronauts alive. The seamstresses at Playtex, with their years of experience fashioning girdles and bras, could, and did.

We spoke to De Monchaux about this incredible story, the women behind it, and what the Warner Bros. film might look like. 

A seamstress looks over Playtex work. Courtesy ILC, Dover, LP

The Credits: How did you dig up this incredible story about Playtex's involvement?

De Monchaux: It was there in the fact of their authorship in all of the sources I could find. But I actually just became so obsessed with it that I drove to Delaware and just started talking to people, in the company now and then, through them, talking to people who had been around at the time. Unlike most ideas, the more I looked into it the more interesting it became (laughs). I thought, 'Well this couldn't really be Playtex, it has to be some totally different division.' And while it did eventually spin off into a different division, the original Latex that the suits were made of were literally coming from the same tank as the girdle. There were two pipes, and one went over to the girdle assembly line and one went over to the spacesuit assembly line, and I just had this response like, 'Really?' I mean that's so amazing and potentially teaches us so much.

It's so incredible to think that Playtex entered this competition to design the Apollo spacesuit against all these military firms and won.

Yes. And of course all of the competing suits were designed much more like the missiles and the weapons that the rest of the NASA equipment was adapted from, which is to say designed from their first principles in a very structured way, which works very well when you're designing that kind of thing, but it turns out it works terribly when you're designing for the body. The charm of the story is that Playtex, and in particular this kind of obsessive self-taught engineer who was originally a television repair man and Playtex's founder (Abram Nathaniel Spanel), entered a suit made by his team into the first call that NASA had for Apollo suits. The fact that he thought they could make a suit better than any of these military contractors who'd been making flight suits for years is amazing. But the power of the story is that once that suit was submitted to NASA it was so much better than any of the others that they had to take the firm seriously.

The seamstresses at Playtex had a distinct advantage of their military competitors—they knew how to design for the human body. Courtesy ILC, Dover, LP

It really does sound like a screenplay for the perfect Hollywood movie, not real life. How did they possibly believe they could compete?

That's the really interesting part. It's charming that Playtex thought they could do it and it's really interesting that they actually did it so much better than anyone else, at least when it came to crafting the suits. They never quite got the hang of the NASA bureaucracy and the paperwork, and that bedeviled them throughout the process and provided the ups and downs of the drama. They were really fired and hired again, and then almost fired again and hired again, so it was never an easy marriage, therefore it was also a really interesting story.

So how did they have any idea how to begin if they designed girdles and bras?

It wasn't totally unheard of. The Army and Navy had involved corset makers in World War II when they were making the kind of suits that put pressure on the body that helped pilots survive maneuvers, so it wasn't totally outlandish. But on the other hand, the solution and the actual technology that this guy Len Shepard invented was completely novel, and it was based on a Frankenstein reassembly of all of the ingredients of underwear and bras, the same fabrics and straps and Latex, into this thing called a convolute, which was a special joint material that Playtex invented that allowed its suit to work better than anybody else's.

Part of the design for the Playtex Apollo suit. Courtesy ILC Dover, LP

So the material that they were using when they were creating their design, that material could withstand the rigors of being out in deep space? Or did NASA use the design and come in with a proper material?

Oh no. It was the same materials. It was bras in space. It was literally the same materials that were used in the bra-making process. The straps from bras were reused to hold the thing into shape and the Nylon fabric that a bra-cup is made of was used to give strength to the Latex so that it didn't expand under air pressure. Then the Latex itself was the same, as they say it started out as exactly the same Latex as went into the girdles that went into the tank, and then it ended up with a few additives to make it last better and be more flexible over time, but that happened late in the game.

And beyond just the incredible fact that it was a bra and girdle (among other products) company that won this crucial contract, but the people doing the actual work were women.

Yeah, even more important than the material story is the human story, because it was of course made not by men but by women, and the seamstresses who were literally taken off of the bra and girdle line and, instead, asked to create a spacesuit that had to be sewn to within a sixty-fourth of an inch without any pins that might puncture the bladder. So it was kind of a super-human feat of sewing, and on the same regular sewing machines that they used to assemble underwear and undergarments they were sewing 21 layers of fabric together to a sixty-fourth of an inch tall, and, on that seam, the life of the astronauts depended.

The lives of the astronauts depended upon the seamstresses at their sewing machines. Courtesy ILC Dover, LP

It must have been incredible to hear their stories first hand, and, for them, to finally be asked about their contribution to our space program.

They have just the most amazing stories. They're incredibly proud and they have incredible stories, and no one had really told their story before. That's what gave me the impetus and energy to get through the book project, to tell their story which is really, really amazing.

How did Playtex figure out how to make airtight zippers and all of these enormously complex things?

They didn't, it was a web of manufacturers. WKK, the zipper manufacturer, figured out the airtight zippers, and part of the reason why that huge bureaucracy was necessary is because this was all a set of moving parts. Somebody else made the backpacks that they were wearing and the bubble helmets were made by a third manufacturer, so they had to integrate themselves into a much larger organizational system.

There are huge differences between the Soviet cosmonaut suit and what Playtex created—can you explain the differences?

Well there are really two differences. One is that Yuri Gagarin's suit was never designed for someone to really go and do work in. That was the huge new problem that they had in designed the moon suit. Yuri Gagarin's suit was kind of a safety device, a fall-back, what they call a 'get me down quick' suit in case the air supply in his capsule failed. Although, I talk about in the book, it should be known that several Russian cosmonauts actually parachuted to earth in those suits, because they hadn't worked out the hard landing on the ground yet, so they did have to be sustained by their suit in the upper atmosphere on their way down. But the Russian technological system was even more pragmatic in many ways, and of course it wasn't a process of competitive bidding, it was a process of just doing whatever would work because the Russian technological complex was in a very different spot than the Americans. They were, on one-hand, much lower-tech, for example instead of a latex bladder they just used a rubber-soaked canvas, and instead of a zipper they just used a tube that you crawled into and then closed with something like a bread clip, but it worked.

Let's say you were writing the screenplay for Spacesuit. How would you structure your three acts?

The actual story is way crazier and funnier and more absurd [than one you could make up]. It's already a three-act story, which goes like this; an unexpected supplier initially gets the NASA contract. Then, the supplier loses the contract. Then, they get it back again, but need to master the bureaucracy of NASA and become a real kind of military industrial organization and not just a bra manufacturer. Then the climax of the story is of course the moon landing. I interviewed the guy who represented Playtex in Mission Control, he was the representative for all of the contractors in the upper-viewing gallery during the moon landing. And in my naive way I said to the guy, 'You must have been so incredibly proud and filled with delight and wonder to see the suit that you and your colleagues made under such arduous circumstances on the moon!' and he was like 'Are you crazy? All I was thinking was 'Get them back into the capsule because then it's not my fault if something goes wrong!' So it was high stress and high stakes and a lot was riding on what these people found themselves unexpectedly doing.

So Act One, unexpected firm gets the contract, Act Two, they lose it, Act Three they get it back but they have to figure out this byzantine bureaucracy and then the climax, moon landing.

Yes, but I would emphasize to not get me into hot water. That's not my proposal for the movie, that's just the way the story is structured in the book. (Laughs).

Featured image: Hazel Fellows assembles the shell, liner and insulation cover of a suit at ILC. Courtesy ILC Dover, LP

 



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