Friday, March 31, 2006

One Year Ago

Today is the first anniversary of Terri Schindler-Schiavo's cruel court imposed death by dehydration. This is how I posted the news (from my March 2005 archive) after hearing it announced by Laura Ingraham on her radio show.
Terri Schindler-Schiavo (1963-2005)
Terri died this morning of court ordered dehydration/starvation. I won't say that she 'passed away' because, in fact, she was pushed. Pray for Terri in eternal rest, pray for her family and pray for all of us. The work of Terri's fight will go on.

See BlogsforTerri and ProLifeBlogs for many other remembrances and reflections. And Dory of Wittenberg Gate has posted her final installment of Bloggers' Best for Terri Schiavo, including a recent post from this humble blog.

Let's pray that history will not record that Terri's death was when our civilization went over the cliff into barbarism, but that it marked a turning point galvanizing society to protect the dignity of every human life.
Happy Tenth Birthday... NASA Watch.

Thursday, March 30, 2006

Activities in Memory of Terri Schindler-Schiavo

On the day before the first anniversary of her cruel court-imposed death, Terri's family formally launched the Terri-Schindler Schiavo Foundation to help protect other disabled people.

For numerous other articles related to Terri published in the past few days, check out BlogsforTerri and ProLifeBlogs.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

Terri Schiavo, Iraq, and the Old Media

The Old Media found itself on the defensive last week when President Bush, radio talk show host Laura Ingraham (You go girl!) and others challenged the Media accuracy and balance in covering the war in Iraq. Tim Graham of the Media Research Center described the situation well in this NRO article.

Something I keep wondering is if President Clinton were conducting the same policy under the same circumstances, would the Old Media spin be so overwhelmingly negative? Because while the Media bias has reached a unprecedented frenzy in the past year on Iraq, anti-terror policies, Katrina, the economy, etc., I still feel the most appalling media bias occurs around social issues, especially those involving life and death.

I recall last year while in traffic listening to a network news report on the radio during the time when Terri Schindler-Schiavo was being dehydrated to death by court order. The announcer stated that 'most experts' assure us that Terri was totally unaware and not feeling a thing. Having access to other sources of information indicating the kind of suffering she was going through. I did something unusual for me and yelled an epithet at the car radio (you know, the colorful metaphor for bovine manure). Of course, this bias has a long history on the topic of abortion and is as current as the latest hype on embryonic stem cell research.

I've come to accept the possibility that some of the elites in the Old Media and elsewhere are so obsessed with protecting their politically correct lifestyle choice fantasies (which include justifying abortion, euthanasia, etc.) by trying to bring down George W. Bush and Congressional Republicans that they've lost sight of the national security impact of their distorted spin on the current situation.

Do they fear Pope Benedict more than they do Osama Bin Laden? After all, the Holy Father and other religious and social leaders and more and more common people are peacefully challenging the 'conventional wisdom' being spun by the Culture of Death.

And whatever W's effectiveness on other issues, his two most outstanding domestic accomplishments are named John Roberts and Samuel Alito. With more judicial nominations possibly on the way, the pc crowd must feel a desperation to stop W and the Senate majority from ensuring the dismantling of the 'new morality' which has been judicially imposed on our society for the past forty years.

So, hopefully, the awareness will continue to spread that the Old Media emperor has no clothes. The flood of information from alternative sources is already having a tumultuous but healthy effect on the nation's political climate.

And back to Terri, the blogburst continues. Check in with BlogsforTerri, ProLifeBlogs, and the Terri Schindler-Schiavo Foundation.
Likely Cause

A fuel leak near the first stage engine is the likely cause of Friday's launch failure, according to preliminary analysis by SpaceX. A U.S. Government led anomaly investigation will follow.

Friday, March 24, 2006

SpaceX Has a Bad Day

The SpaceX Falcon 1 launch attempt ended in loss of the vehicle. The company is investigating the cause of the failure.

SpaceX founder Elon Musk earlier described the risks in undertaking a new launch venture, comparing it to his prior experience in the software industry.
In a pre-launch press briefing last November before the first attempt to fly the Falcon 1, Musk acknowledged the difficulty in rocketry. Successfully launching a rocket requires everything to go right, and history is littered with failed inaugural flights. Musk compared the maiden flight with trying to develop perfect software.

"It is like...if you had a very complex piece of software that you test pieces of but you can't test the whole thing together until you ran it for the first time, nor could you test it on the exact computer that it had to run for the first time. But when it does run for the first time it can have no bugs. When was the last time you saw a piece of software that met that criteria?"

