24 thoughts on “The Frightening Frontier”

  1. at the top of this heap are a bunch of very wealthy white males.

    A possible clue?

    Actually, she seems to skirt a few truths without actually expressing them. Space follows the same economic laws as anyplace else. it will not happen if we don’t acknowledge these truths and work within them. She fails to acknowledge that these rich white guys are moving the boundaries out. Growth is always incremental (even explosive growth.)

    Things will look a lot different looking backward from the future. At which point everyone will forget the things they were wrong about and tell us all how they told us so.

  2. Billings seems to be carrying a large political axe, given her comment about refusing to shake hands with Newt Gingrich. She also claims that conservative-libertarian Dana Rohrabacher and leftie Rick Tumlinson are cut from the same ideology. Where do you have to sit on the political spectrum to believe that?

  3. Well, that was amusing. It’s a good with we didn’t have people with degrees in social studies and journalism before we expanded out of Africa or we’d never have left. “Og, how can you dare use a fluted spear point when you know they just advance the interests of white capitalist elites?!”

    1. Actually, our ancestors left Africa to get away from the people with degrees in social studies and journalism.

      The problem today is that there’s nowhere left to go to escape them which doesn’t require you to be a multi-billionaire first.

  4. From a previous article, it appears that Linda Billings considers people who would destroy asteroids and people who fought Communism to be equally evil:

    space warriors promote a new rationale for completing projects that were started for ballistic missile defense — “Kill the Commies!” is no longer a sensible battle cry, so now the warriors clamor “Kill the asteroids!”


    It’s perhaps notable that she’s a communications advisor to NASA’s astrobiology, Mars exploration, and planetary protection programs — fields that were heavily influenced by Carl Sagan. She seems to have adopted Sagan’s belief that space exploration should be limited to a few noble, superior humans such as herself:

    Warriors, conquerors, exploiters, and colonizers should turn in their space-explorer badges. They should have no place in shaping the future of space exploration. What the space community needs right now is not more “military enthusiasts” but a few good social theorists and moral philosophers to guide the design of a meaningful 21st century space exploration program.

    1. Yes, NASA seems a magnet for these anti-human types, another good reason it needs to be closed down.

  5. Well, at least she didn’t come right out and bemoan the fate of the Native Americans, though that was the implication in her rant. No doubt her information about frontier expansion is purely from Howard Zinn.

  6. What the space community needs right now is not more “military enthusiasts” but a few good social theorists and moral philosophers

    The “B” Ark?

  7. Slightly off topic, but kind of related:

    Is anyone else concerned that the new Cosmos series is being developed largely by Seth MacFarlane, who is responsible for some of the worst animation and sleaziest writing in the history of television, and Brannon Braga, who injected the worst sort of pseudoscience into his Star Trek scripts?

    I know MacFarlane and Braga share Sagan’s atheism, but being anti-God is not the same as being pro-science (much less knowledgeable about science). Maybe Neil Tyson will be able to keep the series from going off the rails, but I don’t see what those two individuals bring other than Hollywood name value.

    1. Just a quibble… an atheist is not necessarily “anti-God.” I’m sure some are, but to be an atheist, it’s only necessary to not believe in God.

      1. Agreed. I’ve always said that the obnoxious militant atheists give all of us nonbelievers a bad name, the same as smokers who flick their butts out of car windows give all of us smokers a bad name.

  8. Can you believe she has a PhD in communication?

    And what’s with this bit:It’s ironic, to me, that the Obama administration and its space agency, NASA, which are advocating for expanding international cooperation in space activities, are at the same time – tacitly if not openly – condoning an ideological perspective that is baffling and even discomforting to many non-U.S. citizens (and a good number of U.S. citizens as well).

    Is she under the illusion that only Americans support private efforts to get us (Humans) into space and space colonization?

    1. Well, that type of sentence has become well known in logic circles:

      a) “It’s ironic, to me, that the Obama administration and” [insert qualifier denoting branch, department, staff, or affiliated group]

      b) “are at the same time – tacitly if not openly – condoning an ideological perspective that is baffling and even discomforting to” [insert group taken from any list of known groups]

      It’s a variant of:

      “Obama campaigned on X, but is doing ~X” or

      “Obama campaigned against X but is doing X^3.”

      “Obama claims he’s doing X but is doing Y, where [assertion that Y is most definitely not X, and doesn’t even remotely resemble X.”

      “Obama said he is focused on X, which means this is the first day in the past N number of days that X has even crossed his mind.”

      “Obama came out and addressed scandal N, but did so to distract us from scandals O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, V, W, X, Y, and Z.”

      1. I noted two things in her screed:

        1.) A glaring lack of specific examples.

        2.) The annoying sound of grass being munched.

      2. It’s the same “reasoning” as not needing to know general science in order to teach science, or knowing mathematics to teach math, the idea is that you don’t need to know what you’re “communicating” in order to “do communication.”

  9. For whatever it’s worth. Here’s the reply I sent to Mz. Billiings.

    The difference between the last thousand years or so of exploration on Earth and space colonization is this: On the Moon, on Mars, and on the asteroids there are no cute little animals to render extinct or photogenic indigeneous people to wipe out. Therefore there can’t be any reasonable moral objections to opening up the Solar System. If you’re mining on the moon, nobody is going to notice a few extra craters

    Besides, all the government space efforts are dead in the water insofar as manned flight is concerned. No serious innovation is coming out of NASA, the ESA, the RSA, or the Chinese or Indian programs when it comes to bringing down the cost of space travel. Any such efforts, such as Space X or Reaction Engines in the UK, which are receiving government money, were originally the brain children of private entrepreneurs. The traditional “Rocket Mafia” in the government space agencies (look at Senator Shelby of Alabama and his dislike of Space X) has no real interest in dropping the cost of flight to orbit.

