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A Dot

[ 108 ] March 5, 2013 |

I was really struck by this photo of Venus through Saturn’s rings:

Venus is the dot.

It reminded me of a time, not too long ago I guess, back in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when the sight of our planet from space put our lives in a bit of perspective. A lot of Americans saw this and realized we were this amazing fragile ball floating an endless sea of nothingness.

These images of Earth from space helped spur the U.S. environmental movement of the 1970s, which did so much good.

I wonder if any such image in our media-saturated uberironic brains could make any such impact today. Or would we just tell a joke and write it off as ironic in some vague and poorly defined way. I’m skeptical.

Comments (108)

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  1. Philip says:

    While it’s true that my group of friends is unusual as people go, I think that Carl Sagan’s Pale Blue Dot has affected all of them deeply. I know it still moves me every time I see it.

    • Uncle Ebeneezer says:

      And I imagine the Cosmos tv series (which is one of my first television memories) was huge as well.

      • I still remember watching some of the moon landing on tv.

      • Leeds man says:

        I’ve forgotten what was probably very commendable about the series, because it seared into my brain the godawful horribleness of the Drake equation, and the gobsmackingly naive notion that a species capable of interstellar travel must be benign. I still want to hit the bastard.

        • Just Dropping By says:

          What is the “horribleness” of the Drake equation? That we only have a sample size of one (our solar system) for many of the variables? While it was truly terrible at the time Cosmos was originally broadcast, the sample size is getting better for a few of the variables almost daily now.

          • Leeds man says:

            Michael Crichton actually said something intelligent once:

            The problem, of course, is that none of the terms can be known, and most cannot even be estimated. The only way to work the equation is to fill in with guesses. [...] As a result, the Drake equation can have any value from “billions and billions” to zero. An expression that can mean anything means nothing. Speaking precisely, the Drake equation is literally meaningless…

            I draw your attention to the factors f-sub-l and f-sub-i here. We know nothing about either factor. Nothing.

            • actor212 says:

              I always assumed the Drake equation was not a piece of serious scientific discussion, per se, but a way to demonstrate how large space actually is and that with the infinite population of space by stars and galaxies, even tiny percentages return large values.

              • Leeds man says:

                Maybe I’m just a pedant, actor212, but when you call something ‘the Whatever equation’ or ‘the Whosits Principle’ (I’m looking at you, Anthropic) I think it should mean something.

                Saying ‘the Universe is so big that someone else could be out there’ is just as informative and a shitload less pretentious.

                • actor212 says:

                  You do know he tossed it together because he organized a symposium on how to go about searching for extraterrestrial life and needed something to hang the entire discussion on, right? That this wasn’t something he sat down for months and developed in however one would rigourously go about developing a theorem on this?

                  In other words, it wasn’t the end of the debate. It was the question that started it off.

                • Leeds man says:

                  “That this wasn’t something he sat down for months and developed in however one would rigourously go about developing a theorem on this?”

                  That’s the thing. It obviously took 10 minutes to put together, and it’s more famous than equations that actually express something meaningful. I don’t blame Drake, BTW.

      • spencer says:

        I actually just recently watched the whole thing again on Netflix. Still great, even if time has exposed a couple of weak spots here and there.

        • Wrye says:

          No doubt! Though some of the 70′s era stylistic weak points weren’t his ideas, and in some cases the science has been surpassed by more recent discoveries – something he would have been delighted to discover, I am sure.

          Damn, I wish we still had him around.

    • While it’s true that my group of friends is unusual as people go,

      Lucky you.

      I always strive to keep unusual and interesting people around me.

      • Philip says:

        It’s mostly because I’m still in college, and it’s an all undergrad, all-STEM-majors school (with plenty of humanities classes required for graduation). I’m around the kind of people who grew up immersed in things like Cosmos.

      • Bill Murray says:

        because their brains taste better?

  2. Dave says:

    I can barely wrap my head around the view of earth from the moon, much less venus from saturn. It’s pretty freaking incredible. But hey, let’s cut funding to try and keep learning more because we need to blow shit up, kill people, and fix a non-existant deficit “problem”.

    • Exactly. America used to do amazing things, now we can’t afford to keep our infrastructure above a D+.