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Try, Try Again

That's what SpaceX will do tomorrow with its Falcon 1 first launch.

UPDATE Thur. ~ 1 PM: Make that Friday for the launch attempt.
Blogburst for Terri Continues

Stay tuned to BlogsforTerri,ProLifeBlogs, and Wittenberg Gate for comprehensive coverage of the blogging in memory of Terri that is going on at this time. This post from Sounding the Trumpet really recalls the heart wrenching emotional roller coaster a year ago.
It was the eighteenth, while we were all on spring break. We could scarcely believe they had done it, and then we thought it would be for a few hours; a judge would give an emergency injunction, it would be replaced. We don’t starve people in America. I remember refreshing the page, refreshing, waiting for a change, waiting for good news….how long would it be?

And as the hours turned into days, and the days melted into each other, and our hopes rose with one hour and fell with the next. Our hearts were there in Florida with her, in the hospice that had become a torture chamber, a prison of death. Her mouth was parched, her lips bled. How angry I was when they made those stupid arguments for “mercy-killing”. Come, shoot her then! That would be far more merciful. Starving is not a humane way to kill anyone–ask any of those who took part in the hunger strike, drinking only water.

Meanwhile, Brother Paul O'Donnell, a Franciscan monk who stood on the front lines for Terri, spoke at the University of Minnesota Duluth on Monday, with hope for new protective legislation in that state.
"Society has chosen to kill our most vulnerable," O'Donnell said during his hourlong presentation that included rare footage of Schiavo in her hospice room. "I ask you to choose life and defend life."

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Iraq: Anniversary and New Information

As a new assault against terrorist forces was launched this week, today is being marked as the third anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq with official statements and debate and protest demonstrations. No doubt it is a time to remember and pray for those soldiers who gave their lives and for those people who suffered and died during the war and under the tyranny that preceded it.

Meanwhile, the government has discretely begun releasing documents and recordings through this web site which are shedding new light on the circumstances leading up to the war, according to Fox News.
The release of the documents, expected to continue for months, is designed to allow lawmakers and the public to investigate what documents from Saddam's regime said about such controversial issues as weapons of mass destruction and Al Qaeda in the period before the United States invaded Iraq in March 2003.

The Web site cautioned that the U.S. government "has made no determination regarding the authenticity of the documents, validity or factual accuracy of the information contained therein, or the quality of any translations, when available."

The release of this information is being welcomed by key members of Congress.
House Intelligence Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., requested the release of millions pages of documents and audio recordings captured during current and previous U.S. military operations in Iraq. Most have sat untranslated for years.

Last weekend, Negroponte agreed to set aside money and establish a system to make the documents available to the media, academics and other researchers.

In a statement, Hoekstra welcomed the chance to answer questions about prewar Iraq. "Whether Saddam Hussein destroyed Iraq's weapons of mass destruction or hid or transferred them, the most important thing is we discover the truth of what was happening in the country prior to the war," he said.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Blogburst for Terri

One year ago today, the court ordered death of Terri Schindler-Schiavo began with the removal of her feeding tube. Terri fought on for twelve days until March 31, 2005, when she succumbed to the effects of dehydration. This somber anniversary period is being marked by many bloggers in a 'blogburst', where bloggers participate in publishing posts focused on a particular topic during a particular time period.

This blogburst is being coordinated by BlogsforTerri, which was established last year during the fight for Terri's life by linking to relevant posts from participating bloggers. That list of bloggers grew to several hundred at that time. Also check out the site for the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, founded by Terri's family to continue the fight to protect other vulnerable people from what Pope John Paul II so aptly called the 'Culture of Death'.

The last half of March was a heart wrenching time for all who were involved in the fight for Terri's life. The intensity is reflected in the March 2005 archive of this blog. While it is painful to look back at the events at that time, let us be encouraged that Terri's fight goes on in the larger battle to protect the dignity of every human life, regardless of condition.

I'll be posting at various times during this blogburst, relaying the powerful words of others and adding my own thoughts as appropriate.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!

Artist unknown, Link by Catholic Forum

Catholic Forum provides descriptions of St. Patrick here and here.

Saint Patrick's Breastplate

Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort me and restore me,
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.

In the spirit of the holiday, check out for webcasts of Irish music and other media direct from Ireland.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Arrival at Mars

A day after the news about Enceladus, NASA's Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter (MRO) successfully entered orbit around Mars, seven months after its launch last August. The spacecraft will provide unprecedented high quality imagery of the Martian surface and will probably add to the startling discoveries about our Solar System that are being made.

