The Hare and Hedgepig, v. V
Please Leave All Electronic Devices and Projectile Pastries with Our Pie Check Department
Formal Dress Required
Continued from Vol. IV.
Saturday, 25 May 2013
Life, the universe, pies, hot-pink bunnies, world domination, and everything
well… pigs eat a lot you know
I missed the H&H. I’ll have a cup of Wenshang Baozhong, please.
If I may intrude, I would appreciate a cup of Darjeeling if it’s not too much trouble.
Please tell me we have a trophy wall like the TED stage or Stephen Colbert’s studio.
May I have some sage tea? And a croissant, please.
I love the feeling you get when everything falls into place and you start to see how you can accomplish things.
I’ll try Yorkshire Tea, I think. And an Eccles Cake, please.
I’ve been thinking a lot about space exploration recently, possibly because I’ve been reading a couple of authors with contrasting views on it. One of them (Stephen Baxter) puts forth the idea of exploiting the mineral wealth of the asteroid belt to make it an economically profitable enterprise. Another (Charlie Stross) opines that human beings won’t adapt well physiologically to space on long timescales, and even if we surmount that problem, we’ll have to deal with the fact that we’re adapted for a diet which is highly dependent on our biosphere. We can only partially export that biosphere — “dying of micronutrient deficiencies” is Stross’s pessimistic phrase, I think.
I feel like I should be casting “Summon KaiYves” here, but Robert and Rosanne probably have some things to say about this as well, not to mention other MBers.
I’d definitely like to hear a conversation about that.
I’m glad there’s a specific name for the Valley of Death, as I’ve thought about that concept before but never come up with a concise way of summarizing it.
Is space travel subject to a bigger Valley of Death than anything else humans have done? It seems that way to me. Optimistic s.f. authors tend to compare it to the discovery of new continents, but there’s no environment on earth as hostile and expensive to get to as the places we find in space. There’s no convenient supplies of lumber or venison waiting for the first ship to land, no natives to trade with or learn from (at least within our solar system).
Space exploration with robot probes is a whole different animal, of course — we can design our explorers for their environment instead of having to build enormous amounts of infrastructure to support fragile mammals.
But we’re discussing human space travel here. I think in the long run it’s desirable. Our biosphere’s resilient as a whole, but individual species are not, and though an extinction event for humankind may be improbable, well, it only has to happen once. Also, we’re going to run out of usable resources eventually.
Is it inevitable? Probably not in the near future, but again the long term’s a different story. There’s ample Stuff out there that we want, but we’re probably not going to go for it until the enormous costs are outweighed by the benefits.
I think it won’t become inevitable until our planet’s resources have been exploited to the point where getting them from space is relatively cheaper. Whether that’s desirable, or even survivable, is certainly germane to this discussion — we might not act until it’s too late, in that case.
I’m beginning to lose the thread of my own thoughs, so I’m going to post this now.
*pours a cup of pomegranate tea* Could I have a blueberry scone, please? Thank you!
I was actually discussing this with my friend the other day. He believes we should try to set up mining colonies on Mars, and suggests we live underground in order to escape the Martian windstorms. Additionally, said storms could be used as a source of power for electricity. He was under the impression that Mars was high in iron, and the iron could be at least partially used to sustain windmills, if only a way could be found to root them into the Martian ground. (I really enjoy saying the word Martian. It makes me feel like I’m in a sci-fi B-movie. I also enjoy the fact that I had a realistic discussion of Martian mining colonies with him.)
Though there’s still a little Valley of Death about that– how would we get there? What would we eat and drink? Would the profits from the Martian mines be worthwhile compared to the vast expense of shipping space colonists, tools, and resources all the way out to Mars? (I also really like the phrase “space colonists.”
Possibly it would be easier to just send robots to work the Martian mines, but that’s additionally expensive, not to mention the problem of powering them. In this case solar-powered Martian mining robots might be more effective than those utilizing Martian wind power.
I feel like I should stop talking before I get too wrapped up in the fact that I’m discussing the upsides and downsides of Martian wind-powered colonist robots.
