Elen sila lumenn omentielvo!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

On Newt and the Moon

Charles Pierce:

I have to confess: The fact that N. Leroy Gingrich, Definer Of Civliization's Rules and Leader (Perhaps) Of The Civlizing Forces, proposed building a base on the moon by 2020, only to have the idea turned into a punchline and general ridicule, actually bothered the hell out of me. When did we become so quick to mock this kind of thing? When did our national imagination wither this way? When did exploration become just another "big government" program for pipsqueaks like Willard Romney to ridicule?

I'm old enough to remember when the space program was something capable of moving the entire world to wonder and delight. It seemed like something we all got together and did as a species.

I've been rewatching Carl Sagan's Cosmos lately, and as brilliant as the series remains -- even with some dated material, I'm still convinced that it should be required viewing for, well, every single person on Earth -- I can't help but feel somewhat elegiac about it, because Cosmos has at its heart an assumption that the dream of the stars would continue. Instead it's died, and the only time we get to hear anyone speak of it, the words come from the mouth of crazy moral midget Newt Gingrich.

At what point did we collectively stick our heads up our own asses, anyway?


Cal's Canadian Cave of Coolness said...

It's not the IDEA of a moon colony that is goofy. I totally want a SPACE 1999 in my future. But now that a numnut like Gingrich brought it up it will never happen. He's worse than Cobra Commander when it comes to spoiling good ideas. If we have to fight wars can't we fight them in space?

Roger Owen Green said...

The problem with Newt is that he says X today, Y tomorrow and goodness knows what he'll say next week. He's an unreliable messenger, though if Ron Paul or Barack Obama had said it, it would have been likewise trashed.

SK Waller said...

I think it was in 1981.

M. D. Jackson said...

The idea is not crazy. just because a republican says it doesn't make it whacky. The idea is sound and doable as is a mission to and/or a base on Mars. Why then do we guffaw when Newt floats the idea? Have we become so entrenched in political ideology that we must poo-poo our most sacred dreams just because it is espoused by a hated enemy? Does Newt's endorsement make it profane somehow?

For many years we have bemoaned the fact that the world seems to have lost the will to explore space, then turn around and attack someone who suggests that America can take back the lead in the race that everyone seems to have abandoned. So who has lost the will now?

As shakespeare said; "The fault... is not in our stars but in ourselves."

Kelly Sedinger said...

I'm not saying that the idea is crazy because Gingrich said it, but others certainly are, of course. And Gingrich doesn't help the case by being frankly insane about the details of the moon base in his head. I just think it sucks that an idea that thrills me deeply and strikes me as eventually essential for the long-term future of our species only finds voice in the mouth of a lunatic who couldn't make it happen if he had the Presidency from today until the day the moon base is dedicated.

Ben Varkentine said...

I was reading the book Genius (about Richard Feynman) and it reminded me of what I think is at least part of the answer.

Why have moon bases, etc, become the talking point of lunatics (pun intended) when it used to be ass all-American as apple pie?

Two words, and one of 'em probably doesn't even count: The Challenger.

To the "baby boom" generation, NASA is Neil Armstrong; Buzz Aldrin, etc, heroes to children everywhere.

To "Gen X," NASA is the shuttle that exploded killing seven people, one of them a teacher.

I'm not saying it was a conscious decision, like anyone said, "because that shuttle blew up, we should never try again."

I just think that seriously changed NASA's place in the hearts and minds of America.