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Samizdata, derived from Samizdat /n. - a system of clandestine publication of banned literature in the USSR [Russ.,= self-publishing house]

Pushing the envelope is not frivolous

A commenter to this blog has dismissed the recent achievements of Bert Rutan’s Spaceship One flight as being a waste of money, money which the commenter believes should not have been ‘wasted’ on such a venture and devoted to causes the said commenter no doubt deems a worthier object. We have been here before with this sort of criticism, of course with the Moon landings, with the rather obvious difference that the Apollo missions relied on taxpayers’ money, and not funds provided voluntarily by businessmen.

More generally, any innovative endeavour, or venture which may yield benefits not immediately graspable, can be dismissed and attacked as wasteful. The trial and errors of capitalism were dismissed by early socialist thinkers as wasteful, in contrast to their dreams of an efficient, centrally planned order. We know better now, of course. It hardly needs to be pointed out that on that logic, the first man who discovered how to make fire and spent hours chipping flints to make arrowheads was ‘wasting time’ in the eyes of his fellow cavedwellers, who no doubt wondered if he should be doing something more important.

And I am sure I speak for my fellow Samizdata contributors in hailing the excellent and sustained coverage by Dale Amon of the latest space flight ventures. It is a positive and exhilarating development and frankly, a tonic at a time of so much depressing news out there. So my message to the Luddites who carp, is simply this – you ain’t seen nothing yet.

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53 comments to Pushing the envelope is not frivolous

  • Hear Hear.

    (A cliche i will admit – but the only thing appropriate.)

  • Ben

    Paul Allen’s money, Paul Allen can spend it on anything he damn well pleases. Its his to waste, or not, as he pleases. There is not even the old “Its the taxpayer’s money” shibolleh to deal with. This is utter crap.

    Freedom means the freedom to do things that other people may not like, or disapprove of, or would not do if they were you. The “freedom” to do just what is expected of you, by self appointed ‘experts and elites’ ain’t no freedom at all. Audit such folks.

    Or to put it differently: “It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat. Teddy Roosevelt

  • Alan

    Cliche or not, I agree with Gareth – hear hear.

    Without pioneers, inventors, visionaries, explorers etc. we would still be living in the dark ages.

  • EddieP

    “Without pioneers, inventors, visionaries, explorers etc. we would still be living in the dark ages.”

    Gee we could all be good muslims living a dream life in the middle ages.

  • Jake

    Almost every technological breakthrough which has profoundly changed our lives was started by a small company or individual working on a product that no one dreamed would be needed.

  • bdb

    The critic says this is not a worthy cause?

    Perhaps that stupid critic should be reminded that the space industry is a multi-billion dollar industry that creates jobs and tax revenues.

    And why is that critic using the internet … isn’t it also a waste?

  • Which reminds me of that wonderful quote by the IBM Chairman Thomas Watson in 1943,

    I think there is a world market for maybe five computers

  • So it’s OK to spend gazillions of dollars of taxpayers’ money to send a couple of guys to the moon. But it’s a waste for private individuals to do whatever they please with their money ? I must have missed something.

  • A_t

    pff.. it’s exactly the same type of literalist thinking that condemns any research that doesn’t have obvious ‘practical applications’… no doubt he would’ve berated Einstein for not devoting his efforts to improving the internal combustion engine too…

    Spot on demolition job by everyone! (well… ‘cept the fool who had to have a little anti-muslim dig.. idiot.)

  • Pete (Detroit)

    I’m sure he was even MORE upset that “the government” “wasted” all those billions, too.
    Proably he believes the crap about the ‘space pen’ too.
    (was developed by the company, and si provided free to NASA for the priveledge of being (and being able to advertise) the exclusive provider…)

  • Richard Thomas

    Pah, the commenter referred to in the parent post (Syon Park) is clearly merely a troll and best ignored. The only thing confusing me is what his name is actually an anagram of. So far, I have “So Pranky” or “Prank’s o(n) y(ou)”. Anyone have anything better?


  • S. Weasel

    Richard, the truth (as the truth so often is) is much less fun. Syon Park is the London home of the Duke of Northumberland.

  • My Favorite point about the space pen is the fact that the Russians are so primative that they have to use pencils. .