    As for your dislike of Gingrich, everybody is usually right about at least one thing. I like his idea about the Mars Prize.

    As for international cooperation on space, that may only apply to strictly scientific efforts. Commercial endeavors such as asteroid mining, at some point will almost certainly run into opposition because of economic and political interests, including the competitive nature of international politics. For example, the Russians and the Chinese (Russia is returning to dictatorship and China is trying to tighten th screws on the one it already has) are almost certain to try to block any Western, particularly American efforts, at large-scale space commercialization either through the UN or other venues. This will be done for reasons of power politics and ideology, no matter what they may say publicly about economic fairness and giving the less-developed world a fair shake.

    Of course, if the people in Moscow and Beijing see any virtues in space commerilaization, they’ll try to pursue their own efforts while at the same time attempting to block ours.

    As for your Oh vey about American history, what started in in 1775 at the start of the American Revolution did produce what was for a long time the most prosperous nation on Earth. We certainly had our little pecadillios like slavery and mistreatment of the Indians, but now we have an African-American president in the White House (Not the guy I would have wanted. I would have preferred Colin Powell, but he didn’t want the job when he had the chance.), and as for the Indians, some tribes now have casinos which they use to take money from stupid white people. I know, I’ve been to the Seminole Indian Casino in the Everglades.

    American power, while certainly not completely alturistic in its purposes, has produced an international system that through its emphasis on market economics and a usual, but not always, focus on individual freedom, that has benefitted the lives of hundreds of millions of people throughout the world, including ourselves. If you cannot accept this premise, please consder two things. What would the world now be like if the Cold War had gone the other way, and the terribly iconic satellite photograph of the Korean Pennisula which shows a brilliantly lit up South Korea and a North Korea plunged into total darkeness.

    A nation cannot be completely alturistic in international affairs. That would be suicidal. The field in inherently amoral.

    The attitude you’ve displayed in your editorial only confirms a suspicion I’ve had for a long time, that deep in the recesses of their hearts the social welfare crowd is deathly afraid of meaningful space development, including colonization, for the simple reason there won’t be any room up in the sky for a welfare state. Any immigrants to a space colony will the best educated and the most intelligent migrants in human history. And, considering the fact that they’ve decided not to move just a mere few thousand miles to another continent, but across tens of millions of miles of space to another planet, they’ll likely be the most independently minded colonists ever as well. Not much room for food stamps or welfare checks, at least not for a very long time to come.

    I’d like to finish with Howard Zinn. I’m unfamilar with his book, but I have read he was a Marxist. If that was the case then I can completely understand why Mitch Daniels wouldn’t want his book used as a text in the Indiana state university system. I’ve had direct and indirect experience with the ideology and to be a Marxist in this day and age a person has to be willfully ignorant, delusional, or a potential killer.

    Have a nice day.

    Michael G. Gallagher,
    Seoul, South Korea

    1. People would notice scars on the lunar surface. Advocates for lunar development should should have a goal of minimizing any activity visible to Earthlings. The far side is a great place to avoid pissing off a bunch of people.

  10. Here is my response to her, though it probably will never be printed there..

    So in other words the core of your opposition to the ideas espoused is that they are republicans or right leaning. You might want to check out the bona fides of George Whitesides, Lori Garver, and a lot of other democrats who feel the same way as those you pillory on the right.

    At the core of the common principles that both republican and democrat space advocates hold in common is that space is out there, it is a place, and there is absolutely nothing wrong and a plethora of things right with extending human life first into the solar system, then into the cosmos. The economic and cultural development of our solar system is a common goal and right of both democrats and republicans, but it seems that what you learned in your matriculation through the educational system may have limited your views to only seeing one side of the issue. Just remember when you lean in one direction too long, you end up going in circles.

  11. “According to this ideology, the United States is and must remain ‘Number One’ in the world community, playing the role of political, economic, scientific, technological, and moral leader. That is, the U.S. is and must be exceptional. ”

    If not the US, which country or group of countries?

    If the assumption is that not desirable for the US to get worst, then that leaves, some other country becoming better.

    There probably lots swell places to live in the world, certainly there is tons of proof that there are many very nice places to visit- thinking that makes it a better nation is excessively shallow. Some place in Iran are probably wonderful, but Iran as nation sucks. As Iran is ruled by stupid, evil persons and the people are incapable of having laws and leadership, that could seen as vaguely attractive- unless you such enthusiastic for any totalitarian government, that it being religious totalitarian government is something you find desirable.
    China again, a totalitarian government, is also not very good, though it’s had some very good economic growth. And the continuation of such economic growth, could be exciting. Maybe something will happen in China. But what could happen is not clearly a path of hope, one might get civil war or some other kinds of wars, and not hopeful that a totalitarian government transforms itself, so people will have basic freedoms. As there no example of this ever happening at any place or time in human history.
    EU seems to be flux towards non existence. Though doubtful it ever arrived in terms of being a nation. I suppose one could hope.
    Anyways, it would wonderful if some nation could replace the world’s superpower as a better nation.
    I think opening the space frontier is only feasible path to create nations
    which could become better than US- have more opportunity and freedom, etc, but it probably going to take quite awhile. It’s not going to happen within such brief period time of within a couple decades. But don’t see any vaguely realistic hope of a nation on Earth getting to such “a place” in shorter period of time.

  12. If this lady is teaching Zinn in the classroom, she has no business participating in the education of our nation’s students and is a perfect example of why our schools are performing so poorly.

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