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Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 8:49amSanction this postReply
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Great job extrapolating from current events and trends, Eric; this is what I call good science fiction.



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Post 1

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 3:33amSanction this postReply
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Nicely put.

Actually, Michael Flynn based his entire "Firestar" SF series around this idea:

From Publishers Weekly
By 1999, well-meaning but misguided liberals, environmentalists and feminists have brought the U.S. economy to a near standstill. The space program is suffocating in red tape. The schools are collapsing. Technological innovation is virtually dead. All of this will change, however, because of one woman with vision, a capitalist with a heart of gold who has dedicated her life to reforming America's schools and to returning humanity to outer space.
I'm particularly fond of these books because they knocked the last of the woolly liberalism out of me, and lead to me eventually discovering Objectivism (which, in hindsight, I'd say must have influenced this series).




Post 2

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 7:17amSanction this postReply
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Eric,

Great article!  I couldn't agree with you more regarding the privatization of space.  It's also a bit ironic considering that last night many Australians experienced firsthand an event similar to the one that you described in your article though not as catastrophic.  I stumbled upon the Australian news account at WorldNetDaily, and if you are interested here's the link:

http://www.wnd.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=37839


Matt 


(Edited by Joseph Rowlands on 4/01, 5:40pm)




Post 3

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 9:17pmSanction this postReply
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Thanks everyone for the Feedback!

Observer:

I am glad to see that I could draw you out of just watching from the side lines.  :-)  I had not heard of Michael Flynn Until today but I will be sure to pick up a copy to take a look at next time I get into a bookstore.  The only asteroid strike sci-fi I have run into is the classic Lucifers Hammer by Larry Nivin.  A well done book that runs through details of the end rather graphicaly but a great ending I think, upbeat end not a doomed ending, I liked Nivin's placement of snide comments about enviromentalists in his book.  Illustrated their anti-technology paradox well.

Matt Ashby:

The article is a rather good reminder that these things exist and are not just subject for science fiction but a real problem.  We are gambling with civilization the longer we delay finding a way to protect ourselves.

In medeval times a comet or an asteroid sighting was a sign of impending doom and the fall of kings.  Though this is a superstition I think that the connection between the two are not that far off.  A sizeable asteroid strike will cause the fall of kings and goverments. 

SO the choice remains for us as a society: Privitize Space or gamble each passing year that a dooms day rock won't fall from the sky to steal away our civilization.

Regards,

Eric.




Post 4

Thursday, April 1, 2004 - 9:28pmSanction this postReply
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Also would like to thank the man behind the curtain for fixing Mr. Ashby’s web link.

 

The vigilance of Joe and his crew in making this site run and run well is appreciated.  I am sure I am not alone when I say their work is of great service to us all: no matter how small the fix may seem.

 

Thank you,

 
Eric



Post 5

Friday, April 2, 2004 - 12:49amSanction this postReply
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Eric
If you read "Firestar", I hope you'll review it - I'd be very interested in the perspective of somebody with more knowledge of Objectivism than myself.

(I generally watch on the sidelines because I'm a medievalist by academic background and vocation, rather than a philosopher or economist , so I don't feel very qualified to join in.)




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Post 6

Friday, April 2, 2004 - 6:17amSanction this postReply
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Observer, I'm a programmer and database administrator by trade, but that doesn't stop me from chiming in. If you've got something to say, don't be shy about saying it.



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Post 7

Friday, April 2, 2004 - 6:39amSanction this postReply
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Great Story.

It inspires the old Francis Bacon quote that "nature to be conquered, must be obeyed."

Not just lack of privatisation of all sorts of spaces including land and sea, but also state run monopolies in scientific research and development can lead to all sorts of environmental catastrophes. Sadly the Greenies don't get this and want to stop technology, industry and curtail private property rights as much as possible. The old "let's go back to living in communal mud huts and caves" fanatics.




Post 8

Friday, April 2, 2004 - 2:31pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Tower,

Excellent story integrating the facts of science and the current political state with a fictional scenario; you have aptly pinpointed the ideologies behind current government control of the space program, and I am inclined toward thinking that keeping the space program under government control is within the interests of the Green savages, as a government initiative is far more vulnerable to their pressure-group lobbying and provides far less actual progress than a multitude of efficient, profit-based private ventures.

May I reprint this story on The Rational Argumentator?

I am
G. Stolyarov II




Post 9

Friday, April 2, 2004 - 7:48pmSanction this postReply
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Excellent article. I love it. Very well written.

Somewhat scary, and you make a very good point.

Nice name by the way




Post 10

Saturday, April 3, 2004 - 1:07amSanction this postReply
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Mr. G,

Go right a head and reprint it if you'd like.  But if you make any money off that site of yours I want a cut for my articles contribution. :-)  No matter how insignificant that cut may seem.  I'll come knocking on your door if I have to collect my one/ onethousandth of a cent.  