    The most important thing about Space Ship One is that it points to the coming break up of the Space Access monopoly. This has been controlled by the State, in the US, Russian, Europe, Japan, India and so on. It has been done for strictly military reasons. A Launch vehicle is for thge most part and ICBM in civilian drag.

    There is lots of hostility out there to letting the riff raff , (I like the idea that the government considers billionaries riff raff) into space.

    On the whole this is going to be a great thing, but every advance has drawbacks, Cell phones have done wonders for productivity and have improved the lives of a billion or more people. But they can also be used to set off car bombs and they have many annoying aspects.

    Privatized space is going to be great. It’s going to provide new forms of energy, new materiels it’s also going to create new problems.

  • ConspiracyTheorist

    I suspect that Syon Park was not a real person.
    He was made up by some Samizdatista to induce readers to react to his pretended stupidity thus raising the number of comments! Pretty lame.

  • I just have visions of NASA finally getting to the moon raring ready to set up a new colony…only to find a bunch of spotty nerds there are already. No doubt someone will put up a sign saying

    All your moonz are belong us. or Dude, the moon is so like 20th century!

  • Johnathan

    Andrew, when do you think it will be possible to host an Iron Maiden gig on the moon? Of course Pink Floyd would have to be on the dark side (chortle)

    Yes, I think the militant enviros are going to start venting about “polluting” space and so forth. Personally, I hope outfits like the Playboy Corp, and Britain’s own wonderfully vulgar Richard Branson gets into the act as soon as possible.

  • Syon Park

    Cavemen made arrows to get food. People made boats to go somewhere habitable. Their labour was a means to an end.

    NASA sent probes millions of miles into outer space – there is no sign of life or habitable environments for humans, apart from planet Earth. This rocket could be the finest technology ever seen (it isn’t) – THERE IS NOWHERE USEFUL FOR IT TO GO TO!

    (BTW to say NASA was a waste of tax payers money can’t be strictly true – it effectively won the Cold War; and in doing so helped make itself redundant).

    One poster said this rocket would make satellite launches cheaper and I accept that – but it’s hardly going to affect our lives.

    It is the same sort of achievement as man going to the south pole, or to the top of Everest. Well done; completely pointless.

    Next there may be a privately funded twit who gets to the Moon – “Why did you do it?”, they’ll say.
    “Because I could. To show it was possible (with private funding)”, he’ll reply.

    How non inspiring.

    And IMO a complete waste of money – note I’ve never said anywhere that those people shouldn’t be free to spend it that way.

  • Conspiracy Theorist: Syon Park’s views are depressingly within the ill informed mainstream, so alas there is no need to ‘create’ him.

    As for the economic potential of space, I guess some folks have never heard of all the interesting ideas for low gravity manufacturing for new materials and pharmaceuticals, or eventually the riches of the asteroid belt… I could go on but what is the point?

  • Johnathan

    Perry, you beat me to the punch! exactly. Of course the Syon Parks of this world — there are a lot of em — cannot see any “point” to spaceflight beyond the obvious thrills and spills (not that there is anything wrong with that, BTW). But low-gravity enviros offer all kinds of interesting manufacturing potentials, not to mention terraforming other planets. Long-distance spaceflight will only happen if new techniques are produced and if the costs are massively cut. That is where commercial spaceflight development, and this week’s great event, comes in.

    Anyway, assuming Syon Park is still around in 50 years’ time, we can debate how things look from then. Save the URL!

  • Syon Park

    Perry this made me laugh out loud. Could I interest you in some outer space manufacturing stock? (it’s the next big thing, according to those ‘in the know’ on the so clever samizdata)

    “As for the economic potential of space, I guess some folks have never heard of all the interesting ideas for low gravity manufacturing for new materials and pharmaceuticals, or eventually the riches of the asteroid belt… I could go on but what is the point?”

    Yes what is the point?

  • You may want to check on my article in Thespacereview.com a few weeks back .

    “No Sex (or any other human activities) in space please, we’re British. ”

    We Yanks tend to be either enthusiastic about space or indifferent, could someone please take a stab at explaining why so many Brits are so hostile towards the idea?

