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Author Topic: Space research
Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 02:31 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Lately I received a Homes Not Bombs email alert regarding an impending protest at National Defence's space research labs. While I wholly support protesting against military uses of space, the email alert brought up a common argument that I have always been uncomfortable with, possibly for entirely sentimental reasons.

Should we be funding space research (let's assume totally peaceful research) at all?
Or should we be diverting the funding towards social housing? Is this a false dichotomy present only in a capitalist economy?

When I was in high school, I belonged to Ottawa's Space Simulation, and of course people here know me as a science fiction fan and technophile, so you can see why I'm uncomfortable (wis{t,h}fully) at that line of reasoning.

[Removed link because server down/changed.]

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]


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Trinitty
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posted 13 August 2001 02:39 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think it's fine for Canada to fund space research/exploration.
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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 02:43 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yes, but what about all the Other Things that the money could be going to?
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skdadl
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posted 13 August 2001 02:44 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mandos, you'll have to convince me that space research is going to do us some good -- but for what it's worth, I think most current funding "dichotomies" are false dichotomies.
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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 02:49 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, now, isn't that a rather utilitarian way of looking at things? I mean, there are basic-research aspects to space research, not to mention the sheer romantic cachet of space travel. Don't you want to live in the delightfully non-capitalist Star Trek universe? (except when they made DS9...)

As for funding dichotomies, yes, exactly, that's what I was thinking. I'm hoping that the Homes Not Bombs people realize this and are only speaking in the short term.


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 02:54 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Funding of space research is important. You never know what practical applications are going to come from theoretical scientific research. Who knows what planet-saving breakthrough is going to come from space research. Where would we be without satellite technology, for example? The Hubble telescope and the various probes have given us mind-boggling insights about our Universe.

You can't shut it all down completely.

That being said, space research must also be kept in perspective. I like the "better and cheaper" philosophy of the past few years.

The question of the need for putting humans in space is somewhat more problematic for me. I get way more excited about sending a probe to Mars than I do about sending humans there. I think putting humans in space is done primarily for sentimental reasons.

But, then again, when they finally develop a relatively cheap vehicle for getting humans into space, I might change my opinion.

The problem isn't really that we spend too much on space research. The problem, IMHO, is that we've been relying too much on old, expensive, inefficient, polluting technology (the Space Shuttle and the Russian rockets). Money would be much better spend researching how to get into space more efficiently than to throw money into the Space Shuttle black hole.


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skdadl
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posted 13 August 2001 03:05 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
OK. You talked me into it.

(Me a utilitarian! The horror, the horror!)


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 03:08 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Yeah, I was really shocked to see such an answer out of you! Bad skdadl! Bad!
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skdadl
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posted 13 August 2001 03:15 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, but -- I put it badly, but I meant something more like Can space research give people some hope (by contrast with the current depressing determinist manufactured consensus)? Is there something out there to learn/somewhere to go that would get humans convinced that it's worth thinking about the future and about being creative again?

Enough vaseline on the lens for you now? Oops -- Vaseline (TM).


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 03:21 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that space research can and does give people some hope even as it is used for less than positive purposes. But it's hard to put this into words.

If I understand what you're asking, you want to see if space research can Fire The Imagination or something akin thereto. Even if I cannot see it myself, I want to know that my descendents will not be limited by what I am limited by, certainly. Is that what you're asking? Have I reached something close, at least?


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 03:23 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think it's a matter of promotion. Only the really big, human projects like shuttle launches and space stations seem to get covered by the mainstream media. I find those kinda depressing, because it all seems to have no purpose, other than a make-work project.

But, if you look at all the cool, albeit more obscure, research that's being done, it's possible to get more excited. I really like the Space News segments on Moses Znaimer's sci-fi channel. They report on all the cool discoveries that are being made all the time.

NASA's various websites are a good source of information for this kinda stuff.


