Considerable anxiety has been expressed of late about the commercial future of Shawville in the past two issues of The Equity. Folks are worried about businesses disappearing, particularly in what is risibly referred to as downtown (i.e., along Main Street). Two stores — a general store and an office supplies store — are up for sale because their owners would like to retire, and the local Curves franchise has announced it’s closing its doors at the end of the month. Much worry, then, about whether this town is losing its shops.
I received a copy of Cosmos on DVD from my brother for Christmas — too late for me to blog about it as part of the Carl Sagan blog-a-thon that took place on December 20, the tenth anniversary of his death, but here it is belatedly.
It’s safe to say that I grew up on Cosmos: portions of the series have persisted in my memory since it was first broadcast (when I was eight); I also had a copy of the companion book which I have since, I guess, lost. It made a big impact on my impressionable mind, but only in its discrete parts; it was only now, when I was able to watch the series, beginning to end, as an adult, that I was able to appreciate the whole.
Sagan was making an argument with this series, and each episode, and each point within each episode, illustrated with an historical analogy or with a simple demonstration, contributed to that argument. To point out that complex organic molecules are easy to make, and that the laws of science — of physics and chemistry — are the same throughout the universe, is to support the argument that life on other worlds is not only possible, but probable. A parallel argument is our connectedness to the greater universe: how, for example, supernovae essentially built us, by providing our planet’s heavy elements and the cosmic rays that enable mutation-driven evolution. And so forth. This was never a mere science program, or even a science program with a lot of neat material on the history of science.
One unexpected reaction — we must be getting old — was that despite our strong interest in the series’s subject matter, Jennifer (and I, to a lesser extent) had real trouble staying awake. PBS programming was slower paced in 1980, and Sagan’s manner of speaking and tone was surprisingly soothing.
Goober got a clean bill of health from the vet yesterday. Paw damage is superficial and will heal up eventually. He’s lost about a pound and a half since his last checkup, which doesn’t sound like much, except that it’s 10 per cent of his body mass: in human terms, that’d be like losing 18 to 25 pounds in a week. But he had weight to lose. Every day he seems to gain a little more vitality, and Maya hisses at him a little less.