From nothing comes something

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© NASA  Cassini spacecraft observes three of Saturn’s moons set against the darkened night side of the planet. Seen here are Rhea, closest to Cassini, Enceladus to right of Rhea and Dione

Tuesday, Third October Twenty Seventeen, in geological terms, may not seem of starry significance. But it is.

This image, so silent it robs one of breath, is a reminder that from nothing comes something.

Scientists are impelled to nail down knowledge of what occurred nano-seconds following the posited Big Bang. Extrapolating somewhat: is knowing what happened to our world immediately following our birth not akin? And if so, surely the more interesting question is what occurred to produce us? Don’t fret, this isn’t going there.

No, rather what snagged the unravelling yarn is trying to understand the cause of that big bang/our birth: which necessarily presupposes there was much required to make it/both happen. Before there was something, seemingly there was nothing. So what is nothing?

H XVIII B, FB. AL, AMx

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Today also marks the birth of Abacus ~ an attempt to make things add up. Airing at Five pm on Resonance 104.4fm then available through, inter alia, our About page. In this inaugural programme Tony Jordan, head honcho at Red Planet Pictures, steers us onto the inside track of getting your work on telly.

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Ryan slaughter

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© MGM                                                                               The Time Machine, 1960                  Eloi Yvette Mimieux off to be the Morlock’s supper
The headline above: admittedly, an appositely cheap shot any sub-editor would take at the notion of slaughtering the innocents to feed the giant

Dear me: what’s afoot at Ryanair?

18,000 flights cancelled, 34 routes suspended, 400,000 passengers affected.

We’d better roll up sleeves as getting dirty hands with this seems inevitable.

Democratizing travel, making it accessible to every size of pocket is a good, if you take a Mill/Bentham utilitarian approach. Maximum happiness to the greatest number and all that jazz.

Fine. But what is the cost of sale? What must be sacrificed on the altar of profit to yield this aim? [I should declare I’ve not taken a Ryanair flight so use what’s reported and given in testimony] Leg room, baggage allowance, refreshments, reliability. Mebbie these are understandable casualties in the battle to bring down costs.

What we find somewhat puzzling is the frantic addiction to speaking publicly about a customer-base as though it were composed of Neanderthals and lunatics. This indicates a level of contempt which perplexes even as this is written. It seems bizarre that a man who presents himself as Mr Ryanair should be taken seriously when he appears so contemptuous of all those who’ve created his faecal fortune.

That his pilots and cabin crew require proper rest is not controversial. That it took some straw for the camel’s back to break so spectacularly is not odd. Treating employees and passengers as effluent is perfectly killing.

Cassini’s final fling

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© NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute                                                     Taken: Jul. 16, 2017 4:33 PM  Received: Jul. 17, 2017 4:03 PM
The camera pointing toward Saturn, image taken using MT2 & CL2 filters. Image has not been validated or calibrated. A validated/calibrated image will be archived with the NASA Planetary Data System.

Having oft writ and more frequently reflected on the exquisite glory of the universe, one of the chief conduits to images of its wonders dives into oblivion on Friday, Fifteenth September.

The Cassini Space probe, ESA, ISA & NASA’s lovechild, has touched, tasted, seen and inhaled Saturn and its moons Titan and Enceladus since 2004. Extended twice, this twenty year lonely voyage, whose costs must surely be seen as having been maximally recouped, has doubtless given the European, Italian and North American space agencies dividends beyond wildest expectation.

What has it given the rest of us?

What it means to dream, to wonder, to ignite imaginings: these are not ephemeral intangibles but sparks that blaze thinking into strides of endeavour and achievement.

I’m guessing Captain Bligh would have no more an understanding of GPS as he sat, soggily, in his skiff in the middle of the Pacific than we do of … teleportation? functional telepathy? warp-factor motion? universal kindfulness? everyday listening skills?

Playing with unimaginable concepts – as a child with a cardboard tube – gives them a concrete reality, somehow. As we heartily congratulate the astrophysicists on their profound achievement, let unbounded joy fertilize wonder such as to spark gorgeous revelation amid our own realm.

Titan, which has provided gravitational pull for Cassini, and Enceladus snuggling up

Cassini’s Endex Schedule, 15.ix.17 – Orbit 293

Fly-by altitude at 111,000 km/69,000 mi. of moon Janus

Fly-by (alt = 91,000 km/57,000 mi.) of moon Pan

Fly-by (alt = 86,000 km/53,000 mi.) of moon Pandora

Fly-by (alt = 92,000 km/57,000 mi.) of moon Epimetheus

End of mission, atmospheric entry into Saturn.

Telling the time … for Trumptown

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Townsfolk amid chaotic hubbub in Trumpton:                                                           Created and produced by Gordon Murray

In January, these pages pondered our proximity to a midnight scenario in light of the immanent accession of the #Resident.

