Cassini-Huygens Probe Arrives at Saturn Tomorrow

Cassini-Huygens Probe - SaturnWell, it looks like the long seven year journey across the tiny sea of our local space is nearing its milestone end for the Cassini Probe tomorrow. At around 19:36 PST the probe will begin firing its braking thrusters for 96 minutes – and it will be about a hour and a half later before we’ll know if the maneuver was successful.

If all is successful, the probe will decelerate by 1,400 MPH to continue its 47 plannened orbits of Saturn over the next 4 years. The Huygens Probe is schedule to be released from Cassini on Christmas Eve of 2004 to begin its three week journey to Titan, where it will land. It’s already passed thorough Saturn’s unusual magnetic field, feeling and describing its shape to us.

Cassini Orbital Insertion

The probe, as it carries on through its insertion maneuver will pass behind (from the Earth’s perspective) various ring grouping of Saturn, each ring with its own composition and liklihood for radio interference. So I imagine it will be particularly stressful for the scientists responsible for the craft, not to mention the managers of the programs responsible for their own careers and funding.

This mission is particularly nifty because the US is working with the European Space Agency who have contributed the Huygens portion of the mission. Cassini will release the Huygens probe at a velocity of twelve inches per second, and spinning it at seven revolutions per minute. Five days later, Cassini will turn to watch the sleeping Huygens as he coasts toward Titan during the next few days.

Titan has an atmosphere that extends about 600 miles into space, and Huygens will awaken 10 minutes before encountering its outermost reaches. Huygens will only be alive for a maximum of three hours, spending two and a half of them learning all it can about Titan as it descends, snapping over 1,000 photos, ever-slowing, eventually with the help of parachutes, to land on Titan’s surface, where it is only expected to live another three minutes. Even if Huygens lives past another thirty minutes, Cassini will turn its attention away from Huygens and back to Earth, telling us what Huygens discovered.

Recently our President, Mr. Bush, announced a new focus upon space exploration, particularly returning people to the moon, and landing people on Mars. I’m not certain this new focus is not a political tactic to divert our attention from more pressing things at home or not – particularly some very inhumane and mean-sprited things his administration are engaged in. But regardless of political concerns, the scientific benefits that result will be wonderful.

Cassini Mission Diagram

A Dream of Spiritual Death

Cycle of Life and Death

Last night I dreamed I was on the bottom floor of a house, or maybe it was a department store.

I was walking up the stairs, or coming up the escalator, and it was bright, and I was happy.

I arrived on a floor, the third floor, and it was pure darkeness – and this floor was my kitchen. Pitch blackness. I could feel the railing behind me, my way of escape, but I was there, and I knew something was in that darkness.

It was distant, and I wondered, then realized it had no physical form.

It was moving toward me in pieces, in tendrils of maleficent being. I heard a very faint laugh, a woman’s laugh, a sweet giggle of pure madness.

I saw nothing – but felt the tentrils form into a blackened head, which moved swiftly toward my own. I remained, and did not run. There was no fear.

She touched her forehead against my own, and I saw a vision of a blackened third eye, and a bindi, like a clitoris, and darkened skull.

It came into me, pointedly, and I accepted it. It passed into a great expanse, like the arch of the blue and clouded sky, that surrounded, filled and encompassed my interior – a vast area, yet so much unexplored – yet familiar.

It became so small – a tiny bucket of poison thrown into a boundless ocean, deepening beneath a boundless sky.

I sang to her in welcome, feeling her Will, as she dissolved into the air.

Freedom vs. Security – Where Do We Draw the Line?

I must admit, I have not been following this issue closely. I think that is true for most people. But I’ve come to realize more and more that this issue is a fundamental one of our time – a determining factor on how we will continue to evolve together.

I have heard debates, mostly on talk radio, and a very few on the net, about the recent powers the US Government has granted itself after the terrorist attacks on September 11th. What I have heard should in no way be construed as what is actually out there – I have not researched the visibility of the issue at all.

It is very easy for us to make excuses and concessions related to the sacrifice of fundamental personal freedoms and rights in the interest of helping to avert any such similar, or even worse catastrophies in the future. To encourage, or allow to foster a more powerful police state that has the authority, if not the legal authority, to not only usurp our individual and collective Rights, but to commit acts of inhumanity in the purported interest of our larger well-being, is something to strongly consider – in the public eye and with the public’s voice.

Right now, people can be taken away, held indefinitely, given no legal counsel, interrogated in any number of ways, and even have evidence withheld that would exonerate them – all upon a whim, requiring no process whatsoever.

Is this happening? Yes.

We look back in history to our “McCarthy Era” and feel shame – how could we as a nation, and collectively as individuals, allowed such horrific things to occur? Well, it might be a good idea to start asking that question now, instead of waiting for historians to ask it decades from now – assuming they can (in a worst case scenario).

It’s strange – I’ve had friends say things jokingly on their cell phones about possible terrorist occurances, and how it might ruin their trip to the theater, or their dinner plans, then quickly qualify what they just said as a joke to appease the perfunctory judgements and actions of any listening, covert parties.

