Sunday, June 13, 2010
My computer finally died last night.
Many of you know, because I've been bitching about it since last year, that my dying computer really reduced my blogging. But it just kept chuggling so I kept putting up with it. What finally killed it was a citywide power outage. A transformer at the local substation caught on fire and that was all she wrote. Even though our house is surge-protected out the ass and nothing else was affected, my old computer decided it was good time to go "pining for the fjords".
note: in last night's little drama, *I* would be the michael palin character, hoping that the computer was somehow still viable, while the husband would be john cleese, showing me over and over that we are dealing with an ex-computer ... at one point, he actually opened up the dead tower and yelled into it, helloooooo!
Whatever! It was not a pretty death. But I have accepted that it is time to move on.
Of course nothing this important ever happens at a good time. Houseguests arriving tomorrow so no time to go computer shopping for awhile. It'll take research and a crash course on what is currently available before any purchase decision is made. Not to mention paying a professional nerd to transfer everything from my old computer ... including finding those 5,000 photos that disappeared a few months ago.
Could be weeks or even a month before I am fully back in action.
In the meantime I'll have some limited access to the husband's new laptop, but that's gonna get old fast. He doesn't like me "clogging up" his pristine set up. Yes, it's about time I publicly confessed ... I am a desk pig ... oink oink!
I decided to post this to let you know what's going on, maybe get some feedback on what computer features I should be considering, or just give you a place to vent about any topic you want.
So, here's your OPEN MIC. Go on, say whatever you want, tell me what's on your mind! I'll be checking in often and should be able to comment if blogger recognizes me.
Have you guessed what the top image is? Here's another view:
Additional clue: his species nickname has been chantingly appropriated and abused by the tea party crowd.
But he's really quite handsome, don't 'cha think?
Maybe Mr. Drill should sue Sarah P for wrongly associating his nickname with her personal agenda?
Well that's all that's on my mind for now. What's on yours?
Thursday, April 22, 2010
THE LADY AND THE TIGER ... A true story from the DK memory bank.
It happened about 50-yrs ago, so that puts it within the time frame of Sue Lowden’s rustic era of chicken-bartering for healthcare. [note many insightful local LV comments in that link]
It happened in Nevada where Sue Lowden is currently trying to trade in her go-go dancing boots for Harry Reid’s Senate seat.
The story starts late one night in the parking lot of a bar outside Las Vegas. It involves a young woman and a couple of her young man friends. The fact that these three young people had probably already had a few drinks should be mentioned but not held against them. They were of (barely) legal age and not legally drunk.
From the crowded dusty parking lot of this small dive somewhere near the old Boulder Highway, the three young people could hear the bar’s loud thumping juke box music and were anticipating ordering a few beers, maybe dancing and/or playing some billiards before calling it a night.
Walking through the parked cars toward the bar, the young woman spotted movement in the back part of a station wagon. It was hard to see very clearly in the unlit parking lot but it looked like a large animal. Just like the rest of her family, the young woman was an animal lover. Not in the Rick Santorum sense or even in the Animal-Rights-Activist sense. She had grown up with a menagerie of animals (horses, cows, pigs, peacocks, chickens, parakeets, hamsters, dogs, cats and even a monkey) which had instilled in her a respect for and intense curiosity about animals. Think Ellie May Clampett.
So it was not out of character for the young woman to stop and peer into the dark station wagon where she could barely make out some kind of animal restlessly pacing around. She would later say she wanted to verify that the animal was OK, that it had water and some cracked windows for air. She was also very curious about what the animal was.
The guys tried to push her along toward the bar’s entrance. They could almost taste the beer already. They teased her, “oh it’s only some big old sheepdog, pacing around, c’mon hurry up, or we’ll go in without you, plenty of other women in there want to dance.”
But the young woman had already determined this was no sheepdog.
It was big and hairy, like a sheepdog, but she was now close enough to hear it growling, and that growl wasn’t anything like a dog would make. What could it be?
