I do a fair amount of lurking about the web, learning what others are up to, and hopefully broadening my mind. Of course, at times my mind narrows, because I see some people are just learning, and to some degree are novices about certain subjects, and if I am not careful this allows my ego to become smug and condescending, which becomes a form of blindness. I give myself a slap, when I notice I’m becoming a prig. The reason to lurk is not to puff up ones own opinion, but to learn of other opinions.
One good way to avoid the traps of self-centeredness is to avoid words, and focus on pictures. I know I likely shouldn’t say words are a bad thing, as I am a writer, but at times I become all too aware of the problems inherent in words. (It is not without reason that Saint James called the human tongue the most evil organ of the body.) Words hold all sorts of trickery, as our politicians make all too clear. Pictures, on the other hand, make trickery harder. Even the evil geniuses of Madison Avenue often need to employ words and mood music, to make their pictures get us to buy what we neither want nor need.
In terms of sea-ice, satellite pictures tell no lies. It is how we interpret the pictures that causes confusion, and sometimes involves lies and liars. The pictures themselves are not to blame.
In any case, I sometimes like to just wander about sites looking at pictures of sea-ice from ground level, and from way up in space, and to ignore all the voices that are attempting to tell me what I am seeing. I have eyes. I can see for myself.
If you do use your own eyes, you occasionally spot things that are so intriguing that you feel a wonder worth sharing. These MODIS pictures are of that sort.
They show ice melting on the Great Lakes, by the Mackinac Bridge.
What is intriguing is that the first picture, from March 22, 2005, shows the ice solid, and the only open water as narrow channels made by ice-breakers.
The second picture shows the situation nearly three weeks later, on April 9, 2005, as the ice starts to break up. My common sense would assume that the first ice to break-up would be the channels made by ice-breakers. However the extraordinary thing is that those channels have become long lines of ice that is resisting the break-up.
This is so opposed to what I would have expected that it parks itself in my brain, as a wonder worth sharing.
The thing I have noticed is that, if you continue to use your eyes, these wonders add up. They gradually turn into a “body of evidence” which has the ability to keep you from being played for a fool, on occasions when our common sense makes assumptions that are wrong.
We don’t like to admit our common sense can be fooled, but it often is. One of the most common tricks, used by both politicians and Madison Avenue, involves flattery. There is a child-like trust within humans that tends to feel that the person flattering us really does like us. It is a common sense that betrays us, and that we warn our daughters about, when they prefer a flashy-talking sailor, who only wants to use them, to a decent fellow who is clumsy with words. However in Shakespeare’s tragedy “King Lear” we see the old king fooled by his two flattering daughters, and disdainful of his truly loving daughter, who doesn’t flatter. Age is no guarantee that flattery won’t make a fool of us.
In conclusion: Avoid flattery, and allot some time for lurking. Keep your lips buttoned and your eyes open, and who knows what wonders may be revealed?
Silence is golden, when your eyes still see.