A rainy day on some unidentified American suburban side street as pictured in a "FreeFoto" image I got off the internet (and that I didn't bother to try to conceal.)
Today is a showery, cool late September day here in Washington, D.C., and environs, with the promise of an genuine rainy night forthcoming based on the composite radar mosaic image taken 40 minutes ago.
Here is the 2008 UTC (4:08PM EDT) 26 Sept. 2009 radar mosaic (composite mode) from parts of the Eastern and Midwest United States.
In lieu of dwelling on my finances, career, and life situation, I am going to post an excerpt of something I came across written by the late Carl Sagan in his 1994 book Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space.
I was looking up -- as part of the Sept. 30, 2009 global climate change news compendium that I write and that is my only major source of income these days -- the speeches by U.S. President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao given at the U.N. Climate Change Summit conveyed by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon last Tuesday (Sept. 22) and that both leaders attended.
Beninese-born American actor Djimon Hounsou gave the opening remarks (see here) that included most of the following excerpt (which I got from this site).
The image in question was taken by Voyager I on Feb. 14, 1990 as it was already approx. 3.7 billion miles (6 billion kilometers) from Earth. It shows our planet appearing to be suspended in a shaft of sunlight tens of millions of miles long (created by the fact that from the distance of lonely Voyager I the Earth was almost lost in the Sun's glare). Earth occupies less than 1 pixel in the image, a fact Sagan weaves beautifully into the follow thoughts:
"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, Pale Blue Dot, 1994
I'm going to Phil and Stephanie's for dinner tonight, and Gary and Chris T. should be there, along with Gary's Boston friends who are in town for the weekend.
My next planned update may be on Monday, but it also may not be until Wednesday after the court date and I can write about what happened.