Showing posts with label history. Show all posts
Showing posts with label history. Show all posts

25 Jun 2017

London Fires, Mostly



Many folks who lived in Grenfell Tower got out. Many others died.

We don't know how many. A current estimate is 79. Determining the exact number will be difficult, since high temperatures may have effectively obliterated some human remains.

Some survived because they didn't listen to official instructions to stay in their homes. That advice makes sense in a building with sprinklers and adequate interior firewalls.

In Grenfell Tower, not so much....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Jun 2017

GSLV, Rocket Lab: Looking Good

India's 'monster rocket,' the GSLV Mark III, successfully put the GSAT-19E satellite in orbit this week.

BBC News called some coverage of ISRO's launch "euphoric."

That's understandable. India is like America in the late 20th century, where spaceflight is involved: and is rapidly catching up. I'm not euphoric, quite, but I see what's happening as very good news for everyone.

Rocket Lab's Electron test launch wasn't entirely successful. But the company thinks they can get the system working, and plan to start commercial launches later this year.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

4 Jun 2017

We are Many, We are One

One my favorite bits from the Bible is in this morning's readings....

...A "noise like a strong driving wind" in the sky had gotten their attention.

Maybe they'd also seen the "tongues as of fire," too. Or maybe that was visible only to the disciples inside. Now that I think of it, a loud 'whooshing' sound in the sky and descending fire might easily have started a stampede.

Anyway, folks outside were puzzled, since they had been hearing what the folks inside were saying.

That's not the puzzling part. I gather that Jerusalem in those days didn't provide nearly as much acoustic privacy as we're accustomed to. The decidedly odd part was that each person "heard them speaking in his own language." Hence the roll call of nationalities....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

2 Jun 2017

New Worlds: The Search Continues

There's a huge telescope under construction in Chile: the E-ELT. When compete, astronomers using it plan plan on looking for new worlds, and observing the early universe.

We may have spotted a second super-Saturn. We'll know more about that in September....

...Telescopes have come a long way since Galileo repurposed the "Dutch perspective glass" for astronomical observation.

About Galileo, Copernicus, the sun, and the Church: it's true....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

28 May 2017

"The Federation of the World"



Tennyson said "Locksley Hall" expresses "...young life, its good side, its deficiencies, and its yearnings." I'm inclined to believe him, partly because I was young when I first read the poem. A half-century later, these are still among my favorite lines of poetry:
"...For I dipt into the future, far as human eye could see,
"Saw the vision of the world, and all the wonder that would be;...
"...Till the war-drum throbbed no longer, and the battle-flags were furl'd
"In the Parliament of man, the Federation of the world.
"There the common sense of most shall hold a fretful realm in awe,
"And the kindly earth shall slumber, lapt in universal law...."
("Locksley Hall," Alfred, Lord Tennyson)
I still think building something like Tennyson's "Federation of the world" is a good idea. I'm quite certain that it will be a long, hard, process.

But we're already making some progress....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

More Than a 3-Day Weekend



Tomorrow is Memorial Day.

It's equivalent to Dodenherdenking in the Netherlands, or Remembrance Day in the Commonwealth of Nations.

The holiday's original purpose was to honor those who have been killed while serving in our nation's military.

That's still the holiday's official purpose. Recent generations have used the three-day weekend as an unofficial start of summer vacation season. That's not, I think, entirely inappropriate. I'll get back to that.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

26 May 2017

Climate Change, Whirligig Icebergs

Climate change is still in the news. Don't worry, I won't rant about impending doom, or say that Earth's climate isn't changing.

This planet's climate has been changing for several billion years. I'd be astounded if it stopped changing now.

How much we know and understand about our own past, and Earth's, is also changing. I'll be talking about that, and why I'm not upset that we're learning.

I'll also take a look at (real) climate change, why I think we are not doomed, and choices we must make soon. "Soon," in this case, is somewhere in the next millennium or so. My opinion. We really do not want to make these decisions hastily....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 May 2017

Mother’s Day, and Mary

Upwards of 40 countries celebrate mothers at some point during each year.

America's Mother's Day doesn't seem to connect with Phrygia's cult of Cybele or Japan's Haha no Hi, apart from being a recognition of motherhood.

Our Mother's Day has roots in my country's civil war. Ann Jarvis organized a committee in 1868, promoting "Mother's Friendship Day." The idea was "to reunite families that had been divided during the Civil War."

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 May 2017

Good Intentions

Variations on "dead men tell no tales" go back at least to 1560 or thereabouts in my language. The idea is much older.1

As advice goes, it's arguably flawed. Folks who are dead aren't chatty, but their bodies occasionally pop up at inopportune times.

I'll be talking about unmarked and unremembered graves, insane asylums, and similarly-uncheerful things. It's not all bad news, though.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Apr 2017

Emmaus: Looking Back and Ahead



We hear about the 'road to Emmaus' event in today's Gospel, Luke 24:13-35.

There's been speculation about why folks didn't recognized Jesus at first, after Golgotha.

It wasn't just the 'road to Emmaus' thing. Paul lists some of our Lord's meetings in 1 Corinthians 15:3-8....

...About why folks didn't recognize Jesus, I figure there's a reason, maybe more than one, but I'm also pretty sure I can't be sure. Not at this point. That won't stop me from sharing — not so much my guess, as something I think seems reasonable.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

14 Apr 2017

Mars: Leaky Red Planet

What we're learning about Mars, and a new type of really small spacecraft, reminded me of earth, air and kilts.

