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The Guardian seeks to take market share from The Onion

Ok, this is awesome. I mean seriously, who knew those funsters at the Grauniad had such a self-depreciating sense of humour?

How can our future Mars colonies be free of sexism and racism?

Firstly, destiny is rarely great for the people already at the destination. When Africans moved north to colonise Europe they obliterated the Neanderthals. When Europeans seized the New World, its cultures were virtually extinguished. Luckily the only population on Mars that we know of is a handful of rovers, but no doubt we’ll start a war anyway, before dragging them into some form of slavery or oppression. It’s just what we do.
Computer rendering of the Curiosity Rover.

Second, whose destiny is it anyway? Who gets to go? D N Lee wrote a fascinating deconstruction of this in Scientific American where she makes a number of interesting points. Not least, how little attention this question has been given in the rather white and male race to conquer Mars.

The last thing we need is to wake up in 50 years and find that a bunch of #gamergate nobheads are running Mars.

I mean read this whole article, then I defy you to look me in the eye and tell me they are not taking the piss out of themselves.

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33 comments to The Guardian seeks to take market share from The Onion

  • The last thing we need is to wake up in 50 years and find that a bunch of #gamergate nobheads are running Mars.

    Another way to see that #gamergate is winning is that we have become the stuff of their nightmares even beyond just games 😀

  • Yup. Besides, the “#gamergate nobheads” are the only ones with the skills to actually make it to Mars.

    Meanwhile the SJWs will be bouncing the rubble here.

  • What is genuinely awesome is the blind spot a lot of libertarians have when it comes to space exploration. Space programmes are, of course, phenomenally expensive, wholly creations of the state, and are undertaken purely to enhance the prestige of governments. The massive amount of theft required to keep them going alone should make any libertarian’s blood boil.

  • Mr Ed

    The comments on the article, those not deleted, are priceless, but one.

    Crikey, the Guardianistas seem to have lost their sense of humour.

    It’s all that worrying about Cuba and the lentil harvest.

  • What is genuinely awesome is the blind spot a lot of libertarians have when it comes to space exploration. Space programmes are, of course, phenomenally expensive, wholly creations of the state

    I find your lack of faith disturbing (*choke* *gasp*)

    That is only true at the moment, but that will not always be the case. Something like fusion comes along and everything changes. And that will happen eventually.

  • Space programmes are, of course, phenomenally expensive, wholly creations of the state, and are undertaken purely to enhance the prestige of governments.

    And that wild expense comes primarily from government regulations.

  • Perrry, Phelps

    What difference does that make? Really existing space programmes exist courtesy of massive theft. Maybe libertarians should get behind HS2 for example. Yeah, it’d be built with stolen money, but so what? It’s technically impressive and a testimony to the human spirit and the power of the human imagination and…

  • I do not think you actually read my comment, so not much point in replying I suppose.

  • Perry,

    Sorry man, that should’ve just read “Phelps”.

    Yeah, technological change might make all sorts of things possible. But… space travel as it currently exists – impressive as it is – shouldn’t be conflated with space travel as it might one day be.

  • Jonathan Bailey

    “I mean read this whole article, then I defy you to look me in the eye and tell me they are not taking the piss out of themselves.”

    That would require two things:
    1)Possession of a high degree of self-awareness and;
    2)A sense of humour.

    Lefties don’t laugh at themselves. If they’re taking the piss out of themselves, it is unintentional (but no less funny).

  • Chip

    The writer should take a stand against the white male today and refuse to use any good or service invented or provided by those he disparages.

    But like climate activists who fly a lot, the important thing here is the moral exhibitionism derived from the position, not the validity of the position.

  • staghounds

    “… we all just assume that decent educated scientists and engineers – the “right kind” of people – won’t have any problem with that sort of thing.

    Except every available single scrap of historical experience tells us that this is an incredibly naive and dangerous assumption to make. ”

    Fortunately, the right kind of decent educated sociologists, economists, and community organisers, unlike icky engineers and scientists, WILL be nice.

  • Mars One is pretty much just a marketing scheme looking for backing.

    What would be interesting is if a number of libertarian billionaires said, “Fine – we’ll fund it” as long as it is setup on libertarian lines (i.e. Non-Aggression Principle, no taxes, etc.) and maintained that way.

    The Guardianistas would go mental and it would set the cat among the pigeons elsewhere too.

    The “Alliance” is already getting off the ground with state funded Delta II, IV and Atlas V rockets. Time to get a march on them I think. Last one to Enceladus is a poopy pants.

  • Ljh

    Solution for those anxious that only the politically correct colonise Mars: build an ark, the bigger the better, and fill it with therighteous, SJWers, the victims of privilege, whole social science faculties, half the civil service, all diversity officers and council climate change officers and go build Utopia, just don’t come back.

  • PeterT

    The writer should take a stand against the white male today and refuse to use any good or service invented or provided by those he disparages.

    Now and again I take a minute to thank my good fortune that I am able to derive so much benefit from technology I do not understand, which was created by the toil of, lets face it, mostly white males. As a useless financial sector employee I am embarrassed by the fact that, come the zombie apocalypse, I am likely to be among the first to have my brains eaten.

