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ChunkyC
10-06-2004, 11:40 PM
I dunno about anyone else, but I get chills every time I think about the Ansari X Prize being won. We are on the cusp of something monumental in human history.

SpaceShipOne (http://www.spaceflightnow.com/ss1/041004x2launch.html)

maestrowork
10-07-2004, 01:36 AM
I think it has already made history... better things are yet to come.

ChunkyC
10-07-2004, 03:31 AM
Yeah, the flights themselves have already made history, but they are only the first step. I was thinking along the lines of what Branson wants to do in the next few years. Our unborn descendants are going to look back at the first decade or two of this century like we look back at the birth of commercial passenger air travel.

When I first saw 2001: A Space Odyssey in the sixties, the one part of the movie that thrilled me the most was the PanAm space plane in the docking dance with the space station. Thanks to Allen and Rutan and all their backers, humanity has just taken a huge step toward seeing something like that vision of the future happen in our lifetimes.

HollyB
10-07-2004, 03:41 AM
Can you imagine our children taking a space vessel to visit the ISS as easily as we'd take a plane flight to Miami? I think it's truly awesome to consider... the possible ramifications are mind-boggling.

ChunkyC
10-07-2004, 04:18 AM
Holly, I have a granddaughter who's turning nine this month and that's exactly what I'm thinking, that she may well have such an opportunity. I'm getting goosebumps.

Pthom
10-07-2004, 04:20 AM
Let's hope that by the time we have regular commercial flights into space, there is something a LOT better to arrive at than the ISS.
:wha

HConn
10-07-2004, 05:26 AM
Just a little side note:

I don't have any unborn ancestors. They all got borned, then they got themselves some descendants.

:)

ChunkyC
10-07-2004, 05:49 AM
:o :smack T'anks H. I was thinking of me as their ancestor.

HConn
10-07-2004, 06:05 AM
:grin
:nerd

Pthom
10-07-2004, 06:12 AM
Hmm...unborn ancestors...now there's a prompt that just cries out for a story.

Terra Aeterna
10-10-2004, 02:49 AM
I find that I'm equal parts pleased and peeved about this news. Pleased because finally we're getting somewhere and peeved because we should have been here already twenty years ago.

ChunkyC
10-10-2004, 03:45 AM
You're so right, Terra. I remember sitting in front of the TV watching Armstrong step down and thinking that we just might have orbiting hotels and a base on the moon by 2001.

What I'd really like to know is: (Chunky is suddenly possessed by the spirit of Sam Kinison)

Where's those George Jetson flying cars you promised us back in the sixties, huh?? And the twenty hour work week? What about 'em? You said by the year 2001 we'd be vacationing on the moon! Well I got news for you buddy, here it is nearly 2005 and I'm working over sixty hours a week and I haven't had a real vacation in EIGHT YEARS!! Explain that you lying b*stards! AAAAAAAGH!!!!!

Rant concluded. Now if I could only figure out who should actually be on the receiving end.... :grin

DaveKuzminski
10-10-2004, 04:08 AM
Actually, the flying cars do exist, but they're not into production because there are too many problems remaining to be worked out.

Nyki27
10-10-2004, 05:56 AM
Yes, everyone assumed we'd be zooming all over space by now, and driving flying-cars and so on. But how many SF writers in the 50s & 60s foresaw the computer revolution? Technological progress never happens in quite the way you expect.

HConn
10-11-2004, 04:04 AM
Can I please have a robot to clean my apartment?

Yeshanu
10-11-2004, 09:08 PM
I find that I'm equal parts pleased and peeved about this news. Pleased because finally we're getting somewhere and peeved because we should have been here already twenty years ago.

Actually, I'm more peeved that we're spending money on this when millions go hungry each day, even here in North America.


Can I please have a robot to clean my apartment?

Just for you, HConn:

Robot Vacuums (http://www.macleans.ca/topstories/consumer/article.jsp?content=20040910_110000_3528)

The future is here! (Even if it doesn't work very well yet.) :grin

ChunkyC
10-11-2004, 11:31 PM
Actually, I'm more peeved that we're spending money on this when millions go hungry each day, even here in North America
I do agree that feeding the hungry is a more important task, but there's more than enough money and food to do both and then some if we'd only learn to allocate our resources fairly. I don't remember the numbers exactly (I'll be back with 'em if I can find 'em) but the last figures I remember reading were that US space program cost is equivalent to roughly five percent of the military budget. And that was before Bush cranked up military spending.

