Catching Fire – Love This Trilogy

Catching Fire the second Suzanne Collins book was another exciting quick read with lots of action. I finished it in a couple of days and am now waiting on a friend to loan me the third and final book in the trilogy, Mockingjay. If your not a big reader I would definitely recommend this series.

At the end of the first book Katniss has enraged evil President Snow who resides over a repressive regime and lives in the Capitol. The ending leaves you wondering whether or not the Capitol will seek revenge over Katniss and if so in what way.

Book two had a really interesting and totally unexpected ending, but I can’t say much more than that because I don’t want to ruin it for anyone who decides to read the series. The trilogy was initially categorized as young adult fiction, but is now being enjoyed by all ages including adults.

I can’t wait to read book three !

The President And The Governor

When I read the political news, I often feel like I’m in high school again.  That was my reaction when I read the story this week about an apparently testy exchange between President Obama and Arizona Governor Jan Brewer on an airport tarmac.

President Obama, fresh from his State of the Union speech, flew to Arizona to talk about his policy proposals.  Brewer met him at the airport tarmac, and the two had a terse discussion.  The President’s press secretary says the President told Brewer her version of a 2010 Oval Office meeting they had, described in a book Brewer recently wrote, was inaccurate.  Brewer says she went to meet the President to talk about “Arizona’s comeback” and instead he focused on the book and seemed “thin-skinned” and “a little tense.”  The President says the little snit was “no big deal.”  No kidding!

I find this kind of story embarrassing, because it exposes the unflattering qualities of our political leaders.  With all of the problems besetting America and Arizona, why would the President need to bring up the characterization of a meeting that happened two years ago in a book that almost no one has even heard of, much less read?  Isn’t he big enough to shrug off such things?  If not, how much time is he spending fretting about other minor stuff?  As for Governor Brewer, can’t she give the President a break and simply report that they had an animated discussion without calling him “thin-skinned”?  Couldn’t she be a big enough person to resist the temptation to score cheap political points from this silly, meaningless incident?

Next thing you know, we’ll learn that the President and the Governor were passing notes in study hall.

An Elton John Interlude

I’m not a huge Elton John fan.  I found his later, over-the-top Liberace-style phase off-putting — but I think his early work is really, really good.  Mona Lisas and Mad Hatters is one of my favorite songs from that era, with its beautiful melody and cryptic yet evocative lyrics.  Even now, I can’t walk into a subway station without singing to my inner self:  “Subway’s no way . . . for a good man to go down . . . “

Looking At The Leap Second

We all know about leap years, but did you know that there are “leap seconds” — and that scientists are arguing about whether to keep them?

Leap seconds exist because the Earth doesn’t rotate with absolute precision.  It speeds up and slows down as it spins, making some days a few milliseconds faster or slower than others.  The problem is that these little spurts and slowdowns put the Earth out of phase with the precise measurement of atomic clocks.  Leap seconds were added in 1972 to try keep Earth and atomic clocks in sync.  The leap seconds get added here and there, whenever the discrepancy reaches .9 second.

The randomness of the leap second poses problems for systems that require a continuous time reference, like navigation and telecommunications systems.  So, some countries — like the United States, Japan, and France — want to get rid of it.  Others, like the United Kingdom, Germany, and Canada, want to keep it because they don’t want the Earth and atomic clocks to get too far out of phase.

After vigorous debate, a typical modern resolution occurred:  we’ll just defer a decision until 2015.  Seems fitting to delay a decision about time, doesn’t it?  In the meantime, enjoy well those magical leap seconds — whenever they occur.