Where will I be tonight? In my backyard, watching for that Russian ISS resupply cargo ship that went into an uncontrolled spin shortly after launch on April 28th. It is due to crash down somewhere on Earth tonight, and will be spiraling in like a fireball. It’s course is very erratic, but it will be traveling generally West to East. Flying at 17,000km per hour, it’s circuit around the globe takes just 90 minutes. Of course it’s speed will be slowed significantly once it enters Earth atmosphere. And once that happens it will light up like a meteor. Could be an awesome sight to see.
What’s coming down? A few tons of metal, fuel & cargo. A Russian resupply ship is spiraling in for crashdown tonight. pic.twitter.com/irVdjYu4pZ
— Tame Bear (@TameBear) May 7, 2015
Here are a couple stories about the event…
The Guardian – What Are Your Chances of Being Hit by Falling Debris?
Duncan Steel – Orbital Path of Russian Spacecraft Progress 59
(with animations showing the likely path to crashdown)
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I’ve been slowly working my way through “Capital in the 21st Century“ by Thomas Piketty. It is fascinating! Some of the earliest data for his research comes from novels that described economics in the 18th and 19th centuries — like Jane Austen’s “Pride and Predjudice,” and “Sense and Sensibility.” Capital in those days was LAND. Those who had it were the “landed gentry,” les rentiers, and everyone else rented and worked the land to eke out a living. The landowners did sometimes have to work, but for the most part they received an income in the form of rents on the land.
TRANSITION FROM LAND TO FINANCIAL SECURITIES
These days, capital is more often in the form of financial securities — stocks, bonds, index and mutual funds, and other “financial instruments.” The top 10% of the population typically owns 50% to 70% or more of available capital. The top 1% owns 40% or more.
Much of this capital is passed on from generation to generation through inheritance. But in the 21st century we have seen a rise in the “supermanager class” of corporate CEOs and top executives who are able to earn incomes far in excess of any productivity value that can be attached to their actual work. It is this new class of supermanagers that is threatening to tip the (im)balance of capital even more towards the top elite. Here in America the top 10% are coming to own close to 80% of available capital, which gives us some understanding of what the “99 percent” are facing.
THE ROLE OF INHERITANCE
I don’t know where exactly I fall on the scale between that top 10% and the vast majority of people who are living paycheck to paycheck with no opportunity to save, invest, and have a chance at improving their lot in life. But the fact that I can receive “an income” from my investments even as they keep growing is little short of amazing, isn’t it?
“Capital in the 21st Century“ has also made me more aware of the culture that forms the backdrop of the PBS Masterpiece series, “Downton Abbey,” which takes place between the two world wars in the early 20th century. It was a transitional time when workers could come to own their own property, when land was giving way to securities, and when les rentiers began to wonder how long they would continue to be able to live the priviledged life, or hold on to their grand estates. Next time you watch Downton, pay attention to the economics!
I see a little Macallan in you.
A certain playfulness and charm, a bemused puzzlement, a need to stretch and shy away, a mix of sugar and salt. This is Macallan I see in you.
Where you are orange, I am white.
Where you are looking down, I am looking up.
When the back door opens we go out.
This is the Macallan I see in you.
In your best days you were the biggest cat; on my lap you stretched from hip to knee. You’re still that big cat in me. And I see that big cat in you.
Fearful of the ceiling fan, was it a danger in the sky? We made up stories of your kittenhood — the Macallan swept up in a hawk’s talons. It explained the fright… to our satisfaction. As often as we pull the chain on that ceiling fan, do we remember Macallan as he was, and as he is now — in you and in me.
Macallan was found, so the story goes, in the middle of the highway on Vashon Island. Still a kitten when we brought you home, quarantined you in the bathroom along with Duncan, the Hospice Case, until your fleas were gone and Camille got to know you, batting paws under the bathroom door.
I see a lot of them both in you.
Do you remember playing with the paper bag on the kitchen floor? And becoming scared and running with the bag still over your head and crashing into the wall?
Do you remember how you made us laugh?
When you turned your head a certain way, it was as though you were trying more than ever to figure us out. An unspoken question, hanging in the air.
When you turned your head another way, with light from the window falling across your golden eyes, I saw my mother in you, and was glad you could bring her to my memory in this way.
Macallan, existing everywhere and in all of us, stepped out of possibility and into physical being, in a gentle breathing life we could touch and see and love.
From kittenhood to all grown, from Washington to Indiana, from Casa d’Oro to Mama House, from Gretel (frenemy) to Whidbey (cuddle buddy) we have all known your sweetness and can touch you in countless memories.
I see all of that in you, my friend.
When I look at you, it’s all there, all that was Macallan, all the inquisitive and fearful and kind life that was Macallan.
Your love of the outdoors in the green and the sun, eating the grass, swatting at insects, smelling everything.
Dear precious Macallan.
So frail at the end
when the time had come, with certainty,
and we said our goodbyes
and let your life slip peacefully through our fingers.
Everything we remember of you is now part of who we are becoming. Your life will go on, moments of you scattered with high probability into each living being we greet today.
You are in every part of this experience
as we remember you
and we are glad
that we knew you
in this way.