Mars is not any richer in valuable minerals than Earth is, to my knowledge, so the only way that’ll become an incentive is if Earth’s mines become comparatively more expensive to operate. I think it’ll be a very long time before our mineral resources are that heavily depleted — and when they are, near-earth asteroids may be more efficient sources, given that they don’t have Mars’s nasty gravity well to deal with.
I’m being the grouchy panda of this discussion, I’m afraid, so I’ll focus on other possibilities. Could robotic explorers, like more sophisticated versions of the Mars rovers, or even self-replicating machines like Dyson’s “astrochicken,” serve as our advance guard, preparing human-friendly habitats elsewhere so that we can get in on the ground and do the jobs that robots still can’t?
This implies some heavy advancements in artificial intelligence and engineering, of course, but is it a feasible strategy long-term?
I really strongly want to start doing something that would make Mars more habitable, probably partially because my dream job would honestly be terraforming. Though that’s unlikely to be a career in my life time.
If only there were a way to take all our nasty problem greenhouse gas emissions and just put them on Mars! Start giving it the sort of atmosphere we’re used to, at least in the history of our planet. Not that we’d actually produce enough or anything, but funny to think about.
Speaking of Mars…
I went to that talk with a paleobiologist last friday and one thing he talked a bit about was the strong evidence for past presence of water on Mars.
He’s actually one of the people who’s maybe going to work at analyzing what the Mars Science Laboratory finds! He’s identified an area that resembles a dried-up lake much like we have fossils of. He discovered precambrian (I think, that’s hwat most of his work has been, but it was possibly just early paleozoic) fossils in such sediments on Earth, so he says that sampling such areas on Mars might be a good bed if we want to look for evidence of past life. The MSL gets there sometime in August, so it’ll be exciting to watch that happen.
Dinner with him and some other geo majors was also quite fun He made a lot of bad jokes. His wife also went. She’s a very cool biologist. She ordered a salad and commented when she saw it had lotus root in it, and the waitress started to explain what a lotus was and she was like “I germinated lotus seeds that were over three thousand years old, believe me, I know what a lotus root is like.”
14.1 (Piggy) — Indeed. Although Venus would be much, much harder to terraform initially, it would be more Earthlike and remain so in the long term with less maintenance.
Of course, terraforming is a very speculative and difficult procedure in the first place, but I think it’s still worth considering because a planetary biosphere is much more resilient to various catastrophes than the average orbiting tin of air. (Planets are essentially immune to hull breaches, for one thing.)
Or perhaps a group of intelligent and insane people obsessed with squids, pie, and world domination….
Anyway, the thing about other planets is that they don’t have anyone to convert. If a group wanted to form a new society away from some sort of hardship or persecution on Earth, that’s another matter, and that could happen to any group of people, not just religious. Even just a group of extremely wealthy people looking for the ultimate vacation home could look to other planets as an option.
While early 21st-century Americans might be mainly motivated by profit, there are probably other things that could stir them into space. If they had an important political cause, perhaps; I think in the 1960s, with the Cold War raging and fear of nuclear annihilation surging towards a local maximum (as well as shows like The Twilight Zone and Star Trek, along with an emerging Ray Bradbury and Isaac Asimov, making the idea that space is super groovy a mainstream feeling), more people than today would have eagerly volunteered for a space colonization program. In 2012, the world seems a little less threatening and less competitive, but the right cause might still be able to stir interest. If, as you said earlier, some Middle Eastern countries began a space program (especially Iran), the United States would most likely have a spike of interest in our neglected one.
Shall we make this a part of Mostly Harmless, then?
I’m glad this discussion seems to have taken off!
So far we’ve talked about three possible motives for space exploration (aside from curiosity, which generally doesn’t satisfy taxpayers): ideological rivalry, profit, and religion (likely linked to ideological rivalry). Profit’s fine after we cross the Valley of Death, but we likely need Apollo-level inspired lunacy to get there.
