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The Luddite Pillory, v1.4

It’s an abbreviated Luddite Pillory this week, due to travel and a general lull in space-related moonbattery among the usual suspects.

8 comments to The Luddite Pillory, v1.4

  • RobW

    At least Doctor Biobrain isn’t giving us the same old “We need to fix all of Earth’s Problems Before We Go Off Into Space” arguments.

    Doctor Biobrain is leaps and bounds over Mr. Gagnon in this regard.

    Doctor Biobrain does makes some valid points.

    “Our ships are too slow and dangerous and we haven?t a clue as to how to actually transport people over such a long distance.”

    That is a good point, there are still many obstacles that we need to overcome. The solution: Increase NASA’s budget by 4 or 5 orders of magnitude, with an emphasis on lowering the cost of launching payloads into orbit.

    There, problem solved. 🙂

  • Luddite Pillory?!? Since when does realism put one in the Luddite category? I already said that I support space exploration, and have spent enough money on science fiction books to fund my own rocket launch (though I usually buy them second-hand). Does throwing the cold water of reality really count as a blow against technology? Even space pimp Arthur C. Clarke (my hero) wasn’t above pointing out the difficulties and dangers of space travel.

    Thus said, I’m a whore for links, so I guess I won’t really complain. But for the record, I wasn’t expressing an idea of how I’d want things to be; but of how things most certainly will be. Space isn’t a place for screwing around and letting people do their own thing, and dead colonists are always a buzzkill.

    And speaking of Luddites, what does it say when a human catches an error that my spellchecker missed?

  • “space isn’t a place for screwing around and letting people do their own thing, and dead colonists are always a buzzkill.”

    No kidding. Look at all the dead settlers and how that killed the notion of those pesky Anglo-Celts filling up the Mississippi basin after 1787.

  • Aaron_J

    The “Doctor” tries to make the point that space colonization is not analogous to colonization of the Americas because it is so much more dangerous. Would someone (with a little more idle time than I) please compare the fatality rates of those who have flown in space to date with the first, say, 200 years of North American colonization? Those brave souls faced greater dangers than what we face above today, and I’m kinda glad they took the risk.

  • I have to admit that your assertion that settling Mars would entail an unfree social/governance arrangement was interesting…care to expand on it in more detail? If you want to link-whore, a post in that vein would no doubt get you a lot of hits.

    The Luddite Pillory is intended as a blog carnival of amusing space-related items, so don’t take the term personally. I’d prefer a term that was more specifically concerned with space rather than opposition to technology in general, but I don’t know of one and have not yet been inspired with a neologism of my own.


  • Wow, Brian and Aaron J, I’m convinced. I was just too negative with my assessment and I’m now going to start blindly cheerleading spacetravel too; reality be damned. I’m also going to start heavily promoting faster-than-light travel and searching for inner-spacial wormholes in my backyard. I mean, can anyone deny how great those discoveries would be? So I’d be a fool to be pessimistic about their existence.

    But my faith-based optimism isn’t just limited to space travel. Heck no. I’m also going to start playing the lottery and getting into the daredevil business. I mean, just look at mortality rates of the 17th-century colonists compared with that of the Knievel family. Not even close. And chicks dig scars. It’s a win-win situation.

    So thanks guys for opening my eyes regarding this whole reality thing. I used to think it was kind of important to limit our actions to the realm of possibility. But now I know that that was just pansy-assed handwringing. In fact, right after I finish this comment, I’m going to reconfigure my bathtub into a top-notch spacecraft and take-off for the rings of Saturn. Sure, it’s currently not even big enough to fit me comfortably; but as any explorer will tell you, anything that doesn’t lead to discomfort or death isn’t worth doing at all. And to those naysayers who say that it’s too dangerous to fly in a bathtub, I’d like them to try to tell that to the brave colonists who discovered our country. They’ll just ignore anyone fool enough to suggest that; just as I’m going to ignore them too. Danger is my friend.

  • Just as a clarification to Brian’s comment, my “buzzkill” line was in reference to the “free-for-all” libertarianism that some people suggest could exist on Mars; and wasn’t in reference to the dangers of getting there in the first place. I was just suggesting that building codes, food and water safety, vehicle and spacesuit maintenance, and other such regulations would need to be fairly strict on Mars; due to the hostile environment. And yes, if Mars repeated the Roanoke incident and lost an entire colony, I could see that putting a damper on things. And can we really compare the exploration of the Americas, which had many advantages over Europe, with the exploration of Mars, which does not have many advantages over Earth?

    As a final note to our fine host, I would like to point-out that Pillory v. 1.3 suggests that it was for “ridicule and scorn!” But my complaint really was in jest. As for expanding my point, I’m kind of an inspiration-based guy and have trouble writing on demand. But I’ll run it through the ol’ biobrain and see if anything interesting comes up.

    But I’m having trouble understanding why anyone would think that living on a hostile, poisonous planet millions of miles from home and lacking in many crucial necessities wouldn’t require a strict government and high taxation. To me, a realistic argument in favor of Mars libertarianism is the much harder argument. I mean, maybe you want to live in substandard Mars housing, breathing unregulated air, drinking unregulated water, and eating expensive greenhouse-grown food of unknown origins; but I’d rather not. And I’d rather panhandle on earth than work in a Mars mine with the same level of oversight that the mines on earth have. So if someone could point-out the freedoms that Mars would have over Earth, I’d be interested to read it. And yes, I know enough about the free-market system that I wouldn’t trust it to save my life.

  • Aaron_J

    Jokes about flying bathtubs aside, doc, here’s the great part: YOU don’t have to go. There are plenty of intelligent, motivated and highly trained individuals who are willing — even eager — to go. Think NASA has ever had trouble filling an astronaut class? These people fully understand the risks involved, so why is that?

    Because they get how important it is, even if you don’t. While some might claim the rush of jumping a motorcycle over 20 school buses is comparable to that of spaceflight, the former hardly contributes to technological innovation or a more hopeful future for our youth. I consider 1/2 of one percent of the Federal budget a fair price, and so do most taxpayers. Even if you don’t agree, at least you should want the best possible return on that investment.

    The real problem with our space program over the last 30 years is that we have been risking lives without anything approaching the benefits that we saw during the Apollo era. We have spent nearly as much money and killed many more astronauts, without pushing the envelope like we did in the 60’s. Returning NASA to a focused, destination-driven program is what is needed.

    Today we have chemical rockets, and that’s what we should be using. Advanced propulsion will eventually follow in due course, but there is no point sitting around and waiting for it. No one is suggesting we should go to Saturn or travel through wormholes today or anytime soon. However, the Moon and Mars are technologically within our reach. I’d like a good return on my tax dollars, wouldn’t you?