    Solution for those anxious that only the politically correct colonise Mars: build an ark, the bigger the better, and fill it with therighteous, SJWers, the victims of privilege, whole social science faculties, half the civil service, all diversity officers and council climate change officers and go build Utopia, just don’t come back.

    I could not be so forgiving. In this situation I would itch for a fire stick of suitable caliber.

  • […] of the great Brit-Lib (British libertarian) site Samizdata comes this not-The-Onion-piece in The Guardian: "How can our future Mars colonies be free of sexism […]

  • Robert

    The author of this article – assuming it’s not a spoof – is a bitter, misanthropic little bastard, isn’t he?

  • The author of this article – assuming it’s not a spoof – is a bitter, misanthropic little bastard, isn’t he?

    Er… It’s the Guardian… That’s a feature, not a bug.

  • Veryretired

    I’m with ljh on this deal. In fact, I’d even kick in five bucks to help build the thing, if they promised to take all of the true believers with them.

    It would be money well spent.

  • Thailover

    When Africans moved north to colonise Europe they obliterated the Neanderthals

    I first read that as ‘the Netherlands’, lol.

  • Dale Amon

    Mr Rocco is apparently totally unaware of what is actually going on in space business. I’d suggest to him that he go do at least the slightest bit of background reading before making such statements in ignorance. The truth is out there. Read it. I haven’t the time to do the educating… I’m too busy making the future.

  • Rocco is my first name, Dale.

    Anyway I went ahead and did the barest minimum of research, googling “how is space exploration funded”. The first result was this interview with celebrity astronomer, Brian Cox:

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/professor-brian-cox-the-government-must-put-more-funding-into-space-exploration-9876401.html

    First three paragraphs, my bold:

    “Professor Brian Cox has urged the Government and the EU to offer more funding to space exploration, saying that lessons should be learned from the Philae lander mission which he believes will create a highly-skilled “Rosetta generation”.

    Speaking to the i paper after a Speakers for Schools event on the future of scientific discovery, the physicist and TV presenter expressed concern at the lack of social mobility and limited access to STEM industries [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] for young people today.

    “We don’t invest enough, it’s clear, in space exploration,” he said. “These missions are immensely cost-effective. They’re relatively cheap and provide vast amounts of return. If you look at Rosetta, it’s not an expensive thing to do when it’s spread over 10 years with this tiny amount of money from the European Union and ESA But the impact has been incalculable.”

    (He’s right that it’s incalculable – literally so. But let’s not get into opportunity costs, and why utilitarianism is nonsense.)

    Next I googled “how is european space agency funded”. The first result was this:

    http://www.esa.int/About_Us/Welcome_to_ESA/Funding

    First two paragraphs, my bold:

    ” ESA’s activities fall into two categories – ‘mandatory’ and ‘optional’. Programmes carried out under the General Budget and the Science Programme budget are ‘mandatory’; they include the agency’s basic activities (studies on future projects, technology research, shared technical investments, information systems and training programmes).

    All Member States contribute to these programmes on a scale based on their Gross Domestic Product (GDP). The other programmes, known as ‘optional’, are only of interest to some Member States, who are free to decide on their level of involvement.”

    Frankly, Dale, until I saw your comment I didn’t know anyone doubted that governments fund space exploration. And as far as I’m aware, the libertarian position is ‘tax is theft’, not ‘tax is theft unless it’s to pay for something cool’, let alone ‘tax is theft unless it’s to fund men with beards play with robots while wearing Hawaiian shirts’.

  • Laird

    Rocco, Dale can certainly speak for himself, but I think his point is that these days there is quite a lot of privately-funded space research going on, starting with SpaceX and Virgin Galactic but there are many more as well. In fact, that’s where all the action is.

  • Julie near Chicago

    The main private initiative to go to Mars comes, as far as I know, from Elon Musk’s company SpaceX. Links to a couple of Wikipedia articles on that; and then two others, on Virgin Galactic and Burt Rutan.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mars_Colonial_Transporter:

    Mars Colonial Transporter (MCT) is the name of the privately funded development project by U.S. company SpaceX to design and build a spaceflight system[2] of reusable rocket engines, launch vehicles and space capsules to transport humans to Mars and return to Earth.

    As of 2014, SpaceX has begun development of the large Raptor rocket engine for the Mars Colonial Transporter, but the MCT will not be operational earlier than the mid-2020s.

    [SNIP]

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/SpaceX

    Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX) is an American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company with its headquarters in Hawthorne, California, USA. It was founded in 2002 by former PayPal entrepreneur and Tesla Motors CEO Elon Musk with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars.

    SpaceX is a privately funded space transportation company.

