Perchance To Dream A Blast From The Past From February 2011


Perchance To Dream A Blast From The Past From February 2011

In the last day, I noticed a lot of postings on Facebook about the shuttle. And this made me realize something about space, and what space means.

I haven’t been exactly paying attention. Whenever a novel is done – let alone a novel that was delayed due to my stupid body, once more, reminding me that these things come without warranty – there’s a lot of things I’ve been putting off that have to be dealt with. Particularly when I’m plunging straight into another couple of books that need to be finished, both of which are ready to enter ‘final phase’ (the phase when things are coming together and I work in a sort of white-hot haze.)

So, in the last couple of days I verified that my kitchen does, indeed, still have a floor by removing all the fur and grime that had accumulated over it; reduced the waiting Everest of laundry to a mere Pikes Peak; did grocery shopping; made sure the kids are still alive (you never know, and zombie children are such pains); cleaned the cats water fountain; removed approximately three Haveys from every surface in the house, including the floor (a Havey is a measurement of fuzziness. It equals about an inch of fuzz on everything.)

As has been obvious from this blog, I’ve logged on to the net maybe twice/three times a day, if that, and I haven’t exactly been thinking about the internet.

Even so, I couldn’t avoid postings on the shuttle.

. Perhaps it is a function of the type of friends I have, but for a day, posts on the shuttle seemed to overshadow even the endless political postings by people who should know better about what they put on their professional Facebook pages (Hint, if you feel free to put it up in a place where your potential bosses will read it, you’re not talking truth to power. You ARE the power.)

It reminded me a lot of the moon landing. For a moment, for a blessed few hours, we looked up from the ball of mud as all eyes turned to space and to what we all knew in our hearts was the next movement for our species. Remember, I wasn’t an American then, but I felt it too. And it wasn’t just me. Within a week our elementary school teacher, in this tiny one-room school house, started talking about how lucky we were to be living in a time when we might grow up and go to space. At various get togethers arranged for kids, the various, insanely-cheerful songs of the row your boat variety suddenly included references to the lunar age, to man of the space age. (Oh, I’m sure some Soviet scientists were furious that day. Bureaucrats even more so. But doubtless even they were in awe.)

The difference of course, is that the moon landing was a first and everyone pays attention to a first. So you might think it means nothing. It doesn’t explain the attention paid to the shuttle, because we’ve been expecting the end there – we know it’s an expensive program and it’s being shuttered.

And yet. And yet there’s something that calls us to space. In Space Engineers, Simak posited that we always longed for the stars, because we’d known we come from there. Of course if I wrote anything suggesting that, it would get buried under screams of outrage – even if I wrote it metaphorically, so I won’t. Beautiful and chest-expanding as that idea is, the explanation is much simpler.

As some of you know when I’m sick I read biology and anthropology manuals and sites. (Unless I’m REALLY sick, in which case I read about dinosaurs. It’s like comfort food.)

Our species – all species – have two modes: expand range or die. As my friend Dave Freer put it, we’re a species of colonists. It’s what we do. Every human race, every human culture longs to expand and most of them have, with varying degrees of success. Expansion is healthy both for the new culture and the one left at home. Innovations are bought back; inventions are sparked; restless young men are given productive outlets.

Are expansions within Earth and into someone else’s territory different? To an extent. It could be argued, though, that from the very long term perspective those expansions have, ultimately, been for the benefit of humanity in general. (Yes, I could expand on this, but not at six in the morning on a day when my to-do writing list is overflowing the page. Also, I suspect to explain it in detail would take a book. However, take the fact that as a whole humanity is now – at the end of expansionary movements and wars of conquest that started in the paleolithic – not only more numerous but more long-lived and healthier than ever. Then connect the dots.)

Whether our expansion is a good thing for anyone else, frankly, is a matter of total lack of concern to me. I know it’s chauvinistic and irredeemable of me, but when it comes to choosing between my own species and hypothetical blue aliens with linked in pony tails, I’m going to choose my own species. And no, I don’t care how ecologically sound these hypothetical aliens are, or how loving-kind or how perfect. Heck, I wouldn’t care even if they stopped being hypothetical.

Yes, I know, you’re looking at me in horror. But there are things that are so basic, so simple, so fundamentally gut-right that it takes years and years of education and an exquisite attention to moral formation to make people ignore them or think otherwise. Arguably our system does just that to people, just now.