I've added the MRO web site to the list of links on the right.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Water, Water, Everywhere!


Well, in more and more places, anyway. The latest is the Saturnian moon Enceladus, where geysers of water were discovered by scientists on the NASA Cassini mission. The discovery is significant because the presence of water in various locations hints at the possibility of life elsewhere in space. Water is also vital to the enterprise of expanding the presence of human life beyond Earth.
"We realize that this is a radical conclusion -- that we may have evidence for liquid water within a body so small and so cold," said Dr. Carolyn Porco, Cassini imaging team leader at Space Science Institute, Boulder, Colo. "However, if we are right, we have significantly broadened the diversity of solar system environments where we might possibly have conditions suitable for living organisms."

The exciting news took an unusual twist this morning in what started out as an erroneous Internet report of a possible discovery of evidence life itself, as recounted here by Keith Cowing. No microbes or monoliths, but once you have water, who knows?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Prairie Fire!

Yesterday, Gov. Mike Rounds of South Dakota signed the bill passed by his state's legislature setting up a direct challenge to the imposition of abortion-on-demand that has existed in the United States since 1973. This 'prairie fire' is spreading as Mississippi and other states consider legislation sharply curtailing abortion. Of course these laws are expected to be challenged in court, with appeals working their way to the Supreme Court, which will have to consider whether to revise or overturn its 1973 abortion rulings.

I'm not a lawyer or a constitutional scholar, so I don't know if this is the best strategy or whether it will directly lead to the end of judicially imposed abortion-on-demand in our land. However, history is full of courageous acts that have challenged entrenched injustice. One can think of decisive moments in our country's anti-slavery and civil rights movements,or of the peaceful stirring of the workers in Poland's Gdansk shipyards which acted as a catalyst for the eventual downfall of Soviet Communism.

There will be setbacks. Don't expect the Culture of Death to turn the other cheek. Regardless, called to do God's work, we're in this to win and there's hope in the air, as was evident last night when I participated in the annual Maryland March for Life in Annapolis.
Two Space Developments

While preparing for the inaugural launch of the Falcon 1 launch vehicle scheduled for the week after next, SpaceX has revealed its plans for a manned orbital vehicle. Here are reports at and Space News.

Meanwhile, Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine published an intriguing report about what might be, or might have been, a hidden space program called "Black Star". There is skepticism, and even Aviation Week itself says "iron-clad confirmation that meets AW&ST standards has remained elusive." If it is accurate, it means that there are at least a few unnamed pilots who are members of a never revealed 'astronaut corps' who have shared the experience of flying in space.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Setting the Record Straight

A weird article by John Lasker on Wired Magazine's web site claimed that the participants in this week's March Storm on Capitol hill were sent by aerospace companies to advocate policies designed to establish the basing of weapons in space. The piece seems to rely heavily on the input of Bruce Gagnon, an activist who seems to be somewhere to the left of

ProSpace President Marc Schlather has responded in a letter to the magazine's editor, posted here at
By far his most grievous mischaracterization is this sentence: “Some of the lobbyists represent the aerospace industry, but most have been hired by smaller space startups and entrepreneurs.”

I was very clear with Mr. Lasker about the fact that our members are volunteers and private citizens. For instance, at this week’s March Storm those in attendance included:

Ten college students (from the University of Michigan, University of Illinois, University of Colorado and Embry-Riddle Aeronautical).
An emergency room doctor
A materials scientist (who does not work in the aerospace industry).
A software engineer
A corporate training specialist
A Wall Street executive

We do have one member in long standing who is employed by a major aerospace company as a systems engineer on the Hubble Space Telescope, which could hardly be described as a weapons system.

In addition each of our members pays their own way to Washington. As some came from as far away as California that represents a substantial expense. No aerospace company paid the airfare or hotel bills of our attendees, nor was any member compensated for attending March Storm (except this author, who is the only paid employee of ProSpace).

This is the way we have done things since our founding twelve years ago. And it is chief among the reasons we are warmly welcomed back by members of Congress and their staffs each year – they know our agenda is one that is not based on any possible personal gain for our members, but rather a genuine concern for the direction of our nation’s space efforts.

UPDATE: The Wired article linked above has now been modified to correct the more outrageous misinformation about ProSpace that was present in the original posting. Also, Marc Schlather's letter has been published on the Wired web site.