      But of course, we have to be able to give more and more and more tax breaks to rich people whose souls are not moved by pictures like that, but only by the idea of having more imaginary money than everyone else.

    • actor212 says:

      I could not begin to express my frustration and disappointment when it was a Bush who suggested a return to the moon AND a mission to Mars and it was Obama who backed away from both, slowly.

      So much amazing stuff has come out of the program, from Tang to dry suits for divers to the microprocssor, it seems like a no-brainer: if you want long term growth in your economy, invest in exploration. It’s been true since the fledgling days of European hegemony.

      • njorl says:

        When we sent a man to the moon in the 1960s, we demonstrated that the impossible was possible. Sending a man to Mars would demonstrate that the very difficult is very expensive.

        There are better scientific projects more deserving of spending than manned space flight missions.

        • ajay says:

          There are better scientific projects more deserving of spending than manned space flight missions.

          False dichotomy. Fund them both.

          • actor212 says:

            Bingo.

            And even a series of unmanned missions would provide many many benefits back here on earth.

            However, eventually, men (and women) will need to go. There’s way too much at stake not to.

            Eventually, we’ll need to get off this rock if humanity is to survive the destruction of the planet and solar system. And who knows when exactly that might happen?

            Be a damned shame if we didn’t make a start.

            • mpowell says:

              Manned space missions don’t get us any closer to that goal. We are nowhere near the point where it makes sense to try to survive off of earth as opposed to surviving here. And nothing we learn from manned space travel today is likely to be helpful in 300 or 500 years or whenever it is that building long term ecosystems somewhere besides planet earth makes sense for its own sake. General research is a much better way to spend money at this point and there are much better projects for the cost than manned space travel.

              • actor212 says:

                Really?

                So when explorers went off from Europe and used compasses and developed latitude and longitude, which begat eventually GPS, you think somehow those accomplishments didn’t last?

                How do we know? This is why we have to try.

                • rea says:

                  The reason the European explorers like Columbus were successful is that they found a way to make a profit. Figure out a way to make a profit on manned space travel, and we’ll have a lot of it. Otherwise, it’s pretty pointless.

              • Philip says:

                Even accepting the premise that we should only be worried about the payoff of manned missions, and nothing else, I think there’s an important point here that’s being missed. In terms of immediate scientific payoff, it’s true, putting people in space usually isn’t very cost effective. However, how many kids do you think went off and became scientists, engineers for NASA, the ESA, SpaceX, etc, at least partly because of Mercury and Apollo? I would be willing to bet that the number is very, very high.

                • mpowell says:

                  If you want to convince me its a good idea to spend billions of dollars on an otherwise low value project you’re going to have to do better than offer a hunch.

                • ajay says:

                  Worth noting that, when NASA’s manned spaceflight budget was gutted in the late 60s, the result was not “lots more spending on science”; the result was the invasion of Cambodia. To put it in really simple terms, Johnson left Nixon with three big budgetary items – the Apollo programme, the Vietnam War, and the Great Society – and one of them had to go to allow the other two to survive.

          • Eli Rabett says:

            The Venus picture was taken from Cassini, a robot mission. Manned space flight is a Confederate Space Agency boondoggle.

          • mpowell says:

            This is stupid. Whatever budget you have, you have to establish priorities from there. The cost/benefit ratio of a manned mission to Mars is so high that you could spend $100B on additional research/projects per year before it would make sense.

            • actor212 says:

              Presumably you don’t use a microprocessor, but log into LGM using a tin can and string? ;-)

              Why are we focusing on immediate results when government’s job is long term strategic planning?

              • Njorl says:

                Long term strategic planning would be foregoing vanity projects like a manned mission to Mars in favor of investing in the means to do in depth analysis of extra-solar planets.

                • actor212 says:

                  How is it a vanity project to invest in technology that has proven in the past to have enormous payout down the road?

