Wednesday, June 14, 2006

A Fragile Basket...


"The Earth is just too small and fragile a basket for the human race to keep all its eggs in."
- Robert Heinlein

Born in the late sixties, I had the good fortune to miss the emblemmatic idiocy of that era that has since bred both worship and consternation. Further judgements aside, we were the last sub-gen of the Baby Boomers born to the youngsters of the Greatest Generation venerated for their courage, integrity and their gift of progress and prosperity. Too young to be involved, and later too old to be corrupted, a small remnant of children preserved the dream of our parents, to carry forth the torch of progress and conduct personal and cultural achievement to yet higher pinnacles.

Perhaps we were the last to manifest a remnant of appreciation before the X-ers came along with their vision of hopelessness and tossed the torch aside. We wanted to be scientists, doctors, engineers, architects, pilots, and astronauts. They wanted everything and nothing. Their legacy was the curse of their parent's moral hangover impressed upon their children in a misfortune of genetic humiliation... narcissism and nihilism churned into a self destructive sludge that subdues all progress. And the nation suffered 30 years of veritable stagnation accordingly. In 1969 we witnessed a monochrome vision of American men walking on the moon.* By 2006, we have colorful recollections of the dream, with no desire to get it back, much less go beyond. Afterall, how can a people reach for the stars, when they are not permitted to hold up their heads in pride... consumed instead with the dirt at their feet. This was the gift of 60's progressive humanism; the curse of resignation.

Yet, noted physicist Stephen Hawking is urging the human race to transcend the bounds of our terrestrial cradle and reach for once again for those stars. Hawking says humans must go into space,

The survival of the human race depends on its ability to find new homes elsewhere in the universe because there's an increasing risk that a disaster will destroy the Earth, world-renowned scientist Stephen Hawking said Tuesday.

Humans could have a permanent base on the moon in 20 years and a colony on Mars in the next 40 years, the British scientist told a news conference.

"It is important for the human race to spread out into space for the survival of the species," Hawking said. "Life on Earth is at the ever-increasing risk of being wiped out by a disaster, such as sudden global warming, nuclear war, a genetically engineered virus or other dangers we have not yet thought of."

Do let's recall that detractors (Leftists and Democrats) criticized President Bush unmercifully for making just such a pledge in a 2004 public address.

According to the plan, a long-term lunar base would be a testing ground for equipment and techniques that would be used for deeper explorations into the solar system, including Mars. The moon's lower field of gravity would make it cheaper to launch flights.

"Space exploration has benefited all of humanity," said Bush. "It's mighty important to the country and the world. Human beings are headed into the cosmos."

Interesting that one of the greatest minds on Earth agrees with the President. What might that say about those critics? Not to make the subject of science political, but they have and it is, when clearly one party wants nothing to do with human achievement, and assured long-term survival.

Alan Guth, physics professor at M.I.T. is one critic, for instance, who dismisses Hawking's idea ,

Hawking's latest observations were something of a departure from his usual research and more applicable to survival over the long-term...

...But, he added, "I don't see the likely possibility within the next 50 years of science technology making it easier to survive on Mars and on the moon than it would be to survive on earth."

"I would still think that an underground base, for example in Antarctica, would be easier to build than building on the moon," Guth said.

Antarctica?! So rather than reaching for the stars, ivy league, ivory tower, tenured baggage proposes we dig deeper in the dirt beneath our feet. Guth no doubt shares the progressive gift of suicidal stupidity... despite his IQ and stature. But, the attitude is typical of the obstacles facing public leaders like President Bush, and dreamers like Stephen and Lucy Hawking. The father daughter pair have plans to author a fictional series on space travel targeted similarly to Rowling's Harry Potter series.

"It is a story for children, which explains the wonders of the universe," said Lucy Hawking. They did not provide further details.

Best of luck to them. They have the right idea. If most adults have forgotten how to strive and dream, then surely our children have the capacity to remind us how to do it. Afterall, venturing into space is infinitely more conceivable than flying on a broom.