As for the cache of Star Trek style space exploration, I don't buy it. I don't think sending humans into space will save the world. In the Star Trek Universe, the only reason space exploration helped the humans out so much was because a Vulcan ship happened to be flying by when Cochrane flew his ship for the first time (yes, I'm a Trekkie). Somehow, I don't think we'll be quite so fortunate as to have a pointed-eared, messianic alien culture save us from ourselves.

We gotta solve our problems right here on terra-firma, and recognize the benefits of space research for what they really are.


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skdadl
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posted 13 August 2001 03:29 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Is it just outdated and corny anthropomorphizing to wonder whether there is Somebody Out There?

I have liked looking at Saturn, and I love watching the little robot toddle about Mars (?) -- but that latter I'm sure is corny anthropomorphizing. R2D2.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 03:33 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't think it's so corny. I can think of any number of good reasons why it may be possible that there really is Somebody Out There. I do suffer from a little bit of evolutionary determinism, and I think that if life starts on any planet even remotely resembling ours, it's eventual manifestation would at least distantly resemble us.

But then, being a first contact science fiction fan, I'm biased.

As for Star Trek, well MB, you also have to remember that advances in physics must exist to make that possible more than anything else (not even other aliens). And perhaps we will make these advances. I'm not inclined to believe that Einstein was the end of the story.


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 03:37 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Wondering, "is there somebody out there," is prefectly natural, and I fully support SETI. If there's a chance that we could communicate with an alien species, and learn from them, I think we should.

But, that's not the same as pouring money into building a spaceship to actually go meet them, when the odds against it are astronomical.


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Trinitty
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posted 13 August 2001 03:42 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
There's nothing corny about wondering if "there's someone out there", it's one of the most fundamental and intriguing questions of man-kind.

Man wanders out of cave after feasting on charred smiledon chops, scratches self and gazes upward.... wonder if they have women there...

But seriously. How can it not take your breath away.

I support funding it. The big question of course is, even if they did get a blip, do you think we'd hear about it? Sorry, red herring.

As far as the "other things" that could be spent on. *sigh* There wil always be poor people. Hopefully, in this country there will always be a saftey net they can fall into. And yes. The 3 levels of governments should get major low-cost housing projects underway, and work hand-in-hand with Habitat for Humanity folks.

That doesn't been that ALL money should go to that and only that.

Other, less tangible things still have merrit. Arts, culture, beautification, and YES. Space Exploration. Space research.

*Hey, M'boy, ever notice that the Vulcans on FC looked and dressed like ancient Egyptians? Take that and run with it.


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 03:46 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Oh, if SETI actually found something, I think we'd hear about it. They've been good about reporting promising signals (like the "wow" signal). That is, if you believe that they're not holding anything back.

*insert X-Files theme here*


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Socrataire
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posted 13 August 2001 04:00 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't see any point in space research at all, when there are so many crying needs right here on earth. What's wrong with addressing real-life problems with a huge research establishment? In a nutshell there's no money to be made from it.

I see the interest in it as coming primarily from two sources:

1) the military-industrial complex with its NASA offshoots.

2) the longing of many N.A. males to escape from their earthly existences, which implies they have BODIES they are not comfortable with, especially that remote realm of our feelings. What better way to escape our bodies than space travel and the means to it - space research?

What are they called? "rocket boys" or something like that? The exact phrase escapes me.

Why is it that higher mathematics, for example, which requires a capacity for ABSTRACTION in relation to pure symbols, is heavily dominated by men? And why do boys do better in maths especially at the higher levels? (I'm frankly NOT open to arguments of genetic determinism on this issue )

The U of T had a great math professor, Chandler Davis, who had fled American capitalism to make a new life for himself in Canada. He understood very well the gender roots of the attraction to mathematics and wrote about it. I totally agreed with him and did a paper on that topic many years ago.

This a little off topic, I guess, but I think we need to investigate the (mainly male) attraction to space travel, research, etc.

I'm proud to say it never appealed to me. skdadl, are you listening?

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Socrataire ]


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Trinitty
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posted 13 August 2001 04:20 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm a chick, and I LOVE SCIENCE!

I actually ENJOYED math class.

