Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Billy Preston: 'My Sweet Lord' At The Concert For George (2002)

Memorial Concert

Billy Preston: “My Sweet Lord”at the Concert For George at the Royal Albert Hall in London on November 29, 2002 as a memorial to George Harrison on the first anniversary of his death. The song is the second track on side 1 of the triple album, All Things Must Pass, released on November 27, 1970. In this album, “George, the quiet Beatle,” showed his abilities as a writer and musician, which in one word are phenomenal.
Via: Youtube

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Paul McCartney: Blackbird (2004)

 The Beatles Catalogue

 Paul McCartney: “Blackbird”at the 2004 Glastonbury Festival (June 25, 2004 – June 27, 2004), in Pilton, Somerset, in England. McCartney performed Saturday evening the 26th of June. The song, dating from the later Beatles years, was written by McCartney. It is the third track on side 2 of the double album officially titled The Beatles, but more popularly known as the White Album, which was released on November 22, 1968. 
Via: Youtube

Monday, December 06, 2021

Paul McCartney: 'Hey Jude' In Red Square, Moscow (2003)

 Universal Music

Paul McCartney: “Hey Jude” In Red Square, Moscow during McCartney's May 24, 2003 concert. This was the last song in the set before a reprise of “Back in the USSR.” “Hey Jude” was released as a single with“Revolution” on the flip side on August 26, 1968.
Via: Youtube

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Paul McCartney & Wings: Maybe I'm Amazed (1976)

1970s Music

Paul McCartney & Wings: “Maybe I'm Amazed” performed in America as part of the “Wings Over the World” tour, consisting of 66 shows performed between August 9, 1975 and October 21, 1976. The song is the fifth one on side 2 of the album, McCartney, released on April 17, 1970, which was Paul McCartney's first solo album after the breakup of the Beatles. The McCartney album was recorded (between December 1, 1969 and February 26, 1970) on a four-track tape recorder at Paul's home studio in St. John's Wood, a district in the City of Westminster, London.


Saturday, December 04, 2021

The Beatles: Here Comes The Sun (2019 Mix)

 The Fab Four

The Beatles: “Here Comes The Sun” in a 2019 mix, celebrating the 50th anniversary of Abbey Road, released on September 26, 1969. The song, written by George Harrison, is the first track on side 2 of the album.

This is is a hopeful song, which makes it all the more remarkable knowing that this song and the complete album was written and recorded during a time of tension among the band mates. It came together during the band's final months recording and being together (February 22, 1969 to August 20, 1969). 

John Lennon left the band following the release of this album. Then, in April 1970, Paul McCartney announced the formal dissolution of the world's most famous rock group. The Beatles were no more, and despite the hopes of fans never returned as a group. That hope was forever dashed with the murder of John Lennon murder in the archway of the apartment building in which he lived, The Dakota, in New York City, on the  late evening of December 8, 1980—more than 40 years ago. 

I can still remember this terrible and tragic evening, recalling it as if it were yesterday. Remembering my emotions when I heard the terrible news, this taking place only a month after my father died from cancer at too early an age. John enjoyed 10 years in his post-Beatles life. He was 40 when he died.

As for this album, it has been more than 50 years after it was released, and yet we continue to enjoy the music of the Fab Four. We carry the memories of this group, including this beautiful uplifting song. In the next few days, with the days growing shorter and the year 2021 coming to an end, I would like to share more music of the Beatles and also from John, Paul, George and Ringo.

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Covid-19 Update For Canada (December 2021)

Canadian Vaccination Campaign
Here is where we are with our mass-vaccination campaign, according to Covid-19 Tracker Canada (as of 30 November 2021). About 79.7 percent of the population have received one dose, and 75.9 percent are fully vaccinated with two doses. 
The key figure, of course, is fully vaccinated. So, we are at a point where three-quarters of all Canadians are fully vaccinated. This will surely go up as children between 5 and 11 become fully vaccinated in the next two to three months. Here are a few points worth noting, as we near the end of this campaign; and perhaps, as most of us would like to see, the end of this SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, which we have been living with for nearly two years (See below, Canada Covid-19 Dashboard). 

