Tuesday, February 25, 2014

 

Carl Sagan's Legacy

Carl Sagan's groundbreaking PBS series "Cosmos" introduced millions of people to the wonders and mysteries of the universe. Sagan often spoke of "great demotions," meaning that humanity has been forced to accept that the Earth is not the center of the solar system, that our solar system is not the center of the galaxy and that our galaxy is not the center of the universe. Sagan began "Cosmos" by telling the viewers, "The cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be."

Joel Achenbach's Smithsonian article Why Carl Sagan is Truly Irreplaceable describes Sagan's influence as a science popularizer and explores his core beliefs, "including the sense that there is an order and logic to the universe, that it is fundamentally a benign place, congenial to life and even intelligent life. His cosmos was primed for self-awareness. He sensed that humanity was on the cusp of making a cosmic connection with advanced civilizations (and no doubt that a certain Brooklyn native would be in on the conversation!). In effect, he believed he was fortunate enough to live in a special moment."

Sagan did not think that evidence supported the notion that UFOs are spacecraft piloted by intelligent extraterrestrial beings but, like Fox Mulder from "The X-Files," it could be said that Sagan wanted to believe. Shortly before Sagan passed away, he told Achenbach, "I'd rather there be extraterrestrial life discovered in my lifetime than not. I'd hate to die and never know."

While Sagan spoke about "great demotions," David Grinspoon--son of Sagan's best friend Lester Grinspoon--promotes a concept called "Anthropocene," meaning that "human beings are changing the Earth so rapidly and dramatically that our presence is becoming part of the geological record. And we can't pretend it's not happening. We have to learn to manage this place. Grinspoon made an analogy: It's as though we've just awoken to the fact that we're at the wheel of a speeding bus on an unfamiliar road. And we realize we don't know how to drive."

Achenbach concludes that Sagan would not be disturbed by Grinspoon's ideas:

Would Sagan have been able to square his great demotions with this new Anthropocene concept? Of course. The universe isn’t about us. The Earth is but a grain of sand. But upon this humble rock we will make our stand. It’s a task that will require science and reason--but also courage and far-sightedness. So it is that Grinspoon says of his old "Uncle Carl": "Lord knows we need him now."

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

 

Great Lyrics

Music--delivered via radio, CD, TV, iPod or other systems--provides the soundtrack to our lives and music lyrics deliver the narrative. Lyrics can be brilliant, witty, humorous, insightful, outrageous or all of the above. Here are some lyrics that will inspire, amuse and/or offend you:

"Might not know it now
But, baby, I'm a star."-- Prince, "Baby I'm a Star"

"When my situation ain't improvin', I'm tryin' to murder everything movin'."--Jay-Z, "Hard Knock Life"

"Fool can't play the wise but the wise can act a fool
I stay cool and mild mannered and just put in my work
Don't push, you don't know what's up under my shirt
Don't you take me for soft, I got a heart that pump
Like a 12 gauge shotty when it starts to dump
You'se a mystery, cause you don't know who you runnin' towards
And got history, that shit is told by who won wars."--Dilated Peoples, "Kindness for Weakness"

"I got so much trouble on my mind
Refuse to lose."--Public Enemy, "Welcome to the Terrordome"

"Never question what I am
God knows
Cause it's comin' from the heart."--Public Enemy, "Welcome to the Terrordome"

"When it's sink or swim
You gotta think to win."--Ice Cube, "You Can Do It"

"I'm makin' moves, not fakin' moves."--L.L. Cool J, "Farmers Boulevard (Our Anthem)"

"Don't try to act crazy 'cause the shit don't faze me
If you ran like a punk it wouldn't amaze me."--Ice T, "Colors"

"Circumstances might not allow me to bust
Because they know I got more game than Toys 'R Us."--Tone Loc, "Cutting Rhythms"

"Every time u get some
People wanna take it back
They rather see u on the run
Than see u get it like that
Every time they stop u
Change up like a sock
Every time they try 2 clock u
Tick more than they tock."--Prince, "Push"

"Brother can you paradigm?
Pump, pump, fake, feint, fade, forward, jump, slam dunk...in your face
The tip-off, the tap-in, rushin', jumping, backboard crushing, dunking...in your face
Brother can you paradigm?
Shape-shifting
Shifting the shapes of things to come
Plays and instant replays are plays to come
Came and went, time well spent
Brother can you Paradigm?"--George Clinton/Prince, "Paradigm"

"Do fries go with that shake?"--George Clinton, "Do Fries Go With That Shake?"

