(Easter Island, Pt. 1) Anakena beach, Easter Island.
I've only recently taken an interest, but the history of Easter Island (known in the local language as Rapa Nui) is fascinating. This is a telling picture because it shows two things: Moai statues and what we can barely call a palm tree forest (note the landscape beyond those trees).
Easter Island was once covered with vast palm forests. However, in the pursuit of their religious duties, the building of the Moai statues you see here, they failed to keep their destruction of the forests in check. This culminated in famine and death, and a brutal civil war over the limited resources.
A raccoon shares some food with a skunk.
I love this picture.
Joseph Kittinger's jump.
Ah, now, this one... I said I loved the skunk and raccoon picture, but the Supreme Awesomeness of watching Joseph Kittinger jump from 31,300 metres (102,800 feet) high is mind-bending. The sight and sound of that moment, captured when he leaped from his balloon in the shot above, is something the introspective recluse in me can only dream of experiencing; Kittinger literally looked over at the giant world that gave him life, and down at the enormous clouds that gave him water to drink, and up there, without air and wind, the only thing he heard was the sound of his breathing. There wasn't a rush of noise against his ears, no force pushing the ripples of his suit, just pure silence. Nothing. Again, I can only dream what he lived... the few seconds where cars didn't crack your cheekbone, where planes didn't rummage through your eardrums, where the voices of hatred didn't pound against your cranium.
Just sweet, unadulterated bliss. Floating down to Earth at 614 mph, for four minutes and thirty-six minutes, with only sweet silence to keep you company. Wow.
Mother and baby rat.
From my now ill-fated mouse-researching days.
This picture has two significant points, one is that it shows the existence of a blackhole. Those bright dots you see are stars, their movement is being affected by an invisible force. Contrary to popular belief, blackholes don't necessarily swallow up everything they encounter, it's possible for stars (and other objects) to orbit the blackhole for an indefinite period of time.
The second is that the stars and blackhole you're looking at are those in the center of our galaxy.
(Easter Island, Pt. 2) Motu Nui and the Bird-man cult.
The Tangata manu religion replaced the Moai religion, and was eventually killed off by Christianity.
Motu Nui, the largest islet seen in that picture, was an integral part of the religion. In a contest to acquire the rights to all the islets' food for a year, islanders would swim through shark-infested waters to Motu Nui and wait for the first egg to be laid, they would then race to get that first egg, swim back to the main island, and climb to the clifftop village of Orongo, where the winner would be declared. Many contestants died each year, either through the sharks, drowning, or falling off the cliffs of Rano Kau during their ascent (and possibly even by each others' hands); and many times the winners would pillage the islets' resources without realising they were damaging their delicate ecosystems. Just like the Moai religion, this militant cult senselessly ignored its effects on Easter Island, and led to another civil war which, along with diseases brought by Peruvian slave raiders, reduced the island's population to critical numbers. (Ironically, at this point, the entire island had converted to Roman Catholicism.)
To be completely honest, the Rapanui were incredibly smart people. Despite their short-sightedness and the conscious destruction of their entire civilisation, they managed some amazing feats building their massive statues and transporting them across the entire island. And their near-extinction can also be attributed to foreign slave-traders, who abducted and killed 1500 islanders, and one piece of shit fucktard named Jean-Baptiste Dutrou-Bornier, whose goal for Easter Island was to rid it of its inhabitants and convert it into a sheep farm.
In the end, though, this isolated piece of land in the Pacific Ocean still serves as an umblemished mirror for every one of us. Self-destruction is never as difficult as you may think.