The cost of one B2 stealth bomber could fund a robotic mission to Mars with change left over. Or feed thousands upon thousands. I think military spending should be cut long before cutting back on the search for knowledge.

ChunkyC
10-11-2004, 11:47 PM
NASA's annual budget in 2004: $15.5 billion (http://www.govexec.com/dailyfed/0104/011504sz1.htm)

US Military budget in 2003: $420.7 billion (http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp)

Cost of one B2 stealth bomber: $2.2 billion (http://www.globalissues.org/Geopolitics/ArmsTrade/Spending.asp)

That makes NASA's budget equivalent to about 3 percent of the military budget. Not that NASA is doing an efficient job with their money, but isn't research more important than blowing things up? Couldn't the US shave fifteen or twenty billion (or a hell of a lot more) off the military budget and reallocate it?

And how many hungry people could be fed with 2.2 billion dollars?

YenadilPureheart
10-12-2004, 02:39 AM
I'm afraid I have to disagree with several of your points ChunkC.


Couldn't the US shave fifteen or twenty billion (or a hell of a lot more) off the military budget and reallocate it?

Not really, the US military cut back so much during the Clinton years that it will be years before we are back at the level we really need to be. With the amount of deployment and active combat our military faces these days, budget cuts are simply infeasable.



And how many hungry people could be fed with 2.2 billion dollars?

Quite a few. Hunger is caused by alot of things, but in todays world, hunger isn't being caused by a lack of food. The primary cause for hunger is either mismanagement of resources or corruption of those in power.

Pthom
10-12-2004, 02:40 AM
how many hungry people could be fed with 2.2 billion dollars? Not many; few people (or any other higher animal, for that matter) can survive on dollars...or Euros or yen or any other currency.

People need PIZZA!

HollyB
10-12-2004, 03:51 AM
Actually, I'm more peeved that we're spending money on this when millions go hungry each day, even here in North America.


Ruth, wasn't the entire thing privately financed? By billionaires throwing their own money around? Granted, maybe they should be throwing their money at folks who really need it, but I don't think any of our tax dollars were used for the space craft or for the cash prize.

DaveKuzminski
10-12-2004, 05:55 AM
The system that prevails around the globe is one that places an incentive upon people so that they will work to earn their own living. Sad, but necessary in the eyes of many who govern because there are many who would upon receiving a free lunch believe that they are entitled to free meals from then on.

I don't personally know what system is correct or which way of handling this would be the most ethical. I do know, however, that it provides background for placing realism in what we write.

Yeshanu
10-12-2004, 06:49 AM
The system that prevails around the globe is one that places an incentive upon people so that they will work to earn their own living.

If that were true, I wouldn't feel so bad. Unfortunately, it's just the opposite, otherwise hockey players wouldn't earn nearly as much as a poor mother in Africa... Where you were born, what your gender is and what colour your skin happens to be is a much better predictor of your income than how hard you work.

I didn't mean for this to go so much off topic, but I do think we need to solve our problems here on earth before we go messing up the rest of the universe.

That being said, would I take a trip to outer space if the opportunity came up?

You bet!

Flawed Creation
10-12-2004, 09:53 AM
actually, i think access to space might help to solve our problems on earth.

HConn
10-12-2004, 11:32 AM
... I do think we need to solve our problems here on earth before we go messing up the rest of the universe.

If we're allowed to make bigger, flatter tvs while people starve, we can certainly travel into space.

ChunkyC
10-12-2004, 11:24 PM
I didn't mean for this to go so much off topic
No worries, Yesh. You sparked an interesting discussion, one that (as Dave pointed out) can provide thought provoking subject matter for our writing.

Nyki27
10-13-2004, 07:36 AM
I remember hearing several years ago, someone calculated that what MacDonalds throw away worldwide would feed all the poor nations. Of course, they might prefer starvation to eating MacDonalds. :wha

Don't know about American budget figures, doesn't concern me. But all governments waste huge amounts of money, then claim they haven't got enough for the essentials. I'd agree that space exploration wouldn't be the first area I'd make savings if I were miraculously elected president of the World (working on it).

And yes, the world is generally set up so that those who work hardest and do the most valuable jobs get least income. Nurse versus stockbroker, for instance?

