Friday, December 27, 2013

A leisurely stroll is a gift

Saw "Saving Mr. Banks" last night, and gleaned two profound home-truths:
A leisurely stroll is a gift.
Nothing is more sacred or vulnerable than a child's trust.
It was a delightful film, the performances (especially Emma Thompson's P.L. Travers) were great, the scenes and landscapes were brilliant. The relationship between young "Ginty" and her Dad was depicted beautifully and heart-breakingly.

But take most of the stuff about Walt Disney with a big cube of salt. The Disney version and Team Rodent may be magic but they're not always to be trusted.

My own Dad, on the other hand, was the most trustworthy person I expect ever to meet. He would have turned 85 today.

Friday, December 20, 2013

So I started to walk

Don't wait 'til you're desperate. "It is a characteristic of wisdom, not to do desperate things." (Thoreau)
I was desperate. So I started to walk. Every morning. First thing, as soon as I got up, which as a dad now meant 6 or 7 a.m. I walked for half an hour. Then I walked for an hour. Then I walked for 90 minutes…
 ...a daily five-mile walk turned out to be exactly what I needed. My head cleared. My energy soared. My neck pains diminished. Sometimes I texted myself ideas, sentences, entire paragraphs as I walked. Other times I just floated along, arms at my sides, stewing and filtering and looking.
Walking unlocked me. It's like LSD. Or a library. It does things to you. I finished my novel in only two more years (for a total of six), walking every day. And I don't plan on stopping. 
Mohsin Hamid, in "How to Write: A Year in Advice"-via Dean Hall

Friday, December 6, 2013

Nelson Mandela, optimist

“I always knew that someday I would once again feel the grass under my feet and walk in the sunshine as a free man. I am fundamentally an optimist. Whether that comes from nature or nurture, I cannot say. Part of being optimistic is keeping one’s head pointed towards the sun, one’s feet moving forward. There were many dark moments when my faith in humanity was sorely tested, but I would not and could not give myself up to despair.”

Nelson Mandela (1918-2013)

Monday, November 25, 2013

"Incoherent Rambling"

It was a pleasure recording a radio interview with the "Incoherent Rambler" (& part-time Cynic) this afternoon. We'd done a dry run on paper earlier, but then let fly with a more spontaneous exchange when the tape began to run. Not sure which was better, but here's what I can document today:

Now, Dr. Oliver, you’ve evolved on many many things even in the short time I’ve known you.  One such topic, and one that I’ve really wanted to introduce to my audience, is the classic Mill/Bentham debate.  Could you briefly outline the Mill/Bentham debate, and where you come down on it? -Mill and Bentham were 19th century Happiness philosophers . Bentham urged the greatest happiness for the greatest number, without further qualification. “Pushpin [whatever that is] is as good as poetry,” he said. Mill objected that indiscriminate, lowest-common-denominator pleasure is unfit for human beings. Ask those who’ve tried both pushpin and poetry, he said, and they’ll likely prefer poetry. And what if they don't? What if they don't even prefer baseball to football? Well, Mill and I may not like it but if we're going to be advocates of liberty (as Mill, the author of "On Liberty," purports to be) then that's that. I come down on both Mill's side and Bentham's: I want everyone to try poetry and their preferred version of pushpin, and then I want them to exercise their freedom without my or others' interference. I happen to think, with Mill, that it's better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a pig satisfied, but in our democracy the "pigs" have a vote too.  I wouldn't be so presumptuous as to say their lives were not worth living. 

Pluralism-What is it, and how do we reconcile (the "socrates dissatisfied" paradigm) with it, or anything really? -Philosophical pluralism, at least as the pragmatists I favor typically deploy the term, means a commitment to supporting and encouraging varieties of ways of being, thinking, speaking, writing, philosophizing & living... it's multiplicity and diversity, for its own sake, for the sake of individual happiness and flourishing, AND for the sake of a more vibrant, creative,honest, self-critical and self-correcting culture. This is J.S. Mill's better legacy, and it's why William James (author of  "Pragmatism" and "A Pluralistic Universe") said Mill would be the Pragmatist-in-Chief if he were still around.

