Monday, July 28, 2014

Boldly Go - DC, Space Shuttle, Einstein, and the Holocaust

Its been far too long since I wrote in this Blog.  Far too long.  Last week I went with my wife, kids, and some friends to Washington DC.  We saw the national Mall, and all the memorials, monuments, and Smithsonian museums on the tourist list.  Our congressman's office was kind enough to arrange a private tour of the Capitol building by one of the interns.  It was impressive, tour, and nice way to see this historic site. 

For me though there were a few true high points in the trip - and an unexpected figure who seemed to turn up in a number of places.

The unexpected figure, is none other than Albert Einstein, a particular idol of my eldest daughter, and a man who had more influence over the course of history than many might ever realize.

We planned to seek out the great statue of Einstein at the memorial at the National Academy of Sciences, which we did.  The statue is impressive.
We also visited the International Spy Museum, where we found some very interesting correspondence between Einstein and FDR:

Naturally, Einstein was present at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum, where the planetarium bears his name.  My daughter got an Einstein hat there, as it was the souvenir from the trip that was perfectly suited to her.  But the interesting thing we saw there, was not Einstein, but instead the Attorney General, White House Chief of Staff, Miss America, and TV's Carla Hall, present to read the Astronaut Handbook to school children.
Einstein's presence was also felt at the National Holocaust Museum, where correspondence to FDR and profound statements on the Holocaust are on display.  The Holocaust museum is an incredibly humbling experience, about the darkest of times in human history.  Every person should experience this museum, and learn from it.  The horrors that came to pass as a result of the Nazi agenda of genocide and hate must never be allowed to pass again. To those who continue to insist there was no Holocaust, you are wrong.  Further, even at the time, there were those who were expected that some day people would say it never happened. 
It says:“The things I saw beggar description…The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering…I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in a position to give first hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations to propaganda.”

How right he was. 

As I toured the museum, and was reminded of the Nazi propaganda of the 1930's and 40's blaming the Jews for all the ills of the world, I was saddened as I realized the parallels forming today with a group of from the far right, and the agenda they pursue against Homosexuals.  its a slippery slope people.  The ride from disapproval, to hate, to persecution is shorter than you might imagine.  History teaches us this.  We need not repeat history if we have the wisdom to learn from it.  When the cost of the lesson was in excess of 6 million innocent lives, we had better learn.  Its not enough to believe we are better than we were a century ago: we must actually BE better than we were a century ago.

I know I must return to this museum again someday, and experience it again with my wife.  This trip we split up, each with one of the kids in tow, teaching them what we could, and shielding them from what we had to.  At 10 and 7, some of the sites are a bit much.  At 42 some of the sites are a bit much - but those who perished and endured those horrors have certainly earned my tears.

As the week drew to a close, we saw more of the city.  Another touching experience as we visited the National Archives, and saw the Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights.  Old and barely legible after almost two and a half centuries, the power of these documents have not diminished.  No treasure maps on the back of the Declaration, but plenty of jokes about that fun movie. 

The profound wisdom of our Constitution followed us through the city, and later in the week at the Jefferson Memorial I was reminded of the answer to many of the challenges we face today, and how so many politicians point to the Founding Fathers for their intentions and answers.  Jefferson has the answers you seek:

Our journey through the nations Capital city ended outside the city, at the Udvar-Hazy center.  Home of the Space Shuttle Discovery, and many wonderful historic aircraft.  The Space Shuttle Discovery is the first picture in this post.  I'll write more about it, and my love affair with the Space Shuttle in a day or two.  Its one of the other interesting historic aircraft, and the ironic return of our Friend Albert Einstein I turn to now.  Present in this museum through the historic aircraft the Enola Gay, which ended the war in the Pacific in WWII, and unleashed upon the world the horrors of Nulcear war, and began the atomic age,.  A result of Dr. Einsteins most well know work. 

