Brainy Quote of the Day

Sunday, June 9, 2013

R-C Manifest Destiny...

Man is the only animal that deals in that atrocity of atrocities, War. He is the only one that gathers his brethren about him and goes forth in cold blood and calm pulse to exterminate his kind. He is the only animal that for sordid wages will march out... and help to slaughter strangers of his own species who have done him no harm and with whom he has no quarrel... And in the intervals between campaigns he washes the blood off his hands and works for 'the universal brotherhood of man' - with his mouth. Mark Twain


Editor’s Note: This story relies upon anonymous sources who could not have spoken on the record without prosecution or other serious repercussions. The author revealed their identities to MIT Technology Review.

A little history is helpful. The drone as we know it today was the brainchild of John Stuart Foster Jr., a nuclear physicist, former head of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (then called the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory), and—in 1971, when the idea occurred to him—the director of defense research and engineering, the top scientific post in the Pentagon. Foster was a longtime model-airplane enthusiast, and one day he realized that his hobby could make for a new kind of weapon. His idea: take an unmanned, remote-controlled airplane, strap a camera to its belly, and fly it over enemy targets to snap pictures or shoot film; if possible, load it with a bomb and destroy the targets, too.

Two years later, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) built two prototypes based on Foster’s concept, dubbed Praeire and Calere. Weighing 75 pounds and powered by a modified lawn-mower engine, each vehicle could stay aloft for two hours while hoisting a 28-pound payload.

A meme on FB has a man presumably in the 80s with a cathode ray tube television: the TVs fat, and he is skinny. In the era of flat screens - as the illustration shows - the reverse is now true.

The evolution of warfare is becoming mechanized, mechanical: distant. There is no longer the dread to invest "our national treasure," since wars as Machiavelli pronounced are "the extension of politics by other means," usually started by the 'canopy class'; fought by the lower caste in their rainforest's shadow. We're apparently training more joystick pilots than aircraft pilots in the US Air Force, further removing/distancing ourselves from the responsibility of corpse manufacture.

The opportunity to elevate oneself from lower to at least middle class - somewhere mid-trunk beneath social canopy, but still shadow - is offered as well as to "see the world" by all major branches of the services. The trick for that opportunity is to survive your deployment, and even your garrison service in the company of fellow members with limbs attached, perhaps some educational/vocational training and without sexual or other assault; harassment or PTSD. All branches are now embroiled in an in a record increase of sexual assault cases - on men as well as women - and the lack of accountability/prosecution by higher ups on perpetrators, the same higher-ups from the "good old boys" club often rendering ham-fist, half-witted pardons to assailants and no help of recovery for victims.

Manifest destiny: 1.historical expansionist doctrine: the doctrine or belief prevalent in the 19th century that the United States had the God-given right to expand into and possess the whole of the North American continent.

We are children of this sense of destiny/entitlement (if ever truly used in its correct application), and a reflection of this mechanized distancing through technology of mankind from itself.

Childhood as I recall it, with imagination creating my own space battles, "rattle snake eggs" with rubber bands, paperclips and an envelop; origami figurines; rubber band guns with clothes pins, stick ball and snow ball fights now kowtow to $25 - 50 video game programs with more than a million players online. Babies and Toys-R-Us makes children a consumer commodity after clearing placenta. Hours are spent by young people to master the next level while education is transformed into meaningless "teach-to-the-test" Pavlov drivel: it makes for an orderly society [of sorts] without critical thinking subjects that will question authority; the enjoyment of creativity for its own sake or expressive insight. Thus, we breed bottom-line capitalists at best; sociopaths at worst.

"It's Time to Tackle Interstellar Flight": please understand this apparent leap (shortly, I hope). The space race began after the launch of Sputnik, due to the fear in the US the Russians had developed the means of launching intercontinental ballistic missiles - armed with the threat of mutually assured destruction - which was quite an accurate assessment. Fear is a great motivator. Al Capone said: "you can get much farther with a kind word and a gun than with a kind word alone." The spin off nostalgia science fiction shows - I Dream of Jeanie, Lost in Space, the Jetsons, Star Trek - were the "kind words"; nukes were "the guns."

It is an interesting title by Mike Wall (, and I like how he makes his case, but what would we be taking with us (in US) to space if successful? Will our drones/death stars follow; the arrogance of Manifest Destiny to the stars; will we cast the natives we find to their asteroid belt reservations; see the universe as "free-fire zone"? I recall some advice a noted martial artist friend gave another: "you fight like a bull. That's OK, until you run into a bigger bull." What if the bigger alien bull sees us as hostile, inconsequential...or, as food?

And even more soberly: With growing inequality, gynophobia, xenophobia, is the silence not golden from space, but the darker conclusion to the Drake Equation: the aliens did not survive themselves, let alone invaders? What if they concluded their third world war, and are fighting their fourth (if survived) fulfilling Einstein's surmise: "with sticks and stones"?

Maybe before warp drive, we need to tackle our materialism and conflict resolution skills.

Technology Review: The World as Free-Fire Zone

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