Planetary Colonial Accessions Depot – Inprocessing Brief

PLACE: INTERPLANETARY COLONIAL ACCESSIONS DEPOT
TIME: 0445 HOURS
DATE: ALTERNATE NEAR FUTURE

Okay, kids, wake the hell up. I know you’ve been sitting in those desks since zero-four-hundred, wondering what the hell is going on, but never forget that you volunteered to be here. Nobody is making you do this. If you want to, you can go directly out that door in the back of the room, call your mommy or your daddy to come pick you up, then go home to your comfy little beds . . . No?

Right. Good. Now, pay attention. This is your official inprocessing brief.

A few days ago, the New Horizons probe did a close fly-by of the (dwarf) planet Pluto. Did you see the news? The pictures? I know, Pluto kinda gets lost in the shuffle — what with all the politicized, hyperbolic, narrative-laden bulls*** they cram into your brains all day. If it’s not the snooze news, it’s social media — where the way you change the world is by clicking your mouse, then giving yourself a hug. Because you care so much. No, don’t bother denying it. You’re children of your era, I know that’s how the game works. Virtue-signaling. Slacktivism. Never get your hands dirty.

Well, be prepared to get some soil under your nails, boys and girls. Because Pluto is where we’re ultimately headed. And beyond. Not with robots. But with human beings.

See, we used to be the kind of people who knew about frontiers. They were dangerous, wild places where a guy could literally lose himself. For a tiny period in the 1960s and early 1970s, we almost recaptured the dream. The moon truly is a harsh mistress. Like all frontiers, it’s mighty unforgiving on the careless, and the stupid. No room for politically correct doublethink. You either get it right, or you die. Mistakes — even the little ones — are fatal. Not an environment that’s terribly kind to Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes. Going to the moon requires engineering, guts, skill, and no small degree of stoicism.

I repeat: guts, skill, and stoicism.

When is the last time we cared about these things? And I mean, really cared? As a people?

Because the moon is just a puddle jump. Mars, the Jupiter system, and beyond, will require a quantum leap — not only in terms of dollars and infrastructure, but also in terms of civilizational grit. The fortitude and certainty we used to have, when we were still pioneers. The kind of cultural granite that our Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes are eagerly erasing from our collective consciousness.

Doubt me? I know some of you have had some college recently. Raise your hands. Were there designated safe spaces? Gender-flexible bathrooms? Was there free microaggression counseling? Did they teach you about how capitalism is evil? Were you warned to check your privilege?

Okay, put your hands down. Those questions were mostly rhetorical. Take my word for it. Once you pass through this facility, all that poofy s*** is over. Am I clear? Over.

See, I just shocked you. Your faces gave it away.

Let me step back for a sec. I know it’s pure heresy for me to suggest that running around like spoiled children — shrieking and crying every time something rubs you even a little bit the wrong way — is not just a bad idea, but a complete failure of moral fiber. It’s the truth, though. You cannot be a pussy and make it to the stars. I repeat: you cannot be a pussy and make it to the stars. You can have a pussy, fine. You just can’t be a pussy.

There, shocked you again. Get used to it.

See, our ships aren’t made of wood anymore, but the men still have to be made of iron. Women too, frankly. The fact you have a vagina doesn’t give you a free pass. That officer who filed you in here? Remember her? The one with the small scar on her chin? Mean look on her face? The one who didn’t smile back at you? Did she seem like the kind of person who pulls her dress up over her head when life gets uncomfortable? No, I don’t think so either.

She’s sturdy folk. The kind of woman who, one-hundred-and-seventy years ago, could put her husband and two babies into the ground, then let the tears freeze on her face as she kept the oxen and the wagon headed toward the snow-blown sunset.

Not that sturdy folk — men and women alike — aren’t still among us. They can often be found working in the ranks of our militaries and our blue-collar services: fire departments, police departments, emergency medical response teams, and so forth. They’re on the farms and ranches in fly-over country. They do your plumbing and your electricity. They pour cement and frame houses. They drink beer and watch sports and tell dirty jokes, and talk about their last deployment with the Guard or Reserve. They cringe and bite their tongues every time some yammering, pampered weenie in a suit gets on TV and lectures them about what terrible people they all are. Because they didn’t grow up in a tony upper-middle-class suburban world, going to tony upper-middle-class lib-arts colleges, where they got tony upper-middle-class degrees in Hating America.

But sturdy folk are the only chance civilization’s got.

Doubt me? Check it out.

Once upon a time, such folk left the western side of the Appalachians behind, and within a century they tamed a continent. The descendants of those pioneers endured the Great Depression, then went on to beat the Imperial Japanese, Nazi Germany, face off with the Soviet Russians and Red Chinese during the Cold War, and put spacecraft on the moon — just sixty-six years after the Wright Brothers’ first flight.

Something else: sturdy folk don’t give a damn if you’re male, female, trans, gay, straight, black, white, brown, red, or purple-polka-dotted. Sturdy folk only care about two things — are you reliable, and can you maintain your nerve and your sense of humor when the s*** hits the fan? ‘Cause I can tell you right now, the flakey ones, and squirrely ones, the brittle ones, and the people with chips on their shoulders, they’re going to be gunning for a little airlock justice. Do I need to go into detail about what I mean when I say airlock justice?

