Wednesday, December 06, 2006

The stupidest thing ever written

I was reading Slate yesterday evening and I came across an article which claimed to reveal "the single stupidest sentence to appear in that newspaper [The New York Times] since I began reading it more than three decades ago." For those without the time or inclination to follow the link to the article the sentence being referred to was:

Mr. Lloyd Webber is often referred to as the Shakespeare of his time with musicals like Jesus Christ Superstar, Evita, Cats, and The Phantom of the Opera.

Now I confess that comparing Andrew Lloyd Webber to Shakespeare is pretty stupid (particularly since far from "often", as he goes on to point out, it's never happened). But then I continued reading and in another article on Slate I came across what was truly the stupidest sentence ever written. It was their "Human Nature" feature and they were reporting on a new NASA plan for a permenant moon base. At the end of each little blurb they give a couple of different ways of looking at it, in this case the idealistic and the cynical:

Idealistic prediction: Like our ancestors, we'll use the lure of profit to inspire and fund exploration. Cynical prediction: Like our ancestors, we'll use the rhetoric of exploration to rationalize plunder.

PLUNDER?!?!? How on earth can we plunder the Moon?!? That pun was actually unintended if you can believe that, but it also strikes at the heart of the matter. Normal terrestrial rules do not apply. There are no aboriginal cultures to plunder from, there are no living organisms to be harmed, there is no biosphere to pollute, not even a grandma that has to re-locate. The only possible objections I can see, and these are an enormous stretch, are scenic and gravitational. Essentially that unrestricted strip mining would make the Moon less pretty or that it would be so excessive that it actually changed the moons gravitational pull on the earth. The former is silly and the latter so implausible that I'm embarrassed to even bring it up lest I lend it even the tiniest amount of credibility. But what else is there? What other possible objections can be raised to ANYTHING we do to the moon?

I guess there is some plausible objection that could be made to weaponizing the moon, but that's not what the article was about it was about making a base more attractive by mining the surrounding area. But regardless of the type of objection it would have to outweigh the benefits of a permanent manned base, which are legion.

The irony is strong in this one

2 Comments:

Anonymous Geshin said...

The only credible objection I heard, was "We don't want to spend money on space men, when we have starving children on Earth."

Since, most of the "staving children" is caused by bad government or wars, and not because we don't grow enough food.

I don't like the objection. We lack inspiration in this modern world, and I think a MOON base can inspire us again.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Human beings possess the ability and propensity to screw up anything, no matter how fool-proof. Stupid bad things will happen.

But we really are overdue to have mastered the Moon and moved onto Mars.

5:20 AM  

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