Doug's Darkworld

War, Science, and Philosophy in a Fractured World.

Posts Tagged ‘Poltics

Newt Gingrich Proposes Colonizing the Moon and Making it the 51st State, Say What?

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Newt Gingrich, possible Republican Presidential candidate,  has proposed colonizing the Moon by 2020 and making it the 51st state. Reaction has been mixed, but mostly ranging from critical to ridicule. It’s certainly an ambitious idea, especially talking about 13,000 colonists. Is this idea totally out of this world, or does Mr. Gingrich have a point?

Let’s look at this logically. First off, is it legal? Can the USA legally colonize the Moon? Pause for laughter. The USA hasn’t given a  rat’s ass for decades about International Law, other than manipulating it for the USA’s benefit. So we can skip this step.

Is there any reason to go to the Moon? Well, there’s certainly sound scientific reasons to go to the Moon.  And ultimately science usually pays off, so while this may not be a good reason in and of itself, it would be a nice bonus. Secondly, there’s every reason to believe that all sorts of extremely rare and valuable metals can be found on the Moon, deposited by asteroid strikes. That’s a big plus. There’s potentially all sorts of industrial processes where the Moon’s vacuum and low gravity would be a big bonus. Lastly, and in some ways the most exciting way, the Moon is believed to have copious deposits of Helium 3. Perhaps as much as a million tons, rained down by millions of years of Solar Wind. What’s so cool abut Helium 3? It has fantastic promise as a fuel for nuclear fusion … 25 tons of Helium 3 could power the USA and the EU for a year. So yes, there’s sound reasons to colonize the Moon.

Is it feasible? Well, who knows. Water has been found in copious quantities on the Moon, and there are some lovely water filled (not literally of course) craters on one of the Moon’s poles in close proximity to mountain peaks that are always in sunlight. Water, which can be made into water and air, situated near continuous solar power. To put it mildly, sounds tailor made for a massively self sufficient colony. IE a colony that can provide its own air, water, and energy has a huge head start, and there’s no reason it couldn’t quickly start producing its own food as well. Yes, there are massive technological hurdles, but the concept sure seems viable. Technological hurdles didn’t stop us from sending men to the Moon in the first place.

Finally, how much will this cost? Well, using the same accounting firm that predicted the cost of the Iraq War, cost estimates for this run in the tens of billions of dollars. And if we use the same NASA accountants that predicted how cheap and economical the Space Shuttle was going to be, we can surely confirm these estimates. Yes, I’m being facetious, this would be an incredibly expensive undertaking. A hundred billion dollars a year, maybe more, for at least a decade.

Well, um, that’s what the War in Iraq cost us, and we don’t have diddly to show for it except war graves, an Iranian aligned Iraq, Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, and a huge pile of debt. Yeah, that was a good investment. No, the Project for an American Moon would employ huge numbers of people, almost immediately provide profitable technological spin offs, and ultimately pay for itself many times over. Cost alone is no reason to  write this idea off, the only question is where would this money come from? It’s not like these are flush times, and it’s a safe bet that the 1% aren’t going to voluntarily cough up a trillion dollars.

Well, I have an idea. Take the money from the military. Wait, hear me out, don’t target that drone at my apartment building just yet. Yes, use money from the military budget, but, and it’s a big but, give the military a reason to be happy with this, make them an integral part of the project. I am proposing nothing less than the creation of another branch of the military, a US Space Force to be exact. Done right this could be a very inspiring thing. They could be tasked with defending all of Earth from space based threats, starting with rogue asteroids. And protecting the rights of all nations to travel in space and exploit space. To infinity and beyond!

Just trying to think outside the lines, because staying in the lines got us where we are now. Have a great weekend everyone!

(The above image is claimed as Fair Use under US copyright law.  It’s not being used for profit, and, well, it’s all over the Internet. I don’t know the origin, it may actually have originally been Russian. If anyone knows I will properly attribute it. I was searching for a nice image to illustrate the US Space Force idea, stumbled on this, and decided it was too funny not to share. Look closely if you don’t get the joke at first glance. One final positive aspect to Newt’s Moon colony plan. He could be on the very first ship.)