She stopped at the rear of the station wagon and saw the back window was indeed cracked about 6-inches for air. The animal was growling louder now but the woman was still not able to see what it was, so she moved closer to the cracked open back window. Did I mention she had probably already consumed a few drinks?
In the back of the station wagon was a pacing tiger. He was tame enough to be considered someone’s pet. Fifty-years ago owning this type of pet was not exactly outlawed, especially in Nevada, home of freedom-loving americans. But the tiger had been left alone in the station wagon too long tonight. The owner was so busy drinking and dancing that he forgot his tiger might be getting restless.
All night, the tiger had seen human cars with their bright headlights pulling off the Boulder Highway into the parking lot. The cars were loud and made sounds much like he did when he purred. The car sounds would then merge with crunching gravel sounds as the cars found parking places, then abruptly cease, to be replaced by loud car doors slamming and people moving around out there in the dark. The dark didn’t matter to the tiger for his eyes were like night-vision goggles.
He could see details and hear sounds and smell odors that no human could detect. He had heard people laughing, people arguing, he had seen some pushing and shoving each other, not always in a friendly way. Earlier a man had walked very close by his station wagon. The man had stopped and urinated, an act the tiger thought of as marking his territory. All this human action had upset the tiger. He could not get the human urine stench out of his nostrils. Strange men should not be marking territory so near his station wagon. Where was his owner? The tiger paced restlessly.
Now a young woman had appeared near his station wagon. The tiger paced and growled, but the woman did not understand his territorial warning. She had come so close to his open back window that she seemed to be trying to get INSIDE his territory. He could see her long light blond hair (so light blond it was almost white) and smell her human perfume mixed with beer breath. He could hear that her man friends had walked beyond the station wagon and wondered if they were trying to surround him.
The tiger now heard the woman’s voice, a high light happy voice, nothing like his human owner’s voice which is the only voice the tiger thought should be allowed into the station wagon territory.
In fact the woman had just told her companions, “Wait up a second, I want to see what this big guy is and make sure he’s OK in there”. Then she lowered her face to peer into the back window opening.
That was when the tiger struck.
He could not get his head through the 6-inch opening. The window was only cracked that much for fresh air. But he could definitely reach out a paw and take a swipe, which is what he did. His paw was powerful and his claws were intact, though not quite as sharp as they would be if the owner did not file them regularly.
If the woman’s head had not been so close to the window, the tiger’s paw would merely have swiped at air, and this story would not be germane to Sue Lowden’s hair-brained chicken-bartering for healthcare idea. If the tiger could’ve gotten his head and teeth through the opening, this story would not be a healthcare story, but would instead end at the mortuary, for his chain-saw teeth were also intact, albeit filed down.
Where the tiger’s claw connected with the woman’s face it tore a quick gash along her cheek. But the damage did not stop there. The tiger was so outraged at the violation of his territory, and further inflamed by the blood he’d drawn on the woman’s face, that he now thrust out his extended his paw to the point of hurting himself, putting a mighty effort into tearing a deep ragged line down the woman’s neck and upper chest. This was as far as he could reach through the angle of the window opening. It was enough.
The woman screamed and the big cat roared and raged.
Even though her friends were almost inside the loud bar’s entrance now, they could hear her scream mingled with what to them sounded like all hell breaking loose.
They ran back to find her laying on the ground, groaning and bleeding, with a raging tiger roaring inside the station wagon, pawing through the back window. It must have seemed as if the tiger would break the window any minute and kill them all.
Trying to avoid the tiger’s swiping paw themselves, their slightly beer-adled brains directing them to get the woman out of harm’s way and to medical help immediately, the two men did not rush back into the bar to call an ambulance. They picked her up, laid her in the back seat of their car, stuffed an old towel onto her bleeding face and chest, so much blood it soaked the towel red immediately. They drove to the emergency room of Sunrise Hospital, the closest and only hospital on that side of town, a 5-minute wild ride in the late night light traffic.