Eric,

Glad you liked the short.  Also if being named eric is what your talking about in your post up there, then I will show you what I have shown every eric I run into.  This crazy site I found years ago that oddly enough has improved its image like twenty fold.  www.eric.com 

Truly,

Eric J. Tower




Post 11

Saturday, April 3, 2004 - 7:39amSanction this postReply
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Great article and I agree completely. I have two thoughts on this topic at present I thought I might share.

First, right now, I don't think there is much of a profitable market in space. If and when someone figures out that there is real money to be made (based mostly on the state of technology) in space, believe me, the human spirit will ensure we are out there doing our business (not in the little doggy sense, but in the Free Trade sense). When research and technology exposes an opportunity, it will happen. Does anyone know of any law in the US which prevents someone from building and flying their own spaceship and landing on the moon, for example? (I need a weekend hobby ;>)).

Second, a weapon platform in space to protect the Earth as a whole from debris is not the sort of project private companies are likely to self-fund in the current climate. Companies are taxed almost to extinction, and current governments are not likely to appreciate serious firepower in anyone's hands but theirs.

But, the asteroid-approaching-earth scenario is a useful one to explain why free market companies WILL voluntarily band together for a common good. Who has the most to lose if an asteroid hits the Earth? That's right, those who have busted their tail building a company, with sizable assets that will be destroyed. Not to mention their lives and the lives of their customers (aka future revenue stream). Can you think of a more motivating impetus to action for a large corporation to get a weapon platform into space?

An even more interesting scenario arises when the Big Company, who has a sizable construction component to their business, determines that the asteroid WILL kill millions, but that it will not wipe out the planet, just require trillions in reconstruction expenses. So, the Big Company stands to gain substantially if millions die in a preventable natural disaster. If I were a CEO, big dummy that I am, I would send up the weapons platform anyway, because preventing suffering and death, even of strangers, is a value to me, because that is the kind of world I would like to live in: where strangers are not automatically your enemy, but will give you a fair shake and help each other (Free Traders are not enemies or adversaries). Buy if, say, Ken Lay or other fellows I could mention were running Big Company, well, Kablooie! What do you guy think about this--is Kablooie a moral outcome in this scenario?



Post 12

Saturday, April 3, 2004 - 11:45amSanction this postReply
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DUDE, ERIC I HAVE BEEN THERE BEFORE! RIGHT ON! haha.



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Post 13

Saturday, April 3, 2004 - 5:25pmSanction this postReply
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Scott,

 

The profitability of space is not in question here.  Space can be quite profitable once a company gets past the huge overhead that it would cost to get out there.  Some companies like Boeing, manufactures of aircraft, have expressed an interest in space travel.  There is an interest in using space as a tourist attraction by some companies.  Other companies have seen value in mining for useful metals on the moon.  Still others speculate that they could even mine the very rocks that I talk about in my story by putting them in orbit around the moon as they fly by us.

In short, there is no excuse for keeping private concerns out of space.  The only thing that is stopping it currently is an agreement with the UN to keep space for science and the charter of NASA.  I think your faith in the human spirit is a bit naive.  Since the dawn of the space travel interest in it has only dropped rapidly.  Very few entrepreneurial people are thinking in terms of anything about space.  My thesis is simple, we cannot afford to wait around for the human spirit to one day decide that its worth while to tell the government to stop baring private space concerns.  It has to be done soon because each passing year is yet another roll of the dice.

            As to your idea about the weapons platform orbiting the planet.  That is only one of the many ideas that have been brought up about how to defend earth from the rocks.  A few more include crazy laser schemes, Rocket boosters attached by remote to stop the rock or deflect it, etc.  Depending upon the composition of the rock we’re shooting; blowing up the rock may not be the best or most effective answer anyways. 

            Your comments on the construction people are ludicrous to me.  Anyone who realizes exactly what an asteroid strike means for the surface of this planet would also realize that their construction company would not likely be able to make any money after the strike. 

Here’s why:

1.      Presuming a strike the size of 1997XF11

2.      Presuming minimal casualties a single strike in the Pacific Ocean with no break up at impact.

3.      All of the western sea board of North America and south America, The eastern sea board of Asia, every pacific island, Australia, the eastern coast of India and the eastern coast of Africa would be hit with disastrous tidal waves killing 75% of the people who live in those areas.

4.      For thousands of miles from the strike site sea bottom mud and salt water would be tossed into the atmosphere and millions of gallons of seawater boiled away instantly causing a steam rise that would break the atmosphere and be visible shooting into space.

