Friday, July 8, 2011

The End of an Era

Today marks the very last flight of the Space Shuttle, as Atlantis blasted off from Cape Canaveral on mission STS-135.  She's carrying a crew of only 4...the Shuttle usually carries a crew of 7.

It's very bittersweet for fans of space flight.  The Shuttle has had it's share of ups and downs throughout the years, the great successes, and the tragic losses of the Challenger and Colombia with all crewmembers perishing.

However, I think we should also consider the benefits that the Shuttle program has provided for us here on the ground.  The program created literally thousands of jobs throughout the country.  You see, the Shuttles needed a constant supply of replacement parts, which kept all those individuals busy.  Job losses are already being felt because of the retirement of the Shuttle fleet.

Not only did the Shuttle program spur the creation of thousands of jobs, it also led to some very important advances in the technology scene, as well as some critical medical research.

We can thank the cancellation of the program and the loss of all those jobs, and the technical and medical benefits to "elected officials" (I use both of those terms very loosely...).  You see, there are some individuals in Washington D.C. who think that the Shuttle is outdated, and needed to be retired, and replaced by a flight system that doesn't even exist yet.  Seems like a major lapse in judgement to me, but then again, I think that we've all come to expect that from Washington over the last few years.

Atlantis lifts off on the last Shuttle flight
So, now what?  Well, for the time being we're going to rely on the Russians to launch our Astronauts into outer space.  Wait, the Russians?  Didn't we spend billions of dollars starting in the 1950s to beat them in the "space race" and develop space flight systems that would be capable of outpacing theirs?  Yep, we sure did.  I'd hate to consider all that research and development a lost cause.  But, thanks to those previously mentioned politicians who've slashed NASA's budget, we are now relying on the former Soviet Union to be our portal into outer space.

I'm sure that our former Cold War enemies are relishing in this small victory and the American dollars that they'll be pocketing.  But I'm also hopeful that NASA will introduce out next space vehicle sooner rather than later.  I'd rather not spend tax dollars supporting the space program of a hugely corrupt country like Russia.  Remember folks, just because it's no longer called the Soviet Union doesn't mean that their ideology, methods and tactics aren't alive and well, because they are.  They're just disguised in a very thin veil of dysfunctional Democracy.

Just a little food for thought this Friday.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Happy 4th of July!

A very happy birthday to the United States.  Remember to honor in your thoughts all those who have sacrificed everything to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy in this county -- freedoms that are unequaled in any country on Earth.

I would also like to remind everyone that in order to preserve the freedoms that we enjoy, freedoms that certain political parties have been chiseling away at for the last several years, you MUST get out and vote for the candidates who will fight these people to restore OUR rights!

"Guard with jealous attention the public liberty. Suspect everyone who approaches that jewel. Unfortunately, nothing will preserve it but downright force. Whenever you give up that force, you are inevitably ruined."
 --Patrick Henry

Saturday, July 2, 2011

'Government Approved'

This afternoon as I was coming home from Zaxby's, which was sadly lacking Doria, my usual Zaxby's buddy, I heard an advertisement on the radio for a fireworks store in Alabama.  In the ad they said that they had the largest selection of 'government approved' fireworks in the Southeast.

Government approved?

I find it highly disturbing that the government has taken the time to decide for me what is safe for me and what isn't.  To me, this feels a bit like a slap in the face.  "Citizen, we feel that you are too stupid to know what's best for yourself, so we're going to decide for you, thereby relieving you of having to think for yourself and make decisions that we don't approve of."

This is the kind of government interference that has made me a supporter of the Libertarian Party.  I want the government to be minimized as much as possible, and only do what "We the People" ASK it to do.  I want the government to have as little influence in my life as possible.  I don't need help making decisions, least of all by any group of corrupt, self-serving politicians.  They always seem to forget that they aren't elected to further THEIR agenda...they're elected to further OUR agenda.  Rarely are they ever the same.

I'm not here to jump on your back and try to convert you from one political cult to another, but I do encourage you to give the Libertarian cause a once or twice over and consider it.  Check out your local Libertarian candidates.  As far as I'm concerned, it is our best option!

What'll Ya Have? Part 5 of 5

And at long last, after a few writer's block delays and some slight procrastination...okay maybe a LOT of procrastination...I finally decided that it was time to type up my most favorite way for the world to end.  That is, if a person can have a favorite way for the entire world to cease.  Kinda twisted, huh?

Just like the Zombie Apocalypse, this has also been the subject of many movies and TV shows...even science shows.  Because, you see, this very thing was responsible for wiping out another species on the planet about 250 million years ago.  It's also happened a couple of other times since then, scientists have discovered, and radically altered the global environment each time.

Number One: The Ultimate Harbinger of Doom, aka The Asteroid Apocalypse
I am writing this record as a postscript of sorts, to the world that we once all shared uncomfortably with one another, and as a preface to my own experience since that most fateful day and what has happened since.  Please know that I transcribe these events as accurately as I possibly can, from the most vivid and bizarre memories that will surely keep me awake at night for the remainder of my life.

