Saturday, January 29, 2011

Looking back to the childhood of the universe.

The images above, starting on the left and rotating to the bottom right, are successive magnifications of the same patch of sky, made using the Hubble Space Telescope. The blurred object in the bottom right photo is the most distant galaxy yet observed. It's about 13.2 billion light years away. Since the Big Bang was about 13.7 billion years ago, light reaching us from this galaxy originated within about half a billion years from the beginning of the universe, when it was in its infancy.

Friday, January 28, 2011

More winter scenes from Brooklyn Heights.

The storm that started Wednesday and ended early Thursday added another blanket to what had already accumulated and not melted in earlier warmer weather. Accumulation on tree branches was spectacular.
From my window, late Wednesday morning.
Trees arching over Montague Terrace, looking toward Remsen Street, Thursday.
Shoveling on Cranberry Street.
Ship's bell in front of Danish Seamen's Church, Willow Street.
Corner of Hicks and Remsen Streets.
Grace Church, Hicks Street and Grace Court.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

My state senator's message to Jets fans.

I got to know Daniel Squadron (photo above) early in his campaign to become state senator from my district, and was able in a small way to help him win the Democratic primary against a thirty year incumbent. For this, my reward was four days in Buffalo. I later attended his swearing in ceremony in Albany and have kept in touch with him and his staff since. Today, I got a message from his chief of staff that impressed me greatly. In the aftermath of the Jets' defeat by the Steelers in yesterday's AFC championship game, Senator Squadron declared himself a Jets fan. Given that New York has two NFL teams, that was an act of political courage. What impressed me more is what he posted on ESPN's website, which included the following:
To be a Jets fan is to be a believer. It’s to ignore the conventional wisdom or the odds, even logic. If you can wake up each Jets game day believing that this time will be different ... well, you can wake up believing anything. Jets fans start each season believing in the infinite possibility of a changed future. We begin each game believing in the limitless opportunity to shake off past failures and make today the beginning of something new and special.
Inspiring words, indeed. And it struck me how true they would also be if you substituted an "M" for every "J" in that passage. Could the Senator also be a Mets fan? It would be in character to root for both "-ets" teams, both underdogs with long histories of breaking their fans' hearts.

But for a New York City politician, at least one whose district does not lie entirely in Brooklyn or Queens (Squadron's includes lower Manhattan as well as a small part of Brooklyn), to come out as a Mets fan would be uncommon valor. There isn't nearly the intensity of contempt between Giants and Jets fans as there is between Yankees and Mets partisans. Yankee fans are a majority in three of the five boroughs, which is why Rudy Giuliani could proclaim his Yankee loyalty without endangering his chances in citywide elections, and why Hillary Clinton made the claim that she had "always been a Yankee fan", which she quickly qualified by saying she was a Cubs loyalist, but the Bombers were her favorite AL team.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Palin free February? You betcha!

Wikimedia Commons
Dana Milbank has made the challenge. I'll gladly take it up. After all, I've only posted about her three times. The first was in 2008, when she was a candidate for Vice President and I, like many, was shuddering at the "heartbeat away" prospect. Another was an apology. The third was here. Anyway, it doesn't seem that big a sacrifice for me.

How about you?