Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Faith and Reason

A Look at the Vatican Observatory and Faith and Reason
                                                                                                              By Rob Langenderfer

            May of 2016 started out in a very interesting way for enthusiasts of science.  On May 3, 2016, the Assistant Director of the Vatican Observatory, Fr. Paul Mueller, spoke at Mellow Mushroom Pizza in Hyde Park as part of a Theology on TAP series.  He began his talk by discussing the history of the Vatican Observatory.  The observatory had been in existence since 1582 when one takes the term observatory to mean astronomical research, which was inspired by Pope Gregory XIII’s desire to understand the implications of the reform of the calendar, which had occurred that year.  There were several different observatory buildings at different times, sometimes several being in use simultaneously.  Mueller pointed out how almost all royal courts in the 1600s and 1700s had observatories, and the Vatican, with its control at the time of most of present-day Central Italy as part of the Papal States, was fitting into that tradition by having an observatory.  When the papacy lost the Papal States in 1870 after Italy was unified, having an observatory was still a reminder to the world that it considered itself royalty.
            Mueller denied that there was any inherent conflict between faith and reason.  Since God created both, they must ultimately be in harmony with each other.  He noted that the Galileo affair was for Catholics like Darwinism and evolution was for some branches of Protestants, a well-publicized single exception to the general peace between science and reason that has been present.  He pointed out how a priest-scientist was the first formulator of the Big Bang Theory.  He also noted how he would place God outside the realm of caused events because God created everything and had always existed.  Later, after his formal talk was concluded and I asked him whether there was anything in Church doctrine that would preclude the possibility of extraterrestrial life (as a friend of mine and myself had a lengthy argument about that one time with me arguing that there was nothing in Church teaching that denied the possibility of alien life and my friend arguing the opposite and I was curious about Mueller’s thoughts on the issue), Mueller noted that denying the possibility of alien life would in effect be limiting God and he would not do that.  In fact, Mueller had co-authored a book with his boss, the director of the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., PhD, Would you Baptize an Extraterrestrial?...and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-box at the Vatican Observatory, which came out in 2014.  Consolmagno had also written several books on his own, including 2007’s God’s Mechanics: How Scientists and Engineers Make Sense of Religion, 2000’s Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist and 1998’s The Way to the Dwelling of Light and edited the 2009 collection The Heavens Proclaim: Astronomy and the Vatican.
            Mueller was a very down-to-earth person and a compelling speaker.  A good number of people turned out for his talk.  It truly was an enlightening experience and it led one to many further questions on the topic and resources from which they can be investigated.

 Again, thanks to SBK member, Rob, for the review.


A Weekend at WindyCon
         By Rob Langenderfer
          On November 13, 2015 Donna Madden and I journeyed to Chicago to attend WindyCon.  WindyCon is a long-running general science fiction convention that is focused around SF books.  It was a convention that I had planned to go to in 2014 that many other Cincinnati Fantasy Group members were attending and had been at frequently in the past.   However, things did not work out for me to attend that year, and I had my membership (which had been given to me as a 40th birthday present) rolled over to the next year. 
          This year it did work out for me to go.  My dear, sweet wonderful friend Donna Madden was interested in going to a SF convention with me.  It would be her first convention ever and she was excited.  She was taking a very difficult math class, and she decided that she could not skip class and go up Thursday morning with the CFG group, so we decided to go up on Friday morning. It took a fair amount of time, but we ended up getting there in around 6 hours.   
          We got to the convention in time to hear the last part of a panel on religion in SF, which was quite interesting.  Then we went to the dealer’s room, which was truly the highlight of the convention for me.  I had not seen a dealer’s room that was so tailored to my interests since Millennicon in 1995 and 1997 and arguably Visions 93.  I ended up buying 24 books and did not pay more than $6 for any one of them!  There were so many fantastic used SF paperbacks that I thought I would never see, like the second volume of the James Gunn-edited anthology The Road to Science Fiction.  (Donna was also able to find the 4th volume of The Road to Science Fiction, which I bought!)  It was wonderful to find and buy The Mammoth Book of Jack the Ripper for Donna for she is a horror enthusiast and has always been fascinated by Jack the Ripper.  The Road to Dune by Frank Herbert, Brian Herbert and Kevin J. Anderson was another stellar find as was paperback edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction.  I also bought a number of other SF anthologies and alternate history anthologies and a couple more of Eric Flint’s novels, getting them autographed and some of Mike Resnick’s anthologies, getting them autographed.  It was a great chance to finally obtain some of the classic SF that I had heard about for years but had not had the chance to read.  It was great to obtain an anthology of SF plays that included Harlan Ellison’s original screenplay for his Star Trek episode “City on the Edge of Forever.”  There were many book dealers there and not just a single new book dealer or two as has been the case with too many SF conventions that I have attended recently.  It was a wonderful adventure just seeing all that they had.
          The panels that we went to at the convention were OK.  Eric Flint’s talk on his forthcoming works was particularly good.  There weren’t many that were awe-inspiring or even memorable.  Still, it was nice to see the wide diversity of topics that were discussed. 
          Friends from the CFG were there: Megen Leigh and Lonni Addis and Bill Cavin and Drew McDonald and Mike Resnick and Joel Zackem and all of the Donat family, but we didn’t come across them as often as I thought we would, and we were never able to connect with Megen and Lonni to hang out because Lonni never saw our Facebook message. Cookie Rojas and Frank Johnson were there, but we never saw them at all.  We were able to have a very nice lunch one day with Donna’s friends Natalie and David McGary and their children.  We wished we could have gone to the Harry Carey restaurant that was attached to the hotel, but it was much too expensive.  The food in the convention suite was good, and we had a couple of nice meals on our trip.
          We headed back on Sunday afternoon, and the trip took longer than we anticipated, particularly with stopping at Shoney’s for dinner.  We did not make it back in time for Mass at Thomas More, but I remembered hearing that Xavier University had a 10 P.M. Mass, and after a number of wrong turns, we made it there in time.  We made it home right around midnight. 
          Donna had a great time at the convention and was eager to go to future ones.  I had a wonderful time too.  WindyCon brought back a great deal of the joy of some of my earliest SF conventions and gave me a sense of excitement that I thought I might not ever receive from a convention again after having gone to more than 40 of them.  

