Sunday, April 30, 2006

Important Matters

While I don't like the rising costs of fueling my car more than anyone else, I hope people will put things into perspective by the time they vote in this year's vital elections. Three things I did this weekend are reminders of what are really important matters.

On Saturday evening, I went to downtown Silver Spring to see the newly released movie United 93, an intense retelling of that horrific September morning five years ago and the courageous actions of a band of airline passengers and crew members who prevented one more devastating attack, probably on the U.S. Capitol. (Not the most soothing movie to see a few days before I fly out of town to the ISDC, but I had to go see it.) Definitely a reminder of what we're up against.

Leaving the theater after the movie, I went next door to Border's and bought a copy of Party of Death, the new book by National Review's Ramesh Ponnuru examining how the anti-life agenda of abortion, euthanasia, etc. were imposed on the nation by the courts and the media, and how the Democratic Party was coopted into becoming a wholly-owned subsidiary of Planned Parenthood & company. I'm looking forward to reading this account of how we got to where we are and how we can take back our future for a more life-affirming agenda.

Another situation where the dignity of human life is being blatantly disregarded is the genocide taking place in the Darfur region of the Sudan. I attended the rally on the Mall today with thousands of others to support action by our nation and the world to end the atrocities. This issue transcends the usual partisan divisions, with rally speakers from across the political and religious spectrums. Perhaps for that very reason, the situation has been undercovered in the media. Anyway, for more information and to sign an on-line petition, check out
Reflections on Space Policy Priorities

Dennis Wingo analyzes the keynote address given by White House Science Advisor Dr. John Marburger to the Goddard Symposium in March, pointing out the significance of integrating space into economic and security interests.
The Vision for Space Exploration, as laid out in amplified form by Marburger, is an incredibly positive vision - one that we as space advocates have been pining forever to be stated. It is incredible to me that this speech by Marburger is not on the wall of every single space advocate, and on the front of ever space advocate group's web page. Even Ad Astra left off almost 40% of the speech from its web page - ironically, the part where a cost/benefit analysis leaves space wanting. We as space advocates need to absorb this speech (space advocate in this context includes NASA), look at its "vision" and look to see what can be done to align NASA and other national space efforts to support space development as an engine of U.S. economic competitiveness.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Urgent Case: Hospital 'Ethics' Committee Threatens Woman's Life

Andrea Clarke, a patient at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, TX, will be denied life sustaining medical treatment over her and her family's objections. More info at ProLifeBlogs.
Get on the phone. Again, the info: Andrea Clarke is at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital in Houston, TX. St. Luke’s is located at: 6720 Bertner Avenue, Houston, TX. Their phone number is: 832-355-1000. Here’s the website, and a general email address:

Andrea's cause has been taken up by a diverse community including the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation, Democratic Underground, and Right Wing News.
Happy 16th for the Hubble Space Telescope


HST was launched sixteen years ago today and the Space Telescope Science Institute has released a new image of the galaxy Messier 82 (M82).

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Habemus Papam! - One Year Later

Today is the first anniversary of Pope Benedict XVI's election to the Chair of St. Peter. Happy Anniversary BXVI!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Earthquake Anniversary

Today marks the one hundredth anniversary of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. When I lived in the Bay Area (from 1979 to 1996), I learned how such a singular event could have an impact on the history of a region, and of the resilience of humans and all life to come back and thrive in spite of adversity.

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter and Passover!

Link from, artist not listed.

Brothers and sisters:
If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above,
where Christ is seated at the right hand of God.
Think of what is above, not of what is on earth.
For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When Christ your life appears,
then you too will appear with him in glory.
Col 3:1-4

Thursday, April 13, 2006

Have We Forgotten?

Whatever sentence is decided for Zacarias Moussaoui, perhaps the most important outcome of the proceedings is the reminder the public is receiving of the horrors of the September 11 attacks and of the heroism of ordinary people, particularly the passengers of United Flight 93 who prevented another devastating attack, perhaps on the U.S. Capitol. A transcript of the struggle onboard the plane is here.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Happy Anniversary

Today marks the anniversaries of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering orbital flight (45th) and the of first launch of the Space Shuttle (25th). Rand Simberg has an NRO column up on the significance for the future.

Finally, this double anniversary is being celebrated around the world with Yuri's Night parties. (I'm planning to go to the DC event tonight.)

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Exploring a Planetary Neighbor

Europe's Venus Express has arrived.

Monday, April 10, 2006

Double Moonshot

NASA has added a secondary spacecraft mission to its planned 2008 launch of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO). The Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite (LCROSS) mission is designed by the NASA Ames Research Center in Mountain View, CA and is explained in this NASA press release.
After launch, the secondary payload LCROSS spacecraft will arrive in the lunar vicinity independent of the LRO satellite. On the way to the moon, the LCROSS spacecraft's two main parts, the Shepherding Spacecraft (S-S/C) and the Earth Departure Upper Stage (EDUS), will remain coupled.