And that’s insane, because even herbivores fight for their herd. You never see cornered antelope go “Oh, look, it’s much better for our herd if we let the lions eat the weak and the old. I mean, it’s not like they can live forever. And what right do we antelopes have to take over the area? Everyone knows we overgraze and destroy bio diversity.” The reason antelopes don’t do this is that they haven’t spent twelve plus years listening to how the species they belong to is harmful and useless and should go extinct for the sake of higher values of a nebulous kind. Lucky antelopes.

I did spend sixteen plus years listening to what horrible creatures humans are. I’ve also read countless books to the effect. But, aw, shucks, as my parents found out from the moment I could move around and say “no” I’ve never taken suggestion well. Also, I’m a mother, (no, not in the sense you guys call me that) and I’m selfish. I’d like to see my line of descendence stretch all the way into the future and if possible to the stars.

Those posts yesterday proved that despite schooling, despite instruction, despite the fact that the rest of you aren’t as tri-plated irascible, stubborn b*tches as I am, (which is a good thing. A world full of me would be terrifying, not to mention boring) most people at a gut level feel the same yearning to push our species past the ball of mud and on to new and bright frontiers.

Oh, we know it won’t all be blanket trees and candy fields. If anything we know the dangers far too well. We know in this wave of expansion as in many others, men and women will die, and we’ll lose some of our true best and brightest. Doesn’t matter. In reaching beyond one simple planet, they will bring a better life to the vast majority of us. A life so rich, so free, so full of security and abundance that we can’t imagine it, and our ancestors would have called it heaven.

And that is why I’m talking about it in the future, despite the last decade or so of our being assured this expansion would never happen; despite the last two decades of our being hectored on how this was a pipe dream and we had to learn to be good stewards of this one, tiny corner of the galaxy.

Look my friends, here is wax. Block your ears against the siren song of the nay sayers, the guilt-trippers and the scared sisters who always, always prefer their fireside to the discovery of new lands. Their ilk has always existed and always will. Someday our descendants will come back from their distant space colonies, conquer their descendants and bring them the innovations we discovered meanwhile. And then some of their descendants will join in the expansion to another galaxy and – if it’s possible we’ll find a way – another universe.

Oh, things look nasty right now, but the way we’ve been doing space is expensive and not very efficient. If there’s one thing we’ve learned in recent decades (since we went to the moon) is that not only isn’t big government necessary for big projects, big government is usually an hindrance to big projects, (it tends to be staffed by all those fireside sisters.)

So, government is broke and won’t be doing much for us. That’s fine. Not a problem. Le us do for ourselves. Let us try many ways to get into space. the best will succeed, and after that we’ll continue trying.

Look up into the skies at night see all those stars? Your descendants (direct or collateral) and mine will walk in planets circling them. They’ll be born and die, war and marry in worlds we can only imagine. They’ll change, they’ll grow, they’ll understand more than we can know.

And they’ll dream of bigger things.


84 thoughts on “Perchance To Dream A Blast From The Past From February 2011

  1. There have always and will always be those who look at the dreamers and point out that with the dreams come risks and dangers. Problem is that without such dreams there comes risks and dangers as well.

  2. Look to the sky
    Look to the stars
    They can’t take us over
    They can’t take what’s ours.

    The work of our hands,
    We can always redo.
    The things in our minds
    We pass down to you.

    The will to the striving
    They never will break.
    The hope in our labors
    They never can take.

    The fire that burns
    In every free soul
    Is something they never
    Can see nor control.

    They think in our spirits
    We are like them,
    Yet we know the truth:
    We are still men.

    No machine to dance
    To a street grinder’s tune.
    No dog to lie lazy,
    Then howl at the moon.

    We look to the sky
    And reach to the stars,
    And they can’t understand
    What makes the sky ours.

    – wyrdbard, October 14, 2016 on

    1. The arching sky is calling
      Spacemen back to their trade
      All hands, standby, free falling
      And the lights below us fade

      Out ride the sons of Terra,
      Far drive the thundering jets,
      Up leaps the race of Earthmen,
      Out, far, and onward yet —

      We pray for one last landing
      On the globe that gave us birth
      Let us rest our eyes on the fleecy skies
      And the cool green hills of Earth
      – RAH

    2. Take my love, take my land,
      Take me where I cannot stand –
      I don’t care, I’m still free;
      You can’t take the sky from me.