Good, I didn’t think so. This is the deal: we all piss yellow, we all s*** brown, and we all bleed red. Someone hacks you off? If it’s not a mission-critical issue, forget it. Water on a duck’s back. This ‘aint about you and your ego. Your feelings don’t matter. Keep your noses out of business that ‘aint yours to mind, especially among your crewmates, and you’ll be fine. But the minute you think you deserve an exception, you become a danger to not only yourself, but everyone else around you. Again, this is no place for Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes.

Now, you may be thinking, there’s no frontier anymore. The whole Earth has been swallowed up in the 21st century web of technology and ultra-convenience. Besides, your history teachers taught you that pioneers were evil, genocidal, racist maniacs, destroying Gaia and Her peaceful tribes. Right?

I see you nodding your heads.

Well, this is the place where you will unlearn much of what was spoon-fed to you by people who aren’t qualified to poor warm piss out of a cold space boot, even with the instructions stenciled on the heel.

The frontier still lives. Pioneering still lives. It lives right here in our hearts.

If we could just boost a few thousand sturdy folk into Earth orbit . . . no, not just Earth orbit. Think bigger. The asteroid belt. Endless mountains of raw ore. Drifting. Waiting. It’ll take a blue-collar, can-do attitude to harness that untapped river of iron, silver, platinum, gold, and titanium. Haul a few of those rocks back home. Set up the interplanetary shipyards overhead. Get the emigration bureaus churning. Are you good with your hands? Do you have a sharp mind? Can you be taught to do technical things under difficult conditions? Can you take and obey orders, from people who’ve earned the right to give them?

Wait, don’t answer, we’ll test your asses — to be sure. No trophies for participation, on the accessions exams. You’ve either got what it takes, or you don’t. So keep on your toes.

Here, I want you to look at this picture on the big screens in front of you. See that ball? That’s Charon, Pluto’s runty sibling. There’s a dark blotch at the top. See it? Good.

Ladies and gentlemen, some day — maybe in fifty years? Maybe in a hundred and fifty? — we simply will walk into Mordor!

But not until after we’ve sweated, bled, and died for the right to do so.

Yup, I said it. Death. No pioneering effort can escape it. We lost three good men with Apollo, and almost lost three more. We lost fourteen people with the shuttle. Both of those programs had thousands of specialists and billions of dollars working to ensure the crews were as safe as possible, and it wasn’t enough to make things foolproof. Where we’re all going in the future, there will be even greater risks, using even more cutting-edge technology, to strive for higher goals. So make no mistake about it. Men and women are going to lose their lives. Remember that giant wall of little empty plackards you passed when you came in the door today? We expect to fill the whole thing with names, and then some. Some of you sitting in this room, might be up there eventually.

Don’t get scared — it’s all in a day’s work. Your great-great-grandfathers used to walk I-beams in the sky over New York, thirty stories up, without so much as a single safety belt. And just like your great-great-grandfathers, you’ll have plenty of caffeine, nicotine, porn, and poker cards; to help you cope. They did it. I have faith that each and every one of you, sitting in those desks, can do it too. You just have to want it. You just have to have the will. Again, it don’t make a damned bit of a difference if you’re male, female, trans, straight, gay, brown, white, or purple-polka-dotted. The only thing that matters is, you can’t be yellow down your spine.

Alright, that’s the end of the brief. If you’re a Speshul Sparklee Snowflake, please depart to your rear — and don’t ever dare show your face in my depot again; not until you’ve gotten over yourself, and have grown a pair.

But if you’ve got what it takes . . . first door behind me — your front — please. Single-file. When the accessions battery is concluded, we’ll feed you lunch, prior to giving you your results. After that, they will laser-size you for your space suit, issue equipment, and coveralls. Pick up your space-standard foot locker at the end of the building, right before you exit onto the tarmac. Those lockers are heavy. Don’t worry. One end has wheels.

The training shuttles will be waiting.

AUTHOR NOTE: the audiobook of my Baen novel The Chaplain’s War is now on sale through Audible.com’s HIDDEN GEMS promotion — good through August 6, at a very generous price of $3.95 US. Click the cover link to get your copy!

92 Comments

Filed under BRAD R. TORGERSEN, POLIT(ICK!)S, SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY

92 responses to “Planetary Colonial Accessions Depot – Inprocessing Brief

  1. Draven

    I wonder if we’re supposed to read this in the Mr, Allen voice.

  2. sanfordbegley

    I’m wondering if you aren’t an NCO, I could have sworn someone said you were commissioned but that sounds like a sergeant.

  3. dougirvin

    Sign me up

  4. A mighty fine speech. Mighty fine. Except it doesn’t mean a G** d***** thing. Ours is no longer a nation of sturdy people. In case you’ve forgotten, ours is a nation where Dear Leader had gutted the space program to the point we have to hitch rides from our enemy, and no one apparently has a problem with it because they elected him twice. As to the “opposition” party we elected, well, a gelding has more gonads, and they won’t do anything more than bluster.

    You might wind up with more sturdy people as we sink into the third world hell hole progressives are intent on making, because fluffy people just don’t do too well in hell holes. The problem, though, with being a third world hell hole is that you’re too concerned with surviving to give two flips about hanging out at L5, and it takes a long time to pull yourself out of one, no matter how d***** sturdy you are.

    Let your gunny or whatever apply these fine speech making skills to the necessity to learning Chinese. Because it looks like the only way our descendents will be making it to Pluto is if the Chinese put a truck stop there and need someone to clean the toilets.

