“If you want to be awe inspired..” (Christopher Hitchens)

Thoughts to think about on a winters day.

Begin with wonder

Transcript of Hitchens

“If you want to be awe inspired, ladies and gentlemen; let me say, let me just tell you that those of us who do not believe that we are divinely created, let alone divinely supervised are not immune to the idea of awe and beauty and the transcendent. Let me invite you, to look for a moment at the pictures taken by the Hubble telescope, some of you may have done it… if you haven’t done it now, would yet do it soon. The extraordinary revelations of swirling yet somehow beautiful new galaxies in colour and depth and majesty, like nothing I think the human eye has ever seen. Turn away from that if you wish and gaze at a burning bush, in an illiterate desert part of the middle east and say that.s where revelation comes from. I don’t believe you’d be able to do it. Or read a page of Stephen Hawking on the absolute magnificence and consistency and underlying beauty, as Einstein says “the great miracle of physics is there are no miracles”; it all carries on holding together all the time, there are no interruptions in its order, there are no suspensions of it just to please Joshua or just to please some sect or tribe or group… no! its much much much more impressive than that. Hawking has a colleague who looked at the event horizon of a black hole, if you could travel towards a black hole, not yet possible to do, but if you could in theory, the event horizon is the point at which the black hole is pulling everything into itself, so over into the black hole goes light itself… its so strong it can pull light into itself. Its really awe inspiring, a lot more say than a crowd of pigs, infested by devils, running down a hill, into the sea…. which is a piece of sorcery and cheap magic of the sort that shouldn’t impress any thinking person; think about a black hole instead…. pulling the light into itself the event horizon just, re-organizing nature, so that if you could get to that lip, the lip of the event horizon and fall in, and go in, you could in theory see the past and the future stretching, before and in front of you. You would see time, except you wouldn’t have the time to do it, of course, if you were a mere primate as we are. Yet Hawking has a colleague that says that if he knew he was dying of a terminal illness, that”s how he’d want to go out, is over the lip of the event horizon; that would be majesty, that would be magnificent, that would be awe inspiring, that would be apocalyptic. So its in the natural world, its in the world of science and the world of innovation and discovery and doubt…. we wouldn’t have discovered ANY of these things if we’d taken the religious story for granted to begin with. We’d have said, “we already know enough, we *KNOW*, God made this, God wants it this way, what’s the need for inquiry? We already have all the information we need!”. The big difference between this side of the house, mine and the other is the this, I am absolutely certain that I do not know but that it might be possible to find out, and that doubt and skepticism and innovation and inquiry are the only means by which wonder and beauty and awe and symmetry will be discovered and beyond those peaks we can yet see, new more wonderful peaks will arise. Whereas, on the Wilson side of the house it is said, we already have the certainty, we know that God created us and we even claim to know his mind and what he wants of us. And I just invite you to open your minds to the possibility that the skeptical and the inquiring and the doubtful will be better than ANYTHING that calls itself faith, because anything that calls itself faith, calls itself certainty and for certainty I think there is no place in an institute of intellectual mentation and higher education, and I am very grateful to you all for giving me the chance to say so, thank you.” Christopher Eric Hitchens

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Ballerina dances in the empty streets of Amsterdam – YouTube

Beautiful.

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5-Ways to be Optimistic about the future (at any age ) Mentemia

From Mentemia this morning. I really need this today.

1) Practice Gratitude every day.
2) Write a new to-do-list: Fun things to do over the next six months to year.
3) Know you have the power to change. Focus on small steps toward positive change.
4) Make a difference in your community.
5) Seek out inspiring stories.

https://www.mentemia.com/blog

 

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(7) Papatūānuku (our Earth Mother) is Breathing

Beautiful. Enjoy. Life.

Sit at a distance, stand as one. When the time is right, we welcome you. But for now, listen. Papatūānuku (our earth mother) is breathing.

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(20) parachute [acoustic version] – YouTube

This is beautiful.

Enjoy.

via (20) parachute [acoustic version] – YouTube

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‘Magical and antiquarian’: William Arnold’s plant portraits | Art and design | The Guardian

A little beauty to begin our days.

via ‘Magical and antiquarian’: William Arnold’s plant portraits | Art and design | The Guardian

William Arnold

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12 Questions to help you feel more grateful (Mentemia)

The Mentemia app has been a great help over the last two months. I recommend it to you.

This is an exercise I was encouraged to complete last Tuesday.

1) What about today has improved on yesterday? Or the week from last?

2) What am I taking for granted that I can be thankful for?

3) Which relationships in my life am I grateful for?

4) What do I like most about the town, city or area I live in?

5) What am I most looking forward to in the next week, month, year? And why?

6) What would I never want to change about myself?

7) What is my favorite song? and why?


8) Who has made the most positive impact on my life recently?

9) What can I do for others today to show I care?

10) What is the kindest thing someone has said to me recently?

11) Who in my life has been through difficult times, and how do they inspire me?

12) What is my favorite time of day, and why? 

https://www.mentemia.com/blog

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What A Wonderful World

 

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Table Topics Contest: Are Farmers Responsible for their Mess.

On Sunday I took part in a Toastmaster’s speaking contest. I did not place. That’s no drama. But…

The Table Topic question shocked me.  Are Farmers Responsible for their Mess? I decided to leave the contest and take a walk with my wife and our dog. The question hung in my mind.

My first response would have been yes. In New Zealand there is no doubt that the farming industry is the source of water pollution from nitrogen containing fertilizer and cow urine, and climate pollution from methane, coal burning and nitrous oxide from fertilizer.

Then I thought who is really responsible for this. Farms are much much more intensive today than when I was growing up. The overstocked, intensive agriculture we now have is a response to economic and social pressure. Who in their right mind would buy an overpriced piece of land, then thrash that land at a loss,  and ignore the mess made. Farming was not like this when I was growing up.

I blame Neo-liberalization. The philosophy that greed is good. The Chicago school of economists and their beholden politicians.

We need to return to balance: A mix of effective governance and efficient markets and respect for cooperative ways of life. A balance between society, business and individuals, the environment; not rampant arrogant greed.

From: Antoine Hubert Flickr

 

 

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Just a reminder – we’re in the ‘We Overreacted!’ phase on lockdown : newzealand

I remember the day we  went into lockdown. I was terrified. We had seen what happened in China, Italy, the United Kingdom and I understand exponential growth. I continued to listen to the daily infection reports and up they went. Then the number stabilized and now they are coming down. Relief.

Day 29.

We have, so far been saved by good governance and our community effort. Those actions have worked. So now, some on the political right are feeding this twisted idea. Ir’s all been a bit of an over reaction. OSH gone mad.

I don’t think so.

COVID 19 is not just flu. This week the New York times presented the excess deaths happening around the world. We know the official COVID 19 death rates are underestimating the position. This gives us an idea of by how much. The Economist has also calculated these numbers if you need a cross check. In New York over March 300% more people died than normal, in England and Wales 33% more people died, and in Jakarta (Indonesian capital city) 57% more people died. The numbers were: 19,200; 16,700; and 1,600 respectively. This disease is killing many people despite what some would like you to think.

I’m hopeful that New Zealanders can  continue to work together to look after each other. And save lives.

Kia Toa, Kia Ngakaunui

via Just a reminder – we’re in the ‘We Overreacted!’ phase on lockdown : newzealand

 

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