My sisters are little math wizards and also love the concept of space exploration, research and publications both fiction and non related there to.

Soc, is anything worth doing if it makes money? Why would this need to make money to have importance and impact?

HOW can one not be facinated/interested with affairs other than those that originate with the primates that happen to dominate this third rock from the Milkyway's yellow sun?

Of course an element of Science Fiction is escapism. ALL forms of entertainment are. Whether they take your mind to another country, or planet - or let you imagine from the perpective of a Daniell Steele protaganist... the horror of it all.

So, casting-off all interests in the UNIVERSE that surrounds us as geeky males escaping to worlds where the get laid is terribly trite and moot.

Trin


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skdadl
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posted 13 August 2001 04:44 PM      Profile for skdadl     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
On the "crying needs" side of things, I repeat that I believe these worries to be false dichotomies. I think there's tons of money that we could be directing to genuinely creative research, and we wouldn't be taking it away from social programs either, as Trin imagines -- we'd just stop handing it all over to the corporate welfare bums is all. Rich! We're gonna be rich!!!

Seriously, I agree that socialization still creates pink and blue ghettos, and those ghettos in turn create powerful pink and blue cultures, and boy can that be a vicious circle. But it's less true than it was, and of course there are lots of exceptions. As it happens, my step-daughter does theoretical math and physics; years ago I asked her how she came to choose the field, and she said she did it because it was obviously the hardest thing to study ...

There is the American spook-military thingy. But then they gave us the Internet, no? Or was that the physicists (as my step-daughter claims)? Al Gore?


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 04:50 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think that to dismiss space science in all its forms is to embrace Luddism (sp?). Not that there's anything wrong with that, necessarily. I can respect a sincere Luddite if they're honest about it. But let's be sure we call a spade a spade. I tend to question a Luddite's sincerity if I meet them on the Internet.

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Kneel before MediaBoy ]


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:00 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

This a little off topic, I guess, but I think we need to investigate the (mainly male) attraction to space travel, research, etc.


Could it be that perhaps you're putting the cart before the horse (if that is the correct metaphor)? I'm thinking that the reason why it is mainly male happens to be in the fact that women have been given through history a limited role in these kinds of things. This seems to me to be a very obvious reason. When I was in my high school Space Simulation, involvement through the ranks was at least equally female, and the leadership was majority female, vastly the majority over the 5 years I was there, at least.

The alternative to this is, sadly, some form of genetic determinism. Because I think that it is natural to want to explore the universe, and I think that you are denying yourself that sense of wonder and awe. If the fact that it has been mainly men thinking about these things is NOT due to the oppression of women, then it must be that there is something essential about women that makes them, somehow, incurious. I find this rather insulting (to women).

I will readily admit that from my youngest childhood I have dreamed of escape from the body. I don't think there's anything pathological about this. And I think that many women want the same thing too, but have never been allowed the tools to imagine it as a class.

As for abstraction, I can hardly see what is wrong with that. To speak frankly, it gets rather silly to object to abstraction as something negative, if that is what you are doing.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:03 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
In fact, what Socrataire brought up is exactly the kind of discussion I wanted in this thread. And I was anticipating someone saying that.
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Socrataire
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posted 13 August 2001 05:09 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Don't call me a Luddite! Besides I'm not on the Internet. I'm on my chair! So there!
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Trinitty
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posted 13 August 2001 05:11 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
What kind of discussion is that Mandos?

I don't think that Soc was serious.

How could someone just not WONDER? EXPLORE?

I just find that sad.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:15 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I am perfectly capable of believing that Soc was indeed serious. I have encountered that point of view before--that science and mathematics is essentially a masculine concept caused by men's desire to escape the limitations of their bodies, usually because

1) They're envious of women's mysterious reproductive power
2) They want to escape the world they've created through the suppression of women, which can often lead back to (1).

Now, there may be some partial truth to this, but here's the catch: while the urge to explore may be caused by (1) and (2), it need not necessarily be caused by (1) and (2). It is this "not necessarily" that I (and hopefully you and skdadl and MB) want to capture.


