The great antidote to the poison of enthusiasm and superstition
June 15, 2006 11:58 PM   Subscribe

The return of astronauts to the moon by 2020? Yeah! Hurricane predictions, long-term monitoring of weather and climate change? Not so much. (related here and here)
posted by Smedleyman (78 comments total)

 
UN reported that by 2020 about 1,4 biljard PPZ will live in the slums.. Although I'm a big SciFi fan, i see we have other priorities than 'man in space'...
ITMFA!
posted by borq at 2:01 AM on June 16, 2006


While sending a rocket into space and landing on the moon is not remotely trivial, it is at least an order of magnitude harder to predict large-scale weather patterns. Look at how much beef is packed into the Earth Simulator, for example. Heck, a big portion of the Top 500 supercomputer list belongs to the weather simulator crowd.
posted by Mikey-San at 2:28 AM on June 16, 2006


It's very sad to see science pushed aside in favor of doing something that's already been done, but this is Joe Public's money, and Joe Public wants to see men on the moon, not microbes on Europa.

(And is this the closest MetaFilter has got to blaming Bush for the weather?)
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 3:05 AM on June 16, 2006


UN reported that by 2020 about 1,4 biljard PPZ will live in the slums.

What does that have to do with sending people to the moon? Afterall, 1.4 billion people WILL live in slums, right? Then it's settled... they WILL live in slums.

Now, if we could only figure out how to send 1.4 billion people to the moon... AND BEYOND!

It's very sad to see science pushed aside in favor of doing something that's already been done...

Yea... a trip to the moon is certainly science-free.
posted by Witty at 3:47 AM on June 16, 2006


> UN reported that by 2020 about 1,4 biljard PPZ will live in the slums.. Although
> I'm a big SciFi fan, i see we have other priorities than 'man in space'...

Eat your spinach because people are starving in Africa!
posted by jfuller at 3:58 AM on June 16, 2006


This is going to go well. It did last time. See also.
posted by slimepuppy at 4:17 AM on June 16, 2006


I feel sorry for the 1 and 4 biljard PPZs who have to live in slums. On the bright side, they can watch the second moon landing from a tv viewable from the sidewalk.


In honesty, as Slimepuppy has referenced, lets not fall into the whole "the money could be spent better elsewhere" argument. Its been done already. In other news, Stephen Hawking says Rah Rah Rah! for space colonization.
posted by Atreides at 4:48 AM on June 16, 2006


i see we have other priorities than 'man in space'

The rest of the world might - but the fatcats of the west, we don't. Why should we spend our hard earned cash on a bunch of impoverished people we don't know?

5% of the world are filthy rich for a reason you know. We deserve to indulge our whims however the fuck we like. right?
posted by twistedonion at 4:59 AM on June 16, 2006


Yea... a trip to the moon is certainly science-free.

I'm sure they'll find out whether ants can sort tiny screws in space or something, but per dollar spent, there is more science in Super Size Me than a trip to the moon.

Here is the science that the shuttle Colombia spent its last ten days doing:
* Sent cockroaches up to see how microgravity would affect their growth at various stages of their life cycle

* Studied a "space rose" to see what kinds of essential oils it would produce in weightless environment. (in a triumph of technology transfer, this was later developed into a perfume).

* At the suggestion of elementary school children, monitored everyday objects such as soap, crayons, and string to see whether their inertial mass would change in a weightless environment. Preliminary results suggest that Newton was right.

* Monitored the growth of fish eggs and rice plants in space (orbital sushi?)

* Tested new space appliances, including a space camcorder and space freezer

* Checked to see whether melatonin would make the crew sleepy (it did not)
Don't get me wrong; we do have a duty as a species to explore space, but that doesn't mean we have a duty to send our physical bodies there.
posted by hoverboards don't work on water at 5:26 AM on June 16, 2006


"...go take a flying fuck at the Moon!" - Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.



Almost every manned space program has resulted in real-world technologies for supporting and augmenting life on our own planet.

