Space Flight for We All

An experimental rocket explodes upon liftoff last month on the Olympic Peninsula. No one was hurt.

It seems that the “X prize” – the $10M award for the first private-sector people to achieve orbit, is heading well toward award.

The main purpose being, apparently, to bring space flight closer to the Everyman.

The Seattle Times: Local News: Private spaceflight a race to offer rocket rides to public

In an interview I watched the other day on television, the only other team considered to be an even partially viable contender for the prize is going to attempt their flight just three days after the Paul Allen team – and this other team has yet to even have a test flight in their “homemade” vehicle, built with far less funding.

The Seattle Times article makes some very good points about this activity being much like the early days of aviation – before any safety regulations were in place, not only for the crews, but for the peripheral public not even associated with the activity.

I’ve also heard rumours that Paul Allen has worked a deal with Virgin Airlines to offer space flight to the public, for around $200k – a flight that would culminate in approximately 4 minutes of “near weightlessness”. But the view should be most spectacular.

Well, it’s a beginning, I suppose, to a lot of nifty new stuff for us all. It certainly gives me a new appreciation for all those hobbiests I’ve known who built their radio-controlled high-speed hydroplane boats and aircraft!

But what a step to actually put yourself in one, and ride…

Hmm… I just found this – I guess the rumours are true….

Virgin Galactic

Naked Yoga is O.K.

Just ran across a nifty article at CNN:

CNN.com – Naked yoga OK in San Francisco – Sep 22, 2004

So many things that press in, holding us into places that may or may not fit our forms – it’s good seeing something free like this.

Though I’m not really sure that people being naked all over the place might be a good thing – so often when we are taught something is bad or wrong, it just becomes all the more exiting to do it, and be a little freaky about it.

But for those who are just looking for some good solid freedom – YAY! I say…

Love and Marriage

Well, I guess a new group has formed to lead a drive to amend the very state constitution to ban gay marriages. It’s amazing to see how much effort people are willing to go to on certain issues when such vastly greater issues exist, and they do nothing.

According to the Seattle Times Article the group is called “Allies for Marriage and Children”.

I suppose they believe that their marriages will be better if men or women cannot love each other. Or maybe they believe that their marriage is how it’s supposed to be, and that everyone else’s should be too. In which case, they should also make divorce illegal to strengthen it how it should be. And I suppose they believe that a child is best off with the love of one man and one woman only – no more than that – or no different. Even if that man and woman are only staying together because of a sense of obligation to the children, which I guess results in the love and attention the children need.

I suppose they like to talk about an abstraction, like Marriage. Rather than the actual love people can feel for each other. Or the “going it together” sorta thang.

Maybe it’s because it’s not really each other that matters, but just the idea that what they’re doing is somehow right. And the rest of the world, including themselves, and their children, be damned.

Some Little Tidbits

Sent this message out to friends:

Well, it’s a government/public day here, with primary elections and all… Thought I’d mention a few things.

The first one I mention because people shouldn’t twist the truth to further their own ends.

The second one I mention because I think it’s really excellent when people can move beyond what they think and feel about things – what they hold true. So often when we hold something _tightly_ true, it means that we’re worried it might not be after all – and this makes us unsettled – even angry. I think that the truth of things lives regardless, anyway.

The third one I mention, just cuz it’s good to see even the stodgey get a wiggle in their butts sometimes… 😉

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The Seattle Monorail Project might be coming up for vote yet again – I don’t know how many times they’re going to make us approve it – even though it was a close call. The project’s already even bought a lot of the land it needed to, to put in the stations.

According to a Seattle Times article today a state appeals court is allowing the “recall” initiative to go through. However, the Monorail Project is appealing to the state Supreme Court.

Strangely, it’s not really a recall, from what I can gather – but an initiative to disallow the public agencies from forcing land owners to give up little rights-of-way for it.

I can’t find the text of I-83 anywhere – even on the I-83 website.

The monorail project that passed has terms for a recall – I don’t know why they’re just not using it, instead of focusing on public rights-of-way.

Maybe it has something to do with Martin Selig, a gigantic Seattle developer, providing over 90% of the funding for the “recall”…

Interestingly, they hired out-of-towners to come in and collect the signatures needed to validate I-83. They said they did this without any local volunteers because everyone here “has jobs”…. ??

Honestly, I don’t know what’s best. The monorail might be very ugly in some places.

But I think that if we don’t want it, we should vote on an actual recall, rather than voting on something that sets a precident for undermining Washington’s Growth Management Act – which I can see might be a good thing for big developers…. 😉

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I was talking with my always wonderful to talk with lawyer Lindsay the other day about many things, including the recent opinion by Judge Richard D. Hicks regarding same-sex marriage. The opinion talked about gays being a “protected” class – which irritated me.

As usual, I was taken on a very interesting journey through legal thinking, which is still so strangely like philosophy, yet utterly different – I think because _there has to be an answer_. 😉

He pointed me to the text of the actual opion, which I’ve attached to this message, if you’re interested. It’s the most wonderfully thought-out approach to the subject I’ve read.

