Author Topic: The World is not Enough  (Read 884 times)

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Offline EC

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The World is not Enough
« on: July 15, 2014, 06:48:11 AM »
Once upon a time, a man had a dream. He blew things up, injured himself frequently, but slowly and painfully (pun intended) worked out the principles of rocketry. That man was Robert H. Goddard and he was totally ignored in the USA. Space flight was for the sad losers who bought Astounding every month, not for real life. The only people who paid attention to his impractical ideas were a few dreamers. Harmless, most of them, let them play while the adults get on with the real world tasks.

One of those dreamers was not exactly harmless. A weapon, aimable and incredibly long distance, that did not need a pilot? Sounds like the perfect thing to use when your intention is taking over the world. So young Adolph rounded up his own band of dreamers and let them play with Goddard's designs at Peenemunde. Few knew about it and even fewer cared until the first V2 landed in the middle of London with a bit of a bang. The bang made even the notoriously slow witted Pentagon sit up and take notice. So began the modern arms race, out of the notebooks and experiments of an excentric guy with a dream of going into space.

Rockets soon became the international equivalent of two guys slapping their dicks on the bar and seeing who's reaches further. Who needs "I can see Russia from my house" when "I can destroy Moscow from my house" is far more fun a game to play. Russia decided to up it a notch. After all, if you stick something a couple of hundred miles up, it will stay there for years, and that was well within the range of even the crude V2 copies they had at the time. On October 4th, 1957, they did just that. A 2 foot diameter sphere, designed to broadcast radio pulses. Possibly the most expensive and elaborate FU the world had seen to date. The USA reeled. How could the commies do this? Didn't they know who was top dog? Frantic scrambling ensued, while the USSR took first after first after first. Much money was thrown. And the relatively small middle finger Sputnik raised was dwarfed by the majesty of the middle finger that was the Saturn V.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvWHnK2FiCk" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvWHnK2FiCk</a>


That video, for those who can't watch it, is three men sitting on a million pounds of highly explosive fuel and oxidant and heading for another planet. If you can watch it without the room getting suddenly dusty, I suggest you go to church now, because your soul is missing. The first thing you notice is the noise. Then something the size of a skyscraper tells gravity to sod off and it leaves the planet. All because one complete hard ass (sadly a Democrat) made a promise. "By the end of this decade we will land a man on the moon." He kept it. His successors kept it. They built on it.

The space shuttle was created and did sterling work. It had a slow turn around time, but most of it was re-usable, a significant improvement. Two tragedies slowed but did not stop the advance. Every pilot knows that when you hit the throttle, today might be the last day you ever see. They accept that. It's part of the costs of doing business. Unfortunately, sometime between Challenger and Columbia, someone gave the people of the USA a double orchidectomy. While it is fun to blame Obama, he just put the lid on an already empty can.

What the hell happened? A people who make the new frontier into a fetish, never mind a goal, suddenly saying "Nah, can't be bothered." Can someone explain that to me?

Please?
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Offline aligncare

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2014, 07:17:34 AM »
Cost/benefit assessment? Does gaining knowledge–just for knowledge sake–justify enormous expense?

My answer is, yes.
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Offline EC

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2014, 07:48:29 AM »
Two places I do think Federal money should be spent - the arts and pure research. Both have a pay off way beyond what you could expect.
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Offline speekinout

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2014, 09:02:08 PM »
Two places I do think Federal money should be spent - the arts and pure research. Both have a pay off way beyond what you could expect.

Research - absolutely! Space, medicine and technology are all areas where Fed'l money is the only way to spend so much with no obvious return. The biggest example, IMO, is the Internet. Who ever knew what that would become when DARPA was fooling around with the idea?
But arts - I'm not so sure. That doesn't require such huge sums to do something special. Some of the finest art in the world was created with private funding.

Offline Chieftain

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2014, 09:10:51 PM »
In my vast experience, there are two kinds of stories in the world: Fairy Tales and Sea Stories.

One starts "Once upon a time..." and the other starts "This is no shit....".

 :beer:

Offline EC

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2014, 09:24:38 PM »
Research - absolutely! Space, medicine and technology are all areas where Fed'l money is the only way to spend so much with no obvious return. The biggest example, IMO, is the Internet. Who ever knew what that would become when DARPA was fooling around with the idea?
But arts - I'm not so sure. That doesn't require such huge sums to do something special. Some of the finest art in the world was created with private funding.

Heinlein (who you may have noted is one of my favorite authors) posited a foundation. It's job was to spend money on totally useless research. Unfortunately for the foundation, it kept making obscene amounts of money because there is no such thing as useless research.

The arts though - I plead special case. Take movies, as one example. Studios will only greenlight movies that will make their costs back. The days of Citizen Kane and the Godfather level of risk are pretty much gone. Sure - there are small budget film makers who get privately funded through things like kickstarter, but it's small scale. People are not as willing now to put their personal cash on the line for something they can't own.
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Offline EC

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2014, 09:26:49 PM »
In my vast experience, there are two kinds of stories in the world: Fairy Tales and Sea Stories.

One starts "Once upon a time..." and the other starts "This is no shit....".

 :beer:

 :beer:

I chose the first line deliberately.  :laugh: When Goddard started, space flight was indeed a fairytale. Now it is so commonplace people don't even bother with it.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2014, 09:27:58 PM by EC »
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Offline speekinout

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2014, 09:56:39 PM »
Heinlein (who you may have noted is one of my favorite authors) posited a foundation. It's job was to spend money on totally useless research. Unfortunately for the foundation, it kept making obscene amounts of money because there is no such thing as useless research.

The arts though - I plead special case. Take movies, as one example. Studios will only greenlight movies that will make their costs back. The days of Citizen Kane and the Godfather level of risk are pretty much gone. Sure - there are small budget film makers who get privately funded through things like kickstarter, but it's small scale. People are not as willing now to put their personal cash on the line for something they can't own.

Totally agree about research. Some of the most valuable research is the kind that proves a theory is hogwash.  :laugh:

But about the arts - I agree that it's sad that we're long past the time of great movies. I used to love movies, but it's been years since any have appealed to me. But still, movies can be financed within the budgets of a reasonable number of like minded individuals. The real problem with those is finding a way to communicate to people that it's a good old fashioned American movie instead of a progressive propaganda piece. Maybe starting an award program for that genre would help - it could even be called the Felix Awards. As in Oscar Madison/Felix Unger. (Or maybe I'm up past my bedtime.  :whistle:)

Offline PzLdr

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Re: The World is not Enough
« Reply #8 on: July 16, 2014, 12:01:53 AM »
I'm with you on research, although the politization of science makes me leery [see Global warming]. As for the arts, a resounding 'NO!'. I have to put up with tax payer funded PBS [Pravda Broadcasting Service], and NPR [National Progressive Radio], all on my dime. If it's good enough, people will pay. If not, let the artist get a day job. One "Piss Christ" was enough.
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