Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Mayaysia Airlines Flight MH17: Death and Life


(From Valentyn Ogirenko, via Reuters, used w/o permission.)
"People light candles at the Dutch embassy for victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17, which crashed in eastern Ukraine, in Kiev July 17, 2014"
(Reuters))

Nearly three hundred people died in Ukrainian airspace last Thursday. They were in an airliner on its way from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.

Nearly two thirds of the passengers of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 were Dutch. They included folks on their way to a conference and families traveling. Some were "important," others not, by societal standards.

News services have been focusing on those among the dead who were most likely to be of interest to their viewers and readers. That's understandable.

Five days after this tragedy, we still don't know exactly why a Boeing 777-2H6ER fell out of the sky. Since it was in airspace over a war zone, it's very likely that the airliner was shot down.

One of the few positive aspects of this incident is that nobody, as far as I know, has claimed credit for these deaths. There's the usual finger-pointing, of course, but that's also understandable.

Apparently several bodies are still missing. Again, that's understandable: perhaps for the grimly practical reason that wreckage and bodies are spread over a sizable stretch of the Ukraine; because the missing bodies contained evidence that the folks who hold that particular terrain don't like — again, we don't know.

I'll explain why I'm not ranting about these deaths being the fault of folks I don't like toward the end of this post. First, and no pressure: I suggest that praying for those who died on flight MH17, and everyone connected with the incident, couldn't hurt.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH17: Last Week's List of Crew and Passengers


The last I heard, folks sometimes board airliners at the last minute: or miss their flight. These lists, released by Malaysia Airlines last week, may or may not be spot-on accurate. Either way, like I said, prayer couldn't hurt.

Crew:

Captain: Wan Amran Bin Wan Hussin (male, 50 years old)
Captain: Eugene Choo Jin Leong (male, 45 years old)
Vice-captain: Ahmad Hakimi Bin Hanapi (male, 29 years old)
Vice-captain: Muhamad Firdaus Bin Abdul Rahim (male, 27 years old)
Mohd Ghafar Bin Abu Bakar (male, 54 years old)
Dora Shamila Binti Kassim (female, 47 years old)
Azrina Binti Yakob (female, 41 years old)
Lee Hui Pin (female, 42 years old)
Mastura Binti Mustafa (female, 40 years old)
Chong Yee Pheng (female, 40 years old)
Shaikh Mohd Noor Bin Mahmood (male, 44 years old)
Sanjid Singh Sandhu (male, 41 years old)
Hamfazlin Sham Binti Mohamed Arifin (female, 42 years old)
Nur Shazana Binti Mohamed Salleh (female, 31 years old)
Angeline Premila Rajandaran (female, 30 years old)
(Source: News.com.au (July 19, 2014))

Passengers:

1 ALDER/JOHNMR UNITED KINGDOM M
2 ALLEN/CHRISTOPHERMR NETHERLANDS M
3 ALLEN/IANMSTR NETHERLANDS M
4 ALLEN/JOHNMR UNITED KINGDOM M
5 ALLEN/JULIANMR NETHERLANDS M
6 ANDERSON/STEPHEN LESLIE MR UNITED KINGDOM M
7 ANGHEL/ANDRE MR CANADA M
8 ANTHONYSAMY/MABEL MS MALAYSIA F
9 AVNON/ITHAMARMR NETHERLANDS M
10 AYLEY/ROBERTMR UNITED KINGDOM M
11 BAAY/JOYCEMRS NETHERLANDS F
12 BAKER/THERESA MRS AUSTRALIA F
13 BAKER/WAYNE MR AUSTRALIA M
14 BAKKER/WILLEMMR NETHERLANDS M
15 BATS/ROWENMR NETHERLANDS M
16 BELL/EMMA MISS AUSTRALIA F
17 BINDA/NATASHJA MRS NETHERLANDS F
18 BINTAMBI/MUHAMMAD AFRUZ MR MALAYSIA M
19 BINTAMBI/MUHAMMAD AFZAL MR MALAYSIA M
20 BINTITAMBI/MARSHA AZMEENA MS MALAYSIA F
21 BORGSTEEDE/HELEN MS NETHERLANDS F
22 BRAS/CATHARINAMRS NETHERLANDS F
23 BROGHAMMER/WILHELMINALOUISEMRS GERMAN F
24 BROUWER/THERESE MRS NETHERLANDS F
25 BROUWERS/ELISABETHMRS NETHERLANDS F
26 CAMFFERMAN/ANTON MR NETHERLANDS M
27 CHARDOME/BENOITMR BELGIUM M
28 CLANCY/CAROLMRS AUSTRALIA F
29 CLANCY/MICHAELMR AUSTRALIA M
30 CROLLA/REGISMR NETHERLANDS M
31 CUIJPERS/EDITHMRS NETHERLANDS F
32 DALSTRA/AUKEMR NETHERLANDS M
33 DALZIEL/CAMERON MR UNITED KINGDOM M
34 DANG/MINHCHAUMRS NETHERLANDS F
35 DANG/QUOCDUYMR NETHERLANDS M
36 DAVISON/FRANCESCAMRS AUSTRALIA F
37 DAVISON/LIAMMR AUSTRALIA M
38 DEBORST/ELSEMIEKMRS NETHERLANDS F
39 DEBRUIN/BARBARAMARIAMRS NETHERLANDS F
40 DEHAAN/JOHANNAMRS NETHERLANDS F
41 DEJONG/ANNETJEMRS NETHERLANDS F
42 DEKUIJER/PIM WILHELM MR NETHERLANDS M
43 DELEEUW/SASKIA MRS NETHERLANDS F
44 DERDEN/LILIANEMS AUSTRALIA F
45 DERIDDER/ESTHERMRS NETHERLANDS F
46 DEROO/JOOPALBERTMR NETHERLANDS M
47 DESADELEER/CHRISTIENE MRS NETHERLANDS F
48 DESCHUTTER/MARIAADRIANAMRS NETHERLANDS F
49 DEVOS/MAARTEN MR NETHERLANDS M
50 DEVRIES/AAFKEMRS NETHERLANDS F
51 DEWA/SHALIZA ZAINI MS MALAYSIA F
52 DEWAAL/ESTHER MRS NETHERLANDS F
53 DJODIKROMO/DONNY TOEKIRAN MR NETHERLANDS M
54 DYCZYNSKI/FATIMA MISS GERMAN F
55 ENGELS/LISANNE LAURA MISS NETHERLANDS F
56 ERNST/TAMARA MS NETHERLANDS F
57 ESSERS/EMMAMRS NETHERLANDS F
58 ESSERS/PETERMR NETHERLANDS M
59 ESSERS/VALENTIJNMR NETHERLANDS M
60 FAN/SHUN PO MR NETHERLANDS M
61 FOO/MING LEE MR MALAYSIA M
62 FREDRIKSZ/BRYCEMR NETHERLANDS M
63 GAZALEE/ARIZA BINTI MS MALAYSIA F
64 GIANOTTEN/ANGELIQUEMRS NETHERLANDS F
65 GOES/KAELAMAYAJAY MSTR MALAYSIA M
66 GOES/PAUL MR NETHERLANDS M
67 GRIPPELING/MARCO MR NETHERLANDS M
68 GROOTSCHOLTEN/WILHELMUS MR NETHERLANDS M
69 GUARD/JILLHELENMRS AUSTRALIA F
70 GUARD/ROGERWATSONDR AUSTRALIA M
71 GUNAWAN/DARRYL MR PHILIPPINES M
72 GUNAWAN/HADIONO MR INDONESIA M
73 GUNAWAN/IRENE MRS PHILIPPINES F
74 GUNAWAN/SHERRYL MS PHILIPPINES F
75 HAKSE/ANNEMIEKEMRS NETHERLANDS F
76 HALLY/DAVY JOSEPH GERARDUS MA NETHERLANDS M
77 HALLY/MEGAN NETHERLANDS F
78 HASTINI/YULI MRS INDONESIA F
79 HEEMSKERK/GEERTRUIDA MRS NETHERLANDS F
80 HEERKENS/LIDWINAMRS NETHERLANDS F
81 HEMELRIJK/ROBINMR NETHERLANDS M
82 HENDRY/MR INDONESIA M
83 HIJMANS/SUSAN MRS NETHERLANDS F
84 HOARE/ANDREWMR UNITED KINGDOM M
85 HOARE/FRISOMR NETHERLANDS M
86 HOARE/JASPERMR NETHERLANDS M
87 HOONAKKER/KATHARINAMRS NETHERLANDS F
88 HORDER/HOWARD MR AUSTRALIA M
89 HORDER/SUSAN MRS AUSTRALIA F
90 HORNIKX/ASTRID MRS NETHERLANDS F
91 HUIJBERS/PIETER JAN WILLEM NETHERLANDS M
92 HUIZEN/ARNOUD MR NETHERLANDS M
93 HUIZEN/YELENA/CLARICE MSTR INDONESIA F
94 HUNTJENS/MARIAMRS NETHERLANDS F
95 IOPPA/OLGA MRS GERMAN F
96 JANSSEN/CORNELIA MRS NETHERLANDS F
97 JESURUN/KEVIN MR NETHERLANDS M
98 JHINKOE/RISHI MR NETHERLANDS M
99 JIEE/TAMBI BIN MR MALAYSIA M
100 JRETNAM/SUBASHNI MRS MALAYSIA F
