[FoRK] Losing my religion

Sean Conner sean at conman.org
Sat Feb 13 15:45:34 PST 2010

It was thus said that the Great Damien Morton once stated:
> On Sun, Feb 14, 2010 at 4:49 AM, Jeff Bone <jbone at place.org> wrote:
> > Of course there is, and it's been articulated well and often by various
> > folks, notably Robert Zubrin and crowd.  (Cf. The Case for Mars, etc.)  A
> > commercially-sponsored trip-to-Mars would be the biggest show on Earth.
> >  Think about how much advertisers / sponsors spend on e.g. NASCAR.  Think
> > about how much --- now approximating a half-billion at the top end --- we
> > pay to make really big movies like Avatar.  Zubrin estimated that a
> > Mars-direct mission could be mounted at a cost of < order-10 billion (in
> > late-90s dollars, IIRC;  would need adjustment, however...)  That's actually
> > in the realm of what private interests can fund, certainly given the payoff
> > economics involved:  ads, sponsorship, direct subscription, special-access
> > content and subscriptions, merchandising, etc.
> Why go to Mars when you can write NASCAR on the moon with giant frikken
> lasers. Its Solar Power Satellites in reverse, cranked up to 11, and a whole
> lot cheaper and easier, and more profitable too.  If you have to go to mars,
> take a page out of Avatar's playbook and send telepresences instead. Its
> just so much cheaper, and its can be timeshared amongst thousands of paying
> customers. More profit for the ferrengi. Hell, once you have people plugging
> in to experience this, why not take a play out of the Matrix and mix in a
> little fabricated reality to help pad out your telepresence timesharing a
> bit. Its not like the sheeple will notice whether they are 'live' or not,
> and think of the profits. Yes, commercial interests can really drive this
> forward.

  The reasons for Mars may be a bit tenuous, but the Moon has a real shot at
a source of He-3 [1] for power generation here on Earth (as well as some
other industrial uses).  Yes, getting to the Moon is expensive (it's a long
uphill climb) but the reverse trip is dirt cheap (pardon the pun).

> (BTW, even the Big Showy Trip To Mars isn't the biggest opportunity out
> > there.  Drag a middling-sized S-type or M-type asteroid back to earth orbit
> > from the belt:  payoff in the > $1T range, and likely to grow even higher.
> >  Etc.  Cf. Mining the Sky by John S. Lewis.)
> Fuckin eh man! Call the space tug the Exxon Valdez II. Isotopic manna from
> heaven. Have to make sure we dont put a company that can go bankrupt in
> charge of a ELE sized chunk of rock in earth orbit. Bring a whole new
> meaning to the term "too big to fail".

  Personally, I would love to see industy (you know, the nasty polluting
type of industry) moved to space, either to Earth orbit, or hey, why not the
Moon?  Less chance of a factory falling out of Earth orbit that way, and one
can orbit asteroids around the Moon (perhaps less chance of an errent
asteroid strike to Earth that way).

  High capital costs?  Sure.  Huge payoff?  Yup.

> > Is it our representatives who have the attention spans of a gnat? Or is it
> > us and they are merely responding to it?
> >
> > Well, that too.  But the system insures that our reps have the attention
> > spans of gnats;  that, at least, is fixable. ;-)
> Right. Because corporations have a longer term vision than those in public
> service. This is an incontrovertible truth, and everyone knows it.

  Now, sure.  But go back a century.  IBM, AT&T, they had a long range
vision and did a lot to advance our technology back in the day (you do
realize that it was Bell Labs that developed the transistor?  The first
globally spanning communications network?  IBM developed the first
compilers?  Disk drives?  The 8-bit byte?) but changes in regulation changed
the insentives public companies follow.

  But there are some public companies that have a long range vision---Apple,
Google and Microsoft are three to come to mind (okay, maybe not Microsoft as
much anymore, but they are known to stick with a product for years in order
to get it right---twenty years from Windows 1.0 to Windows XP, for

  -spc (Who will conceed that the government does do good sometimes---it
	funded the development of the Internet, for instance ... )

[1]	http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Helium-3

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