Sunday, May 27, 2012

SpaceX:Herald a New Era

The government abandoned the U.S. manned space program when NASA retired the Space Shuttle fleet. I was, I admit, a bit dismayed. This abandonment started years ago through the Clinton and Bush administrations and culminated (no surprise) during the Obama years. It seemed America was going to give this arena to the Chinese as well.

We've heard rumblings for decades of private space related business filling the void. Frankly I didn't believe it was possible simply because the cost benefit ratio was so skewed. That was before NASA retired the only feasible delivery vehicle they had. The door was opened for contractors. The Russians stepped up first, but no one was overly comfortable with that arrangement. Last year Russia had a major disaster that put in question their ability to fill the void left by the demise of the Shuttle. Europe and Japan have demonstrated the ability to deliver cargo to space, but both march to the tune of their own drummer.

Welcome the Dragon

Last week SpaceX, the brain child of Internet billionaire Elon Musk successfully launched a SpaceX rocket and has since docked it's Dragon capsule with the International Space Station. It was an unprecedented cooperative effort by a private company and the U.S. space agency NASA. The Dragon brought along 1,000 pounds of food, clothes, batteries and other critical provisions. This is thrilling in so many ways.

NASA has expertise but lacks vision and a national purpose (read funding ). SpaceX and others have a vision and it culminates in the one thing that ultimately drives everything forward, profit. These company's see dollar signs in the stars. Precious minerals by the ton orbit the sun and it is beginning to seem that soon they could be within reach.

You ask, why not just focus on the huge percentage of the Earth that has not been explored or exploited for it's minerals, namely the 75% of the world that is covered by oceans? It is costly and dangerous to mine the oceans. Yes, of course, it's both costly and dangerous to mine space too, but there are few if any environmental issues in space. As well, there are no sovereignty issues, no mineral rights and few regulations in space. Yet...

Until the Dragon, only major governments have had the wherewithal to launch cargo ships to the space station. Yes, Russia, Japan and Europe will keep providing supplies. Russia will continue to contract rides to U.S. astronauts until SpaceX or other companies are completely ready to take over.

This is truly a great story, made possible I suppose by government getting out of the overpriced, under performing and bloated system we had grown used to. 

Congratulations SpaceX.


Tuesday, May 22, 2012

I am nothing...

Sometimes you read something that just stops you in your tracks.

Those of us who do a routine self evaluation - you know who you are - often question your decisions, your opinions, your station in life and most of all your worth. Some people don't ponder anything large, ever. This is not to say they are bad people or anything like that. They just don't think like that. They go through life as is and don't waste the brain cycles on the esoteric. Some of us are just more introspective, questioning or fascinated by what we don't know. Some of us are called daydreamers or fools. (The ones who are sure of themselves and know it all will fancy themselves intellectuals.)

When we get on in years many men will question what they've accomplished and more profoundly what they've missed. This often leads to the proverbial mid-life crisis. For others a health scare will do the same thing. We start to ponder what and who we are and more poignantly what is really important. In some cases we consider what will we leave behind.

I can relate to the later. I think about the immediate well being of my wife and kids. Financially, materially they should be alright. Emotionally we've mended most of the hot messes created through the "growing up" years in our little family as the kids are now adults. So, I guess I worry a little about the wider perception of "me" when I pass from this plane of existence. I fancy myself a musician and an artist and I feverishly paint pictures and give them away while I busy myself in the recording studio writing and producing my own original music (that intend to give away) and try to work as hard as I can for my employer and all my good friends at work. I try, not always successful at being a good father, husband, brother and son.

I am so worried about what others will think/feel when they ponder my life I have forgotten the simple truth that I am nothing. Huh, you say:

read on...

excerpted from Love by Peter Kreeft
There is more: nothing else is really yours. Your health, your works, your intelligence, your possessions-these are not what they seem. They are all hostage to fortune, on loan, insubstantial. You discover that when you learn who God is. Face to face with God in prayer, not just a proper concept of God, you find that you are nothing. All the saints say this: you are nothing. The closer you get to God the more you see this, the more you shrink in size. If you scorn God, you think you're a big shot, a cannonball; if you know God, you know you're not even buckshot. Those who scorn God think they're number one. Those who have the popular idea of God think they're "good people". Those who have a merely mental orthodoxy know they're real but finite creatures, made in God's image but flawed by sin. Those who really begin to pray find that compared with God they are motes of dust in the sun. Finally, the saints say they are nothing. Or else (Saint Paul's words) "the chief of sinners". Sinners think they're saints and saints think they're sinners.

