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Lights out

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Light pollution as seen from space

In all the discussions I’ve read and heard about how America can reduce its voracious appetite for energy, I’ve never heard anyone utter what I think are four helpful words: Turn out the lights.

Think about those four words the next time you’re out late at night. Countless merchants leave their signs on 24 hours a day—perhaps for advertising purposes, but I can’t help but think such advertising is fruitless between, say, midnight and 6 a.m.

Sure, some lightsmust be left on through the night. Hospitals, police stations and other places of public service need to be well-lit so people can immediately find them. Bank parking lots need light for the safety of people using ATMs or making night deposits. City street lights help people feel secure. Automobile lots use bright lights to deter theft and vandalism. But for every one of those instances, there are who-knows-how-many places gobbling up electricity through needlessly lit signage.

I have an aesthetic reason for calling for less light: night sky light pollution. I wish I could wander into my backyard at night and look up into a truly dark sky, seeing the planets and constellations as our ancestors did long a go. One of my sidebar quotations on this blog is by Vincent van Gogh: “For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." I wish I had more darkness for my dreaming.

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( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
theoldsport
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:13 am (UTC)
I miss going out on the fields behind Bona's late at night to watch the sky. It's quite the place to do thinking and dreaming.

Light pollution bothers me, especially during the holiday season (though I do enjoy light displays and decorations). A friend of mine lives out in "the country." Driving around that neighborhood feels so different because of how dark it can get.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:26 am (UTC)
The south- and southwest-facing skies are pretty good behind SBU.

And what is college if not a place for dreaming?
sahlah
Jan. 27th, 2013 03:16 am (UTC)
Synchronicity my friend, synchronicity.

Edited at 2013-01-27 03:16 am (UTC)
cwmackowski
Jan. 29th, 2013 02:08 am (UTC)
That was one of the things that struck me immediately about Africa: it was DARK. Seriously dark. Very little extraneous light at night.

I loved it.
patrick_vecchio
Jan. 29th, 2013 02:34 am (UTC)
There's a place about 3 hours from here in Pennsylvania: Cherry Valley. It's a park, maybe? It's one of the darkest spots in the East. It might be worth a road trip for you and the J-Man sometime—he's into astronomy, isn't he?
( 5 comments — Leave a comment )

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Wish I'd Said It

Nota bene: “Fear has governed my life, if I think about it. ... I always feel like I’m not good enough for some reason. I wish that wasn’t the case, but left to my own devices, that voice starts speaking up.” – Trent Reznor

“I hate to say this, but not many people care what you do. They care about what you do as much as you care about what they do. Think about it. Just exactly that much. You are not the center of the universe.” — Laurie Anderson

"The path's not yours till you've gone it alone a time." – William Carlos Williams

“Filling this empty space constitutes my identity.” – Twyla Tharp

"My definition of peace is having no noise in my head." – Eric Clapton

"The wreckage of the sky serves to confirm us in delicious error." – John Ashbery

"We are all here by the grace of the big bang. We are all literally the stuff of the stars." – Dwight Owsley

"For my part, I know nothing with any certainty, but the sight of stars makes me dream." – Vincent van Gogh

"It is only with the heart that one can see right; what is essential is invisible to the eye." — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

"Forget about being a perfectionist, because entropy always wins out in the end." – Darren Kaufman.

"Impermanence. Impermanence. Impermanence." – Garry Shandling

"Fame is a vapor; popularity an accident; the only earthly certainty is oblivion." – Mark Twain

"There is no realm wherein we have the truth." – Gordon Lish

"Actual life is full of false clues and sign-posts that lead nowhere." – E.M. Forster

“Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe." – Frank Zappa

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• Journal title and subtitle: Ian Hunter, “Man Overboard”

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