HConn
10-13-2004, 10:16 AM
the most valuable jobs

for some value of "valuable."

ChunkyC
10-13-2004, 08:52 PM
HConn (or anyone else), have you ever read James P. Hogan's Voyage from Yesteryear (http://www.jamesphogan.com/books/voyage/baen99/titlepage.shtml)?

A great book that deals with how those who grow up under our monetary and governmental system deal with a very different human culture on a colony world. Their definition of what is valuable is remarkably different from ours.

HConn
10-13-2004, 09:38 PM
I haven't, Chunky.

So many books...

YenadilPureheart
10-13-2004, 10:17 PM
And yes, the world is generally set up so that those who work hardest and do the most valuable jobs get least income. Nurse versus stockbroker, for instance?

I'm afraid I must simply disagree with every part of this statement. I believe your looking at this from entirely the wrong angle. In the first place:


And yes, the world is generally set up so that those who work hardest and do the most valuable jobs get least income.

Is not entirely true. The world is generally set up so that your salary matches what someone is willing to pay you to do it. This has the effect of creating a trend towards higher importance=higher pay, but there are many exceptions. The market determines the wage of a job based upon desire for the service, necessity for the service, availability of workers, willingness of workers to perform said job, and benefit from the job.

To cite an example, I live in Northeastern Ohio where there is quite a bit of factory work. Factory work provides a big benefit to the economy, via creation of products. The work however, is terrible. Heavy loads that must be shifted constantly and rapidly, standing all day on concrete, plus many safety and environmental hazards (inhaling nasty chemicals all day for one) adds up to a very poor work environment. Generally, this would mean that you would have to pay workers a very high wage in order to get them to do the job, however, the wages for factory workers are very low, around the 6.50 to 8.00 dollars an hour range. By local standards, that figures in to just over the barely-making-it line. Why are wages this way? Simple.

1.) The profit margin for factories is very low. Although a worker may produce 500 units of product an hour, there are many other costs involved (Transportation, storage, raw materials, electricity, and maintenance on machine used to make product just to name a few) and these add up quickly. A worker must be fairly productive to make any profit for the company at all.

2.) The skill level a worker needs in order to be trained into factory work is nil. A worker needs a fairly healthy body and that is it. Sheer repetition will create the agility and speed needed to perform the job at the required pace. This makes pretty much everyone qualified to do the job, making for competition amongst workers for jobs, instead of vice versa.

3.) Many of the workers in these jobs are just grateful to have any job at all. Very often they have little education and a criminal past. With only a ninth grade education and a felony conviction it makes it very difficult to get work, which makes you willing to accept anything you can find. When your desperate, any job and any wage are just fine by you.

Taken altogether, these factors create a situation where factory work generally pays very poorly. There are some notable exceptions, but these are factories where some level of skill is required. Now onto the second part of your statement:


Nurse versus stockbroker, for instance?

In my opinion this is a completely unfair comparison. Firstly, no more stockbrokers make it successfully than writers make it successfully. Its one of those jobs that requires alot of talent, dedication, and years of practice. It is not an easy road, nor an easy lifestyle. By comparison a nurse, although by no means an easy career to get into, is pretty much guaranteed a job once they have passed med school.

Secondly, stock brokers create an immense amount of wealth in the economy, of which they only ever get to touch a small percentage. The rest filters out and creates jobs. Stock brokers do indeed play a very important role. It might not be entirely vital, but life for all of us would be much harder without them.

DaveKuzminski
10-14-2004, 06:33 AM
YenadilPureheart is correct and that's only a portion of how economics works when it comes to the marketplace and jobs. Celebrity atheletes make a lot of money because the sponsors or team owners are willing to pay them a significant chunk of what can be made because they know that having the most talented atheletes will cause attendence to increase. The atheletes know that they have a limited amount of time to make what they can before they're surpassed by younger talent or their bodies wear out. Consequently, the smart atheletes go for what the market will bear meaning what the sponsors will pay.

So, believe it or not, the economic system is quite dynamic and responsive to what the market wants. In fact, the only times you get into real economic problems is when you attempt to artificially control the entire market. Then you get a system that's sick and falters until it eventually collapses because there's no incentive to earn more because there's often no way to legally earn more.

