Sunday, June 5, 2011

People Being Awsome

Some people look at the hugely popular Facebook-hosted game Farmville and think of all the time wasted.  Others see the shady business practices.  Still others see the huge profit potential from a new and largely untapped market.  Forget those folks, because there are some who saw an opportunity to educate and reconnect the public with farming.  Thus was born the idea of having a real life farm with major decisions made by subscribers from the internet.  It is an odd idea, based largely on a football (soccer) team run using the same methods.  I have no idea how they will be providing the people who subscribe with the information needed to make educated decisions, and I have no idea how they will make things fun, but they get major points for thinking outside the box and trying to give a glimpse of the bigger system surrounding and supporting us.

Speaking of bigger systems, the Space Shuttle program is drawing to a relatively quiet close.  Astronauts aboard the Endeavor completed the final shuttle space walk late last month, adding the last U.S. built module to the International Space Station.  The thirty year old Shuttle program covered the majority of my life, and I expect I will have more to say after the completion of the final mission next month.

So we have a cool educational idea and the historic final Shuttle space walk.  A pair of wildly different stories that share only the theme that people have awesome ideas and can turn them into awesome realities.  One more story along those lines closes us out today.

Anyone who follows the news knows it has been a bad year for natural disasters.  Chief among the recent ones was the earthquake, tsunami, and subsequent meltdowns of the Fukushima power plant.  The radiation danger makes cleanup of the plant much harder, as it puts the workers at risk.  Yasutero Yamada, a retired engineer, offers a unique solution.  He is attempting to go back to work.  "I am 72 and on average I probably have 13 to 15 years left to live.  Even if I were exposed to radiation, cancer could take 20 or 30 years or longer to develop."  He has already gathered a group of more than 200 volunteers, all over the age of 60.

Sometimes, when things are hard, in your life, around you, for those you know, or even for strangers you will never meet, it's worth remembering that as banal, crazy, callous, and fallen as people can be, they can also be really and truly awesome.

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