Space is the place

This is copied directly from metafilter, as is the comment following it:

Staying the Course Isnt an Option "If Bush is re-elected, there are only two possible outcomes in Iraq:

Four years from now, America will have 5,000 dead servicemen and women and an untold number of dead Iraqis at a cost of about $1 trillion, yet still be no closer to success than we are right now, or The U.S. will be gone, and we will witness the birth of a violent breeding ground for Shiite terrorists posing a far greater threat to Americans than a contained Saddam."

This administration has done such a brilliant job tying Iraq to 9-11 that I wonder what will happen when US solider casualties break 3000. What will it mean when the war in Iraq results in more dead Americans than the attacks of 9-11?

A piece of trivia that's related to that comment — adjusted for population, the US has killed approximately 165,000 Iraqi civilians (more). So you can imagine why the average Iraqi hates America these days. They didn't a few years ago, but wow, they sure do now.

These could be exciting times. So many wonderful things are happening that could change our future for the better — the question is whether this horrific foundation against world stability that Bush is laying will destroy the whole effort.

Virgin Galactic just announced plans to start flying commercial flights into space within a few years. How amazing is that? On Wednesday, September 29th (best day of the year), Burt Rutan and Scaled Composites are making their first X-Prize run and flying a three-person private space ship out of the atmosphere. Also on Wednesday is the closest large asteroid pass, when 4179 Toutatis gets less than a million miles from us (we had an even closer pass earlier this year but it was just a tiny rock so it doesn't really count — this one is big enough that with just slightly different timing it would have killed everything on the planet). You think incredible change happened from 1800-2000? It's nothing in comparison to what'll happen from 2000-2200.

It's sad when you think about where we could already be if it wasn't for war. For example, the Soviet Buran shuttle — which looks similar to the US shuttle because they knocked off the aerodynamic design, but is internally totally different, and able to lift three times as much — was developed for about 1.5 million rubles. Even if you include the total cost of developing the Energia booster system, you're still looking at under 15 million rubles — or 750 million US dollars (aka one day in Iraq). The Soviets were going to use this to build colonies on the moon, immense space stations, and so on… of course, a combination of economic mismangment, the costs of running an empire, and escalating arms races bankrupted them and the dream died.

All arguments about economic differences aside, you understand the core point: if you've got $20 billion a month to spend, are the people of the world best served by war, or by science? Along those lines (tangentally at best) let me mentiong The Museum of RetroTechnology. It's really an amazing site, full of pneumatic amplifiers, combat cutlery, monowheels, gyrocars, analog computers, steam engines, and so on. Sure, not much of it ever panned out, but you can bet it was still a better decision than war.

Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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