                • mpowell says:

                  actor211, it seems to me you have no idea what you are talking about. The similarities between developing intercontinental sea-based navigation and manned space flight are just about as great as those between manned space travel and travelling as deep under the earth as we can manage. Which really nobody thinks would be interesting. Sea-based navigation was itself an immediately useful thing for improving trade, which makes it completely different from manned space flight. And I have no idea why you think the sophisticated methods for developing longitude and latitude estimation in the 19th century led to GPS. This is really an example that proves my point. Really precise navigation was achieved through a completely different means than had ever been used in the millenia leading up to the development of GPS. Instead of looking at the stars, we just put up satellites and developed a way to communicate with them and determine distance electronically. Experience with earlier forms of naval navigation had no bearing on our ability to develop GPS, which was based on a totally different set of technologies.

                  Arguing that exploration in the past has led to high payouts, therefore manned space exploration is the way to go is simply inane. Exploration, sure. But you can do a lot better exploring with unmanned spacecraft. And I would argue that the autonomous robotics technology that you will potentially develop in the process has a heck of a lot better chance of being useful in the short/medium/long term than anything you are going to develop to support human survival during manned space expeditions.

                  Or put it this way: how much of the useful technology that was developed putting a man on the moon would not have been developed in a similarly costly effort to explore our solar system more thoroughly through unmanned missions? My guess would be none at all. And we might actually have acquired more scientific knowledge if we had been spending money on unmanned exploration. The track record of manned space flight is actually pretty poor.

                • Hogan says:

                  how much of the useful technology that was developed putting a man on the moon would not have been developed in a similarly costly effort to explore our solar system more thoroughly through unmanned missions?

                  Tang, for one. Oh wait, you said “useful.”

                • mpowell says:

                  Okay, Mal, but you can’t prove anything from a quote. We are multiple generations of technological development away from the point where we could even imagine something close to self-sustaining human ecosystems off planet earth. One of my points here is that we are not making the decision you imply today. Spending money today on manned space travel will not get us to extraterritorial human supporting ecosystems any sooner.

                • mpowell says:

                  should read extraterrestrial

                • Malaclypse says:

                  We are multiple generations of technological development away from the point where we could even imagine something close to self-sustaining human ecosystems off planet earth.

                  And if we decide that “multiple generations” is an impossibly long time to see a payoff, we’re really shortsighted.

                • actor212 says:

                  Or put it this way: how much of the useful technology that was developed putting a man on the moon would not have been developed in a similarly costly effort to explore our solar system more thoroughly through unmanned missions? My guess would be none at all.

                  You got a week so I can list it all?

                  Everything from smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (after all, why detect noxious gases if you have mechanicals?) to the joystick controller to telemedicine, the ear thermometer, and the dustbuster.

                  I could go on…

                • Linnaeus says:

                  The universe is probably littered with the one-planet graves of cultures which made the sensible economic decision that there’s no good reason to go into space – each discovered, studied, and remembered by the ones who made the irrational decision.

                  Gil-Scott Heron’s got a few words to say.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Gil-Scott Heron’s got a few words to say.

                  Would racial inequality be lessened if we had not had a space program?

                • Linnaeus says:

                  Would racial inequality be lessened if we had not had a space program?

                  I strongly doubt that it would have, and I should say that I’m not arguing against a space program.

                  I bring up Heron’s poem because I think it’s a necessary counterpoint to Munroe’s breezy declaration. Resources are finite, and we as a society have to be able to have an answer for Heron’s questions – or at least be willing to accept that people will ask those questions – when we decide what our priorities are.

                • Malaclypse says:

                  Resources are finite, and we as a society have to be able to have an answer for Heron’s questions – or at least be willing to accept that people will ask those questions – when we decide what our priorities are.

                  True. And I’d note that the poem would be just as true had the line been “And Whitey is still bombing Vietnam.” And that, to me, is the misplaced priority.

                • I really dislike the resources argument because it’s only politically true (which is important!) but the US managed a space program during the Great Society and a war.

                  There are other ways to spend money, it’s true, but pretending the US has X resources and can’t spend X*2 isn’t really the way these projects work.

                • Linnaeus says:

                  I really dislike the resources argument because it’s only politically true (which is important!) but the US managed a space program during the Great Society and a war.

                  There are other ways to spend money, it’s true, but pretending the US has X resources and can’t spend X*2 isn’t really the way these projects work.

                  Both you and Malaclypse bring up good points. I do think that a not insignificant part of the resource problem can be addressed through better political decisions. The war in Vietnam is a very good example of one that was far, far more costly, both in money and lost opportunities (just to name two) than space exploration was.