As the spacecraft approaches the moon's south pole, the upper stage will separate, and then will impact a crater in the south pole area. A plume from the upper stage crash will develop as the Shepherding Spacecraft heads in toward the moon. The Shepherding Spacecraft will fly through the plume, and instruments on the spacecraft will analyze the cloud to look for signs of water and other compounds. Additional space and Earth-based instruments also will study the 2.2-million-pound (1000-metric-ton) plume.

NASA added the option for a secondary payload since an Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle (EELV) launch allows for additional payload weight in addition to LRO. This proposal was selected from nineteen responses to NASA's request and provides an innovative, economical and timely way to obtain additional data vital for future human lunar exploration and development.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Three Years After the Fall

Today is the third anniversary of the toppling of the Saddam statue in Baghdad marking the fall of that brutal regime. Just what kind of threat Saddam Hussein was is discussed in this Investors Business Daily article (hat tip to Power Line Blog) analyzing the information revealed so far by the release of captured documents and recordings by the government (with many more on the way).
The Pentagon has obviously been sitting on a treasure trove of paper incriminations against Saddam's regime. So far, just a minuscule amount of the more than 3,000 hours of tape recordings of Saddam and 48,000 boxes of intelligence documents has been translated and deciphered.

What has come out so far has confirmed Americans' worst fears about Saddam's evil regime. To review:

Saddam is heard on a 1997 tape predicting terrorism would soon be coming to the U.S., while his son-in-law — who was in charge of Saddam's weapons of mass destruction — gloats about lying to U.N. weapons inspectors to hide the extent of Iraq's WMD program.

Saddam, in a tape made in 2000, talks with Iraqi scientists about his plans to build a nuclear device. He discusses Iraq's plasma separation program — an advanced uranium-enrichment technique completely missed by U.N. inspectors.

The article also asserts why the Bush Administration would pass on an obvious opportunity to vindicate its justification for going to war.
At present, we're relying too much on translations by bloggers and other amateurs. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Peter Hoekstra, R-Mich., says the White House has been dragging its feet for fear of embarrassing supposed allies (such as Russia) whose links with Saddam would come under scrutiny.

Here is the web site where the government is posting the captured intelligence information.

Saturday, April 08, 2006

ISS Crew Swap Completed

The Expedition 12 crew landed accompanied by the Brazilian crew member who launched with the Expedition 13 crew which replaced them.

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Conservatives and the Frontier

In this week's Space Review, Taylor Dinerman challenges Stephen Moore's article in the April issue of American Spectator magazine (I could not find the article on the American Spectator web site.) which criticizes W's space exploration plans as just another wasteful government program. Many conservatives do not seem to realize how vital opening the frontier is to our national defense and economic prosperity. Of course, it is critical that the implementation of the NASA program enables the private sector to follow the explorers and develop and settle the frontier.
At last month’s Goddard Symposium Marburger made the point that “The ultimate goal is not to impress others, or merely to explore our planetary system, but to use accessible space for the benefit of humankind. It is a goal that is not confined to a decade or a century. Nor is it confined to a single nearby destination, or to a fleeting dash to plant a flag. The idea is to begin preparing now for a future in which material trapped in the sun’s vicinity is available for incorporation into our way of life.”

And as I have pointed out in this post, developing the frontier is a vital long term part of building a culture of life.
And All Without Even One Embryonic Stem Cell

We do live in exciting times. This Washington Post article describes how urinary bladders were regenerated in a laboratory and are functioning in several young patients.
The "neo-bladders," each one grown in a small laboratory container from a pinch of a patient's own cells, have been working in seven young patients for an average of almost four years, according to a report released yesterday by the British journal the Lancet. The organs have remained free of the many complications that bedevil the conventional practice of surgically constructing bladders from other tissues.

If ongoing studies continue apace, the researchers said, they hope someday to offer patients more than a dozen other homegrown organs, including blood-vessel complexes, partial kidneys and perhaps hearts.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Remembering Pope John Paul II

The first anniversary of Pope John Paul's death is being commemorated around the world. His successor, Pope Benedict XVI recalled JPII's impact on the world.
Benedict said John Paul had left a profound mark on the history of the church and all of humanity, ushering the church into the third millennium, visiting the world and meeting with heads of state, young people, believers and nonbelievers alike.

Pope John Paul II was the Vicar of Christ for half of my life and I'd say the most influential person in the world during that time. To see how the passing of Pope John Paul, the funeral rites, and the selection of his successor were reflected on this humble blog, check out my April 2005 archives. (Remember to go to the bottom and scroll up for chronological order.)
Irish in Silver Spring

Saturday evening I went to explore downtown Silver Spring's new Irish pub/restaurant, McGinty's Public House.

Good food and drink. I had a pint of Harp, Boxty (scallion & potato cake) and beef chili. They assure me the menu will soon be expanded to include that Irish pub standard, Shepherd's Pie.

Definitely a fun place to visit when you're in the area.