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Remember The Dot? That’s Us, That’s Home!

A View of Venus taken by a Russian Veneras Lander in the 1970’s. It shows a dead, desolate, planet. It may have been once like Earth, but suffered catastrophic climate change. 

There are still a few head buriers who refuse to believe in climate change, or that Homo sapiens is responsible for it happening. Most sane folk accept that the evidence is overwhelming.

Unfortunately, we are at a point in our history where not only are we faced with planetary catastrophe, but those who have the power to do what is necessary to prevent it, the politicians, are corrupted and controlled by the capitalist powermongers. These parasites (for that’s what they are) care only for money and the power it bestows on them. They have the power of life or death over us, and little concern for either.

Thirty-three years ago a spacecraft, Voyager 2, was passing the planet Jupiter while on it’s way out of the solar system. One man, Carl Sagan, a Nobel Prize winner who was heavily involved in the two Voyager missions, suggested the spacecraft should be turned around and it’s cameras point back the way it had come, some 6.4 billion kilometres (4 billion miles) from the planet we inhabit.

It was expected to photograph a dark and empty space, yet one photo took NASA by surprise. For in one of them, illuminated by a stray and diffuse sunbeam, was a tiny, tiny mote of light, Planet Earth!

Thirty-three years is a long time. Memories fade. The processes of life and living go on, and even momentous moments can be forgotten. In my last post I quoted John Naughton. His words:

“…the Gods just need to make people forget. Amnesia turns out to be a powerful narcotic…”

Powerful, indeed. In the thirty-three years since Voyager 1 took that momentous photograph we have discovered that we are systematically destroying that minute dot hanging in a sunbeam. We don’t have to, we can save it and ourselves. It all comes down to choice. Whether, as a species we choose to, or not.

Carl Sagan named it the “Pale Blue Dot“. He went on to write what for me is one of the most moving pieces of literature ever to be put on paper. It defined what we are, who we are, but most of all, where we are.

In case you’ve forgotten, here it is. You’ll need to look closely or you’ll miss it:

“Look again at 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, 1934 – 1996.

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.”

How much longer will we allow the parasites* to destroy our world in their insatiable greed for power?

One thing is certain. If we do nothing, no-one will miss us.

“The investments of just 125 billionaires emit 393 million tonnes of CO2e each year – the equivalent of France – at an individual annual average that is a million times higher than someone in the bottom 90 percent of humanity.” Oxfam.

*PARASITE: an animal or plant that lives on or in another animal or plant of a different type and feeds from it. A parasite is also a person who uses others to obtain an advantage without doing anything in exchange ~ Cambridge Dictionary

Erratum: an earlier version of this post named the spacecraft that took the photograph of Earth as Voyager 1. It was in fact Voyager 2. The text has been corrected.


One Mammoth Global Advertising Hoarding

I remember travelling with my parents on the newly opened M6 motorway in 1959. My father’s Austin Ten motor car hurtled along this magnificent new road at a breath-taking forty miles an hour. To me in the back seat it seemed very fast, but still enabled me to spot something I’d never seen before. It was an old articulated lorry trailer parked in a farmer’s field adjacent to the new motorway, and on its side was a huge advertising hoarding.

I’d seen advertising signs before, of course, in towns and cities on the sides of buildings, but this was different. This farmer had seen the potential to make money by selling advertising space along what was to become one of the busiest roads in Britain.

I have no memory of what that hoarding was advertising, nor did I realise that what I was seeing that day was the beginning of a new era in the lives of the people, an age of mass advertising that would take over our lives and change them forever.

It was thirty-five years before the internet, and another few years after that before almost every home had its own computer connected to the WorldWideWeb. It was the wonder of the age. New providers and websites began to spring up and it was mostly all free to use. I met my American wife on Yahoo’s “Find a Friend”, the first dating site on the net. It was totally free,  both of advertising and for use. There was even a box that could be ticked, marked, “Pen Pals Only.”

The internet was like a child in those days, innocent, uncorrupted, virginal, a community like none ever before.

Then came the corrupters: Google, Microsoft, Apple and others. Small start-up internet providers were rapidly bought out by the bigger fish, until they in turn were swallowed up by the giant corporations who saw the dollar mounds of profit from large scale advertising revenues.