  • Johnathan

    There are quite a lot of folk quite interested in spaceflightl in Britain but I’ll guess they make up a smaller segment of the population than in the US.
    Some of this has to do with Americans still thinking of themselves as being in a frontier society, made up of folk who escaped from other places. That is where the space issue comes in. Terraforming other planets may appear wacky to Brits, it resonates differently across the Pond. That’s my take, anyway.

    What is the point of it? Well, it is far from foolish to imagine that one day we might need to get off this planet and go elsewhere. Heinlein once said that the Earth was too small a basket to put all one’s eggs in. I agree.

  • flaime

    I am eternally confounded by people who fail to understand that pure science investigation, or “doing something to see if it can be done,” has always provided the greatest return on our research dollars. The Space Program has returned far greater in terms of both scientific knowledge and monetary gain than was ever put into it, even excepting the bloated costs and mediocre performance of the US Space Shuttle.

  • Johnathan

    Sorry another bite at the cherry, but I was particularly irked by Syon Park’s jibe about some “privately funded twit who gets to the Moon”. Despite his professed admiration for the explorers of the South Pole, climbers of Mount Everest etc, there is a kind of sneering contempt for people who risk their own lives and their own money to stretch the limits of human endurance. It is the equivalent of spraying grafitti on a person’s house.

    And whether the endeavours of explorers, flyers and others have a “point” or not, their efforts are a symptom of a vibrant culture that embraces the willingness to try new things, to take a risk, and for that matter, to have fun. It would be a pretty depressing world if the only ventures allowed were of the sort that meet the flat-earth criteria of Syon Park and his ilk.

    He picked up on my earlier point about how the discovery of fire etc responded to a direct need. Maybe. But even the earliest human discoveries and inventions were regarded as disturbing, wasteful, and of course blasphemous in the eyes of the early religions.

  • Walter Wallis

    What a waste of money – whatever is paid Syon Park for whatever useless function he provides.

  • Park’s main criticism that there is not a place to go in space is simply crazy. Mining, manufacturing, and terraforming have already been mentioned.

    Solar cell arrays and an insurance program for humanity are very important as well.

    All of these provide an immediate mechanism for benefit to humanity, and most likely than not profit on a short to near term.

    Furthermore, we need to look beyond the immediate reach of our probes and realize that there is more to the cosmos than the Solar System. The first step to exploring the rest of the known universe is exploring our back yard. To say there is nothing there is wrong and naïve. It is wrong because we have already found other earth-like planets in other solar systems, and naïve because it assumes that everything that is of potential interest is already known today. Also it is wrong because we have found interesting places right here in our back yard. Ever heard of Europa? Also, as for Park’s question of investment in a space manufacturing firm, such a firm exists, and is in the initial stages of R&D. Too bad it is a private company called Scaled Composites, not open for public investment. This will change soon enough.

    The best part about a market is that you have unanimity without conformity (verses the tyranny of the majority and conformity and unanimity as seen by every action of the government). It isn’t just that SpaceShipOne made its first step with people like Park in disagreement; it is that it made it in spite of his views. The best part about this is that a private effort will operate as long as everyone else just gets out of the way.

    So I look forward to joining the future, and those that choose to stay behind are free to do so. to those that make that choice, good luck gaining my respect…

  • Tony

    I think Ivan has made some very good points. Sooner or later, we have to move a significant proportion of our population off the surface of the planet (and it’s not because of over-population, I subscribe to the notion put forward by Julian L Simon that our population is our ultimate resource), simply because we cannot afford to have all our eggs in one basket.

    Sooner or later a dinosaur-killer is going to hit, or some pyschopathic group is going to let chimera viruses loose or some form of global disaster is going to occur. If at that time we don’t have a viable population off planet, then that would be a tragedy beyond measure. At the moment, we only know of one intelligence in the Universe. That’s us. If our light goes out because we didn’t invest the literally peanuts needed to get 100+ miles up, it could mean the end of life in the Universe.

  • sorry —
    …conformity _without_ unanimity as seen by every action of the government).