    Yeah, I’m in a pissy mood. I’ve just read where Dear Leader wants to cut power plant emissions even more. Never mind that this will drive up power costs even more, and we don’t have a thing to replace closing more power plants. But they have rolling black-outs in third world hell holes, and if we’re going to become one, we’ll have to have them, too.

    • Actually, dear leader didn’t gut the space program. Shuttle was cancelled under Bush (for good reasons) and Obama (in a stopped clock is right twice a day sort of way) was correct in wanting to replace the government run socialist space program with a commercial effort. Get there faster and much cheaper. But the congress critters and senators of both parties that get reelected on the space Pork, insist we waste billions on a rocket to nowhere that may never fly due to it’s extreme cost.

      • We had one on track, but Obama killed it in 2010, because apparently going to the moon just wasn’t his father’s dream. Orion was salvaged as something to go to the space station in, but that’s about all. In the meantime, we might return to space on our own by 2021.

        Meanwhile, we still don’t have private manned space vehicles because getting into space is hard and R&D takes time. A common sense solution would have been to continue the constellation program as a stop-gap and for a return to the moon and beyond, while supporting private efforts through the tried and true method of the promise of government contracts. If private industry came on line first, fine; Constellation would have been there for deep space projects. If not, we would have still had a means to get into space without begging for rides.

        You can call that socialism or teacups on doilies for all I care. The fact is we had a program in the works and scrapped it. And now we don’t have diddly squat.

        • jahrens

          Kevin, Constellation was as much a non-starter as SLS. The monster rocket was not needed, and was sucking up all the budget required to develop the infrastructure needed to actually get to the lunar surface and do something once there. At that, Constellation’s schedule was slipping at more than a year per year. Boeing had created a proposal that would have used Delta IV and Atlas 5 boosters, and gotten us there faster and cheaper than Griffin’s approach, but Mike wanted to do Apollo on steroids (butter those congress-critters’ toast, so to speak.

          In the meantime, Masten Space Systems demonstrated reusable lunar landing capability a few years ago, for a few hundred thousand dollars or so, and the Dragon capsule has the capability to get to lunar orbit and back today. The manned version is not 100% complete, but there are no showstoppers, that I can see. They have more capability for less money than the capsule Griffin was spending billions on to get to there.

          NASA won’t get us into space permanently, nor should they. NASA needs to be doing research into the technology issues involved. For instance, human factors. Who’s looking at means of mitigating the long term affects of micro-gravity on human physiology? Is partial earth gravity enough? If so how much? What about ISRU? We need to go there to make living off-planet feasible. Also on-orbit construction, ideally using resources already outside the gravity well.

          • Bibliotheca Servare

            But, it must be pointed out that NASA was pursuing the constellation project with a pitiful budget compared to the budget of the Apollo program. Nonetheless, the Dragon capsule has me giddy.

        • Draven

          The ‘program that works’, namely, the shuttles, was barely working and the craft were literally coming apart at the seams. The flight Columbia was on when it blew up was either its last or second to last flight that was allowed to go to anything above LEO. (Note the space station is not classified as being in LEO for these purposes) They cancelled the shuttle program before another one blew up on them.

          As for why the Constellation program was cancelled? My bet is that Obama didn’t want Bush’s name attached to us returning to the moon, which fits in perfectly with his administration’s theme of everything Bush did being bad, and it all being Bush’s fault.

          One reason commercial space is so hard is that there is about a half-billion FAA regs to navigate before you can launch something, which is why commercial launches are still taking place at KSC.

          • Bibliotheca Servare

            I feel this odd knee-jerk urge to punch something anytime the “FAA” is mentioned, these days. Weird…it’s as if innovation-stifling bureaucracy pisses me off for some reason… *chuckle* 😉

    • Mostly, the part I disagree with is the China part.
      China has an un-fixable population bomb on the way in the next 30-40 years. They applied that 1-child-per-family rule just long enough to guarantee that there will not be enough young people to run the factories and take care of the old people. I have heard no one explain how they are going to fix the problem; some have postulated that China will import millions of Indonesians or Indians to meet the need. Might happen; in any case, the China of the future will not resemble the China of today.

      • B. Durbin

        More to the point, the gender imbalance is so incredibly bad that they’re heading for war. I mean, what else are a bunch of frustrated young men going to do?

        (BTW, that particular observation was made to me almost twenty years ago. I’m glad it hasn’t happened yet, but it will take close observation to see if the belligerence factor is going to come into play.)

        • Take a look at this graph of Chinese population by gender extended into 2050. http://populationpyramid.net/china/2050/
          Yes, there is a difference, a couple of quick eyeballs show female at 80% of male; is that enough to produce war in itself? Those in power NEED all the young workers to contribute to the economy, and aren’t gonna want to waste them on war.
          Ummm…maybe if they go raid other countries for women.
          But probably, won’t it be more likely that the result will be that the ugliest and poorest 20% of men remain single?

          • Worse, from China’s perspective. a good chunk of those men are going to places like the US and either staying or bringing back FOREIGN wives.

  5. Laura M

    Sign me up!

  6. Brad, that wasn’t just good, it was *inspiring*.

    See, I grew up and once again live in the prairie west, the flyover country that feeds the world, where average people are still sturdy folks. But I’ve lived on the left coast, where we’re rare and strange and are being actively extirpated from society. So I know the difference, upclose and firsthand.