And, in reading it – I had a little epiphany. Thanks, in part, to Oregon and insurance companies. 😉

I guess our state Constitution is taken largely from Oregon’s – we’re very, very similar. And yes, Anthony, I find that difficult to admit. 😉

A “suspect class” of people – from what I can gather – is a group of people where laws or views upon them seem to be applying in different ways, depending upon the circumstance you’re looking at. For example, Oregon did this:

…Oregon’s practice of denying insurance benefits to unmarried same-sex couples while at the same time allowing benefits to married opposite-sex couples. The state insurance agency argued that the basis for the distinction was whether a couple was married or not and did not turn on their sexual orientation. The court found this facially neutral explanation insufficient to support the discrimination because same-sex couples could not marry and cure the distinction whereas opposite sex couples could marry and gain the benefits. In reaching this result the Oregon court found that same-sex couples constituted a suspect class for the purposes of constitutional discrimination analysis.

It’s really a very well-written – and not such a hard read – I think he went to lengths to make it accessible to the “lay”… 😉

Interestingly, this judge deals a lot with family and child issues in his court. All the notions of what constitues a family – all the wild and various things that have come across his doorstep over the years – he is a uniquely qualified person to look at this issue.

We, the community, need to come to know ourselves. We need to have the fortitude to see who we are and accept ourselves as we are. If we look at ourselves, and at our neighbors, what do we see that counts as a “family”?

For at least two generations we have understood “family” as something more than a man mating with a woman to have a child. A single parent is a family. Grandparents raising grandchildren without the help of the parents is a family. Adults giving foster children a home are a family. Same sex couples who adopt children are a family. Opposite sex couples who adopt children are a family. Single parents with children who marry each other bring into being a new family. A childless couple, same sex or opposite sex, can be a family. And older child raising his or her siblings is a family. There are other examples.

…Although encouraging more family stability is a compelling state interest these statues do not further that interest and are not narrowly tailored to do so. They do not even bear a rational relationship to that interest. It is more likely that they weaken family stability when we consider what a family is.

…The clear intent of the Legislature to limit government approved contracts of marriage to opposite sex couples is in direct conflict with the constitutional intent to not allow a privilege to one class of the community that is not allowed to the entire community. To the extent RCW 26.04.010 and RCW 26.04.020 effect this they are contrary to the state Constitution.

…When the government is involved, one part of the community can not be given a privilege that is not given to other members of the community unless the government can demonstrate how that discrimination furthers the benefit of the entire community.

When we divide the community into classes and categories the division must at least bear some rational relation to a legitimate government purpose. If this division is based on ‘suspect’ lines, such as immutable characteristics that a person can’t change such as race, sex, age and so on, or, involves a fundamental right, such as marriage or to bear children, then the discriminatory division is looked at closely and must be narrowly tailored to advance the particular government interest.

For the government this is not a moral issue. It is a legal issue. Though these issues are often the same, they are also quite different. The conscience of the community is not the same as the morality of any particular class. Conscience is what we feel together as one community. Conscience makes us one people. What fails strict scrutiny here is a government approved civil contract for one class of the community not given to another class of the community. What can reconcile our differences is the feeling that with these differences we are still one people. This is the democracy of conscience. (footnote to Jacob Needleman, The American Soul).

I dunno – read it over – I thought it was great.

I don’t feel so stupid about being part of a class that is “suspect”… 😉

Lindsay says it just means that it “raises the bar” to a higher level – where you have to really go out of your way to say that someone shouldn’t have that right.

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And finally, check out our federal governement’s Federal Citizen Information Center – you know, the people in Pueblo Colorado…

On the right side they quote the infamous gay iconic Sister Sledge song, “We are family, I got all my sisters with me”…

Almost as good as all the high school football teams around the country, and fans all singing, Queen’s “We Are the Champions” – go Freddy! 😉

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A Dream of You

I’ve rarely dreamed about you, at least that I can remember. But I have thought about you a lot, and felt a lot.

Last night I had a dream about you.

I was at your father’s house. But it was not your father’s house – it was lighter, strewn about with the clutter of many things, and smaller. The focus was a couch. You and I were seated on the couch next to each other, my father was there also – he sat on the other side of you, and your father was seated next to me. So, on your right, was me. On your left, my father. On my left, you. On my right, your father.

Our fathers would switch places sometimes.

You were balding, ugly and angry that you were there, wanting to leave. But I still felt something for you, and wondered why you remained. You yelled at me about it for a while. Your father looked at me with some kind of empathy – like he understood, and was apologising to me, and saying, this you must accept – it is he- but he said nothing other than with his eyes and his stance.

My father sat there like a tree growing deep into earth, which made me feel secure. But he also said nothing.

Then this small group of people came over who were friends of yours. They dressed themselves up, the girls had their hair cut nicely, they all wore clothes as if they were going out to a nightclub party night – they talked about television shows and spoke about people who weren’t there in petty ways. When they looked at each other they saw nothing, but had some kind of rappor that kept their energy/talking level high. Their laughs seemed nervous.

You were leaving with them to go to a restaurant. And then you all left as a group, and you accused me of something as you left, without saying it.

I looked at your father, very sad, and he just looked back, and I knew he understood.

There was another guy there – I’m not really sure where he came from. But he surprised me from behind, and I turned around to look at him, and his hair looked like it had just been chopped closely to his head, and he was dressed unusually, having the look of intensity and honesty. He smiled at me. And I remembered something that ran like a deep, hot chill to the core of what I am.

When I left, I looked back at the house, and all the lights were off – darkness. But I saw movement through the window.

The air was crisp, alive. And the tall trees shuddered in the wind, all at once.

various chosen random bits

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