  • Mark

    I’m surprised that you all in cheering on private space exploration are unaware that there is indeed a British Company called Starchaser which is also competing for the X-Prize, it plans to float itself on the stock market in the next few months (maybe earlier due to the publicity from Scaled Composites Media Storm)

    14 out of 16 Launches have been successfull

    Its website is http://www.starchaser.co.uk

    I’m certainly going to rearrange my stock portfolio

  • Julian Morrison

    Mark : seems somebody else thinks so too…

  • M. Simon

    We need space. And we need time. In so far as we know you cannot have one without the other.

    Now what is needed is not only exploration of space but exploration of time as well.

    Since you can’t have one without the other it turns out that by exploring space we get to explore time as well at very little extra cost.

    This benefit of the space program is hardly ever mentioned but the payback could be huge.

  • Doug Collins

    I completely agree with all of you who see Space Ship One as the start of a great and historic advance for mankind. So I won’t say more of what has been well said already.

    However, I can’t help having a scientist’s fascination with Syon Park as a sort of type specimen of a kind of human who is apparently slave to various resentments against the efforts and successes of others. I suppose what impells him to write as he does is the flip side of ‘Schadenfreude’. Instead of feeling a pleasant glow of well being when he learns of the misfortunes of others, he feels an irritating stab of resentment at their achievements. He may or may not be capable of accomplishing things himself but, regardless, he is apparently unable to contain his resentment when others do so.

    I suppose a few individuals of this type are necessary in a stable society as dampeners on innovation. There is probably a need to refine and develop previous innovations, not to just continuously innovate and never exploit. The problem arises when there are too many of these people or when they become too influential. They themselves seem to act by reflex, with little ability to distinguish between good and bad innovations or between insufficient or excessive amounts of change. They just know that when they see it, they hate it.

    They probably aren’t much of a problem in cases such as this one of space exploration. The real problems are much more significant than the existence of a few naysayers. They can just be laughed at and ignored.

    They are more formidable in the more mundane areas of society. Where there are constituencies whose incomes depend on the status quo – think of the multitudes who would lose money if social security or socialized medicine were really and truly ‘reformed’. These people are the ones who will give a johnny-one-note like Syon Park a serious hearing.

    I wouldn’t be too surprised to find that an excess of Syons is one of the major causes for the fall of a culture or civilization. There probably was a Syonius or two in Rome who kept telling everyone that there was little point in trying to resist the barbarians, they were bound to take over sooner or later.

    In China in the 13th century, there was probably a Han Syon Chow who convinced the emperor that the Chinese ships exploring the Indian Ocean and even the west coast of Africa were a terrible waste of valuable resources. ‘Everyone’ knew that there was nothing of value outside of China. Why the explorers might even find something and who knows what trouble that could bring down on their heads. So the emperor decreed a death sentence for anyone caught building a ship or trying to sail from China. You can imagine what a delicious thrill of pleasure Han Syon got from that! And we all know how well the Chinese were able to deal with the round eyes when they did finally come, in force, during the 19th century. Good thing they didn’t waste any of those 13th century resources on something as stupid as exploration of an empth ocean.

  • As an American — as a Californian! — I must say that I don’t have words enough to express the pride I feel in knowing that my country and my home state provided the setting for this great achievement, not to mention the social and economic environment, in which it could occur.

    I am overjoyed that “The People” are on the verge of claiming space for themselves, one pioneer at a time. All I can add to the many great comments made above is to wish that citizens would grab many more social and economic problems by the horns, instead of waiting for government assistance or permission.

    Voluntary, private-sector approaches can do the job, folks. Let the market and civil society work.

  • Pieter

    Jonathan, you don’t have to wait to see that happening: during the newscast on Dutch television about Spaceshipone safely returning to earth there was an Greenpeace-lookalike who wanted to ban all private spaceflight because of “pollution of the upper atmosphere”. So they already have the ball running…

  • Ben

    I find myself forced to agree with Parks in one respect. He is right that there is no place livable in this solar system to go to, at this time. And there never will be if we listen to the likes of him.

    He is right. I have made the same argument myself to explain why we are not where I thought we would be when I was growing up. (During Mercury, Gemini and Apollo) Mars is a chilly waterless desert. Venus makes Hell look habitable, the rest are either airless rocks, or in some other way inhospitable to human habitation.