Melting Pot/Salad metaphor -A melting pot to some extent loses the sharp distinctiveness of its ingredients, to create something fresh and new and sui generis. But so does a good salad. And yet, a tomato or a carrot or a shard of lettuce remain distinctively themselves. Maybe we'd rather be a crazy salad than a gumbo. But that's a hard call.

“Cherry-Picking”-tell us about it -This is the approach Duke philosopher Owen Flanagan calls "hybridism," wherein (for instance) a non-Buddhist like himself (or a pragmatist like me) can find much in Buddhism to appreciate and even emulate. The point of picking cherries is that we don't just want cherries. We like apples and oranges and other things too. I prefer empiricism to rationalism (and radical empiricism to classic empiricism), but that doesn't prevent me from appreciating Descartes' quest for clarity or Spinoza's natural piety

How far does this go? -As a pragmatist I'm inclined to go as far with it as I can. So long as the hybrid position "pays its way" by leading to positive experiences and apparent insight, there's no good reason to revert to an ideologically exclusive 'ism instead of seeking the best of many worlds of discourse

Reconciling cognitive dissonance (do you have to?) -I do try to avoid cognitive dissonance, and logical confusion generally... but I also resonate to the Jamesian concession that words and formal discourse are no substitute for pre-cognitive experience and its delightful immediacies. When philosophical problems make your head hurt, I say, you should get out of your study and take a hike

Is this a way of “having your cake and eating it, too?” -It's a way of having a smorgasboard sampler... of having your cake and pie and ice cream and... The trick is not being such a glutton that the whole thing becomes unpalatable

Define pragmatism -"A new name for an old way of thinking," a method of solving otherwise-intractable metaphysical disputes, a commitment to finding the practicality and relevance of philosophy as applicable to as much of experience as possible.

Who was James, why was he important? -He called himself Henry James's older, wiser brother. (Henry is considered the founding "Master of the modern literary novel.) William was a delightful human being who I discovered as an undergrad via his letters, and wish I could treat to a beer at the Boulevard. Unfortunately, one of the James's other brothers was an alcoholic and that seems to have turned William away from that particular form of conviviality. He was the gracious founder of pragmatism who tried to deflect credit to his friend Peirce, a defender of "experience against philosophy," whenever the two seemd to conflict... hence, a Radical Empiricist who took personal experience seriously as the real meaning of life (in all its variety).

Universal application of Pragmatism (is there/could there be such a thing?) -In a global and political sense that would mean the end of ideology, and a commitment to learning and re-learning the lessons of experience, changing plans and policies and beliefs accordingly. I don't guess we'll get everyone on board with that anytime soon, but I do think we're seeing the decline of the more rigid and oppressive forms of ideology and may hope to see that trend continue.

How far would James take it? -His professional focus was on showing the incoherence of pragmatism's main intellectual opponent in his day, Absolute Idealism. He'd be pleased to see it no longer in vogue. Today, I picture him gathering our worst partisan politicians around that squirrel-tree he spoke of, in "Pragmatism," and lecturing them to specify their practical differences more transparently. (Then, he'd probably throw up his hands in frustration at their unreflective intransigence... the way most of  us do.)

What are the important things to do in Philosophy? -I actually think there's a place for "narrow" epistemology, alongside aesthetics and ethics and metaphysics and all. I just wish that place were more proportionate to the relevance and general interest of most of its problems. I have a brilliantly intelligent philosopher friend who's been tormenting himself over the so-called "problem of the criterion" for decades, while aspects of his personal life have been more prominently and genuinely problematic in his life. (I don't think he'd deny it.) That, to me, is unphilosophic

The big question: What’s the secret to happiness? -As we just read, in Jennifer Michael Hecht's "Happiness Myth," there's no Big Secret. But there are many paths and strategies to happiness. The (lower-case) "secret" is that we all have to make our own happiness "lists" and work it out for ourselves. In my own case, "mens sana in corpore sano" (healthy mind in a healthy body) has been a constant goal. I walk every day, and that purchases at least several hours a day of perceived happiness. So I intend to keep moving, one way or another. Other happiness "secrets" I've tried to act on include those mentioned at the end of Monty Python's "Meaning of Life": Try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations.
P.S. But here's what I actually said...

