Saturday, August 25, 2012

A Giant Leaps

“Christopher Columbus, Charles Lindbergh, and Neil Armstrong. Ha, ha, ha. Neil Armstrong!”*

Photo of Armstrong smiling in his spacesuit Neil Armstrong has died. I received that information not with shock or sorrow, but disbelief. He became, on July 20th, 1969, the first human being to set foot on another planet. Henceforth and forever more he will be so.

Born in 1930 in Ohio, educated at Purdue University, he became a Navy combat pilot. Enemy fire crippled his plane, and he clipped a pole with his wing at an altitude of twenty feet. He was able to fly to safety and eject successfully. He later flew a number of test aircraft, including the X-15, which was capable of speeds in excess of four thousand miles per hour. Selected as a NASA astronaut, he completed the first docking of independent spacecraft on Gemini 8. That mission terminated early due to a short-circuiting thruster that caused his vehicle to tumble dizzily. Commanding Apollo 11, he set the Lunar Module on the Moon’s surface with a negligible amount of fuel left, barely enough to give him and co-pilot Buzz Aldrin a safety margin in the event of an aborted landing attempt.

Monday, August 20, 2012


Children are the living messages we send to a time we will not see. ~Neil Postman, The Disappearance of Childhood (introduction), 1982.

"Unwanted subject."

Dispatch sent my friend to the call, and I volunteered to help. A woman complained to the calltaker that two men were refusing to leave her apartment. She requested help in sending them on their way.

More times than not the act of calling the police motivates the unwanted to vanish before we arrive. Often, avoiding some sort of complication - the person has a warrant for their arrest and would prefer not going to jail - becomes a singularly advantageous outcome. Other times, the dope in their pocket calls out to make haste. Finally, some people are downright antisocial.

We arrived, knocked on the door, and a young woman answered. The men were gone, she said. Entering with permission, we confirmed that she was alone with her toddler.

The apartment was devoid of furniture, save a bed, dresser and pack-n-play for the child. A TV sat on the living room floor. Boxes of cereal were arrayed neatly atop the refrigerator, kitchen utensils arranged logically on a clean counter. The young lady didn't have much, but what she did have gleamed. We asked her why she'd called.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Another Hurdle

"She has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be – vixen, virgin, victim." Jere Longman, New York Times, August 4, 2012.

Lolo Jones-IOS-013916.jpgLolo Jones made the US Olympic team running hurdles. She finished fourth, one tenth of a second out of the bronze and a quarter second slower than the Olympic record set by the gold medal winner. A commentator described her as an athlete who "runs on emotion – anything is possible when she's on the track." Through hard work, preparation and sacrifice, she ran one hundred meters barely three seconds slower than Usain Bolt's world record in the men's one hundred. Not one hundred hurdles…just one hundred meters of clear track.

In his hit piece, Longman describes her as more marketing than performance. Come on, really? Seriously?


Monday, August 6, 2012

A Man, A Gun and A Shattered Peace

On End Apathy's MySpace page, band members call their music, “a sad commentary on our sick society and the problems that prevent true progress.”

Read more:

One of the many things preventing "true progress" is respect for each other. I could go through the usual litany but what is the point? Someone like Wade Michael Page, hate musician and murderer of six in Wisconsin, is going to be unmoved by any appeal to better angels. Frankly, individuals of his ilk have none.

What about the rest of us?