Yeshanu
10-14-2004, 06:51 AM
stock brokers create an immense amount of wealth in the economy, of which they only ever get to touch a small percentage.

Actually, stockbrokers create absolutely nothing. They make their money selling stocks in companies where other people create.

As for what the market is or is not willing to pay being a measure of worth... Diamonds are valuable, right? Of course they are, but only because way back when the big South African giant DeBoors decided to advertise them as "the" stone to show your love. Before this century, all different kinds of stones were used for engagement rings, and diamonds, though valuable, weren't more so than other stones. Advertising created a market that was willing to pay a premium price.

We're manipulated like that every day, and it's the amount of advertising, not the true value of the product, that determines what we're willing to pay or the lengths that we're willing to go to to obtain an item. (Remember Tickle Me Elmo?)

Since this is a fantasy thread...

What if people were really paid according to their true contributions to humanity and the environment, rather than according to a manipulative and manipulated mass market? Who, in your opinion, would be paid the most?

Jamesaritchie
10-14-2004, 02:55 PM
People are paid based on how much money their particular job generates. Moral worth of the job has nothing to do with it, and shouldn't.
And I get real tired of the silliness about millions starving. There isn't a single person in this workd going hungry because of how a billionaire spends his money.

Any anyone starving in North America deserves to starve. A person would have to be stupider than a rock to starve in this country. You'd have to work like crazy to find a way to starve.

Linking the starving masses with the wealth of others shows a naivety that's really astounding. And when people talk about taking money from things such as space programs to feed the hungry, it's pure foolishness.

It's a knee-jerk reaction that makes sense only if you don't know anything at all about either subject.

It isn't lack on money that causes hunger in most countries. Nor is it lack of food. Poor people in North America eat better than many middle class families. Bums , er, I mean, the homeless, eat better than I have at times. In many other countries there's enough food sitting in ships or in warehouses to feed the starving a dozen times over, and it actually belongs to the poor, but corrupt symstems sell it and pocket the money.

And who the heck cares how much food MacDonald's throws away? Again, it has no bearing at all on anyone, anywhere being hungry.

And a billionaire giving all his money to feed the hungry would have almost zero impact, except to eventually increase world hunger. A billionaire actually spending his money at a reasonable rate, on the other hand, generates many jobs and creates a chain of well-fed people.

The talk of better uses for private money is almost always nonsense, and particularly so in cases such as this.

HConn
10-14-2004, 07:17 PM
no text.

ChunkyC
10-14-2004, 09:18 PM
What if people were really paid according to their true contributions to humanity and the environment, rather than according to a manipulative and manipulated mass market?
That's just what Hogan explores in his book.

macalicious731
10-14-2004, 09:26 PM
James, I'm sorry, but I found your post to be way off base. What was a friendly question posted by Ruth seems to have gone under direct attack. She asked for opinions, which you gave and with which I'm not going to argue. However, it seemed to me as if you wrote, intentionally or not, in an extremely condescending manner which doesn't fit the tone of thread.

Anyway, if I have read into this further than intended, I do apologize, but I felt for the moment I couldn't ignore it.

ChunkyC
10-14-2004, 10:54 PM
James A., I have to agree with macalicious. You made some reasonable points, but did so in a very rude, disdainful manner. To say that anyone who goes to bed hungry deserves to because they are stupid is just a nasty thing to say.

HConn
10-15-2004, 12:18 AM
Yeah.

Stupid shut-ins and toddlers.

Pthom
10-15-2004, 04:07 AM
Wrap it up, folks. The tone of this thread is fast approaching time to close it ... or delete it.

What began as awe that finally, someone has taken the risk to venture into space using private--not public--money, has deterioriated into throwing stones about a hackneyed topic.

This is a Science Fiction & Fantasy board. This is a place where we dream about the future or the unexplained or might be if only . . .

The discussion about the economics of our present world belongs elsewhere.

Thank you.

ChunkyC
10-15-2004, 06:39 AM
I would venture to say that discussing the economic structure of our real world is pertinent if used as a jumping off point for speculative fiction dealing with possible alternatives, which was where I was hoping the discussion was going.

But you are right in saying that it has moved too far afield from that, Pthom.

Peace, all.

HConn
10-15-2004, 06:41 AM
Sorry, Pthom, et al.

macalicious731
10-15-2004, 06:53 AM
What they said.