Daily Update: Thursday, September 29th, 2016

Michael, Gabriel, and Raphael and Banned Books Week 2016

Today is the Feast of Saint Michael, Saint Gabriel, and Saint Raphael, Archangels. Banned Books Week continues, and today is also the birthday of my brother-in-law Bob, the husband of Richard’s Sister Bonnie in Texas (1934).

The archangel Michael (his name means “Who is like God?”) is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night and as the administrator of cosmic intelligence. Gabriel (whose name means “God is my strength”) is primarily a messenger; besides appearing to the Prophet Daniel, he appeared to Zacharias the Priest to predict the birth of John the Baptist, and then appeared to the Blessed Virgin Mary to announce the forthcoming conception and birth of the Messiah, and he was the first being in history to say the name of Jesus. Raphael (“God Heals”) appears in the Book of Tobit as a traveler’s companion and as a healer. There were originally three separate Feasts for the three angels; that of Michael dates from the early days of the church, and those of Gabriel and Raphael date from 1921. In 1969 the Feasts of Gabriel and Raphael were added to the ancient feast of Michael. During the Middle Ages Michaelmas was celebrated as a Holy Day of Obligation, and in England it lends its name to the autumn term of many universities and courts of law. Saint Michael is the Guardian of the Catholic Church, the Guardian of Vatican City, and the Protector of the Jewish People, and the Patron of the city of Kiev, Ukraine, and of police officers, military, grocers, mariners, and paratroopers; his aid is invoked against sickness. Saint Gabriel is the Patron of Telecommunication Workers, Radio Broadcasters, Messengers, Postal Workers, Clerics, Diplomats, and Stamp Collectors. And Saint Raphael is the Patron of apothecaries, blind people, druggists, guardian angels, happy meetings, lovers, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, shepherds, sick people, travelers, and young people, of the Diocese of Madison, Wisconsin, the Archdiocese of Dubuque, Iowa, and of the Archdiocese of Seattle, Washington; his aid is invoked against bodily ills, eye problems, insanity, mental illness, and nightmares. Since a Saint is a person who has died and has been deemed to be in Heaven by the Church, it is not quite accurate to call an Archangel (or any Angel) a Saint, as they are purely spiritual beings without birth or death. It is worth noting that in 745 at the Council of Rome Pope Zachary struck angels not mentioned in canonical Scripture from the list of approved angels, thereby removing Uriel (whose name means “God is my light”), the fourth Archangel, the Angel of Presence before the Lord. In the song “Lily” by Kate Bush, on her 1993 album The Red Shoes, she freely translates the Jewish angelic invocation “B’shem Hashem” as “Gabriel before me / Raphael behind me / Michael to my right / Uriel on my left side / In the circle of fire.” (There are those who would say that the Four Great Ones are Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Raphael, but they belong to a Splinter group.) And Banned Books Week continues, so go read Lolita by Vladimir Nabokov today! Today is also the birthday of my brother-in-law Bob, the husband of Richard’s Sister Bonnie in Texas (1934).

I woke up at 9:00 am today, did my Book Devotional Reading, and started my laundry. I then ate my breakfast toast and read the Thursday papers. Richard gathered up the trash and wheeled the trash bin out to the curb, and I did my Internet Devotional Reading and said the Eighth Day of my Novena to Saint Thérèse of the Child Jesus.

I left the house at 11:00 am, and headed to Lafayette. At the Lafayette Public Library – Southside Branch I returned The Well of Lost Plots by Jasper Fforde. At Barnes and Noble I sent an Email to my Third Tuesday Book Club moderator, and text messages to Julie and Nedra. I continued reading the September 12th, 2016 issue of my Jesuit America magazine; I also became a member online of Democrats for Life in America (Democrats who are pro-life; we do exist), and researched the Consistent Life Network. I then purchased some note cards that were on clearance, and the 2017 edition of the Old Farmer’s Almanac. I left Barnes and Noble expecting to do my errands back in my town and be home for 3:00 pm, but there was a hazardous material accident and spill on the I-10 near Duson; I heard about it via text alerts, and instead got on US 90, but since they were re-routing the Interstate traffic to US 90, it was slow going. When I got back to my town I deposited the in-town bill payments, went to Wal-Mart to purchase my salad supplies, and at the Valero I got gas for my car and purchased my Powerball and Louisiana Lotto lottery tickets for Saturday night’s drawing.