Of course an ambulance would’ve known which hospital to take her to, but an ambulance would’ve taken more time to get out to Boulder Hwy and many more minutes to transport the bleeding woman … for as it turned out, she had to be transported clear across town, a good 30-minute drive … and this is where a horrific story becomes unnecessarily nightmarish because the system of healthcare that Sue Lowden and others who oppose universal healthcare, the system that was business as usual for the era that Sue Lowden so fondly remembers as bartering for healthcare, did not in fact exist.
Picture now, the three young people arriving in the Emergency Room. The young woman is bleeding profusely from large gashes on her face, neck and chest. She is moaning and in shock. The young men are babbling about a tiger. Yeah, sure ... they all smell too beery... like they were having a little too much fun. The ER staff wheeled the young woman away on a gurney to look her over.
The young men were immediately accosted by hospital personnel:
***Hosp: Does your friend have health insurance?
***Hosp: Then you will have to pay cash up front.
***Men: How much cash?
***Hosp: $200 to begin treatment.
***Men: we don’t have that much cash on us.
***Hosp: can you call a friend or relative to meet you here in the next few minutes with the cash?
***Men: not likely.
***Hosp: then we will have to transport the young woman by ambulance to the county hospital.
OK, if you don’t remember this era yourself, ask your parents or grandparents. 50-yrs ago $200 was more than most people’s paychecks. It was more than a month’s rent and utilities. People did not walk around with $200 in their pockets. Even a decade later, I remember thinking I was really flush if I had $50 cash on me. These young people did not have $50 cash between all three of them. They were just regular people who went out for a few drinks and ended up being attacked by someone's pet tiger.
So to wind up the story of the Lady and the Tiger: Sunrise Hospital, the closest and only hospital on that side of town, refused to treat the young woman. She did not have insurance or cash and they did not consider her wounds to be life threatening “at the moment”. The most they would do was apply pressure to the bleeding wounds and arrange ambulance transportation to the county hospital, which was on the other side of town, a 30-minute drive.
During the ambulance drive to the county hospital, an EMT discovered that the nasty gash on the young woman’s throat was so near her jugular vein they were afraid that the jostling of the ambulance might cause it to burst!
When she arrived at the county hospital (actually at the time it was not yet a designated county hospital, it was still Southern Nevada Memorial Hospital, but it was the only hospital that did not require proof of health insurance or a cash down payment), she was rushed for emergency treatment.
The E.R. staff there were horrified that Sunrise had not even cleansed or disinfected the wounds. Apparently Sunrise had not taken the tiger story seriously. So now So-Nev-Mem was dealing with infected deep gashes. Tiger's claws apparently harbor many nasty toxins.
After the young woman was stabilized, a kindly doctor consulted with her about stitches. He told her, "You will be scarred, there is no way to avoid it, the gashes are too deep, but if we are lucky your facial gash won’t be quite as bad as the others."
By this time, some of her humble family had arrived at the hospital. They timidly asked the doctor if in his opinion she had received immediate treatment at Sunrise, would he expect less scarring. The doctor, like most doctors, followed an unwritten code about not trashing other doctors. All he would say was he would do everything he could to make the facial scar as small as possible. The humble family did not pursue.
That young woman was my Aunt, my mother's youngest sister. Fifty years later, she still bears visible scars of her tiger experience. Neither she nor her family could afford expensive reconstructive surgery. The scars are tight and painful, even today, and much of the underlying muscle tissue never regained sensation. The ugly gash on her throat serves as a roadmap of exactly where her jugular vein is. But as the kind doctor had hoped, her facial scar is not nearly as noticeable as those on her neck and chest.
The invisible scars are harder to quantify. She was not given immediate medical attention merely because she didn’t have $200 on her person to begin what would be a long and painful recovery. That has to have affected her psyche, made her think she wasn't worthy of medical treatment ... in this land of the free and home of the brave, she should've just accepted it was her lot in life to be slashed by a tiger, sucked it up and prayed that jesus would make her better!?!