5.      Nearly ever active and inactive fault on the planet would see activity ranging from 5-9 depending on your position on the planet.

6.      Volcanoes would become active depending on their location spewing tons of ash into the sky.

7.      The Caldara in Yellowstone national park may erupt resulting in destruction of the northern Midwest and parts of Canada.  Loss of hundreds of crops and farms.  Possible contamination of the great lakes by falling ash.

8.      As those tidal waves I spoke of earlier wash through the Oceans.  It will cause rises in the Atlantic that would cause floods in areas like Florida, new Orleans, and other low land places, Washington DC and NYC all qualify for floods.  These tidal waves would also knock loose hundreds of tons of ice from the polar ice caps causing the ocean to rise further as they melted.

9.      All that wonderful steam would coalesce into nightmare hurricanes and storms that would wash across the face of the planet drenching most of the earths crops not in storage in ash and salt and water.  Effectively killing most of mans available food.  The rains would last 6 months to a year in some locations.

10.  Anyone who survived the first week would be looting and killing each other in the second week.  The economy would cease to exist.  Governments where they did exist would be martial law or gang rule.  Every major city would be a blood bath of survivors scrambling for supplies, looting by right of the gun and sword.

11.  So, no business concern with any ability to project the realistic long-term consequences of an asteroid strike would be interested in letting it hit.  Why is this?  Because after the strike the rules of economics would be inescapable.  Due to scarcity of resources, and the laws of supply and demand.  99% of the people would be unable to afford any of the services a construction company would be able to provide, presuming they could.

12.  The true value of the building materials, gasoline, working trucks, and other equipment would be indeterminably invaluable.

13.  But one thing, in time the laws the supply and demand would adjust those prices down to a level that would reflect the buying power of the economy.  This would probably not be for a very long time though and by then that company would be building dirt huts not skyscrapers and people would be paying which chickens and goats, not the trillions of dollars you mentioned.

 

Regards,

 
            Eric J. Tower




Post 14

Monday, April 5, 2004 - 2:14pmSanction this postReply
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Mr. Tower,

Thank you for your permission. The article has been posted at http://www.geocities.com/rationalargumentator/privatizespace.html.

As for your monetary cut, if I ever choose to commercialize the magazine, I will be sure to provide it to you.

I am
G. Stolyarov II




Post 15

Monday, April 5, 2004 - 1:03pmSanction this postReply
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I believe in a totally free market, but I agree with many that the private sector might not be able to prevent asteroid strikes. I understand that existing companies, even all humans, would profit from preventing an asteroid strike; however, I cannot figure out how a company or group of company's would make money from protecting the Earth. Who would they charge?

Yes, the private sector could do the job that the government is doing, because government is funded by the private sector. However, would the private sector do some of the things the government does, or proposes to do, with NASA? Nobody knows that answer, that's why one shouldn't promote Capitalism by quoting John Stuart Mill.


Russell Keniston II
(Edited by RussK on 4/05, 4:55pm)




Post 16

Monday, April 5, 2004 - 7:22pmSanction this postReply
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Russ,

I don't quite understand what you mean by this could you explain please?

 Nobody knows that answer, that's why one shouldn't promote Capitalism by quoting John Stuart Mill.
As for the what a private sector NASA might do, we could only speculate.  We will never know unless its at least tried.

Eric.




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Post 17

Tuesday, April 6, 2004 - 7:04amSanction this postReply
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Canada pins hopes on Da Vinci
Canadian Press

Saskatoon — A launch date for a Canadian entry in the race to build the world's first privately funded manned space capsule will be announced later this month, organizers say.

The Toronto-based entry known as the da Vinci Project plans to launch its Wildfire capsule into the stratosphere from the airport in Kindersley, a community of 5,500 southwest of Saskatoon, this summer.

http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/RTGAM.20040405.wspace0405/BNStory/specialScienceandHealth/





Post 18

Tuesday, April 6, 2004 - 12:34pmSanction this postReply
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Nice find, thanks.

Eric.




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Post 19

Tuesday, April 6, 2004 - 1:01pmSanction this postReply
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Eric:

That comment wasn't necessarily directed toward you, i.e., I wasn't saying you were quoting John Stuart Mill. My point was that Capitalism might not protect the human race from an asteroid hit, because one cannot demand what an individual can do with his property (demand safeguard). So we cannot know for sure if the free-market will take up that aspect of 'space'. When I say "quoting John Stuart Mill" I mean promoting capitalism via utilitarianism (greatest good principle). If the goal is to insure something (some action) is done about asteroids, for the sake of the survival of the human race, then Capitalism is not the system for that task.

Essentially I was justifying how some, including myself, can believe that the free-market might not protect the Earth from asteroids, but still promote liassez-faire capitalism.



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