Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Thoughts About Norm Augustine

Wednesday I will be attending a talk at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum by Norm Augustine.  He's 10 years older than I am.  He's also much richer and has led a much more well known career.  I've started wondering what my life would have been like if I had been born in 1935.  Would I have the conflicts with authority that I have had in my life?  I'm not the only one who has noticed our society moving in a more authoritarian direction in the past four, perhaps more, decades.

Augustine's career ranged back and forth between the private sector and government.  One must note, though, that the capstone of his "private career" was leading Lockheed-Martin through their merger.  That company is heavily dependent upon government contracts.  Indeed, it seems that all of American aerospace relies upon government help in some fashion.  Boeing needs the Export-Import Bank to help finance sales outside of the United States.  Then there is the United Launch Alliance -- a joint effort of Boeing and Lockheed-Martin.  Their Atlas rocket is now dependent upon Russian engines.

I am going to try and bring up questions about this kind of thing Wednesday at the COMSTAC meeting during the day and then at the Augustine talk in the evening.  I may also inject a bit of humor informally into these events because some people have described Augustine's Laws as being satirical, tongue in cheek, etc.  Telling people about The Penguins might get me a few chuckles and, perhaps, more.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Thoughts About May

I've mentioned on Facebook that I will not be attending the International Space Development Conference in California this year.  I can't afford it.  I have been doing volunteer work regarding space exploration and development for decades.  I was paid decently doing IT work at NASA Goddard for nine years before I was driven out by awful management.  Since then I have led a committee on aerospace industry collaboration for the Governor's Workforce Investment Board in Maryland.  See Aerospace Initiative Home Page to learn more about that phase of my life.  Aerospace Workforce Issues is based in good part upon what I learned doing that work.

People want me to come to things space related as long as I pay my own way and don't make trouble for the powers that be.  Hmm.  They seem to want people with highly authoritarian personalities.

This evening I will attend a Rutgers Club of DC event.  I wonder what kind of reaction I will get when I mentioned that the Atlas rockets which deliver military spy satellites into orbit are currently powered by Russian engines.  I might bring it up over the weekend as well at places like St. Mark's Episcopal Church and Hash House Harrier events.

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Family

I'm putting up this posting to let people know more about my family.  I have learned over the years how different I am because of the kind of people from whom I am descended.

Mom's side of the family was English working class.  My grandparents moved to the United States from England a little over a century ago.  I got to know those grandparents as a child growing up in New Jersey.  They were wonderful people.  They had three children.  Besides Mom, there was Uncle Clarence and Uncle John.  Uncle Clarence built our first stereo in the 1950s.  He also built a telescope and taught me a bit about astronomy.  Oh -- he was, like Uncle John, a high school dropout.  Things were different back in the 1930s.  Mom -- the oldest of three who survived to adulthood -- was the first member of the family to attend and graduate from high school.  My grandparents had had some elementary school education.  I enjoyed all my visits to the Lowes.  I could not have wished for better relatives.  These days I really enjoy my visits to England and spending time with the Lawtons.

Dad's side of the family was, shall we say, different.  There was a time when many people would have said Mom married up.  All I remember were two wonderful people who taught me much about the world and people.  My parents started teaching me to read at age 3 because I had become such a pest -- I wanted to do what Mommy and Daddy were doing -- reading.  Our home at 214 Park Lane had lots of books.  Mom and Dad also bought me books, ranging from The Hardy Boys to Tom Swift, Jr. to Catch-22.  OK, the last was given to me when I was a teenager.

What can I say about Dad and his family?  My degree from Rutgers is in physics.  His degree from Rutgers was in economics.  He earned that degree in 1935.  He went on to become a fine accountant.  His father earned a degree in chemistry from Rutgers in 1890.  Yes, teen marriages do not run in the family.

That grandfather had a rather unusual family.  His father, Michael Divine, was born in Ireland in 1828.  By the time my grandfather was born in 1869, he was a lawyer in the United States.  The Divines moved from Ireland to New Jersey in 1836 -- a year after Alexis de Tocqueville's Democracy in America (volume 1) had been published.  This could have been a mere coincidence, but I remember how caring and democratic my family was -- and still is.  Who did Michael marry?  A woman who born in England by the name of Angelina Elizabeth Donne.  That's how I am related to John Donne.  It is weird to read a book about a man who lived 400 years ago and see similarities between him and you.  I am not in his league, but I do think and care in many ways like him.  My grandfather -- the first Charles in the family -- was their third child.  Twin boys had been born in 1867.  They also went to Rutgers.  Beginning in December 1867 and continuing through some months in 1868 Charles Dickens made his last tour of the United States.  Did my great grandparents name their third son Charles to honor him?  I do remember how much Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was a part of our Christmases when I was growing up.

That's enough for now.  Maybe I will expand on this later on.  I might also start writing up my attempts to find paying work and helping lead our society in healthier, more democratic ways much more frequently.