Author Archives: kennb
‘The Power of the Dog’ by Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), prolific poet, novelist, and writer of short fiction for both adults and children, extols the dog’s most famous virtue – its undying loyalty and devotion to its owner – but also warns against giving your heart to a dog for it ‘to tear’. Dogs, for Kipling, are not just man’s best friend: they are heartbreakers.
The Power of the Dog
There is sorrow enough in the natural way
From men and women to fill our day;
And when we are certain of sorrow in store,
Why do we always arrange for more?
Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
Buy a pup and your money will buy
Love unflinching that cannot lie
Perfect passion and worship fed
By a kick in the ribs or a pat on the head.
Nevertheless it is hardly fair
To risk your heart for a dog to tear.
When the fourteen years which Nature permits
Are closing in asthma, or tumour, or fits,
And the vet’s unspoken prescription runs
To lethal chambers or loaded guns,
Then you will find – it’s your own affair, –
But … you’ve given your heart to a dog to tear.
When the body that lived at your single will,
With its whimper of welcome, is stilled (how still!),
When the spirit that answered your every mood
Is gone – wherever it goes – for good,
You will discover how much you care,
And will give your heart to a dog to tear!
We’ve sorrow enough in the natural way,
When it comes to burying Christian clay.
Our loves are not given, but only lent,
At compound interest of cent per cent,
Though it is not always the case, I believe,
That the longer we’ve kept ’em, the more do we grieve;
For, when debts are payable, right or wrong,
A short-time loan is as bad as a long –
So why in – Heaven (before we are there)
Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?
In his 1899 story ‘Garm – a Hostage’, Rudyard Kipling outlined how his dog, Vixen, would sleep in his bed with him at night. Kipling was a dog-lover, who enjoyed a close bond with the animals throughout his life. As Andrew Lycett observes in his superb biography Rudyard Kipling, Kipling’s dogs often took on the role of the woman in his life.
So it should come as little surprise that Kipling wrote a poem in praise of the bond between men and dogs. ‘The Power of the Dog’ suggests that dogs have such a hold over men that they can, indeed, break a man’s heart as a woman can: ‘So why in – Heaven (before we are there) / Should we give our hearts to a dog to tear?’
Dogs are so heart-breaking because their lifespans are significantly shorter than our own, so we have to suffer the heartbreak of burying several loyal companions in one lifetime (as Kipling himself did). Whilst the tone and rhythm of ‘The Power of the Dog’ come across as song-like (especially with its refrain closing each stanza) and almost playful and light, there’s no doubt that Kipling was being serious about the close bond humans can have with their canine companions.
Originally published in Focus Magazine, Italy.
One of the drill’s targets will be resources, but don’t expect any gushers for a while.
Image to right: Jeffrey A. George, manager of the Mars Drill Project, center, and Brian Derkowski, right, project engineer, test drill setup procedures at Johnson Space Center’s Mars Yard, an area designed to resemble in some way the red planet’s surface.
Read more about the Mars Yard.
The futuristic drilling rig under development at Johnson Space Center (JSC) is designed to be used on the Moon or on Mars. Its first target will be knowledge — geology and perhaps biology — of planetary bodies gathered from cores it will deliver. The resources it eventually will seek sound mundane, but will be vitally important. Water from beneath the surface of Mars is a possible example.
The drill is being tested in the Canadian Arctic — in conditions in some ways similar to Mars. The tests will continue through Oct. 3. The tests are being conducted at the Eureka Weather Station on Ellesmere Island in Canada’s Nunayut province, about 690 miles from the North Pole. Because it is designed for use on other planetary bodies, the drill has weight, size and power consumption limits, said Brian Derkowski, project engineer. Power consumption is about 100 watts, enough to illuminate a bright household light bulb. Its components are designed for minimum weight and size. Because of the weight and volume constraints, it cannot, like traditional drilling rigs, use drill pipe or drilling mud.
Image to left: Jeffrey A. George, manager of the Mars Drill Project, left, and Brian Derkowski, project engineer, focus on the control box of the drill during a test of setup procedures at Johnson Space Center’s Mars Yard, an area designed to resemble in some way the red planet’s surface. The Mars drill consists of a power source, a control box and the drill itself. The drill looks like a vertical pipe mounted on a support in the bottom of half a suitcase. A laptop is attached to the control box to record data.
The base is anchored to the surface and an electrically powered bit rotates beneath it. The pipe-like drill module follows the bit down, and is periodically pulled to the surface by its tether to remove the core and drill cuttings.
The Canadian tests, said JSC’s Jeffrey A. George, manager of the Mars Drill Project, are being undertaken in cooperation with NASA’s Ames Research Center in California and with faculty members from two Canadian institutions, McGill University in Montreal and the University of Toronto.
Baker Hughes Inc. of Houston, a company with a rich oil field history, is participating in the project under a Space Act Agreement with NASA. This is the second generation of the drill, said George. Initially the drill will be used to secure core samples for scientific study. “We believe the third or fourth generation will be ready for the Moon or Mars,” he said. It should ultimately be able to drill to depths of several hundred meters.
At Eureka, the drill is being used on sandstone and rock outcrops, and to drill through ice. The Canadian geologists will study retrieved core samples to further understanding of the geology and biology of the high Arctic. The JSC team is relatively small — four members are at Eureka. But, George said, it has gotten considerable support from other organizations at JSC and from Ames, as well as from Baker Hughes. Setup exercises with the drill were held recently at JSC. George believes the concept shows considerable promise. “It is,” he said, “a unique technology.” *Text compliments of NASA
This piece is being used on the back of a book as a background for text etc. about the journey of a forest firefighter in the USA. I have been thinking about them a lot lately and the work they do. It never started that way, but this is how it ended up. Sometimes that is the most enjoyable part of the journey. You pick a direction… and wow… there you are. There is text running in the upper right about the death of a forest firefighter, but it is so abstracted it has become illegible. Not a problem. The point is made. I used elements from newspaper scans, burned out wooden walls… and a famous image of a man who died in the line of duty.