101 KAMSMA/MATTHEUSMR NETHERLANDS M
102 KAMSMA/QIUMSTR NETHERLANDS M
103 KAPPEN/YVONNE MRS NETHERLANDS F
104 KARDIA/VICKILINE KURNIATI MRS INDONESIA F
105 KARNAILSINGH/KARAMJITSINGHMR MALAYSIA M
106 KEIJZER/KARLIJNMRS NETHERLANDS F
107 KOOIJMANS/BARRYMR NETHERLANDS M
108 KOOIJMANS/ISAMISS NETHERLANDS F
109 KOOIJMANS/MIRAMRS NETHERLANDS F
110 KOTTE/OSCAR MR NETHERLANDS M
111 KOTTE/REMCO MR NETHERLANDS M
112 KROON/HENDRIKROKUSMR NETHERLANDS M
113 LAHAYE/JOHANNESMR NETHERLANDS M
114 LAHENDA/GERDA LELIANA MS INDONESIA F
115 LAMBREGTS/HUBERTUS MR NETHERLANDS M
116 LANGE/JOSEPH MR NETHERLANDS M
117 LAUSCHET/GABRIELEMS GERMAN F
118 LEE/JIANHANBENJAMIN MSTR MALAYSIA M
119 LEE/KIAH YEEN MS MALAYSIA F
120 LEE/MONA CHENG SIM MRS AUSTRALIA F
121 LEE/WHY KEONG MR AUSTRALIA M
122 LIEW/YAU CHEE MR MALAYSIA M
123 LOH/YANHWA MRS NETHERLANDS F
124 MAAS/HENRICUSMR NETHERLANDS M
125 MAHADY/EDELMRS AUSTRALIA F
126 MAHLER/EMIEL MR NETHERLANDS M
127 MARCKELBACH/LISA MRS NETHERLANDS F
128 MARTENS/ELIZABETHMRS NETHERLANDS F
129 MARTENS/SANDRAMRS NETHERLANDS F
130 MASLIN/EVIE COCO ANNE MISS AUSTRALIA F
131 MASLIN/MO ROBERT ANDERSON MR AUSTRALIA M
132 MASLIN/OTIS SAMUEL FREDERICK MSTR AUSTRALIA M
133 MASTENBROEK/TINA PAULINE MRS NETHERLANDS F
134 MAYNE/RICHARDMR UNITED KINGDOM M
135 MDSALIM/MOHDALIBIN MR MALAYSIA M
136 MEIJER/INGRID MRS NETHERLANDS F
137 MEIJER/SASCHAMRS NETHERLANDS F
138 MENKE/GERARDUS MR NETHERLANDS M
139 MENKE/MARY MRS NEW ZEALAND F
140 MEULEMAN/HANNAH SOPHIA NETHERLANDS F
141 MISRAN/ANELENE ROSTIJEM MS NETHERLANDS F
142 MOORS/AUGUSTINUSMR NETHERLANDS M
143 MULA/MELINGANAK MALAYSIA M
144 NELISSEN/JOHANNAMRS NETHERLANDS F
145 NG/LYETIELISABETH MS MALAYSIA F
146 NG/QINGZHENGMR MALAYSIA M
147 NG/SHIING MRS MALAYSIA F
148 NGUYEN/NGOCMINHMRS NETHERLANDS F
149 NIEBURG/TIMMR NETHERLANDS M
150 NIEVEEN/DAFNEMRS NETHERLANDS F
151 NIEWOLD/TALLANDERFRANCISCUS MR NETHERLANDS M
152 NOOR/RAHIMMAH MRS MALAYSIA F
153 NOREILDE/JANMR BELGIUM M
154 NOREILDE/STEVENMR BELGIUM M
155 NORRIS/NICOLL CHARLES ANDERSON MR AUSTRALIA M
156 NUESINK/JOLETTEMRS NETHERLANDS F
157 OBRIEN/JACKSAMUEL MR AUSTRALIA M
158 OEHLERS/DAISYMRS NETHERLANDS F
159 ORESHKIN/VICTORMR AUSTRALIA M
160 OTTOCHIAN/JULIANMSTR NETHERLANDS M
161 OTTOCHIAN/SERGIOMR NETHERLANDS M
162 PALM/LUBBERTAMRS NETHERLANDS F
163 PANDUWINATA/MIGUEL G MSTR NETHERLANDS M
164 PANDUWINATA/SHAKA T MR NETHERLANDS M
165 PARLAN/HASNI HARDI BIN MR MALAYSIA M
166 PAULISSEN/JOHNNY MR NETHERLANDS M
167 PAULISSEN/MARTIN MR NETHERLANDS M
168 PAULISSEN/SRI MISS NETHERLANDS F
169 PIJNENBURG/SJORS ADRIANUS MR NETHERLANDS M
170 PLOEG/ALEXMR NETHERLANDS M
171 PLOEG/ROBERTMR NETHERLANDS M
172 POCOCK/BENJAMINMR UNITED KINGDOM M
173 PUNJABI/KAUSHALYA JAIRAMDAS DATIN MALAYSIA F
174 RAAP/HIELKJE MS NETHERLANDS F
175 RENKERS/JEROENMR NETHERLANDS M
176 RENKERS/TIMMR NETHERLANDS M
177 RISAH/DAISY MRS NETHERLANDS F
178 RIZK/ALBERT MR AUSTRALIA M
179 RIZK/MAREE MRS AUSTRALIA F
180 RUIJTER/CATHARINAMRS NETHERLANDS F
181 RYDER/ARJEN MR AUSTRALIA M
182 RYDER/YVONNE MRS AUSTRALIA F
183 SCHANSMAN/QUINNMR NETHERLANDS M
184 SCHILDER/CORNELIS MR NETHERLANDS M
185 SCHUYESMANS/RIK MR BELGIUM M
186 SIDELIK/HELENAMS AUSTRALIA F
187 SITIAMIRAH/BINTIPARAWIRA MRS MALAYSIA F
188 SIVAGNANAM/MATTHEW EZEKIAL MASTER MALAYSIA M
189 SIVAGNANAM/PAUL RAJASINGAM MR MALAYSIA M
190 SLOK/GARYMR NETHERLANDS M
191 SMALLENBURG/CARLIJN MRS NETHERLANDS F
192 SMALLENBURG/CHARLES MR NETHERLANDS M
193 SMALLENBURG/WERTHER MSTR NETHERLANDS M
194 SMOLDERS/MARIA MRS NETHERLANDS F
195 SOETJIPTO/JANE M ADI MRS INDONESIA F