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Trinitty
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posted 13 August 2001 05:21 PM      Profile for Trinitty     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'll have to continue tommorrow.

GREAT topic Mandos.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:23 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I should note, for the record, that "Mandos" is the name of an ethereal being who occasionally manifests him/itself in flesh. And whose job it is to pronounce condemnations on wayward elves, and see to their reincarnation in case of accident.
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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 05:25 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well, I'm not really all that caught up in the romantic urge for exploration. I actually consider myself pretty utilitarian. I just think that, since we cannot really predict how useful research in space will be to our lives on Earth, it's short-sighted to curtail all spending in the area.
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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:28 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
BTW, I think the bulk of the money these days (aside from the Space Station, which may be a waste of money) will soon likely be going to military research (NMD), if it isn't already. This will be solved by dealing with "military," not "research."

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]


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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 05:36 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Well yeah, I certainly don't like having the military in space. After all, who owns space? Does Canada own all the space above it? We can't really keep other countries from flying their satellites above our country, now can we?

Then again, if other countries are going to put death beams into orbit, don't we have to find some way to defend ourselves? It's not like the US are the only ones with their military eyes on space. We gotta be careful that we don't pay TOO much attention to the US military's bogey-man stories, but we can't ignore actual threats either.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:42 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Few countries are able to put death rays in space like the US, I should point out, and the obsession with it is peculiarly American (and probably falls under (1) and (2), I might add).

As for space property, there was a municipality somewhere in the US which wanted to charge property taxes on a satellite parked above it, or so I heard


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:43 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I must also add that the countries against whom it is ostensibly directed are countries whose main crime is to want the US out of their backyard. The US doesn't want to get out of their backyard and would especially like to get into them, and this is the underlying rationale behind NMD.
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DrConway
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posted 13 August 2001 05:45 PM      Profile for DrConway     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I'm a fan of space exploration and so on, because it is the one area where humans have a chance to escape the dreariness of life on Earth.

The only thing that gravels me is how impossible everybody considers it to be! "Oh, we can't send people to Mars, not even for a lousy $10 billion out of the US federal budget!" "Oh, we can't colonize the moon!"

I just want to wave my ClueBat(TM) and give North America a collective whack on the head for being so dense and small-minded.

But truly those attitudes indicate how far we have fallen since those days in the 1960s when we could reach for the stars, and they would be there.


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:47 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
quote:

I'm a fan of space exploration and so on, because it is the one area where humans have a chance to escape the dreariness of life on Earth.


Inadequate male! Suffering from womb-envy are we? Just kidding!

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Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 05:49 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But, in the 60s we were in the middle of the Cold War. The whole point of the space program was the scare the hell outta the Russkies.

If you think the Earth is so dreary, why would the cold, vast, emptiness of space (or a barren rock like Mars) be any more exciting? I do believe we should put more of a focus on improving the planet we have than on moving to a planet that Mother Nature didn't design us for.

As for the exploration impulse, there's lots of exploration to be done on Earth. I wanna be an aquanaut. Then again, exploring the seas could turn out to be more expensive than exploring space, considering how inhospitable the seas are.

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Kneel before MediaBoy ]


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Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 05:50 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I really wonder how many spacecraft we could build from the number of SUV's made in North America.
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Socrataire
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posted 13 August 2001 05:52 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mandos:

I didn't anticipate the discussions would go in this direction so I have been caught with my philosophical knives unsharpened.


Off the top of my head:

Abstraction (A, henceforth) is a notoriously difficult concept and we can never avoid it at some level. We have to use A even to talk about it. But I agree with the X's idea (I know you don't like namedropping so I won't mention his name) that, even though the capacity for A is a human given, it only arose historically for the first time in early Ionic civilization with the first known use of coinage. A coin is an A, despite its tangibility, for it only stands in for something else - what it can command or purchase.

And X makes the point that the first rise of (at least Western) science also took place then and there and science of course requires A.

So it is a human capacity which history has brought into use.