Who's right? How shall we evaluate this insight?

Mr. Kreeft  talks of the misconceptions of the concept of "Love" with a special focus on agape love - God is Love. When I came to this passage I was struck by the simplicity and the finality of it.

Shortly after a health scare I walked around my house, surveying my belongings. I remember being out in the garage musing on what a disorganized mess it was and that I should toss out this and that - but wait - what if ever need one of those, you know in the future... I was struck by how unimportant these things were.

My possessions are just things. No one is going cherish them or even fight over them. Most of them are going to be discarded or trashed when I'm gone anyway. It is my relationships with family and friends that are important. Right? But when I look around I see that they are also tied to possessions and processes that are material in nature. Sure they like me, or even love me, but in the end their lives will go on - as they should - and I will be a memory. It's my relationship with God that matters - the one who truly loves me.

As Kreeft writes: One of the saints says that Jesus would have done everything he did and suffered everything he suffered even if you were the only person who had sinned, just for you. That's such an incredible thought! God's love is always the concrete individual, not some abstraction called humanity. Love of humanity is easy because humanity does not surprise you with inconvenient demands. You never find humanity on your doorstep, stinking and begging. For Jesus it was personal, it is personal.

Until - I - we - you - fully understand this we will have an emptiness we can never fill.


Hat Tip to Bruce Carlton

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Everyone Loves a Winner

Until he looks like a loser...

If and when President Obama starts to look like a loser, in other words if and when it is evidently clear he's losing big time the media will turn on him. One reason is because a good, juicy scandal is a story they can't resist. The evidence is piling up that the "vetting" they never did in 2007-8 is coming to light with a vengeance.

The birth certificate issue is far from resolved, really. It has come to light that Obama’s literary agency, Acton & Dystel, put out a bio claiming he was born in Kenya. It seems in 1991 Obama told his literary agency that he was born in Kenya for some reason. And the false information wasn’t corrected until April 2007, a couple of months after he launched his presidential campaign. So, is it likely that Acton & Dystel, put out the bio without Obama's knowledge? No, that's not the way it works. The bio will say what the client want's it to say, Barack Obama was the client. Why wasn't this picked up in the last campaign?

It's now coming out that in 2008 then-Senator Barack Obama’s political campaign tried, through back channels, to bribe Rev. Jeremiah Wright not to speak during the 2008 election cycle for the sweet sum of $150,000. This bribery story broke this week, but not with the mainstream media (this while John Edwards is currently on trial for a similar allegation) who refuse to report on a story that might have hurt the election chances of a presidential candidate with a "D" after his name. If and when the President looks like a loser this will be front and center with all the alphabet networks.

The Fast and Furious gun running scandal has been roiling under the surface for some time. Only CBS of the big media crowd has even dared to devote a few minutes of air time and some resources to investigate. The others are silent. The President's AG Eric Holder could be the focus of a congressional inquiry that would demand at least some coverage. Depending on how bad it looks the media will not be able to resist, especially if Obama starts to look like a loser.

My own personal favorite scandal(s) was brought to light in Schweitzer's book "Throw Them All Out" that cites chapter and verse the political shenanigans played with the shower of stimulus money that went to Obama's cronies fronting alternative energy companies. Almost without fail these company owners were part of Obama's vast political donor system. This, if brought into the sunlight, would turn American stomachs. Again CBS had the guts to do an expose on the book (leaving the President out of it, of course) that at least exposed the book and the subject of the cronyism that pervades Washington. The President is the king of cronyism.

At some point the effort to color Romney a monster is going to fail. He is neither stupid nor a radical, what he is is competent and trustworthy. Neither trait can be said of the President.


Saturday, May 12, 2012

All in good Time...

It was bound to happen. Time had to know it would. When Time Magazine decided to publish a sure fire controversial cover photo on their recent edition they had to know what would happen.

The cover photo shows Jamie Lynne Grumet, 26, a stay-at-home California mother breast feeding her (rather large) three year old son. Grumet says she's given up reasoning with strangers who see her son nursing and threaten "to call social services on me or that it's child molestation."

