Monthly Archives: September 2011

To Inspire

inspire (v.) – “to fill (the mind, heart, etc., with grace, etc.); “influence or animate with an idea or purpose”

From what I understand, it means to actually fill someone with emotion or purpose or something else transcendent and beautiful.

This was described to us in Cameron’s account planning class last week, but I thought of it again today when i saw this:


And made me remember the first time I watched Wicked, at the Orpheum Theater in San Francisco. It was ages ago, the first summer Wicked went on tour across the US (#isawitbeforeeveryoneelse). I went into the theater not knowing a single thing about the story, and was absolutely blown away.

You know how Defying Gravity is the last song before intermission, right? When she sang that last note and all the stage lights fell, it was the first time in my life that I was SWEPT to my feet in a standing ovation. I literally could not contain myself.

Oh, to be inspired, and to be inspiring.

I’ll never be on broadway, but I know my aim.

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Pale Blue Dot

In 1990, the Voyager 1 space craft took a photograph of Earth from 6 billion kilometers away. In the photograph, the planet is so small (at 0.12 pixels) it appears as a barely detectable dot.

A few years later, the famous and wonderful astronomer Carl Sagan placed humans within the context of an infinite universe in his book “Pale Blue Dot”, which was inspired by the photograph. His 1996 speech is adapted from this book. Sagan marvels at the smallness of the human stage when seen in relation to the vast cosmos. He points out that all of human history and existence is contained “on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam” and that “there is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world.”

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.

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An Anthropological Introduction to Youtube

“Web 2.0 harnesses the stupidity of crowds as well as its wisdom. Some of the comments on YouTube make you weep for the future of humanity just for the spelling alone, never mind the obscenity and the naked hatred.”

Lev Grossman

Time magazine, Dec 13th 2006,9171,1570810,00.html

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