The problem for me is that some A's have a way of never coming back down to their embodied historical origins and remain, as it were, stuck up in the air. The word "hypostatize" points to that possibility.

Other A's, however, can remain rooted in our bodily experiences (for example, "I'm feeling very sad right now") "Sad" is an A because only by means of some "A" concept can we capture our experiences. There is no direct intuition of them. Language, a system of abstractions, is what brings all such things to consciousness.

So I guess what I'm aiming at here is some notion of "alienated" A, as for example in science and math, and a notion somehow of a rooted and grounded A.

Oy! This is an immense and "thick" topic.

I did not deny that females have curiosity or the capacity for wonder or A or anything. I'm saying that current patterns of identification (a deeper process than socialization) tend to keep men and woman in general in the usual fields of work and profession. Nurses and teachers (mainly female)for example, vs chemical engineers or geologists (mainly male.)

I do not deny the inherent capacities of any of us. But I want to focus on the patterns of psychological development that ultimately make us, concretely, what we have become.

I should mention that it has been firmly established by good research that, when it comes to analytic thinking, creativity, and general intelligence, individuals with "cross-sex typing" are superior in those abilities.

In other words we can expect that the "masculine" male will suffer deficits in those things - likewise the "feminine" female. I'm not talking here at all about what is loosely called "sexual orientation" or sexual preference. This is a deeper mix of the male and female figures surrounding us when we grew up.

For those of you who jumped on me, read my first sorty into this topic carefully to see what I said and did not say.

This is far too long. "You asked for it"

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Socrataire ]


From: WWW | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 13 August 2001 05:52 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Didja read the stories about the group that's using a surplus Russian ICBM to put a solar sail into orbit? That's pretty exciting.
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 06:03 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
But what is wrong with an alienated "A", and how widespread is this? In science, for instance, almost all A can be reduced to objectively real phenomena, particularly in physics. In the very advanced fields of math, this is much harder to do (but not necessarily impossible), but I fail to see why this is negative?

Or are you even trying to claim that it is negative? Your reference to "coin" on a place like babble is to me a clear indicator of negativity. But even a utopia will need a medium of resource representation.

I don't agree that Ionic civilization is the only place where A has arisen--it will take a great deal of evidence to demonstrate this to me. As a generative grammarian, I hold that severely abstract concepts are unavoidable at any time where there is human language. In fact, I'm told that even supposedly "primitive" societies have a wealth of A, but perhaps not technical ones.
I certainly do not deny your claims about gender, but I don't believe they are relevant to your claims about space travel and masculinity. Given the resources, I should hope that human beings have the capacity for dealing with both existing life and potential life.

And as for name-dropping, I'm not exactly against it, and I'd like to know who X is. My problem is valuing X above your own experience, as some people, particularly (I've noticed) in cultural studies and the like tend to do.


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Socrataire
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posted 13 August 2001 06:19 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I was referring to the work of Alfred Sohn-Rethel, a confrere of the Frankfurt School.

Obviously I failed to get my point across, and surely it is my fault. And without going into the history, philosophy, and sociology of "Science" I don't think it can be done.

But a nursery song came to mind which exemplifies what I'm driving at:

Inch Worm, Inch Worm,
Measuring the Marigolds,
You and your arithmetic
will probably go far.

Inch Worm, Inch Worm,
Measuring the Marigolds,
When will you stop and see
how beautiful they are.

For the rest of you, does that convey at all what I'm aiming at?

Sorry: Inch worm, not earth worm

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Socrataire ]


From: WWW | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 06:21 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I actually understood that point. Essentially, I've been questioning the validity of the dichotomy you pose. Some Marigolds we'll never see without the Earth Worm.

And shouldn't it be Inch Worm?

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 13 August 2001 06:25 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
And, of course, your original point referred to gender. I have some small grasp of the sociology of science, but whenever I see an argument that holds that the nature (as opposed to the practice) of science is inextricably bound up in gender relations, I become extremely suspicious. I'm trying to figure out if this is what you're claiming.
From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Socrataire
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posted 13 August 2001 07:47 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mandos:

Just some quick points, but I sense we are working at loggerheads.

