Sunday, April 26, 2009

Two Weeks and Counting

The launch of the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission has been moved ahead by one day to Monday, May 11 to accommodate other range activities in May.

STS-125 crew member Mike Massimino is "tweeting" about his preparations for flight and has gained an growing following.

Credit: NASA, ESA, and the Hubble Heritage Team (STScI/AURA)

Meanwhile, the 19th anniversary of Hubble's launch was marked with the release of another spectacular image of galaxies interacting.

“A Notre Dame Witness for Life”

That's the title of a stirring talk by William McGurn, a Wall Street Journal columnist and Notre Dame alumnus (from the Notre Dame Center for Ethics and Culture and also the Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life).
So tonight our hearts carry a great sadness. But we do not come here this evening to rally against a speaker. We come to affirm the sacredness of life. And we come with a great hope: That a university founded under the patronage of Our Lady might be as consistent in the defense of her principles as the President of the United States has been for advancing his. In a nation wounded by Roe ... in a society that sets mothers against the children they carry in their wombs ... we come here tonight because however much our hearts ache, they tell us this: Our church, our country, and our culture long for the life witness of Notre Dame.

UPDATE: 4/27/09: Former Vatican ambassador Mary Ann Glendon, respected pro-life advocate and Harvard law professor, has declined the University of Notre Dame's Laetare Medal because of the concurrent honors being given to President Obama despite his extreme anti-life policies. Here's commentary from Hugh McNichol at
While the Laetare Medal is indeed a great honor to receive, Glendon appropriately holds Catholic teachings on the sanctity of human life as more important. Her refusal of the award illustrates, very strongly and clearly, the larger problem, which is the secular infiltration of our Catholic educational facilities. Mary Ann Glendon should receive a papal honor from Benedict XVI for her upholding of Catholic moral and ethical principles.

Additionally, the declination of this award by Ambassador Glendon should send a message to all members of the Catholic educational establishment, namely: Catholics are no longer going to tolerate secular interpretations of our most sacred Catholic principles. Either you are Catholic in your beliefs, or you are not. There can be no middle ground.

The American Bishops should also applaud Mrs. Glendon’s refusal of the Laetare Medal. Perhaps her courageous initiative in refusing this award will inspire more American Bishops to speak out and condemn Notre Dame’s invite to President Obama.

It's time to stop trying so hard to be "reasonable" by the standards of society's conventional wisdom and stand up and fight for the most reasonable proposition of all, that all human lives at every stage and condition are deserving of protection. This issue is much bigger than Note Dame and will only become more intense in the near future.

The World According to Obama ...

...according to Mark Steyn.
Since January, President Obama and his team have schmoozed, ineffectively, American enemies over allies in almost every corner of the globe. If you’re, say, India, following Obama’s apology tour even as you watch the Taliban advancing on those Pakistani nukes, would you want to bet the future on American resolve? In Delhi, in Tokyo, in Prague, in Tel Aviv, in Bogota, they’ve looked at these first 100 days and drawn their own conclusions.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Tea Parties Mobilize American Citizens

I attended the DC Tea Party held today in a cold rain at Lafayette Park, across the street from Barack Obama's White House. There was a surge of energy there, as there has been at the at least 700 such events held across the nation today, the annual income tax filing deadline. In the spirit of the original Boston Tea Party of 1773, citizens turned out to protest huge federal spending and prospective tax increases. Look for expansive coverage of Tea Party events around the nation at Pajamas Media, Instapundit and Michelle Malkin.

Glenn Reynolds writes on how this movement has erupted from the grassroots, despite claims to the contrary by some Media and establishment types.
The protests began with bloggers in Seattle, Wash., who organized a demonstration on Feb. 16. As word of this spread, rallies in Denver and Mesa, Ariz., were quickly organized for the next day. Then came CNBC talker Rick Santelli's Feb. 19 "rant heard round the world" in which he called for a "Chicago tea party" on July Fourth. The tea-party moniker stuck, but angry taxpayers weren't willing to wait until July. Soon, tea-party protests were appearing in one city after another, drawing at first hundreds, and then thousands, to marches in cities from Orlando to Kansas City to Cincinnati.

As word spread, people got interested in picking a common date for nationwide protests, and decided on today, Tax Day, as the date. As I write this, various Web sites tracking tea parties are predicting anywhere between 300 and 500 protests at cities around the world. A Google Map tracking planned events, maintained at the Web site, shows the United States covered by red circles, with new events being added every day.