      1. Isn’t Space Command the HQ of Space Force? Or at least its Pentagon. I’ve got a Space Force T-shirt. We’re are watching the commercial and military space forces being born. I’m too old and fat to go into space. Hopefully you, Shadow, or your children will go into space.

        1. *chuckle* The younger kids perhaps, and I can dream of that. Not sure about me; though I’d think it an adventure, I’ve got none of the skillsets that would be most useful up there, and I don’t think hypertension should be worried about in space.

  3. I read somewhere that there are going to be 7 more blue cat people movies. 😬😖😱

    1. Don’t you mean 7 more “Dances With Smurfs” movies? 😈

      1. I always thought it was more “Apocalypse Smurf.” Apocalypse Now with a “twist” ending, Smurfs win.

        Movie two will be: “The Empire Strikes Back… at the Smurfs!”

    2. Hopefully they will get a real military adviser.

      The bad guy army was even dumb by modern Hollywood standards.

      Then again, I’m surprised that movie wasn’t condemned for its white savior theme.

        1. Good…not that I care usually (although it was a very annoying brand), but the bastards are judging me by that standard and they need to be as well.

      1. “Hopefully they will get a real military adviser.”

        Hopefully they will go -full- SJW and lose 10 billion dollars. That would be schweet.

        1. In a way, yes it would be sweet. In another, maybe not so much. I suspect Hollywood has their heads so far up their rears that the conclusion they’d draw was not that SJW doesn’t sell, but that sci-fi doesn’t sell.

    3. That’s nice.

      Avatar reminds me a bit of Titanic, in that it was huge when it came out but since has faded into “Oh, right, that.” It seems like the big attraction was always around the 3D, with even the fans admitting, “Yeah, it’s Pocahontas in space.” Unless Cameron finds a way to make the sequels in 4D or 5D, I suspect that any sequels are going to bomb hard.

      1. Special effects. Hollywood has a hard time understanding SF as a genre, they equate it to “special effects extravaganza”.

      2. I have the same thought about both movies: I’m glad I saw them in the theater because they were gorgeous, but I’d have been fine if the sound had been off. Although with Avatar I think I would have enjoyed it more with the sound off. Titanic’s plot didn’t annoy me with its stupidity, Avatar’s plot did.

        Hell, I even was annoyed by the white savior part of it and the military stupidity. The gaia worship stuff was the least annoying part.

        1. The effects for Avatar were absolute bleeding edge when they were done, its one reason that they waited for 15 years to make it… Nowadays, they really aren’t that bleeding edge. His entire production workflow was bleeding edge- and now, even the virtual camera stuff can be done off the shelf with an iPad.

          (if y’all are really curious, i can explain it)

  4. >> “Also, I’m a mother, (no, not in the sense you guys call me that)”

    They say that Hoyt is one bad motha-

    1. Wait, did you just call that a BLACK hole? RAAAAACIST!!!!

      Honestly, astronomical phenomena really should take sensitivity training classes.

        1. I don’t know, I think feeding sensitivity trainers into a black hole is about the best possible use for them.

          1. That might be rather dangerous. If there’s anything in the universe that could frig up a black hole, sensitivity trainers would be it. They frig up every other thing they touch.

            Cue to movie of black hole barfing up sensitivity trainers, proving that faster than light travel is possible if the universe is desperate enough.

            Which brings up an interesting point. If we tossed King Midas into the black hole, A) would it turn to gold?
            and B) Would we be able to tell?


        2. The trick to managing morons is to give them the right ideas so that they head off to the sandbox wearing eye-protection. If they are an exceptionally talented idiot you, can give them a bucket of water and a shovel. Regular snack delivery and and escort to the bathroom will keep them occupied and out of the way engaged in mostly harmless activities.

  5. “despite the fact that the rest of you aren’t as tri-plated irascible, stubborn b*tches as I am,”

    Oh, I don’t know about that. I’d be willing to venture a guess that more than half of us are just as much, and perhaps a few of us are even worse, or rather, better at being irascible stubborn biatches or b’tards.. But I don’t mind you setting a good example for us.

  6. Hint, if you feel free to put it up in a place where your potential bosses will read it, you’re not talking truth to power. You ARE the power.

    Here we are and they are still claiming to talk truth to power; power they are getting thrown off all social media for being bad, but still somehow the people removed are the power.

    Meanwhile, they are surrendered anything and everything the white supremacists demand they surrender, like the ok hand sign.

