Diplomacy is made up of many, many small events and of intangibles like forging relationships with world leaders and the leaders of thousands of organizations that work tirelessly to make the world a better place. This entails lots of schmoozing and some “strong-arming” and meetings and conventions and conferences and speeches and travel; lots and lots of travel. From an article in USA Today we get a tiny glimpse into some of her activities as we see Hillary travelling to China to convince Chinese leaders to free blind dissident, Chen Guangcheng; travelling to India to cajole India’s leaders to reduce oil imports to Iran; renewing old friendships in one of the world’s poorest nations as she meets with Muhammed Yunus, a pioneer in providing microcredit to the poor or Sir Fazie Hasan Abed, founder of the world’s largest development organizations. USA Today says that Hillary is “part tough-talking diplomat, part back-patting politician.”
We are human and we have a tendency to anthropomorphize everything. So, that little robot-science lab on wheels that is wandering around Mars makes it almost seem as if we have a person on Mars. Curiosity is cute; it has one of the same eyes as Wall-E who had a delightful personality. By association we also suppose that Curiosity is equally delightful. Wall-E, of course, skewed male, while Curiosity has been presented, so far, as androgynous, making it difficult to choose an anthropomorphic pronoun. Whatever sex is assigned to Curiosity, I have decided to think of her as a “she” because I can. As I go through my day I sometimes remember that our little Curiosity is traveling ever so slowly over the landscape on MARS! She is constantly taking photos that she sends back to earth and she is sampling the materials on the surface of Mars to send us data about the chemistry of the Martian surface. And like Wall-E’s girlfriend Eva, she is looking for any signs that there ever was or that there is now life on Mars.
The ideas for terraforming Mars have been around for several decades now. Kim Stanley Robinson wrote a fictional Mars trilogy to help us picture the possibilities. Red Mars, Blue Mars and Green Mars, the three volumes in the trilogy create a set of Martian pioneer people who take us through the three stages of terraforming and the human drama that might accompany such an endeavor.
Yesterday, Wednesday January 23, 2013, was the day Hillary Clinton took her spot in front of the Foreign Relations Committee investigating events in Benghazi. She also testified in front of the Conress. Most members of the Foreign Relations Committee thanked Hillary for her service over the last four years and admitted that she had served well, before they ripped into her about her part in the Benghazi attacks that killed four Americans including diplomat Chris Stevens. Apparently there are several points of contention about this Libyan tragedy which occurred on 9/11/2012. Some Senators are exercised because Hillary Clinton did not see a key e-mail sent to the State Department in which Chris Stevens asked for more protection at the Consulate. Rand Paul said that if that had happened when he was President he would have relieved her of her post as Secretary of State. This was the harshest statement made by any Senator on the Committee. We are left with the question of whether reading e-mails sent to the State Department is a normal duty of the Secretary of State and, if not, why whoever was responsible for reading such an e-mail did not pass the information up the chain.
This is the view from my office window. Believe it or not this photo is in color. Winter turns our world into a black, white, and grey world. This year, although I can see the beauty of snow, I resent all the extra effort it takes to clear it out of my driveway before I can leave my house, and I am not in love with all the clothing I must pile on my body to stay semi-warm. When I get anywhere I must divest myself of all these layers and find somewhere to put the wet boots and gloves where they will not create a housekeeping problem for someone else. Winter certainly makes you appreciate summer.
If I am apologizing to you for why I am not reading books at my usual clip, which I am, you may have guessed that I am blaming winter. In winter I do spend more time in the house but I am basically hibernating and I don’t get things done the way I should because I sort of still see winter as one perpetual snow day. Actually jigsaw puzzles are also to blame for my lack of reading progress. Jigsaw puzzles are one of the most evanescent activities on the planet. You spend hours putting a puzzle together. You enjoy the accomplishment for a few days and then you take it apart and put it back in the box, knowing you will probably never use that particular puzzle again. Does this activity help prevent Alzheimer’s? I don’t know. It does require that you use parts of your brain that you don’t usually use. You have to match shades of color and shapes and you can feel your brain puzzling over this. It is something you can do while you also watch TV. It is something guests like to tackle when they come to visit. But I have not found a way to read a book and finish a puzzle at the same time. I wish I had ordered my current books on audio tape, then I would not be falling behind on my reading and I could complete as many puzzles as I wished. Let’s agree not to even talk about housework. Here’s my latest puzzle just to give it something to do before I dismantle it and put it away.
When you repeat something over and over does it become a self-fulfilling prophecy? Is it true that you should not ask for what you don’t want because you might get it? Will positive things come to those who think positive thoughts and, conversely, will negative thoughts bring calumny down on your head? I don’t know about these things. Sometimes they seem to be borne out by events and sometimes not. But why tempt fate if you can help it I always say.
Even as we listened to Martin Luther King give his “I Have a Dream” speech, we already knew it would be one of the most famous and deeply meaningful speeches ever. It had that timeless quality of the very few moments that mark milestones in our lives. Having our first African-American president sworn in publicly for his second term on Martin Luther King Day is fitting and also deeply meaningful. It has a feeling of “the circle of life” about it. Deepak Chopra spoke on CNN today about this. He said “I just wonder when Martin Luther King made his speech did he have this day in mind? Well I don’t know if Dr. King was predicting Barack Obama, but I bet he is looking down and smiling on this day, if such a thing is possible.Obama will place his hand on the Martin Luther King Bible while he takes the public oath of office.