Arriving home at 4:00 pm, an hour later than I had planned, I finished my laundry and ironed my casino pants, apron, and shirts. I then made my lunch salads for Saturday and Sunday, then watched Jeopardy! with Richard. I then ate half a cantaloupe (with salt and pepper) for my dinner while doing today’s Daily Update, and Richard went to Dollar General and got himself a Personal Size Pizza for his dinner. And I will finish this Daily Update and read a couple of chapters in Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde before going to bed.

Tomorrow is the Memorial of Saint Jerome, Priest and Doctor (died 419). Banned Books Week continues, and tomorrow is the birthday of Derek, my son’s best friend, best man at his 2010 wedding, and owner of Bobby Brown, the cat we are keeping for him until he gets settled in a new apartment (1986). We will return to the casino for the start of our usual work week, and on my breaks I will be reading magazines. Tomorrow afternoon I will file books. And the New Moon will arrive tomorrow at 7:13 pm.

Our Parting Quote this Thursday afternoon comes to us from Harold Agnew, American physicist. Born in 1921 in Denver, Colorado, he was the only child of a pair of stonecutters. After high school he entered the University of Denver, where he majored in chemistry. He was a strong athlete and pitched for the championship softball team. He left the University of Denver in January 1942, but had enough credits to graduate Phi Beta Kappa with his Bachelor of Arts degree in June, and he received a scholarship to Yale University. After Pearl Harbor Agnew and his girlfriend  attempted to join the United States Army Air Corps together. They were persuaded not to sign the enlistment papers. Instead, Joyce C. Stearns, the head of the physics department at the University of Denver, persuaded Agnew to come with him to the University of Chicago, where Stearns became the deputy head of the Metallurgical Laboratory. Although Agnew had enough credits to graduate, his girlfriend did not and had to remain behind. They were married in Denver in 1942. They then went to Chicago to the Metallurgical Laboratory, where Agnew worked with Enrico Fermi, Walter Zinn and Herbert L. Anderson; his wife was a secretary to Richard L. Doan, then head of the Metallurgical Laboratory. Agnew at first worked with the instrumentation, but after he received too high a dose of radiation he was put to work stacking the graphite bricks that were the reactor’s neutron moderator. He witnessed the first controlled nuclear chain reaction when the reactor went critical on December 2nd, 1942. Agnew and his wife moved to the Los Alamos Laboratory in March 1943. Agnew, his wife and Bernard Waldman first went to the University of Illinois, where the men disassembled the Cockcroft–Walton generator and particle accelerator while Agnew’s wife cataloged all the parts. The parts were shipped to New Mexico, where Agnew and and his wife met up with them, and rode the trucks hauling them to the Los Alamos Laboratory. There, his wife worked a secretary, initially with Robert Oppenheimer and his secretary Priscilla Green. She then became secretary to Robert Bacher, the head of Physics (P) Division, and later the Gadget (G) Division, for the rest of the war. Agnew’s job was to reassemble the accelerator, which was then used for experiments by Hohn Manley’s group. When experimental work wound down, Agnew was transferred to Project Alberta, working as part of Luis W. Alvarez’s group, whose role was to monitor the yield of nuclear explosions. With Alvarez and Lawrence H. Johnson, Agnew had devised a method for measuring the yield of the nuclear blast by dropping pressure gauges on parachutes and telemetering the readings back to the plane. In June 1945, he was issued with an Army uniform and dog tags at Wendover Army Air Field, Utah, and was flown to Tinian in the Western Pacific in a C-54 of the 509th Composite Group. Agnew’s first task was to install his yield measurement instrumentation in the Boeing B-29 Superfortress aircraft The Great Artiste. During the atomic bombing of Hiroshima, on August 6th, 1945, Agnew, along with Alvarez and Johnson, flew as a scientific observer in the The Great Artiste, piloted by Charles Sweeney, which tailed the Enola Gay as the instrumentation aircraft. He brought along a movie camera and took the only existing movies of the Hiroshima event as seen from the air. After the