Sunday, August 16, 2009

Musings: Part of the Universe

I saw Jupiter rising last evening, a fuzzy white ball in the east, and by the time I awoke and went out walking with Koko, it had moved on over to the west, its place assumed instead by a crescent moon and shiny Venus. Pleiades — or Makalii, as it’s known in these parts — was directly overhead, next to a distinctive triangular-shaped constellation that I later learned, after consulting the handy interactive feature at, is aptly named Triangle.

The night sky always gives me a little thrill, which is physically expressed as a shiver of joy when I’m out under it, looking up at it, and as I was admiring it in that special time between night and dawn, a falling star shot across the sky.

I was reading an article about Siberia the other day and the author described the night sky as so clear and brilliant there that he felt as if he was of it, and it brought to mind similar experiences I've had at Haleakala, Naue, Lanai, the slopes of Mauna Loa. And that made me think of how it must have been back in the time before light pollution took that marvelous experience out of the realm of every day. You’d just have to view the universe, and our place in it, very differently if every night you actually felt yourself a part of it.

While listening to the radio yesterday, the DJ noted that August 15 was first day of the Woodstock festival, some 40 years ago. Woodstock was a bit before my time, but of course I know the legend and have heard the trademark song written by Joni Mitchell countless times.

He played it again, as covered by a British group, and as I listened to the lyrics, I thought, gee, and in those four decades we’ve gotten closer to the garden shop than the garden, and the bomber jets have turned not into butterflies, but unmanned Predator drones.

What happened?

Still, some folks haven’t given up the (alternative American) dream of getting back to nature and living lightly on the land. Do you suppose it’s too late to change the design of the Wailua Bridge into something way cool like this instead?

Meanwhile, it seems that President Obama’s influence is truly widespread, reaching folks on the very fringe of the political system. What greater tribute to the Prez than Ecstasy mimic tablets made in his image?

A friend who experiences more annoyance than ecstasy in the comments section of this blog sent along a helpful link with the comment:

Damn Weblog Pests have a handbook….

The site, named "Derailing for Dummies,” notes:

Just follow this step-by-step guide to Conversing with Marginalised People™ and in no time at all you will have a fool-proof method of derailing every challenging conversation you may get into, thus reaping the full benefits of every privilege that you have.

The best part is, you don't even have to be a white, heterosexual, cisgendered, cissexual, upper-class male to enjoy the full benefits of derailing conversation! Nope, you can utilise the lesser-recognised tactic of Horizontal Hostility to make sure that, despite being a member of a Marginalised Group™ yourself, you can exercise a privilege another Marginalised Group™ doesn't have in order not to heed their experience!

If you read the comments section, I’m sure you’ll recognize a few, including “Aren't You Treating Each Other Worse Anyway,” “Unless You Can Prove Your Experience Is Widespread I Won't Believe It” and “
I Don't Think You're As Marginalised As You Claim.” Then there’s the classic, which often comes up when the conversation turns to Hawaii’s independence: “Don't You Have More Important Issues To Think About?”

But hey, don’t let any of this, or anything else, get you down. If you ever start getting too full of angst, or yourself, just check out this youtube video. When you consider that there are over 100 billion galaxies in the universe, even the biggest problems facing humanity are pretty darn inconsequential and small. And if you believe, as I do, that it’s all energy and it’s all connected, then wow. What reason could you possibly have for holding yourself, or others, back or down when you're an integral part of this vast and beautiful universe?


Sandhya said...

I moved from Kaua`i to the San Francisco Bay Area only a week ago. On my last night on Kaua`i, I looked at the night sky, wanting to memorize every sparkle. Thank you for the reminder, Joan, and for the link to that beautiful video.

Ed Coll said...

Joan, Thanks for the Derailing for Dummies link. I have added it to my Propaganda Confidential wiki at The Don't You Have More Important Issues To Think About tactic was a permanent conversation ender for me with a friend I thought quite highly of until she used this tactic. Because my reply was "no" the friendship ended as I rejected her authority to my agenda.

"Don't You Have More Important Issues To Think About
When you're beginning to feel backed into a corner, you could do worse than to trot this one out.

As with the best of all these techniques, this step operates on several levels. First of all, it communicates to the Marginalised Person™ that you think the entire debate is trivial and below consideration, indicating you entirely disregard their feelings and emotions. Secondly, you disown responsibility for your part in the debate and anything that you've said that may have been discriminatory or offensive.

Finally, you reinforce your Privilege® by suggesting that it is Privileged People's® job to set the agenda for the Marginalised Group™. After all, how could they possibly know what issues they should prioritise for themselves, they're far too inferior and stupid! You, with your objective, ractional Privileged® perspective, on the other hand, know exactly what is most important and it is definitely not confronting you with your own bigotry and ignorance!"

Anonymous said...

The video reminded me of this:

Just remember that you're standing on a planet that's evolving
And revolving at nine thousand miles an hour.
It's orbiting at nineteen miles a second, so it's reckoned,
The sun that is the source of all our power.
Now the sun, and you and me, and all the stars that we can see,
Are moving at a million miles a day,
In the outer spiral arm, at fourteen thousand miles an hour,
Of a galaxy we call the Milky Way.

Our galaxy itself contains a hundred million stars;
It's a hundred thousand light-years side to side;
It bulges in the middle sixteen thousand light-years thick,
But out by us it's just three thousand light-years wide.
We're thirty thousand light-years from Galactic Central Point,
We go 'round every two hundred million years;
And our galaxy itself is one of millions of billions
In this amazing and expanding universe. - Eric Idol

Andy Parx said...

Heh heh heh- another owners’ manual for the trolls.

Another one is the “I’m not here” dodge and it’s corollary “see- all these people agree with me”

Engaging “somebody” is one thing- you find out soon enough if they’re just childishly demanding attention. But engaging the random anonymous “nobody” just wastes everyone’s time and energy from the start.

By answering the troll you perpetuate the hostile atmosphere and real people will simply stop engaging and adding to genuine discussion. If you do ignore the anonymous troll enough sometimes they will simply attack their own statement so they can answer it, leaving the troll to carry on a conversation with him/herself in hopes of sucking you in and getting the craved and craven attention.