Sunlight Shining Through Cloud

Posts Tagged ‘Science

There are historical markers in my life just are there are in yours. Mine include:

  • The Kennedy Assassination — I was in 6th Grade French class when the news was announced over the loudspeaker. My then-crush, Dionne, was sobbing in the next row. That’s how I knew it was important.
  • Watergate — the beginning of my obsession with politics.
  • Exxon Valdez — the spoiling of the waters in my precious Alaska. I took it personally. Still do.
  • 9-11 — the hotel staff was huddled around the lobby TV. I glanced at the screen on the way out the door. A plane hit the WTC. My first impression: “It’s New York. We’re tough. We’ll work it out.”

I’m a bit surprised that I haven’t chosen to write about the deeper meanings for each of these events before. Even more surprised am I that 30 years have passed and I’ve never written about the Shuttle Challenger disaster.

I was, at that time, the Marketing and Programming Manager for the big cable system in Anchorage. I was beset with union votes, expansion woes, Mike Tyson fights, and the press queries that go with all of these.

On this morning thirty years ago, the TV was on in the bedroom as I got dressed for that day’s work. The nascent CNN was covering all of NASA’s launches and I watched them all because I like the adventurous aspects of science, space and space travel. A minute after launch, when the words, “Go at throttle up” were spoken, I knew what would happen.

What did happen, of course, was instantly recognizable as anomalous, to say the least. It was visually horrifying.

And I stood there and watched, and said to myself: “It’s going to be a really bad day.”

I was instantly ashamed of myself.

Seven lives had been snuffed out. I wasn’t thinking about their loved ones. I was thinking about the press calls I would be fielding throughout that day.

If I could paint this damning story in a positive light, it would be to say that I learned, in that moment, to think outside of myself. Sure, I’m important. But I am not alone.

ChallengerCrew

 

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My friend Vincent is deeply into all things science. When something peaks his interest, he blasts it out to his e-mail list. Yesterday he broadcast a post about “blood moons”. As moons go, blood moons are remarkably rare; think of them as a total eclipse of the moon – where the earth blocks the light from the sun. Because of their relative rarity, some are moved to think of them as signs of the beginning of Apocalypse.

It’s all good. But Vincent’s article made me think of an article I read earlier this month. It asked: “Are Republicans Or Democrats More Likely To Survive The Apocalypse?” A curious question, I thought. What makes this article interesting is the way the answer is derived.

Imagine a bunch of uber-smart numbers nerds sitting around the conference room table chewing on the variables presented by the posited question. What results is a transcript of thoughtful, funny, expansive, preposterous, sometimes profane dialog that’s worth the reading. Enjoy!

http://fivethirtyeight.com/datalab/are-republicans-or-democrats-more-likely-to-survive-the-apocalypse/


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