Outer space makes you realize how feeble
Special to GwinnettForum
(Editor's Note: Duluth native Knox Summerour
started thinking about outer space after working on music for
an upcoming documentary. His studies lead him to these observations.
LOS ANGELES, Calif., Jan. 13, 2009 -- My boss and I just started
working on scoring a documentary (which will be on the NOVA series
on PBS ) about the history of telescopes and astronomy, and it has
actually quite transformed how I've seen "life" lately
and left me in a daze.
First, before you read below, go
HERE and take a look at the "Hubble Ultra Deep Field."
Then come back.
With the exception of a few starts in that image, each one of those
10,000 point of lights is a galaxy. Most are as large or larger
than our Milky Way, and each has billions of starts in it the size
of our sun. To quote www.hubblesite.org. "The whole sky contains
12.7 million times more area than the Ultra Deep Field. To observe
the entire sky would take almost 1 million years of uninterrupted
The closest galaxy to the Milky Way, Andromeda, is 2,400,000 light-years
from earth. It is 150,000 light-years wide. One light-year is the
distance light travels in one year. Light travels at 186,000 miles
per second. You do the math.
Makes you wonder why you ever worry about paying bills, or why
you care what anyone thinks of you, right?
Why would I ever allow a hint of self-importance or self-supremacy
to enter into my mind? The stars and cosmos, especially in HUDF,
astronomers say, are extremely violent, colliding all the time and
creating explosions several thousand light-years wide. If a mere
fleck of a star were to slam into our earth, all six billion of
us would be obliterated within seconds.
We now know the universe had a definite beginning. Apparently for
most of human history, from a scientific standpoint most people
thought the universe, or what they knew of it, had just always existed
and was stagnant. Not only did it have a beginning, the scientists
in the documentary say, but it is rapidly expanding, moving from
order to disorder, as it were---still exploding. This is the opposite
of what scientists had expected, owing to the theories and properties
New planets are now being discovered every month. One scientist
says that within 10 years we should be able to know, pretty certainly,
if life is present or possible on other planets in other galaxies.
He asks: "What if we learn that even if all the conditions
for sustainable life are present, that life is not present and that
it takes something else for life to exist? I think evolutionists
and all of us would start to look at ourselves and our planet quite
The enormity of the universe, billions of galaxies and planets,
the impossibility of us ever knowing all of what is in our universe
makes me realize that I really know nothing. I don't think it means
I'm insignificant. I do think it means I don't want to spend a second
I want abundant life. How lucky and unique we are on our planet
to even have the chance to be, to live and enjoy the beauty of the
earth. It's hard to put into words what I'm trying to say. Most
of all, when we ponder the universe, we have no reason to put up
with "bull" in our lives: difficult people, people with
big egos, people with negative "vibes" or attitudes that
only concern themselves and their stupid "career." We
have unreal expectations of ourselves or, more probably, expectations
others or "society" have of us. We shouldn't listen to
stupid people. We need to purge our lives of such people, immediately.
Jesus, who claimed to be the author of the entire universe, said
"I am the truth...I came so you could know the truth. And the
truth will set you free." "I came so you can have abundant
Bold claims. I'm not sure if I'll ever understand the enormity
of what he meant. I don't know if I'm supposed to.
Two from Gwinnett already running for state's
Editor and Publisher
JAN. 13, 2009 -- Gwinnett will play a more important role in the
Georgia General Assembly this year, perhaps not on center stage,
but certainly behind the curtain.
That's because already the next General Election is 22 months away
(November 2010), and already two people from Gwinnett have announced
for the two top offices. Interestingly, both have a Duluth home
One is Republican John Oxendine, the State Insurance Commissioner,
who has announced his intention of running for governor. The other
is Republican State Senator David Shafer, a candidate for lieutenant
And already the political scene is getting more crowded, as current
Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle is to run for governor. This week it was also
reported that Secretary State Karen Handle will also be a candidate
for governor in 2010.