Monday, November 4, 2013

Carlin Romano

the author of America the Philosophical and Critic-at-large of the "Chronicle of Higher Education," is coming to MTSU later this week. He'll be on the radio this afternoon at 5:30 pm on WMOT/89.5 in middle Tennessee (and everywhere, on their podcast).

Carlin Romano
Ursinus College

America the Philosophical

Friday, November 8, 2013
at 5:00 pm,*
College of Education Building,
Room 164

Is America, contrary to popular belief and national stereotype, a vibrantly philosophical civilization, possibly even the greatest of all time? The controversial Chronicle of Higher Education critic-at-large says “Yes”, emphatically. The New York Times said he makes an “ambitious” and “convincing” case.
*He'll be available before and after the talk to sign copies of his book.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Hurry Spring

A wise but frustrated old Red Sox fan once said: baseball breaks your heart
It is designed to break your heart. The game begins in the spring, when everything else begins again, and it blossoms in the summer, filling the afternoons and evenings, and then as soon as the chill rains come, it stops and leaves you to face the fall alone. You count on it, rely on it to buffer the passage of time, to keep the memory of sunshine and high skies alive, and then just when the days are all twilight, when you need it most, it stops. 

Then comes the long hard winter. Stories are told, the heart begins to heal, and eventually to hope. For the briefest while, it's only a game.

Bart Giamatti needed to believe something lasts forever. I just need to believe Spring Training will come again. The countdown begins. Up again, old heart.

Hail to the Red Sox. 

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Love my dog

J-J Rousseau had his shortcomings, but he did love the most loyal species. That covers a multitude of sins, in my book. It's also why I cut some slack to Schopenhauer, Diogenes, and others whose humanly-deficient  tendencies gained partial canine correction.
A relationship with a dog, too, should not be one of ruler and subject. About the predecessor to Sultan, Rousseau wrote, “My dog himself was my friend, not my slave: we always had the same will, but it was not because he obeyed me.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Positive change

One of my favorite places, in Murfreesboro TN, lies just down the little hill beyond this point. I finally paused long enough yesterday, in transit, to notice the noble words of commemoration:
"From a tiny acorn grows a majestic oak tree. This place is in honor of Bertha Chrietzberg [OH'y] - conservationist, teacher, mentor, hero, and genuine example of the power each one of us has to make a positive change in the world."

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Atheism & Philosophy texts, updated

Coming to MTSU in January

Spring Semester-
Atheism & Philosophy
PHIL 3310 – Atheism and PhilosophyThis course examines various perspectives on atheism, understood as the belief that no transcendent creator deity exists, and that there are no supernatural causes of natural events. The course compares this belief with familiar alternatives (including theism, agnosticism, and humanism), considers the spiritual significance of atheism, and explores implications for ethics and religion.
Our central theme this semesterthe meaning of Atheism

What's the meaning of a godless existence? What gets atheists, humanists, naturalists and other godless folk out of bed in the morning? What reconciles them to belief in life non-eternal? How do they deal with their mortality? What  are their sacred texts, if not the Christian Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the collected works of L.Ron, ...? Whatare the possible "meanings of life" regarded strictly in its finitude?

Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40-4:05 pm in James Union Building (JUB) 202 beginning January 16, 2014.

Also recommended:

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

"I'll be hanging in a classroom one day"

In honor of today's topic in CoPhi, Stanley Cavell and philosophy in the movies...

You are so self-righteous. I mean, we're just people. We're just human beings. You think you're God!
-I gotta model myself after someone.
You just can't live the way you do. It's all so perfect.
-Jesus, what are future generations gonna say about us? My God! You know, someday we're gonna be like him. And he was probably one of the beautiful people, dancing and playing tennis. And now look. This is what happens to us. You know, it's important to have some kind of personal integrity. I'll be hanging in a classroom one day and I wanna make sure when I thin out that I'm... well thought of. Manhattan (1979) 


My new officemate, reminding me to memento mori, carpe diem, & have some integrity before I thin out.

Friday, September 13, 2013

To live is an act of courage

Jennifer Michael Hecht on the suicide epidemic in today's military.
Throughout history, artists and writers have depicted “the sorrowful Ajax” because the story is so heartbreaking and so very human. At times, we are all—every one of us—our own worst enemy...
The American Scholar 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Remembering to seek peace

It's an unplanned but pleasing coincidence that the twelfth anniversary of 9.11.01 falls on the same day we'll be entertaining a visitor from the Peace Corps, in CoPhi... and the day after the President announced his intention to give diplomacy and peace a chance in Syria. We must push and celebrate progress where we can.