196 SOUREN/PETERMR NETHERLANDS M
197 SPECKEN/REINMARMR NETHERLANDS M
198 STUIVER/CORNELIA MRS NETHERLANDS F
199 SUJANA/WAYANMR INDONESIA M
200 SUPARTINI/MRS INDONESIA F
201 SWEENEY/LIAMMR UNITED KINGDOM M
202 TAMBI/MUHAMMAD AFIF BIN MR MALAYSIA M
203 TAMTELAHITU/CHARLESELIZADAVIDMR NETHERLANDS M
204 TAN/SIEW POH MDM MALAYSIA F
205 TEOH/ELAINE MISS MALAYSIA F
206 THEISTIASIH/YODRICUNDA MRS INDONESIA F
207 THOMAS/GLENNRAYMONDMR UNITED KINGDOM M
208 TIERNAN/MARY MS AUSTRALIA F
209 TIMMERS/GERARDUSMR NETHERLANDS M
210 TOL/CORNELIA MRS NETHERLANDS F
211 TOURNIER/HENDRIKJANMR NETHERLANDS M
212 TRUGG/LIV MISS NETHERLANDS F
213 TRUGG/REMCO MR NETHERLANDS M
214 TRUGG/TESS MISS NETHERLANDS F
215 UIJTERLINDE/THAMSANQA MR NETHERLANDS M
216 VANDEKRAATS/LORENZOMR NETHERLANDS M
217 VANDEKRAATS/ROBERTJANMR NETHERLANDS M
218 VANDEMORTEL/JEROENMR NETHERLANDS M
219 VANDEMORTEL/MILIAMISS NETHERLANDS F
220 VANDENHENDE/JOHANNES RUDOLFUS MR NETHERLANDS M
221 VANDENHENDE/MARGAUX LARISSA MSTR NETHERLANDS F
222 VANDENHENDE/MARNIX REDUAN MR NETHERLANDS M
223 VANDENHENDE/PIERS ADNAN MR NETHERLANDS M
224 VANDENSCHOOR/CHRISTINA ANNA ELISA MS NETHERLANDS F
225 VANDERGRAAFF/LAURENSMR NETHERLANDS M
226 VANDERLEIJ/JENNIFERMRS NETHERLANDS F
227 VANDERLINDE/MARKMR NETHERLANDS M
228 VANDERLINDE/MERELMRS NETHERLANDS F
229 VANDERLINDE/ROBERTMR NETHERLANDS M
230 VANDERMEER/BENTE MISS NETHERLANDS F
231 VANDERMEER/FLEUR MISS NETHERLANDS F
232 VANDERMEER/SOPHIE MRS NETHERLANDS F
233 VANDERPOEL/ERICUS MR NETHERLANDS M
234 VANDERSANDE/PAULUS MR NETHERLANDS M
235 VANDERSANDE/STEVEN MR NETHERLANDS M
236 VANDERSANDE/TESSA MRS NETHERLANDS F
237 VANDERSAR/INGE MRS NETHERLANDS F
238 VANDERSTEEN/JANMR NETHERLANDS M
239 VANDERWEIDE/FRANK MR NETHERLANDS M
240 VANDOORN/APRILMRS NETHERLANDS F
241 VANDOORN/CAROLINEMRS NETHERLANDS F
242 VANDUIJN/GIJSBERT MR NETHERLANDS M
243 VANELDIJK/PETRONELLAMRS NETHERLANDS F
244 VANGEENE/RENE MR NETHERLANDS M
245 VANHEIJNINGEN/ERIK PETER MR NETHERLANDS M
246 VANHEIJNINGEN/ZEGER LEONARD MR NETHERLANDS M
247 VANKEULEN/ALLARDMR NETHERLANDS M
248 VANKEULEN/JEROENMR NETHERLANDS M
249 VANKEULEN/ROBERTMR NETHERLANDS M
250 VANLANGEVELD/PETRAMRS NETHERLANDS F
251 VANLUIK/KLAAS WILLEM MR NETHERLANDS M
252 VANMENS/LUCIEPAULAMARIAMS NETHERLANDS F
253 VANMUIJLWIJK/ADINDA LARASATI PUTRI MS NETHERLANDS F
254 VANMUIJLWIJK/EMILE MR NETHERLANDS M
255 VANNIELEN/STEFAN F W MR NETHERLANDS M
256 VANTONGEREN/JACQUELINE MRS NETHERLANDS F
257 VANVELDHUIZEN/ANTHONIUS MR NETHERLANDS M
258 VANVELDHUIZEN/PIJKE MSTR NETHERLANDS M
259 VANVELDHUIZEN/QUINT MSTR NETHERLANDS M
260 VANVREESWIJK/HUUBMR NETHERLANDS M
261 VANWIGGEN/WINNEKEMRS NETHERLANDS F
262 VANZIJTVELD/FREDERIQUEMRS NETHERLANDS F
263 VANZIJTVELD/ROBERTJANMR NETHERLANDS M
264 VERHAEGH/KIM ELISA PETRONELLA NETHERLANDS F
265 VERMEULEN/MARIEMRS NETHERLANDS F
266 VLEESENBEEK/ERIKMR NETHERLANDS M
267 VOORHAM/CORNELIAMRS NETHERLANDS F
268 VORSSELMAN/WOUTER MR NETHERLANDS M
269 VRANCKX/ELINE MRS NETHERLANDS F
270 WAGEMANS/HENDRIK MR NETHERLANDS M
271 WALS/AMELMRS NETHERLANDS F
272 WALS/BRETTMR NETHERLANDS M
273 WALS/JEROENMR NETHERLANDS M
274 WALS/JINTEMRS NETHERLANDS F
275 WALS/SOLENNMISS NETHERLANDS F
276 WELS/LEONARDUS MR NETHERLANDS M
277 WELS/SEM MSTR NETHERLANDS M
278 WESTERVELD/INEKEMRS NETHERLANDS F
279 WIARTINI/KETUT MRS INDONESIA F
280 WITTEVEEN/MARITMRS NETHERLANDS F
281 WITTEVEEN/WILLEMMR NETHERLANDS M
282 YURIANI/NINIK MRS INDONESIA F
283 ZANTKUIJL/DESIREEMRS NETHERLANDS F
(Source: Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai, on Scribbed (July 19, 2014))

