Cooling Off Period

OK, today, I swear, I am going to take a break from the long form brooding and verbal self-abuse (and not the fun kind of self-abuse, either) and just share a few cool things and maybe gab a little.

First one from the field of Science. I did not get to it yesterday, as other priorities intervened and hence there was no Friday Science Roundup this week, but I feel I must share this now as by next Friday it will have lost some of its relevance.

The big news is that an object conceived by humans, designed by humans, built by humans, and launched by humans has left the Solar System.

Voyager 1, a satellite launched in 1977, when I was but four years old, has now, thirty five years later, left our Solar System and is entering interstellar space.

Now just think of that. We wacky naked beach apes, using just the materials available to us here on this ball of mud we call home, made and launched an object capable of leaving not just said mudball but the entire solar system in which it spins.

And we made it in the freaking Seventies. Imagine what we could do now!

It is one heck of a first step towards a distant brilliant future when we ourselves slip the bonds of the orbit of Sol and go off to visit a neighboring star or two.

But first, we need to build a colony on the Moon. If we can live on the Moon, we can live on Mars. Mars is far more hospitable to life than the Moon.

It just has a much longer commute time.

Moving along, we have a wonderful piece of natural comedy via two housecats who have not quite shaken of the effects of anesthesia yet :

Major LOL. Poor kitties, we human beings did something weird to the world on them and nothing is working right. And to top it all off, there we are with the camcorder giggling at them.

But you have to admit, it’s hilarious. Seeing those kitties weaving about, trying to aim themselves at their food bowls, and to their credit, eventually getting there. Presumably, they used the tried and true drunk’s method of aiming for the one in the middle.

As I have mentioned before, I love animals and I especially love cats, and I am big on animal rights, prevention of cruelty to animals, and so on. But even I reserve the right to derive occasional amusement at their expense.

Like when the cats I grew up with would come in from the snow with a little bit of snow still on their paws, and as it melted, it would bug their little paw pads, so they would do this hilarious little dance where they would take a step, lift a paw and shake it to get the water off, take another step, life another paw, and so on.

Or how some of our cats would paw at the kitchen linoleum after they finished eating, apparently obeying some deep instinct to bury their food. So just for fun, my mother, ever the scientist, would distract the cat, then take the bowl away when the cat was not looking, just to see what their reaction would be.

And the cat would sniff the area where the bowl had been very thoroughly, and place a tentative paw there, and seem confused, as though part of them thought this was exactly what was supposed to happen and the other part knew it made no damned sense.

And eventually, said cat would wander off, looking distinct puzzled and unsure. At which point, my mother would replace the food bowl.

And the cat would turn to look, and just stare at the food bowl for a long time, then nibble a token kibble, stare a little while more, then wander off again, far away from confusing realty warping food bowls and strange instincts.

Now that, my friends, is entertainment. Sure, we love our kitties, but that does not keep us from messing with their little minds every now and then.

Why do you think we buy so much catnip?

Finally, what do you get for the billionaire on your shopping list?

How about an entire Scottish village?

Now ghost towns are nothing new, but the truly unique thing is… the village in question, Pollphail Village, has never been inhabited.

That’s right, an entire village, suitable for a population of around 500 people, just sitting there, unoccupied, for 35 years. It was originally built by the Scottish government for 3.3 million pounds in order to house some 500 miners that never, it seems, showed up.

When it was built, it had a bar, a laundromat, a canteen, a games room, and around 120 apartments. And if it still had all that, pristine and intact, it would be quite the attractive property.

But sadly, in the intervening 35 years, it has been completely gutted, trashed, and covered in graffiti by vandals, and so it is not much more than an historical curiosity now. I can’t imagine why anyone would want it for anything but the land.

And that is a damned shame. It would be awesome to own an entire little village, complete with apartments and facilities and whatnot. It would be the perfect thing for my fantasies of experimenting with alternative ways of living.

I am very interested in lifestyle exploration, especially as pertaining to small community scale projects. We in the modern world have been living more or less the same way since the end of World War II, and I think it is time to explore other options. Nothing too radical… I am no anti-consumerist zealot or starry-eyed neo-agrarian.

Just some fine tuning that lets us build a sense of community and commonality once again. Nothing forced, of course. You can’t force community any more than you can force someone to fall in love.

But perhaps you can create the conditions for community to form naturally.

I would love a chance to try to make that happen.

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