This should be compulsory reading

by Stuart on 23 August 2013

When I see all the strife in the world, I read this passage, written by a scientist – yes, a scientist and not a philosopher – and I truly believe this passage should be compulsory reading for every human on the planet. It was written when the Voyager spacecraft was passing Saturn and took a photograph of the planet Earth. The Earth is a very, very, tiny dot – the pale blue dot.

Read on…

“Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there-on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish the pale blue dot, the only home we’ve ever known.”

― Carl Sagan, Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space

Places like Syria and Egypt immediately spring to mind. But what of the teenager in London who goes out for the evening with a knife in his pocket; the teenager who will stab another teenager to death because he looked at him the wrong way? What of the bullying that goes on because a person looks different, is disabled, or has the ‘wrong’ colour skin?

Read this passage again, and think again.


Notes from a meeting #1

by Stuart on 23 June 2013

I’ve been going through some old notebooks. I take notes at meetings in these books. Sometimes the off-topic notes say far, far more about the meeting than the actual notes.

This is number 1 in a series of – well, who can tell …

10 minutes discussing the numbering scheme for the #%}{ minutes. Give me strength!


Health check added

November 21, 2012

A new service launches today – an organisational health check. It’s well known that organisations go through phases. One model is the formin’, stormin’, normin’, and performin’ developed by Bruce Tuckman in the 1960s. There are others. Every organisation gets to a point where things are going reasonably well, but there’s a feeling that “things […]

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Mencap Flush Mob

October 10, 2012

An interesting variation on the flash mob – tomorrow in central London, highlighting the need for accessible public toilets. More details

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Fruits of my (non) labour

September 11, 2012

At 3rd Sector Towers we have a tree, and for the past few years we’ve wondered what the little purple fruit is. For the last few years we’ve complained about the mess the fruit makes on the car that’s parked under it. This year we discovered it’s a damson tree and the boss decided to […]

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Too much of a good thing

August 19, 2012

Here, at 3rd Sector Towers, my approach to the garden has been one of studied neglect. That is, I look out at it and think about it, then I neglect it. This approach has borne fruit, quite literally, over the years and especially this year. We have a mass of brambles with a huge crop […]

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Meetings 101 part 5

August 10, 2012

Today let’s consider the cost of meetings. By this I mean the financial cost to your organisation, not the personal cost of the torment you endure when you attend a meeting. Having you turn up at work costs your organisation money. There’s your salary to start with. And your national insurance, pension contributions etc. And […]

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Meetings 101 part 4

July 26, 2012

Today we’ll look at planning the physical aspects of a meeting.  This is important as you want all the participants to be able to contribute effectively and they can’t do that unless they can give their full attention to the proceedings. Why wouldn’t they do that?  Answer – any number of reasons. I attended a […]

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Meetings 101 part 3

July 6, 2012

In this post we’ll look at who to invite. The first thing to remember is that everybody sitting around the table is not necessarily doing the job for which they’re being paid. So it’s really important to think carefully who you invite to your meeting. The criteria should be does s/he have a contribution to […]

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Meetings 101 part 2

June 29, 2012

In the last post we looked at writing a little more detail on the agenda so that participants have at least a clue about what they’ll be talking about. In this post we’ll look at timing. Firstly, look at the items on your agenda. Which are the ones you really have to cover at all […]

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