Go for it, NASA. Hopefully under a different Presidential administration and group of contractors. Otherwise we're fucked and will end up with more efficient ways to make MREs and concentration camps.
posted by loquacious at 5:27 AM on June 16, 2006


Why not just take those 1,4 biljard PPZ that are going to be living in the slums and put them on the moon? Then we can have moon slums!
posted by rand at 6:36 AM on June 16, 2006


While sending a rocket into space and landing on the moon is not remotely trivial, it is at least an order of magnitude harder to predict large-scale weather patterns. Look at how much beef is packed into the Earth Simulator, for example. Heck, a big portion of the Top 500 supercomputer list belongs to the weather simulator crowd.

And yet, our simulations still can't handle the variance - that's why we need more funding. If we're looking at our budgets and saying, "I'm not funding that, it looks way hard - we've done this before, though, about 40 years ago, so we can totally do it again," we're screwed.

It's simple - weather research makes us look bad. Landing on the moon makes us look good. Doesn't matter what gives us the best "bang for buck" in terms of scientific or even societal progression, as long as it garners votes, they're for it.

Remember the Mars push? Yeah, it's like that.
posted by FormlessOne at 7:04 AM on June 16, 2006


Joe Public wants to see men on the moon, not microbes on Europa.

When did he express that preference?


FormlessOne's "It's simple - " statement is accurate. No science that hinders Industry's March Of Progress will be tolerated.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 7:22 AM on June 16, 2006


And not sending people to the moon is going to help the people in the slums how exactly?
posted by slatternus at 7:33 AM on June 16, 2006


When did he express that preference?

Yeah, I don't recall voting on this. Essentially, Bush has one big idea: To send hardy men out to harsh, distant environments, to live in technological cocoons under conditions that are inimical to their lives. For example, the Moon, Mars and Iraq.
posted by Faze at 7:36 AM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


And not sending people to the moon is going to help the people in the slums how exactly?

The money spent going to the moon could just as easily be applied to some other sector of the ecomony, with just as much benefit to the economy and communities. Moon money goes to engineers and techies and to their industries, and their families, etc. It's a pretty arbitrary selection of beneficiaries. Personally, I use the money for slave reparations. I would give every man woman and child in America with a certain percentage of African blood (we could find some DNA test, and establish a cut-off point), an equal portion of whatever the total cost would be to send six men to the Moon or Mars. I would give it to them in a single lump sum, tax free. The effect on the economy would be stupendous. Whole, previously quiescent industries (I leave you to imagine which), would suddenly burgeon, overnight -- the same way the aerospace and its associated industries arbitrarily blossomed as beneficiaries of the space program. Just seeing what would happen to people, to American society, to culture and the economy would be much more interesting -- scientifically -- than seeing a bunch of bozos hobbling around on rock bed, again.
posted by Faze at 7:48 AM on June 16, 2006


I would give every man woman and child in America with a certain percentage of African blood (we could find some DNA test, and establish a cut-off point

Holy fucking SHIT, that is the most racist thing I have ever heard in my entire life.
posted by slatternus at 7:50 AM on June 16, 2006


Okay okay, don't we go through this once a month or so? A bunch of humanists try to say "hey hang on fellas, what's the benefit we're obtaining from this outrageous space-exploration cost?", and a bunch of sci-fi geeks with little understand of real science, let alone real society, reply in demanding we go back to the moon so we can see how cockroaches fart in zero gravity. This is all sprinked with an occasional puff of "everything Dear Leader says is right fools!" courtesy of Witty. Next link, please.
posted by Jimbob at 8:02 AM on June 16, 2006


Holy fucking SHIT, that is the most racist thing I have ever heard in my entire life.