Could my Aunt have bartered for immediate healthcare, as Sue Lowden has suggested? Bartered with what? She had nothing. She was bleeding and in shock. What was she supposed to do, offer to blow the damn doctor and scrub the ER floors?
Maybe Ms Lowden formed this idea of bartering for healthcare when she was go-go boot dancing in her mini-skirt on a Bob Hope USO Tour. Certainly many of the soldiers she was entertaining had ideas along that line.
Harry Reid may not match my idea of a fire-brand US Senate Leader, but he has been a good senator for Nevada. He stopped Yucca Mtn from being developed as a national nuclear dump site and he pushed healthcare reform through the Senate.
Sue Lowden isn't qualified to lick old Harry's testicles.
Oh in case you’re wondering, the tiger and his owner were never identified. The station wagon’s owner was not known in the bar, as the young woman’s friends and family found out on their own. The family naively thought the tiger owner was probably not even aware of what had happened and might agree to reimburse the medical bills if he could be found. Naive and humble. Surely when the tiger owner finally stumbled out of the bar, he must have noticed how agitated his tiger was, probably favoring one of its forelegs, maybe he even saw all the blood around the rear of his station wagon. The bar owner theorized that he was probably just driving through, just another man with a "pet" tiger in his car, yeah, so common in Vegas. I don't think the story of this late-night tiger mauling even made the local news. Just another tiger mauling in Vegas, right? cue Siegfried and Roy ... maybe they can send some of their special tiger manure to Ms Lowden ... as a campaign donation ... in barter!
Sunday, January 24, 2010
(click pic to enlarge)
The brisk air inspires Clyde to inspect his new yard, beginning with smelling every bush:
Verified whiff of overnight rabbit, OK to proceed to next bush:
Personal fire hydrant! oops, watch out for sharp spikes:
Don't forget to sneak up on plastic bunny outside the courtyard:
Inspection complete, time to head back inside new house where it's warm:
and see if that redhead has any doggie treats for a good old dog:
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
As I recently told Fran-Ramblings, the heartbreak of Haiti has me wondering about the Aristide coups. I vividly recall how outraged Congressional Rep Maxene Waters was when the last one happened in 2004. She was sure it was GWBush who masterminded waking Aristide up in the middle of the night, telling him there was a coup going on & he must be flown out of Haiti immediately. They took him & his family to Africa. His replacement was apparently much more palatable to GWBush.
I've never really read much more about why that whole deal went down. I remember Maxene Waters saying how honorable Aristide was and how he was trying to help the people of Haiti. So, hmmm, now I can't help but wonder if Aristide had remained in power, would he have been able to improve Haiti enough so that recovery from this earthquake would not have been so disastrous?
And yes, when I see GWB's plastered face plastered on TV with Bill Clinton, acting all concerned about Haiti, I get more than little suspicious. Is he just doing more "legacy lying" to cover up what happened with Aristide?
Haiti was once a wealthy nation, the wealthiest in the hemisphere ... "worth more," wrote Voltaire in the 18th century, "than that rocky, cold colony known as New England."
How did it become the helpless country we see today after a major earthquake?
Perhaps some snips of recent Haitian history will reveal some clues ... and whenever recent history is mentioned, one must remember the Bush Family, both Papa and Baby.
Former Haitian President Aristide was removed from power twice, once per each US President named Bush.
Prior to Aristide's presidency, the Duvaliers and the United States government and business community worked together to make Haiti as it was when the earthquake struck last week. American planners ( including the International Republican Institute ) instructed this small, poor country to abandon its self-sustaining agricultural past and develop an export-oriented manufacturing sector utilizing cheap labor to do things like sew the leather around baseballs. What followed was forest and agricultural mismanagement and expanding poverty and slums.