Seven months in to his term of office, it seems reasonable to suppose some of his supporters remain delighted and unsurprised by events. For everyone else though: what of their thoughts?

Something that echos through every report to wash up on these shores is that the only news is Trump. Nothing appears more important to the #Resident nor higher on his agenda than his perception of his own persecution: he is the US news.

Treating the Presidency as a reality television programme, delaying announcement of withdrawal from the Paris Agreement [Accord de Paris, 2017] for example, soils the Office in new and repugnant ways. Blue-collar billionaires the world over will recoil from this exemplum in their midst, surely?

Or is it the case that the man will grow into a role resistant to remoulding? One would hope so. Until then perhaps we should send an envoy in the guise of Windy Miller to calm the tornado tearing up the peace?

Gazing across centuries

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© Julius Y                                                    Onlookers of Rembrandt’s 1662 oil Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild

This shot, awarded second place in National Geographic’s 2017 Travel Photographer of the Year, has the quality of a zipwire connecting dismay in sartorial evolution by gossipy old seventeenth century Drapers directly at the rough and ready subjects of objection.

Such dialogue is captivating. Three hundred and fifty five years dissolve by virtue of the directness of gaze. What does it mean, this unmediated communication, this boldly frank and wry observation each group casts over the other?

Rembrandt’s use of light, a particular hallmark of his life’s exploration of humanity, illuminates invisible filaments that hold together character, nature, vitality and intellect.

What do we see when we look? The tint of our spectacles, the prism through which we perceive the world, time of day/year/month (!) and n other factors all inform perception : which still doesn’t answer the question.

What it means to look may inform what we see when we look. Is it p’raps Why do we look?

Jeanne Moreau + Sam Shepard Suasive subtlety

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A still from Truffaut’s 1962 classic Jules et Jim

Although made only twenty years earlier, Jules et Jim seemed incredibly ancient to the thicket of dazed Eurotrash students who slid sideways from the cinema … every month or so. It was the earliest of Eighties and Munich had a select few foreign film cinemas.

Jeanne Moreau, on the other hand, blazed immutably fresh and we went to glory in French cinema as Germany hadn’t quite started … or restarted producing important filmic art [excepting Das Boot, obviously].

Part of the job description for any self-respecting screen legend must have a paragraph on how to carry yourself after curtains swoosh back together: should this actually exist, it would surely have been mapped to the contours of her graceful mind.

A prolific and intelligent filmography, Moreau worked with the crême of Twentieth century auteurs and was justifiably garlanded with accolades to match her powerful artistic authority winning twenty-two of the thirty awards for which she was nominated.

She dominated the screen with her quiet presence and pulsed with all that bubbled beneath.

The Sixties were really her decade but in Besson’s 1990 tour de force, Nikita she dazzled still. At a grand age, she died today. Dieu vous garde, Jeanne Moreau.

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If this great loss to artistic life were not enough, it’s also been announced the deeply gifted Sam Shepard has died.

Image: Mike Piscitelli

His profoundly stirring influence as writer, director and actor gilded the United States’ cultural presence on the world’s stage, his work speaking directly to the minds of his audience.

Much said of Madame Moreau could also be attributed to this sleek individual. How weird two brimming icons whose quintessential selves were private, graceful, thoughtful and considered should depart this life on the heavy day of Passchendäle’s centenary. Their beauty, their breath-taking beauty, endured in life as shall their reputations, no doubt, in death.

God speed, Sam Shepard.

Improper Gander?

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© Getty                                          Greylag geese dashing after my blackberries?

Now here’s the thing: is feeding blackberries to geese akin to giving sweets to children … before lunch?

I restore equilibrium by wandering through a wetland & wild fowl oasis and recently have discovered geese to be fiends for the engorged fruit which have so benefitted from the recent, well-timed rain. Now it’s my new best friend … the occupation of communing with these elegant, voluble yet gentle birds by virtue of being a conduit of blackberry from bush to beak.

They’re quick on the uptake too. Never having shown the slightest interest in the mile-long mangrove of berry-laden prickles, within five minutes of watching the picking before consuming, long necks were straining to reach the very same berry-laden boughs.

Teal, swan and egret all turn up their beaks. Why? [I’d have liked to see if the woodpeckers were equally averse but they’ve not been seen since a rather intense – and distressingly public – mating collision in late May. Guess they felt at sea among watery peers.]

The restorative nature of … nature infuses peacefulness at the cellular level, seems to me. The exercise of getting there builds the appetite for spreading troubles over rippling waters and sploosh, they’re gone. Gazing on peacefulness grows resilience to the stressed conditions which seem to shape our lives. Simple, accessible and not improper at all.