First, Health Canada, our regulatory body, has given full approval to two vaccines in use in Canada (September 16, 2021). They are now marketed under the following trade names: Pfizer-BioNTech's Comirnaty (approved for ages 12 and older) and Moderna's Spikevax (approved for ages 12 and older)  Also approved, but still under emergency use, in Canada is AstraZeneca's Vaxzevria (approved for ages 18 and older).

Second, approval for ages 5 to 11: The Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on October 29, 2021, and endorsed by the CDC on November 2, making 28 million children in the U.S. eligible for the vaccinea pediatric dose of 10 micrograms, one-third of the 30-microgram dose given to teenagers and adults. The kids will get two doses, three weeks apart. One-third of American parents say that they will vaccinate their kids immediately, another third will wait and see. Already more than 3.5-million children in this age group have received their first dose, almost 13 percent of this age group.

In Canada, Health Canada approved the vaccine on November 19, 2021, making about 2.9-million children eligible for the vaccine. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI) recommended that the interval between doses for this age group be spread out to eight weeks instead of the three weeks for the clinical trial. About half of Canadian parents say that they plan to vaccinate their kids immediately, another fifth of parents will wait and see. The vaccine was also approved by the European Medicines Agency last week.

As for Moderna, it also reported good results of its Covid vaccine for ages 6 to 11. The pediatric dose given was 50 micrograms, half the adult dose. The second dose was given four weeks after the first dose. Moderna applied for Health Canada approval on November 16, 2021.

All good news in our effort to protect us against SARS-CoV-2. Even so, there is still two more cohorts of younger children awaiting the results of clinical trials: children aged between two and four years of age; and children aged between six months and two years of age. The latest news is that Pfizer-BioNTech will have clinical trial results for this older group of children (2 to 4) by the end of this month and for the youngest group of children; (under two) by March 2022. About 1.9 million children in Canada are aged four and under. I will have more to say about these younger-aged children in my next report.

Third, booster shots: In accordance with the NACI recommendations (on October 29), the province of Ontario a week later extended eligibility of boosters to people 70 and older, to Indigenous communities, to persons who received two doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine and to frontline healthcare workers, a total of 2.75 million people. Ontario also plans to offer boosters to all Ontarians 12 and order starting sometime in early 2022. Boosters will be given only six months after the second dose. It will be encouraged but not be mandatory; I plan on getting one as soon as it is available for my age group.
All provinces and territories in Canada have similar programs to give booster shots, starting with the elderly and most vulnerable populations and working its way down to all who are eligible. More than 1.16 million Canadians have received booster shots, or about three percent of the eligible population. Health Canada officially approved the Pfizer-BioNTech booster for adults on November 8; and the Moderna vaccine booster for adults on November 12.

Fourth, the mask mandate: Each province decides such measures. In Ontario, the government plans to remove its mask mandate on March 28, 2022, coinciding with the lifting of all Covid-19 public health measures. This seems like a wise and prudent move, since masks might prove instrumental in also reducing cases of flu over the winter months. We will likely know more in January 2022, after the holidays and after we know more about the latest variant of concern, Omicron.

Fifth, variants of concern: The World Health Organization, on November 26, 2021, has designated B.1.1.529 as a variant of concern (VOC) and has labelled it Omicron (ο), the 15th letter of the Greek alphabet, two days after South Africa alerted the WHO. It was first detected in the southern African nation of Botswana. This variant has many mutations (50 in total, 30 on the spike protein), but this fact alone does not indicate that this variant is more infectious. It might be; it might also be less virulent. Such are some of the questions that scientists are investigating, including how well existing  vaccines protect against the Omicron variant. For more on Omicron, go [here], [here],[here] &[here].