                  One caveat I might make to “well, we did X,Y, and Z in Era A, so we should be able to do X,Y, and Z now” is that historical contingency does play a role, though I’m sure we can argue over how much. We live in a global political and economic context that’s different than that of 1969 and that will alter the options available to us, no matter what we’d like to do. We may not be able to do X,Y, and Z in the same way we did in 1969. Which doesn’t mean don’t do them, but it might mean making tradeoffs that we didn’t foresee or that weren’t necessary then.

                • S_noe says:

                  Mal, just note how high the y axis on Munro’s graph goes. It won’t be the end of the world to put that shit off for a while.
                  (Utterly sympathetic, just pragmatizing.)

                • We live in a global political and economic context that’s different than that of 1969 and that will alter the options available to us, no matter what we’d like to do.

                  I certainly agree with that, but I also think the frame of “We only have x resources!” is exactly what the bad guys sell to chip into good things here on the ground, as well as above. (Not that I wanna call anyone here a bad guy.) There’s a literalism involved in protecting a store of Valuable Money that precludes seeing that money as a tool for societal organization and distinct from societal goals.

                • Njorl says:

                  “How is it a vanity project to invest in technology that has proven in the past to have enormous payout down the road?”

                  All major scientific endeavors have side benefits. The space program had many because it was huge, and because it was original. Spend that much money on any scientific endeavor and you’ll see comparable benefits. A manned trip to Mars, however, will not create nearly the amount of new technology that the moon missions did. We have a mature space agency already, we won’t be inventing a new one.

                  Spending the money on a dedicated effort toward creating a sustainable lifestyle which does not detract from our economic well being is a much more useful goal which would be more likely to have unexpected benefits as well as contributing more to our long-term survivability. People are still a greater threat to our existence than asteroids.

          • Anonymous says:

            It is not a false dichotomy.

          • Leeds man says:

            “False dichotomy. Fund them both.”

            And with the leftover dosh you can fix your roads and bridges, and take care of the 20% of kids living in poverty.

        • LeftWingFox says:

          Here’s one of the big things about manned space missions, especially long-term ones like Tito’s mars mission in 2018: There’s only so much you can pack in such a mission, and everything needs to be self-contained.

          We have to stop looking at earth like an infinite system, and start seeing it as a contained spaceship. Especially as drinkable water and arable land becomes increasingly scarce, the self-contained ecosystems of a long-term space mission can have incredible benefits for the environment.

      • Wrye says:

        I doubt very much that Bush was seriously proposing that. His budgeting didn’t seem to be intended to enable a serious effort. I always viewed that as a trojan tactic to hollow out NASA – force them to divert funding from useful stuff into a PR boondoggle, and if/when it gets scrapped, you’ve killed two birds for the price of one.

        Chappelle nailed this one. Mars, Bitches!

  3. Effect or not, that is gorgeous.

  4. Vance Maverick says:

    One big obvious difference is that this picture doesn’t have “us” in it. Geometrically sweeping alien astronomical bodies are stunning if you’re in the mood, but don’t have anything to say about environmental problems as we actually face them. The blue dot does.

    Tangentially: NASA ca. 1970 used great film stock. Those shots of the Apollo rockets breaking free still give me chills. And further: what’s the bright white curve by the right edge of this image? A limb of Saturn itself? I can’t quite parse the spatial relations here.

    • grouchomarxist says:

      The white curve is the sunlit edge of Saturn. According to NASA’s description: “This view looks toward the unilluminated side of the rings from about 21 degrees below the ring plane.”

      What’s really cool (besides the view of Venus through the rings) is that the reflection from the rings is illuminating the upper half of Saturn’s dark side.

    • actor212 says:

      They also used Hasselblads, with Zeiss lenses.

      It’s really hard to take a bad photo with a Hassie, let alone one with a Zeiss lens.

      • Some of the Hassies were cameras where you could change from color film to bw in the middle of a roll by changing it without exposing either one to light. That was quite a trick of engineering and convenience in those bygone pre-digital days.

        • actor212 says:

          Yes, and in fact, these cameras had film cassettes that you could replace on the fly (altho I’m guessing for reasons to do with dust, they swapped them out between walks.)