Science in PRACTICE is indeed negative for the simple reason that 50-60% of working scientists today are building weapons of destruction. They have to be able to lift themselves up (abstract) from their inherent humanity to do that. And they further abstract themselves from the original goals of early modern science ("relief of the inconveniences of man's estate" - Bacon)

This A also afflicts every working person who has to put up with the "violence of abstraction." In other words totally denying one's immediate bodily needs ("which find recreation and delight in the mere change of activity") for the sake of a paycheck, which, to be sure, help to meets some other bodily needs of course.

A can become positive when and if its scientific products are turned to human use, which they manifestly are not in a world in which most scientists are hired by corporations and the military.

So, to me, A has positive and negative facets in contradiction. You imply that, at least, when you say there is "severe" A and the "not technical" A of the "primitives." Are there two kinds of A or not?

You refer to "objectively real phenomena."
Boy, that's a mouthful. Would your emphasis be on the "real" (as in tangible, physical) or on the "phenomena", i.e. as rendered in the mind?

In any case science does not proceed by what is in front of us - it abstracts from it. That was the whole meaning of the distinction (by Locke) between secondary and primary characteristics. Inch worm, inch worm! The abstracted characteristics of the object (hardness, mass, temperature, texture, etc.) vs its, for lack of a better word, existential characteristics.

I do not see science as having any nature apart from its historically manifested presences, going from the early Greek conceptions to Aristotle's and Aquinas' to the 17th C. Scientific Revolution to Hegel to modern military science.

I suppose your origins in the Kantianism of Chomsky puts us at odds. I'm a Hegelian at heart and do not therefore accept the ahistorical notions of mind coming out of Kant or Chomsky.

To the extent that Chomsky is right (I think he is, by the way) so what? What of importance hangs upon it, really? He has never been able to show the intrinsic connection between his (great) politics and his linguistics other than the completely ABSTRACT notion of human creativity. I honour him nonetheless.

As for gender and science the HUGE literature (by feminists mainly) on this issue will back me up, but I'm rusty on it now. Look at the work of E. Fox Keller, Sandra Harding, Jan Harding, Ruth Bleier, Helen Longino, and Brian Easlea.

Sorry for getting testy with you. You caught me unprepared.


From: WWW | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Eddie Lear
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posted 13 August 2001 09:45 PM      Profile for Eddie Lear     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I think there are two basic people in life,those who are interested and those who are not,space research or building a giant cyclotron to detect neutrinos for that matter are essential,never mind social spending,this is the root of what keeps the working man doing his job,hope of the possibility of things.Without people spending money on these things these people,these "interested elite" would slowly lose their drive,these people are everwhere and the economic affects would be devastating.I pesonally support it fully,I support NASA and the Military indusrtial complex for the simple reason that they build useful things like spacecraft and long range weapons.
Despite popular understanding NASA is in fact working very very hard (within their means,they don't get the funding that you might think anymore) to produce cheaper and resusable craft,there is a huge cash prize for the first individually built space craft,so get into your garages and start tinkering.
Dr.Conway wrote "But truly those attitudes indicate how far we have fallen since those days in the 1960's when you could shoot for the stars and still be there"
I noticed the used the word fallen indicating a regression from attitudes concerning space travel and other scientic goals,I don't think it't fallen or risen in a linear sense, WE wen't to the moon to outshine the Russians, no other reason,none,it was politically motivated out of pride and fear.Politics has a warping effect on reality much stronger than gravity
.
Soc wrote " the longing of many N.A. males to escape from their earthly existances,which implies they have BODIES which they are not comfortable with".

Longing to escape from the mundane does not imply they are unfortable with their bodies,You implied it. Did i misread you, are you actually attempting to draw a line between the two? If so that is a stupid thing to say, that's pretty bad for a ex pychology professor! So next time your are going to jump to conclusions about rocketboys and the drive to escape keep in mind whatever you study you change.