Note, too, that they are all North Georgians.
So, as the Georgia Legislature gaveled into session this week,
you can bet that these two Gwinnettians were circling around the
Georgia Dome, maneuvering and glad-handing, meeting old friends
and hoping to count newcomers as friends, all in the sheer business
of politicking and promoting their candidacies.
With us all recognizing that running for office is more than a
full-time job within itself, you wonder what other work these or
any other candidates can get done that will be considered "of
value", what with all the politicking going on. Luckily, perhaps
a large bunch of our legislators won't have ulterior offices in
mind, and will simply mind the store sufficiently so that the Legislature
is not in stagnation this session.
Yet with the economy and the state treasury being where it is,
there may be massive efforts by our legislators to "shore things
up", which can in some years be taken for helping out their
buddies, and sticking it to the average man when it comes to awarding
contracts to cronies.
We've drawn up a list of possibilities to be wary about if you
see the legislators talking in these terms.
- "Reducing property taxes." That's just another way
of saying move taxation to other means than property tax, and
stick it to the little guy.
- "Raise the Sales Tax." This is regressive. It's just
another way of helping wealthy fat cats and big property owners,
and hurting the little guy.
- "Put a tax on food." Guess who gets hurt the most
with a sales tax on food: yep, the little guy.
- "School vouchers." This amounts to transferring public
monies to private schools, and hurts public education.
- "Cut the income tax." They'll call for this as a
pro-business lure. But this would reduce progressivity and cause
the regular guy to shoulder more of the burden.
- "Increase energy independence." These may be the
words that they use to try to build more coal-fired power plants,
which would hurt the environment.
- "Clean coal.' There is no such thing.
- "More efficiency in government." Who wouldn't call
for that? But watch out who is cut out, and whose jobs are protected.
All too often, the wrong people get the ax.
- Watch out when a legislator says "
all this bill does."
Simple explanations of complex bills are the norm. Any time you
hear this phrase, watch out!
All these activities, this year, will only be more interesting
for us in Gwinnett because we will have two of our own in the running
for higher office. We wish them well. It can however, complicate
getting things done!
The public spiritedness of our sponsors allows us to bring GwinnettForum.com
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Place the Place to be. To learn more about the Gwinnett Place CID
and ways to find success at Gwinnett's central business district,
please visit www.GwinnettPlaceCID.com
county government swings toward dictatorial tactics
Editor, the Forum:
I, too, regret the apparent imminent demise of Gwinnett Clean and
Beautiful, and echo your sentiments in regard to its contribution
to the quality of life in Gwinnett County. However, this tragic
result could have been avoided.
The basic problem is that the County Commission, through GC&B,
either (a) did not get enough input and buy-in from the citizens
and the contractors; or (b) ignored whatever input they got---or
both. Instead, the county attempted to strong-arm the changes in
the waste collection program, resulting in a massive protest from
both groups of constituents. My sense is that there is a growing
undercurrent of protest and rebellion among Gwinnett taxpayers over
other issues as well. The commissioners should take note.
It is my opinion that the over the last few years the county government
has swung more toward using dictatorial tactics in making changes
or creating new ordinances and taxes, and that this trend continues
today. I can see a similar situation developing over the new baseball
-- Al Swint, Buford
Reader sends along
ways to recognize person having stroke
Editor, the Forum:
Your readers might benefit from learning how to recognize a stroke
Sometimes symptoms of a stroke are difficult to identify. Unfortunately,
the lack of awareness spells disaster. The stroke victim may suffer
severe brain damage when people nearby fail to recognize the symptoms
of a stroke.
Now doctors say a bystander can recognize a stroke by asking three
- Ask the individual to SMILE.
- Ask the person to TALK and SPEAK A SIMPLE SENTENCE (coherently,
such as "It is sunny today.")
- Ask him or her to RAISE BOTH ARMS.