    And it *makes* a difference in what we can *do*. What we’re willing to learn and attempt and risk and achieve. When everything is made safe, there is no risk, and without risk there is no advancement.

    I’ve contended that the space program came to a halt because once the end of the cold war let us pull our collective toes out of the fire, we became too risk-averse. Everything had to be perfectly safe before anyone would attempt it. And what happened? We stopped going to the moon, we stopped looking beyond high orbit, and we nearly stopped doing even that much.

    Humanity needs risk, or we risk becoming snails in our shells, unable to reach beyond our neatly sequestered selves.

  7. The only thing I can think to say here is:

    RAAAAAAAAAAAAAR.

  8. The Shuttle return break up was the safety nanny and bureaucracy of ass-covering culture causing that which it was claiming to prevent.
    When temps started to trigger warnings, engineers said to yaw the craft to shadow the area but that was outside the permissible parameters, though not outside design parameters, so they, the gov’t worry warts, demanded the pilot be told to fly the craft to it’s destruction, instead of try to save the lives of those aboard, after all, it might not have survived the attempt, and if they followed the rules to the letter and died, no one could be blamed for not following the rules, and having deaths involved. That could be bad for a career! Saving the lives was less important than following procedure.
    I have met one engineer who left the agency over that.

  9. sabrinachase

    *waves little Terra flag* Woohoo!
    Yeah, Brad isn’t snarly enough for a Sgt. here. He’s gone soft 😉 (I keed!)

    “Listen up! I am informed we have gotten some requests for special accommodation. These requests were immediately re-routed to the waste chute, yes I mean WASTE CHUTE, there is no “recycle” bullsh*t here. And if I ever get another one, the perpetrator will be standing in front of y’all the next day, at attention, while I read the whole damn thing complete with interpretive glosses and hand gestures. I’m a firm believer in aversion therapy for curing character flaws, and if that isn’t a f*cking cry for help I don’t know what is.”

    • I’m a pro dog trainer in Real Life, and… yeah. When you’ve got a problem animal, you can apply aversion training and cure the problem once and for all in just one or two lessons — or you can apply cookie training, and gradually teach the dog how to game the system. This, boys and girls, is a great deal of why there used to be so few problem pets, but now they are the norm.

  10. Damn the short legs! Two guys beat me through the door behind Admiral Torgersen

  11. “Not that sturdy folk — men and women alike — aren’t still among us. They can often be found working in the ranks of our militaries and our blue-collar services: fire departments, police departments, emergency medical response teams, and so forth. They’re on the farms and ranches in fly-over country. They do your plumbing and your electricity. They pour cement and frame houses. They drink beer and watch sports and tell dirty jokes, and talk about their last deployment with the Guard or Reserve. …. they didn’t grow up in a tony upper-middle-class suburban world, going to tony upper-middle-class lib-arts colleges, where they got tony upper-middle-class degrees in Hating America.”

    Yep – this, exactly. This week, I started writing away on another book project, set in that kind of American milieu – sort of what Cicely (of Northern Exposure) would be if in South Texas, and Lake Woebegon would be if the writer didn’t secretly despise the folk he writes about.
    It’s called Luna City, Texas – a little town about seventy miles south east of San Antonio, and filled with all kinds of ‘can do’ people, quietly going their own way.
    First excerpt here – http://chicagoboyz.net/archives/49296.html
    I’ll also be posting them as I write them on my regular book website – rather like short stories or blog-posts. Let me know what you think.

  12. John Rebori

    Dang, I read that and heard CPO Bragg, my Drill Instructor, RTC Orlando way back 39 years ago.Last January.

    Powerful and oh so true.

  13. Usually, it’s coffee that wakes me up in the morning. This morning, it was this post.

  14. Uncle Lar

    Repeat after me, space is hard. There’s hard vacuum, hard radiation, precious little gravity and what there is always pulling in the wrong direction. LEO is just a first step, but that step is a doozy requiring you to expend 90% of your launch mass just to get there.
    In comparison early pioneers had it easy. Fresh air free for the taking, clean water most of the time if you knew where to look, fish game and plant life to feed you if you knew how to harvest them and native people already there and thriving to show the newcomer how to do the same.
    None of that in space. Just that hard vacuum and cold cold rocks.
    And we will go out there anyway.
    I’ve been working with a couple of human wave writers, and we’ve had discussions about all those impediments to life off the Earth’s surface. It takes planning, and resources, and the fore knowledge that people will die anyway. But hasn’t that always been the one sure bet, that someday we all die, and isn’t it better to do so trying rather than sitting quietly contemplating all the might have beens.

  15. Shameless promotion update: Audible has included my novel The Chaplain’s War in their HIDDEN GEMS special for this week. Ordinary prices has been slashed to $3.95. Get it while it’s hot! I’ve refreshed this post so that a graphic link is at the bottom!

  16. That was an entertaining and enjoyable piece of agit prop. One could of course add a few things here and there.

    Once upon a time, such folk left the western side of the Appalachians behind, and within a century they tamed a continent. The descendants of those pioneers endured the Great Depression, then went on to beat the Imperial Japanese, Nazi Germany, face off with the Soviet Russians…

    Of course, this involved a genocide of the Native Americans, dealing with the troublesome people of My Lai and funding Afghan Islamists (in their fight against USSR), just to name a couple of bumps in the way during the course of becoming the developed nation with the highest homicide rate, largest prison population, one of the biggest rich-poor gaps et cetera.

