Saturday, August 1

The Goldberg Variations, Or, Shoot, Orville, That Was Fun. Let's Back Up And Run Over That Skunk Again.

SCOTT C.,who praises us far too often, or at all, depending on your point of view, says of our hijacking Roy's Goldberg thread:
I saw that both Roy and Doghouse Riley had gotten there first, which kinda made me feel like the guy from the County Roads Department who comes upon a skunk after its been run over twice, and whose only role in the tragedy is to dismount with a grumble and scrape up the collapsed corpse with a snow shovel.

To which we reply that if we are not constantly praising our superiors, and those two in particular, it's because we like to imagine that we're a little smarter than the batboy in Bull Durham. (For example, the impulse to use "Good Wood" in that sentence nearly overcame us, but not quite.)

Anyway, I was reminded of this bit of Goldbergiana which was allowed to scurry off yesterday like an unsprayed cockroach:
NASA doesn't much care.

Which just sorta reminds us how much stupid can be packed into four words when a Master is at the controls and, as usual, pressed for time.

Four words, and a neat, tidy, and almost thrown-off summation of his entire point, which is that a preternatural unwillingness to examine, consider, or think things through should not prevent one from pretending to be a skeptic, especially when there's a deadline involved.

It's not like you don't run into enough logical inconsistency in everyday life to recognize it as a sizable chunk of the Human Condition--and as a big contributor, for that matter--and not the special province of Wingnuttia. But this has gone on for so long now--Goldberg's forty years old, an incredible state of affairs, really, which we are nonetheless willing to accept without his producing his real birth certificate, and totally a second-generation practioner, with the full complement of entitlement behaviors the phrase suggests--that there is no longer an explanation for its self-unexamined continuation. One is either of a skeptical bent, or no; one can apply the tools of rigor haphazardly, to be sure, but not continually, and not continually in the service of one's perinatal pre- (try mis-)conceptions. Wanna be a Man-Made Global Climate Change Skeptic? Fine. Knock yourself out. Wanna advocate Smaller Government? Okay. I think most of us outside of government do, to some extent or another. But you cannot then abandon the standard once you think it's made your point for you. Well, you can, of course, but all you're going to get out of it in Our Advanced Age is a sinecured syndicated column run by, among others, the LA LA Times. NASA? Eisenhower's solution to the question of how the USA could militarize space while still pretending in public we weren't. Science is the organdy ball gown NASA put on after they gave the Air Force a whore's bath. You cannot argue for global US military hegemony at whatever cost or whatever bunting-draped series of disastrous foreign interventions and then turn around and ask Why They're Not Keeping You Safe. Because you gave them a fucking blank check, that's why. And screamed at anyone who happened to question the wisdom. Because you reliably waved the flag (from a safe distance) for Korea and Vietnam and Iraq and Grenada and Lebanon and Iraq and Quemoy and Matsu and Cambodia and Laos and Nicaragua and Honduras and the rest of Central and South America too many times for me to cough up without looking. Who were they Keeping Safe then? Not me, and I've been paying for it a lot longer than you, Fatso. We knew the Soviet space program had as much chance as a squirrel on an eight-lane highway. Nobody even disputes this anymore, the way that at some point no one will bother denying anymore that the deficit-tripling Reagan Defense Buildup came a good decade after we knew the Soviets were going broke. Who cared about that at NASA? Their main concern since the 50s, like that of the rest of their extended military family, has been avoiding spilling any Gravy on their shirtfronts.

You cheerlead this shit. No matter What, Where, or At What Cost. Okay, if a Democrat happens to be Commander-in-Chief you might quibble around the edges, but only that we aren't destroying some people and intimidating the rest at sufficient rates for your tastes, and even then your heart's not really in demanding efficiency. Fuck you. You've got the NASA you deserve: a bloated, bureaucratic, duplicitous Cold War relic with a shoddy product line which spends much of its efforts on PR, on working Congress in an ongoing campaign to score bigger budgets, and much of the rest swapping bodily fluids with its contractors. Safety? You have no fucking right to demand safety, and if you did it would come at suitable remove from your finally owning up to how much safety we ignored, squandered, or actively removed, and how much government waste you supported while demanding all other activity grind to a halt. And while talking about how much we needed that even-two-dozenth aircraft carrier named for one racist reactionary Pentagon sluicer or other. Since twenty-three just didn't keep us Safe enough.

The question arose as to whether I took this sorta stuff seriously. I thought I'd made my principled agnosticism about the fate of the human species pretty clear, but, for the record, I'd sincerely hate to see my neighbor, even Big Shirtless Roy and his twice-a-week midmorning Lawn Care, Fluorocarbon, and Ozone Fests, perish like a dog in the street in the grim twilight of a nuclear winter, asteroid dust-cloud, or choking blanket of lawnmower exhaust. This is why I honestly hope that the Chinese or the French survive us long enough to solve the problem.


Anonymous said...

Mr. Riley, I don't know zip about the nature of NASA (though sometimes I find it most soothing to tune into their TV station to watch - for example - the slow, slow progress of a great booster rocket being trucked carefully from one spot to another, with no commentary or music or anything). So I can't say anything about your characterization, except to remark that during the Cold War everybody was pretty much scared shitless.

What I'm actually commenting about is the last post before this one, which is brilliant, and premised on Jonah Goldberg having written:

"Meanwhile, a 'deep impact' is a terribly inconvenient threat, partly because it requires making peace with the idea that nature can be conquered."

However, unless some changes have been made to the NRO page since Mark S. made his generous prize offer in Roy's comments, what Goldberg wrote is:

" requires making peace with the idea that nature can't be conquered."

Which may be a typo for "can". Or Jonah may have confused himself with his own display of backhanded sarcasm, and written the opposite of what he meant. In either of which cases your parsing stands firm and resolute and right: the keys to the wingnut kingdom indeed.

But what if he really meant "nature can't be conquered"? He's presumably saying it's liberals who must make peace with this idea - them and their foolish notions about halting global warming. OTOH he's already made fun of them for believing that Nature is master...

Perhaps he's counseling despair?

What a difference a little "n't" makes.

Li'l Innocent

map106 said...

Well, Li'l,

Jonah changed it without indicating that he had. I read the article twice and he originally wrote "nature CAN be conquered."

Anonymous said...

So he IS a pusillanimous polecat!

But from a wingnut-theory POV, what a weird thing to do, doncha think?

Li'l Innocent

StringonaStick said...

Naw, that stupid fat fucker can't spell, and his stupid fat former editor K-Lo can't edit. This explains much about that particular wingnut welfare teet.