A good way to remember this procedure is to think STAR (Smile-TAlk-Raise).
If he or she has trouble with any one of these tasks, call emergency
number immediately and describe the symptoms to the dispatcher.
* * * *
Another 'sign' of a stroke is this: ask the person to 'stick' out
his tongue. If the tongue is 'crooked', if it goes to one side or
the other, that is also an indication of a stroke.
-- David Kee, Tucker
"State of the City" address scheduled for Jan. 27
Duluth Mayor Nancy Harris will give the fifth annual "state
of the city" address on Tuesday, January 27 at 11:30 at the
Korean Television Network, 4675 River Green Parkway.
The event is co-sponsored by the Gwinnett Civitan Club. Admission
is $25, or tables of eight may be purchased for $175. The luncheon
is being catered by Kurt's Restaurant of Duluth.
Deadline for reservations is Friday, January 23. To purchase tickets,
contact Terry Crouch at firstname.lastname@example.org
or by phone at 678-242-0445.
Button Theatre opens
at Red Clay Theatre with The Return
Button Theatre has been chosen to short-term manage the Red Clay
Theatre in downtown Duluth. On Saturday, January 17, the company
welcomes The Return, one of the best Beatles cover bands
in the country.
The captivating, fun, exciting spirit that came to be known as
"Beatlemania" is alive again in The Return. These four
lads, all in their early to mid-twenties, have carefully and skillfully
recreated the Beatles experience by not only performing all the
great songs of the original four, but also by sporting similar suits,
boots, mop-tops, musical instruments, and gear. The Return make
it possible for music fans from every generation to experience the
same thrilling rush felt by fans who were fortunate enough to attend
an actual Beatles concert in the early 60'.
Tickets are $25 and are available by calling 678-407-0772 or visiting
Gwinnett seeks nominations for 11th class
The 11th annual class of Senior Leadership Gwinnett (SLG), sponsored
and hosted by Gwinnett Technical College, is now accepting nominations
and applications for the 2009-2010 class, which will begin August,
Tom Travis, who is the SLG's new general chair, and will work alongside
Elliott Brack, chair, and Bill Barry, vice chair of the Board of
Trustees, in seating the new class.
Nomination deadline is June 5, 2009, and the application deadline
is July 10, 2009. Persons may also self-nominate themselves for
The current GSL class, the largest ever at 25, will complete its
studies and graduate in May.
To request an application for Gwinnett Senior Leadership, contact
Lorri Christopher, coordinator for the Senior Leadership Gwinnett
program at Gwinnett Tech, at 678-226-6316 or via email at email@example.com.
North Gwinnett Kiwanis
plan father/daughter Valentine Dance
On Friday, February 6, the North Gwinnett Kiwanis Club will host
their first Father/Daughter Valentine Dance at the Legacy Lodge
and Conference Center at Lake Lanier Islands Resort. Each couple
will be formally introduced under the spotlight of the grand arch!
Light refreshments will be served, professional photography will
be available, and memories of a lifetime will be created!
Fathers, stepfathers, grandfathers, uncles, and anyone who is a
significant father-like figure is invited to bring their daughters,
stepdaughters, granddaughters, and nieces to this inaugural event.
Tickets can be purchased online at www.northgwinnettkiwanis.com
or from any club member from now until January 28. The cost of the
ticket is $40 per couple/$10 for each additional daughter. Admission
to Lake Lanier Island is included with the couple's ticket. The
dress is Sunday Attire.
Giving back to the community is at the heart of the North Gwinnett
Kiwanis Club, one of the oldest services clubs in Gwinnett. Over
the years, they have sponsored events such as the annual teacher
appreciation luncheon, the Pirates & Princesses Breakfast, and
Vidalia onion sales. These activities provide scholarship funds
to area high school seniors and invest in our area children in a
variety of different ways. For more information go to www.northgwinnettkiwanis.com.