    I’m sort of relieved that your wrath is directed at flexible-gender bathrooms and safe spaces (instead of anything living) next but I’m not entirely convinced that they are the most pressing problems for the human (or American) race at the moment. Are you serious that they really are the things holding us back from conquering Pluto’s moons — instead of, for example, the fact that a big chunk of Terran humans don’t have a bathroom (gender-flexible or not) at all?

    • Bjorn Hasseler

      So what is your solution? To take the door at the back of the room?

    • Oh look, it’s a Puppy-kicking troll! I suspect the furball has no solutions, merely complaints. If we actually do get back to the moon before the middle of the century, spacefaringkitten is the kind of sad-sack who will find an excuse to whine about it. I would also point out that spacefaringkitten is a great example of what happens when someone never critically examines what (s)he’s been spoon-fed.

      • Thank you! I have now updated the tagline of my blog according to your thoughtful assessment. “Going to the moon & complaining about it” has a nice vibe to it, I think.

        I still have a hard time seeing “being sturdy” as the answer to any possible problem.

      • CPaca

        Oh look, it’s a Puppy-kicking troll! I suspect the furball has no solutions, merely complaints.

        This is interesting, Brad. As far as I can tell, babbling about “grit” and “sturdiness” isn’t actually a solution to the problems of physics, biology, or life support separating us from colonizing Pluto.

        Maybe I’m wrong. Can you tell us when John Wayne, a man who epitomizes “grit” in the public eye, managed to step foot on Pluto? Can you tell us why the Nazis, who surely had more “grit” and less tolerance for “pussies” than the West didn’t manage to colonize the Moon through sheer willpower alone?

        I mean, since you have all the solutions…

    • Draven

      You know what would help a lot of those bathroomless poor brown people? Not being oppressed by their local chief/warlord/commissar/sheik/mufti/etc. Being allowed to freely associate, trade and profit as they like. This little thing called then industrial revolution would help them, too. Many of them are held in a semi-feudal state where only their ‘dear leader’ (see the list above’) has access to 20th century technology, and it is dribbled out to them as an award. Even 19th century tech like indoor plumbing. Of course, in some of those areas, it would require a cultural change to keep people from absconding with the metal pipes that provide the running water, but anyway…

      Unfortunately, you see government control of everything as the problem, not the solution.

      • CPaca

        You know what would help a lot of those bathroomless poor brown people? Not being oppressed by their local chief/warlord/commissar/sheik/mufti/etc.

        I hate to bring even more facts in and ruin your agitprop, but the country with the largest number of people lacking toilets is also the world’s largest democracy – India, with 818 million “untoileted” (WHO, as of 2011). China, by comparison, had 607 million – and China had a larger population than India in 2011.

        So democracy seems to work worse in this regard than Communism. And the US has some problems here as well, what with sewage infrastructure allowed to decay to save money.

        BTW, I strongly recommend “The Big Necessity” by Rose George. Toilets and sanitation may be prosaic, but they’re far more relevant to our lives than space travel.

    • Bibliotheca Servare

      Congratulations! You are our (random number)th pathetic, ignorant, brainless, bigoted troll visitor! Consequently, you’ve won today’s daily troll-visitation prize! What prize, you ask? Why nothing less than a handy, dandy forehead tattoo in neon green that spells out the word “jackass” for the convenience of the poor souls who, should that tattoo not be present, might otherwise be inclined to engage you in conversation as though you were an actual, semi-intelligent, delusional-hatred-free, functioning adult human being, that’s all! I know, I know! We’re just too darned generous! But hey, living off of other people’s (people you secretly disdain and despise) generosity is your way of life, right? Like a particularly nasty-smelling parasitic plant, doing its level best to suck the life out of the tree (or other organism) it’s attached to, you leach (and leech) off of other people, and produce nothing but foulness and filth as a consequence of your continued, much lamented, survival. I’ve read your work elsewhere “kitten” and I have to tell you, my cat’s *fecal material* is more inclined to rational self-examination and reasoned discussion than you are. I won’t even start on cranial capacity, but I suspect you can guess that you lose out in that category as well. All I can really say in your favor is that it is impressive how willing you are to expose your own inadequacy and stupidity to anyone who cares to glance at…anything you write. Such reckless disregard of considerations like personal dignity is deserving of its own form of pitying respect. Other than that? Well…I suppose your progenitors might have something positive to say about you, but I cannot begin to imagine what it might be. But thank you, thank you for blessing us with your wise and sage commentary on this day. …Seriously, I needed something to raise my blood pressure and make me laugh; thanks for that. Will you ever read this comment? Perhaps not. But whether you read it or not, I have, at last, posted my opinion of your character in a location not subject to the censorious predations of those who share your pitiable, horrific (and horrifically distorted) perspective on the nature of reality. That accomplished, I bid you good day, sir or madam.

      PS: to the readers of madgeniusclub…pardon me, please, for this vitriolic, unquestionably acidic, venting of my spleen. This odious personage has made hir (his+her=hir) presence felt in multiple internet locales, and spewed similar gouts of mental sewage in every one of them. Alas, those locales were ones in which disagreement with hir intellectually stunted…no, intellectually *void*…opinions was severely contraindicated, and often subject to censure, if not outright banning. So…my spleen was rather overful. Again, pardon my discourteous manner of address; I’m really not the arsehole this comment might make me sound like. I’m just pissed off. 🙂 God Bless.