It is? Maybe you misread it? Or are you saying it's offensive to non-blacks?
posted by thirteenkiller at 8:13 AM on June 16, 2006


Chappelle's Show did it!
posted by kableh at 8:25 AM on June 16, 2006


Once more with feeling:

A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Her face and arms began to swell.
(and Whitey's on the moon)
I can't pay no doctor bill.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
Ten years from now I'll be payin' still.
(while Whitey's on the moon)
The man jus' upped my rent las' night.
('cause Whitey's on the moon)
No hot water, no toilets, no lights.
(but Whitey's on the moon)
I wonder why he's uppi' me?
('cause Whitey's on the moon?)
I wuz already payin' 'im fifty a week.
(with Whitey on the moon)
Taxes takin' my whole damn check,
Junkies makin' me a nervous wreck,
The price of food is goin' up,
An' as if all that shit wuzn't enough:
A rat done bit my sister Nell.
(with Whitey on the moon)

posted by Divine_Wino at 8:50 AM on June 16, 2006


We've been over this.
posted by brownpau at 10:04 AM on June 16, 2006


I'm just amazed that a post about astronauts and hurricanes got Godwined so fast. Bravo!

I'm also amused/offended by the clulessly racist suggestion that people be paid money based on an arbitrary measure of "african blood" in their DNA.
posted by JekPorkins at 10:12 AM on June 16, 2006


You got blood in my DNA! African blood!
posted by brownpau at 10:17 AM on June 16, 2006


Almost every manned space program has resulted in real-world technologies for supporting and augmenting life on our own planet.

Sure, but we might benefit equally from spending all that money on robotic probes which actually carry out valuable scientific work.
posted by atrazine at 10:18 AM on June 16, 2006


Personally, I use the money for slave reparations.

Hahaha
posted by Steve_at_Linnwood at 10:18 AM on June 16, 2006


Actually people with more "African blood" have higher bone densities and so are more suitable for space exploration anyway. So really we should send an all black team to the moon.


slave reparations.

My slaves are already repaired.
posted by atrazine at 10:20 AM on June 16, 2006


Some simple facts to keep in mind while discussing the space program:

1. In the long run, this planet is fucked.
2. So is everyone who doesn't get off it.
posted by spazzm at 10:35 AM on June 16, 2006


The case for slave reparations.

The demand for slave reparations scares the pants off the white establishment. As long the government is pouring billions down sinkholes like NASA and Iraq -- almost without accounting -- why not pour it into the pockets of black America? Would African-American's put it to any worse use? What if every man woman and child of African descent in America was given one million dollars tomorrow as repayment for the outlandish use to which their ancestors were put for 400 years. What would happen? The government would be out the same trillion dollars it is already going to pour down the toilet in Iraq and in space. But with slave reparations, about 12 million Americans would begin pumping about a million dollars each into the American economy, instantly!
It would be the most joyous, outrageous, splendiferous event in the history of America, and it wouldn't cost us a cent we are spending already!
You don't want to see this? You'd rather watch some ugly techno-bucket lower itself into that same old dull grey lunar landscape, and watch a couple of overtrained-boneheads bobble around it the dust -- again?
Wouldn't you rather see African America suddenly having tons of money to do whatever the hell they want with? Maybe it wouldn't be a million each. Maybe it would be much less. But it would still be a lot by the standards of average African-American personal wealth.
As I say, it wouldn't cost a penny more than we're spending now... And unlike the space program, it would be really interesting.
posted by Faze at 10:49 AM on June 16, 2006


Wouldn't you rather see African America suddenly having tons of money to do whatever the hell they want with?

What in the hell is "African America?"
posted by JekPorkins at 10:53 AM on June 16, 2006


As a slave descendant (technically speaking, everyone on earth is), I think the money should be spent on me.

I'll would begin pumping about a trillion dollars into the economy, instantly!
posted by spazzm at 10:58 AM on June 16, 2006


The demand for slave reparations scares the pants off the white establishment. As long the government is pouring billions down sinkholes like NASA and Iraq -- almost without accounting -- why not pour it into the pockets of black America?

You hear that GAO! You don't account for SHIT!

Oh man, way to stick it to the white establishment.
posted by Fidel Cashflow at 11:05 AM on June 16, 2006


1. In the long run, this planet is fucked.
2. So is everyone who doesn't get off it.


Okay, say that
1.) Earth becomes inimical to life

Unfortunately
2.) All other planets we have any hope of reaching are already inimical to life (Mars, Venus, the moons of the gas giants).

So therefore:
3.) Any other planet we go to will need to be bioengineered to support human life.

