Monday, June 9, 2014

Who Is Reading My Blog?

I am becoming very curious about who is reading my blog.

Some posts draw very little attention.

One of my attempts at humor that people seem to like is The Vulcan Ambassador Chuck E-Mails.  I will admit I have publicized that piece lots of places.  Over 800 views doesn't exactly surprise me.

Then there are things like An Interesting Side Comment by Michael Griffin.  That has gotten 234 views -- without me publicizing it much.  Other space related blog entries have gotten hundreds of views.  Interestingly enough, though, I haven't received many comments directly -- just an occasional comment, sometimes on the critical side.

Tuesday I will go to a Washington Space Business Roundtable luncheon.  While there I will try to bring this up as well as mentioning the showing of 2001: A Space Odyssey at Wolf Trap.  I will report that I have put that event in the local Mensa calendar.  I may also bring up a few other things.  For instance, how different space is today from the visions of the 1960s -- with a reference to the Columbia disaster.  I might also, if I get the chance, to bring up the February Mensa Bulletin article on sleep deprivation.

Episcopal Church Membership

On Tuesday, September 29th, a new committee of St. Mark's Episcopal Church met to discuss strengthening membership. The church overall has been in decline for a number of years. In 1965 the church had 3.6 million baptized members and 2.2 million communicants. By 2001 there were 2.3 million members and 1.8 million communicants. This is with a growing national population.

Much has changed in both the United States and the Episcopal Church since 1965. Back in 1965 all priests were men -- and practically all of them married men still on their first and only wife. Families were more intact because divorce was much rarer. There were far more stay at home wives looking after children. People in neighborhoods knew each other much better. I do remember my own mother returning to work -- when I was in high school and could take care of myself after school. It can be easily argued that all of these things had major good points.

Perhaps because I saw my parents as equals who loved and respected each other and me, I have a more positive view of the world back then. When feminism started its gains in the 1960s, I had been fully prepared for a world in which women were viewed as the equal of men. After all, it had been that way in my home -- and, I think, in other homes that I had the opportunity to see. Just because Mom stayed at home when I was a child did not mean she was inferior to Pop. My parents viewed bringing up children as important as the work my father did as an accountant and business manager in the hospitals where he worked. Clearly there were people who did not see things that way. I have read that, in Hilary Clinton's childhood home, her father completely dominated things like political discussion. Her mother wasn't even allowed to mention Democratic Party positions. While my parents were both Republicans, they viewed Democrats as fine people with whom they had some disagreements. They even, from time to time, voted for a Democrat.

Women moving into the workplace has not been the only change since 1965. People who do work outside the home are spending more and more time at their paying work. Because both parents are, increasingly, working full time, childcare is left to others -- all too often people who are less able than the parents to bring up their children. Parents, after all, know their children better than almost any poorly paid professional caretaker. They can help them more.

People are more pressed for time because of the lengthening work week. There are other things of importance to normal human beings -- family, friends, community, etc. When those are shortchanged, people become less happy.

There has also been a rise in authoritarian cultures in political, social and economic arenas. It doesn't matter what the position is -- it seems that to disagree is wrong, even if the disagreement is intended to improve the situation people are addressing.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Thinking About D-Day

Today is the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  When D-Day happened, my Uncle Dick and Grandmother Agnes were still both alive.  A year later both were dead.  My paternal grandmother Agnes heard something on the radio that gave her the idea that the war would soon be over.  She ran for the steps to go downstairs to tell Mom and Dad.  She tripped on the steps and badly injured herself.  She died from those injuries.  Mom and Dad got the news of the death of Uncle Dick in May 1945.  Dad commented "Thank God Mom went first.  This would have killed her."  Dad missed his brother until the end of his life.

Mom's side of the family took some hits as well.  Uncle Clarence served in the Army over in Europe.  He was wounded twice rather badly.  When he got home, people said to him "Guess you will be getting married now."  He replied "No.  I want a quiet life."  That good man became like a second father to me.  I think the world is poorer because of his quite understandable decision.  Uncle John literally cracked up in basic training.  I don't know why.  The Army and the VA did take care of him until the end of his life.  I do remember him smoking four packs of cigarettes a day.  I wonder if what happened to him in the 1940s had something to do with that.  He did die of a heart attack at age 65.  Uncle Clarence made it to 81, Mom to 93.

After the war, this country let in the Peenemunde rocket team.  Yes, we got a Man on the Moon in 1969.  But did bringing in these people shift aerospace culture in a fundamentally bad way?  Make it far more authoritarian?  Cause failures like Challenger and Columbia?  There has been some discussion of this topic in several places.  I don't know what to say.  I can say that I am on the outside of an agency that clearly needs reform in major ways.