We are developing the social individualist meta-context for the future. From the very serious to the extremely frivolous... lets see what is on the mind of the Samizdata people.

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

Onwards and outwards

Dale Amon is Samizdata.net’s man in the know about this stuff, but I link to it also, if only because the enemies of freedom (see the first paragraph of the first comment on this posting) seem to hate it so much, and write attacks (“Among their sacred causes are the decontrol of gun ownership and decriminalisation of all drugs…”) on Samizdata.net that could not be bettered if Samidata.net had paid for them.

Like SpaceShipOne, the homebuilt rocketship that claimed a £5.2m cash prize for twice reaching suborbital space, Rutan’s next creation will travel beyond Earth’s atmosphere as well.

SpaceShipTwo (SS2), however, will have more than a single occupant.

Rutan is toying with designs to accommodate up to eight passengers at a time, with enough upgrades to warrant a ticket in the £104,000 (£200,000) price range.

“I think anyone who had the chance to go would want to go,” said Trevor Beattie, a British advertising personality, who already has booked a flight.

Rutan, who has been averaging better than one new aircraft design every year for the past three decades, says he is finished with airplanes for a while.

The mission now for his Mojave-based company, Scaled Composites, is to create 3,000 new astronauts a year – per departure point, Rutan adds, and per ship.

“Mojave is not going to be the only place in the world where there will be a place to buy tickets and fly a spaceflight,” Rutan said.

Not everything in the world is good just now, and that would have been true even without that terrible earthquake. But some things are going very well.

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13 comments to Onwards and outwards

  • Brian, thanks for this bit of cheer. I’ve been working with Fox News on the TV in the background, and I needed something like this to give me a bit of pick-me-up.

  • Skookumchuk

    When I was a boy, my father worked on the X-15, the Atlas and Apollo. I remember we went out to Edwards Air Force Base one day to see the Shuttle atop its 747 carrier. It was blazing hot and the car overheated on the way. Once we got there we took pictures. As we looked at it he said”maybe you or your kids will go up there someday”.

    Maybe so, Pop.

  • Well, one reason I like hanging out with the Samizdata people is that if I declare that it is mankind’s destiny to explore and populate the universe, nobody will look at me like I am nuts, and instead the response might be more along the lines of “You should see the cool things I saw in Burt Rutan’s hangar when I was walking through it in November”.

    And at this point I find it amazing that anyone can seriously argue for the continued criminalisation of drugs and keep a straight face.

  • Deoxy

    I can argue for the criminalisation of drugs and keep a straight face, and I don’t even support the argument… but it is reasoned and logical, with only slightly different priorities than you, I would guess. It is as follows:

    Libertarian society and freedom in general depend on the responsible actions of its citizens. Many drugs interfere with brain function, which interferes with resposible action. Therefore, such drugs should be either illegal or retricted to controlled environments.

    That is a straight-faced argument to criminalize general illegal drug use (such as many narcotics). Of course, I would support the right to use such drugs in a “controlled environment” – that is, go to a facility/drug store, get locked in a rubber room and get your drugs. You’re allowed to leave once the drugs have worn off.

    You can still use drugs (and probably cheaper and easier than ever before, if waivers of liability could actually be enforced in court…), and yet, much of the fear of drugs would be eliminated, and real studies of regular users could be very easily run. The results of such studies might well alleviate fears of ever more lax drug laws for many drugs, while leading the eventual disuse of others that are shown to be less enjoyable and with worse side-effects.

    In short, try solutions that are likly to work, not just laughing at your political opponents.

  • Gil

    Deoxy,

    Do you support, similar controls over the use of alcohol?

    If so, why should this idea be taken seriously?

    If not, why should this idea be taken seriously?

    People do things all the time that affect their risk to others, and we generally consider this to be an important aspect of liberty, and hold them responsible for the consequences of their actions.

    While there might be some things that are so dangerous that they call for prior restraint, drug use does not seem (to me, or any of the reasonable people I know) to be one of them.

  • Zach

    Deoxy comes closest to a reasonable position on this issue, in my view.

    But Gil: “People do things all the time that affect their risk to others, and we generally consider this to be an important aspect of liberty, and hold them responsible for the consequences of their actions”. Hmm….really? I think that you are forgetting that in the Common Law system we do in fact have a court of equity system which regularly engages in preventing people from doing things that would harm others, if the harm can not be reversed, etc, in the form of injunctions, etc.

  • Deoxy,

    Why just the drugs currently illegal? Or even including things like alcohol and tobacco?

    There are quite a few things that are bad for us. For instance, eating a poor diet. Or trying to force nutty ideas on everybody.

    Or how about this one: sleep deprivation. When someone gets drunk or high, the effects usually wear off in a day or so. But the fool that trys getting along on five hours of sleep per night? Why, we praise them to the skies. And when they screw up, we give them a bye. Sleep deprivation doesn’t wear off in a single day — unless it’s just one bad night.

    There’s a good reason for not locking people up for everything they do that’s harmful to themselves (and possibly harmful to others). It’s because that kind of tyranny is the most harmful thing of all.

  • j.pickens

    Wow, that was some thread hijack!

    Back to space, boys and girls….

  • MusselsfromBrussels

    If drugs were decriminalized, irresponsible people would still behave in irresponsible ways, whether they used drugs or not. Its just a fact of life.

    Its difficult to imagine how decriminalization would lead to a net negative effect on society, IMO. However, the potential upside to decriminalization seems huge.

  • digitalbrownshirt

    I like Deoxy’s idea on decriminalizing drugs with a little modification. I would keep the existing laws on possession of drugs on the books and enforce them rigorously. I would provide facilities for the use of any drug conceivable and provide them for free to anyone who walked in the door. The user must not have driven a vehicle to the facility and I would provide free transportation to anyone who needed it. There are those who would be tempted to send others for it or to buy it from dealers, but the possession laws would make that very small market to unprofitable to support a wide-spread network. Furthermore, by destroying the network, there will be no more marketing by dealers to recruit new users. This, combined by free treatment programs should diminish the number of users, eliminate the crimes committed to support the habit and eliminate a huge budget spent on law enforcement to combat the drug trade and the corruption of the judicial system itself.

  • digitalbrownshirt,

    I like your idea. Your rules are sound and sensible. I propose we do it uniformly. The same rules you propose for other drugs should apply to alcohol and tobacco. Some very dangerous drugs indeed.

  • Paleo Man

    Thanks for the plug, Brian. Yep, at a time when upwards of 100,000 people have been killed by the tsunami, it’s consoling to think that an “advertising personality” can pay £200,000 for the *possibility* of hitching a ride on a spaceship. Makes the fight for freedom all worthwhile, somehow.

  • Dale Amon

    Brian: You missed a very important item. The money for SS2 and the program you described has a very big United Kingdom angle on it. The logo on the side of that spaceship will be “Virgin Galactic”.