war and women

It occurs to me that women need to play a much bigger role in the 'defense' establishments of the various countries. Because they have to go through the actual child-bearing process, women feel a much closer connection to the children they bring into the world. They're much more loath than men to send them off to unnecessary death in some pointless war-- which most wars are.

Some wars-- really defensive wars-- may always be necessary, but far fewer than we have today. Will somebody tell me just what the bleep we're doing in Afghanistan after SEVENTEEN YEARS? You get the impression these generals just want these things to go on forever. Really! If there were more female generals and more female defense secretaries, we'd have far fewer wars. And that would be a good thing. Then we could spend all that money on something more useful.

the 'P'-word

This may seem silly at first, but I think it would make a big difference in people's thinking if we replaced the words world and international with the word planetary in the names of international--er, planetary-- organizations. Thus the World Bank would become the Planetary Bank, the International Monetary Fund could become the Planetary Financial Fund, the World Trade Organization would become the Planetary Trade Organization, etc. The biggie would be the United Nations, which could become the Planetary Council, and its flag would be a digital representation of the planet rather than the current pole-centered map.

There's a kind of science fiction aspect to this that I like. I think it would help move us into that science fiction future in which people really will think in planetary terms. Words matter, and one small word change might be a great leap for humankind.


exploring space

I've never been all that enthused about 'manned' space travel. (I guess we'll have to start calling it 'human' space travel.)  I'm more intrigued-- as I think most people are-- by these unmanned ('unhumanned'?) probes of Mars, Neptune, and beyond. The images coming back from these things are incredible! And I don't care about the International Space Station at all. It just seems like an accident waiting to happen-- they've already had a few close calls-- and at some point it will.

On the other hand, we'll be coming up on the 50th anniversary of the Apollo moon landing next year. Why haven't we been back? I think we should try to get back there every ten years or so, just to keep our hand in, so to speak, just to keep being able to do it. And at some point Mars-- maybe by midcentury? That's clearly the next step. But over the long haul-- the next four billion years or so before Earth becomes a cinder as the sun expands outward-- our artificial intelligence progeny will be better able to endure the physical rigors of space; they'll be designed to be.

the view from space

(No, just kidding.)


mars insight

Mars Insight Lander in pre-dawn launch from Vandenberg Air Base on the California coast.

'InSight will reach its destination in a little less than seven months, touching down Nov. 26 on a nice, flat plain just north of the Martian equator. After a series of checkouts, the stationary lander will then begin a mission unlike any ever undertaken in the annals of planetary exploration.
'InSight "will probe the interior of another terrestrial planet, giving us an idea of the size of the core, the mantle, the crust — and our ability then to compare that with the Earth," NASA Chief Scientist Jim Green said during a prelaunch news conference.'
Here's a great little video of the launch, from Space.com. Click arrows in bottom right to expand to full screen.



TESS-- the Transiting Exoplanet Survey Satellite, launched April 18, looking for planets like our own that might possibly support life:




The Cassini-Huygens spacecraft will be ending it mission and falling into Saturn on September 15, 2017. Cassini was launched in 1997 and entered the orbit of Saturn in 2004. The Huygens spacecraft separated from it later that year and landed on Saturn's moon Titan in 2005.

The photo above is my favorite Cassini image, a view of Earth from beyond Saturn's rings.



pale blue dot

“Look again at that dot. That's here. That's home. That's us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every "superstar," every "supreme leader," every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there--on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.”

--Carl Sagan, 'Pale Blue Dot'