In this 1/20/10 article, Democracy Now! goes beyond the overwhelming earthquake grief and tragedy to discuss some of the Haitian history of Aristide, the Duvaliers, the revolutions, the coups, the privatization of publicly-held industries which were then sold, mostly to weathly US investors. Grasping a bit of Haiti's history helps one to understand why DN! says, "in fact, this earthquake was preceded by a political and economic earthquake with an epicenter 2,000 miles north of here, in Washington, DC, over the past 24-years."
(a paraphrased taste):
After the Duvaliers were driven out, Haiti endured the standard Latin American facade election scenario of putting supposedly democratic leaders in power, leaders the US approved of, but they were purchased elections. Haiti was the first country in Latin America to foil US-engineered facade elections by electing a poor parish priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, to the presidency. At the time of his inauguration on February 7, 1991, he declared the second independence of Haiti, because he wanted Haiti to be free of the imperial domination of the US and France. The 1991 coup occured eight months later while Geo HW Bush was US president....
... an event which reeks of US-backed military intervention and CIA support of juntas and death squads, similar to Panama and Nicaragua deals that also involved Geo HW Bush (if I do say so myself -- and I do).
The second Aristide removal occured on Feb 29th 2004 when US special forces soldiers flew into Haiti on an unmarked jet, surrounded the palace with laser sighted rifles and machine guns, snatched him & his family out of his home, and few them to Africa. Aristide was banned from returning to this hemisphere by the reigning superpower (ahem, that would be US).
Below are other links and snips for anyone else interested in exploring this dubious chapter of Haitian history and its connection back to the US and two presidents named Bush.
For an in-depth analysis of America's fingerprints on events surrounding the second Aristide removal in 2004 while GWBush was US President, read this 2006 NYT article:
After two centuries of foreign occupiers, dictators, generals, a self-appointed president for life and the overthrow of more than 30 governments, Haitians finally had the chance in 1990 to elect the leader they wanted. The people chose Mr. Aristide, a priest who had been expelled from his Roman Catholic order for his fiery orations of liberation theology.
"He was espousing change in Haiti, fundamental populist change," said Robert Maguire, a Haiti scholar ... "Right away, he was viewed as a threat by very powerful forces ..."
President Aristide promised not only to give voice to the poor in the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, but also to raise the minimum wage and force businesses to pay taxes. He rallied supporters with heated attacks on the United States, a tacit supporter of past dictatorships and a major influence in Haitian affairs since the Marines occupied the country from 1915 to 1934.
Greg Palast, who calls Haiti, "The Right Testicle of Hell" in this article, is also wondering how ...
How did Haiti end up so economically weakened ... with infrastructure from hospitals to water systems busted or non-existent (there are two fire stations in the entire nation!) ... infrastructure so frail that the nation was simply waiting for "nature" to finish it off?
Don't blame Mother Nature for all this death and destruction! That dishonor goes to Papa Doc and Baby Doc, the Duvalier dictatorship, which looted the nation for 28 years. Papa and his Baby put an estimated 80% of world aid into their own pockets -- with the complicity of the US government happy to have the Duvaliers and their voodoo militia, the Tonton Macoutes death squads, as allies in the Cold War.
What Papa and Baby didn't run off with, the IMF finished off through its "austerity" plans. An austerity plan is a form of voodoo orchestrated by economists zombified by an irrational belief that cutting government services will somehow help a nation prosper.
In 1991, five years after the murderous Baby Doc fled, Haitians elected a priest, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who resisted the IMF's austerity. Within months, the military, to the applause of Papa George HW Bush, deposed him.
History repeats itself, first as tragedy, then as farce. The farce was George W. Bush. In 2004, after the priest Aristide was re-elected President, he was kidnapped and removed again, to the applause of Baby Bush.
Finally, for a Haitian Blogger's POV, read the Zen Haitian ...
