2017 Solar Eclipse

September 13, 2017

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of my favorite things to do is take time off, not only to decompress, but also re-vision my sense of self, my calling, and my God.

Stepping away from daily pursuits offers valuable perspective, and there’s a reason why the One Who called a Universe into being, commanded us to take regular rest.

Over a period of three weeks, I watched very little news.  What a blessing that was, as the world went on without my scrutiny, and, in reality, what I was doing in life was just as relevant as what I might find on TV.  As a former broadcast journalist, I’ve always known this, but still it’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking we have some kind of holy obligation to attend to what is printed in the New York Times.  Do we feel the same way about opening up and reading the Scripture?  Or is it perhaps that we deem the message in the Bible less relevant or current.

With encouragement from Lisa and Niue, I did some internet gymnastics, and wound up economically ensconced in Kearney, Nebraska, perchance to see and photograph the 2017 total solar eclipse.  Some locales were mobbed, but on the big day, I found myself resplendently emplaced on a wide expanse of emerald green grass within in the Mormon Island State Recreation Area.

Truth is, I found it a bit by accident, just off I-80, en-route to somewhere else.  As I’ve said to my kids, have a plan, but be open to what unfolds.  Instead of being in a stadium or field of thousands, I was able to make instant friends with 15 or 20 nearby souls, who’d come in from all directions and persuasions, in all manner of transport, for a totality climax set to last more than 2.5 minutes.  We were literally going to be “made in the shade”!

Trusty Mylar and cardboard filter in front of my eyes (and one for the camera) during the partial phases, the clock ticked down as the Moon soared through space to provide the ultimately defining moment.

Then, it happened.  It clicked in.  No announcer to tell us what was occurring, no media outlet spinning the event.  Just one sphere perfectly interposing itself 400X closer over a fiery orb 400X bigger.  Rather straightforward.  Yet, in our neck of the galaxy, incredibly rare.

Maybe that’s why folks spontaneously shouted and screamed.  Some cried too.  Glasses off, it was a sight to behold.  In totality, the corona was made visible and iridescent prominences revealed the radiation that gives us life.

Looking up to an actual event that takes us beyond ourselves, people become one.  Left, right and center, as the temperature dramatically drops, humans are lifted up and unified in seeing the light and darkness that define our being.

Total eclipses are celebrations of a star, 13 billion years in the making, that supplies 99% of our planet’s heat.  That reality becomes rapidly obvious as the temperature drops precipitously with the suddenly imminent dusk.

Some might see our “yellow dwarf” eminently stable star as an accident.  My guts and my belief tell me it’s part of an act in the only play that matters.  It is but one expression among many millions and billions of cause and effect events that enable you and I to see, consider, and celebrate.

Solar eclipses fall upon the weak and the strong, the rich and poor, the black and white, the serious and silly.  Clouds be willing, they call us to look up, and far, far away from ourselves.

I believe, when the Moon, in its very special place, flawlessly interposes itself in front of our Sun, it is a little reminder from the Word, Who perfectly and precisely called us into being, to rise above our petty divisions.  Thus we will see ourselves as most fortunate people, who are, whether by faith, or simple fact, sisters and brothers on a blessed Earth.

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Mouth control

June 14, 2017

Let’s see, we have a re-worked version of Julius Caesar, with the simulation of an assassination involving an actor looking a great deal like the President.

We have a “comic” posing with what is intended to be the decapitated head of the President.

We have a has-been pop singer claiming she has thought about blowing up the White House, where the President lives.

And now we have a shooter, who’d apparently threatened to “destroy Trump & Company”, trying to kill as many Republican representatives as possible.

Is there a correlation?

What about causation?

Perhaps it’s all just an incredibly improbable and extremely sad coincidence.  Sure.

Some will try to score political points by using this latest tragedy to push gun control.

Perhaps we should learn to practice mouth control first.

 

 

 


Kathy Griffin

June 2, 2017

I didn’t know who Kathy Griffin was before I saw the posed shot with her ostensibly holding a bloodied and severed head of President Donald Trump.

She is now attempting to pose as a victim…

 


Venezuela

May 5, 2017

I was born in Venezuela, and still hold citizenship there.

For those promoting the Utopian dream of broadly based socialism, check out Venezuela.

It is a sight to behold.


Ann Coulter & UC Berkeley: Linguistic Totalitarianism?

April 26, 2017

Totalitarianism is a strong word.  Worth looking up.  It’s as sad as it is dangerous.

