The World in Politics
There is so much interesting news this week, its hard to pick just one thing to write about. Hiring is up, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is up…but, paradoxically, so is unemployment. Since early 2010, the economy has added over five million private-sector jobs, which have been partially offset by a loss of over 660,000 public sector jobs, for a net gain of about 4.5 million. The Federal Reserve is keeping interest rates low, which is causing some conservative economists to continue fearing inflation (for which there is, so far, no evidence).
Mitt Romney returned from his whirlwind tour, which received mixed reviews. He returned in time for terrible reactions to his tax plan. The nonpartisan Tax Policy Center called it “mathematically impossible,” which is really not quite what we expected from a financial genius like Romney. Perhaps this is why he doesn’t want to release his tax returns: maybe he can’t add.
Speaking of confused signals, The Dark Knight Rises continues to do well at theaters, despite the tragedy in Colorado. Talk has died down about whether there was any intentional connection between Bane and Bain.
But for me, perhaps the most important of current events is about to happen late tonight. NASA’s latest Mars rover, named Curiosity, is scheduled to land on the Red Planet about 1:30 AM Monday morning, Eastern time. The landing will be carried almost live — “almost,” because there is a fourteen-minute delay for the signals for the craft to travel the millions of miles from Mars to Earth, giving plenty of time for censors to remove any profanity the craft might utter during the landing. (Curiosity has its own Twitter account, if you want to stay current.)
I’ve previously written about Curiosity and about the importance of science research in general and space exploration in particular. I don’t think I need to go over that ground again, but I will give an update once we know whether Curiosity landed successfully.
Instead, this is another piece in my Old Time Religion series. About fifteen years ago, I made an extensive study of the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi texts and their importance for the development of both Judaism and Christianity. I suspect most Americans have heard of the Scrolls, though probably not of the Gnostic Gospels. I further suspect most know neither what these documents really are, nor why they matter. An introduction to these precious papers and a hint at what they mean seemed like a good topic.
There are two issues with publishing such an article, however. First, it’s an esoteric enough bit of history that, unless there is a clear link to some current events, it’s hard to draw you in to the topic on a political blog. Romney’s visit to Jerusalem might have furnished an excuse, but didn’t really give a compelling enough hook. The discovery of the lost Gospel of Judas would have been a powerful tie, but that happened six years ago, so it’s scarcely news. The closest current link happened when Reverend William Owens compared President Obama to Judas a few days ago.
The second issue is that I’ve changed computers multiple times since doing my Dead Sea Scrolls research, and all my files and notes and the dozen or two articles I wrote then are irretrievably lost. I still have the files, but they were archived using a unique and undocumented experimental compression and encryption algorithm that no longer exists. I’ll have to dig back into my research sources to construct an article for another time.
Trust me on this — or, better yet, don’t trust me; instead do some research on your own — the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Gnostic Gospels will tell you things you never knew about the West’s dominant religions and how they came to be. (I wonder…how hard do I need to work in order to interest political wonks in a subject of such importance to our history and to the current shape of our nation? Shouldn’t the origins of religions clearly be relevant to modern politics?)
In the meanwhile, consider the Dawn spacecraft, currently visiting the asteroid Vesta, slated to leave orbit for a flight to Ceres beginning late this month. It is the first interplanetary craft with an ion engine, and will be the first to travel to one world, enter orbit there, leave, travel to another, and orbit that one. It is also telling us things about the creation of Earth that we could not otherwise discover.
Or give some thought to New Horizons, heading for a 2015 rendezvous with Pluto, after which it will head out to objects still more distant from our Sun. This intrepid craft is the fastest-moving object humans have ever built. It will venture into the farthest reaches of our solar system, give us the first close-up look at Pluto, and tell us a lot about where comets come from.
In the midst of this political year, take a few moments to think about the origin of our world and our beliefs about it. The election campaign isn’t the only thing going on. The universe is happening all around us.
- Visiting The New Dead Sea Scrolls Exhibition in Fort Worth (Spoiler Alert ~ It’s Amazing!) (frugalinfortworth.com)
- Obama, Romney Each Read Jobs Numbers Differently (wnyc.org)
- Barack Obama pays visit to Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit (timesofisrael.com)
- Banned from the Bible — Coast to Coast AM (panoffolin.wordpress.com)
- Dead Sea Scrolls (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Obama and Romney Tax Plans Are Pie-in-the-Sky — Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
About dcpetterson (186 posts)
D. C. Petterson is a novelist and a software consultant in Minnesota who has been writing science fiction since the age of six. He is the author of A Melancholy Humour, Rune Song and Still Life. He lives with his wife, two dogs, two cats, and a lizard, and insists that grandchildren are the reward for having survived teenagers. When not writing stories or software, he plays guitar and piano, engages in political debate, and reads a lot of history and physics texts—for fun. Follow on Twitter @dcpetterson