Also pharaohs, Thomas Paine, and Lord Kelvin. By then I was running out of time to write something more tightly-organized.

I figured you might be interested in some of what I have written. On on the other hand, maybe not. So I added links to my ramblings before and after what I said more-or-less about the science news, and figure you can decide what's interesting and what's not.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

9 Apr 2017

The Speckled Axe



I'm a perfectionist, a frustrated one. Somewhere between childhood and adolescence, I felt that if adequacy had a numeric value, it'd be greater than two and less than one; or something equally impossible.

More accurately, I felt as if that was the standard imposed on me. I realized that it wasn't possible, and that there was no point in trying to reach it. Like I said, frustrated.

That goes a long way to explain, I think, why results from aptitude and intelligence tests showed that I should be getting stellar grades: and I wasn't.

Autism Meets Perfectionism


Academics interested me, and I was paying attention. I just didn't see a point in "good grades." Besides, there was a whole universe full of things not being covered at any particular moment: including some inside the classroom.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

7 Apr 2017

Pesticides in the Water



I live on Earth, so caring about what happens here makes sense. I've talked about enlightened self-interest, Yeats, Ehrlich, and getting a grip, before. Often, actually. (February 17, 2017; January 20, 2017; September 16, 2016; August 12, 2016)

A news item about scientists finding a particular sort of pesticide in America's drinking water got my attention. So did what they said about it: which made sense.

Whether or not this becomes a hot news item, like the "Flint Water Crisis," depends partly on how badly editors need something to angst over. My opinion.

What happened in Flint, Michigan, was real enough. There's a pretty good Wikipedia page on it. Briefly, Flint's drinking water was okay until the city started drawing from the Flint River instead of Lake Huron and the Detroit River.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

30 Mar 2017

The Past: What We Know, What We Don'’t



I was writing about cancer and medical knowledge we've accumulated over the last few millennia, when I realized that I'd gotten more off-topic than usual.

For me, that's saying something.

When I catch myself rambling I've got options. Sometimes I delete and start over from where I was making sense; or copy and paste the ramble into a text file for later use, delete and start over.

Sometimes I delete, get up, make myself a cup of coffee, and try desperately to remember what, if anything, I had in mind....

...Like the title says, it's about what we know and what we don't about the past: and why we're not all that certain about so much....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

24 Mar 2017

Baryons, Gravity Waves

These are exciting, or disquieting, times.

Which it is depends partly on how much a person likes living in a world where scientific knowledge is rapidly changing.

I like it, a lot....

...Since this is a "religious" blog, I'll be discussing — briefly, for me — how my faith relates to experiments using CERN's Large Hadron Collider and science in general....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

12 Mar 2017

Trinity

I say "in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit" a lot: mostly when I start praying. I generally make the sign of the Cross at the same time.

The sign of the Cross is a very "Catholic" gesture. It "reminds us in a physical way of the Paschal Mystery we celebrate: the death and Resurrection of our Savior Jesus Christ."1

It's a prayer, a blessing, and a sacramental; and that's another topic. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1668-1670)

Dali's "Crucifixion (Corpus Hypercubus)" is very "Catholic," too; although not it's not like the mass-produced 19th-century stuff many associate with our faith.

I wouldn't be surprised if a half-millennium from now, some tight-collar Catholics will be upset by new art that doesn't present the Cross as an unfolded tesseract, and that's yet another topic. Topics.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

10 Mar 2017

Earliest Life: Maybe

We're not sure how skulls found in central China fit into the family tree. They're a bit like Neanderthals, a bit like folks still living in that part of the world, and not quite like anyone else.

Other scientists found what may, or may not, be the oldest evidence of life found so far. That's in Quebec, Canada.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

17 Feb 2017

Pollution: Still Learning

Scientists found PCBs and PBDEs in deep-sea critters, armyworms are on the march in Africa, and Mexico City's air isn't as clean as we'd hoped.

Rational concern seems reasonable....

...Last week I talked about blaming our tools for our mistakes. (February 10, 2017)

This week I'll revisit Lovecraft's "placid island of ignorance,"sort of....

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

27 Jan 2017

Gems, Metal, and Earth's Core

The Fire of Australia, a whacking great chunk of opal, isn't particularly interesting from a 'science' viewpoint.

But I'm human, which is probably why anything big and shiny gets my attention: including that rock.

Wrenching myself back on-topic, scientists found a stream of liquid metal flowing at the edge of Earth's core. Studying it may help us learn why Earth's magnetic field flip-flops at apparently-irregular intervals. What we'll learn is beyond me: we didn't know much about geomagnetic reversal when I started school.

We still don't, for that matter. As I keep saying, there is a very great deal left to learn.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

22 Jan 2017

Conservative? Liberal? No: Catholic

My father-in-law has been asked if he's conservative — or liberal.

His answer: "I'm Catholic."

I'd give the same answer.

Catholic teachings are quite definite, so it's possible to peg them on the American political spectrum — as long as you don't look at the big picture.

Taking bits and pieces of Catholic beliefs, and the history of Catholics in America, I could claim that the Catholic Church is conservative or liberal. That would be as big a mistake as seeing all conservatives as hate-fueled foes of diversity, or all liberals as irresponsible lunatics.

More at A Catholic Citizen in America.

Of Jesus Concealed

'In a world where there is so much noise, so much bewilderment, there is a need for silent adoration of Jesus concealed in the Host...