[ August 13, 2001: Message edited by: Eddie Lear ]


From: Port Colborne, Ont | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 14 August 2001 03:09 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Socrataire,

Yes, we are coming from fundamentally different assumptions about a number of issues, but it's also interesting to me to explore exactly what these issues are. I'm getting a clearer picture now...

quote:

Science in PRACTICE is indeed negative for the simple reason that 50-60% of working scientists today are building weapons of destruction.


Agreed.
quote:

They have to be able to lift themselves up (abstract) from their inherent humanity to do that. And they further abstract themselves from the original goals of early modern science ("relief of the inconveniences of man's estate" - Bacon)


You're using "abstract" in a very different way here from the abstractions we are talking about (or at least I was). I would say that what they do is not really an "abstraction" away from anything at all. And if so, all human activity is an abstraction. (EDIT) Brutality does not require "abstraction," I don't think, or every carnivorous animal would have a high capacity for abstraction. (/EDIT}

I don't see how one can logically connect the "abstraction" of ideas and concepts to some kind of inchoate moral abstraction to which you are referring.

quote:

A can become positive when and if its scientific products are turned to human use, which they manifestly are not in a world in which most scientists are hired by corporations and the military.

So, to me, A has positive and negative facets in contradiction. You imply that, at least, when you say there is "severe" A and the "not technical" A of the "primitives." Are there two kinds of A or not?



Now we magically return to the meaning of "abstraction" that I was talking about.

Clearly, there are multiple subcategories of the category of A. There are subcategories of the category of doorknob or skate or frog or gas. There are many ways of cutting them up. What I am claiming is that the way you categorize them does not really have the moral "weight" that you assign to it.

quote:

You refer to "objectively real phenomena."
Boy, that's a mouthful. Would your emphasis be on the "real" (as in tangible, physical) or on the "phenomena", i.e. as rendered in the mind?


I was using "phenomena" in a loose way, not as "phenomenology." My emphasis would clearly be on the "real," I should hope. What is rendered in the mind is at least a partial reflection of what exists in reality.

quote:

In any case science does not proceed by what is in front of us - it abstracts from it. That was the whole meaning of the distinction (by Locke) between secondary and primary characteristics. Inch worm, inch worm! The abstracted characteristics of the object (hardness, mass, temperature, texture, etc.) vs its, for lack of a better word, existential characteristics.


Even if this were true, so? In any case I hold that the abstracted characteristics of the object can be used to reconstruct the existential characteristics of the object at some level of (perhaps impossible) detail, even if that dichotomy were valid, which is, of course, what I'm challenging.

Ultimately, you haven't answered the crucial question of why the Inch Worm shouldn't go on Measuring the Marigolds. To me that act of measurement is in itself a thing of beauty comparable to the marigold itself.

quote:

I do not see science as having any nature apart from its historically manifested presences, going from the early Greek conceptions to Aristotle's and Aquinas' to the 17th C. Scientific Revolution to Hegel to modern military science.


This is, to me, extremely dangerous. Of course, the body of scientific work and how this body changes is affected by history--what scientists choose to research, how they express it, etc, etc. But the reproducible phenomena (again, the loose usage, not "phenomenology") that are expressed, must exist in some way or another and in some reasonable approximation, or we are no longer talking about "science." In fact, I'd say we were treading dangerously close to an unavoidable question of solipsism.

If you haven't already seen, it you should take a look at the Language and its Uses thread. I stole it from earthmother and used it to propound my views on linguistic and metalinguistic abstractions and their relationship to social activism. You may find some of it relevant to the discussion and useful in predicting my responses to you.

quote:

I suppose your origins in the Kantianism of Chomsky puts us at odds. I'm a Hegelian at heart and do not therefore accept the ahistorical notions of mind coming out of Kant or Chomsky.


This is a curious statement, and perhaps it betrays my lack of philsophical education (at least in terms of names!). Why should a notion of mind by "historical," as you put it? Either the mind is one way, or it is another! Our notion of mind should describe the mind as it is. This is more than axiomatic, I should hope.
quote:

To the extent that Chomsky is right (I think he is, by the way) so what? What of importance hangs upon it, really? He has never been able to show the intrinsic connection between his (great) politics and his linguistics other than the completely ABSTRACT notion of human creativity. I honour him nonetheless.