The events that have brought me here, to this desolate location, were long predicted from those of ages gone by.  As it turns out, it would have been very wise of us to have paid closer attention to the Mayan warning of the events of 21 December, 2012.  The Mayan astronomers saw something those many years ago that had remained hidden from those of us in the ‘modern’ age and plotted a course and date of its eventual return.  It stalked us from the shadows of the solar system, before abruptly coming into view in early October of 2012.  Even with all of our technology, this artifact, which likely dated back to the creation of our own planetary system, remained a spectre to us.  By the time that we saw it coming, it was too late.  Far too late.

 To the scientific world it was known as 2012 TC5.  To the public at large, however, it became known simply as Anubis, given this name by the team that first spotted it hurtling in our direction from the blackness of space.  In Egyptian mythology, Anubis was the jackal-headed god associated most closely with the afterlife.  Unfortunately, with the fate that this solid iron asteroid held for mankind, there would be no chance of an afterlife for billions.

As this reaper hurtled toward to our planet, and with the most powerful nations powerless to do anything to stop its relentless advance, societies across the globe began disintegrating into nothing more than a thinly veiled catastrophe.  The first nations to fall were those already weakened by generations of war, poverty and famine.  Many countries on the African continent were first to collapse, followed by countries in the Middle East and spots in Southeast Asia.  In the final weeks there were no nations remaining under the control of their former government.  This list included even those we once knew as superpowers.

As what we believed to be our shared fate drew closer, with Anubis becoming clearly visible in the sky day and night, it became clear to everyone that self preservation had become the rule of the land.  Government officials, long spoiled by their own decadence, were the first to desert under the ever-increasing hardships and stress.  Once it became clear to the citizenship that their governments were no longer functional, lawlessness broke out in every country.  Many made attempts to control their populations by declaring martial law and using their already weakened military forces, but their efforts proved to be in vain, as soldiers began abandoning their posts as their faith in their country and their leadership diminished and fear took hold.

As I remember it, the early morning of 21 December, 2012 dawned with an odd orange glow, the Sun’s rays partially blocked by the sheer size of Anubis, which was by this point quite literally on top of us.  The sky turned the colour of blood as the massive rock pierced the upper atmosphere, traveling roughly 112,000 kilometers per hour.  The time between initial contact with the uppermost atmosphere and impact with the ground was nearly instantaneous.  As it turns out, the scenes from movies that we used to watch with people standing, staring skyward, as the asteroid passes slowly and ominously overhead, were completely false.  At those speeds it was a mere fraction of a second…no human eye would have even had time to process the information.  It’s just as well that they didn’t.  It is my understanding that Anubis impacted the planet near what we once knew as the Red Sea.  In a split second, the Middle East ceased to exist.  Everyone within eyeshot of Anubis was vaporized, not by the impact, but from the enormous radiant heat being created by the friction from entry into Earth's dense atmosphere.  There wasn’t anything or anyone left alive in visual range of Anubis’ entry to be killed by the direct effects of the impact.  At least the poor blokes didn’t know that they were about to die.  Like I said – they wouldn’t have even had a chance to see it coming.

Our ultimate harbinger of doom.
They ones who died instantly were the lucky ones.  For the rest, a far worse fate awaited.  All over the globe, the sky rained molten rock, propelled into the upper atmosphere by the force of the impact.  The sky literally rained fire for hours.  Every forest on Earth was consumed by wildfires, all crops were destroyed, nearly all livestock was killed.  Any structure that wasn't made from concrete or some other fire resistant materiel became charred ruins.  After a while the fires burned themselves out, and the very few who survived the global inferno were left with a total wasteland, almost incapable of supporting life.

The skies became constantly grey, filled with dust and soot...even daytime resembled dusk, as most of the sun's light was blotted out by the shroud that filled the atmosphere.  This will last for years, still, before nature is able to purge the skies.  Right now it's cold.  Very cold.  The charred wastelands are now covered in deep layers of snow and ice.  Without the sun's warming rays, we have descended into an ice age that has no end in sight.

If there's anyone still out there still alive, I wish you the best of luck in your struggle.  Best wishes and God speed. 

My 'guesstimated' chance of this actually happening:  Of another asteroid impact...100%.  It's going to happen again and there probably won't be a single thing we can do to stop it.  However, the chances of an asteroid THAT big impacting the planet...not too high...probably around 10%.  Asteroids are usually quite a bit smaller than a world-killer like Anubis.

-My 'guesstimated' population survival rate:  Survival rate of the initial impact, probably around 60%, but the catastrophic events that follow...the fires, famine and ice age...1% to 2%.  We'd need all the luck we can get, but it probably wouldn't be enough!

Guesstimated population survival rate: 1% to 2% once all the aftereffects of the impact take place.