Friday, July 29, 2011

Smithsonian 3D imaging lab

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Hot day on the links...

Bad game on the first nine, 31; but a great 20 on the back nine. I had the best round in my foursome. Jefferson Falls course.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Happy #MarsDay, some thoughts on Ray Bradbury and pictures from @AirandSpace

Mars @ NASMHappy Mars Day! Here are some pictures I took at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum the other day. Top photo is a mock-up of the Viking Lander (which when to Mars back in the 1970s). Below is an idea (date unknown) for what a Mars spacesuit might look like.

And, how can I not include a quote or two from Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles. An amazing book (short story collection? Anthology? Prophecy?). A work, like all of the best of science fiction, tells us more about our own selves and our own times then about the future or other places.

There was always a minority afraid of something, and a great majority afraid of the dark, afraid of the future, afraid of the past, afraid of the present, afraid of themselves and shadows of themselves. ("Usher II")
I'm burning away a way of life, just like that way of life is being burned clean of Earth right now. Forgive me if I talk like a politician. I am, after all, a former state governor, and I was honest and they hated me for it. Life on Earth never settled down to doing anything very good. Science ran too far ahead of us too quickly, and the people got lost in the mechanical wilderness, like children making over pretty things, gadgets, helicopters, rockets; emphasizing the wrong items, emphasizing machines instead of how to run the machines. Wars got bigger and bigger and finally killed Earth. That's what the silent radio means. That's what we ran away from. ("The Million-Year Picnic") 
"Who wants to see the Future, who ever does? A man can face the Past, but to think - the pillars crumbled, you say? And the sea empty, and the canals dry, and the maidens dead, and the flowers withered?" The Martian was silent, but then he looked ahead. "But there they are. I see them. Isn't that enough for me? They wait for me now, no matter what you say." ("Night Meeting") 
It also includes the Sara Teasdale poem, "There Will Come Soft Rains", my first contact with that work.

Mars @ NASM

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Does anyone in the global village really know anything of his work? Happy birthday Marshall MacLuhan

McLuhan Collection
Today marks the 100th birthday of Marshall McLuhan (July 21, 1911 – December 31, 1980). Famous for the aphorisms/statements "the medium is the message" and "global village", today, in our hyper-connected media world of the aging 21st century, his work is more relevant than ever.

Though the seminal Understanding Media was the first of his works that I read, it is The Gutenberg Galaxy that I often return to.

In the electronic age which succeeds the typographic and mechanical era of the past five hundred years, we encounter new shapes and structures of human interdependence and of expression which are "oral" in form even when the components of the situation may be non-verbal. (The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962, p. 3)
We are living in a period richer and more terrible than the "Shakespearean Moment" ... What will be the new configurations of mechanisms and of literacy as these older forms of perception and judgement are interpenetrated by the new electric age? (The Gutenberg Galaxy, 1962, p. 278)

Named the "patron saint" of Wired Magazine (whose style is certainly an outgrowth of McLuhan's early work, The Mechanical Bride. Perhaps his most meta appearance was in Woody Allen's Annie Hall, where McLuhan himself appears and turns on a pompous filmgoer to say,  "You know nothing of my work." In truth, I don't think we yet fully understand the impact of his work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Shooting for the moon ... 42 years later ...

I was a child of the space age, born just eight days after Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Growing up all through the Sixties, I closely followed the US Space Program.

On the date of the moon landing, I was at the Space Age Lodge in Anaheim, I built model rockets, kept a poster of the moon launches on my wall. Space was, as they said on Star Trek, the final frontier.

The last US Space Shuttle launch occurred earlier this month. And with it, ended the current era of Americans in space (starting with Alan Shepard on May 5, 1961 - when I was just a few weeks old). Today, the shuttle is also scheduled to land for the last time.

I wonder if there will ever be another human on the moon in my lifetime?

Apollo at NASM: Apollo 11 Command module
Apollo 11

Apollo at NASM: Model of Tranquility Base
Tranquility Base

Apollo at NASM: Moon rock
Moon rock

Moon over Arlington

Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Gin a body meet a body / Comin thro' the rye" the Catcher turns 60

Salinger collectionCatcher in the Rye was first published sixty years ago today, July 16, 1951. Since then, over 65 million copies sold (maybe, because many people, like myself, seem to have two or more copies). Catcher is actually my least favorite of Salinger's works (listed below). I have a special fondness for "Seymour".

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Marching to Bastille Day ...

2009-05-10-IMG_1665Ooh, there's no bread, let 'em eat cake
There's no end to what they'll take
Flaunt the fruits of noble birth
Wash the salt into the earth.
Lessons taught but never learned
All around us anger burns
Guide the future by the past
Long ago the mould was cast
For they marched up to Bastille Day
La guillotine claimed her bloody prize
Hear the echoes of the centuries
Power isn't all that money buys.
- "Bastille Day" by Rush

Thursday, July 07, 2011