Actually, from what I understand, Chomsky holds that any attempt to link them beyond creativity is intellectually fraudulent. And that creativity is not abstract, as you put it, but an essential part of linguistic productivity, which is biological, to a certain extent. You seem to object to this notion (morally at least) for a reason I can't fathom.
quote:

As for gender and science the HUGE literature (by feminists mainly) on this issue will back me up, but I'm rusty on it now. Look at the work of E. Fox Keller, Sandra Harding, Jan Harding, Ruth Bleier, Helen Longino, and Brian Easlea.


As I said (or thought I said) I am aware of much of the literature on this point, and even names, on occasion (but I can't connect them to specific ideas). But generally I classify the ideas into two types:

1) Science is discriminatory or otherwise harmful to women and human society in general because of the way scientists work, what they choose to study, the way they phrase it, and how that knowledge is applied (but not the act of discovery and "abstraction" itself).

2) Science as an act is inherently harmful to women and human society because it demands an acceptance of the concept of objectivity, at least in principle.

I am happy to accept (1) and agree with it wholeheartedly. If I am not mistaken, this is the area in which people like Keller and Harding work (at least Keller). I am definitely not happy about (2), which should be pretty predictable.

Bringing this back to space travel, aside from objecting to some categories of abstractions (for no definable reason), I still fail to see why there is an inherent problem with it, or even with wishing (as I less than secretly do) to escape from the limitations of the body.

quote:

Sorry for getting testy with you. You caught me unprepared.


That's OK. You have a larger...philosophical armamentarium...than I do, certainly, so I guess that helps to level the playing field

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Victor Von Mediaboy
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posted 14 August 2001 03:12 PM      Profile for Victor Von Mediaboy   Author's Homepage        Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
I don't think the "huge" cash prize for the reusable launch vehicle is actually nearly as "huge" as the costs involved in developing such a vehicle, but that's just me.
From: A thread has merit only if I post to it. So sayeth VVMB! | Registered: May 2001  |  IP: Logged
Socrataire
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posted 14 August 2001 04:50 PM      Profile for Socrataire     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Mandos:

Thanks for your reply and all the effort behind it. I think we are two ships passing in the night.

I would respond but I don't know how to do those neat little "quote" thingies and I'm not any more into a labourious reply.

regards


From: WWW | Registered: Jul 2001  |  IP: Logged
Mandos
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posted 14 August 2001 05:16 PM      Profile for Mandos   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
You do (QUOTE) at the beginning and (/QUOTE) at the end of the text you want to cite, but replace my round brackets with square brackets. Argh! Is there no way to escape out UBBCode snippets?

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]

[ August 14, 2001: Message edited by: Mandos ]


From: There, there. | Registered: Jun 2001  |  IP: Logged
Tommy_Paine
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posted 14 August 2001 06:41 PM      Profile for Tommy_Paine     Send New Private Message      Edit/Delete Post  Reply With Quote 
Looks like I'm a day late and a dollar short for this great thread.

On the question original, Carl Sagan used to call this the "argument of the excluded middle". The question implies an either/or situation, when none exists.

It's interesting that so many of the benifits of space research go unoticed today. Telecomunication satelites: The discovery of the "green house effect" through the seemingly esoteric study of Venusian atmosphere: How many lives have been saved just by weather satelites?

I think it was Maxwell who answered the English Prime Minister Disreali's question about what use this new found force, "electicity" might be put to, by saying, "I don't know, but one day you will be able to tax it."

At one time, electricity and radio and the germ theory of disease all fell under the description of "pure science".

And, let's not forget the real reason for space research. This venerable sun ain't gonna burn forever. We gotta blow this pop stand called earth sooner or later-- or the Universe may end up alone and it's far too beautiful for that.


From: The Alley, Behind Montgomery's Tavern | Registered: Apr 2001  |  IP: Logged

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