Deep Space Capitalism, here we come!

Sometimes, you have to love capitalism. I’m serious, this post is not a joke. For decades, science fiction fan and space enthusiasts like me dreamed about the first steps in the new space race, the colonization of our Solar System. A big part of this dream is related to the transformation of the asteroids in useful minerals sources, not to mention the chance to use some of them as bases in the Asteroid Belt.

There’s a beautiful site, aptly named Asterank (link here), where the available data about known asteroids are compiled and offered for public use. What amazes me the most is the purposed classification of the asteroids, something that speaks volumes about our possible future. “Most cost effective” or “Most valuable” may appear as bizarre right now, but are nonetheless an effective way to look at our rocky neighbors.

An example? The asteroid Bennu (that will be reached by the OSIRIS-REX mission for a sample-return mission) is listed at 669.96 million USD value for an estimated profit of 185 million USD. Not bad at all. Want more? The asteroid Ryugu, actually in the crosshairs of the Hayabusa2 mission for another sample-return mission, is listed at 82.76 billion USD  for an estimated profit of 30.07 billion USD. That’s much better! For many asteroids and other celestial bodies, there are not enough data so it will be pointless to estimate values. Others are too little or too far to be of any commercial interest.

Is there Capitalism in deep space? Not today. Not even tomorrow. It’s still something I hope to see in my lifetime.

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Harlan Ellison (1934-2018)

Writing about Harlan Ellison is almost impossible for me. I was a fan (I still am!), no matter how much controversial or bizarre could have been his behavior sometimes. His works are milestones for anybody who wants to understand what science fiction could be at the top of the game.

There is something special for me, anytime I pick up one of his stories. A sharpness of thought, the feeling of something stronger than words coded between the lines, and more than a bit of apprehension because the story will end up leaving me asking for more.

He will be missed. I can foresee a not-so-distant time in the future when some useful idiot in the publishing industry will blurb about “the new Harlan Ellison”. Well, there will boiling pitch and feathers poured all over this idiot, no matter how high-placed he or she could be.

Thank you, Sir.

The myth of the Noble Savage and some unconvenient thruths

When it comes to talking about Africa, there’s a familiar story doing the rounds almost everywhere in Italy. Stop it if you already know it and directly go to the second part of this post.

The African story.

You see, Africa could be the paradise of our world. Without the evil interferences of foreigners and the horrible acts of the multinational companies, our African friends will be free to use wisely their valuable resources and be finally free. The worst of the worst are the European countries, that never stop to crush every hope for the Africans.

Does it sound familiar? Well, this tale is spinning since the ’60s, so I guess that you have heard it before. The subtext is that the white European monsters are the true enemies of the African countries and that before the start of the European colonialism the tribes and the nations of the black continent were in peace, free and happy. Modern-day companies, according to this tale, are no more than another evil scheme to oppress Africans. It’s the old myth of the Noble Savage.

I know for sure that studying history is not the favorite pastime of many people in my country, not to mention the absence of the most fundamental notions of geography, but now and then I like to speak out about this dull notions. You see, I’m getting older and my patience is becoming scarce, think about Einstenium to get the picture.

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France and Africa: a matter of money

The recent hush-hush between Italy and France about immigration from Africa stirred many discussions in the ‘net, with a whole lot of rage and indignation for the harsh words used by the French President and other people related to the French authorities against Italy.

When it comes to Africa and to the complex history between African countries and the former European powers the name of France stands out for a decision made in 1945, right after the Bretton Woods Agreements. They created two brand new currencies, named CFA Franc and CFP Franc, for their colonies with a fixed exchange with the French Franc. The former was created for the African colonies, the latter for the overseas territories (French Polynesia, New Caledonia, Wallis and Futuna). To add a layer of bureaucratic redundancy, CFA Franc was split in West African Franc and Central African Franc.

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Italy and the Corruption Perception Index

You know, here in Italy we got a long and established relationship with the concept of corruption.

We could say that we set the whole stuff into a more organized machine back in the times of the Roman Empire and then carrying on such a damned tradition thru the Dark Ages and then to the modern world. I’m not exactly happy about that, let’s say that I’m trying to contain my rage in a box made of cynicism.

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Tell’em George!

In the loving memory of George Denis Patrick Carlin (May 12, 1937 – June 22, 2008), one of the few who got the courage to stand up and blame the PC madness.

Political correctness is America’s newest form of intolerance, and it is especially pernicious because it comes disguised as tolerance. It presents itself as fairness, yet attempts to restrict and control people’s language with strict codes and rigid rules. I’m not sure that’s the way to fight discrimination. I’m not sure silencing people or forcing them to alter their speech is the best method for solving problems that go much deeper than speech.” – George Carlin

Many thanks to Caitlín Rebekah Kiernan, who posted this quote today on Facebook. I was looking for this in the last few days.

 

Italy Standoff 2018 – a word from Jean-Claude Juncker

Politics are just wonderful. The more you know about it, the less it makes sense. Think about the current Italian situation, for instance. In the 80-plus days after the last round of political elections, we got every possible lecture from abroad, it looks like everybody wanted to put his or her finger in the pie.

It’s true that we got an unprecedented situation, with a party (the Five Stars Movement) that never had direct experience of nation-wide matters, partnered with another (the League, formerly known as The Northern League)  that is known for its Euroscepticism. So far, nobody knows for sure what the new government will do. To put it bluntly, they have the democratic right to push their own agenda ( for better or worse).

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