  5. Venus is the dot.

    Ohhhhh, now I get it.

  6. mike shupp says:

    Sure. Someday (maybe 2030 or so) post a nice fat photo of the gray and black Moon, showing one sharp white or yellow point. Caption: Luna City.

    Granted, every liberal and most conservative bloggers will be vomiting for the reest of the day, but it’d make a batch of old engineers and SF readers really happy.

  7. owlbear1 says:

    I wonder if any such image in our media-saturated uberironic brains could make any such impact today.

    Doubt it. Remember this?

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztrU90Ub4Uw

  8. Shakezula says:

    Satellite photos of the Amazing Shrinking Rainforests? Dunno. What we now think of as “Environmentalism” has many different ancestors some of which predate the airplane.

  9. Chesternut says:

    Loomis sounds like Nietzsche’s Madman:

    — Have you ever heard of the madman who on a bright morning lighted a lantern
    and ran to the market-place calling out unceasingly: “I seek God! I seek God!” — As there were
    many people standing about who did not believe in God, he caused a great deal of amusement.
    Why! is he lost? said one. Has he strayed away like a child? said another. Or does he keep
    himself hidden? Is he afraid of us? Has he taken a sea-voyage? Has he emigrated? — the people
    cried out laughingly, all in a hubbub. The insane man jumped into their midst and transfixed
    them with his glances. “Where is God gone?” he called out. “I mean to tell you ! We have killed
    him, — you and I! We are all his murderers! But how have we done it? How were we able to
    drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the whole horizon? What did we do
    when we loosened this earth from its sun? Whither does it now move? Whither do we move?
    Away from all suns? Do we not dash on unceasingly? Back-wards, sideways, forewards, in all
    directions? Is there still an above and below? Do we not stray, as through infinite nothingness?
    Does not empty space breathe upon us? Has it not become colder? Does not night come on
    continually, darker and darker? Shall we not have to light lanterns in the morning? Do we not
    hear the noise of the grave-diggers who are burying God? Do we not smell the divine
    putrefaction? — for even Gods putrefy! God is dead! God remains dead! And we have killed
    him! How shall we console ourselves, the most murderous of all murderers? The holiest and the
    mightiest that the world has hitherto possessed, has bled to death under our knife, — who will
    wipe the blood from us? With what water could we cleanse ourselves? What lustrums, what
    sacred games shall we have to devise? Is not the magnitude of this deed too great for us? Shall
    we not ourselves have to become Gods, merely to seem worthy of it? There never was a greater
    event, — and on account of it, all who are born after us belong to a higher history than any
    history hitherto!” — Here the madman was silent and looked again at his hearers; they also were
    silent and looked at him in surprise. At last he threw his lantern on the ground, so that it broke in
    pieces and was extinguished. “I come too early,” he then said, “I am not yet at the right time.
    This prodigious event is still on its way, and is travelling, — it has not yet reached men’s ears.
    Lightning and thunder need time, the light of the stars needs time, deeds need time, even after
    they are done, to be seen and heard. This deed is as yet further from them than the furthest star,
    — and yet they have done it!” — It is further stated that the madman made his way into different
    churches on the same day, and there intoned his Requiem aeternam deo. When led out and called
    to account, he always gave the reply: “What are these churches now, if they are not the tombs
    and monuments of God?”

    • Malaclypse says:

      Stories about Imaginary Sky Wizards are the best stories there are.

      • LeeEsq says:

        I don’t know about this. The New Testmanet and Qu’Ran are kind of boring and lack of the epic feel of the Tanakh. The only advantages they have are better organization but nothing is as exhalting in them as the Exodus or as thrilling as the various family and factional intrigues. The righteous words of the Prophets have more power in them than the parables of Jesus or teachings of Muhammud.

        • actor212 says:

          The Christ story is boring?

          Interesting take on that. Guy raised the dead, how much more entertainment did you need? :-)

          • Chesternut, asking for an imaginary gaseous all-powerful, all-knowing vertebrate to solve all our difficulties is going to work tomorrow just as well as it has for the past 2000 or so years.