    But that does not mean that they will always be that way. That we nerd cannot waste our money on pointless scemes liked domed cities, asteroid mining, zero gravity manufacturing, and thereby change many of those unhabitable worlds. Of course that would change the world down here as well, but that is a risk I am willing to take.

    There is no place to go, yet. And that is why the flight of SpaceShip One is significant. It is the first step to making a place to go. Parks has too short a view of the future.

  • Syon Park

    I have to tip my hat at your collective imagination: Syon Parkism as the reason China never had an overseas empire (here’s me thinking it’s because it had a vast interior to explore and defend instead); your assertion that my mantra brought down the Roman empire is flattering but like most of the above posts completely fanciful (out of interest we have barbarians (terrorists) at the gates today and I for one advocate an aggressive defence policy against such ideaologies).

    Maybe Rome fell because people despised paying taxes to the state?

    Mining in space? Terrafirming? Space manufacturing? Time for a reality check people.

    The idea that if our planet becomes uninhabitable we move to another planet is a teenage fantasy. It’s daft.

    And I’m that “type of specimen of a kind of human” (nice) who bases my scientific rationale on facts not fiction.

  • Syon Park: either make a coherent point or clear off. All you are doing now is trolling and admiring the sight of your own pixels. Do it again and you are out of here.

    Of course you will think this remark is because you are so clever and no one has an answer to your sophomoric wisdom, but hey, when someone is as dogmatically blind as you, I have learned long ago it is a mistake to waste too much time either pandering or assuming you can be engaged in rational discourse. You are far too rude to be worth a second warning.

  • toolkien

    So much debate over a private group disposing of their resources in a manner they see fit. It may or may not have a greater importance, its too soon to tell at this point. Until some practical use is dispersed through the market I am mostly disinterested in what has happened. It very well could be the first step in opening up the solar system to exploitation, but any practical use seems to be beyond my life (hopefully another 35 years or so – (no bad ju-ju no bad ju-ju)). At least that is my opinion.

    As for a cosmological buy-in into the furtherance of mankind, opening up new vistas etc etc, I don’t buy into such notions. I have a primary interest over my life and the temporal circumstances which surround it. I give no thought to the man of the year 3,000 much less the man of the year 10,000. Their lot is their own.

    Discussions about domes and inhabiting other planets in the solar system only make me smile as the infrastructure of the US is falling into disrepair, resources for the foreseeable future has been pre-allocated to the boomer generation, on account, and we are struggling simply to maintain the status quo. The resources necessary maintain such constructions, given the lack of atmoshperes and radiation protection, and the lengths that would be necessary to create a habitable environment seem to go well beyond what individual investment can come up with. Only through coercion can the resources be obtained to build such edifices. And again, those resources have been pre-allocated for hip replacements and dialysis.

    As for spreading the human seed into outerspace, all I can say, from my meager knowledge, that we are talking about distances that are too vast to traverse. 8.5 years at 186,000 miles per second just to get to the next star. 80+ years traveling 186,000 mps to a star the we think has a planet around it, perhaps ‘unlandable upon’ as Jupiter. It’s just too far to travel. Even if the technology does exist at some point to travel at such speeds,before the sun peters out in ~5 billion years, it will always be an unknown use as we will only catipault people into some unintegrated future. If man devines a way to travel such distances and return to some practical ‘present’ relative to their launch, then it would mean man has also found the formula for traveling through time, and I’d assume we’d have some evidence of such phenomena.

    IMO therefore space exploration has a use in exploiting resources within the solar system, and capitalism and markets will explore such possibilities when it is relevant to do so. Those with resources are welcome to push the envelope out of fancy if they like. It means little to me. When the market brings goods into my orbit, and I gain an increase to my standard of living, then I’ll be more than interested and vote with my dollars.

  • Johnathan

    True, a lot of spacefaring talk is pretty far-fetched, and given the state of the world, it is hard to see big advances any time soon. But remember what they say about small acorns and oak trees. A bit of dreaming never did one any harm, by the way.

    Serious folk should look at places like Rand Simberg’s site (bookmarked on this blog) for some really well-argued stuff about this.

