Monthly Archives: August 2010

The Luncheon Society/Former Apollo Astronaut Rusty Schweickart on the Dangers of Near Earth Asteroids and Objects/Los Angeles—Morton’s Steakhouse/August 4, 2010

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“If you think the night sky is a tranquil place,” former Apollo astronaut Rusty Schweickart says, “consider what may tumble down from the heavens.”

65 Million years ago, a Near Earth Asteroid (NEA) 6 miles in diameter, slammed into the Earth along the Yucatan peninsula, near Chicxulub.  It had the power of a 100 Million megaton nuclear blast (the largest man-made nuclear bomb is only 50 megatons) and over 75% of life on Earth, including the dinosaurs, plants, and other life forms vanished. Life hung by a thread.

The Discovery Channel created a stark video which detailed what would happen if a 500 km NEA crashed into the Earth.

 

There have been at least 5 ELEs  (Extinction Level Events) during the last 500 million years of Earth’s history, not counting the Big Daddy of them all when a Mars-sized object slammed into a young Earth 4.5 billion years ago.  The collision was so immense that the Earth’s surface melted, was blasted into space and the core was exposed.  Over the next millions of years, the Earth slowly healed. However there is a nightly reminder of what took place; the gravitational pull of the debris coalesced into the current consensus of how the Moon was formed.

These events have happened before and they will most certainly happen again. “We live in a cosmic shooting gallery, Rusty Schweickart noted, “and that being hit by a ‘big one’ is simply a matter of time. We have in our sister planet, the Moon, an excellent history of the visitation record of NEAs and comets to our local neighborhood.” Those craters on the Moon are the results of direct strikes.

 

Consider this. On Friday April 13, 2029 (yes, Friday the 13th) 99942 Apophis, a Near Earth Asteroid, will pass within 24,000 miles of Earth, just under our geosynchronous satellite field. In astronomical terms, this is an incredibly close call. When first discovered in 2004, there were global concerns that it might hit the planet in 2029 or on its return trip on Easter Sunday 2036.  NASA has since downgraded the strike percentage to 1:233,000 and they will better refine their calculations in 2013 when the orbit of 99942 Apophis next brings it within tracking range. While the NEA is only three football fields in length and no more than 300 meters across, its packs a punch.  If it were to collide with Earth, it would unleash the equivalent of a 510 megaton nuclear blast. Continue reading

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The Luncheon Society/Bernard Muna, Candidate for President, The Republic of Cameroon/LA—Napa Valley Grille, July 23, 2010/ SF-Fior D’Italia July 31, 2010

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To understand the political despair found in the African nation of Cameroon, look at those who have left the county.  

Not only are the Best and Brightest are leaving, the brain drain is accelerating, and those who travel overseas to further their education rarely return home. Within a short period of time, they join the growing ranks of Cameroon’s Diaspora, which now numbers in the tens of thousands.  They have resettled across the globe but in the United States, most live in Boston, New York, Washington, Houston, San Francisco and Los Angeles. They have become successful in their chosen fields and they are raising their families with one foot in the United States and one foot back home in Cameroon. 

They are wonder aloud why the political reform is succeeding in neighboring countries like Ghana but has floundered in their own homeland.

The Diaspora Outreach. That is why reform-minded Presidential Candidate Bernard Muna is traveling around the United States, reaching out to members of the Cameroonian expatriate community, as he prepares for the 2011 national elections. Muna is here to make his case why his coalition can transform Cameroon politically and economically.

It is a rare to be present as democracy stirs in the hearts of those who want change. Roughly half who joined The Luncheon Society ™ gatherings in Los Angeles and San Francisco were members of the Diaspora. They came to hear Muna, an international attorney, who is early stages of running for President. He is running against Paul Biya, whose corrosive three decade dictatorship has driven Cameroon into the ground.   Continue reading

The Luncheon Society/Fmr Ambassador Andrew Young/Co-Author,”Walk in my Shoes”/Manhattan—The Paley Center/June 23, 2010

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Those deeply involved with The Civil Rights Movement had one thing in common; they were quite young and they chose not to accept inequality because of skin color.  

Those who integrated Little Rock’s Central High School were in their teens. Those who sat with quiet dignity in Woolworth luncheonettes throughout the South or organized voters in Mississippi during Freedom Summer were college-aged.  Even Martin Luther King Jr. was only in his mid-twenties when he led the Montgomery Bus Boycott before rising to national prominence. It was a young movement and their idealism buoyed them through good times and bad. 

The Luncheon Society has sat down with two members of the Little Rock Nine , Melba Beals Patillo and Terrence Roberts, to remind us of their courage and to remand their stories from being paved over by the next chapter of American history.  Taylor Branch sat down with us last year in San Francisco and Los Angeles for a conversation about Bill Clinton as well as his trilogy of the Civil Rights Movement.  

Thanks to the kindness of Christy Carpenter at The Paley Center in Manhattan, The Luncheon Society sat down with former UN Ambassador Andrew Young and his godson Kabir Sehgal for a conversation about their new book , “Walk in My Shoes: Conversations between a Civil Rights Legend and his Godson on the Journey .”  We were also thankful that our great friend, Cari Beauchamp of Vanity Fair, was able to moderate the event in my absence. Continue reading