      PPS: awesome, indeed, delightful, post, Mr. Torgersen. I may print this out and put it by my desk to remind me that “sturdiness” is not actually an extinct virtue in the modern world. 😉

    • Christopher M. Chupik

      “Of course, this involved a genocide of the Native Americans”

      Well, it’s a good thing there are no aboriginal peoples on Mars and Venus. Not that there won’t be conflicts when the nations of Earth spread out across the Solar System, but that particular problem won’t be an issue for a long time to come.

      • Bibliotheca Servare

        You mean…you mean Perelandra isn’t real!? Nooooooooooooo! Why, C.S Lewis, whyyyy?! …*sniffles* Lol.

      • And SFK apparently is not familiar with the oral histories of MANY native American groups, or the archaeology of North America. Or early Europe, or Asia, or what the Zulu did to Bantu peoples, and the Bantu did to the !Kung, and the . . . Humans, as a species, are not saints.

        • This. Humans are not saints. Nor are they entirely demons, regardless of race. SFK also makes the curious assumption that had these things not happened… life would have been better or even existed for SFK and its friends (assuming it has any) and relations.

        • The Erie people were not available for comment, thanks to the fur expansionist policies of the Iroquois Confederation. The Shawnee, Wyandot , and other peoples refused to come out of the refugee camps for the next fifty years.

          Let us not get into the pan-hemispheric religious beliefs that led to things like headhunting, torture of captives for religious and magical reasons, and Mayan and Aztec-style human sacrifice. That would just make you sad.

        • Humans, as a species, are not saints.

          Indeed they are not, and maybe a certain European communist of the 1920s had a point with his argument that “mankind is kept alive by bestial acts”. However, what Brad wrote was that white folks “tamed the continent”, and that is some sugar-coating of massacring Native Americans, making treaties with them and breaking the treaties with more massacres. You may think that it’s ok because… errm… Zulus did something to Bantu people but I don’t think your argument is very strong one, necessarily.

          • Draven

            Because the Native Americans never did anything like that, right? they never did any massacres… ever.. they were all peaceful people who lived in harmony with the land, right? because that’s what they tell people in school these days, completely skipping the fact that we’ve found massacre sites that predate Columbus. And some that more likely than not predate Erikson- so don’t even try to blame the vikings.

            Love how you conveniently ignore the mention of the Erie, and the Iroquois… don’t let facts mess up your meme, right?

            • Because the Native Americans never did anything like that, right?

              I don’t remember saying anything to that effect.

              What I did say was that Zulus massacring people in Africa is no excuse for forgetting that the early (as well as the later) Americans were guilty of some pretty heinous atrocities. You can replace Zulus with Aztecs or Iroquois or whatever without changing the underlying statement.

              That was something I wanted to point out after reading Brad’s screed of American exceptionalism that relied on the belief that fixing problems only requires being “sturdy”. Which is what I have now done. Mission accomplished. Good day.

          • Bibliotheca Servare

            “I think…” Oh…oh dear. Y’see, darling, what you’ve forgotten (understandable given the obvious limitations imposed upon your mental processes -or lack thereof- by that cottony, synapse-free mass twixt your ears) is that you…you *don’t* think. Or, rather, what you call “thinking” is what the rest of humanity (those blessed with functioning brains) call “breaking wind”…you see? Now that’s cleared up, feel free to proceed! 😀 I eagerly -and laughingly- await your flatulent prognostications, O sage of the litter box!

            PS: a hint? You need to *comprehend* an argument in order to decide it is not “a very strong” one. Absent prior comprehension, you are just doing as you usually do: spouting meaningless drivel. But how silly am I? That quibble has never bothered you afore now, why should this circumstance be any different? Alas…the curse of an optimist. ;-P

          • Bibliotheca Servare

            Oh, and just one more thing: Where did Brad mention “White folks”? Or did you simply conjure that assumption out of the noxious cloud of gas you breathe in place of air? Nevermind, a reply is not necessary. I wouldn’t want to run the risk of overstressing that ball of cotton you substitute for a working brain, after all.

          • mikewrytr

            All, and I mean all, of the evul whites peeples – must dieeeeeeeeee! But first, they must embrace the white guiltttttssssssssss! Only then may they die. Except for me. I am speshul.

    • And oddly, despite the homicide rate, prison population rich/poor gap… A country to which the people in all those paradises without these problems are striving to migrate. It must be the bathrooms.

      I live in what is as near to a remote frontier as Australia boasts, the sort of place that would have the ‘kitten’ (who would never survive space, or dare go) begging for the first possible ticket to anywhere else. It’s very, very gentle and civilized compared to its own history, let alone some bits of Africa or PNG. And yes, stupid inappropriate rules and regulations imposed to please the likes of SFK in their safe city where conditions are wholly unlike ours seriously harm the viability, economy and quality of life on this very close frontier. In practice the people who survive, thrive and build up out here, quietly ignore as much of the idiocy as possible. There’s no logical reason to imagine this – but magnified hundreds of times by the distance and toughness of it – would not be true out there. And yes, whiners like SFK would be sitting safe on earth, making rules and demanding safe spaces and special bathrooms.

      • Christopher M. Chupik

        Well, bathrooms certainly help. There were some frightening ones in Cuba, let me tell you . . .