The scene on the Vandy library lawn this morning:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Coming to MTSU in January

Spring Semester-

Atheism & Philosophy
PHIL 3310 – Atheism and PhilosophyThis course examines various perspectives on atheism, understood as the belief that no transcendent creator deity exists, and that there are no supernatural causes of natural events. The course compares this belief with familiar alternatives (including theism, agnosticism, and humanism), considers the spiritual significance of atheism, and explores implications for ethics and religion.
Our central theme this semesterthe meaning of Atheism

What's the meaning of a godless existence? What gets atheists, humanists, naturalists and other godless folk out of bed in the morning? What reconciles them to belief in life non-eternal? How do they deal with their mortality? What  are their sacred texts, if not the Christian Bible, the Koran, the Torah, the Book of Mormon, the collected works of L.Ron, ...? What are the possible "meanings of life" regarded strictly in its finitude?

Classes will meet on Tuesdays and Thursdays, 2:40-4:05 pm in James Union Building (JUB) 202 beginning January 16, 2014.

Possible texts include

For more info, contact Dr. Phil Oliver,

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Peter Markie's Purple Chalk

Opened the Fall edition of my Mizzou alumni magazine to the happy news that my old mentor and undergrad Philosophy Club sponsor Peter Markie has been honored with the coveted Purple Chalk Award. Congrats, Peter! (You guys still have a chalkboard? They carted our last one away this summer. But Purple Dry Erase Marker Award just doesn't have the same ring.) 

Wish we could meet up at Michael's Pub (the one we got booted from when one of us tried to prove himself "free" by doing something stupid with a beer mug) to celebrate. (Alas, it's long since gone to the dozer and reconstruction.)
As do all talented educators, Markie has a knack for reducing monumental concepts into digestible pieces. It’s one of the skills that earned him a Purple Chalk Award for outstanding teaching from the College of Arts and Science in March. In his 37th year at Mizzou, Markie has served as interim assistant provost, vice provost for undergraduate studies and philosophy department chair. But teaching students is what fuels his fire. "It’s not just grabbing their attention, but holding it and doing something with it,” Markie says. “There are days when you have people sucked into a philosophical problem, and their interest generates a back-and-forth discussion. That’s when I think I’ll do this forever. They’ll have to have six or eight guys come in with a coffin, say, ‘Markie, you’re done,’ drop me in it and carry me out.
I think Peter's probably had that experience a few times more than me, through the years (the back-and-forth experience, not the drop-and-carry), but I know just what he means. I feel the same way. Long may we rave.

Monday, August 26, 2013


A moment of respectful silence please, on Opening Day of Fall Semester 2013, for our old classroom. Requiescat in pace, James Union Building room #304. Here's how it looked from my office desk across the hall last Opening Day:

And here it is now, transformed from classroom to office space:
It's great having colleagues across the hall. But I miss the kids.
POSTSCRIPT. But this was reassuring: my colleague's perennial Opening Day board quote from Charles Sanders Peirce, the one I always found on arrival in 304 on the first day of every semester...

turned up again yesterday in Forrest Hall. I still disagree with it [What philosophy really is], but I'm comforted that some things never change.

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Van Gokh?!

One of Woody Allen's most endearing qualities, on-screen at least, is his impatience with pseudo-intellectual, self-important, self-appointed custodians of culture, the kinds of people who "sit around on the floor with wine and cheese, and mispronounce allegorical and didacticism," and think everything you like is "derivative bullshit."

Older Daughter says she's encountered some of those in college, already. Par for the course on Day #1, I told her. My Rule #1, which goes into effect on Day #2: No stuck-up sticky beaks here! 

And there's no... Rule #2.

Monday, August 12, 2013


This has been my favorite campus "icon" for a long time, at our school. Love to hold office hours here.

But until just now I did not know its proper name. WELCOME to the Uranidrome-

MTSU’s Naked-Eye Observatory...

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Walking to work

I've been laboring all summer, really all my adult life, to find words adequate to express the serious playfulness of walking. It's a rewarding but elusive search, and I'm more grateful than not that it will continue for me indefinitely.