(paraphrasing her comments):
removing Aristide did not help the majority of Haitians, but it did help corporations and other big money to continue to exploit Haiti's labor, resources and further weakened Haiti's sovereignty. All this while the majority of Haitians were still living in indescribably desperate, grinding poverty and degradation. Food riots, no clean water, most areas having no electricity, no infrastructure, political kidnappings, massacres, assassinations, political detentions, a brutal UN occupation, controversial elections--that all happened after Aristide was removed.The fact that Aristide was elected with about 90% of the vote, whereas Bush Jr had two highly controversial elections, did not stop Bush people from labeling Aristide a power hungry dictator.
So what do you think? It seems to me that America's fingerprints are all over the aftermath of this devastating earthquake. Are we (yet again) looking at another Bush (Papa and Baby) engineered tragedy? Jeez, is there anything these guys touch that doesn't turn into a nightmare?
ps, a weeping Aristide wants to return to Haiti now even if only to give moral support. "As far as we are concerned, we are ready to leave today, tomorrow, at any time to join the people of Haiti, share in their suffering, help rebuild the country, moving from misery to poverty with dignity", said Aristide in Johannesburg, his wife Mildred next to him, eyes downcast, twisting a handkerchief. Why shouldn't this man, a former priest who is still wildly popular with the Haitian poor, be allowed to return and give comfort to his own country? He may have been a flawed leader (even his fans will concede that the man had a problem accounting for money), but the flip side is the incredible CIA disinformation campaign about him being some kind of satanic voodoo killer, a campaign that resulted in many people today not knowing what to believe or what really happened under his presidency. Why can't Haitians be allowed to decide whether to let him back into their country?
Saturday, January 2, 2010
I HATE MOVING.
I have been sorting and boxing for the last few weeks and marveling how one house can hold so much stuff. My hands are full of papercuts, my lungs are full of dust, and my spine is being held together with box sealing tape. I am frazzled and cranky and think that bitch, the moving fairy with her magic moving wand, must be spending too much time with the tooth fairy cuz she sure as hell hasn't shown up at my house. At this point, my biggest joy comes as I finish packing another box o' worthless crap and can inhale the fumes of a magic marker for the few brief moments required to label it. BTW, the red magic markers stink so I'm sticking with blue (just like politics).
I hate moving.
Moving Day is still a few days away, but our computer will have its lifeline rudely yanked tomorrow.
I hate moving.
If our last move is any indication, I won't be back online for about a month.
I hate moving.
But I will love settling into our new home!
Hope to be back online and maybe even blogging again soon...
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
If you want to buy tomatoes at Costco, you better make sure Sarah Palin is not signing books there that day!
Apparently, ever since a man in Minneapolis lobbed a few tomatoes her way last week, part of the standard preparation for any public Palin appearance includes removal of tomatoes.
A woman shopper in Salt Lake City, pleased to find empty aisles and no waiting at the check-out lines at her Costco, even though the parking lot was full, became displeased when the store manager informed her all tomatoes had been removed from the shelves because Sarah Palin was signing books there today. Well, that explains the full parking lot (Utahns being among Sarah's greatest fans)!
Upon seeing her dismay over not being able to purchase the tomatoes she had expressly braved the winter snow to buy, the Costco manager put everything right for the woman shopper by sending an employee into the warehouse storage area (where the scurrilous tomatoes had been whisked prior to Palin's arrival) to retrieve a bunch which he then gave her for free.
Way to go, Mr. Costco Manager ... Costco has gained another customer for life because not only was the woman shopper able to shop at Costco with no lines (an event never to be repeated in this or any other lifetime), she got free tomatoes without having to endure The Magical Palin Book Signing Tour (since that was obviously taking place in another part of the store). A Win-Win for all!
During this same visit to her most loyal fans in SLC Utah last week, Sarah also managed to disappoint the leaders of the UT Republican Party (who were told she didn't have time for them unless they wanted to come to her Costco Book Signing Event and buy her book which would include a signature and a wink, not necessarily any conversation) and at least one hard-working hairdresser.
