Category Archives: NASA

An Election in the Days of Advent and Christmas 2014

Happy Advent! Christmas is approaching and today as the final election between Bill Cassidy and Mary Landrieu takes place both politics and liturgical seasons are on my mind.  There is a lot of Christmas and Advent in this post and also some politics.  This post is mostly written and prepared before the final results are in and I predict Cassidy will win. Landrieu beat him in the primary and I voted for her, I voted for Cassidy in this election and sent him some money after first explaining in a post in a campaign site some of my concerns.  I did not want Cassidy to win in the Primary but I do want him to win now. He should do so because Maness was mostly to his right and Maness voters will vote far more for him than Landrieu. The wonder of Christmas and Advent’s time leading up to it have a place in my thinking about everything including today’s election.  I live my life in the context of these seasons of the Church, life and culture. Notwithstanding the nature of this blog, it might serve me well to devote this post solely to  the election. We all know that we elect people into office in a certain time and place but maybe we do not think religious seasons have much to do with it. Advent and its target — Christmas remind us of the importance of parts of life that do not vary as much as electoral politics. Goals like peace on Earth, Goodwill to mankind, Glory to God, Justice and truth in human affairs and charity to the needy.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

Mom with a Christmas tree in a previous year. Today she is scheduled to buy a tree.

There is so much to cover in current events today. It is not a slow news day. Today, Luke Somers whose name sounds like mine and who like me has sometimes made his living with words and photographs was killed. Long in captivity with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula he was killed during a failed rescue attempt. That story deserves attention and you can learn some facts here. This happened after his family pleaded publicly for his life in a stirring video message.  NASA has returned to real heavy lift rocketry and that is very important in this blog.  The landfall of Typhoon Hagupit in the Philippines affects a country with importance to me, my family and the United States of America.  Beyond all that there is the race itself between Cassidy and Landrieu.  This race may well deserve a book and certainly the overall election cycle could use a lot of analysis. Knowing who voted for whom and why can shape our future.  Racial demographics alone could demand several good blog posts.

The voting booth remains a powerful part of our society.

The voting booth remains a powerful part of our society.

 

With all of that to do I should probably either ignore the current events of the day or pick a few of them or certainly leave out comments on Advent. But this is another . There are riots and protests sweeping the nation over Brown, Garner and police relations with the Black community. I have dealt with the issues of this election cycle  in previous posts found here, here and here. So here I can maybe afford to take a bit of a different view.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

We all have images of what leadership should look like which are not simple portrayals of reality.

Last night I was at a large gathering made up of mostly voters and the election was never discussed. Advent was discussed, the Philippines, China, India and many other places. But not electoral politics. It was the Family Missions Company 18th Annual Members and Donors Dinner. I took some pictures and had one taken of me in front of the venue.  I know some people in the group are active in their parties.  But last night dealt with the issues that we all must face in different terms and in a different way. It was more the spiritual than the temporal side of our lives.

Me in a shoy by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner.

Me in a shot by one of the proprietors on my phone as I walked into the Donors Dinner at Magdalene Place.

In the coming days there will be  more to blog about in the political world. But one notable fact about this election of the next United States Senator from Louisiana is that the election is  being held on December 6. The sixth of December fall square into Advent.  Lord Hylton my sometimes correspondent, wrote a post on Advent in the House of Lords blog and my comments on it can be found here. Lord Hylton serves in the upper house of the British legislature which is Parliament. Our election is for the upper house of our legislature which is Congress. Where is America to find the answers to the struggles it faces? I am fairly sure the Gospel of Jesus Christ must be a big part of the foundation for a useful discussion in this country even if not in every country.  But this idea is increasingly out of sync with our laws and procedures as a society. The Senate ought not be a Church but neither should it be a faith-free institution.

America faces many challenges in this its own country and in the world. It faces huge challenges over time. How will those challenges be met. In the observance of Advent we remember in abbreviated symbols each of the challenges  of the Old Covenant before the coming of Christ. We ought then to be prepared to face our own challenges better and to better celebrate the coming of Jesus Christ. One of the things that emerges in my comment on Lord Hylton’s post is the shift of power and wealth from the Eastern Mediterranean to the West. These issues and facts across history continue to affect us in many ways beyond Advent or even religion. An example of some of those issues can be seen here for those who wish to think about the issues.

But of course most of our lives are sufficiently challenged with current problems we need not look through much of a historical lens to feel that we can understand. we confront these issues in charitable ventures, private enterprises, family and in politics.  It is the same world where all these things are working and aspects of our lives connect. So it is Advent as we elect this Senator. Part of my experience this Advent was attending the Family Missions Company Donors Dinner on the evening of the fifth of December. I have discussed this briefly and could say more.

