“The problem with political jokes is that they get elected.”

—Variously attributed to Will Rogers and George Bernard Shaw

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Endeavour from 64,000 feet!

STS-134 Launch As Seen From Senatobia-1 Balloon at 64,000 ft ... on Twitpic


Awesome Picture of Endeavour!

Three things about my flight: I can lay down across 3 seats j... on Twitpic


Reflections on Egypt

This post was written a few weeks ago and doesn’t mention any of the Arab protests that have followed those in Egypt. I’m going ahead and publishing it now as I believe it is still relevent. Enjoy.

Also, thanks mom (for editing/correcting :P). Much appreciated!

Oh, if you disagree or would like to add something, there are these lovely things called comments. Be a dear and leave one.

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File:Flag of Egypt.svg

Hopefully you’ve been watching the news as of late and following the events in Egypt. If you have, you know that Hosni Mubarak has stepped down from his role as Egypt’s president, handing over power to a council of military leaders (profiled here by al-Jazeera).  As I’ve watched the events of the past month unfold in Egypt, I’ve had several thoughts. Here are some of them.

1. On American foreign policy:

     Most Americans would agree about the basic things the United States stands for: freedom, democracy, individual and collective rights, and the right to self-determination. Why then is our foreign policy so often at odds with these ideas? For so long our decisions in this realm have been guided by national self-interest, rather than a.) the previously stated ideals upon which our nation was founded and b.) what is best for the people of foreign nations (who, according to the Declaration of Independence, are endowed with the same rights as everyone else, Americans included). Many a nation around the globe has experienced this phenomenon, from El Salvador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Vietnam. In each of these instances, our national self-interest was placed above that which we as a nation claim to stand for. This hypocritical position seems to suggest that only certain people are entitled to these rights, a position that is completely at odds with the basic premises outlined in the Declaration of Independence!

     I bring this up because the Mubarak regime was considered a friend of the US, and that was good enough for us. Nevermind that he was an enemy of both the rights of the Egyptian people and the basic tenets upon which our nation was founded. He was good for us, therefore we supported him. Hopefully this time around, the U.S. will put the ideals of our nation first and support the rights of the Egyptian people.

2. On patriotism:

     The previous section serves as a natural lead-in to this one. While watching the protests in Egypt, I couldn’t help but notice how many flags there were. Not some revolutionary flag, but the Egyptian one. This struck me as strange, considering that most revolutionaries do not fight under the banner of the regime they wish to topple. The French revolutionaries did not fly the King’s standard; The American colonies did not wave the Union Jack in battle; South Sudan did not fly the Sudanese flag–So what was going on in Egypt?

     I was listening to one of JBU’s professors speak in chapel to the student body a few weeks ago. In the course of his talk, he spoke of the difference between pledging allegiance to a flag and pledging allegiance to a government. Then it struck me: these people are not protesting against their own nation–they are protesting against their leaders and the government, something inherently different.

     I now realize that even when the government and leaders do not stand for what is right, the nation itself still might. As we have seen in Egypt, the oppressive regime did not, in fact, represent the population’s views in any way, and the people rose up against it to renew what they believe the Republic of Egypt stood (or should stand) for. In the United States, we can take this lesson to heart. If we do not think that our leaders and government are carrying out the ideas that our nation stands for (that is, the ideas on which it was founded), we should be advocates for change. [Please note, this is not in any way a call for some sort of revolution. As was stated in the Declaration of Independence "Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes". Rather, the appropriate means of effecting change within America is political participation and advocacy (i.e. voting, campaigning, and educating your fellow citizens on those issues which you feel are important)].

3. On non-violence and political revolutions:

     Although there were deaths and injuries during the protests in Egypt, I was very glad to see that the whole affair did not become a bloody one, as has happened so often in the past. The army showed remarkable restraint in general, which was essential in maintaining the relative peace in Cairo. While there were some casualties, I can’t help but be encouraged–this seems to be one more victory for the idea of non-violence championed by such leaders as Gandhi, Martin Luther King, jr., Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela.

4. On the future of Egypt:

     There seems to be a great deal of speculation and worry regarding the political future of Egypt. Will the army refuse to step down? Will the Muslim Brotherhood take over and institute a theocracy? What will happen?

     About these worries and fears, I can say only this: have faith in the Egyptian people. They have just shown that they won’t stand for oppression and non-representative government. That’s what this whole revolution was about. While there are no guarantees about the future of Egypt, I am confident that the people will not accept oppression, tyranny or anything of the sort.



Happy Valentine’s Day—Love, Voyager 1

Here’s another bit from Carl Sagan. The image below was taken by the Voyager 1 spacecraft from beyond the Pluto (on Valentine’s day, 1990–2 days after I was born! Click here for more information). What is it of? The Earth.

The quote (lifted from Wikiquote, of course!) is a great one. A favorite.

So happy Valentine’s Day from Voyager 1.

God I’m a nerd.

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“Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar”, every “supreme leader”, every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe:, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

File:Pale Blue Dot.png


Food for Thought…

First real blog post (kind of). Good quote, a little image manipulation, and some food for thought…


Willkommen!

First post. I’ll spare the cliched* “I don’t know what to write” because I do, in fact.

This blog is in it’s preliminary stages of development. That’s what I’m gonna write about.

Being in his (my blog is now a person) preliminary stages of development, I’d like to ask you to forgive his generic appearance. When I have the time, I’ll make him look nice. In the meantime, smile and act like you like him. He can’t help the way he  looks. His mommy dresses him.

Also, he needs an actual name. He can’t be a legitimate blog/person with the name “blogname 1.0.” I’ll apologize to him when he’s older about his embarrassing birth certificate. When the doc asked his name, I just froze. Should’ve asked for a little extra time, I suppose.

So, if you have a name suggestion, leave a comment. If you have an appearance suggestion, realise that I don’t care for your opinion. It’s my blog, I’ll dress him. :)

Danke Schoen*!

*In the future, I’ll actually type out the special characters that belong in these words. I guarantee it.


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