Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sounds like the start of Apartheid in space...

'Toilet row' lowers space morale

The International Space Station, once a place where astronauts would share food and facilities, is said to be embroiled in a Cold War-like stand-off.

A Russian cosmonaut has complained he is no longer allowed to use a US toilet as well as a US exercise bike.

Gennady Padalka, 50, told Russia's Novaya Gazeta newspaper the lack of sharing was lowering the crew's morale.

The veteran cosmonaut said the problem was due to the ISS becoming a more commercial operation.

For several years after his first space mission in 1998, Mr Padalka and his American colleagues worked in total harmony, he told the newspaper.

But space missions became more commercial in 2003 and Moscow started billing Washington for sending its astronauts into space, he said. Other nations responded in kind, he added.

Space issues

"What is going on has an adverse effect on our work," said Mr Padalka, 50, a veteran of two space missions who is to be the station's next commander.

Before he lifted off to join the ISS crew on Thursday, Mr Padalka had asked whether he could use a US gym to stay fit.

"They told me: 'Yes, you can.' Then they said no," Novaya Gazeta quoted him as saying.

"Then they hold consultations and they approve it again. And now, right before the flight, it turns out again that the answer is negative."

Worse still, the regulations now required US and Russian cosmonauts to eat their own rations, he added.

"They also recommend us to only use national toilets," the newspaper quoted him as saying.

"Cosmonauts are above the ongoing squabble, no matter what officials decide," he told the newspaper. "It's politicians and bureaucrats who can't reach agreement, not us."

The situation may be exacerbated by an increase in the number of astronauts living on the ISS.

Until now only three astronauts lived on the International Space Station at any one time.

But last week, a Russian Soyuz rocket blasted off from Kazakhstan to ferry Mr Padalka and two other crew-members to the ISS. It docked safely on Saturday.

While doubling the number of crew will allow more scientific research to be carried out, it will also mean there will be less room for visitors.

Among the new crew was US billionaire Charles Simonyi, 60, a software tycoon who paid $35m (£24m) for his 13-day trip, during which he will help with research projects and take part in live broadcasts with schools.

Story from BBC NEWS:

Published: 2009/03/31 10:14:06 GMT


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Why do children have to be so honest?

I didn't know where to hide my face...

On Wednesdays Nathan and I take Matthew to his gymnastics class. We usually sit in the "viewing-deck" which has a single row of chairs, packed to capacity with parents proudly watching their little ones. A slightly overweight lady moved passed us and took the seat next to us. Nathan looked at me and asked "Pappa, whozat?" to which I replied "This is a lady". He then walked up to her, pointed to her tummy and asked "There a baby in there?"


It doesn't even help to apologize. "Um ah pha... Nathan, look! Matthew is on the rings!"

It reminds me of when Matt was about Nathan's age. After a Sunday service he stood at the door with me greeting the people. A couple of ladies from the W.A. came to greet. Matt said "Hello ladies", turned to me making a gesture with his arms suggesting upper thighs inflating and said "BIIIIIIIG ladies". "Um ah pha... Good bye, God bless, see you on Wednesday."

Monday, March 23, 2009

Vocational holiness.

I am busy reading Eugene Peterson's "Under the unpredictable plant", and what a breath of fresh air!

Ministers struggle. We struggle with our congregations, with keeping our diaries in check, but most of all we struggle with a sense of wanting to be godlike. This is different from being righteous or striving to be a Christ-follower.

For some time now I have wondered about studying the psychological profiles of ministers, believing that there is a common need for power and affirmation among clergy. Peterson endorses this hypothesis with this book and affords ministers an opportunity to travel alongside Jonah, to connect with a divine sense of "Call" and identifying the places and temptations of attempting to replace God.

Here are two quotes that struck me deeply:

Why do pastors have such a difficult time being pastors? Because we are awash in idolatry. Where two or three are gathered together and the Name of God comes up, a committee is formed for making an idol. We want gods that are not gods so we can 'be as gods' - p.4

...pastors are provided a substantial constituency in which to act godlike. Unlike many other temptations that are associated with elements of morality and so have visible social and physical penalties, this temptation is almost purely spiritual and commonly receives social reinforcement. If we speak the word of God long enough and often enough, it doesn't take a great leap of imagination to take up the pose of the God who is speaking the word. If the pose is reinforced by the admiring credulity of the people around me, and benefits of power and adulation begin to accrue, I will most certainly continue to flee the presence of the Lord, for that is the one place where I am sure to be exposed as a pretender. - p.13


What keeps me going?

My boys.

I have heard too many people complain that they did not spend enough time with their children. I will not make that mistake.

Last night I had the privilege of my 5-year old son, Matthew, falling asleep in my arms. It scares me to think that the time will soon arrive when he won't want to sit on my lap or listen to the bedtime stories that I make up as I tell them.