To Boldly Go forward into the future, we must embrace and learn from our past.  It was wonderful to spend the last week doing just that.  The past lends perspective.  I'll close out this post, with some profound words I found outside the National Archive:

Lets turn our attention to the future - lets Boldly Go!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.

Steve Jobs died today. Words cannot begin to describe this mans contribution to our world. No one else I can think of has had a greater role in integrating technology into our lives.

Set aside the whole Windows vs MAC thing. Thats a thing of the past. His greatest achievement is not the Macintosh, but in mobile computing. Ipod to Iphone to Ipad. Powerful tools that entertain us, empower us, and bring us together. Truly the gadgets we grew up looking for in the future.

He made our future, and inspired so many others to follow, whether they competed or fit into the brilliant "i" framework.

In case you've ever wondered what the 'i' stands for, it must be 'inspiration'.

He changed this world, in ways so many of us can only fantasize about, or write about in some silly blog.

If we all pursued our passions with half the zeal and determination of Steve Jobs, absolutely anything would be possible. He embodied what it means to Boldly Go, and left behind a legacy of inspiration for us all.

Thank you Steve, for being crazy enough to change the world.

May we all be crazy enough to Boldly Go.

Time to buy that lottery ticket.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Time to take 'A Break'

I never thought it would come to this.

I honestly thought we'd be together forever.

The whole thing it truly heartbreaking. But, Its clear I have no choice. This relationship, it just isn't working the way it used to. There's no easy way to say this GOP, but it's time we took a break.

I know we've been together a long time. For as long as I've been able to vote. Hell, even longer. Since the 4th grade mock election when I voted for Reagan. Good times.

We saw great times during the Reagan years. Cleaned up Carters mess. Beat the Commies. Fun stuff. Bush Sr continued the legacy. Showed Iraq who was boss, and showed us 1000 points of light.

We survived the Clinton years, and beat Al Gore. GW Bush came along, and it seemed like the GOP had it made. Right up until 9/11. Things changed. We came together as a nation for a brief time. Then Bush made some decisions folks didn't agree with. Got bad intel about WMD's and acted on it. I stood by you then. Watched that war drag on and on. You still had my support.

Voted for McCain, even with Sarah Palin riding shotgun. I'd trust McCain in the White House. Unfortunately the Obama force could not be stopped.

But lately, things have gotten dark. The election cycle is starting up, and we've no true conservative leader. The party is askew, with the Tea Party getting an awful lot of attention, and embodying the best and worst conservative traits.

I was with you on the fight against Obamacare. It is wrong, legislation like that which so impacts on peoples rights.

I was hopeful when Republicans retook the House of Representatives, and many state capitals.

Hopeful right up until they started to act.

What has happened in Wisconsin, and is happening in Ohio and other states is reprehensible. The people are being ignored, and extremist partisan agenda is being pushed through at great expense.

As with Obamacare, limiting the rights of employees to negotiate on the terms of their employment is something that impacts peoples rights. These actions in the midwest go too far.

I am no great fan of what unions have become in recent years. I've said so online in the past. But public employees unions are different. Very different.

What do teachers unions negotiate for? Sure, salaries, benefits. But also class sizes, parent teacher conferences, professional development, educational improvements, and things that positively impact childrens education. Things that make teaching a viable career for quality professionals.

Firefighters and police. These are the guys you call when your home is on fire, or you have been robbed. These are the guys who put their own safety at risk day in and day out to keep you safe.

These are the people we revered has heroes on September 11, 2001. Today Wisconsin State Senate, you defiled these heroes.

Where has the national GOP leadership been to squelch these Wisconsin and Ohio extremists? Silent, or worse yet supportive. Anyone with a lick of sense can see that this is political suicide, going against the people like this. It's crazy.

And no one from the Republican party has taken a stand as the voice of reason.

No one.

You have got to be kidding me.

So, I think it is time for the GOP and I to take a good old fashioned Ross and Rachael style 'Break'.

