Skip to main content

INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL, GUNS, AND D.C. STATEHOOD

Some stuff to get off my chest...

INTERSTELLAR TRAVEL

Check out a guy named Cameron Smith on YouTube. 
Here's a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CprziVZHqBk 
Settle in. It's over an hour long and he's not the most dynamic speaker. But if you want to think seriously about how the human race might colonize planets in solar systems other than our own, this guy has done the initial serious thinking for you.
 

Some of my favorite science fiction stories have been concerned with generation ships, interstellar conveyances that recognize that sub-light travel between solar systems requires planning for, at the very least, hundreds of years of travel. These works of fiction vary widely thematically. Many end badly or, if they end well, are initially presented to the reader as being a failed project that required saving. Regardless, I think that one of the reasons that I enjoy these stories is that, in order to be serious, they have to take the time to create scenarios that explain the effect on culture of living as isolated populations of humans in a hostile environment. 

There are, of course, differences within the genre. In Rendezvous With Rama by Arthur C. Clark, we're not talking about humans at all, but rather an apparently uninhabited generation ship from an alien system that enters our solar system, slingshots around our sun, and leaves for interstellar space without seeming to pay too much attention to either our solar system or the humans that were attempting to explore it. Cities in Flight by James Blish avoids the question of evolving cultures almost entirely by simply putting bubbles around Earth cities and having them leave Earth and bop around space as a backdrop for relatively mundane economic and political story lines. Mundane for hard science fiction fans, anyway. Perhaps the first book that I read that attempts to seriously approach the question of culture on a generation ship is Starship by Brian W, Aldiss. Oddly enough, it's not the work on which the Jefferson Starship based their first album, but my love of acid rock is another story entirely.

Back to Cameron Smith. This guy has given serious thought to a project that he admits is a century away from viability. Given the requirements of establishing a human outpost without the prospect of communication with the home world more quickly than at intervals of light years apart, there is much to consider, from genetic diversity to language and governance and viewscapes and so much more. 
 
Did you know that on a space station with low air pressure and high oxygen content, humans lose the ability to whistle?
 
Smith posits that in order to ensure success, a generation ship should carry 40,000 humans plus all of the necessary plants and animals to approximate human cultural norms. Because, he says, that's one of the main reasons to embark on such an adventure, to preserve human culture. As I said, he's not a very dynamic speaker, but I find the subject matter fascinating. See if you do, too.

GUNS

People who don't see the logic of banning high caliber, rapid firing, large magazine rifles are not the type of people to be swayed by logical argument. I therefore try to use their own twisted logic against them. I tell them that their two most sacred mantras in favor of their idea of Second Amendment rights are actually the most persuasive arguments for gun control.
 
They say: Guns don't kill people. People kill people.
I say: Then explain to me as if we're in kindergarten why you want to make it easier for people who want to kill people to get their hands on the means to kill as many people as they could possibly want to kill. I'll wait.

They say: If you criminalize guns, only criminals will have them.
I say: Good, then the alienated teenager won't have one and the deranged fired worker won't have one and the abusive husband won't have one and toddlers won't have one to accidentally kill a playmate with. If criminals are the only ones with guns, we'll all be safer. Real criminals don't shoot up suburban malls for no good reason. There's no money in it.

There's a logical reason that stricter gun control can be demonstrated to be Constitutional, too. If you happen to be debating about the subject with someone who might be susceptible to a flash of reasonableness now and then, try this...
 
They say: My Second Amendment rights are enshrined in the Constitution.
You say: Explain to me, like we were in kindergarten, why the right to keep and bear arms is not a part of the First Amendment. Let me suggest that the Founders didn't find it necessary to define or add modifiers to First Amendment rights. Freedom of Speech. of Press. of Religion. By right. Every other right does need and receive appropriate modification. No billeting troops in private homes EXCEPT in times of war. No searches and seizures WITHOUT a warrant. Trials for major crimes can ONLY take place AFTER an indictment. And that's why that pesky phrase about militias is in the Second. It was meant to be there. It modifies the right. Otherwise, that right would be in the First, unmodified. Do you think that the Founders just threw the phrase about militias in the Second for the fun of it? Show me another place in the Constitution where they did something like that. I'll wait.