Getting a Grip About Death


It's possible to be morbidly fascinated by death. On the other hand, knowledge that I'm going to die eventually has a way of putting life into perspective.

As a Catholic, I take the Last Judgment seriously. It's a sort of closing ceremony for this creation: and something I couldn't miss, even if I wanted to. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1038-1041)

That's not the same as taking 'end times Bible prophecies' seriously, and I've been over that before. (February 25, 2014; June 14, 2011)

I believe that human life is sacred; murder is wrong; and we have a duty to preserve our own lives, and the lives of others, within reason. (Catechism, 2258, 2261, 2263-2267)

That's not as simple as feeling that I should be either a full-bore pacifist, or jump on a 'death to them all' bandwagon. Life is not that simple. (November 10, 2013)

I am personally responsible for my actions, and will go through a sort of performance review right after I die.

I can't 'work my way into Heaven.' I rely on my Lord for salvation: but decisions I make and actions I take make a difference. And that's another topic. (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10; Hebrews 9:27; Catechism, 1021-1022), 1730-1742, 1987-2016)

Related posts:

Sunday, July 20, 2014

"Those Who are Just Must be Kind"


(From John Martin, via WikiMedia Commons, used w/o permission.)
('Now that I have your attention ....')

God is occasionally presented as violence-prone, with serious anger management issues.

Some folks who describe the Almighty this way seem to think that we should worship God because the alternative is getting squashed like bugs. Others claim that God is a make-believe bogeyman, invented by charlatans to frighten people.

I think both claims are missing an important point.

God is just, God is merciful: and sometimes God has to get our attention.
"For neither is there any god besides you who have the care of all, that you need show you have not unjustly condemned;

"For your might is the source of justice; your mastery over all things makes you lenient to all.

"2 For you show your might when the perfection of your power is disbelieved; and in those who know you, you rebuke temerity.

"But though you are master of might, you judge with clemency, and with much lenience you govern us; for power, whenever you will, attends you.

"And you taught your people, by these deeds, that those who are just must be kind; And you gave your sons good ground for hope that you would permit repentance for their sins."
(Wisdom 12:13, :16-19)
That's from this morning's readings. The Gospel reading, Matthew 13:24-43, is a long one, and includes a parable about wheat and weeds. I'll get back to that.

The Beginning of Wisdom


Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. (Deuteronomy 6:13; Psalms 111:10; Sirach 1:12)

It's also a gift of the Holy Spirit, along with wisdom, understanding, counsel, fortitude, knowledge, and piety. This sort of piety encourages devotion to God. It's not a sanctimonious holier-than-thou attitude, and that's another topic. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1831, 1850, 2084)

Pope Francis gave a pretty good explanation of the "fear of the Lord" last month:
"The gift of fear of the Lord, which we are speaking about today, concludes the series of the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit. It does not mean being afraid of God: we know well that God is Father, that he loves us and wants our salvation, and he always forgives, always; thus, there is no reason to be scared of him! Fear of the Lord, instead, is the gift of the Holy Spirit through whom we are reminded of how small we are before God and of his love and that our good lies in humble, respectful and trusting self-abandonment into his hands. This is fear of the Lord: abandonment in the goodness of our Father who loves us so much...."
(Francis I (June 11, 2014))

Fear of the Lord and Karaoke


Ever since the first humans preferred their own will to God's, we've had relationship issues with the Almighty. It's easy for us to be afraid of God, which isn't the same as having "fear of the Lord." (Catechism, 399)

The "fear of the Lord" we read about in Psalms 111:10 is reverence for God.

I'm supposed to recognize that God's God, and I'm not: that I owe my continued existence to God. (Catechism, 2096-2097)

Fear of the Lord is not living in terror that God will caste me into an infernal karaoke bar because I like the 'wrong' kind of music.

On the other hand, Hell, eternal separation from God, is real. So is Satan. At the end of all things, I'll either willingly accept God: or not. (Catechism, 391-395, 1033-1037, 1849)

"Not," in my considered opinion, is a daft option.

To Seek, Know, and Love God


My job is to seek, know, and love God.

I'm invited, along with everyone else, "to become, in the Holy Spirit, his adopted children and thus heirs of his blessed life." (Catechism, Prologue, 1)

I should be learning to say four things to God: please; thank you; sorry; and I love you. That quartet isn't my idea, by the way: a new priest in our parishes talked about that learning curve last week.

We start out by asking God for help, should follow that up with thanks, and — if we're realistic about our decisions — tell God 'I'm sorry' when we mess up. Happily, repentance is an option. (Catechism, 1422-1449)

Telling God "I love you" is something I'm working on, probably will be for the rest of my life, and that's a topic for another post.

Wheat and Weeds


The "weeds" in Matthew 13:24-30 are a specific plant: darnel. It's poison, either because of the plant's alkaloids, or a fungus that lives in the seed head. Darnel is sometimes called false wheat, because it looks almost exactly like wheat until the weed's ear appears.