That means:
4.) If we had the technology to bioengineer hostile non-earth planets to support human life, there would be no reason to leave earth -- because whatever environmental disaster struck our home planet, it could not possibly make it MORE inimical to life than any other of our neighboring planets. In other words, if you have the cabability of supporting a civilization on Mars, you have the capability of supporting a civilzation on a very seriously environmentally degraded earth.
posted by Faze at 11:07 AM on June 16, 2006


Who says we can't look outside the solar system?

In case you haven't heard, there are other planetary systems than this one.
posted by spazzm at 11:23 AM on June 16, 2006


spazzm -- the same argument goes for planets outside the solar system. If our technology is so advanced as to permit travel to even the nearest star, it is probably advanced enough to cope with any environmental disaster on earth short of a Krypton-type explosion.
posted by Faze at 11:32 AM on June 16, 2006


it is probably advanced enough to cope with any environmental disaster on earth short of a Krypton-type explosion.

And if that were going to happen, Marlon Brando would have warned us about it. What a relief!

Seriously, though, astronauts, hurricanes, concentration camps, slave reparations to "African America," space colonization to escape environmental disaster, and a Krypton-type explosion! This is the best of MeFi. I'm in awe.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:39 AM on June 16, 2006


you forgot Whitey on the moon
posted by Pacheco at 11:44 AM on June 16, 2006


So true. The Gil Scott-Heron quoting was truly awesome. I'm a little disappointed, though, that there won't be any slow motion or still lifes Roy Wilkins strolling through Watts in a red black and green jumpsuit that he's been saving for just the proper occasion.
posted by JekPorkins at 11:53 AM on June 16, 2006 [1 favorite]


Wouldn't you rather see African America suddenly having tons of money to do whatever the hell they want with?

Actually, I think I would rather see that. (And, no - I am not a citizen of African America.) I won't speculate on what they would spend their new wealth on, but it would have to be better than where the money's going now.

Somebody should write a book on this theme.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 11:56 AM on June 16, 2006


I dunno, I thought it was weird that Bush is pushing for something that won’t happen until 2020 while putting off something that could be worked on while he’s in office.

...given that he’s not still in office in 2020.

The next administration is going to come in and follow his plan for some reason? Meanwhile no headway for monitoring what’s going on now.
posted by Smedleyman at 12:02 PM on June 16, 2006


As long the government is pouring billions down sinkholes like NASA and Iraq -- almost without accounting -- why not pour it into the pockets of black America? Would African-American's put it to any worse use?

Are you for real?

Do you understand just how badly you're insulting the scientists and engineers at places like the JPL, the various other space labs, and even the shuttle program by lumping the magnitude of their spending and the oversight they are subjected to together with that war?

And as for the second question, with regards to NASA - is that rhetorical? Because if not, then the answer is yes. At least according to your spectacularly moronic idea of implementing welfare.
posted by azazello at 12:20 PM on June 16, 2006


azazello -- I'm not talking about welfare. I'm talking about the absolutely gratuitous give away of every penny our government proposes to spend on Moon and Mars shots and the war in Iraq, to all African Americans, whatever their economic condition, as a means of repaying them for the crime of slavery, and the 100 years of social and wage repression that followed emancipation.
As regards the scientist and engineers at places like the JPL, there is no way they can believe that a monsterous, oversized, Hummer of a project like sending men to the Moon or Mars is anything but pork, and a rip off of the American taxpayer. If they had any consciences whatsoever, they would refuse to work on manned space flight.
posted by Faze at 12:51 PM on June 16, 2006


gratuitous give away of every penny . . . to all African Americans, whatever their economic condition, as a means of repaying them for the crime of slavery, and the 100 years of social and wage repression that followed emancipation.