Meanwhile, D.B. Johnson's Henry the Bear has said it best so far. "I'm walking to work." A children's book, so simple on the surface, but so eloquent and profound if you read it right.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

‘MTSU On the Record’ delves into philosophy of happiness

Host Gina Logue’s interview with Dr. Phil Oliver, an MTSU philosophy professor, is scheduled to air from 5:30 to 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 5, and from 8 to 8:30 a.m. Sunday, Aug. 11, on WMOT-FM (89.5 and

Oliver teaches a course titled “The Philosophy of Happiness,” which will concentrate during the fall 2013 semester on the connection between happiness and the meaning of life.

Students will discuss whether it is necessary to live a life of higher ethical purpose to be happy or whether physical pursuits and creature comforts are sufficient, as well as other issues.

To listen to previous programs, go to the “Audio Clips” archives at

For more information about “MTSU On the Record,” contact Logue at 615-898-5081 or WMOT-FM at 615-898-2800.

MURFREESBORO — The next edition of the “MTSU On the Record” radio program focuses on how we define and pursue happiness.
FOR RELEASE: July 31, 2013
EDITORIAL CONTACT: Gina Logue, 615-898-5081,

Friday, July 26, 2013

Dennett vs. Searle

John Searle's sprightly May TED talk is entertaining and, in its main message-- consciousness is a biological phenomenon-- indisputable.

But Searle's continuing bout with Dan Dennett is even more entertaining.
John Searle and I have a deep disagreement about how to study the mind. For Searle, it is all really quite simple. There are these bedrock, time-tested intuitions we all have about consciousness, and any theory that challenges them is just preposterous. I, on the contrary, think that the persistent problem of consciousness is going to remain a mystery until we find some such dead obvious intuition and show that, in spite of first appearances, it is false! One of us is dead wrong, and the stakes are high. Searle sees my position as “a form of intellectual pathology”; no one should be surprised to learn that the feeling is mutual...[NYRB, Aug.15, 2013]

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

That's here, that's home, that's us

If you missed it. Our portrait turned out pretty.
YES! Cassini's images of us, our world & our moon, on a very special day in the life of Planet Earth  
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. It is up to us. It's been said that astronomy is a humbling, and I might add, a character-building experience. To my mind, 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 and compassionately with one another and to preserve and cherish that pale blue dot, the only home we've ever known. Reflections on a mote of dust
 Stay tuned.

Friday, July 19, 2013


Younger Daughter's arts project this afternoon, perfect for a hammock tree on a hot lazy day in July (and the day our planetary home had its portrait made)-
"Hang a sign that says HOME on a tree and you're done; just try to have a good time." @freudeinstein Jennifer Michael Hecht, Doubt: A History

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Blackburn on Hume

Simon Blackburn neatly summarizes the rootedness of American philosophy in David Hume's humane empiricism, in this interview:
There’s a suggestion that reason is always the slave of the passions? Yes, that’s the famous provocative remark, “and has no other office but to serve and obey them.” There’s an insight there which is picked up in much modern philosophy, and it is of course the insight of pragmatism, that success in action is, in some sense, the mother of thought. It’s because we need our actions in the world to serve our needs and to generate success, that we have the intelligences we do. That’s the nutshell idea of modern American pragmatism, and the pragmatist tradition. 
And besides, "he lived an admirable life and a warm, generous spirit breathes through all his writings." Must walk his walk too.

Simon Blackburn on David Hume | Five Books | Five Books

Monday, July 15, 2013

Who Scores Games by Hand Anymore?

I do. I wasn't scoring last night's terrific Cards win at Wrigley, the one Younger Daughter was sure her Cubbies had salted away before she retired (thus missing Yadi's big blast), but I almost always score the games we see in person. Sadly, most fans these days don't know what to do with the scoresheet they find in ther overpriced "souvenir program." A few of us still do, and we know why we do too.
Many people said they wanted the program only as a souvenir and opted not to take the pencil. But Stephan Loewenthil of New Rochelle happily took it while forking over his $10. “For me it’s still a bargain, and it’s not about buying a souvenir,” he said. “It’s about making the game more immediate, keeping me locked in.” Loewenthil, 63, was taught to keep score by his father at Yankee Stadium when he was 6 ½ years old. His son, Jacob, 26, had no interest in continuing the pastime. “It’s my dad’s thing,” he said."
I am proud to report that both of my girls are competent and sometimes even avid scorekeepers. They're locked in.