This information will likely take at least a few weeks, if not longer, to  determine. Yet, initial results from South Africa say that infections from the Omicron variant are mild and less severe than those from the Delta variant. No one who has been infected by the Omicron variant has been hospitalized in South African. Such is encouraging news. Yet, out of an abundance of caution, Canada, the U.S., and the European Union have restricted air travel to South Africa and its six neighboring nations (The U.S. has also added Malawi to its list.) Travel bans, however political in practice, are not really effective from an epidemiological point of view, since the Omicron variant has already been circulating outside Africa for at least 10 days. 

For example, there are 42 confirmed cases in Europe; and Canada confirmed four cases of the variant, in Ontario this week. No cases have yet been reported in the U.S. The key still remains vaccination and not travel bans. We should not punish southern African nations and in particular South Africa, which sounded the alarm on Omicron, but help them with whatever vaccines and resources they require, including freezers, logistical support and medical personnel. Unless proven otherwise, the current vaccines will be sufficient and effective against severe illness and death, as they have shown to be against the still-dominant Delta variant. Misinformation is no friend of knowledge. Decades of scientific advances against infectious diseases and public health successes tell us that vaccinations and prudent public health measures offer us a way out. Think polio. Think measles Think pertussis. Think varicella. We hardly hear of these diseases once common. The reason is childhood vaccinations. 

This is why it is crucial to vaccinate our younger kids, 5 to 11. Here in Canada, we received a large shipment of Pfizer-BioNTech vaccines (thank you, America), two days after our regulatory agency, Health Canada, gave its approval to the vaccine for the younger age group. Sigh of relief among parents. In the province of Ontario, within two hours after the online portal opened, 68,000 kids were signed up. There is a high interest in getting kids vaccinated. We think that it will protect our kids and help us return to normal. The history of infectious diseases supports this assertion. It will take great effort and worldwide collaboration, but we will defeat this virus. (See below, World Vaccination Efforts). 

To defeat this virus globally, this means not only sufficient vaccines for us, but also for the world. It is important to act now with greater urgency and purpose to vaccinate the people of Africa, which has a population of 1.3 billion people. Wealthy nations like the U.S., Canada and the European Union ought to purchase and donate billions of doses of Covid-19 vaccines to poorer nations, most of which are in Africa. It will likely take a global vaccination rate of at least 80 percent, and perhaps closer to 85 percent. This equates to a little more than two billion vaccine doses (This does not include boosters for those over 60.) Africa is expected to receive 1.2 billion doses by the end of this year, which is only a month away. 

To defeat the virus here in Canada, besides vaccinating younger children, and thus approach a vaccination rate of 85 percent, it will also require giving boosters to the majority of people aged 60 and older, about 9.74-million people or almost 25 percent of our population. I am confident that we here in Canada will achieve this level of vaccination. A nation like Canada can act both locally and globally. 

Ending on a good note, we are nearing the winter holiday of Christmas and today is the third day of Chanukah, both holidays which are celebrations of hope and courage, both of which are about lighting the darkness. This is a time for families and friends to come together and be together as a ritual of goodness, kindness and generosity. Eating together, talking together and being together is an important and universal celebratory ritual that does not require a common nationality, ethnicity or religion. It requires a common humanity. This is also a time to be thankful and a time to reflect.

We might take some time to remember that there have been a great many persons who have lost family, friends, coworkers, community leaders and loved ones as a result of this dreadful Pandemic. (See below, Covid-19 By The Numbers). Many others have suffered and survived, with hardship and difficulty. May the holidays offer a measure of solace, comfort and meaning. In closing, if you have not yet gotten vaccinated, I would encourage you to do so. Be kind to yourself and good to others.

