LtE in CMO #254

From Samuel R WHITBY

@. . . . . . Thank you for continuing to send the CMO.


 Thank you also for sharing with me the communications in regard to T. Osawa and Bill Sheehan.


 I am aware of Osawa's ALPO contributions, and I have been aware to some extent of his situation in recent years, without before your communication having learned that he had passed away. People in his situation, as you have probably surmised, have, as we say, a special place in my heart.


 I do not know Bill Sheehan personally, but I own two of his books, which I have enjoyed very much. His occasional articles in magazines have also been interesting and fun to read. One must have an understanding of the psychology of perception in order to do science well. In other words, one must know how subjective we can be before he can begin to be objective. Sheehan's writings about Schiaparelli, Lowell, and Antoniadi and their observations of Mercury, Venus, and Mars should be required reading for potential planet observers.  Sheehan also has pointed out that large telescopes can be used to advantage visually, something many American astronomers seem to have ignored.


Thank you also for forwarding the images of Ed Grafton. He, without a doubt, is one of the best imagers today, right up there with Parker, Cidadão, Peach, and others.


Before September 11, I had already been going through what one might call a phase of self-examination. This coming spring I will qualify for early retirement, and I have been trying hard to decide what best to do with the rest of my life. Sept. 11 added emphasis to what was already a slow and laborious process. Suffice it to say that I sometimes have a hard time making up my mind.


You have read about my mixed marriage of Protestant and Catholic. I have been taking some instruction to begin the process of becoming Roman Catholic. Again, I have a hard time making up my mind, being very slow sometimes. We shall see later what I finally have done.


We have followed the coverage of the war on terrorism with much interest. The destruction of the Taliban is rather like the killing of a poisonous snake: one is glad it has happened but does not find in it much cause for merriment, especially since the snake has already bitten. Rather than longing for victory, I long for peace and friendship. If peace and friendship are rejected, victory will suffice for now. 


I wrote that we were confident. On Sept. 12 the soldiers, sailors, and airmen were already gearing up to destroy our enemies. Since then, they have been " chomping on the bit" - straining, impatient to go to work. They are going to do their job and do it very well. Peace would have been better, but we will be glad when bin Laden is dealt with - no, I will say it, dead.


 You wrote about the eerie quality of the photographs of disaster in New York. I thought it was eerie to see our sky empty of airplanes and contrails. It was eerie to see the Milky Way from Hopewell when many of the lights went out.


 The local TV news reported that for the first time ever the American National Anthem had been played at Buckingham Palace. The news then played footage of the playing of "God Save The Queen."  That song has the same music as a patriotic American song called "My County Tis Of Thee," which is not the American National Anthem. The mistake by the local news was not eerie, just comic relief. For all I know, "The Star Spangled Banner" was played at Buckingham Palace at another time. Anyway, the friendship of our many allies has been a great comfort.


(29 November 2001 email)


@ . . . . . .Thank you for sharing the attached message with me. I enjoy anything to do with the history of astronomy, and Lowell is one of the more interesting figures in astronomical history.


 I regret to inform you that a cousin informed me that her computer had contracted a virus, which I searched for and found on our C drive. The virus is called sulfnbke.exe, and it, according to her account, is spread from address book to address book, and it activates after 14 days and wipes out hard drive data. Although you probably can deal with such problems, I will forward her message and instructions to you. I certainly hope that our communications have not caused any problems.



(18 December 2001 email)

Sam WHITBY (Hopewell, VA, USA)

 Back to the LtE Home Page

 Jump to the LtE Archives