The Salt Lake hairdresser was stiffed for payment and tip, and ended up having to pay for parking to boot! She was called at 8AM for an emergency hair repair of Sarah's Signature Coiffe. Even though she had scheduled her 3-yr old child for a dental filling that morning, she dropped everything in her life for Sarah (the tooth-filling appt was delegated to her husband who had to take time off work to do it).
She was instructed to leave her car with valet parking (faster than walking across a large parking lot) and quickly ushered up to Sarah's hotel room. During the elevator trip up, she was told not to talk to Sarah unless Sarah talks first (rush-rush, get that hair repaired, no chit-chat to slow things down).
As soon as the emergency hair repair was completed, Sarah's entourage quickly ran out the door for the Costco Book Signing Event (previously sanitized of all tomatoes). The hairdresser was left to pack up her hair equipment (feeling slightly used and put away wet, no doubt). That's when she realized no one had even mentioned payment or a tip!
When the valet attendant retrieved her car, the hairdresser decided enough was enough and told him since she was with the Palin party, they should take care of the $10 parking fee. That was news to him, the valet said (I bet he'd probably already been stiffed by them). So she forked over $10 plus a tip (hairdressers and waitresses always tip because, unlike Sarah, they know how important tipping is to the service industry).
She has since sent Palin an invoice for her services. So far all she has received is a Palin book and some signed photos. I hope she included her husband's lost wages in her invoice. I wonder if tomatoes might be involved in Sarah's next hair repair. I also wonder if Sarah meant for this to serve as an example of the type of fiscal conservatism she thinks will exorcise the socialism out of america.
If this is how Sarah treats her friends (and she has no better friends than Utahns who ooze their remaining brain cells at the mere thought of meeting The Mighty Moose-Huntress), I'd hate to be that Minneapolis guy who threw the tomatoes!
What was that tomato thrower thinking? Didn't he have any shoes?
Behold, the Mighty Sarah ... hairdressers quake at receiving a call from her and retail stores must remove items that might be lobbed her way at a book signing! Sarah Palin ... bad for us and bad for business!
(personal update in comments) ...
Sunday, November 1, 2009
New Milky Way Image, a panorama created by Axel Mellinger, of Central Michigan University, melded from from 3,000 individual photographs.
I still think Monty Python's 1983 "Galaxy Song" from their movie, "The Meaning of Life" says it best:
For one of many analyses of how well Eric Idle's song has withstood scientific discoveries of the last few decades, click here.
Overall the song is still correct. We live on a corner of one continent of one planet of one galaxy that contains a hundred billion other stars -- some with orbiting planets, some without. Our galaxy swims in a void that contains at least a hundred billion galaxies more or less like ours. Still think it matters if you wax or shave?
The ending line from the Galaxy Song is: "Pray that there's intelligent life somewhere up in space cuz there's bugger-all down here on planet earth."
That view seems at odds with optimistic Voyager I, launched in 1977, containing this message: "We step out of our solar system into the universe seeking only peace and friendship, to teach if we are called upon, to be taught if we are fortunate."
Yet a different view is held by author Jared Diamond, in The Third Chimpanzee, the chapter titled "Alone in a Crowded Universe". Mr Diamond writes that astronomers who are searching so diligently for extraterrestrial life "have never thought seriously about the most obvious question: what would happen if we found it, or if it found us .... our own experience on Earth offers useful guidance .... Humans who discover technically less advanced humans regularly respond by shooting them, decimating their populations with new diseases, and destroying or taking over their habitats. Any advanced extraterrestrials who discovered us would surely treat us the same way.
"Astronomers beaming radio signals describing Earth's location and its inhabitants ... is an act rivaling the folly of the last Inca emperor, Atahualpa, who described to his gold-crazy Spanish captors the wealth of his capital and provided them with guides for the journey. If there are any radio civilizations within listening distance of us, then for heaven's sake let's turn off our signals and try to escape detection, or we're doomed."
Fortunately for us, the silence from Outer Space has, so far, been deafening!