Will we get back together? Maybe. I hope so. I still believe in small government, a strong defense, and the constitution of the United States. I believe in the free market, and taxing people no more than is absolutely necessary. I am still a conservative.

Right now, not a proud one. Wisconsin really stole my pride tonight. It'll be worse when it hits my home state of Ohio.

So it's time to take a break.

Does this mean I vote for Obama in 2012? I don't know. Right now I want to take the Brewsters Millions example and cast my vote for 'none of the above'.

I can tell you this. I will not vote for Ohio governor John Kasich, or any State senator or representative that supports Senate Bill 5. Hell no. Not a chance.

I will vote for the common sense candidate. The one who speaks from the heart, and makes the most sense. The one who is least likely to screw us all.

If I had the money and backing I'd run myself. For any office I could.

It's time for Americans to stand up, and speak out. It's time for a revolution of common sense.

It's time for America to be great again.

It's time to Boldy Go.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The new space race

Big news. That planet they found last month, some scientists speculate that there are light waves emanating from it as a deliberate means of communication - with us.


Not that we can do much about it anytime soon. It's not like we can get there. Even if we could travel at lightspeed, which we cant, it'd take 2o years.

Maybe they can come to us. Hope they're friendly.

In big news we can do something about, Boeing has entered the commercial space race. Also kewl.

I'm thrilled to see corporations like Boeing and Virgin Galactic picking up the pieces in the wake of our government's short sightedness. It will undoubtedly have fewer direct benefits to mankind as a whole, as it will be focused on profit, and not exploration. But at least it's something.

Perhaps, as people get excited about commercial space travel, these companies will expand their offerings. trips to the Moon, or Mars for you and me (ok, for our kids) could be a reality. Heck, they could even open that theme park on the moon (minus the whalers of course).

But my goofy Futurama reference aside, this is great stuff. Incredible potential, especially as others enter the fold of this 'space race'. I can see new more exciting 'x-prize' type contests bringing a new crop of the best and brightest engineers to these companies, in much the way grads form MIT and such flocked to NASA in the 1950's and 1960's.

It's a brave new world. And for the first time in a while, It seems like we're trying to get there.

To Boldly Go!

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Prepare to make the jump to lightspeed

A couple of headlines from the fellas at NASA this week. One amazing, they other very unfortunate.

Lets start with amazing. An earthlike planet has been found about 20 lightyears away. It's got water, and an atmosphere, making it likely to support some form of life. Pretty awesome. If only we could get there.

This is an incredibly exciting discovery, which ought to light the fires of exploration under us earthlings. Someplace truly exciting to Boldly Go! 20 Lightyears - that's like a 2 hour trip at warp factor 6.

Oh, wait. We haven't figured out lightspeed (which would make it a 20 year trip) let alone Hyperspace. Hyperspace - or subspace for the trekkers out there - is that 'dimension' if you will, where the physical rules of our universe are tweaked. This allows for MUCH faster than light speed travel, without the nasty side effects of a temporal imbalance between you and the folks at home.

Anyhow, the issue is less that we haven't figured it out yet. It's that we're not trying so hard. We're not going anywhere. We need to be.

We should be branching out further and further into the galaxy. Had we kept exploring after the Apollo program, surely we'd be ready to travel beyond Mars, perhaps beyond the reaches of our own Solar system.

We'd have been past Pluto to give it a closer look, and maybe not demoted him into whatever he is now.

Woulda, Coulda, Shoulda. But we didn't.

We stayed in low planetary orbit, putting up satellites, conducting experiments, and building a space station. Good stuff, but it's not getting us anywhere.

And the newest headline. 1,200 NASA employees, part of the soon to be defunct space shuttle program, are losing their jobs.

Thanks Obama. Stimulus money well spent. We've got a few new roads. Harry Reid is getting his train from LA to Vegas (oooh).