      • The Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes are trying to strangle the very society which coddles them and provides them with food, shelter, and security. Which is ironic, because if ever society does finally collapse — and there’s nothing magical that will prevent this, given enough time and rot — the Speshul Sparklee Snowflakes will be the first ones lashed to the grill of Lord Humungus’s custom hot-rod.

        • Daniel Greenfield has made some insightful comments on the phenomena you’re describing. There are almost as many versions of historical cycles as there are thinkers, but Greenfield boils them down to barbaric, vigorous, and decadent phases.

          In decadent phase like this one, most people are motivated by the crippling fear of losing the prosperity that made them soft. They’re obsessed with staying safe. They don’t take risks and they try to compensate for their lack of accomplishment by constantly heckling their vigorous forefathers, along with anyone who does manage to achieve anything,

          As you noted, this cowering and historical revision ironically realizes the decadents’ fears, returning control of society to barbarians, who are at least honest.

    • Jonna Hayden

      You can have this place..we’ll take the ones with the grit and determination to bring Apollo 13 home. Your obvious hatred for those who strive tells me everything I need to know about you. Hatred of the good, for being the good. You can’t stand *real* producers, can you? You just drip contempt for those who really *can* create. Have your lame life–and your boring, boring self-congratulatory moralization. You’ll be left at the space dock–because clearly *you* don’t have what it takes.

  17. I’m in. Might not pass the physical, but I’ll turn bolts, work measuring lasers, clean parts, and whatever else I can do.

    • Bibliotheca Servare

      Same here! Gimme some sandpaper! Gimme some industrial cleaning solvent! I’ll clean the privy, you guys get back to inventing warp/shift/slipspace/wormhole/quantum tunneling hyperdrives and so on! (Why I need sandpaper to clean a privy is a mystery to me…and I suspect that is a very good thing…*shudder*) I might not be medically qualified, but that’s what waivers are for! Oh, and if you think I’m not experiencing zero-gee at least *once* medical disqualifications be-damned, then you’ve got another think coming! Harrumph. *glowers, intimidating no one…at all*
      😀

    • Ditto. I know I could never pass the physical, but dang it, I can still lend at hand.

      If you have never heard it, I highly recommend a Filk song called “A Toast For Unknown Heroes” {it’s on youtube.}

  18. Mike in Kansas city

    Brad, I wonder if the line: “But not after we’ve sweated, bled, and died for the right to do so.” shouldn’t be: But not until after we’ve sweated, bled, and died for the right to do so.

  19. “If I Were an @$$h0(e, My SFK”
    If I were an @$$h0(e, my SFK, I would go into a hair-tearing rage when you enter my domains and spew stupidity.
    If I went into a hair-tearing rage, I would then research the places where you hang out on the internet.
    If I found the places where you hang out on the internet, I could then lurk and wait for you to make a post.
    If you made a post, I could then dump some vituperative slam-words, insulting you and everything you stood for.
    If I dumped some vituperative slam-words, I could then sit back and gleefully imagine all the chaos I left behind.
    And that’s what would happen if I were an @$$h0(e, my SFK.
    But I’m not, and so I won’t do anything like that.
    But you are welcome to, my SFK.
    If you are an @$$h0(e, that is.

    • sanfordbegley

      IF? I do believe she has proven that beyond the if stage

    • Am I supposed to get the impression that you — along with Bibliotheca Servare who makes the argument that his/her cat’s feacal matter is more rational than me — are angry at me for some reason? If so, can you explain why that is?

      Not that it bothers me, but I don’t think that anything I’ve written here really justifies that sort of hostility.

      • Bless your little heart, Honey! We’re making fun of you because you don’t realize you are exactly the kind of person Brad was railing about in the post. You are the feelzgood, does nothing anti-progress Progressive. Well, if you don’t like progress, stop using that toilet, join the worthy of the world. But don’t let your HOA catch you. Those people are vicious.

        • Well, progress is a tricky concept.

          Let me guess. Technical progress in toilets and such: good. Progress in women’s and minorities’ rights: bad.

          • Excuse me? You must not have traveled very widely if you think western cultures in general and the US in particular have _not_ achieved a level of minority and women’s rights undreamt of through 99.5% of human history.

            I am appalled by the current trend that actively encourages victim mentality and active search for offense. I believe that women are as smart and able as men, except in a few areas involving brute strength and size. Too many “Progressives” seem to have regressed to the Victorian Age, and think women are fainting delicate flowers who need “safe spaces” and preferment.

            If you believe in equality, in equal rights, you have to act as an equal. Toughen up, stop letting people persuade you that you are weak.

            • Western cultures have achieved a level of technological progress undreamt of through 100% of human history, I suppose, but nobody suggests that we should stop here. Similarly, there’s still work to be done with equal rights, even if things are now better than back in the day when they were worse, isn’t there? It’s quite clear that people are still far from equal, considering, for example, the amount of police brutality against black people.

              • To take your argument seriously we’d have to pretend you give a damn about black Americans, or that you even know any black Americans personally; which I suspect you don’t. Like most internet activists, you’re bell-ringing for the sake of the show; just more run-of-the-mill virtue-signalling. Which is way easier than actually doing something constructive.

                Clicktivism isn’t going to take us to the stars, pussycat.

                • Well, I don’t think that the truth value of an argument depends on who states it, unlike you suggest in your comment. If you really feel that it does, I doubt we can reach an understanding about this.

