Friday, November 9, 2018

Orbiting the Earth

I recently read NASA astronaut Scott Kelly's memoir, Endurance, the account of his 340 days aboard the International Space Station, or ISS.

Kelly's book explains the origins of his ambition to become an astronaut, reading Tom Wolfe's book The Right Stuff, and the many trials he overcame to be one. Endurance describes the physical and emotional stresses, loneliness, tedium, and painstaking routines and risks astronauts face during months in space. Kelly also describes the unparalleled awe and wonder of being in space, especially the experience of viewing Earth from above while orbiting the planet every 90 minutes at an altitude of 250 miles and at 17,500 miles per hour.
"It's hard to describe the experience of looking down at the planet. I feel as though I know the earth in an intimate way that most people don't – the coastline, terrain, mountains, and rivers. One of my favorite views of Earth is of the Bahamas – a large archipelago with a stunning contrast of light to dark colors. The vibrant deep blue of the ocean mixes with a much brighter turquoise, swirled with something almost like gold, where the Sun bounces off the sandy shallows and reefs. Whenever new crewmates come up to the station for the first time, I make it a point to take them to the Cupola (a module made entirely of windows looking down on Earth) to see the Bahamas." 

This NASA video captures the full 90-minute experience.

Monday, November 5, 2018

Japanese Maple Fall Colors

This Japanese Maple at the John Jay Homestead in Katonah was an extraordinary early November find on a walk yesterday afternoon.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Trick or treat . . . or politics!

The New Yorker ~ Mark Ulricksen

Learn more about this week's cover here, as well as past New Yorker magazine Halloween covers like these from 1941 and 1945.

The New Yorker ~ Rea Irvin
The New Yorker ~ Edna Eicke

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Hidden Tribes

More in Common is a new research organization missioned "to better understand the forces that drive political polarization and tribalism in the United States today, and to galvanize efforts to address them."

Their first project is the Hidden Tribes of America survey report that defines the tribes, and tries to explain their core beliefs and opinions on today's issues.

More in Common ~ Hidden Tribes

Though the labels and issues are in flux, getting elected and remaining in office to govern successfully depends on building coalitions across these groups, especially toward the middle. Our elected officials and the news media play critical roles in finding common ground to reduce polarization, not inflame it.

The Wall Street Journal just published a video series Voices From a Divided America that gives voice to Americans and issues on all sides, without editorial bias or reader comments. It's worth a listen.

The Wall Street Journal ~ Voices From a Divided America

The 2018 mid-term election results will be known next week. Is either side ready to listen and work together to compromise and govern? Or, will we just shift to 2020 election mode and further embed the blame, ad hominem attacks, and polarization? And does that suggest that the time might finally be right for a credible third-party candidate and platform who speaks over the divide to the "exhausted majority"?

Monday, October 22, 2018

Mega Millions Odds - 1 in 303 Million

Why are the odds so low?

The lottery organizers are smart. The "you have to be in it to win it" marketing clouds the infinitesimally small chance of picking the winning numbers.

According to, "Players must pick six numbers from two separate pools of numbers – five different numbers from 1 to 70 and one number from1 to 25 – or select Easy Pick/Quick Pick. You win the jackpot my matching all six winning numbers in the drawing."
Here's another way of looking at it.

The New Yorker ~ Roz Chast