At the time of this writing, Halloween is a little less than two months away. To get into the spirit of the day, here’s a word from an old friend.
UBI or Not?
The presidential run of candidate Andrew Yang made a lot of folks familiar with the idea of a universal basic income. A monthly cash amount given free of qualification or restriction to every citizen and legal resident to spend without any preconditions.
The idea is to reduce poverty, compensate for jobs lost to automation, and eliminate the stigma of receiving welfare, all while saving money by eliminating social services such as housing assistance, food stamps, Medicare, etc.. Since these payments would go to everyone, most plans include taxing the money back from wealthy recipients.
In providing assistance to those in need, I have always preferred giving goods and services directly. Free clinic, food bank. That sort of thing. The next best choice is a voucher good for specific use. The cash alternative seems like the least best way to help. It’s advantage is that in the short run it may be cheaper than maintaining the social infrastructure of a welfare system. My problem with it is that it may fail to provide the specific help desired. Most of these plans, including Andrew Yang’s, don’t go far enough, leaving some people worse or no better off than before.
I would much prefer giving aid exclusively to those who need it. Our greatest failure in this regard seems to be with housing assistance. We can’t seem to match up vacant houses with homeless individuals and families. As far as automation displacement and unemployment in general, instead of a guaranteed basic income, I much prefer a guaranteed job, with the government the employer of last resort. The UBI addresses real concerns, but it’s the wrong solution.
Nothing to Crow About
Apparently the Tower Of London has lost one of it’s eight resident ravens. The bird hasn’t been seen for a while, and is thought to be dead.
I don’t know if they’re planning to put up a “vacant roost” sign, or just sing a chorus of “Bye Bye Blackbird”. Either way, there is a superstition that says that bad things will happen if the tower looses too many of its birds.
Esperanto, Nice Try
Esperanto was created to be the international language, and would be the second language everyone would learn after their mother tongue and before a foreign language. That way anyone could speak with anyone, regardless of their nationality. Communication among all peoples would foster peace and cooperation. The world would be a better place.
It didn’t work out that way. Oh, Esperanto gained a lot of support, and since it’s beginning more than a hundred years ago has garnered millions of speakers and enthusiastic proponents. It has made some gains, and today has an increasing presence on the internet, but it hasn’t been enough, and it never will be.
The problem is two-fold. First of all, one can connect with more speakers using widely spoken languages such as English, Spanish, or Mandarin. These languages are going to offer young learners vastly more reward for their effort in culture, business, and travel opportunities. Esperanto simply can’t compete.
Secondly, Google Translate. That one pretty much speaks for itself, and in whatever language you want. No need to spend time learning when you can get free, fast, and somewhat accurate translations at the click of a button.
It is certainly a good thing to have a universal language to bring peoples of the world together to share in the common cultures, technologies, and ways of thinking that make up the human experience. But this only happens when one nation dominates and spreads it’s spoken word as supreme among the nations of the world.
Today, that language is English, yesterday it was French, and before that Latin. As for tomorrow, who knows. It’s not likely going to be Esperanto.
The Case For A Second Space Station
Today’s article is posted by guest author Chet Lang. I hope you enjoy it.
The Case For A Second Space Station
by Chet Lang
The International Space Station, formerly Space Station Freedom, is a marvel of modern engineering and sheer economic brute force. It has been continually manned and womaned for more than twenty years, and throughout that time has served as a platform for scientific experiments involving the presence of micro gravity. It is scheduled to remain in use for another seven years or so. So, the ISS has served it’s purpose; we don’t need another one, right?
Well, the Chinese government thinks we do. Since they have been denied participation in the ISS, they have plans to launch their own. Also, there has always been talk of private “hotels” in space. It would seem that the space station concept is not yet dead.
Humanity went to the moon in 1969-1972, but since then we haven’t ventured beyond Earth orbit, the space station has been our only crewed destination. It’s past time to get back the moon and beyond.
Having said all that, why on earth would we need another time and resource wasting orbiting platform in space? The short answer is we don’t, at least not another one like the ISS. But it could be time for something a little different. A station that could free us to travel to other worlds, instead of endlessly orbiting our own.