There’s a name for this degradation of the internet, “enshittification.” Coined by the tech critic, Cory Doctorow, the term is most apt for what has been allowed to happen to the internet over the twenty-odd years since its inception and corporatisation.

The child has grown up to be a monster.

John Naughton, a professor of the public understanding of technology at the Open University and frequent Guardian columnist, wrote this week:

“Those whom the Gods wish to destroy,” says the adage, “they first make mad.” Actually, that’s overkill: the Gods just need to make people forget. Amnesia turns out to be a powerful narcotic and it’s been clouding our perceptions of what’s been happening on the internet for at least 25 years, namely the inexorable degradation of the online environment and our passive, sullen acceptance of that…”

He then goes on to give examples of such degradation, of which there are legion.

You are probably reading this on my blog site, Sparrow Chat. You can continue to read unhindered by any form of advertising whatever. I’m not here to make money. It’s a platform for my thoughts and feelings about the world and any comments that readers might like to share.

There are still a few of us left on the net. Most blog writers came from that yesteryear when the net was about community and fellowship, and global friendship. There’s not many around these days who can remember what it was like back then. Many of my old blogging friends are no longer with us today.

The net has been kidnapped by a relatively small group of huge corporates that now control it. Their sole purpose is to make money, and their customers are not you or I, but other giant corporations that pay them for vast advertising space.

They have changed our world and they have been totally free to do so, with little or no effective regulatory curbs.* They have become so powerful they control governments.

Yahoo’s “Find a Friend,” died a death many moons ago. Replacing it are a myriad of so-called dating sites, corporate owned, or by the mafia-style gangs who operate on them. Photos and descriptions of cute women or good-looking men, hide the real criminals who work these sites.  They coin vast sums by stealth and false pretences from lonely folk just seeking love and companionship. This, besides the grotesque fees charged for membership of these places, and the inevitable advertising revenues that accompany them.

“Enshittification” is an apt description for what has become of the internet today. Capitalism has gone berserk within it. There is no longer any sense of community. One has only to see what Facebook and Twitter, among other social media platforms, have become in the last two decades to comprehend the sheer enshittification that corporate greed has imposed on us via the ‘net’.

If you drive up the M6 motorway today, you’ll not see many old articulated trailers in farmer’s fields. Back in 1959, one farmer thought he had himself a winner. He was, perhaps, short-sighted. He never realised that in a few years time he would be superseded by one mammoth global advertising hoarding, known as the internet.

*Reading this link shows just how ineffective most government internet regulations are today.

MH370 – A Tragedy Not To Be Forgotten

On the 8th March 2014 a Malaysian Boeing 777 airliner code-named MH370 took off from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing, China. The aircraft carried twelve crew members and two hundred and twenty-seven passengers. It has not been seen since.

The aircraft apparently disappeared into thin air. The first forty minutes of the flight were routine. The Malaysian air traffic control passed the flight to the Vietnamese ATC via the aircraft’s captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, one of Malaysia’s most senior pilots. Zaharie never contacted the Ho Chi Min ATC and nothing more was heard from the aircraft. It literally disappeared into thin air.

Nine years later, we are no further forward in discovering what happed to that hapless plane and the 239 people on board.  There have been a multitude of theories, some viable and others downright ridiculous. Even this writer put forth one viewpoint in a story entitled, “MH370-Flight To Armageddon.

The truth is that no-one knows where the aircraft is, though scientific analysis indicates it eventually ran out of fuel and crashed in the Indian Ocean. Some twenty pieces of aircraft wreckage have washed ashore on Réunion, Madagascar and Mozambique. It is purported to have come from the stricken aircraft.

There is hope that a new search may commence within the next year or so.  The original search team has stated they have new evidence come to light. As yet no-one, apart from the company involved, knows what that evidence might be.

Nine years on and still the relatives and loved ones of those on board have no more idea of what may have happened to them, than they did on the 9th March 2014.

It’s a sad indictment of humanity that we can allow such long and arduous suffering because governments don’t want to spend the money on continued searches.

Let’s ensure we don’t forget those unfortunates on board that doomed aircraft, and those left behind who are still grieving.

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