Space is the Place

If you find Earth boring, just the same old same place, sign up for Outer Spaceways Incorporated

– Sun Ra, Space Is the Place (1973)

Earth Day!

Recently I read an article in one of my favorite alternatives to the MSM, Business Insider, “Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos have profound visions for humanity’s future in space. Here’s how the billionaires’ goals compare.” As the title suggests, the two billionaires, when not fucking around with gadgetry and automation and the realignment of democracy on Earth, have their minds entangled in ideas of space colonization and exploitation. The article details the differences in their goals and approach.

Elon Musk scares me. Something doesn’t smell right.  Maybe it’s the pigs he’s implanting mind control devices in that bothers me; the oinkers shitting themselves as Musk keeps their eyes open — ala Clockwork Orange — and forces them to watch the animated Animal Farm film and choose between Napoleon and Snowball. Fascism or Socialism. Supplementary feed is up for grabs. No time to wallow in the mud.

After watching that snippet, do you feel like having a banana smoothie? Bad enough the shite wants to mess with the porkers, but he reckons that humans will be ready for implants sometime next year. Check it out:

Can we have any doubt that he’s mad? You’ll be able to recognize these new age pig people by their snorkel sounds, of course, but also look for bald spots on top of their heads.

Musk will be looking for volunteers to get implants. *Sigh*  It recalls the crazy thing that happened when he ‘put it out there’ that he was seeking people willing to strap into one of his rockets and go on a one-way trip to Mars. That’s right, one-way. I almost lost my cookies when I read that 80,000 people signed up for the suicide mission.  It disturbed me the way it does when I think that Americans have 400,000,000 guns at their disposal — that’s a lot of unprocessed anxiety waiting to explode.  But it got worse, because I stopped counting one-wayers to Mars at that figure. However, a more recent tally indicates that 202,586 sorry souls  put their hands up. WTF?

Jeff Bezos is another one.  This guy.  Don’t get me started. It still stings that I gave up torrenting books and dutifully purchased Kindle books, grew a nifty little library that made me feel warm inside for words, only to discover that all those mofo books I “purchased” were actually rentals. I was leasing them. No notice. On their site the button says “Buy Now.” But you’re leasing them. I deleted my account to Amazon, thinking the heck with them, I have my library and won’t “buy” more from them. But, no, it turns out my Kindle reader needs to sync with mother ship once in a while or the books become unopenable. I wrote about it. I was angry. Still am.

He followed that up by announcing he’d be working with the CIA (and other intels) to set up web services, which immediately called into question what he might do with Amazon buyer data.  Would he turn off — quite cooperatively — the habits of lefties and dissidents?  Then he tried to bury an ax in Hachette’s head.

Then getting that Power rush, he went head to head with Pierre Omidyar in a bidding war for the purchase of The Washington Post. He won, and Omidyar settled for establishing The Intercept with Glenn Greenwald (and company). This battle between the two probably has future implications, besides news, as Omidyar owns eBay (and recently purchased Paypal), and is Amazon’s main competition (most of A’s sales are other-than-books). Bezos has a non-democratic mindset.  Doesn’t want to pay taxes, in exchange for jobs that people complain they are poorly treated at. During the recent Union stoush in Georgia, some workers were complaining that delivery drivers had to pee and poop in bottles and bags (presumably brown bags), insinuating that Bezos wasn’t providing rest time.

And the fudrucker got even crazier rich during the current pandemic. He’s so evil-seeming that I wouldn’t put it past him if he – not the Chinese, as Rudy “Where Are My Keys?” Giuliani says – was responsible for the Covid-19 outbreak. I’m told by normally reliable sources that his ex-wife didn’t particularly like him much either – his shlong wasn’t as effective as he claimed it would be — although, she signed a non-disclosure statement, so…

All of that is prologue to Bezos’s crazy schemes for space colonization. Bezos is developing his own line of rockets called Blue Origin.  The main thing he wants to do is the sensible thing and put a permanent base on the moon as a staging platform for deeper interstellar travel and the colonization of Mars. That’s what I’d do, too, if I could pull out a wad and finance it like that (snaps fingers). Long term, in development long after he’s gone. (Of course, Bezos will probably want to change the image of the moon we see at night to his image. Shlong in the sky.) But the main stick in my craw regarding Bezos’s plans is his intention of putting bedroom colonies in near space, orbiting Earth. Gated communities in the heavens?  Or maybe he’ll go low-ball and settle for Motel 6s, a place for losers on their way to Mars to tuck in for the night before the hard yakka ahead. Or maybe Air BnBs. I could see that too. Thing is, WaPo’s motto is: “Democracy Dies in Darkness.”  Do you see the same problem I do?

I Zoomed with a guy recently (I’m not proud of it), Al Globus, a former contractor (now retired) for the Nasa Ames Research Centre in California. I wanted to follow up on a Daily Mail piece that he starred in as an expert on future space colonization.  In the piece, Globus said of such a settlement that “It would be a place to live, raise your kids, where your friends and family have Thanksgiving dinner and celebrate Christmas, and visit Earth on vacation.”  He said that it would be resemble the twisty, wormhole-informed landscape of the film Interstellar. In the Zoom session he reiterated that that was the kind of scenario he had in mind.  And in case I was wobbling in my thinking, he added that it could be a place where “the rich go get away.”  Uh-huh.  I was unimpressed, but a Gizmodo piece seems to hint that we just need to change our attitude and presto – Space Barrios R Us. Hmph.

