Category Archives: Social Commentary

Yes, And No

Some people in comments there think that Keith Cowing is making too big a deal of NASA’s inability to keep up with who does and doesn’t work for it, and even who still remains on the preferred side of the dirt.

I agree that, in itself, it is a pretty trivial issue, in the context of the much bigger problems at the agency, and it’s certainly one that most people don’t do well with, or many bureaucracies. But I’ll bet that there are some organizations that get this kind of thing right, because they have an organizational culture to get everything they do right. This isn’t, after all (to use the hackneyed and inaccurate expression) rocket science. If NASA can’t do something as basic as this, why should we trust it with billions of taxpayers’ dollars to build manned launch systems? Particularly when, even if they meet their own program goals, they will have such trivial capabilities (a few people to space a few times a year)? And if NASA can’t do something as basic as this, it might be for the same reasons that they have trouble developing new cost-effective launch systems.

Anyway, the evidence so far indicates that we shouldn’t trust them to do so.

I’m One, And Didn’t Know It

John Bossard coins a useful concept: Exvironmentalism:

…whereas Environmentalism is focused on conservation and improvement of the environment of the Earth, Exvironmentalism seeks to turn the focus outwards, so that the ideas of conservation, and improvements of terrestrial environments are part of much broader and more inclusive notions regarding life not just on Earth, but also of life in our solar system, and out into the Cosmos.

I think that there is another important distinction between Exvironmentalism and Environmentalism. I believe that Exvironmentalism should see human beings as part of the solution, as opposed to being part of the problem. Humans can and must play an important role in enabling the growth of living creatures, plant, animal, and other, in the otherwise sterile exvironments of the cosmos. As such, human life has intrinsic value and worth, like all living and sentient creatures, and therefore is also worthy of respect and should be valued.

Just the opposite of the misanthropic Deep Eeks. I like the logo, too.

The More Things Change

The more they remain the same:

…the masses are morons who respond only to simple messages repeated thousands of times (a perspective I discuss at length in my book).

Seventy-some years later, this belief is as popular with the powers that be as it was in 1933.

You know, like Hope! And Change! And we can spend our way out of bankruptcy. And that you’ll get to keep your private insurance.

Who Knew I Was A Racist?

…because I hate (and always hated) disco?

Well, in for a penny, in for a pound. I hate rap, too. But as a commenter over there says, if I’m intolerant, it’s intolerance of sh***y music. And non-music (which I consider much of rap to be). In the case of both disco and rap, I’ve little interest in a repetitive form of music in which the percussion carries the melody.

And if I supposedly base my musical preferences on the melanin content of the musician, please explain my long-time love of Delta blues. In fact it never really occurred to me at the time that disco was black, or gay music. The Bee Gees were black? Or gay? Who knew? I only knew that it was really, really bad, musically speaking, and of appeal to no one except people for whom the only purpose of music is to grind around on a dance floor, and most of whom are probably tone deaf.

This is one of those things so stupid that only an academic could come up with it.