Written by unitedcats

January 27, 2012 at 9:28 am

The myth of nation building, or why you can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear

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Another Friday, another week of an all too fleeting life passed by, yadda yadda yadda.  And as is my wont, Friday is the day I burble about random or not so random nonsense that has crossed my mind or hurt my eyeballs the previous week. It’s been a pretty good week here in Berkeley, nice warm fall weather, but our plague of rodents continues. Never seen anything like it, one couple in my building has even been driven from their apartment by them. On the plus side, my orange cat is self feeding now. And immensely popular with the neighbours, I’ve literally heard people cheering him in the yard as he trots home with yet another rat or mouse in his jaws.

Moving right along, nation building. Now I’ve always known this was more propaganda than reality. People initially loved giving the analogy of Germany and Japan after World War two, and how they turned into modern nations under  US occupation. However, unlike Iraq and Afghanistan, Germany and Japan were already modern nations, so the US occupation had nothing to do with them becoming nations. Iraq and Afghanistan are lines drawn on a map by nineteenth and early twentieth century colonial powers, and have little or no identity as nations. The idea that they would magically transform into modern (western compliant!) nations under US tutelage was at best insanely optimistic.

The best illustration of this is communism. Most people by now are aware that a centrally planned economy doesn’t work. The utter failure of the world’s communist nations during decades of communism attests to that quite nicely. So OK then, if a centrally planned economy doesn’t work, how does going one step higher and having a centrally planned nation going to work? It can’t of course, it’s even more absurd than trying to centrally plan an economy. In any event this article, Can a Nation be Built?, gives some nice background and context to this idea, it’s where I got it from.

In local news the American Tea Party movement and Republicans have announced a “Pledge to America” where they outline their party’s goals. I tried to read it but frankly it was pretty painful. All sorts of flowery stuff about getting back to the nation’s founding principles, followed by what appears to be basically a promise to completely re-institute every single policy of the Bush years. Yes, the party that brought us the greatest expansion in government in the history of the world is now going to make government smaller. When asked what actual programs or departments are going to be cut, it’s well, um, er, we’ll get back to you on that.

Americans have to be pretty stupid if they think the Republicans are going to cut government spending and make government smaller. I’m beginning to think actually that Americans are the stupidest people on earth, because every election both parties trot out the same old lies and broken promises … and people still swallow them and think they are voting for change. Nothing is going to change with either the Republicans or Democrats in power. Borrow and spend will continue, and our military juggernaut will continue to expand and build bases and buy weapons for wars that are never going to be fought. Till the whole edifice collapses under it’s own unsustainable weight.

I think one of the most incredible absurdities of all this is how the idea that cutting taxes for the rich is going to create jobs. This canard has been repeated so often that people actually seem to believe it. Listen very carefully, when rich people and rich executives get a  tax break, what do you think they are going to do with the money? They are going to keep it, not run out and hire people. If you give poor people money, they will run out and spend it and stimulate the economy. If you give rich people money, it goes in an offshore account. This isn’t rocket science, it’s just human nature. You can’t make America richer by transferring wealth upwards, but apparently the Republicans are going to keep on trying.

So yeah, I’ve become pretty disillusioned with what passes for politics in the USA. I’m with John Galt, frequent commenter, the whole nation and economy is such a gargantuan mess that it’s all going to collapse under its own weight. You can’t build a future or an economy by borrowing and spending endless amounts of money, but apparently we’re still trying. Then there’s the whole problem of trying to kill our way out of the mess we made in Iraq and particularly Afghanistan. History has not been kind to people who tried to kill their way out of the ridiculous situations their politicians got them into, but they sure can try. “War is Murder” is a nice overview of some of the folly this engenders.

On the plus side there hasn’t been another 9/11 yet. Boy, that’s gonna be fun when it happens. Have a great weekend everybody.

(The above image, The Tower of Babel, was painted by Pieter Bruegel in 1563 and is thus safely Public Domain under US copyright law. I chose if for obvious reasons, it’s a nice analogy for both nation building in general, and the incredible government/military structure the US is ever expanding in hopes of achieving world domination, whatever that’s supposed to mean. I’ll be using more Pieter Bruegel images, I like his style. Next week, an unsolved historical carpentry mystery and other random nonsense.)

Written by unitedcats

September 24, 2010 at 9:07 am