          • LeeEsq says:

            Its about a day laborer going around with his friends and talking to other people. There is much more awesomeness in the intrigues and struggle of the Tanakh.

            • And healing the sick, confounding the Pharisees, driving out demons, walking on water, and preaching to the masses.

              • actor212 says:

                And let’s not forget resurrecting himself.

              • LeeEsq says:

                The Pharisees were men of honor and wisdom and I do not agree with how the NT portrays them. Remember I’m a Jew and we have a much more positive view of the Pharisees than other people.

                • Joshua ben Joseph never preached against the Pharisees wholesale, he was very specific about what he objected to, as this example, from Luke 11:

                  King James Version (KJV)

                  37 And as he spake, a certain Pharisee besought him to dine with him: and he went in, and sat down to meat.

                  38 And when the Pharisee saw it, he marvelled that he had not first washed before dinner.

                  39 And the Lord said unto him, Now do ye Pharisees make clean the outside of the cup and the platter; but your inward part is full of ravening and wickedness.

                  40 Ye fools, did not he that made that which is without make that which is within also?

                  41 But rather give alms of such things as ye have; and, behold, all things are clean unto you.

                  42 But woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass over judgment and the love of God: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.

                  43 Woe unto you, Pharisees! for ye love the uppermost seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets.

                  44 Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye are as graves which appear not, and the men that walk over them are not aware of them.

                  45 Then answered one of the lawyers, and said unto him, Master, thus saying thou reproachest us also.

                  46 And he said, Woe unto you also, ye lawyers! for ye lade men with burdens grievous to be borne, and ye yourselves touch not the burdens with one of your fingers.

                  47 Woe unto you! for ye build the sepulchres of the prophets, and your fathers killed them.

                  48 Truly ye bear witness that ye allow the deeds of your fathers: for they indeed killed them, and ye build their sepulchres.

                  49 Therefore also said the wisdom of God, I will send them prophets and apostles, and some of them they shall slay and persecute:

                  50 That the blood of all the prophets, which was shed from the foundation of the world, may be required of this generation;

                  51 From the blood of Abel unto the blood of Zacharias which perished between the altar and the temple: verily I say unto you, It shall be required of this generation.

                  52 Woe unto you, lawyers! for ye have taken away the key of knowledge: ye entered not in yourselves, and them that were entering in ye hindered.

                  53 And as he said these things unto them, the scribes and the Pharisees began to urge him vehemently, and to provoke him to speak of many things:

                  54 Laying wait for him, and seeking to catch something out of his mouth, that they might accuse him.

          • Njorl says:

            How about a pile of 10,000 foreskins?

    • S_noe says:

      The effort you put into type-formatting that quote says a lot about your sincerity, bud. I AM DISAPPOINT

  10. Nichole says:

    Malaclypse sez Stories about Imaginary Sky Wizards are the best stories there are.

    Those are nice, perhaps, but the best stories are those of alive, or once alive, witches who sowed their wisdom among the forests and hills and walked the ground of whre they lived to scry omens for those who they lived among.

  11. actor212 says:

    I wonder if any such image in our media-saturated uberironic brains could make any such impact today.

    Abu Ghraib.

    • LeeEsq says:

      Did Abu Gharib really make that much of an impact? Those who were against the war in the first place said “I told you so” and those for the war dismissed this as a rogue incident by a bunch of bad people. What really turned the people against the Iraq war that it was disaster, Vietnam between the rivers.

      I wonder what Iraq would be like in the current conflicts in the Arab world. It might have been spared or it could of ended up like Syria with even more violent. Hussein was much more desivive and brutal than Assad and the sectarian factors in Iraq are more complicated than those in Syria.

      • actor212 says:

        It brought the fact that Americans were engaged in torture front and center, so yes, I’d say it had a major impact. Maybe it didn’t change many minds in those days of abject terror fostered by a government with an agenda, but it got people thinking.

        I’m sure the Blue Marble photo had a similar immediate response. It was the longer term reaction we focus on here.

  12. LeeEsq says:

    I think that the environmental movement was also helped by the residue optimism from the 1950s and 1960s. On the League of Ordinary Gentleman, there is an interesting thread on how Abram’s Star Trek is a lot more pessimistic than the orginal Star Trek an how science fiction lost its since of wonder. My brother pointed out that Star Trek and a lot of science fiction was filled with wonder because it reflected the sheer optimism that many people, particularly left-liberals more than anybody else, felt at the time.