The parable of the wheat and weeds is one of the more comforting passages for me, since I've looked an awful lot like a weed at times.

Remembering that "those who are just must be kind," and applying the principles outlined in Matthew 7:1-5? It's not easy, but sure beats the alternatives.

More:
Related posts:

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kapteyn b, Habitable Zones, and Using Our Brains

Some scientists say that a star's habitable zone may be wider than we thought. Others found a planet that's only a few times more massive than Earth, nearby: and about 11,500,000,000 years old.
  1. Rubber Bands, Planets, and Elastic Friction
  2. Kapteyn b: Super-Earth in a Habitable Zone
I like living in a vast and ancient universe.

Not all Christians feel that way: but since I'm a Catholic, I don't have to reject what we've learned since the days of Copernicus.

Copernicus and Newfangled Ideas


Nicolaus Copernicus lived during the Renaissance. He was a physician, classics scholar, translator, governor, diplomat, economist: and held a degree in Canon Law.

These days, he's probably best-known as a mathematician and astronomer: and someone whose book got banned.

Considering what was going on in his day, it's mildly remarkable that his "De Revolutionibus" didn't get blacklisted until six decades after publication.

The 16th century was a lively era. The Protestant Reformation was getting hijacked by northern princes, and starting to worry some entrenched officials in Rome. Barbary pirates were raiding the French coast. The Ottoman empire had taken Belgrade and Rhodes, before its defeat at the Siege of Vienna. Pope Gregory XIII issued the Gregorian calendar: which was controversial for centuries.

The point of that history lesson is that newfangled ideas, and threats of a lethally physical nature, were sprouting like mushrooms. It's a wonder that a book saying the sun goes around Earth, despite what we read in Joshua 10:13 didn't stir up more trouble, sooner.

Poetry isn't Science


Galileo's abrasive personality, stress from the tumultuous events of the 16th through 19th centuries, and mistaking poetry for science, put Copernicus' "De revolutionibus orbium coelestium" on the "Index Librorum Prohibitorum." ("List of Prohibited Books") My opinion.

"De revolutionibus" went on the "Index Librorum Prohibitorum" in 1616. It had company, like Kepler's "Epitome astronomiae Copernicanae:" put on the Index in 1621. Both were removed in 1835. Interestingly, Charles Darwin's books never got 'blacklisted.' The "Index Librorum Prohibitorum" was finally put on the shelf, metaphorically speaking, in 1966.

I'm very serious about my faith, with a convert's enthusiasm. I look for the "nihil obstat" in a book's front matter: sometimes. It's a statement that the book doesn't contain objectionable material about "questions of religion or morals." (Code of Canon Law, Book III, Title IV, 824, 832)

Looking for the "nihil obstat" in a book of prayers makes sense: expecting to see it in a physics textbook doesn't.

Instead of kvetching about newfangled ideas, or insisting that knowledge of this creation threatens faith in a creating God — I'll speculate about what we might find. Or, more accurately, who we might meet.

Life in the Universe?


As I said two weeks ago, I don't think that we're alone in the universe: or that we are not alone. Right now, we don't know. (June 27, 2014)

If scientists find definite signs of life on another planet in the next few years, I'll be delighted. Even if it's no more than an unmistakable biosignature, or a fossil that's more nearly similar to familiar organisms than whatever's in the Allan Hills 84001 meteorite, we'd finally know that life is not unique to Earth. (April 11, 2014; October 18, 2013)

We've seen plenty of space aliens in movies: memory-sucking invaders; improbably-groovy saviors; and the usual assortment of rampaging monsters. Some of those screen dramas were moderately good entertainment, some weren't: the point is that they're entertainment.

I like a good story, but I think that if we do find people whose ancestors come from another planet: they won't be human. I've speculated about why we aren't hip-deep in the Galactic Federation equivalent of 50-gallon oil drums and six-pack rings, and what sort of folks we may find:
Before getting to what tidal heating may have to do with habitability, and a planetary system with a 7,000,000,000-year head start on ours, I'll look for intimations of what forms intelligence might take in Earth's fossil archives.

Playing 'What If' With Fossils



(From D.W. Miller, via Smithsonian Institution/Smithsonian Magazine, used w/o permission.)
(Cambrian animals, including Anomalocaris, Hallucigenia, Wiwaxia, and Ottoia.)

Some of the animals buried in a mudslide 505,000,000 years ago, like the Burgessochaeta worm, are modestly familiar. Others, like that five-eyed — thing — with a probably-prehensile tentacle, are only vaguely similar to some of today's critters.

There may be a reason why nearly all largish animals on Earth have two eyes, two pairs of limbs, and a tentacle inside the mouth. Or maybe we're just one possible variation on a theme.

I've taken a look over the last half-billion years or so, to see what might have happened: but didn't.


(© Marianne Collins, via burgess-shale.rom.on.ca, used w/o permission.)
(Reconstruction of Yohoia tenuis, a Cambrian critter, by Marianne Collins.)

Yohoia looked a little like today's shrimp. This arthropod was small: no more than 23 millimeters long: just under an inch. But it had two 'arms' ending in four spikes that look a lot like stiff fingers.

Leanchoilia was a little bigger: about five centimeters, two inches, long. The odds are pretty good that it used those whip-like feelers at the ends of its arms to find food.

I've no idea how likely it is that animals like these would, over the course of a half-billion years, get bigger and smarter to the point that they'd be our analogues. But I don't see that it's impossible.

