Our Tiny Foothold.

via NASA

The bartender is pouring me another pint.

A friend of his arrives, and so we all have a shot and sit at the sunny end of the bar and talk about whatever Donald Trump said today. I’m so bored of this conversation. Not this actual conversation, but rather every conversation where we exasperatedly relay to each other in mock disbelief whatever it is that’s happening most recently. I say ‘mock disbelief’ because I honestly don’t think anyone is truly surprised by anything at this stage.

North Korea is threatening to drop nuclear warheads on Guam.

I miss talking about sport. I don’t even like sport either. Or even celebrity gossip, I actually miss being able to spend a half an hour rolling my eyes about whatever it is that Kim Kardashian is doing. I didn’t realise it at the time, but those were the good days. Now we’re all stuck in a permanent state of crisis and disbelief, where celebrity gossip seems too trivial considering everything else going on, yet talking about ‘everything else’ is now so numbing that it hardly feels real anymore.

Heather Heyer was just killed by a white supremacist in Charlottesville.

I’m jealous of how far away The Cassini spacecraft is. After orbiting Saturn for the last 13 years it’s about to end its mission and crash into the planet, studying the atmosphere on its way in, one last one-way trip, selflessly collecting one final bit of data for us.

in 2013 Cassini looked back and took a photo of Earth from Saturn. It’s a terrifying picture. Saturn looms large in the frame, a small portion of its whole taking up one side of the image with its ring swooping out over the top. There’s an arrow in the middle of the photograph, superimposed over the top of the image in order to point out a small speck just a few pixels wide. The Earth, a pale blue dot, almost 900 millions miles away in the distance, wrapped in its flimsy little atmosphere, and completely alone save for the lifeless lump of a moon dutifully orbiting it.

Carl Sagan said this better, but in short: Our entire existence can be found on that tiny chunk of rock in the middle of nowhere, an existence that we’re doing a good job of truncating as we fill that flimsy little atmosphere with carbon and render the entire thing unlivable for our humanoid species which against overwhelming odds, somehow came to find a foothold there.

Yet Heather Heyer was just killed by a white supremacist.

Her last facebook post noted that ‘If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention’ and she was right. Because despite the fact we’ve managed to send a spacecraft 900 million miles to explore a different world, we’re still killing each other over entirely pointless differences while we slowly destroy our tiny little isolated foothold.

In the next few days Cassini will gradually descend into Saturn’s atmosphere and ultimately burn up. The rationale for this is that scientists would rather not risk the spacecraft crashing into the moons Enceladus and Titan and contaminating any future studies of habitability and potential life on those moons, two distant worlds that at our current rate, we don’t deserve anyway.

The bartender is pouring me another pint.

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