If We Can Explore Mars, Can We Solve Our Problems Here On Earth?
The only event most Americans can really look forward to these days, and take comfort in, is NASA’s Curiosity rover on planet Mars. Reports on the legendary voyage keep getting more exciting:
After two weeks of taking stock of its surroundings, the Mars Curiosity rover has taken its first “baby steps” and sent back images of its first tracks, NASA officials said Wednesday.Engineers sent the commands Tuesday night for this first drive, which took about 16 minutes — mostly spent taking pictures, said lead rover driver Matt Heverly. During the test, the rover moved forward about 4½ meters, turned 120 degrees in place and then backed up 2½ meters — ending up about 6 meters, or roughly 20 feet, from its landing spot. As it moved forward, its boxy head turned from side to side, taking shots of its wheels in the process.
A source of national pride. Americans can now eat dinner after they get home from their jobs, and log onto the web to access the latest 4 1/2 meter meanderings of the Curiosity rover. For the Americans who don’t have jobs (oh, say, around 30 or more million), they have even more time and energy to get constant updates about NASA’s “boxy head” machine.
This blasting off to Mars, the harrowing landing, and the subsequent shots of Curiosity’s wheels is captivating. But why? Poor people and rich people alike can stop on the street, lift a finger toward the sky, and shake their heads in awe. Men in business suits with their arms around the backs of men in rotting tweed jackets are saying, we’ve got a high-tech machine up there, Johnny. Way, way out there. Life is looking up. We think.
God bless America. Poor people are extremely miserable, and have always been so throughout the ages of modern civilization. Rich people are also miserable. I know a couple of millionaires. They’re the most tormented, stressed out human beings I’ve ever met. They both own multiple properties in big cities. They own many businesses. They are always getting sued. They have major investments in the stock market to worry about. They have to do some hiring. Firing. Keep track of government regulations, laws, and statutes.
They each live in a prison. We call them beautiful homes in the “nice parts” of town. The quality and health of their multitude of investments haunts them. They feel like people hate them. They have many ailments, and take many prescription drugs.
But new, high-definition photos from Mars kind of sweeps that awful anxiety beneath the metaphorical rug. For a few minutes, at least. And that’s all we can ask. Many years ago, our nation’s masses of miserable people had to actually read science fiction novels to escape. Or watch Hollywood’s version of the Red Planet. Now, people just have to keep up with reports about a rover on Mars that “turned 120 degrees in place and then backed up 2 1/2 meters.” This should be a constant, fresh source of entertainment for at least a few more months.
NASA has delivered, once again, the greatest escapism possible. Sure, there’s scientific merit in searching the Red Planet for microbes and traces of water. And yes, humans have to begin thinking outward if they want to survive as a species. Kind of like bed bugs after so long. They have to voyage across deep space to get into the next shitty apartment and terrorize those folks, because the tenants in Apt 4B just can’t support twelve billion bed bugs with voracious appetites.
Try explaining to poor people the scientific merits of the Curiosity rover. NASA officials should give a speech to a million Americans who haven’t been able to find jobs in a couple years, and have since lost their homes and the respect of their families. Explain to them why it’s so goddamned fascinating to be taking pictures of dust on Mars for the next ten years. Or the billions it costs to do so.
It would be skeptical and cynical and lacking sincerity to say, at least to some degree, that roving Mars with a glorified remote control monster truck strapped with cameras while so many people in our world are impoverished, is like a healthy young man masturbating in his bedroom while his house burns down.
To up the stakes, we could imagine that nimble young man is masturbating by using a left-hand, rare Tantric method that not only pleasures his genitals, but in fact swells his consciousness to the point of him nearly having a legitimate spiritual experience. There are more details about this subject, but I’ll leave them out as this is a family blog.
To raise the tension slightly more, we could say that house is filled with his family members and friends. He knows the house is burning. It’s nighttime. Everybody’s asleep. It’s the perfect time for Tantric masturbation. If he does it right, a goddess might appear. Or a demon. Lower energies, being stoked, is how black magic power is accessed.
But back to the point. No matter how sophisticated and impressive the young man’s masturbation technique is. No matter how worthy or easily justified it is, most people would note that his house is on fire. Other people are also in jeopardy. Get the people out of the building. Get the fire department to put out the fire. Build a new home, or renovate the old one. Bottom line, there’s a serious problem, and it’s deadly and destructive.
Either way, our global economy is in shambles. Our banks have hundreds of trillions in derivative exposure on their books that could blow up at any time and collapse the world’s largest financial institutions and world banks. The real unemployment rate is 14.5 percent. Wall Street has gone unpunished for their role in what’s being called the ‘financial holocaust‘. Our air and water are filthy. Our food is almost all genetically modified. Our military is being used like its part of a video game. Our diverse cultures have been snapped up into the Great Monoculture.
Yet, the good news? NASA named the spot where Curiosity’s bulk touched Martian soil as “Bradbury Landing”. Good for Ray. But what about the rest of us? Things will be all right on planet Earth, folks, because we’re so talented that we can explore Mars. That should, by default, mean we can handle our problems plaguing us here, right?
One of the greatest outcomes for successfully visiting Mars is the possibility of sending humans there on the next trip. If so, it would be worth it for NASA to lure Jamie Dimon or Lloyd Blankfein or Jeffrey Immelt with a first-ever manned trip to Mars, and then pull a Challenger at about seven thousand feet.