28 June 2022

the world today

To our east, not too far away to ignore, a mad man intends to reinvent himself as Peter the Great, at least in terms of violent expansion of his reign. A distant relative with Finnish family ties reports on how their holiday home near the Russian border has been turned into a supply center for all things needed in case of you know what. And it's not only tins of food in the storage.

To our west, across the ocean, Margaret Atwood's Gilead is rising. I listened to a lengthy radio feature this morning detailing how social media, cell phone apps, bluetooth captured travel patterns (google maps, satnav etc.) and DNA stored by ancestry etc. websites can and most likely will be used to track down women seeking abortion, related health care and, eventually, birth control. We have watched our crime series and we all know that a person's DNA can be detected in the tiniest drop of blood, speck of tissue, evaporated sweat salts. And maybe we all should know that maternal DNA (mitochondrial DNA) is found in males and females and can be traced through generations. Think of these massive DNA data banks and how easy it will be to find a woman who left that tiny shred of tissue. All you need is a distant relative. 

Many years ago, there was outrage when a traveller from Ireland was arrested upon entry to the US based on what immigration had found on their amazon order lists - and that was at a time when amazon was mainly trading in books. Under his eye*.

*In Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale, this phrase is the prescribed greeting, meaning that someone—a Guardian, a Commander, a fellow Handmaid, God—is always watching.

While, far away to the southeast, across landmasses and oceans, a new public holiday has been celebrated for the first time this week in June. It's called Matariki., which is the Māori name used to describe the star cluster also known as Pleiades. (Māori are the indigenous Polynesian people of mainland New Zealand.) Before sunrise on and around this day during what is New Zealand's winter, the cluster becomes visible as a faint sparkle of tiny dots on the northeastern horizon.

Matariki is aligned with the maramataka, an ancient lunar calendar which synchronises the daily activities of people with the natural world, moon, sun, stars and planets. It uses cycles and phases instead of counting days, weeks and months. 

So here we have it: war to the east, a new taliban regime to the west and celebration of our place in the universe to the southeast. 

All on the one pale blue dot.


  1. I believe the term you're looking for is clusterfuck. The US is a scary place and getting scarier by the day. What happens if Margaret Atwood was right?
    I hope Putin dies a horrible death which involves a great deal of suffering, equal to the suffering that he has brought into the world.
    And the stars, they will outlast us all, even though we are made of stardust.

  2. All those events are close to all our homes on the pale blue dot.

    When I was an aide in an ESL class which included refugees from Vietnam, I learned from one student that the cluster of stars we call The Pleiades could be see as a spoon that points in the direction of good luck. I love seeing The Pleiades and love that its appearance on the horizon signals a new year in Maori tradition.

  3. You summarize these times we're living in so well. It is scary as hell, and I fear it will only get worse. Yet here we are whirling through the universe on such a beautiful planet in the Milky Way Galaxy. Humans are such interesting and scary creatures. I have always hoped for the best and have been disappointed time and time again.

  4. I love Sagan's philosophy...and have copied your Video to my blog! The climate crisis is so much more important than anything political...though of course having a war dumped on top of you would be also more important. But we just don't talk about what we're doing for the earth. Are any of you on group efforts to clean up something? Do you have interests in one area or another and read about what is possible? Like plastic reduction and recycling, or clean waterways, or animal cruelty...and so forth. I'm not talking about each person solving the big issues, but just what each of us can do. Just curious...

  5. What on Earth did that traveler from Ireland have on his/her Amazon order lists?!?! I haven't heard that story. Things are looking very Atwoodian at the moment. It's frightening.

  6. It remains to be seen if the states that try to prevent pregnant women from leaving are successful at that. I may be naive but I don't think they will be successful. It has to be unconstitutional to prevent people from traveling freely for whatever reason. I could be wrong. I hope I'm not wrong.

    1. I don't think the idea is to stop women traveling for an abortion. It's all about punishing those who did. It's not about protecting the unborn it's about putting women down.

    2. I totally agree with that. I mean, that's what men and religion have been all about for thousands of years.

  7. You've sure captured the world we're living in today. So much about which many of us are concerned can feel quite overwhelming. Now, is when we must all continue to do what we can to reverse the unacceptable.

    I do and have done for years many things to address earth concerns Barbara asks about since I grew up in a home where the idea of waste not was part of our daily lives. Making something from nothing, so to speak, rather than discarding to trash was prevalent, carrying over into my own adult life. Our city has had a recycling program for years and much more.

    I'm certainly focused on doing what I can to saving our U.S. democratic republic. We are a young democracy with very real problems that have recently become hugely magnified and increased. I know from rehab therapy I've provided through the years that timing for progress can be delayed, and even if gains are made they are not necessarily a straight upward line of progress, may even be quite minute. In fact, there can be periods of flatline, steps backward, but the important thing is to keep striving forward as much as is appropriate and possible. So it is, I will be doing and encouraging others as much as possible to overcome the reversals we in the U.S.A. are being subjected -- for however long it takes.

  8. Sabine, where are you, how are you? This is the only way I have of reaching out to you.