Quite often I think about a Charlie Brown special I saw when I was in my mid-teens, in 1983. It’s designed to continue the story of the film, Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!!), and commemorates some of the events of World War I and World War II.
Linus quotes John McCrae’s In Flanders Fields. I find it nearly as moving as the recitation of Luke 2 in “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
Periodically, I’ve searched Amazon, hoping that this had been released on DVD or better (the only consumer release was on VHS video). It’s finally coming this fall, as part of Peanuts: The EMMY Honored Collection (DVD)!
Sadly, the as-I-recall-excellent Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don’t Come Back!! is still, apparently, only available on used VHS.
But Isaac said to his son, “How is it that you have found it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “Because the LORD your God granted me success.” (Gen 27:20, ESV)
I find the specific choice of words, “the LORD your God” to be troubling, especially as a parent.
I want my children to have a personal faith of their own. I don’t want them to think of the Lord as “That God my dad worships.”
Actually, I want them to have a more real, personal faith than I had at their ages—living and tempered by both love and righteousness, by faith and reason.
It would be quite a long time before Jacob could truly call the Lord his own God, not merely that of his father.
“Space,” [The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy] says, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space, listen …
Inspired by this NASA Web page, and Miss Sarah’s work-related interest in space science (too bad she spent all those years not reading science fiction), we decided to lay out our solar system in a manageable scale, complete with to-scale outlines of each planet.
Here are the scale sizes and distances, along with the real distances.
|Body||Diameter (mm)||Avg. Distance
|Distance (in)||Avg. Distance
|(Asteroids)||0.00||4.0 to 8.0||144.0 to 288.0||2.0 to 4.0||450,000,000||279,000,000|
|Voyager 1||See http://voyager.jpl.nasa.gov/where/||128.9||19,287,178,000||11,984,000,000|
|Voyager 2||for current locations of Voyager 1 and Voyager 2.||105.8||15,761,118,000||9,793,000,000|
I’ve made a Google Sheets spreadsheet with this data publicly available, here.
You can also grab and print this Acrobat/PDF file which has the sun and planets to the same scale as the planetary distances: planets_to_scale.pdf. At this scale, the sun is only 17 mm in diameter, Jupiter is tiny, and the inner planets are nearly invisible.
Now, are you ready to have your mind blown?
Our nearest neighboring star is a binary star, Alpha Centauri. It would be, if we could see it from the northern hemisphere. It’s about 4.3 light years (271,930.8 AUs; 25,277,549,200,000 miles; 40,680,272,100,000 km) away.
At the scales we’re dealing with, how far away do you think Alpha Centauri would be?
Think carefully. When you’re sure, follow this link for the answer.
Space … is … big.
I want to brag a little bit about Naomi.
This is the finished result of a multi-week school project. It’s called a “Five Pocket Project,” and has a number of interesting features, but that’s not what this is about.
On Tuesday, after a full day of school and two hours of dance classes, NaNi got out her zipped organizer binder to work on her project, and was distressed to discover that all the work from her project was missing. She looked everywhere, and made phone calls, and thought carefully, but was resigned to the fact that she wouldn’t find the work: The questions she had to answer for the biographical part of the project, and all the research she’d already done were gone. I expected she’d find it the next day in school, but she never did.
That evening she started rebuilding her research, getting the questions-to-be-answered from a classmate by phone, and digging in to the unpleasant task of redoing the significant research she’d already completed.
She continued this Wednesday evening.
Thursday was a long day. She had a full day of school, then an after-school dress rehearsal for the school Variety Show, then 2 1/2 hours of dance. Getting home at 8:30 last night, she dug right into the work, as the project was due this morning.
And work she did. There weren’t enough hours to make up everything she’d lost in a reasonable manner, but that didn’t stop her. She took small breaks to eat, but stayed at the task, finishing the research questions and biographical data first, and then moving on to the already-mostly-complete artistic portion of the project.
She did all this without a single complaint or whine, or even the loss of a smile.
When I gave up and went to bed at 12:30 am, she was still at it. I think she finished around 1:00. She set her alarm for a little later than usual, but still early enough to get up, make some last minute adjustments to the poster, get dressed, and get out to the bus on time.
I am very proud of her.
Racism has always shocked me. When I was 7 I was astounded to hear a neighbor declare, “Randy’s father doesn’t like black people.” I can’t remember how old I was before I understood what the “N word” employed as a quotation in a comic book adaptation of The Cross and the Switchblade meant, because I had never heard the word. In my family, thanks to my parents, racism simply wasn’t employed, ever.
One of the things I am proud of with my own children is that they don’t “get” racism. I tried watching one of the few sports films I like—Remember the Titans—with them a few years ago, and it was meaningless. The main point of the drama’s racial tension went completely over their heads, as they had no context for it.
It is very rare now for racism to intrude on my life, and it still surprises me. In Florida, I overheard someone claim that a recent increase in drug problems in the local area were all due to blacks. I laughed, though, when, the next morning, a photo of the two major drug dealers in the town was on the front page after a sting operation had gone down: They were both most certainly Caucasian.
Over time, though, with so few reminders of our country’s very racist past, I’ve tended to minimize it, much like Louis CK explains in his appearance with Jay Leno.
Due to his stand for equality, Lorch, a Jewish mathematician:
- He was fired from his teaching position at City College of New York
- He was fired from Pennsylvania State University
- While at Fisk University (a historically black school), he argued (but failed) to prevent a meeting of the Mathematical Association of America from being, as per policy, “Whites only”
- He was ordered to testify at the House Un-American Activities Committee, where he directly denied being a Communist, and then refused to answer questions about his politics, citing the First (not Fifth) Amendment to the Constitution. This got him indicted, and tried (but acquitted) for contempt of Congress, and then fired from Fisk.
- While at a Black College in Little Rock, he and his wife volunteered to help escort the Little Rock Nine to school, earning them numerous death threats, and leading them to move to Canada.
This is greatness. Not winning an Oscar, not being elected to office, not amassing wealth …
May I be so determined to fight, and live, for what is right.
When no prayer finds my lips, And Your blows crush me to the earth, And the light from above cannot illuminate The mire of my sorrow, Then in my torment, in my lament, in the despair of my soul, You begin to find me, Though blackness remains.
(I was inspired to poetry during the Michael Card concert, and jotted this down. It is reminiscent of the utter blackness of what happened 3 years ago, and, thus, autobiographical, but not recent.)
Historical note: These quotations are from the Nemo Blizzard, February 8, 2013.
Life is full of coincidences, but I’ve never experienced one that seems more improbable than this:
In 1995, I was visiting the Rondon family in the Dominican Republic, and spent some time looking through their library. A book that caught my eye was, La Ira del Tirano, a book by Miguel Guerrero, about the assassination attempt Trujillo (a truly “wonderful” dictator) made against the then-president of Venezuela, Rómulo Ernesto Betancourt Bello, who had the nerve to support democracy in Latin America.
The Rondon children explained that Guerrero was a friend of the family, and I borrowed the book to read to improve my relatively meager Spanish skills. (It would take me years to get through, but it was, eventually, helpful.)
Later that day, I was passing about a quarter hour of free time when the kids were watching television together, the only time in a full week in which the television was on. They had tuned to the Nickelodeon channel, and a filler program was running, showing on-the-spot interviews conducted with random visitors to Universal Studios, Florida.
In those few minutes of time, among the thousands of visitors to Universal Studios that day, at the only moments we were actually watching television, who was selected for an interview but the book’s author, Miguel Guerrero himself!