1: Define "African Americans."
2: Show that everyone within your defined group is a descendent of a slave.
3: Remember: the "social and wage repression" you refer to was and is in no way restricted to blacks.
4: Calculate how much money, per "African American" you'd be giving people that you've defined that way. Is it more than $100? I doubt it.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:05 PM on June 16, 2006


Okay, even if it's only $100. It's still a nice gesture. And it's not about hair-splitting over who was a descendent of slaves and who wasn't. It's symbolic ritual, acknowledging the collective injustices undergone by African Americans in general (not all of who suffered), by a collective monetary giveaway (not all of whose recipients will deserve it).
Does this sound silly? It's not as silly as taking a trillion dollars over to Iraq, and -- well, you know what we're doing with it over there. This war isn't even entertaining! It's doesn't even have a delightfully mordant absurdist angle. It's just a waste of money. Same with shooting it off into the mon.
I say, give that money to anyone who's even only a little dark, with a note that says "We're sorry about slavery, and economic repression, and Allan Freed taking half the writing credit for Chuck Berry songs. We apologize for the Atlantic crossing, the rape by masters of slave women, and the current degredation of African American youth by offering them Snoop Dogg and gangsta rappers as role models."
Then call it even.
posted by Faze at 1:27 PM on June 16, 2006


Then call it even.

How about we do that without the colossal waste of money and the racist DNA testing?
posted by JekPorkins at 1:38 PM on June 16, 2006


the current degredation of African American youth by offering them Snoop Dogg and gangsta rappers as role models.

Now we know that this is a joke.
posted by Pacheco at 1:46 PM on June 16, 2006


JekPorkins -- Actually, DNA testing is the precise opposite of racism. It would determine the beneficiaries of slave reparations by a clearly quantifiable model, rather than by arguable cultural, physical or visual cues. It would probably distribute what would otherwise be war- and space-spending to many people who racists (black and white) would not consider to be African American at all. That's the beauty of it.
posted by Faze at 1:49 PM on June 16, 2006


Actually, DNA testing is the precise opposite of racism. It would determine the beneficiaries of slave reparations by a clearly quantifiable model, rather than by arguable cultural, physical or visual cues.

Now I'm with Pacheco. This must be a joke. A really bad one in very poor taste.

But in the event that you're not joking, please go back to steps 1 and 2 above.
posted by JekPorkins at 1:55 PM on June 16, 2006


Didn't take long for this to turn into a discussion on reparations. Kudos, Metafilter. Kudos.

While we're degenerating into lunacy... why are we wasting all of this land on public parks when we could just as easily give it back to the noble Native American?
posted by rob paxon at 2:51 PM on June 16, 2006


It would determine the beneficiaries of slave reparations by a clearly quantifiable model, rather than by arguable cultural, physical or visual cues.

Just like the damages that reparations are supposed to address!
posted by sonofsamiam at 2:53 PM on June 16, 2006


How about we do that without the colossal waste of money and the racist DNA testing?
posted by JekPorkins


You can't be serious. Colossal waste of money? Yes. Incredibly flawed? Yes. Racist? No. As Faze said, this would be basing whether or not someone is an African-American by whether or not they have African-American blood as opposed to going by skin tone, nose width, or shoes owned-to-income ratio.

That said it isn't entirely effective because who is to say when that blood joined stream (ie. during slavery, after slavery, two generations ago?). Perhaps DNA testing can filter some of that, I wouldn't know, but I'm sure it would be fatally flawed in this respect somehow.

The same can be said for any other method. How are people possibly going to prove (or disprove) whether or not they had ancestors who were slaves. That is the purpose, isn't it? I mean, I'd assume... as far as my mind can stretch there really is no purpose other than to say "lol sry guys here is some money that will in no way improve your economic or social condition, go buy something nice".
posted by rob paxon at 2:58 PM on June 16, 2006


I think we should send Whitey on a manned mission to Krypton to find out if they have Gil Scott-Heron records. If they don't have them, we should make reparations for our failure to provide them by running DNA tests to determine who is actually a descendent of Jor-El, and then building a weather-control device and destroying the concentration camps that currently exist there.
posted by JekPorkins at 3:01 PM on June 16, 2006


I'm pretty sure the words "jew" and "scalar" should be in there somewhere FWIW.
posted by rob paxon at 3:03 PM on June 16, 2006


JekPorkins -- Actually, DNA testing is the precise opposite of racism. It would determine the beneficiaries of slave reparations by a clearly quantifiable model, rather than by arguable cultural, physical or visual cues. It would probably distribute what would otherwise be war- and space-spending to many people who racists (black and white) would not consider to be African American at all. That's the beauty of it.