Canada Covid-19 Dashboard
Total Cases:1,792,084

Total Deaths: 29,687

Current Active Cases: 26,994
Current Hospitalized: 1,585

Current ICUs: 481

Total Vaccine Doses Given: 60,646,522

Total Number of Canadians Vaccinated
With At Least One Dose: 30,465,279

Total Number of Canadians Fully Vaccinated: 29,014,306
World Vaccination Efforts
(as of 30 November 2021)
About 7.98 billion doses have been put into people's arms; 43 percent of the world is fully vaccinated and 54.4 percent has received at least one one dose. This Pandemic will not be over, health experts say, until about 70 percent of the world is fully vaccinated. This requires 11 billion doses; 3.02 billion doses to go. It appears that we are almost there. At the current rate of  about 30-million doses a day, we can achieve this goal by April 1, 2022.

But if we need to achieve a global vaccination rate of 85 percent. 13.6 billion doses are required with another billion for boosters for everyone over the age of 60. (About a billion people in the world are 60 and older, 13 percent of the global population.) This gives us a total of 14.6 billion doses that are required globally. So, 6.62 billion doses left to go. 

At 30-million doses a day given to people, it would take 220 days. This would bring us to July 8, 2022. This is what is possible if there was an ideal situation with world collaboration. It will not be due to any vaccine shortages, says the International Federation of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers and  
Associations (IFPMA): 12.5 billion doses will be produced by the end of this year, and 24 billion doses by June 2022.

Covid-19 By The Numbers
(as of 30 November 2021)
The latest theory is that the first known SARS-COV-2 patient was a vendor at a Wuhan animal market on or around December 10, 2021. But the origins of SARS 2, as it is also named, has not been definitely decided and the investigations are ongoing, as one would expect would be the case for the deadliest virus in the last 100 years. The WHO declared Covid-19, the disease resulting from the SARS2 virus, a pandemic on March 11, 2020.

Canada: In Canada, 29,669 people have died from Covid-19 out of a total of 1,790,093 reported cases. This equates to a fatality rate of  1.66 percent. 

United States: In the U.S., 777,417 people have died from Covid-19 out of a total of 48,195,182 reported cases. This equates to a fatality rate of  1.61 percent. 

World: In the world, a total of 5,204,738 people have died from Covid-19, out of a reported 261,803,585 cases. This equates to a fatality rate of 1.99 percent. 

We are reminded that this behind these numbers are real people, who had families and who had lives. This Pandemic will forever change us, even those who do not think about such things. We will not be the same. This is not possible. Yes, we will return to some patterns of normalcy, but it would seem that our hearts and minds will forever be altered by what we together experienced, both locally and globally. 

My next Covid-19 Update is scheduled for March 1, 2022. 

Monday, November 15, 2021

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane: In a Sentimental Mood (1963)

 Jazz Classics

Duke Ellington & John Coltrane: “In a Sentimental Mood” (1963), a jazz classic, the first track on the album, Duke Ellington & John Coltrane, released in January 1963. The song dates to 1935, with Ellington composing the music.
Via: Youtube

Friday, November 05, 2021

Some Reflections On The Covid-19 Pandemic: Religion, Science & Knowledge


“Philosophy is written in this grand book — I mean the universe — which stands continually open to our gaze, but it cannot be understood unless one first learns to comprehend the language in which it is written. It is written in the language of mathematics, and its characters are triangles, circles, and other geometric figures, without which it is humanly impossible to understand a single word of it; without these, one is wandering about in a dark labyrinth.”
Galileo Galilei,
Il Saggiatore (1623)
As translated in The Philosophy of the Sixteenth
 and Seventeenth Centuries
By Richard Henry Popkin

This Covid-19 pandemic has been instructive, even enlightening, as much as it has brought us pain, suffering, inconvenience, change and uncomfortable truths. We have seen how individuals behave and how governments react, and in some cases did too little and were ill prepared and in other cases did too much and over-reacted, chiefly out of an abundance of caution. Yet, even so, I think that Canada has, thus far, done well during this Pandemic. 

Could we have done better? Probably. But is this not always the case when you look back? Given what we have learned and the knowledge that we have gained, we will likely be better prepared for the next pathogen(s) to infect us. In a rational mind, we weigh the benefits of a course of action versus doing nothing. We do so using all the available knowledge. We use the knowledge of the present, and we learn from our past mistakes, knowing that perfection is an ideal; it can never be a reality. A current example being zero Covid.