The Second guarantees that the federal government will not prevent states from forming militias. That was a non controversial statement not so long ago. I believe that it is, to coin a phrase, Original Intent.

D.C STATEHOOD

Speaking of the Constitution, these days it seems as though the Constitution is like the Bible. The folks who talk about it loudest are folks who haven't read it or don't want you to read it. 

The Constitution did not create Washington, D.C. The Constitution didn't even require that a federal district be created that would be the seat of American government. The Constitution says that Congress MAY create a federal district. MAY isn't SHALL. It was up to Congress. 
 
And Congress did. And once Congress had, the Constitution says that Congress has EXCLUSIVE authority over ALL of the District. Article 1, Section 8 doesn't require D.C. and does not prohibit Congress from using its legislative authority to make that district a state. That’s what Congress does...legislate. And what Congress giveth, Congress can taketh away.



 


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

CHÉ OLIVE / LE ZINC, CREISSAN: RESTAURANT REVIEW

No, it's not Chez Olive. It is indeed Ché complete with red star and black beret. I have no idea why and I wasn't about to ask. The French are the French and not to be analyzed too closely when it comes to politics, especially these days. Creissan is the next town over from our village of Quarante. We pass through it often and Ché Olive is right there on the main road at the entrance to town. (One of the signs still says Le Zinc. Olive says he prefers Ché Olive though.) Olive opened it a couple of years ago after leaving the Bar 40, Quarante's basic local watering hole that's undergone a bit of a renaissance lately. We hadn't heard much about Ché Olive from our usual sources for dining recommendations. So we just kept passing by. For reasons not central to this review, we decided to stop in for lunch on a mid-week in late December. The bar is cozy, the restaurant open and bright and modern. Newly renovated and perhaps a bit sterile. We were the f

THREE YEARS IN FRANCE - AN AMERICAN EXPAT'S REFLECTIONS

Have you wondered what it might be like to pick up and move to another country? Americans are lured to retirement havens in Mexico, Costa Rica, or Panama. They say that Eastern Europe is beautiful, safer than the evening news might suggest, and relatively inexpensive. Southeast Asia is hot, but it's cheap. Remember, though. I'm not talking about investigating a vacation home, time share, or other form of shared ownership. I'm talking about a permanent, sell out and ship the furniture sort of  move. For most Americans, the thought has never crossed their minds. Think about it. Think about moving from one state to another, from one town to another, even from one neighborhood across town. Add the need to learn a new language - if you aren't multilingual already. Add the need to deal in a new currency and the need to learn the ins and outs of currency exchange. Add metric measurements. And a new healthcare system. And a new bureaucracy to navigate. Daunting? You betcha!

AU LAVOIR, COLOMBIERS - RESTAURANT REVIEW

We live in a town that doesn't do very much to encourage growth or tourism. The streets are rough and bumpy, the tinted glass has been broken out of the street light nearest our house since we moved in three years ago, and the fountain in the square was activated this week for the first time since we arrived. Oddly enough, many of us like it that way. Quarante is a quiet little village, not on a main road to anywhere, but with a fine baker, two excellent butchers, and a bar that serves edible if not exciting food. We could use an ATM (cash point, money wall...) and a gas (petrol) station but otherwise, most of us are happy that Quarante is a backwater. Colombiers, on the other hand, seems determined to do everything possible to turn itself into a crowded, overdeveloped, cash hungry example of all that folks like us are looking to avoid when we move to the rural south of France. Ugly apartment blocks? Check. Newly constructed condos with a 'view', meaning you can see a tin