Gloomy gray skies above St. Dominic Catholic Church in a strange part of Southwest Washington, D.C., not far from where I work, on a cool and pleasant April spring day. There was a sudden rain shower as I walked over to a little deli.
A Double Anniversary Waltz
Just a quick entry / update tonight, but I wanted to note that yesterday, April 12, 2011, was a double anniversary -- a semi-centennial and a sesquicentennial one.
Earth over the Pacific as seen from 204 nautical miles up from the International Space Station on July 21, 2003.
50 years ago yesterday on April 12th, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human being in space as his remotely controlled Vostok 1 spacecraft launched him to an altitude of 200 miles and carried him on a single orbit around planet Earth.
On a seemingly discordant note, here is Michael Lind's column on "Why we should embrace the end of human spaceflight" once the Space Shuttle program ends after the next -- and last -- mission of Endeavour in STS-134.
Of note, the mission commander is Mark E. Kelly, husband of Rep. Gabby Giffords, who was so badly wounded in a crazy person's mass shooting this past January.
The iconic scene in the 1902 (!) short silent movie "Le Voyage dans la lune" ("A Trip to the Moon").
And 150 years ago yesterday on April 12, 1861 -- or 100 years exactly before Gagarin's first space flight -- the U.S. Civil War (or "War Between the States" as the rightwing neo-Confederates / today's GOP base demand it be dubbed) started with the attack on Fort Sumter, South Carolina by the Confederate forces.
United States Coast Survey map of 1860 based on the Census of that year showing white and black slave population concentrations just before the Civil War. The U.S. Coast Survey is the predecessor to what is now the NOAA National Geodetic Survey. Click on map for larger version.
My Week So Far ...
I've been having a busy week at work. I had an impending major acid reflux episode tonight but I took three Prilosec and it seems to have worked.
Dr. Who? (Part II)
Tomorrow is my scheduled much-needed and long-in-coming doctor's appointment. It has been 8+ years. I hope it's a thorough check up as I want to know if anything is wrong with me. I've not been feeling well lately.
I'm not looking forward to the getting naked part, even if briefly, but let's not go down that road now.
By the way, I determined that my flexible spending account debit card with $360 on it -- twice sent to me -- is not making it through, possibly because of an address error involving omission of my apartment number.
A cloudy, cool, gray-blue evening, 1900 block of New Hampshire Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 7:57PM, April 12, 2011.
Lovely April Showery & Cool Weather
The weather has been cool and mostly cloudy with showery spells -- my favorite sort of weather, all the more so as it is in April.
This is a picture I found online of a rainy late spring / early summer evening in some unidentified city.
I suppose the Sterling LWX crew (think WOODY!) and Miss Sue Palka - capra must be furious because it's NOT already hellishly hot, humid, and drought-plagued and there is, as yet, NO SIGN of that pattern.
Rainy afternoon outside the building at 400 Virginia Ave., SW, Washington, D.C., 1:13PM, April 13, 2011.
I used to work in this building back in 2002 for a period of time -- what was now, I see upon reflection -- the youthful pinnacle of my D.C. life. The U.S. CLIVAR and USGCRP Offices were housed in there. The building has a good deli in it called the Atrium Cafe that I go to once in a while -- increasingly so lately now that there is NOTHING of value in the L'Enfant Plaza mall and there is NO SIGN of the new food court opening anytime soon.
(Brief) Political Detour
So Obama gave one of his in-isolation-good-speeches about his corporate Democratic budget plan versus the EVERYTHING-FOR-BILLIONAIRES / EVERYBODY-ELSE-DIE GOP "Ryan" plan.
Lawrence O'Donnell on his show The Last Word tonight had an excellent analysis of the speech, specifically, examining Obama's / Democrats' underlying assumptions versus what today's hardcore radical Republicans. Unfortunately, I can't post any video clip of it as MSNBC doesn't let those things go into the public domain.
But here is an excerpt of an excellent Glenn Greenwald column in today's Salon.com.
"Whether in economic policy, national security, civil liberties, or the permanent consortium of corporate power that runs Washington, Obama, above all else, is content to be (one could even say eager to be) guardian of the status quo. And the forces of the status quo want tax cuts for the rich, serious cuts in government spending that don't benefit them (social programs and progressive regulatory schemes), and entitlement 'reform' -- so that's what Obama will do.
He won't advocate, and will actually oppose, steps as extreme as the ones Paul Ryan is proposing: that's how he will retain his 'centrist' political identity and keep the fear levels high among his voting base. He'll pay lip service to some Democratic economic dogma and defend some financially inconsequential culture war positions: that's how he will signal to the base that he's still on their side. But the direction will be the same as the GOP desires and, most importantly, how the most powerful economic factions demand: not because he can't figure out how to change that dynamic, but because that's what benefits him and thus what he wants."
-- Full column here
OK, that's all for now. My next planned update will be later this week.
Oh, yes ...
This is a picture of a baby hippo "Paula" with her mom at the Berlin Zoo, Dec. 2008.
OK, that's all for now. I'm going to bed now.