Showing posts with label Shuttle Launch. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Shuttle Launch. Show all posts

Monday, March 16, 2009

The View From Here

Although we are some 140 miles from Cape Canaveral, the view of yesterday’s shuttle launch into the twilight sky was spectacular. The shuttle program is one of our nation’s greatest accomplishments. To the left and below are some photographs of the launch, the view from here but beginning with CNN's.

There were other developments over the weekend impacting another sort of “view from here.” One story that grabbed some headlines, but then quietly went into the night was China’s prime minister’s concern about their holding some $1 trillion investment in American debt. Clearly there is some anxiety about the long-term safety of their investment, a remarkable public admission by such a large holder of US debt, one that is symbiotically attached to our hip -- something akin to yelling fire in a theatre while sitting far from the exits. But in Barack We Trust, President Obama saying that our debt is safe in spite of our record deficits, bailouts, and our national debt about to pass the $11 trillion mark. I mentioned this “Black Swan” before, that is confidence in the ability of the US to meet its financial obligations, without hyperinflating its currency.

The other story that will not go quietly into the night, because of the measure of outrage, is the $165 million in bonuses that are being handed out to the same executives that had a hand in creating the alchemy of credit default swaps. We’ve heard this song before, when Congressional Hearings revealed the extent that bonuses were handed out to the banks.

Then there is also outrage that foreign counterparties profited by receiving some money through AIG’s $170 billion bailout, but the main focus will continue to be the bonuses, although its size is but a pimple on the ass of the bailout vista.
The irony is the performance criterion of the bonuses is probably the very short-term thinking that encouraged leverage creation, AIG superimposing a hedge fund business on top of its, then, AAA rating. So why pay these bonuses? We’re told they are “retention bonuses” to keep the “best and the brightest” in the AIG stable -- as if there are not hundreds of unemployed qualified financial professionals who could immediately replace each of the AIG financial wizards. We are also told that these people will sue if they are not paid. Let them sue. Do they really want their names and reputations to go down in the annals of financial infamy?

But on to the happier news of the successful, although delayed, shuttle launch. Here are a series of photographs, only three minutes apart, from the launch as televised on CNN to the shuttle’s appearance only one minute later over our home, to the vapor tail just three minutes after the launch: beautiful and breathtaking.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009


Two stories today. This first one is from the New York Times Timeless Lincoln Memento Is Revealed describes the very careful opening of the back of Lincoln’s first watch -- by the National Museum of American History -- as it was thought a secret message was inscribed therein. Indeed, there was “a message secretly engraved by a watchmaker who repaired it in 1861” which read as follows: Jonathan Dillon April 13- 1861 Fort Sumpter was attacked by the rebels on the above date. J Dillon April 13- 1861 Washington thank God we have a government Jonth Dillon.

Here was an immigrant watchmaker who grasped the significance of the moment and felt compelled to inscribe his observations for some future generation, inside the watch of the President of the United States, which, as fate would have it, he happened to be repairing.

I juxtapose this story to this magnificent NASA photograph of the Shuttle that was taken last night with the full moon. It is scheduled to blast off tonight. We visited the Kennedy Space Center a couple of years ago with our friends Beny and Maria who live in Sicily. Another Shuttle was on the launching pad at the time, almost an incomprehensible sight because of the scale of the Shuttle and its supporting structure.

From the near dissolution of the United States to the technology that can achieve such a scientific feat, in less than 150 years. Any country that can accomplish that should be able to find the resolve and the means to end the present financial crisis. We would all like to say: thank God we have a government.