Monthly Archives: May 2011

Brunch with a Rubber Chicken

Today, an amazing thing happened. Two separate groups of space tweeps gathered together to share a meal, each other’s company, and a love of space. In Houston, the gathering happened to celebrate the fact that NASA’s own Tweetup mistress Stephanie @Schierholz was in town working the STS-134 mission. I imagine Stephanie’s presence was more of a catalyst than a requirement for this gathering, but nonetheless, space tweeps gathered to celebrate space and each other.

Just about 2000 miles away and a couple of hours later, I attended a gathering in Sausalito, CA. This was an informal gathering to celebrate the success of the BTS-1 Mission and the successful recovery of Camilla_SDO, Astro Fuzz, and Skyebleu from the Louisiana Bayou they landed in. We were also celebrating the successful recovery of the Inspiration Capsule from the land of FedEx, where it had disappeared. The group that gathered for this celebration was truly astounding. Each of the 10 of us who were there shared a love of space, a great sense of humor and a desire to share the wonders of space travel with all who are willing to listen.

It was amazing couple of hours to spend with fellow space tweeps. We talked about many things and Camilla, Fuzz, and Skye regaled us with stories of their flights to 78,000+ feet and their unplanned journey through the Louisiana Bayou. Fizzviic brought us both away from and back to reality with her seriously “off the wall sense of humor.” Pillownaut preached the gospel of social media and how NASA and its contractors could more effectively use it to spread the word about what space travel has done for the general population. Danny.Skarka opined on how NASA TV could more effectively spread the message of NASA and space exploration. NatachaC told us about the NASA Flight Surgeon corps and had a bit of bacon before the food arrived. AstroIvy told us about working at NASA Ames and writing software for Mission Control using Java. RomeoCh told of being on the recovery team for BTS-1 and the over 250 mosquito bites he received while searching for the Inspiration Capsule in the Bayou. Also there were Herrea, k0leslaw, and Jayjum, but in my sleep deprived state, I can’t recall their stories (My apologies for that).

All told, it was a great event and a chance to meet people who I have followed and talked with on the interwebs. It was a great morning! I’ve posted some photos on my Flickr page.

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The Least Presidential Thing I Do

All this celebration over the death of Osama Bin Laden has really got me thinking. Is this event something we should celebrate. No doubt, it’s an important event in the history of our nation. It’s a turning point in the war on terror, but is it something to celebrate? I don’t think so. Regardless of who is the Commander in Chief when an order to kill is given, it is, in the words on President Andrew Shepard in the movie the American President, “The least Presidential thing [a President can] do.”

The background story is that an defensive weapons system had recently been installed in Israel. It had been sitting there for a while, but the Libyan Intelligence Service struck it only after the American personnel arrived to train the Israelis. After ordering a retaliatory strike on the Libyan Intelligence Headquarters, the President, who is in the middle of a fierce election campaign, is told by one of his advisors that ordering the strike was “very Presidential.” President Shepard responds as follows:

“Somewhere in Libya right now a janitor is working the night shift at Libyan Intelligence Headquarters and he’s going about doing his job because he has no idea that in about an hour he’s going to die in a massive explosion. He just going about his job because he has no idea that about an hour ago, I gave an order to have him killed. You’ve just seen me do the least Presidential thing I do.”

He’s right. The death of another human being shouldn’t bring feelings of joy to others, it should be met with sadness and solemnity. Yes, Osama Bin Laden was a horrible man whose actions lead to the deaths of thousands of people the world over, but we should not be celebrating his death. We should be celebrating, in the words of @carsonskinner, “…the fact that this man cannot harm anyone else.”

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