What’s a viable first target, then? What ought we focus on as a “stepping stone” to get some of the infrastructure in place? The moon is convenient because it’s so close by, but long-term dwellers there are subject to the same physiological problems associated with low gravity.
Because of their gravitational stability, the Earth-moon Lagrange Points would be good places to build way-stations that woukd make Earth-moon travel and transport easier. (Astronaut Nicholas Patrick was talking about this when he spoke at MIT last week.)
Which ones should we hit, then?
After an initial reading, L2 and L3 seem to be out of the running, because L2′s on the other side of the moon and L3 is on the other side of the sun. L4 and L5 are further away from the moon than L1, but L1 is less stable.
I read an article just now on a new project some of the top members of Google seem to be launching, called Planetary Resources. According to a press release, it will “overlay two critical sectors – space exploration and natural resources – to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP.” Though the goals haven’t been officially released, the general opinion seems to be that Planetary Resources is looking into asteroid mining. The project itself will apparently be revealed this Tuesday.
This seems quite relevant to our discussion. Could asteroid mining be profitable enough to be a sustainable venture? Could the simple expansion of humanity’s natural resources be worthwhile?
It all looks very exciting.
I agree. For Near Earth Objects (NEOs) we don’t have to establish some kind of Belter settlement. It’s still difficult, expensive, and dangerous, but there is a possibility of reward on timescales that can fit into human lifetimes. Also, there’s the bonus that we’d probably learn a lot about the threats they can pose in the process.
just in case any of my good friends get over to this Link! i just wanna say that me and BadLuckKitty are one and the same! thought you’d wanna know
One and the same as in “I posted as two different people but I’m really the same person”? We generally discourage that.
sorry…. maybe some dandelion tea would help my sadness. maybe some muffins as well
Indeed. I had a muffin this morning, and it immensely improved my mood. I am now off to watch Turn Left.
Tea is also quite good for that, but I feel that it does receive a suitable amount of respect.
now im hungry for muffins
here is a recipie i found in mom’s old cookbook:
one egg beaten
one cup of milk
1/3 cups of oil
one tablespoon of baking powder
1/3 cups of sugar
one teaspoon of salt
bake at 400′ for 20-25 munutes
the batter tastes delicious
You know what’s good? Banana bread chocolate chip muffins.
*Sigh* i wish i could delete posts or move them to another site because i post something and someone says “oh this post can be more apropriate here on this site” or “this post doesn’t really fit in here you need to post this somewhere else”
now there will probably be a complaint thread
oh… i feel foolish now…
It’s alright! You’re learning! It can be hard on the Internet to tell whether something is meant in a rude way or not (for me it’s even hard off-Internet), but I’m sure you’ll get the hang of it. Just try to keep in mind that no-one here has actually said they dislike you or don’t want you here, and some of us have said the opposite (I will if I haven’t already), so I don’t think you have any reason to feel rejected, if you still do.
i just said i felt foolish in a sarcastic manner! i mean im not complaining or anything…
…oh. You know what I just said about how it’s hard to detect sarcasm on the Internet, and we all make mistakes? Well, I suppose I just did.
HA HA HA HA HA HEE HE HE HE HE HA HA HA HA HA
I made your recipe. It ended up very crunchy and salty. Might I suggest a little less salt and a little more water? No offense, right? By the way, I tasted the batter and got salmonella in the next couple of hours (puking, headache, the likes).
I hate my representative picture. I didn’t even get to choose what it was!
In saxophone sectionals the older saxophone players would tell me their wacky hijinx from last year. Once, they lifted up a panel from the ceiling and climbed in, and once they put sunscreen on the phone and then called it, so when the band director picked it up he would get sunscreen on his hands. Once the baritone saxophone player turned the lights off in the practice room and took off his pants in front of everyone.
Every time we have low brass sectionals (i go with saxophones when i play alto sax and low brass when i play bari), we all talk about our relationship problems and try to climb onto the roof (there is a landing above the instrument closet that if covered in trombone corpses, and it has stairs that go to the roof) and tell lots of horribly offensive jokes while Princess_magnolia (who is our sectional leader) tries to get us to actually work on music.
