1. Fly me to the moon
It’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.
That was Buzz Aldrin [see correction as update below*], and here is the photo taken by Neil Armstrong:
Back then in 1969 I had just taken up work for the Education Department. The bloke who occupied the office next door had been seconded to head office to promote the use of television and other audiovisual gizmos in schools. He had a TV in his office, and grabbed me as I was on my way out. It’s one of life’s events that you remember where you were.
Not sure how Armstrong took this shot:
- From 1969 to 1972, Apollo carried a dozen astronauts on six missions to the surface of the moon, part of a program that cost from $112 billion to $146 billion (in 2019 dollars), and returned some 842 pounds of moon rocks to Earth.
That’s from Buzzfeed, who ask why we stopped going there and have not been back.
In simple terms, the US had beaten the Russians, it was a dead end, and the earth space program was more important.
Obama effectively vacated the field.
Phillip Adams talks to a collection of experts about the new space race in The Moon: geopolitics, commerce and militarisation. Multi-billionaires and the Chinese are joining the jostle. It’s everything from tourism, to a base station to Mars or mining the asteroid belt.
Apparently the moon has masses of helium 3, necessary for the dream of nuclear fusion and rare on earth.
Factoid: I heard that the moon is drifting away from us at the rate of 38mm each year.
Also I understand the Apollo mission used less computing power that you would find now in a calculator.
Aunty has a neat tour of the moon.
*Update: As zoot (see comment below) says, Neil Armstrong was first onto the moon surface and said “It’s one small step for man. One giant leap for mankind.” Gizmodo has the story, which sounds authentic. Armstrong was the more senior and captain of the mission, Aldrin was the pilot. NASA decided before they left who would have the honour. Here is the first footprint:
So it is said, and for good measure, the earth from the moon:
2. Serotonin vs dopamine
Pauline Sheldon Professor Emerita University of Hawaii was talking about sustainable tourism, but it got way more interesting than that.
This will be very familiar. She says our economy is based on assumptions:
- Self interest drives human behaviour. The sum of self interest creates demand in the economy. We are said to always act in perfect self interest.
- More income means more happiness.
- Economic progress only comes from competition. Co-operation and collaboration are counter-productive.
- Markets are fair and tell the truth.
- Consumption is encouraged for its own sake.
- We are addicted to growth GDP as a measure of growth. We should use more widely other indicators of well-being.
You may find that a bit simplistic, but you get the idea. She also referred to Kate Raworth’s concept of Doughnut economics. See:
Here’s the concept in an image:
First we need a foundation that provides everyone with a dignified life and the opportunities for personal growth.
Then aspiration and growth are fine, as long as ecological limits are not breached.
The really interesting bit, however, was when she told of new kinds of tourism experiences being offered, for example, in Amsterdam. Tourist were offered a chance to engage in acts of generosity to alleviate disadvantage in the local area.
Then comes the brain chemistry. If we engage in acts to pursue pleasure directly, dopamine is released, which gives a short term high, but a longer term downer.
If our focus is to help others, we get a burst of serotonin, which gives longer term satisfaction.
That may be simplistic too, but they’ve been doing it long enough to show it works. Tourists like it and come back for more, and to see how the people they’ve helped are getting along.
The Coalition are very clear that people should not be too comfortable while on the dole. Here’s Michaelia Cash:
- “We are a nation defined by our workers and our aspiration, not our welfare system and apathy.
“We will never shirk our responsibility to be the architects of opportunity.”
The Greens will move a motion in the Senate this week calling for a $75 increase. This would cost the budget $3.6 billion per annum, about half the forecast surplus.
Here’s Philip Coorey’s summary of positions:
On Newstart, Labor has not nominated a dollar increase, just that it should be boosted following a review.
The Greens and the welfare lobby are among those calling for $75 a week.
Others demanding an increase to Newstart, which had its last above-inflation boost in 1994, include the Business Council of Australia, KPMG, the ACTU, Coalition backbencher Barnaby Joyce and National Seniors Australia.
The seniors group has become engaged as a consequence of growing unemployment among older people of working age, some of whom, especially women, are destitute. There are 173,196 people aged over 55 on Newstart.
The government is ideologically opposed to a real increase in Newstart and it argues that most recipients of the payment – currently $277 a week – are on other welfare payments as well.
It argues Newstart is designed to help find work and is not meant to be a living allowance, like the aged pension.
And it is also guarding its promise to return the budget to surplus in 2019-20. On Friday, Ministers Matt Canavan and Mathias Cormann both cited the surplus as a priority.
Shadow employment minister Brendan O’Connor dismissed her claims.
- “Senator Cash once again shows an inability to stand in the shoes of those that are struggling to keep their head above water,” he said.
“With business and union peak bodies, along with the welfare sector, unified in their support for a review of Newstart this government shows a callous disregard for our most vulnerable. “
That’s politics. I wonder how many are taking any notice and what difference it all makes.
4. Julian Assange
Tonight’s Four Corners is Hero or Villain: The prosecution of Julian Assange.
I heard program maker Michael Brissenden talk at some length on local radio. Seems Assange may be both and more, including reckless narcissist.
However, the bottom line is the possible frightening reach of American ‘justice’ which could reach out and lasso anyone, then lock them up for a century or more, mostly in solitary confinement.