“Tonight’s full Moon has a special name—the Worm Moon. It signals the coming of northern spring, a thawing of the soil, and the first stirrings of earthworms in long-dormant gardens. Step outside tonight and behold the wakening landscape.” Realtime moon image gallery. (Source)
This is awesome.
I came across a photograph on Thursday and set it as my desktop wallpaper. I’ve been staring at it for three days. No, that’s not quite true. I’ve stared at it for maybe a total of seven minutes, looking at it seconds at a time, catching glimpses when browser windows close and open in between work on the novel and a talk I’m giving in Portland next week. You’ve seen the photograph too, I bet. It’s made an appearance on ESPN’s Around the Horn, even though it has nothing to do with sports.
One series of thoughts: How fast is it going? Where does it land? Do frogs land on their feet? What’s that frog thinking, at that moment? Probably something like: ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew, because it’s a frog, and frogs are pretty much always thinking ojpifqijovapijwalkjrjpew.
Another series: Rocket launches don’t happen in black, featureless voids. They happen in wetlands. Sudden light heat noise in a place of dark cool calm. The silhouette of the frog also brings to relief to the bits of wild grass threshed about in the smoke.
Man’s ambition. His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars. The perfect geometry of the heavens. The Vitruvian geometry of the figure; it’s almost … human.
It brings to mind another photograph, taken twelve years prior, nearly to the day: a photograph of a man falling from the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The photograph ran on page seven of The New York Times and in hundreds of newspapers around the world, then virtually disappeared. Until two years later, when it became the subject of Tom Junod’s Esquire piece, "The Falling Man".
But Junod’s piece is really about Looking. It’s about what we see when we look, but also what, when we have the freedom to look, we individually and collectively choose not to look at. And what that says about us.
An analogy for a significant life event. Hopes. Horrors. Aversion. The fear of loss. The frame-obliterating nature of an act beyond routine. One moment you’re thinking about flies from your lilypad in the cool still night. You’re thinking about the book you’re writing and the speech you’re going to give. You’re thinking about how sore your feet are and your wife asleep in bed and the order at table five. And then …
This is a lovely meditation on what it means to really look at something and how it feels to actually see what you’re looking at. But my favorite part is the bit about how this photo is a reminder that space flight starts in the swamps of Florida, and how this one little unfortunate frog reminded us all of how little we are and how big we are reaching.
"His destruction of the earth in his quest for the stars."
There’s also NASA magazine and an app. Who knew?
This list of 30 issues that the independent Govt Accountability Office (GAO) analyzed is mind-boggling. The U.S. Federal Government, says the GAO, is embarrassingly underprepared to deal with the volume and increasing frequency of climate related disasters, such as Hurricane Sandy, droughts in the southwest, super tornadoes in Oklahoma, etc. They conclude(!) that funding for disaster response and post-disaster planning is completely inadequate and in need of an overhaul.
The GAO’s list also points out that the nation’s weather satellites, operated by NOAA, are near the end of their useful life spans and are in dire need of replacement.
(The satellite) systems are critical to weather forecasters, climatologists, and the military to map and monitor changes in weather, climate, the oceans, and the environment.
Federal agencies are currently planning and executing major satellite acquisition programs to replace existing polar and geostationary satellite systems that are nearing the end of their expected life spans. However, these programs have troubled legacies of cost increases, missed milestones, technical problems, and management challenges that have resulted in reduced functionality and slips to planned launch dates. As a result, the continuity of satellite data is at risk.
The GAO’s High Risk Report is absolutely worth clicking through. Each of the 30 items are categorized and easy to read. The two above on climate and satellites also include video summaries.
The outage of an important weather satellite demonstrates the ongoing degradation in U.S. observing systems.
Incredible shots tweeted by the rock-star astronaut from the International Space Station
Wow. Absolutely must see.