Category Archives: Sky Pilot

The Electron Pencil:

TODAY’S QUOTE

“Astronomers. like burglars and jazz musicians, operate best at night.” — Miles Kington

LOOK TO THE SKIES

If you’re a space geek and an early riser here in Bloomington (a scant club, I admit), you’ll have plenty of opportunities to see the International Space Station over the next couple of weeks.

With the late sunrises at this time of year the sky remains dark even after some of us unlucky souls are planted at our desks, casting dirty looks at our fellow miserable coworkers. But if you’re alert and can spare the energy to look upward you can see the mighty ISS shooting overhead between the hours of 5:30 and 7:30am.

Here’s NASA’s schedule of sightings from Bloomington:

The ISS is home to a half dozen astronauts: three Russkies, three brave and handsome Americans, and one Japanese. Sorta neat how Russian and American spaceguys (and gals on occasion) are now cooperating for long months aboard an orbiting laboratory, isn’t it?

The International Space Station At Sunrise

This is especially so considering that the true aim of each country’s space program back in the 1950s and very early ’60s was the development of intercontinental ballistic missiles. Eventually, thousands of ICBMs were pointed at cities in the two nations for the purpose of incinerating them with thermonuclear weapons.

It’s a wonder any of us who grew up in those psycho, edgy years are even acquainted with sanity now.

For that matter, who among our parents and grandparents alive during the Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima years would have dreamed Japanese and Americans would be among the tightest of geo-political pals in the 21st Century?

Believe it or don’t, there is a bit of good in this mad, mad world.

RYDER’S TOP TEN ISSUE

My pals R.E. Paris and Dave Torneo and I are three of the featured writers in the Ryder magazine annual Top Ten issue.

R.E. breaks all the rules and selects some three dozen books that fascinated her and, in her learned view, are representative of trends in the publishing universe. Her choices range from the “Steve Jobs” bio by Walter Isaacson to Stephen King’s “11/22/63,” an alternative history that supposes John F. Kennedy had survived his wounds on the eponymous date, and to the Islamic fairytale graphic novel, “Habibi.”

Dave, one of the most serious readers I know, writes about his ten best books of the year. He actually read the 800-page “Letters of Samuel Beckett: 1941-1956.” Man, Beckett probably kept the Royal Mail in the black all by himself. Torneo also dug Teju Cole’s “Open City” and Ross Gay’s “Bringing the Shovel Down.”

Beckett

Me? I pointed my smart-assed knives at the city and state’s elective office holders, pricking the top ten political stories of the year. (And, yes, the pun is intentional, on three levels). By happy coincidence, one of my top stories is Bloomington’s rewriting of its gun laws to coincide with Indiana’s. I note that it is now legal to pack heat in the Monroe County Public Library.

Comforting, isn’t it?

Guns N’ Books

Anyway, pick up the Ryder this month or you’ll be woefully ignorant for the rest of the year.

WE DO FACEBOOK SO YOU DON’T HAVE TO

A no-spamily, no brattle zone.

◗ Special educator extraordinaire Erin Wager-Miller directs our attention to movie hunk George Clooney’s take on the difference between the two parties in this holy land. The Dems, Clooney feels, can’t sell themselves as well as the Republicans.

Here’s a closeup of the quote:

SKY PILOT

Eric Burdon & The Animals‘ 1968 song was not about the elation of soaring through almost unimaginable altitudes (which I’d thought when I first heard it as a 12-year-old). It was an anti-war polemic about a military chaplain in Vietnam who blesses a unit of soldiers preparing to go out into the jungle for an overnight raid.

Now, nearly half a century later, we still pay military chaplains to sprinkle holy water on men and women to go out to kill and be killed. And, just as in Vietnam, this nation’s bosses still can’t give us valid reasons why in the hell they’re doing it.

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