    I can also recommend Kings of the High Frontier by Victor Koman for a great fiction treatment of the cultural as well as practical issues.

  • Syon Park

    Comment deleted

    Editors note: As predicted, the pseudonymous Syon Park reacted to his being banned for being an ill mannered boor by declaring he was being banned because of the power of his arguments. Oh well, its a fair cop guv, can you ever forgive us…

  • The only one full of shit on this board is you Syon as you have proved so many times. Keep it up at least its amusing to watch.

  • Johnathan

    Syon, I don’t think you have “won” anything, other than acquiring a rather unpleasant name for yourself for your snide remarks. It is the tone that pisses me off, as much as the explicit argument, which as far as I can tell, is that because you see no immediate benefit to space enterprises, they are silly. Well, maybe, maybe not. Try and keep things civil. Toolkien’s post above is wrong in my view but expresses your skepticsm without feeling the need to draw blood.

  • David Lawson

    Syon, I’m saddened that apparently you can’t muster the slightest bit of enthusiasm for pioneering. Putting aside economics for a moment, I think the human race has an innate drive to do what hasn’t been done before and even though there’s no longer a big frontier on Earth that drive shows no sign of slowing down. And I’m glad.

    It’s not pointless to go the furthest reaches of the earth. For many, accomplishment is its own end, never mind whether it puts food on their table – and if it inspires other people to excel, all the better.

    It’s not just the everyday, run-of-the-mill stuff that counts, you know. “Because I could” might mean little to you but it’s exactly that attitude that propels advances you may deem more socially acceptable. Who is to say which goals are worth achieving? The people who risk their livelihoods or their lives to follow them, that’s who. Even if to you their whims seem obscure, their motives murky or their demeanors eccentric, they deserve better than your lackadaisical scorn.

  • Jason

    Day late and a dollar short, I know, but I figured I’d add my two cents in as well.

    If the only single benefit derived from space exploration for the foreseeable future is the ability to get away from Luddites such as Park, it will have been well worth the investment.

    Then again, I’m an American. We have a long traditional of leaving for greener pastures when we find something not to our liking. And one of the benefits of the moon is that we won’t have to exterminate the natives when we get there.

  • Aral Simbon


    I completely disagree that we are struggling to maintain the status quo. This is the 21st century and all of us are on a rocket ride! Change is accelerating. What sort of inductivist argument leads you to believe that you have only 35 years left? Maybe you should show a bit of disinterest in the Methuselah Mouse project?

  • Foobarista

    My own science-fiction story:

    the first truly profitable space station will be a combination high-roller casino with out-of-this-world views and zero-gee brothel. It’ll have a truly cool circus floor show featuring acrobats and trained critters, and a spherical swimming pool. Space purists and such will be aghast,
    and governments will tut-tut, but the technology
    and know-how developed in building the thing will
    enable more politically correct uses…

    The design will be outsourced to a few dozen
    Russian engineers, and it’ll cost about as much as
    two or three big Vegas casinos: ie, two or three
    billion. A couple thousand high-rolling visitors per
    month make the thing profitable – once the
    initial builder goes bankrupt and someone who
    figures out how to combine bigtime hotel-casino
    management with space logistics takes over.

    Talk about your ghastly money-making schemes,
    but gambling and sex were the first profitable
    uses of numerous other technologies – why not

  • Victoria Park

    Depends where you’re pushing the envelope.

    Pioneering genetics is not frivolous.

    Medical research is not frivolous.

    Sport is frivolous but cheap.

    Space exploration is frivolous and not so cheap.

    Censorship and banning people is hypocritical; the sign of a corrupt regime who use bullying tactics to oppress freedom.

    Samizdat /n. a system of clandestine publication of banned literature.

  • WHS


    I know Syon/ Victoria Park was irritating and tedious and sometimes mildly offensive, but did he really deserve to be banned?

    Seems to be happening more often.

  • GCooper

    WHS writes:

    “I know Syon/ Victoria Park was irritating and tedious and sometimes mildly offensive, but did he really deserve to be banned?”

    I know it’s none of my damned business (this being Mr. de Havilland’s private property, as we are so often reminded) but, personally, I applaud his banning of Syon Park who was, to put it crudely, just taking the piss.

