It’s been about 7 months since I closed my old blog (Anadder.com) where I posted between 2007 and early 2013. At the time I wasn’t sure where or when I’ll be writing again. But I just couldn’t stay away — some things are just too stupid, ridiculous, outrageous and fucked up not to be written about.
So, this is the blog reloaded, on a new domain. If you are using RSS, the old feed URL should work but the “official” feed URL is http://failbluedot.com/feed. Or you can subscribe by email or Twitter (scroll to the bottom for details).
Why Fail Blue Dot? In skeptical/atheist/science-geek circles, there’s a revered quote by Carl Sagan, along with a famous NASA image:
From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again 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.
Call me a pessimist but I don’t find the vision of the pale blue dot inspiring. What’s more accurate to me is Sagan’s talk of our fervent hatreds and readiness to kill one another.
Although the quote doesn’t mention it directly, Sagan was promoting reason (and I believe compassion based on some of his other activism). Together, these should produce a bunch of things: skepticism, atheism, rationality, a science-based, fact-based worldview, and a fight to the death to eradicate racism, misogyny, transphobia and homophobia, all the other sorts of prejudice, poverty, disease, physical and mental suffering, boredom and perhaps death itself.
The operative word though is should. This list testifies to how much we’ve failed. This fail blue dot of ours is seriously fucked – more than any of us could possibly imagine. Now, it’s undeniable that things have improved, but this means that they used to be even worse!
So, expect some rants about how we as a species occasionally succeed, but mostly fail.