Friday, July 29, 2011

Car Camping: algorithmic analysis!

algorithmic analysis of camping trip:

Main criteria: is our 6yr old ready to camp? Yes...

- Slept like a log in the tent
- got familiar with the equipment
- loved being outdoors
- traveled well
- hiked over 5km in a day with plenty of energy
- handled 2 hour boat trip on Georgian Bay with no side effects

Is car camping an option now? No...

- trailer park motive not conducive to communing with nature;
- Listening to competing car radios in the wilderness = sucks
- Listening to sugar addled children freaking out at midnight because they apparently don't have a bedtime = sucks
- direct correlation between parental involvement and number of children they choose to have (more children = greater disinterest in actually parenting them)
- 3 or more untended children become a feral gang that is potentially cannibalistic (multiply possibility in direct proportion to the amount of sugar they are consuming. Children who administer their own sugar input = high likely hood of insanity)
- Listening to car alarms going off all night (why do you have your #*$&ing alarm set you jackass? You're SLEEPING NEXT TO IT!!!)
- Similar to being a refugee, but your neighbors are sugar addled idiots with SUVs, cheap beer and clouds of pot instead of quiet and starving, so worse that being a refugee.
- the hyena like laughter/bark of teenage girls trying to attract the attention of a mating partner made me feel like I was in some kind of bizarre human zoo exhibit.
- the garbage found thrown to the side of every trail we hiked reminds of how entitled and self absorbed are a significant portion of human population.
- praying for a thunderstorm so the hairless apes will turn off their electronics and go the f*** to sleep.

Future plan 1: partial outbound trip to a canoe-in camp site with no immediate neighbors.

Future plan 2: deep woods canoe/portage doing a circuit in Algonquin. Goal: see no hairless apes.

Silence is golden, you won't get much gold car camping.

Friday, July 8, 2011

The Cost of Hope

The Space Shuttle program cost a total of $196 billion dollars, about half what the financial bailout in '08-'09 cost, and almost the same as the AIG bailout alone.

What did we get out of the Shuttle? An internationally cooperative program that put astronauts from many countries into orbit, opportunities in science that have changed our view of the universe (Hubble and many others), innumerable trickle down technologies from ceramics and computer systems to communications and aerodynamics. Then there are the thousands upon thousands of high-tech, specialized jobs, many of which are unique and world class in their execution.

What did we get out of the bailout? AIG executives got their corporate bonuses, we supported and kept alive a dysfunctional deregulated financial system that is doomed to repeat what it has already done. On the non-bank side, we floated two American car makers who were building inefficient, poorly designed vehicles that failed in the marketplace; in short, we supported incompetence.

I'm watching the last flight of Atlantis now on NASA TV. I've been watching Shuttles launch since Columbia launched when I was twelve years old in 1981. I was born a month before Neil Armstrong stepped on the Moon, my entire life has been steeped in the mythology and imagery of space flight. I got teary then, and I'm teary now. What makes me emotional about this? Sure, it's expensive, but it's also a grand gesture, and shows what we are capable of as a species; nothing about banking or business does anything like that for me. When a Shuttle launches I see our future, not limited by greed and fossil fuels; we lift our gaze from our own navels and get a truer sense of our place in the scheme of things. This doesn't frighten me, it gives me hope; something else I've never gotten from the banking industry.

If they were trotting out Orion in the next year, I'd be happy that the Shuttle is being retired. But Orion isn't even out of the prototype stage, and is years away from flying. If our only goal is to fill the world with mediocrity and spend our genius on how to take money from each other, it never will reach the launch pad.

I fear, on a fundamental level, that Atlantis' last flight is really the death of Kennedy's dream of an America that takes bold steps, and moves the human spirit forward:

"We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win..."

Said today, it would read, "we no longer choose to do the hard thing, we choose the easy thing, the thing that serves the greedy and short sighted, and satisfies mediocrity. We choose to surrender our role as a leader in the future hopes of humanity, and let others take those risks, and shoulder those burdens. In the meantime we will spend far more money supporting our debt, keeping dead people alive at all costs and killing people in foreign countries than we ever did boldly going where no one has gone before."