Let me ask you something, are you retarded? I don't mean that rhetorically either, I wonder whether there is actually something broken inside your skull.

First of all, people have already pointed out that not all African Americans are descended from slaves (and not all blacks in the US are 'African'-American beyond the trivial sense in which all Americans are), even if they are, how do you quantify who gets what? Does someone whose ancestors were freed in the 1750s get less than someone not freed until after the civil war? What about the (admittedly far fewer) descendants of non-black slaves and bondsmen?
There is not a gene that measures ancestral suffering, all DNA testing will tell us is what part of Africa their ancestors came from. How is that helpful?

Not to mention the fact that reparations per-se are dumb. Compensating people for their ancestor's suffering? It doesn't make sense. The only way that it *does* make sense is in the context of the continued racism and low socioeconomic status that people alive right now still suffer because of slavery. So let's fix that, spend money on inner city schools (and yes, money is the problem there), fight the racism that is still so inherent to many aspects of American popular culture. By all means.
Reparations, not so much. If for no other reason than the near impossibility of determining how to distribute them.

It would probably distribute what would otherwise be war- and space-spending to many people who racists (black and white) would not consider to be African American at all.

I'm sorry, I had to quote that again, it's just.... wow, rarely have I seen such a magnificently engineered jewel of wrong headedness. You know what? I'm going to quote it again.

It would probably distribute what would otherwise be war- and space-spending to many people who racists (black and white) would not consider to be African American at all.

So let me get this straight. You want to distribute reparation money to people who don't look black and are thus not the victims of any kind of racial discrimination in the here and now. That's uh, damn, that's pretty fucking dumb right there.

I'm no fan of the manned space program, but why not go after other wastes of money? Agricultural subsidies, 'homeland security'(*) as you mentioned, the war in Iraq.

(*) hey, is there an html tag for a sneer? I couldn't find one.

on preview: scalar jews stole my sneer tag.
posted by atrazine at 3:05 PM on June 16, 2006


Mostly agreed with atrazine there, though I'd have to say I'd rather spend X dollars rebuilding Iraq than divide up that same amount amongst African Americans. Not in the least because they flat-out have no claim to it in terms of reparations, but also because it wouldn't do a lick of good. Not that we're doing good by Iraq or should have been there in the first place, mind you.
posted by rob paxon at 3:14 PM on June 16, 2006


rob paxon: Okay, even if it's only $100. It's still a nice gesture.

No. It's a TERRIBLE gesture. It destroys the concept of people not being responsible for the crimes of their ancestors, upon which nearly all of modern civility resides. If we're going to go after white Americans for the crimes of their ancestors, what about the Germans and Japanese? And what about the far greater crimes against the Native Americans?

And, as long as we're on the subject of debts, what about contributions? Aren't we owed something for giving them modern technology and science? And what about the slave descendants who have ancestors that committed crimes against other people? Africa wasn't full of pacifists, the tribes fought wars against each other, sometimes genocidal wars, and enslaved each other. Are we going to have the archaeologists tell us which descendants have to pay each other off? And what about the Americans who had nothing to do with slavery? My ancestors arrived a long time back, but after slavery had already ended. Why should I pay into such a fund?

It's just a bad idea all around and it sets a terrible precedent. When the perpetrators and the victims of a crime have all died, let it rest. Nothing except endless strife and misery lies in the other direction.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:23 PM on June 16, 2006


Wow, you guys took a beautiful, poetic suggestion, and turned it into a bean-counting socialist nightmare. My idea was to open reparations up to as many people as possible -- in fact, now that I think about it, I would split the government's war and space dollars up among any American who was willing to come forward and declare that he or she was of African descent. I wouldn't go asking for ID! Imagine how this would look in American history: For one brief, shining moment, America stopped throwing money away on death and dead planets, and gave it way -- with open-hearted generosity -- to the descendents (even the claimed descendents) of slaves. No wonder other countries hate us! I suggest slave reparations, and everybody goes ballistic and starts having playground arguments about who should get what. The government has trillions of dollars to throw away. Get it? Everybody should get a piece of the action. All you have to do is -- like the people in Spartacus -- say "I am African American." We would all be descendents of slaves, then. And racial strife would cease.
posted by Faze at 5:41 PM on June 16, 2006


Run, run as fast as you can,
Malthus will eat you unless you expand.
posted by hob at 5:45 PM on June 16, 2006


hob: Run, run as fast as you can,
Malthus will eat you unless you expand.


