This caught my eye only because I had just been reading The Crazy Years, a collection of essays written for the Toronto Globe and Mail by Spider Robinson (one of my favorite authors).
Jamming on the topic of science fiction futures that no science fiction writer predicted but came true anyway, Robinson notes, among other things, the collapse of the USSR (and how it even took the intelligence community by surprise), the eradication of smallpox (and the complete and utter lack of media fanfare at the conquering of one of mankind’s deadliest enemies), and the VCR (and how some people brag about not being able to program one).
But the most poignant passage deals with having acquired the technology to get humanity off this rock and out to the stars… and us willfully not doing anything with it– effectively squandering it. Regarding an Apollo booster rocket literally left to rust in the rain, Robinson notes, “I have trouble believing in a society that doesn’t know it needs a frontier.”
Which brings us to the video link above.
I hope first of all that gives us all some hope.
Second of all I fret that this sort of thing used to be the forte of the USA– technological innovation, climbing mountains “because they are there.” Never mind whether politics are to blame or a societal shift to knowing ignorance (if that’s not an oxymoron, I don’t know what is).
You used to be able to watch opera on television– and this was before public television came into being. You consulted scientists as a matter of course because they were learned men, more often than not untainted by left- or right-wing stances. Somewhere along the way (as Joe Jackson writes in his memoir A Cure For Gravity) we got the idea that all that elitism was nothing more than a con, a shuck-and-jive perpetrated to make us all feel ignorant.
Now, as a society, we are ignorant. We can’t find Iraq on a map of the world– some of us have never seen a map of the world, nor even wanted to see one.
I’d better stop before I find myself wallowing for the rest of the day.