Unemployment continues to skyrocket here at home. The terrorists are making threats against Europe. We're sending jobs overseas like crazy. And there's a war brewing on our southern border.

Maybe I'm leaning too far to the political right. But I'm no Glenn Beck. All those things, are true. No spin. Just turn on the news, and both CNN and FOX can confirm it for you.

Its a tough time to be an American.

It doesn't have to be. It shouldn't be.

After 9/11 we bound together with a common purpose. It lasted a few years, until the politicians spoiled it. You see when there's a common purpose for our nation, theres no 'other side' to the issue. It's all or nothing. Like Health-care reform and the Bush tax cuts. It's one way or not at all.

Asinine. Outright bullcrap. It's why we get nowhere, and live with constant government gridlock.

I give you a common purpose. Boldly Go.

Rally around it. Make it happen. It WILL stimulate our economy. It WILL create jobs. It will bring us new technology. It will change our world in ways we can only begin to imagine.

Boldly Go!

To the Moon, then Mars, then beyond. To that amazing world 20 light-years away.

If I had the means, I'd fund it myself at the expense of all else. It's that important.

Boldly Go!!!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Think Big

So today on the drive home it finally hit me. What's wrong with America, and maybe the world. It's been wrong for a long time. Maybe 15 or 20 years now. But here it is.

We don't think BIG. We the people who went to the moon, harnessed the power of the atom, carved our favorite presidents faces in the side of a freaking mountain. We've stopped thinking big.

We just get by.

Think about it. What was the last truly great invention? Personal computer. Ipod. Iphone. GPS.

Nice toys. Sure. Not ground breaking. Just evolution of other gadgets that have been around for a long time.

Not BIG enough.

Our government is no different. They don't think big enough either. It's no wonder we've so many issues. Every peice of legislation they put forth just carries the day. Buys us time until tomorrow. Band-aids on gushing wounds like the economy. Nothing at all for broken bones like social security and immigration. Just enough to survive.


Who thinks big these days? The forces of evil.

Al Queda on 9/11/01 thought big. Damn BIG. The acts on that day changed our world forever.

A bunch of guys who unleashed a computer virus yesterday took down email systems world wide. They thought big.

Somali Pirates. Yes them too. A bunch of guys from a horrible place, with guns and nothing to lose. Attacking huge ships, and taking on Navies. Stupid, but big.

The list goes on and on.

Why don't we think big anymore? Easy answer is it's too hard. You can't throw resources at a single BIG thing without some of the small things - the things that serve as the worlds band-aids losing resources. That's where the politicians get involved, and cause stagnation.

Sometimes we try to think big. Remember when we invaded Iraq, with a theme of 'Shock and Awe'. Big start to that. But it fizzled out and went to pot for a number of reasons.

Its time for America, for the world to think big again. Go big or go nowhere. Extremists and Terrorists wreaking havoc from third world countries? Go Big. As a people we've all got to say enough. No more terrorists. No more lawless nations. No more living in fear of someone who thinks bigger.

Think BIG!

You want alternate fuels? Great. Lets get them developed, for real. Go 'All in' and say after 2030 all new commuter vehicles must be fueled by something other than gas. Oh, and they cannot cost the consumers more than a gas powered vehicle. Get it right, and make it affordable.


Go back to the moon. Go to Mars. Start now. Come on! If you've read other entries in this blog, you already know about the benefits this will have in new tech that will be developed. In jobs for hundreds of thousands. In the wonderful changes it will herald for mankind.

Go big or go home they say. We've been stuck at home too long. Time to go big!

Boldly Go!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Remembering the Greatest Generation

This morning, I was privileged to march in the local 4th of July parade with my daughter and her Y-princess tribe. My wife and younger daughter watch on the side, so they saw the whole parade, including something amazing.