The idea of dumping our excess population into space is utterly absurd. Think of it this way; there is no place in the solar system that is even close to as habitable as Antarctica. So, until you've totally covered Antarctica in colonists, there's no point in even going so far as the Moon.

The solution to overpopulation isn't space travel, it's contraception. And sadly, the way things are going, it's probably going to have to contraception enforced at gunpoint. A lot of the most overpopulated areas can't seem to get the idea through to their population. For them, it may end up being a choice between China-style forced population controls or massive diebacks due to famine and disasters.
posted by Mitrovarr at 5:54 PM on June 16, 2006


Faze: The government has trillions of dollars to throw away.

Um, last I checked, the government was massively in debt and getting deeper.

Everybody should get a piece of the action. All you have to do is -- like the people in Spartacus -- say "I am African American." We would all be descendents of slaves, then. And racial strife would cease.

Yeah! And then the Unicorns would come back! And the Fairies! And they'd have magical dances together on the White House lawn, and peace and civility would rule mankind for a thousand years in the age of Aquarius!

Or, more likely, it would be a huge mess that would inflame racial tensions, and it would undermine the only thing the only real solution to them, which is to get through to the population that we must let the dead past lie.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2006


Mitrovarr, you misattributed the quote about the $100 being a nice gesture to me. I was the one who said it was absolutely laughable. Faze, the poster who brought reparations up, was the poster of the attributed quote.
posted by rob paxon at 6:00 PM on June 16, 2006


rob paxon: Mitrovarr, you misattributed the quote about the $100 being a nice gesture to me. I was the one who said it was absolutely laughable. Faze, the poster who brought reparations up, was the poster of the attributed quote.

Acknowledged. I have no idea how that occurred.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:05 PM on June 16, 2006


rob paxon -- Thank you for making that correction about the quote. I'd hate to see a misattribution like that make its way into Bartletts.
posted by Faze at 6:06 PM on June 16, 2006


It is OK, just be careful in the future. You can get me blacklisted that way. ;)
posted by rob paxon at 6:06 PM on June 16, 2006


Faze, I don't know if you're just being funny or if you're actually insulting me for making the correction. At any rate, the point is the quote completely contradicts what I've said on the matter which is the only reason I bothered to clear it up.
posted by rob paxon at 6:08 PM on June 16, 2006


I dunno, I thought it was weird that Bush is pushing for something that won’t happen until 2020 while putting off something that could be worked on while he’s in office.


Well, do you have a better plan than our Great Leader's?(You-tube)
posted by overanxious ducksqueezer at 6:10 PM on June 16, 2006


So, until you've totally covered Antarctica in colonists, there's no point in even going so far as the Moon.

But then where would the penguins live?

may end up being a choice between China-style forced population controls or massive diebacks due to famine and disasters.

Wow, you're right, that's way better than space colonies. Thanks for setting me straight.
posted by hob at 6:21 PM on June 16, 2006


Well, hob, I'll tell you what: You come up with a proposal on how we can send hundreds of millions of colonists into space, and keep them alive on some uninhabitable rock, assuming no radical breakthroughs in physics and without bankrupting the planet. If you can do that, I'll admit you have the better idea. I am not, however, holding my breath on this one.