Ann Coulter has been invited to speak at the University of California, Berkeley, and the threats against her, along with the event, have come rolling in.

Such is the state of play in too many colleges and American centers of higher learning.  The commonplace, thankfully not universal mantra is: scream, destroy, and avoid debate.

Ann Coulter is highly articulate.  That might be an inconvenient truth, but its veracity remains.  That’s why the insecure must attempt to shout her down.

Coulter is an erudite elocutionist, and if educated individuals in pursuit of intellectual advancement cannot hear her views without melting down and mashing free speech, it highlights a much deeper problem.

Setting fires, breaking glass, and rioting as an extra-curricular activity, is the image UC/Berkeley seems hell-bent on putting out to the world.

Really?  Is that OK with the Trustees and wider student body population, not to mention the parents paying dearly to foot the bill?

Some in that institution may shrug and laugh off the antics of those they deem part of the “lunatic fringe”.

But, if my degree had the imprimatur of that institution emblazoned across the top, I’d be very disappointed.

At best.

 

 


Good & Evil

April 2, 2017

Long, long time ago, it was written:  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely;  but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”

This verse in the Book of Genesis may be the most profound exposition of the human predicament ever set down with ink upon paper.  Yes, the increase of knowledge brings with it dynamics of good and evil.

Apparently, knowledge, by itself, is not an automatic happy meal.

Indeed, with increasing automation and artificial intelligence, what will we do when many jobs can easily be done by robots, with humans only required to do, what?

The day is soon coming when our burgeoning intelligence will leave us squarely facing the challenge of remunerating, and also finding a role, for those that smart machines will surely replace.

In other words, our amazing intellect will leave us with an ethical and economic question fundamentally more difficult than any society has ever had the luxury of encountering before.

Simply put, “What if we don’t need to do anything, because, by our increase in knowledge, the need to do something has been eclipsed by the emerging ability to do nothing at all?”

Can we happily sustain a society in which sophisticated computers will rule, without relegating some people to some kind of redundant slag-heap?

I have great confidence in our future, but I am also convinced that finding our future will not be an easy task.  It will be a struggle of ideals, more than technology.

The machines our knowledge has developed will force us to find a good way we can relate to one another as a community of people beyond the laws and principles of commerce.

Thus, while robots make some things easy, with that factor, other enormous challenges may well emerge.


Age of Aquarius

March 3, 2017

NASA’s Spitzer telescope has discovered a “solar system” related to a star in the constellation we call Aquarius, only 40 light-years from Earth.  Within this system, a few of these so-called “exo-planets” orbit inside the “Goldilocks zone” – a region where it is considered neither too hot or too cold to sustain life.  Thus, with liberal use of the words “could”, “might”, “possibly”, and “perhaps”, the prospect of extraterrestrial being is tendered once again.

For scientists, and actually, for anyone, even the discovery of fossilized bacteria beyond earth would warrant enormous headlines.  To date, outside of terra-firma, not a single cell of such material has been discovered, even on Mars.  This is informative because, relative to our Sun, Mars is well within a radius where an adaptable Goldilocks might choose to enjoy her porridge.

Astronomically speaking, our Martian cousin is incredibly close to our teeming abode.  Yet, to the best of our first hand, long-term, on-site, rover-based knowledge, Mars is stone dead.  Like a door nail.

What this demonstrates anew is that even within a vast Creation, where untold numbers of planets exist, many factors have to be in sync before bacteria can emerge.  Thus, the best scientific awareness we have shows that even the presence of simple microbes cannot be assumed, anywhere.

More profoundly, it means that sentient beings under the stars, who can read and ruminate on missives like this one, may be the rarest thing of all.

Isn’t it funny that some doubt the existence of God, when the real question is, why should God’s existence be any less likely than our own?

Fact is, apart from faith, there’s nothing in the known Universe that says we must be here at all.  Yet, we are.  And we take so much for granted.

What with ISIS, al-Qaida, riots and ghastly acts of war being reported on a daily basis, many of us take a dim view of the human state.  Still, even in its worst expression, humanity may well be the most sophisticated and wonderful thing the Universe has witnessed in 14 billion years.

You want a miracle?  You’re it.  So is your neighbor with the noisy dog and smelly cigars.

Space exploration tops my list of our most important planetary pursuits.  Yet, it’s amazing how in our search for what exists in far distant places, we look straight past the miraculous bounty resting at arm’s length.

God came all the way to us, bringing life in Jesus Christ.

Perhaps there is a dawning of consciousness in Aquarius.  Hopefully that awakening will continue to occur right here at home.