It is no stretch of the imagination to say that this pandemic has altered not only our expectations but also our understanding of existential threats. What do we hold dear? What have we learned? Many things, particularly when watching what has been taking place the last few decades in America, across from our southern border. It is a different reality, one where religion plays a greater role in the public square and in the political domain than it does here. Equally important, the U.S. has since its inception has had strong anti-authority sentiments and periods of moral convulsions. Such has created fault lines and deep fractures in a nation that is deeply polarized. In many ways, it is reflects a marked division between science and religion. People have taken sides, often unintentionally, by dint of getting vaccinated, wearing a mask and adhering to public health guidelines. 

Canadians have generally been more willing to do so, yet some of these ideas of non-compliance and resistance to government mandates have also found fertile ground here. It is more emotional than rational. Thus, we here must also not lose sight of what is important. We must also work to protect and strengthen liberal democracy and its institutions, which are under pressure by reactionary and regressive forces, who see liberal democracy as a threat to a traditional way of life. Such atavistic ways are not my ways. I do not want to return to a dark ignorant past, where religious and supernatural thinking primarily informed our understanding of nature, our natural world and the universe.

I find it discouraging to see today a return to such thinking among a cohort of evangelical Christians, and Orthodox Jews who tend to lean right and identify themselves politically as Republicans, in contrast to the majority of American Jews,who identify as liberals and Democrats, A recent Pew Research Center report (May 11, 2021) surveying Jewish Americans on their religious and political views confirms this finding. Joining the group who subscribe to alternative medicine and conspiracy theories are New Age adherents, who are part of a movement against reason, the Enlightenment Model and the Scientific Revolution; the new religion integrates into the old religion. It is disheartening to read and sometimes hear such a loud and persistent defense of anti-intellectual, anti-science and anti-modern views, and then also argue that such is not only normative but also preferential.  

Common to such views are a distrust of modern society, a distrust of (western) science and the scientific methods and a fear of doubt and free inquiry. I can see why some would find this mindset appealing, even as I could not and would not. Consider this. One of the basic and important distinctions between science and religion the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy states is that “science concerns the natural world whereas religion concerns both the natural and supernatural.” It is clear from this definition that science has no concern with the supernatural, which includes proving (or not proving) the existence of any supernatural being, including God. Without a doubt, religion does have a place in people's lives. I have argued in these very pages that it does, and did so in one of my first blog posts (September 2010). I continue to defend the place of religion in society.

There is a caveat. All in all, I am in agreement with Stephen Jay Gould's Non-Overlapping Magisteria (NOMA), which says that science and religion have separate and distinct domains. Religion can provide comfort, community and a place of belonging, as well as giving its adherents great meaning or purpose. Religion, however, has no place in the domain of science for very good reasons. It is ill-equipped to operate in such a domain, where the language is not of faith, prayer, certainty and belief, but of skepticism, uncertainly, discovery and mathematical symbols & equations. It is a place to seeks evidence-based answers of the natural world, often through experimental trial and error.
This is a continuing never-ending process. The Book is never closed; the Science never completed. Science acknowledges uncertainly and lives with it. Not everyone can live with such uncertainty, for humans crave certainty; thus, not everyone can be a scientist. Yet, for a scientist, there is joy in unraveling the mysteries of the universe. Scientists often go down unmarked or strange paths, untrodden; scientists often speculate, at times not leading anywhere, not at first. Or the 20th time. But then, much later, a scientific breakthrough.

It comes together. An important breakthrough for humanity, like a new mRNA vaccine for a novel coronavirus. It was decades in the making; decades of diligent scientific effort from hundreds of scientists. With this vaccine for SARS-COV-2, we are experiencing the scientific process in real time, as was probably the case with the Salk vaccine for polio, almost 70 years ago. Some, perhaps many, find this disconcerting, yet the vaccines are safe, adverse reactions rare, such knowledge gained after billions of doses have already been injected into people's arms. Equally important, there are scientific and health standards, along with regulatory agencies, to ensure both efficacy and safety. It comes down to trust: trust in the scientists, trust in the science, trust that the science is done properly and, equally important, trust in your doctor, your family physician or pediatrician.

