A Christmas Schmuck

Some time back I reviewed a book called The Last Day Of Captain Lincoln. The author, Exo Books, recently sent me another short story to read. This one, Schmuck the Buck, isn't a sci fi tale but a holiday one, all about Santa's Jewish reindeer. It's fully illustrated and a quick, entertaining read. At first glance it appears to be a light, humorous, and modern re-imagining of the tale of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. By the end Schmuck has to save Christmas, and does so in a very Millennial way. But at another level it's also a story of resilience against bullies, being true to your own nature, doing what has to be done, and accepting yourself for who you are. And, at the end, we are reminded that what makes us the same, what can bring us together, is far more important than the differences we might have.

It's worth a look for something different this holiday season, and you can find it at schmuckthebuck.com or on Amazon.


What Kind Of Freedom

We want freedom. We want freedom to think and be as we wish to be. We want to say that anyone can be whatever religion or not that they want, love who they want to love. We are free to think as we wish and we are free to express those thoughts. Yet there are limits and I can’t wrap my head around how you set or enforce them. We don’t have thoughcrime, and I do not think we should ever go that far. We live in a time when we do say that screaming “nigger go back to Africa” at somebody is not ok. But can we address the underlying thought? We can change laws but how do we keep a parent from passing that mentality on to a child? Can we? Do we have a right?

Some people, like those who voted for Trump, feel marginalized, and he spoke to their fears. People shouldn’t feel left behind or left out, but if they are because they hate brown people or think that gays should be put to death, do we change their minds? Do we just let them carry on hidden in the shadows? Do we isolate them and hope they die out?

How do we have freedom and equality when so many people still hold firmly to outdated, outmoded beliefs? To remove cancer from the body we use chemicals, radiation, and even surgically remove parts of the body. Can we do the same to thoughts we no longer find acceptable? I think it’s mostly forgotten in the 21st century that the term ‘meme’ did not always mean funny internet thing. It was originally coined by Richard Dawkins in his 1976 book The Selfish Gene. A meme is the societal/cultural equivalent of a gene, an idea or behavior that can be passed to others. So it can be insightful to think of something like racism not just as an attitude or something that parents can teach their children through example, but even beyond that, as a meme that has imparted some perceived survival benefit to some group of people. It get passed down because the people who have this attitude are more successful that people in their group who do not. I don’t have any idea how big these groups might be. Probably small, family groups, or just the town you live in.

Changes in environment can change pressures enough so that certain gene traits die out. Changes in food sources or temperature mean that what once was a beneficial genetic specialization becomes ineffective. With unacceptable memes I’m not sure the same works. Like I said, we’ve changed laws. We tell people you can’t do that or say that in public. But it hasn’t died out. Will it just take more time? I return again to my concern that we just sweep it under the rug where it will fester until bursting out again in 20 years.

I don’t have answers here, I wish I did. All I know is that we need to do much better at dealing with the divisions of race, sex, gender, and religion if we are ever to evolve as a civilization.

Air and Education

I heard a discussion on the radio today about the upcoming changes to the Supreme Court, as it related to education issues. I missed some of the conversation so I don’t know if there was a specific issue in question. But the gist of the issue was whether education and literacy are a right or a privilege for all American children, regardless of their means.
I think it is neither a right or a privilege. Literacy is a necessity. Like air, food, and water are essential for a living individual, so are literacy and education for for a living society. Without these basic essentials, civilization withers back to, at best, an agrarian existence, people spending all day in the fields, hoping that disaster stays far enough away to let them live another day. Just as a minimal amount of air, food, and water can sustain a living thing, a minimal education would allow a group of people to muddle along and continue as they are into the future.
But, given enough food to have all the best nutrition, enough water to use extra for sanitation, a safe place to sleep at night, an individual, relieved of the stress of mere survival, can thrive and grow, and pass along that benefit to other individuals. A healthy mother has healthy children.
Just the same, a society, given a good education, full literacy, and an ability to reason and think critically, think beyond immediate needs of survival, can grow. A healthy mind has a healthy culture. Given an opportunity to cultivate new ideas, ideas that stretch far beyond merely moving from cradle to grave while birthing offspring in the middle. Maybe some people would rather live merely as small village farmers or nomadic gatherers, as most people once did, but we have come so much farther. And we have much farther to go. I believe the only way out is through, and the key to the door is education.



Here are archive links for the show. I plan to keep my libsyn account as long as I can, but if closed all the RSS and embedded players will break. If you like, download all the shows at https://drive.google.com/open?id=14KpIpfIG4o0z47mPVlHK7fnE0JsI2gNo or pick your shows at https://drive.google.com/open?id=1V4avvZjxi3QOm0AjefjGg4xbbDeLcPD5 #science #podcast #futurism


Guest Post - Elon Musk's Plan for Mars

Here is a guest blog post by John Hawthorne from IQS Directory

Elon Musk’s Mission To Mars (Is This Even Possible?)
John Hawthorne, October 25, 2017

In the movie The Martian, Matt Damon is stranded on the planet Mars after his crew is caught in a rip-roaring sand storm. The crew is forced to evacuate the planet, leaving Damon to fend for himself and survive the harsh climate. Thankfully, Damon is the ultimate survivor. He’s survived numerous assassination attempts in the Bourne Identity series, fought off freakish monsters in The Wall, and somehow survived another space disaster in Interstellar. If anything, he can handle a little loneliness on Mars. Thanks to his ingenuity and mechanical genius, he manages to create a shelter, grow potatoes, and eventually be rescued. It’s like Apollo 13 has a one night stand with Castaway.

And while all this may seem absurd and far fetched, Elon Musk wants to make this, and a whole lot more happen. In approximately six years. Yes, this may gargantuan plan may seem a bit odd given that Musk and his SpaceX crew struggled mightily simply to get a rocket to land on a platform in the middle of the ocean.

But Musk doesn’t seem intimidated. He has a very specific plan for how he will get a rocket to Mars, as well as what will happen to make it the planet livable. Like I said, this is The Martian on a massive dose of steroids.

Introducing The Big F****** Rocket

Musk’s ambitious plan centers around a rocket that he affectionately calls the “BFR” (Big F******* Rocket). When will this monstrosity take to the skies? He plans to have it space-borne by 2022, with four of them headed to Mars by 2024. The innovator recently unveiled plans for a new spacecraft that he says would allow humans to colonize Mars, build a base on the moon, and travel to anywhere on Earth in under an hour.

Continue Reading…

rocket launch