    Disputatiousness is one thing, but Mr/Ms Park went out of its way to be insulting, not just to Mr. de Havilland’s blog, but to everyone who posted on it (pro or anti the prevailing ethos).

    Were this a Usenet group, or a publicly funded space, that would be one thing, but it is not. Mr/Ms Park’s smugness and inability to enter into reasoned debate is all too familiar to anyone who has had to endure troll wars. It’s nice that, for once, someone has the ability to despatch one of these juvenile morons into the outer darkness, where they belong.

    Life’s too short to waste on trolls.

  • Yes, it was when we culled the so-called race realists (neo-fascist racists) that were camping here a few weeks ago that it was clear to me that if you let ill mannered loud mouths use your venue to try and shout down discourse and endlessly turn unrelated topics to their pet thesis, all you do is attract more ill mannered loud mouths who will do the same.

    Everyone has their techy days but when a person makes a habit of being obnoxious and immune to rational argument, I see no reason to indulge them or tolerate them. This is not a forum and this is not a chat room, it is a blog, which is quite different. Many blogs do not even have comment sections.

    When you open your house to visitors, you do not give up the right to kick visitors out if they start insulting other guests and spray painting their opinions on the wall. Of course some people would say, “Oh but that is censorship if you stop them”. Er, no, it is just maintaining control over what is and is not acceptable on private property… but of course the collectivists that I am now far quicker to ban do not actually believe in private property (not when you pin them down), and often cannot see that censorship by the state of private media channels and editorial control over a private media channel (such as a blog, for example) are materially different things. But then someone who thinks all interaction should be political (the usual term used is ‘democratic’ these days), such distinctions make little difference to them.

    And so of course they cannot see that they are not being ‘censored’ because whatever their arguments are, any more than a man who get on a table in a restaurant, drops his draws and starts calling for the darkies to be thrown out of Britain or for the middle class to have their homes confiscated is being ‘censored’ when they get thrown out by a bouncer for being an arsehole.

    If I have any regrets it is that I have been too indulgent of endlessly poorly argued and often off topic drivel posted by serial commenters in the past. I have no objection to dissent, I just object to a constant stream of unsupported contentions delivered by megaphone that makes no attempt to actually engage in discourse. We have lots of dissenters who comment here that I would not dream of banning. So yes, there is a new hard line. Trolls and blogroaches will not be indulged and will be ejected rather swifter in future.

  • WHS

    OK, Perry/ GCooper, point taken.

    I just felt Syon Park provided an opportunity for some A’ grade fisking and interesting/amusing responses to his half-baked ideas. It was really quite heartwarming to see how effectively the Samizdatistas dispatched him. I found it quite entertaining.

    But I suppose he was getting quite rude and wearisome and that shouldn’t be tolerated.

  • The Wobbly Guy

    “Syon Parkism as the reason China never had an overseas empire”

    Whaddya know? He does realize the error of his ways!

    Newsflash, dude. China failed to expand because of reactionaries much like yourself, and the societal emphasis on education ONLY for government jobs(merchants being one of the lowest social classes, go figure). And why should I know this? Because I’m chinese, and I do have a pretty good idea of my people’s past.

    And just as a correction, we chinese might not have a true empire per se, but there is an underlying chinese empire economically… and we have little time for your deluded ways after we’ve seen just how limited we were in the past due to them.


  • Dale Amon

    If we last another millenium or two – which I consider likely – humans will be on a path to the stars, even if we assume none of the usual starship ideas pan out.

    Look to the Oort cloud. Millions of chunks of resources suitable for residence. Hydrogen for fusion power (anyone here believe fusion power will not be ubiquitous in 1000 years?) and nanotechnology to build and recycle things.

    How does this relate to interstellar migration?

    Oort clouds exist around most stars. They are so large that they are both weakly bound to their parent sun and can interpenetrate with the clouds of passing stars. There is a good chance we are exchanging a few such bodies with the Centauri system as I write.

    I do not find it difficult to imagine a Polynesian lifestyle amongst the Oort cloud bodies, with humans slowly migrating from star to star as they slowly evolve and speciate over the next few millions of years.

    One way our another, our descendants will populate the galaxy.