Thanks to SBK member, Rob, for the review of WindyCon!

Monday, September 19, 2016

Halloween Comic Fest

Celebrating its fifth year, Halloween ComicFest is an annual event where participating comic book specialty shops across North America and beyond celebrate the Halloween season by giving away comic books absolutely free to anyone who comes into their shops. The event takes place on Saturday, October 29th and is the perfect opportunity to introduce friends and family to the many reasons why comic shops are a great destination for Halloween themed comic books, products and merchandise. From zombies, vampires, monsters and aliens to costumes and more, comic shops have it all when it comes to Halloween fun!

Find a location near you: Halloween Comic Fest

Cincinnati Comic Expo 2016

Come join Starbase Karma and many other fan groups, artists, writers, and celebrities as the 2016 Cincinnati Comic Expo this weekend at the Duke Energy Convention Center. SBK will e giving away raffle prizes that include the following categories: 2 Star Wars packs (one adult, one child), Star Trek, and Literature.

Celebrities at this convention include Karen Fukuhara (Suicide Squade), Adam Baldwin (Firefly, Chuck), Teddy Sears (The Flash), Stan Lee, John Barrowman (Doctor Who, Torchwood), Peter Mayhew (Star Wars), Lee Meriwether (Batman '66), David Mazouz (Gotham), Ray Park (Star Wars), David Prowse (Star Wars), Billy Dee Williams (Star Wars), and many more!!

Check out their website for more details and to purchase tickets: Cincinnati Comic Expo!

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy 50th Star Trek!

Hello friends!

Star Trek is 50 years old today!!

Starbase Karma was founded by four fans of Star Trek. Soon they added another (myself) by driving halfway across the galaxy from the eastside of Cincinnati to the westside. The club isn't as big as we would like but the friendships that have been made are out of this world.

Star Trek has the effect on many people. So many friendships have been made with this fantastic, thought provoking show. It teaches us the following (from 7 Life Lessons from Star Trek):

  1. The best way to travel is to boldly go where no one has gone before. This is true for vacations, for self-exploration, for life itself. If you want your days filled with adventure, laughter, love, learning and the occasional mind-meld, follow this route.

  2. The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few—or the one. Sometimes you must make great sacrifices for the greater good. And, like the Genesis device, it will all come back around.

  3. Expressing your emotions is a healthy thing. Sure, McCoy seemed angry all the time when exclaiming, “Dammit, Jim! I’m a doctor not a mechanic/bricklayer/soothsayer,” but he knew that by expressing his anger and frustration it wouldn’t get the best of him and he could then perform at his peak capacity.

  4. When estimating how long a job will take, overestimate—and when you do better your captain will always be impressed. Replace the word “captain” with “teacher” or “mom/dad” and you’ll see what I mean. Sure, Mr. Scott might have been telling the truth—maybe it would take six hours to get the warp engines back online in the heat of the battle. Or maybe he was padding things so he looked good. Either way, when the engines did come back on line, everyone was happy.

  5. Wearing red makes you a target. This is true of cars, dresses and, most especially, shirts. Red gets you noticed—which is good if you want to be noticed, bad if you don’t want to end up vaporized.

  6. When you don’t know what to say, pause. It will give you the time to figure it out. Or at the very least, you’ll sound like you’re being thoughtful. “But....Spock.....why?”
  7. The most powerful force in the universe is friendship. It’s more powerful than phasers, photon torpedos, even more powerful than the force itself. With friends, you can accomplish any task, escape any perilous situation, defeat any enemy—and you get to laugh together when it’s all over.
What about you? What has Star Trek taught you?

Michelle, Starbase Karma XO

Friday, August 12, 2016

DC's Suicide Squad

I was able to catch Suicide Squad last weekend. I thought it was great. I know there were many movie critics out there who were bashing it and some people thought it was too fast paced, but it was a fun little romp. I knew next to nothing of these characters though since I don't read the comics.

So if you want a fun adventure to forget about the crazy world, go check out Suicide Squad!

~Michelle, XO Starbase Karma

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Beam Me Up Week @ Half-Price Books

In celebration of the 50th Anniversary of Star Trek, Half-Price Books is having Beam Me Up Week. Click the link below to check out the awesome items you can get! Tell us your favorite! :o)

Beam Me Up Week

Michelle, XO Starbase Karma