Gordon Gekko, Hal 9000, and Overview…

Image Source: Space Billionaires, Please Read the Room, Shannon Stirone, The Atlantic

Topics: Civics, Civil Rights, Existentialism, Human Rights, Spaceflight

Note: The post title is sourced from The Atlantic article, as is the lurid artwork.

It is the experience of seeing firsthand the reality of the Earth in space, which is immediately understood to be a tiny, fragile ball of life, “hanging in the void”, shielded and nourished by a paper-thin atmosphere. From space, national boundaries vanish, the conflicts that divide people become less important, and the need to create a planetary society with the united will to protect this “pale blue dot” becomes both obvious and imperative.

The thing that really surprised me was that it [Earth] projected an air of fragility. And why, I don’t know. I don’t know to this day. I had a feeling it’s tiny, it’s shiny, it’s beautiful, it’s home, and it’s fragile. Michael Collins, Apollo 11. Source: Wikipedia/Overview effect

The best case for taxing the rich is made by a “space race” with billionaires leaving the Earth ravaged by a once-in-a-century pandemic in form now of the Delta variant, climate change disasters that can’t be gaslighted, and modern-day Hooverville tent cities IN the richest nation in the world, exacerbated since last year by the Coronavirus. Almost all new cases in what amounts to a fourth wave are among the unvaccinated, in a bizarre, nihilistic viral analog of the Cold War doctrine of Mutually Assured Destruction, and Dr. Strangelove. But: “space, the final frontier” for billionaires, apparently is more important. Is it my observation only that each “spaceship” looks like a phallic symbol or pleasure instrument?

Bezos, of course, ruins the whole point of the Overview effect: “We need to take all heavy industry, all polluting industry, and move it into space and keep Earth as this beautiful gem of a planet that it is,” he said in an interview with NBC News. “That’s going to take decades to achieve, but you have to start. And big things start with small steps.” (Justine Calma, The Verge). That’s a direct quote from the richest man in the world, a toss-up clone between either Dr. Evil or Lex Luthor.

The world’s richest man has obviously not heard about space junk sipping lattes on his half-billion-dollar yacht, with a spare for the helicopter (hey, that’s important). Just like Musk’s “genius” idea of terraforming the planet Mars for humans by dropping nuclear bombs to warm it up. First point: Mars has no atmosphere to warm up. Second point: Plutonium-239 used in current thermonuclear devices has a half-life of 24,110 years, meaning the radiation level will be half as lethal in 964 human generations. Branson’s price tag to do weightlessness is $250,000. You can afford it by entering a contest: the cost is $10, $25, $50, $100, which begs the question WHY does anyone have to donate to a raffle for a ride with a billionaire? Batman didn’t charge the Justice League for the Watchtower (I don’t think). Bruce Wayne is a plucky superhero (or, antihero), he’s fictional.

Bezos, Branson, Musk et al. are real, and they don’t appear interested in anything other than their own enjoyment.

*****

Tuesday, July 30, 2024

  • Lauren writes about an astronaut who died on the latest Mars mission. People in the neighborhood say traveling to Mars is a waste of money when people on earth can’t afford basic necessities.
  • Lauren also writes about the cost of water increasing. It’s fashionable to be dirty since no one can afford to clean their clothes.

Shmoop.com: Study Guide, Parable of the Sower, Octavia E. Butler, Chapter 3

Rockets, moon shots
Spend it on the have nots
Money, we make it
Fore we see it you take it

Oh, make me want to holler
The way they do my life (yeah)
Make me want to holler
The way they do my life

This ain’t livin’, this ain’t livin’
No, no baby, this ain’t livin’
No, no, no, no

Inner City Blues: Make Me Wanna Holler,” Marvin Gaye, Genius Lyrics

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)

Whitey on the Moon,” Gil Scott-Heron, Genius Lyrics

Published by reginaldgoodwin

Engineering Physics, Bachelors of Science, December 1984 Microelectronics & Photonics, Graduate Certificate, February 2016 Nanoengineering, Masters, December 2019 Nanoengineering, Ph.D., December 2021

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