the pale blue dot

July 23, 2014

I came across this on Facebook a few months ago and I never get tired of watching it. It was written by Carl Sagan and its sentiment is timeless.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner. How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity – in all this vastness – there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known, so far, to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment, the Earth is where we make our stand. It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.

~ Carl Sagan


the english language

November 16, 2013

I found this on FB this morning. It did not say who wrote it so credit can only go to an anonymous writer, the one with a quirky sense of humour

Let’s face it – English is a crazy language. There is no egg in eggplant nor ham in hamburger; neither apple nor pine in pineapple.

English muffins weren’t invented in England or French fries in France. Sweetmeats are candies while sweetbreads, which aren’t sweet, are meat.

We take English for granted. But if we explore its paradoxes, we find that quicksand can work slowly, boxing rings are square and a guinea pig is neither from Guinea nor is it a pig.

And why is it that writers write but fingers don’t fing, grocers don’t groce and hammers don’t ham? Read the rest of this entry »


patriotism

October 19, 2013

​I will probably get criticised for writing this but I’m coming to the conclusion that Australians may be more patriotic than my fellow New Zealanders. I watched the International Fleet Review Spectacular recently – a celebration of over 100 years of history of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). The closing “ceremony” after a week of activities was a 30 minute Fireworks and Lightshow Spectacular up and down the Sydney Harbour river.

It seems at every opportunity Australians are recognising the contributions and acknowledging the memories of those who have fought in various wars over the years.

I am not saying New Zealand does not this as well, it just seems to be more visible here in Australia. However we do it, it’s wonderful that those men and women are remembered throughout the year, not just on official days like ANZAC Day or Remembrance Day.

The haunting tune of The Last Post still raises the hairs on my arms and there would not be many people who did not recognise the well known verse from the poem titled For the Fallen by Robert Laurence Binyon.
They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them