A group of WWII veterans, all of whom must be in their 80's or older, rode a float, re-enacting the scene in the famous photo from the battle of Iwo Jima. These elderly gentlemen, in the blazing sun, held pose for the full two plus miles of the parade, for all to see. These amazing men, who a lifetime ago perhaps fought that very battle, or certainly one like it, then came home to re-tool and rebuild a nation.

Last week my grandmother died, at age 89. My grandfather passed away 20 years ago in his early 70's. Of course I'm saddened by losing her, even though her health over the last few years had made that an inevitable reality.

I remember the stories she shared with me over the years, of how her family had so little growing up. How she raised my aunt, who was stricken with polio, while my grandfather fought in the pacific. How they worked so hard after the war, raising a family, while my grandfather worked long hours in the steel mill. The stories of how they went without during strikes. How my grandfather did not own a car until he was 47 years old. Real sacrifice.

What strikes me mostly though, is I've lost the tie my family had to 'The Greatest Generation', as it's come to be known. In my family, my parents generation is now elevated to that 'patriarchal' level. It's perfectly natural, circle of life and all that.

But here's the thing. That 'Greatest Generation', we are nothing compared to them. That generation, born or raised in the Great Depression, hardened by World War II. Then building the great industrial giant that would be the United States in 20th century. Those remarkable men and women of vision who set out to go to the moon, then went. Who brought us most of the technologies we rely on every day. A generation that Boldly Went.

They, as a society, set out to do things, and did them. They WON wars. They went to the moon. They put a car in every driveway. They had a vision of the future and made it happen.

The generations that have come since got nothing on them. My own included. We have vision, sure. We do not have the drive to see that vision through. We let a bunch of baby boom era politicians screw it up.

This is not meant to shed a light of disrespect on the baby boom generation. My Aunts and Uncles were incredible role models for me, and helped teach me the value of hard work and education. After my parents split in the mid 80's they, along with my grandparents helped turn me from a boy to a man. The politicians on the other hand, are not about hard work. They are about poor leadership and entitlements.

Think about it. Who was the last President that was truly respected. Bush Sr?, Reagan? Bring on boomers like Clinton, & GW Bush, and there's no respect. Not like there should be. And nothing gets done. Does Obama qualify as a boomer? Probably not, but the congress who's bidding he does (Pelosi, Reid, etc) is. I wish President Obama would stand on his own, but he does not. He does their bidding on every issue, further dividing our great nation. Boldly going nowhere.

When President George W Bush addressed the nation after the 9/11 attacks, we all seemed ready to sacrifice. All ready to do whatever we had to in order to protect our nation. All ready to commit our nations resources to eliminating terrorism around the world. Until the politicians and pundits decided it wasn't popular anymore. So now we've half hearted war efforts, that despite the sacrifice of our troops are not well represented by our elected leaders. Men dying for our freedoms, working to liberate rogue nations and fight terrorists. It doesn't get much more red blooded GI Frakkin' Joe American than that. Our elected leaders and media pundits have turned it into a circus.

When it really came time to buckle down and make sacrifices, by and large, we didn't. Our politicians complained about the costs of war. Our media outlets turned fallen soldiers into a spectacle. What has the average non military American really sacrificed in the war on terror? Another buck or two a gallon?

The Greatest Generation sacrificed. They sacrificed to survive, from the time they were born, to the time they died. Born of the depression they had little to begin with. Then while the men went off to war, the women raised families and retooled our nation to build weapons of war. The war ended and our veterans retooled our nation into one of the greatest manufacturing societies in history. They accomplished amazing things, and sacrificed to do it. Raising large families in tiny bungalows, working through labor strikes and race riots. That generation's sacrifices shaped our futures.

So to those great men, holding the flag this morning, and to my grandparents, and and all those heroes of the Greatest Generation, Thank You. Thank you for so many things you did, and lessons we should have learned.

Maybe, just maybe my generation or the next can get us back on course. Maybe then, we can Boldly Go!

This entry dedicated to the memory of my grandmother, Martha Allie.