Sunday, September 28, 2003

October Space Happenings
Reports continue to indicate that China's Shenzhou 5 first human spaceflight could launch as soon as mid-October. This report contains good information and analysis, plus diagrams of the Shenzhou spacecraft.

While it probably hasn't figured in the planning of the Chinese government, a mid-October launch would provide an interesting backdrop to another exciting space event, the twelfth annual Space Frontier Conference, Oct. 10-12 in Los Angeles, put on by the Space Frontier Foundation. If possible, make plans to attend this exciting conference, which will highlight emerging space enterprises and related issues.
Europe goes Lunar...
as SMART-1 is on its way.

Friday, September 26, 2003

California Politics
The state where I spent seventeen years of my life is headed toward the October 7 climax of the wild-and-crazy recall race.

The current conventional wisdom would seem to show Arnold Schwarzenegger with the most momentum coming out of this week's debate. If I were still a voter there, I'd be sharing the dilemma faced by those California voters who think like me. On policy, especially dealing with the life issues, I would be most aligned with Tom McClintock. Arnold Schwarzenegger describes himself as "pro-choice", although I've heard he would support parental notification and curtailing partial-birth abortion. Since he has not held public office before, there is no previous record on which to judge his positions.

I believe a prolife voter could conscientiously chose either the path of choosing the best candidate or choosing another candidate who is less desirable on the core issues if the voter sincerely believes that that is the best way to prevent a third, even less desireable candidate from attaining the office. The second course would be acceptable if the voter sincerely believes that is the most effective way to advance (or at least hold ground) on the most important issues, and is not demoting those issues for the sake of other valid but less crucial concerns.

I can respect a voter taking either course under the above conditions. I would be careful to avoid attacking the motives of someone chosing the most preferable candidate as a "purist spoiler" or someone chosing a more electable candidate as a "compromising sell-out". I can only pray that the voters of California choose wisely.
Keeping up???
With Hurricane Isabel, the resultant power outage, and the pace of daily life, it's been difficult to keep this blog up-to-date with the news.

For instance, the case of Terri Schiavo. Judge Greer ruled against allowing her parents trying to have her fed by mouth, who have since obtained another hearing in a federal court. With any legal case, there are always a myriad of details. For more information, please see and Epivalothanasia.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Farewell to an old friend
The Galileo spacecraft completed its mission today by de-orbiting into Jupiter's atmosphere where it disintegrated. NASA took this action to avoid any possibility of, after loosing control of the spacecraft, it colliding with and contaminating Europa or another Jovian moon and compromising the future search for life in the Jovian system. The molecules of this once pioneering spacecraft are now part of the Jovian atmosphere.

Here are the official NASA/JPL news release and an article from Astronomy magazine.
Getting back to normal (sort of)
Lost power Thursday evening at 5:40 PM EDT, and lived by flashlight and candle-light that evening as Isabel blew through the area. Friday, I surveyed the neighborhood and saw some trees down or split and some relatively minor (at least from a distance) damage.

Friday evening, I went to stay with family near Philadelphia. They had power, though some in that region were not so lucky. Returned home this evening. The neighbors tell me power returned only earlier today, around 1 PM. Getting back to routine at home, although a local supermarket was only partly stocked and dimly lit, and some local traffic lights are still not functioning normally. It may take a few more days before this thing is really behind us.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Weathering the storm
Home from work this afternoon and tomorrow. Steady rain and wind picking up, but no howling yet. The storm seems to be tracking to the predictions of the past few days.

This story covers Isabel's recent status and notes the increased effectiveness of hurricane forcasting resulting from satellite data, faster computer modeling and other methods. A number of decades ago, there was much less predictability for these storms, meaning more lives lost than occur nowadays.

But it's wise to remember this quote from the story:

"An old forecaster's axiom: Never discount a hurricane until it is north of you."

Tonight will be interesting. Good luck and God bless to all.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Isabel draws near
Hurricane Isabel is expected to make landfall in North Carolina tomorrow morning. The DC Metro area will feel the most effects Thursday evening into Friday morning, with sustained wins of 40-50 mph and possible gusts up to 70 mph. Isabel may dump six inches of rain in this area. I expect to power down and disconnect my system during the storm. Barring an extended power or phone outage, I hope to be back online by Friday evening.
This tax revolt even many liberals supported...
as Seattle voters rejected a proposed tax on espresso drinks.

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Isabel is heading this way...
and NASA is watching.
Suborbital Space Roundtable
Attended the Capitol Hill Roundtable this morning held in conjunction with the Aerospace States Association and facilitated by ProSpace (click to view archived streaming video and other information on the Roundtable.). Encouraging words from Patricia Grace Smith of the FAA's AST (space) office. All the panelists seemed to be in basic agreement on the direction for policy to go. Legislation has been introduced in the Senate and is expected to be introduced shortly in the House.

Monday, September 15, 2003

Start-Up Space Launch Company
Attended a colloquium at Goddard Spaceflight Center today featuring Elon Musk, an Internet businessman who survived the Dot-com bust with enough funds to start his own space launch company, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX). Mr. Musk focused on the company's near-term Falcon launch vehicle for orbiting small satellites.

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Another case involving a decision on life at the edge...
is covered in an article at

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Surprising Turn of Events
A surprising decision to postpone the life-and-death decision for Terri Schiavo, after affidavits have been filed by therapists citing the possibility to retrain her to eat and speak. Can we pray that Judge Greer is starting to see that the simplistic rationales of the "right-to-die" advocates do not reflect the reality of the situation?

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

September 11 Anniversary
Watching the reviews and retrospections of tomorrow's grim anniversary. PBS is showing a particularly interesting show on the spiritual aspects of the events of September 11.

Two images that will always stand out from that time:

Cross at Ground Zero

"Our Flag was still there"
Edward Teller, 1908-2003
Had to note the passing of a brilliant, influential and controversial person of the past century, Dr. Edward Teller.
Latest on Terri Schiavo:
Hearing by Judge Greer tomorrow, September 11, on setting a date to disconnect her feeding tube. Meanwhile, her family is filing to disqualify Judge Greer from her case. See details at Keep fighting, Terri! Many people are praying for you.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

A fish out of water is like...
a blogger without a functioning keyboard, which explains my silence for the past week. Now, I received my replacement today from Gateway.

I may not have been blogging this week, but I've been busy. Sunday, I enjoyed the day at the Maryland Renaissance Festival. Plenty of food, drink and music, including the Celtic sounds of Maggie Sansone.

Monday, September 01, 2003

A Federal District Court has scheduled an emergency hearing in Tampa in the case of Terri Schiavo for Tuesday, Sept. 2. To see the sometimes disturbing documents related to this case, click on the "Read the Details here." link when you go to this site.