Also, once at my school (this was years ago), someone climbed onto the roof from the place above musical’s props room (now, it’s where everyone smokes, but it used to be the orchestra room) and got stuck there. He was there until the janitor came in the next morning. There is also a rumour that the reason it leaks on the tech crew when we stand in the wings is that fifty years ago, a girl threw herself off the catwalk because she didn’t get the lead role in the musical, and her ghost cries on the stage every year.
Once in tech crew we all put on the costumes that were in the bins in the props room and ran around – i was a fork.
Once in band, we were playing Spongebob Squarepants, and we went on strike until the band director agreed to sing it.
In band camp everyone in the saxophone section had a nickname, and we were “Sam (that’s her real name), Iam, Greeneggsandham (that was SudoRandom), Bam, and Graham (my real name)”.
Our band and orchestra are enemies, and once our band director gave me extra credit for saying we should give the worst chairs to the orchestra (i was joking; he thought i was serious). J and I are convinced that the orchestra and the chorus are allied against band.
In September, band did a fundraiser where we made 2,000 fluffernutter sandwiches and sold them at a festival devoted to marshmallow fluff. When we were selling them, we said they had been endorsed by Harry Potter.
In tech crew, we memorized all the dances and songs in Guys and Dolls, and we silently did them behind the curtain when the show was going on. J always sang the verses to Sue Me, and M and i did the chorus.
Once in tech crew we thought we were locked in the props room for twenty minutes, and then we remembered that there were two doors.
Once in tech crew, K and i were spray painting a prop red, and my hand ended up being covered with splatters of paint, so we decided to pretend it was really blood and freak everyone out.
((this post is very long and i’m not sure if anyone but me is amused by it))
Well, band is pretty awesome. For some reason the tuba section leader’s name can be used to replace any word, so the baritones were singing Christmas carols and Gangham Style and whatever else they could think of and replacing all the lyrics with “Geoff” while I stared vacantly into space while trying not to laugh.
During football games everyone shouts “FOOTBALL!!!!!” in deep loud voices and then someone shouts “RUGBY!!!!” and “WATER POLO!!!!!” and “FULL CONTACT KARATE BASKETBALL!!!!!!!!”" and “EXTREME UNDERWATER BASKET WEAVING!!!!!” and we are not one of those bands that care about the football team at all because the football team always loses.
Everyone plays Viva la Vida a lot and I don’t really know why. But the person with the melody (everyone else just plays those chords that are supposed to be played on stringed instruments) always just plays ” I used to rule the world/ Seas would rise when I gave the word” over and over.
Hum. I just realized that I’ve had the Hare and Hedgepig menu hanging above my bed for about 3 years now. Interesting.
Anyway, could I have a cup of Earl Grey and a pumpkin scone?
Well. Wow. I’m finally stopping by here after almost four years of having been on MB and never once visiting this delightful place. I hear from the proprietor that this is generally a good place for moderately-paced conversation, which is probably the only kind of conversation I’m capable of having on MuseBlog at this point (I am very busy currently), so it seemed like a good time to drop in.
How is everyone doing? I just got back from a rather long and exhausting plane ride back from Florida and then an acting class within fifteen minutes of arriving home, so I’m pretty dead. I’ll apologize in advance for any incoherence I may display.
Oh, and I would love a cup of chai, if it’s not too much trouble.
Mm, thank you. *sips chai* I was attending my cousin’s wedding. And then visiting my grandmother in her resort-slash-nursing-home-with-two-pools. And staying with my aunt and uncle on their farm. So basically, lots of relative stuff.
Of course not. *wanders off to make Turkish coffee*
I very much enjoy the Psmith books, as I think I may have mentioned on the ‘blog before.
I agree – I think the first one is Leave it to Psmith. It’s lovely, although if you read it in class teachers generally catch you giggling and give you evil death stares.
farewell thread! here is a flower for your grave! *sniff*
I’d just like to remind everyone that if they want to drop in and have some nice conversation, get homework done, or just have a warm drink, I’m always around. The wungs are great company but after a few months they do get a bit listless.
