4 in the Afternoon1. LET US FLASH LIGHTBULBS IN OUR WINDOWS IN HIS HONOUR. Marshall McLuhan, venerable media theorist and all-around Canadian, is dead. That we knew. But did we know that today would be his 100th birthday if he were alive? Now we do.

Anyway, here’s McLuhan contributing to what is surely the greatest scene in movie history, if you’re not counting that bit in Basic Instinct where Sharon Stone keeps flashing her crotch at Michael Douglas. Talk about a hot medium, amirite? Hey? Ah never mind.

2. PLEASE PLACE YOUR HAND ON THE GAYDAR DETECTOR, SIR. Civic-minded fellow Aaron Pace was not permitted to donate blood at Bio-Blood Components Inc. in Gary, Indiana. Why? Because clinic staff thought he was gay, even though he explained that a) he’s never had at-risk sexual contact with a man and b) he’s straight, despite his effeminate mannerisms. Pace plans on suing, but I suspect that Bio-Blood Components got scammed by an unethical Gaydar salesman. Gaydar industry corruption, that’s the real issue here.

3. WHAT THE HELL IS GROVER NORQUIST TALKING ABOUT? Republican members of Congress have almost unanimously signed a pledge against increasing taxes. So letting George W. Bush’s tax cuts expire would count as a tax increase – right? The tax rate would go back up, see. And that would bring in $4 trillion in revenue over the next decade. Congressional Republicans would never stand for such a thing, you’d think. But you’d think wrong. Grover Norquist thinks that’s just fine. “We wouldn’t hold it that way,” he told the Washington Post. Because Republicans are full of shit. Next!

4. SO LONG YOU CRAZY SHUTTLE. Today, the shuttle Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center. That’s the last landing that any space shuttle will ever make. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden had a few words to say on the subject:

“Children who dream of being astronauts today may not fly on the space shuttle . . . but, one day, they may walk on Mars. The future belongs to us. And just like those who came before us, we have an obligation to set an ambitious course and take an inspired nation along for the journey.

“I’m ready to get on with the next big challenge.

“The future is bright for human spaceflight and for NASA. American ingenuity is alive and well. And it will fire up our economy and help us win the future, but only if we dream big and imagine endless possibilities. That future begins today.”

That’s a good one, Charles. Spaceflight is done. The natural resources, the political will, the economic muscle – it’s all gone. We’re not going to see anything like this again in our lifetimes.* For people of my age, who watched the first shuttle flights in elementary school on a television set wheeled in by a teacher, this is one of those rare moments when our individual timelines and the remorseless march of history converge.

*Future, prove me wrong!