Sunday, July 02, 2006

Do Not Be Alarmed

As I was driving to work this week I learned that a giant asteroid was hurtling toward Earth and would be visible to the naked eye sometime tonight. The radio station I was listening to then switched immediately into a chirpy, cheery commercial for Glad ziplock sandwich bags. Asteroid? Giant asteroid? Near miss? No big deal as long as your sandwiches are fresh. I'm sure Homeland Security has this covered.

The asteroid, 2004XP14, was originally discovered by an observatory in New Mexico in 2004. It is about a half a mile (0.8 km) in diameter. The Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Near Earth Orbit project can trace out its trajectory and we've been assured it won't actually hit the Earth. You can even watch a cool little Java animation of the asteroid's path. (Maybe it's me, both those little moving dots labelled 'Earth' and '2004XP14' do seem to touch.)

All these measurements and predictions are made by very smart people with degrees in astronomy and physics and other relevant stuff. Personally, I'm a little reluctant to believe that anything with the term "XP" in its name won't crash at least once.

The reason why I'm bring this up is because it got me thinking about Death and Hot Fudge Sundaes. And about my prisoners, of course. So often I get parole violaters coming back into the system who say: "Why did they pick me up? I shouldn't be here. I was doing everything right." And all I can say is: "Sometimes bad things happen even when you do everything right. Sometimes bad things happen because you do the right thing."

Asteroids happen.