Miscellaneous

Several things have come through my blog reader that I want to comment on, but none require a post of their own. So here you are:

Celebrating Darwin. Still? Again? It doesn’t really matter. Here’s a well-produced video giving the history of life in brief, narrated by David Attenborough. Delightful to watch.

(Thanks to Mike, the Not Quite So Friendly Humanist, for sharing this video.)

Solar System on one page. Also along the lines of enjoying the natural world. Or, in this case, worlds: a webpage where you can see all the planets (plus Pluto). They are to scale for size, but also for mean distance from the Sun. Try it out.

If you’re having difficulty finding the planets in all the black, here’s a little trick: after the “/” at the end of the URL, add “#mars”, or “#neptune”, and it’ll zoom to that planet. But that does kind of defeat the purpose: you’re supposed to become aware of the vast, vast spaces between the planets.

(Thanks to Phil, the Bad Astronomer, for the link.)

Abolish the Canadian monarch? Here’s Canadian humanist and activist Justin Trottier with his take on the fact that the nominal Canadian head of state is not Canadian, and is also the head of one particular religious sect. I tend to agree with him – there is no good reason to retain the monarchy, though perhaps not yet sufficient reason against it to go to the trouble of writing them out of our laws.

Beautiful impermanence. I close this grab-bag with a delightful “sermon” from Daylight Atheism, in which we are encouraged to reflect upon impermanence as autumn surrounds us*. He contrasts the humanist acceptance of our impermanence with the inborn yearning we all have – reflected so frequently in religious beliefs – to deny our own deaths. While I’m not generally interested in contrasting humanism with religious beliefs, I think the contrast here is poignant. Particularly as the humanist position, in following the evidence of the world around us, draws us away from our primitive desires for immortality. It encourages us, in a real sense, to grow up.

Okay, this one could have used its own post. For now, I refer you to this pair of posts (in that order) by Dale McGowan, about discussing mortality with his kids. And this more recent one, about the problem of awesome people being mortal too.

[Edit to add link to the Daylight Atheism post, which I unaccountably forgot to do at first.]

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* Excluding Canada and other northern regions, where winter has already firmly displaced fall, and the whole southern hemisphere, being on the other side of the seasonal see-saw.

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