    [SNIP]

    For more on Elon Musk:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elon_Musk

    Of possible further interest on the space frontier:

    Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virgin_Galactic

    And aeronautical engineer and aircraft and spacecraft designer Burt Rutan:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burt_Rutan

    In a 2010 interview, Rutan articulated his motivation for developing suborbital technology projects with SpaceShipOne and SpaceShipTwo. He was developing suborbital spaceflight technology because in this “we can achieve some breakthroughs,” making such flight “orders of magnitude safer and orders of magnitude more affordable. I’m taking this step because I think achieving something that has never existed in manned spaceflight – and that is high volume and public access – I think it is important to do that and to do it as soon as possible.”[10]

    [SNIP]

  • Julie near Chicago

    I was only trying to help Rocco out. And doggone it, I busted the 3-link limitation. But all four are merely to WikiFootia articles … please, unSmite me, O ye great and wise moderators of Samizdata….

  • […] of the great Brit-Lib (British libertarian) site Samizdata comes this not-The-Onion-piece in The Guardian: “How can our future Mars colonies be free of […]

  • Laird, Julie,

    Thanks for those, but I’m aware that there are “private” companies doing this stuff – Virgin Galactic (what a roaring success that has been!) gets a lot of its money from the government of the UAE and a fair bit from the government of New Mexico, and the money that Branson puts in comes in part from Virgin Trains, beneficiary of a monopoly granted by the UK government; and SpaceX was founded by a man who got rich courtesy of the American government preventing anyone competing with Tesla Motors (450+ patents), and is now pretty much a development wing of that famous private company, NASA – but that’s not the point.

    Take that bloke with his risqué shirt. What was the Libertarian response? “Oh, leave him alone you awful social justice warriors! Can’t you just shut up and appreciate the wondrous achievement? He landed a rocket on a comet!”

    What should have been the response? “Fuck him! His job only exists because state’s steal to fund him – so go and cry about your hurt feelings, you fucking leach!”

    But, like I said, no. He did something cool so that makes it alright.

  • And here’s some more minimal effort research:

    “National Space Society [that Dale Amon is on the board of] calls on Senate and House to fully fund NASA in accordance with NASA Authorisation Act 2010”
    http://www.spaceref.com/news/viewpr.html?pid=32175

    “National Space Society [that Dale Amon is on the board of] blitzes Congress on NASA budget”
    http://m.space.com/3539-national-space-society-blitzes-congress-nasa-budget.html

    Yeah, carry on “making the future”, you corporatist cheerleader.

  • Julie near Chicago

    Rocco, among other things SpaceX contracts with the government. It is nevertheless a fully private company. And so forth. I read you as claiming there ARE no private companies aiming at space exploration–such endeavors are “wholly creations of the state,” etc.

    To quote you:

    Space programmes are, of course, phenomenally expensive, wholly creations of the state, and are undertaken purely to enhance the prestige of governments.

  • Yes, Julie. Without states space programmes as we know them today would not exist.

    SpaceX survives thanks to NASA contracts; SpaceX exists thanks to a (at least) half-billion dollar ‘investment’ from the US government. This is not denied even by Elon Musk.

    Elon Musk is a prime example of crony capitalism. Tesla Motors wouldn’t have existed without state money, tax breaks, subsidies, etc. Musk got his hands on these goodies because Tesla is an “eco friendly” business. Tesla never makes a profit, sells barely any cars, and those it does it sells at a loss which is covered by the government. Musk also has a solar power company, bit I can’t recall the name just now (Solar something or other). I’m sure you can imagine how much state support is required to keep that sort of “enterprise” going. He also has something called “the gigafactory” (fancy batteries, etc) opening up in Nevada. The state of Nevada put together a package worth 1.4 billion dollars for him, reportedly $500,000 of which was cash upfront. And they gave him the land “free”, which was nice.

    Here are a couple of links. Note they are from impeccably right wing sources.

    http://www.breitbart.com/big-government/2013/01/15/elon-musk-poster-child-of-obama-gilded-age/

    https://ricochet.com/archives/elon-musk-shows-us-how-to-thrive-in-the-government-directed-economy/

    You might also want to search for the profile of Musk in Fortune magazine. Or the one in the Wall Street Journal. Or ex-Reagan advisor, David Stockman’s takedown of Tesla. Or just google “Elon Musk crony capitalist”, or “SpaceX crony capitalism”.

    But, like I said, this isn’t the point. The first point is that Libertarians ought to try very hard to distinguish between “private” and “contracted out”. The second is that Libertarians ought not to let their technophilia cloud their judgement.

  • “But, like I said, this isn’t the point. The first point is that Libertarians ought to try very hard to distinguish between “private” and “contracted out”. The second is that Libertarians ought not to let their technophilia cloud their judgement.”

    If you examine the history of colonial settlement in America you will find that the distinction in those cases was less then you seem to think it is. So I would say that this goes with the territory of exploration and colonization. This isn’t a matter of letting technophilia clouding our judgement any more then technophobia may be clouding yours but merely a realization that colonization opens up new areas that will be completely beyond the control of Earthly governments and give Liberterians and everyone else new options and a greater degree of freedom in the long run. The effects of what the Turner Thesis described do not go away merely because the Turner Thesis itself is no longer considered fashionable by the academics. An excessive commitment to ideological purity in view of this or a worry that someone involved in space development may not be pure enough (As you seem to be doing) is best left to our friends on the Left. ^_^

  • Oh, the “purism” stuff. Very good. Very clever.