And I asked, What about space debris? Wouldn’t be kind of like the movie Gravity, high velocity items pinging and puncturing our capsule? Rattlingly unreassuring, he affirmed that such debris would be a problem, relating tales of astronauts caught up in the hijinks of near-destruction. But, Globus insisted, things would be fine if they place the colonies over the equator. Mumble Jumble, cookies and cream. I changed the subject and grew alienated when he said he hated one of my favorite films, Silent Running, about a guy that, as I recall, found himself traveling Out There One Way with a spaceship-sized terrarium of marijuana. Little Enya, Grateful Dead, you’re golden. You definitely wouldn’t throw stones in that glass house, you might think, stoned. Getting paranoid, you might wonder what would happen if the hot house turned into Little Shop of Horrors and started yelling “Feed Me.”  Anyway, Globus went on, praising Musk, and my mind, such as it is these days, drifted.

That’s outer space.  You wanna go inward we got that feckin Facebook wonk to worry about. What’s his name. Eisenberg? No. Mark Zuckerberg. Knucklehead, or what?  He wants to control inner space, the real final frontier. His is a future of algorithmically-driven hivemindedness that toys with “our” desires and turns us all into Truman Shows – together. Real scary shit.  The film, The Social Dilemma, really plays up the dangers of us all losing our fucking minds together, our thinking literally controlled by motherzuckers who play with us like Doctors Phibeses or the cover of that Mario Puzo book. Shhh.

If you wanted to push the idea, and I do, you could see how They want to colonize our minds the way they did the West Indies.  Sending in thought conquistadores to occupy Broca’s Brain, go all terra nullius in attitude (I don’t see no lease, they’ll whine, when dining doesn’t work). Maybe the rich and famous would go on vacation among my fantasies, my Sophia Loren porn stash – she and I together in Dong Quixote: The Windmills Were Only the Beginning, and stuff. Or maybe it could get self-referential and they attend a TED-like talk that my sophist mind delivers to them, as they bask under artificial sunlight nursing pina coladas.

This last notion is probably a silly over-reaction I had to another crazy Silicon nutjob, Eric Schmidt, the former CEO of Google, who so detested Julian Assange and what he stood for – all laid out in his tome, The Empire of the Mind, later changed to The New Digital Age.  On the positive side, you have to give Schmidt credit for the expanse of his imagination, but, then, he has the leisure time.  But some of his predictions and desires are daft.  He predicts that, one day, “everyone” will have a personal robot. Uh, I don’t think so. There are currently 8 billion people on the planet and the mind buckles trying to imagine such nincompoopery.  Billions don’t have a pot to piss Christ into, let alone room for robots who just look at them stupidly all day and finally say, “I already swept around the hut.”

And these guys like to support each other’s fantasies, Schmidt exudes emollients over Bezos ideating:

As for life’s small daily tasks, [Amazon’s] information systems will streamline many of them for people living in those countries, such as integrated clothing machines (washing, drying, folding, pressing and sorting) that keep an inventory of clean clothes and algorithmically suggest outfits based on the user’s daily schedule. [emphasis added]

Will robots tell us when to change our underwear?

Another fantasy Schmidt conjures up is the holograph machine that can transport you to other milieus.  His sales pitch: “Worried your kids are becoming spoiled? Have them spend some time wandering around the Dharavi slum in Mumbai.”

In the film, The Illustrated Man, an uppercrust couple buys a hologram device for their two kids, who use it to “go to” the Africa Savanah, where they hang out with lions, introject their predatory natures, and, when the couple try to take it away from the kids (think COD or Grand Theft Auto), the kids lure their parents into the, uh, den.  Just their clothing left and a satisfied purr. Check it out:

If only the Schmidt kids, and other rich Silicon Valley holograph-owning kids, could lure their parents in. Wouldn’t it be awesome to see the look on Eric Schmidt’s face when the Mumbai kids sized him up, rolled him, and tossed into the ancient Ganges?

Okay, maybe I’ve gone a little too far (I doubt it though) in rubbishing these billionaires with the money to continue their adolescent sci-fi/erector set fantasies and totally block out the rest of humanity, or, at least, the 99%, by building edifices to their egos.  But still, I recall what Schmidt said, in criticism, of Julian Assange’s decision-making when it came to exposing the lies of State and its corporate assets:

Why is it Julian Assange, specifically, who gets to decide what information is relevant to the public interest? [and] what happens if the person who makes such decisions is willing to accept indisputable harm to innocents as a consequence of his disclosures?

Well, same question to you, Mr. Emperor of the Mind.  Same to all the slick Silicon Valley churls who do little to alleviate the pain and suffering of the truly needy, and who already suspect that End Times are nearing because they are making weaselly getaway plans, buying houses away from the global fray that’s ahead in places like New Zealand. New Zealand, Outer Space, let’s send them packing to Alpha Centauri.

Happy Earth Day!

John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelancer based in Australia.  He is a former reporter for The New Bedford Standard-Times.