Think of something that can move. A space ship? Not in the usual sense. Nor would it be what we think of as a space station. The ISS can move. It does so periodically to avoid space debris, or to change orbit to accommodate some supply missions. If it could carry more fuel, it could theoretically leave Earth’s orbit, but it wasn’t designed for that. The thinking has been that if you want a space station somewhere else, you put one in permanent orbit at the desired spot, and that’s that. We’re already planning a second space station, the Lunar Gateway to orbit the moon.
Projects like this get planned long-term, but often priorities and budgets change, and projects get canceled. Maybe there’s a better way to approach our travels in space. Build a space station designed to leave orbit and venture out to wherever needed. If we want a space station orbiting Mars, fuel it up and send it there. If we ever want to move it again, just send out some more fuel, and “make it so”.
We’re occupied with returning to the moon and going to Mars, and we want to get there as quickly and cheaply as possible. One could cross the Atlantic Ocean in a rowboat, but would that be the safest and most practical way to do it. Of course not. So why do we think it’s smart to send a few astronauts millions of miles in a tiny craft more reminiscent of a dingy than a three-masted sailing ship?
Let’s imagine a sizable space craft, yes, like in the science fiction movies, both space ship and space station, designed to travel or linger as the mission requires. And if the mission changes, the vehicle doesn’t need to. Just refuel, and set sail.
What would such a ship look like? It would be modularly constructed, of course, just like the ISS, and could initially play a similar role and a LEO destination. After a shake down period, it could be fueled up and sent to the Moon, no Lunar Gateway required. Another mission could send it to Mars. Orbit the planet then return with valuable experience dealing with radiation, weightlessness, and isolation. Maybe equip the next mission with a couple of Mars landers for easy access to and from the surface.
But would it look like the ISS, modules connected randomly, poking out in all directions? No, that’s part of why the traditional idea of a space station can’t venture out. The modules have to be stacked in a straight line with crew quarters at one end, and rocket engines at the other, with cargo and fuel tanks in between. The longer and skinnier the better for stability during acceleration, and also to make a long surface for mounting solar panels and thermal radiators.
Just as we’re striving for reusable rockets, we need space vehicles that we can deploy to one mission after another, rather than junking them after one trip. We need a multi-use space ship, larger than a probe or capsule, virtually a movable space station capable of supporting a crew with relative comfort and safety. Whether you want to call it a ship or not, let’s get to work building the next space station.
Happy Thanksgiving Everyone
Life is precious,
Life is short,
So as the moments mount,
Live the life
You want to live,
And make each moment count.
Never settle for only half;
Never smile when you can laugh.
by Lucy A. Brown
Partake of the fabulous feast before you,
It’s cascade of consumable constituents
Ponderously burdening the lengthy tables.
Delve into the flavorful flesh
Of fire roasted rump of bovine beast.
Savor the sumptuous sandwiches,
High and stacked thick with myriad meats
Slather on thick, rich relishes, chutneys, creams, and sauces.
Submerge yourselves fully
Into the depths of gastric abandonment.
Give way to these culinary creations
As they caress your palates
With the palatial pleasures of a royal banquet.
And take deep pleasure
In the sensuous sweet sips
That set the mind to reel.
The fermented ambrosia which soothes the soul
And relaxes the weary, tensioned psyche.
Bottoms up with a pint of bitters
Or a flagon of rum, a stein of ale;
Savor a snifter of Brandy,
Take pleasure in an embracing glass of wine;
Down a shot of whiskey or a jigger of gin.
When the evening starts to chill,
Warm pleasured souls with hot toddies and eggnog.
Succumb to the sweet ambrosia,
The siren’s call that sucks you in,
Head spinning, mind whirling,
Numb to the woes of the wretched world.
Pour it from the pitcher,
Serve it from the spout.
Another carafe, another glass.
Let the musicians make euphonic melody,
While you whirl and gyrate in terpsichorean delight to bawdy music
And rowdy song.
Chortle, giggle, and laugh in frenzied merriment.
Join in playful frivolity,
And telling of tall tales.
Give way to irresponsible abandonment.
Yield then to the promiscuous pleasures of the night,
And the ultimate beckoning arms of Morpheus.
I raise my glass in tribute
To the morrow,
And toast to the evening before us: “Dine, drink, and dance,
For tomorrow we die!”
Good day to you one and all. This is my first posting, just to say I’m here. Poems will come later. Thanks.