                  Another thing I doubt is that writing online pep talks that encourage people to be “sturdy” and ignore all problems that marginalized groups are facing today is going to take anybody to the stars.

                  • Bibliotheca Servare

                    Roflmao! And he said otherwise, detritus-brain? The exercise of free-speech never got *anything* done on its own. It’s the *actions* that exercise *inspires* or *inspired* that gets(got) things done. But of course you don’t understand that. To you, clicking “like” on an online diatribe or anti-white, anti-anything you hate, screed actually changes the lives of all the billions of people around the world who would spit in your face if they knew how much time you waste bitching about “privilege” while they are starving to death, being slaughtered, and suffering *real* oppression. Your handle is an insult to a noble species of animal. Felis Domesticus and its brethren are far more intelligent beings (in general. My cat is a special case…but he’s very sweet, and utterly precious, so he can get away with being simple-minded) than you have demonstrated yourself to be.

                    PS: and I say this as a person who really leans towards preferring *dogs* to cats. So… (I do love cats…but dogs rule)

              • mikewrytr

                Shouldn’t there be a corollary to Godwin here somewhere? It DID take several paragraphs to go from igniting the imagination about expanding from our single planet to others, saving our HUMAN race from the perils of single planet catastrophy but in the end we are back at race relations.

                Because racism.

        • Hey, Pam: I would have thought that when a courteous person says “Mission accomplished. Good day!” , that would mean they weren’t going to say anything else. (It’s maybe around 15 posts up from your comment). So when they continue to make comments, that means they aren’t courteous, right?
          And isn’t it clever that same person absolutely, positively misses the point, and that I didn’t get angry, because I’m NOT and @$$h0(e?
          Hmmm…I rather strive not to engage trolls. Is saying really loud to you and everybody else that a particular troll is an @$$h0(e violating that policy? I hope not, because I don’t want to engage trolls.
          Bless their hearts.

  20. Reblogged this on The Arts Mechanical and commented:
    My family came to Massachusetts when the neighbors were the trees. It’s better to be a pioneer than a serf.

  21. julieapascal

    That was amazing, Brad.

  22. Pingback: Show me | madgeniusclub

  23. I’ve been looking at the art I included with this — trying to figure out who the hard-hat astronaut reminds me of — and it finally hit me: Deke Slayton. Yup. One of the Mercury 7 originals. Very apropos.

  24. Pingback: To the Stars! | Cedar Writes

  25. Reblogged this today. Very inspiring, and thank you. I come from pioneer stock – my family kept going to each frontier all the way across the US until they ran out about 40 years ago in Alaska. I have longed for the next frontier to explore, and although it won’t be for me, perhaps for my children’s children to leap forth from the earth into the stars.

  26. lemonade

    “Going to the moon requires engineering, guts, skill, and no small degree of stoicism.

    I repeat: guts, skill, and stoicism.”

    What happened to engineering? You can have all the guts, skill (in what exactly?) and stoicism you like, but you won’t get to the moon without engineering.

    • Engineering is worthless if there is no will to go and do the thing. In the 1960s we (nationally) had the will. Then we got bored, and gave it up. We have engineering that surpasses that of Apollo at almost every level, but there are no moon rockets. Because not enough people give a damn. It’s not a priority. People are too busy being filled with internet rage about a dead lion.

      • Bibliotheca Servare

        In*fricking*deed. Indeed. Or whatever the “cause of the day to type about” is. A global EMP might be a boon as much as a disaster at this point. Idk. Either way, yes, the fact that we haven’t intentionally left LEO or just slightly outside LEO since Apollo, is a source of endless consternation and infuriation for me. Honestly…it’s depressing.

    • Bibliotheca Servare

      I’m going to give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume you were just tired when you wrote this, rather than indulging my suspicion that you are a fellow-traveler of our friendly neighborhood brainless feline. (“Space Faring Kitten”) Given that benefit of the doubt, I feel I ought to point out that…you answered your own query. “Skill (in what exactly?)” Ahem…skill…in *engineering* and so on, obviously. Astrophysics, and other areas of importance on the road to the stars, also. But the point is, you can be as intellectually gifted as Einstein or Archimedes, but if you couple that brainpower to an apathetic, spineless personal character, it may as well not exist at all, for all the good it will do. Grit without brains isn’t very useful, true. But Brad’s point is that brains without drivez grit, and “sturdiness” are like a magnificent automobile, with an awe-inspiringly powerful engine and so on (love cars. have a limited knowledge set and technical understanding however) but, for all its magnificence, is lacking the crucial elements known as “tires” and “fuel” that enable all the other elements to make it move. It’s just a pretty hunk of metal or carbon-fiber. Useless. Not a perfect analogy, no, but it’s not meant to be. SFK mentioned John Wayne. How about Buzz Aldrin, my brainless friend? (Not you. SFK.) What about John Glenn or Yuri Gagarin? John Wayne knew he wasn’t half as tough as those fellows. But those fellows, given their head (let off the leash) would have likely made it to Mars by now. And if not them, then their disciples and pupils, for damn certain. If we’d kept up the funding level NASA (whatever you think about it, and I agree, it has colossal flaws) had during Apollo, I can’t imagine what might’ve been accomplished since then. I don’t know if this has cleared up your confusion, or just made it worse, but either way, God bless. 😉

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