In Defense Of Newt Gingrich

Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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28 Responses

  1. Ethan Gach says:

    I was wondering what Neil deGrasse Tyson’s feelings on the subject were.  And as I hoped, he agrees:

    “If the nation dreams big and that percolates its way through society, the dreams are enabled by prowess in science. Once everybody gets the feeling through them, they want to become scientists and engineers and participate in this adventure,” Tyson exclaimed. “Scientists and engineers — who are the seeds of tomorrow’s economies in this competitive 21st century we’re entering.”

    I want a moon colony by 2020, and Gundams defending it by 2025.  We should stop investing in the past and start financing the future, and that means diverting trillions of dollars wasted on Social Security and Medicare toward research in Science and engineering, and investment in NASA and the funding of contests between private entrepenuers.  The bridge to the 22nd century will be one that connects earth and the moon.  Manifest Destiny demands it. 

    But in all serious, I’m in agreement.  Take 10% of the Pentagon’s budget if possible, or divert 10%of the Pentagon’s current budget to a Pentagon program aimed at that.  However you wana calculate it though, a nation without dreams is one without a future.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      Taking 10% of the Pentagon budget to fund space exploration works for me…Report

      • dexter in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        If I had any juice America would take ten percent a year of the defence budget for eternity.  We would spend 1/4 of it on infrastructure, 1/2 on paying down the deficit and the other 1/4 on space.  Someday the sun will go supernova.  I think we should start planning ahead for a change.  Besides I am looking forward to the day when the moon colony will start chucking rocks at earth.Report

        • Nob Akimoto in reply to dexter says:

          Quibble, but…

          Our sun’s not the right kind of star to go nova, much less super nova.

          It’ll just turn into a red dwarf…

          Granted it’ll be much sooner than that before the Earth is uninhabitable, perhaps a billion or so years.Report

          • dexter in reply to Nob Akimoto says:

            Quibble, but

            I was just goofing about the supernova.  The sun wil go through a red giant phase when the edge will be somewhere around the orbit of earth.  Yes, all that is a long time in the future, but I like to plan ahead.

            Nob, I would like to take this instance to apologize if my crack about Pearl Harbor caused you any problems.  If you had said, “Everything I know about America I learned from Smedley Butler,” I would have been cool with that. Also, I really enjoy your post.Report

    • BlaiseP in reply to Ethan Gach says:

      Space exploration is for machinery, not human beings.  Putting people on orbit is just about the stupidest use of money imaginable.Report

      • Michael Cain in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Yes, at least until there’s a cheap way to LEO.  Of course, NASA has always been reluctant to dedicate themselves to that problem; it’s not sexy, and if they solve the LEO problem, there will be lots of competition for the sexy probes to other planets, space telescopes, etc.Report

        • BlaiseP in reply to Michael Cain says:

          I don’t buy it.   The cost of putting one kilo on LEO dictates a fast launch at high G, a whole lot faster than we can accelerate a human being.

          Once on orbit, we’re faced with the problem of high radiation levels, degradation of long bones, food, water — hell, every drop of water on orbit costs more than its weight in gold.

          And where are we going, anyway, these human beings?   Mars?   To put down a few footprints?   What can we learn from such an expedition that we can’t learn from remote sensing?    Jupiter?   The radiation alone would kill a human being.   And what about all that Science we’re sposta be garnering on that goddamn ISS?   It’s not zero-gravity out there anyway, it’s microgravity.

          Let those with more money than good sense buy their tickets to outer space.   We still haven’t explored our own oceans properly and we’re losing our coral reefs and still haven’t worked out where the blue whale breeds, largest animal to ever live and we know next to nothing about its lifecycle.    Plenty of science to do right here on Planet Earth.    The great telescopes we’ve launched into space are giving us a whole lot more useful science for less money than any human being could.Report

  2. Burt Likko says:

    I’m partial to the idea of a space elevator instead.Report

  3. Ethan Gach says:

    BlaiseP is right…we can’t explore space until we first invent augments. 

    So I revise my earlier timeline: augmented humans by 2020, cyborgs by 2020, moon bases by 2030, and Gundams by 2035.Report

  4. BlaiseP says:

    Maybe some time between now ‘n then we’ll clean up our trash on near earth orbit.   Gundam Garbageman, Ho! Gomi no shobun wa saiyuusenjikou desu.Report

  5. DensityDuck says:

    A moon base is ridiculous populism. 

    Space-based solar power would be a much more useful thing to have; even the populist angle could get behind it, with “reduce our dependence on foreign energy WITHOUT tying ourselves to the vagaries of the weather” kind of stuff.Report

    • Patrick Cahalan in reply to DensityDuck says:

      Plus, you could turn your solar collector into a DeATh RAy!Report

      • Remember how in SimCity 2000 sometimes the microwaves from space would miss the powerplant and start a fire in your city?Report

      • wardsmith in reply to Patrick Cahalan says:

        Remember Robocop? How many ex-presidents killed when the energy collector went awry? One of the funniest movies ever made if you just ignore the action on the screen and pay attention to the background stuff.Report

        • Patrick Cahalan in reply to wardsmith says:

          True story, my buddy Marc and I went to go see that in the theater when it came out.

          We’re sitting there and ED-209 machine-guns that poor sap a couple hundred bazillion times, and he goes flying back onto the table, and the robot stops shooting and is sitting there with guns smoking and the guy is lying there in a pool of gore with basically no chest left and one of the bit actors shouts out the line, “Will somebody call a goddamn paramedic!?!?”

          Marc and I both bust a gut laughing, and I swear two people got up and left the theater, thinking they were sitting in the same row as a couple of psychopaths.

          Guess they didn’t see the humor.Report

  6. Nob Akimoto says:

    Moon colonies are dumb. Why would we want to colonize a place not built for us?

    Easier to sang an asteroid or two and start building colonies in the lagrange points.Report

  7. mike shupp says:

    Whatever it would take to build a moon base and go on to colonize the solar system … maybe we should just admit Americans don’t have it in them anymore.  Once upon a time we spread ourselves across a continent in a generation, and we built a sort of raggedy GI-occupied empire after WW II, but our urge for expansion is now over.

    Perhaps as an alternative to our decaying space program, we could reach some agreement with the Chinese.  We might offer them say ten billion dollars per year to subsidize their program, free access to all our space technology, lots of friendly TV coverage, ticker tape parades in major US cities for heroic taikonauts.   The Chinese could promise us to  promise us to build a city on the moon that would look sort of American through a webcam; it might even have city squares named Heinlein and van Vogt and Anderson and Hubbard, so the memories of our contributions to the future of humanity would be remembered.

    Maybe they’d be kind enough to let some of us be immigrants.