"Sex is not all I think about
It's just all I think about...U."--Prince, "Shhh"

"Every time I comb my hair
Thoughts of U get in my eyes
U're a sinner, I don't care
I just want your creamy thighs."--Prince, "Erotic City"

"What if I called U silly names
Just like the ones that U call me?
What if I filled your eyes with tears
So many that U cannot see?"--Prince, "Billy Jack Bitch"

"You gotta love me or leave me alone."--Brand Nubian, "Love Me or Leave Me Alone"

"He came from somewhere back in her long ago
The sentimental fool don't see
Tryin' hard to recreate
What had yet to be created

Once in her life
She musters a smile
For his nostalgic tale
Never coming near what he wanted to say
Only to realize
It never really was."--Doobie Brothers, "What a Fool Believes"

"I keep your picture
Upon the wall
It hides a nasty stain that's lying there
So don't you ask me
To give it back
I know you know it doesn't mean that much to me
I'm not in love, no no, it's because..."--10CC, "I'm Not in Love"

"You could have been with me
Instead of alone and lonely."--Sheena Easton, "You Could Have Been With Me"

"Hey Nineteen
That's 'Retha Franklin
She don't remember
The Queen of Soul
Hard times have befallen
The Soul Survivors
She thinks I'm crazy
But I'm just growing old."--Steely Dan, "Hey Nineteen"

"I've seen your picture
Your name in lights above it
This is your big debut
It's like a dream come true
And when you smile for the camera
I know they're gonna love it."--Steely Dan, "Peg"

"I don't need you to worry for me cause I'm all right
I don't want you to tell me it's time to come home
I don't care what you say anymore this is my life
Go ahead with your own life leave me alone."--Billy Joel, "My Life"

"They say there's a heaven for those who will wait
Some say it's better but I say it ain't
I'd rather laugh with the sinners than cry with the saints
The sinners are much more fun...
You know that only the good die young."--Billy Joel, "Only the Good Die Young"

"All you got is this moment."--INXS, "Need You Tonight"

"Well I'm sick of it
It's a load of shit
We could stop the world
And let off all the fools
And let them go live
With their guns in the sky."--INXS, "Guns in the Sky"

"Knowledge, wisdom and understanding brings long life and health
Think anything else and ya playin' yaself."--Jeru the Damaja, "Ya Playin' Yaself"

"I'm a true master you can check my credentials
Cause I choose to use my infinite potential...
I'm the mack so I don't need to tote a Mac
My attack is purely mental and its nature's not hate
It's meant to wake ya up out of your brainwashed state."--Jeru tha Damaja, "Come Clean"

"You wouldn't let me say the words I longed to say
You didn't want to see life through my eyes
[Express yourself, don't repress yourself]
You tried to shove me back inside your narrow room
And silence me with bitterness and lies
[Express yourself, don't repress yourself]."--Madonna, "Human Nature"

"Don't care what people say
Just follow your own way
Don't give up and use the chance
To return to innocence
That's not the beginning of the end
That's the return to yourself
The return to innocence."--Enigma, "Return to Innocence"

"I ask you lord why you enlightened me
Without the enlightenment of all my folks
He said 'cause I set myself on a quest for truth
And he was there to quench my thirst
But I am still thirsty..."--Arrested Development, "Tennessee"

"Count the Days" is a powerful song with a deceptively simple melody that almost sounds like a lullabye--and that melody is completely incongruous with the song's harsh but understandably strident lyrics directed toward oppressors of all kinds:

"Count the Days"

I have been "counting the days" my entire life but I doubt that I will live long enough to see things turn out the way that they are supposed to be.

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