Some questioned why the magazine used the photo of Grumet, a slim blonde pretty enough to be a model, to illustrate a story about a style of childrearing that's been around for a generation. Well, that's just silly, of course we all know why Time would do such a thing. Sensationalism. Pure and simple.

The cover inspired X-rated jokes along with plenty of attention on the morning news shows as well as a skit on Saturday Night Live. Regular folks chimed in too - Bobbi Miller, a mother of six who lives in Arkansas, expressed disapproval in a phone interview, "Even a cow knows when to wean their child. It's almost on the verge of voyeurism."

Yeah, voyeurism, that's it. What I was waiting for were the inevitable parodies. I couldn't resist creating my own. I pulled out all the stops and went for a double controversy. I brought religion into it. Parody is meant to shock - however the original cover is shocking enough making the challenge for us just how do we raise the bar. Easy - add religion. 

So, of the all parodies I saw this was my favorite. Yet it was a bit safe and a little too easy. Politics is the first choice of parodies. While it's quite good it doesn't really shock.

Now here's mine... You be the judge; did Time go to far or did I?

(My apologies to the Pope)


Saturday, May 05, 2012

The Opportunity Society

When George W. Bush was pushing something he called the Ownership Society during his Presidency he was on going the right direction, unfortunately he was just on the wrong track. There is a path to the American Dream - getting a piece of the rock, owning a home or property - and it's the same path that always existed. Sadly our society has lost it's way.

Buying a home and affording it are two different things. Since the late 90's millions have skipped the race and went straight to the finish line. We can go into the forces both in the home loan industry and in government policy that led to it but suffice it to say it was a disaster for (all) home owners, the economy and society itself.

What society (government especially) should do is foster opportunity and ownership will surely follow. It's opportunity that will create real hope and change not government handouts. I'm afraid that Obama and his ideology is the absolute death knell to opportunity. Obama is selling government dependency. This extends not just to the under privileged but corporate world as well. It's wrong, it's self destructive and most of all it's unsustainable.

The President and his ilk are trying to indict capitalism as the scapegoat when it is government policies that drown real hope and opportunity. The President goes around to institutes of higher education and tells students that the government is here to help. When in actuality it's the government that saddling most of them with unfathomable debt because with all this handy "government money" a college education has become outrageously expensive. Their only hope to paying back is through the power of capitalism itself.

Enter libertarian and capitalist Wayne Allen Root and his message of opportunity for students at Havard and you hear a hopeful story. Simply, it's capitalism that creates true hope and real opportunity.

Capitalism created desktop computers, the Internet, smartphones, iTunes, iPads, Skype, Facebook, Twitter, texting, and DirecTV and much, much more.

The things that shape our world were not created in Cuba, the Soviet Union, or the old People’s Republic of China. And they weren’t created by government either. They were created by entrepreneurs hoping to change the world, and get rich doing it! 

President Obama and others who appear to detest capitalism don’t have those stories. They have never created anything with their own smarts, work ethic, creativity, while risking their own money. 

They’ve never created jobs, donated millions to charity, or dramatically changed lives with their innovations, products, or payrolls. 

All the Obamas and other capitalist naysayers of the world know about is taking tax dollars from the job creators and financial risk-takers, and redistributing it as bribes to their voters.

Obama’s failed policies have proven he has the same level of knowledge about economics, capitalism, and entrepreneurship as I have of ballet – which is zero. 

We can all see plain and simply what Obama's and the hard left's policies will bring us. Greece, Spain and Italy. These are dying societies, unsustainable and bloated government welfare states. It was not capitalism that did this to Europe. It was strict government control of economies and society under the ruse of cradle to grave welfare. Well now there's nothing left to pay for these promises. Many of those who had vision and dreams and goals of creating something out of nothing left those countries over the last 50 years and came to the real land of opportunity - the U.S.A. We have a regime in Washington that wants to turn America into the next Greece.

It's all rather sickening for a "community organizer" to point to those who have worked hard, excelled and raised themselves and others out of poverty and blame them for the plight of the so-called under privileged. If he had true compassion for them he would extol them to embrace the opportunity to stay in school, to get a job and avoid pregnancy until the first two goals are met, then he would have done so much more than any government handout ever could. This is the way out of poverty, not government largess.