Tiny as they are, those almost-hands let me see them as looking a bit more like potential 'people' prototypes than the lobe-finned fish that came along later.

Earth's crinoids, like today's feathter stars, are animals: but don't have much in the way of a nervous system. Maybe that's typical of all sessile animals: but maybe not.

Before the Permian-Triassic extinction event, about a quarter-billion years back, about two thirds of animals in Earth's ocean were sessile, like that fossil crinoid. After the Great Dying, we had a lot more animals that moved around.

Again, maybe that's a universal pattern of development: or maybe not. For all I know, this galaxy may be teeming with folks who spend their lives quietly anchored to a nice, safe seafloor.

All this is speculation, of course. We may be alone in the universe: or we may find that people throughout the universe bear an uncanny resemblance to Michael Rennie and Chris Hemsworth.

Using Our Brains


Whatever, and perhaps whoever, we find: I'm not concerned that we will learn 'things which man was not supposed to know.'

God gave us brains and a thirst for knowledge.

Studying this creation isn't a problem. (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 282-289)

Science and technology, studying this astounding universe and developing new tools, is part of being human. (Catechism, 2293-2295)

We can misuse either of these tools: but the problem is in ourselves, not in our tools. (Catechism, 397-401, 1849-1851)

I think refusing to take an interest in the handiwork of God is an odd way of showing respect.

Besides, as Pope Leo XIII pointed out: God, the source of all truth, created both the universe and inspired Sacred Scripture. We will understand what may seem like discrepancies — eventually, after we use our brains. "Truth cannot contradict truth." (Catechism, 159,2465, ; "Providentissimus Deus")

1. Rubber Bands, Planets, and Elastic Friction



(From NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, via Astrobiology Magazine, used w/o permission.)
("Planets in eccentric orbits can experience powerful tidal forces. A planet covered by a very thick ice shell (left) is springy enough to flex a great deal, generating a lot of internal friction and heat. Some terrestrial planets (right) also will flex, especially with partially molten inner layers."
(Astrobiology Magazine))
"Habitability: Friction in Orbit"
Aaron L. Gronstal, Astrobiology Magazine (July 15, 2014)

"NASA researchers have shown that friction could be the key to habitability on Earth-sized planets in treacherous, elliptical orbits. The study might have implications in defining the habitable zone around distant stars.

"Eccentric Heat

"A highly elliptical, non-circular orbit can be a dangerous route of travel for a small planet. It increases the odds that a celestial body will cross paths with another large object, or be pulled into and consumed by its host star. Planets in highly elliptical orbits also stand a chance of being ejected from the system entirely.

"However, the new study shows that, despite the added dangers, elliptical orbits could also provide a source of heat for small worlds and aid in their ability to support life. It all comes down to tidal heating.

"Tidal heating refers to the way in which an object is deformed as it passes close to a larger body and then moves farther away. It’s the same process that allows for a subsurface ocean on moons of giant planets – like Jupiter’s moon Europa. This 'flexing' of the world produces heat...."
Io, orbiting Jupiter in a track inside Europa's, experiences tidal heating, too. Its surface flexes by about 100 meters: which may not seem like much, but makes Io a remarkably volcanic moon.

I don't necessarily recommend trying this, but a Wikipedia page on rubber elasticity says that when you stretch a rubber band, and press it against you lips: you can tell that the stretching heated it. I'd think it's also a good way to get sore lips, if the rubber band snaps.

Getting back to planets and life in the universe: Looks like we'll have to refine definitions for stellar habitable zones again. These scientists say that tidal heating could warm up a planet with an orbit that's outside — or partly outside — the zone where water melts, but doesn't boil.

More about eccentric orbits and habitability:

2. Kapteyn b: Super-Earth in a Habitable Zone



(From Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; used w/o permission.)
("Artistic representation of the potentially habitable exoplanet Kapteyn b as compared with Earth. Kapteyn b is represented here as an old and cold ocean planet with a network of channels of flowing water under a thin cloud cover. The relative size of the planet in the figure assumes a rocky composition but could be larger for a ice/gas composition."
(Planetary Habitability Laboratory))
"Oldest Known Potentially Habitable Exoplanet Found"
Abel Mendez Torres, Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo (June 3, 2014)

"The planets around the nearby red-dwarf Kapteyn's star are over twice as old as Earth

"An international team of astronomers, led by Guillem Anglada-Escude from Queen Mary University, reports two new planets orbiting a very old and nearby star to the Sun named Kapteyn's star. One of the newly-discovered planets, Kapteyn b, is potentially habitable as it has the right-size and orbit to support liquid water on its surface. What makes this discovery highly interesting is the peculiar story and age of the star. Kapteyn b is likely over twice the age of Earth and the oldest known potentially habitable planet listed in the Habitable Exoplanets Catalog.

"The Super-Earth Kapteyn b orbits the star every 48 days and has a mass at least five times that of Earth's. The second planet, Kapteyn c, is a more massive Super-Earth with an orbit of 121 days and too cold to support liquid water. At the moment, only a few properties of the planets are known: minimum masses, orbital periods, and distances to the star. By measuring their atmospheres with future instruments, scientists will try to find out whether some of these planets are truly habitable worlds.