When considering what we’ve been told about airport security – how even joking can mean getting detained and questioned, even this speech on a cell phone may be cause for grave concern.

Today, while reading articles on security issues related to Linux, I ran across an article posted on the Free Internet Press:

Supreme Court Takes Up Guantanamo Case

It was the first I had learned that the issue was coming before the Supreme Court. This astonished me. I visited the article in the UK’s Guardian newspaper, and became even more astonished:

Democracy’s chance

Thinking I may be further out of touch with media buzz than I previously imagined, I checked CNN to see what was being said about this monumental occurance. I could find next to nothing. I searched elsewhere, though superficially, and found so very little.

I did happen to find an article in CNN that came out today, most likely in response to the Guardian article cited above:

UK slams U.S. Guantanamo trials

But the only article I could find in CNN’s archives, was a passing reference in late April:

Supreme Court to hear Gitmo appeals

How is it that we do no feel compelled to voice our concerns about a State that can do whatever it wants to its own citizens? How is it that we can claim to go to war in the name of Freedom, while at the same time eroding its very core?

Do we really, all of us, feel so trapped?

Yes, we must do our very best to make certain attacks never occur within our country again. And yes, it would be so nice if no attacks occurred all around the world!

But times like these are very trecherous – in more than one way. We must be mindful of ourselves, our leaders, and particularly mindful of our own hearts and minds.

Married Men Who Aren’t Gay

Lately I’ve been a member of this online group for men that deals in support for men who are in heterosexual marriages, yet they are gay, or bisexual. I joined because I wanted to understand better what was going on with myself, and another man I have been involved with who was married.

At first I went in with great fascination – amazed at how many men were in this situation, or wanted to be in it. They call it a “closed-loop” relationship – where a married guy commits to a relationship with another married guy – or, less preferably, a single gay or bi man.

Whether or not they tell their wives is not important to most. The issue is, in fact, considered taboo in the group because it generates such heated words from people. The strange thing is, it’s always the guys who don’t feel they need to tell their wives that do all the shouting, even at guys that merely talk about how they have told their wives, and the various things that have happened. I think these men must feel a very strong pressure of guilt, and twist the other men’s testimonials about coming out to their wives into an accusation that they are horrible people for not doing the same.

This issue certainly is a very ethically complex one, particularly when children are involved.

Oddly enough, the majority of the men seem to be in their fifties, though there is a large splattering of ages. But they are certainly in the majority. Most have waited until their children have grown up and left the home. Most want to keep their family in tact, though some are very torn on the issue.

Of particular interest is the way they identify themselves sexually. Some men say they are gay, but they are in the minority. Most men say they have been curious, or “having these feelings of attraction”. Most do say that they’ve had those feelings for a very long time.

They are much more likely to identify themselves as bisexual, which would stand to reason, I suppose, considering their predicament.

Yet I wonder, why is it they feel so heavily compelled to act on homosexual desires, and risk so much, if they are bisexual? Almost all of them have a very deep fear of being exposed. Something is just not right in this.

Recently, a man posted that he’s changed his mind – that he just can’t deal with the “homosexual lifestyle” – and that he and his wife just had amazing sex, chandeliers swinging, etc. And that they were moving. And also, was there any man in the group who happened to live near to where they were moving…

Many feel that they need to only be with another married man – that this man would be the only man who could could understand that their families have to come first. But I know this isn’t true, based upon my own experience – I would often remind my “friend” that his family had to come first, not me.

I think, rather, that they need someone who they can remain straight with, even though they have sex together. If they are with a gay man, that means they have to admit they are gay – or at least bisexual. But if they are with another married man, then they can both remain straight. After all, you’re not gay if you’re married.

Some of the men have wonderful stories of how they told their wife everything, and their wives, though not at first, have grown to become supportive, and even allow them to have a male partner. They see little conflict.

But there are also stories of how the wife refused to accept it, and promised that she would leave with the children if he ever acted on it.

And most of the men choose to sneak. They will actually pine on about how wonderful their male counterparts are – the part of their lives that they so look forward to. And the ones that don’t have a male counterpart have no problem pining on about their dream of it, either.

The interesting thing is seeing new people join the group, who are younger – who have just entered into marriage, or who are considering it.

I wish there was some way to help them understand that they must enter into their own lives, fully as who they are, before they enter into the life of another.

I actually feel very sorry for most of these men – the majority are not happy at all. They are trapped, in their ideal dream, and/or in their hiding place. But that’s not to say that the rest of their lives is diminished – but it is to say that sexual intimacy – spiritual intimacy – is very fundamental to the core of our being. And theirs is messed up – for lack of the time to type any more…

I hope that my friend find happiness in his life. But I’m a little more than reasonably sure that he may just find mere satifaction, if he is lucky.

It’s too bad that fear can conquer love in some men.

Warm hugs

Innocence Lost