Rescued from another long-dead blog

When the Challenger exploded, I was working at Armagh Observatory during my year off. I’d just come back to my lodgings and found the daughter of the house glued to the TV – “Have you seen that?” she asked, as the news service replyed the fireball over and over.

Yesterday I’d been at a brainstorming seminar organised by Martti Ahtisaari and George Soros on the future of EU policies for the Balkans, around a recent ESI paper. It was a bit odd because I had decided to be smart casual, wearing a new jumper rather than jacket and tie. However apart from Daniel Gros and Stanislav Daskalov, everyone else had taken the formal option. Oddly enough the three of us had collaborated on a paper on trade a few years back…

I had a good seminar, and was able to make points in favour of the excelent Greek Presidency paper, conditionality re ICTY and military reform, a more liberal EU visa regime, and a better outreach program from the EU to the Balkans. A dispute ensued with a German diplomat. Then home through the heavy snow, and turned on the television to find the shuttle story all over the media.

Had to interrupt writing this because Bridget got into the toothpaste and got some in her eyes, poor child…

People ten years or more older than me always remember where they were when they heard that President Kennedy had been shot. The two space shuttle disasters are moments like that for me. Princess Diana’s death a bit less so, because like most people in Europe I was in bed, with my radio still on and tuned to the World Service, which is less dramatic. On Sept 11 2001 I was in a meeting with Branislava Alendar from the Yugoslav mission to the EU; I’d just heard the first tower had been hit before the meeting started, and by the time we were finished they were both down and the Pentagon had been hit too. Oddly enough Branislava was at yesterday’s meeting too. And back in 1981-82 there seemed to be an awful lot of shootings, the Pope, Anwar Sadat, our local MP Robert Bradford, and indeed Ronald Reagan.

Do these seven people deserve having more of a fuss made of their passing than any other seven killed in a transport accident yesterday? Well, yes. I think the Observer’s editorial got it right this morning when it argued that “manned space travel is a cultural achievement, a measure of what we aspire to as a species. If we turn our backs on future missions we will gain nothing and will lose a sense of vision and purpose that the world can ill afford to lose.” It is an important endeavour on a world scale, and it’s more than just a personal disaster for the astronauts and their family, friends and employers.

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1 Response to Rescued from another long-dead blog

  1. mizkit says:

    Oh, how lovely! Merry Christmas, Nicholas!

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