All I can do is treasure the moment. When they grow up, we will have other sorts of fun, but for now, I am a rich man.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A sensory experience

Cape Town is a sensory experience. I fly back this afternoon to Gauteng and will miss the incredible sights, sounds and smells I experienced during the last few days. Here are a few experiences I would like to share:

Smells: Fresh air, smell of the ocean, freshly caught fish at Kalk Bay, Fynbos at Kirstenbosch

Sights: Mountains, sea, brightly coloured fishing boats, Table mountain ablaze.

Touch: Cold ocean wind, light rain against my face, bumpy ride in a Landy

Sounds: Kaapse Afrikaans, the voices of friends, SILENCE, singing of a Cape Robin, breaking waves, helicopters extinguishing fires on Table mountain.

I can name many more, but these touched my soul.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gutted Rhema leader not allowed to wrestle Jacob Zuma

This is from Hayibo.com

JOHANNESBURG. Church leader Ray McCauley says he is devastated at not being allowed to wrestle ANC President Jacob Zuma during a campaign speech at his church on the weekend. According to McCauley's aides, he had thought Zuma had come to create a Biblical tableau in which Jacob wrestles an angel. "He assumed he was the angel," said an aide. "He's gutted."

McCauley, a former bodybuilder, had reportedly been working on a series of Biblically inspired wrestling grips in the mistaken belief that Zuma was coming to the Rhema church to wrestle rather than address his congregation.

"Pastor Ray just assumed there would be hand-to-hand combat," explained Rhema spokesman Herod Nyamende.

"Nobody thought Mr Zuma would be stupid enough to come here and campaign. I mean, can you say 'godless communists'?

"We can. In fact, we do. Very often."

He said that the "only logical conclusion left" had been that Zuma had come for a decisive showdown with McCauley to "re-enact Jacob's fight with the angel in Genesis 32, to prove which of them is a bigger stud".

"Pastor Ray was really psyched," said Nyamende. "He's been working on a killer series of moves.

"First he was going to go with And I Shall Smite Thee, which is a forceful laying of hands on the back of the neck, kind of in a chopping motion.

"Then he follows it up with Samson's Ass, where you grab your opponent's jawbone and try to pull it off. If that doesn't work then he slips into Way Down In Egypt Land, where you reach into his underpants with righteous vengeance, grab and twist.

"It was going to be awesome, and obviously Pastor Ray is gutted."

Meanwhile the ANC has apologized for the confusion, but added that McCauley's dreams of wrestling Zuma were "naïve".

"Pastor Ray is a fine man, mainly because he can bench-press more than any other religious leader in the world, including the Pope who can bench about 250 kilograms," said ANC spokesman Kickbax Tswete.

"But he is dreaming if he thinks he can wrestle Comrade Zuma successfully.

"There is no human being alive today who can pin down Comrade Zuma. Whatever you throw at him, he will wriggle free."

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Is God trying to teach me something?

Option 3 it is.

Then this... I submitted an article for publication on the topic of the church's responsibility towards refugees and asylum seekers. Yesterday I received two reviews. The first was a tremendously affirming and helpful critique of my article. The second was a scathing massacre of my work. Here is an excerpt of the critic's comments:

A 12 page anecdotal hypothesis largely undocumented and unproven. The fact that I might agree with some of the sentiment within the article does not lesson the fact that it consists of sweeping generalizations which may or may not be true. It reads rather like a sermon delivered by a preacher who is passionate about his subject, but has not taken the time to research his sweeping claims. As a result the conclusions carry no weight. This kind of discourse may be acceptable in some pulpits but is not suitable for a theological journal.The use of footnotes is not helpful, they are largely explanations.

Funny thing is that I read this paper at the Theological Society of South Africa conference last year and it was received very well. Ag well, I'll try to make it more empirical. Thing is, I don't believe that everything should be discussed in an empirical fashion. Of course I can discuss the issue in a very clinical and scientific manner, with graphs and numbers and statistics. But such an article will get lost. I don't want people to read it, say "oh, that was interesting" and then move on. I hope that even my journal articles will generate some stirring of the spirit.

Criticism I can take, malicious massacres of hard work I do not appreciate.

Friday, March 06, 2009

There's a first time for everything...

I passed 2 out of the 3 Psych honours exams which I wrote in January. It's the first time I've failed an exam and don't quite know what to do with these feelings.

Option 1: The group U2 have a philosophy: If they record two bad records in a row they vowed to hang up their musical boots. Is this time for me to do the same and focus on what I have achieved so far?

Option 2: Register again and nail this SOB of a subject?

Option 3: I don't have to have this subject, perhaps register for other courses?

All I know is now I feel a bit sick.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Cricket SA vs. Aus

Matt and me at the cricket. Pity we lost, but a wonderful time together as father and son.