"The earth is the cradle of humankind, but one cannot live in the cradle forever."
- Konstantin Tsiolkovsky

* corrected for accuracy

UPDATE 06.15.06:

In 1992 (or maybe it was '93), The alternative rock group, The Sundays could still recall the vision, powerfully enough to capture it in lyrics and tune. Its a beautiful message in both respects... Monochrome.

it's 4 in the morning July in '69
me and my sister
we crept down like shadows
they're bringing the moon right down
to our sitting room
static and silence
and a monochrome vision

they're dancing around
slow puppets silver ground
and the world is watching with joy
we hear a voice from above
and it's history
and we stayed awake
all night

and something is said and the whole room laughs aloud
me and my sister
looking on like shadows
the end of an age as we watched them walk in a glow
lost in space
but I don't know where it is

they're dancing around
slow puppets silver ground
and the stars and the stripes in the sand
we hear a voice from above
and it's history
and we stayed awake
all night

they're dancing around
it sends a shiver down my spine
and I run to look in the sky and
I half expect to hear them asking to come down
will they fly or will they fall?
to be excited
by a long late night


Major Mike said...

Home run.

We have become embarrassed by the thought of dreaming, striving for the seemingly unachievable, and having ambition. Our aversion to risk taking and reward receiving is a hangover of the post-Vietnam malaise.

It is OK to have goals, to establish challenges, and even to fail at these...but even in failure, the credit still belongs to those who dare...see Winston Churchill for the entire quote on "the Critic."

Lastly, who is some bloated academic to tell Stephen Hawking he is wrong...remember, we went to the moon, supported by a computer that would have difficulty running a casio watch today...and we CAN'T explore space almost 40 years later?...get real.

Holden Caulfield has always been right on this...the brass ring is only out of reach if you don't stick your hand out for it. MM

Mr.Atos said...

Perhaps the Left thinks of Hawking, like President Bush, that he is stupid because of the way he talks.

Boghie said...

Mr. Atos,

You are going to hate me for this – but, you are a GenX’er. Generation X is considered those born on the day President Kennedy was assassinated to somewhere in the mid-80’s. Generations are not a fixed 20 year span. They are generally demarcated by a culture changing event: President Kennedy’s assassination, Reagan’s Morning in America, 9/11.

I am basing this on a book titled ‘The Fourth Turning’ by William Strauss and Neil Howe ( His viable (but somewhat sketchy) hypothesis is that our civilization – the West is what he studied – follows a cyclical pattern of generational archetypes. He breaks it into four archetypes within a span of one saeculum.

But, don’t despair:
1. Individuals do not necessarily fall within ‘their’ generation. An individual’s actions are structured by how they are brought up.
2. More importantly, your GenX archetype is comprised of very necessary and very illustrious commanders. General George Washington, General Tecumseh Sherman, General George Patton, and now General Tommy Franks.
3. GenXers lead in the major conflicts of the day. They lead to conclusion – nothing conflicted and confused. And GenXers win. Under very decisive circumstances. Even with casualties.

The Generation you want to place yourself in has a major role as well. They are the ‘prophets’. They define, fight, and implement massive cultural changes. Roosevelt and Truman fought Germany and Japan and Italy to the end – they did not accept anything other than unconditional surrender. Lincoln overcame massive cultural strife and changed us in ways we still feel today. Jefferson, Franklin, and Hamilton created the modern republic. Yup, I would like to be of that generation – but mine ain’t bad either.

It is because our armed forces are led by GenXers that we are succeeding in the hard endeavor. It is because those commanders are leading Millenials that we are able to mobilize to victory. It is why the hard edged Republican message seems to win – even when the polls go the other way.

That is one of the reasons I do not despair when we face setbacks and/or have to listen to the Libs in the House/Senate squawk. Any damage they do may cost lives, but not the war. We will win because our time is a generational archetype. We have prophets (Bush, Blair, Howard, Rumsfeld), we have leaders (Franks, Wolfowitz, Bolton), and we have fighters that take and execute orders for the greater good.

Islamofascism picked a very bad time to pop up against the Western psyche.

Patience… And, be a bit proud of your role in history.

Major Mike said...

I bow Boghie...nice add.

Mr.Atos said...


Dueler will certainly appreciate the Strauss & Howe reference. We have had exttensive discussions regarding the 'turnings.' Now that my exams are complete, I will finally have to read it myself. And while I know that my own personal assessment of the generational divisions doesn't jive with the theoretical timelines, I nevertheless defend my segregation from an observational, anthropological perspective. Every boundary has its fractal edge. And we held a unique position in the fuzz... subject to the changing influences, yet anchored to foundations that had yet to be dismantled. It may have occurred earlier in someplace and later in others. And perhaps, in my case, was affected by a house full of Boomer siblings. Regardless, my peers were both dreamers and doers at the end of an era, and despite the surrounding malaise of our childhood, and the fear of nuclear annihilation, we nevertheless strived to reach.

