Saturday, October 1, 2016

The Fault In Our Political Deathstars

 Had enough of the pornographic soap opera masquerading as the presidential election yet?  

 Replace the fat-shamed Miss Universe saga with the real Universe. Instead of wallowing in Donald Trump's mean-spirited stupidity, soar to the tragic glorious heights of two star-crossed lovers. Ditch the soap opera and revel in some space opera.

Maybe you missed this with all the dredging-up of the sex scandals of some pretty loathsome characters: A spacecraft named Rosetta finally consummated her long-distance relationship with her comet paramour. As so eloquently described by the New York Times's Kenneth Chang, it almost makes us forget the tawdry bathos supplanting American democracy.

 It's a story of truly Wagnerian proportions: (cue optional soundtrack.)
Rosetta, the first spacecraft to orbit a comet, is dead, setting down in a final embrace with its companion of the past two years.
Radio signals from Rosetta flatlined at 7:19 a.m. Eastern after it did a soft belly-flop onto Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko at a speed of two miles per hour, slower than the average walk.
For the last few minutes, people at the European Space Operations Center in Darmstadt, Germany, watched their computer screens mostly in silence, but with some nervous chatter. When the radio signals ceased, they applauded and hugged in a celebration that was part joyous, part somber.
It took Rosetta 12 years, but she finally got her guy. And she died right in the act. But it was so worth it:

 Of course she was European. It mattered not a whit that Comet 67P himself is a bit on the misshapen side, resembling a rubber duck with a painful skin condition. This apparent anomaly was likely caused by two comets colliding a long time ago, and getting stuck together forever. So the consummation was sort of a threesome. Like I said, totally European and avant-garde. Squeamish conservatives in the United States never would have tolerated or funded this particular scientific expedition, what with their defunding of NASA in between their prayer breakfasts and righteous visits to porn websites and legalized buckfests. The media-political complex has enough on its plate at the moment, thank you very much, what with pornography now the main topic on The Trail.

Furthermore, the anti-NASA/science crowd might be afraid of being compared to Rubber Duckman. On his surface, he is as hard as a rock. But inside, there's nothing but fluff and dust. And what's even worse, he's as doomed as Rosetta. He's headed straight for the sun. Take that, climate change denialists!

  The story of Rosetta and her Comet Duck Prince is a fairy tale come true, straight from the land of the Brothers Grimm, and thus cannot be tolerated in a country founded by fire and brimstone Puritans. In the exceptional USA, Congress has defunded our own government space program, even as it's being outsourced to private industry at a steady clip. This year alone, $40 million has been removed from several NASA initiatives, including development of the Low Density Supersonic Decelerator (LDSD)

So those billionaires jockeying for position on the first manned flight to Mars had better beware. Although the idiots and anti-science zealots in Congress might think they've  outlawed LSD, the program they're so gleefully scrapping would actually allow a Mars rocket to slow down enough to land safely on the surface of the Red Planet. Without this safeguard, the plutocratic space tourists will never know what hit them. It won't be anything close to the balletic pas-de-deux on display last week from a space rock far, far away.

It will more resemble last week's horrific New Jersey train wreck, caused at least in part by a corrupt, reactionary governor's reduction of funding for maintenance and repairs to the transportation infrastructure. Chris Christie is even blackmailing his state's most vulnerable citizens for what little improvement he is offering. There's more than one way to go off the rails, as explained by the Daily News's Jason Silverstein:
New Jersey’s Trump-loving Republican governor has frozen $100 million in aid — by executive order — until the state’s public employees agree to his demand of cutting $250 million in their health benefits.
The governor’s office said he was forced into the heavy halt by “the Legislature’s inability to responsibly identify realistic revenues and health care cost savings.”
Christie would rather get rid of the estate tax than fund pensions and safely maintain the public transportation system. How else will filthy rich heirs and heiresses come up with the money to privately travel to Mars and build their own exclusive space colony, once they've helped finish off Planet Earth with their polluting wage-slave factories, exploding oil trains and pipelines, and private jets?

And once the rich people are on Mars, guess who gets to feed, clothe, and keep them alive for the duration? That's right: it's the same old socialized risk and privatized gain racket that's been keeping them healthy, wealthy and selfish for countless generations through their off-shored tax havens and the countless tax loopholes provided for them by the groveling likes of Chris Christie.

Lifestyles of the Rich and Futuristic (credit, MarsOne)
So on second thought, forget about restoring funding for that Low Density Supersonic Decelerator. First, we have to figure out a way to decelerate the greed of the pathocrats and close the most extreme wealth gap in modern history.

The philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno had the whole rotten system pegged half a century ago: "The fact that the extended arm of mankind can reach out to remote, empty planets, but is unable to establish eternal peace on its own planet, is a striking proof the absurd direction in which the social dialectic is moving."

1 comment:

Jay–Ottawa said...

A planet in the hand is worth two, three or more in the near vacuum of far, far way space.