Beyond the issues of taxing and spending, today's tea parties (and more to come) are an opportunity for citizens to assert their constitutional right to free expression to engage in debate on the great issues. That debate is alive and well today, and political officeholders in both parties better pay attention.

Space Solar Power Market Breakthrough?

An intriguing announcement was made this week that Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), the utility that serves northern California including the SF Bay Area, has made a deal with an emerging energy company, Solaren, for providing solar energy transmitted from a satellite. An interview with Solaren CEO Gary Spirnak (who was a spacecraft project engineer in the U.S. Air Force and director of advanced digital applications at Boeing Satellite Systems) is also posted at PG&E's Next100 site. PG&E has wisely structured the deal so that they pay no money until power is delivered to their grid.

As this WSJ article points out, space solar power, which has been studied for several decades is a challenging prospect. Based on even the most optimistic previous studies, commercially produced space solar power by 2016 doesn't seem likely. However, Solaren's patent (which I've not had time to review in detail) indicates an innovative design based on inflatable components flying in formation, so it would be presumptuous to rule out their achieving this ambitious goal with existing launch technology.

Only time will tell how real this potential development is, but if it does pan out, it could be a major breakthrough for a new clean energy source and for development of spacefaring capabilities.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Circus on the Severn Folds Its Tent for 2009

The Maryland General Assembly adjourned its 2009 session last night. Here are summaries of the good, the bad and the ugly by the Baltimore Sun and by the Maryland Catholic Conference.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Have a Blessed and Happy Easter!

At daybreak on the first day of the week
the women who had come from Galilee with Jesus
took the spices they had prepared
and went to the tomb.
They found the stone rolled away from the tomb;
but when they entered,
they did not find the body of the Lord Jesus.
While they were puzzling over this, behold,
two men in dazzling garments appeared to them.
They were terrified and bowed their faces to the ground.
They said to them,
"Why do you seek the living one among the dead?
He is not here, but he has been raised.
Remember what he said to you while he was still in Galilee,
that the Son of Man must be handed over to sinners
and be crucified, and rise on the third day."
And they remembered his words.
Then they returned from the tomb
and announced all these things to the eleven
and to all the others.
The women were Mary Magdalene, Joanna, and Mary the mother of James;
the others who accompanied them also told this to the apostles,
but their story seemed like nonsense
and they did not believe them.
But Peter got up and ran to the tomb,
bent down, and saw the burial cloths alone;
then he went home amazed at what had happened.

Lk 24:1-12

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Holy Week 2009

This week is the one considered Holy by many with a strong Faith in God. For Christians, it is the observance of the Passion, Death and Resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ. The Easter Triduum as observed in the Catholic Church is described here. Today, Pope Benedict XVI described the meaning of the observance.
In the general audience, held this morning in St. Peter’s Square, the Pope dedicated his remarks to Holy Week. "For us as Christians", he said, "this is the most important week of the year, offering us the chance to immerse ourselves in the central events of Redemption, to relive the Easter Mystery, the great Mystery of the faith".

The Holy Father explained how Jesus "did not wish to use the fact of His being God, His glorious dignity and His power, as an instrument of triumph and a sign of distance" between Him and us.

"For love", the Pope continued, "He wished to ‘empty Himself’ and become our brother. For love He shared our condition, the condition of all men and women".

This year, it also happens that tonight is the start of the Jewish observance of Passover, the celebration of the Jews' passing over to freedom from the bondage of slavery they suffered in Egypt. This event was a historical manifestation of God's power recognized by Jews and Christians alike.

May this week of Holy Days bring blessings and peace to all.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Blogging on the Road

This post and my post below on the NK launch are my first blog posts made on my new HP 1116NR netbook, one of the new breed of 'mini-laptop' type devices that are particularly convenient for portable communication/internet capability. I'm blogging from my hotel room in Houston. I'm here to support one of the final Joint Integrated Simulations in preparation for the STS-125 Hubble servicing mission.

NK Rocket Launch

North Korea launched a rocket which they claimed was an attempt to orbit a satellite, though it apparently failed. The launch did instigate a storm of reaction around the world over concern about NK's military intentions.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Yuri's Night

It's that time of year for Yuri's Night, marking the April 12 anniversaries of Yuri Gagarin's pioneering spaceflight (1961) and the first US Space Shuttle flight (1981). With Easter and Passover celebrations falling next week, many of the Yuri's Night events are being held this weekend. I will be attending the event at Goddard Space Flight Center tomorrow evening.