To be sure, we can't have absolute certainty, but we can determine the degree of confidence in a scientific study or medical trial (e.g., 95%, 99%, etc.) using known and accepted methods and standards. Such studies, when conducted in a rigorous way, help us gain knowledge and better understanding of the natural world. This does not mean that Science has no laws. it does; many laws. For example, there are a number of long-proven scientific laws, such as the Universal Law of Gravity, Copernican Heliocentrism, Newton's Laws of Motion, the Laws of Thermodynamics, and Bernoulli's Principle (fluids), to name a few that are all well known to the general public.

What the general public often finds confusing and frustrating is that this understanding of Nature can change, and does so when our knowledge of Nature changes. When the collected scientific evidence becomes irrefutable and repeatable, so does scientific understanding and knowledge. This does not happen overnight or in a vacuum; it often takes years and years of careful observation discussion, debate and continued experiments. Such speaks of a scientific consensus (though not unanimity, since there can always be some who disagree); this is because science is self-correcting, one of its major strengths. 
At times, the change is monumental. When this happens, it is a big deal. Copernicus Heliocentric Theory (1543), Hooke's discovery of the cell using a microscope (1665), Newton's Laws of Motion (1687); Jenner's smallpox vaccine (1796), Darwin's Theory of Evolution (1859), and Einstein's Theory of Relativity (1905;1915) quickly come to mind, as does Fleming's discovery of penicillin (1928); Watson & Crick's discovery of the DNA double helix (1953) and Salk's polio vaccine (1953).

We must be cognizant that there will likely be both new health threats and new medical discoveries and breakthroughs. Such is not fear mongering, but knowledge. I prefer knowledge to ignorance. It is knowledge after all that moves us forward; it is knowledge that gives us better health; and it is scientific knowledge that gives us hope, because real hope is always based on reality. The Covid-19 vaccines are such a marvelous breakthrough, one based on years of scientific work, which is how science works, building blocks of knowledge put or painstakingly pieced together. New knowledge adds to previous knowledge, and so forth. 

I can understand the difficulty that some find in studying science. It is not easy; it has a particular language; and it uses a lot of math and equations. It goes without saying that apprehending Nature through science takes great and consistent effort. Its rewards are many, including a better and increasing understanding of ourselves and our place in the Universe. In that regard, the Book of Science; the Book of the Universe; the Book of Humanity is still being written.  

With this, we return to current matters, to the pandemic. In closing, when it comes to what to do during a pandemic, I think it is better to listen to medical science and your physician, whether a family physician, a medical doctor, a pediatrician or anyone with a medical degree and is licensed to practice medicine. They recommend vaccination. If you have not yet done sogotten vaccinatedI would encourage you to take that step. Be kind to yourself and good to others.

Note: Natural Philosophy (Philosophiae Naturalis), a wide range of subjects whose goal is the study of nature, was the term used up to circa mid-1800s, when the term scientist was standardized.

Friday, October 29, 2021

Rita McMahon: Helping The Wild Birds OF NYC

 Avian Friends


Rita McMahon: “Helping The Wild Birds OF NYC.” A very good video on someone doing very good work to help rehabilitate injured birds. As a bird lover and animal lover, this video gives me hope & encouragement. In our home lives a cockatiel (Nymphicus hollandicus) named Arya, an intelligent sentient being who gives us much joy.
Via: Youtube & WNYC

Rita McMahon founded the Wild Bird Fund in 2001, after seeing and picking up an injured Canada goose (Branta canadensis) on the side of a highway. The Canada goose, unfortunately, did not survive, not having a good chance of survival, because there was no dedicated veterinary facility to take care of wild injured birds. This inspired McMahon to act; she got training and became New York City's first and only wild animal hospital, becoming a nonprofit in 2005

McMahon runs it out of her Upper West Side apartment in Manhattan, housing up to 60 birds in any one day. The Wild Bird Fund treats about 7,500 birds a year. There is also a dedicated space to rehabilitate birds at a veterinary hospital nearby, Animal General. Most of the birds are injured during their migratory path, the East Coast migratory flyway, during which the birds hit the glass windows of high rise buildings. 