"Kapteyn b is probably colder than Earth given a similar atmosphere. However a denser atmosphere could easily provide for equal or even higher temperatures. Based on its stellar flux (45% that of Earth's) and mass (≥ 4.8 Earth masses) the Earth Similarity Index (ESI) of Kapteyn b is comparable to Kepler-62f and Kepler-186f. Given its old age (~11.5 years), Kapteyn b has had plenty of time to develop life, as we know it...."
"Potentially habitable" is an important phrase here. All we've got, so far, about Kapteyn b and c are the planets' orbital data, and a pretty good estimate of how massive each is. Kapteyen b, for example, could be an airless world: or a mini-Neptune.

We've got a very good idea of how long each planet's year is, and how far each is from its star on average. But the scientists aren't sure about how eccentric their orbits are: whether they're nearly circular, like Earth's; or more obviously elliptical, like Pluto's or Mercury's.

Illustrations in the Planetary Habitability Laboratory article show somewhat elliptical orbits: which may turn out to be spot-on accurate, or not.

If Kapteyn b is a rocky world, like Earth; with a similar atmosphere; and plenty of water. If it's rocky, like Earth, it'll be as big as shown in that image: about 168% times Earth's diameter — but we don't know what Kapteyn b is made of. Not yet.

One thing that caught my attention about Kapteyn's planetary system is its age: about 11,500,000,000 years. Kapteyn's star and its planets had been around for roughly 7,000,000,000 years when the Solar system — and Earth — formed.

Our planet won't be that old for another 2,500,000,000 years, give or take.

Planetary Systems: There's Much More to Learn



(From Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; used w/o permission.)
("Comparison of the relative size of the orbits and the planets of Kapteyn's Star and the inner planets of our Solar System. The two planets of the Kapteyn's star fit within the orbit of Mercury. Planets are magnify x100 and stars x10 with respect to the orbit scale for clarity. The size of the corresponding optimistic (light green) and conservative (dark green) habitable zones are shown."
(Planetary Habitability Laboratory))

Something we don't know yet is whether systems like ours and Epsilon Eridani's are the oddballs, with planets in widely-spaced near-circular orbits; or the tightly-packed planetary systems are the unusual ones.

My guess is that so many of the known planetary systems have planets in tight orbits because those are the most easily-detected systems.

As astronomers develop more sensitive equipment, and have more data to process, we may find planetary systems more nearly like ours: or not.

Years, Days, and Spin-Orbit Resonance




(From Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; used w/o permission.)
("Details of the orbits of the two planets around the Kapteyn's star. Only one planet is shown in each diagram using a different orbital scale for clarity. The eccentricity of the planets correspond to the upper 99% confidence level, but they are more likely close to circular orbits."
(Planetary Habitability Laboratory))

Assuming that Kapteyn b has an atmosphere and oceans like Earth's, seasons there would be extreme: even at the equator. But it looks like the planet could be suitable for 'life as we know it.'

With a mass in the neighborhood of five times Earth's, or more, we wouldn't be comfortable there. If it's a rocky world, like ours, we'd weigh something like two thirds again as much on Kapteyn b.

In other words, someone weighing 150 pounds would be pressed against the floor with a force of more than 250 pounds. That's almost as much extra weight as we'd have, carrying someone. I'm pretty sure that most folks could learn to walk on Kapteyn b: but it might not be healthy for us.

It looks like Kapteyn's rotation is tidally locked to its star: either spinning once during every orbit, with one side always toward the sun; or in a spin-orbit resonance, like Mercury.

A spin-orbit resonance is a situation where the planet spins at a precise fraction of its orbit. Mercury's resonance is 3:2, three revolutions for every two orbits. Gliese 581 d may have a spin-orbit resonance of 2:1, spinning twice each local year.

Some scientists have assumed that, since Earth spins 365.256363 times during each orbit — roughly — all habitable planets must spin like whirligigs. Others are developing mathematical models, trying to predict what weather on a tidally-locked world would be like. (May 10, 2013)

I wouldn't be surprised if we learn that natural philosophers living on Kapteyn b decided that Earth couldn't support life: because our days are too short. That might explain why we don't get any visitors, and that's another topic. Topics. (May 9, 2014; April 11, 2014; January 17, 2014)

Searching the Sky, Looking Ahead



(From Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; used w/o permission.)
("The Habitable Exoplanets Catalog now has 22 objects of interest including Kapteyn b, the oldest and second closest to Earth potentially habitable exoplanet."
(Planetary Habitability Laboratory))


(From Planetary Habitability Laboratory, University of Puerto Rico at Arecibo; used w/o permission.)
("Stellar map with the position of all the stars with potentially habitable exoplanets including now Kapteyn's star."
(Planetary Habitability Laboratory))

This star chart shows a heavy concentration of potentially-habitable exoplanets in the general direction of Cygnus, Draco, and Lyra.

That's because the Kepler observatory was looking in that direction. Kepler mission planners picked that direction because it's close to the Milky Way galaxy's plane, looking 'ahead,' in the direction of our sun's orbit.

Scientists sifting through the Kepler data have spotted well over a thousand planets, some of which are very roughly Earth's temperature and size. As more of the sky is surveyed, I'm pretty sure that we'll find a great many more worlds.

Images of Jupiter, Neptune, Earth, and Mars on the "Current Potentially Habitable Exoplanets" chart are accurate representations of those planets. The expolanets listed may look like that: or not. As it says on that red bar, they're "Artistic Representations."

I think the "Current Potentially Habitable Planets" chart is a pretty good way of displaying the number and approximate size of these worlds. As we learn more, it may turn out that none of them can support life: or that some could, but don't.

Or we may discover a billion-year-old civilization on Kapteyn b.



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