A week or so ago, Republican Representative Martin Harty, a nonagenarian from New Hampshire (!) said something that might have been funny if it had been said by a drunken college student being ironic at a house party or at a bar. However, I’m fairly certain that a sober phone conversation with a constituent is not the proper forum to suggest that sending “defective” people to Siberia is a good idea. And, of course, to later refuse to apologize for such comments is even more hilarious. And forget morals for a second. Would Russia even approve of this? Is it even plausible fiscally? Logistically? We could just as easily stick all the defectives in a huge freezer or grind them up into soylent green patties. It seriously is the ramblings of an old cranky bastard that has no business playing at politics. He really needs to just get back to his penny candy and his Price is Right.
But it got me thinking. Not about eugenics. But about Mars exploration. I think it was back in November that a couple of scientists suggested the money-saving space exploration strategy of sending astronauts in their sixties to Mars on a one-way trip. The logic is fairly straightforward. A one-way trip would cut costs by something like 80%. The idea of sending older folks to Mars is the fact that a mission to colonize Mars would almost certainly dramatically reduce a person’s life expectancy. Therefore, goes the argument, the only logical thing to do is to send fit, healthy and sane folks in their sixties. These are fogies who have theoretically had a full and happy life.
The thing of it is, people will want to do this. You will never be short on volunteers for something like this. Even after you filter out the crazies, you’re still going to have a fairly sizable pool from which to draw colonists from. It’s interesting because word on the street is that this is NASA’s idea. This is not NASA’s idea. NASA is not endorsing this idea and is not planning on utilizing this idea. At least for the time being.
Honestly, I don’t understand what the holdup is. Here’s my problem: Kennedy lit a fire under our collective asses with his address challenging us to put a man on the moon. America’s best and brightest teamed up to not just win the space race, but to annihilate the competition. Kennedy threw down the gauntlet in 1961. There were human footprints on the fucking moon in 1969.
Since then, NASA has become an agglomeration of bureaucrats. The adventurous spirit is lost and little by little the US has lost her resolve to do anything even remotely as badass as walking on the moon. I mean, seriously. Obama’s “Sputnik Moment” is just to, what? Get everyone internet access? Really? I’ve had internet access since 1995 (ish). This is not a Sputnik Moment, nor an analogous Apollo Response. It is just a pledge to invest in the infrastructure of a (very possibly) doomed planet.
The question that I think is vital here is essentially this: When is the US going to do something boner-inducing again?
And I know that there are people out there who will claim that we simply don’t have the money. Well, I’m here to tell you that we do have the money. Oodles of it. And there’s one easy way to get our hands on it.
And so, here’s my thinking: we have to get to Mars because it’s the coolest thing imaginable at this point in time. The only way to do it and make it affordable is to turn Mars into Shady Acres Retirement Village. So let’s do it. Let’s embrace this idea wholeheartedly. I mean, if this is a moral imperative (which I would argue it is, what with the precarious situation of having all our eggs in, you know, just the one basket), and there is only one way to accomplish it, then why wouldn’t we just do that thing?
Oldsters on Mars. Hell, you don’t need eccentric billionaires to fund the damned thing. You just need hidden cameras and a distribution deal with MTV. This would be the most brilliant reality TV ever. Watching a handful of old fogies slip inexorably toward dementia and how the others deal with that (on Mars!!) would be like the TV event of…well…forever.
I’d start a petition to get this thing going, but what’s the point?
Also, in the picture, can you guess who the old man with the gun is? That’s right. It’s William S. Burroughs.
Vorspiel einer Philosophie der Zukunft