Who Scores Games by Hand Anymore? -

Monday, July 8, 2013


A new novel about a "peripatetic philosopher"? You don't see that every day.

In  Thomas Kennedy's Kerrigan in Copenhagen,
 The bibulous Kerrigan is influenced equally by Joyce’s “Ulysses” and Kierkegaard’s “Either/Or.” A peripatetic philosopher, Kerrigan once wrote scholarly papers on literary verisimilitude; now he simply reads and drinks. A green-eyed, 50-­something woman, whom he refers to as his Research Associate, accompanies him with a Moleskine full of facts and the emotional burden of dissatisfaction with her own failed career.
...Kierkegaard (whose very name means “graveyard”) tries to identify the unhappiest person who ever lived. Don Juan is a contender; Kerrigan might also qualify. Fixated on the memory of his much younger ex-wife in a blue bikini, he suspects he’ll never recover from her treachery and loss.
Having plumped for hedonism, then, Kerrigan more or less lives the life depicted within Kierkegaard’s “Seducer’s Diary.” Philosophies may change, but fermentation is forever...  
Don't fool yourself, Kerrigan. Nothing's forever. Words, women, and drink are no exception. Real peripatetics know that.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Darwin's dog

This charming portrait of Charles Darwin and his fox terrier Polly by London-based illustrator Kerry Hyndman is the sweetest thing since this photo of Maurice Sendak and his German shepherd Herman. Pair with literary history’s notable pets and the authors who loved them.
@brainpicker: This portrait of Darwin and his dog made my 
Postscript, 7.8.13: (I've actually considered him a friend for a very long time.)

  1. Phil Oliver of Nashville, USA just became a Friend of Charles Darwin.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Medium chill beats the bitch-goddess

In 1906 William James wrote to H.G.Wells of

“The moral flabbiness born of the exclusive worship of the bitch-goddess SUCCESS. That, with the squalid cash interpretation put on the word 'success' - is our national disease.”

He was a century ahead of David Roberts, who says the way to subdue the bitch-goddess is with an attitude and behavior he calls "medium chill":
"Medium chill" has become something of a slogan for my wife and me....We now have a smallish house in a nondescript working class Seattle neighborhood with no sidewalks. We have one car, a battered old minivan with a large dent on one side where you have to bang it with your hip to make the door shut. Our boys go to public schools. Our jobs pay enough to support our lifestyle, mostly anyway. If we wanted, we could both do the "next thing" on our respective career paths. She could move to a bigger company. I could freelance more, angle to write for a bigger publications, write a book, hire a publicist, whatever. We could try to make more money. Then we could fix the water pressure in our shower, redo the back patio, get a second car, or hell, buy a bigger house closer in to town. Maybe get the kids in private schools. All that stuff people with more money than us do. But ... meh..."
What Careerist Americans Can Learn From Ike, Dorothy Day and Jimmy Buffett - Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic

And here's one of the ways I achieve medium chill:

is a hammock, a mild June Sunday, & a good friend alongside.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Smile for the camera

The pale blue dot's about to get an update!
On July 19, 2013, the Cassini cameras will be turned to image Saturn and its entire ring system during the planet's eclipse of the sun. In the lower right, among the outer diffuse rings that encircle Saturn, will be a small speck of blue light with all of us on it. A mosaic of  images covering the rings from one end to the other, some taken in those filters that are used to make a natural color scene -- that looks like what human eyes would see -- will be taken at this time.  Also to be recorded: an image of the highest resolution that we are capable of taking, in which we will find Earth and its moon.  One will be a colorless, star-like point of light.  The other, of course, will be a pale blue dot... Carolyn Porco
RDFRS: July 19, 2013: A Day To Celebrate the Pale Blue Dot

Friday, June 14, 2013

Light beats darkness

Dedicated to the overheated sunburned ecstasy-seekers at Bonnaroo '13, including Older Daughter. Enjoy the mystery tour, kids. Say hello to Paul.

The Laughing Heart

your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.
-- by Charles Bukowski Accelerating Intelligence News