    1. I like how Sarah puts it- “speaking power to truth”.
      I wonder if part of the problem is that the Man just doesn’t see himself as the Man, but instead still sees himself as the Young Scrappy Underdog Fighting the Establishment. Even though he’s been running the Establishment for a long, long time.

      1. Pelosi and her associates (spiritual as well as professional) think it’s still 1968 and they are leading the forces of Truth and Justice against the Establishment. And they are still 21 (in their own minds).

        1. More like 1964, I think. And they think it’s 1933 when it comes to economics. The Dems, far more than the GOP, are mired in the past.

          1. Reminds me of a sign I saw once on the wall in an Air Force officer’s office.

            RANK x IQ = a constant

            (IIRC, he was a captain.)

      2. Something like that, although I attribute it to the same thing I attribute the things they think conservatives do based on what they know they do and the “fact” they are good people.

        “The Man” is by definition (to them) bad people. They “know” they are good people therefore they cannot be The Man, no matter how powerful they are or how much they used it against people with little to no power.

          1. No Guillotine. It was invented to be a humane form of execution and is pretty much is.

            No, if they force us to remove them violently to protect ourselves I want no mercy when we do.

            Burn alive at a minimum although I’m all for building row upon row of bronze bull.

  7. Every human race, every human culture longs to expand and most of them have, with varying degrees of success.

    I had great success.

    Then I moved to Atlanta and the first three years contracted.

    Since I moved far enough from work I couldn’t walk for a commute I have stabilized.

  8. I recommend Science and Futurism with Isaac Arthur on YouTube. 2019 is his sixth year and he generally puts something up weekly. It’s all about how to take over the universe within the laws of known physics (mostly).

    1. That is a very good series, as is the one I discovered Isaac from, John MIchael Godier’s channel. They have done a few crossover episodes.

      JMG is also very intimidating in terms of writing sci-fi.

  9. “Someday our descendants will come back from their distant space colonies, conquer their descendants”

    I had in mind conquering them in the near future.

    And it’s worth pointing out that the order has been given. The Moon. 2024. By any means necessary.

  10. It’s going to be interesting to see just how much publicity the first post-Shuttle manned U.S. flight will get. It’s going to feel good to be a spacefaring nation again. I’m torn about who to root for…I’ve a friend working for SpaceX, a TPS classmate scheduled to make the first flight of the Boeing capsule.

  11. Oddly enough, that anime music video that was only satirically pro Trump somewhat represents what I dream of.

  12. But Sarah, space travel is just Western Capitalist Colonialism! And don’t even get me started on those big, tall phallic rockets violating those poor, virginal planets . . .

    1. I kniw you think you are being satirical, but I have actually stood with jaw gaping while a female pillock made more or less those arguments. I fear my surprised snort offended the little idiot.

      1. The more I hear of that stuff, the more tempted I am to write approvingly of the process of filling slit trenches with space aboriginals.

    2. Color me skeptical about the sexual history of those planets. Most of ’em don’t look like virgins to me.

    3. Pshaw.
      Those rockets identify as transfemale, and have a right to invade any locker room — ah, planet — that they choose.

  13. I’m a Scottish Jew engineer. I figure my great great grand kids will be running the engine room, and/or working whatever the space tech equivalent (and there will be one) of the peddler’s push cart, doing a little free lance banking, and arguing over whether to use Jerusalem time or local sunset to start Sabbath.

      1. I almost included an account of the rabbinical debates over the edibility of shamah in the last Colplatschki book. But it would have needed two more volumes for that alone. 😉

        *For those not familiar, shamah are a llama-sheep cross. The sheep would be OK, but the llama part was questionable, as was the crossing.

        1. I certainly wouldn’t want to mess with a cross llama. 🙂 Neighbors had them a year or two, and if we ignored them, they’d “talk” at us. They didn’t mind our dogs, for some reason.

    1. You have just encountered the infamous WordPress Delay Bug. When it hits, just wait. Usually several seconds to a few minutes. (No, as best as I can tell, it’s random.)

      If this had been an actual debugged blogging platform, this message would self destruct in fice seconds would not be necessary.

      Repeat after me: “WordPress Delenda Est”.

      1. It’s random. I’ll log into WP here to comment, and not see anything. I go log in at my place, come back, and behold! Comment.

        1. That’s okay. What we tell Sarah three times is true.

          (In ancient Hebrew and some other languages, my understanding is that saying the same word three times, like “Holy, holy, holy,” is a superlative form of that word. So logically, saying anything three times could mean that it is really really really true. )

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