@. . . .
I have just returned from Bon Air, where I observed Mars with Randy. The seeing was fair, and I made several drawings which I will send to you later. Even though it is late and I am tired, it is quiet now enough for me to try to answer your recent message. In fact I already wrote several pages and tried to go into detail, but it does not seem now that so much detail would really be helpful. I will try to leave the details for later or maybe never but try to convey the principles now.
ALPO is a volunteer organization made up of people with many different interest and abilities. Some are beginners. Some are experienced but rather old-fashioned like me. Others are very advanced and skillful like Don Parker and others. We are free to do as much or as little as we like. Some members are avid observers, and some contribute nothing. The main thing is that we share an interest in the planets. It does not really enter my mind to worry about who is number one. It does not matter very much what kind of leadership we have, for we will each "do his own thing" anyway. . . . . . It might help us to have more non-American members.. . . . .
In regard to the NATO action in Yugoslavia, I can tell you that Americans are not a warlike people who want to dominate the world. It may seem that way, and I can understand if someone disagrees or worries about it. The issue is very complex, and even an amateur historian like myself could write a book about it. (One of these days I will tell you about the attempted secession of Virginia from the US.) We are fortunate right now to be strong militarily and economically, and that strength carries great responsibilities. We cannot please everyone all the time, and sometimes hard and unpleasant decisions must be made. I have not heard anyone express any hatred of the Serbs or the Chinese or anyone else who has been deliberately or mistakenly bombed. I have not heard any great patriotic uproar in favor of the NATO intervention. (During the buildup for the Gulf War, even old reservists like myself considered whether we would be needed to save the Free World. Not so this time, not for this phoney president.)
I do not object to your criticism. In fact I applaud it and hope you will continue to let us know when you think we have done wrong. We are a very self-critical country anyway.
Tyler is crying now, and I will go to check on him. I'll write more later.
@. . . .
Last night when Tyler called I was going to add that I think I understand some of the concern of our friends overseas. It must be hard to see a country with so many obvious moral problems be so outwardly successful economically. We have had our own problems in the past, and we will no doubt have them again. . . . . .
As far as national (or organizational) pride goes, I take a larger, longer range view. The Book of Psalms says that in His eyes shall no man be justified. If we are in the end all dependent on God's mercy anyway, we are in no position to be proud or use our strength in offensive ways. Number one and the last alike will be on their knees before the Ultimate Judge, so I will not worry about some other mortal's judgement in the meantime. In the meantime I will try to do well at whatever I do, be honest, and help my neighbors. I hope that our friends will remain our friends and when it is necessary find forgiveness in their hearts for our mistakes.
In regard to the mistakes of some ALPO colleagues, they are usually not worth worrying about. The nature of science is that it is a self -corrective enterprise, with the truth replacing its opposite naturally.
It is not often necessary to personalize issues and attack individuals.
Witness the lack of mention of the Rima Tenuis. No Rima Tenuis, no more mention of it, no more glory for its observers: that's the way these things work out. . . . . .
Your little friend Tyler is calling again, so I will go to my finest role in life.
@. . . . It has been very hot and hazy here today, and it does not look like we will be able to observe tonight. As written to you before, the weather in Virginia is very variable, with occasional warm days in the winter and occasional cool days in the summer. We are longing for one of those cool occasions. Right now the combination of heat and humidity is oppressive.