Is it still called a “usual” if you haven’t been somewhere in over a year? Egg and cress sandwich with jasmine tea, please.
Hello! I haven’t seen you before. I love your name. Piggy says you’ve changed it; what was it before? I might have heard of you by that name, although I probably never knew you, since I don’t recognize your avatar. Anyway, I’m B(ibl)iophile, and I joined on June 11, 2010
B(ibl)iophile? your name doesn’t have ()s in it!
or did it used to…
you made me confused!
*helps self to a plate of cookies on the coffee table)
No, it never did; I didn’t mean to confuse you. I was trying to imply that I was a biophile in addition to being a bibliophile (Robert actually suggested I shorten my name to Biophile once, and it’s now my username on multiple sites, which of course I won’t name), but I suppose it didn’t work.
Hi! I think I’ve seen your avatar around the ‘blog before.
Okay, to continue with the slight discussion of advertisements on the Rants and Plaints thread. The Hot Topics thread seemed somehow malapropos, but I think this would be a good place for conversation.
To restate myself: I can’t stand the modern advertisement-saturated world. I support the free market, and I think businesses have the right to advertise; for me, the problem is more cultural than legislative. As I mentioned on the other thread, TV is the worst for me. Nearly half of any given broadcast is going to be commercials. The internet can be bad as well, though ad-blocking software works very well for me. Most magazines now are pretty much entirely advertisements; even the articles promote a brand or product. And of course you have enormous electronic billboards blazing across the horizon, flashing propaganda at you day and night. Shopping bags advertise. Shirts advertise. Benches advertise. Escalator handrails advertise. And these advertisements don’t depend on the shotgun effect, either: billions upon billions of dollars have been put into researching how to manipulate human psychology and how to make people think in certain ways, act in certain ways, and spend money in certain ways. What is the typical American dream now? To get a lot of money and spend it on items that put you higher on the social ladder than your neighbors. Your value as a member of society is determined by what car you own, what clothing you wear, what smartphone you have. You don’t have to learn how this system works; it is ingrained into you by the incessant barrage of advertisement that fills every nook and cranny available.
Of course, the effects are much broader than social organization. Look at the recent financial crisis, for instance–in the simplest terms, people spent money they didn’t have on things they didn’t need, and after a while it caught up with them. Clearly, an economy based on a constant increases in spending is doomed by its own identity to collapse. Beyond the economic issues, the impact this mindset has on the environment is even more self-evident. The amount of waste created by packaging or disposable water bottles or the amount of air pollution generated by SUVs is obviously a result of modern consumerism, in whole or part. Likewise the sociological effects within the countries that provide the raw materials and cheap production for the things rich countries buy.
I think it would be inefficient of me to continue ranting about consumerism’s effects. Instead, I’d like to share a bit of my own change in philosophy over the past year or so. Some time ago–around when I was reading Walden for the first time–I happened upon a website for people who supported what they deemed “minimalism”. A bit of it was about minimalist art, or minimalist music, or minimalist architecture, but the majority of the conversation was about a minimalist lifestyle. Simply put, they supported owning as few things as necessary and, by getting rid of whatever was extraneous, to uncover the things in their life that they truly cared about. This could be as subtle as donating some old clothes and tidying up your desk to ideas like the “100 Thing Challenge” or the ubiquitous everything-I-own-in-a-car-trunk postings. Connected to this website, in users and in spirit, was another site about “simple living”. For whatever reason, these sites immediately clicked for me. It wasn’t some sort of earth-shattering revelation or metamorphosis; I simply thought, “Oh, that makes sense,” and began to clean out my room. I’ve donated or thrown away dozens of trash bags of stuff, junk that I was holding onto “just in case”. Things that I had kept because I thought they had “sentimental value”. Redundancies in my collection of objects that I had amassed over eighteen years of life. The more I cleaned, the more I wanted to get rid of all this garbage that was only cluttering my life. And it’s an ongoing project. I have yet to regret getting rid of a single thing.