Riggs to sign new book in Decatur on Jan. 15
Award-winning author Jack Riggs, writer-in-residence at the Writer's
Institute of Georgia Perimeter College, has released his newest
novel, The Fireman's Wife, (Ballantine Books/Random House).
Riggs will host an official book launch at 7:15 p.m., Thursday,
Jan. 15, at the Georgia Center for the Book, Decatur Library.
The Fireman's Wife, Riggs' second novel, takes place in
1970 in the Lowcountry of South Carolina and the North Carolina
mountains. The tale chronicles a wife's struggle to understand her
life and the fact that her husband might no longer be a part of
Riggs was named Georgia Author of the Year for his first novel,
When the Finch Rises. His latest work has been chosen by Target
department stores as its Bookmarked Break-Out Book for February.
The Fireman's Wife has received effusive praise from the
Terry Kay, one of Georgia's best-loved authors, says of the book:
The Fireman's Wife is the kind of book that reminds you of
the reason you love reading-a story wonderfully told, with memorable
characters and tense/tender moments."
New London Theatre
plans open auditions for upcoming play
New London Theatre announces open auditions for Grimm's Fairy
Tales on Tuesday, January 27 from 5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m. and on
Wednesday, January 28 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Grimm's Fairy Tales is the story of Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm,
15 and 13 years old. They must face Napoleon's wolf-soldiers and
a scheming fox, but with help from the comedic Bremen musicians,
succeed in being reunited with their family in this coming-of-age
original fairy tale.
The play is being produced by Kathleen Mardis and directed by Kirk
Buis, who is also the playwright.
New London Theatre will present "Grimm's Fairy Tales"
opening on March 20 and continuing through April 4. For additional
information about this and future auditions, future performances,
ticket purchases, volunteering, or donations, visit (www.newlondontheatre.org),
or call 770-559-1484.
- An invitation: What
Web sites, books or restaurants have you enjoyed? Send us your
best recent visit to a restaurant or most recent book you have
read along with a short paragraph as to why you liked it, plus
what book you plan to read next. --eeb
awards Townsend Prize for Fiction
Every other year a board of judges awards the Townsend
Prize for Fiction to an outstanding novel or short-story collection
published by a Georgia writer during the past two years. The award
is named for Jim Townsend, the founding editor of Atlanta magazine,
the associate editor of Atlanta Weekly Magazine (of The
Atlanta Journal-Constitution), and an early mentor to such Atlanta
writers as Pat Conroy, Terry Kay, William Diehl, and Anne Rivers
The prize was conceived by a group of Atlanta writers in 1981.
From 1981 to 1997 Georgia State University sponsored the award.
In 1997 Georgia Perimeter College and the Chattahoochee Review
assumed sponsorship. In 2000 the Margaret Mitchell House and Museum
and Atlanta magazine became additional sponsors.
The Townsend Prize consists of a $2,000 award and a silver tray
Winners of the Townsend Prize:
Celestine Sibley, Children, My Children (1982)
Alice Walker, The Color Purple (1984)
Philip Lee Williams, The Heart of a Distant Forest (1986)
Mary Hood, And Venus Is Blue (1988)
Sara Flanigan, Alice (1989)
Charlie Smith, The Lives of the Dead (1990)
Ferrol Sams, When All the World Was Young (1991)
Pam Durban, The Laughing Place (1994)
JoAllen Bradham, Some Personal Papers (1996)
Judson Mitcham, The Sweet Everlasting (1998)
James Kilgo, Daughter of My People (2000)
Ha Jin, The Bridegroom: Stories (2002)
Terry Kay, The Valley of Light (2004)
Judson Mitcham, Sabbath Creek (2006)
Renee Dodd, A Cabinet of Wonders (2008)
Wisdom about tyranny
and liberty from our third president
"When the people fear their government, there is tyranny;
when the government fears the people, there is liberty."
-- Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), via Craig Heighton, Buford.
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