a thoughtful web.
Good ideas and conversation. No ads, no tracking.   Login or Take a Tour!
comment by cloud_ctrl
cloud_ctrl  ·  4166 days ago  ·  link  ·    ·  parent  ·  post: We Stopped Dreaming

I dislike criticism of the space program, especially those arguments calling it a waste of time and resources, because they fail to follow the chain of benefits strung behind every shuttle launch and probe. Just type the words "benefits of space program" into a search bar, and you'll be confronted with lists upon lists of technologies which either wouldn't exist yet, or wouldn't exist at all if it weren't for the needs and priorities of NASA and other space agencies. Private individuals do not have the same resources and, more importantly, the same motivations as programs funded by public money, and consequently their reach will fall short.

I am also disturbed by the modern perspective on time. Science is a process that consumes decades, centuries even, before its fruits are ripened. Often, what seems useless today will be the bedrock foundation of technologies that we simply could not live without tomorrow. I just pulled up a quote from Michael Chabon that resonates:

    "I don’t know what happened to the Future. It’s as if we lost our ability, or our will, to envision anything beyond the next hundred years or so, as if we lacked the fundamental faith that there will in fact be any future at all beyond that not-too-distant date. Or maybe we stopped talking about the Future around the time that, with its microchips and its twenty-four-hour news cycles, it arrived. Some days when you pick up the newspaper it seems to have been co-written by J. G. Ballard, Isaac Asimov, and Philip K. Dick. Human sexual reproduction without male genetic material, digital viruses, identity theft, robot firefighters and minesweepers, weather control, pharmaceutical mood engineering, rapid species extinction, US Presidents controlled by little boxes mounted between their shoulder blades, air-conditioned empires in the Arabian desert, transnational corporatocracy, reality television—some days it feels as if the imagined future of the mid-twentieth century was a kind of checklist, one from which we have been too busy ticking off items to bother with extending it. Meanwhile, the dwindling number of items remaining on that list—interplanetary colonization, sentient computers, quasi-immortality of consciousness through brain-download or transplant, a global government (fascist or enlightened)—have been represented and re-represented so many hundreds of times in films, novels and on television that they have come to seem, paradoxically, already attained, already known, lived with, and left behind. Past, in other words.

    This is the paradox that lies at the heart of our loss of belief or interest in the Future, which has in turn produced a collective cultural failure to imagine that future, any Future, beyond the rim of a couple of centuries. The Future was represented so often and for so long, in the terms and characteristic styles of so many historical periods from, say, Jules Verne forward, that at some point the idea of the Future—along with the cultural appetite for it—came itself to feel like something historical, outmoded, no longer viable or attainable."

That quote was pulled from an article posted here: http://longnow.org/about/

The Long Now is an interesting project in and of itself, relevant to the discussion. Anyway, I appreciate your link to the poem, but I think that the man is short-sighted. Yes, we are spending resources on things that do not help us short term, but need I really explain why long term planning is important to human success?

cgod  ·  4166 days ago  ·  link  ·  

It's all good cloud, pretty sure I didn't say a single word about defunding or hating on NASA. You can take the Gil Scott as a suggestion for doing so, but it's really a comment about dreaming and myopia. See if you are sick, live in the ghetto, and don't have access to good health care it doesn't really mean shit that we are going into space. Some people dream of exploring the universe and others would just like to see that thier family can see a doctor who cares.

Tyson paints a vision for a society crumbing, in decay and dreamless. He is way over top and full of shit. There are lots of really profound ways we could spend our money that would make huge differences in our health, wealth, education and understanding of our world, but Tyson only myopically see an almost apocalyptic decay of our fundamental state because his pet bullshit isn't being funded.

On the other hand, Gill's sister has been bitten on the hand by a rat, they can't get a doctor who gives a shit to care for her, his taxes and rent are higher then ever while his environment is a shitty ghetto. News is that a white guy just landed on the moon and America is the greatest place ever, Gill says fuck that shit. It's a much more personal and I think reasonable personal bit of observation.

I've actually followed the Long Now project a bit over the years and yea it's cool.

Private space is going to get us our lowest $/kilo orbit price yet, it's because it's private that $/kilo is getting a big emphasis. You may poo-paw private space, but the lower that number goes the better off all future space exploration is going to be. Private space is going to make space a tourist destination, what better way to get people interested in space then allowing em to go there.

Generally when an endeavor or service alternates between forces public and private, both spheres see benefit. Does NASA need to worry about the work a day effort of getting stuff into orbit? or is that better left to private industry who will push down prices more aggressively? Let NASA spend their dollars sending shit to mars or the moons and building better telescopes. It isn't a competition. Sure money spent on science is well spent, you probably won't be able to convince me that a NASA dollar is better then many of the other dollars we could be spending on science but oh well. As far as Tyson goes, I have an irrational hatred of the guy, hated him from the first time I heard him speak, hate him today. He is always over the top and generally full of shit when he talks about policy. Sure in the minutia of science is cool and funding it is good he is right, but his rhetoric, his vests, his ties and his myopic passion all put me off.