The danger, for the birds at least, is that these buildings are situated in an ancient migratory flyway. There are often tragic consequences, Wikipedia writes:
The New York City Audubon Society estimates the number of bird deaths by window collision in the city to be between 90,000 and 230,000 each year.[12] Most crashes occur during fall by birds making their first migration.

These bird-building-window collisions happens right across the U.S. “[U]p to 1 billion birds die every year in the United States after building collisions,” NPR writes. Almost half of collisions (44 percent) take place in homes and other buildings one to three stories in height, reports the American Bird Conservancy, which has some tips and ways to make your home more friendly to birds on their migratory path. 

In Canada, about 25 million birds die each year from window collisions, Avian Conservation & Ecology reports, noting that here in Canada individual homes account for about 90 percent of bird collisions. Again, there are ways to make your home, notably the windows, easier for birds to see. And should a bird get injured, it is good that there are organizations like Wild Bird Fund and people like Rita McMahon to help out our avian friends.

Sunday, October 24, 2021

Carl Sagan: Cosmos Episode 1: The Shores Of The Cosmic Ocean (1980)

 The Cosmos

“We humans appear on the cosmic calendar so recently that our recorded history occupies only the last few seconds of the last minute of December 31st.”
Carl Sagan: Cosmos Episode 1:
 “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” (1980)

Carl Sagan: Cosmos Episode 1: “The Shores of the Cosmic Ocean” (1980). Anna Druyan co-wrote this 13-part series along with Carl Sagan and Steven Soter. Druyan married Sagan in 1981 and they were married until Sagan's death in 1996. This episode originally aired on PBS-TV on Sunday September 28, 1980. The complete series was called Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, with the 13 episodes airing on Sundays between September 28, 1980, and December 21, 1980.
Via: Youtube


Introduced by Anna Druyan, 25 years later, she provides updated knowledge of current events and compares this to what was happening when the series first aired in 1980. The Cold War might be over, but human conflict is not. There is a possible antidote to our hubris. If only we would look up at the vast Cosmos, we might not be so arrogant. Or watch this series.

Consider the following cosmic calendar. The universe is some 13.8 billion years old (or 13.8 Ga).* The earth is 4.5 billion years old (4.5 Ga). Life began with microorganisms as early as 4.28 billion years ago (4.28 Ga). The Eukaryote cells date to about 2 billion years ago (2 Ga);  land vertebrates about 370 million years ago; dinosaurs around 300 million years ago; and birds 160 million years ago, with birds being the only known living dinosaurs. 

Hominins, our ancestors, emerged about 6 million years ago. The first homo sapiens evolved in Africa about 300,000 years ago. When you consider the geological timescale, we modern humans are really Johnny Come Lately. Moreover, we are a mere blip in Cosmic time. So, from where does our hubris come? Scientific ignorance and a developed lack of respect shown to our fellow species or organisms come to mind.

Such is our human history and of holding an anthropocentric view. Knowledge and acknowledgement can go along way to increase our respect and our humility. Our planet Earth is big and fascinating and, yes, weird. The Cosmos even more so.  We don't even know what we don't know. But we continue on. We humans have much more to observe and to learn. Our story continues to be written.


*Note: This is based on the prevailing idea that the universe had a origin, beginning as a single point, a singularity, and expanded and stretched in accordance with what is known as The “Big Bang” theory, first suggested by a Belgian Catholic priest and astronomer, Georges Lemaître, in the 1920s. There is some current discussion, however, that  postulates that the universe always existed. This theory is called “Big Bounce.” Carl Sagan also said as much.