My intent is not to undermine the contributions of Gen-X, only to point out that for them and those that followed, extraterrestrial concerns became subservient to terrestrial crises. On them, the quest for space was lost. Their frontiers were personalized and socialized.

One Grad School Classmate of mine summed it up perfectly. An X-er himself, born in the 70's, he copuld not comprehend the value of designing virtual environments for space travel. 'As long as we have hunger and poverty here on Earth, what business do we have wasting money on space travel.'

Indeed! Why save and plant your seed corn as long as there are those who still hunger? Whatever their contribution, that is the ethic programmed in Gen-x. It is the programming that we of the fuzz were likewise spoon fed.... and subsequently spit out. But, I would argue the Boomers were rarely force fed such nonesense.

That is a poison that seperates the present from past archetypes, and where I may disagree with Strauss & Howe. Rand recognized it, however. Never before in our history were our children force-fed worthlessness as a moral virtue. The outcome may be unpredictable.

dueler88 said...


i've been bashing atos over the head about strauss & howe's generational theories for several years now. i think i loaned "the fourth turning" to him awhile ago but he never got around to reading it - some excuse like "parenting" or "licensing exam" or "gotta wash the dog." i can give him a hard time about it only because am now, or once was, subject to all of those time constraints.

i was also going to zing atos a little bit for seemingly counting himself out of GenX (he's a few months older than i am). frankly, i'm proud to be a GenXer. I've as much boomer-focused marketing as i can take. hell, i've even had as much boomer-trying-to-market-to-GenXers garbage as i can take, too. note to boomers - GenXers want quality products at a good price, not at some image that you think is cool.

okay, that's enough of a rant. on to the subject at hand.

you are correct, that there are always exceptions to the generational rules. i wonder, as people in the creative and sorta-poetic professions, do atos and i have any Prophet in us? Probably. At the very least, I would hope that we are shrewd analysts of Boomer culture.

In strauss & howe parlance, Nomads react to Prophet's proactive ideology. Nomads either join up with it (and manage the action) or fight against it. Note that it's not the specifics of the ideology that matter, but the ways in which each generation expresses the ideology.

There are two Boomer camps - one Tocquevillian and one Gramscian (HT: John Fonte via Gates of Vienna - - but they are both screaming at the top of their lungs to determine the course of the nation. One side has determined that the crisis is death at the hands of Militant Ideology, specifically Islam. the other side has determined that it's Environmental Destruction and the fuzzy concept of "injustice".

as it stands now, we're headed for the Gramscians winning the fight - there's too much momentum, internationalist or otherwise. perhaps the Militant Islamists realize this, and are waiting for us to weaken ourselves enough that they can just come in with a light attack and pick up the pieces of religious conquest. smart move, if you ask me.

bush and the republicans have essentially accelerated the Militant Islamist crisis in order to be more proactive in determining its course - to sieze the initiative, because they can see where it's ultimately going. To be reactive is to invite catastrophe. however, Catastrophe may be what is required (i'll be the last to start one, mind you) to get the Gramscians to stop hugging trees and pick up a rifle before nobody is around to hear those trees fall in the woods.

so does this have anything to do with atos post? maybe. what the quest for space really means is the quest for excellence - for the upward march of humanity. leaders don't look back to make sure everybody is following - they see the future, are informed by the past, and move in to that future with hope and optimism.

some GenXers have been duped by the Gramscian Prophets (baby boomers) in to thinking that we can somehow solve everybody's problems. and in true Nomad fashion, I will have no sympathy for the Gramscian Nomads when their cause is rendered irrelevant.

what we ought to be doing is demonstrating to individuals that they have the power within them to solve their own problems and pursue excellence on their own.

okay i'll shut up now.

Mr.Atos said...


Well said, My friend. I think I created a distraction with my postulations on the generations. It has nevertheless spawned a good discussion. Who knows where exactly WE fit and even how it matters. But, I'd argue Dueler that you and I were influenced far more by the achievements of Neil Armstrong than the melodious protestations of Arlo Guthrie... despite barely being contemporary with either.

What we pass on to our children, should in the very least be an antidote to the poison of worthlessness conjured and force fed to their predecessors. At most it should be self-interested greed for yearning.

I look forward to the Hawking's project.

Boghie said...


