This Mars Business

I skipped writing this week’s challenge and just decided to write this rant on Mars. I see NASA is now getting some flak because they appear to have released the news and (somewhat thready) confirmation there are “signs” of water on Mars and have disclosed this with a somewhat theatrical press conferance in cooperative tandem with the upcoming (Matt Damon) Hollywood film, “The Martian”.  Sure, it’s a little cheesy and weak sauce…I guess.

So, yeah, NASA is working with Hollywood to try to earn some political buzz and gain support for something so “banal” as space exploration, boldly going where no man has gone, etc. (And the other zillion things they do for mankind)….big deal.

NASA may not be perfect. But let’s get over ourselves and understand a few things:

This excerpt is from a poignant piece I read a few years ago detailing a few comparisons to Americans spending habits to NASA’s infantessimal/ micro budget( which was approx. 17.5 Billion FY 14 or .5 % of the total budget):

Annually, Americans spend about $88.8 billion on tobacco products and another $97 billion on alcohol. $313 billion is spent each year in America for treatment of tobacco and alcohol related medical problems.

Likewise, people in the US spend about $64 billion on illegal drugs, and $114.2 billion for health-related care of drug use.

Americans also spend $586.5 billion a year on gambling.

So, the point there is Americans spend exponentially more money on getting fucked up and pissing their money away than they do exploring space, mapping space, looking out for hostile asteroids or space born debris, solar flares, etc. The sheer mind baffling incredibly stupid waywardness of the notion is just off the chain.

But there’s more! I even took this further…and looked at simply the increasingly annoying hipster driven craft beer industry. Let’s be clear, I’m not talking beer…mind you… I’m only speaking about US craft Beer! Shockingly, it’s a bigger industry than NASA’s Budget at 19.6 billion! I mean double fucking exclamation point!! I dig a nice “heady” craft beer just as much as the next guy (Though personally I have switched back to Miller Light these days) but that is just silly.(On another personal note, I’m headed to Oktoberfest this weekend, and planning to down my share, but I’ll be thinking about space as iIdo)

Meanwhile, out in space, somewhere a big fat asteroid with our name on it is .. sure as shit headed our way. It’s not an opinion, it’s a FACT. I’m pretty sure when one does rear its head to Armageddon us all, tossing cases of heady topper at the thing won’t do us much good. Yep, NASA works on this stuff too.

So if NASA is doing anything they can to break Americans out of their deranged budgetary priorities and sell themselves… then by all means…I’m for it, go NASA!

BTW I did happen to read the book in question here; Andy’ Weir’s novel “The Martian” is one of the most overrated jargonistic repetitively boring tomes I’ve read in a while. The prose is flooded with weak flaws, technobabble, shoddy characterization, and formulaic plot devices to the point where, at times, reading the book becomes a chore.

Here’s your spoilers/ Formula:

Deathly crisis arises/ Hero swears, makes pop culture references, and acts like an off the wall internet blogger/ Hero does all this technical stuff no one will understand/ Hero solves problem and moves on (Repeat twenty times, mix in an interlude here and there with weakly characterized NASA characters)  / hero saved, end book.

Strangely, despite the flaws, there was some “enjoyability” to the whole ordeal.(and it is, mind you, firmly an ordeal type of novel) That being said, I respect the amount of sheer work the author did on this novel, and I do think it will make a much better film than a book. My wife liked it, and it’s cool to see her read a quasi sci fi book and enjoy it.  We’re planning to go see the flick, and looking forward to it.

So in closing, I support any of the good stuff this book can accomplish. I support NASA. Drink craft beer and let’s get our ass to  Mars!


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