war ended, Agnew entered the University of Chicago, where he completed his graduate work under Fermi. Agnew and his wife stayed with Fermi and his family, due to the post-war housing shortage. He received his Master of Science (MS) degree in 1948 and his Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) degree in 1949, writing his thesis on “The beta-spectra of Cs137, Y91, Pm147, Ru106, Sm151, P32, Tm170”. With his doctorate in hand, Agnew returned to Los Alamos as a National Research Foundation Fellow, and worked on weapons development in the Physics Division. In 1950 he was assigned to the thermonuclear weapons project, and was project engineer for the Castle Bravo nuclear test at Bikini Atoll in 1954. Agnew served as a Democratic New Mexico State Senator from 1955 to 1961, becoming the first state senator to be elected from Los Alamos County. Senators served unpaid, receiving only a per diem allowance of five dollars, and since the New Mexico legislature convened for only 30 days in even numbered years and 60 days in odd numbered years, he was able to continue working at Los Alamos, taking leave without pay to attend legislative sessions.  From 1961 to 1964 he was Scientific Adviser to the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR). He became head of the Weapon Nuclear Engineering Division in 1964. He was a member of the United States Air Force Scientific Advisory Board from 1957 to 1968, and was chairman of the Science Advisory Group of the United States Army’s Combat Development Command from 1966 to 1970. He was the recipient of the E.O. Lawrence Award in 1966. Agnew was a member of the Defense Science Board from 1966 to 1970, the Army’s Scientific Advisory Panel from 1966 to 1974, and NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel from 1968 to 1974. He became director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1970, when it had 7,000 employees. Under his directorship, Los Alamos developed an underground test containment program, completed its Meson Physics Facility, acquired the first Cray supercomputer, and trained the first class of International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors. Agnew also managed to get the Los Alamos Laboratory responsibility for the development of the W76, used by the Trident I and Trident II Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles, and the W78 used by the Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles. He was proud of the work with insensitive high explosive that made nuclear weapons safer to handle. Support from the Atomic Energy Commission for reactor development dried up, but during the 1970s energy crisis, the laboratory explored other types of alternative fuels. A proponent of tactical nuclear weapons, Agnew pointed out in 1970 that the Thanh Hoa Bridge in Vietnam required hundreds of sorties to destroy with conventional weapons when a nuclear weapon could have done the job with just one. Agnew chaired the General Advisory Committee of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency from 1974 to 1978. In a 1977 article for the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists he argued that the fusion reactions of neutron bombs were superior to conventional fission weapons. Agnew was on the Army Science Board from 1978 to 1984. He was again a member of NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel from 1978 to 1987. In 1979 Agnew resigned from Los Alamos and became President and Chief Executive Officer of General Atomics, a position he held until 1985. Agnew served as a White House science councilor from 1982 to 1989. He became an adjunct professor at the University of California, San Diego in 1988. He was the recipient of the Department of Energy’s Enrico Fermi Award in 1978. Along with Hans Bethe, Agnew was the first to receive the Los Alamos National Laboratory Medal. He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering. He maintained that no new United States nuclear weapon design could be certified without nuclear testing, and that stockpile reliability stewardship without such testing might be problematic. His wife died in 2011 (died 2013): “As long as any nation has a demonstrated nuclear capability and a means of delivering its bombs and warheads, it doesn’t really matter whether the warheads are a little smaller or painted a color other than red, white, and blue.”

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