Dispatches from the galaxy: notes on worlds real and imagined | Rock Candy

Monday, October 26, 2015

Dispatches from the galaxy: notes on worlds real and imagined

Posted By and on Mon, Oct 26, 2015 at 10:31 AM

BRASHER: Sometimes you have to get out of Arkansas, and when you do you gotta really make it count. So we're going to a place with an even worse elementary education system than our home state, and that is the deep, endless void that is space. Space, it is said, is the final frontier. Personally, I feel like death is the final frontier, but whatever, if I had to pick one or the other I guess I would take space, but not by much. Space is colder than Chicago in January and that is why you will not catch me hanging around there on purpose for any reason.

ROWE: Space is in the news! According to Facebook, many Millennial Americans just F-ing Love Science! Especially mushy pseudo-science, or maybe attractive people in thick glasses performing science. They love their Bill Nyes and their Neil DeGrasse Tysons, and they love images with pictures of space that have DAILY AFFIRMATIONS written on top of them. They also like the idea of fictional people in space as much as they hate Excel spreadsheets where actual science takes place. Facebook is a very confusing place, much like the reaches of outer space.

CREDIT: Someone you went to high school with.
  • CREDIT: Someone you went to high school with.

BRASHER: Folks love the idea of space. People are at this moment buying up Star Wars movie tickets months in advance like it was the final Radiohead tour in all of history. It's weird though because many of those same people in Arkansas that love the idea of a war in space probably voted for politicians that drastically cut the funding for the U.S. space and science programs, but what do I know? I'm just Kermit the frog drinking tea over here by this window. What I want to know is, how are you gonna worry about President Malia Obama taking away your semiautomatic proton rifles if we can’t even get up to space in the first place?

click to enlarge This book is a criticism of the social policy of war, not material for Alderaan deniers.
  • This book is a criticism of the social policy of war, not material for Alderaan deniers.
ROWE: Look. This is important. With apologies to Jean Baudrillard, The Star Wars did not take place. The war between the Galactic Empire and the Rebel Alliance was nothing more than an internal power struggle between the Emperor and the family of his right-hand man. The “war” is just a series of atrocities masquerading as justified war. The narrative in Star Wars is told through religious mumbo-jumbo and doesn’t even consider the viewpoint of those millions of voices who suddenly cried out in terror, suddenly silenced. That said I’m going to stand in a dumb line waiting for the new movie while I look at dudes compare their Yoda tattoos. What’s new in real-life space?

BRASHER: So some space science folks saw a flickering star through this Kepler telescope and now everyone thinks it's aliens. What all these "truth is out there" people seem to think is that near the star KIC 8462852 some kind of megastructure exists, specifically a giant solar collector array, and that it is there floating in space just steady saving aliens a lot of money on their heating and cooling bills. The problem is, space is weird, and it’s always doing strange and disappointing things that pretty much never involve aliens. I mean, if a species of aliens can build a solar collector in space, and we can see them, that means they can definitely see us. We can’t even build solar stuff on the ground right and they have it all worked out, and now they’re just like trying not to make galactic eye contact with our crap species.

ROWE: For a group of extraterrestrials that uses solar energy, they’re certainly throwing our planet some shade. Back on planet Earth though, I think it’s interesting to watch the wild hopes and theories of people watching the skies. Like most things in life, the most banal explanation is always the most likely. There’s a wild range in beliefs of the people who believe that intelligent life is within the realm of possible contact in the universe. There’s important, serious-minded people who remain hopeful that contact with an alien civilization in their lifetimes is a remote chance, and there are people who wear green-and-black Dr. Seuss hats who think that they have gotten it on with aliens on Earth. I bet they all F-ing love science.

BRASHER: First off I haven't seen that movie "The Martian," but in real life people are signing up to go to Mars and live in some kind of colony. This company Mars One is trying to rustle up 100 people to go on a manned mission to Mars. Just think about the people who would be willing to drop it and walk away from everything and every person in their lives to face certain death on a distant planet and then imagine having to live with just those people. It would be like living in the worst squat ever. Can’t we just send a bunch of prisoners and make the place like super scary and tough like "Aliens 3"?

ROWE: I know you want Mars to be all tough, but Mars will never be tough. I look forward to human colonization of Earth, because while Mars may have an extra moon, it only has about 38 percent of the gravity of Earth. Do you even lift, Martians? The answer is you do, but it doesn’t matter. Finally Earthlings will be able to be the intergalactic bullies we’ve always longed to be.

If you’re enjoying Brasher and Rowe, please support us by visiting the archive of previous columns, sharing us on social media, and following Brasher and/or Rowe on Twitter. Email us at brasherandrowe@gmail.com. Your support lets us know we should keep doing this, and will help us finally do that podcast that we will press onto a solid gold record and send into space.

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