Posts Tagged ‘ Committee For A Bigger Universe ’

Yuri’s Night Out

2011.04.06
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A REMEMBRANCE OF FEATS PAST is a great excuse for a party — that’s the idea behind “Yuri’s Night,” which celebrates the cracking of the final frontier.

“Human Spaceflight became a reality 50 years ago with the launch of a bell-shaped capsule called “Vostok 1” on April 12th, 1961,” reads http://yurisnight.net, which is coordinating the “World Space Party” next Tuesday. “The capsule was carrying Soviet Cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, who took his place in history as the first human to leave the bounds of Earth and enter outer space.”

“Yuri’s Night” (the website) features contests, party and event locations, space history and more. (The partners page alone makes fascinating reading: I consider myself a space geek but had never heard of most of these: “Orphans of Apollo?” “We Want Our Future?” “Vostok Space Beer?” Goshwowboyoboy!)

Some say (me among them) that spaceflight is less a technical achievement than an inevitable stage in the evolution of life. Whether or not you agree, I hope you’ll join me in raising a toast April 12 — or better yet, raising your eyes to the stars.

Fig. 1. Created by http://yurisnight.net/.

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Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy Oh Boy!

2011.03.15
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THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN you mount a high-definition camera on a spaceship and send it to Saturn:

(More information at http://www.outsideinthemovie.com/. For maximum fun, expand the view by clicking on the arrow-square in the bottom right corner.)

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Free Metaphor: “Don’t Poke The Squid”

2011.02.24
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STUCK FOR AN ANALOGY WHEN your well-intendeds provoke a horrible mess that you should have known better than to bother with? Then “Don’t Poke The Squid.”

Squid are lovely, largely inoffensive creatures who flash and lurk throughout the ocean’s vasty deep. They have eight tentacles and two arms; all appendages have suckers, some jaggedly toothed. They flail something awful when disturbed, and can entwine sperm whales and dance them to death. What chance has an unwary swimmer? Thus, for your own safety and health, “Don’t Poke The Squid.”

(Usage of this metaphor is subject to payment via pizza or Paypal. Thankee sirormadam, and g’blessye.)

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Ship Geeks Ahoy

2011.02.09
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IF YOU’RE CURIOUS ABOUT LIFE on the other side of the foghorns, waste no time in clicking on marinetraffic.com — a global, scalable, real-time map of the world’s shipping traffic, from cargo and passenger vessels to navaids and tankers to tugs and pilots. Each is labeled with specifications, course and speed (if applicable) and destination. (Think of it as a very stately air-traffic control diagram. Which makes me wonder if there’s one for air traffic … clicketyclickety … yep: flightradar24.com. Cool. Limited, but cool.) With this in one window and the Califonia Highway Patrol’s dispatch logs in another, I feel like a secret peeker at the world’s gears.
(Thanks to Friend-of-the-Show Steve Marler for sliding this my way.)

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Refining Maslow

2011.01.27
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THE GREAT PSYCHOLOGIST ABRAHAM MASLOW proposed a pyramid paradigm of human needs, ranking their vitality and importance as physiological, safety, love and belonging, esteem and self-actualization. One must satisfy the first in order to be able to secure the second, then explore the third and so forth to self-actualization (or to put it more cryptically, I-am-I-ness).

This is all very well as far as it goes, which isn’t very far at all without one particular ingredient: humor.

I would argue that a sense of humor lies among our physiological needs. Our bodies crave laughter — it makes us feel good, for one thing, and promotes the rest of Maslow’s overstructure: safety, love, belonging, and certainly esteem and self-actualization. In fact, I would go so far as to say that our most basic needs are ordered by what we breathe, drink, eat, shelter under and laugh at (or with). The first chuckle may even have occurred when we saw each other naked, huddling in some cave away from the mid-Pleistocene rain. (Certainly humor makes nudity easier to cope with, which to me screams “prerequisite!” I can only assume it also helps with the random smilodon or mammoth.) Humor is so important in fact, that its lack can be attributed to every human war, skirmish, argument or bluster — especially the unresolved ones.