    This optimism gradually disappeared in the latter part of the 1960s but enough of it was still around to help the environmentla movement. If you feel slightly or very optimistic about the future than you are more likely to act to preserve the future. Everybody is a lot more pessimistic these days and this might be hurting the left-liberal cause.

    • Vance Maverick says:

      Everybody is a lot more pessimistic these days and this might be hurting the left-liberal cause.

      I would balance this the other way: everyone may be more pessimistic these days, and if so, that cripples the left-liberal cause.

      • RhZ says:

        But I do not see the argument at all. Certainly optimism excites people, but don’t dire straits focus energy quite clearly and directly?

        Pessimism about where the earth is headed environmentally is driving energy into the movement, as it should.

        Are you going to run more quickly to your house if you see a mere flickering flame or a room on fire? The answer seems clear enough to me.

        • actor212 says:

          People were really pessimistic about the environment back then too. If you’re old enough to recall the commercial about the AmerInd standing by the polluted creek…

        • Vance Maverick says:

          Pessimism is not the same as perceiving a dire threat. If I see a fire in my house, large or small, but don’t believe I have the capacity to stop it, that’s pessimism, and the result is ashes.

        • William Berry says:

          Yes. Isn’t there a quote from somewhere that runs something like: “Nothing concentrates the mind more forcefully than knowing that you are to be hanged at day-break.”?

          And the issue might not be how much optimism or pessimism there is in the world, but how much love. Someone also said, “There’s just enough love in the world”.

            • William Berry says:

              Right. And also, “just NOT enough love, etc.” and that might have been Don Henley. I grow old. Memory fades.

          • ajay says:

            Yes. Isn’t there a quote from somewhere that runs something like: “Nothing concentrates the mind more forcefully than knowing that you are to be hanged at day-break.”?

            Pterry continued it: “Unfortunately, what it concentrates the mind on is the fact that it is in a body which, at daybreak, is going to be hanged”.

    • actor212 says:

      I think one of the great tributes to Star Trek is that so much of what they posited as a hope for the future has come about. Certainly technology and science has even in some cases surpassed that of the original series (communicators, for instance).

      We lived in an age back then when inspiration could be found nearly anyplace, from a President who challenged us to the moon, to a movement of music that changed people’s perceptions of the word “music” to a bunch of bearded hairy freaks questioning society’s customs and mores, and particularly its commitment to war.

      Now? Society has devolved into a money machine. The gratification of our wallets trumps any spiritual and emotional enlightment we might seek in the world.

      I actually kind of wrote about this at my blog this morning. Not one of my better pieces, but it’s more wool-gathering than a manifesto.

  13. LeeEsq says:

    The Dark Avenger, this is basically still straw-manning the Pharisee position in order to make them look worse. The Gospels were written when the Pharisees and the followers of Jesus were battling for the soul of the Jewish community. Since the Pharisees one, the Christians turned against them whole sale and made them into hypocrites more concerned with the letter of the Law than the spirit of the law. However, to Jews the Pharisees were concerned with the spirit of the Law because they were trying to figure out what the law means rather than giving it a plain text reading.

  14. Since the Pharisees one, the Christians turned against them whole sale and made them into hypocrites more concerned with the letter of the Law than the spirit of the law.

    The Pharisees won because after the destruction of the Temple, they were the only game left in town.

    As a friend of mine formulated, Jesus intended to be a reformer of Judaism, he came to simplify and refind Judaism, not replace it with a new religion for the peoples of the world, Matthew 22:

    36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?

    37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

    38 This is the first and great commandment.

    39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.

    40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

    41 While the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them,

    42 Saying, What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David.

    43 He saith unto them, How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying,

    44 The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool?

    45 If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?

    46 And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions.

    Yah know, I think John Fugelsang said it best about Jesus and Elvis.

  15. The Reality Based Dave says:

    The place to go for amazing astronomy pictures (wonderfull wallpaper!):
    Astronomy picture of the day
    http://apod.nasa.gov/apod/archivepix.html

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