A picture I took of my table at the Donors Dinner

A picture I took of my table at the Donors Dinner

Today Family Missions had a Swamp Games Celebration. I got a few pics of that but did not participate directly. Like a lot of other things this event is a celebration which may evolve into something more in future years. It has a bouncy castle for children this year and a course laid out with available objects inspired by The experience of my brother Joseph, my brother-in-law Kevin and others in participating in the Warrior Dash this year. It seemed  like a pretty cool event. There are also barbecues and Advent prayers going on.

The course and the racers were visible from most sides of my home. This is across the back fence and some family land.

The course and the racers were visible from most sides of my home. This is across the back fence and some family land.

The home team of my brother, brother -in- law and nephew among others seem to have defended their honor and turf fairly well against all comers in this friendly competition among various parts of the company. We call an election a race and there are similarities between the two things.  How hostile should an election be?  What is the line between political conflict and civil war? This is a big shift in Congress. America’s future is not so clear in various respects. Cassidy will probably win. But whoever wins the Senator will have to face the Lame Duck  Congress in their old job and then a whole new set of challenges in the time after this Christmas.  I hope all my readers who can vote will. But I also hope we will remember that there is more to this time of the year than our politics.

The Church near the Donors Dinner last night.

The Church near the Donors Dinner last night.

We all have struggles ahead of us to keep a good Christmas. They vary from person to person.  But these lifelong concerns matter just as much as the political events of this time and this set of issues. O come Emmanuel! May you all soon have a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year! But for now may you find life a bit more reflective and worth waiting for than usual. I hope the values of patience and reflection fins some good place in our Senate as well.

 

 

BP Oil leak and Hurricane Season Darkens the Season

The BP Oil Leak is still going on as we move into hurricane season.For a recent view of the spill from space go to this link: http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=44452

Tropical Storm Alex is meandering its way through the region where perhaps the ghost of Ixtoc’s gusher may be said to brood.  My little niece Naomi is suffering from a suspected blood infection and is quite ill although we hope she will soon recover in the hospital.  My uncle is languishing from Hepatitis in another hospital. It seems trivial and inappropriate to mention that the USA was knocked out of the World Cup. But life is full of sad and disappointing realities for me and for everyone living on these coasts. But in addition we are looking ar a hurricane season which has storms popping up which may delay relief wells and work with the spill to create greater havoc. Nobody’s life was perfect before the spill. I just came from mass in a church which was flooded by two hurricanes in the last five years and has just been renovated.  Nobody worshipping there so far has asked me personally if the next flood will be soaked in oil.

Oil Spill and Setbacks: 12 Questions

As I write this the saw which BP was using to cut the riser on the blow out preventer has gotten stuck in the pipe a mile down. The first cut was made which was vital but the second cut has been impeded by the saw blade getting stuck. They hop to bring the second saw down or use other instruments to remove the saw and operate the one that is stuck. THIS IS YET ANOTHER SETBACK!

I have a few questions to ask about setbacks. Most are about avoiding future setbacks? :

1. NOAA has been discussing what they are doing now and it is impressive. How will they contribute to the kind of policy infrastructure for the Gulf Coast that we need to build or will we use the structure of government as an excuse not to govern?

2.Has NASA and its enormous infrastructure for fluid and pressure studies been used to design the caps we are about to use to contain this oil? If they have not been used and all works well then I am unable to complain much but I wonder if the first containment dome would have worked if NASA had been consulted as to its design. Can we stop squandering our knowledge wealth?

3.When nesting oiled birds are rescued and their nests are known are the eggs brought to incubators and their chicks raised in zoos so that we a t least preserve an insurance policy outside the wild?

4. I ask the same question as regards nesting turtles — except that the behavior is different. Almost all should have hatched now but if relevant — are we saving at risk eggs in artificial beaches when we find them? 

5.Are we creating at least a small emergency Atlantic Bluefin tuna hatchery to mimic nature in this area and release later?

6.Are we calling in and positioning clean distressed aged slab, shell, gravel and other assets to quickly position in areas where bridges and berms need to be built?    

7. Are we considering the list of designs and inventions we might need for the future even if we are not going to address them now? A few things come to mind:

 a. We could use a speedy starter ship which can get anywhere and start drilling relief wells right away and then be replaced by a compatible long-term drill rig later.

b.We could use a deployable  circular boom system which could surround a site except for gates and keep a high percentage of deep water oil in a circle with a twenty-mile radius from the well site.

c. We could use quick deployment blimp bought in by helicopters and inflated on site in air that would provide integrated sensing, viewing and communications from the first day.

So are we listing thing we would like to have?

8. Have any oral historians been hired to interview those who are involved and impacted when they are not needed to respond so we can have a complete record of these instances and events?

9.Are we building an aviary in the area so we can keep birds nearby until beaches and marshes are clean and then release them to the original sites?

10. Are at least some oiled creatures being tagged so that the future assessments may be made correctly?

11. Have the Audubon Society, the Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge and other major local environmental institutions been given funds and brought into official response groups?

12. Are specific gravity measurements being made of various emulsion samples so we can better calculate their behavior in the water column?