Me thinks you are quite wrong about the direction of this turning. Look at the movers and shakers of the past twenty five years – the years that are the battleground of this saeculumns cultural shift:

1980’s: The Reagan Revolution
1990’s: The Gingrich Revolution
2000’s: The Bush Doctrine.

You can comment that the 90’s were dominated by Clinton – but, I think I can pound that fat hanging curve ball 450 ft over center field. Even now, one can simply ask – ‘What did Clinton do?’ Can you really ask ‘What did Gingrich do?’. Honestly???

So we have had almost three decades of measurable change – all toward a cultural shift to conservatism. I recognized it before I started a personal shift in the mid-90’s. I still see it now. In fact, two months ago I bet an office Moonbat that Republicans would win seats in both the House and Senate – and a tie goes his way. A hard ostentatious bet – but one that had long term trends going its way. The direction our culture takes will be completely defined by 2009.

So we have hundreds of millions of dollars flowing into Mel Gibson’s pockets (The Passion of The Christ) and beggar crumbs to Al Gore for whatever that movie he is pumping is.

No worries. Fun to watch. Even better when you can watch the Liberals use 1960/70 Lefty Boomer talk and topics. It is very interesting to watch those stuck in the Third Turning Mindset (Media, Democrats, and much of the hard Left) squeal about not getting traction. They wont.

It ain’t going back. Even Europe now seems at the beginning of such a transition. By the time this is done everyone will look back on the Liberal saeculum as an odd bygone era.

Mr. Atos,

You can be a Boomer Prophet. There are Boomer Prophets on all sides of the culture war. President Bush is a strong Profit archetype – as is Clinton(s). So is Gingrich. Big, driving idealists. Another great period of exploration may be in the cards – not small stuff. When we beat back the Terror Turds we may find such exploration a major battleground. Kindof a reverse from the 30’s/40’s Fourth Turning where war followed social upheaval.

You can be a Boomer outside of your generation dates – and your writing illustrates that. But Major Mike, Dueller, and I are more GenXer arhetypes. Nothing is fixed by specific date – it is more dependent on your peers and upbringing. But, remember Mr. Atos, you need us GenXers (even with baggage like Columbine and other school shootings) to decisively lead the Millenials to total victory.

My biggest complaint regarding ‘The Fourth Turning’ is the Civil War period. It occurred too early (Third Turning – should have been kindof Vietnam or WWI like) – but it was definitely a Fourth Turning…

An interesting topic would be to list the most important books of this era: For me:

Carnage & Culture
Clash of Civilizations
Contract for America
The Fourth Turning
The Pentagons New Map

I think all were written before 9/11.

dueler88 said...


Thanks for the comments. Great stuff.

What I suppose I will plead guilty to is taking a more pessimistic approach to the culture wars. Could be a result of my political environment (Moscow on the Willamette), or it could be a result of me recognizing that the desire to NOT have something bad happen is almost as strong a motivator as the desire TO have something good happen. I'm just glad that there has been some Toquevillian momentum to counteract the Gramscians. Otherwise, we'd all be headed toward a decidedly Marxist destiny. I do remain pessimistic, however, about the *character* of the coming years - Gramscians will not part with their ideology without a great deal of pain occuring first. Not sure whose pain it's going to be yet.

To Atos' defense (i know him pretty well): i think he exhibits Nomad characteristics very well, evidenced by the belief that we share of actions and outcomes meaning exponentially more than words and intentions. Not every Nomad, as you know, is a cynical reactionary. Ideas, ethics and morality guide each of us, regardless of generational archetype. But these are all flexible concepts. Hopefully we'll be able to find enough commonality among them, as a nation, to pull through the Crisis intact.

Major Mike said... and I were getting along just fine...until you called ma a almost 50, I refuse to go buy a skateboard and listen to a bunch of Vanilla Ice.

Great stuff you guys...way out of my league...guess I need to get out more. A toast to the dialog. MM

Boghie said...

I think I read your age group from Mr. Atos' post - I think he grouped you in with the school shootin' miscreants that make up my generation.

I decided to start writing down my thoughts on my blog. It will be a multi-entry posting.

One weird thought. We are all fixated at something that is happening at the beginning of a Fourth Turning. Much like focusing on the Depression. The last Turning had economic and military and cultural aspects. So far, we are just seeing one factor in what is most likely a multifaceted challenge.

I am now planning on re-reading the books I mentioned. Any others of interest.

And, you thought we Bloggers were resting...