LONELINESS. Poetry receives short shrift in our culture -- sadly so. Here's a new twist. Andrya Dorfman has created a video in which she narrates, performs and illustrates her poem How To Be Alone. Her words and images are evocative and quite moving, and deeply wise. One need not feel lonely, just because one is alone.
ASTRONOMY. In recent days I've come across two separate articles that piqued my interest. In the first, NASA's Fermi Gamma Ray Space Telescope has detected two previously unseen structures at the center of our Milky Way galaxy -- "a finding likened in terms of scale to the discovery of a new continent on Earth." Twin gamma ray-emitting bubbles extend 25,000 light years north and south of the galactic center (see illustration below, click on any image to enlarge). The bubbles may be evidence of a once-existing particle jet which eminated from the massive black hole around which our galaxy rotates, or they may represent gas outflows from a burst of star formation. The article explains the knowns and the unknowns of this discovery. There is always something grand and new going on in the universe.
In the second, a NASA article explains the discovery by the Spitzer Space Telescope of a dust tail trailing the Earth in its orbit, and further explains how that tail may help us to discover Earthlike planets in other solar systems (since the tails are more easily detectable than the planets themselves). Who knew?
CURTAILING CHRISTMAS. It's like the weather -- everyone talks about it, but no one seems to know what to do about it. I'm referring to the cancerous spread of consumerism associated with all holidays, but in particular those which are ostensibly reverential -- Memorial Day, Veterans Day, Thanksgiving, and .... Christmas. A hundred years ago, people traditionally did their gift shopping on Christmas Eve, participating in a festive social event. When I was young, commercial advertisements and sales began a few weeks before Christmas, and that was considered crass at the time. Over the years, the Christmas selling frenzy has started earlier each year, spreading to overtake Thanksgiving and now even Halloween.
A post at 3 Quarks Daily faces this capitalistic cancer headon. Waging War on Christmas, to Save Thanksgiving is spot-on in its depiction of our spending madness, and of the myths surrounding our holidays. The authors suggest two solutions which I have supported for years. First, "stay home on Thanksgiving weekend. Do not shop on Black Friday." Absolutely!! Following crowds of shoppers like sheep with credit cards detracts from the humanistic qualities of both Thanksgiving and Christmas. And second, "rethink gift giving." If it is the thought that counts, then by all means put some thought into any gift. It needn't be purchased with cash at all. You can give the gift of time -- babysitting so parents can spend an adult evening out, or getting together with friends or family for quality time together over lunch or dinner. You can even, if you must spend money, make a donation in the person's name to a worthy charity, or a cause that supports the planet. Food for thought.