Radical breakthroughs in physics not allowed: FTL drives, wormholes, transporters, 'free' energy (not even fusion), terraforming venus/mars, and fictional nanorobotics. You may use the space elevator.
posted by Mitrovarr at 6:39 PM on June 16, 2006


1. Offer a cash handout African Americans in return for DNA testing.
2. Compile national DNA database
3. uh oh!
posted by Meridian at 6:54 PM on June 16, 2006


Better to spend the money on research with the goal of reengineering humans. If we could convert everyone to information runnable on a computational substrate, we could beam people all over the solar system at minimal cost. And if we reduced the world's population to informational entities, and converted the mass of the solar system into computation, we could have gazzillions of people. GAZZILLIONS!
posted by Meridian at 7:01 PM on June 16, 2006


OK, I'll work on that -- you take the 1,4 biljard PPZ in the slums. We'll meet back here at the closing of the Age and compare notes, OK?
posted by hob at 7:08 PM on June 16, 2006


Meridian: Better to spend the money on research with the goal of reengineering humans. If we could convert everyone to information runnable on a computational substrate, we could beam people all over the solar system at minimal cost. And if we reduced the world's population to informational entities, and converted the mass of the solar system into computation, we could have gazzillions of people. GAZZILLIONS!

I find this to be a far more likely idea to occur than for us to send hundreds of millions of meatbags to Mars. Although, barring a technological singularity (which is, I think, another case of people waiting for science to invent magic) it will not occur in time to stop a Malthusian Catastrophe. So we still have to find some way around that.

Also, do we really want there to be gazillions of people, even if we can do it without negative ecological consequences? The more people exist, the less important any one of them is. Besides, I think the imperative to reproduce is biological and will go away when the bodies do.
posted by Mitrovarr at 7:10 PM on June 16, 2006


The more people exist, the less important any one of them is.

Eh... no.
posted by hob at 7:17 PM on June 16, 2006


Okay, even if it's only $100. It's still a nice gesture

If it's just the thought that counts, why not send a card?
posted by SweetJesus at 7:57 PM on June 16, 2006


I'm always amused (though I usually end up disgusted as well) when white people talk about reparations. Sort of like when men talk about abortion. It's nice to have opinions (dismissible or not), I guess.

As a citizen of "African America," and a descendant of slaves, I'm against reparations, because I'm against any symbolic and ultimately meaningless gesture that would give the American government a reason to think, "Phew! Well, that's all fixed!"

To the original purpose of this pot: It's just as idiotic to spend billions of dollars to study crayons (or ANYTHING) in space as it is to think that giving money to the descendants of slaves will make something better. The space program, like the war in Iraq, is money better spent elsewhere. That's my opinion, dismissible or not.
posted by eunoia at 6:39 AM on June 17, 2006


eunoia -- I would give you the money even if you didn't want it. I would give you half the money, and split the rest of the money up among everyone else. No, I would give you ALL the money. I would have the federal government give eunoia a trillion dollars. Just because I think you would probably spend it more wisely, than George Bush. And we won't call it reparations. We'll call it a present. If I had my way, you would have a trillion dollars, RIGHT NOW.
posted by Faze at 12:02 PM on June 17, 2006


Tell you what, Faze, you give me the trillion dollars, and I'll use it to fund space exploration. Cool? Seriously, could you just make an FPP about reparations and leave the rest of the threads alone?
posted by hob at 8:42 PM on June 17, 2006


Meanwhile, the Mars Rovers continue to do good work on the Red Planet. Again, why do we need to send people when robotic probes can do the science for much less cost and risk to human life?

And Faze got to it before I did, but the point needs to be reiterated: colonizing space should not, in the near term, be a priority if you're motivation is the survival of the humanity. We could have a total nuclear war or a big asteroid strike here on Earth, and it the environment would still be more favorable to us than would that of any of the other bodies in our solar system. Furthermore, any ability to terraform other worlds would work equally well here on Earth at a fraction of the cost (no boosting out of the gravity well and long, slow burns to other worlds).

Nations worried about asteroid strikes and the like would get more for their money investing in big survival bunkers and the like.

Of course, in a popular culture so completely influenced by science fiction, none of these facts will get in the way of people prefering to spend their tax dollars on things they believe will get them closer to the Star Trek future with its magical warp drives, phasers, and English-speaking aliens with seafood pasted to their foreheads
posted by moonbiter at 8:28 AM on June 19, 2006


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