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The Dude, The Port Huron Statement, and The Seattle Seven

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I was, uh, one of the authors of the Port Huron Statement. The original Port Huron Statement.
Not the compromised second draft. And then I, uh... Ever hear of the Seattle Seven?

- The Dude, The Big Lebowski

Fans of The Big Lebowski will no doubt recognize The Dude's lofty claim to fame above. And while the Port Huron Statement was indeed a real document, I hope The Dude will abide one small correction—only one draft of the statement is known to exist. But since The Dude felt it important enough to mention, we should probably at least know the basics.

The Port Huron Statement was written in 1962 as the founding manifesto of the Students for a Democratic Society – a left-leaning political activism organization that rose to prominence and eventually fizzled out during the 1960s. A key issue throughout the work of the SDS was their advocacy of participatory democracy – a political system wherein constituents wield power, as opposed to ceding that power to elected representative

The Port Huron Statement, which draws its name from that fact that it was written in Port Huron, Michigan, was designed as the SDS’s guiding treatise on social issues. It begins with the following simple statement: "We are people of this generation, bred in at least modest comfort, housed now in universities, looking uncomfortably to the world we inherit."

From there, the document discusses and proposes a variety of actions to address the economy, the Military-Industrial complex, the warfare state, McCarthyism, discrimination, nuclear disarmament, and a host of other weighty issues. It is nothing if not ambitious. (Though one topic not covered in the Port Huron Statement is how to appropriately address the plight of someone breaking into your home and urinating on a really great living room rug that ties the room together.)

The document  - which can be read in its entirety here – wraps up with this poetic culmination: “If we appear to seek the unattainable, as it has been said, then let it be known that we do so to avoid the unimaginable.”

The Dude also associates himself with the Seattle Seven — "That was me and, uh, six other guys" — another very real piece of the Vietnam era. The Seattle Seven were the most famous members of the Seattle Liberation Front, an anti-war organization formed in Seattle just as the SDS was breaking apart. The reason The Dude mentions the Seattle Seven is because one of the members was a man named Jeff Dowd. Dowd later moved to LA, where he became a film producer and close friend of Joel and Ethan Coen – the genius writer/director team behind The Big Lebowski. And Dowd is credited with being the inspiration for the character of The Dude – a fact that he confirms on his website and through appearances at various colleges, conventions and the annual LebowskiFest. [Image courtesy of jeffdowd.com.]

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Space
Can’t See the Eclipse in Person? Watch NASA’s 360° Live Stream
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Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images

Depending on where you live, the historic eclipse on August 21 might not look all that impressive from your vantage point. You may be far away from the path of totality, or stuck with heartbreakingly cloudy weather. Maybe you forgot to get your eclipse glasses before they sold out, or can't get away from your desk in the middle of the day.

But fear not. NASA has you covered. The space agency is live streaming a spectacular 4K-resolution 360° live video of the celestial phenomenon on Facebook. The livestream started at 12 p.m. Eastern Time and includes commentary from NASA experts based in South Carolina. It will run until about 4:15 ET.

You can watch it below, on NASA's Facebook page, or on the Facebook video app.

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Art
Cephalopod Fossil Sketch in Australia Can Be Seen From Space

Australia is home to some of the most singular creatures alive today, but a new piece of outdoor art pays homage to an organism that last inhabited the continent 65 million years ago. As the Townsville Bulletin reports, an etching of a prehistoric ammonite has appeared in a barren field in Queensland.

Ammonites are the ancestors of the cephalopods that currently populate the world’s oceans. They had sharp beaks, dexterous tentacles, and spiraling shells that could grow more than 3 feet in diameter. The inland sea where the ammonites once thrived has since dried up, leaving only fossils as evidence of their existence. The newly plowed dirt mural acts as a larger-than-life reminder of the ancient animals.

To make a drawing big enough to be seen from space, mathematician David Kennedy plotted the image into a path consisting of more than 600 “way points.” Then, using a former War World II airfield as his canvas, the property’s owner Rob Ievers plowed the massive 1230-foot-by-820-foot artwork into the ground with his tractor.

The project was funded by Soil Science Australia, an organization that uses soil art to raise awareness of the importance of farming. The sketch doubles as a paleotourist attraction for the local area, which is home to Australia's "dinosaur trail" of museums and other fossil-related attractions. But to see the craftsmanship in all its glory, visitors will need to find a way to view it from above.

[h/t Townsville Bulletin]

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