It’s more than just getting rid of objects, though. There are a lot of other areas of my life that are cluttered too. A month or so ago I stopped using my iPod Touch. I had been using it many times a day for a long time, and to some extent I had centered my life around it; it was my center of communication, my method of organization, and most of all my means of vacuous entertainment. Obviously, I was addicted. So I quit, just like that. I haven’t missed it once. Likewise, I bought a cheap watch for myself so I could quit carrying my cell phone around with me everywhere (I used it mostly to check the time). Nowadays, when I go to lunch by myself I read a book instead of browsing the internet. If I’m waiting for someone I sit quietly with my thoughts or observe the world around me. A lot of the things I thought I couldn’t live without have turned out to be absolutely superfluous. When you step away from constant stimulation, constant noise blasting at you, it does take a bit to get used to the quiet–but you start to realize what you’ve been subjecting yourself to for so long.
I have a lot more I could expand upon, but I’ve got to get going now. I apologize for the stream-of-consciousness wall of text there. If you read it, thank you–I hope I didn’t waste too much of your time.
I think that’s all really interesting (and I just realized this is probably a great place to discuss philosophy). I agree with everything you said about advertising, and I also agree with minimalism, although for me it’s mainly for environmental reasons. I admit, though, that I haven’t actually made much progress yet. I do have plans, though, if I can just go through with them. For instance, I recently found out that The Cheetah Foundation (which I support) needs a lot of things I have that I really don’t use, like pens (Why do I have so many pens?) and CDs that help with African wildlife identification (I… don’t have any explanation for owning any of those, since I’ve never even been to Africa). And there are a lot of other things I’d like to try to sell/donate. I certainly haven’t bought anything in ages, but that’s mostly because I’m saving up for Earthwatch.
You’re not alone. I realized the other day that I want to live on a boat (if only for a short while) not for just the water, but because it would necessitate a monastic lifestyle. Halyards to heaven! I’m tripping over myself in my own web, there’s so much to do and have that even when know I want, should, be doing focused work, I need to make space for it. I’ve decided that my time as a liveaboard will be devoted to two things only; the ship and the craft.
An essay by Dale Beran, “Occupy Batman,” made a good point (well, it made a few, and a bunch I probably didn’t understand) about ads. Movies are without ads. There’s some product placement, yes, but the worlds conjured on screen are blissfully free from so much visual noise. Ironically these oasis are promoted by aggressive advertising.
Back to window shopping for boats!
Piggy, I’m going to take you up on your offer for some nice, quiet conversation. Over a nice cup of tea, of course, the blend of which I will leave to your discretion. Whatever you think is good.
I must admit than even though I came here for some nice conversation I’m at a bit of a loss as to what we’d talk about. So instead I will start with the opening phrase that has led to many an awkward conversation in real life. So…how’s it going?
With “it” being unspecified, the how is considerably more difficult to answer. Subsequent questioning reveals that the “it” in question is something like school, or life, or some other large, ongoing thing. How am I supposed to reduce its magnitude to a single adverb or short phrase? I could go into excruciating detail, of course, but I don’t want to have to come up with the words to describe it and you don’t want to listen. But I can’t simplify it, and so my answer usually becomes something along the lines of, “It’s going.”
I cannot tell you how many conversations I’ve had like this, where we dance around the particulars of small talk and do not actually engage in a meaningful transfer of information or emotion. I feel like so much of my time is wasted by this small talk that is socially required but ultimately pointless. I used to be terrible at it, and I paid the price. Now I am competent, but just as bored as I was when I was younger.
(Well, that turned into half an essay.)
*wanders in* Oh hello! I see you are engaged in some very meaningful discussion, but could someone get me some hot chocolate please? Preferably dark, with a bit of whipped cream on top. And a little butter cookie on the side for munching would be lovely as well.
I am halfway through my midterms, and I believe I will survive until Friday. You know, I often misspell “believe” and switch the “i” and the “e” because it sort-of-rhymes with “receive.” Does anyone else do this?