Many years ago, while preparing to hitchhike across the USA, I was describing my road gear to a seasoned friend. “Backpack (soft), spare clothes, paperback book, extra shoes, sleeping bag, boots (new), Swiss Army knife (new) …”

“Where’s your toilet paper?” he asked.

“What do I need that for?” I asked.

He fixed me with a gaze reserved for the feeble. “If you don’t have toilet paper, the rest just don’t matter,” he said.

Humor is like that too: it cleans out the head and refreshes it for the next challenge, which is always a moment away. And without humor, the rest just don’t matter.

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Culinary Basic

2011.01.23
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REMEMBER: FRUIT JUICE IS SIMPLY filtered water. (I like mine run through a tangerine tree, or pear, or cherry.)

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Pithyism #357

2011.01.20
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ONESELF IS AN INSUFFICIENT TOOL with which to measure the Universe.

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Word Of The Year, 2011

2010.12.31
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MMaXImize!

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What I Hope God Wants

2010.12.28
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SEEMS TO ME THAT MORE accuracy would be obtained from statements beginning “God does/wants/says” by prefacing them with “I hope.” Because seriously — that’s as far as you’re going to get with figuring out God. (If nothing else, it rather nicely neutralizes the Westboro Baptists’ main slogan. Or so I hope.)

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5 Thoughts: The Solstice Eclipse

2010.12.21
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1. A CORRECT USE OF FACEBOOK is evidenced by all the pictures my friends took of last night’s eclipse. (Also nice: Chanukah’s virtual latke banquet.)

2. The overhead wonder was no less wondrous for being swathed in translucifying cloud at 0145 local (PST).

3. A good many of my friends are pagans, poets, artists or other types of beautiphile whose inspiration at times like these is also wondrous. I am supremely thankful, at these seasons no less than others, to be surrounded by so many intelligent and creative people.

4. Speaking of which, solstice is a good time to ponder cycles and time in general: say, how life is lived by the big circle in the universe instead of the little one on the wall.

5. Winter solstice even more pondered: how the dark reaches its depth for one half of the world, even as the other experiences summer’s greatest light. Omnia vincit lux! and whatever you celebrate, celebrate the living daylights out of it.

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Season’s Regreetings

2010.12.09
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THE NEXT TIME SOMEONE OUTSIDE your comfort zone wishes you a merry holiday-you-don’t-celebrate, don’t take umbrage — just wish them a happy “Same To You.”

This three-syllable Teflon Shield of banter will save you from giving and receiving earnest but endless dissertations on cultural supremacy, cultural relativity, hegemonic religion, religious hegemony, justified indignation and getting-over-whatever-some-else-thinks-”it”-is. (We’re all busy people here — who has time for such nonsense?)

“Same To You” means you acknowledge that the greeter’s intention is not to persuade or dissuade you into or out of anything you might consider distasteful or inappropriate. What I mean by “Happy Chanukah” and you mean by “Merry Christmas” and she by “Blessed Be” can also be expressed by Bilbo Baggins’ “I hope you are all enjoying yourselves as much as I am.”

Don’t we all agree on that? If so, then “Same To You” — sincerely.

UPDATE: “Same To You” has a Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Same-To-You/178304932195551. Your support is both appreciated and a click away:

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Listen Up

2010.11.26
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TODAY IS THE NATIONAL DAY of Listening, which, if you hadn’t heard — and I hadn’t until about five minutes ago, which saddens me because it’s such a neat idea and it’s in its third year — is dedicated to exactly that: listening to each other’s stories, and recording (and uploading) them for the curious and unborn.

Our memories are a non-renewable resource: once they’re gone, so is a world. National Day of Listening lets us peek into these other worlds — and maybe better understand our own.

LINK (including a do-it-yourself listening kit): http://nationaldayoflistening.org/

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